18.10.08

PHRASE: His demonstation would be spoilt if the bystanders' attention were drawn to his powers of transformation.

Brecht wants to employ didactic theatre and he supposes the best way to do this is to strip theatre of its fancy, Saturday night three piece suit. No longer should an audience be captivated by the uncanny reproduction of life. If this is the case, the audience goes home raving about the actors, their talent, the realistic conflict and set, forgetting about the message at hand. Instead, Brecht conjures up a theatre scene where the actors are noticeably playing parts on a stage that could be nothing else but a stage, and the audience has nothing to be capitivated by but the movement of repetitive life. The audience is then confronted with the situation and does not see a character, an action, dialogue. The audience is confronted with the universality of the character, action, and dialogue through a "low-fi" production.

15.10.08

PHRASE: "...the destruction of the aura...extracts sameness even from what is unique"

PHRASE: "...the destruction of the aura...is the signature of a perception whose "sense for sameness in the world" has so increased that, by means of reproduction, it extracts sameness even from what is unique" (256).

In Benjamin's work, "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," he focuses on the various mediums for the reproduction of art, along with what reproduction means for the world of art. The above phrase describing how when an art work's "aura" or its "unique apparition of a distance" says that an art work's life is basically sucked from it entirely if its sense of distance from its viewer is destroyed. This phrase's importance comes from its explanation of the end result of the two desires of the masses, in regards to the aura of art. Not only do the masses wish to decrease this distance to the art work created by its aura, but they also need everything to be the same. Sameness equals understanding, functionality, and comfort. Therefore, through reproduction, even uniqueness in art can be made obsolete, and, thus, the masses can have their sigh of relief.

This whole idea of reproduction equaling the destruction of uniqueness can apply to examples such as the Mona Lisa painting. While the art work itself was/is unique, its millions of reproductions through clothing, posters, coffee mugs, mouse pads, etc. etc etc., destroy the original's aura or unique qualities. The masses are pleased, since they can now all possess the "same" Mona Lisa, but her artistic transcendence has been tarnished.

Phrase---Sarah Knoth

“The whole sphere of authenticity eludes technological---and, of course, not only technological---reproducibility” (253).

Benjamin offers up some interesting insight on the idea of technological advancements in the art world. He continues the theme of copying and imitation among all the other theorists that we have read thus far in this class. In his essay, Benjamin distinguishes between technological reproduction and manual reproduction, and he says that the former is “more independent” than the latter (254). Benjamin tries to get across the idea that, regardless of how you replicate an art form, it loses its initial validity---its aura as Benjamin calls it. He uses the word “forgery” on page 254, which I find interesting because some may consider the imitation of a piece of word a kind of plagiarism. The one thing I kept thinking of while I read this essay was the mass reproduction of famous art works as posters. I have four Andy Warhol posters in my living room, and while I read this piece I wondered if the pieces themselves lose their authenticity because they are on my college apartment living room wall. Benjamin would argue that they have indeed lost much of their authenticity because they are not in the original form. The more copies made, the less accessible the viewer is to originality----at least according to Benjamin. 

Phrase: "The Social significance of film..."

"The social significance of film, even- and especially - in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic side: the liquidation of the value of tradition in the cultural heritage" (254).

In the essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility" Benjamin examines the dual nature of film in light of it positive and negative affects on humans' production and enjoyment of art. The above quote captures the essence of part of one of Benjamin's central points; that film has many benefits, but it removes us from the here and now moment of art. Rather, technological reproduction takes art out of its authentic place in the world. However, this can be good because it allows many forms of art to be enjoyed more freely and at our convenience. Take for example the Mp3 player. The Mp3 player allows one to carry around thousands of pieces of artwork in the pocket. An Mp3 player can hold pictures, perhaps paintings if one so desires, songs, operas, symphonies, and even movies. However, by doing this, we lose an important part of the authenticity of art. Humans are aware of this and technological reproductions will never fully take the place of the real thing. Why else do we continue buying concert tickets to experience the music as it is played live, in the moment, or go to the theater to see plays when we could just as easily stay home and watch a film? Do not dishearten, the place for live art remains even in the day of technological reproductions.

- Henry McDonald

Word: Proletarianization

In his epilogue, Benjamin writes that "the increasing proletarianization of modern man and the formation of masses are two sides of the same process" (269).

The OED defines proletarianization as "the fact or process of making or becoming proletarian in character," and defines proletariat as "Wage earners collectively, esp. those who have no capital and who depend for subsistence on their daily labor;the working classes." This relates back to the Marxist theory of the ongoing war between rich and poor. What Benjamin is alluding at is that the working class, which was growing in his time, was just organized in a mass to be controlled by Fascism. They let the people speak, but when they do Fascism strikes them down. This would have been a very real concern in these days, leading up to WWII. Also in the text is the art of reproduction (and how mass/pop art is destructive), and tragedy as human nature. He seems to support Marxist theory by saying that history will repeat itself if something is not done.

"...not only his labor but his entire self..."

On film actors: "This market, where he offers not only his labor but his entire self, his heart and soul, is beyond his reach" (261)

The market of mass production, while profitable, strips away the artists 'aura' and 'authenticity,' taking away his self, heart and soul. He losses the originality and true being, becoming a blank slate for others' thoughts and ideas, even identity, to be projected upon. An artist, once thought of as an expresser of truth and ideals, is degenerated to a position where his thoughts become someone else's. He is unable to influence his work and gives it up for others to mold where it is 'beyond his reach.' We offer our labor to market for our own economical interest. The market is not interested in the individual though, but the collective. Thus the self, heart and soul are lost and forgot.

precise - la Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is a prime example of what Benjamin discusses. It was once original, and is now considered a mass produced almost pop-icon. The image is reproduced, however, in a multitude of ways, one of which is a poster sized reproduction. Many people, having seen an enlarged image of the painting are actually quite disappointed by the life-sized original hanging in the louver. And though I agree with some of what Benjamin claims, in that even the reproductions have a unique quality to them, in this scenario I tend to side with Marx's views that the reproductions diminish the value of the original. So even though the reproductions are appreciate by those who consume them, after having done so, the original seems less grand.

PRECIS- NICK SEXTON

The essay "Work of Art in the Age of Reproducibility" by Walter Benjamin expresses the ways in which technology (more specifically photography for Benjamin) and the ability to reproduce images has altered art and the way that it is perceived by humans. I thought that one of the strongest points in Benjamin's essay is when he describes the one thing that even the most perfect reproduction lacks: "the here and now of the artwork". Benjamin argues, "It is the unique existence--and nothing else--that bears the mark of the history to which the work has been subject. The history includes changes to the physical structure of the work over time, together with any changes in ownership" (253). He goes on to explain how "the here and now" aspect of the art is akin to the concept of its authenticity. As well as losing its authenticity, the artwork loses its aura (which is explained later in the essay as basically feelings of connectedness with the work). To sum up this argument, Benjamin says, "It might be stated as a general formula that the technology of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the sphere of tradition. By replicating the work many times over, it substitutes a mass existence for a unique existence." All in all, Benjamin doesn't seem very happy about the ways in which the new reproductive technologies are changing humans' perceptions and understandings of art.

Phrase: "Film responds to the shrivelling of the aura by..."

“Film responds to the shriveling of the aura by artificially building up the ‘personality’ outside the studio” (261).

Benjamin focuses throughout this piece on art’s “aura” and the destruction it faces through reproductions. The art of film, however, works to correct this destruction through its actors’ lives outside of film. We have multiple magazines and television shows focused solely on what actors are wearing, eating, and doing outside of the movies, but how realistic are these portrayals? Benjamin has little faith in them, arguing that while the studios are attempting to uphold the artistic merit of film, they are essentially doing the opposite by creating false personalities that do not encourage the “aura,” as defined by Benjamin earlier in his piece.

Benjamin, Watler. "The Work of Art in the Age of the Technological Reproducibility." Selected Writings: Volume 4 1938-1940. Ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.

Precis: It's all about the authenticity

Even though our culture would be hard pressed to survive without technology, we are quickly losing any sense of authenticity in our world, especially in the world of art. "That core is its authenticity. The authenticity of a thing is the quintessence of all that is transmissible in it from its origin on, ranging from its physical duration to the historical testimony relating to it" (254). As with many of the other texts read in class, there is a fixation on the idea of the copy. The copy will never be as good as the originial, no matter what the circumstances may be. The original, once replicated, loses some of its "arua." "...the destruction of the aura, is the signature of a perception whose 'sense for sameness in the world' has so increased that, by means of reproduction, it extracts sameness even from what is unique" (256). It goes back to sweet old Becky's ideas at the Art Museum. It is all about "firstness." After all, who wants a replica?

PRECIS: If art reflects who we are, then who are we?

Benjamin spends much of his essay discussing the aura of art and what happens to the aura when art is produced for the masses. The aura of art relates to its uniqueness and its history or tradition, which usually centers in cult or, more modernly, religion. However, the tradition of cult, or religious, art is usually kept visible to only a small number of people: "... certain statues or gods are accessible only to the priest in the cella; certain images of the Madonna remain covered nearly all year round" (257). Modern forms of art, which focus now on the mechanical reproduction of art, have allowed for the masses to see what was once unavailable, "The scope for exhibiting the work of art has increased so enormously with the various methods of technologically [reproduction]" (257). "... technological reproduction can place the copy of the original in situations which the original itself cannot attain" (254). Getting art to the masses becomes the focal point of art reproduction, and Benjamin pushes that since this is the new direction, Communism should use this form to become more political in nature. If mass reproduction is becoming more acceptable, like films, then use the art for the political. He criticizes Fascism for the goal of "aesthesticizing...political life" (269). Fascism uses art to make people believe they have a choice, though the art is truly used for social control. Benjamin believes art should be how the Communists believe: "Communism replies by politicizing art" (270), not one of social control or cult, which can only lead to war.

Precis: Benjamin

Benjamin talks a good deal about the authenticity of works of art. For him, the concept of authenticity relies on the here and now. The here and now can be thought of as an artworks unique existence in a particular place at a particular time, and it includes the history to which the work has been subject. This history may include physical changes to the work and changes in its ownership.

When authenticity is thought of in these terms, no reproduction can ever fully encompass an original work, as the here and now are lost in the process of technological reproduction. Benjamin gives two reasons for this. First, the reproduction is independent from the original. And second, the reproduction can place a copy of the original in impossible situations, which devalues the here and now.

I think people can experience the here and now when they view art. If I’m looking at a famous painting and someone tells me that it’s not the original, my feelings of admiration for the work diminish to some degree. A replication is never as impressive as the original. But on the same token, if I’m looking at a replication of a famous work of art and someone tells me it’s the original, a false sense of the here and now is produced. It could be argued that the here and now are subjective and in the eye of the beholder.

WORD: AURA

AURA:
2. b. fig. a distinctive impression of character or aspect.
c. A supposed subtle emanation from and enveloping living persons and things, viewed by mystics as consisting of the essence of the individual, serving as the medium for the operation of mesmeric and similar influences

That art has an aura is subsituting the latter in place of the "authenticity" of a piece of work. Benjamin defines aura as, "the unique apparition of a distance, however it may be" or the "uniqueness [of an artwork]." At the end of the text in the notes, it expands on the definition of "aura." 8. "In Greek, aura means "air," "breath" 11. "The defintion of the aura represents nothing more than a formulation of the cult value of the work of art..." But not only is an aura authenticity, it also has a certain "essence" to it that "breathes" life. Reproduction lacks the life of the premier. Benjamin says that"even in the most perfect reproduction, one thing is lacking: the here and now." The most interesting thing though about Benjamin's usage of aura is in the second OED definition, "serving as the medium for the operation of mesmeric and similar influences."

PRECIS: Benjamin

Benjamin starts his article by saying Marx has created a system that exploits the working class and has set up a system where it is possible for capitalism to abolish itself (251). How this system now affects our culture can only be assessed by new rules now which have been tailored to fit his prognostic requirements (252). Marx claims that original creativity is dead but Benjamin counters the statement with an example from the Greeks. The Greeks only had two different ways to produce art. One is casting and the other is stamping. Literally, their coinage and bronzes were the only artworks that could be mass reproduced. All other works of art were unique and one unto their own. There here and the now is what Marx leaves off of his analysis. The here and now are what make works of art different and unique. An example would be photography. Film can be developed to highlight different things. Though the picture is the same the human eye can be drawn to focus on different aspects of the photo. On the same note a work of art can be seen differently by different people. Different interpretations give art new meanings all the time. I think that Benjamin is arguing on a different basis than Marx. Benjamin is showing how works of art have new meaning to new people. Marx is saying nothing can be done that hasn’t already been done before. I think they are both right. A reproduction of a painting is something that has been done before but put it in a new location and it has a new meaning,

Word: Authentic

In his essay Benjamin questions the authenticity of technologically reproduced art: “In even the most perfect reproduction, one thing is lacking: the here and now of the work of art – its unique existence in a particular place” (Benjamin 253). The value of a reproduction is far less than the original because of what Benjamin would describe as “lack of authenticity.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines Authentic as: “Really proceeding from its reputed source or author; of undisputed origin, genuine.” The link between author and copy is not as valuable as the relationship between author and original. Each time an artwork takes a step away from its authentic state, it looses worth.

"Liberty Leading the People"

Liberty Leading the People was painted by Eugene Delacroix in 1830, and it commemorates the July Revolution of that year. The painting was bought by the French government, but not initially put on public display, because officials thought its glorification of liberty was too inflammatory. This changed after the Revolution of 1848, when the newly elected Louis Bonaparte put it on display.

WORD-AUTHENTICITY

According to Merriem-Webster there are several definitions of AUTHENTICITY.

1. Worthy of acceptance of belief as conforming to or based on fact. ; conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features ; made or done the same way as an original

2. Not false or imitation.

According to Walter Benjamin, authenticity is the “highly sensitive core,” (254) of art.

“The authenticity of a thing is the quintessence of all that is transmissible in it from its origin on, ranging from its physical duration to the historical testimony relating to it,” (254).

Benjamin Walter is concerned that technological reproductions will tamper with the genuine authenticity of a piece of art. A sort of twisted hybrid of the two definitions given by Merriem-Webster; technological reproductions have the potential to be so close to the originals that the reproductions will transform into the worst sort of false imagery.

Marx Presentation


Theater:
  • There were many theater references through-out this essay (words such act, scene, stage, even references to works such as Hamlet)
  • Theater is art, it is representation and imitation. By relating the French Revolution to the theater he is implying that history is repeating itself and our actions and thoughts are based in the past. There can be no revolution and change without breaking from the past and going into the new
  • "The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only from the future" (597)
  • We aren't going through time linearly or even in Irigary's worm-like pattern, but in a circular, cyclical pattern, perhaps even backward
  • A Napoleon for a Napoleon
Disillusionment:
  • The actions and convictions of the bourgeoisie seem child-like and immature
  • Caught up in imagination and dreams with "utopian nonsense" and give up easily
  • Lack cohesion and identity
  • England got it right when they had their bourgeoisie uprising and fulfilled their transformation
  • Locke to Habakkuk -- why to how -- ideals to reality. France missed that, got stuck in daydream
Money:
  • Wars are fought because of money
  • History is the result of the struggles between social classes based on economical differences
  • Laws, culture, morality, etc is shaped from desire to protect capital
  • It is not morality that shapes our politics but issues of money. In reality we do not chase transcendental truths but are stuck on earth in mud chasing vulgar desires
  • Napoleon III was able to rise because he represented the petty bourgeousie, and it is "by protecting is material power he generates its political power" (615). His purpose is to "draw California lottery prizes from the state treasury" (615)
Friends:
  • In the Friends clip, they are all fighting over lottery tickets
  • Lottery tickets don't even represent money, just the potential gainings, the idea of it
  • The friends get so caught up in money that they pursue their vulgar desires and forget the higher ideals of fairness and friendship

Phrase: The authenticity...

"The authenticity of a thing is the quintessence of all that is transmissible in it from its origin on, ranging from its physical duration to the historical testimony relating to it." (254).

In the essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility" Benjamin discusses
what is the aura of art and if film and media technologies are changing it. Does technological reproduction "devalue" original art? Benjamin examines these questions and claims that on the one hand, by replacing a unique existence by a plurality of copies, the means of mechanical production destroyed a work’s uniqueness and thus its aura. On the other hand, he still appreciates the art that film is able to produce.

13.10.08

PHRASE: The tradition of all the dead generations...

"The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living."

I think Marx is saying that no matter how hard we try to come up with something that is new and not repetitive the more likely we are to draw on things from the past.  There is no way that things that have happened in the past and in our own personal pasts don't creep up into our thought processes now.  We are always creating a copy of a copy of a copy and so on.  It's seemingly impossible to come up with anything completely new and not a reflection of anything else.

Precis-Marx

In Marx's, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" Marx takes us through his views on history's cycle by providing historical examples to demonstrate his points. Marx sees the progression of history as something that is constantly born out of the dead to be awoken with new life, while at the same not being able to escape from the imprint that the previous generation had made. Marx uses the middle of the 19th century to show how the various phases of the French Revolution progressed in a cycle of change. One quote that stood out was "Society is saved just as often as the circle of its rulers contracts, as a more exclusive interest is maintained against a wider one" (Marx 602). This is a smaller line that is more helpful to me then a lot of the drawn out paragraphs that Marx seems to get carried away with. He makes good use of using specific history as an example of how he thinks of history in a broader sense, but perhaps he over explains things to the point where his more convincing statements are hidden amongst the whole of the essay.

Word--History--Sarah Knoth

History: "A series of events (of which the story is or may be told)"

The OED had a variety of definitions of the word history; therefore, I chose the most ambiguous one. Karl Marx has always been known for his thoughts on history especially when he says that “history repeats itself” (Wikipedia). In the work we read today, the main objective and theme of it all was that of history; what rulers do in the face of it and how they can make decisions. A question I always ask myself about history is whether or not those in authoritative positions can indeed change what has already happened. Could Bonaparte have changed the face of history had the coup not occurred. To what extent does looking back on history make making history any different? The word history has often times befuddled me because it indeed has so many definitions. One of OED’s definitions stemmed from the fact that history is a drama played out. Does history indeed repeat itself? Like so many people have quoted tonight, Marx says the following: “Men make their own history…under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past” (595). So in the general context of rulers (in this case Bonaparte) I wonder how they think about history themselves and whether or not they truly have the ability to make something great and NEW out of a history that reproduces itself over and over again. Even with our two politicians campaigning, who will make the right choice? Who will make history a statement instead of a drama?

ttp://bert.lib.indiana.edu:2055/cgi/entry/50106603?query_type=word&queryword=history&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&result_place=1&search_id=yu5L-bwOMx4-19132&hilite=50106603

Word: Revolution

Revolution: a cycle, or recurrent period of time

Revolution: alteration, change, mutation

These are two definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary that provide us with a greater understanding of Karl Marx’s “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” Marx writes about multiple revolutions, and his use of the word encourages the idea that we simply live in a cycle of revolutions; each is a separate event but they all boil down to an attempt to change something. The revolutions that Marx speaks of are something that we are caught in, something we cannot escape, and while it seems to be something that never ends or changes, it must, because history is inescapable, and everything we do alters the future, becoming another cycle to change.

Henry McDonald. Word

EPOCH:
(from the Oxford English Dictionary)
I. A fixed point in the reckoning of time.
1. Chron. The initial point assumed in a system of chronology; e.g. the date of the birth of Christ, of the Hegira, of the foundation of Rome, etc.; an ERA. Also, in wider sense, any date from which succeeding years are numbered. Now rare.

2. a. The beginning of a ‘new era’ or distinctive period in the history of mankind, a country, an individual, a science, etc. Phr., to make an epoch.
1673 [R. LEIGH] Transp.

In my reading of the Marx article I was attracted by his use of the word epoch. Epoch is a very descriptive word. Hearing the word epoch is different than hearing the word era, or age, or any other synonym. Each word has it own specific connoatation and subtle nuances and differences in their own meaning. As the OED says, an epoch can be "Any date from which succeeding years are numbered." This definition funtions well in the Marx article because he talks about important dates that have changed the course of history from that point forth. One example of a sentence with epoch in it is, "The February Revolution was a sudden attack, a taking of the old society by surprise, and the proclaimed this unhoped for stroke as a world-historic deed, opening the new epoch" (597). This sentence utilizes the word epoch quite and highlights the interesting aspects that make an epoch an epoch.

Word- Lumpenproletariat

1. The lowest, most degraded stratum of the proletariat. Used originally in Marxist theory to describe those members of the proletariat, especially criminals, vagrants, and the unemployed, who lacked class consciousness.
2. The underclass of a human population.

From The Free Dictionary.

WORD: "PEASANT"

WORD: "PEASANT"

In Marx's work, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louise Bonaparte," he extensively uses the term "peasant" to discuss the land-laboring class of people in his discussion on material and political relationships. He describes them as, "the mass of the French people" (607).
"Peasant" is defined by the OED in many ways and variations, including:

1. "A person who lives in the country and works on the land, esp. as a smallholder or a labourer; (chiefly Sociol.) a member of an agricultural class dependent on subsistence farming."
2. "In negative sense: a countryman or rustic, regarded as ignorant, crass, or rude. Usu. with derogatory modifying word."
3. "As a term of abuse: a person of low social status; an ignorant, stupid, unsophisticated, or (formerly esp.) unprincipled person; a boor, a lout; (also more generally) a person who is regarded with scorn or contempt, esp. by members of a particular social group."

By using this term, Marx could be said to be degrading this group of people, since most of the definitions have negative connotations. Nonetheless, I believe Marx is choosing to say that only the "conservative peasant" lacks accomplishment (609). By calling the Bonapartes the "dynasty of the peasants," and referring to any peasant falling under this era to be "the peasant who wants to consolidate [his social existence]," and "those who, in stupefied bondage to this old order, want to see themselves with their small holding saved and favoured by the ghost of the empire," Marx asks the question of why these particular peasants choose to support an order that does not mean freedom or better lives (607-09). Marx does not use the word "peasant" in order to show derision to this group of impoverished individuals, but to draw attention to the fact that they could choose to be more than mere "peasants" - they could be revolutionaries.

OED
www.dictionary.oed.com

www.vanderbilt.edu

Phrase

"As soon as one of the social strata situated above it [the proletariat] gets into revolutionary ferment, it enters into an alliance with it and so shares all the defeats that the different parties suffer one after another. "

Marx points out the weakness of the proletariat's attempt at a new government after the February Revolution by explaining that its idealistic nature prevents it from maintaining dominion. After its mistakes in allowing itself to be only a 'provisional' government after it won power, it failed again in the June revolution to win back what it had lost in February. In fact, the June Revolution only strengthened the Bourgeoisie. This problem of entering into alliance with those "situated above it" only ever works to its detriment as it is then swept up into the conservative institutions which it is fighting, rather than being able to infiltrate and change them. "It seems to be unable either to rediscover revolutionary greatness in itself or to win new energy from the alliances newly entered into..." (p. 601) The earnestness with which the proletariat class proceeded contributed to its eventual downfall, and inability to ever successfully rise up and usurp authority once More.

PHRASE- "Men make their own history..."

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past."

This statement stood out to me when I first read it in Marx's essay and as I continued to read, the phrase seemed more and more valid. Not only is the phrase representative of the issues that Bonaparte faced while in power, it is a fundamental idea that people, in general, should be aware. I felt this phrase resonated greatly when Marx describes why the "small peasants" didn't have a revolutionary presence at first. The lives of the "small peasants" were greatly rooted in their traditional ways of living from the past. Marx describes how these "small peasants" lived in small communities, but didn't unite or find common ground with other groups of "small peasants" because of their lifestyle. According to Marx, most "small peasants" were completely self-sustaining, which meant that they didn't need to have relations with anyone outside of their immediate family. Therefore, the past dictated the lives of these "small peasants", not allowing them to completely make their own history. On another level, Bonaparte had to attempt to appease all of the pre-set classes of France, which was impossible because coming to the aid of one group meant neglecting or angering another. All of these elements from the past, of which Bonaparte had no control, made it impossible for Bonaparte to completely make his own history. The decisions that he made were brought about by the past, with the past in mind.

Marx precis

Karl Marx's essay discusses historical events of France in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He begins with history of Napoleon's rule and leads up to Louis' overthrow of the French government. One of the more interesting quotes states, "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce" in the very beginning. I think here he is referring to Napoleon and Louis. Marx's writing gets confusing because he uses so many dates. Even though he often states the same year or date, numbers seem to fill the pages of the first half, causing confusion. He also overuses what could be a strong device: repetition. For example, the paragraph that spills from 603 to 604 repeats basically the same line over and over. I got the point the first three times; after that, I skipped to the next paragraph. This wouldn't have been such a bad thing, I guess, if he hadn't done it again, though to a lesser degree, on page 609. I think I actually saw it at least one more time, too, and it lessens the effect of repetition throughout his writing.

WORD- REVOLUTION

Merriam-webster defines revolution as one of the following:

Main Entry: rev*o*lu*tion
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English revolucioun, from Middle French revolution, from Late Latin revolution-, revolutio, from Latin revolvere to revolve
Date: 14th century

1a) 1. : the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course ; also : apparent movement of such a body round the earth 2. The time taken by a celestial body to make a complete round in its orbit 3. The rotation of a celestial body on its axis
1b) 1. : completion of a course (as of years); also : the period made by the regular succession of a measure of time or by a succession of similar events
1c) 1. : a progressive motion of a body around an axis so that any line of the body parallel to the axis returns to its initial position while remaining parallel to the axis in transit and usually at a constant distance from it 2. Motion of any figure about a center or axis.

Synonyms see ROTATION

2a) a sudden, radical, or complete change b: a fundamental change in political organization ; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed c: activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation d: a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm e. a changeover in use or preference especially in technology

Synonyms see REBELLION


The combination of these two definitions is Marx's interpretation of revolution. Marx mocks revolutionaries, saying that they are so set and prepared to change the world, and then they take the opinions and war cries of their ancestors. Which eventually leads all revolutionaries in a relentless circular pattern that inevitably ends at the same place it began (595). The main point being that one revolution will always lead to another, placing revolutionaries in an unending rotation of rebellion.

Phrase - the contradictory demands of his situation...

Marx dictates the story of Napoleon Bonaparte and the challenges he faced. Perhaps the phrase I have chosen is not so much a representation of the entire work, but what resonated with me. "The Contradictory Demands" represent situations that we all seem to be faced with at some point or another. One need conflicts with an other, and therefore, one has to make a choice. Marx speaks of contradictory tasks as well as choices, which seem one in the same, to me, though could be differentiated between in that a task is a choice that has already been made. To make more than one choice, if conflicting, presents more than one task which also conflicts. His example of Napoleon brings a concreteness to the obscurities of this concept. As in the cases of rising of the proletariat, there are many choices that have to be made, often ones that conflict between self interest and the benefits of the people. These choices are what Marx highlights as the responsibilities of a governing body. 

Word: Bourgeois

Bourgeois:

A. n.
1. orig. A (French) citizen or freeman of a city or burgh, as distinguished from a peasant on the one hand, and a gentleman on the other; now often taken as the type of the mercantile or shopkeeping middle class of any country. Also fem. bourgeoise, a Frenchwoman of the middle class.


2. Used disparagingly. a. In communist or socialist writings: a capitalist; anyone judged to be an exploiter of the proletariat.

I thought this word pertained well to Marx's historical yet social critique of the events leading up to Louis Bonaparte's coup d'├ętat in France. The bourgeois were critical to the power struggles in France at the time and also the term lent itself to Marx's critique on social classes.

PHRASE: "Men make their own history, but they do not make..."

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past."

Marx discusses the present and past and their undeniable connection to each other. However, he critiques the way people sometimes use past, making the present version a "farce" (594) of the old events. Revolutionists will invoke the old heroes or battles, but, by invoking the memories of an older time, the present time tends to take a back seat. The past is glorified by people referring back to it and only bringing up certain aspects of past events. Marx does give an example of when the past can be brought up without making the current events a joke of the old, "The awakening of the dead in those revolutions therefore served the purpose of glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old ..." (596) with the English revolution of Locke. But he remarks that the English revolution is a rarity, and usually the past is used inappropriately, making the present become a mockery of greater events in the past.

PHRASE: "The awakening of the dead..."

"The awakening of the dead in those revolutions therefore served the purpose of glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old; of magnifying the given tasks in imagination, not of taking flight from their solution in reality; of find once more the spirtie of revolution, not of making its ghosts walk again" (596).

Marx comments on how historical facts and personages always happen twice (594). Men seemingly take people and instances from history and bring those into their present day. Everything builds off of that which came before it. It is a spring board for the path to take. "Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as the please; they do not make it under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past (595). So, while everything may seem different, there is always a piece of past present and traceable.