Journal for the Arts, Sciences, and TechnologyVolume 03 - Number 01, 2005
Rather, in "Théorie de la dérive," Debord insiststhat the dérive should not be confused with"classical notions of the journey and the stroll."Likewise, the psychogeographers of the dérivewere alert to "the attractions of the terrain andthe encounters they find there," and thus"capable as a group of agreeing upon distinct,spontaneous preferences for routes throughthe city" (78). This agreement was far fromcertain-the Situationists conducted endlesspurges against its own members, and as itemerged from Lettrism and eventually becamethe Situationist International assured groupconsensus came only through elimination of contradiction. Situationism cut-up the city: itcut-up its own group body. It cut-up its citymaps, too in the process of psychogeography.If the journey and the stroll are programmedby a movement of capitalist desire-of thedesire to purchase, or even, to avoid purchas-ing, to "window-shop" or browse-then theSituationist dérive aimed at another form of programming (but programming nonetheless).They searched for the signs of what LettristIvan Chtcheglov called "forgotten desires," or,"images of play, eccentricity, secret rebellion,creativity and negation" (Marcus, 4). Theysearched with certain laws or rules in mind-they "had no wish," according to Sadler, "toproblematize all instrumental knowledge andaction" (78). There are certain rules, certainpossibilities that assure domination in theprocess of psychogeography: "the dériveincludes both this letting-go and its necessarycontradiction: the domination of psychogeo-graphical variations by the knowledge andcalculation of their possibilities" (Debord,"Théorie"). The hardline against tendenciesdeemed renegade or dandy was drawn in the1956 Situationist publication Potlach, where a"faction, comprising sometimes the mostadvanced in the search for a new behavior,"was apparently becoming "drawn to the tasteof the unknown, mystery at all cost," leadingto "diverse occultist conclusions which borderon theosophy" (quoted in Sadler, 80). AsSadler narrates: "The article's tone becamemenacing: 'The analysis and the representa-tion of this last tendency eventually brought usto put an end to the relative political freedomwhich we had up till now mutually accordedourselves'." The dérive is a program. Politicalprogram, program that walks its path throughthe negation of other walks. Types of walks. Itis not a "drift"-it derives from the drift only itsdata.
3: THE DATA DÉRIVE
Repeat this drift, return function."Situationists sought out the unité d'ambiance-an area of particularly intense urbanatmosphere." A unity that cohesed in amoment so clear that data could be drawn,charted, mapped. Debord says that "ecologi-cal science - despite the narrow social space towhich it limits itself - provides psychogeogra-phy with abundant data" (my italics,"Théorie"). Enough data to purge and exclude:the boundaries of the city-circuit, the membersof the International. However, even then "theresult-an organized spontaneity-was some-thing of an oddity, and it certainly didn't collatemuch real data" (my italics, Sadler, 78). "Infairness, psychogeographers recognized thattheirs was a necessarily inexact science, deal-ing with imprecise data" (my italics, Sadler,79). Writing on Situationism is always a meta-programming of data wrought from that whichhas seeped from the street, which is a processof data extraction itself, a process that viewsthe process of the city as one of data, a pro-gram to be executed and deciphered. Thedatasets generated by the unification of agreement reprogram whatever came to passduring the dérive. Writing on "situationism"becomes a database merge. Yet what is this"data"? Situationism itself is a meta-move-ment through the city, an attempt to programall cities as localities of ambiance in the deduc-tion of-search for-revolutionary strategies.Strategies that would transcend the local andbecome internationalist. Situationism runs likea program: data acquisition (fact-finding);determination of data as such through deduc-tion of program; elimination of data detritus;programs purging data and purging programsthat (re)produce incorrect data (in/correctiondefined by political program); generation of data through search, and merge only correctdata-the set of data determined. Data thatreprograms the relation between art and life."The Lettrist International," writes GreilMarcus, "thought art had to be both sup-pressed as separate, special activity, andturned into life. That was the meaning of supersession, and that was the meaning of agroup giving itself up to the pull of the city" (5).Giving itself up-the gift of the potlatch-to thecity: but in such a way as not to drift with thedesires of the society of the spectacle? Andwould one not require to be programmed toavoid the spectacular data? If not an automa-