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1. Yet Another Introduction to the SI

By Bill Brown

LET US BEGIN WITH AN EXPERIMENT: search the Internet for the obscure and ambiguous word "situationist."

BY ANY STANDARD, there is substantial interest in the Situationist International (SI), an intentionally obscure but very influential group of avant garde artists and ultraleftist political extremists that was formed in Italy in 1957 and dissolved in 1971 after finding that its members were becoming celebrities, despite their best efforts to the contrary.

At least four major introductions or guides to the SI have already been written and uploaded to the Internet:

1). MY OWN "Intro to the SI" (written in 1984), which can be found at the NOT BORED! website. Consult this text if you are interested in Greil Marcus's 1989 book Lipstick Traces (without doubt the single best work on the SI written in English) and in the situationists' influence on such Anglo-American punk bands as the Sex Pistols, Gang of Four and The Feederz. This introduction to the SI is one of the very few, if not the only one written after 1981 to cause a public scandal.

2). Jamal Hannah's "About the SI," which is located at Jamal's Egoist Communism website. Easily the best of the four uploaded introductions, this short essay emphasizes the appeal of the SI to educated youths, students and intellectual drop-outs (people who would normally have nothing at all to do with revolutionary groups and politics because they are widely perceived to be boring and repressive).

3). SHAWN WILBUR'S "On the Use of the SI" (1994), which is posted at Shawn's website. Written in the epigrammatic style favored by the situationists (who intended to parody Hegel's epigrams), this text emphasizes the enduring importance of such situationist practices as drifting through urban spaces as a kind of anti-tourism, and subverting advertisements and other forms of spectacular propaganda.

4). MAX ANGER'S "Go 'Beyond the SI' in Ten Simple Steps," which is posted at the Against Sleep And Nightmare website. Very poorly written, riddled with mistakes and typographical errors, and nearly impossible to follow, this text presumes to definitively "critique" and thereby have done with the situationists, which it doesn't really bother to describe or explain in a sustained or fair manner. As such, this text is an excellent example of the quality of much of the writing about the SI that has been published in Anglo-American zines over the course of the last 15 years.

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