Perhaps the nearest a critical theorist has come to explaining the
necessity from a Marxist perspective for this kind of methodology
(for it must be said that Marx does not provide us with a transparent
theory of what he is doing artistically, except by his practice of
doing it), has been Walter Benjamin. This is in his short essay 'The
Author as Producer' (in Understanding Brecht 1983). Here he
provides us with the beginnings of a theory of formal quality as a
prerequisite for a correct analysis and evaluation of a progressive
political tendency in a work of literature. We can now see that Marx
more-or-less endorses Benjamin's critical approach in a quite profound,
and perhaps, unexpected, way. In fact it would be possible to go further
and say that he actually lays the foundations for the possibility
of this critical approach.
To take Benjamin's cue by subjecting the EPM to the investigative
techniques of cultural production, the design of the EPM can now be
situated with regard to the history of the techniques of book page
layout and publishing technology, which has of course been tied up
with the history of the great religions (the religious Ideological
State Apparatuses). Tschichold's research (1991) unearthing the Christian
medieval canon of correlation between book page and type area, shows
how proportions, structure and even the sequence of pages, in the
sense of a underlying telos in western books, are defined historically
by the aesthetic values associated with ruling aesthetics and ideology,
as well as the necessary principles of efficiency for purpose.
While it may be true that Marx's design was never intended for publication
in the form that he wrote it, for he probably would not have expected
traditional publishers to set up their entire print process differently,
it is evidently also true that he must have felt the need to create
the Notebooks in the form they take. The important thing for
Marx at this time must have been the value of the conceptual structure
that he was putting to work, and part of the importance of this effort
was its formal design. Does it matter whether or not Marx himself,
as a personality, either wanted to publish this text in this form
or intended it to function artistically? Clearly it would matter only
to a humanist framework of interpretation, one that has already prejudged
the outcome and decided to sweep under the carpet the sensual aspects
of the physical design.
It seems that for Marx in 1844 a radical new form was felt to be required
for the 'new content'. But it was not that this new form was dictated
by a content that 'spoke about it' as if from some 'outside position',
rather this form was born simultaneous with the new content, for,
in another sense, this content could not exist without this new form,
or at least the embryonic vestiges of this new form. This is what
Marx meant by saying that the point was to practice rather than interpret
the world. Good practice was always for Marx artful.
The online version of Marx's EPM is based on a reconstruction of the
original spatial design and page layout following the original notebooks
as far as possible. The text written in black denotes quotations by
Marx of other authors works, most notably Adam Smith, this is to point
up the use of the many juxtaposed quotations, paraphrases and free
translation by Marx. Text in pointed brackets denotes paragraphs that
were crossed out with a vertical line by Marx. Quotations from French
sources by Marx or translated by him into German are given in English.
Emphasis in quotations is marked by italics and usually belongs to
Marx. The online hypertext EPM remains, of course, different from
the original paper based, hand written, hand-sewed version. I make
no extra-special claims for computer based hypertext systems, which
certainly have their own drawbacks, but which nevertheless, in combination
with the Internet, appear to be very useful for this particular task
(although it is hard to read from a computer screen). Much has been
voiced about the 'revolutionary' potential of such hypertext systems,
but most of this seems to be of the kind that emphasizes not only
the 'death of the author' but also the death of sense too. It is perhaps
refreshing that Marx is ahead of us in this too.
In English the EPM was first published in 1959 by the Foreign Languages
Publishing House (Progress Publishers), Moscow, translated by Martin
Milligan. In the above online edition two translated versions were
used. An online edition was referred to, taken from the 1974 Gregor
Benton translation, first transcribed for the Internet by firstname.lastname@example.org
autumn 1993, and compared with the 1977 Progress Publishers text translated
by Milligan. These were themselves compared with the German publication
of Marx/Engels Werke in order to see where changes in style
and sense may have been made so as to fit the traditional publishing
book format and customary interpretation. Some alterations and re-translations
have been carried out in accordance with the findings that become
apparent when the text is read in the correct pagination sequence
and with the original juxtaposition of columns.
This research work is by no means over of course, and the EPM still
contains some mysterious features that I, for one, do not yet (or
perhaps ever will) understand, such as peculiar 'twists' in the orientation
of the pagination, so the current online version also has some problems
and lacunas that still need to be resolved.
Gary Tedman; essay written over 1981-2001
Benjamin, Walter 1983. Understanding Brecht trans. Anna Bostock,
intro. Stanley Mitchell, London, Verso.
Fay, Margaret 1979. The 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts
of Karl Marx: A Critical Commentary and Interpretation Doctoral
Thesis, Berkeley University, California.
Fay, Margaret 1983. The Influence of Adam Smith on Marxs Theory
of Alienation Science & Society Journal Vol. XLVII No. 2.
Feuerbach, Ludwig 1957. The Essence of Christianity trans.
George Eliot, intro. Karl Barth, Harper and Bros.
Hegel, G.W.F. 1993. Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics trans.
Bernard Bosanquet, ed. intro. Michael Inwood, Penguin.
Rose, Margaret A. 1984. Marx's Lost Aesthetic Cambridge University
Marx, Karl 1981. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Lawrence & Wishart.
Marx/Engels 1990. Werke 40, Dietz Verlag Berlin, Schriften und Briefe
November 1837 - August 1844: Okonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte
aus dem Jahre 1844 p. 465.
Smith, Adam 1986. The Wealth of Nations Books I-III intro.
Andrew Skinner, Penguin.
Singh, Iona 1984. Syntax & Semiology, Portsmouth Polytechnic Fine
Art dept. degree thesis.
Tedman, Gary 1999. 'Ideology, The State, and the Aesthetic Level of
Practice', Rethinking Marxism 4/11.
Tedman, Gary 2000 Marx's 1844 Hypertext Manuscripts (online edition),
Tedman, Gary 2001. 'Subjectless Aesthetics', forthcoming.
Tschichold, Jan 1991. The Form of the Book; Essays on the Morality
of Good Design Lund Humphries.
Wheen, Francis 2000. Karl Marx London, Fourth Estate.
2 The curator at the IISH, Jurgen Rojahn's theoretical contributions
are, to my knowledge, not currently available in English translation.
He kindly sent me his essay some years ago, which unfortunately Ive
been unable to read due to the language barrier, but the IISH has
since been no further help to me and have ignored my requests for
photocopies of the EPM. Notwithstanding lest there be any injustice
it must be noted that Fay's work in some respects may have relied
on Rojahn's own studies of the original MS.
3 However, Margaret Fay is mentioned in Francis Wheen's biography
'Karl Marx' (2000, p367) as having solved the problem of the supposed
rejection by Darwin of Marx's proposed dedication of 'Capital' by
some remarkable detective work.
4 According to Dr. Johannes D. Hengstenberg, who was a friend of Margaret's,
she suffered from endogenous depression. A German edition of Margaret's
text "Der Einfluß von Adam Smith auf Karl Marx Theorie der
Entfremdung", was published in 1985 (or thereabouts) by CAMPUS
Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, edited by Johannes D. Hengstenberg, Verena
Blaum, Karl Benz and Maria Furtner Kalmünzer.
5 An argument based on the idea that alienation should be understood
in Marx not as spiritual, but as sensual or felt, is carried through
in my essays 'Ideology, the State, and the Aesthetic level of Practice',
and 'Subjectless Aesthetics' (see bibliography).
6 Usually translations have 'sensuous' and 'sensuousness' in the EPM,
but it seems to fit better with the materialist spirit of Marx's text
for such terms to be rendered as 'sensual' and 'sensuality'.