News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx–Eisenstein–Capital (Part I)
Alexander Kluge's News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx–Eisenstein–Capital (2008) begins with Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein's ambitious but unrealized plan to combine Karl Marx’s Capital and James Joyce’s Ulysses. For over nine hours, the film expands in concentric circles as Kluge, his guests, interlocutors and monologists make associative links on a range of topics that start from a filmic discussion of Eisenstein's notes. Kluge's film is divided into three parts: I. Marx and Eisenstein in the Same House; II. All Things are Bewitched People; III. Paradoxes of Exchange Society. At several points in the film we get a sense of what Eisenstein had in mind with his project. At one point, Kluge shows a “pot of soup has become a water kettle, boiling away and whistling: the image recurs at several moments in the exposition (Eisenstein’s notes projected in graphics on the intertitles), in such a way that this plain object is ‘abstracted’ into the very symbol of energy. It boils impatiently, vehemently it demands to be used, to be harnessed, it is either the whistling signal for work, for work stoppage, for strikes, or else the motor-power of a whole factory, a machine for future production ...” (Frederic Jameson in the New Left Review, July/August 2009). By insistence and repetition this banal object, a commodity, transforms into a larger-than-life symbol, and we start to get a sense of the full range of cognitive and material links this commodity has to the web of life that surrounds it.