Situationist International Anthology


Preface to the Situationist International Anthology. In 1957 a few European avant-garde groups came together to form the Situationist International. Over the next decade the SI developed an increasingly incisive and coherent critique of modern society and of its bureaucratic pseudo-opposition, and its new methods of agitation were influential in leading up to the May 1968 revolt in France. Since then — although the SI itself was dissolved in 1972 — situationist theses and tactics have been taken up by radical currents in dozens of countries all over the world. In this anthology I have tried to present a useful selection of situationist writings while at the same time illustrating the SI’s origins and development. Thus some early texts are included even though they express positions that were later repudiated by the situationists. But even the later texts reveal mistakes, contradictions, projects that never materialized, problems that remain to be solved. In other publications I have presented my own views on a few of these issues; but here I have as far as possible let the SI speak for itself. The major portion of the anthology is drawn from the French journal Internationale Situationniste (it includes about a third of the IS articles). The rest consists of various shorter publications and documents. I have not included any excerpts from the situationist books, Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, Vaneigem’s Treatise on Living for the Young Generations, Viénet’s Enragés and Situationists in the Occupations Movement and Debord and Sanguinetti’s The Real Split in the International. Anyone who is serious will want to read these books in their entirety. … Asterisks refer to my notes at the end of the book. The only notes original to the SI are the numbered footnotes in On the Poverty of Student Life. Within the text, all annotations in square brackets are mine and my omissions are indicated by […]. I have not generally annotated references to historical events, etc., that enterprising readers can easily find out about for themselves. Nor have I tried to explain supposed difficulties in the SI’s language. After the usual diet of ideological pabulum it may be a momentary shock to be forced to think; but those who are really confronting their lives and therefore this society will soon understand how to use these texts. Those who aren’t, won’t, regardless of explanations. Situationist language is difficult only to the extent that our situation is. ‘The path to simplicity is the most complex of all.’ – KEN KNABB”
Bureau of Public Secrets – Preface
Bureau of Public Secrets – Situationist International Anthology, Revised and Expanded Edition, 2006. 532 pages.
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One of the pieces reproduces a black and white photo of black children playing with a cash register in a looted building in Watts; the other has a repurposed Blondie cartoon strip in which Dagwood explains “Detournement is the diversion of cultural elements to new subversive uses.” Also included is a small, plain “Boredom is Counter-Revolutionary” leaflet issued around the same time by the Bureau of Public Secrets.

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