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A Desire Called AmericaBiopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons$
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Christian P. Haines

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286942

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286942.001.0001

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Idle Power: the Riot, the Commune, and Capitalist Time in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day

Idle Power: the Riot, the Commune, and Capitalist Time in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day

Chapter:
(p.157) Chapter 4 Idle Power: the Riot, the Commune, and Capitalist Time in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day
Source:
A Desire Called America
Author(s):

Christian P. Haines

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823286942.003.0005

This chapter argues that Thomas Pynchon’s novel Against the Day (2006) not only represents the temporality of capitalism but also contests it through an aesthetic strategy of idleness or sloth. It analyzes how Pynchon recuperates nineteenth-century traditions of anarchism, work refusal, rioting, and the commune as a way of responding to contemporary conditions of labor under capitalism. Putting Pynchon into conversation with the Italian Autonomist Marxists—most notably, Antonio Negri and Mario Tronti—it shows how Against the Day frames class struggle as a conflict between capitalism and workers regarding the social organization of time. It explains that Pynchon links the utopian reinvention of the United States to a political version of idleness, or a willful refusal of capitalist efficiency. It also situates Pynchon’s utopian imagination in respect to the social forms of the riot and the commune.

Keywords:   anarchism, Autonomist Marxism, class conflict, commune, idleness, Marxism, Thomas Pynchon, riot, social class, temporality

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