This controversial article, which Jameson later expanded into a book, was part of a series of analyses of postmodernism from the dialectical perspective Jameson had developed in his earlier work on narrative. Jameson viewed the postmodern "skepticism towards metanarratives " as a "mode of experience" stemming from the conditions of intellectual labor imposed by the late capitalist mode of production. Postmodernists claimed that the complex differentiation between "spheres" or fields of life such as the political, the social, the cultural, the commercial , and between distinct social classes and roles within each field, had been overcome by the crisis of foundationalism and the consequent relativization of truth-claims. Jameson argued against this, asserting that these phenomena had or could have been understood successfully within a modernist framework; the postmodern failure to achieve this understanding implied an abrupt break in the dialectical refinement of thought. Jameson argued that parody which implies a moral judgment or a comparison with societal norms was replaced by pastiche collage and other forms of juxtaposition without a normative grounding.
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This is a magnificent book. The remainder of the book is then a range of essays, often previously published elsewhere, which implement and expand on the use of dialectics across a range of This is a magnificent book. The remainder of the book is then a range of essays, often previously published elsewhere, which implement and expand on the use of dialectics across a range of philosophical and revolutionary areas of interest.
Much of this fascinating and extremely thought provoking. It is not however a basic introduction to dialectics, and you are I think best served coming to this book with at least something of an idea of what it is all about.
Some - particularly the final two chapters based on literary criticism - is quite dense reading. Jameson also discussed Lukacs in some depth, and does a good job of rehabilitating his concepts of reification and totality as key themes. The final analysis of time, narrative, and history is hard work but worthwhile for understanding the complexity involved in time as a category. This book then is a description of the dialectical method, but more than that it is the detailed and expert use of that method in a range of insightful analyses.
More than anything it is inspiring for the continued value and use of dialectics in thinking about the modern world. You can also find this review on my blog:.
Valences of the Dialectic
London: Verso, , pp. The bracing early chapters of Valences of the Dialectic return to us the useful Hegel, not the thinker of the One of teleology, of identity, of the ultimate return of every difference into the monotony of the same , but rather the unrelenting and almost impossibly rigorous thinker of the Two, of the fundamental unrest and instability neither the yin and yang of complementarity, nor the static field of binary opposition, nor yet the aporetic abyss of the antinomy, each one of these being rather a disguise for the thought of the One that dissolves every certainty in contradiction and propels it forward into something else which is not, from its own perspective, conceivable. Of course, these two Hegels, the thinker of the One and of the Two, are the same Hegel, viewed under different and contradictory aspects. The key moment here is that of structuralism and the discovery of binary opposition as a generative principle of meaning and, in a negative corollary, as the very form of ideology and error. This then permits a new staging of the emergence of the dialectic.