Tuesday, 16 December 2008

portrait of obama

2 comments:

troylloyd said...

Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program
Capitalism: A Society Without Culture

…5
Present culture as a whole can be characterized as alienated in the sense that every activity, every moment of life, every idea, every type of behavior, has a meaning only outside itself, in an “elsewhere” which, being no longer in heaven, is only the more maddening to try and locate: a utopia, in the literal sense of the word, dominates the life of the modern world.
6
Having from the workshop to the laboratory emptied productive activity of all meaning for itself, capitalism strives to place the meaning of life in leisure activities and to reorient productive activity on that basis. Since production is hell in the prevailing moral schema, real life must be found in consumption, in the use of goods.
…The world of consumption is in reality the world of the mutual spectacularization of everyone, the world of everyone’s separation, estrangement and nonparticipation….
7
Outside of work, the spectacle is the dominant mode through which people relate to each other. It is only through the spectacle that people acquire a (falsified) knowledge of certain general aspects of social life, from scientific or technological achievements to prevailing types of conduct and orchestrated meetings of international political celebrities. The relation between authors and spectators is only a transposition of the fundamental relation between directors and executants. It answers perfectly to the needs of a reified and alienated culture: the spectacle-spectator relation is in itself a staunch bearer of the capitalist order. The ambiguity of all “revolutionary art” lies in the fact that the revolutionary aspect of any particular spectacle is always contradicted and offset by the reactionary element present in all spectacles.
This is why capitalist society, in order to streamline its own functioning, must above all continually refine its mechanism of spectacularization. This is obviously a complex mechanism, for if its main role is to propagate the capitalist order, it nevertheless must not appear to the public as a mere capitalistic delirium; it must involve the public by incorporating elements of representation that correspond — in fragments — to social rationality. It must sidetrack the desires whose satisfaction is forbidden by the ruling order. For example, modern mass tourism presents cities and landscapes not in order to satisfy authentic desires to live in such human or geographical milieus; it presents them as pure, rapid, superficial spectacles (spectacles from which one can gain prestige by reminiscing about them). Similarly, striptease is the most obvious form of the degradation of eroticism into a mere spectacle.
8
The evolution and the conservation of art have been governed by these lines of force. At one pole, art is purely and simply coopted by capitalism as a means of conditioning the population. At the other pole, capitalism grants art a perpetual privileged concession: that of pure creative activity — an isolated creativity which serves as an alibi for the alienation of all other activities (and which thus also makes it the most expensive and prestigious status symbol). But at the same time, this sphere reserved for “free creative activity” is the only one in which the question of what we do with life and the question of communication are posed fully and practically. In this sense art can reflect the basic antagonisms between partisans and adversaries of the officially dictated reasons for living. The established meaninglessness and separation give rise to the general crisis of traditional artistic means — a crisis linked to the experience of alternative ways of living or to the demand for such experience. Revolutionary artists are those who call for intervention, and who have themselves intervened in the spectacle in order to disrupt and destroy it.

by Guy-Ernest Debord


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mike cannell said...

interesting, although debord was a Marxist (yuck)