Re: [OPE-L] Derrida's ghosts

From: Michael Perelman (michael@ECST.CSUCHICO.EDU)
Date: Fri Oct 28 2005 - 22:48:36 EDT

Keenan, Thomas. 1993. "The Point is to (Ex)Change It: Reading .Capital.
Rhetorically." in Emily Apter and William Pietz, eds. Fetishism (Ithaca: Cornell
University Press): pp. 152-85.

 169: C1, p. 128: Marx describes the residual after abstracting away all use value.
He calls the residual a "gespenstige Gegenstandlichkeit."  "There is nothing of them
left over but this same ghostly objectivity, a mere jelly of undifferentiated labor."
   168: LC, p. 46 "each one of them completely resembles the other.  They all have
the same phantomic reality.  Metamorphosed into identical sublimes, samples of the
same indistinct labor."
   168: "Because they resemble each other, as all ghosts do, having no phenomenal or
sensible features by which to distinguish "themselves," the operation of which they
are the remnant can finally occur.  Thanks to their resemblance, the condition of
exchange are met -- the very exchange that leaves them, atomless, behind.  Without
ghosts, no exchange."
   169: "the commodity as ghost is a figure for the most rigorous of reductions, the
radical elimination of all traces of use value, with one exception: the residue of
the abstraction itself."
   171: C1, p. 152 "The secret of value-expression, the likeness and equivalence of
labor ... could not be deciphered until the concept of human similarity or equality
had already acquired the permanence of a popular prejudice."  "But [it] is  first
possible only in a society where the commodity form is the general form of
   Compare the following to Sohn-Rethel.
   171: "Exchange is possible because abstraction reveals the common humanity
surviving in the things exchanged."
   171: In other words, human is equated with ghostly.
   176: C1 143-4 "We see then, that everything our analysis of the value of
commodities previously told us is repeated by the linen itself ....  Only it reveals
its thoughts in a language with which it alone is familiar, the language of

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at

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