Saturday, October 30, 2010

Seminar 2011

Here is the initial course description for my spring 2011 graduate seminar (these things have to be submitted early in the fall, while the course is still in development).
Gift Game Economy Strategy
The title refers to a set of theoretical operations whose convergence is tracked and tested in this seminar.  The methodological frame is heuretics (the logic of invention), and one of the purposes of the seminar is to gain some experience with “invention” as an orientation applicable to any area of the discipline. The semester project is generated by extracting from “the logic of the gift” a principle of “strategy,” to function as an alternative to the strategy of game theory informing American policy during the Cold War. Our interest is not only in political or policy strategy but in “strategy” as an attitude or orientation within any problem field. The heuretic goal is to articulate and test a strategy (a game?) of “gift.” A particular benefit of grounding our experiment in the logic of the gift is that acquaintance with this account of pre-capitalist economy reduces some of the mystery surrounding the most original thinkers of French poststructuralism (for example, Bataille, Derrida, Baudrillard, among others). Readings may include the following: Alan D. Schrift, Ed., The Logic of the Gift:  Toward an Ethic of Generosity; William Poundstone, Prisoner’s Dilemma: John Von Neumann, Game Theory, and the Puzzle of the Bomb; Richard A. Lanham, On the Economics of Attention:  Style and Substance in the Age of Information; Sun Tzu, The Art of War. The semester experiment is composed as a blog.  
The original plan has been modified, to clarify and simplify the heuretic CATTt generator.
Prisoner's Dilemma remains the Contrast.  Baudrillard is now Theory, specifically Fatal Strategies, in part because Baudrillard represents one major option coming out of Gift theory.  The fact that he couches his approach as "strategy," is useful, but more important is his appropriation of 'pataphysics as the basis for the strategy.  Analogy is a book on 'pataphysics by Christian Bok (replacing Lanham's useful but tamer framing of dadaism as a brand strategy in an attention economy -- an insight that can be covered in lecture).  This set-up means that the seminar continues to explore Routine, taking up where last year's experiment left off.  The immediate pivot is the pun (noted by Bok):  Ubu is a slapstick comedian (pataud physique) of unhealthy obesity (pateux physique)...  Target remains public policy formation (EmerAgency consulting), but the texts relevant to Target and tale are undecided at this moment.


  1. Would anything like David Korten's _Agenda for a New Economy_ be a possible Target or help to elucidate the tale here?

  2. I'll check it out. One of the motivating ideas of the original plan, alluding to the role of "economy" in game theory, is an opposition between capitalist commodity exchange vs pre-capitalist symbolic (gift) reciprocity. There is also the more general usage of "economy" in the sense of system dynamics, as in Derrida's "economimesis." I need to commit to relays for Target as well as tale.