Monday, September 17, 2007

Stir crazy

So, there I was, sitting on my couch in the wee hours of the morning, probably drinking my second cup of tea -- this is the routine now --, probably listening to some jazz cd or another, and reading.

(My days have become relatively homogeneous: Sleep til noon, check news and eat, read, run, read, eat dinner, [if I feel like relaxing, "treating" myself to a disgusting "Gordon's" brand vodka and water on ice] read, check news, read, get in bed, read, fall asleep. I've read probably 4 books in the past 7 days. With my resources dwindling and my school stipend check weeks away, my diet for the past few days has consisted of frozen burritos, Coke Zero, a daily vitamin, and pasta. My relationship status has been unhelpful, to put it bureaucratically, and my budgetary deficiencies have seriously cramped my social life. Life has been...economical.)

So I'm reading this article by Robert Brenner about "the social basis of economic development" and I'm stuck on footnote 13, which is very long and boring, when I get to this:
So, one could not, I think, conceivably argue that individual pre-capitalist economic actors would seek to separate the pre-capitalist producers from their means of subsistence and break up the lords' institutionalized relationships with the producers which allowed them to extract a surplus by extraeconomic compulsion in order to install a system where the individual actors had, as their rule for reproduction, the maximization of profits (saw accumulate, accumulate as the moses and the prophets)...especially when such a system had never previously existed.
I did the classic double-take here, literally rubbing my eyes to see if I had actually read that parenthetical remark. I wondered for a moment if I was going insane (not altogether implausible). But there it was, and there it is today as I copy it off the page for your viewing pleasure. What does it mean? Let me rephrase that: What the hell are "the" "m"oses and the prophets doing in an article about peasant agriculture? Did the publisher insert it as a sick joke, counting on there being just such a case as mine, that of a bored, compulsively literate grad student sitting awake reading stupid Robert Brenner articles at 3 am? Who would then proceed to question his own sanity for five minutes? Who are these sick people?


Blogger Robot said...

I became increasingly panicked as I managed my one through the quotation, that you were going to remark upon some brilliant insight of his, where I could find little to no sense whatsoever. I'd say it's worth sending him an email, just for the hell out of it -- and then posting the response on the blog.

9:52 PM  
Blogger kushakov said...

I too succumbed to a moment of panic: have I been too engrossed in my own schedule-consuming graduate reading load to make sense of a simple biblical reference? It must be a joke, as in the being-fruitful-and-multiplyingness of biblical familial accumulation. But a really stupid joke. Am I wrong in thinking that prophets were not, generally speaking, a fruitful bunch? Wack.

11:09 PM  

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