Marx & Lit

“Mortality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking” (Marx, 409). This seems to take any spontaneity (maybe what Williams calls “determination”) out of art or negate originality in writing. It’s also interesting to place in the context of jazz and the improvised nature of it. Williams alludes to the production of art amongst the bourgeois as a privilege of “leisure”. I would say “leisure” is sometimes the saving grace of the subjugated classes. (1278) I think Marx is making an astute observation about what Williams refers to when he talks about “the dominant.” He states, “At any time, forms of alternative or directly oppositional politics and culture exist as significant elements in society (1279).”

Marx is a historian looking at the whole (and the cycles/patterns) of history, so when he approaches something more abstract than material production in the economic or political sense, and places the products of ideology and art in the context of his analyses, we can look at the ways in which cycles of art production come about (like the Harlem Renaissance‚Ķ) in opposition to the “dominant” force and at moments of self reflection or awareness.