re: Reconciling Guy Debord: Coding in Grammatical First Person VIEW POST

re: This is wonderful, and you deserve a much longer and more thoughtful response than I'm about to give. I'd like to bring in my very favorite folks...

First I have to confess that I have not actually read The Society of the Spectacle. I have read plenty of people following or building on Debord, enough to derive (I think) a fairly clear outline of his thesis, but not the man himself. I see parallels to Baudrillard (whom I have also only read secondhand; I'm not really on my best footing here): the economy of spectacle is a semiotic regime, and whether on Instagram or in the replacement of the United States' industrial base with high-finance shell games, its development tracks the unmooring of semiosis from real antecedents.

The nature of this system is that we are all complicit; we have no choice but to be complicit, some of us more than others, and certainly software developers generally more than most. What do we do about it? As you say, writing more software won't help. Art seems no worse an answer than any other short of organizing, still a pretty fraught proposition in the industry. There's no gainsaying Vonnegut's remark about the power of art against the Vietnam War being that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder, but it's not so much the fault of art.

The Dark Mountain manifesto reminds me of Peter Grey's Apocalyptic Witchcraft, although with an artistic instead of an esoteric bent. And perhaps a little more in love with ars gratia artis than is necessarily healthy; but then, I always feel that anyone waxing rhapsodic about the revolutionary potential of art is trying to sell me something, doubly so when framed as apoliteic. And if we're going to talk about challenging the myth of progress and decentering humanity's place in the cosmos, should we be starting with Emerson and Conrad, or with Lovecraft?

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