Sunday, 23 January 2011

Being & Tim's Holiday: Day 5

Being & Tim at 'PhilosophyLand' with Marcel Mouse!
Rather than being a real mouse, Marcel Mauss was an anthropologist whose most famous text was

The Gift, in which he analysed the sociological construction of gift-giving, especially in relation to non-capitalist societies. Just a cursory glance through the wikipedia entry shows how interesting a text it is:

Mauss argued that gifts are never "free". Rather, human history is full of examples that gifts give rise to reciprocal exchange. The famous question that drove his inquiry into the anthropology of the gift was: "What power resides in the object given that causes its recipient to pay it back?" (1990:3). The answer is simple: the gift is a "total prestation", imbued with "spiritual mechanisms", engaging the honour of both giver and receiver... Such transactions transcend the divisions between the spiritual and the material in a way that according to Mauss is almost "magical". The giver does not merely give an object but also part of himself, for the object is indissolubly tied to the giver: "the objects are never completely separated from the men who exchange them" (1990:31). Because of this bond between giver and gift, the act of giving creates a social bond with an obligation to reciprocate on part of the recipient. 

As I have never read the text I don't want to comment on the ins-and-outs of Mauss's theory: but even the short quotations in the above wikipedia entry show its parallels to Marx's early writings, particularly this quotation from Comments on James Mill. Marx has just outlined the way that commodity exchange under capitalism alienates us from each other: when I buy something what is important to me is the object I am purchasing, not the human act of labour that stands behind the object in question. Under this form of exchange human beings are valuable only as instruments that create objects; as an alternative to this Marx puts forward this idea: 

Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of us would have in two ways affirmed himself and the other person. 1) In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt. 2) In your enjoyment or use of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man's essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man's essential nature. 3) I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species, and therefore would become recognised and felt by you yourself as a completion of your own essential nature and as a necessary part of yourself, and consequently would know myself to be confirmed both in your thought and your love. 4) In the individual expression of my life I would have directly created your expression of your life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have directly confirmed and realised my true nature, my human nature, my communal nature

Our products would be so many mirrors in which we saw reflected our essential nature. 

In this wonderful quotation, Marx seems to be envisaging a type of exchange where the act of individual labour (what he views as our 'species-being') is what gives the object value, where the work on the object itself is a form of dialogue (or dialectic) in which our relationship is continually redefined and our humanity made visible in ever different creations. Compare this to what Mauss says in The Gift "the objects are never completely separated from the men who exchange them" (1990:31).

Marx seems to move away from this view by the time he gets to Capital, but I think it's a compelling place to start thinking about what economy means, and how we might be able to intervene within capitalism. Derrida and Adorno both return to this idea of the gift, Derrida in Given Time (see context here ) and Adorno in Minima Moralia, Section 21. But they're both weirdoes....haha xx

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Being & Tim's Holiday: Day 4

Chillin' at the Grand Hotel Abyss with Adorno
I've not read the Theory of the Novel, and my current favourite thing about Georg Lukacs is the inescapable link to another, more contemporary philosopher. So I can't comment much on the specific context of the following quotation:

'A considerable part of the leading German intelligentsia, including Adorno, have taken up residence in the ‘Grand Hotel Abyss’ which I described in connection with my critique of Schopenhauer as ‘a beautiful hotel, equipped with every comfort, on the edge of an abyss, of nothingness, of absurdity. And the daily contemplation of the abyss between excellent meals or artistic entertainments, can only heighten the enjoyment of the subtle comforts offered.’ (Die Zerstörung der Vernunft, Neuwied 1962, p. 219)'

----Georg Lukács 1962 : Preface to The Theory of the Novel at
Nevertheless, I think there might be something quite keen in his criticism of Adorno, whose philosophy, as compelling and formidable as it is, offers (by Adorno's own standards I think it should be added) very little in the way of 'bridge' over the abyss which is the inherent self-contradictions of capitalism. Rather the activity of Negative Dialectics seems to involve precisely dwelling on these contradictions: that in writing and attending to them we bear witness to a future in which these contradictions are no longer apparent: where the objects we speak of, and particularly the subjects, can exist as ends in themselves rather than as means towards profit.

If anything compels me to return to University for a phD it's the tension between thinkers like Adorno (and Simone Weil) on one side who seem to value contemplation, and perhaps more ACTION-BASED philosophers, like Nietzsche perhaps. Or Gillian Rose.  Something like this anyway.

Last holiday snap tomorrow, hope to see you then.

becca xo
ps. new cartoon here too!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Being & Tim's Holiday: Day 2

Being & Tim got a bit lost on their way to the realm of the forms!

 While I'm here, to the left are a few pictures of recent Being & Tim items: some stickers and some diaries. Still available to order from or from Dave's comics....

My ongoing one-a-day project is still going on here , otherwise, see you tomorrow for more about Being & Tim's holiday!
becca xo

Monday, 17 January 2011

Being & Tim's Holiday Snaps: Day 1

I've finally got round to drawing some B&T for my one-a-day-project: this is a picture from Being & Tim's holiday in Greece...

Here is what Wikipedia says about Plato's Cave and what it means:

''Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners'' 

That is to say: it's not a real cave.

For those of you who are interested, I am still doing my one-a-day drawing project, but have moved it to another blog, cos Being & Tim were getting jealous. You can find it at, and I'll update it every couple of days (my new year's resolution said nothing about scanning everyday! But I will do my best)

Another pic from Being & Tim's holiday tomorrow,

becca xx 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

january 5th - 7th (more philosophy to follow!)

jan 5: a character from a book i'm illustrating, commenting on my use of materials.
jan 7: when i had a job, this happened alot.
jan 6: sorry this isn't great quality, don't have scanner at the mo.

january the eighth to the twelfth of my drawings....

january 11th: this is sometimes how i feel about doing one drawing a day.
january 10th: this is 100% truth. I saw it in the hospital.
january 9th: this is 100% truth too.
january 8th: this is about 90% truth except it wasn't so fun

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

january 4th

This is data entry pig who is a character from my other blog Friends on Benefits. He got his name because he dreams of doing data-entry for a living. Hopefully i will finally get round to drawing his adventures, as part of my one-a-day project.  But you won't get to see them for the next few days because I'm going to Scotland, to hide out in the mountains away from human life (like the Shining but with more cups of tea). I'm not cheating though: I'll draw the pictures, I just won't be able to post them....Sorry. Back on the 10th though and will put any pictures of D.E.Pig here and on Friends on Benefit. But who knows what I might draw tomorrow?! MUOHOAHAHA.....

becca xo

Monday, 3 January 2011

jan 3

Today I started to draw an orchid...

but I got bored...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

january 2nd!

Sketch for day 2: SUPER DEPRESSIVE! I'd like to spend more time tomorrow, do something classy! We shall see!


Saturday, 1 January 2011

one-a-day project

In 2010 my friends Caz and  Kathryn Gibson both did totally unconnected 'one-a-day' projects for different amounts of time. This year I am gonna try and follow their example and spend a bit of time every day drawing, playing moosic or making something and then putting it on this blog. Here's the first drawing: something I've been intending to draw for my  'Gallows Humour' blog but have only just got around to. I'll put it up there as well, but i thought i'd share it here too.

becca xo


Happy New Year! I hope you had a better evening than me. I had flu, and was in bed, when this demon appeared and told me that i'd have to live ye life again and inumerable times again right down to the moon and the spider in the window, and even himself...

no wait, that was something else...

Instead, not wanting to be left out of one of the most festive of activities, I compiled a TOP TEN list of Being & Tim 2010 posts for those of you who might be new to the site, or just for anyone wanting to revisit their favourite moments. Do you remember that time when Dasein started crying? what LOLz..

There'll be new adventures, philosophical and otherwise, coming soon. Woop!