I Am the Cosmos
I Am the Cosmos
In his review of Christian Moraru’s recent Cosmodernism: American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary, Aron Pease considers the merits of the periodization advanced in that work. Ultimately, Pease argues that while the emphasis Moraru places on cosmodernism literature’s “relationality” means that the it is able to “register ‘the other’ as a concrete and organizing presence rather than as an abstract theme”, Moraru’s reliance on the nebulous term “globalization” fails to account for the extent to which the literature characterized as cosmodern reflects the political economy of late capitalism.
A review of Cosmodernism: American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary, by Christian Moraru, University of Michigan Press, 2010.
I have proposed a ‘model’ of postmodernism, which is worth what it’s worth and must now take its chances independently; but it is the construction of such a model that is ultimately the fascinating matter, and I hope it will not be taken as a knee-jerk affirmation of ‘pluralism’ if I say that alternative constructions are desirable and welcome, since the grasping of the present from within is the most problematical task the mind can face.
—Fredric Jameson, “Marxism and Postmodernism”
In Cosmodernism: American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary, Christian Moraru asks us to consider a “cultural-epistemological ‘outsourcing’” with others and their “sites, images, texts, styles, ideas, and Weltanschauungen” as the sources (17). The economic metaphor calls to mind both the transnational composition of contemporary corporations and the communicative character of post-Fordist production. Yet, where the metaphor seems inadequate is more suggestive of Moraru’s hypothesis. As corporations become less bound to any originating nation, the less the term “outsourcing” captures how they work, because there is neither inside nor outside. Moraru suggests that a more complex sense of relationality is the key to understanding this post-Wall world of “late globalization” and acting ethically within it. Cosmodernism’s outsourcing hypothesis thus refers to both a call and a condition. It’s a call in the sense that cosmodern fiction is an ethical project that goes beyond postmodernism, which Moraru argues has failed to break with the nation-state model and the “colonizing impetus of cultural-aesthetic metropolitan modernism” (309). It’s a condition in the sense that the process he describes is underway, as late globalization is marked by both increased connectivity and a growing awareness that this relatedness shapes our understanding of the world.
Moraru calls cosmodernism a “soft epoch,” referring to a present period in its early stages and lacking an aesthetic style that definitively breaks from postmodernism. In order to construct the period, Moraru combines provocative “heuristic” groupings of contemporary authors and novels with contextual introductions that explore debates related to language, literature, and our ethical relations to others in the context of late globalization. Representative novelists include Don DeLillo, Suki Kim, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chang-rae Lee, and Karen Tei Yamashita; and the choice of texts demonstrates Moraru’s continuing interest in the intertextuality employed by contemporary American writers to rewrite critically the canonical narratives that constitute America’s cultural mythology. In his earlier book Rewriting: Postmodern Narrative and Cultural Critique in the Age of Cloning, Moraru focuses on writing that renarrativizes in order to transpose elements of those founding texts, and argues that it is the critic’s task to pursue this intertextual relationship. Cosmodernism continues this critical endeavor, and contributes to our sense of the contemporary novel’s development, as well as of late globalization’s interconnectivity, mobility, and communicative capitalism.
At stake in the novels Moraru studies is an “ongoing relational depletion” that occurs as relationality – through language, narrative, and communication – is used as a “rationalization vehicle” (46-47). Late globalization is typified by a logic of relationality Moraru terms “egological.” Drawing on Emmanuel Levinas’ use of the term, Moraru associates egology with modernity’s emphasis on rationality and standardization, through which the rational Western subject “export[s] its own cultural certainties, representations, and emblems to the world” (45). A key characteristic of Moraru’s cosmodern period is the emergence of a reflexive modernity at the “end” of the industrial era. Here “end” could refer to post-industrialism (Bell) or the generalization of industrialization (Mandel) or perhaps even the “end of work” (Rifkin). In all cases, what seems to be occurring is a loss of meaning to the system. In this narrative, in the late 1980s modernity entered what Ulrich Beck has called a “second modernity.” Where a first modernity found achievement in industrialization’s efficient production of use-values and scientific rationalization, this second modernity now sees itself as producing risks, such as overproduction and pollution. The fall of the Berlin Wall is thus an ambivalent temporal marker, signaling both an emerging recognition of our connectedness with others, and the end of an alternative to a global capitalism largely responsible for the egological relationality Moraru condemns.
Cosmodern literature critiques this relationality, exploring alternatives that register “the Other” as a concrete and organizing presence rather than as an abstract theme (an approach Moraru associates with highly formal postmodernism). The first two chapters demonstrate this thesis through novels that use narrative intertextuality to form new kinships that cross over familial and national hierarchies. Chang-rae Lee figures prominently in these chapters, as three of his novels receive close attention. In his reading of Native Speaker, a novel about a Korean-American who spies on ethnic-Americans for corporate or wealthy individual clients, Moraru focuses on the novel’s intertextual relationship with Walt Whitman, whose cosmopolis must be refounded: first because America has not lived up to its ideal, and second because it subsumes difference to a unifying self. Intertextuality also figures prominently in Moraru’s reading of Lee’s A Gesture Life, as its Japanese-Korean protagonist, Franklin Hata, emigrates to the United States to rewrite his life in the manner of the great American myth of self-reliance, as befits his new name’s reference to Benjamin Franklin. Moraru argues that the makeover cannot work as Hata intends, because its premise is self-defeating. In the act of taking on this mythical selfhood, Hata “affiliates” himself intertextually with a necessarily communal project (136). In his readings of Lee’s novels and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Moraru opposes this “cross-wise” heritage to the logic of patronyms, which pass down a “serial” - and thus egological - identity through a name and set of beliefs (124). These new narratives remake the American myth of self-reliance through awareness of an originary relatedness as the creation of namesakes from a plurality of possible relations beyond nation, family, and race.
Despite his concession that cosmodernism lacks a developed stylistics that distinguishes it fully from postmodernism, the distinction Moraru draws between postmodern and cosmodern intertextuality as the difference between intra-national and inter-national is a start. The intertextual use of “faraway” stories and texts to create alternate forms of kinship indicates that cosmodern intertextuality moves “beyond the thematic and the formal, ethically” (313). Similar calls can be found in texts such as Michael Denning’s Culture in the Age of Three Worlds and Phillip Wegner’s Life between Two Deaths, 1989-2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties. Denning argues that the prominence of the term “globalization” marks the end of a “particular imagination of the globe” (26), which dominated the Cold War, and requires a narrative of history that – like Moraru’s cosmodern imaginary – does not make the nation-state its central actor. Citing Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou on the trials of subjectivity in late capitalism, Wegner looks to literary allegories that represent potential new political subjects made of new combinations. Moraru similarly makes a case for the role of literary narrative in the remapping of the post-1989 world-system, seeing in cosmodern narrative the potential to “re-world” the world. Moreover, as Moraru aptly demonstrates, cosmodern thematic content revolves around ways in which language, narrative, and subjectivity are produced in contemporary multicultural settings. For instance, in comparing the invisibility of Native Speaker’s protagonist, Henry, to that of the protagonist in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Moraru observes that Ellison’s narrator is made invisible, a “spook,” whereas Henry must “efface” himself in his spying and reporting. His reports require “clean” writing by a storyteller who keeps his face hidden “in the shadows” (99). His earnest Asian face and his flawless English are performances meant to demonstrate his model minority status. Similarly, Henry’s target, Kwang, puts on a performance of “living nativeness itself as a plausible show” (102). Here, the subjectivity of nativeness is constructed, produced through linguistic and affective interactions with others.
A case for an emerging cosmodern aesthetic becomes apparent, typified by common thematic content, as well as a particular intertextual and reflexive emphasis on narrative and language, and a formal de-emphasis on postmodern experimentation associated with fragmentation and difficulty. Yet, I would have liked to have seen Moraru attempt some mapping of the contemporary capitalist system as it appears in this literature, because I would argue it is the primary cause of the relational depletion he describes. Further, I think it would strengthen Moraru’s differentiation of cosmodernism from cosmopolitanism. According to Moraru, Native Speaker’s main character possesses the following key attributes of cosmopolitanism: the propensity or “natural” interest for others like him; linguistic competence in multiple languages and cultural competencies; and a compatibility with his assignment, or in other words a feel for its big picture. I would add that these cosmopolitan attributes resemble skills of the “general intellect,” a term used by Marx to describe broad linguistic and scientific ability, which he projected as an emergent form of labor power. Marxist theorists such as Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Paolo Virno have described this general intellect especially in terms of language and cooperation, seeing communication as a dominant form of labor in post-Fordism. In Commonwealth, Hardt and Negri describe communicative labor as situated in the “metropolis” rather than the factory or laboratory. Moraru’s reading of Lee thus could be considered a representation of this metropolitan labor placed in a multicultural context, which makes it possible to demonstrate the construction and putting to work of this particular subjectivity through linguistic performance.
Virno’s description of a key feature of late capitalism, the emergence of the “common place,” is illustrative of how such a mapping might further bring out the cosmodern’s ethical call. Using Aristotle’s definitions of “common places” and “special places” – common places are familiar, even necessary, memory structures for expression (e.g. the connection between more and less) and special places fit particular spheres of life (e.g. the church or university) – Virno argues that special places today are “dissolving,” replaced by common places. Formerly inconspicuous, these common logical-linguistic constructs move to the forefront, putting general linguistic ability into the public, where it is exposed. As Virno puts it:
We could say that the ‘life of the mind’ becomes, in itself, public. We turn to the most varied specific situations, no longer having at our disposal any ‘special’ or sectorial ethical-communicative codes. The feeling of not-feeling-at-home and the pre-eminence of the ‘common places’ go hand in hand. The intellect as such, the pure intellect, becomes the concrete compass wherever the substantial communities fail, and we are always exposed to the world in its totality. The intellect, even in its most rarefied functions, is presented as something common and conspicuous. (37)
In my reading, Native Speaker captures this transformation. Henry’s cosmopolitan attributes involve a general linguistic ability and mobility. Henry’s boss sees his skills as distinctive, but Moraru observes that Henry’s ability lies in his:
Kinship, a connection not only with Kwang, but also with other ‘neo-Americans’ who have undergone acculturating experiences comparable to his own. […] It is this closeness that almost makes Kwang Henry’s classical psychological double and helps him step over the gap; it is this sameness, this linguistic and cultural code-sharing that facilitates Henry’s approach […] (89-90)
Moraru further argues that Henry is culturally mobile, at home even when he is not at home, but Virno’s reading puts the emphasis differently. Reading Henry’s mobility among different cultural codes as movement among these common places, we would also see Henry as not at home even where he’s most at home: within this mobility. As Virno argues, when the common places become conspicuous and the general intellect the primary source of production, it is no longer thinkers who become strangers but strangers who must become thinkers. Virno’s reading captures the dread and violence of Native Speaker, in which the special place of the political party or political speech – or, perhaps, the possibility of politics at all – is infiltrated or virally replicated and mutated by Henry’s common code - hopping linguistic mobility. This violence potentially hangs over the cosmodern imaginary, and captures the condition requiring its ethical turn. The cosmodern imaginary represents not only a relational ecology, but a fragile ecology.
Moraru’s discussion of translation and reading in the third and fourth sections appears especially timely to me in an era of Google translator Google translator translates into English and then into the target language following a process hidden from the reader – and which requires no particular effort or reflection on her part. in which authors of the global novel may evade the uncertainty of translation through self-editing to remove regional or national idiom in a pre-emptive strike against difficulty. This is the historical and economic context in which I would place Moraru’s call to rethink the act of reading as “individual and collective routines and sites of learning and interpretation shaken up by the ‘network society’” (208). Moraru links the cosmodern scene of reading to philosophies of translation by Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin, which treat the relationship between author and translator as a reciprocal relationship of mutual indebtedness. The translator’s task, according to Benjamin, is to “check the ebb into meaninglessness” that occurs with time, an achievement earned not by rendering equivalent but by attempting to “speak what the text has left unspoken” (163). Derrida stresses that a translator is indebted to the original, but that the original is also indebted to the translator. The translator will “necessarily fail” but the incompleteness is productive, even foundational. In late globalization, this dialogue between author and translator or reader and re-reader takes place increasingly through space. Describing this relationship in terms of world literature, Moraru argues that, since there is no universal language and because a national idiom necessarily runs up against borders, its meaning depends “on a detour through the geography of otherness” (164).
Cosmodern authors produce meaning through this detour, following the logic of the cultural turn in translation, which asks how translations circulate in the world, and how readers participate in the process. Moraru gives a brief and instructive summary of nineteenth-century writing on the problem of translation by Friedrich Schleiermacher and Friedrich Nietzsche. Schleiermacher viewed translation in a dialectic between domesticating and foreignizing. Moraru describes translation’s emphasis on rendering equivalent or deculturing as causing the opposite effect. The translator who attempts to transcend merely “corroborates” the translator’s own intuition and institutions. This problem is related to what Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has described as the crisis of representation that occurs in the early to mid-nineteenth century with the emergence of the second-order observer. In lieu of a desire for global English or blending of local cultures into a world culture that allows for instant communication, cosmodern authors recognize that “to be in today’s world” means “being in translation” (173) and thus interrupt the egological reproduction of the (same) self. Nicole Mones’ Lost in Translation and Suki Kim’s The Interpreter provide figures of reading as translation through their interpreter protagonists, demonstrating an embodied and encultured form of sense-making, as well as our social machinicity. See Nicholas Spencer, “The Machinic Multitude.” In expressing reservations about Hardt and Negri’s emphasis on the cyborg, Spencer offers what I take to be an analogous contrast between on one hand the technological interactivity involved in social networking and symbolic and affective production, and on the other hand the machinicity involved in the social reproduction of language. In his reading of Lost in Translation, Alice’s desire to “become” Chinese – despite repeated admonishments – is expressed as a translating process that manifests itself physically and comes to appear more as self-reading than mastery of another culture’s language and rules. In The Interpreter, Suzy Wong uses her bilingualism and cultural knowledge as a second-generation immigrant to correct for cultural misunderstandings that result from the deculturing translations her employers expect and, more importantly, use to exploit non-English speakers – exemplifying the way translation’s cultural turn also takes on questions of unequal power relations involved in the exploitation of immigrant populations. As he does with Mones’ novel, Moraru also emphasizes the self-reading that occurs in The Interpreter, as Suzy solves the mystery of her parents’ murder in part from what she learns through these interpretations, both specifically about the case and the first-generation immigrant experience.
Arguing that global studies has left questions of “global-era literacy and reading unasked,” Moraru turns to reader-response theory with this notion of reading as translation and self-reading in mind. He first rejects Stanley Fish’s theory of interpretive communities because its focus is intra-communal, and then rejects more recent cross-cultural models (most notably Kwame Appiah’s cosmopolitan reading) for their focus on what’s shared (in Appiah’s case, a capacity for narrative). The challenge for cosmodern reading, as Moraru sees it, is how to “talk” to one another assuming that we don’t share much and without the necessity of translation as interchangeability. A key intertextual figure in these sections is Vladimir Nabokov, present in both The Interpreter and Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. In the former, Suzy’s editor friend describes an article on Nabokov, whose author argues that Lolita is a metaphor for how he felt about the English language: a mix of “desire, subjugation, remorse.” She then poses to Suzy a question I see at the center of Cosmodernism: “What does it mean to adopt a new citizenship?” (Kim 163). As Moraru tries to answer this question through an analysis of global-era literacy and reading, he may have in mind the link between nations and technology, especially the development of print capitalism. A point Benedict Anderson makes in Imagined Communities is that print languages – like oral languages – have a certain scale. A defining aspect of his periodization is the increasing pace and scale of cultural-textual commerce, and the new communication technologies involved in the process, potentially re-drawing older boundaries and thus making the question of a new citizenship – and its related desire, subjugation, and remorse – one we all share.
Cosmodern reading theory, as proposed by Moraru, treats “both writing and reading as a ‘call’ to others across geopolitical and cultural disjunctions” (216). This is how he reads Reading Lolita in Tehran, arguing that Nafisi’s choice of texts and “aesthetic” methods – criticized by some as anti-feminist and culturally imperialistic – makes sense if given a positional reading that locates Nafisi’s group in their particular context. His argument, however, is less convincing than those more critical of Nafisi, including John Carlos Rowe’s “Reading Reading Lolita in Tehran in Idaho” and Simon Hay’s “Why Read Reading Lolita? Teaching Critical Thinking in a Culture of Choice.” Moraru’s argument amounts to little more than labeling Iran “totalitarian” and Nafisi’s group thereby politically subversive for the very act of holding a reading group in Iran. This argument seems simplistic and decontextualized compared to the more nuanced positions taken by Rowe (whose essay Moraru briefly cites and dismisses) and Hay. Rowe points out that Nafisi gives the “impression that the Islamic revolution occurred in a political vacuum,” omitting that the shah’s regime was backed by the U.S. (258). Moreover, Nafisi completed her book in the U.S. with a grant from a the U.S.-based Smith-Richardson Foundation for a primary audience based in the U.S. Similarly intent on historicizing, Hay contextualizes Nafisi’s location through a history of the veil, pointing out for instance that Nafisi erases its politics and history, which show the veil to be understood differently by different classes. I would argue that here Moraru fails to read as a cosmodern, as the meaning he ascribes to Nafisi’s Iran in order to defend her apolitical readings looks less like what he calls a “reading politics […] of location” (223) than a decontextualized reading, supporting the abstract and location-less liberal individualism for which Rowe convincingly takes Nafisi to task. Indeed, both Rowe and Hay do a much better job fulfilling the task of re-thinking reading as its sites and routines - and audiences and author functions - shift in high globalization. Rowe considers the role narratives such as Nafisi’s have as part of the “neoliberal cultural front” that advances the rhetoric of Western democracy and neoliberal capitalism, while Hay begins his analysis from the perspective of an actual reading site for Nafisi’s book that is a long way from a women’s reading group in Iran: a common reading program in the university. In other words, Rowe and Hay consider the way Reading Lolita in Tehran can be employed to transform what appears on the surface as a desire for readers to relate to others from different nations and cultures, and learn from their narratives, into a more egological relationship, in which our “certainties, representations, and emblems” are projected onto an other. My comparison to Google’s translation function provides a fitting analogy here: the experience of Iranian women here gets translated by the discourse network in which Nafisi’s book was published and promoted into the experience of Nafisi and her promotion of liberal individualism.
Since Moraru puts forward a compelling argument for cosmodern reading based on his analysis of the cultural turn in translation and cross-cultural reader-response theory, I think this problematic rendition of Reading Lolita in Tehran proves that even as astute a reader as Moraru can be susceptible to deculturing translation when reading across boundaries. Moraru is more convincing when he focuses on Lolita itself – or, more accurately, the transactional relationship between Nafisi and Lolita. He bases this reading on Wolfgang Iser’s concept of the formulated text, which offers its implied reader “a network of response-inviting structures,” which call for the reader to read the text in a certain way (214). Whereas Iser’s concept is more author-focused and implies a more generic reader, Moraru seeks an appeal structure through which the writer’s call does not predetermine the reading. Rather, the cosmodern appeal and political content “embedded” (226) in Lolita appears only “transactionally” - in other words existing less in the text or audience themselves than in the relationship between the two (225). Unfortunately, Moraru describes Lolita’s cosmodern appeal structure too much in terms of the text itself and perhaps too vaguely, for instance comparing its ability to engage readers “across boundaries” to the Iranian government’s effective isolation. Nevertheless, his proposal that Nabokov offers a particular kind of defamiliarization, intimacy, and critical-ironic ethical stances that can be brought out “transactionally” re-invents Iser’s concept, and suggests an approach to reading that addresses concerns raised by his surveys of translation theory and reader-response criticism.
One threat to Moraru’s cosmodern reading approach is voiced by critics such as Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio, who argue that the practice of reading cannot keep up with the speed culture of late globalization (which could be argued affects the publication and reception of Nafisi’s book). Moraru dismisses this argument originally, but returns to it in the book’s final thematic section, in which metabolism serves as an “allegory of cultural output, distribution and exchanges.” Moraru gives special attention to Don DeLillo’s essay “The Power of History,” in which DeLillo argues that we become numbed by the pace and repetition of this process. This viral logic of self-referring, self-indexing communication leads to a de-differentiated system, a “one world,” a point which calls to mind Friedrich Kittler’s observation – via Microsoft – that the faster CPU of the future leads not to more performance speed for the user but for the “self-representation of the company.” See “Protected Mode” in Literature, Media, Information Systems. In addition to circulation of people, resources, and waste, Moraru shows DeLillo to be concerned with the circulation of cultural texts and images, thus connecting the body of culture, of its texts, with bodies themselves in their cultural and aesthetic making. William Gaddis’s Agape Agape comes to mind for its writing on “tissue” here. Viral self-representation thwarts time and history. DeLillo’s answer is reclaim language and representation as a method to counter the dominant culture’s dehistoricizing drive (269). Moraru sees this strategy in the novel as a search for “specific yet unconsumed moments” (271). Similarly, Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange opposes the de-historicizing involved in modernity’s narrative of developing and developed nations, and figures into Moraru’s metabolic metaphor through its play with borders and boundaries. Yamashita rewrites the magical realist tradition that focuses on “tropics as a stage of racial-cultural and somatic metamorphoses and re-embodiments” (286). Tropic of Orange shows that stability is a trope. For example, Arcangel, also called “El Gran Mojado,” sets the landscape itself in motion, allegorizing a transnational re-drawing of borders.
As Cosmodernism’s title and its references to Fredric Jameson’s seminal text suggest, Moraru’s periodization is meant to offer an alternative to Jameson’s. He does so, however, by relying on the nebulous term “globalization,” rather than attempting to describe the period in terms of political economy, as Jameson does, even though he claims - parenthetically – “that capitalism does not now seem what it was back in Ernest Mandel’s and Fredric Jameson’s 1970s and early 1980s” (307). Arguing that we should avoid a simplistic base and superstructure model that puts culture on the “receiving end” of globalization, Moraru distinguishes his definition of cosmodernism as the “cultural modality of late globalization” from Jameson’s definition of postmodernism as the “cultural logic of late capitalism” (34). In the process, he proves and misses Jameson’s point about the term “late capitalism:” that it “obligates you in advance to talk about cultural phenomena at least in business terms if not in those of political economy” (Jameson xxi). Because late capitalism refers to a shift in the capitalist system in which cultural production is pulled into the generalization of the commodity form, Jameson argues that the distinction between base and superstructure is “eclipsed” (xxi). Moraru’s desire to distance himself from this analysis of late capitalism is unfortunate, because its key features, as described by Mandel and Jameson, could profitably be considered as the contextual conditions for the writing of his cosmodern writers: a global division of labor, a transnational system of banking sped up by global IT and computer automation (which Moraru does write about), a burgeoning technocratic ideology, and the development of transnational business organizations. Moreover, Mandel’s work appears remarkably prescient of recent events: the rise of the service industry and its growing emphasis in the West, increasing state intervention into the distribution of surplus-value (which is evident in research and development subsidies, the role of political lobbies and money as “free speech,” and the increasing corporatization of the university), and the “development of an independent sphere of commercial and money circulation.” This last feature emerges, argues Mandel, as the “price paid by industrial capital for a provisional and partial relaxation of the permanent difficulties of realization” (573). In other words, the new economy and housing bubbles driven by the financial sector, as well as the financial speculation Moraru cites in his reading of Cosmopolis, result from one of the general tendencies of capital described by Marx: the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall.
A quick analysis of the characters and settings populating the fiction of Moraru’s cosmodern imaginary would find that this description of late capitalism fairly well describes the conditions for nearly the whole set: an Indian engineer emigrates to America to work in a university, a Korean-American spies for corporate interests and influences an election, comparative lit scholars become casualized knowledge workers, and so forth. Indeed, this is where Ernest Mandel’s analysis of late capitalism leads: capital invades the reproductive sphere as the average rate of profit falls (as part of the cyclical but increasingly risky and volatile boom-and-bust logic of capitalist growth). We might see this long-developing transformation in the background of Moraru’s study, since his choice of texts and contextual debates stresses the production and circulation of language, communication, and sociality. Previously part of the domain of reproduction (the unpaid work that goes on to bring the worker back to work the next day and the next day and so forth), these domains are now increasingly incorporated into wage labor (and unwaged labor) and commodity production. Moraru’s focus on “relationality” would become more meaningful in this context, because many of his text selections and readings show our very “fabric of being” (language, communication, sociality) is at risk of being used up as capital would any other raw material.
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