Tuesday, January 18, 2011

i can't tell if the guy who wrote these two interesting posts on the spectacle of politics as a palliative cure for boredom--start with the second, and then work back to the first--is using the term "spectacle" in the Guy Debord sense of the word or whether he's just fastened upon the word unawares of its applications

still, it did remind me of something a friend said late last year, about how she'd lost interest in music pretty much and was entirely consumed by following politics: the elections here, the protests in the UK, Wikileaks, and so forth. we were in agreement that politics was kicking music's butt at the moment

but as this chap points out, you can consume "politics" (all the endless, impossibly intricate analysis, the parsing and discussion of the "optics") in this addictive, stim-buzz-snacking, distracted-drifting, more-more-gimme-more way that is nothing like actual politics as activity (which involves quite a lot of boredom, tedious graft, endless meetings, or, if it's activist, involves the physical endurance of protest)... and that conversely is extremely like the way one engages with music/popculture on the web (flitting and skimming, tldr, dl-ing-but-never-getting-round-to-listening, half a YouTube here, half a streamed track there). so "politics" does become just another option in the array of passivities, all the time-kills available to you in this wonderful webbed infosphere... only difference is that "keeping up" and "staying informed" seems vaguely more worthwhile and virtuous than obsessively downloading the latest djmix

at any rate, whether or not he meant spectacle as in "spectacular commodity society" and "the society of the ____", this fellow's thoughts made me think that:

a/ the Situationist critique of our civilisation in terms of boredom / isolation / "the poverty of everyday life" has never been more pertinent ... what with the internet, social networking, and other surrogates-for-true-fulfilment/community... digimodernism has created a whole new array of pseudo-activities, pseudo-participations.... digimodernism is Spectacle 2.0

b/ the Situationist critique is one of the best explanations for rock/pop/etc available ... as an explanation of why it came into existence in the first place, and of why it ultimately fails (ie. its rebellion against boredom/isolation/disenchantment is alway recuperated, turned into something that just reinforces boredom/isolation/disenchantment)