October 1, 2007

Who is Guy DeBord Slavoj Zizek?

Wikipedia Links:
Guy Debord

Situationist International

Raoul Vaneigem


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. Still, the Situationists answered the question "What is revolutionary?" differently at different times.

Very Interesting:

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 Adbusters 1, 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 (sometimes successfully) 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 (or of culture eating itself) 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.

Which took me to Slavoj Zizek:

?i?ek's metaphysics are, to a certain extent an anti-metaphysics, because he believes it is absurd to theorize the All, because something will always remain untheorized. This can be explained in Lacanian terms, in terms of the relationship between the Symbolic and the Real. For ?i?ek, we can view a person in several ways, but these ways are mutually exclusive. For example, we can see a person as either an ethical being with free will or a determined biological creature but not both. These are the Symbolic interpretations of the Real, ways of using language to understand that which is non-All, that which cannot be totally understood by description. For ?i?ek, however, the Real is not a thing which is understood in different ways depending on how you decide to look at it (person as ethical being versus person as biological being); the Real is instead the movement from one vantage point to another - the "parallax view". ?i?ek sidesteps relativism by claiming that there is a diagonal ontological cut across apparently incommeasurable discourses, which points to their intersubjectivity. This means that although there are multiple Symbolic interpretations of the Real, they are not all relatively "true." ?i?ek identifies two instances of the Real; the abject Real, which cannot be symbolized, and the symbolic Real (see On Belief), a set of signifiers that can never be properly integrated into the horizon of sense of a subject. The truth is revealed in the process of transiting the contradictions; or the real is a "minimal difference", the gap between the infinite judgement of a reductionist materialism and experience as lived.

(Again, Emphasis Mine)

And who is rgcauble? Whoever he/she is, I look forward to seeing the third installment and other offerings too.

Posted by Dennis at October 1, 2007 3:36 PM

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