P h i l o s o p h e r I n A B o x ?
©1994 (Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith) For sheer poetic value few philosophers or social soldiers have matched the pure elegant genius of the French writer Guy Debord in his masterpiece, La Societe du Spectacle. Written less as social critique than incendiary revolutionary cant, these political theses attempt to arouse within the working and poverty-stricken populations the will to revolt from the dual oppressions of capitalism and spectacular time. While vehemently discharging the necessities of religion and governmental power structures, for this reader, it appears that Debord, as has been claimed before, elbows himself and his political theory in both directions of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic envelope, that is to say, up against both the working spoils of the post-edenic state, and conversely, up against the natural collapse of civilization predicted in the Apocalyse. If modernization of an archaic language was all this book accomplishes, it would be worth a serious read. While it is easy to dismiss Debord for his tendency to believe in outward motivations rather than the inner controversies of the individual, he however takes great pain to point out the failures of recent political experiments while holding out hope for a future revolution of the truly democratic man.
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O n e M o r e P o e t f o r t h e R o a d
V l a d a m i r M a y a k o v s k y
©1986 (Trans. Dorian Rottenberg) "All is folly!" wrote an ancient rather cynical scribe. In these three early 20th Century volumes, however, as the poet traces the path of strong men beaten down by stronger ideologies, greed, and unredemptive victimization processes, he finds hope in the rise of the individual against the backdrop of the Bolshevik revolution. Despite his overwhelming fame as the outspoken sledge-hammer of a cultural bellowing, the poet eventually blows his brains out with his own pistol as he watches the early promise of truth and honesty, freedom and prosperity for all humanity great and small, fall prey once more to the basic instincts of man governing man. The poet's words were once as vital as the bread missing from his comrades cupboards. To the cynical post-modern mind echoing our scribe's, these works brimming with sarcasm and harrumph as powerful as they once seemed to millions of hungering voices now appear merely as a plethora of illusive sentimental words feathered up in another version of man's well-tested knack to turn any great idea into a shallow symptom of ancient folly predictably revisited.
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