debord’s corrective 2

with a bit of steinian beginning-again-repetition:


The above figure makes Debord’s meaning, and my grammatological rendering of it, concrete. ‘Analysis’ produces consumption once a ‘match’ is determined (described), and scan mode is “reset to acquisition mode” (reconstruction). The match in this case, beyond the quantitative fit, is triply articulated in cultural terms as “red-neck, hippie, biker,” who is displaced – described-reconstructed, exchanged for assassin cybord, biker Schwarzenegger – as readily as the police pilot by the T1000. Symbolically, in both forms of Spectacle ‘scanning,’ ‘counterculture’ is negated as easily as ‘establishment-culture,’ and the lack of difference between them is foregrounded. (The “police’ are ‘integrated’ workers,[i] in effect “security forces” hired to protect private, corporate property; which may be interpreted as another form of the presumed libertarian individualism of redneck hippies.) The integrated Spectacle has not only successfully suppressed all forms of political differences and opposition, but through its near-total control of the machinery of legitimation it has, on the other, effectively made such attempts appear psychotic, as Sarah, John’s mother, is figured throughout T1 and T2. Through this means, Bourdieu points out, the left is effectively framed as conservative and entirely un-realistic.[ii]

If Comments provides us with the pessimistic revision of its earlier, overly optimistic prequel, Grammatology had already announced the possibility of its own future détournement. For Derrida’s “Exergue” was already a maneuver against its own unseen closure, signaling its already anticipated ‘supplement of supplementarity’, to put it necessarily excessively, as a means of challenging anew under different historical strictures the same restraints of logocentrism, now, today, perhaps fully developed in its inevitably militant form of battlefield logic mediated so spectacularly by the Terminator series, he then anticipated, “in the form of an absolute danger.” For, trace is the key concept of negation that gives “différance” its force. For its double trajectory through deferral and difference is what produces the negative effect of erasure, but also the very things that determines it’s ontology as trace, its ephemeral presence at the very moment of transformation, the substance of the possibility of recall.

Trace itself constitutes a fragile and diaphanous text, or, audio-visual act or event. Its effect of “seen through” accounts for both its strength and its vulnerability. As is well known, in the form, sous ratour, it derives from Heidegger’s being. However, another deposition is found in the correspondence between Benjamin and Adorno. In the former’s reply to the latter’s criticism, he relates his discovery of the importance to his study of Baudelaire and modernity of Poe’s relation of the detective story to an urban crowd; the former is developed from “the obliteration or fixation of the traces of the individual in the big-city crowd.” Benjamin concludes that the “concept of the trace finds its philosophical determination in opposition to the concept of aura.”[iii] The fluctuations between obliteration and fixation as a model for the pursuit of knowledge, in its double negation of subjective (knower) and objective (known) reifications, as consumptive and productive forces, is the grammatological model in which immediacy, or aura, is necessarily negated by techniques of reproduceability AND dissemination. Immediacy of the Spectacle, then, is the superimposition of description and reconstruction, of consumption and production, onto a false unity as spectacular realism, (“the form of absolute danger,”) that annihilates the possibility of this “necessary negation,” of alienation, as its descriptions attempt to dominate absolutely what may be composed, perceptually and conceptually. It is no longer possible to model the detective on the disappearance of an individual into the crowd, since, it is only the crowd that has significance.

T1000’s capacity to mimic anything it touches demonstrates that consumption is production, that description is reconstruction without supplemental excess, that nothing it consumes (because they are already always the same figure of “protector”; prison guard, policeman, housewife, husband, pilot, dog) alters its own constitution, that John the revolutionary is the counter-revolutionary, that Neo is merely a symptom of predestinating code in which freedom of choice is trapped in the feedback loop of oppression, as, in the “real” world, Bin Laden necessarily “vanished without a trace” into the terrorist crowd to insure that his host-like ubiquity would foreground the absolute danger of the crowd, all crowds, and the need for an eternal search “for decades to come on dozens of continents” that only the US military can, and will, carry out.[iv] Politics today is governed by a new militant law of creativity, that of “leaving no trace.” It operates though the composition of invisibilities. Détournement, therefore, must learn to decompose structures of the invisible, to expose alliances that visibilities (descriptions) reconstruct as unseen networks of power.

[i] What I call “integrated workers” here is another form of what is called “flexible worker” in labor studies.”

[ii] See Pierre Bourdieu, “For a Scholarship with Commitment,” Firing Back. New York: The New Press, 2001, p. 22-23.

[iii] (p. 135)

[iv] For a journalistic account of the Pentagon’s four year study of its future direction, see “America’s Long War, simon Tisdall and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, February 15, 2006. http;//,,5399823-110878,00.html. According to the authors, the literary figuration that governs the new military strategy is Lawrence of Arabia. This is another example of how the spectacle produces itself through serial recall of the filmic.


debord’s corrective 2

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