A Few Extra Remarks
11. l e n b r a c k e n
reception and its instant reinvention: a form of reversible connecting factor. An image of negation is made in a song, in a movie (the first film to exploit the Spivs, precursors of the Edwardians, appeared in 1950), in a novel, in the cut of a coat, in a gesture; the new media transmit the image, and suddenly people all over the world are living it out. But because the content of the reversible connecting factor remains unexamined, not the sign of a new world but simply a sign of separation from the old, one can also watch the instant self-destruction of pop culture, and see cool freeze." (p. 379) As far as Marcus is concerned style is content. For Debord, the raw material of thought is history. Yes, the SI had its style in opposition to commodified style (negating them with diversions and then, later, being recommodified in a negation of the negation). Yes, the SI produced big affects with slight gestures, but no style, no archetype, could effect the sort of reversal of the coherence of the world that Debord alludes to in his essay on action forms. Styles are always already recuperated given the law of the negation of the negation whereby the motion of the material world is the negation of one of its states by another state: the negated state isn't eliminated, rather transformed -from Hegel to Marx to Debord, negation is a constant process that proceeds according to the logic of dialectics. The point that Debord was making is that half-measures measures (and here fashions, by themselves, are not even significant enough to be half-measures, except as commodities to be despised) that don't contest the content of the totality of social relations are doomed from the start.
TO FURTHER CONFUSE MATTERS, Marcus writes about the "reversible connecting factor" on page 385 as the "instant route to total change" after citing the Lettrist International's articles on the Albigensian Crusade and Jack the Ripper's London as if there were some factor connecting them, presumably the psychogeography of violence, in reverse. I will point out, once again, that Marxist historicity is not fixated on any and every change, but on change that reflects the formation of the essential properties and connections that effect historical change in an irreversible and successive way - the sort of big change entailed in a reversal of the coherence of the world, i.e., in revolutions such as the French revolution, or the Industrial Revolution.
WHEN I THINK OF THE WAY DEBORD used the revolutions of the past - particularly the Fronde and the Commune - I'm reminded of the opening passages of Marx's 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte where he describes the way "Luther donned the mask of the Apostle Paul," and numerous other examples of using the past by "magnifying the given task in imagination, not of fleeing from its solution in reality; of finding once more the spirit of revolution, not of making its ghost walk about again."