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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Archive for category 2013

Tuesday
2.19.13
NYU Kimmel Center
Room 805
60 Washington Square South

What does it mean that Marx and Marxism still appeal while political movements for socialism are weak or non-existent? What were Marxism's original points of departure for considering radical possibilities for freedom that still speak to the present? How does Marxism still matter?

A teach-in by Ben Blumberg.

A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society on February 7th, 2013 at New York University.

“Let us not deceive ourselves,” Victor Hugo once advised, in his iconic Hunchback of Notre Dame. “Architecture is dead, and will never come to life again; it is destroyed by the power of the printed book.” Both as a discipline and a profession, architecture lagged behind the other applied arts. Even when measures toward modernization were finally instituted, many of the most innovative, technically reproducible designs were hived off from the realm of architecture proper as mere works of “engineering.” Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, however, fresh currents of thought arose within the field to lend architecture a new lease on life. Avant-garde architects emulated developments that had been taking place in both the visual arts (Cubism, Futurism) and scientific management of labor (Taylorism, psychotechnics), advocating geometric simplicity and ergonomic efficiency in order to tear down the rigid barrier dividing art from life. Most of the militant members of the architectural avant-garde sought to match in aesthetics the historical dynamism the Industrial Revolution had introduced into society. Machine-art was born the moment that art pour l’art died. “Art is dead! Long live the machine-art of Tatlin!” announced the Dadaists George Grosz and John Heartfield in 1920.

The modernists’ project consisted in giving shape to an inseparable duality, wherein the role of architecture was deduced as simultaneously a reflection of modern society as well as an attempt to transform it. Amidst the tumult and chaos that shook European society from the Great War up through the Great Depression, revolutionary architects of all countries united in opposition to the crumbling order of bourgeois civilization, attaching themselves to radical political movements. Forced out of Europe by fascism and subsequently out of the USSR by Stalinism, the architectural avant-garde fled to North America. Following a second global conflagration — transposed into the postwar boom context of America with the GI Bill, Europe under the Marshall Plan, and Japan under McArthur — the modernists now reneged on their prior commitment to spur on social change. Abandoning what Colin Rowe had called “that mishmash of millennialistic illusions, chiliastic excitements, and quasi-Marxist fantasies,” they instead accommodated themselves to the planning agencies and bureaucratic superstructures of Fordism. “European modern architecture came to infiltrate the United States, largely purged of its ideological or societal content; where it became available, not as an evident manifestation or cause of socialism,” he wrote, “but rather as décor de la vie for Greenwich, Connecticut or as a suitable veneer for the corporate activities of enlightened capitalism.” Indeed, the International Style that premiered in 1932 at MoMA under Johnson and Hitchcock’s highly selective curatorial oversight had already been stripped down to its barest formal elements. Looking to revitalize revolutionary modernism, Reyner Banham thus declared in 1962: “Even when modern architecture seemed plunged in its worst confusions it could still summon up a burst of creative energy that gave the lie to the premature reports of its demise. Modern architecture is dead; long live modern architecture!”

Only a decade later, however, Charles Jencks calculated in his book on Post-Modern Architecture that it was possible “to date the death of Modern Architecture to a precise moment in time” (July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm, with the detonation of Yamasaki’s much-maligned Pruitt-Igoe complex in St. Louis). Today it is postmodernism that appears to be aging badly. But if postmodernism, which stood for “the end of the end” (Eisenman), is itself at an end, does this mean the end of “the end of the end”? Just another stop along the way in an endless cycle of endings? — Or might it portend the beginning of a modernist renaissance? This prospect could prove bleaker yet. “In architecture,” writes Owen Hatherley, addressing the issue of “post-postmodernism,” “typically postmodernist devices seem to have entered a terminal decline, as historical eclecticism and glib ironies have been replaced by rediscoveries of modernist forms — albeit emptied of political or theoretical content. But does this trend represent a break with postmodernism — or does it merely mark the arrival of the pseudomodernism of contemporary architecture?”

In light of these considerations, Platypus thus asks:

Where does architecture stand at present, in terms of its history?
Are we still — were we ever — postmodern?
What social and political tasks yet remain unfulfilled, carried over from the twentieth century, in a world scattered with the ruins of modernity?
Does “utopia’s ghost” (Martin), the specter of modernism, still haunt contemporary building?
How can architecture be responsibly practiced today?
Is revolutionary architecture even possible?

PETER EISENMAN

Peter Eisenman is design principal of Eisenman Architects in New York. His current projects include the City of Culture of Galicia in Spain; a master plan for Pozzuoli, Italy, and a residential condominium in Milan. His award-winning projects include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin and the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts in Ohio. In 2010, he received the international Wolf Prize in Architecture, and in 2004 the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Architecture Biennale. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his many books are Written Into the Void: Selected Writings, 1990-2004 and Ten Canonical Buildings, 1950-2000, on the work of ten architects. He is also the Charles Gwathmey Professor in Practice at the Yale School of Architecture.

REINHOLD MARTIN

Reinhold Martin is Associate Professor of Architecture in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, where he directs the PhD program in architecture and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. He is also a member of Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and the Committee on Global Thought. Martin is a founding co-editor of the journal Grey Room and has published widely on the history and theory of modern and contemporary architecture. He is the author of The Organizational Complex: Architecture, Media, and Corporate Space (MIT Press, 2003), and Utopia’s Ghost: Architecture and Postmodernism, Again (Minnesota, 2010), as well as the co-author, with Kadambari Baxi, of Multi-National City: Architectural Itineraries (Actar, 2007). Currently, he is working on two books: a history of the nineteenth century American university as a media complex, and a study of the contemporary city at the intersection of aesthetics and politics.

JOAN OCKMAN

Joan Ockman is Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Before this, she served as Director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University from 1994 to 2008 and was a member of the faculty of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation for over two decades. In addition to Columbia and Penn, she has also taught at Yale, Cornell, Graduate Center of City University of New York, and the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam. She began her career at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, where she was an editor of the legendary Oppositions journal and was responsible for the Oppositions Books series. Her most recent book is Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America. A twentieth-anniversary edition of her book Architecture Culture 1943-1968: A Documentary Anthology will appear in 2013.

BERNARD TSCHUMI

Bernard Tschumi is widely recognized as one of today’s foremost architects. In 1983, he won the prestigious competition for the Parc de La Villette. Since then, he has designed buildings such as the new Acropolis Museum; Le Fresnoy National Studio for the Contemporary Arts; the Vacheron-Constantin Headquarters; The Richard E. Lindner Athletics Center at the University of Cincinnati; and architecture schools in Marne-la-Vallée, France and Miami, Florida. Tschumi’s many books include the three-part Event-Cities series; The Manhattan Transcripts; and Architecture and Disjunction. Tschumi was awarded France’s Grand Prix National d’Architecture in 1996 as well as numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is an international fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in England and a member of the Collège International de Philosophie and the Académie d’Architecture in France.

A Roundtable, hosted by Platypus NYU
with:
7 PM
Monday, November 8
NYU
Meyer Hall of Physics, Rm. 261
4 Washington Pl. (off Mercer)
With roots in earlier radical traditions, movements that sought to radically redefine the relationship of sex, politics, and freedom erupted onto the historical stage in the 60s. Yet while much has radically changed in the US and elsewhere in the world, humans are still far too limited in determining their sexual and erotic lives. This roundtable will reflect on the meaning and future of sexual politics today on the Left, with some emphasis on examining and contextualizing the contemporary struggle for gay marriage. What are the potentials and limits of present politics and organization around gay marriage? What successes and limitations has it met? What relationship is there between gay politics today and the Left overall? What frontiers of sexual liberation ought to be at the center of the Left's political agenda?

"The only decent marriage would be one allowing each partner to lead an independent life, in which, instead of a fusion derived from an enforced community of economic interests, both freely accepted mutual responsibility."--Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1944)

"The fundamental characteristic of the present system of marriage and family is in our society its monolithism: there is only one institutionalized form of inter-sexual or inter-generational relationship possible. It is that or nothing. This is why it is essentially a denial of life. For all human experience shows that intersexual and intergenerational relationships are infinitely various — indeed, much of our creative literature is a celebration of the fact — while the institutionalized expression of them in our capitalist society is utterly simple and rigid. It is the poverty and simplicity of the institutions in this area of life which are such an oppression. Any society will require some institutionalized and social recognition of personal relationships. But there is absolutely no reason why there should be only one legitimized form — and a multitude of unlegitimized experience. Socialism should properly mean not the abolition of the family, but the diversification of the socially acknowledged relationships which are today forcibly and rigidly compressed into it. This would mean a plural range of institutions — where the family is only one, and its abolition implies none. Couples living together or not living together, long-term unions with children, single parents bringing up children, children socialized by conventional rather than biological parents, extended kin groups, etc. — all these could be encompassed in a range of institutions which matched the free invention and variety of men and women."--Juliet Mitchell, "Women: the Longest Revolution" (1966)

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism


Boston, Chicago, Frankfurt, Graz, London, New York, Thessaloniki, Toronto


Saturdays 1–4PM CST

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
112 S. Michigan Ave. room 920

University of Chicago (UChicago)
Reynolds Club 5706 S. University Ave. 2nd floor South Lounge

Chicago Platypus Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/events/179540438855464/


Saturdays 2–5PM EST

Harvard University
Emerson Hall room 318

Boston Platypus Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/events/270185313082455/


Saturdays 2–5PM

Richard Hoggart Bldg. room 356
Goldsmiths College, New Cross, Lewisham, London SE14

London Platypus Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/events/148283905314897/


Sundays 2–5PM EST

The New School
Eugene Lang College
65 W. 11th St. room 258

NYC Platypus Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/events/258824880896215/


Thursdays 7–10PM EST

University of Toronto
71 Queen’s Park Crescent, Second Floor Group Study Room

Toronto Platypus Facebook invitation: http://www.facebook.com/events/530091583675075/


• required / + recommended reading
Marx and Engels readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


 Recommended winter break preliminary readings:

+ Leszek Kolakowski, “The concept of the Left” (1968)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)
+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. (1–4,) 5–10, 12–16; Part III. Ch. 1–6
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)


Film screenings: January 2013

• Reds (1981)
• Rosa Luxemburg (1986)


Winter 2013

I. What is the “Left?” — What is “Marxism?”

Week 11. What is Marxism? VI. Class consciousness | Jan. 12–13, 2013

• LukácsOriginal Preface (1922), “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919), “Class Consciousness” (1920), History and Class Consciousness (1923)
+ Marx, Preface to the First German Edition and Afterword to the Second German Edition (1873) of Capital(1867), pp. 294–298, 299–302


 Week 12. What is Marxism? VII. Ends of philosophy | Jan. 19–20, 2013

• Korsch“Marxism and philosophy” (1923)
+ Marx, To make the world philosophical (from Marx’s dissertation, 1839–41), pp. 9–11
+ Marx, For the ruthless criticism of everything existing (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843), pp. 12–15
+ Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845), pp. 143–145


 Winter–Spring 2013

II. Introduction to revolutionary Marxism

Week 13. Revolutionary leadership | Jan. 26–27, 2013

• Rosa Luxemburg, “The Crisis of German Social Democracy” Part 1 (1915)
• J. P. Nettl“The German Social Democratic Party 1890–1914 as a Political Model” (1965)
• Cliff Slaughter, “What is Revolutionary Leadership?” (1960)


 Week 14. Reform or revolution? | Feb. 2–3, 2013

• LuxemburgReform or Revolution? (1900/08)


 Week 15. Lenin and the vanguard party | Feb. 9–10, 2013

• Spartacist LeagueLenin and the Vanguard Party (1978)


 Week 16. What is to be done? | Feb. 16–17, 2013

• V. I. LeninWhat is to be Done? (1902)
+ Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate / A&Z, Introducing Lenin and the Russian Revolution / Lenin for Beginners (1977)


 Week 17. Mass strike and social democracy | Feb. 23–24, 2013

• Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
+ Luxemburg, “Blanquism and Social Democracy” (1906)


 Week 18. Permanent revolution | Mar. 2–3, 2013

• Leon TrotskyResults and Prospects (1906)
+ Tariq Ali and Phil Evans, Introducing Trotsky and Marxism / Trotsky for Beginners (1980)


 Week 19. State and revolution | Mar. 9–10, 2013

• LeninThe State and Revolution (1917)


 Week 20. Imperialism | Mar. 16–17, 2013

• LeninImperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)
+ Lenin, Socialism and War Ch. 1 The principles of socialism and the War of 1914–15 (1915)


 Week 21. Mar. 23–24, 2013 (spring break)


 Week 22. Mar. 30–31, 2013 (Easter weekend)


 Week 23. Apr. 6–7, 2013 (Platypus international convention)


 Week 24. Failure of the revolution | Apr. 13–14, 2013

• Luxemburg“What does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)
• Luxemburg“On the Spartacus Programme” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “German Bolshevism” (AKA “The Socialisation of Society”) (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “The Russian Tragedy” (1918)
+ Luxemburg, “Order Reigns in Berlin” (1919)
+ Sebastian Haffner, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918–19 (1968)


 Week 25. Retreat after revolution | Apr. 20–21, 2013

• Lenin“Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920)
+ Lenin, “Notes of a Publicist” (1922)


 Week 26. Dialectic of reification | Apr. 27–28, 2013

• Lukács, “The Standpoint of the Proletariat” (Part III of “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” 1923). Available in three sections from marxists.org: section 1 section 2 section 3


 Week 27. Lessons of October | May 4–5, 2013

• TrotskyThe Lessons of October (1924) [PDF] + Trotsky, “Stalinism and Bolshevism” (1937)


 Week 28. Trotskyism | May 11–12, 2013

+ Trotsky, “To build communist parties and an international anew” (1933)
• TrotskyThe Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)
+ Trotsky, “Trade unions in the epoch of imperialist decay” (1940)
+ Trotsky, Letter to James Cannon (September 12, 1939)


 Week 29. The authoritarian state | May 18–19, 2013

• Friedrich Pollock“State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations” (1941) (note 32 on USSR)
• Max Horkheimer, “The Authoritarian State” (1942)


 Week 30. On the concept of history | May 25–26, 2013

• epigraphs by Louis Menand (on Edmund Wilson) and Peter Preuss (on Nietzsche) on the modern concept of history
+ Charles Baudelaire, from Fusées [Rockets] (1867)
+ Bertolt Brecht, “To posterity” (1939)
+ Walter Benjamin, “To the planetarium” (from One-Way Street, 1928)
+ Benjamin, “Experience and poverty” (1933)
+ Benjamin, Theologico-political fragment (1921/39?)
• Benjamin“On the Concept of History” (AKA “Theses on the Philosophy of History”) (1940) [PDF] • BenjaminParalipomena to “On the Concept of History” (1940)


 Week 31. Reflections on Marxism | Jun. 1–2, 2013

• Theodor Adorno“Reflections on Class Theory” (1942)
• Adorno“Imaginative Excesses” (1944–47)
+ Adorno, Dedication“Bequest”“Warning: Not to be Misused” and “Finale”Minima Moralia (1944–47)
+ Horkheimer and Adorno, “Discussion about Theory and Praxis” (AKA “Towards a New Manifesto?”) [Deutsch] (1956)


 Week 32. Theory and practice | Jun. 15–16, 2013

+ Adorno, “On Subject and Object” (1969)
• Adorno“Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
• Adorno“Resignation” (1969)
+ Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)