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Oscillate Wildly

Space, Body, and Spirit of Millennial Materialism

1998
Author:

Peter Hitchcock
Foreword by Stephen E. Cullenberg

Oscillate Wildly

A dizzying, exhilarating approach to materialist theory for the new century.

At a moment of crisis, in the wake of materialist practice once known as socialist revolution, this bold and innovative book presents oscillation as a metaphor for understanding materialism anew. Mindful of the dangers for materialism, Peter Hitchcock nevertheless shows how oscillation is part of the conceptual framework of materialist inquiry from Marx to the present.

“Hitchcock offers a powerful recasting of the field of ‘theory’ around the problem of materialism. He shows us that what is living in contemporary criticism is its materialist impulse, and what is dead is its tendency to freeze into institutional machines. Oscillate Wildly is thoroughly intelligent, provocative, and full of useful ideas.” Richard Dienst, Purdue University

What keeps materialism moving? At a moment of crisis, in the wake of materialist practice once known as socialist revolution, this bold and innovative book presents oscillation as a metaphor for understanding materialism anew. Mindful of the dangers for materialism, Peter Hitchcock nevertheless shows how oscillation is part of the conceptual framework of materialist inquiry from Marx to the present.

A reply to the call to rethink the material constraints on materialism itself, this book uses oscillation to refer simultaneously to movement within and between bodies of theory, within theories of the body, and within and between institutional spaces in which such theory is taken up. Hitchcock argues that oscillation augurs a politics that both shares the legacy of historical materialism and recognizes the critical edge of cultural materialism in its approach to the social practices of everyday life. In a series of ingenious readings, he rethinks the problem of ideology for Marx and his interpreters (Etienne Balibar in particular); provides a materialist intervention on the status of the body for theory; proposes an analysis of theories of space and the space of theory in the era of “cartographic anxiety”; sees the ghosts of materialism oscillating a good deal more wildly than Derrida would have it; offers a daring approach to shoes and fetishism within transnational capitalism; and concludes with a novel lesson on what the theremin, an electronic musical instrument based on oscillators, might teach us about sense perception for materialist thought.

As both a descriptive device for the state of materialism and a critical tool within a polemic about what materialism can do at this juncture, oscillation provides a brilliant key to materialist critique.

Oscillate Wildly

Peter Hitchcock is professor of literary and cultural studies at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His books include Dialogics of the Oppressed (Minnesota, 1993).

Oscillate Wildly

“Hitchcock offers a powerful recasting of the field of ‘theory’ around the problem of materialism. He shows us that what is living in contemporary criticism is its materialist impulse, and what is dead is its tendency to freeze into institutional machines. Oscillate Wildly is thoroughly intelligent, provocative, and full of useful ideas.” Richard Dienst, Purdue University

A dizzying, exhilarating approach to materialist theory for the new century. What keeps materialism moving? At a moment of crisis, in the wake of materialist practice once known as socialist revolution, this bold and innovative book presents oscillation as a metaphor for understanding materialism anew. Mindful of the dangers for materialism, Peter Hitchcock nevertheless shows how oscillation is part of the conceptual framework of materialist inquiry from Marx to the present. As both a descriptive device for the state of materialism and a critical tool within a polemic about what materialism can do at this juncture, oscillation provides a brilliant key to materialist critique.

Philosophical Inquiry

Oscillate Wildly

CONTENTS

FOREWORD Stephen E. Cullenberg
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

AN INTRODUCTORY OSCILLATION

1. METAPHORS (OF MATERIALISM)
2. BODIES (OF MATERIALISM)
3. SPACES (DF THEORY) SB
4. FETISHISM (OF SHOES)
5. ( ) OF GHOSTS

CONCLUSION: THEREMIN'S TOUCH
NOTES
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX