Debord raises here the problem of détournement, in the exact terms of description and reconstruction, which in his view, co-constitute each other as “integration.”

description MEANS reconstruction: this, today, IS the problem, and the promise, of the digital.

that means that no process of description is innocent. it means that every process of description is a form of reconstruction. and, that means that everything IS interpretation. it also means that ‘everything’ is a matter of ‘translation’. it means that the worlds any of inhabit are constituted in the space, and time, between interpretation and misinterpretation. which means that there is never a perfect answer to anything. there is only ever ‘negotiation.’

in debord’s terms, the spectacle seeks to make negotiation impossible by substituting for it, ‘integration’. sameness. identity, and yes, the entire problematic of ‘identity politics.’

identity politics has been co-opted over the last two decades by conservative forces that have forced it in the direction of nationalist politics. in the direction of sameness. we are all suppose to conform to the equation – I = I.

yet, most of us know that is a form of fascism. that is the rhetoric of the far right. it’s anti-difference, in all its forms = xenophobia. but the world is constituted by difference. we are all ‘others’ relative to each other, no matter how close we might be.

which means – that ‘unity’ is only possible through a love and respect of and for, difference. for our, all of our, differences.

a poetic statement of that might be, as gertude stein put it: we must begin again, and begin again and again and again. and, then she equated with the love of difference with repetition…. that’s politically profound. in my opinion.

so, to describe means to reconstruct. that is the essence of difference. and to ‘integrate’ means, fundamentally, to preserve difference.














Debord raises here the problem of détournement, in the exact terms of description and reconstruction, which in his view, co-constitute each other as “integration.”

debord’s corrective


The difference between the theological and the metaphysical has effectively collapsed today, as clearly demonstrated in the arena of nationalist politics by the ascendancy of politicized religious extremism on a global scale (as much in Europe and the US as in the Middle East). This is not to say that libratory potential does not still exist; it exists however in a form partly inaccessible to grammatological critique, and partly resistant to dissemination through its methods. The reason for this impasse is that the supplemental remainders and excesses, which are assumed to remain irreducibly protected in the arms of the in- and over-determinate characteristic of language, and upon which deconstruction relies to perform it critical operations, have, in crucial social domains, simply “vanished without a trace.” As totalitarianism intensifies its spectacular saturation, this extinction-effect becomes considerably more potent. The threat is not merely the cooption of radical traces by capital, but of their annihilation. If there are no radical traces to détourne, to differ and to defer, then deconstruction simply cannot function.

Debord’s corrective Comments of the Society of the Spectacle (1988) provides us with a powerful description of the mechanism responsible for trace-annihilation:

…the final sense of the integrated spectacle is this – that it has integrated itself into reality to the same extent as it was describing it. And that it was reconstructing it as it was describing it. As a result, this reality no longer confronts the integrated spectacle as something alien. When the spectacle was concentrated, the greater part of the surrounding society escaped it; when diffuse, a small part; today, no part.[i]

Debord raises here the problem of détournement, in the exact terms of description and reconstruction, which in his view, co-constitute each other as “integration.” A model for how this works may be seen in scanner technologies, which, in order to reconstruct the object scanned, in effect, must first describe it. But no “description” is innocent, and alters its object in the process to make it subservient to its own representational forms and purposes. The cybernetic scanner depicted in the mechanism of the T800’s “vision” is both allegorically and technologically exemplary; as on the allegorical level, is the T1000’s perfectly liquid ability to assume and “recall” any animate or inanimate form it has once touched. In both cases, no alienation between scanner and scanned, computer program and its object-events, between Spectacle and reality, can occur. Description reconstructed, in these examples, the very concept of agency autonomy to eliminate the vestiges of individual will. In the complete collapse of difference between scanner and scanned, nothing my be deferred, and supplementarity in general must also collapse since the excess made possible by the concept of trace has been eliminated. This is the “absolute danger” Derrida feared.

[i] (Debord 1988, 8)

debord’s corrective

bakhtin and derrida

Poesis is the process by which history negotiates the relationship between these two spheres.[i] Words are themselves hybrid actors, comprised in part of the “living rejoinder” contributed by a speaker/writer (chronotope A1), and of the “alien” contribution of the “word already in the object,” (chronotope A2). This is best shown diagrammatically:


World in the work                                         World outside the work


Chron. A1                                          Chron. A2


beginning      ¬—————        ends

ends               ¬—————        beginning


The arrows in this diagram are like the points in a spacetime graph; they appear as two dimensional, linear events, when in actuality they represent a three dimensional process of the ray-word, conveyed thus: [the following entry]

[i] “Historical Poetics” is the subtitle of “Forms of the Chronotope in the Novel,” and, for Bakhtin, is to literature what historical materialism is to political economy.

bakhtin and derrida