Long live the Incredible Hulk, wildcat strikers, the Nat Turner Insurrection, high-school drop-outs, draft dodgers, deserters, delinquents, saboteurs and all those soul-brothers, wild-eyed dreamers, real and imaginary heroes of defiance and rebellion who pool their collective resources in the exquisite, material transformation of the world according to desire!
The lucidity of “alley apples” and broken bottles has replaced autumn leaves - the crushing subservience to authority scorched by Molotov cocktails of fantastic destruction; and, far from finally, the expressionless caress has been deliciously transcended by the touch that stimulates to unheard-of heights the sensuous pores of the only dynamism that matters. As liberated souls (which we are, for our quests cannot be stopped now) we have necessarily a historically enviable role as cosmic architects armed with hammers, electric guitars and apocalyptic visions, but more significantly armed with the exhilarating knowledge that we are able to crush systematically all obstacles placed in the way of our desires and build anew EVERYTHING.
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All these movements can be seen as the groping of youth toward explosive self-expression and show that young people are not content simply to become well-ground sand in the joints of a crumbling, oppressive, adult-delinquent society. They are expressive both of consumption-crazed society and of rebellion against corrupted mores; both a visible and audible symbol of a society whose effusions, institutions and attitudes are hopelessly disorientated and no longer completely intelligible to anyone, least of all to those authoritarians who have unconsciously created them, and a reminder that it cannot long continue without the chaotically engineered safety-valves finally breaking down and shattering both their own Heath Robinson ingenuity and the society they protect. In a society which has everything, everyone wants nothing…
It is this disquiet-factor that all rebel youth have in common, that threatens the carefully molded suburban fantasies whose function is as a contraceptive against reality: sexual, social and cultural. It is this, together with the unrepressed violence and viciousness of those in authority dealing with youth rebellion, that should have told the revolutionaries they were dealing with rather more than a symptom of the degeneracy of a system. For the facts proclaim that youth revolt has left a permanent mark on this society, has challenged assumptions and status and been prepared to vomit its disgust in the streets.
The youth revolt has not always been comfortable, to the point or helpful. It has, however, made its first stumbling political gestures with an immediacy that revolutionaries should not deny, but envy.
30-9-65 The drug is taking my body away from me. It is only by extensive investigation that I can find out what plans the drug have for my flesh. The normal lines of communication have been broken. Limbs fall asleep when not being used. Things fall from my hands without my knowledge. Organs shift positions, work independently for their new master. Am I to be completely replaced? Every day I lose control of another part of my body. My intestines, bladder, genitals, and right hand are already partly conquered. I must cut down.
7-10-65 Thoughts now originate in my stomach and must work my way up to my brain before they can be acted upon. Many times my brain acts as a solvent, dissolving many of the messages sent by my stomach before I know what they are. Vomiting would not rescue ideas from solution, for having not yet reached my brain, they would be unintelligible, scrambled code sparks of plans for escape.
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Recognising more clearly my own psychological hang-ups about my father and, deriving from them, any other authority figure, I see Guy Debord more sympathetically than I did then. I was undoubtedly not only intellectually but also temperamentally ill-suited to becoming a Situationist. Then I was uncertain but Guy now seems to me to have been one of the most authentic, fascinating and remarkable monsters of the twentieth century, and the only one I ever met in person. (The remark is not intended to be entirely uncomplimentary!)
… At the formal dissolution of The Situationist International in April 1972 there were two members (three if you count the then-inactive J.V. Martin who remained to the end), Debord and his Italian “lieutenant”, Gianfranco Sanguinetti, and they subsequently fell out. In the end, there was only one.
The final arbiter, the final integer, the only Situationist was Debord, a centrifuge, shooting radically charged fragments at the world of the spectacle. That was perhaps how he saw himself. Alice Becker-Ho insists he was the “freest” person she ever knew. (One is forced to ask how genuinely free is a man who insists on systematically trashing his collaborators in order that he alone should be seen as the presiding intellectual genius?)… In my view, Debord was, above all, tragic.
I probably hadn’t given Debord more than a passing thought in ten years when, sometime in December 1994, an old Heatwaver rang me: “Did you hear that Debord died?” “No!?” “Really!” “When?” “Last month. Apparently he shot himself.” I was too shocked to speak for a moment. Then we talked on the basis of what else my friend knew - little more than that Debord had been an acute alcoholic before his death, which wasn’t a huge surprise. We chatted about other things before coming back to the death of Debord. As he rang off, Ian laughed a little nervously: “Well, I suppose that is definitively the final Situationist exclusion.” I laughed. I hope Guy would have enjoyed the joke.
In the history of comics, the most amazing characters, from our point of view, are those who seem to be least finished from the cartoonist’s point of view - characters whose personalities are only very lightly sketched: that is to say, incomplete, leaving wide margins for the unexpected… Unlike such predictable, straitjacketed characters as Prince Valiant or Superman (to cite only two particularly boring examples), the “unfinished” characters tend to be ambiguous, amorphous, experimental, stubbornly indefinable and somehow strangely free…
Listen to The Incredible Hulk, the complete nihilist, in his own words:
“Human? Why should I want to be human?”
“The Hulk has no friends!”
“You dare attack the Hulk?”
“Hate you? Why shouldn’t I hate you?”
“I can’t spend the rest of my life running and hiding! It’s time for everyone else to run from me!”
“The Hulk waits for nobody!”
“Everyone runs from the Hulk! Everyone!”
“I owe the human race nothing!”
“The Hulk takes orders from no one!”
“Nothing’ll stop the Hulk!”
“Every man on Earth is my enemy!”
“The Hulk is free! Free - to do what?
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If I were to talk about my life (the part which the people of Earth call music) I would say the essence of what I am doing is re-creating life. I would talk about how amazed I am. All I know is that every day I wake up in this body and from then on everything is in a constant state of flux. I have been told this is called life. Since I really don’t remember me before I was born, I find that something is happening that I don’t know about, and this is what I play and write about.
Around the black flags, to be sure, the effect of sheer physical suffering could be sensed more strongly, but passion had really burned itself into some eyes, had left there unforgettable points of white heat. It always will seem as if the flame had spread over them all, burning them only less or more fiercely; serving to maintain some in their absolutely realizable and well-based demands and hopes, while leading others, more rarely, to burn themselves out on the spot in an inexorable attitude of sedition and defiance.
The condition of humanity is such… that this last attitude… has always seemed to me absolutely justifiable on the emotive plane… One is compelled at least to recognise, that it alone is marked by an infernal grandeur. I shall never forget the exaltation and the pride which overcame me, when as a child I was taken for one of the first times into a cemetery, at the discovery among so many depressing or ridiculous monuments of a slab of granite engraved in red capitals with the superb device: Neither God Nor Master. Poetry and art will always retain a preference for all which transfigures humankind in the desperate, irreducible demand which, now and then, takes a derisory chance to make in life…
Liberty does not consent to caress this earth except in taking into account those who have known, or have at least partly known, how to live because they have loved her to a point of madness.
Freedom, despite the innumerable compromises performed so ignobly in its name, retains still its power of limitless attraction. Like love, it can be understood most clearly during its realization (I should say: surrealization); otherwise it succumbs too easily to abstraction. Like love, too, the more it is realized the better it is understood. I say “understood” the way one can say that darkness or light or a Kwakiutl raven sculpture is understood: that is, one sees, and draws conclusions from what one sees.
Poetry, the nocturnal flamethrower, the black sunflower, burns latently in the eyes of all who see. The journey from vision to action comprises a series of steps in which the superficial mystifications of the commodity culture’s immediate reality are successively liquidated. We must take these steps; we must aid relentlessly in the incessant proliferation of totally poetic acts. In this way the labyrinth loses its terrors and the minotaur, formerly a total stranger, becomes our closest friend.
Words in chains (in advertising, law, religion), words manipulated by sclerotic bureaucrats, words abandoned in textbooks, words gagged by television, words surrounded by newspapers, words without margins, words whose light has nearly been snuffed out, archaic words, words waiting to be born, words that order one about senselessly, words whose edges are blunted, words imposed on the poor, words confined to the rich, words that fight the bosses’ war, words smothered by the ruling class, words that riot and burn, words that lie in the street, words that sit in the tops of trees, words that ride on the crests of waves, words that fly, dive, swim and burst into flame: Let us liberate these words, let us open once and for all the commodity-literary cages of their quotidian imprisonment and let them speak for us in the poetry of revolution.
The black swan of Lautreamont, “with a body bearing an anvil surmounted by the putrefying carcass of a crab, and right inspiring mistrust in the rest of its aquatic comrades,” is now everywhere, a comrade-in-arms, one of us and all of us. The Revolution today is no longer a question of political parties and vanguard sects, but rather of the spontaneous self-activity of masses of people risking everything to be free.
Men and women must be made to realize that the world of the mind is capable of practically limitless expansion, and that the material world is capable of providing practically limitless pleasure, perceived in its countless manifestations according to love, humor, mythology, dream, play and the thirst for adventure.
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It is evident from the start that we must rebel against all this with anger, humor, violence, and the whole range of emotions and intelligence. But to rebel we must love, madly, and to love madly we must hate the obstacles to our love. From the dream to the word to the act! Let us destroy the obstacles to love! Let us rebuild this world, this society, everything, from top to bottom!
Thus comes the deluge of visible messages of insubordination on the rooftops of consciousness and in the streets of dreams: Drop Out! Make Love, Not War! Dodge the Draft! Let the State Disintegrate! Don’t Fight the Bosses’ War! I Won’t Work! Sabotage! Freedom now! Dancin’ in the Streets!
In the long hot summer, the rain of terror and the rain of pleasure: Burn, baby, burn!
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