Everyday Life

Debord described [..] in his 1961 lecture (delivered via tape recorder) on the “Prospects for Conscious Modifications in Everyday Life,” everyday life was “organized within the limits of a scandalous poverty,” a poverty defined by the “scarcity of free time and scarcity of possible uses of this free time.” And this condition was by no means accidental, but the necessary product of modern capitalist accumulation and industrialization. Such poverty, in Debord’s words, “is the expression of the fundamental need for the lack of consciousness and for mystification in an exploitative society, in a society of alienation.” If Lefebvre had first suggested that everyday life could be understood as the product of uneven development within capitalist society, Debord would extend this idea by further describing ordinary existence as “a colonized sector,” as “a kind of reservation for the good savages who (without realizing it) make modern society, with the rapid increase in its technological powers and the forced expansion of its market, work.” Everyday life, then, marked a border, the “frontier of the controlled and the uncontrolled sectors of life”—between, that is, the planned sector of production and the as yet unplanned sector of lived experience, consumption, leisure. The situationist goal was “to substitute an always moving frontier for the present ghetto, to work continuously for the organization of new opportunities”—in other words, to put uncertainty to work through the rational control of productive forces, to institute a regime devoted to eliminating the irrational, mythical holdovers still present in everyday life. No longer a colony, this sphere was to be fully integrated into the logical functioning of society, a complete planification of the future.

Guy Debord and The Situationist international: Texts and Documents

Links of the Week

Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter. Some of the links to PDFs change or disappear, so if something interests you download it quickly.

Gravelly voiced William Burroughs reads from Naked Lunch: The Rube (22 minutes).

Critical Thinkers guide to Maurice Blanchot [PDF]. Blanchot’s own texts should come first, but can be a little opaque. Ullrich Haase and William Large’s introductory book is the finest secondary initiation to Blanchot. The Further Reading section is particularly superb.

Critical Thinkers Guide to Gilles Deleuze [PDF]. Clare Colebrooke is the definitive Deleuzean scholar, with at least six books devoted to Deleuze. This introductory book is the ideal introduction to Deleuzean vocabulary and concepts. As always with these little guides the Further Reading section is invaluable.

Alma Mahler
Alma Mahler

Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters [PDF] by Alma Mahler, who wrote two books. The second And the Bridge Is Love about the later years in her life is also worth seeking out. Neither are known for their accuracy, and Basil Creighton’s translation is notably idiosyncratic. They nevertheless are fascinating, but read as fiction.

Hal Foster’s (Foster edited the seminal The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture) review of Correspondence: The Foundation of the Situationist International (June 1957-60) by Guy Debord.

Margaret Atwood’s The Female Body confronts how women and men perceive the female body [PDF].

Studying the work of controversial Derrida disciple, Paul de Man, is another way to think about deconstruction and critical misreading. Literary theorist Martin McQuillan’s Critical Thinkers guide to Paul de Man [PDF] is lucid and honest. McQuillan’s Paul de Man Notebooks, an anthology from the de Man archive is due out early next year.

Plato and Aristotle, a fragment from Raphael's The School of Athens
Plato and Aristotle, a fragment from Raphael’s The School of Athens

These days I consider myself more Aristotelian than Platonist, but I’ve read Plato’s dialogues with huge interest for years, and it still stuns me how close we are to the ancients. Socrates was in many ways truly the first modern man. Trying to get hold of all Plato’s dialogues online is tedious, so this collection of all Plato’s works in a single volume [PDF] is immensely convenient.

Psychoanalytic Filiations, an essay by Austrian psychologist Ernst Falzeder reviews the psychoanalytic family tree, and traces back the leading concepts to the Hungarian Sándor Ferenczi and the Viennese Otto Rosenfeld (Rank).

Towards the end of this piece of film, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller are together on screen, a rare occasion:

Links of the Week

Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter. Some of the links to PDFs disappear quickly so download them promptly.

'The Reader' - G. Richter
‘The Reader’ – G. Richter

Dr. B or : How I learned to stop worrying and love cinema post: The Gaze and its psychoanalytical implications in Richter, Graham and Beckett’s art.

Faust Series Opus 9 post: 13 Tips for a Writing Friend (After Benjamin, Baudelaire etc.)

Judith Butler’s Undoing Gender (2004) [Full- PDF] -“recent reflections on gender and sexuality, focusing on new kinship, psychoanalysis and the incest taboo, transgender, intersex, diagnostic categories, social violence, and the tasks of social transformation.”

This is treasure for me, discovering a trove of Guy Debord’s letters. “Although I have read a lot, I have drunk even more.”

Bookslut reviews Viktor Shklovsky’s A Hunt for Optimism:

It lacks so much that readers generally gravitate to that even Shklovsky’s clinical prose can seem like an obstruction. But those that can tolerate the writer’s embracing of polyphony and multiplicity will undoubtedly see that there is a very serious mind at work.

These three interpretations of Charles Bukowski’s Melancholy are intriguing. My preference is for the first performance.

Salon’s review of James Wood’s The Fun Stuff. Enjoyed the review though I’ve no urge, presently, to buy the book despite enjoying much of Wood’s writing.

Full Stop’s review of Suzanne Scanlon’s Promising Young Women, which I expect to read some day:

This is the brilliance of Suzanne Scanlon’s debut: by casting Lizzie as a self-aware cipher in conflict with the critical reader, Scanlon refuses the same act of diagnosis that her novel critiques.

A collection of films inspired by Angela Carter, exploring the gothic, mysterious and magical themes of her work.

Three-part documentary about Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesian writer of the staggeringly good The Buru Quartet.

Green and yellow: the colours of Brazilian Modernism.

Twenty years on, Elaine Showalter’s revised introduction to A Literature of Their Own. [PDF]

Leszek Kolakowski’s The Death of Utopia Revisited (1982).[PDF]

JM Coetzee on the novels of Saul Bellow.

Women on the market by Luce Irigaray (“applies Marx’s analysis of the commodity to the status of women – objects circulated by men to reproduce a male-dominated society.”)

Links of the Week

Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter.

The unshackled cultivation of Rimbaud

Unsettling collection of photos of life in a 1938 psychiatric hospital

“Ridiculously beautiful locations are tough…”

The Paris massacre that time forgot, 51 years on

The TLS try to classify the ‘unclassifiable’ Clarice Lispector

Guy Debord’s letters (1957-60)

English translations of all 12 journals of the Situationists

Collection of photos of the uprising and general strike in May 68 in France

“Katie Kitamura has earned comparison to great writers like Nadine Gordimer and Herta Müller.”

Melville House is republishing Mary Maclane’s ‘I Await the Devil’s Coming’

Surrealism and the Literary Imagination: A Study of Breton and Bachelard

AM Homes is a ‘social arsonist’ (as opposed to an anti-social arsonist?)

Simon Critchley – 8 part series on Martin Heidegger & Being and Time

“if I can’t have womb tanks I don’t want your revolution.”

Read the first chapter of César Aira’s new novel, The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira

Links of the Week

Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter.

An archival collection of Russian Futurist recordings, 1920-1959. [MP3]

Steven Connor’s essay on sand, The Dust That Measures All Our Time [PDF].

Conversation with Krzysztof Kieślowski.

Another great meditation on writing by Tim Parks: The Mind Outside My Head.

Bertolt Brecht audio archive: interviews, statements, radio plays, testimonies.

Kathy Acker audio archive: readings, poems, interviews, musical collaborations.

Cinephilia and Beyond YouTube channel.

Metamorphose (1999). Documentary about the life of MC Escher.

The complete annotated text of Conrad’s Nostromo.

Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford: The Collaborative Texts.

A pictorial supplement to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

“I like art that seems to want to be destroyed ..” Blake Butler on fiction.

Comprehensive collection of Max Weber’s texts, and secondary literature.

Werner Herzog’s The Enigma of Kasper Hauser with English subtitles (Complete).

Dope Menace: The Sensational World of Drug Paperbacks 1900-1975 – a ‘stately preview‘.

Guy Debord’s film The Society of the Spectacle (Complete).

A guided tour through Jean-Luc Godard’s allusive Film Socialisme.

Human Nature: Justice versus Power, Noam Chomsky debates with Michel Foucault [full transcript].

Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio (complete).

Rare Chris Marker TV series The Owl’s Legacy on ancient Greece.

Judith Butler – On Never Having Learned How to Live.