Ask most people familiar with the Situaltionists and most probably [in my humble experience at least], eight times out of ten, they will mention Guy Debord
. And Guy Debord only. Fair enough, that’s highly understandable. But for all concerned here at Scarecrow
the underlying influence that has continued to dazzle and delight is the quite brilliant Raoul Vaneigem
[and some of you may now shrug and say “so what?”, to which we reply “He still matters”]. We are ultimately interested in his seminal work: Traite de savoir-vivre a l’usage des jeunes gens
[or as it’s more commonly known over here: The Revolution of Everyday Life
When Raoul Vaneigem proclaims:“In a gloomy bar where everyone is bored to death, a drunken young man breaks his glass, then picks up a bottle and smashes it against the wall. Nobody gets excited; the disappointed young man lets himself be thrown out. Yet everyone there could have done exactly the same thing. He alone made the thought concrete, crossing the first radioactive belt of isolation: interior isolation, the introverted separation between self and outside world. Nobody responded to a sign which he thought was explicit. He remained alone like the hooligan who burns down a church or kills a policeman, at one with himself but condemned to exile as long as other people remain exiled from their own existence.”
[Chapter 3 “Isolation”, The Revolution of Everyday Life
We sing from the same hymn sheet, Raoul baby!
Please allow us to embellish this stern proclamation. In our writing we have to reconnect with the bored clientele of everyday life, we have to smash metaphorical bottles over their heads, we have to reawaken these somnambulists, these pampered zombies. Our writing has to hit them like an unexpected jolt of electricity. Dripping with meaning. Our writing has to be loud, there is no time for subtlety - let’s leave that for the academics amongst us. We are writers. We have to escape this “magnetic field of isolation” created for us by those governing the books we are told to read. Ultimately we have to write against our current literary climate - in whichever way one sees fit. There are no rules.
Consider this:“The bourgeoisie does not dominate, it exploits. It does not need to be master, it prefers to use. Why has nobody seen that the principle of productivity simply replaced the principle of feudal authority? Why has nobody wanted to understand?”
[Chapter 5 “The Decline and Fall of Work”, The Revolution of Everyday Life
Haw haw, we’re being naughty here, we know Raoul Vaneigem is referring to the construct of work in this passage, but just think about the current book market with this little snippet in mind. The current conglomerates do not need to become dominant through power; they just need to casually manipulate our reading habits. They simply have to create a reading/book buying culture based on choice - their choice of course. We are told what to read everyday. We simply need to turn our backs, we need to walk away, and we need to make our own choices. It’s as simple as that really. If Scarecrow
serves at least one purpose then we are your signpost. We aren’t telling readers to do anything, that’s ultimately up to each of you; we’re just trying to point readers towards an alternative reading culture that’s all. We’re not bothered what books you buy, you can steal them for all we care. We just want you to be aware that there is another way.“The symphony of spoken and shouted words animates the scenery of the streets. Over a rumbling basso continuo develop grave and cheerful themes, hoarse and singsong voices, nostalgic fragments of sentences. There is a sonorous architecture which overlays the outline of streets and buildings, reinforcing or counteracting the attractive or repulsive tone of a district. . .”
[Chapter 4 “Suffering”, The Revolution of Everyday Life
It is time to sing our own songs, it is time to reclaim what we see, how we see it, what is ultimately ours, create our own psychogeography, it is time to walk down our own streets in wonder and write, write, write. . .
Many of the books we see these days perched perfectly in high street seasonal window displays are written by static, worn-out, curmudgeonly blatherskites, pitiful zombies who write by numbers. It’s not their fault, they’re writing for the tastes forced upon us. But they do not walk amongst us; they do not walk our streets. They sit, motionless, staring at blank walls, waiting for instruction. They write their books, these books are posted to publishers and agents in plain brown padded envelopes to be opened in modern, minimalist foyers, to be published in nice, clean pastel shades, to be displayed in identikit formulae - barbed fishhooks to catch the drab passer-by’s eye. These manuscripts have never touched our streets. They’ve been created for another purpose - and it isn’t ours. We do not belong. We are elsewhere.
Lee Rourke © 2006.