Friday, January 15, 2010

Friends like these

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle:

Another aspect of the lack of historical life in general is that the individual life is still not historical. The pseudo-events that vie for attention in the spectacle's dramatizations have not been lived by those who are thus informed about them. In any case, they are quickly forgotten, thanks to the precipitation with which the spectacle's pulsing machinery replaces one by the next. At the same time, everything really lived has no relation to society's official version of irreversible time, and is directly opposed to the pseudo-cyclical rhythm of that time's consumable by-products. Such individual lived experience of a cut-off everyday lived life remains bereft of language or concept, and it lacks any critical access to its own antecedents, which are nowhere recorded. It cannot be communicated. And it is misunderstood and forgotten to the benefit of the spectacle's false memory of the unmemorable.

We can focus on Haiti for a week or two -- and that is good -- but Haiti has been a humanitarian disaster for a long time. And it will continue to be long afterward, when the "precipitation" of our media spectacle is falling from some new height.

Could the fact that Americans weren't paying attention to Haitians when our military charted their path of development have any relation to the country's building codes -- or the fact that there aren't any? Would we have thought that the cost of lateral reinforcement beams weighed too heavy on the US consumer's wallet, or the price of Disney stock?

How can a people whose "everyday lived life remains bereft of language or concept" ever hope to offer the best of themselves to anyone else? It is not something that can happen with three mouse clicks and a donation after the fact. It is something that has to happen all the time.

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