Speaking of Situationists

“When did the avant-garde die? It sounds like a title for the sort of frothy filler you might find, nowadays, fringing the review pages of any mainstream newspaper – and that, in itself, confirms the avant-garde’s demise. But if you were looking for a plausible date, place and motive for the auto-destruction of that current which laid claim to being – by virtue of exclusivity, originality and audacity – the radical harbinger of cultural and political change in European society, it would have to be on 30 November 1994 in a large, gloomy farmhouse in the large, gloomy, remote French department of the Auvergne, where, as day faded into night, Guy Debord, once the leader of the Situationist International, put a gun to his breast and stopped his heart for ever.”


“But our continued interest in Debord should be motivated by the plangent, awful truth that he was substantially right about the character of individual life under “late capitalism” (and what a woefully optimistic ascription that now seems). His magnum opus, The Society of the Spectacle, reads today as a more accurate description of contemporaneity than it can have appeared in the pre-internet, pre-cable, premobile phone era of the late 1960s. Written in 221 propositions – like the bastard apothegms sired by Wittgenstein out of Marx and Hegel – any one of them painfully scrapes away at the margarine of false consciousness gumming up our faculties. Take No. 16, for example: ‘The spectacle subjects living human beings to its will to the extent that the economy has brought them under its sway. For the spectacle is simply the economic realm developing for itself – at once a faithful mirror held up to the production of things and a distorting objectification of the producers.'”
Living with Dead Time, by Willam Self, New Statesman, August 27, 2001 (via Wood S Lot)

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