Situationist International

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The Situationist International (SI) was a small group of international political and artistic agitators with roots in Marxism, Lettrism and the early 20th century European artistic and political avant-gardes. Formed in 1957, the SI was active in Europe through the 1960s and aspired to major social and political transformations. In the 1960s it split into a number of different groups, including the Situationist Bauhaus, the Antinational and the Second Situationist International. The first SI disbanded in 1972.[1] The Situationist International has also had a significant influence on anarchism since the 1970s.[citation needed]


[edit] Etymology and definitions

The first issue of the journal Internationale Situationiste defined a situationist as "having to do with the theory or practical activity of constructing situations. One who engages in the construction of situations. A member of the Situationist International".[2] The same journal defined situationism as "a meaningless term improperly derived from the above. There is no such thing as situationism, which would mean a doctrine of interpretation of existing facts. The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists."

[edit] Core arguments

The Situationist International, in the 15 years from its formation in 1957 and its dissolution in 1972, is characterized by a marxist and surrealist perspective on aesthetics and politics,[3] without separation between the two: art and politics are faced together and in revolutionary terms.[4] The SI analyzed the modern world from the point of view of everyday life.[5] The core arguments of the Situationist International were an attack on the capitalist degradation of the life of people[6][7] and the fake models advertised by the mass media,[8] to which the Situationist responded with alternative life experiences.[9][10] The alternative life experiences explored by the Situationists were the construction of situations, unitary urbanism, psychogeography, and the union of play, freedom and critical thinking.[11][4]

During the first four years from its formation in 1957, the pivot of the Situationist International was the collaboration between Guy Debord and Asger Jorn.[12] The role of the artists in the SI was of great significance, particularly Asger Jorn, Constant Nieuwenhuys and Pinot Gallizio.[11] Asger Jorn, who invented Situgraphy and Situlogy, had the social role of catalyst and team leader among the members of the SI between 1957 and 1961.[13] Jorn's texts Critique Of Economic Policy, Originality and Magnitude and Open Creation and its Enemies, published in Internationale Situaionniste 4 and 5 established Situgraphology (the study of situations) as a critique of Marxism in 1960, following on from the arguments in Guy Debord's Report on the Construction of Situations and on the International Situationist Tendency’s Conditions of Organization and Action of 1957.

In Critique of Economic Policy, originally published in French in 1959 by the Internationale Situationniste, Jorn critiques Marx's dialectical method in Das Kapital as well as Einstein's theory of relativity,[14] introducing the idea of situations.[verification needed] In later work, Jorn lays out the idea of Situgraphy, Situlogy and even Situmetry. The idea of the Situation is drawn from Henri Poincare's Situ-Analysis which went on to be translated as Topology and ties into Neils Bohr's ideas of complementarity.

Jorn was also influential on not only the SI but also the Situationist Bauhaus and the 2nd International as well as the Antinational. Even after Jorn's direct involvement with the SI, he continued to finance the organisation through sales of paintings.[15]

While the 2nd Situationist International and the Situationist Antinational sought to challenge the separation of art and politics from everyday life, Debord and the so-called 'specto-situationists'[16] sought to concentrate solely on abstract political aims.[17]

The development of core ideas in the SI can be seen as a move from practical methods such as unitary urbanism, detournment, situgraphy - before the Debordist expulsions of the 2nd SI - to one of abstract theory (principaly theory of the spectacle ), after the expulsions.[18] In the early times of the SI, the interest for artistic experimentation prevailed, while later the focus was on revolutionary politics.[19]

Many intellectuals[who?] consider Guy Debord as the main intellectual of the SI.[20][21][22] It has been argued that such view is limited to "bourgeois intellectuals".[citation needed] Debord's work The Society of the Spectacle (1967) established Situationism as a Marxist critical theory.[citation needed] The Society of the Spectacle is widely recognized as the main and most influential Situationist essay.[23][citation needed]

The concept of revolution created by the Situationist International was anti-capitalist,[24][25][26] Marxist, Young Hegelian,[27] and from the very beginning in the 50s, remarkably differently from the established Left, anti-Stalinist and against all repressive regimes.[citation needed]

Debord starts his 1967 work with a revisited version of the first sentence with which Marx began his critique of classical political economy, Das Kapital.[28][29] In a later essay, Debord will argue that his work was the most important social critique since Marx's work. Drawing from Marx, which argued that under a capitalist society the wealth is degraded to an immense accumulation of commodities, Debord argues that in advanced capitalism, life is reduced to an immense accumulation of spectacles, a triumph of mere appearance where "all that once was directly lived has become mere representation".[30][31] The spectacle, which according to Debord is the core feature of the advanced capitalist societies,[32] has its "most glaring superficial manifestation" in the advertising-mass media-marketing complex.[33]

Elaborating on Marx's argument that under capitalism our lives and our environment are continually depleted, Debord adds that the Spectacle, is the system by which capitalism tries to hide such depletion. Debord added that, further than the impoverishment in the quality of life,[6][11] our psychic functions are altered, we get a degradation of mind and also a degradation of knowledge.[34] In the spectacular society, knowledge is not used anymore to question, analyze, resolve contradictions, but to assuage reality. Such argument on the Spectacle as a mask[35] of a degrading reality, has been elaborated by many Situationist artists, producing detournements of advertising where instead of a shiny life the crude reality was represented.[citation needed]

[edit] History

[edit] Earlier groups

The SI was formed at a meeting in the Italian village of Cosio d'Arroscia on 28 July 1957 with the fusion of several extremely small avant-garde artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (an off-shoot of COBRA), and the London Psychogeographical Association. The group later drew ideas from the left communist group Socialisme ou Barbarie.

Already in 1950, the Lettrist International was very active in perpetrating public outrages such as the Notre-Dame Affair. At the Easter mass at Notre Dame de Paris, they infiltrated Michel Mourre, who, dressed like a monk, "stood in front of the altar and read a pamphlet proclaiming that God was dead".[36][37]

In June 1957 Debord wrote the manifesto of the Situationist International, titled Report on the Construction of Situations. This manifesto plans a systematic rereading of Karl Marx and advocates a cultural revolution in western countries.[7]

[edit] Members

The most prominent French member of the group, Guy Debord, has tended to polarise opinion. Other members included the Dutch painter Constant Nieuwenhuys, the Italo-Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi, the English artist Ralph Rumney (sole member of the London Psychogeographical Association, Rumney suffered expulsion relatively soon after the formation of the Situationist International), the Scandinavian artist Asger Jorn (who after parting with the SI also founded the Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism), the architect and veteran of the Hungarian Uprising Attila Kotanyi, the French writer Michele Bernstein, and Raoul Vaneigem. Debord and Bernstein later married.

[edit] May 1968

The Situationists played a preponderant role in the May 1968 uprisings,[27] and to some extent their political perspective and ideas fueled such crisis,[27][38] providing a central theoretic foundation.[39][40][41][42][43][44] This has now been widely acknowledged as a fact by studies of the period,[45][46][47][48][49][50] what is still wide open to interpretation is the "how and why" that happened.[27]

They also made up the majority in the Occupation Committee of the Sorbonne.[27] An important event leading up to May 1968 was the scandal in Strasbourg in December 1966.[51] The Union Nationale des Étudiants de France declared itself in favor of the SI's theses, and managed to use public funds to publish Mustapha Khayati's pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life.[52] Thousands of copies of the pamphlet were printed and circulated and helped to make the Situationists well known throughout the nonstalinist left.

Quotes from two key situationist books, Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (1967) and Khayati's On the Poverty of Student Life (1966), were written on the walls of Paris and several provincial cities.[51] This was documented in the collection of photographs published in 1968 by Walter Lewino, L'immagination au pouvoir.[53]

Those who followed the "artistic" view of the SI might view the evolution of the SI as producing a more boring or dogmatic organization.[citation needed] Those following the political view would see the May 1968 uprisings as a logical outcome of the SI's dialectical approach: while savaging present day society, they sought a revolutionary society which would embody the positive tendencies of capitalist development. The "realization and suppression of art" is simply the most developed of the many dialectical supersessions which the SI sought over the years. For the Situationist International of 1968, the world triumph of workers councils would bring about all these supersessions.

Though the SI were a very small group, they were expert self-propagandists, and their slogans appeared daubed on walls throughout Paris at the time of the revolt. SI member René Viénet's 1968 book Enragés and Situationists in the Occupations Movement, France, May '68 gives an account of the involvement of the SI with the student group of Enragés and the occupation of the Sorbonne.

The occupations of 1968 started at the University of Nanterre and spread to the Sorbonne. The police tried to take back the Sorbonne and a riot ensued. Following this a general strike was declared with up to 10 million workers participating. The SI originally participated in the Sorbonne occupations and defended barricades in the riots. The SI distributed calls for the occupation of factories and the formation of workers’ councils, but, disillusioned with the students, left the university to set up The Council For The Maintenance Of The Occupations (CMDO) which distributed the SI’s demands on a much wider scale. After the end of the movement, the CMDO disbanded.

[edit] Efforts to minimize the political and social role of the S.I.

The S.I. poses a challenge to the model of political action of a portion of the Left,[54] the "established Left" and "Left opinion-makers".[27] The first challenging aspect is the fueling role that the S.I. had in the up-heavals of the political and social movements of the sixties,[45] up-heavals for which much is still at stake and which many foresee as recurring in the 21st century. The second challenging aspect, is the comparison between the Situationists marxist theory of the Society of the spectacle, which is still very topical thirty years later,[45][9] and the current status of the theories supported by the 'established Left' in the same period, like Althusserianism, Maoism, workerism, Freudo-Marxism and others.[45]

The response of a portion of the Left to such challenge, has been an attempt to silence and misinterpret, to "turn the SI safely into an art movement, and thereby to minimize its role in the political and social movements of the sixties."[54]

The core aspect of the revolutionary perspectives, and the political theory, of the Situationist International, has been neglected by some commentators,[55] which either limited themselves to an apolitical reading of the situationist avant-garde art works, or dismissed the Situationist political theory. Examples of this are Simon Sadler's The Situationist City,[55] and the accounts on the S.I. published by the New Left Review.[27]

The concept of revolution created by the Situationist International was anti-capitalist,[24][25][26] Marxist, Young Hegelian,[27] aligned with council communism,[citation needed] and from the very beginning in the 50s, remarkably differently from the established Left, anti-Stalinist and against all repressive regimes.[citation needed] There was no separation between the artistic and the political perspectives.[4] For instance, Asger Jorn never believed in a conception of the Situationst ideas as exclusively artistic and separated from political involvement. He was at the root and at the core of the Situationist International project, fully sharing the revolutionary intentions with Debord.[56][57]

[edit] Glossary of key concepts and ideas in Situationist theory

A recurring argument against Situationist theory has been on its supposed difficulty. Here is a list of definitions of some of its central concepts and ideas:

  • Situgraphy and Situlogy: Drawing from the artistic Lettrist praxis of hypergraphy as well as older developments in mathematics and topology in Henri Poincare's Analysis Situs, the main theorist of the SI Asger Jorn formulated theories of plastic, anti-Euclidean geometry and topology which was at the heart of Situationist critiques of urbanism and other manifestations of contemporary capitalist culture and politics.
  • The Situation: this concept, central to the SI, was defined in the first issue of their journal as "A moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a game of events." As the SI embraced dialectical Marxism, the situation came to refer less to a specific avant-garde practice than to the dialectical unification of art and life more generally. Beyond this theoretical definition, the situation as a practical manifestation thus slipped between a series of proposals. The SI thus were first led to distinguish the situation from the mere artistic practice of the beat happening, and later identified it in historical events such as the Paris Commune or the Watts riots, and eventually not with partial insurrections, but with total revolution itself.
  • The Spectacle: Debord's 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle attempted to provide the SI with a Marxian critical theory. The concept of 'the spectacle' expanded to all society the Marxist concept of reification drawn from Marx's Das Kapital, entitled "The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof" and developed by Georg Lukács. This was an analysis of the logic of commodities whereby they achieve an ideological autonomy from the process of their production, so that “social action takes the form of the action of objects, which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them.” (Marx, Capital) Developing this analysis of the logic of the commodity, The Society of the Spectacle generally understood society as divided between the passive subject who consumes the spectacle and the reified spectacle itself.
  • Unitary urbanism: "Unitary urbanism is one of the central concerns of the SI" (Internationale Situationniste #3, December 1959). This was originally developed by the Lettrist International and the International Movement For An Imaginist Bauhaus, and then taken up by the SI. This development marked a move away from metagraphy and towards the use of Dérive and psychogeography and also situgraphy. Following expulsions and the move towards the theory of the spectacle, UU became a lesser concern for the SI in later years. See separate articles on Unitary urbanism, Dérive, and psychogeography.
  • Recuperation: "To survive, the spectacle must have social control. It can recuperate a potentially threatening situation by shifting ground, creating dazzling alternatives- or by embracing the threat, making it safe and then selling it back to us" – Larry Law, from The Spectacle – The Skeleton Keys, a 'Spectacular Times pocket book.
  • Detournement: "short for: detournement of pre-existing aesthetic elements. The integration of past or present artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no Situationist painting or music, but only a Situationist use of these means.", Internationale Situationiste Issue 1, June 1958.
One could view detournement as forming the opposite side of the coin to 'recuperation' (where radical ideas and images become safe and commodified), in that images produced by the spectacle get altered and subverted so that rather than supporting the status quo, their meaning becomes changed in order to put across a more radical or oppositionist message.
The concept of detournement has had a popular influence amongst contemporary radicals, and the technique can be seen in action in the present day when looking at the work of Culture Jammers including the Cacophony Society, Billboard Liberation Front, and Adbusters, whose 'subvertisements' 'detourn' Nike adverts, for example. In this case the original advertisement's imagery is altered in order to draw attention to said company's policy of shifting their production base to cheap-labour third-world 'free trade zones'. However, the line between 'recuperation' and 'detournement' can become thin (or at least very fuzzy) at times, as Naomi Klein points out in her book No Logo. Here she details how corporations such as Nike, Pepsi or Diesel have approached Culture Jammers and Adbusters and offered them lucrative contracts in return for partaking in 'ironic' promotional campaigns. She points out further irony by drawing attention to merchandising produced in order to promote Adbusters' Buy Nothing day, an example of the recuperation of detournement if ever there was one. Klein's arguments about irony reifying rather than breaking down power structures is echoed by Slavoj Zizek. Zizek argues that the kind of distance opened up by detournement is the condition of possibility for ideology to operate: by attacking and distancing oneself from the sign-systems of capital, the subject creates a fantasy of transgression that "covers up" his/her actual complicity with capitalism as an overarching system. In contrast, evoLhypergrapHyCx are very fond of pointing out the differences between hypergraphics, 'detournement', the postmodern idea of appropriation and the Neoist use of plagiarism as the use of different and similar techniques used for different and similar means, effects and causes.
Another (possibly less contentious) extension of the concept of detournement lies within the technique of sampling in music production.

[edit] Quotations

  • "Live without dead time" - Vivez sans temps mort - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires" - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "What beautiful and priceless potlatches the affluent society will see – whether it likes it or not! – when the exuberance of the younger generation discovers the pure gift; a growing passion for stealing books, clothes, food, weapons or jewelry simply for the pleasure of giving them away"- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life
  • "Be realistic - demand the impossible!" - Soyez réalistes, demandez l'impossible! - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "Beneath the paving stones - the beach!" - Sous les pavés, la plage! - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "Never work" - Ne travaillez jamais - Anonymous graffiti, rue de Seine Paris 1952
  • "Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom." - Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution Of Everyday Life
  • "People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth"- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution Of Everyday Life

[edit] Criticism

Critics of the Situationists frequently assert that their ideas are not in fact complex and difficult to understand, but are at best simple ideas expressed in deliberately difficult language, and at worst actually nonsensical. For example, anarchist Chaz Bufe asserts in Listen Anarchist! that "obscure situationist jargon" is a major problem in the anarchist movement.[58]

[edit] Related groups

[edit] Situationist Bauhaus

The Danish brothers Jørgen Nash and Asger Jorn formed the Situationist Bauhaus in 1960, purchasing a farm in southern Sweden, where they continued with various artistic and political activities.

[edit] Second Situationist International

The SI experienced splits and expulsions from its beginning. The most prominent split in the group, in 1962, resulted in the Paris section retaining the name Situationist International while excluding the German section, which as Gruppe SPUR had merged into the SI in 1959. The excluded group declared themselves The Second Situationist International and based themselves at the Bauhaus in Sweden.

While the entire history of the Situationists was marked by their impetus to revolutionize life, the split was characterised by Vaneigem (of the French section), and by many subsequent critics, as marking a transition in the French group from the Situationist view of revolution possibly taking an "artistic" form to an involvement in "political" agitation. Asger Jorn continued to fund both groups with the proceeds of his works of art.

One way or another, the currents which the SI took as predecessors saw their purpose as involving a radical redefinition of the role of art in the twentieth century. The Situationists themselves took a dialectical viewpoint, seeing their task as superseding art, abolishing the notion of art as a separate, specialized activity and transforming it so it became part of the fabric of everyday life. From the Situationist's viewpoint, art is revolutionary or it is nothing. In this way, the Situationists saw their efforts as completing the work of both Dada and surrealism while abolishing both.

The Situationist Antinational was published in New York City for a short while in the 1970s, after the dissolution of the SI in 1972. Those responsible were members of the American section of the SI, as well as members of the Situationist Bauhaus and the Second Situationist International.

[edit] Influence and legacy

Situationist ideas have continued to echo profoundly through many aspects of culture and politics in Europe and the USA. Even in their own time, with limited translations of their dense theoretical texts, combined with their very successful self-mythologisation, the term 'situationist' was often used to refer to any rebel or outsider, rather than to a body of surrealist-inspired Marxist critical theory. As such, the term 'Situationist' and those of 'spectacle' and 'detournement' have often been decontextualised and recuperated.

In political terms, in the 1960s and 1970s elements of Situationist critique influenced anarchists, Communists and other leftists, with various emphases and interpretations which combine Situationist concepts more or less successfully with a variety of other perspectives. Examples of these groups include: in Amsterdam, the Provos; in the UK, King Mob, the producers of Heatwave magazine (who later briefly joined the SI), and the Angry Brigade. In the US, groups like Black Mask (later Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers), The Weathermen, and the Rebel Worker group also explicitly employed their ideas.

Starting in the 1970s, Situationist ideas were taken up by a number of anarchist theorists, such as Fredy Perlman, Bob Black, Hakim Bey, and John Zerzan, who developed the SI's ideas in various directions away from Marxism. These theorists were predominantly associated with the magazines Fifth Estate, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, and Green Anarchy. Later anarchist theorists such as the CrimethInc. collective also claim Situationist influence.[59] During the early 1980s English anarchist Larry Law produced a series of 'pocket-books' under the name of Spectacular Times which aimed to make Situationist ideas more easily assimilated into the anarchist movement.

Situationist urban theory, defined initially by the members of the Lettrist International as 'Unitary Urbanism', was extensively developed through the behavioural and performance structures of The Workshop for Non-Linear Architecture during the 1990s. The re-emergence of the London Psychogeographical Association also inspired many new pscyhogeographical groups including Manchester Area Psychogeographic. The LPA and the Neoist Alliance along with the Luther Blissett Project came together to form a New Lettrist International with a specifically Communist perspective. Around this time, Unpopular Books and the LPA released some key texts including new translations of Asger Jorn's work.

Around this time also, groups such as Reclaim the Streets and Adbusters have, respectively, seen themselves as 'creating situations' or practicing detournement on advertisements.

In cultural terms, the SI's influence has been even greater, if more diffuse. The list of cultural practices which claim a debt to the SI is almost limitless, but there are some prominent examples:

  • Situationist ideas exerted a strong influence on the design language of the punk rock phenomenon of the 1970s. To a significant extent this came about due to the adoption of the style and aesthetics and sometimes slogans employed by the Situationists (though these latter were often second hand, via English pro-Situs such as King Mob and Jamie Reid). In the late 1970s, Factory Records owner Tony Wilson was known to have been influenced by these ideas. One Factory Records band influenced by the SI was The Durutti Column, which took its name from Andre Bertrand's collage Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti.[60] Bertrand, in turn, took his title from the anarchist group of the same name of the Spanish Civil War. In 1978, the U.S. group the Feederz was formed and exhibited a more direct and conscious influence. They became known for their extensive use of the Situationist tactic of 'detournement' and for their lack of hesitation to provoke their audience in expounding Situationist themes.[61] Other musical artists have included buzzwords from the SI's critical theory in their lyrics, such as the Manic Street Preachers, the Nation of Ulysses, and Joan of Arc. Situationist theory experienced a vogue in the late '90s hardcore punk scene, being referenced by Orchid, His Hero Is Gone, and CrimethInc..
  • Situationist practices allegedly continue to influence underground street artists such as Banksy, gHOSTbOY, Borf, NeverWork, and Mudwig, whose artistic interventions and subversive practice can be seen on advertising hoardings, street signs, and walls throughout Europe and the United States.
  • One can also trace situationist ideas within the development of other avant-garde threads such as Neoism, Seahorse Liberation Army, Nation of Ulysses, Libre Society, and Mark Divo.
  • Some hacker related e-zines, which like samizdat were distributed via email and FTP over early internet links and BBS quoted and developed ideas coming from SI. A few of them were N0 Way, N0 Route, UHF, in France; and early Phrack, CDC in the US. More recently, writers such as Thomas de Zengotita in "Mediated" wrote something which holds the spirit of the Situationists, describing the society of the "roaring zeroes" (i.e. 2000-).

[edit] Works

[edit] SI writings

Twelve issues of the journal Internationale Situationniste were published, each issue edited by a different individual or group, including: Guy Debord, Mohamed Dahoiu, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Maurice Wyckaert, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Asger Jorn, Hlemout Sturm, Attila Kotanyi, Jørgen Nash, Uwe Lausen, Raoul Vaneigem, Michèle Bernstein, Jeppesen Victor Martin, Jan Stijbosch, Alexander Trocchi, Théo Frey, Mustapha Khayati, Donald Nicholson-Smith, René Riesel, and René Viénet.

Classic Situationist texts include: On the Poverty of Student Life, Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord, and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem.

The first English-language collection of SI writings, although poorly and freely translated, was Leaving The 20th century edited by Christopher Gray. The Situationist International Anthology edited and translated by Ken Knabb, collected numerous SI documents which had previously never been seen in English.[62]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes


  1. ^ Karen Elliot (2001-06-01). "Situationism in a nutshell". Barbelith Webzine. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  2. ^ Ken Knabb, translator. "Definitions (Internationale Situationniste #1 June 1958)". Situationist International online. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  3. ^ a b Francesco Poli (1991) p.63. Quote:

    Nel 1972, quindici anni dopo la sua fondazione ... l'Internazionale Situazionista si scioglie in quanto organizzazione. Durante questi anni, il movimento, caratterizzato da un'ideologia dell'estetico e del politico di matrice marxista e surrealista, produce una quantita' consistente di scritti teorici, opuscoli, libri, film e lavori artistici nel campo della pittura e della progettazione di interventi nella dimensione urbana. Di grande rilievo e' il ruolo degli artisti, tra cui in particolare Asger Jorn, Constant e Pinot Gallizio;

  4. ^ a b c d Bandini (1977), quote:

    Per la prima volta dopo il surrealismo, arte e politica vengono affrontate insieme in termini rivoluzionari. ... L'idea chiave e' quella della 'costruzione di situazioni' ... L'urbanesimo unitario ... Fondamentale e' la 'ricerca psicogeografica': studio delle leggi esatte e degli effetti precisi che l'ambiente geografico, coscientemente disposto o no, attua direttamente sul comportamento affettivo degli individui.

  5. ^ a b Richard Gombin (1971), chap.3, quote:

    the IS was to attempt an analysis of the modern world from the point of view of everyday life. ... The critique of everyday life is not intended to be purely an analysis; it is supposed to lead on to a revolutionary praxis. ... On SI analysis of consumerism: This process causes an accelerating degradation of everyday life.

  6. ^ a b Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 6, 8, 10, 17, 19, 30, 37, 60, 68, 114, 134
  7. ^ a b c Debord, G. (1957) Report on the Construction of Situations. Quote:

    We are going through a crucial historical crisis in which each year poses more acutely the global problem of rationally mastering the new productive forces and creating a new civilization. Yet the international working-class movement, on which depends the prerequisite overthrow of the economic infrastructure of exploitation, has registered only a few partial local successes. Capitalism has invented new forms of struggle (state intervention in the economy, expansion of the consumer sector, fascist governments) while camouflaging class oppositions through various reformist tactics and exploiting the degenerations of working-class leaderships. In this way it has succeeded in maintaining the old social relations in the great majority of the highly industrialized countries, thereby depriving a socialist society of its indispensable material base. In contrast, the underdeveloped or colonized countries, which over the last decade have engaged in the most direct and massive battles against imperialism, have begun to win some very significant victories. These victories are aggravating the contradictions of the capitalist economy and (particularly in the case of the Chinese revolution) could be a contributing factor toward a renewal of the whole revolutionary movement. Such a renewal cannot limit itself to reforms within the capitalist or anticapitalist countries, but must develop conflicts posing the question of power everywhere.

    The shattering of modern culture is the result, on the plane of ideological struggle, of the chaotic crisis of these antagonisms. The new desires that are taking shape are presented in distorted form: present-day resources could enable them to be fulfilled, but the anachronistic economic structure is incapable of developing these resources to such ends. Ruling-class ideology has meanwhile lost all coherence because of the depreciation of its successive conceptions of the world (a depreciation which leads the ruling class to historical indecision and uncertainty); because of the coexistence of a range of mutually contradictory reactionary ideologies (such as Christianity and social-democracy); and because of the mixing into contemporary Western culture of a number of only recently appreciated features of several foreign civilizations. The main goal of ruling-class ideology is therefore to maintain this confusion.
    Our Immediate Tasks
    We must call attention, among the workers parties or the extremist tendencies within those parties, to the need to undertake an effective ideological action in order to combat the emotional influence of advanced capitalist methods of propaganda. On every occasion, by every hyper-political means, we must publicize desirable alternatives to the spectacle of the capitalist way of life, so as to destroy the bourgeois idea of happiness. At the same time, taking into account the existence, within the various ruling classes, of elements that have always tended (out of boredom and thirst for novelty) toward things that lead to the disappearance of their societies, we should incite the persons who control some of the vast resources that we lack to provide us with the means to carry out our experiments, out of the same motives of potential profit as they do with scientific research.

  8. ^ a b Debord (1957) Report .... Quote:

    So far, the ruling class has succeeded in using the leisure the revolutionary proletariat wrested from it by developing a vast industrial sector of leisure activities that is an incomparable instrument for stupefying the proletariat with by-products of mystifying ideology and bourgeois tastes. The abundance of televised imbecilities is probably one of the reasons for the American working class’s inability to develop any political consciousness.

  9. ^ a b c Luttazzi (2008)

    Question: "Le profezie di Guy Debord a proposito della Società dello spettacolo si avverano sotto i nostri occhi: il governo si occupa della «percezione» delle cose da parte dei cittadini più che della sostanza materiale, dei bisogni, dei fatti. L’invenzione dell’«emergenza sicurezza» è un caso lampante. Come pensi ci si debba muovere in questo scenario?"
    Answer: "Come suggeriva Debord: con pratiche di vita alternative."

  10. ^ a b Debord (1957) Report .... Quote:

    Toward a Situationist International
    Our central idea is the construction of situations, that is to say, the concrete construction of momentary ambiences of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality.

  11. ^ a b c d Debord harshly denounced the degradation in the quality of life under capitalism, also in his 1957 Report. Francesco Poli (1991) said on Debord's Report:

    Con il suo Rapporto... del 1957, Debord definisce programmaticamente le basi teoriche del situazionismo. ...
    Nel Rapporto di Debord si legge inoltre una durissima critica allo sfruttamento capitalistico delle masse anche nel tempo libero attraverso l'industria del divertimento che abbrutisce la gente con sottoprodotti dell'ideologia mistificata della borghesia.

  12. ^ a b Anselm Jappe, 1999, p.65 quote:

    For the first four years of the SI's existence, the pivot of the group was the collaboration between Debord and Asger Jorn, who complemented each other well precisely because they were so different.

  13. ^ a b Guy Atkins, 1977. Quote:

    Jorn’s role in the Situationist movement (as in COBRA) was that of a catalyst and team leader. Guy Debord on his own lacked the personal warmth and persuasiveness to draw people of different nationalities and talents into an active working partnership. As a prototype Marxist intellectual Debord needed an ally who could patch up the petty egoisms and squabbles of the members. Their quarrels came into the open the moment Jorn’s leadership was withdrawn in 1961. . . . Finally, 1966-8 saw the vindication of Debord’s policy, sustained against every kind of opposition, of adhering rigidly to the uncompromising pursuit of a singleminded plan. When the time came — in Strasbourg in November 1966 and in Paris in May 1968 — Debord was ready, with his two or three remaining supporters, to take over the revolutionary role for which he had been preparing during the last ten years. Incredible as it may seem, the active ideologists (“enragés” and Situationists) behind the revolutionary events in Strasbourg, Nanterre and Paris, numbered only about ten persons.

  14. ^ Critique Of Economic Policy by Asger Jorn
  17. ^ a b Beyond Expressionism. Asger Jorn and the European Avant-Garde, 1941-1961 (New York University : New York 2005)
  18. ^ Guy Debord Is Really Dead by Luther Blissett
  19. ^ I Situazionisti e la loro storia, introduction
  20. ^ a b Tom McDonough (2002) p.4, quote:

    There has been a tendency recently to view Debord as the sole motivating figure behind the S.I., but while the latter's role was indisputably central, that of Jorn should not be underestimated. In his four years of activity with the group he not only continued to make paintings (some of his best expressionist works as well as the first series of "Modifications"), he also cooperated in the editing of the movement's review, joined in its congresses and scandals, authored two books of essays (In Favor of Form, 1958; and Critique of Political Economy, 1960), and produced an experimental film by Debord. Even after resigning from the S.I., as his activity as painter made his role therein less and less tenable, his friendship with (and his financial assistance to) Debord continued.

  21. ^ a b Bandini (1977) quotes:

    On S.I.: “non e' ancora storicizzabile la vicenda dell’I.S. per la radicale politicizzazione della sua proposta artistica” ... On Debord: “L’attualità della sua riflessione, che alla prova dei fatti assume tutti i tratti di una vera predizione, deriva dalla capacità di Debord di superare l’opposizione manichea che allora ingabbiava il pensiero europeo tra un bene (l’Occidente liberal-borghese) e un male (il bolscevismo) e viceversa. Per Debord il processo è dentro la Storia. La teoria Situazionista non è mai stata smentita dai fatti: nel suo isolamento tattico Debord, con la sua prosa classica, fredda, visionaria, contrappuntata di citazioni da famosi strateghi della guerra, Karl von Clausewitz, Sun Tze, de Gondi cardinale di Retz, o da teorici etico-politici Tucidide o Baltasar Graciàn, ha saputo mantenere il senso di rivolta in questa fine secolo, denunciando il disastroso naufragio del nostro mondo e guidando un movimento che secondo le sue parole era il solo che, inglobando la sopravvivenza dell’arte nell’arte di vivere, poteva rispondere al progetto dell’artista autentico.”

  22. ^ a b Ken Knabb (1996) On Guy Debord’s Film The Society of the Spectacle "Bureau of Public Secrets" website May 1996. Later published in book Public Secrets - Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb (1997) ISBN 0-939682-03-6 quote:

    "Guy Debord (1931-1994) was the most influential figure in the Situationist International"

  23. ^ a b Giorgio Agamben (1990) quote:

    On book Society of Spectacle: ”l’analisi più lucida e severa delle miserie e della servitù di una società - quella dello spettacolo, in cui noi viviamo - che ha esteso oggi il suo dominio su tutto il pianeta”

  24. ^ a b c Richard Gombin (1971), chap.3, quote:

    The concept of revolution created by the Situationist International is that of total contestation of modern capitalism.

  25. ^ a b c Guy Debord (1961) Perspectives for Conscious Changes in Everyday Life. This work was originally presented by tape recording 17 May 1961 at a conference of the Group for Research on Everyday Life convened in Paris by Henri Lefebvre. Its first print appearance was in Internationale Situationniste #6 (Paris, August 1961).
  26. ^ a b c Situationist International No. 8, Editorial Notes.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Clark and Nicholson-Smith (Winter 1997), quote:

    In particular the key issue, of how and why the situationists came to have a preponderant role in May 1968 - that is, how and why their brand of politics partecipated in, and to an extent fueled, a crisis of the late-capitalist State - is still wide open to interpretation.

    A description of the portion of the Left at clash with the Situationists is found in note #4:

    The word "Left" ... much of the time is used descriptively, and therefore pessimistically, to indicate a set of interlocking ideological directorships stretching roughly from the statist and workerist fringes of social democracy and laborism to the para-academic journals and think tanks of latter-day Trotskyism, taking in the Stalinist and lightly post-Stalinist center along the way.

  28. ^ a b Das Kapital, entry sentence, p.125: "The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an 'immense collection of commodities'"
  29. ^ a b "The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles." Debord G.E. (1967), thesis 1st.
  30. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 17, 42
  31. ^ Giorgio Agamben, 1989
  32. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 6, 34
  33. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 24
  34. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 25, 192
  35. ^ a b "The real unity the spectacle proclaims masks the class division on which the real unity of the capitalist mode of production is based." Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 72.
  36. ^ "To have done with the judgment of God". Snarkout. 2002-11-24. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  37. ^ Adriano Scianca (2006-05-09). "COSTRUIRE L'UNITA' D'AREA/2". miro renzaglia. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  38. ^ a b Lasn, Kalle (2000) Culture Jam. New York: Quill. Quote:

    In May 1968, the Situationist-inspired Paris riots set off "a chain reaction of refusal" against consumer capitalism.

  39. ^ a b Rivarol (magazine), 16 March 1984, quote:

    the Situationist International, the political and revolutionary movement that was at the origin of the events of May 68

  40. ^ a b Présent, 10 March 1984, quote:

    ...the enrage Guy Debord, the leader of the situationists, the most nihilistic, the most destructive of the anarcho-surrealist movements, probably the principal promoter of subversion of 1968.

  41. ^ a b Babronski, Lamy, Brigouleix, France-Soir, 9 and 10 March 1984, quote:

    the situationists, a movement of libertarian tendency that was one of the detonators of the May '68 events.

  42. ^ a b Guy Debord (2003-08). "Words and Bullets - The Condemned of the Lebovici Affair". NOT BORED!. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. . On May '68, it quotes Babronski et al (1984)
  43. ^ a b The monthly magazine 20 Ans, June 1968 issue, quote:

    The Situationist International is the vanguard of the student movement.

  44. ^ a b Rivarol (magazine), May 3rd 1968, quote:

    it has largely been forgotten that, as early as February, the riots at Nantes showed the real face of these 'situationists,' fifteen hundred students under red and black flags, the Hall of Justice occupied...

  45. ^ a b c d e Anselm Jappe, 1999, p.81 quote:

     ... the group sustained an often underground agitation whose significance has now been widely acknowledged in studies of the period. The very least one can say is that no one anticipated the liberatory content of the events of 1968 as well as the Situationists, and this must be granted quite independently of the questions of the extent to which they may have "influenced" the protagonists of those events and the extent to which those protagonists may have been conscious of such an influence. Thirty years later, now that Althusserianism, Maoism, workerism, and Freudo-Marxism have all disappeared into historical oblivion, it is clear that the Situationists were the only people at that time to develop a theory, and to a lesser extent a practice, whose interest is not merely historiographical but retains a potential relevance today.

  46. ^ a b Richard Gombin (1971), quote:

    But the situationists do not pretend to make the only decent analysis of Marx; in reality, they are 'superseding' Marx, and they are not Marxists in the current sense of the word ... The radicality of this conception can be perceived; the break with the entire left wing movement of this half-century that they are effecting confers on it a millenarian, heretic status ... Since the mid-Sixties, if not before, the situationists have predicted and announced 'the second proletarian assault on class society' ... The style that they have elaborated, which has attained remarkable cohesion, summarizes certain processes of Hegel and the young Marx, such as the inversion of the genitive (weapons of criticism, criticism of weapons), and of Dadaism (rapid-fire delivery, words used in a meaning different from their classical meaning, etc). But it is above all a style that is penetrated with irony ... Just before the month of May 1968, the situationists believed that the decisive historical moment was approaching ... During the course of the 'events' of May-June 1968, the situationists found occasion to apply their ideas in depth as well as organizationally, initially in the first occupation committee of the Sorbonne, and finally in the Committee for the Maintenance of the Occupations (CMDO).

  47. ^ a b Marie Luise Syring (1998) (editor) Um 1968: konkrete Utopien in Kunst und Gesellschaft, quote:

    By far the greatest influence that the theory of art and aesthetics exercised upon the protest movement of students and left-wing intellectuals was in all likelihood that of the Situationists, something which pratically nobody recalls today.

  48. ^ a b Demonet, Michel et al. (1975) Des Tracts en mai 68. Paris: Champ Libre, 1978.
  49. ^ a b Pascal Dumontier (1990) Les Situationnistes et mai 68: Théorie et la practique de la révolution (1966-1972). Paris: Gérard Lebovici.
  50. ^ a b Christine Fauré (1998) Mai 68: Jour et Nuit
  51. ^ a b René Viénet (1968) Enragés and Situationists in the Occupations Movement (Translated by Loren Goldner and Paul Sieveking, New York: Autonomedia, 1992), sec.1
  52. ^ Mustapha Khayati (November 1966)
  53. ^ The Beginning of an Era Situationist International #12, 1969
  54. ^ a b c Clark and Nicholson-Smith (Spring 1997), response to Peter Wollen. Quote:

    So far as Wollen is concerned, the anger was provoked by his essay on the history of the SI, and specifically his three-sentence treatment of the organization in its last decade. We think he should look again at these sentences (which conclude some thirty pages of discussion of the SI's place in modern art), and ask himself whether they are not lofty, contemptuous, and dismissive. That's how they read to us. They seem to epitomize—and, in view of their publication history, to enshrine—a certain effort to turn the SI safely into an art movement, and thereby to minimize its role in the political and social movements of the sixties. Like Wollen, presumably, we think that those up-heavals are of much more than historical interest, and every day they are traduced and trivialized by the culture industry. Much is at stake, therefore. We wanted to denounce a loose conspirancy of silence and misrepresentation which has been the response of a portion of the Left to the challenge that the SI poses to their model of political action.

  55. ^ a b Ken Knabb (2006) SI Anthology, Bibliography - Books about the SI - In English, p.498
  56. ^ Mario Lippolis (2000) Notizie su Asger Jorn, situazionista iperpolitico published in Asper Jorn La comunità prodiga (edited by Mario Lippolis). Publisher: Zona, Rapallo, 2000.
  57. ^ Mario Lippolis (2000) Un dialogo tra vandali civilizzatori nello sfacelo dell’impero della merce published in Asper Jorn La comunità prodiga (edited by Mario Lippolis). Publisher: Zona, Rapallo, 2000.
  58. ^ Chaz Bufe. "Listen Anarchist!". See Sharp Press. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  59. ^ Lang, Daniel (May 2007). ""Give Us the Dumpsters -Or- Give Us Life": Res Derilictae and the Trash of Free Trade". Cultural Recycling (Other Voices) 3 (1). 
  60. ^ "Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti". Cerysmatic Factory. Retrieved on 2007-10-23. 
  61. ^ Neil Nehring (December 2006). "The Situationist International in American Hardcore Punk, 1982-2002". Popular Music & Society. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  62. ^ "Situationist International Anthology". 

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

  • Several authors, (1997) October by MIT Press, special issue (#79, Winter 1997) devoted to the work of the Situationist International
    • McDonough, Thomas F. "Rereading Debord, Rereading the Situationists." pp. 3-14.
    • Clark, T.J. and Donald Nicholson-Smith. "Why Art Can't Kill the Situationist International." pp. 15-31.
    • Gilman, Claire. "Asger Jorn's Avant-Garde Archives." pp. 32-48.
    • Kaufmann, Vincent. "Angels of Purity." pp. 49-68.
    • Lefebvre, Henri. "Lefebvre on the Situationists: An Interview." With Kristin Ross October pp. 69-83.
    • Bernstein, Michele. "In praise of Pinot-Gallizio." Pinot-Gallizio. Milano: 1959. Trans. by John Shepley.
  • Black, Bob The Realization and Suppression of Situationism
  • Ford, Simon The Situationist International: A User's Guide (Black Dog, London, 2004) ISBN 1-904772-05-6
  • Home, Stewart The Assault on Culture: Utopian currents from Lettrisme to Class War (Aporia Press and Unpopular Books, London, 1988) ISBN 0-948518-88-X
  • Marcus, Greil Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-674-53581-2
  • Tom McDonough (2004) (Editor) Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents. The MIT Press (April 1, 2004) 514 pages ISBN-10: 0262633000 ISBN-13: 978-0262633000
  • Plant, Sadie The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (Routledge, 1992) ISBN 0-415-06222-5
  • Sadler, Simon The Situationist City (MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1998) ISBN 0-262-69225-2 [3]
  • Slater, Howard "Divided We Stand: An Outline of Scandinavian Situationism" [4]
  • Vachon, Marc L’arpenteur de la ville: L’utopie situationniste et Patrick Straram (Les Éditions Triptyque, Montreal, 2003) ISBN 2-89031-476-6 [5]
  • Wark, McKenzie 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2008) ISBN 1568987897
  • "The Situationist international (1957-1972) In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni" (JRP Ringier, Zurich, 2007) ISBN 3905770148
  • Extensive bibliography: [6]

[edit] External links

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