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Détournement and the Elegant Sufficiency

I’ve been seeing a marvelous hypnotherapist/psychotherapist for quite a few months, and by golly, it’s done me a power of good.

Several painful issues from the ancient past were obstructing me, fears and sorrows that kept tripping me over. Glenn Chandler, my fairy godfather (therapist) has been an incisively powerful and protective companion on my journey to slay a few dragons and face a few nasty goblins back there in the abyss of dark shadows and scary monsters.

One of the most important benefits I have received from spending time in the chair was the opportunity to see the future (my future, not THE future) with greater clarity and a more grown up approach to how I want to live and become.

An intense level of anxiety I’ve known in relation to chasing success and worrying about failure and all of that hoo-ha from the paradigm of amassing wealth and personal power etc has lessened. I’ve realised a fundamental truth for me now. I loathe self-promotion.

…I love mystery.

There is an enormous amount of pressure in the world for people to constantly keep up with the Kardashians. That’s not my idea of elegance or class. In fact, it all seems to wind in and around the twittering mess of self aggrandisement and sheer folly that has ‘infested’ world politics and real estate. (Why are buses now sporting enormous images of real estate agents on their flanks? When/how did they become rock stars on tour?)

I know that Tobacco companies, McDonalds and Coca Cola made their motsers investing in advertising. Look where those products took us. I know that social media influencers are driving much of today’s sales traffic (on those buses with real estate agents on tour), I know, too, that all of this trend for big-brass-brands marching along in a spectacular display of wealth and prestige and the insatiable quest for celebrity status is merely just how we operate now. BUT! where’s the mystery? Where’s the magic? Where is the unfathomable moment of grace that sweeps down and illuminates the infinitesimal human mind with an idea… with a desire for discovery, with an inexplicable urge to reach out and try something new, to become something different, experience something unique in the moment?

How did any idea or product ever succeed or flourish before social media and online viral marketing? How on earth were the Beatles discovered without youtube? How did Chanel No 5 get around town without instagram?

In 1967, Guy Debord peered deeply into his theoretical scrying ball and saw us, the walking dead, wandering around drugged by our phones. A brief search, starting at Wikipedia offers a brisk summary of Debord’s theses:-

Degradation of human life

Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”[2] Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as “the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing.”[3] This condition, according to Debord, is the “historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life.”[4]

The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which “passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity”. “The spectacle is not a collection of images,” Debord writes, “rather, it is a social relation among people, mediated by images.”[5]

Debord encouraged the use of détournement, “which involves using spectacular images and language to disrupt the flow of the spectacle.”

I cannot help but feel swindled. The philosophical genius of Debord and the artistry of his Situationists movement has outed me. I am ashamed to have fallen so easily into complicit complacency, an accessory to the chicanery of the spectacle. I have colluded with the tentacles of greed.

I remember my youth, hitch-hiking and walking and bussing it to see live music every weekend, all weekend, and even on weeknights at venues all over Sydney. Rock music, folk music, jazz, fusion, international artists, local music heroes and obscure indie artists of the 80s.

I remember home made food stalls and street markets that operated freely and independently of the intense regulatory restrictions and scrutiny of insurance companies and local governance.

I remember playing cricket on the road until dusk with my pals until our mothers screamed out for us to come and eat dinner. Pocket money was 20c a week and it filled me with joyful choices – to buy new texta pens for drawing, or 2 ice creams. I never knew about anything branded by designers. We shopped at Waltons for our school uniforms and Franklins for our shampoo.

My father taught me a song when I was 3 years old.

Double six one, three five one four…

is the number of our phone

Double six one, three five one four

But only if we’re home.

I still remember that phone number 53 years later, because it had meaning and connected me to my home.

I’ve loved connecting with beautiful people from all over the world, and I have truly enjoyed some fantastic talks along the way. It’s those magical connections I yearned for. I’ll continue to post articles on my blog, which automatically post on my facebook. But as for promotion and palaver, I reckon it’s time to let the art speak for itself.

 

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