Prying back open the gap that never could be really closed (hotel bar interior design, insurrectionary negation, and capitalist bad wiring)


Looking at the very particular (i.e. totally typical) red upholstery plus refracted fake crystal lighting decoration choices of a shitty Holiday Inn hotel bar here in London, where A and I stopped in to escape the post-work banker crowds, can't help but be struck by the thought:

What is genuinely, cancerously unthinkable about contemporary capitalism isn't the speed and breadth of its fiber optic tentacles. It isn't automated container shipping, it isn't necro-economics and the phantom gargantua of bail-outs. It isn't hunger or plague or rising oceans.

If there actually is an unthinkable Real of capitalism, it is that somewhere, at some time, a meeting was held in which was discussed, in good faith, the genuine connection between the choice of a particular reproduced Italian architectural drawing with fake gilded frame and the tangible profitability of the business as a whole. Someone actually had to accept and enact the overleaping of that absent linkage, actually decide, or pretend to the point of performative belief, that the selection of this exact thing - and not some other - was the correct decision and that in some impossible way, its singular presence creates the conditions for the further influx of capital.

The horror of it isn't moral. It isn't just that it's culturally stale, a mass approximation of yuppies after the fall. It's the fact that such a forced connection becomes itself real and tangible, there in the smell and sound of the place, ground into the carpets, there in the minute calculations of how many pounds charged versus how few paid to dishwashers.

Against this, total corrosive negativity against the positivity of that connection. While of course recognizing that collectively being "against" something doesn't negate its existence - it negates the legitimacy of its right to existence. And in this case, the existence of an impossible leap that has become the natural terrain of everyday life, of forced correspondence between phenomenon (that shade of carpet, that pattern of wallpaper) and value itself. Against both the assumed subtlety of the relation and the assumed flimsiness of it: it is because it is a fundamentally "unnatural" link that it keeps repairing itself.

Therefore, to start with the insistence that such a point of contact is the hardest - and first - fuse to be blown. It needs to be short-circuited, and we might start with our willful laughter, at the very idea that there ever be any organic connection between the specificity of objects and the value they generate. There is no connection beyond that leap, the leap that makes itself the well-spring of the reproducing world.

Coupled with laughter (excuse us if we think you're just fucking with us), concrete practices (excuse us if we need to borrow this space for a while) of prying back open, and stepping into, the gap that never could be really closed. At the edge of thought, the big leap of bad faith and bad wiring, the crisis of legitimacy at the missing center of every connection between phenomena and capital.

4 comments:

GooseBreeder said...

'post-work banker crowd' say carefully please!
Well put,now I know why I prefer to be at home!

wind-up bird. said...

negating virtual valorization with copious doses of anti lemonade

socialism and/or barbarism said...

GB: I don't know what's worse. Bankers post-work who are milling about outside pubs or "post-work bankers" milling about in the twilight of profitable labor.

When I was in London this spring, during the "kettling" protest and the like, I was treated to the remarkable sight of bankers who had been instructed to "dress down" for the day so as to avoid antagonism. As if pressed khakis and a Nike Golf polo makes you look any less like a member of the ruling class...

socialism and/or barbarism said...

wind: from occupation to (taking) an anti-lemonade stand. California is thirsty...