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Pamphlet

Guy Debord is really dead

by Luther Blissett


Chapter 1 "Nunc est bibendum"

- Butch, whose motorcycle is this? - It's a chopper. - Whose chopper is this? - Zed's. - Who's Zed? - Zed's dead, baby... Zed's dead. -- Quentin Tarantino, 1994

When Guy The Bore died [1] the Italian reformist press responded with obvious, misleading 'obits' with nothing to be surprised about. The same lib-lab trash-shredders who swallowed and ruminated K. Popper's dull tirades against TV, have later celebrated The Bore as a prophet of Berlusconi's taking the field. For years the leftist Ignoranzhia has been mistaking the "spectacle" for the media insolence of the Establishment or the cyclic recurrence of people like Letizia Moratti [2], or Sgarbi-and Ferrara-style Tv rows...[3] It 's no surprise then, that a critical theory attacking commodification and a system of production turning each of us in an insolent medium of the establishment, has been defused by a metonimy (the effect instead of the cause, the content instead of the container). Defusing the bomb was easy, due to its shortcomings, yet The Bore doesn't deserve to be stored in the pantheon of leftist heroes together with Pajetta and Berlinguer [4] where catto-togliattiani intellectual gravediggers are trying to put him, although as a heretic.

The abuse of the epithet "situationist" and of the meaningless term "situationism" [5] is due to the emphasis given the Debord's analysis of the spectacle; savoir vivre, subversion of everyday life, psychogeography and Unitary Urbanism - in a word, the whole range of immediate and practical kinds of actions the Situationists suggested - were taken in little consideration. Thus "situationist" was doomed to become an uniformative term; cultural reporters then decided to attach it to whatever personage or artistic movement whose expressions were nihilistic enough to be considered "estreme" and spectacular enough to allow for second-class mass-mediology. Thus, the TV schedule of Italia Uno - decided by Carlo Freccero - [6] was "situationist", as well as Striscia la Notizia [7], and TV-truth on Guglielmi's Raitre [8]: "situationist" is whatever text written in a schizo-epigrammatic style, and so on. Most of these 'wild labellers' hardly knows The Society of the Spectacle and, taking it as a Talmud of radical critique (although it rather looks like a bunch of clues for crosswords) pretends to be inferring anything from it. "Situationist" has become a passe-partout opening all the doors, from that of a badly-chewed dadaism, to that of an easy-minded technological millenarianism. In a nihilistic world, whatever is real, is "situationist".

After all, wasn't Debord himself the one who changed his reputation in that of a spiteful Cassandra? Wasn't his own attitude to allow his best known essay to be taken as a Talmud? Isn't it true that, two years ago, in order to explain the fall of so-called 'socialism' in Eastern Europe, he didn't do much more than recycling two laconic theses on bureaucracy, written 1/4 of century earlier and previously enclosed in the above mentioned book? [9] During the last decade of his life, The Bore had endlessly tried to give his dramatis persona a place in the historical context; like the prisoners in Kafka's short story, "In the Penal Colony", he stepped into a machinery carving on his body not only his writings (Considerations sur l'assassinat de Gérard Lebovici, Panegyrique, Commentaires sur la societè du spectacle, Cette mauvaise réputation...) but also the Law. In his case, the Law was the Right Interpretation, against slander and passive contemplation of the historical experience of the SI, and finally against pro-situ misleading information. [10] The ceaseless hypertextual cross-references (from one line of the body-text to the other) seems to hide the desperate will to set up the proper bad reputation, to foster the proper way to contemplate, to bringabout the proper misleading information, in a word, the attempt not to change the style and to keep control. Such a task would involve the whole system and requires a group strategy: if a single will tries to reach it, (or simply to mark it), he or she will obtain exactly the opposite of what they were after. They used to care for style, now it's Identity to be defended, but Identity freezes and kills style, and strenghtens the spectacle. Thus, after The Bore's suicide, we inherit a body of rules which didn't mean to be such, as well as a bunch of prophetic soliloquies. We're left with holy writings, and only two things can be done with holy writings: you can either take them literally and be a fundamentalist, or taking them to mean whatever you like, without even reading them. But, where does this attitude come from? We believe it's due to the unappealable failure of the SI which doesn't date back to the dissolution in 1972, but at least to a decade earlier, when the French section (after the experience of Lettrisme) came into power in the SI. Before the sky is breached and pro-situs insults start pouring down, it's necessary to provide an explanation. And while explaining, it's necessary never to forget that it's a long time since a rift has grown between the SI and us, and this rift will shape the following text, sometimes openly and unambiguously. After all, the SI was still too strongly influenced by avantgardiste language and myths, and "every avantgarde grows old and dies without seeing its successors, because succession doesn't follow straight, but through a contradiction." (Asger Jorn, 1960).

 

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