The concentrated spectacular

In the under-developed zones of the world market, gathered together in the ideology and – at the extreme – in a single man, all that is guaranteed by the state as indisputably admirable must be applauded and consumed passively. The feeble quality of these actually available commodities tends to reduce this consumption to the pure gaze. The image of power, in which this gaze must find all its happiness, is thus a grab-bag of socially recognized qualities. Sukarno had to be both a genial conductor of the people and an irresistible seducer of cinema. [As] philosopher, he concentrated in the concept of “Nasakom” nationalism, religion and Stalinist “communism”; and he has ruled, like Ben Bella, by founding his authority on the evident antagonism of the army and the most powerful Stalinist party in Asia. He wants to continue to hold his “unique role” of perpetual representative of this hybrid perfection even though his army massacred, according to him, at least 97,000 of his communists, and that it continues. “Our ability to round off the corners is such,” wrote the official Indonesian Herald after the failed coup of 1 October [1965], “that if Moscow and Peking had adopted the Indonesian system for ‘resolving’ problems, the current ideological conflict between the two countries would never have become public.”

First published in Internationale Situationniste no. 10,  March 1966. Translated from the French by Anthony Hayes, September 2012.  A scan of the original article from page 44 of IS no. 10 is available here.

More on the diffuse and concentrated forms of the spectacle can be found in Chapter 3: Unity and Division Within Appearances in Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, in particular theses 63, 64, 65 and 70.

Another English translation of this article was made by Paul Hammond under the title ‘The concentrated spectacle’. It is available in the book Theory of the Dérive and other situationist writings on the city edited by Libero Andreotti & Xavier Costa, and published in 1996 as an accompaniment to the exhibition Situationists: Art, Politics, Urbanism at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. As far as I can tell it is not available to read online.

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