Hello There!

Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been away doing other things, and generally a little distracted. However, in these brief, no doubt heartbreaking time away from the blogosphere, and I do despise that word, I’ve encountered something new and interesting! Well, really it’s old and interesting. This new old phenomenon of course is Situationism, a cool mix of revolutionary socialism and surrealism. Check out the wikipedia page for more info, because I’m not entirely across it completely to be honest. It did inspire me to make some agitprop style posters though, like the few I will post above. Please give me some feedback.

Thanks Lovelies.


8 thoughts on “Hello There!

  1. That wikipedia article is a bit of a slog – some parts of it read as if it’s been translated (rather poorly) from another language (my guess is French). And of course it suffers from the same problem as a lot of theory writing – its deliberately obtuse and labyrinthine language, which is a thing I feel very strongly about. [That Guy Debord sounds like a real dipshit, incidentally; it’s just not okay to claim that you’re the smartest guy on the scene since Marx]. That said: SO interesting! I love this quote: “We live in a spectacular society, that is, our whole life is surrounded by an immense accumulation of spectacles. Things that were once directly lived are now lived by proxy.”
    It’s funny; a lot of the language of the situationists is very like the critical vocabulary my old college advisor/English professor used – like “recuperate,” which she used all the time, and which I don’t encounter that frequently.

    This ALSO reminds me, a bit, of Viktor Shklovsky’s idea of “enstrangement,” which in literary criticism is usually rendered as “defamiliarization.” Shklovsky says, essentially, that we become unthinking non-observers of daily life because of repetition, in the same way that you don’t spend all day consciously feeling the clothes on your body. So, Shklovsky says, one of the tasks of literature is to disrupt this unthinking, and the means he’s interested in is to make everyday objects, ideas, people “strange” or defamiliarized, so that we HAVE to stop and think about it. For instance, a book narrated in the first person by a horse will create some degree of defamiliarization, especially if we don’t know from the beginning that our narrator is actually a horse.

    I like your agitprop posters, especially the one with the map of Europe. Well played.

    • I must admit I haven’t read all of the Wikipedia article, though I was trying to find out where to get the Society of the Spectacle. That said, I hope it isn’t just seventy A4 pages of wankery, as increasingly seems to be the case.

      As for Shklovsky’s ideas really strike a chord with me. You’re the first person to introduce the bloke to me, but many of his conclusions seem to the same as I’ve come to, in a more laconic way, or better still, invigorating ideas I’ve never heard of. Reminds me of some Argentinian writers I got introduced to an a forum site. Cortazar and Borges. Really surreal metafiction that leaves you thinking for hours afterwards.

      And thank you for your kind words! They’re just forays at the moment, but I feel the urge to get back into the visual side of things. Thank you for your great comments as always, they always seem to elevate this sight up to a higher intellectual calibre.

      • Thanks for that link. I provided me much mirth. That Ailes guy seems like a farce, I can’t wait til I grow up and am able to troll people in bars like that.

        That said, in your country, what is the relationship between the term liberal and socialist? I remember some pundit bloke named Bil O’Reilly or something, though I’m not sure, insisting that he was not a liberal, but a socialist, and in Australia the term liberal usually means conservative due to the significant party that bears that name.

      • Well, in the States, “socialist” is essentially synonymous with the worst imaginings of the cold war years. Socialist is equated with communist, where Communist means bad Reds trying to take away your money and your home and all of your choices and freedom, and replace it with tyrannical, evil dictators controlling your entire life. The acquaintance who posted that link initially said that Ailes presents Stewart’s “admitting” to be a socialist in the same way you would say that someone “admitted” to being a pedophile. That should give you a good sense of the connotations of “socialist” around these parts. It’s frighteningly ahistorical and ill-informed. There are pretty much NO socialists visible in public life here, at least none who would ever identify themselves as such. Even amongst your average citizen, there aren’t a lot of people who self-identify as socialist (I do, for the most part). A lot of this, I think, is because we have no socialist role models NOW to give us a sense of what that means. It still carries that connotation of being a sinister, anarchic foreigner who doesn’t believe in freedom. Liberal, on the other hand, use to be the adjective most affiliated with the Democrats – to be liberal was to support workers’ rights, civil rights, social welfare, government programs in health, education, housing, all those kinds of good things, though liberal is/was never as far left as socialist. Sometime around the year 2000, language shifted; as Democrats became more centrist and weak (Democratic congresspeople generally have no spine – they never stand up to or for things), people on the actual left moved away from “liberal” and now often use “progressive” to describe themselves. I think partially this is a reaction to the way the crazy right-wing co-opted the word “liberal” and gave it bad meanings (the same as they did to the term “feminism,” to the point that a lot of women don’t identify themselves as such). There was this nasty talk radio guy, Michael Savage, who really is a terrible man, whose mantra was “Liberalism is a mental disease.” The conservatives often refer derogatorily to “libs” and do this weird rhetorical trick where they cast liberals as some kind of radical, batty sect made of tree-hugging femiNazis (another delightful term – I hope that one hasn’t made its way into global circulation; it’s Rush Limbaugh’s destruction of the term feminist). The conservative/corporate right really has effectively controlled the message and the media for so long that you rarely get political people or public figures who will identify themselves as liberal, or progressive – they’ll talk about liberal ideas, but usually frame everything as “Our American Values blah blah blah.” I listen to this show on BBC Radio 4, it’s super nerdy, and I was actually shocked the first time I heard them discussing some literary or historical figure, just giving some biographical background, and mention casually that he was a communist, in the same tone you’d use to say “he was married” or “he had a dog.” You would never hear that in the States. You also NEVER have public-figure atheists, but that’s for another day.

        On the cultural exchange front: do you have a lot of (or any) Mormons in Australia? Mormonism is in the news here a lot now, because Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I’m just curious about the outsider’s perspective…

      • It’s amazing how the concerted efforts of a group can change the meanings of words like that. Shows you how important pure semantics are I suppose. Our own prime minister, Julia Gillard, is an atheist, and a red-head. Amazing I know. I can say that because some of my best friends are red-heads. She’s also living in sin with her de-facto, and was a uni/college socialist. Irritatingly and irrationally she doesn’t support gay marriage though.

        As for Mormons in Australia? Not very many, and not very high profile. About 0.3 of the population, or round 80,000. In comparison we have 418,000 (2.1) Buddhists, 340,000 (1.7) Muslims and 3,700,000 (18.7) put down as no religion by that same census.

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