Posts Tagged ‘situationism’

Hints On Intellectual Honesty While Splitting My Atomic Britches


16 Jul

5x7kubhlai

In Paris, November 2000

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I had nothing to add to this note originally published on the SWORG SWILL listserv on June 21, 1999, but I must say this note was an absolute gem to find in the mush of data recovery I am still mining, if for no other reason than to reinforce the notion that I always tended to agree with Kube, and this snippet was no exception. While he still writes from what is generally considered a leftist niche and mindset, his own summaries as fit in rather nicely into the right of center libertarian mold, where I have stood for a long time. So rather than two hippies in a tent, we’ve got two excavators in a hole.

But what fantastic treasure are we mining but a self-organizing return to traditional values grasped at the individual then wholistic level, without using the apparatus of state to force a groupthink upon a naturally flowing cooperation of human individuals armed with a mutual respect, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that includes all those who would be king, queen, or even the party feen who should be operating within the epic conditions of the whole. But all good things come to an end in this world of entropy and collapse. The Swill label died a natural death after three of the five of us spent two weeks together in Paris and Amsterdam. Nothing like the sharpened elbows of ego economies to corrupt the stodgy idealism of mere scribblers.

Crash writes: I'm glad that you are so clear on your political position.

Kube writes: This was a joke right? Here are a few clearer generalisations.

1. that everyone is and should be out for themselves (individualism)
2. that everyone is mutually interdependent and only equity (of opportunity to develop what you are) can ultimately deliver what anyone needs (communism, self-interest). That is, the nurturing of the parts is the nurturing of the whole.
3. that such an interdependent and complex system can only work on the basis of control by the people (anarchism, efficiency.)
4. that the task is immense and cannot be perfected overnight (revolution, pragmatism) (also see my position on violence)
5. that human relations are inseparable from material conditions (sociology, biology)
6. that all that is springs from material conditions (materialism, religion)
7. there are loads more, but the above will do to fill in most of the traditional boxes.

Crash writes...
Because I'm still working on my position and feel that I'm constantly evolving, I'm not willing to throw my hat into the standard groups (situs, anarchists, marxists, whatever).

Kube writes...
Well I've been *trying* to throw in my lot with some kind of standard group or other for longer than I can remember, for the simple reason that I felt it necessary to organize and coordinate in order to have a benign effect upon a hostile social order. But the trouble with all these groups is simply that they're all fucking wrong.

Inevitably therefore, the basis of action, or of any cultural or political system which is its objective, must be individualism. In order for other people to be what you want them to be (whether you imagine this to be "sharing", "obedient", "enlightened", "beautiful" or whatever) you must create the conditions for them to make this of themselves.
And writes...
This is not to say that I disagree with Situationism (I want to live in situations!), Anarchism (I want to be free!) or Marxism (we must work together!), but as doctrines they fail to ensure the enlightenment of their own members let alone society at large, and therefore, one must induct that as worldviews they are not necessarily wrong, but they are certainly lacking. My opinion is that they all lack much the same thing—a sufficient comprehension of relationship and its role in the creative process (that is, in its creation of the future).

And writes...
Anarchists simply refuse to acknowledge the dynamic expansive essence of human nature—they fall back onto small fragmented self-contained worlds (two hippies in a tent on an allotment); the Situationists fell into the pomo Sargasso of 'going with the flow', everything is permissible and utopia will build itself out of nothing at all; the Marxists developed dialectics—but only to the size of a blastocyst, then stopped. All those libraries of paper, all those pyramids of ponderings on what should be done in Somalia, Timbuktu, Peking when the truth is that their members couldn't collectively make a chicken casserole out of a casserole and a chicken.

And writes...
Inevitably therefore, the basis of action, or of any cultural or political system which is its objective, must be individualism. In order for other people to be what you want them to be (whether you imagine this to be "sharing", "obedient", "enlightened", "beautiful" or whatever) you must create the conditions for them to make this of themselves. A world held in the shape you want it to be only by your own expenditure of energy is a world in which you suffer eternal hunger, toil, conflict, frustration and boredom. In other words, it's a paradox, or more to the point, an enigma not a trifle.

And writes...
This is the world we live in (reality on the ground, as Gabriel puts it).

And writes...
Even the honest desire to control others "for their own good" leads to a contempt for others, whom do not desire "their own good" any longer—therefore THEY must instead be punished for being the projected object of YOUR own dissatisfaction.

SWILL: Economy But One Strata In Whole Geology Of Troubles


23 Feb

economides

Economides

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To: sworg-talk@scenewash.org
Date: 23 Feb 2001 03:07:35 +0000

BEGIN ANOTHER SWILL, THIS ONE WON'T LAST FOREVER

Reading more from Article 3:

The SI also inherited a nineteenth century conception of materialism from the same sources. This legacy prevented SI critique from appreciating the complex alchemical processes which take place between subjective and objective facts (specifically the potent and complex role of existentialism and human psychological necessities which ensue from it). It is specifically this incomplete conception of materialism which gives rise to the naive revolutionism which anticipates that revolution follows dutifully on the heels of revelation—that human belief, perceptions and will follow meekly behind a radical description of the world. The uncomfortably ill-defined relationship of situationism with communist and anarchist blocs also derives from this unfinished work. This discomfort with other leftist bedfellows is in fact serious enough to raise questions about whether situationism is in fact compatible with these other traditions at all (or rather—vice versa).

Rebunk: I might caution against the use of the term "existentialism" in this instance, evoking as it does yer Sartres, Camus', Merleau-Pontys and the rest of yer "Temps Modernes" gang, especially when I think you're referring more to Keirkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky et.al. (have we discussed Heidegger ever?)

Ghe word Existentialism should definitely appear in the said declaration because it is a word which we cannot afford to lose to the enemy. However, I shall try to think of a phrase to add which briefly defines what is meant by it so that, as you say, it is distanced from the dreary likes of Sartre and Camus. As for Heidegger—wot a friggin kraut wanker he woz, eh? A genius without doubt but I'd sooner not have to actually go mince myself in any of that shit if it can possibly be avoided. (shoulda mentioned Husserl in there somewhere too—just to annoy the "antifascists").

Rebunk: These thinkers also have something in common with the young Marx, pre-autocritique Lukacs, and all of Korsch in the centrality that the notion of alienation holds within their work. If we can find some form of unification here—whose seeds exist in the work of the Frankfurt School; Kube has already mentioned Reich and Fromm, and I'd like to add Adorno and Benjamin...

Now my metaphor is this—suppose the handful of degrees of initial chill is equivalent to the relative deprivation induced by material shortages, by the exploitations of captalism. It sets up a chain reaction of social relationships which may in their turn worsen such shortages or in some other way worsen social cruelties or suppress consciousness.
Not happy with this. "Alienation" is a very much parenthesised version of angst. It tends to constrain the idea, once again, in the dated and inadequate conception that only the issue of production, of capitalist class relations, is what matters in the attempt to realize a better way of life. It tends to distract from the notion of SIN—of the root of alienation in an imperfect response to inherited (and personal) karma (to use no-doubt wholly unacceptable terms to convey a virtually indigestible idea). Reich and Fromm, for all their fine points, did precious little to redress this either, although the psychoanalytic school has certainly come out with some juicy stuff in recent years (such as 'Sexual Personae' and some of its very dubious political conclusions, which I plan to discuss sometime soon). Moreover—what kind of people think of themselves as "alienated" these days? Iffy kinds of people. The fact is that a LACK of alienation is no guide whatever as to whether a person is living a good life or not, and nor, basically, is alienation. All we see in this phenomenon is whether some particular individual is currently relatively successful or unsuccessful in losing him or herself in activity / whether LUCK (as much as anything else) is providing an adequate supply of options at a particular moment.

Rebunk: Then we can relocate revolutionary nihilism in the drama of everyday existence. From this I would tentatively argue that radical change takes place not after revelation, either through the presentation of a utopian ideology or pointing out the poverty of current conditions of existence, but after grasping the mechanisms of real social relations and locating the energies capable of transforming them.

Jahwohl. We are not so far apart on this at all, but to hell with the "tentatively" part. However whilst I do not dismiss the role of capital (therefore would not neglect to pay cheques into my bank account if I had any) the nature of those energies which do indeed transform real social relations is incredibly more subtle, and enduring, than the fixation on mere class-economics has long suggested. A prog on tonights TV suggests to me an example—600 million years ago, the earth for some reason suffered a smallish dip in average temperatures severe enough that in time the sea began to freeze over as far down as Texas. Because the frozen snowy wastes were WHITE, they reflected a substantial proportion of the suns heat back into space thereby making the chill increase geometrically. As a result the entire world was soon frozen solid EVERYWHERE. This flipping of state was basically irreversible—even at the equator there is estimated to have been a kilometre of ice. No free water, no rain—just one big snowball planet under a cold blue sky. (in fact this condition probably lasted for 10 million years until volcanic greenhouse gases flipped it back out). Now my metaphor is this—suppose the handful of degrees of initial chill is equivalent to the relative deprivation induced by material shortages, by the exploitations of captalism. It sets up a chain reaction of social relationships which may in their turn worsen such shortages or in some other way worsen social cruelties or suppress consciousness. It is entirely conceivable for the consequent social conditions to not only perpetuate unnecessary material scarcities even after the technological means of ending them altogether has been brought into existence, but even of increasing atrocities of various kinds as well as denuding life of warmth in general and replacing it with ever-growing suspicion, or hedonistic distractions from emptiness and the rest. The world could be trapped in such conditions for ten million years after the original economic cause has long since been irrelevant. Oh yes it could.

We must eliminate the assumption that reversing such a scenario hinges upon crude mechanisms, or else (at least) to prosper within it we must. The economy is but one strata in a whole geology of troubles—all of which are entirely REAL.

—kubhlai

********* END OF THIS SWORG SWILL TRANSMISSION *********

SWILL: Forging Ahead, The Manus Attempt To Develop Siftology


23 Feb

rational-departure

A Rational Departure

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To: sworg-talk@scenewash.org
Date: 23 Feb 2001 03:07:35 +0000

BEGIN ANOTHER SWILL, THIS ONE WON'T LAST FOREVER

Article 8: By concentrating upon a specific technology of social control, the SI neglected to offer the People something they wanted (material incentive). All sticks need their carrots and the human race votes with its hooves. Taking some inspiration from the AAA in this matter, it is vital to provide a philosophy which strives to provide OPEN SPACES and an expanding horizon for people to live IN, (Lefebvre's contributions are important here). A PRO-TECHNOLOGICAL stance is essential, but in contrast to this necessity so-called situationists and their lackeys are more often detractors from such material innovations.

Rebunk: The use of technology must be founded on two related considerations. First of all, technology should neither be fetishized as the solution to all problems (as in the example of cyberpunk) nor demonized as the root of all problems (as in the example of primitivism). Rather it should be seen in the sense of tekhne, as prosthesis, as a tool used by humans and thus a tool whose use will always be at the mercy of human desires.

I like the way you express this and I'll try to find some way to make a use of it even though I think it skids from my intention.

There are two senses in which I am PRO technologics. First (and most important since primary) that criticism and praxis must itself become technological and scientific, NOT ideological and moralistic. This is really about a method for changing the way one thinks—for eliminating historical detritus from one's pre-existing habits of thought and categories of judgement. Other post or neo situationistic currents—such as Baudrillard—are NOT scientific, they are instead literary and moralizing. This is fine, but it is not enough not only from the point of view of praxis, but from the point of view of CORRECT THINKING and especially for correcting the thinking of others. Deconstruction is much closer to what we have in mind, but the attempt to remove the thinker from the thought (or was it the other way round?) was a misconception tending to abstraction. Matthew Manus' attempt to develop siftology is, I would say, the exact converse of abstractive deconstruction—being instead an attempt to LOCATE things with precision or to locate precisely THINGS. (perhaps I haven't phrased that well, but the definition is poignant nonetheless). My point here is not merely that we ought to think rationally, but that rational thought is all but impossible in this world and yet to promote it is in fact THE REVOLUTION ITSELF (because to be able to think rationally is itself to be in a liberated local situation and to the extent that others are capable of attaining rational thought—to be in a free world.). THis is NOT to confuse rational thought with the object of revolution, that is of ultimate human desire—it is merely to note the fact that they are inextricably woven together.

Post-situationism can neither be condemnation nor apotheosis, but continuation: not perpetuation, but a critique that understands that the interpretation and transformation of the world can only be accomplished in the same movement.
The second sense in which I am pro-technic is far more simple. Technology may realize desire. Technology is needed in order to create the SPACE (in whatever dimension one can conceive it) which is in fact intrinsic in the human instinct—the essence of our desires themselves. This contrasts neatly with part A because I am talking here about something quite irrational—something which always needs to go beyond the known and inevitable. Without this aspiration, this PROMISE, then wherever the shorter term complexities of human volition may briefly point, there can ultimately be no human enthusiasm for real change, no endurance in a cause which does not offer "Ultimate" LIBERATION—a promised land for the future race to live in. We need these carrots alright—it is the need for carrots which allows the commodity phase of capitalism to come into existence in the first place. By failing to understand the human desire for the fruits of commodity production we fail to take the initiative away from capitalism.

Reeb dit: Secondly, science and technology tend toward such a level of specialization that their practitioners often have very little knowledge of real human motivations, and their products and even the very development of these products is placed under the direction of their academic, commercial or bureaucratic masters. Technology cannot be considered separately from the transformation in human behavior that we seek.

Absolutely. A very important point which the article needs to express more clearly. Of course this is exactly what is so good about the AAA.

Article 9: Prior to dissolution, the SI specifically pointed out the necessity for its own transcendence and further development. The mumbo jumbo that the
word "situationism" is impossible was instigated by this directive. Nevertheless, what passes to day as situationist is precisely this gallerified exhibit of a dead past. The only authentic situationism is POST situationism—this fact is implicit from the very beginning, in the directive to adapt dynamically and perpetually to circumstances, ideas and opportunities.

Reeb dit: Situationism can only refer to the IDEOLOGY that arose in the wake of the SI's dissolution. It is that ideology which clings to outdated practices and assumptions rather than to a specific theoretical methodology, that is to say that it prefers endless degraded repetitions of a once radical critique to the practice of the development of that critique. Post-situationism can neither be condemnation nor apotheosis, but continuation: not perpetuation, but a critique that understands that the interpretation and transformation of the world can only be accomplished in the same movement.

Bloody great matey. We'll stick that bit in fer sure. Okay any more? any more?

PS. Me rash has subsided somewhat but I honestly dont think my poor old john is ever going to be quite the same again. No erectile disfunction you understand—which just adds insult to injury : A sex-change looks like the only real way-out. I expected better things from all that emu oil—maybe them was Texas emus and not real ozzy emus.

Salut

—kubletta

********* END OF THIS SWORG SWILL TRANSMISSION *********

S A M P L E X

"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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