Thursday, March 4, 2010

S03 - Jameson

I really don't think I'm able to completely understand the argument/s Jameson makes. However, his approach to literature and social problems is interesting and, for me, unexpected, and I want to address some of the issues he discusses. I noticed that Yugoslavia is sometimes used as an example of how socialism could have worked (had Tito lived longer). The problem is that, even though Yugoslavia managed to stay away from the direct influence of the USSR, its political system shared many characteristics of the totalitarian regime of the USSR. For example, Goli Otok in Yugoslavia was very similar to the labor camps in the USSR. Even though Yugoslavia's economy was developing while Tito was alive, it was all based on foreign loans and when he died the debts had to be paid off and the country suffered from economic crises. Now, the political system in Yugoslavia was obviously considerably better than in majority (if not all) socialist countries, but it was preserved with very harsh measures and the cult of the leader was developed to a very high extent.
Jameson refers to the political system in Yugoslavia as an ongoing successful mass experiment so I assume that he wrote his text at the time when Yugoslavia still existed. However, what I said before about the measures that were employed to preserve the system was known at that time too. That is why I wish Jameson addressed his examples in more detail.
I also can't always follow the references he makes and that is what makes understanding his text harder. However, from what I can understand, Jameson draws a parallel between cognitive mapping and the notion that ideology is a representation of one's imaginary relationship to his/her real conditions of existence. It makes sense - if we don't or can't get to know space we live in, it is directly proportional to how much we are alienated from the society we live in. Even though I think this idea has a potential to help explore and possible start solving some social problems I also think this idea is not enough.
As I said in the beginning , Yugoslavia was far from a successful mass experiment. The problem there was not alienation, one of the main problems was the fact that the system was always coming back to the hierarchy it attempted to eliminate in the beginning. It was like an ouroboros - it always came back to the problems of nationalism and lack of money that was characteristic of every previous system. Jameson acknowledges this problem, he considers it a problem of id. Awareness that he hopes that can be achieved is definitely a step towards controling the problem of hierarchy, but I am not sure if being aware of the problem means it is possible to solve it.
I feel that, for Jameson, new technology means only more space that needs to be cognitively mapped, but our society is a control society. Even though we can never fully map it, it can help reduce urban alienation that Jameson points out to.

No comments: