Something I found interesting was Huyssen's statements about the institutionalization of the avantgarde. While this is an idea that we've run into before, reading Harraway gave me something of new take on the phrase "the dialectic between the avantgarde and mass culture". This is something we've kind of discussed in class, maybe less in the Adorno high/low culture sense and more just in general belief that someone, somewhere, must give a challenge to the inequalities of late capitalist cultural production methodologies. Something interesting in this view of political activism is that it is, or I read it as, a basically enlightenment progress narrative that has as its endpoint some utopian, classless, future. In fact, I think you can trace this basic narrative in most of the marxist authors that we've read, and I was interested in ways that Harraway presented challenges to this (for instance on page 173, where she says: "...dialectics too is a dream language, longing to resolve contradiction").
Harraway seemed to be making an proposition about identity that struck me as uniquely free of the baggage of well-worn meta-narratives; her cyborg model of identity seemed to be able to acknowledge its own complex, conflicting, and otherwise iffy teleological origins and yet somehow move beyond them. While I had a little trouble imagining Harraway's cyborg politics in action, their founding ideas were very appealing to me. I read these as principles defining an epistemology and political ideology that was capable of describing radical differences without attempting to stitch them together and unify them. Harraway's new space of knowledge seems to be outside of a history defined by the telos of either unity of exchange through efficiency (the world as nothing more than a perfect market) or the angst of terrible, inescapable, original, difference as a consequence of birth as a break from the purity of a previous state (garden of eden, the "oedipal project", etc). The metanarrative of the cyborg seems to be one without a need to heirarchize, without a need to see motion as the magnetic dance of two irreconcilable opposites, which seems to mean to me one without a dialectical history, and thus no need for an avant-garde. So I would pose as a question the following: has the avant-garde ever, in the modern world, not been a product of "the institution" (since it is such a familiarly dialectical conception of history)? And do you agree or disagree with Harraway's implicit assertion that it should have no place in the future (and also my assertion that this is what she thinks)?
-EDIT: Looks like snaggle said the same thing while I was finishing this. You should definitely read both.-