“Flirting with Nash: Performing Capital and the Politics of Forgetting in Techno-economic Games”
A key insight into the late Marxism of Adorno is Jameson’s insistence on the relevance of viewing capitalism through play among systems. The capitalist machine, however, is continually mutating and evolving into increasingly-differentiated forms, while covering its tracks through its “nested futures.” Marxism is best understood, Jameson suggests, as a series of paradoxes, for which new solutions must continually form. One paradox we must examine critically in this moment is the representation of capital, which behaves sometimes as a thing, and sometimes as a relationship. Critiques of representation and presentation become critical to examining the play of capital and its corollary: the absent presence of capitalism as a social formation characterized by its absence of social formations. Usually positioned at the opposite end of this debate is the work of Bruno Latour and Actor-Network Theory, and for good reason: his onto-epistemological claims are often viewed as complicit with capitalist ideology, and reject the diffuse play of occulted capital as a social force. This present work proposes a tentative alliance between these theoretical movements, necessitated by recent movements in capitalism working to concretize the rational, diffuse and obscure the location of labor, and leverage capital cyborg networks in such a way as to forget these movements. The rapid assimilation by game theory of a number of disciplines and modes of knowledge production is culminating in an occlusion of critique writ large, performing the human in a way which simultaneously incorporates and forgets its rationalization through information technologies, algorithmic patterning, and super-added individuality. While my ideological investments remain critically positioned in relation to Jameson, I hope to suggest that ANT can help us reverse-engineer this inscription and performance of capital in economic systems in a critically-motivated way.
Samuel Pizelo is a student at the Department of English Literature and Culture at the University of Washington. His mentor is Eva Cherniavsky, Hilen Professor of English and American Studies. His previous work attempts to reconcile advances in ANT with Cultural and Literature studies. He is a recipient of the Mary Gates Research Award, and has most recently presented his work at the Summer Institute Symposium at UW and the NCRC at Harvard University.