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art,science & business/dialog: Jean-Pierre Lefebvre
18. January 2008 20:00
art, science & business
Jean-Pierre Lefebvre
»Perversity And Barbarism of a Fetish Norm: Karl Marx And the Commodity as Something Transcendent«


Today, the production of immaterial goods has overtaken the production of material goods. With the immaterialization of objects of exchange in the form of services, knowledge, and cultural products, one might have expected that the cult of objects or »fetishism«, as it has been called since Président de Brosses (meaning objects provoking our desire), would tend to disappear. Yet a look at the circuits of consumption shows the opposite. The seduction of commercial goods makes us forget that consumption is a word which stands merely for an exchange among subjects. The consumer is torn between knowledge and the refusal to know, between a lucid criticism of the tricks of marketing and a masochistic desire for its fairy tales. Everywhere the Ideal reigns in the shape of the icon and design. In a word, the Freudo-Marxist criticisms of fetishism have had their day.

But for those who explore the current form of commodities, Karl Marx is the absolute master. He strikes the dragon »commodity« and decodes what he calls »the form of value«, the form of any values, if material or mental. Let us read once again the Marxist theory of commodities, but let us read it as that what it is: a fairy tale which like all the other fairy tales leads us into the heart of reality.

Jean-Pierre Lefebvre (*1943 in Boulogne-sur-Mer/France) studied German language and literature studies as well as philosophy in Lille and Paris. From 1965 to 1967, he taught at the Romanic Seminar at the University of Heidelberg. Jean-Pierre Lefebvre is Professor for German language and literature studies at the École Normale Supérieur in Paris. He published articles and books about a.o. Heine, Hölderlin, and Goethe. Furthermore, he translated prose and lyric of well-known authors into French, such as »Hyperion« from Friedrich Hölderlin (2005), »Lenz« from Georg Büchner (2007), and »Schneepart« from Paul Celan (2007). Currently, he works on the translation of Freud’s Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams).

A cooperation with the Collège international de philosophie in Paris under the auspices of the »Fetish + Consumption« event series.