Keith Sanborn on Tue, 17 Mar 1998 09:52:38 +0100 (MET)

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Fwd: Re: <nettime> All That is Solid Melts into Airwaves

>A short response to McKenzie Wark's All That is Solid Melts into Airwaves
>I find somewhat perplexing two main aspects of your argument:
>1.	You seem not to clearly distinguish between "detournement" and
>"recuperation." In situationist terms, these are dialectical opposites.
>Detournement is the action of a radical subjectivity against an
>ideological ossification: turning it against itself. "Recuperation" is the
>attempt by those in power to reclaim the subversive as technique. I'll
>spare you a repeating of the Manfreddo Tafuri quote. As the situs would
>say: "Whatever is lost in partial contestation against the old world joins
>the repressive function of the old world." or more succintly, "Those who
>make revolution by halves are digging their own graves." I'm never sure
>whether you are quite identifying with the Marxists you speak of in the
>third person or not. Perhaps there's some subtlety to the argument I'm
>missing, but I perceive a critical confusion here.
>2.	I don't think it's particularly productive to dehistoricize the
>quote from Marx by posing the false dichotomy of monumentality or prophecy.
>These leave me wondering about your sense of the passage from Debord. It's
>not quite so nihilistic as it seems, taken out of context. Just after the
>section you quote, Debord rejects withdrawal--in the manner of the T'ang
>poets--from the world as impossible. And continues:
>"No, I see quite clearly that there's no rest for me; and above all
>because no one would give me leave to think that I haven't succeeded in
>the affairs of the world. But, quite fortunately, no one will say that I
>have succeeded. One must admit that there's neither success or failure for
>Guy Debord and his measureless pretensions.
>"It was already the dawn of this tiring day that we see coming to a close,
>when the young Marx wrote to Ruge: "You won't tell me that I overestimate
>the present time; and if, however, I don't despair of it, it's only
>because of its own deserpate situation, which fills me with hope." The
>casting off of an epoch towards cold history has calmed nothing, I must
>say it, of these passions of which I have given such beautiful and sad
>"As these final reflections on violence still show, there is for me
>neither return nor reconciliation. Wisdom will never come.
>The film ends with this intertitle: To be begun again from the beginning.
>Or as Debord says quoting I'm not sure whom in his film "Society of the
>Spectacle" "It would be very comfortable to make history if one invariably
>had infallible chances of success." And after reviewing the struggles of
>May 68 Debord concludes in his own words: "The goals which count in
>universal history must be affirmed with energy and will."
>Somehow in your review of Marx and Debord, that sense of something to be
>done seems to recede into the distance instead of moving into the
>foreground. The Sysyphean aspects of the struggle are irrelevant, it's a
>passionate maintenance of the struggle which we should inherit, not the
>sense of hopelessness or exhaustion or absurdity.
>It ain't over til it's over; I'm not waiting for the fat lady to sing
>while I sit in the audience.
>Keith Sanborn

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