The idyllic machines

In May 1962, an image circulated widely of an American prototype of a machine serving to directly transcribe words on the keyboard of a typewriter. The human touch[1] of the publicity of this invention is naturally the happiness of the secretary who only has to watch her machine typing alone. Without examining here the real economic impact of this modernisation of the work of secretaries, we must remark how such an image translates a basic dream of actual society (the dominant dreams of an epoch are the dreams of the dominant class). It is the expectation of a period of social evolution in which the passive contemplation of the machines of production would evolve without a perceptible break to the passive contemplation of the machines of consumption. In a technicised [technicisé] Nirvana of the pure passive consumption of time, there would be no more to do than watch; and this “doing” being solely that of the machines would always be that of the owners of the machines (legal ownership – the right to use and exploit – is increasingly effaced in favour of the power of expert and paternal planners).


[1] Human touch: English in the original.

First published in Internationale Situationniste no. 8,  January 1963. Translated from the French by Anthony Hayes, August 2012.  A scan of the original article from page 5 of IS no. 8 is available here.

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This entry was posted in I.S. no. 8, Situationist International, Translation. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The idyllic machines

  1. Pingback: The idyllic machines — Incunabula: Ong's Hat

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