Laura Gonzalez


19 May 2014

Precarious Communism by Richard Gilman-Opalsky ****

precariouscommunism lo-res cover

Reading dates: 05 – 17 May 2014

We read Precarious Communinism for our Dialectical Materialism bookgroup. The discussion was lively but, at times felt as if we read four different books. Perhaps this is always the case with reading groups. I really liked Gilman-Opalsky’s work. If anything, it is inspiring, informative, wide ranging (perhaps a little too much) and full of really interesting references. I never heard of Kristeva’s Revolt, She Said and now I have a copy.

The book is predicated on a Situationist détournement of Marx’s Communist Manifesto. This is the only aspect of the book that does not work for me. I did not see a détournement, nor know how détourning a classic text can be defferent from re-reading, or reading á la letter — like Lacan did with Freud, subverting him. Gilman-Opalsky explains this methodology in the introduction and then it somehow evaporates.

Yet, the work is a solid critique of capitalism (especially of what work does to us), a call to personal responsibility through an ethics of the precarious communist, who is many unorganised things but who seeks dignity, autonomy and human association. They key, he writes at the close of this short book, is in the unwinding after work, in the uncoiling of a potentially threatening force of unrest in search of a different, more human, logos.

A precarious communist also knows in her most meaningful lived experiences — perhaps in love, in tragedy, in playing with a young child, in the creative moments of art or recreation, in the euphoria of musical bliss, in the awe of visual vistas, and of human intimacy — that the logic of capital is absent there, for such experiences have a different logos altogether. (p. 74)

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, DiaMat, Reading

2 Responses to “Precarious Communism by Richard Gilman-Opalsky ****”

  1. Yes: The Radical Case for Scottish Independence by James Foley and Pete Ramand *** said:

    […] discuss Julia Kristeva’s ‘Revolt, She Said’, my choice, after reading about it in a previous DiaMat book. Whatever happens on the 18 September, whether I win that bet or not, a little revolt and […]

  2. Revolt, She Said by Julia Kristeva*** said:

    […] Gilman-Opalsky kept referring to a book by Julia Kristeva I never heard of, I made my mind up to chose this when […]

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.