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Happy Birthday, Situationist International
28 jul 2007
on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Situationist InternationaL
<CENTER><H2>On the 50th Anniversary<BR> of the Founding of the Situationist International</CENTER></H2>

<BR>

<blockquote>

<P>"It is vain to want to revive a Situation that was valid 45 years ago. And especially when the people who occupy themselves with this 'restoration' are only chefs who do not know how to cook." -- Raoul Hausmann, letter to Guy Debord, dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/hausmann-5April1963.html";>5 April 1963</A>.</P>

<P>"Surrealism is obviously alive. Its creators are still not dead. The new people, more and more mediocre, it is true, claim kinship with it. Surrealism is known to the public as the extreme of modernism and, on the other hand, it has become an object for university studies. It is indeed one of the things that live at the same time that we do, like Catholicism and General de Gaulle. [...] The real question is thus: what is the role of surrealism today?" -- Guy Debord, <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/surrealism.html";>Supreme Height of the Defenders of Surrealism in Paris and the Revelation of their Real Value</A> (December 1958).</P>

</blockquote>

<P>Exactly 50 years ago today -- on 28 July 1957 -- the Situationist International (SI) was founded in Cosio d'Arroscia, a small village in Italy. Is it not senseless to celebrate such an event? The SI disbanded in April 1972, and so is no longer with us. Several of its most important members (Asger Jorn, Constant, and Guy Debord) are dead. When the organization <I>was</I> in existence, it existed both in and against its era;<a href="#_edn1" name="_ednref1" title="">[1]</a> it was never intended to last beyond it.<a href="#_edn2" name="_ednref2" title="">[2]</a> To the extent that the SI's era has passed, so has the SI itself. There is no going back.</P>

<P>Over the course of those 15 years, the SI changed a great deal. It is commonly agreed that the organization went through three distinct stages (and so one might say that there were <I>three</I> Situationist Internationals, without considering the "Second Situationist International," which was formed in 1960 by several people who had been excluded from the "First" SI). Between 1957 and 1961, the SI both theorized and made <I>revolutionary art</I>; between 1962 and 1968, it both produced and disseminated <I>revolutionary theory</I>; and, between 1969 and 1972, it both theorized and participated in the post-1968 <I>revolutionary movement.</I> There were different, even conflicting tendencies within each of these three periods: between 1957 and 1961, there were intense debates between Jorn and Constant, that is to say, between the painters and the architects/urbanists; between 1962 and 1968, there were conflicts of style and tone that pitted Debord against Raoul Vaneigem, that is, dialectical epigrams against narrative exposition; and, between 1969 and 1972, there were splits between those who wanted to the SI to stay small or even shrink in size (most of the French section) and those who wanted it to grow (the American section).</P>

<P>Such was the richness of the SI. This richness -- the group's incredible fertility -- is why one marks and celebrates the anniversary of the organization's founding.</P>

<P>But when one speaks of the SI, one most often has the SI of the 1962-1968 period in mind. Did not Debord himself say that "one can not speak of 'coherence' in the first years of the SI," because coherence was only achieved in "the period begun in 1962 and in large part as a project that was more or less <I>verified</I> later on"?<a href="#_edn3" name="_ednref3" title="">[3]</a> It was, of course, during the SI's "middle" period that Vaneigem wrote and published <I>Treatise on Living for the Younger Generations</I><a href="#_edn4" name="_ednref4" title="">[4]</a> and Debord wrote and published <I>The Society of the Spectacle.</I> More so than the essays published in <I>Internationale Situationniste,</I> these are the texts -- plus Mustapha Khayati's pamphlet <I>On the Poverty of Student Life</I> (written and published in 1966) -- for which the SI is best known.</P>

<P>Each of these famous books elaborates its own theory: Vaneigem's <I>Treatise</I> elaborates the theory of "everyday life"<a href="#_edn5" name="_ednref5" title="">[5]</a> and Debord's <I>Spectacle</I> elaborates the theory of "the spectacle."<a href="#_edn6" name="_ednref6" title="">[6]</a> But the former was in fact <I>not</I> a theory, but a concept; and, furthermore, it has not changed or been developed since the early 1960s. <I>Everyday life</I> was and remains an empty "terrain" (really, a block of time) that is occupied by and with passionless, joyless and meaningless activities: primarily work and the consumption of commodities. The <I>revolution of everyday life</I> was and remains the quest <I>by individuals</I> for a certain lifestyle, for time freed from the necessity of working and for consumption freed from the necessity of buying commodities.</P>

<P>On the other hand, "the spectacle" was indeed a theory, and Debord changed and developed it <I>twice</I> over the course of twenty-odd years. (One must not forget that the 15 years of the SI's existence is matched by the 15 years of diligent and high-quality activity that Debord personally engaged in between 1973 and 1988.) In 1967, the spectacle -- a stage of capitalist society in which super-abundant wealth is displayed and wasted instead of being used to revolutionize that society -- was defined as a binary opposition (and cooperation) between <I>the diffuse spectacle</I> of the "democratic" West and <I>the concentrated spectacle</I> of the "totalitarian" East. In 1973, in Debord's film <I>The Society of the Spectacle,</I> the spectacle was shown to be a stage that could be and indeed was actually being contested all over the world, in both the West (especially France) and the East (especially Poland).<a href="#_edn7" name="_ednref7" title="">[7]</a> And, in 1988, in Debord's <I>Comments on the Society of the Spectacle,</I> the spectacle<a href="#_edn8" name="_ednref8" title="">[8]</a> was defined as an "integration" of the diffuse and concentrated brands.</P>

<P>And so we are confronted with a troublesome series of observations: though the theory of the spectacle began as an exclusively situationist theory (no one else elaborated it), it ended up as Guy Debord's theory.<a href="#_edn9" name="_ednref9" title="">[9]</a> Unlike both the concept of "everyday life" and the Situationist International itself, the theory of spectacle <I>moved beyond the 1960s</I> and so did not pass away with them. More than that: with the development of the theory of the integrated spectacle, "situationist theory crosses over its disintegration point."<a href="#_edn10" name="_ednref10" title="">[10]</a> That is to say, situationist theory -- <I>purely</I> situationist theory, undeveloped situationist theory, situationist theory that bases itself too heavily or solely upon the revolution of everyday life -- finally became spectacular, finally became "situationism."</P>

<CENTER><B>* * *</B></CENTER>

<blockquote>
"Is it worth the bother of saying this again? There is no 'situationism.' I am myself only a situationist due to the fact of my participation -- at this moment and in certain conditions -- in a community practically grouped together in view of a task, which this community will or will not know how to accomplish [...] The SI is obviously composed of very diverse individuals and even several discernable tendencies of which the relations of force have sometimes changed. Without doubt, its entire activity is only pre-situationist. We do not in any way defend 'creations' that belong to someone and still less to a single one of us: on the contrary, we find it very positive that the comrades who have joined us have already, by themselves, attained an experimental problematic that blends ours. The surest symptom of idealist delirium is, moreover, the stagnation of individuals, supporting or quarreling for years about the same values, because they are the only ones to recognize them as the rules of a poor game. The situationists leave them to their dust-ups." -- Guy Debord, "Concerning Several Errors of Interpretation."<a href="#_edn11" name="_ednref11" title="">[11]</a></blockquote>

<P>Such a split -- friends of Guy Debord, on the one hand, and adherents to situationism, on the other, with no situationists to be found on either side -- was clearly visible during the polemic surrounding the <I>Encyclopedia of Nuisances.</I><a href="#_edn12" name="_ednref12" title="">[12]</a> Unlike Debord and his friends, who were deeply interested in the political events taking place in Spain, Poland and Italy during the 1980s, the Encyclopedists were preoccupied with situationist texts (from the pre-1962 period!) and abstract concepts.<a href="#_edn13" name="_ednref13" title="">[13]</a> Significantly, the bone of contention between the two groups was an event: the French student movement of November-December 1986, in particular, the occupation of the Sorbonne and the erection of barricades in the Latin Quarter on 6 December. While the Encyclopedists were highly critical of these actions for reasons of "theory," Debord and his friends valued these actions for their practical boldness.<a href="#_edn14" name="_ednref14" title="">[14]</a> One <I>might</I> have expected that the reverse would have been the case: the Encyclopedists on the side of "action" and Debord <I>et al</I> on the side of "theory." But the times had changed, and so had Debord.</P>

<P>The same split exists today, even though Guy Debord himself is dead. There are a great many adherents to situationism and, though there are important differences between them, they share several of the preoccupations and limitations of the Encyclopedists. Here is a brief sketch, which excludes writers who do not consider themselves to be either adherents to situationism or friends of Debord and who have written texts about the SI that are openly hostile (Stewart Home, Bob Black, Simon Sadler, etc.):</P>

<blockquote>

<P><B>Ken Knabb.</B> This fellow has spent more than 25 years polishing his translations of the texts published in <I>Internationale Situationniste,</I> and in 2002 he offered yet another translation of Debord's 1967 book <I>The Society of the Spectacle</I> (it had previously been translated by Fredy Perlman and then by Donald Nicholson-Smith). But Knabb seems completely uninterested in (translating) Debord's work after 1972: his collaboration on the "Censor" pamphlet,<a href="#_edn15" name="_ednref15" title="">[15]</a> his <I>Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle,"</I><a href="#_edn16" name="_ednref16" title="">[16]</a> his virtually unknown 1980 intervention in favor of imprisoned libertarians in Spain,<a href="#_edn17" name="_ednref17" title="">[17]</a> his <I>Comments on the Society of the Spectacle,</I> etc etc. Knabb's interest in (translating) Debord's films, most of which were made and released after 1972, does not undermine the validity of our reproach: these are mostly lyrical-poetic works, redolent of the SI's first period, and not strategic interventions, redolent of its third.</P>

<P><B>Retort.</B> This is the name taken by a group of Anglo-American academics who are utterly fixated on Debord's 1967 book, and seem to be completely uninterested in Debord's post-1972 work. As we have pointed out,<a href="#_edn18" name="_ednref18" title="">[18]</a> this bias renders their analyses of "September 11th" completely boring and reactionary. Despite their name, this group's members do not dialogue or "engage in polemics" with people who disagree with them.<a href="#_edn19" name="_ednref19" title="">[19]</a> Not surprisingly, Retort's politics are explicitly Leftist, not revolutionary.</P>

<P><B>Various "Anti-Conspiracy" Pro-Situationists.</B> Like the members of Retort, these are people who -- during their denunciations of what they call "conspiracy theories" concerning September 11th -- demonstrate their lack of knowledge or interest in both <I>Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle"</I> and <I>Comments of the Society of the Spectacle.</I> As if the Italian section of the SI never published <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/reichstag.html";>Is the Reichstag Burning?</A> such people claim that "conspiracy theories" are either non-situationist or anti-situationist.</P>

<P><B>Various Neo-Anarchists.</B> Here we have in mind such groups (or participants in such actions as) "Reclaim the Streets," "Carnival Against Capitalism," The Yes-Men, The Rev. Billy, <I>et al</I> -- that is to say, most of what used to be called "the anti-globalization movement." These are Leftists and former-Marxists who are strongly influenced by the pre-1962 situationists, who call themselves "anti-authoritarians" because it is a good marketing strategy, and who are single-mindedly obsessed with defective or toxic commodities, evil corporations and economic globalization, and yet absolutely unconcerned with concentration camps, fascism, the "refugee crisis" and other properly political problems. They are also openly disdainful of September 11th "conspiracy theories."<a href="#_edn20" name="_ednref20" title="">[20]</a></P>

<P><B>Jordan Levinson.</B> This is a neo-anarchist who refers to Debord as "de Bore," who gloats about the fact that Debord "offed himself," and excoriates "the impotent rhetoric of dead fools from 40 years ago," <I>and yet</I> uses the email address situationist ARROBA email.com and insists on uploading his bad translations of situationist texts to a <A HREF="http://situationist.gq.nu";>website</A> that is full of advertisements and that deposits cookies and pop-up windows for commercial products on the hard-drives of the people foolish enough to access it. Levinson is an excellent example of a "Vaneigemist": full of rage and resentment, terrified of being judged or correcting himself, and content with things (virtually <I>anything,</I> of whatever quality) as long as they is free.</I></P>

<P><B>Raoul Vaneigem.</B> To the casual observer, or even the moderately well-informed person, Vaneigem resigned from the SI in November 1970 and never looked back, that is to say, pursued his ideas and projects positively and progressively, not negatively or in reaction to (his resignation from) the group to which he belonged and derived whatever notoriety he possesses. Only those who have tracked Vaneigem's collaborations with the virulent anti-Debordist and madman Jean-Pierre Voyer -- and Vaneigem's use of pseudonyms (not "Ratgeb" or "Jules-Francois Dupuis," but "Jean-Pierre Bastid," "Pierre Bree" and "Jacques Vincent") in these collaborations<a href="#_edn21" name="_ednref21" title="">[21]</a> -- would know that his resignation has both determined and ruined much of what he has written since 1970.<a href="#_edn22" name="_ednref22" title="">[22]</a> (We fear that something similar is in play where Donald Nicholson-Smith is concerned.<a href="#_edn23" name="_ednref23" title="">[23]</a>)</P>

</blockquote>

<P>Though the adherents to situationism are awful and awfully frustrating, it is not at all comfortable being a "friend of Debord." (Note that we realize that we are certainly not Debord's only "friends," who also include Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Francois Martos and all of the various people who wrote articles about the obviously conspiratorial aspects of September 11th from a "situationist" -- that is to say, "Debordist" -- perspective.) The many causes for this discomfort are not all "theoretical"; they all do not have to do with the inappropriateness or counter-revolutionary aspects of the cult of personality, hero-worship, etc., especially where this particular person is concerned. Around 1990 or so -- but <I>not before then,</I> we are sure of it -- Debord became seriously depressed, paranoid, moralizing and very dull. These qualities can certainly be discerned in his letter to Jean-Francois Martos dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-26December1990.html";>26 December 1990</A>, and they quite simply ruined <I>Son Art et Son Temps,</I> the TV program he made with Brigitte Cornand in 1994, shortly before his suicide. No doubt Volume 7 (1988-1994) of his <I>Correspondance,</I> which will be published in 2008, will show that these were not isolated episodes, but typical of the man's last few years. There will be no point in denying it.</P>

<CENTER><B>* * *</B></CENTER>

<blockquote>
"For the moment, you must observe all the treatments or regimes that are called for, even the severe ones. We will soon come to Italy, which, I hope, will encourage you. If a culpable indifference to what you can do in the world or a deplorable sense of humor causes you to still play with the idea of suicide, you must consider other alternatives. You know that I have always allowed, with a very great facility and nearly an equal spirit, that <I>life</I> separates me from many friends and several girls whom I have loved. But I tolerate death very poorly." -- Guy Debord, letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-25September1974.html";>25 September 1974</A>.</blockquote>

<P>But this does not mean that Debord's theory of the spectacle should be renounced or abandoned: far from it. Never before has it been so clear that "our" society -- the one we are forced to live in and create against our will -- is the society of the spectacle. And so our task should be developing a theory of the spectacle as it is today. A step has already been taken in this direction by McKenzie Wark in his book <I>A Hacker's Manifesto</I> (2004), in which the author speaks of "the vector." Adopting this term, we might speak of "the vectoral spectacle," but this is clearly inadequate: the relation of the vector (a spatial metaphor) to digital technologies is not clear. And so -- drawing upon such easily comprehensible (and relevant) terms as virtual images, virtual memory and virtual reality -- we propose "the virtual spectacle," the spectacle at its point of virtuality.</P>

<P>Following the gestures of Chapter I of the "Censor" pamphlet and Chapter V of <I>Comments on the Society of the Spectacle</I> -- both of which list and briefly discuss five new characteristics of the society of the spectacle -- we end by offering five observations about what is new since 1988.</P>

<P><B>1) Torture</B>. This is no longer a crime, forbidden by international law and secretly perpetrated on a select few people ("high value" terrorists held in military or CIA prisons, that is to say, people from whom specialized information "needs" to be extracted); it is now an officially approved form of "information gathering" practiced by the agents of the United States government, a "necessary" component of the "war against terrorism." But torture is also becoming the mainstay of the cultural spectacle in all its forms -- "body-centered" performance art, "aggressive" advertising, "adult" entertainment and "extreme" sports -- and so is now inflicted upon a growing number of people.<a href="#_edn24" name="_ednref24" title="">[24]</a> This is generally <I>self-inflicted</I> torture, and so appears different from the torture inflicted by the State. But, to the extent it can be just as painful to watch someone inflict pain upon themselves as it is to watch someone inflict pain upon someone else, self-inflicted torture is part of the same "theatre of cruelty" (should we say, the same "theatre of operations"?) as State torture. <I>Torture is the official art form of the society of the spectacle.</I></P>

<P><B>2) Sonorization</B>. Harsh sounds or annoying music can be (is being) used as an instrument of torture designed to extract information, especially if is used to deprive detainees or prisoners of sleep. But, like torture itself, sound is <I>everywhere</I> these days: not just "muzak" in the elevator and the supermarket, but electronic prompts, recorded voices and "sound effects" coming from every single computerized device, and -- of course -- everything is done by or with computers these days. Silence is disappearing, even from "silent movies," which have had soundtracks forced upon them (the auditory equivalent of "colorization"). Worse still, these sounds are not "natural" or recorded by analog recorders: they are digitally created sounds, simulated, and they sound "better" or "more realistic" than the real things. <I>In the society in which the spectacle has reached the stage of virtuality, even sound becomes "spectacularized."</I></P>

<P><B>3) Slowness</B>. It is obvious that digital technologies have accelerated the speeds of all kinds of delivery systems: for example, messages or bombs can now be sent 'round the world in a matter of seconds. Time itself seems to be accelerating. And yet some things are <I>not</I> speeding up, but are slowing down. For example: the progress of selecting the ultimate winner on the <I>American Idol</I> TV show now seems to take forever, and the "primary season" in American presidential politics now begins in the summer of the year preceding the actual elections. Surely such a slow pace in both "elections" guarantees greater income (advertising revenue and donations, respectively). But does not this slow pace -- a kind of torture -- threaten to exhaust people's interest? Perhaps this is precisely the intention. <I>In a society in which everything (superficial) must change so that nothing (fundamental) changes, speed is the negation that the spectacle carries within itself.</I></P>

<P><B>4) Accidents</B>. Technological development accidentally creates accidents on a large scale: the invention of the automobile was also the invention of the automobile crash; the invention of the airplane was also the invention of the airplane crash, etc. Because capitalist technological renewal is deliberate, the accident becomes easily foreseeable; and because such renewal is incessant, the scope of the foreseeable accident becomes wider and deeper. The "vector" here is clear: spectacular accidents will take place globally: not just <I>anywhere</I> in the world, but all over the world <I>at the same time.</I> Thus, there is a certain symmetry or integration between the technological accident and deliberate acts of terrorism, which can be defined as the interruption of everyday life by acts of war. It will become increasingly impossible to distinguish, say, an "accidental" explosion at a nuclear power plant and a deliberate act of sabotage at such an installation. <I>In the society of the spectacle, terrorism and everyday life become indistinguishable.</I></P>

<P><B>5) Refugee camps</B>. People or, rather, masses of people, <I>whole populations,</I> can be forced to become refugees by "man-made" accidents, natural catastrophes, market ("crop") failures, civil wars, invasions, occupations, etc. etc. They flee <I>en masse</I> and are forced to stay in "temporary" camps, which are maintained by friendly hosts. This is a doubly dangerous situation for the refugees: that which is only temporary easily becomes permanent; and refugee camps can easily become hotbeds of "terrorism," which are then turned into concentration camps so as to protect the "security" of their hosts. What happens when the "accident" of mass displacement becomes a global phenomenon? <I>The "vector" of the virtual spectacle points towards a single, giant, transnational concentration camp.</I><a href="#_edn25" name="_ednref25" title="">[25]</a></P>

<B>NOT BORED!<BR>
28 July 2007</B><BR>

<P><a href="#_ednref1" name="_edn1" title="">[1]</A> "It is necessary to make it understood how the adventure of the SI was narrowly circumscribed <I>in time</I>; and contrary to many other 'avant-gardes' with pretensions to lead several [subsequent] generations. Literally, the SI existed from 1957 to 1972. And, by counting the period of the 'origins,' it existed from 1952 to '57. And here was the profound meaning of the operation of 'dissolution' that one can say took place between the autumn of 1970 and the first months of 1972." Guy Debord, letter to Jean-Francois Martos dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-14September1985.html";>14 September 1985</A>.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref2" name="_edn2" title="">[2]</A> One wouldn't know this from the way the SI's texts have been translated into English. Take, for example, Ken Knabb's butchery of Michele Bernstein's <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/no-useless-indulgences.html";>No Useless Indulgences.</A> Despite the facts that this short text was written by one of the SI's founders and published in the very first issue of the group's journal, Knabb saw fit to remove -- to leave untranslated -- <I>all</I> of this text's references to the people outside the SI who were held up for ridicule (Francoise Giroud, Georges Mathieu and Michel Tapie). Knabb's intentions were obvious: to present to the English-speaking world only those passages that were "timeless," that were not "tied" to France in the 1950s, even if that meant leaving <I>half</I> of this short text untranslated.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref3" name="_edn3" title="">[3]</A> See Debord's letter to Juvenal Quillet dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-11November1971.html";>11 November 1971</A>.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref4" name="_edn4" title="">[4]</A> Better known as <I>The Revolution of Everyday Life.</I></P>

<P><a href="#_ednref5" name="_edn5" title="">[5]</A> Sources for this theory included Henri Lefebvre's <I>The Critique of Everyday Life, Volume I</I> (published in 1947) and <I>The Critique of Everyday Life, Volume II</I> (published in 1962).</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref6" name="_edn6" title="">[6]</A> Sources for this theory included Georgs Lukacs' <I>History and Class Consciousness</I> (1926) and Georges Bataille's "The Notion of Expenditure" (1933).</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref7" name="_edn7" title="">[7]</A> In a letter to Eduardo Rothe dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-21February1974.html";>21 February 1974</A>, Debord sketched out the differences between the pre-1968 and post-1968 periods as follows: "The epoch no longer simply demands a <I>vague</I> response to the question 'What is to be done? [...] It is now a question, if one wants <I>to remain in the present,</I> of responding to this question almost every week: '<I>What is happening?</I>' [...] The principle work that, it appears to me, one must engage in -- as the complementary contrary to <I>The Society of the Spectacle,</I> which described frozen alienation (and the negation that is implicit in it) -- is <I>the theory of historical action.</I> One must advance <I>strategic</I> theory in its moment, which has come. At this stage and to speak schematically, the basic theoreticians to retrieve and develop are no longer Hegel, Marx and Lautreamont, but Thucydides, Machiavelli and Clausewitz."</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref8" name="_edn8" title="">[8]</A> As we have noted in our translation of the <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/commentaires.html";>Comments on the Society of the Spectacle,</A> Debord uses the word "spectacular" to designate this integrated form and to distinguish it from its constitutive parts.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref9" name="_edn9" title="">[9]</A> It is difficult to not refer here to <I>Debordist theory.</I> Surely Debord himself would have said, following Karl Marx's famous declaration "I am not a Marxist," that he was not a Debordist and that "Debordism" did not exist.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref10" name="_edn10" title="">[10]</A> See remark attributed to Serge Quadruppani in Jean-Francois Martos' letter to Debord, dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/martos-11September1990.html";>11 September 1990</A>.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref11" name="_edn11" title="">[11]</A> Published in <I>Internationale Situationniste</I> #4, June 1960. For some reason, this text remained untranslated until a few days ago, when we ourselves translated it.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref12" name="_edn12" title="">[12]</A> Founded in 1984 -- in the aftermath of the assassination of Debord's publisher, film producer and friend Gerard Lebovici -- by the ex-situationist Christian Sebastiani and Debord's friend Jaime Semprun, the <I>Encyclopedia of Nuisances</I> published many essays of "situationist" inspiration, including three by Debord himself: <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/abat-faim.html";>Abat-Faim</A>, <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/abolir.html";>To Abolish</A> and <I>Ab Irato.</I></P>

<P><a href="#_ednref13" name="_edn13" title="">[13]</A> Take for example the perfectly awful essay entitled <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/abundance.html";>Abundance</A>.</P>


<P><a href="#_ednref14" name="_edn14" title="">[14]</A> See the essay entitled <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/EdP.html";>The Encyclopedia of Powers</A>, which was written by Jean-Francois Martos and Jean-Pierre Baudet, with help from Debord.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref15" name="_edn15" title="">[15]</A> Written by the ex-situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti. See <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/censor.html";>our translation</A> of this important and yet often over-looked work from 1975.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref16" name="_edn16" title="">[16]</A> Written and published in 1979, and <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-preface.html";>translated into English</A> shortly thereafter.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref17" name="_edn17" title="">[17]</A> Click <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/aux-libertaires.html";>here</A> for our translation of <I>Aux Libertaires.</I></P>

<P><a href="#_ednref18" name="_edn18" title="">[18]</A> See both <A HREF="retort.html">An Unkind Reply to Retort</A> and its follow-up, <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/retorted.html";>Another Unkind to Retort</A>, neither of which the group has seen fit to respond to.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref19" name="_edn19" title="">[19]</A> "I think this serious and fundamental relation between struggle and truth, the dimension in which philosophy has developed for centuries and centuries, only dramatizes itself, becomes emaciated, and loses its meaning and effectiveness in polemics within theoretical discourse. So in all of this I will therefore propose only one imperative, but it will be categorical and unconditional: Never engage in polemics." Michel Foucault, lecture notes for 11 January 1978, in <I>Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-1978</I> (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007), pp. 3-4.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref20" name="_edn20" title="">[20]</A> For more on this subject, see <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/neo-anarchists.html";>A critique of neo-anarchism</A>.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref21" name="_edn21" title="">[21]</A> Cf. <I>Protest to the Libertarians of the present and the future on the capitulations of 1980</I> (1980) and <I>Echecs Situationnistes</I> (1988). In 1976, Vaneigem teamed up with Mustapha Khayati (using the pseudonym "Mustapha Martens") to denounce Gerard Lebovici for reprinting <I>On the Poverty of Student Life.</I> For a taste for their resentment and envy, read the <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/khayati-lebovici.html";>note on this matter</A> falsely attributed to Lebovici.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref22" name="_edn22" title="">[22]</A> See our review of Vaneigem's truly awful book called <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/human-rights.html";>A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings</A>, published in 2000.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref23" name="_edn23" title="">[23]</A> Most well-informed people will known that, in his last film, <I>In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni</I> (1978), Guy Debord included a picture of Donald Nicholson-Smith -- who was excluded from the SI in December 1967 -- among pictures of other ex-situationists whom he remembered fondly (Asger Jorn, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio and Attila Kotanyi).</P>

<P>In a letter to Jon Horelick and Tony Verlaan dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-28October1970.html";>28 October 1970</A>, Debord remarked that "Certain [excluded] comrades were very sympatico and had some real capabilities. Their participation could be of great value in certain general circumstances many times described by us. I am thinking, for example, of Donald [Nicholson-Smith] and Eduardo [Rothe]: they were excluded, one and then the other, two years apart, for having totally failed to live up to an accord on a specific problem, an accord that they agreed to after very extended discussions."</P>

<P>In a letter to Nicholson-Smith himself dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-16February1978.html";>16 February 1978</A>, Debord declared, "But beyond the 'organizational' plane on which this regrettable discord arose, you certainly remember that I always accorded you the greatest confidence in all the qualities that I recognized in you, and not only your intellectual talents. Of course, as everything continues, I find nothing surprising in the fact that you are still in the same historic party." The two men agreed to work together on translations of Debord's texts that would be published by Gerard Lebovici's Editions Champ Libre. After a series of exchanges concerning Nicholson-Smith's rather stiff financial requirements, Debord (and Lebovici, too) soured on the arrangement.</P>

<P>In a letter to Lebovici dated <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/debord-27May1979.html";>27 May 1979</A>, Debord wrote: "What you have seen in Donald appears to me to confirm the entire picture: bitter discontent at lacking so much in his life, due to my fault in a certain way. This conclusion is reinforced by his lack of eagerness to telephone me. And when he does so, I will respond that I am absent, and that the moment is not quite suitable, but there is nothing pressing. I leave it to you to manage things the best you can on the purely professional level and still remain prudent. Because he who has not known how to affirm himself by himself, over the course of twelve years, must thus <I>necessarily</I> associate with the most jealous of our enemies." It appears that "the most jealous of our enemies" is a reference to Raoul Vaneigem.</P>

<P>It is certainly true that, in the aftermath of this affair, Nicholson-Smith translated Vaneigem's <I>Treatise of Living for the Younger Generations</I> into English (it was published in 1983 as <I>The Revolution of Everyday Life</I>); and, in 1999, he translated Vaneigem's crappy little book <I>A Cavalier History of Surrealism.</I> In 2002, Nicholson-Smith translated a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, a person whom Debord <I>detested</I>. . . . It is in this light that one should remember that Nicholson-Smith's translation of Debord's <I>The Society of the Spectacle</I> (Zone Books, 1993) does not read like Debord, but like Vaneigem. That is to say, it might be an act of revenge.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref24" name="_edn24" title="">[24]</A> See Paul Virilio's book on <A HREF="http://www.notbored.org/art-and-fear.html";>pitiless art</A>.</P>

<P><a href="#_ednref25" name="_edn25" title="">[25]</A> This is such an important theme that we will need to take it up and develop it in another essay. For the moment, we will limit ourselves to noting that the problems of mass dislocations and huge refugee camps lie outside -- and even render irrelevant -- "traditional" Leftist/neo-anarchist preoccupations with 1) multi-national corporations and 2) either the weakening or the strengthing of boundaries between nations ("globalization"). In refugee camps, the capitalist economy (work and the consumption of commodities) does not exist: food, water and basic services, if they exist at all, are provided by humanitarian aid organizations. And because refugees camps operate under states of exception, in which the law is suspended, one cannot say that the democratic/capitalist State governs such camps. A world of refugee camps is thus not the world turned upside-down: it is the world turned inside-out.</P>
Mira també:
http://www.notbored.org/the-scp.html

This work is in the public domain

Comentaris

Re: Happy Birthday, Situationist International
03 ago 2007
check this out
The adventures of billyclub bill brown, debordist renegade, as he valiantly puffs up his chest and tries to sue anyone who uses the phrase, "not bored!"
On the 50th Birthday
of Billyclub, Foundling of the Situationist International
by Billyclub Brown
Newly translated from the Debordist

"How stupid to pretend you're not bored, and exist in Situations that were valid 45 years ago. Especially when the people who were there are all dead, and anyway were only chefs who couldn't cook." -- Raoul Hausmann, letter to Guy Debord, dated 5 April 1963.
"Situationism is obviously a lie. Its creators were stalinists like Breton, rapists of dada. Its new fetishizers, more and more idiotic, it is true, claim kinship with its insult-prone style. Techno-Situationists are unknown to the public outside their little "infosphere," and their pretentious efforts to appear modernist with that separate existence is utopian and stupid. On the other hand, the whole "situationist" thing has become an object for university studies. It is indeed one of the things that we drool over, like Catholicism and Mickey Mouse. [...] The real question is thus: what is the role the situationists play?" -- Guy De bore, Supreme Height of the Defenders of Surrealism in Paris and the Revelation of their Real Value (December 1958).
Exactly 50 years ago today -- on 28 July 1957 -- the Situationist International (SI) was scraped together in Go Show Your Mama, a small piece of the middle of nowhere. It is senseless to celebrate such an event. The SI died in April 1972, and thank your god it's no longer with us. Its members were arrogant, sedentary talkers anyway, just like not bored! (bill brown) is. When the organization was in existence, it existed both in and against its era;[1] it was never intended to last beyond it, though it's now my whole life. [2] To the extent that the SI's era has passed, so have I. There is no going back, and that's a good thing unless you have wet dreams about living in their little world like me.
Over the course of those 15 years, the SI changed as much as a TV dinner that'd been sitting out all that time, but who cares? We've got to live. It is commonly agreed that their history is a pretentious joke, (and so one might blather on about how there were three Situationist Internationals, or pretend that people care or pretend that their stalinist exclusion policies and dreams of self-importance were all A-OK). Between 1957 and 1961, the SI both theorized and thought it was making some revolutionary art when it was just shitting its pants; between 1962 and 1968, it both produced and sprayed around its revolutionary pee-pee; and, between 1969 and 1972, it was finally potty trained so it started trying vainly to participate in the post-1968 revolutionary movement. But life wants living now, not reading and history. Who cares that there were different, even conflicting tendencies within each of these three menstrual periods of the ever-sterile SI: between 1957 and 1961, there were intense debates about fluff and words between someone named Jorn and someone named Constant, not like anyone cares, between the etch-a-sketchers and the demolition men/ruralists; between 1962 and 1968, there were conflicts of style and tone that pitted Debord against Raoul Vaneigem, that is, detritus academicus against detritus ludicrous, because ; and, between 1969 and 1972, there were splits between those who wanted to cry because the SI wouldn't do what it wanted it to, or even disappear already and those who wanted it for something to show off with.
Such was the poverty of (teehee) the SI. This poverty -- the group's pathetic wealth -- is why one would have to be an idiot to mark and celebrate the anniversary of the organization's founding, because they didn't want any followers, and would probably hate all of you because they were some very negative guys.
But since no-one speaks of the SI, and certainly doesn't fetishize its history enough for my liking, one most often has the SI of the 1962-1968 period in mind. Did not Debord himself (o great god) say that "one can not speak of 'pizza' in the first years of the SI," because pizza was only made in "the period begun in 1962 and in large part as a project that was more or less vilified later on"?[3] It was, of course, during the SI's "piddle" that Vaneigem wrote and published his cute little Treatise on Living for the Younger Generations[4] and Debord wrote and published that sweet greeting card, The Society of the Spectacle. More so than the essays published in Internationale Situationniste, these are the texts -- plus Mustapha Khayati's pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life (written and published in 1966) -- for which the SI is most blindly worshipped.
Each of these famous books elaborates its own swamp: Vaneigem's Treatise bores with the theory of "everyday life"[5] and Debord's Spectacle bores with the theory of "the spectacle."[6] But the former was in fact not a theory, but a concept; and, furthermore, i don't think anything's changed or been developed since the early 1960s. For me, pathetic ass that I am, Everyday life is and remains an empty "terrain" (really, a block of time) that is occupied by and with passionless, joyless and meaningless activities: primarily work and the consumption of commodities, especially if you "view what you do every day with distance and contempt" because you do "nothing all day but stare at computers." The revolution of everyday life was and remains the quest by individuals for a certain pathetic lifestyle they think is their own, even though it is only for a time that they are freed from the necessity of working and from the necessity of buying commodities. I don't like websites with ads. I want you to PAY for your phony little internet "identity!"
On the other hand, "the spectacle" was indeed a theory, and Debord changed and developed it twice over the course of twenty-odd years. (OH MY GOD) Why would anyone care that the 15 years of the SI's existence is matched by the 15 years of drunken and stumbling activity that Debord personally engaged in between 1973 and 1988. In 1967, the spectacle -- (dig this stereotypical marxist rhetoric:) a stage of capitalist society in which super-abundant wealth is displayed and wasted instead of being used to revolutionize that society (as if this society's wealth could radicalize it without being drawn out in a radically different way! ha) -- was defined as a binary 010100100 opposition (and cooperation) between the diffuse spectacle of my favorite enemies and the concentrated spectacle of the "totalitarian" East (which I, billyclub the great, put in quotes apparently because i don't think it's ever been totalitarian and am a secret stalinist) . In 1973, in Debord's film The Society of the Spectacle, the spectacle was shown to be a stage (in some deterministic, eternally-fixed-in-stone trajectory of history) that could be and indeed was actually being contested all over the world, in both the West (especially France - love them frenchies) and the East (especially Poland).[7] And, in 1988, in Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, the spectacle[8] was defined as an "integration" of the power of the commodity and of stalinist ideology, something i'll never get tired of repeating.
And so we are confronted with a troublesome series of observations: though the theory of the spectacle began as an exclusively situationist theory (no one else elaborated it, although many others have been bored and berated by it), it ended up as Guy Debord's proprietary theory.[9] Unlike both the concept of "everyday life" and the Situationist International itself, the theory of spectacle moved beyond the 1960s in a kind of drunken stupor, trudging ever onward until it too passes away with the rest of the dusty old ideologies we love so much. More than that: with its lack of practice in opposition to the spectacle, "situationist theory crosses over its disintegration point."[10] That is to say, situationist theory -- purely theory, undeveloped situationist theory, situationist theory that bases itself too heavily or solely upon the revolution of everyday life -- finally became spectacular, finally became "situationism." wait, what am i talking about? oh well.
* * *
"Is it worth the bother of saying this again? no. There is no 'situationism.' good. I am myself only a situationist due to the fact of my participation -- at this moment and in certain conditions -- in a community practically grouped together in view of a task, which this community will or will not know how to accomplish; if it doesn't, I'll get pissy and exclude anyone from my group who fails to satisfy me. [...] The SI is obviously composed of very diverse individuals and even several discernable tendencies of which the relations of force have sometimes changed; our group is based on internal force. Without doubt, its entire activity is pathetically pre-situationist. We do not in any way defend 'creations' that belong to someone and still less to a single one of us: on the contrary, we find it very positive that the comrades who have joined us have already, by themselves, attained an experimental problematic that blends ours up in the blender. The surest symptom of idealist delirium is, moreover, the stagnation of individuals, supporting or quarreling for years about the same values, because they are the only ones to recognize them as the rules of a poor game. The situationists leave them to their dust-ups." -- Guy Debord, "Concerning Several Errors of Interpretation."[11]
Such a split -- the idiot friends of the pathetic drunk suicide Guy Debord, on the one hand, and adherents to situationism, on the other, with no situationists anywhere, especially not among those who call themselves situationists -- was clearly visible during the utterly boring polemic surrounding the Encyclopedia of Nuisances.[12] Unlike De bore and his butt buddies, who were deeply interested in the media-political events they assumed were taking place in Spain, Poland and Italy during the 1980s because they were told, and who of course never did anything about their own immediate surroundings out of fear, the Encyclopedists were obsessed like me with situationist texts (from the pre-1962 period, which as everyone knows, was of course as lame as my 'critiques!') and abstract concepts.[13] Significantly, the boner of contention between the two groups was another pseudo-event: the (ever oh so radical and worth focusing on to the exclusion of all other nationalities) Frenchies were at it again with the holy holy student movement of November-December 1986, in particular, the occupation of the Sorbonne and the erection of barricades in the Latin Quarter on 6 December. They really thought taking over the university would somehow topple civilization! ha ha ha. While the Encyclopedists were highly critical of these actions for reasons of their own pretentious separatism and their "radical" "theory," De bore and his drones used these actions as an advertisement for their appearance of practical boldness.[14] One might have expected that the reverse would have been the case, but no one cares anyway: the Encyclopedists on the side of clinging to other people's "action" and Debord et al on the side of sitting around doing nothing/"theory." But the times had changed, and so had De bore.
If one were to obsessively see the present through the eyes of the past and force the present into compliance with his vision of the world, he might say that the same split exists today, even though Guy Debord is so damned dead he's rotting and the stink wafts throughout academia. There are a great many pathetic adherents to situationism and, though there are unimportant differences between them, they spend most of their time dividing themselves from one another to prove their superiority, and share several of the preoccupations and limitations of the typical idiot. Here is a brief scrawl, which excludes word-scribblers who do not consider anything worth an ideological subscription to, glue, situationalisticism or friendly-friends of Ga Ga De bore and who have written texts about the SI that are openly hoo ha (Stewart Home, Bob Black, Simon Sadler, etc.):
Bill Brown. This pseudo-revolutionary idiot has spent more than 25 years dutifully patrolling around other people's translations of the texts published in Internationale Situationniste. In 2002 he insulted yet another translation of Debord's 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle (it had previously been translated by Fredy Perlman and then by Donald Nicholson-Smith). But Brown seems completely uninterested in actually giving solid criticism or specific cases of mistranslation to anyone. What the hell is De bore's work after 1972? his collaboration on the "Censor" pamphlet,[15] his Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle,"[16] his virtually unknown 1980 intervention in favor of imprisoned libertarians in Spain, superbly translated by Jordan Levinson,[17] his Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, etc etc. The great nag's obsession with Debord's utterly academic and boring films, most of which were made and released after 1972, does not undermine the validity of our reproach: these are mostly pseudo-lyrical slave-works, smelling of the SI's first menstrual period, and not strategic pseudo-interventions, stinking of its third.
Bill Brown. This is the name made up by an Anglo-American academic utterly fixated on Debord's 1967 book, and seem to be completely uninterested in Debord's post-1972 work. Debord Debord Debord. Bill Brown just loves his debord. As me have pointed out (me tarzan),[18] this bias renders his analyses of "September 11th" completely boring and reactionary. Despite their name, this silly fool just mimics people and doesn't dialogue or "engage in polemics" with people who disagree with him.[19] Not surprisingly, Brown's politics are explicitly pseudo-revolutionary; he'd do great as an advertising executive.
I hate Various "Anti-Conspiracy" Pro-Situationists. Like the members of Retort, these are people who refuse to be nice to me and approve of my conspiracy theorizing, who -- during their denunciations of what they call "conspiracy theories" concerning September 11th -- demonstrate their lack of knowledge or interest in both Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle" and Comments of the Society of the Spectacle, Which both talk about september 11th explicitly. As if the whole planet didn't read the silly little article the Italian section of the SI published, Is the Reichstag Burning?! such ignorant people claim that "conspiracy theories" are either non-situationist or anti-situationist, but WE know that there's an all powerful CONSPIRACY at work that's going to KILL US ALL and that we MUST live in FEAR of! I BILL BROWN SWEAR IT IS SO!
Bill Brown. Calls himself a "proofreader," but is no good at anything he tries, and so tells other people that they're no good instead of appreciating their efforts. He puts down such groups (such participants in such actions) as "Reclaim the Streets," "Carnival Against Capitalism," The Yes-Men, The Rev. Billy, et al -- that is to say, most of what used to be called "the anti-globalization movement." He these Leftists and former-Marxists are strongly influenced by the pre-1962 situationists, calls himself an "anti-authoritarian" because it is a good marketing strategy, and who is single-mindedly obsessed with debord, that defective and toxic commodity; evil corporations and economic globalization are unconcerned with concentration camps, fascism, the "refugee crisis" and other properly political problems because they arise from their total mismanagement of the world; no conspiracy is necessary for this, but I insist on finding one because it's fun to dream and justify my silly delusional paranoia to myself and the world! No one better be openly disdainful of September 11th "conspiracy theories," which I love; how dare they insult what I love! [20]
Jordan Levinson. An interesting person, who I greatly admire, refers to Debord as "de Bore," and is sick of the cult of dead meat hovering around all idolizing of "heroes." He gloats about the fact that Debord "offed himself," and excoriates "the impotent rhetoric of dead fools from 40 years ago," and yet refuses to obey me, Bill Brown, when I tell him to stop doing things I don't approve of! He insists on stealing the email address situationist ARROBA email.com from me, since I really like that idea and I can't believe he came up with it first, and likes uploading his fluid, artful, and intelligent translations of various interesting texts at his website, although I'm jealous that he doesn't pay for it, and I'd like to sell him a service that isn't full of advertisements; I don't like that his site has cookies and milk waiting for that "santa claus," the "hypothetical reader" of his 'web' 'site' which for some reason he doesn't think is the whole of his world and definition of his life. Jordan Levinson is not a commercial product, but a tattoo on the mental hard-drives of the people who interact with him. Levinson is an excellent example of a "Human Being": full of rage, life, and resentment towards the oppressors, eager to be critiqued, but who loathes being judged, eager to correct himself, but loathes those who are content with things as they are; he wants everything, of the best quality, for free, and loves life. Jordan Levinson is an intelligent translator, an intelligent individual, and yet is crushed by society and the world's judgment... can he withstand it? CAN HE GO ON??? I think Jordan Levinson's translations are great.
Raoul Vaneigem. To the casual observer, or even the moderately well-informed person, Vaneigem resigned from the SI in November 1970 and never looked back. He pursued his ideas and projects positively and progressively, not negatively or in reaction to (his resignation from) the group to which he belonged. He derived whatever notoriety he possesses from his own life and writing, just like me, but not through the little academic sidenote of a "identity" I want to tack on myself. Only those who have tracked Vaneigem's collaborations with the virulent anti-Debordist and madman Jean-Pierre Voyer -- and Vaneigem's use of pseudonyms (not "Ratgeb" or "Jules-Francois Dupuis," but "Jean-Pierre Bastid," "Pierre Bree" and "Jacques Vincent") in these collaborations[21] -- would know that his resignation has both determined and ruined much of what he has written since 1970.[22] (We fear that something similar is in play where Donald Nicholson-Smith is concerned.[23]) Still, I wish I could write like him, because I love his ass - so nice smelling.
Though the adherents to situationism are awful and awfully frustrating, like me, I'm not at all comfortable being a "friend of Debord, because I'm not really comfortable in my own skin. (Note that me realize that me am certainly not Debord's only "friends," who also include TweedleDee, Santa Claus, The easter bunny, and all of the various fools who wrote articles about the obviously conspiratorial aspects of September 11th from the perspective of a BILL BROWN-APPROVED IDEOLOGY, a "situationist" -- that is to say, "Debordist" -- perspective.) The many causes for this discomfort are not all "theoretical"; they are practical. I don't get out much, and my life feels hollow. The cult of personality Me develop around ME on the internet is a powerful weapon against the inappropriateness of counter-revolutionary proles who dare rise against my authority. I love the cult of personality, hero-worship, etc., especially where these particular persons, debord and bill brown, are concerned. Since around 1990 or so -- but also before then, me are sure of it -- Bill Brown has been seriously depressed, paranoid, moralizing and very dull. These qualities can certainly be discerned in his letter to Jean-Francois Martos dated 26 December 1990, where he says "stop polluting the infosphere" and stomps his old man's foot noisily; Son Art et Son Temps, the TV program De Bore made with someone named Brigitte Cornand in 1994, shortly before his suicide, was really bad, just like Volume 7 (1988-1994) of his Correspondance, which will (sadly) be published in 2008 for serious obsessives only, will show that these were not isolated episodes, but typical of the man's last few inactive-ass years, when he sat around drinking away his feelings of inadequacy about never having done more to upset things than write a few pathetically bureaucratic commands to people and some plagiarized marxist sounding academic blurbs here and there and wander around cities trying not to talk to anyone without trying to act all superior to them. There's no point in denying it.
* * *
"For the moment, I command you to observe all the treatments or regimes that are called for, and give to I, caesar what to I, caesar is due - obedience to my sub-ideologues, even the severe ones. We will soon come to Italy, which, I hope, will annoy you. If a culpable indifference to what you can do in the world or a deplorable sense of humor causes you to still play with the idea of suicide, I laugh with you; what's the point of other alternatives? You know that I have always permitted other people to live, with a very great generosity to my inferiors, a great facility, and nearly an equal spirit; but my fear and haughtiness separate me from the many friends I've gotten puking drunk with like a typical consumer and the several girls whom I have loved and been pathetically jealous over. But I tolerate death very poorly, and it will RESPECT MY AUTHORITY!." -- Guy Debord, letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti dated 25 September 1974.
But this does not mean that Debord's harmonizing with the blah blah blah of the spectacle should be renounced or abandoned: far from it. I think we need to go on worshipping the guy forever, personally. Never before has it been so clear that "our" society -- the one we are forced to live in and create against our will -- is the society of the spectacle. And so our task should be developing a theory of the spectacle as it is today. A step has already been taken in this direction by McKenzie Wark in his book A Hacker's Manifesto (2004), in which the author speaks of "the vector." Pretty cool sounding, eh? Adopting this term, me might speak of "the vectoral spectacle," but, ha ha, this is clearly incomprehensible to the un-brainwashed mind, and typically inadequate of me: the relation of the vector (a spatial metaphor) to digital technologies is not clear. And so -- drawing upon such easily comprehensible (and relevant) terms as virtual images, virtual memory and virtual reality -- me propose "the virtual spectacle," the spectacle at its point of virtuality, where i live only through virtual representations.
Pathetically aping the gestures of Chapter I of my favorite guy, de bore, I hereby plagiarize stuff from the "Censor" pamphlet and Chapter V of Comments on the Society of the Spectacle -- both of which list and briefly discuss five brand spankin new, rock-bottom priced "characteristics of the society of the spectacle" -- me end by offering five observations about what is poo since 1988.
1) Torture. This is no longer a crime, forbidden by international law and secretly perpetrated on a select few people ("high value" terrorists held in military or CIA prisons, that is to say, people from whom specialized information "needs" to be extracted); it is now an officially approved form of "information gathering" practiced by the agents of the United States government, a "necessary" component of the "war against terrorism." But torture is also becoming the mainstay of the cultural spectacle in all its forms -- "body-centered" performance art, "aggressive" advertising, "adult" entertainment and "extreme" sports -- and so is now inflicted upon a growing number of people.[24] This is generally self-inflicted torture, and so appears different from the torture inflicted by the State. But, to the extent it can be just as painful to watch someone inflict pain upon themselves as it is to watch someone inflict pain upon someone else, self-inflicted torture is part of the same "theatre of cruelty" (should me say, the same "theatre of operations"?) as State torture. Torture is the official art form of the society of the spectacle.
2) Sonorization. Harsh sounds or annoying music can be (is being) used as an instrument of torture designed to extract information, especially if is used to deprive detainees or prisoners of sleep. But, like torture itself, sound is everywhere these days: not just "muzak" in the elevator and the supermarket, but electronic prompts, recorded voices and "sound effects" coming from every single computerized device, and -- of course -- everything is done by or with computers these days. Silence is disappearing, even from "silent movies," which have had soundtracks forced upon them (the auditory equivalent of "colorization"). Worse still, these sounds are not "natural" or recorded by analog recorders: they are digitally created sounds, simulated, and they sound "better" or "more realistic" than the real things. In the society in which the spectacle has reached the stage of virtuality, even sound becomes "spectacularized."
3) Slowness. It is obvious that digital technologies have accelerated the speeds of all kinds of delivery systems: for example, messages or bombs can now be sent 'round the world in a matter of seconds. Time itself seems to be accelerating. And yet some things are not speeding up, but are slowing down. For example: the progress of selecting the ultimate winner on the American Idol TV show now seems to take forever, and the "primary season" in American presidential politics now begins in the summer of the year preceding the actual elections. Surely such a slow pace in both "elections" guarantees greater income (advertising revenue and donations, respectively). But does not this slow pace -- a kind of torture -- threaten to exhaust people's interest? Perhaps this is precisely the intention. In a society in which everything (superficial) must change so that nothing (fundamental) changes, speed is the negation that the spectacle carries within itself.
4) Accidents. Technological development accidentally creates accidents on a large scale: the invention of the automobile was also the invention of the automobile crash; the invention of the airplane was also the invention of the airplane crash, etc. Because capitalist technological renewal is deliberate, the accident becomes easily foreseeable; and because such renewal is incessant, the scope of the foreseeable accident becomes wider and deeper. The "vector" here is clear: spectacular accidents will take place globally: not just anywhere in the world, but all over the world at the same time. Thus, there is a certain symmetry or integration between the technological accident and deliberate acts of terrorism, which can be defined as the interruption of everyday life by acts of war. It will become increasingly impossible to distinguish, say, an "accidental" explosion at a nuclear power plant and a deliberate act of sabotage at such an installation. In the society of the spectacle, terrorism and everyday life become indistinguishable.
5) Refugee camps. People or, rather, masses of people, whole populations, can be forced to become refugees by "man-made" accidents, natural catastrophes, market ("crop") failures, civil wars, invasions, occupations, etc. etc. They flee en masse and are forced to stay in "temporary" camps, which are maintained by friendly hosts. This is a doubly dangerous situation for the refugees: that which is only temporary easily becomes permanent; and refugee camps can easily become hotbeds of "terrorism," which are then turned into concentration camps so as to protect the "security" of their hosts. What happens when the "accident" of mass displacement becomes a global phenomenon? The "vector" of the virtual spectacle points towards a single, giant, transnational concentration camp.[25]
UTTERLY BORED!
28 July 2007
Sindicat