jeudi 14 octobre 2010
On the Trial of Spur
The dialectical process of discussing the consciousness influenced by Christianity in the context of the new meanings of historical and individual development still largely takes place on a potential level. Therefore, modern man does not yet recognize what really is happening in his psyche, nor what is happening in his surroundings. After all, he is still emotionally attached to the old meanings, and is also confronted face-to-face with intense rejections of new ideas and experimental ways of behaving. By using all means at its disposal to suppress the genuinely new needs in art and life, the existing order is fighting for its own conservation and for the conservation of the needs guided and conditioned by it. In their simple-mindedness and poverty, these needs are the symbol of the existing order's unimaginativeness and defectiveness; these needs, due to their narrow possibilities for development, are easily controlled, indeed, they are intended to maintain the existing social structure.
The judgments made against Spur worked according to these principles. Art was not evaluated on the standard of an art expert (not even an orthodox one) in them, nor were the current problems in art and life taken into account. No, the standard was that of the people who in our society have no relation to art at all, much less to the works of different artists who, within "modern art" -- which is actually nothing but the gaping emptiness of a complete lack of imagination -- are active as revolutionaries. The only art that is recognized is that which doesn't question the existing society and therefore directly or indirectly justifies it. The reaction of the court is simply a symbol of the manner in which the police forces take action against groups that critically touch upon their foundations, not to mention undermine those foundations.
Today we are so far advanced that we can objectively view the meanings of different areas, such as religion and sexuality, and can therefore incorporate them into the all-encompassing process of art. If one accuses the Spurists of destroying the meanings of religion and modest sexuality, then one must note that the Spurists recognized these concepts as being already destroyed, and that art can be creative through destruction, that art is capable of creating new values on the ruins of the old faded concepts. Destruction here is not only understood as the making of a tabula rasa, but also a qualitative deconstruction.
A symbol of the validity, adequacy and necessity of a genuinely new form of art is the fact that the process of becoming more objective coincides with the recently-stated demand for an all-encompassing art, by which we mean a cultural revolution in everyday life, in the time as well as in the psyche of man. . . . This revolution will involve: the purely playful confrontation of opposites; the creation of antinomies, vibrating in their spontaneity and aggressiveness (whereby emptied forms are given new meaning); detournement, or dialectical opposition in which new forms are created by correlation.
The new work of art wants to be actively dialectical, but not through the creation of meanings that produce associations, because art is supposed to interact with everyday life and to have a new relation to the underground out of which it arose. Therefore the inner spontaneity and vitality of such viewpoints as those of the Spurists cannot be grasped by traditional forms of art, nor can they be pressed through some kind of filter. The new thought can not indeed be pressed into old shapes because the latter are not adequate, having been designed for a time that has passed. "To maintain a valuable tradition is to atrophy the thought that transforms itself over time, and it is senseless to want to express new feelings in a conserved form" (A. Jarry).
What is true for the creation of a new form of art is also true for the revolutionary intervention into everyday life, into life in general. It is necessary to bring about the confrontation of everyday life with the objective meanings of areas that so far have only been the transcendental extension of the everyday: for example, myths, art, religion as well as areas that up till now have been taboo. For example, the repression of sexuality cannot be attributed to the motif of an introverted Puritanism, but rather to a general modesty that can be explained by the balance between social position and inner life within the private realm. The fact that the inner world -- choked under the mask of social life -- lets off some steam in a more or less wild sexual life, as in the rather frequent scandals within the society of the upper ten thousand, is not surprising. It should be understood as unconscious rebelling (even from the side of the privileged social class) against the constriction of the outlets tolerated by the present society. The publically expressed bashfulness and indignation over sexual freedom and, especially, over the integration of sexual terminology and meaning into art, is an attempt to sublimate or vent the actual desire for such a free life. As in all realms of modern life, the sexual life from which man has been estranged, lacks spontaneity. In his discontent, modern man is only able to produce empty patterns of an even emptier love life. And yet one wants to hide what takes place in private life. If one did not react in this way, one would have to acknowledge what actually happens in the private life of the representatives of modern society. Furthermore, there would be an interaction between tolerance and the social psyche, i.e, one would become conscious of the actual desires that the ruling order instinctively wants to negate or sublimate.
From the standpoint of Spur, the confrontation of art itself with those new realms does not occur from direct, experimental searching for new ideas that are supposed to solve the present critical situation in art (sterile static). No, this is a first step, an attempt to integrate all realms of art that not only is an enrichment for and a goal of art, but also for everyday life. Through this integration comes, reversiblely, a complete dissolution of art in daily life. This would mean the end of art's special social function.
All this, of course, stands contrary to the publicized emptiness of the representatives of modern art and to the views of the Grail watchers in front of the institutions of a time that no longer exists.
(Written by Rudolphe Gasche and published as "Zum Spur Prozess" in The Situationist Times #2 (1962). Translated from the German by NOT BORED! in 1990.)
 In November 1961, Spur #5 was seized by the police in Munich. In May 1962, the Spurists were convicted of blasphemy, publishing pornography, etc.
 French in original.