Introduction 1. The essays chosen for this volume were part of a larger work-in-progress on the meeting of structuralist and Marxist currents in the 1960s which I developed throughout the 1970s. The project as a whole was never completed, though that aspect dealing with Lucien Goldmann appeared first as my dissertation and then as a condensed book (Zimmerman 1985). Other parts of the project were published as articles; still others were left as drafts. I have selected seven pieces for this volume, because they constitute a particular unity important for an understanding of Marxist work in the 1970s, the effort to navigate in Marxist waters in relation to the conflict between neo-Hegelian and structuralist or Althusserian interpretations of Marx, and the confusion they generated in the U.S. context. The resolution in England was the emergence of Birmingham cultural studies, in the hands of Hoggart, Williams, Thompson and Hall—not to mention the somewhat more individualized work of Terry Eagleton; the resolution in the U.S. was the relative triumph of post-structuralism and the Western Marxist critique and re- articulation of post-structuralist currents in the work of Fredric Jameson and his followers and “fellow travelers”. Then came the effects of feminism, of Birmingham School cultural studies, post-colonial theory and other currents in that frame. Curiously with respect to my own work, all these essays achieved publishable form when I was an unemployed academic working with Mexican and Mexican American farm workers in Minnesota In many ways, as I culminated several years of work on European Marxist, Structuralist and other theories and their possible modes of integration, my own life and some of my concrete study of culture and literature was shifting toward Latin American concerns, and I left my primary focus on theory to pursue work in that direction. However, the theoretical essays continued to cast shadows on my Latin American work; they continue to haunt me; and I have decided that it would be of historical and perhaps some lingering theoretical interest to bring them together here, to inaugurate the series of publications which will appear under the rubric of Global CASA Publications. First, and the central concern in the first two essays in this collection, is the fact that, while troubled and affected by structuralism and Althusserian structuralist Marxism, I sought to hold on to and amplify perspectives coming from the Lukácsian-Goldmannian Hegelian Marxist tradition. In this effort, I was influenced clearly by my apprenticeship with Fredric Jameson, but only mutedly by his primary focus on the Frankfurt school and Sartre. Clearly absent from my work, and making my own immediate link with later Birmingham developments quite difficult, was a focus on Gramsci and my persistent adherence to a high cultural model through a Goldmannian emphasis on “great works” as most expressive of world historical significance and change. This turn toward Gramsci and neo-Gramscian perspectives would be part of my move to my Latin and Central Americanist work. But perhaps as a transitional move in all this, and emerging in the third and forth essays herein was my growing interest first in Spanish and then in Latin American concerns, which are only adumbrated in the essays on structural historicism and Claudio Guillén’s relation thereto. For still another important route of structuralist integration was that taken by Marxists who, while skeptical about the validity of Althusser’s efforts, were: drawn to the post-structuralist historicist formulations of Fernand Braudel and the “Annales group” of structural historicism. Since the seventh and final chapter of this book dwells on the question of the Hegelian/Althusserian conflict, here in my summary of some of the key dimensions of the chapters presented, I will emphasize chapters 3 and 4my essays on structural historicism and Claudio Guillén. 2. As spelled out in Chapter I, in the early 1970s, I believed that a major theoretical question for Marxism is the confrontation, assimilation and transcendence of, the struggle for hegemony with, the various forms of hegemonic ideological constructs as they proliferate and affect Marxist constructs during distinct phases of capitalist development. If, for example, structuralism stressed the linguistic sign as a basic mediation between consciousness and reality, and if, as in Jean Baudrillard’s extension, emphasis was to be given to the signifying network of commodities as the dominating feature (no longer, or, in Baudrillard’s retrospective study, never a mere mediation) of every day life, then the analysis of reification by Lukács, Lefebvre, and Goldmann could begin to merge with certain insights of the structuralists and Althusserian Marxists on structural displacements and condensations.1 Even at that distant time of theoretical development, I believed that all conceptual strands involved might be reformulated in terms of macro- and micro-structural modulations in a complex international world systems model (model conceived in the provisional, Marxist as opposed to the ontological, structuralist, sense),2 in which emphasis had shifted from alienation in production to a generalized reification in consumption, from revolution in the metropolis, to the interplay of oppositional and revolutionary forces in all world sectors. This apparent effort of “scientizing” would not exhaust (and hence negate) the ultimate object of investigation, which was not metonymy but genuine diachrony, not «functional deviance» but genuine oppositional praxis —in consciousness, in sign-making and revolution- making action. The effort was to specify the possibilities and limits of a theory for determining the conditions of praxis. Only such a framework, I believed, could provide a basis for identifying, situating and criticizing literary forms, subsystems and systems (if such ever did or still exist integrally) in a Marxist perspective. In that light, Chapters I and II examined Marxist formulations of relations between history, structure, sign systems and literary forms in the effort to achieve a totalization of all dimensions that would lead to a theoretical synthesis which I thought adequate to the theoretical demands posed by the historical conjuncture of the times. And this context established, I then turned to an examination of structural historicist theory as developed in Braudel and others connected as specialists in history, culture and literature with the Annales school (Chapter III), culminating with a close look at Claudio Guillén (Chapter IV) as a theorist who best articulated the theoretical perspectives related to structural historicism. 3. Step by step, Annales historians had applied the model-building techniques developing in economic history to elaborate an integrative historical method aimed at grasping the interrelations of socio-economic processes in a way that balanced out and conceptualized 1 For Baudrillard, see The Mirror of Production (St. Louis, 1975). 2 On this issue, see Alain Badiou, Le concept de modele (Pans, 1970) historical elements, de-emphasized events and individuals, and accounted for historical constraints and continuities, as well as dynamic relations and transformations. At the center of structural historicism’s theoretical apparatus is the motion of the varying historical elements achieving relatively stable and hierarchical relations, to constitute a virtual structure, or pattern of relations, which encapsulates forces of change and tends to endure over time. This structuration process leads to a historical verticality of structural “levels” whose interrelatedness, relative autonomy and possibilities for change and for effect on other levels can only be grasped through the construction of models. Until Braudel, even Annales writers had centered their work on the relation between relatively long range processes and short-term conjunctures. Braudel sought to conceptualize history in terms of the intersection of various temporalities and rhythms, including those deep, seemingly unchanging forces that he relegated to the “long duration” in a skein of analysis that broke with national boundaries and was transnational avant la lettre. The question of historical analysis becomes one of determining the basic structural field of analysis and plotting the possible shifting relations and transformations within this field, as well as the possible effects of structurally generated innovations upon the structure itself. History is a vast skein of transformations on basic structures—transformations which are generated by inter- structural relations and which cannot be grasped by focusing on humans or on many “aspect” of history, but only in terms of the structures themselves. In the structural historicist framework, literature has its own relatively autonomous developmental rhythm and its own mode of historical relatedness. But Braudel’s theorization assures that literature is related to other historical phenomena—that it is important in history, and that history is important to it and its understanding. Thus, structural historicism emerges as our third, or intermediate, holistic theory on which, can integrate many structuralist and Marxist elements. Unlike structuralism, it makes no necessary ontological-epistemological assertion about any basic underlying transhistorical structures (long duration are not necessarily eternal; structural historicist models are provisional.) Unlike most versions of Marxism, it makes no theoretical assertion about the underlying determinations of Historical structures by any supposed economic base. Clearly such an “intermediate” theorization could be “de-centered” in the direction of structuralism or Marxism: Levi Strauss drew on Braudel in his formulation of a theory of “hot” and “cold” societies (The Raw and the Cooked); Althusser drew on Braudel to constitute his new reading of Marx. Enter the work of Claudio Guillén. Because of all the many efforts to develop a structural historicist approach to literature, of all the many efforts to utilize structuralist findings within the framework of a theory which assumes that interrelatedness of literature and history, Guillén’s Literature and System represents the most extreme theorization, which attempts to include the most historically resistant literary phenomena, and which at least makes a gallant effort to include the humanly subjective and creative in a totalization that remains “systematic.” While Guillén’s work draws on the entire cultural tradition extending from the Russian Formalists to the linguistic structuralists of France, I choose in my essay to see his theoretical contribution as a part of a historicist and specifically structural historicist reconceptualization of structuralist tendencies, and, therefore, as an intermediate critique between structuralist anti- historicism and Marxism. My study of his book centers exclusively on his approach to literary- historical theory in the context established above. I attempt to set forth his overall perspective, and differentiate it from those approaches that are related or similar, and establish the coordinates for a critique. In this context, I describe his view of periods and currents, and his definitions of such key terms as “system, structure, content, form and function.” I then proceed to a more detailed treatment of his critique of basic approaches to literary history, his objections to (1) normative literary historicisms (Marxist included), to monographic studies, to studies of national literatures, and to most approaches centered on genres, modes, themes and aspects of rhetoric or style. In the sixth section, I treat his reconstitution of genre study as a basis for a valid, systemic, “pandiachronic” and intrinsically comparative literary history; and I specify initial objections Guillén anticipates, and his proposed answers to these objections. While I raise my own objections and questions here and there, I do my best to allow for an objective, rounded presentation of Guillén’s central position: that in literary history, the relation to explore is that of any given work or set of works to the system of which it is a part, and then of this system to other co-existing and development literary and extra-literary systems; and that the mode of inter- relatedness between literature and other aspects of history can be best grasped according to an open multiple interactional model which accounts for shifting hierarchies and relations among the clusters of systemic; and less systemic elements constituting the totality of history . In my final section, I launch my full critique of Guillén – first, a mainly Althusserian questioning of the untheorized empirical and “humanistic” residues inherent in his (and ultimately, Braudel’s) open approach to a science of history; second (and this is a “Hegelian Marxist” attack which embraces both Guillén and the Althusserian critique of structural historicism) a questioning of the relation of his systems notion to a Marxism that stresses the structure-making activity over the systemic reproduction and proliferation, of structures. If in the course of my analysis, I point out a certain unintegrated eclecticism in Guillén’s work, if I point to the ideological bases for certain inconsistencies and limits in his theory, if I ultimately question the possibility of his proposed domination-free interactional model, and, if ultimately I fault even the very “episteme” in which his theorizing is inscribed, I do not carry out my “de-construction” without pointing to Guillén’s contribution in many specific ways. I note his rejection of fixed schema, his dynamizing preference for system over structure, his perspectivization of multiple literary functionality, his contribution of the proper mediational coordinates between the study of literary and more general socio-historical phenomena. Most importantly, I suggest the importance of his accomplishment in establishing the viability of his theoretical coordinates in terms of an international, comparatist perspective commensurate with the Marxist sense of global literary relations under capitalist development (Guillén’s theory has value in relation to dependency theory and its literary application); and within the contexts of the structural revolution, I point to his return to a concern with form a potentially viable means of sublating the abstractive, schematic and anti-historic thrust of structuralist analysis. Much happened in literary general theory, and in the developing dialectic between structuralism and Marxist in the first years after the publication of Literature as System. And indeed much happened in Guillén’s own work. My essay only suggests some of these matters, and then I move on to my final essays touching on the overall concerns set forth above. But I believe that my essay on Guillén accomplishes its main goal—to give an adequate Marxist treatment to a contribution toward developing literary theory, from the perspective of its point of intervention in the relatively systematic development of the Marxist- structuralist encounter, as it touches on the question of literary analysis, and as it lead to post-structuralist and post-Marxist syntheses. 4. A further dimension of my work on structuralism and structuralism historicism is a movement of literary references from France and Spain to Latin America, as a source of example, but also a motive for theoretical moves. Perhaps Chapter V is the least indicative of this dimension as it explores another form of literary historicism which emerged in the period. Nevertheless, the relationship to Latin America deserves some mention here as well. Reception theory struck me as a possible corrective to the orthodox Marxist productivist emphases which still seemed to haunt even the most formulations of Marxist literary theory. Although linked to Habermasian questions involving the public sphere and other issues important to post-Holocaust reconstructions of German critical theory, early versions of reception theory struck a chord with me in relation to the anti-production centered dependency and world systems theory versions of neo-Marxism projected by Sweezey, Gunder Frank and Wallerstein during the 70s. At that time, only Carlos Rincón was seeking to integrate reception theory questions into his take on Latin American Literature. My brief foray into this terrain was meant to complement my exploration of structural historicism and Guillén, as I sought to build a theoretical combinatoire that would project my work toward Latin American concerns which remain relatively unstated in the chapter itself. Reception theory later developed in terms of reader response theory, and in some ways it relates to Stanley Fish’s work on interpretative communities. While my own work was only rarely to go in this direction, there would be an obvious concern with reception dynamics in some of my Central American books of the 1980s and my work since. The Latin American emphasis is more clearly marked in the final two chapters of the book. These essays may seem to mark somewhat of a divergence in form and function from the other chapters in this volume. Nevertheless, they apply and extend concepts set forth in the earlier chapters on structuralist and structural historicist theory; and they represent the culmination of Latin American references marking out views of literary works and theories which would be central in most of my work from the late 1970s on. The penultimate chapter in this book, “First Aesthetic Meditations on Capital,” is my economist reading of modern aesthetics based on my meditations with Ileana Rodríguez on the opening pages of Marx’s Capital as the final draft of a series of speculative Capital study group notes we drafted for study group meetings we attended, and which I then amplified some years later as I became focused on publishing my work. Here the struggles between Lukacian/Goldmannian and Althusserian perspectives come very much to the fore, and are only tempered somewhat by perspectives stemming from structuralism, structural historicism and reception theory. The search for relations between aesthetic form and the commodity form in the systematic unfolding of historical processes and contradictions dominated by production and exchange systems is the core of the “Meditations.” Some months after the article appeared in a special issue of the French-centered journal, Sub- Stance, Terry Eagleton published a review of the issue, including an ambivalent commentary on our article, in The Minnesota Review, no, 10 (Spring, 1978). In his commentary, Eagleton praised the novelty of our approached by questioned what he considered to be the troubling eclecticism involved in the effort to combine Hegelian and Althusserian efforts, and a distrubing economistic reductionism which seems simultaneously criticized and espoused in our essay. Ileana Rodríguez and I had reached our own conclusions about the successes and excesses of our position. Since Rodríguez was heavily involved in other projects, it fell to me to articulate the modifications in our stance—in the “Auto-Critique” drafted for an intervention at the Sub-Stance conference on Sociocriticism, which took place in Paris, November, 1977, but which I could not attend (only years later did I find out that the article was translated, presented at the conference and subsequently published in French). These and other connections suggest that my “Auto-Critique” may very well deal with issues that were important to discussions of Althusserian literary theory and its adoption by critics in the U. S. and elsewhere. To be sure, there is no article specifically on Althusser (I drafted one but never brought it to final form). But the “Auto-Critique” sets forth a partial effort to settle some accounts with Althusserian Marxism and its influence on American Marxist literary criticism. Reading it now it seems perhaps too much a capitulation to Althusser—with too many concessions made to an overly schematic entry into the political. As such, it seems of special relevance not only to the matters touched on by Eagleton, both in his review of our article and in his overall work. If “Meditations” veered too much in the direction of economism, the “Auto- critique” seems to negate the complexities of my prior earlier work and turn toward a kind of reified political shortcut, enabled by a reductive reading of Althusser’s “Ideological Apparatuses of the State.” The leap from deep analysis to a schematic view of politics was on the horizon. And the Latin American references, with regard to dependency and world systems theories, are symptomatic of specific direction my own political insertion. In fact, “The Auto-Critique” was written in Caracas in 1976 as I was becoming more fully swept up in Latin American concerns. The Sandinista rebellion would begin to heat up the next year. 5. So much has happened since that time; and here we are post Cold war, post 9/11, looking perhaps with humor and sadness, at these older texts from a time of hope and illusion. It is of course valuable to re-examine the positions of the 1960s and 1970s in light of the present, to see what in them will be valuable in the making of future theory. And it may well be valuable to examine my old essays in this context—as the work of a fledgling theorist writing under the influence of Fredric Jameson but also seeking new directions through readings of Telos, New German Critique, New Literary History and other journals that were seeking new directions in those days. Of course, it is at times comical to read texts imbued with a belief in revolutionary possibilities and indeed of possible revolution, especially if I can find a way to reconcile and integrate theoretical perspectives in my essays. It is perhaps amusing to watch this young earnest theorist so convinced that all one had to do was adjust theoretical perspectives and world problems could be resolved. It is also comical to see how anachronistic the essays were even as I wrote them, for they are based on a knowledge world that was already becoming passé, already overcome by the thinkers like Braudillard, Foucault, Lacan and Kristeva that I occasionally allude to, but even more so by Derrida and all that was to constitute the poststructuralist revolution and that would in turn lead Marxists to new perspectives, including neo, post and no- Marxism. These were matters I might have dealt with directly had I not decided to curtail my reading and referencing in order to complete these and other essays and then taken the leap into the political. And in fact, theory had quite well passed me by even as I became somewhat known as a theorist for these and other essays. So, I remember with quite a shock, attending a session of the Midwest Modern Language Association only a couple of years into my exile from academe, to hear the young translator of Derrida’s On Grammatology, originally published in 1967, only to realize that I did not understand a word she said. “My God,” I thought, “in two years, I’ve lost my field.” . But there was no help for it. Even as these essays and other related ones were written, I was on my way to focusing not on the postructuralist revolution, but the political revolutions that seemed to be already underway in Central America. Those interests took me away physically and intellectually; and I only returned, however haltingly, to theory (but how the theoretical world had changed!) as I became more established in Latin American work and as John Beverley and I drafted the opening chapters of our book on Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions (1991). But that is another story for another book, or other books, along the way.
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