Louis Althusser and Ideology


Althusser’s Two Key Insights in brief

1) His definition of ideology granted ideology a positive (and not merely a reflective or expressive) role. Ideology was itself a structural determinant in the mode of production. Following from the positive role attributed to ideology, the subject was regarded as a political and ideological effect and its agency diminished.

2) His description of the systematic mechanisms through which dominant ideology both reproduces itself and determines individual subjectivity, which consist of RSAs–Repressive State Apparatuses–(penal system, police, military) and ISAs–Ideological State Apparatuses–(educational curriculum, the media, etc.).

Hegel, Marx, Lukacs and Lacan: Althusser’s Influences

Althusser’s work is a reaction to Marxist economism and Hegelian humanist historicism. Hegel regarded history as the progressive understanding and development of the human spirit or Geist. Continue reading

Chekhov on asking the right questions


“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”

“You are right to demand that an artist engage his work consciously, but you confuse two different things: solving the problem and correctly posing the question.” – Letter to A.S. Suvorin (October 27, 1888)

Witold Gombrowicz – Diary excerpt











I write this diary reluctantly, Its dishonest honesty wearies me. For whom am I writing? If I am writing for myself, then why is it being published? If for the reader, why do I pretend that I am talking to myself? Are you talking to yourself so that others will hear you?

How far I am from the certitude and vigor that hum in me when I am, pardon me, “creating.” Here, on these pages, I feel as if I were emerging from a blessed night into the hard light of dawn, which fills me with yawning and drags my shortcomings out into the open. The duplicity inherent in keeping a diary makes me timid, so forgive, oh forgive me (perhaps these last words are dispensable, perhaps they are already pretentious?).

Yet I realize that one must be oneself at all levels of writing, which is to say, that I ought to be able to express myself not only in a poem or drama, but also in everyday prose—in an article or in a diary—and the flight of art has to find its counterpart in the domain of regular life, just as the shadow of the condor is cast onto the ground. What’s more, this passage into an everyday world from an area that is backed into the most remote depths, practically in the underground, is a matter of great importance to me. I want to be a balloon, but one with ballast; an antenna, but one that is grounded. I want to be capable of translating myself into everyday speech — but traduttore, traditore. Here I betray myself, I am beneath myself.

Continue reading