suggestions from chris_v

A few months ago I emailed chris_v asking what he knew or what he could suggest I read regarding Situationist philosophy. He wrote me back (and I’m posting it here for my easy access):

The most essential Situationist text would have to be Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (which is online in various places), although, this, like Dialectic of Enlightenment, does not actually offer much hope, and his later work, Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle offers even less. However, the text User’s Guide to Detournement ( offers the possibility of subversion. You might also check out On The Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Period of Time which is a 20 minute documentary on the Situationists. Guy Debord himself made a film out of Society of the Spectacle — so he must have thought that somehow the spectacle can be combatted with its own techniques. Part of the Situationist philosophy/practice was to abolish the distintion between revolution, art, and everyday life.

Have you ever heard of The Yes Men? ( You might call them Situationist-inspired. There is even a documentary about them on dvd you can check out.

Also, as Steve mentioned, Dick Hebdige has a book called Subculture: The Meaning of Style in which he reads punk rock culture as a reappropriation of the artifacts of capitalism, which is part of the Birmingham school of cultural studies way of seeing things.

As I sit here, I’m working on my thesis chapter about remixes of cultural artifacts distributed on the internet using Debord’s concept of detournement and D&G’s concept of art as a marking of territory. So, you’ll have to read that sometime 🙂

I’d be interested in understanding why Adorno thinks that DIY culture (which would include underground music, computer hacking, fan subbing of anime, slash fiction, and a variety of other fun stuff) is part of the culture industry? I mean, I can see to an extent that these things are just further distractions and mediations…but, anything can be seen as distraction and mediation.

So, in conclusion, read some of Society of the Spectacle, User’s Guide to Detournement, check out that video, read up on The Yes Men, and maybe talk to Dr. Lewis about Birmingham school cultural studies (actually, now that i think about it, he’s told me he’s a Debord fan as well, so that’d be something we should all get together and talk about perhaps).

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2 Responses to suggestions from chris_v

  1. chris_v says:

    I found this post by googling “chris_v” so I figured I’d pop my head up and update what I said previously.

    Disregard everything I said and start over.

    While I use the word “Situationist,” really this all only has to do with Debord, so maybe “Debordist” is more accurate?

    I like this translation of Society of the Spectacle:

    The Commentaries are also a good read

    Here are the films of Guy Debord

    And here is an article from NOT BORED! that sums things up nicely:

    To highlight on some things that I said in the past:

    Culture studies, while seemingly supporting the minor resistances of everyday life, actually reinforces these actions’ status as ineffectual sneers behind authority’s back. The celebration of “low culture” at first seems to be a democratizing force, but ultimately the celebration of such things amounts to the same old celebration of the supremacy of the commodity without criticizing (or at the very least, lampooning) said supremacy.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, Chris. I still haven’t gotten around to your suggestions, years later. Well, I’ve read Debord’s Society of the Spectacle really quickly, and enjoyed it, but not much else. Perhaps some day, I’ll have more time to peruse this stuff. Thanks!

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