Posted January 27, 2020:
Join us on Thursday April 16, 2020 from 3 to 4:30 pm in Philadelphia at the 2020 Popular Culture Association National Conference as I discuss connections between Lodge 49 and Bataille’s concept of general economy. I’ve included the abstract below.
Lodge 49 and the Pleasures of Profitless Expenditure
I consider Lodge 49, which has recently concluded its second season, as an exemplar of Bataille’s general economy, and link this alternative mode of valuation with the show’s own surfeit of possible narrative interpretations. Lodge 49, described by its creators as “the least aspirational show on TV,” positively depicts interpersonal relationships and personal values that function outside of capitalism’s reductive logics of use value and accumulation. Drawing on Bataille’s distinctions in The Accursed Share between restricted economy, which values profit and accumulation, and general economy, which values excess and expenditure, I interconnect the characters’ own pursuit of meaning beyond their dead-end jobs with the show’s narrative structure, which offers numerous potential interpretations, including a grail narrative, a Pynchonesque exploration of Southern California, an expose of late-stage capitalism, and more. Thus, one finds a synchronicity between the characters’ own pursuit of meaning beyond profit and viewers’ experiences of a surfeit of possible interpretations, ultimately revealing a pleasure to be found in an endless play of signifiers without reduction to any singular meaning.