Preface: Everything Diverges
In the contemporary epoch . . . nothing resembles anything else, nothing joins
up with anything else, everything diverges.
—Alain Badiou, Deleuze: The Clamor of Being
Why publish this anthology now? There are a host of overlapping
reasons to consolidate these essays into a volume. One motive is to
showcase the body of Marxist work unfolding under the general aus-
pices of the positions project. Another is to alert Marxist scholars in
other domains about work going on in this one. A third is to put
a breathing point or comma at this moment to an ongoing work in
progress. The distance of a pause offers interested readers a chance
to gauge the objectives of contemporary Marxist criticism in or about
‘‘Asia,’’ and to measure their achievements against these scholars’ ana-
lytic or critical goals. Laid out together here it is easier to discern the
outline of general projects engaging Marxist scholarship in this rela-
tively obscure domain of so-called Asian studies.
The question of what is valuable about these essays and William
Pietz’s thoughtful introduction to them is related to the reasons for
this book’s publication. Pietz’s critique, coming as it does from a dif-
ferent (primarily activist) domain, is exemplary precisely because it is
written at a moment common to us all—the present. Pietz, like the
other scholars who contributed papers to this collection, lives in the
turbulence of late capitalist modernity. Their work—and here I re-
spectfully disagree with Pietz—is not so much a series of essays about
disillusionment or hope as an attempt to confront desacralization on
a profound scale and in light of absolutely specific historical catastro-
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