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

Spacings and Chronotopes

These non-visual spaces – spacings in the Derridean sense, localities with duration – are materialized within the spectacle as a new order of spacetime, materially constituted as invisibility. They are chronotopes of a far more radical, material character than those first brilliantly diagnosed by Bakhtin for the novelist imaginary. They will, however, remain forever beyond visuality, beyond all phenomenologies. They cannot be sensed, neither seen nor heard. Other analytic methods are necessary to discover how these spacings constitute new orders of Spectacular integration.


The Integrated Spectacle and the Limits of Deconstruction

Though Derrida never makes the link direct, supplementarity is made necessary by the suppression of pluri-dimentionality and non-linearized temporality, of “mythographic” writing, by linear, alphabetic writing. The “Exergue” to Of Grammatology (1967) announces that the science of writing “shows signs of liberation all over the world, as a result of decisive efforts.” This sense that liberation was close at hand was of course the very timbre of Pensée 68. To this optimism, however, and unlike the confidence of other works to emerge at this historical moment, (including Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, 1967), he adds the following skeptical caution which, “above all,” is the main point of “origin” of his landmark book: “… even if, given the most favorable hypothesis, it did overcome all technical and epistemological obstacles as well as all the theological and metaphysical impediments that have limited it hitherto, such a science of writing runs the risk of never being established as such and with that name…. For essential reasons…” These reasons stem, essentially, from the limits set to the diversity of concepts of writing and of science by “an historico-metaphysical epoch of which we merely glimpse the closure.”[i] This closure is the closure of the episteme which regulates both knowledge production and consumption; it is in principle always predetermined by pre-established meanings for the sign and the relationship between speech and writing, on the one side, and by pre-established audio-visual sensations of the Spectacle on the other, which blind us to alternatives beyond the dual textual/audio-visual closure they effectively police. What can be publicly written/spoken is mediated and regulated by spectacular forms, and what can be publicly seen and heard is mediated and regulated by writing/speech. It is this reciprocity that needs precise elucidations. From our vantage in 2016, it is clear that though technical and epistemological obstacles have been a little diminished by digital communication technologies, (though very rapidly losing ground everyday), the theological and metaphysical impediments, precipitously on the rise since 9-11, have effectively cancelled any libratory impact they have lent to the science of writing, blockading alternatives to mono-dimensional and linearized, regulatory orders of supplementarity, operating effectively in both textual and audio-visual dimensions.

[i] …..

Spacings and Chronotopes

hollywood neo-CONS and their wives


The plot of the “recall double-cross” takes place in the future anterior: Mr. Universe returns to the past in order, once again, to cancel the revolution of mille neuf soixante huit, (Kennedy’s eternal flame[i] eternally haunts the US political imaginary; even when snuffed by Reagan’s California governorship, like a trick candle, it automatically relights), in order that the neo-liberal totalitarian revolution can continue to deepen its successes. In this performative, fully concrete charade of public alliance making, the structure of spacetime is literally altered. The double-cross need no longer be serial, no longer needs two sets of victims, since, the Spectacle is now an integrated,[ii] ubiquitous force field that spreads as it concentrates, and concentrates as it spreads. The double-cross is internalized in a single object of deceit, by means of a conversion machine that produces series of transitive re-interpolations, as demonstrated by Terminator 1-3. “John” the yet unborn figure of the future revolutionary leader in T1 (1984) and countercultural hacker of the second episode (1991), shades by episode three (2003) into John the counter-terrorist, as the Terminator itself morphs from “enemy” in T1 (sent into the past to kill his mother), to “friend” in T2, in preparation we must assume, for Schwarzenegger’s “recall” race. The Matrix series reinforces the pattern; Mr. Andersen the hacker gives way to Neo the new age savior in the power game of predestination “governed” by the architect-oracle dualism (white male/black woman, mind/body, law/chance) that maintains the racialized economy of the matrix, and rules human subjection through mere iteration disguised as revolution. More on this below. It is a decidedly Lutheran-Buddhist vision that allows for only asocial, libertarian redemption, modeled on the standard martyrdom of the white, master-savior of Rastafarian Zion, apparently incapable, as usual, of saving itself. The result: sociopolitical closure as a zero-sum game. The lesson: the switch of “good” and “bad” in each case took place between films when no one could be watching.

[i] Of importance here is the work of Antfarm’s “Eternal Frame,” the reenactment of Kennedy’s assassination based on the Segruder film. See,

[ii] “Integration” in this article refers to two sources: Guy Debord’s analysis of the spectacle in his Commentary on the Society of the Spectacle, London: Verso, 2002 [reprint of original 1988 publication], pp. 8-11; and Pierre Bourdieu’s “Return to Television,” Acts of Resistance, New York: The New Press, 1998, p. 75, where the interviewer introduces Umberto Eco’s concept of the “integrated intellectual.” See note 15 below.

hollywood neo-CONS and their wives