There is an interesting moment in Macherey’s discussion of “illusion and fiction” in the chapter of A Theory of Literary Production with this title that suggests the provenance of his claims about the “baroque” nature of “all literature” there. He (like so many others at the time, including Althusser, Balibar, and Deleuze) turns to Spinoza on the imagination in order to distinguish between the “vague language of the imagination” (the “vehicle and the source of everyday ideology” and myth, Macherey writes) and what he calls “aesthetic activity,” on which Spinoza is “almost silent,” but which Macherey sees as the bookend to his (Spinoza’s) “theoretical activity,” which “fixes language” and ultimately (in what we must assume is the literary “book”) “takes a stand regarding…this myth, exposing it” (62-4). Spinoza’s ‘baroque’ need to use philosophy in this way emerged out of exactly the same period and post-Westphalian political landscape in flames as the mourning plays about which Benjamin writes, plays that, as Benjamin quite rightly understood, I think, used the production of “determinate illusion[s]” (Macherey, 64) on stage not as “act[s] of deception,” but as ways of “exposing” the ideology of the stability of the Westphalian state. Witnessing the de Witt brothers being torn apart by the ‘masses’ in 1672 might have been indistinguishable, for Spinoza, from the “crude theater” of the Trauerspiele of which Benjamin speaks. I’m thus not sure that either Macherey or Spinoza or Benjamin is addressing the power of the literary (imagination) to unmask ideology as a moment of theorizing that ‘transcends history’, as Kahn claims, since for all of them, reflecting on this power as profoundly historical was motivated by events on the ground. How we might understand the chaos of Benjamin’s Weimar Republic or OWS events and police using pepper-spray to create ‘order’ in these terms might also be interesting to discuss. What is the place of literature in the face of such events?