For sometime now, the moves of my criticism have been informed by these Marxist critics: Walter Benjamin, Stuart Hall, Micheal Hardt, Fredric Jameson, and Raymond WIlliams—and also thinkers who descend from Louis Althusser (Balibar, Badiou, Macherey, Ranciere). The main move of my Marxist moves has been a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” or the decoding of cultural works or signs with the eye of exposing this one and only Viconian truth: class struggle. The Marxist method (with its moves, the main of which is semiotic decoding) is still very much at the center of my thinking, but I now want to combine it with another method that has been developed in the biological sciences, Literary Darwinism.

Extending from evolutionary biology, Literary Darwinism has, as a whole, more bad things in it than good. One of the few good things in it, and the sole reason for my new and hopefully lasting commitment to it, is William Flesch, whose book Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction is now in my mind the most important work of literary theory since The Political Unconscious.

The main move of Fleshch's innovative criticism has its inspiration in the theory of "altruistic punishment," which is a form of "costly signaling." Steven Shaviro explains:

In brief, Flesch maintains: that evolution can lead, and evidently has led, to the development (in human beings, and evidently other organisms as well) of “true altruism,” or the impulse to help others, or the group in general, even at considerable cost to oneself; that this altruism requires that we continually monitor one another for signs or selfishness or cheating (because otherwise, selfish cheaters would always prosper at the expense of those who were honestly altruistic); that, as a result of this monitoring, we get vicarious pleasure from the punishment of cheaters and (to a lesser extent) from the reward of those who enforce this by actively ferreting out and punishing the cheaters; that altruism cannot just be enforced by the punishment of individual cheaters, but needs to be signaled, and made evident to everybody (including the cheater) as well; that — given the way that everyone is continually monitoring everyone else — the best way to make evident that one is indeed an altruist rather than a cheater is to engage in “costly signaling,” or altruistic behavior that is sufficiently costly (draining of wealth or energy, involving risks) to the one engaging in it that it has to be authentic rather than a sham; and that our constant monitoring and reading of these signals, our constant emotional reaction to vicarious experience, is what gives us the predisposition to be absorbed in, or at least emotionally affected by, fictions, so that we respond to fictional characters in narratives in much the same way that we do to real people whom we do not necessarily know, but continually observe and monitor.
This very original move has the added virtue of removing the unnecessary barrier between the cultural and the biological, the arts and the sciences. And anyone who has been following my work in this paper, or attends my Pop Life talk, knows that my goal as a critic has been to locate and adopt a critical model/system of moves that made correspondences in a realm that unified the natural and cultural.

Like long echoes that intermingle from afar
In a dark and profound unity,
Vast like the night and like the light,
The perfumes, the colors and the sounds answer one another.

So, in short, expect to see in more and more of my future reviews a combination of Marxism (Benjamin) with Darwinism (Flesch).