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May 3, 2006 2:16 PM   Subscribe

In May 1968 a general strike broke out across France. The strike started at the University of Nanterre and spread to the streets as 80,000 students, teachers and workers demanded the fall of Charles de Gaulle's government, and they were joined by many other people protesting the brutality of the police. Timeline. Reports shown in cinemas. An eyewitness account from Solidarity. This revolt also gave rise to some amazing posters, printed by the 'Popular Workshop' at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Also of note was the graffiti sprayed about the city, many taken from Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle and the Situationalist International. 1968, it seems, was an interesting time to be around. Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
posted by Zack_Replica (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1968, it seems, was an interesting time to be around.

That it was--the best and worst of times.
posted by y2karl at 2:30 PM on May 3, 2006

It also gave us The History of Shit.
posted by bardic at 2:39 PM on May 3, 2006

It also gave us The History of Shit.

Now there's a common denominator!
posted by Zack_Replica at 2:52 PM on May 3, 2006

Incidentally, another metafilter thread on Situationism lead me to purchase Society of the Spectacle. My response to the book is best characterized as "wot?" I can't say I really followed it. Not recommended for those lacking a grounding in theoretical discourse & Marxism & other things I probably don't even know I don't know.
posted by jcruelty at 3:03 PM on May 3, 2006

and since then, strikes have been a bi-weekly occurrance in France.
posted by wumpus at 3:12 PM on May 3, 2006

C'est quelques choses qu'on aurait besoin d'un television afin de comprendre?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:16 PM on May 3, 2006

Danny Cohn Bendit, where are you now?

posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:24 PM on May 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


A wonderful reminder that sous les pavés still and always lies la plage. About all I can add is to ask that you always remember to vivez sans temps mort.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:47 PM on May 3, 2006

BOP secrets also has many Situationist and other texts if people are interested--they're great, and applicable today in many ways.
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on May 3, 2006

"Mais parmi les chacals, les panthères, les lices,
Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents,
Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants,
Dans la ménagerie infâme de nos vices,

II en est un plus laid, plus méchant, plus immonde!
Quoiqu'il ne pousse ni grands gestes ni grands cris,
Il ferait volontiers de la terre un débris
Et dans un bâillement avalerait le monde;

C'est l'Ennui! L'oeil chargé d'un pleur involontaire,
II rêve d'échafauds en fumant son houka.
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
— Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!"

"Amongst the jackals, leopards, mongrels, apes,
Snakes, scorpions, vultures, that with hellish din,
Squeal, roar, writhe, gambol, crawl, with monstrous shapes,
In each man's foul menagerie of sin —

There's one more damned than all. He never gambols,
Nor crawls, nor roars, but, from the rest withdrawn,
Gladly of this whole earth would make a shambles
And swallow up existence with a yawn...

Boredom! He smokes his hookah, while he dreams
Of gibbets, weeping tears he cannot smother.
You know this dainty monster, too, it seems —
Hypocrite reader! — You! — My twin! — My brother!"

--Charles Baudelaire, Au Lecteur (To The Reader), Les Fleurs du Mal, 1857.

The french have a history of hating boredom. At the same time, they love their leisure time.

I can get behind that.
posted by sixacross at 3:54 PM on May 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

The trouble with Situationist thought, of course, is that it's triumphed, and been inverted in its triumph.

"Unitary urbanism," with its collapse of all distinctions between work and leisure, public and private - what is that but a hard-chargin' Type A dude/tte in Starbucks making loudly with the Blackberry?

It's a got-damn shame that things never quite work out the way we might like. I guess we'll just have to bury our adoration for Mai '68 and find something appropriate to our own moment...which was, of course, the point all along. Debord and Vaneigem and the others would probably be appalled by the pedestal onto which we've hoisted them (and me no less than anyone else).
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:55 PM on May 3, 2006

Nobody's brought up Lipstick Traces yet? Weird.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:03 PM on May 3, 2006

The Situationists have had such a large pop culture impact beyond May 68, it is really surprising for such a marginal group (and ironic because of their politics). When I was a bit younger, I was very enamored of Guy Debord.
posted by Falconetti at 4:17 PM on May 3, 2006

Vive L'Ennui! Nice post! I *heart* Debord (but don't put him on a pedestal).
posted by shoepal at 5:01 PM on May 3, 2006

allen.spaulding, here's an interview a friend did with Marcus, if you're interested. (though it is more about invis. repub.)
posted by shoepal at 5:05 PM on May 3, 2006

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