For many humanists and cultural critics, Fredric Jameson’s work in the early 1980s typified a certain kind of Freudo-Marxist inquiry, a materialist approach to the investigation of politics and aesthetics that would remain influential through the turn of the millennium. Yet the status of criticism and theory has changed subtly in recent years, particularly with the advent of new materialism and the larger ontological turn in contemporary theory. This article reassesses Jameson in the context of today’s new materialism, with an eye on the relationship between politics and ontology. Like many Marxists, Jameson tends to avoid discussions of essence, existence, presence, and other ontological topics. Yet being so thoroughly influenced by Hegel’s dialectic and the representational logics of cultural Marxism, Jameson indeed promulgates a very specific ontological structure, if not in word then in deed. This article makes the argument explicitly: Jameson is an ontological thinker; he proposes a specific structure of being, a structure that, while rooted in the Kantian tradition, nevertheless inverts that tradition in favor of a more materialist core.
History Is What Hurts: On Old Materialism
Alexander R. Galloway is a writer and computer programmer working on issues in philosophy, technology, and theories of mediation. Professor at New York University, he is the author of several books, most recently Laruelle: Against the Digital (2014).