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on 22 October 2016
Trenchant analysis, irradiated by sublime passages of poetic insight into our trashed humanity.

"Who wants a world in which the guarantee that we shall not die of starvation entails the risk of dying of boredom?"
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on 7 September 2006
This is a one off. There are wonderful pages describing the "many petty humiliations we a subjected too everyday" which will resonate with people who feel herded, crammed in and degraded by mass transportation. And what is humilation but "being reduced to an object"?

Indeed, it is these "inbetween times" - riding public transport, walking down the street - which Vaneigem seeks to save from oblivion, as just time-in-transit before assuming a work-or-lesuire role. This he calls "signifying the insignifcant" and is an attempt to bring lived meaning to the most unpromising or fleeting of situations.

Much of the book, and indeed the situationist project in general, can be viewsed as a "war against roles". Veneigem says that proportional to your identiification with a role is the sense of time speeding up - getting out of roles, or rather playing/creating an unplayed one, is the way towards authenticity and reunified subjectivity.

In a world where the following phrase is overused to the point of banality let me assure that it rings true here : THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
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on 18 November 2001
Written in a more accessible manner than the, also vital, Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord) and with a more flowing, beautiful and inspiring style, this book is indespensible to any modern left-wing revolutionary.25 chapters of sparkling genius which, although not the easiest read in the world, is probably one of the most satisying and most life-changing books. A swift diatibe against the current world order of politics and economics, possessed with the urge to destroy that set of social relationships which it describes. "Be realistic - demand the impossible"
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Situationism arrived in London via Tom Vague. Undertaking the investigative work on the philosophical background to the Sex Pistols, the spirit of Paris 1968 the true social science archaeologist, self taught, sieved for the evidence. These were published in his Fanzine "Vague". Turning everyone onto the Situationists it was a rebirth. Prior to this it was the province of Malcolm and a few people who could read intellectual french.

Everyone stakes a claim in retrospect, see the Post Punk interviews of Simon Reynolds. This is posing of the first order. Freedom Press at Whitechapel published the beginnings. They were available at Compendium in Camden but you had to struggle to find the books. You had to know they existed to ask for them. It wasn't as though they were advertised. The various communist groups never liked them because of the anarchist slant and attack on everyday life. The Communists believed in economics, the Situationists believed in cultural, social, political and economic revolution. Detournment, turning the world into poets, artists, philosophers, thinkers with less emphasis on work was the message.

I tried to introduce them to the Social Sciences. Big mistake, earnest Marxist types as deluded as Charles Manson, essentialy beleived they were going to lead the revolution. This upset their new world order because it provided the pathway for the liberation of all. The Situationists undermined the New Puritans dressed up in red togs. Nothing colourful about these dour shape shifting characters. You would not want to share the last free bus home with them when the pubs and clubs had shut, let alone be on the barricade when the revolution kicked in. Just image if the left had won, these earnest grey miserables endlessly debating the difference between Poulantzas and Milliband. The excitement of Byzantine lectures on the numbers of angels on pinheads. Alternatively for those not bored to death the refuseniks would feel the wrath of the counter revolutionary input and be shot. In Applebaum's book on the gulags, the first people to be wiped out were the anarchists, real communists and socialists in Stalin's counter revolution.

Vanegeim completely sand blasted the rust from theory. Stripped bare, it gleamed and then he primed and coated it in a peacock of poetry, a revolution against tdum, oppression, bullying and alternatively a celebration of life. He was rooted in living and being, rather than abstract theorising. He is ignored in academia because he makes all the little Mussolini lecturers essentially redundant.

In trying to introduce him to academia, sly smiles and knowing winks. "We've got one here Daphne". We prefer Deleuze, Guattari, Baudrillard, Althusser, Adorno and Lyotard...(yawwwwwn)

The huge difference between the Frankfurt School and the Situationists is the desire to recapture stolen life rather than seeking a university post or a safe little job in the media pedaling mush to sell cars, perfume and kitchens as the end product. Nothing wrong with style and substance of aesthetics but there is when it is intertwined with constant sacrifice of being. Working to buy a product with built in obsolescence puts everyone on a constant treadmill,

Vanegeim ventures into psychology and attacks take for granted assumptions about the meaning of living making much of the hokum- Freud, Klein and all the other drive theorists trumpeted as redundant as Latin.

Desire; ladies and gentlemen needs to be liberated, Marx exhumed alienation, being bored at work, not finding meaning in life, everything mapped out, no hint of personal space, inability to create something, leisure as alienated as going to work, rebellion manufactured to take away your excess income, sex as a commodity exchange, bland, vanilla, humdrum, tedious. Except he gave an answer to boredom locked within the pages.

Take control do it yourself, don't sell yourself as a commodity or if you do try and retrieve yourself before you turn into the automaton, the social serf, the commodity slave, the gatherer of stories but not experiences, the alienated tomb raider.

The main question Vanegeim asks is R u experienced???
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on 12 January 2003
Vaneigem writes with a polemical, lucid dignity which eluded the faux-Nietzschean (although insightful) "Society of the Spectacle." This book is a pleasure to read for its critique rather than its revolutionary solutions, and as such is a work of exciting poeticism. A great writer and an inspirational, passionate work.
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on 23 January 2015
Sublime. Strongly recommended
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on 10 November 2008
I freely admit to not having read this book anywhere near as closely as it deserves. But is that going to stop me writing a review?? You bet. Instead, I offer the following - which I (despite my abject lack of humility) would not even dare dignify with the comparatively honorific term "review." Vaneigem's style is elegant, engaging and incisive. That much we know. However, there is sometimes the feeling that his thought is tinged with sociology...or at least, that it is not perhaps as startlingly original as it may feel on first encounters. E.g. Down Quantity Street. If I can reduce part of the thought here - the world abraded of its qualities, divided and subdivided, categorised, labeled, sawn up industriously into manageable chunks. And us with it. What's left? Numbers. Nothing to feel or be felt by. Computations, statistics, bean counting. Sure. Except wasn't this part of Weber's beef with bureaucracy? A big part, in fact. And probably bits of Hegel if you look. Not to mention a lot of the Romantics before that. Probably RV would say use what you can. And if so it would seem slightly churlish to argue.
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on 5 March 2016
Excellent book
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on 16 October 2015
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on 29 July 2013
Good condition but several pages are blank or missing which is infuriating.i would expect a more impressive and diligent service than this especially for the cash I paid for the item.
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