STEM (HUM415)

Looking over the pop quiz responses it seems clear that: 1) almost nobody has read The Committee and 2) many people have not read, or at least fully understood, Hawkes. It also appears that there are people in the class who don’t know what STEM means.

Let’s take the first one last. STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics– that is to say, those fields of study that are ostensibly the most “serious” and remunerative. (That they are routinely treated as such is already an indication that our society tends to treat rationality metaphysically.)

In the formula STEM s̅ dialectics Hiroshima, “STEM s̅ dialectics” stands for what Adorno calls “instrumental reason” and “Hiroshima” stands for a moral and human catastrophe on par with the European genocide.

(If you’re unfamiliar with the devastation caused by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki I suggest you to do a simple google image search using those names. Be advised that you will see things that will distress you.)

So instrumental reason leads to the massive destruction of human life. Hawkes, in an effort to bring home a hard truth, calls this phenomenon a function of “Satan.” Of course, his understanding of Satan isn’t some scriptural bogeyman but, in his words, “the enemy of human life, the source of fetishism, the cause of death.” If you understand how these three things are alike, then it’s safe to say that you’ve grasped the principle.

Initially, every human is both a subject and an object, existing as a consciousness and as a material part of the world. Under the rule of the exchange value, however, subjectivity is expelled from the human subject, which becomes an object. The coup de grace of this process of reification is that these new “human” objects experience themselves as subjects. In other words, “we end up with fully objectified subjects who take their very objectivity as a form of subjectivity.” Topsy-turvy! Look over the first two full paragraphs on page 174 for greater detail.

In the weeks to come we will continue to reference Hawkes, even as we move ahead with out readings. The most pressing of those new readings is The Committee, which you should have completed by Tuesday.

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