Robert Wood: On Theories of Suburbanism

  Robert Wood

  On Theories of Suburbanism


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The ‘banal’ expression of occupation in settler societies today is the ‘suburbs’.[Endnote 1] This is the case in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. This is not to suggest that we do not see cases of direct violence or that there are not sovereign peoples in them or that suburbs do not exist in other nations or that the suburbs are categorically distinct from city or country.[Endnote 2] It is that we fail to think through the collective material and ideal life that inheres in them in a language game that is from them.[Endnote 3]


In other words, we lack translations of this critique that are immanent to this ‘style of life’.[4] Since their development as an object domain of distinction in the post-World War Two era, precious little has been written about the material culture, intangible heritage and quotidian expressions that accumulate into a congealed historical understanding.[5] Now that the Anthropocene is discussed in contemporary discourse, it seems that the owl that flew at dusk has made it through till dawn and we can see our era in a new light prior to its fading.[6] In other words, we can cognise what suburbanism is precisely because it continues to exist without recourse to its passing.


Suburbanism is the retrofitting of the suburbanite that recaptures the original utopian Geist.[7] The poetic expressions of anomie, alienation, straightjacketing, morbidity and shame that convey a suburbanite sensibility need to be challenged by close reading the archive, which displays the infinity of experience.[8] We need to find the positive emotional entrainments as expressed in linguistic rituals to undermine a ’68 historicisation that Oedipally held onto an anti-sentimental yet falsely nostalgic 1950s in a death drive that simply relocated narcissism into its self by denying the pleasures and good life of its parents.[9] Rebellion never seemed so conceited, conquered or derivative.[10] That the 1960s are held onto as a revolutionary moment only suggests the way in which they were conservative at heart, precisely because their performative affect was countered by a failure to attend to spirit, politics and history.[11] The reification of rights precisely when power had shifted from juridical-legal settings to corporations is simply one example of the strategic failure of ‘the left’ at this time.[12]


The perceived uneven distribution of futurity and resources that allows claims of avant gardeism to persist has resulted in a conceit that ideas will one day percolate, that language was the ladder by which we climbed into tanks and planes and trains.[13] The reasons people do things are much more complex.[14] Every manifesto need be interpreted, translated, misapplied, contested and re-written.[15] How that is done will surely depend on the context of intelligibility one carries in one’s body, which is the liberation of the soul, as much as the space one enters into, and the sources from which one grows.[16] If the author is dead, the reader is alive; if the work is undefined, the society knows why.[17]


That we need to create terms and phrases that decalcify historically leaden ones speaks to the freedom of anti-collusive thought. In America that might mean challenging the raced discourse of black and white, not only of the one-drop rule but also in their shared occupation of indigenous territory.[18] Together, individuals who identify as either or both stripe need to take responsibility rather than continue to deny the realities of suburban life, which is not simply about white flight, a new frontier or gilded incarceration.[19]


The unpacking of this depends on how one is able to negotiate the positioning that comes from conservative thought, particularly from the self-congratulatory left liberalism that initially appears progressive.[20] No one has greater recourse than to consider how commoditized they are — one’s ethics need be judged by how one buys, spends, acts if one wants to think through one’s base assumptions.[21] Hence the necessary reclamation of suburbia, which is unsustainable, rationalised, bloated and aspirational.


That this belt decides where power lies by its ballot, by its dollar and by its soft projective power, which manifests in cultural tastes transmitted worldwide, means that activism of the possible needs to acknowledge that this is a nerve centre for our present life.[22] It is not simply that we must stop climate change through anti-capitalist enterprise, which seems boneheaded given the polluting possibility in communist countries, it is that to live good lives we must be in service to an ecologically minded, which is to say worldly, sign system of living and engagement.[23]


Poetics is a specific and special field consisting of poems, their connective tissue and Geist.[24] A poem though is a language game, and, when read dialectically, it can be a sacred or profane act dependent on the reader whose frame is determined by their emotional entrainment through status groups’ micro interactive ritual chains.[25] How we examine poetry depends in part on the linguistic sources that determine our context of intelligibility, what we deem to be possible and the capital we wish to accrue in that setting.[26]


That means any linguistic artefact can contain a poetics, where a linguistic artefact is understood semiotically as a symptomatic focal point for the network.[27] The ‘classics’ then are simply those with a perceived density that has accumulated through translations into recognisable rituals if not contested truth content.[28] Legislation then is the forgotten poetry of history but it demands attention as an artefact of language worthy of close reading precisely because of its implication.


We could mean the White Australia Policy as something worthy of interrogation as much as Seamus Heaney’s ‘Lightenings’ or Derek Walcott’s ‘The Bounty’. This is then about the application of frame to the raw material at hand. That this would be original only misconstrues the argument that need rebuttal, namely that repetition is not inter alia negative capital.[29] Our fetish for the reboot simply because it appears new does not warrant its immediate validation.[30]


What constitutes something new relies on a perceived absence in the archive. But the archive is infinite; the regression is infinite; that is to say, we can talk and talk till the cows come home about nothing at all whether that nothing is ‘time’ or ‘being’ or ‘mind’ or even just plain old nothing.[31] This work challenges the dictum that we need ‘make it new’ or return to the Greeks for answers or that ideas do not matter.[32] Through language as that social and tangible thing we participate and change the world, which surely does exist.[33]


This is not through the unoriginality of genius but through the presence of history today as a proliferative resource that offers only more questions.[34] It is not about answering ‘what is a poem?’ in a definitive, positive sense; but about suggesting that the conditions in which we ask need unpacking as surely as any specific artefact and possibility. Part of that condition is undeleting our sensibility as readers through challenging the acceptable boundaries of authorial insertion.[35]


I make that statement as a white man not a brown one who is validated by their supposed heightened experience, which serves only to render and anthropologise my philosophical discourse as something beyond my own. My first hand is still my right hand is still my write hand. Empire’s challenges exist insofar as we live discursively inside it. Our negation perpetuates it, while our ignorance de-blisses it.[36]


‘Suburbanism’ as a re-organisation of thought enables us to re-negotiate the terms of trade precisely because it is emergent and rich because of this. It offers us a way to critique ‘Australia’ or any such polity that is predetermined to be suburban, and not simply as a new intellectual commodity that can be assimilated, reified and fetishized by an unresponsive and unchanged structure.[37] It is not about raw material being value added by critical scholarship but about undoing the academy from a located perspective that is not not nomadic.[38]


By ‘Australia’ one not only means the nation, the geography, the landmass, but also the systems of thought, the ideas, the language, both of which are porous albeit gripped by the ‘space’ of a transnationalism, global Anglophonia and world studies.[39]


That theory is thought to be the province of Europe, without an adequate provincializing of the said continent, and America dominates the contemporary scholarly field with peripheries providing ore, wheat, fleece is only a useful heuristic that need challenging. This can be done by reversal — Heaney poem, Farrell reading, Peirce implicating — which overturns the false consciousness that unduly siloes the possible by reinforcing the limits of History.[40] A revolution is necessary and it must come from the suburbs.


That it has already happened may be the case for the dead, even as reclaiming their joy remains one possible dialogic unobligation that allows us to see through to a saner world.[41] Thus, it is not about deconstruction of today through past action, but the reparticipation in and reconstruction of presentism in order to enable a precise vulgarity.[42]


That my morning shit can become fodder for the tree that becomes my book is the absolute point. It should not be flushed out to sea, which is not to suggest that science knows what is what on a grand scale or that I have ceded ground to its expertise on the basis of enlightenment faith alone especially because sovereign traditional knowledge systems approach the most complex hydro geographies; it is that I prefer not to swim with a brown cigar fish, which might be because it is in dangerous poor taste that destroys my gut flora and ruins my skin.[43] What is necessary then is the permaculturisation of poetics, considered here to be a question for philosophy, history, politics, economics, which are simply disciplinary ideal types worthy of interrogation, creative destruction and renewal.[44]


Aesthetics then as the apprehension of the surface of things is precisely where the depth of available light lies.[45] Suburban expressions of that need be attended to. The suburbanite rendering might be fast food involving agribusiness modes of production; might be pornography involving meat market modes of production; might be elite academies involving publish or perish modes of production; all which rest on casualised pools of labour that refute the long term through a paradoxical and affective performative obsession with liveliness now; all of which share a certain exploitative tendency that nevertheless feels good even as one can puncture the gloss by asking what happens after my death, which is to say a symbolic end.[46]


The moral righteousness of the neo-hippy capitalist would have us believe in organics, tantra and mindfulness failing to see how their structural approximation is its own industry that need be questioned. This is not to disagree with the market, but to ask what is the market to begin with? What happens in the food court, passionate marriage and intellectualising publics?


Historicising the foundations means we can ruin buildings and build ruins, which might be the best possible outcome when we live on shifting sands and bleached coral bandwidth.[47] We could go elsewhere, to firmer ground or yet more fluid islands.


There are genealogical networks to be made that point us towards the direction we need to go in, that start to map out a way where we do not have to find our way about.[48]


I am speaking here of the poetics of Suburbanism, be that the pink trim of an iced vovo in the supermarket aisle that captures the attention of the shopper in such a way that they think of eating it with tea rather than focus on the two layers of wrapping or be that the way we talk about sex in the confines of our family home relying on sustained narratives about what we like best and fantasies we are yet to taste but which are learnt through mediation or the actual poems that are selected for textbooks without recourse to why they matter from outside the judgements that seem, upon initial inspection, to be simply blithe asides. ‘I like what I like’ even as I is one the most misleading representations in the language and even as my likes for my latest post imply something different from saying what I like in ‘real’ life.[49]


Everyone then is beset by trying to know thyself and live a good life, which is to say come to terms with what the I is and what it likes.[50] I like to eat octopus or so I tell myself due to the memory of what tastes ‘nice’.[51] But I also want to be good, so need balance the knowledge of its sentience with the belief that it is a relatively sustainable food given the acidification of oceans worldwide.[52] We cannot only eat bread and drink water, even as we enjoy certain types of them when we do and we should be thankful that we are not starving no matter what that means or where we are situated.[53] But nor should it stop us from wanting more where we appear to know what want is and more is too.[54]


That is a fundamental right whose origins need not be obscured by the suggested contours of an inalienable total system.[55] Especially in opposition we see totality.[56] All things are not alike; all things are similar.[57] Every life is unique though the bounds of where one starts and one begins is indeterminate — breast milk provides antibodies; bones provide lime for worms.


In the study of poetics, one could imagine a study that placed verse from anytime next to verse from anyplace, and together this assemblage would become unitary, if not singular, through an interpretive voice. We create, enact, enable a status group when we speak of it.[58] This is not simply to highlight performative utterances, but to suggest that the very structure of language itself is real and has a function when applied to cultures of honour.[59] In other words, idealists find greater succour in language (narrowly defined) than materialists, even as the latter trade, barter, speak, converse in money, itself a phantasm.[60]


The gift that is the unpaid-for reading, the ‘free’ entertainment being a spoken engagement of poetry, is distinct from the coffee at a systemic level but not para-structurally.[61] One still need exist in a market, but a market is only to be understood as a particularly rich metaphor; one could use game or ritual in another iteration.[62] One could also use ‘ecosystem’.


But each word is contested, fought for, fraught, loved, rooted, freely radicalised and its own network. So is every other word. It leads us yet further still, yet deeper into the language as a whole, it is a box with endless ‘hope’ not thought of as a principle here but a living unfolding reality.[63] That some words have an ostensible greater multiplicity of meanings only confirms that language is a minefield that shifts while simultaneously clusterfucking us.


Lexical conflict is evident in homonyms for example, which may open us out to musings on the continued relevance of hybridity or the paucity of double consciousness despite their continued deployment in ways that garner academic, and even cultural, capital.[64] This is not to discount their validity but to suggest that we need a new set of keywords in order to reinvigorate the discipline in such a way that it eludes the machinations of big capital, if only because it is not us, and is responsive to the textual demands we place on criticism as if it were artificially separated from creativity.[65]


This space I working in then may be called the ‘superbase’. The superbase is that between the superstructure and the base, which would be a structure between the ideological apparatus and the repressive apparatus.[66] It is that which does not in the first instance have a pragmatic or material impact yet is not idealistic alone. It is what we are all really in.


Planting trees is different from writing pamphlets about planting trees which is different again from administering either of those things, which is not to say they cannot be united in a single individual who functions as different in different spaces. That many now work in offices where the daily life of the paid enterprise is similar only suggests that this space is the superbase; that suburban life is preoccupied with being superbasic.


The response to the superbase condition is involved in its own realisation — the coming into consciousness is through those who negotiate between both linguistically separable entities. This means recontextualisation rather than defamiliarisation, which is to say the accumulation of defamiliarisation so that the structure is changed.[67] Rather than the defamiliarisation being confined to a singular text working against an assumed field of language protocol, recontextualisation re-orients the whole field itself. This is not the urinal as sculpture but the gallery as experience.


Activist listening enables it; whereby the fluidity of both is cognised as opportunity to reveal foundational assumptions about what is basic and what is superstructural.[68] This means that activism is a work of non-non participation precisely because it is a self-negating, aware propulsive tendency. If this seems like dense clarity it is intended as such precisely because we have learned that Thought to be recognisable need come to us in such a manner.


That is what the language market, which is a substratum of a language game, expects and the leveraging of language rituals into it can only resist commodification so much. This is where incubation and realisation become vital, as does the superbasic acknowledgement that all rituals are markets and all markets are rituals. Their perfect intersection is what is desirable as an aesthetico-ethical ideational praxis will encourage the living of good lives against the condition of bare life.[69]


In thinking through the past expectations of what constitutes bare life one notices then that the limits of the aspirational begin to be mapped out at various points in time — running water in the late nineteenth century, electricity shortly after. Although the therapeutic ethos in its modern form (sport, leisure, cinema) predates the 1950s explosion in suburbia, one notices an appreciable rise in inbuilt obsolescence and consumption in this era.[70] This is the start of the suburbanite life — car, television, backyard, commute, ranch home.[71]


If contemporary settler societies have built on top of this, most noticeably in the contemporary obsession with digital technology, we also see its negation through the very same tools. This is not to deny the unevenness of distribution, that particular people in remote communities or reservations have Facebook and holes in their walls concurrently.[72] The necessary historiographical action then involves reinterpreting as much as uncovering, involves saying the 1950s were truly revolutionary in a way that provides succour for us now beyond the Beat bohemia.[73] The merits of this revolution though are debatable, but in labelling it thus, we may begin to redefine the contours of our own moment in such a way that we re-cognise the possibilities of world consciousness now.


The post-war era is after all when we gain a celestial Other in the moon (first with radio waves [1946] then satellite images [1952] then popular televised pictures [1971]) and when there is the application of universal bureaucratic systems (World Bank, Universal Postal Union, United Nations). The paradox then is that the Cold War is precisely the moment when the world begins to imagine its wholeness. It is not the case of an end of history, but that in singularity we see duality if we read homonymically.


The investment in sustaining the Cold War paradigm is not only about the continued binaries of thought, which extends to heteronormative gender dynamics and raced thinking at the very least, but is also suggestive of the present investments and fault lines that keep us enslaved to prior economic models that distance us from the present ecological reality.[74] It is not that capitalism is alive and well as post-Communists would have us believe, it is that no thought has yet arrived to undo the totality of assuming anything more than some specific keywords, which have power in particular circumstances.


Suburbanism moves us towards that precisely because it is aesthetico-ethical and brings about the end of each not simply through desystematising thought itself but also finding succour in community, network, solidarity. This is a collective, untimed task with which we can engage the humanities without discounting the necessary engagements of its unnamed, spectral oppositional Other. The language of theory then is a toolbox, but you can’t use all the tools at once (unless of course you have many hands and a complex machine rather than a simple nail).[75] The world is complex, and simple, according to the story we tell and because of that we need all hands on deck to manifest what needs to be a better life for all those involved.


There needs to be a better life because there is a war going on for the soul of Australia. There is always a war going on somewhere, a grand epic struggle that is quotidian as it is re-defineable. That the soul is expressed in common objects like the quarter acre block, the station wagon, the grass oval, means that a peace need be brokered by parties who participate, live in, dwell in the spaces of possibility they provide. I imagine it is the same too in Canada, New Zealand and America. It is that the war for the soul that is not only invested in the people who are present today, which obscures the reality of the land-place-thing, it is also that the Geist of the past custodians sits within us. 40,000 years matters for us right now then. I mean this as a past and future project. Suburban Australia is Aboriginal land. Aborigines can be suburbanists too. But we always need interrogate what those things mean rather than assume we know what they are too. They are bounded categories then.


Rituals have boundaries too only as a suggestion, which is to say the endogenous and exogenous forms of expression limit, expand, bleed into and enable rituals that are similar and different. Every repetition then is an original.[76] Hence, suburbanism is a structural question not a local answer.


All these people have moved to Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada and other suburbs to help us lead good lives for they live them too. But we now must lead the way by saying no problem is intractable, no question to hard to ask, if not answer, for in asking it we begin to redefine the limits of what is possible and come to terms with the possibilities that matter.


We cannot sell off the family farm because we do not own one.


Suburbanism as the interpretive lens and the interpreting subject relies on realising the past as our focal point is updated constantly. It is not then about history alone but the frames that cohere around our sensibilities. The end of Communism is not the end of history but the end of the nation state as a reference, the discursive apparatus despite the ongoing political dramas of citizenship, refugees and legislative limits.[77] It is not only that the body has a history then but that to know history takes a language of the body to interpret.[78]


There is no vacancy in suburbanism. On balance though it is everywhere. By which one can mean to say that through an absence of negativity one finds the dialectic of negation.[79] In a language ritual of increasing attachment, especially through critique cognised as againstness, one can detach from petty petulance, which is not to say through intensely felt subjectivity one approaches neutral honesty if not objectivity, which one aspire to precisely because it enables one to occupy a possibility of change if not change itself.[80]


Possibility need be acted upon, ideal need be materialised, but it is its own type of freedom, which enables an expression through its non of utopianism (seen here with the freighted innocence of unarrived paradise in minds’ eye, collective). One man’s theft is another person’s liberation.[81] One man’s ignorance is another person’s knowledge. But we work together on what that is through definition. The suspension of antimonies is the suspension of antibodies. Responsibility though is a privilege not a guilty betrayal of a misinterpreted past. England has no rights here but it senses it has privileges precisely because this appears to be written in English. What then is a language?


The suburbanist is always already listening as if that was a speaking.[82] The things we are are our stomachs growling — eat kangaroo or buffalo, maintain good gut flora. One is born with this, as a type of becoming for becoming is the suburbanist.[83]


The pervasive presence of the new technological apparatus which is itself a techne has meant the implication of cyborgia where unpredicted and expected, unconscious and planned, engagement with life from gestational to afterword.[84] Marx appears to live as a rootless cosmopolitan presence.[85]


Home-less-nest does not mean the start of philosophy necessarily or its end. The key is to not always open the door presented. The difference that needs to be made is similar to what ails us all.[86] That this is specific and problematized need not be repeated compulsively but one need acknowledge redefining the course.[87] The course in general is a linguistic core, but this is to provide a structural equivalent in what came before even as the liquid dynamics of time mean we must begin to see fields of distinction as displacing when there is already lore.[88]


One could turn to a variety of texts to discover unpack create the macro geography of suburbanism. In our time this might be reality television, fast food franchises or grand sporting spectacles. But this would be to neglect the dense specificity and specific density that coheres in the single line of a poem (or legislation), a bar of music or any moment that can be endlessly and suggestibly made whole again and again. Shakespeare is an industry for a reason, so too garlic production, but we might not need to explain why in order to get closer to his aura.[89]


This is not to validate one form of critique, worship translation, over another or to merely point out what seems patently obvious with regard to importance but to suggest the contours of our questioning need persist for them to be more than this. A cat video tells us an awful lot but not as we know it. There is no need to start with the commodity then but there is not not one.[90] Something similar could be said of the letter, word, phrase, TV episode, Facebook post. In other words, entire systems can be built from single sell organisms. That is why suburbanism is an ecosystem.


That the ecosystem appears to be in peril due to global warming means that the problem is one of incommensurability between timescales of political action and scientific thought, as if defining those two was possible at all, which is not to say we cannot do it all. The redistribution of goods where one acknowledges the apparent difficulty of defining both these things in service of a greater possibility is that in honey, wind or plastics. Animals appear on the peripheries of metropoles because of the lack of voting rights and their confinement to home contexts read here as natural but this neglects the domestic pet and the packaged flesh.[91] That sex is metaphorised as this kingdom means even our intimate spaces (or public) are erogenised at a linguistic level in regards to something abased.[92]


At some point in time many people pass through the suburbs even as that depends on the poles of reference, north-south, country-city. One can be suburbanist without having lived in Seacaucus. They are not only in settler societies either but extend to modes of growth and decay in many countries and nation states. The becoming state may be found even when we’re awake.


Where one need be embraced is in the maintenance of endangered traditions whose importance is warranted if not through the accumulation of already acknowledged capital then through the necessary spiritual attachments that are of course material and allow us to promote an unwashed sustainability.[93] Even that which melts started as solid.[94] Even celebrities are workers, stars that fade, who appear to have owners. There is infinite progress that regresses into light.


Consider two things then — they will find some commonality forever. A Mars Bar is a Snickers by being ‘chocolate’ but may be different from another Mars Bar by virtue of a bite taken out, being sold, being dated or any other such aspect. This holds for every thing, person, dream, word. Every person is a performer but not all the world is a stage.[95] Every one is damaged but the axis of that is what is dynamic. Everyone has baggage; get someone else to carry it with you or ask them to simply put it down.


The great men of history are compost for us all, even in this age; fodder for our cannons continues to come through this suburbanism.[96] On the battlefield you made the sovereign borders have no place; in their place hydro geographies that tell us where the water lies. It is not then a simple unsettling but a deep settlement that is unnerving and solidifying, as if neurasthenia or catatonia was a foundation for culture.[97]


You go back but not far enough, not fair enough, not half enough. In that space of ranch home, hills hoist, bungalow the paradise that remains are seen mournfully, residue in open space, jam in a tin can. Is a doughnut a sphere of space or a ring of dough? The suburbs know.

This article contains endnotes. If you click on the number that identifies the endnote, you will be taken back to the point in the text where the endnote anchor occurs;
and vice versa.


[Endnote 1] Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem. London: Viking Press, 1963. See Writers for the 99%. Occupying Wall Street: the story of an action that changed America. New York: Haymarket Books, 2012; Pearson, D. ‘Theorizing citizenship in British settler societies’ in Ethnic and Racial Studies. 2002; Kenneth Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985; Arnold Alanen and Joseph Eden. Main Street Ready-Made: The New Deal Community of Greendale. Wisconsin: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2014.

[Endnote 2] See ‘The Five Second Execution’ in Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 2016, online; see Redfern Now; see Gurgaon in New Delhi; see Vasse real estate development in Margaret River.

[Endnote 3] Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. London: Wiley Blackwell, 2009.

[4] Adorno, Theodore. Negative Dialectic. New York: Seabury, 1973, p. 6; Weber, Max.

[5] Cohen, Lizabeth. Consumer Republic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004; Markus, Gabriel. Why the World Does Not Exist. London: Polity, 2015; Bourdieu. Distinction. London: Routledge, 1984. Marx. Capital.

[6] Hegel. Phenomenology of Spirit.

[7] See various real estate ads of ‘country living city benefits’ found in multiple post-war newspapers.

[8] For the poem par excellence that captures this see Gwen Harwood ‘A Game of Chess’

[9] Collins, Randall. Interaction Ritual Chains/ Duwell, Martin. A Possible Contemporary Poetry: Interviews with thirteen poets. St. Lucia: Makar Press 1982. Freud, Sigmund. On Metapsychology. Middlesex, 1987; Lasch, Christopher. The Culture of Narcissism. New York: Norton, 1979.

[10] Frank, Thomas. Conquest of Cool. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 161997.

[11] Sixties as revolutionary — see Thomas Sugrue Sweet Land of Liberty. Penguin: Random House, 2009; see Stuart MacIntyre. The Reds. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1998.

[12] Foucault. Will to Power.

[13] Gysin, Brion. Brion Gysin: Tuning in to the Multimedia Age. ed. José Férez Kuri London: Thames & Hudson, 2003; Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations.

[14] Childers, Thomas. Wings of Morning. New York: Da Capo, 1996.

[15] Cate Blanchett exhibition at ACMI.

[16] Foucault. Will to Power.

[17] Barthes, Roland. ‘The Death of the Author’ in Aspen 5-6, 1967; Loney, Alan. The death of the reader; Foucault. Society Must be Defended. New York: Macmillan, 2003.

[18] See the Washington Redskins or Cleveland Indians for example.

[19] Sugrue, Thomas. Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Post-war Detroit. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

[20] Consider the Newshour regular sparring on this.

[21] Consider the vast selection of toothpaste offered in an urban food co-op or the routine greenwashing that occurs with Beyond Petroleum sloganeering.

[22] Nye, Joseph. Bound to Lead: the changing nature of American power. New York: Basic Books, 1990.

[23] Petryna, Adriana. Life Exposed: Biological Citizenship after Chernobyl. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005.

[24] Bourdieu, Pierre. Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993.

[25] Wittgenstein, Durkheim. Elementary Forms of Religious Life. London: Oxford World Classics, 2008; Collins, Randall. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

[26] Bourdieu, Pierre. Homo Academicus. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

[27] Althusser, Louis and Etienne Balibar. Reading Capital. New York: Verso, 2009.

[28] Calvino, Italo. Why Read the Classics? London: Vintage, 2001.

[29] HH Gerth and C Wright Mills. From Max Weber. London: Oxford University Press, 1946.

[30] Marx, Karl. Capital. London: Penguin Classics, 1992; See the failure of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

[31] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. London: SCM Press, 1962.

[32] Pound, Ezra; Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality 2: the Use of Pleasure. London: Vintage, 1990; Marx. Capital.

[33] Gabriel, Markus. Why the World Does Not Exist. London: Polity, 2015.

[34] Minter, Peter. Conference Paper at Active Aesthetics, Berkeley, 2016.

[35] Jarvis, Simon. ‘An Undeleter for Criticism’ in Diacritics Vol. 32(1), 2002, pp. 3-18.

[36] Adorno. Negative Dialectic.

[37] Lowenstein, Julius. Marx Against Marxism. London: Routledge, 1980.

[38] Joris, Pierre. A Nomad Poetics: Essays. New York: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

[39] Transnational article, global Anglophone, world lit.

[40] See Ranke and Peter Novick. That Noble Dream: the Objectivity Question and the American Historical Profession. London: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

[41] Bahktin, Mikhail. The Dialogic Imagination. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981; Brown, Bob. Memo for a Saner World. Sydney: Penguin Books, 2004.

[42] Derrida, Jacques, Dissemination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981; Sydney Biennale, Embassy of Non Participation, 2016; Marx. Capital.

[43] Of course there is consensus in the scientific community but this may also be a confirmation bias of positivism, or rather we recognize that what we receive in pop culture flattens the specificities of another language game. Mary Douglas.Purity and Danger. London: Routledge, 1966.

[44] Schumpeter, Joseph. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. London: Routledge, 1994.

[45] Kraus, Karl. No Compromise. London: Ungar, 1977. Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures. London: Basic Books, 1973. Kelly, Robert. ‘Notes on the Poetry of Deep Image’. Trober, 2, 1962.

[46] Campbell, Lyle. Historical Linguistics: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004. David, Jacque Louis. The Death of Socrates. 1787.

[47] Foucault, Michel and Noam Chomsky. ‘On Human Nature’; Benjamin, Walter. ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, Illuminations. London: Schocken Books, 1968.

[48] Nietzsche, Frederich. On the Genealogy of Morality. London: Hackett, 1998; Mead, Philip. Networked Language. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2008; Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations.

[49] Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations.

[50] Delphic maxim meets Epicurean reality.

[51] Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past. London: Vintage, 1982.

[52] See the Paul the Octopus who chose World Cup winners; see also sustainable fishing guide.

[53] Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. London: Black and Red, 1970.

[54] Geuss, Raymond. Philosophy and Real Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

[55] Marx. Communist Manifesto.

[56] Badiou, Alain. Being and Event. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.

[57] Laozi (Lao Tzu). Daodeching (Tao te Ching). Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

[58] HH Gerth and C Wright Mills. From Max Weber.

[59] Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity. London: Routledge, 2006.

[60] Marx. Capital. Mauss, Marcel. The Gift: forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies. London: Martino, 2011.

[61] See my piece ‘Relational Networks: on a sociological reading of poetry performance’ in Journal of Poetics Research, Vol. 3, 2015.

[62] Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations; Durkheim. Elementary Forms.

[63] Bloch, Ernst. Principle of Hope. MIT Press, 1995.

[64] Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994; Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Gramercy Books, 1994.

[65] Williams, Raymond. Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society. London: Croom Helm, 1976. Bernstein, Charles, Attack of the Difficult Poems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

[66] Althusser, Louis. ‘Idéologie et appareils idéologiques d’État (Notes pour une recherche)’. La Pensée (151), 1970.

[67] Shklovsky, Viktor. ‘Art as Technique’. 1917.

[68] Kinsella, John. Activist Poetics: anarchy in the Avon Valley. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010.

[69] Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: sovereign power and bare life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

[70] TJ Jackson Lears. Fables of Abundance. New York: Basic Books, 1994; Bulow, Jeremy. ‘An Economic Theory of Planned Obsolescence’ Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1986.

[71] Kathy Peiss. ‘Consumerism Graduate Seminar’. 2008.

[72] See George Brooking at Fitzroy Crossing.

[73] Filreis, Al. Counterrevolution of the Word: the conservative attack on modern poetry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2008.

[74] Žižek, Slavoj. Sublime object of ideology. London: Verso, 2009.

[75] Foucault, Michel. ‘Prisons et asiles dans le mécanisme du pouvoir’ in Dits et Ecrits, t. II. Paris: Gallimard, 1994.

[76] Krauss, Rosalind. Originality of the Avant Garde. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.

[77] Žižek. Sublime object.

[78] Foucault. History of Sexuality 1.

[79] Adorno. Negative Dialectic.

[80] See various Buddhist texts.

[81] Grenville, Kate. The Secret River. Melbourne: Text, 2005.

[82] Spivak, Gayatri. ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, London: Macmillan, 1988

[83] Hegel. Phenomenology.

[84] Foucault. History of Sexuality Vol. 3; Haraway, Donna. The Haraway Reader. London: Routledge, 2004.

[85] Appiah, Kwame. The Ethics of Identity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

[86] Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

[87] Kierkegaard, Søren. Either / Or. London: Penguin, 1992.

[88] Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. London: Open Court, 1998.

[89] Benjamin, Walter. ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ in Illuminations.

[90] Marx. Capital. Lasky, Dorothea. Poetry is Not a Project. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2014.

[91] Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. Sydney: Harper Collins, 1975.

[92] Cixous, Helene. Newly Born Woman. Los Angeles: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.

[93] Treloyn, Sally. Sustaining Traditions: Ethnomusicological Collections, Access and Sustainability in Australia, Musicology Australia, Vol 35, Issue 2, 2013.

[94] Marx. Capital.

[95] Butler. Gender Trouble.

[96] For debates on the canon see The Norton Book of Theory.

[97] See Andrew Dowding’s work in the Western Pilbara.


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