The Long Walk of the Situationist International by Greil Marcus


“I first became intrigued with the Situ­ationist International in 1979, when I strug­gled through ‘Le Bruit et la Fureur,’ one of the anonymous lead articles in the first issue of the journal Internationale Situationniste. The writer reviewed the exploits of artistic rebels in the postwar West as if such matters had real political consequences, and then said this: ‘The rotten egg smell exuded by the idea of God envelops the mystical cretins of the American Beat Generation, and is not even entirely absent from the declarations of the Angry Young Men… They have simply come to change their opinions about a few social conventions without even noticing the whole change of terrain of all cultural activ­ity so evident in every avant-garde tendency of this century. The Angry Young Men are in fact particularly reactionary in their attribution of a privileged, redemptive value to the practice of literature: they are defending a mystification that was denounced in Europe around 1920 and whose survival today is of greater counterrevolutionary significance than that of the British Crown.’ Mystical cretins… finally, I thought (for­getting the date of the publication before me), someone has cut through the suburban cul-de-sac that passed for cultural rebellion in the 1950s. But this wasn’t ‘finally’ — it was 1958, in a sober, carefully printed magazine (oddly illustrated with captionless photos of women in bathing suits), in an article that concluded: ‘If we are not surrealists it is because we don’t want to be bored… Decrepit surrealism, raging and ill-informed youth, well-off adolescent rebels lacking perspective but far from lacking a cause — boredom is what they all have in common. The situationists will execute the judgment contemporary leisure is pronouncing against itself.’ Strange stuff — almost mystifying for an American — but there was a power in the prose that was even more seductive than the hard-nosed dismissal of the Beat generation. This was the situationist style — what one commentator called ‘a rather irritating form of hermetic terrorism,’ a judgment situ­ationist Raoul Vaneigem would quote with approval. Over the next decade it never really changed, but only became more seductive and more hard-nosed, because it discovered more seductive and hard-nosed opponents. Beginning with the notion that modern life was boring and therefore wrong, the situationists sought out every manifestation of alienation and domination and every man­ifestation of the opposition produced by al­ienation and domination. …”
Voice
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Not Bored: Raoul Vaneigem
W – The Revolution of Everyday Life, BOOKFORUM
The Revolution of Everyday Life – Raoul Vaneigem


W – Raoul Vaneigem

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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