Today in class we screened ten minutes of the documentary film The Shock Doctrine in order to gain a very rough sense of the socio-historical context of Homo Zapiens. (Click the hyperlink to see the clip. It begins at the 38:00 mark.) If you would like a deeper introduction to the immediate post-Soviet moment, you can consult Naomi Klein’s book of the same name which is located on the Free Books page.
We also wandered through the first three chapters of Pelevin’s novel. On Thursday we will focus primarily on chapters 6 and 7. Chapter 7, “Homo Zapiens,” is, you’ll note, demanding. You may need to read it twice. As always, underline passages and take notes. Keep Hawkes’s Ideology in mind as you read. Make connections. As I said in class, the “Post-Marxism” and “Postmodernism” chapters of Hawkes’s book are easily the most useful for our present purposes. Zizek and Adorno in particular offer us a way of analyzing the present and a kind of point of entry to Pelevin’s novel.
We very quickly reviewed some of the basic concepts pertaining to ideology. A few questions you should be able to answer at this point are as follows: What is the difference between use value and exchange value? What is the relationship between exchange value, the commodity fetish, and reification? How do these last three relate to ideology-as-false-consciousness?
I will ask you these questions in the form of a “pop” quiz on Thursday.