Recap and Critique

Putting here a summary of chapters from The Provoked Economy (see 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6a, 6b and 7) is, in part, a modest contribution to the publicity of a book that nobody is really meant to actually buy, at least not directly (it costs a fortune, although perhaps an invisible friend might have wanted to do something about that). It is also a way to compensate from the lack of summary thereof in what is offered in the book’s very short “tentative conclusion” (p. 127-130). These four pages go straight to the question of the “critical edge”. It naturally sides with proposals that see in “the performative” (whatever this means) not an impediment against critique (scholarly, political or otherwise) but rather the condition of critique proper. And there are numerous such proposals: see for example recent discussions on critical performativity (a topic that is alive and well, judging from this interesting call), on the limits of performativity, or on the political performative.

Here the point is just to see how the book’s favorite notions (description, simulacrum, provocation, explicitness) do translate into a critical repertoire. They do, of course. And in order to sum up the idea, the conclusion talks about something like “experimental critique”. How this differs from standard views of what critique means (whether understood in the mundane sense of telling that something is bad or good, or in the more philosophical sense of considering signification from all possible angles), is for the reader to judge — and for the author too, certainly elsewhere:

“The point of the idea of experimental critique is to add to this but a nuance: that, in all cases, the performative condition of the critical undertaking should not be taken as some sort of demoralizing deterrence, but rather as part of its deliberate methodology. And the how and the where remains also an open question — definitely not something these pages could settle.” (p. 130)