Althusser And Baudelaire: Flânerial And Utopian Theory (Jonathan Fardy)

This essay sprang from an effort to understand one of the more obscure passages in Louis Althusser’s contribution to Reading Capital of 1965. Althusser’s commitment to anti-humanism – inaugurated by Marx according to Althusser – demanded a new concept of theoretical production voided of the humanist concept of the subject (qua consciousness). I argue that this concept of theory is structured by a flâneurial perspective located at once inside and outside the “field” of the very problematic it theorizes.

The flâneurial perspective was given its first theoretical treatment in Charles Baudelaire’s landmark essay, “The Painter of Modern Life” of 1863. The flâneurial perspective is a utopian perspective in the literal sense for it occupies a “no place” at once immanent to its theoretical field and transcendent to it simultaneously. A comparison of Althusser’s and Baudelaire’s texts enables one to see (or read) a non-capitalist logic immanent to Baudelaire’s theory and to see the utopian dimension immanent to Althusser’s theory of theoretical “vision.”

This essay begins by situating Althusser’s theory of theoretical seeing in an epistemologically a-subjective perspective at once inside and outside the theoretical field of Marx’s Capital. I then turn to an examination of the structure of Baudelaire’s theory of the flâneur and modernity via Walter Benjamin’s Marxist-inflected critique of the historical activity of flânerie.  Finally, I show that, structurally speaking, the form of seeing immanent to Baudelaire’s and Althusser’s theoretical interventions and innovations occupies a literal “no-place” and this is its politically radical and utopic core.

 

Return to Althusser

The 2017 publication of The Concept in Crisis: Reading Capital Today, edited by Nick Nesbitt, marks a return to Althusser’s famed “return to Marx.” “Reading Capital is increasingly coming to be appreciated,” writes Nesbitt, “as a culminating moment in the twentieth-century French tradition of epistemology” (4). Nesbitt places Althusser in a genealogy of French epistemology stretching from Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguihem to Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze through to Alain Badiou.

These thinkers are related in a very direct sense in that Bachelard and Canguihem taught many of the French philosophers of the 1960s, including Foucault and Althusser. But there is a more purely philosophical connection that binds them, namely, a tradition of thought that “always and explicitly placed itself in opposition,” writes Nesbitt, “to all phenomenologies of consciousness” (4).

This “tradition of thought” follows a Spinozist epistemological line that holds that theoretical concepts and reality are distinct and that the duty of philosophy is to produce concepts that enable reality to be conceptualized. “Even more perhaps than his [Althusser’s] famous invocation of the necessity of a ‘lecture symptomale’ (symptomatic reading) of Capital or Bachelard’s ‘epistemological rupture,’ the fundamental ambition set forth in [Reading Capital],” writes Nesbitt, “is to articulate a novel conception of the object of science, via the Spinozist distinction between the ‘object of knowledge’ and the ‘real object’” (5).

Nesbitt’s claim that Althusser’s contribution to Reading Capital was principally an epistemological one in the Spinozist tradition rests on his astute attentiveness to the symptomatic surfacing of Spinoza’s distinction between “the object of knowledge” and the “real object” in Reading Capital.  This is clearly evident in Althusser’s claim that to read Capital philosophically “is precisely to question [its] specific discourse, and the specific relationship between this discourse and its object … [and] to put to the discourse-object unity the question of [its] epistemological status” (12-13).

Althusser’s theoretical imperative was to produce a theory of reading capable of immanently describing the relationship between Marx’s Capital (object of knowledge) and capitalism (real object) without recourse to a psychological theory of Marx’s subjectivity or his individual “consciousness.” Althusser’s text seeks to explain the relation between Marx’s Capital and capitalism entirely in and through the immanent logic and structure of Marx’s text. This mode of reading, as we will see, is hinged on a concept of “theoretical vision.”

 

Theoretical Vision

In  Reading Capital, Althusser writes that we should no longer be satisfied with reading “bits of [Capital…] which the conjuncture ha[s] ‘selected’ for us” (11). The protocols of reading “selected” by the various conjunctures of political action in “the defeats and victories of the worker’s movement” provided a political reading of capital but not a theoretical reading of Marx’s Capital without which, Althusser feared, there could be no hope for building a movement capable of responding to the present conjuncture of socialist struggle (11).

Althusser believed the time had come “to read Capital to the letter. To read the text itself, complete, all four volumes, line by line” (11). Althusser and his students divided the text into a series of structures, logical and political, using these as a guide to map the theoretical terrain discovered by the “scientifically mature” Marx. For this reason, Reading Capital is typically read as a structuralist reading of Marx’s Capital. But this depends on our reading of structuralism.

One of the consequences of the academic canonization of poststructuralism in North American humanities departments is that structuralism has been flatly historicized as an ill-fated attempt to produce a science of the “human sciences,” and which, in the process, marginalized the problematic of uncertainty and indeterminacy in the field of cultural meaning making. This is a bastardization of structuralism, but it is a popular one.

Its popularity testifies to a refusal to read and to instead make do with the dogma of theoretical ideology by thinking according to proper names rather than a reading to the letter. In the schema of contemporary theory, the logical relation of structuralism to poststructuralism can be stated in two complementary forms: before (structuralism) and after (poststructuralism) and structure (structuralism) and contingency (poststructuralism).

However, if we actually read Reading Capital, we find at the outset that Althusser articulates a protocol of reading through the problematic of Marx’s concept of “the necessity of contingency” (48). Althusser’s “structural” reading asked, what structural necessities and contingencies produced the possibility of Marx’s theoretical insight into the value of labor?

Marx’s theory (not Marx) saw that the classical theory of labor value, given in the formula, the value of labor is equal to the value of the subsistence goods necessary for the maintenance and reproduction of labor, substitutes the question of labor with the life of the laborer. But the question is, what is the value of labor? Althusser argues that Marx’s theory (not Marx) saw that the classical answer had produced a question that it could not see as a question, namely, what is the value of labor? The classical theory “produced” an answer to an absent question that it did not see as a question. Althusser writes:

The original question as the classical economic text formulated it was: what is the value of labor? Reduced to the content that can be rigorously defended in the text where classical economics produced it, the answer should be written as follows: “The value of labor (…) is equal to the value of the subsistence goods necessary for the maintenance and reproduction of labor (…).”  There are two blanks, two absences in the text of the answer. Thus, Marx makes ussee blanks in the text of classical economics’ answer; but this is merely to make us see what the classical text itself says while not saying it …. Hence it is not Marx who says what the classical text does not say, it is not Marx who intervenes to impose from without on the classical text a discourse which reveals its silence – it is the classical text itself which tells us that it is silent: its silence is its own words. (20)

The dialectic of speech and silence is soon substituted for that of visibility and invisibility and is organized around the terms “insight” and “oversight.” Althusser’s reading attempts to account for Marx’s theoretical “insight” and classical political economy’s “oversight” into the nature of the value of labor without appeal to Marx’s subjectivity or consciousness. This leads Althusser to pursue a profound meditation on theoretical “vision” and theoretical “sightings.”

The strained intelligibility of his meditation on theoretical seeing is symptomatic of a struggle to think thought (qua vision) without thinking subjectivity (qua consciousness). Such a task is analogous to conceptualizing seeing as a phenomenon independent of subjective acts of looking, a task that Althusser took up in light of the work of Jacques Lacan on “the gaze” and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of “the visible.”

Lacan and Merleau-Ponty in different ways articulated a concept of vision as a social field of visibility irreducible to singular and subjective acts of seeing. Visibility on their account encompasses a field of phenomena that includes embodied, psychic, and cultural aspects. Althusser transposed this psychoanalytical and phenomenological reading of visibility into a purely theoretical conceptin which theory is understood to be a field of visibility comprised of the conceptual objects of that theory.

And key to this concept is the idea that every theoretical field of visibility necessarily makes certain objects invisible. However, this invisibility can be seen. Althusser writes:

This opens the way to an understanding of the determination of the visibleas visible, and conjointly, of the invisible as invisible, and of the organic link binding the invisible to the visible. Any object or problem situated on the terrain and within the horizon, i.e., in the definite structured field of the theoretical problematic of a given theoretical discipline, is visible. (24)

Althusser articulates a theory of the theoretical field – a “definite” and “structured” field – as a field of pure visibility in which even all that is invisible is visibly invisible. The “blanks” or “invisible” objects within a theoretical field can be seen as blanks and invisibilities. No special gift of “insight” is required by a subject to “see” what is visible or invisible in a structured theoretical field.

The “sighting” of a particular theorist is not “the act of an individual subject endowed with the faculty of ‘vision,’” writes Althusser, “the sighting is the act of structural conditions, it is the relation of immanent reflection between the [theoretical] field … and its problems and its objects” (24). The whole theoretical “reflection” takes place immanently within the field of theoretical visibility bound by the structurally necessary relations between “its” objects and “its” problems. Finally, we come upon the crucial passage that prompted this essay. Althusser writes:

Vision then loses the religious privileges of divine reading: it is no more than a reflection of the immanent necessity that ties an object or problem to its conditions of existence, which lies in the conditions of its production. It is literally no longer the eye (the mind’s eye) of a subject which sees what exists in the field defined by a theoretical problematic: it is the field itself which sees itself in the objects or problems it defines – sighting being merely the necessary reflection of the field on its objects. (24)

Althusser locates theoretical vision immanently within the theoretical “field” through acts of defining/seeing objects and problems and these in turn define the extant boundary of the theoretical field.

But who or what “sees” the “theoretical field?” And where is this perspective located?

Is it in the field comprised of its objects or do the objects reflect the gaze of theory from an elsewhere beyond the defined field? The sighting appears within the field, but its appearance as a “reflection” indicates that it also lies outside the field’s theoretical bounds.

I suggest that this sighting – theoretical seeing – occupies a no-place, literally a utopic position or perspective, at once inside and outside Althusser’s theoretical field. The seeing at issue here, I claim, was first explicitly articulated against the backdrop of early consumer capital in Baudelaire’s “The Painter of Modern Life” published in 1863. Reading Capital and “The Painter of Modern Life” are thus linked by a certain utopian form of theoretical “seeing” against the backdrop of, and resistant to, capitalist life.

 

Flâneurial Perspective

“The Painter of Modern Life” aims to define modernity generally and sion the modern artist specifically. The flâneurial perspective, to which we will shortly turn, is at once Baudelaire’s object, and his method of distilling an immanent theory of modernity. The modern painter, writes Baudelaire, “everywhere [seeks] after the fugitive, fleeting beauty of present-day life, the distinguishing character of that quality which, with the reader’s kind permission, we have called ‘modernity’” (40). The theory of modernity is here linked to the flâneurial activity of gazing the ebb and flow of modern life, and distilling from that, an image of modernity (or the historical present).

Let us put the question of “beauty” to the side. Suffice to say that the prizing of “beauty” is “symptomatic” of the theoretical field in which Baudelaire theorized. Within this classical theoretical field of art quabeauty lies, however, another theoretical text of “modernity.” Baudelaire identifies “modernity” with the “present.”

The sign of “modernity” in art, argues Baudelaire, appears each time a painter is truthful to the appearance of his or her historical moment. This opens a genuinely novel theoretical insight: any painter of any historical epoch who represents the present is a “modern” artist. This in turn yields a transhistorical concept of modern art. “Every old master,” writes Baudelaire, “has had their own modernity”(13).

The trajectory of Baudelaire’s theory follows a flâneurial path through the “Painter” essay. It wanders as it wonders about everything from art to war to cosmetics. The essay’s theoretical field is vast, as “vast as a mirror,” for it aims to be a reflection of the whole of modernity (“Painter” 9).

Let us examine this closer by turning to section three of the essay titled “The Artist, Man of the World, Man of the Crowd, and Child.” This section takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Man of the Crowd,” which Baudelaire acknowledges with admiration. Baudelaire’s narrator adopts the perspective of Poe’s narrator, namely, that of a flâneur.

The “perfect flâneur,” writes Baudelaire, sets up “house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement” (9). However, despite the flâneurial desire to become “one flesh with the crowd” – to be seen as part of the urban flux – the flâneurial perspective must also remain outside this flux so as to observe and record it as is the duty of the modern artist according to Baudelaire. The flâneurial artist must be simultaneously in “the center of the [modern] world” and yet “remain hidden from the world” (9).

Baudelaire’s theory of the flâneur (qua modern artist) is figured by the work of the popular illustrator, Constantin Guys (1802-1892). But Guys is only a cipher in Baudelaire’s theory. His work is cited obliquely throughout the text as simply the work of “Monsieur G.” Baudelaire notes that this abbreviated and relatively anonymous reference to Constantin Guys was done as a favor to the artist who wanted him to preserve the “fiction” of his anonymity. Baudelaire writes:

Recently … when he learnt that I had it in mind to write an appreciation of his mind and his talent, he begged me – very imperiously, I must admit – to suppress his name, and if I must speak of his works, to speak of them as if they were those of an anonymous artist. I will humbly comply with this singular request. The reader and I will preserve the fiction that Monsieur G. does not exist, and we shall concern ourselves with his drawings and watercolors … as though we were scholars who had to pronounce upon historical documents, thrown up by chance, whose author must remain eternally unknown. (5-6)

I am not concerned with the veracity of the above story. Whatever Baudelaire’s reasons for rendering Constantin Guys as “Monsieur G.” are less important for present purposes than what this little “fiction” theoretically produces.

A new theoretical object comes into view in the passage from an effort to “suppress” Constantin Guy’s name to the appearance of the “fiction” that “Monsieur G. does not exist.” This fiction is a theoretical fiction that defines and makes visible an immanent field of critical objects and problems. This field of objects and problems is theoretically voided of the ideology of the capitalist subject endowed with the character of possessive individualism.

The text aims to theoretically read the works of “Monsieur G.” as “historical documents, thrown up by chance whose author must remain eternally unknown.” This theoretical “fiction” produces the very possibility it indexes for it makes it possible to read the works “as though” they are works of history– a history of present-day modernity – rather than an oeuvre signed by a humanist subject. I want to suggest that this fiction is produced by the theory of the flâneur and not by flâneurial practice. To unpack this, let us turn to Walter Benjamin’s celebrated reading of the flâneur.

 

Flâneurial Theory Against Flâneurial Practice

Benjamin’s work on the concept of the flâneur has been crucial to its subsequent conceptualization. But there has been a somewhat uncritical reception of Benjamin’s position on the flâneur. Some commentators suggest that Benjamin embraced flâneurial practiceas a mode of resistance to commodified life. But this is not quite what he argues.

The flâneurial method of theorizing, not the actual, historical practice of flânerie, is where Benjamin locates the resistance. Benjamin’s writing, which prizes the discarded and fragmented ruins of history and forgotten archives, is a flâneurial method of theorizing. It is a method that surveys the side streets and alleyways of history to pick out historical cast-offs and marshals them into a critique of contemporary society.

This method is evident in texts such as One-Way Street, his essay on Surrealism, and especially in his unfinished opus – the Arcades project. These texts adopt a flâneurial mode of theoretical seeing. They scan and survey the cultural topography of nineteenth-century capitalism, finding fragmentary moments that can be salvaged and reconstituted into constellations and dialectical contrasts capable of illuminating and resisting the present order. David Frisby, in his excellent essay “The Flâneur in Social Theory,” writes:

The fundamental ambiguity of the figure of the flâneur, sometimes verging on that of the mere stroller, at other times elevated to that of a detective, to the decipherer of urban and visual texts, indeed to the figure of Benjamin himself… [T]he flâneur… is a central, often metaphorical, figure that Benjamin employs to illuminate his own … method. (82)

The “fundamental ambiguity” that animates Benjamin’s reading of the flâneur is the ambiguity governing the relation between method and object of analysis, or more simply, that between theory and practice. We can grasp this ambiguity in Benjamin’s analysis of the flâneur in his magisterial essay, “The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire.”

The structural divisions of Benjamin’s essay share affinities with those of Baudelaire’s “The Painter of Modern Life.” Like Baudelaire, Benjamin surveys the nineteenth-century urban landscape and assembles a cast of typographical characters to animate it. Benjamin’s method of scanning, gazing, and collecting fragments of nineteenth-century Parisian culture reproduces the practice of the flâneur, but in a Marxist inflected practice of theory. This flâneurial theory is marshaled precisely to critique the historical practice of flânerie. Benjamin writes:

If there were such a thing as a commodity-soul (a notion that Marx occasionally mentions in jest), it would be the most empathetic ever encountered in the realm of souls, for it would be bound to see every individual as a buyer in whose hand and house it wants to nestle. Empathy is the nature of the intoxication to which the flâneur abandons himself in the crowd (85-86).

The “nature” of the flâneur’s intoxication with the crowd, according to Benjamin, is an intoxication with the conditions of consumer capital. To be intoxicated with the urban crowd, is to be intoxicated with the current conditions of commodified life. The historical flâneur’s intoxication with the sights of consumer culture blinded him to the economic and political conditions that underlie commodified life.

More damning still, Benjamin argues that the flâneur is a commodity. Here Benjamin follows Marx closely. Baudelaire’s writings on the flâneur, Benjamin notes, “becomes clear if one imagines it spoken not only from the viewpoint of a person but also from that of a commodity” (88). For, as Benjamin notes, a person qua potential “labor power, is a commodity” (88). The flâneur’s gaze makes the spectacle of consumption into a thing of fascination rather than an object of critique.

This social practice serves to advertise the spectacle of consumerism as a form of pleasure. Baudelaire’s sympathy for flâneurial practice, Benjamin argues, was symptomatic of his class’s historical blindness to the conditions of consumer capital, which was then only in its infancy. Benjamin writes:

To be sure, insofar as a person, as labor power, is a commodity, there is no need for him to identify himself as such. The more conscious he becomes of his mode of existence, the mode imposed on him, the more he will be gripped by the chilly breath of the commodity economy, and the less he will feel like empathizing with commodities. But things had not yet reached that point with the class of the petty bourgeoisie to which Baudelaire belonged. (88-89)

Benjamin’s critique of Baudelaire is less a critique of the person of Baudelaire than of his historical and class position. Baudelaire was born at a time and into a class that had not yet become “conscious” of the conditions of commodified life under capital. Baudelaire’s writings on the flâneur – his theoretical “field” – could not “see” what was there. Baudelaire’s “oversight” was Benjamin’s “insight” to put the matter in Althusserian terms.

I want to suggest, however, that it is Baudelaire’s theoretical figure of the flâneur and not the real or actual flâneur that contains an immanently anti-capitalist logic. It is by virtue of Baudelaire’s “fiction” of “Monsieur G.” – whose work is theoretically treated as products of history rather than a subject who can sign his name – that it becomes possible to theoretically read modern art in a way that does not revolve around the figure of the possessive individual endowed with private property relations.

It is this theoretical figure of the flâneur in Baudelaire and the theoretical method of flânerie in Benjamin that indxes a certain anti-capitalist logic common to each. Baudelaire and Benjamin both deploy a method theorizing structured by a flâneurial perspective that theoretically produces modes of resistance in and through theoretical writing itself. For as Frisby notes:

Flânerie [is] a form of reading the city and its population (its spatial images, its architecture, its human configurations), and a form of reading written texts…. The flâneur, and the activity of flânerie, is … associated … not merely with observation and reading but also with production– the production of distinctive kinds of texts (82-83).

Frisby’s perceptive analysis of the flâneur as both an actual “activity” and a theoretical “method” for producing texts critically intersects with Althusser’s Spinozist concept of theory as the production of the “object of knowledge” as distinct from the “real object.” Benjamin’s and Baudelaire’s theoretical deployment of flânerie as a method of reading and producing theoretical textsmust be distinguished fromthe “real” flâneur and the historical “activity” of flânerie.

However, it must be said that Benjamin’s theoretical “insight” into the commodified status of the “real” flâneur of the nineteenth century also produced its own “oversight.” Benjamin’s flâneurial gaze scanned the Baudelairean field, but it did not “see” all that was there. It did not see that “The Painter of Modern Life” had produced the theoretical “fiction” of the work of art voided of the proprietary rights afforded the signature under capitalism. And perhaps this escaped Baudelaire’s notice too. But it is there in theory.

 

Utopian Theory

Let us now return to the problem with which we began. What sense can be made of Althusser’s thesis that theory is a theoretical “field” which “sees itself” in “its objects and problems?” We should firstly ask: what is a theoretical “field?” Althusser’s theory of the theoretical field does not see the latent question for which Althusser’s thesis serves as a provisional answer. It does not see the “blanks” or “absences” that lie within the identity of the “field” itself.

We can transpose Althusser’s formula thus: it “is the field (…) which sees itselfin the objects and problems it (…) defines.” Althusser’s formulation is blind to what is absent in its own theoretical field of visibility, namely, the visible invisibilityof the concept “field” itself. We have only a thesis that logically functions as an answer to an absent question: what is a theoretical field? How can we answer this question when Althusser’s text does not see the concept of “field” as a question? Let us approach this question of the field “structurally.” How is “field” logically structured in Althusser’s formulation? We write this as Structure A below:

 

Structure A
1. field (theoretical)
2. sees (theoretical act)
3. itself (theory)
4. in objects and problems (by reflection)
5. it (theoretical field)
6. defines (by the act of structural conditions)

 

Points 1-5 of Structure A schematically construct a theory of theoryas reflection. The theoretical “field” sees itself by reflection in the objects and problems that the theoretical field defines. Therefore, we know that there are at least two acts that a theoretical field does. The field defines its objects and problems and by this act of defining it sees itself.

What is the relation between these two verbs – defining and seeing? Recall these lines from Reading Capital cited earlier; theoretical “sighting is the act of structural conditions, it is the relation of immanent reflection between the [theoretical] field” and “its problems and its objects” (24). The question (not seen as a question) of the “act of structural conditions” constitutes another structure that can be written as:

 

Structure B
1. sighting (theoretical act)
2. act (structurally conditioned)
3. of (the structural conditions)
4. the theoretical field

The logical connection between Structures A and B yield the following. The theoretical field is a field of visibility that sees itself by an act of sighting. This act of sighting is equal to the act of defining, which is itself equal to the field’s structural conditions. Sighting is an act of defining objects and problems in a structured field of theoretical visibility.

The key term is “in” from Structure A. The field’s “objects and problems” and the acts of “sighting” that “defines” these “objects and problems” are both seen in the field of theoretical visibility. The field contains both the “objects and problems” and the acts of defining them and sighting them by way of reflection. We can write this as:

Structure C
1. Theory (theoretical field)
2. sees/does/sighting (acts immanent to the field)
3. itself (theory)
4. in objects and problems (that reflect the theoretical field)
5. defines (the act that establishes the objects and the problems immanent to the field)

The Althusserian “field” can be visualized as a field of visibility in which all its objects and problems andthe very sighting of these, occurs within and immanently reflects the structural conditions of theoretical visibility itself. The Althusserian concept of “field” displaces the schema of subject (actor) on objects (of acts) for an immanent model in which “sighting” is given what Deleuze might call an “a-subjective” status inasmuch as it severs the concept of “act” from a subjective (and subject-centric) concept of “actor.” “It is literally no longer the eye (the mind’s eye) who sees,” writes Althusser, but an immanent and “a-subjective” field “which sees itself” (24).

Structures A and B are equally direct objects of a-subjective acts of sighting and defining made visible through reflection in the objects and problems seen and defined by the theoretical field. These theoretical reflections indicate that the gaze of theory originates from a place exterior to the field the act of sighting defines for it appears always as a “reflection” in the field.

Althusserian vision (not Althusser’s vision) therefore is located in two positions simultaneously. It inhabits a literally utopian place – a no-place – at once inside and outside the concept of the theoretical field. This structural condition of seeing within and without the theoretical field is the flâneurial condition of seeing. We can compare Althusser’s structure of seeing with that of Baudelaire’s by a comparative table:

Althusserian Structure: Theory of Theory Baudelairean Structure: Theory of Modernity
1. theoretical field 1. modernity
2. sees 2. sees
3. itself 3. itself
4. in object and problems that define the theoretical field (by way of reflection) 4. in the flâneur (who reflects the crowd/world)

Baudelaire and Althusser each figure a conceptual mode of “seeing” immanent to their objects of analysis: “modernity” (Baudelaire) and “field” (Althusser). In both cases, this form of theoretical seeing is immanent and external to the objects and problems it defines. This no-place perspective contains a politically radical kernel.

To be theoretically in a system and outside it produces a perspective that is impossible to assume except in theory. The Baudelairean field theoretically produced the theoretical fiction of art voided of capitalist relations and the Althusserian “field” produced the figure of “theory” as the name for a form of seeing likewise inside and outside the problematic it sights and defines. That the flâneurial perspective is a utopian vantage that can only be assumed in theory is no cause for dismay, for it recalls theory’s political potency to think in ways unbounded by the constraints and limits of the real. And this too, as Baudelaire knew, is the power of art itself.

 

Jonathan Fardy, PhD is Assistant Professor of Art History at Idaho State University. His research examines the aesthetics of theoretical practice. He is the author of three books, Laruelle and Non-Photography (Palgrave 2018);  Laruelle and Art: The Aesthetics of Non-Philosophy (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019); and Althusser and Art (Zero Books, 2020).

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