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The Aesthetics of Resistance reading group
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Organizing Committee:

Organizer:

I'd like to schedule a weekly 3- or 4-session class devoted to reading and discussing Peter Weiss's novel The Aesthetics of Resistance volume 1, published in German in 1975. I read it five years ago, and think reading it in a group now, with OWS in the background, would be immensely productive and interesting. It's not an easy book. But it's a rewarding one.

From the blurb: "Spanning the period from the late 1930s to World War II, this historical novel dramatizes anti-fascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen- and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss’s novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in embracing resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that we must look to art for new models of political action and social understanding."

From Fredric Jameson's introduction: "The Aesthetics of Resistance is not so much a contribution to aesthetic theory as rather the working out of an aesthetic pedagogy. For this is also a Bildungsroman, in which a young German worker learns a politics of resistance in the vicissitudes of history, but also appropriates a whole aesthetic culture, which is meant to complete that first and political education and which may in many ways even precede it."

It's a book structured around arguments about art and politics: a good object for argument, I think. Maybe we can get some useful distance on OWS by displacing it in time and space (1930s Berlin), into a different Left (communism rather than anarchism), and through fiction (rather than fact or theory). 

For the first session, I'd like to focus on pp. vii-xviii of Jameson's introduction, and pp. 3–74 of the novel. Then we can decide how fast to keep moving from there. 

I'd propose Saturday-afternoon meetings, perhaps at 60 Wall St., starting 12/3. 2 p.m.?

UPDATE: I was pointed to a pdf of the book on Aaaarg: 

http://aaaaarg.org/text/17391/aesthetics-resistance-book-1

http://ifile.it/xu1rzjd

Comments

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I'm away from Recess through January 4th, with intermittent access to email. I'll respond to your message as soon as I can.

All best,
Maia

See some of you in two hours...

I can do Monday.

Ditto no go for Monday here, but hope it is a good talk...

My other book club is Monday so I won't be able to make it. Have fun, I hope it's a productive discussion.

I can make Monday too.

monday night is good with me

OK, let's say Monday at 7 p.m., 60 Wall St.? Please reply if you're thinking of coming, and TPS will officially reschedule the class by tomorrow.

i wasnt able to make it to the last meeting and just got the book today, but im gonna try to read a good bit of it over the coming days...monday would work better for me just so i have more time to read it

I could also do Monday evening, the 19th.

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