We must change life,' the poet [Rimbaud] had written, and so the Situationists set out to transform everyday life in the modern world through a comprehensive program that included above all else the construction of 'situations' -- defined in 1958 as moments of life 'concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a play of events' -- but that also necessary entailed the supersession of philosophy, the realization of art, the abolition of politics, and the fall of the 'spectacle-commodity economy.
Couples will no longer spend their nights in their houses dedicated to habitation and reception, the customary social reason for banalization. The chamber of love will be more remote from the center of the city: it will completely naturally re-create for the partners the notion of ex-centricity, in a place less open to the light, more hidden, in order to return to the atmosphere of the secret. The contrary move, the search for a center of thought, will proceed by the same technique.
All that remains of the garden city in our own day are traffic-free enclaves, islands in a sea of traffic where the pedestrian leads a legally protected by languishing existence, comparable to that of the North American Indians on their reservations...In reality the modern urbanist regards the city as a gigantic centre of production, geared to the efficient transport of workers and goods, to the accommodation of people and the storage of wares, to industrial and commercial activity. The rest, that is to say creativity, life, is optional and comes under the heading of recreation and leisure activities.
A mental disease has swept the planet: banalization. Everyone is hypnotized by production and comfort -- sewage system, elevator, bathroom, washing machine. This state of affairs, which arose out of a struggle against poverty, overshoots its ultimate goal -- the liberation of humanity from material cares -- and becomes an obsessive image hanging over the present. Between love and a garbage disposal, young people of all countries have made their choice and prefer the garbage disposal. A complete and sudden change of spirit has become essential, by bringing to light forgotten desires and creating entirely new ones. And by an intensive propaganda in favor of these desires.Gilles Ivain (aka Ivan Chtcheglov)
The alarming lack of ideas that is recognizable in all acts of culture, politics, organization of life, and the rest is explained by this, and the weakness of the modernist constructers of functionalist cities is only a particularly visible example of it. Intelligent specialists only ever have the intelligence to play the game of specialists: hence the fearful conformity and fundamental lack of imagination that make them admit that this or that product is useful, good, necessary. In fact, the root of the reigning lack of imagination cannot be understood if one does not have access to the imagination of lack--that is to conceiving what is absent, forbidden, and hidden, and yet possible, in modern life.
Henceforth the crisis of urbanism is all the more concretely a social and political one, even though today no force born of traditional politics is any longer capable of dealing with it. Medico-sociological banalities on the 'pathology of housing projects,' the emotional isolation of people who must live in them, or the development of certain extreme reactions of rejection, chiefly among youth, simply betray the fact that modern capitalism, the bureaucratic society of consumption, is here and there beginning to shape its own setting. This society, with its new towns, is building the terrain that accurately represents it, combining the conditions most suitable for its proper functioning, while at the same time translating in space, in the clear language of organization of everyday life, its fundamental principle of alienation and constraint. It is likewise here that the new aspects of its crisis will be manifested with the greatest clarity.
Unitary urbanism's point of departure is the changeableness of our aspirations and our activities. We know that neither eternal truth nor absolute beauty exist and that, for this reason, ideal form does not exist. Form that is in constant modulation and in agreement with the unceasingly changing aspects of our existence, such as we will produce it. The environment in which we live influences our activity, but reciprocally this environment is a product of our creative activity.
We leave to monsieur Le Corbusier his style that suits factories as well as it does hospitals. And the prisons of the future: is he not already building churches? I do not know what this individual -- ugly of countenance and hideous in his conceptions of the world -- is repressing to make him want thus to crush humanity under ignoble heaps of reinforced concrete, a noble material that ought to permit an aerial articulation of space superior to Flamboyant Gothic. His power of cretinization is vast. A model by Corbusier is the only image that brings to my mind the idea of immediate suicide. With him moreover any remaining job will fade. And love -- passion -- liberty.Gilles Ivain (aka Ivan Chtcheglov)