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While short comic strips such as those found on xkcd and The Oatmeal adapt themselves fairly well to the web, often presented exactly as they would be in print, attempts to transform the comic on the web have traced a faint line between enhanced experience and distracting gimmick.


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McCloud, a widely-regarded authority on comics, wrote about this issue in a blog post where he drew attention to the self-referential experimentation of French comic artist Yves Bigerel, exploring how storytelling could be enhanced through a proper attention to the possibilities afforded by the web, particularly the ability to reveal elements and overlay frames in interesting and surprising ways. Most of these works are based on re-interpreting historical characters and events. To look upon a particular railing or wine bottle, the dirt on a window or the crease of a brow, conveyed through the hand and eye of an artist, can provoke greater reflection on how we experience the world.

Japan is, of course, often held up as a culture that embraces the impressionistic possibilities of graphic illustration in manga and anime, running the full gamut from science-fiction through pornography to romance and historical drama. It relates the journey of a Vietnamese girl as she is smuggled out of Vietnam and onto a refugee boat bound for Australia.

Is there any irony then, in the fact that a story embedded in a work of self-reflective post-colonial literature has ended up as a showcase for cutting-edge digital storytelling, commissioned by a national broadcaster? The project was commissioned for the 40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon and was intended to give weight to the foundation narrative of the Vietnamese diaspora. Examples of web-based storytelling with high production values are often non-commercial projects funded by cultural institutions or straight-out advertising campaigns.

In contrast, we have an advert for the Peugeot Hybrid 4 a high-profile proof-of-concept advert showcased on many web design sites and a Christmas campaign for Welsh public transport. Sumi-e is the Japanese black ink painting associated with zen circles, bamboo stalks and cherry trees — a style which along with ukiyo-e woodblock prints, influenced both European Impressionism and the Japanese manga style of comic art.

This makes the whole experience feel more organic than is usually the case with digital comics. Strokes are broad and free, suggesting motion blur and the physical and psychological instability of the protagonists. When, in his "critique of political economy," Marx deals with the opposition of the "classical" political economy Ricardo and his labor-theory of value - the counterpart to philosophical rationalism and the neo-classic reduction of value to a purely relational entity without substance Bailey - the counterpart to philosophical empiricism , he resolves this opposition by way of repeating the Kantian breakthrough towards the "parallax" view: he treated it as a Kantian antinomy, i.

The post-Marx "Marxism" - in both its versions, Social Democratic and Communist - lost this "parallax" perspective and regressed into the unilateral elevation of production as the site of truth against the "illusory" sphere of exchange and consumption. In a close reading of Marx's analysis of the commodity-form, Karatani ground the insurmountable persistence of the parallax gap in the "salto mortale" that a product has to accomplish in order to assert itself as a commodity:. If this transformation fails to take place, then the ton of iron ceases to be not only a commodity but also a product; since it is a commodity only because it is not a use-value for its owner, that is to say his labour is only really labour if it is useful labour for others, and it is useful for him only if it is abstract general labour.

It is therefore the task of the iron or of its owner to find that location in the world of commodities where iron attracts gold. But if the sale actually takes place, as we assume in this analysis of simple circulation, then this difficulty, the salto mortale of the commodity, is surmounted.

As a result of this alienation -- that is its transfer from the person for whom it is a non-use-value to the person for whom it is a use-value - the ton of iron proves to be in fact a use-value and its price is simultaneously realised, and merely imaginary gold is converted into real gold. The synthesis has to rely on an irreducibly external element, as in Kant where being is not a predicate i. Which is why, although Marx's Darstellung of the self-deployment of the capital is full of Hegelian references, 4 the self-movement of Capital is far from the circular self-movement of the Hegelian Notion or Spirit : the point of Marx is that this movement never catches up with itself, that it never recovers its credit, that its resolution is postponed forever, that the crisis is its innermost constituent the sign that the Whole of Capital is the non-True, as Adorno would have put it , which is why the movement is one of the "spurious infinity," forever reproducing itself:.

The end of Capital is never the 'absolute Spirit. It is interesting to note that it was already Adorno, who, in his Three Studies on Hegel , critically characterized Hegel's system in the same "financial" terms as a system which lives of a credit it can never pay off. And the same "financial" metaphor is often used for language itself - among others, Brian Rotman determined meaning as something which is always "borrowed from the future," relying on its forever-postponed fulfillment-to-come.

Through what Alfred Schuetz called "mutual idealization": the subject cut the impasse of the endless probing into "do we all mean the same thing by 'bird'" by simply taking for granted, presupposing, acting AS IF they DO mean the same thing. There is no language without this "leap of faith. So, if anything, this presupposed AS IF However, this reproach misses the point, which is not only and simply that such a state is inaccessible and also undesirable , but that the "leap of faith" by means of which the subjects take it for granted that they mean the same thing not only has no normative content, but can even block further elaboration - why strive for something that we allegedly already have?

In other words, what the reading of this AS IF In production, value is generated "in itself," while only through completed circulation process it becomes "for itself. The majority of economists warn today that the speculation of global financial capital is detached from the 'substantial' economy. What they overlook, however, is that the substantial economy as such is also driven by illusion, and that such is the nature of the capitalist economy. And Karatani is right to emphasize how, paradoxically, Marx broke out of he confines of the "classical" Ricardo labor-theory of value through his reading of Bailey, the first "vulgar" economist who emphasized the purely relational status of value: value is not inherent to a commodity, it expresses the way this commodity relates to all other commodities.

Bailey in this way opened up the path towards the structural-formal approach of Marx which insists on the gap between an object and the structural place it occupies: in the same way that a king is a king not because of his inherent properties, but because people treat him as one Marx's own example , a commodity is money because it occupies the formal place of the general equivalent of all commodities, not because say, gold, is "naturally" money.

The strict formal homology between Marx and Freud should be emphasized here 14 - here are three key passages from Marx:. The determination of the magnitude of value by labor-time is therefore a secret, hidden under the apparent fluctuations in the relative values of commodities. Its discovery, while removing all appearance of mere accidentality from the determination of the magnitude of the values of products, yet in no way alters the mode in which that determination takes place.

But it has never once asked the question why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour-time by the magnitude of that value. The form of wood, for instance, is altered, by making a table out of it. Yet, for all that, the table continues to be that common, every-day thing, wood. But, so soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than "table-turning" ever was.

The mystical character of commodities does not originate, therefore, in their use-value. Just as little does it proceed from the nature of the determining factors of value. For, in the first place, however varied the useful kinds of labor, or productive activities, may be, it is a physiological fact, that they are functions of the human organism, and that each such function, whatever may be its nature or form, is essentially the expenditure of human brain, nerves, muscles, etc.

Secondly, with regard to that which forms the ground-work for the quantitative determination of value, namely, the duration of that expenditure, or the quantity of labor, it is quite clear that there is a palpable difference between its quantity and quality. In all states of society, the labor-time that it costs to produce the means of subsistence, must necessarily be an object of interest to mankind, though not of equal interest in different stages of development.

Parallax: Witnessing theory: Volume 10, Number 1

And lastly, from the moment that men in any way work for one another, their labor assumes a social form. Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product of labor, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly from this form itself. The equality of all sorts of human labor is expressed objectively by their products all being equally values; the measure of the expenditure of labor-power by the duration of that expenditure, takes the form of the quantity of value of the products of labor; and finally the mutual relations of the producers, within which the social character of their labor affirms itself, take the form of a social relation between the products.

The key explication is hidden in a footnote at the very end of the key chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams , on "The Dream-Work":. Formerly I found it extraordinarily difficult to accustom my readers to the distinction between the manifest dream-content and the latent dream-thoughts. Over and over again arguments and objections were adduced from the un-interpreted dream as it was retained in the memory, and the necessity of interpreting the dream was ignored.

But now, when the analysts have at least become reconciled to substituting for the manifest dream its meaning as found by interpretation, many of them are guilty of another mistake, to which they adhere just as stubbornly. They look for the essence of the dream in this latent content, and thereby overlook the distinction between latent dream-thoughts and the dream-work. The dream is fundamentally nothing more than a special form of our thinking, which is made possible by the conditions of the sleeping state.

It is the dream-work which produces this form, and it alone is the essence of dreaming- the only explanation of its singularity.

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One should be therefore extremely attentive to the gap which separates Marx from Ricardo and his Leftist followers who already accomplished the move from appearance to essence, i. The key trap is not to be blinded by form, but to reduce form to a "mere form," i. Is, however, the ultimate Marxian parallax not the one between economy and politics, between the "critique of political economy" with its logic of commodities and the political struggle with its logic of antagonism?

Both logic are "transcendental," not merely ontico-empirical; and they are both irreducible to each other. Of course they both point towards each other class struggle is inscribed into the very heart of economy, yes has to remain absent, non-thematized - recall how the manuscript of Capital volume III abruptly ends with it; and class struggle is ultimately "about" economic power-relations , but this very mutual implication is twisted so that it prevents any direct contact any direct translation of political struggle into a mere mirroring of economic "interests" is doomed to fail, as well as any reduction of the sphere of economic production to a secondary "reified" sedimentation of an underlying founding political process.

That is to say, what all the new French or French oriented theories of the Political, from Balibar through Ranciere and Badiou to Laclau and Mouffe, aim at is - to put it in the traditional philosophical terms - the reduction of the sphere of economy of the material production to an "ontic" sphere deprived of the "ontological" dignity.

Within this horizon, there is simply no place for the Marxian "critique of political economy": the structure of the universe of commodities and capital in Marx's Capital is NOT just that of a limited empirical sphere, but a kind of socio-transcendental a priori, the matrix which generates the totality of social and political relations.

The relationship between economy and politics is ultimately that of the well-known visual paradox of the "two faces or a vase": one either sees the two faces or a vase, never both of them - one has to make a choice. In the same way, one either focuses on the political, and the domain of economy is reduced to the empirical "servicing of goods," or one focuses on economy, and politics is reduced to a theater of appearances, to a passing phenomenon which will disappear with the arrival of the developed Communist or technocratic society, in which, as already Engels put it, the "administration of people" will vanish in the "administration of things.

In Badiou, the root of this notion of pure "politics," radically autonomous with regard to history, society, economy, State, even Party, is his opposition between Being and Event - it is here that Badiou remains "idealist. What parallax means is that the bracketing itself produces its object - "democracy" as a form emerges only when one brackets the texture of economic relations as well as the inherent logic of the political state apparatus: they both have to be abstracted from, people who are effectively embedded in economic processes and subjected to state apparatuses have to be reduced to abstract units.

And, finally, the specific sphere of economic re production only emerges if one methodologically brackets the concrete existence of state and political ideology - no wonder critics of Marx complained that Marx's "critique of political economy" lacks a theory of power and state. And, of course, the trap to be avoided here is precisely that of trying to formulate the totality parts of which are democratic ideology, the exercise of power and the process of economic re production: if one tries to keep in view all, one ends up seeing nothing, the contours disappears.

This bracketing is not only epistemological, it concerns what Marx called the "real abstraction": the abstraction from power and economic relations is inscribed into the very actuality of the democratic process, etc. Karatani's account, impressive as it is, cannot but solicit a series of critical remarks.

As for his advocacy of the LETS Local Exchange Trading System economic model, it is difficult to see how it avoids the very trap of which Karatani is well aware, the trap of money which would no longer be a fetish, but would serve just a "labor-money," a transparent instrument of exchange designating each individuals' contribution to the social product.

Furthermore, Karatani's account of the Marxian notion of surplus-value and exploitation is strangely short in that it totally ignores the key element of Marx's critique of the standard labor theory of value: workers are not exploited by way of not being paid their full value - their wages are in principle "just," they are paid the full value of the commodity they are selling "labor force" ; the key is rather that the use-value of this commodity is unique, it produces new value greater that its own value, and this surplus in appropriated by the capitalists.

Karatani, on the contrary, reduces exploitation to just another case of a difference in price between value systems: because of the incessant technological innovation, capitalists can earn from selling the products of labor more than they have to pay their workers - capitalist exploitation is thus posted as structurally the same as the activity of merchants who buy and sell at different locations, exploiting the fact that, because of different productivity, the same product is cheaper here where they buy it than there where they sell it :.

This is so-called relative surplus value. And this is attained only by incessant technological innovation. Hence one finds that industrial capital too earns surplus value from the interstice between two different systems. Perhaps, these limitations are grounded in the constrants of Karatani's Kantianism. Along these lines, even Karatani's apparently eccentric notion to combine elections with lottery in the procedure of determining who will rule us is more traditional than it may appear he himself mentions the Ancient Greece - paradoxically, it fulfills the same task as Hegel's theory of monarchy Karatani takes here a heroic risk at proposing a crazy-sounding definition of the difference between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat: "If universal suffrage by secret ballot, namely, parliamentary democracy, is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the introduction of lottery should be deemed the dictatorship of the proletariat.

But is this effectively enough to undermine the "fetishism of power"? Consequently, would it not the true task be precisely to get rid of the very mystique of the PLACE of power? First, there is the simple act of market exchange in which I sell in order to buy - I sell the product I own or made in order to buy another one which is of some use to me: "The simple circulation of commodities - selling in order to buy - is a means of carrying out a purpose unconnected with circulation, namely, the appropriation of use-values, the satisfaction of wants.

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The circulation of capital has therefore no limits. The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims at. This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange-value, is common to the capitalist and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending augmentation of exchange-value, which the miser strives after, by seeking to save his money from circulation, is attained by the more acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into circulation.

This madness of the miser is nonetheless not something which simply disappears with the rise of "normal" capitalism, or its pathological deviation. It is rather inherent to it: the miser has his moment of triumph in the economic crisis. In a crisis,. Profane commodities can no longer replace it. The use-value of commodities becomes value-less, and their value vanishes in the face of their own form of value. The bourgeois, drunk with prosperity and arrogantly certain of himself, has just declared that money is a purely imaginary creation. But now the opposite cry resounds over the markets of the world: only money is a commodity.

Does this not mean that at this moment, far from disintegrating, fetishism is fully asserted in its direct madness? It is crucial how, in this elevation of money to the status of the only true commodity "The capitalist knows that all commodities, however scurvy they may look, or however badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised Jews. For the movement, in the course of which it adds surplus-value, is its own movement, its expansion, therefore, is automatic expansion.

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Because it is value, it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs. Nay, more: instead of simply representing the relations of commodities, it enters now, so to say, into private relations with itself. It differentiates itself as original value from itself as surplus value; as the father differentiates himself from himself qua the son, yet both are one and of one age: for only by the surplus value of 10 pounds dies the pounds originally advanced become capital, and so on as this takes place, so soon as the son, and by the son, the father is begotten, so soon does their difference vanish, and they again become one, pounds.

In short, capital is money which is no longer a mere substance of wealth, its universal embodiment, but value which, through its circulation, generates more value, value which mediates-posits itself, retroactively positing its own presuppositions. First, money appears as a mere means of the exchange of commodities: instead of the endless bartering, one first exchanges one's product for the universal equivalent of all commodities, which can then be exchanged for any commodity we may need.

Then, once the circulation of the capital is set in motion, the relationship is inverted, the means turn into an end-in-itself, i.

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This arcane circular movement of self-positing is then equated with the central Christian tenet of the identity of God-the-Father and his Son, of the immaculate conception by means of which the single Father directly without a female spouse begets his only son and thus forms what is arguably the ultimate single-parent family. Yes and no: for Marx, this self-engendering circular movement is - to put it in Freudian terms - precisely the capitalist "unconscious fantasy" which parasitizes upon the proletariat as the "pure substanceless subjectivity"; for this reason, the capital's speculative self-generating dance has a limit, and it brings about the conditions of its own collapse.

This insight allows us to solve the key interpretive problem of the above quote: how are we to read its first three words, "in truth, however"?

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