Page 37 of internationale situationniste no. 10 has exerted a strange fascination for me since I first saw it. The striking way it combines the reproduction of a contemporary ad, appended with Situationist critical commentary, completes this détournement. Unfortunately, the novel use of images alongside of and as a part of Situationist criticism is often overlooked in many of the available English translations.
Here, the SI drew out what they alleged was a critique already present–unconsciously present in their estimation. The resonances are clear. The commodity declaring independence is CAPITAL pants. And the dedicated followers of fashion apparently desire their own slavery, decked out in Confederate threads. Crudely, the ad proclaims the independence of the commodity from the people it is said it is to be “very expression of”. Indeed, this expression of a desire for Confederate style pants–made of Tergal(TM) no less–appears to be no more than a fancy, an assertion of company stooges and their ad men, collated from a purported 60,000 who ‘chose’ to submit to a survey (and so the expression of permitted freedoms…). Thus, “the insolent rebellion of their own activity returns as an alien power”. This is the commodity fetish, the ideological “dictatorship of appearance”, a topsy-turvy world in which things declare their freedom, and people submit and are submitted to the constitutive split between themselves and their objectification.
This most recent presentation can be considered a small exercise in what would be necessary to carry out a complete translation of the original Situationist journals in facsimile form. It is a work in progress. I originally published a translation of ‘L’independence de la marchandise’ back in September 2012, the second month of this blog’s operation. The current translation is better. Additionally, I have attempted to render it as it originally appeared in IS no. 10. As yet, I am still oblivious to the actual fonts used by the SI, and have only approximated them here with ‘Rockwell’ (for the title) and ‘Gil Sans’ (for the body). You can compare the original French version here.