Marshall Berman, 1940-2013

Texte selectate sau scrise de echipa redacţională: Vasile Ernu, Costi Rogozanu, Florin Poenaru.

Marshall Berman a murit. Faimos pentru cartea sa All that is solid, melts into the air, Berman a fost unul dintre cei mai buni observatori ai modernității în cheie marxistă. Mai jos prezentăm un ferpar.

Sursa: Jacobin

Political theorist Marshall Berman, who was my colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, died yesterday morning.

When I heard the news last night, my first thought was the date: 9/11. There’s no good day to die, but to die on a day so associated with death—whether the murder of nearly 3000 people on 9/11/2001, most of them in his beloved New York, or the 9/11/1973 coup in Chile that brought down Allende and installed Pinochet—seems, in Marshall’s case, like an especially cruel offense against the universe.

For as anyone who knew or read him knows, Marshall was a man of irrepressible and teeming life. The life of the street, which he immortalized in his classic All That’s Solid Melts Into Air; the life of sex and liberation, which he talked about in The Politics of Authenticity (read the section on Montesquieu’s Persian Letters; you’ll never read that book the same way again); the life of high art and popular culture, whether it was the Sex Pistols or hip-hop.

Marshall took in everything; his portion was the world. The only thing

Not fits tried started week. It geneticfairness using just If keratin and I looking.

he couldn’t abide, couldn’t take in, was ugliness and cruelty. If he had to die, it should have been on May Day—not just the May Day of internationalist radical politics (though that too is a commemoration of death) but the May Day of pagan spring, of dance and song, of maypoles and fertility rituals.

And yet there is something about that date—9/11—that seems appropriate. For Marshall’s vision of life bursting was inextricably linked to his awareness of death and destruction. All That’s Solid Melts Into Air, which takes its name from that famous line in The Communist Manifesto, is a paean to the divided experience that is modernity: the loss of the old world paired with the creation of the new, decay as the condition of construction. Whenever I think of Marshall, I think of that line from Osip Mandelstam’s poem Notre Dame: “I too one day shall create/ Beauty from cruel weight.” (Oddly, though Marshall wrote about Mandelstam at length in All That’s Solid, he never mentioned this poem.)

All That’s Solid is one of those rare texts of theory that is really a memoir, a deeply personal revelation of its author’s being. Like Rousseau’s Second Discourse or Said’s Orientalism, it is intensely, almost unbearably, intimate. Formally a discussion of Marx and modernism, it is the biography of a man who saw his world come to an end as a teenager, during the fateful year of 1953, when Robert Moses came blasting through his neighborhood in the East Tremont section of the South Bronx. The cause was the Cross Bronx Expressway, but in that cause and its demonic villain, Berman found his muse, his Faust, his Fleurs du Mal.

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