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Sections

  • First stage*
  • Second stage
  • What should the new society be caled?
  • Coherence and contradiction
  • The decline ofreferentials
  • Metalanguage
  • The concept ofterrorism
  • Writing and terrorism
  • The theory offorms (a revival
  • The opening
  • The philosophy ofcompulsion and the compulsion of
  • Our cultural revolution

·

.
.
ÍVcIyduyÍÍlcÍn!hcNOdcInVOIÌd
thetexto]thísbookísµrínted
on:00% recucledµaµer
Henri Lefebvre
¯¯¯¯ ¯¯
/�eryday Life in the Modern World
Translated by Sacha Rabinovitch
HARPER TORCHBOOKS
Harper òRow, Publishers
New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London
.
La vie quotidienne dans Ie monde modere
published in 1VÚö by
Editions Gallimard, Paris
Everyday Life in the Moder World translation frst published in 1V¯1 by
Allen Lane The Penguin Press and is here reprinted by arrangement.
This translation
Copyright Úd¯1 by Sacha Rahlnovitch
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this
book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
For information address Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1Ü East 53rd Street,
New York, N.Y. Ì ÜÜZZ.
First ÏAÜÏÏܯLÜLÏÜLL& edition published 1V¯1
b¯AÏLAÜL ÜLL& ÏLWÜÏÜ´ ÜÚ- 1 ò1 ÚÜö-ò
Contents
1 An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 1
2 The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 68
3 Linguistic Phenomena
1 10
4 Terrorism and Everyday Life
1 43
5 Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution 194
ÍVcIyduyÍÌlcÌnthcNOdcInVOIÌd
Í /H Inquiry, and Some
Discoveries
In the past ffty years ...
Imagine that you have before you a complete set of calendars
dating from 1900, of which you select one at random that happens
to represent a year towards the beginning of the century. Pencil
poised, you then close your eyes and make a cross beside a day in
this year; you open your eyes and you find that it is the sixteenth of
Ju1you have marked. Now you try to dscover what took place
on this parti
c
Uaaay"-among so many others in a relatively peace­
ful and prosperous year - for this continent and country at least.
You go to the public library and consult the national press for this
date; you are confronted with news items, accidents, the sayings of
contemporary personalities, a clutter of dusty reports and stale
information and some unconvincing revelations concerning the
wars and upheavals of the time; but there is practically nothing
that might enable you to foretell (or to suppose that a reasonably
perceptive person living in those days could have foretold) any of
the events about to take place, those occurrences that must have
been silently developing in the hidden depths of time; on the other
hand, neither will you find much information as to the manner in
which ordinary men and women spent that day, their occupations,
preoccupations, labours or leisure. Publicity (still in its infancy),
news items and a few marginal reports are all that is now available
to reconstruct the everyday life of those twenty-four hours.
2 Everyday Life in the Moder World
Having perused papers and periodicals from this not-so-distant
past - noting the familiarity of headlines and the out-of-date typo­
graphy -you can now give rein to your fancy: might not something
have happened on that sixteenth of June which the press has omit­
ted to report ? You are indeed free to imagine that it is precisely
then that a certain Mr Einstein - of whom nobody at the time had
ever heard - had his first perception of relativity in the Zurich
room where he inspected patents and toed the narrow lonely path
between reason and delirium. Nor can anyone prove that you are
wrong if you choose to believe it was that day and no other that an
imperceptible but irreversible action (the apparently insignificant
decision of a bank manager or a Cabinet minister) accelerated the
pa
s
sage from competitive capitalism to a diferent form of capital­
ism thus initiating the frst cycle of world wars and revolutions.
You might further select this early summer's day with the sun in its
solstice, dominated by the sign of Gemini, for the birth in some
quiet village or town of children who, for no obvious reason,
would grow up gifed with an exceptional awareness of the times
and events.
Thus it is by chance and not by chance that this particular day -
a sixteenth of June at the beginning of the twentieth century - was
significant in the lives of a certain Bloom, his wife Molly and his
friend Stephen Dedalus, and as such was narrated in every detail
to become, according to Hermann Broch, a symbol of 'universal
everyday life', a life elusive in its finitude and its infnity and one
that reflects the spirit of the age, its' already almost inconceivable
physiognomy', as Joyce's narrative rescues, one afer the other,
each facet of the quotidian from anonymity. *
The momentous eruption of everyday life into literature should
not be overlooked. It might, however, be more exact to say that
readers were suddenly made aware of everyday life through the
medium of literature or the written word. But was this revelation
as sensational then as it seems now, so many years afer the
author's death, the book's publication and those twenty-four hours
that were its subject matter ? And was it not foreshadowed already
in Balzac, Flaubert, Zola and perhaps others ?
¯ ÌCID8DD ÛIOCD, OlchIcn und±rkcnnctt. ZuIICD, 1VJJ, pp. 1öJ¬Z1Ü, ZJ¯.
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 3
The answers to these questions may contain a lot that is unexpec­
ted, but before attempting them we would like to point out some of
the main features of one of the most controversial and enigmatic
works of its time. 0)ssesis diametrically opposed both to novel�
presenting stereotyped protagonists and to the t

aditional novel
recounting the story of the hero's progress, the rIse and fall of a
dynasty or the fate of some social group. Here, with all the trap­
pings of an epic - masks, costumes, scenery - the quotidian steals
the show. In his endeavour to portray the wealth and poverty of
everyday life Joyce exploited language to the farthest limits of its
resources, including its purely musical potentialities. Enigmatic
powers preside. Bloom's overwhelming triviality is encompassed
by the City (Dublin), the metaphysical speculations of 'amazed'
man (Stephen Dedalus), and the spontaneity of instinctive i'mpulses
(Molly) ; here is the world, history, man; here are the imaginary,
the symbolic and the prophetic. But in making use of all the poten­
tialities of speech a twofold disruption of language, both literary
and general, was inevitable; �fmof everyday life implies
the negation of everyday life through dreams, images and symbols
Een if such a negation presupposes a certain amount of irony
-owards symbol and imagery; the classical object and subject of
philosophy are found here in concrete form; that is to say, things
and people in the narrative are conceived in terms of the object and
subject of classical philosophy. But they are not static, they change,
expand, contract ; the seemingly simple object before us dissolves
when subjected to the infuence of acts and events from a totally
diferent order ; objects are super-objects, Dublin, the City, be­
comes all Cities, the River stands for all rivers and waters, includ­
ing the fuids of womanhood; as to the truly protean subject, it is
a complex of metamorphoses, of substitutions, it has discarded the
substantial immanence-transcendance of the philosophers, the' I
think that I think that Ithink . . . ' and unfurls through the medium
of interior monologue. During these epic twenty-four hours in the
history of Ulysses (Odysseus, Otis-Zeus, man-God, essential com­
mon man, the anonymous and the divine made one) the I merges
with Man and Man is engulfed in mediocrity.
This subjectivity which unfurls is time in its dual aspect of man
4 LvcrydayIìlc ìn thc Modcm WorId
anddivinity,thccvcrydayandthccosmic,hcrcandcÌscwhcrc:orin
thc tripÌc form of thc man, thc woman and thc othcr, waking,
sÌccping and drcaming, thc triviaÌ, thchcroic and thc divinc, thc
quotidian, thc historicaÌ and thc cosmic. Somctimcs 'thcy' arc
four: four wayfarcrs who arc aÌso thc four OÌd Mcn, thc four
£vangcÌists,thcfourComcrsofthc£arth, thcfourHorscmcnof
hcApocaÌypsc.Timcisthctimcofchangc÷ notÌocaÌizcdorpar-
ticuÌar chan c thcchan c of transitionandthctransitory, of
comict of d`
.
thc Rivcr is thc symboÌ in
whichrcaÌityanddrcamarconcandwhichiswithoutform. Thc
writingcapturcsthcworÌdofdcsircandthcnarrativcisdrcamÌikc
initsmattcr-of-factncssnrcciscÌyinits mattcr-of-factncss): inno
way contrivcd,itrcproduccs thc ßowing imagc of a cosmic day,
ÌcadingthcrcadcrintothcturmoiÌofaÌinguisticcarnivaÌ,afcstivaÌ
ofÌanguagc, adcÌiriumofwords.
¹ ÷ thctimc of thcnarrativc, ßowing, unintcrruptcd, sÌow,
fuhofsurpriscsandsighs,strifcandsiÌcncc,rich,monotonousand
varicd, tcdious andfascinating÷ isthcHcracÌitcanßux,cnguÌñng
and�niting thc cosmic (obicctivc) and thc subjcctivc inits con-
tinuity ThchistoryofasingÌcdayincÌudcsthchistoryofthcworÌd
andofciviÌization:timc,itssourccunrcvcaÌcd,issymboÌizcdovcr
andovcragaininwomanhoodandinthcrivcr:AnnaIiviaPÌura-
bcÌÌc, thcßowingIiûcy, MoÌÌy andhcrimpctuous drcam-dcsircs
inthcboundÌcss,unpunctuatcdrcaÌmbctwccnsÌccpingandwaking,
mcrgc, convcrgcandmingÌc.
BcforcpursuingourinvcstigationÌctussummarizcthcprcccding
obscrvations:
a)This narrvc has a rcfcrcntiaÌ or'pÌacc', a compÌcx that is

topicaÌ, too

mcaÌandtopographicaÌ: DubÌin, thc city withits
rivcr anday ÷ not mcrcÌy a distinctivc sctting, thc sccnc of
action,butamysticaÌprcscncc,matcriaÌcityandimagcofthcCity,
Hcavcn,HcÌÌ,Ithaca,AtÌantis,drcamandrcaÌityccascÌcssÌymcrg-
ing but with rcaÌity giving thc tonc: a city cut to thc sizc of thc
citizcns: thc pcopÌc of DubÌin have mouÌdcd thcir surroundings
whichmouÌdthcminturn. DriftingthroughthcstrcctsofDubÌin
thc wandcrcr gathcrs togcthcr thc scattcrcd fragmcnts of this
rcciprocaÌ assimiÌation.
An Inquìry, and Somc Oìscovcrìcs 5
b)Mcanings proÌifcratc, ÌitcraÌ, propcr and ûgurativc, anaÌogi-
caÌ,symbo|icaÌ,mythicormystic,nottomcntionthcuÌtimatcun-
fathomabÌc mcaning (rcÌatcd pcrhaps to cnimas of wandcring,
dcath,abscncc),aswcÌIasthcdiûcrcntÌcvcÌsofmcamngfamiÌiar,
historicaÌ, kindrcd, forcignandsoforth.Andthcscmcaningsco-
��IoycccxccÌsinthcartofwcavingthcmtogcthcr,composing
uguc with his thcmcs: his Ìinguistic rcsourccs sccm truÌy incx-
haustibÌc.IthasbccnsuggcstcdthatonccouÌdwitcoutthcmcan-
ings on musicaÌ stavcs, supcrimposcd as in an orchcstraÌ scorc.
Ioyccworksonasubstancc,thcwrittcnword,andinhishandsit
acquircspoÌyphony,gathcringandrcccivingspccchtiÌÌthcrcadcr
hcarsthcsubicct'svoicccmcrgcfromthcpagcwithaIÌthcconnota-
tions of subicctivity. Musica|ity aÌways prcvaiÌs ovcrthcpurcÌy
|itcraÌ:mcÌodicÌincandharmonicprogrcssiondctcrmincthcphras-
ingwithncccssary transitions (rccurrcncc of thc kcy-notc, which
maybca symboÌorsimpÌyaspcciñcsound). Thcwntingtricsto
capturcthccnigmaticdcpth,thcinhcrcntmusicaÌityofÌanguagc~
orrathcr of spccch- thcpoÌyhonypcrtaining normaÌly only to
orchcstraÌ music. Connotations pÌay thc part of harmonics:
thoughhcworksinhisownmcdum,thcwritcrdocsnothcsitatc
toborrowpoÌyrhythmics,poÌyvaÌcncc,poÌyphonyfromthcmusi-
ciansothatwcñndhcrcwriting,ÌanguagcandspccchorganicaÌÌy
mcrgcdandrcdcmcdbythcmcthodsofmusicaÌcomposition.
c)YctdurationisnotcntircÌystructurcÌcss.ThcrcisinIoycc ÷
andnotonlyin Clvsses÷ a symboÌic systcmwithcohcrcntcross-
1cßn¤c(thoughitmustbcadmittcdthatinthcgÌarcof|inguistic
mcworks thc cohcrcncc is not aÌways scÌf-cvidcnt). Whcrc for
othcrsthcrcÌation si¿ûcr÷simcdispurcÌyformaÌ,forIoyccit
·H <iaÌÌy dialcctica: thcsûorb ccomc�mgniñcd and vicc
vc�thcacccntiscontinuaÌIybcingdispÌaccd,h��c thc¬�
dominatcs, thcrc thc othcr. Thus womanhood is signiñcd by
ûuidìty, rivcrs and watcrs but whcn two washcrwomcn at dusk
cvokc thc Ìcgcnd of thc rivcr, frombcing sigmcr it bccomcs sig-\���
niûcd: aÌÌthcrivcrsofthcworÌdarcitstributarics. Wcmdsym- ���
bo|icaÌsystcmsofwomanhood,ofthccity,ofmctaphysicaÌthought r�´
(thcmazc), ofordinaryobiccts(a|ightcdcigarinthcdarkrcca|Ìs ��
thcCcÌops'cyc).Itwou|dbcintcrcstingtoconstructascicnccof
6 Lvcryday Iifc in thc Modcrn VorÌd
cvcrydayÌifcstartingfromthcscsymboÌs,thoughsucha'scicncc'
bcÌongstoanothcragcthanourown,anagcwhcrcsymboÌismwas
initsprimc:withJoyccatthcbcginningofthcccnturycachgroup
ofsymboÌswasthcmaticaÌÌyrcÌatcd,distinctbutundistinguishcd,
andmancouÌdbcrcprcscntcdbythcprophcticbird:'Bcmyguidc,
dcarbird:whatbirdshavcdoncinthcpastmcnwiÌÌdotomorrow,
ßy, sing and agrcc in thcir ÌittÌc ncsts.` AÌas, an optimistic sym-
boÌismrcßccting ayouthfuÌccntury!
d)ForJoycc÷ af.crVicoandpcrhapsÞictzschc÷ cycÌicaÌIimc
undcrÌ�aU�uoti±an��¯¤�mi�¤�io¤.£vcrydayÌifciscom-
� ofcycÌcswithinwidcrcycÌcs:bcginningsarcrccapituÌations
andrcbirths. ThcgrcatrivcrofHcracÌitcanbccominghasmanya
surpriscinstorc: itisÌincar:sym
|
o�
��

¸
thcirrcpctitions
rcvcaÌ ontoÌogicaÌ corrcspondcnccs that arc fuscd with Bcing:
hours, days, months, ycars, cpochs and ccnturics intcrmingÌc:
rcpctition,rccoÌÌcction,rcsurrcctionarccatcgoricsofmagicandof
thc imaginary but aÌso of rcaÌity conccaÌcd within thc visibÌc:
UÌysscsisBÌoom, andBÌoomrc-cnactsUÌysscsandthc Odysscy:
quotidianandcpicmcrgcÌikcSamcandOthcrinthcvisionofPcr-
pctuaÌ Rccurrcncc. As thcmysticor thcmctaphysician ÷ andbc-
�causchcisapoct÷ JoyccchaÌÌcngcsthcincidcntaÌ:wthcvcry�
� Ìifc asmcdiatorhcpasscsfromthcrcÌativc to thcabsoÌutc.
'Vmustyougo
¯
ndchoo
¸
:
¡¡
-
autIor

,
oscworkmcandcrs
throughanimpcnctrabÌcatmosphcrcofsuprcmcborcdom°Thcrc
arc othcrs bcsidcs his MoÌÌy who arc rcduccd to drowsincss by
thosccndÌcsspagcs .. . . Andhowcanyouhavcthcchccktoquotc
an untransÌatabÌc author into thc bargain° AÌÌ you say is com-
pÌctcÌymcaningÌcsstothoscwhoarcnotwcÌÌvcrscdinthc£ngÌish
Ìanguagc.Furthcrmorc Joycc is datcd, as datcd as mnctccnth-
ccntury music inan cpoch of atonaÌity, concrctc music and ran-
domconstructions. Hc madc writingunprcdictabÌcby thc inccs-
sant intcrvcntion of a hcro who is aÌways iust ahcad or traiÌing
bchindthcnarrativc.ThcworksofJoyccandhiscontcmporarics
cÌudcthcstricturcsofdimcnsionbysubicctingwordstomusicaity
and thus making thcm indctcrminatc. Thc dichotomy´ word÷
writing"(rcminisccnt of thosc othcr dichotomics´mcÌody÷har-
mony" and 'harmony÷rhythm', from which it is nonc thc Ìcss
An Inquiry, and Somc Oiscovcrics 7
distinct) was fuÌÌy cxpÌoitcd by Joycc: thcrc is not a subtcrfugc,
trick or contrivancc that hc sparcs us: hints (with a wink and a
nudgc),puns,trompe-l' oreille, cvcrygapincohcrcntspccchisñIÌcd
with somcthing: ycs, but with what° What° Thc Ìanguagc of
Zarathustra, howcvcr,truÌysoarsonthcwingsofharmonyinstcad
of bcing rcduccd and Ìimitcd by syntacticaÌ stricturcs, so that
Þictzschcis aÌwaysprcscntwhiÌcJoyccrcccdcs . . . `
Maybc:yctarcnotintcÌÌigibiÌityand'transÌatabiÌity`insurcdby
Joycc`ssymboÌicaÌconstructionscarricdasthcyarcon thctidcof
-··~
HcracÌitcan timc° Cohcrcnt groups of symboÌs arc casiÌyu+-

fcrrcd from onc Ìanguagc to anothcr and from onc 'cuÌturc�o
��´ahcr (in so far as 'cuÌturcs` cxist . . . ): such groups pÌay thc
�part of 'univcrsaÌs`. Is thcrc not cÌcarÌy pcrccptibÌcin Joycc`s
writing a sort of tonaÌ systcm convcycd prcciscÌy by its ßuidity,
continuity and transitorincss° CÌcarphrasing, rcturn to thc kcy-
notc,tcnsionfoÌÌowcdbythcrcsoÌutionofacadcncc,startingsand
cndings, punctuation in dcpth ...: arc nonc of thcsc stiÌÌ intcÌ-
ÌigibÌc° CouÌd Bccthovcn bc Ìapsing into foÌk-Ìorc° OrWagncr°
What nco-dogmatism! Þictzschc° How thctimcshavcchangcd!
A ÌittÌc, a Ìot, vastÌy, not at aÌÌ° Wc shaÌÌ scc. Joycc`s Ulysses is
cvcrydayÌifctransñgurcdnotbyabÌazcofsupcrnaturaÌÌightand
songbutbythcwordsofman, orpcrhapssimpÌybyÌitcraturc.If
thcauthorizcdqucstioncrwhohas iustintcrvcncdisright, aÌÌthc
morcrcasontodchncwhathaschangcdinhaÌfaccntury,whcthcr
it is cvcrydayÌifc or thc art ofrcprcscnting it through mctamor-
phosis, orboth, andwhat thcconscqucnccsarc.
Whathaschangcdaf.crroughÌyhaÌfaccntury°Thatthcsubicc�- ··
_
has bccomc bÌurrc is ncws to no onc: it has Ìost its outÌinc, i

docsn`t wcÌÌ up or ßow any Ìongcr, and with it thc charactcrs, ¦-·
roÌcs,pcrsonshavcsÌidintothcbackground. Þowitis thc ob´cct
�d,ninitsobicctivity(whichhadmcaningonÌy
inrcÌationto thcsubicct)but as athi¬, aÌmost apurcform
:
IfI
want to writc today ÷ that is writc hction ÷ I wiÌÌ start from an
ordinary obicct, a mug, an orangc, aßyof whichI shaÌÌ attcmpt
a dctaiÌcd dcscription: ncvcr dcparting from thc pcrccptibÌc ÷
prcscntcdasthcconcrctc÷ IshaÌÌprocccdtomakcinvcntoricsand
cataÌogucs. And why shouÌd ! not choosc that raindrop sÌiding
8 Everyday Life in the Moder World
down the windowpane? I could write a whole page, ten pages, on
that raindrop; for me it will become the symbol of everyday life
whilst avoiding everyday life; it will stand for time and space, or
space within time; it will be the world and still only a vanishing
raindrop.
There are many ways of interpreting what is still known as the
ì'new novel' (apart from considerations of success, failure, tedious­
ness or interest). Dcan be seen as a methodcal attempt to create a
rational style that deliberately avoids traged lyricism. confusion
and controvers, aiming instead at a pure transparency of language
that migt almost be called �atia1. This '.bjective' clarity could
be seen as a sort of projector isolating the object on a stage if one
were to overlook the fact that objects must fst be created;.. s
a product neither of the subject as creator nor of the object as
eation, but only of langage imitating' reality'. Can one even say
a story is being told? Astory is no longer a story when words
are reduced to bare necessities. Time is cancelled out in the process
of exploring it, when the quest for a perfect recurrence, a coming
and going in time, is achieved by means of pure prose, of writing
reduced to its essence. The simultaneity of past, present and future
merges time with space and is more easily realized in a flm than in
literature, where 'novelistic' implications are always present.
Moreover it is not every subject that can be submitted to such a
formal elaboration: things, people, gestures, words. And can any­
one be sure that time will not intervene and disrupt such per­
manence? Is everyday life's changelessness a guarantee? Films and
literature use everyday life as their frame of reference but they con­
cea the fact, and only expose its' objective' or spectacular aspects.
Writing can only show an everyday life inscribed and prescribed;
words are elusive anf only that which is stipulated remains.
Let us take a example. Shall we select for our particular
example of 'objective' writing, the writing of strict form, a dis­
tingushed schola or a novelist? If a novelist, who shall it be? We
have made the arbitrary choice of Claude Simon in his book
Flanders Road, * because there is a certain afnity between this
. Claude Sion, Flanders Road, London, ¡Vb2.
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 9
book and Ulysses notwithstanding the diferences that dstinguish
them; an afnity that makes comparison possible while enabling
us to note the contrasts. In both works short periods of time
J
expand, dream and remembrance recreate a universal everyday
life; in both we find the eteral triangle, wife, husband and lover;
symbols and word-play abound. In Claude Simon there is a Blum,
in Joyce a Bloom, a coincidence that suggests a connection per­
haps not wholly unintentional on the part of the later author.
'Oh yes! ... ' Blum said (now we were lying in the darkness in other
words intertwined overlapping huddled together until we couldn't move
an arm or a leg without touching or sbjfing another arm or leg, stifing,
the sweat streaming over our chests gasping for breath like stranded fsh,
the wagon stopping once again in the dark and no sound audible except
for the noise of breathing the lungs desperately sucking in that thick
clamminess that stench of bodies mingled as if we were already deader
than the dead since we were capable of realizing it as if the darkness the
night .... And Blum: 'Bought drinks ?', and Ï. 'Yes. Ð was ... Listen:
it was like one of those posters for some brand.of English beer, you
know? Te courtyard of the old inn with the dark-red brick walls and
the light-coloured mortar, and the leaded windows, the sashes painted
white, and the girl carrying the copper mugs ... '
Fine. Now let us compare this to what we had noted in Ulysses.
a) Here we find no acknowledged, pre-established referential;
the place is a place of desolation, a landscape laid waste by war and
rain where corpses .ot in the mud and slime, a sinister collabora­
tion of civilization and nature. The symbolism is spatial, the place
being the only stable thing there is. We are never sure in what
moment of time the story is situated, nor in which tense is the
narrative; and we do not need to know. Memories are centred
around the place, symbolized and actualized by it as they fow
from the remote past. In the course of the narrative, which pro­
ceeds in cycles, men are the playthings of fate; they circle around
the place and their circling leads to death or captivity at the hands
of the enemy.
b) Man's fate is not enacted here against a backdrop of normal
everyday life; we ae in time of war. And yet it is the quotidian
that is conjured up. The past, before tragedy took over, was
10 Everyday Life in the Modern World
controÌÌcdby Ìogicandordcr, orsoitsccmcd:in rcaÌityÌogicand
ordcr,andmcaningtoo,wcrconÌypavingthcwaytotragcdy(cro-
ticism,passionandÌovc),withitsscqucÌofdisiÌÌusions.Thccxtra-
ordinary in cvcryday Ìifc was cvcryday Ìifc at Ìast rcvcaÌcd:
dcccption, disappointmcnt.. .. Passionatc Ìovcturncd out to bc
tcrribÌy simiÌar to Ìovc without passion, thc passion onÌy acccn-
tuatingthcvoidandthchungcritwassupposcdtosatisfybutfrom
which it rcaÌÌy stcmmcd. CouÌd this bc thc cool styÌc unambigu-
ousÌy rcpÌacing thc hot styÌc of thc prcccding pcriod° In a coÌd
passionÌcssvoiccthcauthortcÌÌsofpassion,itsiÌÌusionanditsdis-
appointmcnts: thc �oidabÌc, andcvcnthosc who
bcÌicvc thcy havc cÌudcd it arc its ic.ims:rrÌnd
Iov�arcaÌik
¿
frstd ±ndL-a+-±�.iñrstin cvcrydayÌifc,
thcothcrsinthcÌifcoftragcdy.ThccycÌcofbctrayaÌsandfrustra-
tions spiraÌs down from rcmcmbcrcd timc, in fact through a
ccntury and a haÌf as thc narrativc passcs from gcncration to
gcncration: rcmcmbranccncgatcs tcmporaÌity.
c)IanguagcbccomcsthconÌy rcfcrcntiaÌ, as thc 'rcaÌ`rcfcrcn-
tiaÌisat ·
-
c a
¡¡
hor
]��

¢�

�¡
oncdacaÌiIy1:om
spccch whcrc thc scntcncc convcys simiÌaritics, disparitics, thc
ordcranddisordcrofimprcssions,cmotions,scnsations,diaÌogucs
(that arc not rcaÌÌy dialogucs), soÌitudc, in fact cvcrything that
scrvcs to buiÌdup a 'charactcr`.Thcwritingimitatcsspccchinan
attcmptto purifyorpcrhaps tocxorcizcit.ThccriticJ.Ricardou
caÌÌs it thc 'vcrso of writing`, but if hc is right thcn this vcrso
corrcsponds cxactÌy to thc rccto. It is indccd thc vcry csscncc of
writing, aÌitcraturc passcd through thccrucibÌc ofÌitcraÌncss and
aimingattotaÌ prccision. ThoughitsimuÌatcs spccch,spccchhas
disappcarcd, thc writing is a Ìincar traicctory: and mcaning too
hasvanishcd,whcthcrpropcr,ñgurativc,anaÌogicalorhcrmctic:
cvcrythingismadccxpÌicit:signsarcdistinctinthcirdiûcrcnccand
thc diûcrcncc is cntircÌy rcvcaÌcd in thc signiñcancc. A voicc or
voiccs° A toncÌcss voicc, a writing that is prccisc and purc as
musicaÌintcrvaÌs ñxcdbypitch. Connotations°Harmonics°Ycs,
adiustcdbypitchandthuscÌiminatingñuidity,cxtcnsionsofsound
andboundÌcssncss.Ti
º
cisdividcdintosimiÌariticsanddisparitics

bcforc it dissolvcs into mcmory and fatc,

hich arc aÌmost idcn-

An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 1 1
ticaÌ. Evcn thc word-pÌay is cxposcd, statcd and cxpÌaincd. This
purc writing has attaincdfrcczing pointin so far as this point is
purctransparcncy.AcomparisonwithatonaÌitywiÌÌpcrhapsmakc
thiscÌcarcr:thcrcisnodctcrminingnotc(rcfcrcntiaÌ),thcrcforcno
rcposc:thcrcarcintcrruptionsbutnobcginningsorcndings:thcrc
arcintcrmissionsbutnothing thatrcaÌÌycorrcspondstoan actor
an cvcnt, onÌy mcmorics and scntcnccs: thc scmantic thcmc has
changcd,ithasÌostthcaÌtcrnatctcnsionsandcasingscorrcspond-
ingtobcginningsandcndings, actionsandhappcnings, situations
thatcmcrgc and concÌudc. Signihcancc, transÌatcd into ancÌabo-
ratcvcrbaÌform,rcpÌaccs cxprcssion: thcthcmcdisintcgratcsand
isrccomposcdaroundthcÌitcraÌ, without ambiguity orpoÌyphony
(orpoÌyrhythmorpoÌyvaÌcncc).Thcwriting aims atsaving cvcry-
thingthatcanbcwrittcn: thcwritcr`s carisattuncdtodcpthand
hc rciccts aÌÌ that is not pcrfcctÌy cÌ�ar: hc docs not attcmpt to
cntrap dcpth, itisthcrc.
At onc cnd of this skyÌinc dominatcd by important works wc
obscrvcdthccmcrgcnccofcvcrydayÌifc, thc
¡
cvcÌation ofits hid-
dcn possibiÌitics: atthc oppositc cnd cvcrydayÌifc rcappcars but
inadiûcrcntpcrspcctivc.Þowthcwritcrunmasks,discovcrs,un-
vciÌs: cvcryday Ìifc bccomcs Ìcss and Ìcss bcarabÌc Ìcss and Ìcss
intcrcstin
o
: yct·bo&utIormanagcs to crcatc .�.���...--.
intoÌcmbÌc tcdiousncss simpÌy by tcÌÌing it, by writing, by Ìitcra-
turc.Ourinvcstigationhasthuscxposcdadcñnitcchangcbothin
thc things writtcn about and in thc way of writing. Wc arc not
conccrncd hcrc with furthcr ramihcations such as thc contcm-
porarythcatrc(Ioncsco, Bcckctt), poctry (Pongc), ñÌms (Rcsnais,
Godard), ctc.: nor with any attcmpt at gcncraÌization. Wc onÌy
wish to undcrÌinc thc mct�hysic�·u
¹
c

t�o

ot�mor�ry
Ìitcraturc. Wc shaÌÌ comc across thcsc probÌcms again and again
undcr diûcrcnt aspccts. Thc 'worÌd` is dividcd into thc worÌd of
cvcryday Ìifc (rcaÌ, cmpiricaÌ, practicaÌ) and thc worÌd of mcta-
ohor: mctaphoricaÌwriting, orthcmctaphoricaÌworÌdofwriting
tcnds cithcr towards artihciaÌ oppositions andiÌÌusory contradic-
tions or towards scÌf-dcstruction in thc comcdy ofinsanity (cxis-
tcntiaÌism, Artaud): but this is not thc pÌacc to anaÌysc thcsc
sub-divisions.
12 EvervdavLífein the Modem World
Philosophy and everyday lie
We shall now tackle evervdav life from the new ange of philo-
sophv.Inthenineteenthcenturvtheaxisofthoughtwasredirected\
from speculation towards empirical practical realism, with the
worksofKarlMarxandthebuddingsocialsciencesformingland-
marks on the line of displacement. In the social framework of
freelv competitive capitalismMarx concentrated mainlv on the
evervdavexistenceoftheworkingclassesfrom:hedualviewpoint
ofproductivepowerandillusionstoovercome.Þotwithstanding
theassaultsofpositivismandpragmatism,philosophvstilldirects
such inquiries and is alone capable of connecting fragmentarv
ideologies and specialized sciences: moreover it cannot be dis-
pensed with ifwewant to understand the essence andexistence,
therealorimaginarvresponsibilities,thepotentialitiesandlimita-
tionsof mankind:and thereisno methodto equal it in linking
andassessingdiscomected material. Thisis because philosophv,
through the wide range of its interests, proiects the image of a
' complete human being ', free, accomplished, fullv realized,
rational vet real. This image~ implicit alreadv in Socrates'
maieutic÷ has, for approximatelvtwentvcenturies,beenre6ned,
revised, opposed, developed and adorned with superhuitiesand
hvperboles.

Evervdavlifeisnon-philosophicalinrelationtophilosophvand
represe�lit iuel�t�on to�htv. Secluded, abstract and
detached,miIohical li�consideredsuperiortoevervdav
life, but when it attempts to solve the riddles of realitv it onlv
succeedsinprovingtheunrealitv, which is, indeed, implicitin its
nature.Itrequiresarealismitcannotachieveandaspirestotrans-
cend itself qua philosophical realitv. Philosophical man and
ordinarv evervdav man cannot coexist: from the philosopher's
pointofview, becauseforhim'all',theworldandman,mustb
thoughtandthenrealized:fromevervdavman'spointofview,be-
causephilosophvwouldendowhimwithapositiveconscienceand
proofandactascensor,bothsuper6cialandbasic,toevervdavlife.
Thephilosopherwhoseeshimselfqua philosopherascomplete
wisdomislivingintheworldoftheimagination,andhisweakness
¬ Inqmy, andSome Discoveres 1 3
becomesevidentwhenhetriest oachievewhati s humaulvpossible
throughhisphilosophv.Philosophvisself-contradictorvandself-
destructive when itclaims its independence from the non-philo
sophical,andthatitcould beentirelvself-sumcient.
Shouldphilosophvbeisolatedforeverfromthecontamination
ofevervdavlifeanddetachedfromevervdavcontingencies!Isthe
quotidian an obstacle tothe revelation of truth, an unavoidable
trivialitv,thereverseofexistenceandtheperversionoftruth,and,
assuch,anotherfacetofexistenceandoftruth !Eitherphilosophv
ispointlessoritisthestartingpointfromwhichtoundertakethe
transformationofnon-philosophicalrealitv, with allits trivialiw
anditstriteness.
The solution isthen toattempta philosophicalinvcntorvand
¯ ·
'
analvsisofevervdavlifethatwillexposeuambiæ JIäbasc-
ness and exuberance. its oovenand fruitlss-and bythese
unorthodoxmeansreleasethecveenermcsthatareanintegal
partofit.
Wemust trvto overcome simultaneouslv the shortcomings of
thephilosopherandthoseofthenon-philosopher(hislackofideo-
logical claritv, his fumbling mvopia and constricted outlook),
borrowingforthispurposetheterminologvofphilosophvandits
more elaborate concepts, isolated here from speculative svstem-
atizations and directed towards the studv of evervdav life. The
��s a p|iIlo

ohi� oce that cann

ot beunderstood
ephilosophv: tdcs guates+:¡audbypbilosophythenon-
philosophical m�(æ able inanother context: itisa con-
cept·:a|therbelongstonor rehectsevervdav�m, but rather
expresses its�¡ossiblc!+u6¿ati�i�pm!osc¬:ical terms.
Iurthermore itisnot the product of purephilosophvbutcomes
ofphilosophicalthouUtdirected towardsthenon-philosophical,
and itsmaiorachievementisin thisself-surpassing.
Isitpossiblethatevervdavlifeisnomorethanaprimitivestage
in the development of thinking and living where such modes of
experience are still undißerentiated, where all thatis perceptible
seemstobepartoftheuniverseandwheretheworldisseenasthe
sumofm thatis!Coulditbeonlvaratherlow-browintenreta-
tion of experiencwhere'world' or'univer×` appeartocontain
14 lverydav Iife intheModenWor|d
and enclosetheonlv truththereis!Isitperhaps butacollection
of trivia not worthv of being associated with the 'serious' pre-
occupations of modern philosophv such as Nature, Divinitv,
Humanitv!
Itisimpossibletooverstressourobìectiontothiskindofphilo-
sophicaltraditiona|ism.Philosophv shou|d not serveß a baror
nor should it oppose attempts at improving the world and per-
petuatedstinctionsbetweentrivia|itvandseriousnessbvisolating
onthe one hand notions ofBeinc,DepthandSubstanceand on
1otherevents,appearances andmastations.
·
s a comp:ndium of seeminglv unimportant activities and of
productsandexhibitsotherthannatura|,evervdav|ifeismorethan
somethingthate|udesnatura|,divineandhumanmvths.Couldit
representalowersphereof:eaning,aplacewherecreativeenergv
is stored in readiness for new creations! A place that can be
reduced neither to philosophica| subìective dennitions nor to
obiective representations of classined obiects such as clothing,
nourishment,furnishings,etc. because itis more and other than
these!Itisnotachasm,abarrier,orabußerbutaneldandaha|f-
wavhouse,ahaltingplaceandaspringboard,amomentmadeof
moments(desires,labours,pleasures~ productsandachievements
÷ passivitvandcreativitv- meansandends~ etc.),thedialectica|
interactionthatistheinevitab|estartingpointfortherealizationof
thepossible.
Iaddressthephilosopherinhisownterms.Thequestionishow
farcanacompendiumofcompulsionsanddetermi�sms(desires÷
specializedlabour~ fragmentsofunderstanding~ biological,geo-
graphicalandhistorica|compulsions)assumetheappearanceofa
free|v created world, proiection of something greater than free-
dom! Philosophers mav ignore these compulsions and deter-
minismswhenlavingdowntheir|aws,butinsodoingthevwi||not
have solved the prob|em. T he limitations of philosophy~ truth
withoutreality~ alwavs and evercounterbalancethe|imitations
ofeverday|ife~ realitywithouttruth.
Continuing our address to the philosopher, weformu|ate the
prob|em in the c|earest possib|e terms: we are faced with a di-
|emma,either to go bevond Hege| in identifving (phi|osophica|)
An Inquirv, andSomeDiscoveries 15
reasonwith(socia|)realitv(inrealizingphi|osophv),torefutethe \
distinctionsbetweenphi|osophicalandnon-phi|osophical,superior �
andinferior,spiritua|andmateria|,theoretica|andpractical,cul-
tureandignorance,andtoundertakearadica|transformationnot
onlvof thestateandpolitics,economics,iurisdictionandsocio|ogv
but a|so of evervdav |ife: or to revert to metaphvsics, Kierke-
gaardiananxietvand despairand the|iberalismNietzsche strove
tooverthrow,andtoputourfaithinmvtho|ogieswithphilosophv
astheæeatestcosmogonicandtheo|ogica|mvthofa||.
Isourattitudeananswertoc|assica|phi|osophv!Isitpossible `
tousephi|osophvasaframeofreferenceforthestudvofwhatit •
termsnon-phi|osophica|÷thede6nitions`phi|osophica|'and'non-
· /
phi|osophica|'indicatingmutua|recognition,reciprocalandsimu|-[
taneouscontro|!Doessucharevolutionarvattitudea|lowforthe
inherentrationalitvofhistorv,societvandaUformsofspecialized ²
activitv and |abour! Where does it come from, this rationalitv
exp|icated bv phi|osophv and implicit in evervdav life! Hege|'s
rep|v is unambiguous: rationa|itv comes from Reason, the Idea
and the Sou|. Marx and the Marxists are stil| clear enough:
rationa|itvis theoutcomeofaction,of |abourandtheorganiza-
tion of|abour,of production and of the mought invo|ved in all
creativeactivitv.Butdoesthefactofgivingameaning(thismean-
ing)tohistorvandsocietvnotimp|vtheirresponsibi|itvinmeaning-
|essness,vio|ence,absurdities,deadlocks!Responsibilitvinvo|ves
gui|t, andwho is to be he|d responsib|e!It would seemthat to
beimocentexistencemust|ackmeaninganddirection.Wecannot
e|iminatea priori theNietzscheantheorv ofnihi|ismas arungin
the |adder of progress. If we adopt the Hegelian and Marxist
trend,thatis,therealization oftherationa|throughphilosophv,
a critica| theorv of evervdav |ife must ensue: if we adopt the
Nietzschean theorv of va|ues, of a|ignments and ofa pre-estab-
|ishedmeaningbehindthemeaning|essnessofevents,aconstruc-
tivetheorvofevervdav|ifeemerges. Thisisthemststep.
Butthere aremore di|emmas tocome: either weexert al|our
energv(suchenergvasevervindividua|qua socia|individua|pos-
sesses)inconso|idatingexistinginstitutionsandideo|ogies~ State,
Church,phi|osophica|svstemsorpolitica|organizations÷ whi|st
1 6 Everyday Life m the Modern Wodd
attempting to consolidate the quotidian on which these 'super­
structures' are established and maintained; or we reduce these
entities (state, church, culture, etc.) to their true proportions, we
refuse to see them as the substance and hidden being of human
reality, we devalue them and we revalue the mere residuum upon
which they are built - everyday life; either we elect to serve
'causes' or we support the humble cause of everyday life.
We are not submitting here for the reader's approval or his
scepticism an interpretation of Marx and Marxist thought; we
are interpreting the history of philosophy, the philosophical and
theoretical situation in the mid nineteenth century. The theory
whereby philosophy is not content to philosophize, contemplation
to contemplate and speculation to attain total abstraction, this
theory of the realization of philosophy is to be found in Hegel; for
him the coincidence (identity) of reality and the rational is neither
accomplished, over and done with, nor ideal, indeterminate and
yet to be; he intercepts history at the point where it brings about
this union, seizes it in its dual and single character, rational and
real, philosophica and political, theoretical and practical. But the
theory, in fact, goes back much further and its beginnings can be
traced to Cartesian rationalism. For Hegel philosophical reason
was not a theory of pre-existing reality but was being realized in
the state founded under his own eyes and with his own assistance.
The politico-philosophical system puts an end to history as it dis­
closes its meanng, which is not only a philosophical system but the
practical (political) organization of Right and the State.
The writings of Marx on the realization ofphilosophy expand
Hegel's theory while directing it against itself. If philosophy can
be realized, why should Hegel's ad not the whole of philosophy
from Plato on be freed at last from accidents and redundancies?
Why should his theories be restricted to a state govered by a con­
stitutional monarchy, and the subject of such theories be only the
middle classes and state bureaucracy? Are the working classes not
involved in the continuation of history?
Such passages throw a certain light on the fate of Hegelianism
and are themselves clear only in this context. ¯ But they should not
" LÍ. Marxphilosophie, Pais, 1VO.
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 17
be confused with those where �r attributes to the proletariat
at one and the same time the refusal and the capacity to make a
fesh starrdamental break in history. These only add
a few super assertions to the frst.
We have now reached a junction, a kind of crossroads, and we
could do worse than to examine the lie of the land before we pro­
ceed any further. Behind us, as we stand at their point of inter­
section, are the way of philosophy and the road of everyday life.
They are divided by a mountain range, but the path of philosophy
keeps to the heights, thus overlooking that of everyday life; ahead
the track winds, barely visible, through thickets, thorbushes and
swamps.
We have, then, asserted that everday life is the object of philo- {
sophy precisely because it is non-philosophical. Thus we' direct
the couse of philosophy away from its traditional objectives. Con­
fronted with these objectives we retain a certain philosophical out-
look that is foreign to everyday man, who, in such a predicament,
finds himself completely bewildered, though he iscapable, when re­
quired, of taking risks; the certainty that is the philosopher's quest
has nothing to do with everyday man's search for security, and
philosophical adventures are free from any but spiritual dangers.
The philosopher tries unsuccessfully to dwell in the seclusion of his! ¹
s��llations, while everyday man, circumscribed by his po«es-
.
sions and his needs, ofen regrets his limitations· the latter is or
�-�closer to nature; and this applies more s�ecificany to
'
the

:.í
female of the species; she is more easily moved to anger, joy, pas- ��
sion and action, more given to emotivit and sensuality, less
estranged from the mysteries of birth and death and all forms of
elemental s¬ontane¬¬
�¯ �+ntssense the �er who has learnt and adopted the
attit�des of philosop�y (contemplat�on and speculation) sees e-jt
dylIfe as the repOSItor of mysteries and wonders that elude ls
disci1ne; it surprises him more than anything else in nature, and
he cannot forget that the first professional philosopher, Socrates,
who never wrote his own philosophy, used only everyday objects
to illustrate his dialogues: pots with the potter, shoes with the
cobbler .
18 £verydayIi|e in the ModenWorld
Woulditbe possibleforphilosophvtorediscovertheinnocent
wonder of revelationwhiledealing withevervdav life!Whatever
¡theoutcomeofsuchaconfrontationphiloso

hywilla�wavsv

�il-

latebetweenscornandadmirationforwhatI5 non-hilosopb|cal.
Thoughwetrytodirectthecourseofphilosophvandestablish
ourselvesnrmlvinmetaphilosophywehavenointentionofdoing
� awav with our philosophical heritage. We are not setting posi-
¯�
tivismagainstspeculation:weonlywishtoextend philosophvso
� ¯) astorealizephilosophicalreasonanddeterminetheunitvofrealitv
·�a reason. We may borrow for this purpose the philosopher's
*
¿¯
ections for the use of concepts, but we reserve all rights to
'
,
·
changetherulesandtointroducenewconcepts.Wemustnotfor-
getthatwearepractisingasortofmaieuticinassistingthebirthof
evervdav life's potential plenitude.Yet thesituationhasconsider-
ablv changed since Socrates: a new man must now be produced
andthenotionofmaieuticwillhavetostanduptothatofchange
andrevolution.
Wewillresistthetemptationtousesuchresolutionsas acover
� !ormoreunquietifnotmndisquietingintentions:thusweassert

ourdecisiontoexplo
rr

�Evervdaylifeismadeofrecur-
�nnces:gesturesof labo�ure,mechanicalmovementsboth
humanandproperlvmechanic,hours,davs,weeks,months,vears,
linearandcvclicalrepetitions,naturalandrationaltime,etc.:the
studv of creative activitv (ofproduction, inits widest sense)leads
to the studv ofre-production or the conditions in which actions
producingobiectsandlabourarere-produced,re-commenced,and
re-assumetheircomponentproportionsor,onthecontrary,under-
gogradualorsudd�nmodincations.
The riddle of���eintercepts the theorv of becoming.
Couldafundament

urrencebeconcealedwithin Heraclitean
time ßowing through the cosmos, history, social and individual
life,exhaustlesstemporalitvglimpsedonlvbvsomeofthegreatest
philosophers!Images,imaginationandtheimaginarvwouldseem�
tobeinvolvedinthistemporalßowandtoextendit:andvetisnot
thefabric of the imaginarv wovenfrom threads ofremembrance,
and therefore of recurrence! Images would thus be akin to me-
moriesandimaginationtomemoryaswellastocognition:which
¦
An Inquiry, and SomeDiscoveries 19
lastphilosophershavealwaysassociatedwithreminiscenceandre-
cognition(ofthe subiectinre6ection,oftheobiectinconception
andofbeingintruth).Couldimages,memoryandknowledgethus
recapture a fragmented unitv, a¯¬onvergence!Itis common
know|ed�nalysisstress�!h�morbideßectsotrau-
matic repetitions as well¯s:hc
+ ·m
an elucida¡ioncf these. Whatthenofrepetition!Isevervdavlife
oneaspectorthemeetingplaceofallrepetitions!Doesitanswer
one of the questions inherited from philosophv bv meta-philo-
sophv: howtocollateHeraclitean,HegelianandMarxistnotions
ofbecomingwiththecrucialfactofrecurrence!Howtocouniate
the·:nIiteantheorvofperpemalOtherness�whererecurrence
isastumbling-block- andParmenides'theoryofimmutableiden-
tityandsameness, whichuniversal motioninvalidates!Would it
bepossibletoestablishadialoguebetweenthefollowersofHera-
clitus, Hegel, Marx and those of that Eastern philosophv which
culminated in Nietzsche and includes Heraclitus as well! Could
everydavlifebe theoccasionforsuchaconfrontationanddoesit
possessthekev tothemvsterv ora clue tosomehigher truth!
Modern scholarshipshowsaparticular interestinlanguage, an
interestthatis alegacv from the age-old preoccupationwiththe
Logos (connectedtothe nature ofthe Logos). Thestudvoflan-
guage, and of related activities such as readingand writing, has
distractedtheattentionofscholarsfromasubiectthatwasinthe
earliestdavsof philosophva maiorpreoccupation: music, whose
understandingwasamatterforreßectionlongbeforethatoflan-
guage. Music is movement, ßow, time, and vetitis based onre-`
currence: all transmissible themes are potentiallyrecurrent÷ the
more so when transcribed: all music included inthe sound con-
tinuum isrepeatable:allmelodiestendtowardsanend(cadence)
that mav start arepeat~ as thekey-note at the endof an octave
divided into intervals (a scale) marks the beginning of another
octave. There can be recurrence of motif, of theme and of com-
bined intervalsinamelody. Emotions andfeelingsfromthepast
are re-evoked and moments recalled by and through music (and
bvthe imaginationand artingeneral).Therecurrenceofoctaves
inasequenccof¿ivensounds, unitvin dißerence, therelation

20 Everyday Life in the Modem World
number and quality are inherent to harmony; and harmony has
become an art and a discipline through the theory of chords, their
repetition and inversion and the recurrence of intervals and of
series; such a discipline contributes a logic both specific and
general, afordng a syntax and controlling and containing be­
coming - until the source runs dry of classical and non-classical
harmony, the tonal system and its dissolution, atonality.
If there is a relation between music on the one hand and, on the
other, philosophy, art and language, is there not a certain connec­
tion between music and everyday life as well? Does music express
the secret nature of everyday life, or compensate, on the contrary,
for its triviality and superfciality? Does it serve as a link between
'inner' and' outer' life, and, once such a link has been established,
can it be forceful and meaningful, given the ever-increasing split -
now practically' structural' - dividing the quotidian and the non­
quotidian, the gowing pettiness of everyday life? Could the same
questions be asked in conection with a number of other 'sub­
jects', such as architecture, painting, dancing, poetry or games?
Since man first speculated on music and thought - indeed since
Pythagoras -he has known that both comprised two facets or sides
(such words have so completely lost their freshness, their depth of
connotation that not even philosophical rhetoric can restore it):
number and tragedy. The musician here could enlighten the philo­
sopher, for music is nothing else but number and proportion (in­
tervals, rhythm, timbres) and it is at the same time nothing else but
lyricism, profusion and dream. It is all vitality, exuberance and
sensuality and all analysis, precision and permanence; but only the
greatest composers know how to reconcile the two facets. Number:
everything is calculated and measured; are there limits to enumera­
tion, boundaries to calculation, barriers to mathematics? No,
there are none or they are expandable, fluctuating: set up a wall
and the mathematician will scale it. But then tragedy? Number is
confronted with something it cannot grasp, which it encircles but
fails to reduce: the residuum; it is always there though it recedes,
seems to be nothing much, nothing, 'nothingness'; but look again:
it has grown infte beside your finitude, ocean by a strip of sand.
What have science and the scientist to say? 'It is nothing' ; a polder
An Inqury, and Some Discoveries 21
reclaimed from the sea by dams, canals, ships and dredgers, all the
parapheralia for overcoming and mastering the tides; then comes
the tidal wave . ... Obstinately myopic, the scientist refuses to see
anything in this residuum; yet it is the object of his conquest, the
wisdom of the future; if it is not infinite and infinitely valuable
what is to become of him? His fate and that of the poet are one,
though he ignores it. Tragedy: all is tragedy: life, death, failure
and victory. I can count the dying, time their agony, but the nature
of non-existence and of sufering still eludes me. The residuum is
where conquest and creation take place. The characteristic error
of traditional philosophy and metaphysics is to deny the value of
numbers and of science, but to assert that the residuum cannot be
reduced and that the realm of word and of song is the -rerogative
of civilization and gives it meaning.
And what of everyday life? Everything here is calculated"
because everything is numbered: money, minutes, metres, kilo­
grammes, calories ... ; and not only objects but also living think­
ing creatures, for there exists a demography of animals and of
people as well as of things. Yet people are born, live and die. They
live well or ill; but they live in everyday life, where they make or
fail to make a living either in the wider sense of surviving or not
surviving, or just surviving or living their lives to the full. D is in
everyday life that they rejoice and sufer; here and now.
At this point our objector will break in with a load of accumu­
lated arguments (of which he will certainly find no shortage):
'Non-philosophical reality? Real life? And with what else have
the so-called humanities and social sciences been dealing for the
past century or so? Political economy, psychology, sociology,
history, these specialized sciences have shared between them the
part of reality that eludes philosophy; reality is their particular
province, and thanks to them reality and the rational will regain
their unity. What entitles you to set everyday life thus in the lime�
light? What is it after all? Whether economic, psychological or
sociological it is the subject and the specific province of corres­
ponding methods and disciplines. Eve lif :s 5$e1g
-
c1othing, furnishing, homes, n¬bom¤ods eronmJt. .. ,
Call i t material culture i f you like, but do not confuse the issue.
/
22 Everyday Life in the Moder World
Your demographies and inventories are onIv one chapter of a
muchwiderscience,athing'sobsoIescenceanditschancesofsur-
vivaareonIvonestageintheprocessofageing,howevermetho-
d¡caIIvvoumav studv the meanings oftheseth¡ngsvou wiII not
avoidthedramaticattitudeandtheIvricaItonebecausevouchoose
todispensewiththeassistanceofcompetentschoIarsandsciences.'
Ourobiector'sargumentsareserious ,thevaretheargumentsof
positivism andscience. We shaII thereforemake a serious repIv :
'Whv indeed shouIdnot oneor otherofthespeciaIizedsciences
(historvorpoIiticaIeconomv)contributetothestudvofevervdav
Iife!AndwhvshouIdnotsuchastudv becometheprovinceofa
provisionaIIv seIected science, such as socioIogv for instance!
Þow,vouappear tobeIongtothe schooIofthought that demes
scienti6creIativismandseesscienceas absoIute, butvoucannot,
webeIieve,have overIookedthedangersuch anattitude presents
forthespeciaIizedsciencesvouaredefending.Whatistheirstatus!
Ithasneverbeenclearwhetherthevcarvetheirsubiectsandpro-
vincesfromawhoIetoovasttobeencompassedbvtheirspeciaI-
ities, or whether thev proiect their individuaI Iight-ravs on to
gIobaIreaIitv.Asaconsequenceofscienti6cnessvouwiIIbeforced
todenvthisquaIitvtocertainspeciaIitiesinfavourofothers ,thus
on behaIfofIinguistics, seen as a modeIfor scienti6c precision,
voumustwithdrawthisadvantagefrompsvchoIogv, historv and
socioIogv.Youseemtoforgetthattheseso-caIIeddiscipIineshave
onIv a reIativeexistence, reIated as thev are on the onehandto
practicaIactivitiesandontheothertoideoIogies÷ whichIastitis
theirtaskeithertoconsolidateoreIiminate.Thesesciencescame
intobeingwhen man~ or"themind"÷ attemptedand hoped to
overcomefate, masternature andcontroIitsIaws , suchrationaI
ambitions are not entireIv vain, as the speciaIized sciences aim
at operativeness ÷ and in this thev succeed. Indeed, thev have
methods, concepts, obiectives, 6eIds and provinces. Buthoware
thesedetermined!We m:st not forget that man or " themi
º

couIdnotcoverthedistancefrombIindsubiectiontofreedomat
asingIeIeap,w:tttheIndustriaIRevoIutionsociaIexiatcno¡�t1e
nineteenth centmsIowIyemergedfrommiIIenarv conditions of
want and subiection to unpredictabIe naturaI powers, and such
An Inquirv,and Some Discoveries 23
circumstancesrequiredaIongperiodoftransitionbeforeattaining
theconditionstowhichreasonaspired.Wantcannotbeovercome
aIIatonce ,someproductsansweringbasicrequirementsmavbe-
come avaiIabIe in certain industrial areas, but others, more
precious,continuetoberare,andfurthermore,unforeseenshort-
agesarise:shortagesofspace,time,necessitiesandthenecessarv.
Are the sciences of which vou think so highIv not responsibIe
amongotherthingsforthemaintenanceofexistingconditionsand
forthe unequaI÷ andoften unfair÷ assessment, inthe nameof
necessitv, determinism, Iaw,rationaIitvandciviIization, ofgoods
inshortsuppIv!IsthisinequaIitv,formerIvimputedtoIegisIation,
nottheresuIt todav ofscience, rationaIitvandthe knowIedge of
facts! !et it be understood that short suppIv is not for us an
iIIuminatingfeatureofhistorv,stiIlIessatheorvofeconomics,but
aphenomenonthataccountsforbehaviour.Aretheobiectivesof
these sciences entireIv unseI6sh and are thev as impartiaI as the
expertswouIdhaveusbeIieve!Aretheassertionsoftheseexperts
absoIuteIv reIiabIe! The endeavours ofthe so-caIIed humanities
cannoteasilv be rid oftheir ideoIogicaIcoemcient, for thev are
compounded of ideoIogies. Thus for the socioIogist Durkheim
compulsionwasidenti6edwithsociaIreaIitv,whiIehesawhimseIf
asan uphoIderoffreedom. Itisbvmeansofsuch contradictions
thatthespeciaIizedsciencesseekagreaterrationaIitv,thoughthev
cannotavoidtheoccasionaIcIashwiththerestrictedrationaIitvof
existing societies or with Iegalized and institutionaIized absur-
dities. The studv of evervdav Iife aßords a meeting pIace for
specialized:ci�some0g more 6esides;ñs(
jossibiIiI¯esoI comict 5etween U rT8U1rraIlonaIin
omsocie¡¸andour time, thuspermittmgt!eIormuIationo on
.±.ot¬ctm (initswidest sense) . how thesociaI
existenceofhumanbeings isproduced, itstransitionfromwantto
amuence and from appreciation to depreciation. Such a criticaI
anaIvsiscorrespondstoastudvofcompuIsionsandpartiaIdeter-
minisms , it aims at a reversaI of the upside-down worId where
determinismandcompuIsionareconsideredrationaIeventhough ×
reasonhasaIwavsattemptedtocontroIdeterminism

�iesmv�r\�� couId bereaIizedit wouId be¡ossibIefor¸
24 Lvcryday I¡Ic ìn thc ModcmVorId
· ucopÌc to adapt to thcir cxistcncc oncca¿�-such a possibiÌity
bcing onc of thc rcquircmcnts of crcativc activity, by which thc
products of naturc and ncccssity arc turncd into crcations and
asscts,intoaformofhumanfrccdom.RationaÌundcrstandinghas
aÌwaysbccndircctcdtowardscxistingconditions÷ thoughnotin
ordcr to acccpt thcm and bow bcforc thcir scienticness. Thc
attitudc which´puts a vaÌuc on compuÌsion invoÌvcs an idcoÌogy
disguiscd as rationaÌism and scicncc which itis our intcntion to
rcfutc.AdwcconcÌudcourcxpositionwithtwoconncctcd,corrc-
ÌatcdphcnomcnathatarcncithcrabsoÌutcsnorcntitics:cvcryday
Ìifc and modcrnity, thc onc crowning and conccal¡ng thc othcr,
rcvcaÌing and vciÌing it. £vcryday Ìifc, a compound of insig-
niñcanccs unitcd in this conccpt, rcsponds and corrcsponds to
modcrnity, a compound of signsbywhich our socictycxprcsscs
and iustiñcs itscÌf and which forms partof its idcoÌogy. WiÌÌ you
dcny modcrnity in favour of scicntiûcncss° You wouÌd rathcr
anncxitandpassoûyourscicnccasanincarnationofthcmodcrn.
Our argumcnt against such a prctcnsion is thc simvI�ou
. -�
app��ranccothcs�twointcr-dcpcndcnt'rcaÌitics",thcQuotidian
and thc Modcrn, b
�¡j

¡�
r
��¡

¸.

+¡¿,

,,�,¿
sohouscious
t�¡�-:ì·.:- adoptcd by Ìanguagc and thought. For thcir
dcûnitionandconncctionfactswiÌÌhavctobccxamincd,incÌuding
pcopÌc and what thcy say. Arc thcsc rcahtics csscntiaÌ, arc thcy
systcms of impÌicit or cxpÌicit mcaning, or arc thcy compcndia
offactsspcciñcaÌÌymcaningÌcssbcforcthcirappropriationbyÌan-
guagcandthought°Thcmainpointistostrcsshcrcandnowthcir
simuÌtancityandthcirconncction.ThcquotidianiswhatishumbÌc
andsoÌid,whatistakcnforgrantcd
¨
dthatofwhich»arts
foÌÌ� othcr in such a rcguÌar, unvarying su

ssion 1J
thoscconccmc
,

cahtoqucstionthcirscqucncc ,thusitis
u

datcdand(apparcnûy)insim fca h¯o:gh!t
,
�icsandprc-
occupicsitispracticaÌÌyuntcÌÌabÌc, anditisthccthicsundcrÌying
�routincandthcacsthcticsof famiÌiarscttings.Atthispointitcn-
countcrsthcmodcm.ThiswordstandaL¤atunovcÌ,briÌÌi�t,
taradoxicaÌandbcarsthcimurintoftcchnicaityandworÌdÌincss ,
itis(apparcntÌy)daringandtransitory,procÌaimsitsinitiativcamd
¡saccÌaimcdfor
.
itisartandacsthcticism~ notrcadiÌydisccrn-
A ¡nqmry, znd SomcOìscovcrìcs 25
ibÌcin so-caÌÌcdmodcm spcctacÌcsor in thcspcctacÌcthcmodcm
worÌdmakcsofitscÌftoitscÌf.Thcquotidianandthcmodcrnmark
and mask, Ìcgitimatc and countcrbaÌancc cach othcr. Today thc
univcrsaquoidian, accordingtoHcrmannBroch, isthc¯rsocì
mo�crni¬thc�nt ofotim�.³tsvariousaspcctsarcasmomcn-
tousinouropinionasthcatomicthrcatorthcconqucstofspacc÷
with which thcy arc surcÌy intcrdcpcndcnt. But arc thcy° This
qucstionwiÌÌbcdcaÌtwithÌatcr. HcrcarcthctwosidcsofarcaÌity
morcamazingthanûction:thcsocictyofwhichwcarcmcmbcrs.It
isimpossibÌctostatconccandforaÌÌwhichof thctwoisthcsigniñcr
andwhichthcsi¿ñcd:bothsidcssi¿fycachothcrrcciprocaÌly,
cach onc in tum bccomcs signiûcr or signiñcd according to thc
sÌantof Ihcinquiry, anduptothcmomcntofthcinquiryth�rcis
nothingbutaimÌcsssigniñcrsand disconncctcd signiñcds. Inthis
worÌdyouiustdonot knowwhcrcyoustand, youarcÌcdastray
by miragcs whcn you try to conncct a signiñcr to a signiûcd ÷
dccÌamation,dccÌarationorpropagandabywhichwhatyoushouÌd
bcÌicvcorbcissigniñcd. IfyouaÌÌowthcswarmsofsigns toßow
ovcryoufromtcÌcvisionandradioscts,fromñÌmsandncwspapcrs
and ratify thc commcntarics thatu�¡crminc thcir mcanings, you
wilÌbccomcapassivcvictimof thcsituation, butinscrt adistinc-
tionortwo÷ forinstancccvcrydayÌifc andmodcmty÷ and thc
situationis changcd: youarc nowthc activc intcrprctcr of signs.
'Rcadcr,thisisnota ncwfangÌcd guidctoa mazcof momcnts,
facts, drcams and satisfactions , it is not a trcatisc onthc corrcc
usc ofmodcrnity ande¬aym;DO ¡aHa manual of instruc-
-
_uon thc art of faÌÌing on onc's fcct. AÌÌ thcsc might wcÌÌ bc
writtcn, but thcy arc not our conccrn, cspcciaÌÌy as wcarc rcaÌÌy
morcintcrcstcdintransformingcvcrydayÌifcthaninscttingitout
rationaÌÌy. It wouÌdindccd bc surprising if wcwcrc rcstrictcd to
thc diptych modernity and thc quotidian, for aÌrcady a third
phcnomcnon is pccping ovcr thc horizon: U rationaÌ L Uc �
�at can rcason havc to do with cvcryday lifc and
modcrnity° What conncction can thcrc bc bctwccn thc rationa¯
�~ ~ ... - · � ¯ ´
.
and thc irratiocaÌ° Wcarc aÌrcady famiÌiar with such qucstions:
�..~
thcy wiÌÌÌcad to a furthcrcxamination of thc function and pÌacc
of thcimagination: and on thc way wc shaÌÌ considcr somc ncw
26 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId
terms such as the City, for instance. (We purposely avoid the
terms "urban" and "urbanism" for fear of multiplying words that
qualify concepts but surreptitiously tend towards entities and
essences.)'
All that remains now to end this introduction is to beg the
reader's indulgence for its shortcomings. Our study centres mainly
- and only too obviously - on everyday life in France and we can
but ask if it is the same elsewhere or if here it is singular and
typical. But are not present-day Frenchmen trying as best they can
to emulate the Americans ? What are the signs of insularity and
specificity ? Is there a world-scale tendency towards homogeneity
in everyday life and ' modernism', or on the contrary towards their
, diferentiation? These questions necessarily concern our problem
and we shall try to answer them as pertinently as possible, though
these answers cannot be entirely satisfactory; a comparative study
would require a wide knowledge of diferent countries and lan­
guages if it is not to become a superfcial race-psychology; but it
is not unpleasant to scan the horizon even while knowing that it is
out of reach. The important thing is to keep going and to discover
what we can on the way.
First stage
*
We are about to undertake a fairly important inquiry into facts
that philosophy has hitherto overlooked and the social sciences
have arbitrarily divided and distributed. Indeea�'the experts of
specialized sciences tend to isolate facts to their own conveniences,
classifing 1hm according to categories that are both empirical
and distinct and filing them away under such headings as family
sociology, consumption-psychology, anthropology or ethnology
of contemporary communities, or the study of costumes and be-
` ¯ ÅDC ÍOÍÍOWIHR SCC¡IOH IS û SUHHûtV OÍ ¡DC ÛtS¡ ¡DtCC VOÍUHCS OÍ ¡DC
Critique de lu vie quotidienne lÏûtIS). ÅDC ÛtS¡, DUDÍISDCC IH 1V+Ú, WûS tC-
ISSUCC IH 1VJV ûHC I¡ IS ûH IH¡tOCUC¡IOH, ¡DC SCCOHC WûS DUDÍISDCC IH 1VÚ3.
ÅDCDtCSCH¡ WOtK ISû ´ CIRCS¡ ´ OÍ¡DC ¡DItC VOÍUHC ¡Dû¡ IS S¡IÍÍ IHDtORCSS, ¡Dû¡
IS ¡O SûV, I¡ COH¡ûIHS ¡DC HûIH ¡DCHCS WDIÌC CISCûtCIHR û HUHDCtOÍ ÍûC¡S,
ûHûÌVSCS ûHC ûtRUHCH¡S.
P Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 27
haviour; while the task of extricating some kind of patter from
this jigsaw puzzle devolves to the practitioner (advertiser or town
. planner). Or they ignore everyday facts such as furniture, objects
and the world o(o¬eCts'time-iabes'; news 'ems-�an(radvertise­
mea��otI�
l
hilosopher in his scor for the qu�an.
In the initial stage of our inquiry we shall try to understand thes���
apparently meaningless facts and organize them systematicall� �"��
according to a pattern and a method. The advancement of learning
is ofen sparked of by 'salvages ' (from and by refection) of pre-
viously neglected or misinterpreted facts which are then appreci-
ated according to certain ' values' - or debatable ideologies - such
as labour for Marx and sex for Freud. Undertakings of this order
give a meaning to apparent meaninglessness and insignifcance -
and what could be more meaningless than everyday life ?
Such a project requres a critical attitude. If we accept the quo­
tidian passively we cannot apprehend it qua quotidian; we have to
step back and get it into perspective. Critical distancing, debating
and collating go together; if there were a system (social, political
or metaphysical) that we could accept, if the truth was a question
of ' all or nothing', if the system though real and true forbade
critical distancing, we would not b able even to grasp it; we
would be completely involved, essence and existence, reason and
language; neither awareness of it nor any awareness at all would
then be possible; either from the beginning of knowledge we
would know all there was to know or it would be beyond our
reach for ever. Everyday life - as distinct from art, science and
philosophy - is indeed the living proof that such a system does not
exist, for either the system includes everyday life and there is no
more to be said, or it does not and everything is still to be said.
On the other hand if there is no such complete and perfect system
it will not be easy to sif knowledge from ideology; a critical analy-
sis of everyday life will discover ideologies and the understanding
of everyday life must include an ideological analysis and, especially,
an incessant self-analysis.
We do not believe that our undertaking should distinguish
knowledge and analysis; it must be both polemcal and theoretical.
In addition theses and hypotheses concerning society as a whole
28 Everyday Life in the Modern World
must be part of our inquiry in so far as it is the analysis of a portion
of the reality of social experience and holds this portion for sig­
ni ficant. This applies to all theoretical inquiries; sooner or later
they merge with a general conception of society, of ' man' or of
the ' world', and if we do not start from the whole - which seems
the correct method - we will get to it in the end, short of remaining
entrenched arbitrarily in the particular and in theoretically dis­
connected facts and ideas. Thus the analysis of everyday life will
involve conceptions and appreciations on the scale of social ex­
perience in general. That is where it leads; it cannot avoid connec­
tions with strategical variables or the strategy of knowledge and
action. This does not mean, however, that such theoretical and
practical inquiries will take no account of individualities ; the
author assumes full personal responsibility in this series of opera­
tions and implicates no other person in any of its risks - not even
in the risk of error - but he cannot undertake to avoid humour and
irony and to maintain throughout the gravity proper to all forms
of scholarship. By challenging the position of others - their gravity
or lack of gravity - he challenges his own.
A method that aims at a comprehensive view of society is
naturally opposed to empiricism and the collation of endless facts
or would-be facts. Social and human facts are no more distinct
(conceptually, ideologically and theoretically) than are social com­
munities related by certain afnities to form a whole. If we wish>
to define everday life we must first defne the society wher� it is
lived, where the quotidian and modernity take root; we must define
,Its changs and perspectives, distinguishing from an assortment of
apparently insignificant phenomena those that are essential and
co-ordinating them. The quotidian is not only a concept but one
that may be used as a guide-line for an understanding of ' society';
this is done by inserting the quotidian into the general: state, tech­
nics and technicalities, culture (or what is left of it).* This seems
4he best way of tackling the problem, and the most r�-
¯ ÅDCCII¡ICûÍ ¡DCOIV OÍCVCIVCûVÍIÍC IS¡DUSIûCICûÍÍV CIS¡IHC¡ÍIOH ¡DC S¡UCV
OÍ IH¡CIDCISOHûÍ ICÍû¡IOHS ÍIOH WDICD ûIISC DSVCDO-SOCIOÍORICûÍ ¡DCOIICS ¡Dû¡
CÍûIH ¡O ICCH¡IÍV¡DC ´ SDCCIHCûÍÍV SOCIûÍ ´lLÍ.L'Homme et fa societe, Í|Í, Ì VÚ¯,
D. ôJ).
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 29
cedure for understanding society and defining it in depth. It is
surely to be preferred to those long, circuitous meanderings of
whi.�hthe most remarkable and at the same time the most popular
is �thnoloy, which would have us believe that, in order to under­
stand the modern world, it is essential to know all about the
Bororos or the Dogons and that we will discover the meaning of
culture and civilization through studying the habits of these popu­
lations; though we are well aware of the interest and utility of such
inquiries we cannot but question the probability of their leading
to a better understanding of our own society; the long way round
is sometimes only an excuse for escape. Nietzsche at least was
more thorough than these ethnological romanticists when he went
right back to the earliest sources of civilization beyond' Ju�eo­
Christianity to pre-Socratic Greece and the East with Zarathustra.
The present inquiry should not be confused with those forming
part of a popular series: Everyday life in diferent ages and civiliza­
tions. Some of the volumes of this series are remarkable, in that'
they illustrate the total absence ofeveryday lie in a given com­
munity at a given time. With the Incas, the Aztecs, in Greece or
in Rome, ev
e
:detail (gestures, words, tools, utensils, costumes,
etc.) bears the imprint of a style; nothing had as yet become pro­
�,not ever-t�uotldIan; ¡T�and the
y
oetry �ri»��
still identical. Our own everyday life is typical for its yearning and
quest for:
:
yle that obstinately eludes it; today there is no style,
notwithstanding the attempts to achieve one by resurrecting for­
mer styles or by settling among their ruins and memories - so
much so that style and culture can now be distinguished and
opposed. The series consecrated to the study of everyday life gives
ony a muddled and confused idea of it, and does not succeed in
isolating what was specifcally quotidian after trade and monetary
economy had become generalized with the establishment of capital­
ism in the nineteenth century. From then on the prose of the.
world spread, until now it invades everything - literature, art and
objects - and all the poetry of existence has been evicted.
Thus the diference between our inquiry and others on material
life and culture stands out from the start. For the historian who
is not content with dating events it is essential to know how people
30 Everyday Life in the Moder World
were clothed and in what sort of dwellings they lived in various
communities, classes, countries and periods. Histories of furture
and of costumes are of the greatest interest, * but we are concerned
with the fact that peasant cupboards had a certain style (where
peasants had cupboards) or with the fact that household utensils -
pots, pans, bowls - varied from one place or one class to another;
in other words our inquiry bears upon an understanding of the
interdependence and simultaneous distinctness of the forms, func-
tions and structures of such things. Thoug they were subject to a
possibly endless number of variations, which it may be extremely
rewarding to catalogue, they maintained a certain unity of form,
function and structure which constituted their style. If we want to
understand former societies - or our own - we should neither dis-
sociate dwellings, furniture, costumes or food by filing them into
systems of difering significance, nor consider them as a �ingle ��
general concept - such as culture, for instance. F_urthermore, when �
market

beca e common between the capital and the pr�nces

rythIng (objects p, Fo c mDcinfence �
'of thi

predominant ûa!nc �aIIu¬~the world to prose.
��
Wntten shortly afer the LIberatIOn In I 94ôthe Introduction à�
fa critique de fa vie quotidiennet bears the mark of the prevailing
æ o·�·
circumstances. In France at that time economic and social exist-
ence were in the rocess of reconstruction and many people
beeved that they were building a new society, when a 1 they were
r@y doing was to re-establish Uc old social order in a slightly
modified fo1. The book contains an interpretation of Marxist
thought which is relevant to the present inquiry; it challenges both
philosophism and economi�, refusing to admit Ua Marx' s
L = reduced to a philosophical system (dialectical ,'
materialism) or to a theory of political economy. The termproduc-
rM/
tion acquires . more forceful and a wider signifcance, when inter-
preted according to Marx's early works (though still bearing Das
Kapitaf in mind) ; production is not merely the making of products :
�signifes on the one hand ' spiritual ' production, that is t9
¯ LÍ. F. ÛIûUCCÍ . La Civilsation materiele, ÏûIIS, 1VÚ¯.
| NOÍ. I, ÛIS¡CCI¡IOH,ÏûIIS, 1V+Ú, SCCOHC CCI¡IOH, ÏûIIS, 1VJV.
P Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 3 1
y
ay creations (including social time and space), and on the other �
material production or the making of things ; it also signifies the �
self-production of a ' human being' in the process of historical
´ ¯
�elf-development, which involves the production of social relations.
'
Finally, tfken in its fullest sense, the term embraces re-production,
not only biological (which is the province of demography), but the
material reproduction of the tools of production, of technical in­
struments and of social relations into the bargain; until they are
shattered by de-structuralism, a society's social relations remain
�onstant, their reproduction being the outcome of a complex im- ¡
�ulse rather than that of inertia or passivity; this impuls�:


any-faceted phenomenon that afects objects and beings, ich _¸
controls naturand adapts it to humanity by hmH this praXiS!
�d poiesi Um K place in the higher spheres of a society (sate,

scholarship, ' culture ') but in everday life. Such is the basic asser- .
tion or theoretical postulate of the Introduction. In other words a
society, according to Marxist theories, is I) an economical basis:
labour, producing material objects and wealth, and the division and
organization of labour; 2)a structure: social relations, both struc-
tured and structural, determined by the basis and determining
relations of ownership; 3) a superstructure: jurisdiction (acts and
laws), institutions (amongst others the state) and ideologies. Such
is the main outline ; however popular interpretation reduced the
superstructures to a mere shadow of the basis ; the operation was
then given the philosophical name of materialism, used dogmati-
cally (and very un-dialectically). This outline became inapplicable
as a consequence of its drastic simplification; it only produced an
endless series of controversies on the utility of superstructures,
The Introduction àfa critique de fa vie quotidienne took part in
these controversies. Scholarship pertains to the superstructures
in connection with ideologies, and it is efective since science plays
an essential part in material production. Ideologies are made of
understanding and interpretations (religious or philosophical) of �
th

world and knowledge plus a certain am

unt of illusion, and\
C

Ilght bear the name of ' culture' . A culture IS also a praxis or a �P�
means of distributing supplies in a society and thus directing the
flow of production; it is in the widest sense a means of production,
J2 Everyday Life m the Modem World
a source of ideologicallv motivated actions and activities. This
activeroleofideoloæeshadtobereinstated inthe Marxist plan
� S in order topreventits degenerating into philosophism and eco-

I
nomism:thenotionofproductionthenacquiresitsfullsi�e
²
asproduction bv a humanbeinzof his own�tene Iurther-
more,consumptionthusre-enterstheplanasdependentuponpro-
duction and with the speci6c mediation of ideologv, culture,
institutionsandorganizations.Inthisrevisedformthereisafeed-
back(temporarvbalance)withindeterminedproductionrelations
(capitalism)betweenproductionandconsumption,structuresand
superstructures, scholarship andideologv. This imulies6rst¡hat
)�re is notuseless, a mere exuberance, but a speci6c activitv
mn! Jn ß modcoIexistcnce; and second that class interests
(structurallvconnectedtoproductionandpropertvrelations)can-
notensurethetotalitvof asociew'soperativeexistenceunaided .
Evervdavlifeemergesasthesociologicalpoint offeed-back: this
crucialvetmuchdisparagedpoint has a dual character: it is the

{ofaUthepossiblespeci6candspecializedactivitiesoutside
socialexperience)and theproduct of societv in general: it is the
pointofdelicatebalanceandthatwhereimbalancethreatens.Arevo-
lution takes placewhenand onlvwhen,insuch a socieiv,people
ca

nol�nger l�ad their

evervdav lives: so longasthevcanlive
thetrordinarvhvesrelattonsareconstantlvre-established.
Sucha' revisionist 'or 'rightist 'conceptionofdogmatictheories
gaverise,infact,toanextremist(lehist)politicalattitude. Rather
thanrebuildIrenchsocietvduringthecrisisandtrvtosecurethe
leadershipinthisreconstruction,wouldit notbebettertomake
thecrisisanoccasionfora ' changeof life'!
Þotwithstandingitslofìvthoughshort-livedaimstheIntroduc­
tion àlacritique de lavie quotidienne is dated.At that momentof
historv(I946),inIranceatanvrate,therewasstillageneralbelief
inthepossibilitvofman'sself-realizationthroughproductiveand
creativeactivities. Dißerentformsof activitv might, itistrue, be
stressed according to dißerent class ideologies: some, owing to
theirupper-class preiudices, hada rather condescendingattitude
to work of anv kind and manual labour in particuIar: others,
imbuedwithreligiousfervour,preachedthespiritualvalueofwork
¬ InquIrv,and Some Discoveries JJ
considered as eßort and morti6cation: certain social groups
praised all intellectual activities (in I946theterm ' cultural ' was
not vet in use). But notwithstanding such controversies on the
nature and essence of ' creativitv', one fact emerged: work was
endowedwith an ethicalas wellas a practicalvalue: people still
hoped to ' express ' themselves through a profession or a trade:
amongworkersandlabourers,among 'labourites' notafewsaw
a true dignitv in manual labour andfound vindication for their
class-consciousness in such views. These views coincided with a
politicalplan, elaboratedbvcompetentorganizers,wherebvsoci-
etv would be reconstituted according toprinciples oflabourand
thelabourer:inthisidealsocietvproductionwouldplavanimpor-
tantpartandsocialrationalitvwouldassumethedualaspectofan
extensive social promotion of the working classes and a general
replanningoftheeconomv. Iromasociologicalpointofviewthe
Irench nation, iust aher the !iberation, still formed a socio-
economico-politico-ideological whole, notwithstanding ÷ or per-
haps because of÷ desperate struggles, controversiesand political
clashes.Thiswholeappeared(orre-appeared)virtuallvcomplete:
the second !iberation ÷ the social change that was to follow
shortlvinthefootstepsofthepolitical!iberation(victorvoverthe
oppressor)÷ wouldconsolidatethisunitv:proiectandexpectation
wouldcoincideinanhistoricalmoment.Butthismomentwasnot
tobe: itfaded awavand wassoon almost completelv forgotten.
Atthisturningpointofhistorv,withsuchprospectsahead,aliena-
tionassumed anewanddeepersigni6cance:itdeprivedevervdav
life of itspower, disregarding its productive and creative poten-
tialities, completelv devaluing it and smothering it under the
spurious glamour of ideologies. A speci6c alienation turned
material povertv into spiritual povertv, as it put an end to the
fruitfulrelationsarisingfromthedirectcontactofcreativeworkers
withtheirmaterialorwithnature.Socialalienationturnedcreative
awareness÷ andthebasic' realitv'ofart~intoapassiveawareness
ofdisasterandgloom.
This was the time when writers and poets were also trving to
discoverorrediscovertruevalues Theirquestledthemtowards
naturcandtowardsimagination,intotherealmofmake-believeor
34 EverydayIiîe inthe ModemWorId
that ofbasicpumordiaI reaIity. SurreaIism, naturaIism, exIsten-
tiaIIsm, eachinitswayputthestress onsocia' r��y'endowing
itwiththe!nhenµ�Hti�s�¢î��ty.ThIs cm� �Jora-
tionofafamiL�r, IsunderstoodreaIity÷ everydayIife ÷ wasthus
reIatedtohumanism, �d1cIa¬enat«�ttcfor��rhraI
humanism rt�rtuIace it by a new re��Iut¡o�r�f�m ow�d
so±c¡nv perhaps to the post-Liberation cIimate. The new
humanism did not aspire to enIIst rhetoric and ideoIogy in the
causeofareformofsuperstructures(constitutions, State,govem-
ment)butto ' aIterexistence'.
Certainobservationsmadeatthetimehavebecome,añertwenty
years, socioIogicaI and |ournaIistic commonpIaces. In I 94ô, as
today, the discrepancies in everydayIifefrom one sociaI cIass to
another resuItedmorefromthe type ofincome received (wages,
saIary, fees, uneamed income) and the manner in which it was
adminIsteredand distributed, thanfromits size. Ahigh standard
ofrationaIitywasattainedbythemiddIecIasseswheretheheadof
thehousehoId,husbandorfather,heIdthepursestrings ,he gave
thewoman,wifeordaughter,ahousehoIdaIIowanceandputaside
theremainderintheformofsavings ,ifhedidnoteconomizeand

savebutchosetoenoythepresentratherthaninvestinthefuture
' �

hewentcountertohisconscience,hisfamiIyandsociety.Atypica!
� middIe-cIassf

miI

savedandinvestedattheIeastpossibIeriskfor
the best possibIe income, the good father founded the famiIy
fortune or increased it, and it was transmitted by Iegacy, even
thouUexperiencehadprovedthatmiddIe-cIassfortunesweredis-
persedbythethirdgenerationandthattheonIywaytoavoidthis
wastoraiseone'sñnanciaIstandard.Consumptionwasthewife's
province÷ andtheimportanceofherfunctionisstiIIincreasing÷
thoughin I 94ôitwa�stiIIreIativeIyIimited.
In those days the peasantry stiII practised anaturaI or cIosed
economy, theirmeanswere extremeIy restricted, administration
wasdividedequaIIvbetweenthewoman,whowasinchargeofthe
houseandout-houses(garden,chicken-run,etc.)andthemanwho
took care ofthe cuItivation ofthe Iand. Savings were inkind ~
seeds,preservedfruit,etc.÷ andwereusuaIIysquanderedatfesti-
vaIs. Asforthe workingcIasses, theyIedahand-to-mouthexist-
P ¡nquiry, and SomeDiscoveries 35
encehavingneitherthepossibiIitynortheincIinationtosave,the
husband's pay was handed over to the wife, usuaIIy untouched,
andsheaIIottedasmaIsumtohermateforhispersonaIexpenses,
ifhewasagoodhusbandandsheagoodhousewIfe.Suchwomen
spent without bargaining, paying what was askedfor reasons of
prideasmuchasofhumiIity.TheIabourersdidnotstint,theyhad
inheritedfromtheirpeasantancestryatasteforgoodfood, good
wIne and a certain degree of comfort, a taste that had been
eradicatedfromtheIowerandmiddIecIasses.
SuchisthesocioIogicaI contentofthe 1ntroductionÔ la critique
de la iie quotidienne; but the book goes further, attempting to
capture a panoramic view, rather than to dweII too much on,
minutiaeandonpureIypracticaIdistinctionsbetweencommunities
and cIasses.
TheresuItisasortofcontrastingdiptych,wherethemstpanel
represents the misermeierl¤e, its tedious tasks, humiIia-
tionsreûectedintheIivesoftheworkingcIassesandespeciaIIyof
women,uponwhomtheconditionsofeverydayIifebearheaviest÷
chiId-bearing and chiId-rearing, basic preoccupations with bare
necessities,money,tradesmen,provisions,thereaImofnumbers,a
sortofintimateknowIedgeofthingsoutsidethesphereofmateriaI
reaIity. heaIth, desire, spontaneity, vitaIity, recurrence, the sur-
vivaIofpovertyandtheendIessnessofwant,acIImateofeconomy,
abstinence,hardship,represseddesires,meannessandavarice.The
second paneI portrays the (oYer o!eier)da) lne, its continuity, '
the permanence ofIife rooted inthe soiI, the ada¡tation ofthe
body, time, space, desire, environment and the home, the un-
predictabIeandunmeasurabIetragedyforeverIurkingineveryday
IIfe, the power ofwoman, crushed and overwheImed, ' ob|ect' of
hIstory andsetybut�I��·he�IncvtabIe 'siibcc!'andmunda-
tIon:cn³�om:ccurrcm gestm+� a ¤orld� ofsensory
«xperience, the coincidence ofneed with satisfaction and, more
rareIy,withpIeasure,workandworksofart ,theabiIitytocreate
interms ofeverydayIifefromitssoIids anditsspaces÷ tomake
something Iasting for the individuaI, the communIty, the cIass ,
the re-production of essentiaI reIations, the feed-back aIready
mentionedbetween cuIture andproductivity, understanding and
36 Everyday Life in the Moder World
ideoIogies,whichisatthebottomofaI�thecontradictionsamong
these terms, the battIe6eId where wars´are waged between the
sexes, generations,communities,ideoIogies ,thestruggebetween
theadaptedandthenon-adapted, theshapeIessnessofsubiective
exoerience and the chaos of nature: mediations between these
terms and their aftermath of emptiness, where antagonisms are
bred that break out in the ' higher' spheres (institutions, super-
structures)
Animportantproblemnowemergesfromthiscontext .theprob-
IemoftheFestivaI,ofwhichpIayandgamesareonlyoneaspect.
The 1ntroduction Ô la critique de la iie quotidienne stressed its
peasantoriginandthesimuItaneousdecIineofStyIeandtheFesti-
vaIinasocietydominatedbythequo tidian.St,!e1×sdcgenerated
intoculiurebdded(ntoev�ryºycuIturefor themassesand
highercuIture,aspIitthatledtospecializationanddecay.Acan
replace neither styIe nor the Festival, and is an increasmgIy
spactivhµarodes uFesuvºl, ºnorntadorn-
inc5utfUingtotrsfrit
Howevcr�11cstivaI
ha¯not compIeteIy·uµµcavcd a·ho¤vh it onIy survives in
meetings, parties and funfairs that are a poor substitute and faII
short of the required glamour, these are none theIesspIeasant
enough imitations on a reduced scale. A proiect to resurrect the
FestivaI would thus appear to be iusti6ed in a society whose
characteristicsareanabsenceofpovertyandthegrowthofurban-
ism: and a revoIution, whether vioIent or non-vioIent, con-
sequently acquires the new signi6cance of a Iiberation from the
quotidianandtheresurrectionoftheFestivaI.TherevoIutionsof
thepastwere,indeed,festivaIs÷ crueI,yes,butthen is there not
aIwayssomethingcrueI,wildandvioIentinfestivaIs!TherevoIu-
tionofthefuturewiIIputanendtothequotidian,itwilIusherin
prodigaIity and Iavishness and break our fetters, vioIentIy or
peaceabIyasthecasemaybe.ThisrevoIutionwiIInotberestricted
tothespheresofeconomy,poIiticsandideoIogy:itsspeci6cobiec-
tivewiIIbetoannihiIateeverydayIife:andthepericdoftransition
wiII aIso take on a new meaning, oppose everyday Iife and re-
organizeituntiIitisasgoodasnew,itsspurious rationaIityand
authorityunmaskedandtheantithesisbetweenthequotidiananû
^ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 37
theFestivaI-whetherofIabourorofIeisure-wiIInoIongerbea
�t�isofso�iety.

AhertwentyyearswemaysummarizeandcIarifytheintentions
of this book: but the time perspective that makes them cIearer
does IittIe to disguise theirartIessness. We shouIdnot, however,
overIookthefactthatwhenitwaswrittenwewereiustemerging
from the two festivaIs so generousIy organized 5y the PopuIar
Frontandthe!iberationandthatthedisruptionofeverydayIife
wasthenanintegraIpartofrevoIutionaryactivityandofrevoIu-
tionaryromanticisminparticuIar.ButtherevoIutionbetrayedour
hopesandbecamepartofeverydayIife, aninstitution, a bureau-
cracy,aneconomiccontroIanda rationaIizationof productionin
thenarrowestsenseoftheterm,sothat,confrontedwiththisstate
ofaßairs,wewereIeh wonderingif theword ' revoIution'meant
anythinganymore.
OnIywhenconsideringtheIifeoftheworkingcIasses÷ andby
redeemingandextoIIingtheircreativeabiIity÷ diditbecomecIear
that there was a power conceaIed in everyday Iife's apparent
banaIity,adepthbeneathitstriviaIity,somethingextraordinar) in
its ier) ordinariness. ThiswasIesscIearandmorequestionabIeif
weconsideredurbanratherthancountryorviIIageIife,andmore
questionabIe stiII in reIation to famiIy Iife, notwithstanding the
hardshipswomensobraveIyboreandwhichendowedthemwith
a certain dignity. WhereexactIydid ourartIessnessIie!Perhaps
thetheoryofeverydayIifehadbecomecontaminatedbyaformof
popuIism,magnifyingtheIifeoftheproIetariat,ofthemaninthe
street÷ ofpeopIewhoknewhowtoenioythemseIves,howtoget
invoIved, takerisks,taIkaboutwhattheyfeItanddid.ItimpIied
bothan obsession with the working classes (vaIues of trade and
Iabourandthecomradeshipsof Iabour)andaphiIosophicaIobses-
sion with the genuineness conceaIed within the ambiguity of
experienceand within arti6ciaIityandspuriousness.
Are such assertions, petitions and proiects irredeemabIy out-
dated, shouIdwe give them up for good andaII, orcan they be
reformuIatedmoreartfuIIy!ThisquestionwiIIbeansweredIater.
Þone the Iess our criticaI anaI_sis m ea,Iife invoIves, in
1
retrospect,aparticuIarviewofhistoryandthehistoricityofever
· i
'

38 Everyday Life in the Modern World
day life can only be comled by exposing its emergence in the
( Undoubtedly people have always had to be fed, clothed,
housed and have had to produce and then re-produce that which
has been consumed; þt ¤uu nineteenth centur, until the
advent of competitive capitalism and the expansion of the world
of trade the quotidian as such did not exist, and the point we are
, making he :scal, it is indeed one of the major paradoxes OfV.
history. In the heart of poverty and (direct) oppression there wal
st)le, in former times labourso!skihwere produced, whereas to
��
.
I
"day we have (commercialized) ¡roducts and exploitation has re
� Placed violent oppression. Style gave significance to the slightes
object, to actions and activities, to gestures ; it was a concrete sig-
nificance, not an abstraction taken piecemeal from a system of
symbols, There was a style of cruelty, a style of power, a style of
.. wisdom; cruelty and power (the Aztecs, Rome) produced great
styles and great civilizations, but so did the aristocratic wisdom of
Egypt or of India. With the rise of the masses (who were none
the less still exploited) and with democracy (the masses still being
exploited) great styles, symbols and myths have disappeared to­
gether with collective works such as cathedrals, monuments and
¨
festivals. Modern mim (the man who praises modernity) �e man·
´ V
of transition, standing between the death of style and its rebirth.
¸ v
�¯ That is why we musLs style ßHG �u sU te
��! latter' s fragmentary character, its lack of unity, and why we a�
� �ed m formulatmg a revolutionar plan to recreate a sty�,
�� resurrect the Festival and gather together culture's scattered fra -
��lments for a trans guratlOn of everda lIc

Second stage
This summary of theories formulated in an earlier work is given
here for a specific reason. The sequel to the 1ntroduction, the
Critique de la iie quotidienne itself, was to have developed and
clarified these theories and elaborated the assertions ; thus the
main section of the work would have dealt with the historical
evolution of everyday life showing:
a) the gradual dissociation of quotidian and non-quotidian (art,
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 39
religion, philosophy) and the consequent dissociation of economics
and direct returns, work and production, private and public afairs ;
b) the decay of style that ceases to influence objects, actions and
gestures and is replaced by culture, art and aestheticism or ' art for
art's sake' ;
c) man's estrangement from nature, accompanied by a sense of
loss (of nature and the past) and an absence of rhythm; the dwind­
ling of tragedy and temporality;
d) the substitution of signs - and later sigals- for symbols and
symbolism;
e) the dispersal of communities and the rise of individualism
(not to be confused with self-realization) ;
f) the profane displacing but not replacing the sacred and the
accursed;
g) the division of labour stressed to the point of specialization
and the subsequent loss of unity compensated by ideology ;
h) anguish arising from a general sense of meaningessness, the
proliferation of signs and signifieds failing to make up for the
general lack of signifcance.
The Critiquede laiiequotidiennewas to have related these facts
to the bourgeoisie as a consequence of their ideologies (rational­
ism based on a narrow-minded interpretation of laws and con­
tracts), of their disproportionate sense of private property and of
the excessive importance attributed to economics. The projected
work would also have shown that all attempts to save the situation
were doomed to failure, since capitalism had to be preserved; that
art could neither re-assemble the disjointed fragments, transform
that which eludes ' culture' , replace sty Ie nor infuse the quotidian
with non-quotidianness ; that ideologies (aesthetics, ethics, meta­
physics, positivism or a more or less subtle form of rationalism,
were equally inadequate for such a task and only serve to enhance
the commonplace. Everyday life is the vital element in which the
working classes thrive, and they could - or might - challenge and
change it; but it is the bourgeoisie who control the quotidian, and
they try, without much success, thanks to their higher incomes, to
make it into one long holiday so as to avoid its drudgery. In the
past this might still be done; the Dutch bourgeoisie in the seven-
+ Everyday Lie in the Modern World
teenth century did just this, when they wanted to enjoy the fruits
of their labour : the leading citizens, comfortably established in
their era and their homes, found it a stimulating experience to see
their opulence refected in the works of contemporary painters,
where they were also able to admire their numerous conquests
over the Uly ocean, over distant countries and over their
oppressors ; in those days art was a link between fidelity and free­
dom, adventure and stability, insignificance and significance, new
perceptions and lively feelings, or, in a word, between style and
culture; but such times cannot be restored. The modern bour­
geoisie banks on the absurd illusion of replacing art by aestheti­
CIsm.
This section of the projected work was to have been the frst of a
triptych, the other two panels of which were an analysis of ideo­
logies and a theory of the individual (with a complementary theory
of individualism) called respectively ' Mystified Conscience' and
' Frustrated Conscience'.
Though written in part, this work was never completed or pub­
lished, because the author soon realized that the momentous
changes taking place in society at the time had transformed his
' subject ' to the point of making it unrecognizable or virtually non­
existent. However, the exposition of our present inquiry can only
beneft from references to this ' history' of recent times that reveals
a number of significant facts.
Between I 950and I 9ô0the social conscience, and the ideology
stemming from production, creation and the humanist notion of
work, lost their clarity of outline - slowly, in terms of days and
weeks, very fast in the perspective of history. Social liberation had
miscarried; the working classes - who increased, as it were, both
in quantity and in quality - were losing ground socially and politi­
cally; the workers were being dispossessed of their conscience, and
attempts to build a new society based on this conscience had not
succeeded. Furthermore the model for such a society, the US S R,
had fallen into disrepute, as the failure of the Liberation in Western
Europe was echoed by the failure (or near failure, which is in some
respects worse) of Stalinist socialism; the notion of a revolution
and the entire socialist ideology were depreciated and were losing
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 41
their radicalism - their ambition to reach the very roots of
humanity and of society.
After ten years it is hard to say what exactly happened; yet there
is little doubt that the way to historical truth had been blazed and
many a half-truth had been uncovered. Basically capitalism (some­
what modified but structurally identical) and the bourgeoisie (out­
side and above its many national and international components)
had regained the initiative. But had they ever lost it ? Possibly
between the years I 9I 7and I 933 ,but from I 950on the situation
was reversed. Militarily over-run and reduced to impotence, fas­
cism had served its purpose : as a strategic episode in the battle of
the international bourgeoisie it had its after-efects, for the bour­
geoisie as an international class had succeeded in absorbing or
neutralizing Marxisl and deflecting the practical implications O
Marxist thonght, by assimilating rational planning while pervert­
ing the society from which U:8pilosophically superior ratiopality
originated. The dialectic trend of history had been turned -
momentarily - against itself and had been annihilated; dialectic
thought had lost its roots. Thus an attitude of mind and con­
science that had seemed to be deep and lasting was universally
deprived of significance. The role and the ideologies of the work­
ing classes were losing their distinctness ; and a new mystifcation
was being launched: the middle classes would only retain a
minimum of power and wealth; perhaps . . . ; but none the less it
was they who were still in the limelight and directing the play,
because their ' principles ' and their ' culture ' were ' superior' to
those of the working classes.
Clearly such a process is extremely complex. To begin with, it
is a process. Here the questioner intervenes asking, ' What ? How?
Do you really mean to say that there was a vast conspiracy to
expropriate the working classes, that an invisible conductor
directed the operations from behind the scenes ?' The question is
allowable, but it concerns once again history and the historian.
Evidently there was never a fully conscious ' cause', a theoretically
defined ' situation' or a carefully planned ' class strategy'. And yet
class strategy, situation and design existed. A class cannot be con­
sidered as a philosophical ' subject ' any more than can a society;
42 Evetday Life in the Moder World
but they possess unity, wholeness, totality, in a word ' system'. Let
us reformulate the question thus : 'Who was responsible ?' It is an
important question, but its importance is secondary because the
main point is to understand what the cOisequences were of the
tremendous amount of personal intiative, social tragedy, ideo­
logical undertakings and of activities of all kinds during this
crucial period.
The ' process ' passed over the heads of most people like a tidal
wave over bathers by the sea; those who managed to keep their
heads above water had their share of ducking and bufeting, but
they survived by swimming with the tide. This process assumed
diferent aspects :
a) the introduction of neo-capitalism, which was an institu­
tionally modified version of former capitalism (competitive, then
monopolistic) with production relations unchanged;
b) the redirecting of creative activities with revolutionary ten­
dencies, by blurring and, where possible, eradicating productive
conscience in so far as it was creative;
c) the simultaneous liquidation of the past and of historical
influences challenged by the temporarily successful strategy.
At the time of the Liberation, France was still sufering from
the after-efects of the years immediately preceding the Second
World War: stagnation, birth control and the money-mindedness
of the ruling classes under the Third Republic. This was un­
deniably an old country and predominantly agrarian, its institu­
tions based on a compromise between industry and agriculture
and between the city and the country, and such characteristics
naturally involved a certain amount of sterile illusions, nostalgias
and increasingly outdated traditions. The Marxists had claimed
that they alone were capable of injecting new energy into the
nation, and had not succeeded in so doing. Now the renewal was
taking place without and therefore against them. But was it a
genuine renewal ? A revolution that miscarries always bears the
mark of failure; though it may appear to be successful and may
be described by its well-wishers as a ' silent' or ' invisible ' revo­
lution, it is in fact no better than a parody.
What were these traditions that had survived from an age of
P Inqu, and Some Discoveries 4J
peasants and artisans and of competitive capitalism? What ideo-
logies and ' values ', what half-significant systems vanished unob­
trusively at that time, decayed or discarded? It would be as
difcult as it would be tedious to relate; furthermore such ques-
tions are not our concern but that of the historian of ideologies
and institutions. To put it in a nutshell : this was the end of a form
of�<r�indi�dual attitude mdration-
alism an opi~on (profane, lay, anti-religious or even anti-clerical).
Outside philosophical scholarship, rationalism had been asso-
ciated for a long time with science and technology on the one hand,
and with the state on the other. During the period in question, the
positive or efective aspects of rationalism predominated; social
planning (a world-scale distortion and integration by the bour4��

geoisie of a Marxist notion) and organization (first at business leve|�
only but later generalized) were its province. _The concept o�
rationalism underwen 8chage ; gQw it was state-concerned and
politica� (though ofcially state-concerned organizations were
apolitical). The concept of organization(isolated from transitional
organicism) merged into that of institutmin neD-cpitalist social
pracice (ich may, up to a point, be thus defned, so long as the
relation between these concepts is made clear and the boundaries
of a now ' operative ' rationality are specified).
Together with the decline of rational thought (and the liberal
theory of thought as the province and embodiment of freedom)
there was a tendency to ignore individual ethical notions of the
quality of execution and of labour and of self-realization in one's
craft. Such ethics - which were an ideological representation
mediating between product and labour or between trade value and
' value' in the philosophical sense - as well as the placing of a value
on creative activity, had once been universally acknowledged, but
were now restricted to the members of a few more or less ' liberal '
(or so-called) professions (medicine, law, architecture, engineering,
etc.), where they served as a cover for the fact that they were com­
bining into organized bodies which formed the social and institu­
tional backbone of the new France. Faith in the dignity of work
and the worker had been drained from the working classes and
was replaced by rhetoric and nihilism.
.4 Evcryday ¡i!c in 1hc Modem Worid
.
WhcrcmausIiIIdcpcudcdouuaIurc,vhcrchcvassIiIIiuspircd
byIhcmouumcnIsoIIhcpasI,IcarrcigucdiuvisibIc- IcaroIvauI,
oIdiscasc,oIIhcuukuovu,oIvomau,oIIhcchiId,oIscxuaIiIy,oI
dcaIhandIhc dcad. JhisIcargavcriscIodcIcuccaudproIccIiou
mcchauisms,iucauIaIiousaud magic. OucoIIhc obiccIivcs oIIhc
Critique de la iiequotidienne vas au auaIysis oIsupcrsIiIious iu-
voIviug vordsaudgcsIurcs audIhcirIuucIiou iu dispIaciug aud
ucgaIiug Ihis dccp-rooIcdIcar. Iu Ihc pcriod vc arc sIudyiugIhc
prcdomiuaucc oI raIiouaIism vas incompaIibIc viIh such Icars,
audiudccdIhcysccmcdIorcccdc ,buIIhcyvcrcmcrcIydispIaccd,
uoI cradicaIcd. Jcrror uov rcpIaccd Icar, Icrror oI impcuding
aIomicvarIarcaudIhcIhrcaIoIauccouomiccrisis ;uoIau_Iou¿cr
|ctmoIuaIurctu uoIviIhsIandugthcchangcIoidcoIoicaI
aud¡iacticaIraIiouaI¡IyücIorioroIsocicIy. SuchIcrrordiduoI
do avay viIh Ihc Iormcr Icars ciIhcr, buI vas simpIy addcd Io
Ihcm. As acouscqucucc Ihc miuor supcrsIiIious oIcvcryday IiIc,
IarIrombciugcxpcIIcd,bccamc 'ovcr-spcciaIizcd' idcoIogicaIcou-
sIrucIs suchas horoscopcsaudcxoIicbcIicIs IhaIIosIcrcd, raIhcr
Ihauovcrcamc, Ihc nccdIorsccuriIy, moraIismaudmoraIordcr,
audvcrc,iuIacI,IhcrcvcrscoIraIiouaIism.SccuriIyvasbccomiug
iusIiIuIiouaIizcd.
JhcIormcr supcrsIiIiousIhaIuscdIopcrvadccvcrydayIiIcaud
givcirraIiouaIvaIucIoob|ccIs(acrusIoIbrcad, apiccc oIsIriug,
au oId caudIc-cud) uov rcccdcdbcIorc agrcaIcr aud morc dccp-
rooIcd irraIiouaIiIyihaI vas au cxIcusiou oIomciaI raIiouaIiIy;
Iragcdyvasdyiug ouIbccausciIhad mcrgcdviIhIcrroraudvas
rcprcsscd by raIiouaIiIy; uaIurc vas rcccdiug Ioo, Ior cvcu Ihc
mauuaI Iabourcr had IosI couIacI viIh his maIcriaI iu Ihc cou-
caIcuaIiou oIacIious audgcsIurcs. YcI a sorI oIgcucraInatural-
ization oIIhoughIs, rcßccIious aud sociaI couIacIs sIiII Irauspircd
IhaI vas Iikc Ihc vcrso oIraIiouaIism, Ihc mccIiug-pIacc oIirra-
IiouaIism aud raIiouaIiIy. Accordiug Io Marx, obiccIs rcßccI
absIracI Iorms IhaI sccm Io bcIoug Io Ihcm, Io bc parI oIIhcir
naIurcas IradcvaIuc isrcßccIcdinvarcs :sociaIaudmoraIIorms
appcarasgivcuiuasocicIy,audsodoIormsoIarI,acsIhcIicsaud
acsIhcIicism, aud Ihc riIuaIizcd Iorms oI sociaI rcIaIious. Jhc
raIiouaIis cousidcrcduormaIaccordiugIo Ihcuorms oIasocicIy
An Inquiry, and Some Discovcries 4�
suücicuIIyscII-cousciousaudorgamzcdIorIhcmisuudcrsIaudiug
(or mcIouymc) Io IakcrooI;aud Ihc uormaI bccomcs cusIomary
audIhccusIomaryis IakcuIoruaIuraI,vhichiuIuruisidcuIiñcd
viIhIhcraIiouaI, IhuscsIabIishiugacircuiIorbIockiug.Jhccou-
scqucuccoIsuchapparcuI(audcouIrivcd)Iogic~uaIuraIismuudcr-
sIudyiugas raIiouaIism- is IhaI aII couIradicIiousarc aboIishcd,
rcaIiIyisraIiouaI,rcaIiIyisidcaIiIy,kuovIcdgcisidcoIogy.
IIuovbccomcsucccssaryIoaskIvoqucsIious,orIvoscricsoI
qucsIious. IirsI, Ihis socicIy vas chaugiug Iacc; chaugc aud au

idcoIogyoIchaugc, parIicuIarIyiuIraucc,hadrcpIaccdIhc sIag-

uaIiou oIau carIicrpcriod vhcu ILc idcoIogics vcrc Ihosc oIa
��
vcII-Io-dobou
'
gcoisicuucous

iousIy

cccpIiugiIsscII-auuihiIaIiou
· ,�

.
IhroumIhcvidcsprcad pracIicc oIbirIh couIroI. JovhaI cxIcuI
��
� �Iad Ihis socicIy chaugcd? CouId suchIcrmsas capiIaIism, bour-
gcoissocicIy, IibcraIccouomy, cIc., sIiIIappIyIoIrauccorIoauy
oIhcrcouuIry?IIuoI,vhaIcouIdsuchasocicIybccaIIcd?ShouId
iIhavc a uamc, oroughIouc Iobc couIcuI viIh auiucoucIusivc
sIudyoIchaugcorsimpIyviIhsuggcsIiousIorapaIIcruoIchaugc ?
SuchqucsIious arc oIagcucraIiuIcrcsIaudmighIbc askcdby
IhcscicuIiñcaIIymiudcdiugcucraI,IhoughcachspcciaIizcdscicucc
viIIhavciIsovuspcciñcmcIhodsoIiuquiry-audIorcmosIamoug
Ihcsc viII bc socioIogy; buI Ihc sccoud scrics oIqucsIious has a
morcrcsIricIcdscopc.DocsIhcquotidiansIiIIhavcauysiguiñcaucc
iu Ihis socicIy aud, uIhisicI�basic prcoccup�tious arc .
r

IiouaIiIy,
'
rgauizaIiou a::d Iaiug�itiI�sibIc Io dis-
Iiuguish a IcvcI or dimcusiou IhaI cau bc caIIcd eier)da) l0e º �
nerIhcquoIidiauiusuchasocicIyis IakcuIo sIaudIorvIaIis
orgauizcdauduuo¬aImuucvLL¡uµ or iI isuoIhin.SurcIy .
this couccpI musI disappcar aIIhc samc Iimc asIhc siuguIariIics,
survivaIs audcxIcusious Iromau agc oIpcasauIs aud craIIsmcu
orIromIhaI oIIhcbourgcoisic oIcompcIiIivccapiIaIism.
IcIuscousidcrIobcgiuviIhIhcñrsI scrics oIqucsIious.
What should the new society be caled?
\uIiI Ihc ñrsI raIhcr couIuscd IormuIaIiou oîIhis qucsIiou bc-
Ivccu I950 aud I9ô0 (graduaIIy madc morc cxpIiciI Ihauks Io
'6 Everyday Life in the Moder World
sociologv)itwascustomarvtospeakof ' societv'withoutfurther
qualincation, thus making of social realitv an entitv, a ' social
nature' opposed to the individual or superimposed on the com-
munitv: or to speak with polemical intent of ' capitalist' or
' bourgeois' societies ~ designations that, without actuallv dis-
appearing, havelosttodavmuchof theirimpact and authoritv.
Later, sociologists borrowing from Saint-Simon launched the
term ' industrial societv'. It was indeed clear that, for thegreat
modernnationsatanv rate, industrial production, involvingthe
increasinglvimportantroleofstateandorganIzedrationalitv,was
acquiringan unprecedentedmagnitude.Industrvwasnota com-
plement of agriculture: thetwodidnothappilv co-exist, but the
mst absorbed the latter so that agriculture, in fact, became
industrialized. On the other hand the real distinctions between
' capitalism' and ' socialism' were not those exposed in their re-
spectiveideologies.Therewere, moreover, anumberofcommon
elementsinthesetwopoliticalrcgimeswhichclaimedtoberadi-
callvandsvstematicallvcontradictorv:foremostamongthesewas
therationalitvdevolvingfromtheindustrialsocietv'sorganIzation
ofproductivelabourandbusinessconcerns.Coulditbethatthev
wereonlv two variantsofonespecies!
The term ' industrial societv', though supported bv theories,
provokedagreatdealofcontroversv. Here,in brief,aretheargu-
ments of the opposition. Is there one industrial societv or are
thereman), anddoes each nationmd(orfailto6nd) itsspeci6c
courseinandbvindustria!ization!Cansocialismbedennedsimplv
as amethodof rapidlv industrializingunderdeveloped countries,
ordoes itleadbv newmethods to a specincform of societv and
civilization!Canitbeasserted,evenifthesubstitutionofsocialism
for capitalism no longer appears inevitable, that the world-scale
expansion of industrv and theindustrialization of the world are
conduciveto homogeneitv, to identical(because rational)struc-
turesinallcountries!Willthediscrepanciesincrease,orwillthev
graduallv vanish! The suggested term would appear to implv a
prematuresolutiontosuchproblems.
Furthermoretoacceptsuchatermwemustignorethefactthat
aæiculturalproductionhasonlvbeentotallvsupersededincertain
P Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 47
areasandthat' worldagriculture' persists.However, an' agricul-
tural societv' completelv independent ofindustrialization is now
inconceivable,andthisfactgivesrisetoviolentantagonisms.The

sggested term with itsattendantconcepts and theories does not
� llow for the formulation of questions, and in addition stresses
conomic ex¡ansion. Sociologv might, indeed, take dißerent
��spectsofsocialrealitvintoconsideration,butifittendstofavour
economics it must inevitablv over-emphasize deielo¡ment at the
expenseofqualitv(theæeaterorlessercomplexitvof socialrela-
tions, theirfruitfulnessorsterilitv)foreconomicrationalitv: and
thereisthefurtherriskof itsoverlookingotherdeterminingfac-
`� tors. Is industrialization possible without urbanization! Would

the main feature of a so-caUed ' industrial societv' not be (apart
fromaquantitativeincreaseinmaterialproduction)theexpansion
ofcities, orratherofanurbansocietv!Wouldnotthelogicalpro-
cedurefora' socialscience'thenbetostartfromthisdouble~ or
double-faceted - proposition: industriahzation andurbanizationº
Fortheoperationcannotfailtobescienti6callvquestionableifthe
twoaspectsaredissociated,theonebeingsetabovetheotherand
taken toascienti6cextreme.
In other words, the term ' industrIal societv' is exact in a dif-
ferentsensefromthatgiventoitbvitspromoters.Industvorthe
economiccapacitvformaterialproductionhasnotbeenrationallv
matered he theorv is still incomplete, even where socialism is
concerned:industrialexµansionisonlvmeaningful(acquiresorien-
tation and signi6cance) when understood as this double¡rocess
and throu_h it.¡dustrialheorvhasgivenrise¡�·��ques (o7
·
ganization and planning), but it was onlv with Marx that theseC"º*l¶¶+>
¬ìn aWnIûmsinceMandmoreespeciallysme
the working classes were dispossessed of the ' values' of produc-
�ion,wehavefallenshortof themcnin¿insteadofelucidatin¿and
r�alizingit.Urbanexistencegivessigni6cancetoindustrialization,
whichinturncontainsitasasecondaspectoftheprocess. From
acertaincriticalangle(atwhichwemavplaceourselves)itispos-
sibletosee urbamzation and itsproblemsas dominating the in-
dustrialprocess.Watscopehasan`industrialsocietv'if itfails
toproduceafruitfulurban luº Þone, unlessitb to¡roduce!o
_
48 Everyday Life m the Modem World
the sake_. AcIass can produce for proût, iide the
bourgeoIsIe.ButasocIety,evenwhenthebourgeoIsIeoraportIon
ofthe bourgeoIsIe are Inpower, cannotreadIIyproduceforthe
sakeofproducIng,andIfItseemstodosoItIsreaIIyproducIngfor
power and domInatIon, that Is for war, otherwIse everytrace of
IdeoIogy,cuIture,ratIonaIItyandsIgnIncancedIsappears.Doesthe
onenecessarIIyruIe outthe other!
InbrIef,onIyaportIonofthefactstobesetforthandexpIaIned
arecondensedInthesuggestedterm,ItcomesupagaInstanumber
ofprobIems thatcannotbeeIucIdated~ IetaIoneformuIatedand
soIved~ throughIts categorIes.ThIstheoryIs anIdeoIogy, aform
ofmodemzed ratIonaIIsm, andIts extrapoIatIons andaddItIons
are contrIvedby a skIIfuI dIssImuIatIon ofthetragIceIement, It
tends towards a mythoIogy of IndustrIaIIzatIon. Its theoretIcaI
exposItIonreTects(ratherthansIgIûes)aIackofmeanIngandthe
waysuchasocIetyrepIacesabsencebyIIIusIon,ItreTectsthemIs-
takenIdentIûcatIonoftheratIonaIwIththereaI,theexactIdentIû-
catIon of absurdIty and ratIonaIIty (IImIted and ratIfying Its
IImItatIons).
CertaIntheoretIcIans, rIghtIy Impressedby theImportant roIe
oftechnicaht) In the so-caIIedIndustrIaI socIety, have suggested
thenameoftechnologicalsociet).TheymaIntaInthattheImageof
a ' technoIogIcaI envIronment' Is more specIûcaIIy characterIstIc
ofsuchasocIetythanthatofa ' naturaIenvIronment' .
ThIsproposItIonIncIudes anumberofIndIsputabIefactsfrom
whIchItdraws adeûnItIon, aconceptanda theory.
ItIs afact thatInour socIetytechnoIogyhas become adeter-
mInIngfactor, notonIybyrevoIutIonIzIngproductIve condItIons
andInvoIvIngscIencedIrectIyInItstecbnIcaIachIevements.Indeed
theoryandapprecIatIongomuchfurther,andItIs,unfortunateIy,
omytootruethattechnoIogy~ unmedIatedbyacontroIIIngmInd
orasIgnIncant cuIture~ gIves rIseto apartIcuIar form ofsocIaI
andIndustrIaIconscIence.TechnoIogyIsreTectedInthesocIaIand
IndIvIduaI conscIence by means ofImages and ob|ects and theIr
reIated words. IorInstancea photographobtaInedwIthamaxI-
mumoftechnoIogIcaImeansand amInImumof 'sub|ectIve'Inter-
ventIon becomes part ofremembrance and daydreamIng In the
P Inqu¡ry, and Some Discoveries 49
famIIy aIbum, Inthe perIodIcaI or onthe teIevIsIonscreen. The
technIcaIob|ectwIthItsduaIfunctIonaIandstructuraIcharacter,
perfectIyanaIysabIeand' transparent ',IsgIvennodeûnitestatus ,
It compIeteIy Invades socIaI experIence. a town may become a
technIcaIob|ect ,sound-packetsobtaInedthroughhIghIyperfected
technIques provIde musIcaI components , a sequence of Images
technicaIIy noteworthy- bythe quaIIty ofthe photography, the
contInuIty and the montage~ becomes part ofa ûIm, a bareIy
modIûedcarorbIcycIeIsoûeredtothepubIIcasapIeceofscuIp-
ture, three or four pIeces of technIcaI ob|ects are exhIbIted as
' pIastIcspace' , wIthOpandPopartaesthetIcIsmIsaddedtothe
technicIstIctrend.ThegIancethatIscastuponatechnIcaIob|ect~
passIve, concernedonIywIththewayItworks, wIthItsstructure,
how It can be taken apart and put together, fascInated by thIs
backgroundIes

d�s¡lay aUIn transparent su:face~ thIsgIance Is
theprototy]eofasocIaIact,thereIn1us!beeûectIvenessofteh
vIsIon. The reaI message, says McLuhan, Is the medIum or
machIne,no,themessageIspurereûectIon.the¬ontheImage
InmIteIyreproducedIntheformofsocIaIreIatIons,acoIdeyeand,
as such, possessIng feed-back, baIance, coherence and perpetua-
tIon, Imageschange, the eye remaIns , noIses, sounds, words are
auxIIIaryandsubsIdIary, symboIsofImpermanence.
Whathas become ofHegeI'stheoryofart asapartIaI system,
acompendIumofsIgniûcances bestowed onseIectedob|ectsserv-
IngasactIvemediationsbetweentheothersystemsandsub-systems
that constItute a socIety (materIaI requIrements, ethIcs, Iaw,
poIItIcs,phIIosophy) !AccordIngtothIstheorythepartIaIsystem
IsonIyamedIatIon,butonewIthapregnantactuaIItythatconfers
cohesIononsocIety. ÞowthereûectIonofourreIatIonto atech-
n¡caIob|ect,the' medIum'(screen,set,etc.),reûectIonofareûec-
tIon, repIaces art as ' medIatIon'. CuIture Is adecayIngmyth, an
IdeoIogysuperImposed ontechnoIogy.
To theIntensIveconsumptIonoftechnoIogIcaI tokens we may
¬owaddthehIghIyconsumabIecommodIty.aesthetIcIsm,orºords
descrIbIng art and aesth«tIcs. T�i±��ity ded wIth aesthetI-
cIsmandIackInganyspecIncartIstIcmedIatIonorcuItureIsoneof
themoreobvIous|ustIncatIonsforthetermtechnologicalsociet,.
50 EverydayLiIeinthe Modem World
weshallnowaiveourreasonstorre]eetinathisterm.Itmavbe
askecitsuehasoeietvisstillasoeietvpreeiselvinsotarasitis
teehnoloaieal ,itelaimstobeateehtieal ob]eetancseesitseltas
sueh, it tencs to eliminate all the meciations that aave soeial
experienee its eomplexitvanceotneetecmaterialprocuetionto
iceoloaies, prineiples ancthe otten eontencina aroups otsians
ancsi¬iüeaneesthatenlivenecsoeiaexistenee.Iurthermorethe
expression ' teehnoloaieal environment' is auestionable, tor it
woulchemoreaptancexaettosavurban eniironmentsineeteeh-
noloavotlvprocueesan' environment'intheeitvancbvtheeitv,
outsicetheeitvteehnoloavprocueesisolatecob]eets .aroeket,a
racarstation.
Insotar astheterm' teehnolociealsoeietv'iseorreet,wemav
assumeatranuormationotteehtieal1v-thatwastormerlvlinitec
ancrepressecbvtheeüeetsothirtheontrol ~intoanautonomous
eeonomieall��ei�n s�ch¯� i�
open tiveo�vbvmeansotasoeial' laver'tencinatobeeomea
easteorelass :thetechnocrac). Ourceünitionunceraoes ameta-
morphosis, ancitnowseemsmorebeüttinatosav' teehnoeratie
soeietv' . However, teehnoeratieinñuenees are aetive onlvinor-
aatizational anc institutional spheres, their rationalitv cireetec
towarcs speeiüe encs anc means, so that we shoulc reallv sav
' teehnoeratieo-hureaueratiesoeietv'ancthusceprivethetermot
itsauthoritv.
Ancnotonlvitsauthoritv,torthispropositionexposesitsin-
aeeuraevaswell.Inceec,whatstrikestheeritiealobserverinthe
presentsoeietvis ade!cienc) o! technicaht). 1he ürst anctore-
mostottheteehnoeraev'sshorteominasisthatitcoes notexist,
thatitisaleaencancan iceoloæ ancthatthe alleaecreian ot
teehnolocvis,intaet,aeovertortheohverse.Allthevastaehieve-
ments otteehnolocv, sueh asthe eonauest otspaee, roekets or
nissiles, have a stratecie value , thev spell power anc politieal
prestiae,hutthevhaveno soeialpurpose,noeurrentutilitvthat
miahtin1ueneeevervcavliteancimproveit,evervcavexperienee
heneüts onlvtrom' teehniealtall-outs .Astoaacaets,thevonlv
simulateteehnieitv,ancunceroureritiealserutinvteehniealitvanc
teehnietvprovetobesubstitutes,theapplieationotteehnoloavto
P Inqui~,and8omeDiscoveries 51
evervcav lite a substitute tor teehnoeraev whiehi sitselta sub-
stitutetorthe true leacers oteeonomv anc polities. while our
soeietv appears to be paeiüeallv evolvina tewarcs a superior
rationalitv,tobeehanainauncerourevesintoaseientiüesoeietv
whereareatseholarshipisrationallvappliectotheuncerstancina
otmatterancothumanrealitv,thisseientiüenessonlv serves to
]ustitv£ureaueratierationalitvanc to prove (illusivelv)theeom-
petenee ottheteehnoeraev, teehnieitvanc ' seientiüeness ' meta-
morphosec into autonomousentitiesre-eeho eaeh other,]ustitv
eaehother,ancaetassubstitutestoreaehother.As)stemo!sub-
stitutions emeraes, where everv eompencium ot meatinas ~
apparentlvincepencentanäselt-sumeient~ re-eehoesanotherin
enclessrotation.Isthiswhatishiccenbehincrationalitvancour
soeietv'srationalbehaviour :

Is this situation ünal : while cispensina withhistorieitv anc
withthehistoriealasmethoc,miahtitbetheouteomeothistorv:
Itwoulcseemontheeontrarvtobetheprocuetotaspeeiüepre-
cieament, the ehallenae otpolitieal réaimes anc«vstems,anew
tormotworlc-sealeeompetitivenesswithalltheeonseaueneesthis
implies. In this precieament~ arms raee, rapic cepreeiation ot
militarvancteehtìeal eauipment, ohsoleseenee otteehnolocieal
ob]eetives~teehnieitvbeeomesrevolutionarv,itsroleisthatotan
uttulüllecrevolution(thouahitelaimsthestatusotanincepen-
cent taetor), weiahina onthe whole ot soeial experienee while
breakinaawavtromit~ thatistheparacox~ toprovokestrato-
spherieineicentsinpolitiealaswellasineosmiespaee.suehapre-
cieament threatens moreover to beeome struetural. 1he tuture
aloneeontainstheanswertosuehproblems.
In short the cesi¬ation ' teehnoloæeal soeietv' is also onlv
partlvappropriate,ancthatinotherwavsthanthosesuaaestec
bvitspromoters.Itthisrelativetruthisseenasabsoluteitheeomes
anerror,aniceoloaiealillusionan�amvth to]ustitvasituation,
toeoneealthetaetthatitisunbearableanctopromoteitshis-
toriealnoveltvattheeostothistorvanchistorieitv.
whatotthetermafuentsociet)?Oursoeietv'srapicpromotion
touueneeeoulcwellbeseenasaeharaeteristieteaturebvwhieh
toceüneit. Inceec,incustrialprocuetionanc' teehnoloav'eoulc
52 Everyday Life in the Modem World
lead to an unlimited productivity by way of the total automation
of production. Unfortunately for the definition (borrowed from
the American ideologists Galbraith, Rostow, etc.) automation is
accompanied by a number of restraining efects that might well be
more serious than most theoreticians believe; total automation
and afuence could lead to a total depreciation of certain com­
modities produced in excess, and thus undermine the very founda­
tions of trade value. Is it this prospect, rather than the threat of
unemployment to the working classes, that restrains automation?
This is not the place to dwell on such problems. In the so-caned
afuent or even lavish societies, in the United States and the highly
industrialized countries of Europe, nuclei of poverty and material
want still subsist. Furthermore, a new form of want is being
generated everywhere : though basic needs are now catered for (at
what cost ?), productive societies show no concer for the more re­
fned or ' cultural ' needs of the individual nor, on the other hand,
for basic needs that might be termed ' social ' ; this new poverty
takes root and spreads, ¡roletarianizing new social strata (clerks,
sales-assistants, certain technicians, members of the ' liberal ' pro­
fessions, etc.).
Furthermore, new shortages crop up in the so-caned afuent
society. In our countries we sufered formerly from shortages of
bread but never from a lack of space; com is now plentiful (bread
remaining scarce in some parts of the world), but space is in short
supply. The overcrowding of highly industrialized countries is
especially pronounced in the larger towns and cities. Time is
also becoming scarce, and desire. We saw how the distribution
of commodities in short supply became a ' science' trying to
prove its basic ' scientificness ' . Last and not least of our O bjec­
tions is that afuence has no value and significance if it fails to
recreate the Festival and if festivals are not its objective. Thus we
can reject this defnition like the previous ones on the grounds
that it is only exact in part and extrapolates these half-truths to
become absolute.
Societ)o!leisureperhaps ? Indeed, the most remarkable aspect
of the transition we are living through is not so much the passage
from want to afuence as the passage from labour to leisure. We
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 53
are undergoing the uneasy mutation of our major ' values ', the
mutation of an epoch.
Who can deny that leisure is acquiring an ever increasing im­
portance in France and in all so-called industrial societies ? The
stress of ' modem life' makes amusements, distractions and re­
laxation a necessity, as the theoreticians of leisure with their
following of jouralists and popularizers never tire of repeating.
A new universal social phenomenon, the holiday, has displaced
anxiety and is becoming its focal point.
This term, like those that preceded it, is based on facts ; but
other facts exist that make it unacceptable. Time-tables, when
comparatively analysed, reveal new phenomena: if the hours of
days, weeks, months and years are classed in three categories,
¡ledgedtime(professional work),free time(leisure) and com¡ulsiie
time (the various demands other than work such as transport,
ofcial formalities, etc.), it will become apparent that compulsive
time increases at a greater rate than leisure time. Compulsive time
is part of everyday life and tends to define it by the sum of its
compulsions. Modernity is therefore not self-evidently included in
!he age of leisur�. It is true that the ' values ' that were formerly
attached to work, trade and quality in creative activity are dis­
integrating and those attached to leisure are in the process of
coming into being; but if people think of their holidays all the
year round, this does not imply that the situation has created a
' style' giving a new significance to leisure; people may be looking
for such a style in the atmosphere of holiday resorts, but there is
little evidence of their having found it . . . . Leisure contains the
future, it is the new horizon, but the transition promises to be long
and dangerous. Only the total automation of production could
make a society of leisure possible; but a couple of generations
would have to be sacrificed in the venture, so great would be the
investment of capital required for its realization. The prospect
then is one of unremitting labour to bequeath to future generations
3 chance of founding a society of leisure that will overcome the
demands and compulsions of productive labour so that time may
be devoted to creative activities or simply to pleasure and happi­
ness. In the meanwhile labour and its drastic division of productive
54 Everyday Life in the Modern World
operations continues to dominate social experience. In automated
industry there is no longer any contact with the material or even
with the machine itself, but this non-labour (control, supervision)
is none the less daily work. Careers replace trades everywhere, with­
out alleviating - indeed, more likely, aggravating - the worker's
compulsion. Today leisure is frst of all and for (nearly) all a
temporary break with everyday life. We are undergoing a painful
and premature revision of all our old ' values ' ; leisure is no longer
a festival, the reward of labour, and it is not yet a freely chosen
activity pursued for itself, it is a generalized display: television,
cinema, tourism.
The term consumersociet)has increased in popularity since the
period under consideration (I950-ô0).It has been proved by con­
vincing statistics that in highly industrialized countries the con­
sumption of material and cultural goods is on the increase and
that so-called ' durable' goods (cars, television sets, etc.) are
acquiring a new and ever geater signifcance. These observations
are correct but trivial. The theoreticians of the ' consumer society'
mean or imply something more by this term; they assert that once
upon a time in the pre-history of modern society, when capitalist
economy and industrial production were still in their infancy, pro­
duction was not controlled by demand, and that contractors were
ignorant of market and consumer alike and their haphazard pro­
duction was launched to await the expected and desired consumer.
Nowadays, we are told, the organizers of production are aware of
the market, not only of solvent demands but of the desires and
needs of the consumer ; thus consumer activity would have made
its momentous debut in organized rationality; everyday life, in so
far as it exists, would be taken into consideration and (integrated
as such with scientifc rationality) embodied in the experience of a
highly organized society; there would no longer be any reason to
consider it as a level of reality.
Our answer is first that in France we have not noticed any
serious attempts at social and cultural ' market research' but only
at research into s¡ecmcneeds, and therefore into solvent demands.
It would indeed be too easy to show how badly and belatedly the
socialneeds peculiar to urbanexistence have been studied.
.
\
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 55
Moreover, even specifc needs are not submitted to unbiased
research; the manner of the inquiry reacts on the needs and be­
comes a part of social practice that freezes them. There exist,
besides, other more powerful methods of directing needs than
market and motivation research. What, for instance, is the role of
advertising? Is the advertiser the magician of modern times work­
ing out spells to entrap and subjugate desire, or is he merely a
modest, honest intermediary investigating public requirements and
broadcasting the discovery cf new, exciting products to be
launched shortly on the market in answer to such requirements ?
No doubt the truth lies between these two extremes. Does adver­
tising create the need, does it, in the pay of capitalist producers,
shape desire ? Be this as it may, advertising is unquestionably. a
powerful instrument ; is it not the first of consumer goods and does
it not provide consumption with all its parapheralia of signs,
images and patter ? Is it not the rhetoric of our society, permeating
social language, literature and imagination with its ceaseless in­
trusions upon our daily experience and our more intimate aspira­
tions ? Is it not on the way to becoming the main ideolog) of our
time, and is not this fact confirmed by the importance and ef­
ciency of propaganda modelled on advertising methods ? Has not
institutionalized advertising replaced former modes of communi­
cation, including art, and is it not in fact the sole and vital mediator
between producer and consumer, theory and practice, social exist­
ence and political power ? But what does this ideology disguise and
shape, if not that specifc level of social reality we call everyday life,
with all its ' objects ' - clothing, food, furnishing?
The term we have just examined is not entirely satisfactory. The
transition from penury to afuence is a fact; in this society of a
modified capitalism we have seen the transition from a state of
inadequate production to one of boundless, sometimes even pro­
digal, consumption (waste, luxury, ostentation, etc.), from priva­
tion to possession, from the man of few and modest needs to the
man whose needs are many and fertile (in potential energy and
enoyment) ; but like aU transitions it is not easily accomplished,
dominated as it is by inexplicable compulsions and trailing shreds
of a past age in its wake. It is the transition from a culture based on
56 Everyday Lie m the Modern World
thecurbIng ofdesIres, thrIftIness andthe necessIty ofekIng out
goodsInshortsuppIytoanewcuItureresuItIngfromproductIon
andconsumptIonattheIrhIghestebb, but agaInsta background
ofgeneraIcrIsIs.SuchIsthepredIcamentInwhIchtheIdeoIogyof
productIonandthe sIgnIûcance ofcreatIve actIvIty have become
anideolog)o!consum¡tion,anIdeoIogythathasbereûtheworkIng
cIasses oftheIr former IdeaIs and vaIues wh¡Ie maIntaInIng the
status andtheIn¡tIatIve ofthebourgeoIsIe. IthassubstItutedfor
the Image ofactIvemanthatofthe consumeras the possessorof
happIness and ofperfect ratIonaIity, as the IdeaI become reaIIty
(' me' , the IndIvIduaI, IIvIng, actIve sub|ect become ' ob|ectIve').
Þotthe consumernoreventhatwhIchIsconsumedIsImportant
InthIsImage,butthevIsIonofconsumerandconsumIngasartof
consumptIon.InthIsprocessofIdeoIogIcaIsubstItutIonsanddIs-
pIacementsman'sawarenessofhIsownaIIenatIonIsrepressed,or
evensuppressed,bytheaddItIonofanewaIIenatIontotheoId.
WehaveaIreadydIscussedtheaII-pervasIvepresenceofanextra-
ordInaryphenomenon,theenormousamountofsignmersIIberated
orInsumcIentIyconnectedtotheIrcorrespondIngsIgnIneds(words,
gestures,ImagesandsIgns),andthusmadeavaIIabIetoadvertIsIng
and propaganda. a smIIe as the symboI ofeveryday happIness,
thatoftheInformed consumerfor Instance, or ' purIty' sIgn¡ûed
In the whIter-than-whIte of a detergent, as to the dIscarded sIg-
nIneds (styIes, the hIstorIcaI, etc.) they are Ieftto get on as best
theycan,occasIonaIlyreInstatedas advanced Iearn¡ng- thepre-
rogatIve of the eIIte - orretrIeved to be turned Into consumer
goods(furnIture, houses,|eweIIery,InspIredfromworksofart or
antIques) andthus occupyaIeveIofsocIaIreaIIty.
SInce the begInnIng of aII these changes and the bIrth of
modernIty,socIoIogIsts,economIstsandpoIItIcIanshavefrequentIy
stressedthesIgnIncantroIeofthestate.AsareactIontoMarxand
oftenInopenprotestagaInsthIm,theyre|ectthemostremarkabIe
ofhIstheorIes, thatofthe state'sdecay. Inmost cases theyseem
obIIvIoustothefactthatthey arerevertIngtoHegeIiantheorIes,
opposIngHegeItoMarx, andthattodaywearestIIIexperIencIng
suchanopposItIon.WIIIthIsagewItnessthetrIumphofHegeIIan-
IsmandofthetotaIItarIanstateratherthanachIevetheph¡Iosophy
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 57
of a human totaIity! The state has certaImy acquIred In aII
countrIesmoreauthorItysIncethewarthan Iteverpossessedbe-
fore, even In the countrIes ofthe 'ThIrd WorId' In ' socIaIIst '
countrIes and In the AngIo-Saxon countrIes that had, untII re-
centIy,avoIdedthedemandsofstatecontroI,economIcprogram-
mIngandorganIzedratIonaIIty:YugosIavIaaIone perhaps Is stIII
freefromItsgrIp.ThepowersofdecIsIonareexertedfromonhIgh,
strategIes and strategIcaI varIabIes are eIaborated and opposed
above our heads. But onwhat are these powers exerted, what
foundatIons supportthemandwhomdotheyImpIIcate !What, If
noteverydayIIfe,bearstheweIghtofInstItutIons !TheysubdIvIde
It anddIstrIbuteItbetween themseIves accordIngtocompuIsIons
representIng and reaIIzIng the requIrements ofthe state andIts
strategIes. Such questIons may seem poIntIess, IIke aII protests
agaInststatecontroI,butItwouIdbemorepoIntIessstIIItoaccept
thesItuatIonwIthoutamurmurortoeIaboratetheorIesInsupport
ofthestateandtowhItewashIt.MoreoverthestrnctureIsaIready
showIngsIgnsofdecayInIranceand eIsewhere andboth 'pubIIc'
and 'prIvate 'reIatIonshavetheIrownprobIemsto face.
ThoughtechnoIogyhasachIevedaremarkabIedegreeofperfec-
tIonItIs aIways at state IeveI ~ space and nucIear research, arms
andstrategy~ thatresuIts are obtaIned. We sawthe dIscrepancy
between these and the technIcaI trIvIaIItIes ofeverydayIIfe, be-
tween the Importance ofreaI technIcaI constructs and the petty
gadgets wIth theIr IdeoIogIcaI wrappIngs. Thus aì¡er an InternaI
spIItcuIturetooIsdecayIng:secIudedIntheIrIvorytowerswehave
subtIe InteIIectuaIIty, compIex IIterary word-pIay and a certaIn
amateurIsmInstyIes andhIstory: downbeIowsprawIthevuIgarI-
zatIons, puns Inpoortaste, rough and bawdy games, the cuIture
ofthemasses.
Thuswhatcommands ourattentIonIsadi/erenceo!leielsand
nottheratIonaIequaIItyofdemands,consumptIonandcommunI-
catIon: a dIûerencethatIsprogrammedandorganIzedsothatthe
pyramidaIstructureofmodernsocIety rests onthebroadbase of
everydayIIfewhIchIstheIowestIeveI.
InWesternneo-capItaIIstcountrIestherehasbeennoovertpro-
grammingofproductIon,nototaIratIonaIIzatIonofIndustry,yet
58 Everyday Life in the Modem World
akIndofprogrammIng,asortoftotaIorganIzatIonhassneakedIn
unobtrusIveIy,omces,pubIIcorganIzatIonsandsubsIdIaryInstItu-
tIonsoperateonthIsbasIs,andthoughthestructureIacks coher-
ence,gratesand|oIts,nonetheIessItworks,ItsshortcomIngshId-
denbehIndan obsessIve coherenceandItsIncapacItyforcreatIve
IntegratIondIsguIsedaspartIcIpatIonandcommunaIIty.Andwhat
do these organIzatIons organIze,IfnoteverydayIIfe !
AroundI 9ô0thesItuatIonbecamecIearer,everydayIIfewasno
Iongertheno-man's-Iand,thepoorreIatIonofspecIaIIzedactIvItIes.
InIranceandeIsewhereneo-capItaIIstIeadershadbecomeaware
of|hefac uI���moe troubIethantheywereworth
andthere�a n��� � ¡:us
Ivs¡me�sInnatIonaI terrItorIe� �nd the organIzatIon ofhome
trade(whIchdIdnotexcIudetheexpIoItatIonof 'underdeveIoped
countrIes 'formanpowerandrawmaterIaIandassItesforInvest-
ments~ onIytheywereno IongerthemaInpreoccupatIon).What
dIdthe Ieaders do ! AII areas outsIde the centres ofpoIItIcaI de-
cIsIon and economIc concentratIon ofcapItaIwere consIdered as
semI-coIonIesandexpIoItedassuch:theseIncIudedthesuburbs of
cItIes, the countryside, zonesof agrIcuIturaI productIon and aII
outIyIng dIstrIcts InhabIted, needIess to say, byempIoyees, tech-
nIcIans and manuaI Iabourers : thus the status ofthe proIetarIan
becamegeneraIIzed,IeadIngtoabIurrIngofcIassdIstInctIonsand
ofIdeoIogIcaI' vaIues'. ThIsweII-organIzedexpIoItatIonofsocIety
¡nvoIvedconsumptIonandwasnoIongerresnthe ¬
ti�e cI�sscsonIy; cp¡taIisn¡,whiÍcreiring rhatpeopI�'�±t'
t�ode¡ncIrcum�Jd ocTieIeaders
of Industry produced haphazardIy for a probIematIc market ,
IImIted famIIy busIness concerns predomInated addIng theIr
bourgeoIs trebIe to the chorus praIsIng the wonders oftrade, of
\ · quaIIty, ofdearIy beIovedIabour. InEuropeañerthe war afew
\ °�� ��¯ �· ¯¬ ¨¬¨··- �·-· · · `' ¯~ <
gIñedandInteIIIgentmen (
^
hothey were Is not our concern) saw�
epossItIIItyofexpIoItIngconsumptIontoorganIzeeverydayIIfe.
� ������ •�� �
' EverydayIIfewascutupandIaIdoutonthesitetobeputtghr
í · ¸ ,.,,. . •.. >~~. · - · `
agaInIIkethepIecesofapuzzIe,eachpIecedependIngonanum-
ber of o:ganIzatIons and InstItutIons, each one - workIng IIfe,
prIvateIIfe,IeIsure~ ratIonaIIyexpIoIted(IncIudIngtheIatestcom-
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 59
mercIaIandsemI-programmed orgamzatIon ofleIsure). Thenew
town wasthe typIcaI, sIgnIûcant phenomenon In whIch and on
whIchthIsorganIzatIoncouIdbereadbecauseItwastherethatIt
waswritten. What, apart fromsuchfeatures as thenegatIon of
tradItIonaItowns,segregatIonandIntensepoIIcesupervIsIon,was
InscrIbedInthIs socIaItextto bedecIphered bythosewho knew
the code, what was pro|ected on thIs screen! Everyday IIfe ~
organized, neatIysubdIvIdedandprogrammedtontacontroIIed,
exacttIme-tabIe.Whateverthe sIze ofhIs Income orthe class to
whIch he beIonged (empIoyee, cIerk, mInor technIcIan), the In-
habItantofthenewtownacquIredthegeneraIIzedstatusofproIe-
tarIan:furthermorethe_�»towns(SarceIIes, Moureux,etc.)were
strangeIvremInIscentofcoIonIaIorse-coIoniaItowns,wIththeIr
straIght¯oadIsscrosslm a rIba angI����ducIr frequent
poIIce patroIs* : but these were more forbIddIng and austere,
perhapsonaccountoftherebeIngnocafesandpIeasure-grounds :
the coIomzers ofthemetropoIIsdonotencourageIevIty . . .
Tbe gìL cs may5e·rawnIromw precedes :
a)InIrance asInotherneo-capItaIIstcountrIesihechangesIn
socIaIpractIcehadnoteIImInatedthenotIonofeier)da) l0e,we
werenotconfrontedwIthacho1c between modcrmty audevery-
dayIIfe.Butthe::±::r:io¬+:»:hadm dcrgoneamca�
morpbosIsbv wbIcb¡iacq rea z�aternotß |-..-� .±r:¬·
IthadIostsomc o!1Is impI¡cauons, ibc stnkIngcontrast between
want and amuence, between the ordInary and the extraordInary,
forInstance,butotherwIseitwasuucbangedevcn�� hdA
In the modem worId

rd�yIfe had ceased to be a ' sub|

ct'
rIc�.�

totentIaIsub|ectIvIt
7
,Ithadbecomean' ob|ect' ofsocIaI
¯ ÅHCSC WCIC HO¡¡HC OHÍV SIPCûH¡ ÍCû¡UICS ûHCSHOUÍCHO¡DCSIHRÍCC OU¡
ÍIOH¡HC O¡HCIS.¡HUSWC SHOUÍC HO¡ UHCCICS¡IHû¡C ¡HC IOÍC OÍSCHI-DIORIûH-
HIHR, Ìû¡IOHûÍ PCCOUH¡S ûHC DICOCCUDû¡IOHS WI¡H COHSUHCI-ICSCûICH IH
ÏIûHCC, HOI¡RûRCS ûHC HIIC-DUICHûSC HUS¡ ûÍSO DC COHSICCICC ûHOHR ¡HCSC
ÍCû¡UICS.
T ÅHC ûU¡HOI ûCHI¡S ¡Hû¡ HC HCSI¡û¡CC ÍOI SOHC VCûIS DCÍOIC ICûCHIHR SUCD
COHCÍUSIOHS. ñOIC ¡HûH OHCC DC¡WOH 1 VJÜ ûDC 1VÚÜHC COHSICCICC ûDûHCOH-
IHR OO¡H COHCCD¡ ûHC IHCUIIV, ûHC ¡HIS CXDÍûIHS ¡HC ¡IIDC-ÍûDSC DC¡WCCH ¡HC
Û£$¡ VOÍUHC (Introduction u Íu critique de Íu vie quotidienne, 1 V+Ú) ûHC ¡HC
SCCOH0 l1VÚZ).
60 Everyday Lie m the Modem World
organization.Iarfromdisappearingassub|ectofreûection,how-
ever(whichitcouIdnothavefaiIedtodoiftherevoIutionarvmove-
menthadprevaiIed),itwasmoreürmIventrenchedthanever.
b)AIIthesuggesteddeûmtions ofoursocietvhaveprovedun-
acceptabIe. How can the distinctive features that have emerged
duringthisinquirvbe summarizedandformuIated?Wepropose
thefoIIowingterm. Bureaucratic Societ) o! Controlled Consum¡-
tion wherebv this societv'srationaIcharacteris deünedasweII as
the Iimits set to its rationaIity (bureaucratic), the ob|ect ofits
organization(consumptioninsteadofproduction)andtheleielat
wh¡chitoperatesanduponwhichitisbased�Tbs

demtionhastheadvantageofbeingscientmcandmore¡recisel)
formuIated than anv ofthe others* , moreoverit owes nothing
eithertoliteratureortoa' sociaIphiIosophv'extraneoustosociaI
realitv.
ßhatha];ened/n Trancebetween 1950 and1960?
WearenowinapositiontoanswerthisquestioningeaterdetaiI
thoughwe wishtomakeitquitecIearthat ourconcernisneither
withmattersofStateandadministration,withstrictIvurbanprob-
Iems, norwiththe(incompIete)controIthattradehasachievedbv
imuencingtheconsumer,itisbettertoIeave suchmatterstothe
economist,thoughwerefute economismbvaradicaI anaIvsis.
a) There is a contrast, aImost a contradiction, between cvcIic
andIinear(rationaI)timeand, morespeciücaIIv, betweencumuIa-
tive (sociaI) and non-cumuIative processes. Marx's theorv ofac-
cumuIationmust be brought up to date, forin Das Ka¡italand
connectedworksitisbasedonthehistorvofEngIandandWestern
EuropeaIone, whereasinthepastcenturvnewfactshavecometo
Iigt. ThusthereareotherthingsbesidescapitaIthat are sub|ect
" ÅHIS CCH¡IOH IS HO¡ IHCOHDû¡IDÍC WI¡H CCt¡ûIH O¡HCtS SUCHûS `HOHO-
DOÍIS¡IC CûDI¡ûÍISH OÍ b¡û¡C´, ÍOt IHS¡ûHCC. DU¡ IHOUt ODIDIOH I¡ ûÍÍOWS ÍOt û
HOtC ¡HOtOURH ûHûÍVSIS OÍ ¡HC SOCIC¡V´S ÍUHC¡IOHS ûHC S¡tUC¡UtC ûHC I¡ ROCS
ÍUtIHCt IH¡O ûC¡UûÍI¡ICS ûHC DO¡CH¡IûÍI¡ICS ¡HûH ¡HC Íû¡¡Ct, WHICH ûDDCûtS ¡O
S¡tCSS ¡HC CCOHOHIC ûSDCC¡ ûHC CCHO¡CS û CCt¡ûIH Dût¡IûÍI¡V ÍOt economism,
ICCOÍORV ûHC ´ VûÍUCS´ m ¡HC SOCIC¡V I¡ CCÛCS.
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 61
toaccumuIation. forinstanceknowIedge,techniquesandeven,to
a certain extent, popuIations, though here opposing tendencies
check or arrest the process , memorv is a tvpicaI process ofac-
cumuIation andthereforeanessentiaIcomponentofmechan¡sms
thatmateriaIizeandtech:ucaIizesuchaprocess. ButevervdavIife
is not cumuIative. In a societv, phvsicaI habits aIter from one
generation to another, gesturaI conventions change,intentionaI
phvsicaIexpressions(servingasameansofcommunication)such
asmimicrv, gestures, grimaces,aremodiüed,b¬struct_
-
Þ csdocs¬o!¯c1an�vsioIogicaI and bioIogicaI needs and
••tIe:r correspon±ng acmevements are shaped bv stvIes, civiIiza-
tions andcuItures , meansofsatisfvingandfrustratingsuchneeds
evoIveand,insofarasthevarephvsioIogicaIandbioIogicaI,these
deûcienciesandactivitiesshowacertainstabiIitvthatmigtsug-
gest the presence of a ' human nature' and a progressive con-
tinuitv.EmotionsandfeeIingschangebutthevarenotstoredup,
neither are aspirations. The number ofcaIories required bv an
American miIIionaire anda Hong Kong cooIie Is identicaI, the
cooIie ifanvthing requiring more than the miIIionaire. PhvsicaI
performances,eroticachievements,thetimerequiredforgrowing
up or growing oId and naturaI fertiIitv osciIIate on a reIativeIv
Iim¡tedscaIe.Thenumberofob|ectsthatapersoncanactuaIIvuse
in a Iifetime cannotincrease indeüniteIv. In shortthe eßects of
accumuIationonevervdavIife �up�ciaIthoughthevcannot
becompIeteIveIiminated. Eihenitchane


��
�ves
accordingto a rhvthm thatdoes not coincidewitht�of
ee aa � �e� e��� ��� ·ù� of
~ ~�·--=��··¬-=«< � ^*·~ �=� .~¬~ ¯ ¯¯"� °¨¨¯¯¯ ´¯ ¯¯
cumuIativeprocesses.ThusaniIIusioniscreatedoftheunbroken
contimy ofhouses,buiIdings andcitiesfromtheorientaItown
ofproto-historvdowntothepresentdav. . .
However,asocietvIosesaIIcohesionifitcannotr�-es¡abIishits
- ~~¯¯¯¯¬¨¬~~·¬......~**¯¨
¯
un¡tv,thatiswhvmode

nsocietvtries tocontroIthechangesthat
t
���'¨ E ,¸,
ev
��|� ������ goods and
' fashions ' is acceIeratcd bvthe process ofaccumuIation,mentaI
fatiguesetsinatshorterandshorterintervaIstiIIitovertakes that
ofmachines, techn¡caI appIiances, etc. , our societv seem s to be
headingfordisasterandseIf-destructionwhiIewarmaintainspeace
ô2 Evcryday¡¡Ic m thc ModcmWorId
hcrcandthcrcbyvariousmcthods."£vcrydayIifcisprcscrvcdin
mcdiocrity or it must pcrish (vioIcntIy or othcrwisc, but aIways
undcrcompuIsion).

ThusthccomictbctwccnaccumuIationandnon-accumuIation
isrcsoIvcdinthcmcthodicaI subordination ofthc Iattcr andits
organizcddcstructionbyarationaIitybordcringonthcabsurdbut
cxccIIinginthcman¡puIationofpcopIcandthings.
b) RcmarkabIc changcs havctakcnpIacc in thc semantic!eld
considcrcd as awhoIc (thatis,thcwhoIcofsocicty as thc thcatrc
whcrc mcamng is cnactcd in various spccibc contcxts). S)mbols
had bccnpromincntin this bcId for many ccnturics, symboIs dc-
rivcdfromnaturcbutcontaimngdcñnitcsociaIimpIications.How-
cvcr,inthccarIystagcs ofourciviIizationthcrcwasapcrccptibIc
shiü from symboIs tosigns as thc authority ofthc writtcn word
incrcascd, andcspcciaIIyaf|crthcinvcntionofthcprintingprcss.
Todayafur

fromsignstosignals,istakingpIacc,ifithas
notaIrcadyhappcncd. Thoughthc signaI bgurcs inthcscmantic
bcId togcthcr with thc symboI and thc sign, it dißcrs from thcsc
in that its onIy simibcancc is convcntionaI, assigncd to iI by
mutuaI agrccmcnt, inthis rcspcct it can5c comparcd to ccrtain
signs such as Icttcrs that composc articuIatcd units (words and
monomiaIs)but that arc othcrwisc mcaningIcss. Thc signaI com-
mands, controIs bchaviour and consists ofcontrasts choscn prc-
ciscIyforthcircontradiction(suchas,forinstancc,rcdandgrccn) ,
furthcrmorc,signaIscanbcgroupcdincodcs(thchighwaycodcisa
simpIcandfamiIiarcxampIc),thusformingsystcmsofcompuIsion.
ThisshiütosignaIsinthcscmanticbcIdinvoIvcsthcsubicction
ofthcscnscsto compuIsionsandagcncraIconditionlngofcvcry-
day Iifc, rcduccd now to a singIc dimcnsion (rc-asscmbIcd frag-
mcnts)bythc cIiminationofaII othcrdimcnsions ofIanguagcand
mcaning such as symboIs and signibcant contrasts. SignaIs and
codcs pUvid�JIi¤�I �Ystcmsforthcm ��..�
d
thin.s� tho:ighthcydono c�c� ����� c �an�Jc
trytobgurco)ithowth�' nc �man�usc�his��mory,wc shaIIscc
that1c�ust rcgistcr oncc and for aII cach action, gcsturc and
¯ YC SHûÍÍ COHC ûCtOSS ¡HC HO¡IOH OÍODSOÍCSCCHCCûRûIH ÍUt¡HCt OH.
¬ Inquiry, and SomcOiscovcrics ôJ
wordof 'anothcr'asthoughthcscwcrcsignals. Whatatcrrifying
visionoffuturchumanitythis imagc comurcsup!
c)Thcrcdircctingofcrcativccncrgyfromworksofarttoshows
anddispIaysofrcaIity(thccincma,tcIcvision)hasnotabIcimpIica-
tions. ' DispIaysofrcaIity'havcbccomcadispIaytradcandadis-
pIay oftradc oßcring a pcrfcct cxampIc ofa pIconasm, though
suchrcdundancyis sccn as asatisfactory stabiIity(fccd-back) by
thc rationaIists oforganization. Thc rcsuIt, howcvcr, is a fairIy
vividawarcncssofcrcativcimpotcnccandofthcdcccptivcnaturc
ofaform ofconsumptionthat takcs no account ofstyIcs and of
thcachicvcmcntsofthcpast.ThcnaturaIoutcomcofthissituation
was an attcmpt to compcnsatc idcoIogicaIIy for thcsc short-
comings , whcncc thc thcory of ' participation' foIIowcd 5y �hc
thcory of' crcativity' . FormcrccrtainticsfaI thatwcrc rcIatcdto
a contcnt (rcaI or apparcnt). Formwithout contcntis dcccptivc,
moughitis acccptcdas' purc'formandthus assumcs thc roIc of
structurc,butnoncthcIcssthcscnscofalosso!substanceprcvaiIs,
a tragic scnsc morc prcgnant than thc ' discnchantmcnt' with
rationaIity that Max Wcbcr (who stiII had faith in rationaIity)
anaIyscd. Whcrc did thc scnsc of substantiaIity of formcr agcs
comcfrom?Wasitfromnaturcorfromthcapparcntuniqucncss
ofso many things andthcconscqucnt vaIuc attachcd to thcm?
Fromtragcdyanddcath,orfromstyIcandthccthicsofartasthc
substantiaImcdiatorofform?WcmaywcII askl
d)BcforcthcSccondWorIdWarthcrc wcrc stiII traccs ofan
oIdcr socicty surviving in Francc and cIscwhcrc in £uropc. In-
dustriaI production had not yct swampcd and absorbcd thc rc-
mains ofpcasantproductionandcraüs ,viIIagcsstiIIthrivcdand
thccountrysidc surroundcdthctowncvcninindustriaIcountrics ,
thcIcgacicsof ¡re-ca¡italismhadnotyctbccnsctasidcasfoIk-Iorc
(nor cxhibitcd as such for tourist consumption) , industriaI pro-
ducts co-cxistcd with thc products ofruraI craI¡s. Suchobiccts
posscsscd a symboIic vaIuc thatwas aIrcady outdatcd,andcon-
tradictory into thc bargain, somc stoodfor what was rarc and
va!uabIc (icwcIs, ornamcnts, ctc.) , othcrs rcprcscntcdrichcs and
profusion in thc midst ofpcnury: thus thc massivc cupboard or
sidcboard, thc cumbcrsomc doubIc-bcd, thcIongIooking-gIassor
64 EvorydayL¡!o m tLo NodomVorId
tLo ¿randIatLor cIock roñoctod an aImost mytLoIomcaI past and
bocamo status symboIsIor tLo aristocracyandtLomiddIo cIassos
aIiko;andtLosamocouIdbosaidoIbuiId¡n¿s.TLososuporimposod
strataoIvariousIydatodobjoctsIosttLoirsontimontaIvaIuointLo
poriod wo aro d¡scussin¿ tLrou¿L tLo intorvontion oIa Iorm oI
capitaIismtLator¿anizodandcontroIIodconsumptionandtLods-
tribution oI so-caIIod durable consumor ¿oods. In otLor words
trado oconomy, stimuIatod by noo-capitaIism, invadod wLat is
somotimosknownas' matoriaIcuIturo',oIiminatin¿tLorosiduooI
tLosostrata.TLoapparontoxcoptionsworoworksoIS andstyIos
oILigorIowporiods ,objoctsboarin¿tLomark oIcroationworo
rosorvod Ior tLo ' óIito`, a spociaI markot and a spocibc brancL oI
production (copios and imitations oI ori¿inaI works) takin¿
cLar¿o.*
Th/rdsta¿e:a]ter1960
To subdvido andor¿anizoovoryday IiIo was notonou¿L,nowit
Lad to bo¡rogrammed. TLo Buroaucratic Socioty oI ControIIod
Consumption, assurod oIits abiIity and`proud oIits succoss, is
attainin¿its ¿oaI andits LaII-conscious intontions aro comin¿ to
Ii¿Lt: to cybomotizo socioty by tLo indiroct a¿oncy oIovoryday
Iifo.|
-.-...-�.-.----.-.-----.-.-�-..---
¯¯orydayIiIoin£rancois or¿amzod accordin¿ to a concortod
pro¿rammo; tLo so-caIIod suporior activitios (appIiod scioncos,
otc.) aro not onIyincroasin¿Iyawaro oItLo quotidan, itLas bo-
comotLoir sp�o
+
ovinco. DaiIyIiIois tLo scroonon»u�
" The Critique de la vie quotidienne in its projected desig was to have
formed a triptych with ' Mystifed Conscience' and ' Frustrated Conscience'.
Conscience has not ceased to be frustrated, but today we can add to the theory
of individualism (of contacts and communication) a new claim: the right to
solitude, to privacy and to escape from contemporary terrorisms. As to the
mystification, it has spread; furtherore the ter has permeated even
jouralism; and lastly, ideologists, now over-seIfconscious, present ideology as
non-ideological and as a safeguard against mystifcations (' pure' science,
advanced culture, etc.) ; which accounts for our discarding the project.
t Cf. the next chapter and, in due course, vol. 1 of Critique de la vie
quotidienne of which this section is a summary.
AnInqu¡ry, and 5omo O¡scovor¡os 65
sociotyprojoctsitsIi¡Ltandits sL¤,
��¹'������nos,
itspoworanditswoaknoss ;poIiticaIandsociaIactivitiosconv
�to consolda1c, structuro andli tonallzeIe otLorIovoIs oI
soo·�itb'h� ����puon¢!tbstafc,wb¡cLoporatosonamucL
morooxaItodpIano) onIyoxistinroIationtoovorydayIiIoandtLo
utiIityandsi¿niñcancooIconstructsisostimatodindiroctpropor-
tiontotLoirstructuraI oüoct onit.
Utra¿odystiIIoxistsitisoutoIsi¿Lt;tLo 'cooI `provaiIs.£vory-
tLin¿ is ostonsibIy do-dramatizod; instoad oI tra¿ody tLoro aro
objocts, cortaintios, ' vaIuos', roIos, satisIactions, jobs, situations
andIunctions.YottLoroaropowors,coIossaanddospicabIo,tLat
swoop downonovorydayIiIoandpursuotLoirproyinitsovasions
anddoparturos,droamsandIantasiostocrusLitintLoirroktIoss
¿rip.
TLomoatovontoItLoIastIowyoarsistLattLooüocts oIindus-
triaIization on a suporbciaIIy modñod capitaIist socioty oIpro-
ductionandproportyLavoproducodtLoirrosuIts:�oro¿rammod _
eier,da, l0e inits appropriato urbanaetting.SucL a-:���«�
Iavourod by tLo disinto¿ration oI tLo trad¡tionaI town and tLo
oxpansionoIurbanism. Cbomotizationthroatonssociotythrou¿L
tLoaIIotmontoIIand,tLowidoscaIoinstitutionoIomciontappara-
tus and an urban cxpansion adaptod to spocibc onds (droctin¿
omcos, tLo controI oIcircuIationand oIinIormation).
TLustLodividn¿procosstLatcanstiIIbosoonintLonowtowns
ismisLodandisboin¿rop!acodbytLopracticaIroconstructionoI
akindoIunity,atondoncyomciaIIycaLod' urbanism'.TLo prob-
IomoIsyntLosisrotumstotLoIoro;tLo 'manoIsyntLosis 'isvory
mucL in domand, and tLoro aro many canddatos amon¿ pLiIo-
sopLors,oconomists,socioIo¿ists,arcLitocts,townpIannors,domo-
mapLors and otLor tocLnicians ; noarIy aII oItLom bank incon-
spicuousIy on a cortain ' robotization` sLapod on tLoir own
syntLoticmodoIwLicLtLoywouIdpro¿rammo;tLomorointoIIi¿ont
amon¿tLomhopotoachiovothisbyaspontanoous,ordomocratic,
ratLortLananautocratic, motLod.*
¯ It may not be amiss to repeat here that we have no regets or nostalgias
for forer times; we do not incriminate the ' machine' whether electronic or
otherwise; on the contrary. A progamed non-automation of the productive

ôô Everyday Life m the Modem World
OurtheorIesaremoreorIessInagreementwIththoseofAmer¡-
cancrItIcaI socIoIogy,butthoughthIs socIoIogvhas eIucIdated a
number ofimportantfactsIthasnegIectedtheessentIaIconcepts
ofevervdavIifeandmodentv,urbanìzatIonandmbanism,Iack-
Ing a generaI theorv ofsocIetv, ofIdeoIoæes and ofeconomIcs
(theorv ofexpansIon)IthasIeft the Iastword to the economIsts.
Un¡ikeRiesman, wc do not contrast an' outer-directed'wIthan
' Inner-dìrected'man,moreoverwewouIdprovethatthoughman
Is dIrected, even prefabricated, bv outer circumstances (compuI-
sIons, stereotvpes, functIons, pattems, IdeoIogIes, etc.) he sees
hImseIf none the Iess as more than ever seIf-sumcIent and de-
pendent onIv on hIs own spontaneous conscIence even under
robotIzation. But we wouIdalsotrv to prove thefaIIure ofsuch
tendencIes through ' IrreducIbIes ', contradìctIons that resIst re-
pressIonandtransposItIon.CanterroristpressuresandrepressIon
reInJorce IndIviduaI seIf-repressIontothepoInt ofcIosIngaIIthe
Issues ?AgaìnstMarcusewecontInuetoasse:tthatthevcannot."
American crìtIcaI socIoIogv ÷ notwIthstandìng the weIght of
orthodoxIndustrv-sponsored' research'÷ hasraIsedanumberof
ImportantquestIons, amongstwhichIsthatofthesocial!unction
o!businessconcers.Wearenowaware,throughpubIìshedworks
corroboratIngpractIcaIexperIence,thatthebIg' moden'busIness
concernIsnotcontentwiththestatusofeconomIcunìt(orgroup
ofumts) nor with poIìtIcaI Imuence, but tends to Invade socIaI
experienceandtosetItseIfupasamodeIoforganizatIonandad-
minìstratIonfor socIetvIn generaI. It usurps the roIe ofthe cItv
and takes over functIons that are the cItv' s bv rIght and that
shouId,Inthefuture, bethose ofanurbansocIetv:housIng, edu-
catIon, promotIon, IeIsure, etc. , furthermore It constrIcts and
ûDDûtû¡US ÌCûCS ¡O û DtORûDUDû¡IZIHR OÍ¡DC COHSUHCt, WDCtCûS ûU¡OHû¡IOH
WOUÌC ÛCtDûDS) ÍtCC CtCû¡IVC CHCtRICS ûHC HûKC ¡DCH ûVûÍÌûDÌCÍOtWOtKS OÍ
ût¡. ÅDCÛUtCûUCtû¡IC bOCIC¡V OÍLOH¡tOÌÌCC LOHSUHD¡IOHISDCûCIHRÍOtÍtCSD
COH¡tûCIC¡IODS, ûS OHÌV IHCUS¡tÍûÌ DtOCUC¡IOH CûH DC ûU¡OHû¡CC ûHC ¡DC COH~
SUHCtISCÌUSIVCûHCHUS¡ DC¡tûCKCCCOWH. ÛVCISDÌûCIHRDûSICDtODÌCHS SUCD
û SOCIC¡V COÌÌûDSCS. I¡ISû ÍûIÌUtCWDCtCSOCIûÌ ÌJÍC ISCOHCCOCC U ¡DC ÌICUICû~
¡IOH OÍDUHûHISH DtOVCS.
¯ ñûtCUSC, One Dimensional Man, ÎOHCOH, 1VÚö.
¬ Inqury, and Some Discoveries ô1
aI¡enatesprIvacvbvhousIngItsdependantsInh¡erarchizeddweI-
Iings. Its controI Is sometImes overpowerIng and, InItsownwav,
thebusInessconcemtendstoIeveIoutsocIew,subordinatIngsocIaI
exIstencetoItstotaIItariandemands andIeadìngto ' svnthesIs'.
CvbemetIzat¡onappearedtooperatethroughthepoIIce(OrweII)
or through bureaucracv, however condItIoning, seepInthrough
thech���a hIghIvorganizedevervdayIife, s�dsmam

ont

�����
f
���
'f{
e
¡
¤�
,

su|v�sts
ñmImsm, rebeIIIon and assertIveness. The robot and the com-
puterare,werepeat,productIonapparatus ,tobv-passthisappro-
prIationInvoIvIngaratIonaIworId-scaIeprogræ Ing,consump-
tIonIsorganizedonthepatternofproductIon,onIvdesiresha¡¡en
to!gure among the irreducibles, andthe consumer, especIaIIvJhe
femaIe ofthe specIes, does not submIt to cvbemetIc processes ,
wh¡Ie the robot ÷ for the tIme beIng ÷ has neIIher desIres nor
appetItes , hIs memorvaIoneIs unimpeachabIe. As a resuIt, not
theconsumer, butconsumer-InformatIonIstreatedtoconditIon-
Ing ÷ whIch mav perhaps restrIct cybemetic ratIonaIItv and the
prograngofevervdavIife . . .
Wehave|ustaddedatIckIIshprobIemtoourtheorv,apoIsonous
ûowerto a prettv posv. couIdthe organ¡zatIon ofevervdav I¡fe
(wIthIts ' brIIIIance',scIntIIIatIonand ' modensm')be theIrench
hIgh-roadtoamerIcanizatIon?WeretumtoaquestIonformuIated
earIìer on: ����e�

�� homo

neI

that
wouId foster or reveaI a sgIe absoIute svstem, or, on the con-
txv, for a state where dIscrenancc and resIsmt In-
e\tabIymtudIs�¡tion ofthe whoIe structure? Do
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯`¯'¯¯¯ ¯¯
�caIIydeveIooednatIonsurovd��mdeI,bo¡t·heoretIcaI
�for_then�un�rdeveIoped, anddo¬`an-
sIon�dondevcIopmcc; ¬ ¯IdeoIogv
and

technoIogv÷ ortheexpansIonofproductIv¡stIdeoIogv-pre-
vaIIInEurope and In Irance? Is the amerIcanIzatIon ofIrance
headIng straIght for success, under cover of an antI-AmerIcan
poIIcv and usIngfor Its ends a socIaI group, the technocrats, at
ûrstreactIonarvbutûnaIIvsubmIttIngInthe hopeofsatIsfynga
tb¡rstforpower?The answers tothesequestionswiIIhavetobe
deferred.
.^

2 The Bureaucratic Society of
Controled Consumption
Coherence and contradiction
we shall nowexanine some ottheteatures otthis soeietv that
]ustitvourceünitionotit,notinorcertoexhaustthesub]eetbut
to prove our theorv. Itseholars take the trouble to attaek this
ceünition thev will eertainlv cireet their üre mainlv aaainst its
laek ot' seientiüeness' anc trv to cemonstrate thatitsvalueis
purelvsub]eetiveancits·anaepolemieal.Inouropinion,however,
polemies co not cetraet trom ' seientiüeness ' , onthe eontrarv,
knowlecae thrives onironv anc on opposition, anc theoretieal
eometspreventittromstaanatina,butsueheontroversiesareas
olcasphilosophvancseientiüeresearehancaretartromnearina
extinetion.weassertthattorusa' pure'seieneethatholcsaetion
atarms'lenathisnotarealseieneeevenwhenitistrue. ' Iure '
epistemoloavancariaorousproeecureproviceastrateaiealwith-
crawalanceoveraaainstseriousonslauahts, ancaeovertootor
' operations 'wherebvproblems arecistributecaeeorcinatoper-
sonalvaluesancintereststhatarebestleñunairecitprotestsanc
cisputeswoulcbeavoicec.1hetaetotstancinabaektoaetthìnas
intoperspeetivecoesnotinvolveawithcrawalintotormalleæ-
ina,however,thislastbeinaaearieatureottheürst,wearepre-
parectoacc to eertainassertive tormulae our own.' seientism
aaainst seienee | Rationalism aaainst reason| Riaorism aaainst
riaour|strueturalismaaainststrueture| ' ete.Astoreritiealob]ee-
The Bureaucratic Societ of Controlled Consuption 69
tions,arethevnotperhapsthebestwavtopositivitv:Ourceñnì-
tioneanonlvberetutecbvthosewhoretusetonamethissoeietv
asawholeanceonsiceritasaeompenciumotphenomena,cevoic
oteoneeptanctheorv.
A huncrec vears aao Varx publishec the ürst part ot Das
Ka¡nal,aworkthatinelucesbothaseientiüeexpositionotsoeial
realitvancsuaaestionstorrealizinathepossibilitiesotthissoeietv.
1hisinvolvec.
a) a whole pereeptible to reason (cialeetie), possessina selt-
reaulatina ceviees that were spontaneous but restrietec (eom-
petitive eapitalismtencinatoprocuee arate otaveraaeproüt),
anctheretoreineapableotbeeominapermanent,otelucinahistorv
ancehanae,

b)aspeeiüecause: soeietvrulecancacmimsterecbvaelass,
thebouraeoisie (unitec, notwithstancina eometina ambitions),
possessinathemeansotprocuetion,
e)a)ompereeptibletouncerstancina:trace(exehanaevalue)
withanunliniteceapaeitvtor expansion, eonstitutinaa' worlc'
withits loæe ancitslanauaae ancinseparabletrom a content .
soeiallabour(ceüeccialeetieallv. aualitative ancauantitative,
incivicual anc soeial, speeializec ancaeneral, simple anceom-
plex,partieularizec,orrathercivicecancstancarcizecaeeorcina
tosoeial averaaes).Inthiswavitwas possible toseehowsoeial
labourmiahteventuallveontrolthe 'worlc'ottraceancsetalimit
toitssensel��� �xansion,
ca �structu��,teciatinabetweenthebase(oraatìzation
anc¬ ·la¡¬ cu:·� utions,iceo-
loaies,publieomeesancmora,artistieancintelleetual' values ')
bvmeans otthe strueturec~strueturina relations otprocuetion
¯wc pr�pen,n� iceele¬ ihn1eir«¬ma/m(cis-
auisinaancvincieatinathesoeietv'sbasieeharaeter) ,
e)aeoherentlanguage answerinaatoneancthesametimethe
neecsotpraetiealexperienee,olseieneeancottheRevolution(or
ottheworlcottrace,ottheseientiüeuncerstancinaotthisworlc
ancottheaetionthatwoulceontrolanctranstormit),alanauaae
thatemeraecanctookshapeinDasKa¡nalinrelationtospeeiüe
reterentials (daleetie reason, historieal time, soeial spaee, eom-
70 Everyday Life iuthe Modem World
mon scnsc, cIc.) , Ihis aIIiIudc impIics Ihc coIIaboraIion oI
schoIar aud rcvoIuIionary, oIIcarningaud acIiou, oIIhcory and
pracIicc,
I) s¡ecmc contradictions viIhin Ihc givcu vhoIc (parIicuIarIy
bcIvccu Ihc sociaI characIcr oIproducIivc Iabour andIhcproñIs
oI' privaIc' propcrIy) ,
g)IhissocicIy' spossibiIiIicsoIquauIiIaIivcex¡ansionaudquaIi-
IaIivc deielo¡ment.
AIcr a ccuIury, vhaI rcmains oI Marx's masIcrIy pIau is a
qucsIion oI ' capiIaI ' signiñcaucc IhaI has noI ycI rcccivcd an
ansvcr. IIis noI cnough Io sayIhaIIhc vorks oIMarxarc ucccs-
sary Ior an undcrsIanding oIIhc sccoud haII oI Ihc IvcnIicIh
ccnIuryycIuoI sumcicuIIor such anuudcrsIandiug, buIhcrcvc
candoIiIIIcmorcIhanmakcIhisasscrIionandgivcabricIouIIinc
oIIhcinsumcicncicsIobcsuppIcmcuI�d. ThccrcaIivccausc(coI-
IccIivc, producIivc) has grovn vaguc, is Ihc organizing causc
poIiIicaI Icadcrship, �hc army, Ihc sIaIc, burcaucracy? II dis-
inIcgraIcsouaIIsidcsaudcaunoIongcrbcsccnasIhcccmcnIIhaI
hoIdsIhcsIrucIurcIogcIhcr.BuIisIhcrccvcnasIrucIurc,auniIy?
IIIhc sIrucIurc is dccayiug, iI is uoI soIcIy, as Ihc IoIIovcrs oI
IukácsmainIaiu,inandIorIhcindividuaIconscicncc,IhcgcucraI
characIcroIsociaIrcIaIionsaudIouudaIionsisnoIaIIIhaIisgoiug
Io picccs , Ihc vhoIc sIrucIurc dcñncd by Marx a huudrcdycars
ago is coIIapsiugIorvauI oIa rcvoIuIion IhaI vouId havc sus-
Iaincd andIurIhcrcd ' human IoIaIiIy`.ThcvorIdis IragmcnIcd
and so arc iudividuaI uaIions , vc havc IragmcnIs oI cuIurc, oI
spcciaIizcdscicuccsaudoIsysIcmsaud 'sub-sysIcms ' . AudaIIIhc
possibiIiIicsarcnovsIraIcgicaIprospccIious.ThoughIhcvorking
cIassandiIsIuncIionsccmIobcdisappcariug,iIisourIasIhopc.
InsIiIuIions andpubIic omccsviIhIhccuds audvaIucsIhaIsus-

Iain andiusIiIyIhcm can onIybcdcscribcdas Ihc 'causc' iIouc
,�ignorcsIhc mcaning oIIhc vord, andiIisnoIcasyIo ovcrcomc
� IhcIccIingIh�sIaIcvoru� ¬�� raIhcrIhan

IorIhcraIionaIIuncIioningoIasocicIyscrvcdbyrcsponsibIcand
scII-cüaciugsIaIcsmcu.SpcciaIizcdsysIcmsoIvaIucsarccouducivc
IosysIcmsoIcommunicaIiou,buIvhaIhavcIhcyIocommunicaIc
aparIIromIhcirovnruIcsoIcouducI,IhcircmpIyshcII ?' VaIucs '
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 71
IhaI prcscrvc au apparcuI subsIanIiaIiIy arc inIcndcd I oIorbid
vhaI Ihca:1!:1stb mcaI·fcvory&aIoburcaucracy is
moraI rccIiIudc, and Ihc morc corrupI aud corruptm g¡Iis,1hc
morciIviIIstrcssIhisidcaI.Thcvcryu¤Ii¤noI'�aIucs 'issuspcct,
as licIzschc vas vcII avarc, prcciscIy bccausc hc vas a Ihcorc-
IicianoIvaIucs ,IhcyarcuoIsomuchidcoIogicsasorganizcdsub-
sIiIuIcs ,Ihc 'hiddcusIrucIurc'iscomposcdoIascricsoIsubstitutes
corrcspoudiug in uumbcr Io Ihc insIiIuIions and pubIic omccs ,
IcchuoIogyisIhc subsIiIuIcIorIhcIcchnocracyaudraIiouaIiIyIor
pubIicomccs,cachcircIiugrouudIhcoIhcr(sociaIpIcouasm) ,Ihc
' sysIcm'insoIarasiIcxisIsisconccaIcdbyIhc 'sub-sysIcms 'aud
isa sysIcm oImuIuaI audmuIIipIc subsIiIuIcs , naIurcpro�idcs a
subsIiIuIcIor Ihosc vho vish Io avoidcouIradicIions or conccaI
Ihcm, IhccuIIurcoIIhc cIiIcisasubsIiIuIcIor IhccuIIurcoI·Ihc
masscs, aud so onaud so IorIh.
IsiIpossibIcIoauaIyscsuchasocicIyaccordingtoitsowncate-
goriesºBuIoIcoursc,iIsumccsIoanaIysc;unctions(iusIiIuIious),
structures (groups aud sIraIcgics) aud!orms (sysIcms aud chan- ¸
ucIs, mcdia oIinIormaIion, ccusorship,cIc.) , aII onchas Io dois
Iakc iI Io picccs Iikc a mcchauicaI obiccI, a car. cngiuc, body,
cquipmcuI aud appIianccs. . . . Wc sIrongIy opposc such a pro-
ccdurc,Iora socicIycanuoIbcrcduccdIoscparaIcpar:viIhouI
somcIhiugbciug IosIiuIhc proccss, uamcIyi

s¬orvhaIis
IcI|oIiIsuuiIyIhaIcnabIcsiIIogoouIuucIioui¬gasauniIviIhouI
compIcIcIy disinIcgraIing. According Io iIs ovu caIcgorics Ihis
socicIyisuoIongcrasocicIy,vhichasscrIionaIIovsIorIhcdiag-
nosisoIß malaiseIhaIcau, hovcvcr, onIybcasccrIaincdaIIcr rc-
� sorIingIoaIurIhcranaIysis.ThcdimcuIIy,asmuchIorIhcsocicIy
·
asIor such signiñcauI sociaI cousIiIucuIs as Ihc ciIy, is Io avoid
orgauicisI mcIaphors viIhouI Iosiug sighI oI Ihc vhoIc, aud
(cspcciaIIy) viIhouI Ior�� ���
or
������' �

ª �"
d
crcviccs.
WÞaIvcvanIIodcmousIraIcisIhcIaIIacyoIiudgingasocicIy
accordingIoiIs ovnsIaudards, bccausciIscaIcgorics arc parI oI
iIspubIiciIy-pavusiuagamcoIsIraIcgyandnciIhcrunbiascdnor
disiuIcrcsIcd,IhcyscrvcaduaIpracIicaIaudidcoIogicaIpurposc.
A ccnIuryagoiudividuaIismprovidcdphiIosophcrsandschoIars
1Z Everyday Life m the Moder World
(histcrians, eccncmists, etc.) with categcries and images, and it
was necessarv tc raise this veiI in crder tc catch a glimµse cf
reaIitv and thence cfµcssiLiIitv, tcdavidecIcgieshave changed
andthevLearnamessuchasfuncticnalism,fcrmaIism,structuraI-
ism, cµeraticnalismcrscientism,thevµaradeas' ncn-idecIcgies '
incrdertcmergemcrereadiIvwiththeimaginaticn,thevdisguise
theLasicfact- crfactuaILasis- thatevervthingstemsfrcmeverv-
davIifewhichinturnreveaIsevervthing, cr,inctherwcrds, that
thecriticaIanaIvsiscfevervdavIifereveaIs 'evervthing'Lecauseit
takes ' evervthing'intcacccunt.
Tcsumuµ:
a)IsthequctidiandennaLIe °Canitserveasthestartingµcint
fcrademIticncfccntemµcrarvsccietv(mcdentv), scthatthe
inquirvavcidstheircnicsIant,theidentincaticncfafragmentarv
crµartiaIsµhere,andenccmµassesits essenceandits unitv°
L)DcesthismethcdIeadtcaccherentncn-ccntradictcrvthecrv
cftheccntradicticnsandccmictsinscciaI' reaIitv',tcaccnceµ-
ticncfthereaIandtheµcssiLIe°
Tcthesequesticns,fcrmuIatedinthe mcstscientincwavµcs-
siLIe,curreµIvisaccndensaticncftheµrevicusasserticns.Everv-
dav lifeis� �a �sc�:�� �µm� imomIex�acIeax¡�ld
Ie�c imvidu� fr��dcm,rea��n and rescurcefuIness, it is nc
Icngerm�wherehumansuñeringandhercismareenacted,
ihesit e_cfthe hvmanccn�:ticn. It�asedto��bea�uiicnalIv
exµIcitedccIcnaIµrcvincecfsccietv,Lecauseitisncta]rcvince
atdraticnaIexµIoi1æicnhasavaeditseIfcfmcrerennedmeucds
thanheretcfcre.EvervdavlifehasLeccmeano�_t|��n�idera-
ticn and is m ¡rcvin� cf crganization, the sµace-time cf
vcIuntarv ptcmammed�eIf-regaticn, Lecause �h� ;�.:-u
crganizcditµrcv»tcsecircu{r6ducticn-ccnsumµticn~
µrcducticn),wheredemandsarefcreseenLecausethevareinduced
anddesiresareruntcearth,thismethcdreµIacest s�
seIf-reguIaticn cfthe ccmµetitive era. Thus evervlie must
sh�ruytc���ethecneµerfectsvstemcLscuredLvthecthersvs-
temsthataimatsvstematinngthcught andstructuralizingacticn,
and as suchitwcuId Le the mainµrcduct cfthe sc-caIIed ' cr-
ganIzed' scciet cfccntrcIIed ccnsumµticn and cf its setting,
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consuption 73
mcdentv.IfthecircuitisnctccmµIeteIvcIcseditisnctfcrwant
cf µurµcse cr strategicaI intent Lut cnIv Lecause ' scmething'
irreduciLIe intervenes, ' scmething' that is µerhaµs Desire, cr
Reascn(diaIectics)creventheCitv. . . .The : �the
circu¡ûomcIcsinc-istoce����attack it and
transc a � anm c�rae.
��reveaIwhetheritwiIILeµcssiLIefcrths�wo�rewiI-
Iing tcrecaµtureinfhis wav the Icst harmcnycfIangaze_nd
r�ty, of siæam�tions æ�æ .
ThisccherentIcgicaIthecrvisæscccnducivetcµracticaIacticn,
Lutitµresuµµcsesaµreliminarvacticncrthcught-acticn,certain
ccnditicns are requiredfcra ccnceµticncfhe quctidian�d a
thecrvcfquctidianness,thenrstLeingthatcnemustIiveorhave
Iivedinit,itisaIscessentiaInct+ì1:¬m1컬e ׫
incriticaIµersµective.ShcrtcfthesetwcccndIticnsunderstandIng
Leccmes imµcssiLIe and cur wcrds wiII faII cn deaf ears - and
ncne are sc deafasthcsewhc refusetchear.
EvervdavIife weighsheaviestcnwcmen. ItishighIvµrcLaLIe
thatthevaIscgetsom t1iI¯bev<rsingthe situaticn, .�
LuttheweightisncnetheIesscntheirshcuIders.ScmeareLcgged
dcwnLvitsµecuIiarcIcvingsuLstance, cthersescaµeintcmake-
LeIieve, cIcse their eves tc their surrcundings, tc the Lcg intc
whichthevaresinkingandsimµIvigncreit ,thevhavetheirsuL-
stitutesandthevaresuLstitutes ,thevccmµIain- aLcutmen, the
human ccnditicn Iife Gcd and the gcds - Lut thev are aIwavs
Lesidetheµcint.t�rethesuL|ectcfeverdaymits�c-
timscrcL|ectsandsuLstitutes (Leautv, feminint, fashicn, etc.)
a�diiIeirvc i×imtesthrive.LkewisethevareLcth
bnrs and ccnsumers cf ccmmc¯ties and svmL_1s fcr ccm-
mcdities(inadveru��ments,asnudesandsmiIes).Becausecftheir
amLigucusµcsiticninevervdavIife- whichissµecincaIIvµartcf
eve� at dm o� mthey_ ���
it. RcLctizaticn µrcLaLIv succeeds scweIIwithwcmenLecause
�the things that matter tc them (fashicns, the hcuse and the
hcme, etc.), nctwithstanding - cr cn acccunt cf- their ' sµcn-
faneitv'. Fcr adcIescents and stnts the situaticn is reversed,
sincethevhaveneverk��wn��davIife,thevwcuIdIiketctake
ø °
74 Everyday Life in the Moder World
partinitbutarcafraidofbcingcaughtupinit,andaIIthcyknow
aboutitisthroughthcirparcnts,avagucpotcntiaIityinbIackand
whitc.ThcrccxistsanidcoIogyormythoIogyofmaturityforthcir
pcrsonaI usc that bcIongs to parcnts, connccts patcrnity and
matcrmty, cuIturcandsubmission.
WhatofthcintcIIcctuaI ?HcisinitaIIright lIntcIIcctuaIshavc
carccrs, wivcs, chiIdrcn, timc-tabIcs, privatc Iivcs, working Iivcs,
Icisurc, dwcIIings inoncpIacc orauothcr, ctc. ;thcyarcinit, but
inasIightIymarginaIpositionsothatthcythinkofthcmscIvcsas
bcing outsidc and cIscwhcrc. Thcy havc a numbcr ofsucccssfuI
mcans ofcvasion, and aII thc substitutcs arc at thcir disposaI -
drcams, makc-bcIicvc, art, cuIturc, cducation, history and many
morc bcsidcs. ThcyfrcqucntIycvcnacccpt thc systcmofmcthods
by which sociaI cxpcricncc and cvcryday Iifc arc submittcd to
compuIsion,conditioning,' structuring'andprogramming,caIIing
it' sociaIscicncc' , ' urbanscicncc' or'organizationaIscicncc';in-
tcIIcctuaIhoncstyinsuch ' opcrationaIism'isnotimpcrativc.Thc
morc scrious spccimcns of this brccd ofthcorcticians cIaboratc
sub-systcmsandspccibc codcs to orgamzcasocicty, thatinturn
organizcscvcrydayIifcinapproximatccatcgoricssuchascnviron-
mcnt, dwcIIings, furnishings, horoscopcs, tourism, cookcry,
fashions- aIIthcspcciaIizcdactiviticsthatprovidcsubicct-mattcr
for pamphIcts, thcscs, cataIogucs, guidc books. Thcsc honcst
thcorcticians imposcthcirownIimitstothcircndcavoursandrc-
fusc to qucstioninvisibIc pattcrns, ignorc thc signibcant abscncc
ofagcncraIcodc. ScicntismandpositivismprovidccxccIIcntsub-
icctsfordiscussionandpcrfcctsubstitutcswhichopposcandimpIy
cachothcr.pragmatism,functionaIism,opcrationaIismonthconc
hand, and on thc othcr probIcms tactfuIIy Icft to thc cxpcrts.
Criticism,protcsts, obicctions oranyattcmpttoscckanopcning
' cIscwhcrc'arcdismisscdasutopiabythcscidcoIogists ;andhow
rightthcyarc ! Thcyarcsupportcdby a spcciaIbrandofrcason
and rcstrictcd rationaIity (thcir own) . . . . Such was in fact thc
obicctionraiscd against Marx, Fournicr and Saint-Simoninthc
ninctccnth ccntury, for rcßcction ncccssariIy invoIvcs a form of
utopiaifitisnotcontcnttorcßcctandratifycompuIsions,bIindIy
acccpt authority and acknowIcdgc circumstanccs ; it impIics an
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consuption 75
attcmpttointcrfcrcwithcxistingconditionsandanawarcncssof
othcrpoIicicsthan thoscinforcc.
Utopia?Ycsindccd;wearealluto¡ians,sosoonaswcwishfor
somcthing dißcrcnt and stop pIaying thc part ofthcfaithfuIpcr-
formcr or watch-dog. ' Dogmatism! ' crics our obicctor. ' You
givcadcbnitiontowhichyoustickandfromwhichyoudrawcx-
orbitant concIusions. ' By no mcans ; wc scIcctcd our dcbnition÷
namcIy thc Burcaucratic Socicty of ControIIcd Consumption -
fromachoiccofsuggcstcddcbnitionsaücrcxaminingthcirasscr-
tionsandthcirfoundationsanddiscardingthcothcrsasunsound;
morcovcrwcconccdcthcrelatiiit)ofourdcbnition;wcrcitdog-
matic and absoIutc, aII hopc wouId bc Iost, aII issucs cIoscd;
whcrcaswchavcundcrtakcntoprovcthccxistcnccofirreducibles,
contradictionsandobicctionsthatintcrvcncandhindcrthccIosing
ofthccircuit,thatspIitthcstructurc.' Thisisnomorcthan!itcra-
turc, poctry, Iyricism! ' SonowwchavcincurrcdthcbnaIinsuIts ;
yctthcycanbcwordcdmorcsubtIyas . subicctivism,thcbghtfor
thc Iostcausc ofindividuaIism, romanticism. To bc surc, wc do
notacknowIcdgcthcscgrcgationofIcarningandpoctry,anymorc
than that ofscicncc and action, abstract and concrctc, thc im-
mcdiatc and mcdiations, positivc and ncgativc, asscrtions and
criticism,factsandopinions,obicctandsubicct ;notwithoutstrcss-
ingincachcascthcinadcquacyofsuchphiIosophicaIcatcgorics-
atthc samctimcasthcirutiIityandncccssity. Inothcrwords wc
rcfutcsegregationinfavourofanunbiascdconstructivcattitudcof
mindbascdonpracticaIandthcorcticaIundcrstanding.Thoscwho
scc onIy assumptions in our asscrtions andwho uphoId scgrcga-
tion inthc namc ofcpistcmoIogicaIprccisionmaybnd somc dif-
bcuIty in maintaining thcir position to thc vcry cnd without
compromisingwiththcirpainfuIIytornconscicnccsorgivinginto
thcsußcringofthatun¡tywhichisthcpostuIatcofphiIosophyand
aIso ofthatwhich is bcyond phiIosophy.
Oncc upon atimc thcrc was a sad, rcstrictcd, opprcsscdcxist-
cncc. Thc Iand, dividcd into a thousand and onc domains, was
tuIcdbyKingGodandQuccnDcath.Yctdcrclictandopprcsscd
as it was, thiscxistcnccncvcrIackcd styIc; basicaIIy rcIigious or
mcIaphysicaI (docsthcbasicidcoIogymattcr?),styIcrcigncdand

76 Everyday Life m the Modem World
µermeateditseveryasµect . . . . Werewetocontinuethisstorywe
wouldseetnattneseµeoµlelivedinextremeµovertybutwerenever-
tnelesssnugandwarm.Tnerenasbeenincalculableµrogresssince
tnosegoodolddays- andwnodoesnotµreíereverydaytriviality
toíamineiítnecnoiceweretobemade,andwisntne:OIl l
oíIndiaanordinaryeverydayliíe °' 8ocialsecurity'evenwnenit
is m+uestio�×!Ivb�rea¬crati�r�\ be better tnannemect and
abandonmenttoaworldoímisery,indeed,itis, andwenaveno
intention oí denying ' µrogress ', but only oíunderstanding its
obverse,tneµricetnatnastobeµaidíorit.Tnereislittlecauseto
snowoµen-moutnedadmirationastnereignoídeatnrecedesírom
our µlanet ,itrecedes beíoretnenucleartnreat- wnicnnas tne
advantageoíbeingsometningwecanµlaceandname.Wedonot
wisntocryoversµiltmilkbuttoexµlainsucntearsandnowtney
insµire ' rigntist'censuresoíoursociety,aclearandaguiltycon-
scienceíorevermisunderstandingµotentialities.
Attnisµointwemust íormulate aíew simµle (but µractical)
questions, tnougn we cannot give tnem our íull attention nere.
Howis ittnat tne more or less derelict anddecayingcentres oí
large cities are restored and occuµied by well-to-do, educated
middle-classcitizens,andtnattnoseíromtnenImandtnetneatre
worldmovetnereírom' smmt'neignbournoodsand' residential
distncts'°8ecauseoítnisattitudetnecityisbeingtuedintotne
mostµreciousandvaluedµossessionoítneµrivilegedclassesand
tnegreatestasset cíconsumµtion, townicnitconíers asµeciñc
signincance.Wnydotnewealtnyrulingclassessnaµuµandmono-
µolizeantiques °Wnydoµeoµleûocktoalltneancienttownsand
citiesoíItaly,8elgium,8µain,Greece °Tnosesystemsíortnecon-
sumµtion and exµloitation oíleisure and curiosity, tne tourist
organizations, cannot aloneaccountíortnisµnenomenon, �
mustbesom��n� ��taIbre

kin

��e��dayliíe,
m'simmodestyandostentationintne disµlayitgiveso¡
����������lv�e��Le s s cielto
���nostalgiasnñx��essaryto under- .
stand;íorunderstanding,ortnedesiretounderstand,leadstccom-
µarative studies and to tne_�u¬ ce�d 8ut sucn a
nistory,tnougnµossibleandessential,wouldbenobettertnana
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consuption 77
catalogueoídetails(ob]ects)oraseriesoínisunderstandngs,were
it notto stress tneunityoíeacn society andeacnµeriod,tnatis
socialrelatic s,metnodsoíµroductionandideolomes.
The sto íeverydayliíemustneeforeincludeatleastt �e

sectins a) �, b)tnedeatn��styl�sndtnebirtn ¤í
�� �
(nineteentn century) , c) tne esta1isnment andtne consolidation
oíeverydayliíe,wnicnwould+hohcwuthenast1vnded¸ears
orsoitnas ¯me morecrvstallized witn eacnsuccessiveíailed
revolution.Hverydayliíeisbotntnecauseandtneresultoítnese
íailures ,tnecause,becausenservesa«ostzcIeard¡ e�,æd
^
aítereacntremorsocialexistenceisreorganizedaroundtnequoti-
dian,tneresult,becauseµressuresandcomµulsionstigntentneir
giµ aítereverysuccessiveíailure- mat oítne Liberationbeing
tnemostsigniñcant.
8ciencesnouldnotsnuntnesetneoriesandµroblemsontneµre-
texttnattneylackseriousness.Indeed,weconsidertnatgmesand
µlaywouldbetnemostaµtsub]ectíorscientincinquiry,tnattne
|udicasµectoísocialliíesnouldnotbeleíttoµnilosoµnerswhile
scnolarsarealreadystudyingstrategiesandíormalizedgames.In-
versely,wesuggesttnatscience snouldnotbeentitledtoµrovide
intellectuals,tecnniciansandnignomcialswitnaclearconscience -
notacumbersomeconmodityandnignlyquotedontnemarket-
íortnere isnotning worse tnan aclearconsciencetnatnasbeen
rationalized, institutionalized andbureaucratizedby science, we
navenoqualmsinassertingtnatitistnerotteníruitontnetreeoí
science.Tnerulingclassesnavealwaysusedscienceastneir]ustiñ-
cation,we oµµose oursciencetotneirs.
Aunbelievableamountoícontradictioncomestoligntintnis
societyoístructureandstructuring,íunctionalism,aµµliedration-
alism, integrationand conerence. First tnere is tne conûict be-
tweendemandsíorseriousness(wnysnyíromresoundingwords
andnotsaystraigntout .tnedemandíortrutnandtrutníulness °)
andtneabsenceoíanyabsolutecriteriaorgeneralcodebywnicn
tounderstandand]udge.Tnentnereisloneliness,settomusicand
silence,andcontrastingwitntnemultiµlIcationoímessages,iníor-
mation,news. ' 8ecurity`assumesanimµortancetnatis outoíall
µroµortion in a world oícosmic ventures and nuclear tnreats.
78 Everyday Life in the Modem World
There is a striking contrast between the incredible performances ­
at socia and technical cost - to save a sick child, a wounded man,
prolong the agony of the dying; and the genocides, the conditions
in our hospitals and of medicine in general, the difculties en­
countered in obtaining remedies. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction
go hand in hand or oppose each other according to the place or the
people. Contradiction is not always on the surface, not always out­
spoken; sometimes people avoid mentionng or even noticing it,
but it is there none the less, latent, implicit. Are we discovering the
unconscious, the signcant 'desires' concealed beneath the sig­
nified? No need to go so far, for we are discussing everyday life.
Many sociologsts have suggested that the working classes of the
world prefer the securit,of a job, a status and assured leisure to
revolutionary ventures, that they have 'chosen', 'opted' and re­
jected their historical mission. Assertions such as these are highly
suspect, particularly the last ; in so far as these facts are true they
must be imputed to the establisPment of everyday life rather than
to the ' choice' of security and the rejection of creative insecurity;
moreover the proletariat canot abandon its historical mission
without renouncing its status, for if it 'chooses' to be integrated
in a society govered by the bourgeoisie and organized in view of
capitalist production and profit it must cease to exist as a class.
For the proletariat, integation equals disintegration, and the
suicide of a class is, to say the least, hard to imagine - and harder
still to enact. What we see is in fac a society tending tactically
and strategically towards the integration of the working classes
and partially succeeding - by the repressive organizations of every­
day life through compulsions and by a persuasive ideology of
consumption more than by conumption itself - at the cost of
sacrifcing the integration of its other elements, adolescents, com­
munties, women, intellectuals, sciences, cultures. The result of
compelling the proletariat to renounce its status - of handing it a
knfe, as it were, to commit hara-kiri ¯ will be the suicide of
capitalism as a society, for it cannot fail to be dragged with the
proletariat in its downfal.
Among the contradictions that come to light let us select at
radom that between the death of the ludic spirit, the dreariness of
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 79
everyday programming in its rational organzation, and the scien­
tific discovery of chance, risk, play and strategy at the heart of
natura processes and social activities. . ___ _ ¸
Thus by studying the basic stratum - everyday lif�w contr.
dic. �r �, varying in signifcance but of a g�r nature;
among the more important is the opposition betweet��lL
ideologes or technocratic
l
yths and everyday reality; but worse
�contradic:��
t
hat c
���ist
s in considering compulsion as
the basis of social ot:der and a social programme, and simul­
taneously using the ideology of Liberty as a face-saver, notwth­
standing the repressions and oppressions that reflect a very
diferent attitude an
d
objective.
Theroots of unrest
Our society contains its own self-criticism, for the requisite critical
perspectives and concepts obtrude without being formulated or
expressed as such; they are apparent in the lacuna
e
of social ex­
perience so long as these are not stopped up with the ever-present
verbal mists that can so easily be taken for substantial 'reality'.
Satis!action is the aim and objective of this society and its
ofcial justification; every known and imagined need is - or will
be - satisfied. Such satisfaction consists in saturation obtained, as
far as solvent needs are concerned, wth all possible alacrity. Needs
are seen u3 clearly defned gaps, neatly outlined hollows to be
stopped up and fl ed in by consumption and the consumer until
satiety i

chieved, when the need is promptly solicited by devices
identical to those that led to satiety; needs are thus incessantly
re-stimulated by well-tried methods until they begn to become rent­
able once again, oscillating between satisfaction and dissatisfac­
tion, both states being produced by similar manipulations. Thus
controlled consumption does not ony plan objects for consump­
tion but even the satisfaction obtained through these objects; play
on motivations denies and destroys motivations precisely to the
extent of its hold over them and without, mor
e
over, ever stipulat­
íng the rues of the game.
U is impossible to ignore the fact that a sense of unrest really
prevals. 'Values' usually undergo a general crisis where satiety is
80 EverydayLí!e íntheModernWorId
generaIízed, thereísasIumpoIídeas, phíIosophy,artandcuIture,
sígníñcancevaníshestore-emergeíndísguíse, avoídmakesítseII
IeIt÷ aterríbIeIackoIsígníûcancem edbynothíngbutrhetoríc,
thoughthesítuatíonhasacertaínsígmûcanceorsímíûcances- oI
whíchthemstísperhapsthat' satíety
·
(oIneeds, ' envíronment',
spaceandtíme)cannotprovídeanend,ísdevoídoIñnaIítyandoI
meaníng. For a dístínctíon must be made between satísIactíon,
pIeasureandhappíness.PIeasurewas oncetheprerogatíve oIthe
arístocracy who knewhow to mveítameaníngIuI pIaceíntheír
Iíves , but the bourgeoísíe can, atbest, onIy achíevesatísIactíon,
andwhowíIIdíscoverhappíness ?
Thís sense oIunrestthatpervades everyday IíIe ís one oIthe
maínthemesoIcontemporaryIíterature. AII the worksoIthepast
IewdecadesthathaveIeñtheírmarkarethosewhích,dírectIy or
índírectIy, portrayít, ínthe more orIesspermanent crísís oIthe
theatre,thecínema,IíteratureandphiIosophythesearetheworks
thatareremembered,howeversuccessIuIothersmayhavebeenIor
atíme. SomedepícteverydayIiIeín sadístíc ormasochístícdeIaíI
·
ortheyrepresentítasmoredegradíngeventhanítís ,oüers,whose
authorsevídentIydepIorethedeathoItragedythroughsatíety,try
torestoretragedybyexposíngthedevícesthatprovokeandratíIy
satíety. ThroughthísresídueoIcuIture (nottobe conIusedwíth
what ís oûcíadyknown as ' cuIturaI'), our socíety'sínherentun-
restbecomes a socíaI andínteIIectuaIphenomenon.
We have seenthat thís socíetyísundergoíngaremarkabIe ex-
¡ansion (economíc,quantítatíve,measuredínton�·ndkíIometres)
andaIímiteddeielo¡ment.ThereísIíttIechangeínbasíccIassre-
Iatíons (structured- structuríng)- or the reIatíons between pro-
ductíon andproperty bywhích socíetyís sub|ected to one cIass
(thebourgeoísíe)possessíngIuII adminístratívepower~ exceptín
terms oIcIass strategy(the consoIídatíon oIeveryday IíIe) , and
cIassstrategydoesnottendtowardsdeveIopmentbuttowardsthe
' baIance'and' harmony'oIexpansíonassuch. ThedeveIopment,
compIexíñcatíonandemíchmentoIsocíaIreIatíonsíncIudíngthose
oIcítyIiIeareIeftto' cuIture' andínstítutíonaIízedonthatscore.
Inconsequencethetechnicalmæter,oImateríaIexperíenceísnot
counterbaIanced by the adaptatíon oImanto hís own personaI
The Bureaucratíc Society o!ControIIed Consumotíon 81
experíence, hísbody,hísneeds,tíme and space. The díscrepanc
betweenexpansíon and deveIopment echoes aIurtherand more
basíc díscrepancy between (technícaI) master, and ada¡tation.
TheseIamíIíarproposítíonsacquíresígníûcanceonIyíIwespecíIy
theír terms . ex¡ansion reIers to the¡rocess oIíndustríaIízatíon,

ei
�|
o
PT°¤¹¤¤r¤=�«A� rdngtcouu�~(w
i�}_¸��·-¯
aIreadybeenIormuIatedandwíIIbeIurtherdeveIoped)urbaníza-
tíonmvessígmñcancetoíndustríaIízatíon,anaspectoIthegeneraI
processthatísbasíctodayañermanydecadesínwhíchtheIormer
wassubordínatedtotheIatter,butíIthesítuatíonísnowreversed
cIassstrategystíIImaíntaínsthíssubordínatíon,thusprovokíngan
íntoIerabIe sítuatíonwhere a cit, crisis ís added to aII the other
permanent críses.
Its Iímítatíons are an íntegaI part oIthís socíety, beíng the
Iímítatíons ímposed by capítaIíst productíon as such. But at no
IeveI and onno terms can we acceptandr���ism ítís
wrongbecause iIgnr�s tb� ta�i� �!���nts �socíety. However,
thísísno
��
e
������
í

ít
�¹ºT� ��ºº�ªºº�
ocío
¯
Io
�9!!¤��
th
4!4¤0¤aIY�short·ªíפI¤¤�
Our socíety has no ídea where ít ís goíng, wíth íts ceaseIess
superñcíaI modñcatíons so totaIIy opposed to that perpetuaI
change whích ís the basíc aspíratíon oIthe' modern mínd'. It
gropes, bIíndIoId, ín a dark tunneI, seekíng an exít, a way oI
escape . . . ormarkstíme. . . . Perhaps, ratherthanmarkíngtíme,
ítís ínIact commíttíngsuícídewhíIestandíngstíI! . . .
ThereísIíttIepoíntíndweIIíngonthedestructíonoIthepastby
themassíveconsumptíonoIworks oIart, styIesandcuItures,but
we shaII consíder, ínstead, the devíces ínherent to thís consump-
tíon. Obsolescenc«�leforebecomíng a techníque, was the sub|ect
oIcareIuIstudy, experts are weII acquaínted wíththeIíIe-expect-
ancyoIob|ects .threeyearsIorabathroom,ûveIoraIívíng-room,
eíghtIorabedroom,threeforabusíness,acar,etc. ,suchstatístícs
are part oIthedemography oIob|ects and are correIated to the
costoIproductíonandproût,productíon-organízíngoMcesknow
bowtoexpIoítthem to reduce IíIe-expectancy andacceIeratethe
tumover oI products and oI capítaI. Indeed, the scandaI has
reachedworId-scaIe proportíons ínthecase oIthe caríndustry.
82 Everyday Life m the Moder World
JothisnowIamiarthcorywcaddtwo obscrvations ;hrst,thc
obsolescenceo!needsshouIdbctakcnintoconsidcration,Iorthosc
whomampuIatc objcctstomakcthcmIcssdurabIcIikcwiscmani-
puIatcmotivations,anditmaywcIIbcthcscsociaIcxprcssions oI
dcsirc that thoy arc rcaIIy attacking and dcstroying; Ior iI ' in-
tcIIcctuaI ' Iatiguc and thc obsoIcsccncc oIobjccts arc to havc a
rapidcHcct,nccdsmustaIsobccomcoutdatcdandncwnccdstakc
thcir pIacc; this is thc stratcgy oIdcsirc. SccondIy, productivc
powcrissuchthatitwouIdnowaIrcadybcpossibIctoachicvc an
cxtrcmcTuidit) oIcxistcncc, oIobjccts, dwcIIings, towns and oI
' Iiving',sothat 'rcaI!iIc'nccdnotstiIIstagnatcincvcrydayIiIc;
butbothinthcoryandinpracticc���u�síIoOu�s
as a mcm � o[�xIoiIim��ry��+¹nthis !ight a contrast or
contradictionappcars bctwccninstitutionaIizcd durabiht) objcct-
ivcIy structurcd (according to a Iogic oIproccdurcs, thosc con-
ccrncdwithstatcandadministration,amongothcrs,incIudingthc
administration oItowns, cnvironmcnt and dwcIIings thatarcrc-
gardcd as Iasting), andthc mampuIatcd transitorincss oIrapidIy
dctcriorating objccts. Whcntransitorincss is not suHcrcd but dc-
sircd, wiIIcd, quaIitativc and appcaIing, it is thc mono¡ol)
o!a class, thc cIass that dictatcs Iashions andtastcs and has thc
worId Ior its pIayground; on thc othcr hand thc dctcrioration oI
objccts (quantiIativc, mcasurabIc in tcrms oI timc, suHcrcd, un-
wiIIcdandunwantcd)ispartoIaclassstrateg)dircctcdtowardsa
rationaIizcd(thoughirrationaIasproccdurc)cxpIoitationoIcvcry-
dayIiIc.JhccuItoIthctransiIot:cßcctsthccssc

� o�t
- butrcüts itasa cIass stratcv* �ndi�iatotaI �ontradictiont�
thccuItoI,andthcdcmandIor, stabiIity andpcrmancncc.
Jhisisasocictywith rationaI aims andprctcnsions, withprin-
cipIcs oIhnaIity as its major prcoccu¡ation, with a whoIc-scaIc,
IuII-timc organization, structurcd, pIanncd and programmcd;
scicntihcncss suppIicsitsmcchanisms(howandonwhatarcmcrc
dctaiIs so Iong as thcrc arc computcrs, cIcctronic brains, I BM
caIcuIators and programmng); mystihcations arc passcd oH as
scicntiÞc discovcrics and a IooI, iI hc introduccs himscII as an
" L. Utopie lûIIS), I, pp. Vb1ܯ, ¡HC ûI¡ICÍC DV J. PUDCI¡. WI¡HHO¡CS DV
J. ÛûUCIIÍÍûIC.
The Bureaucratic Socety of Controlled Consumption 83
cxpcrt, is acc!aimcd and rcspcctcd. Hcrc, morcovcr, irrationa!ity
thrivcs and prospcrs ; iI wc probc into thc privatc !ivcs oI thc
mcmbcrs oI ths socicty wc hnd that thcy arc, in many cascs,
Iortunc-tcIIcrs, witchcs, quacks, star-gazcrs . . . indccd, onc has
onIytorcadthcpapcrs ;itisasthoughpcopIchadnothinginthcir
daiIy !ivcs to givc thcm amcaning, a dircction, apart Irom pub-
Iicity, so thcy Ia!I back on magic and witchcraIt. Icrhaps thcy
hopc in this roundaboutwaytoada¡tthcir dcsircs, discovcr and
oricntatcthcm. Jhus thcrationaIityoIcconomism andtccmcity
produccsitsoppositcasthcir 'structuraI'compIcmcntandrcvcaIs
its Iimitations as rcst�ctcd rationa!ism and irrat\o�m (�rvadc
cvcryday IiIc,conIront andicâcctoac ano!hcr. �
EV¢¬ IiIc an |ts sourccs oI imrmation (thc prcss, thc
cincma) arc inIcstcd with ¡s)chologism and psychoIogica! tc�ts
suchas :' Oiscovcrwhoyouarc',' LcarntoknowyourscII.'Joday
psychoIogy and psychoanaIysis arc not onIy cIinicaI and thcra-
pcutic scicnccs but idcoIogics, particuIarIy in thc \nitcd Statcs.
Such anidcoIo�rcquircs compcnsationswhich�rcprovidcdby
occu!tism. HoroscopcsmightIormthcsubjcctoIamcthodicaIin-
quiry,thcirthcmcsc!assihcd,thcirtcxts considcrcd as a cor¡uor
cohcrcntandcIcarIy dchncd body, anda s)stem couIdbc drawn
Irom horoscopcs in gcncraI (and thcncc a sub-systcm Ior our
socicty) ;butwcshaIInotattcmptsuchanundcrtakingasitwouId
notadvanccourparticuIarprobIcm,thoughhoroscopcsdoaHcct
it in a ccrtain way. What, indccd, do pcopIc cxpcct Irom horo-
scopcs,whydothcyconsuItthcm, howdothcyintcrprctthcsigns
and how arc thcy inñucnccd by thc intcrprctations 7 A zonc oI
ambiguit)iscstabIishcdhaIIwaybctwccnbcIicIandmakc-bcIicvc,
yctdircctcdtowards actionbyjustiIyingindividuaItactics sothat
thosc conccrncd bcIicvc and do not bcIicvc what thcy say, and
bchavc asiIthcy bcIicvcd, whiIcIoIIowingthcir ownincIinations,
Icc!ings orintcrcsts - thcir vaticinations.
WcshouIdnot, howcvcr, ovcrIookthcIact thathoroscopcsin-
voIvc thc Iramcnts oI a unJvcrsaI vision, thc zodiac, thc con-
stcIIations, dcstinyinscribcd in thc stars, thc hcavcns as divinc
writing that onIy thc initiatc can dcciphcr. Jhis is thc symboIic
hcritagc that inspircd architccturc, was scaIcd into grcat monu-
84 IvcrydayLifc mthe Modem World
mcntsoIpast cuIturcs and summarizcsatopoIogy÷ thc divísion
andoricntationoIspacc andthcpro|cction oItimconto cosmíc
andsociaIspaccIorthcuscoIshcphcrdsandpcasantsandIatcroI
thcinhabitants oItowns.
¡sccmsthatthcinñucnccoIthis cosmogonyisnotquitcspcnt.
For instancc thc particuIar signiñcancc oIcycIcs, and numbcrs
govcmng cycIcs (twcIvc and its muItipIcs), survivcs to this day.
LiIcistrappcdinanintcrmcdiaryzoncbctwccncycIicandrationaI-
izcdIincartimc.AndcvcrythingpointstothcIactthatnowancw
cuIt oI thc Cosmos is cmcrging Irom our poor, down-troddcn
cvcrydayIiIc,itiscmotionæIy÷ orirrationaIIy÷ situatcdbctwccn
twooppositcpoIcs .horoscopcsononcsidc,andonthcothcrcos-
monauts,thcirmyths andmythoIomcs, thc cxpIoitation oIthcir
achicvcmcntsIorpurposcsoIpropaganda, spacccxpIorationwith
its quota oI sacrmce. Countcring this rc-cmcrging cuIt oI thc
WorId÷ orthc Cosmos÷ compIcmcnting andcompcnsatingit,is
anothcr morc ' human' cuIt, that oI£ros. £roticism is obscssivc
nowadays,thoughthis obscssion onIy supcrbciaIIyrcßccts anin-
tcnsiñcation oIviriIity (or Icmininity) and a grcatcr aptitudc Ior
scxuaI pIcasurc. Wc scc it rathcr as a symptom oIthc obvcrsc,a
Iack oIviriIity and Icminimty, Irigidity, not ovcrcomc but scII-
conscious, and a dcmand Ior compcnsations. Thc cuIt oI £ros
dcnotcsa dcsirc torcstorcIormcr interdictions sothattransgres-
sions÷ invcstingcroticacts with aIostsigniñcancc÷ bccomcpos-
sibIc, whcncc thc imprcssivc numbcr oI coIIcctivc rapcs and
sadisticormasochisticrituaIs.Intcrdictionsarccxtcndcdtocvcry-
day IiIc cvcn whcn thcir idcoIogicaI |ustibcation is abscnt . iide
thc obstacIcs ÷ psychoIogicaI, physioIogicaI (rcaI or ñctitious),
idcoIogicaIandpoIiticaI ÷ sctupagainstthcuscoIcontraccptivcs.
Man'sada¡tationtohisdesireisarrcstcdmidwaybctwccnthcrcaI
andthcpossibIc,bctwccncxpcricnccandmakc-bcIicvc;his adap-
tationisaIso bIockcdbybasicrcprcssions,thcIorcmost÷ anhcir-
IoomoIrcIigion÷ isthcidcoIogicaIrcIationoIIccundationtothc
scxuaIactthatsanctionsandconsccratcsphysioIogicaIphcnomcna
and bIind dctcrminism. It is bccausc such rcIigious traditions
survivcthatscxuaIity,dcbarrcdby socictyIromada¡tation, sccks
anoutIctinncwIorms oIrcIigiosity.
TcBureaucratic Socety of Controlled Consuption 85
SatictyandastubbomqucstIorsatisIaction,dissatísIactíonand
unrcstcontradict, conIront andrcßcctcachothcrasthcymcrgc,
show-consum¡ngtumsinto ashowoIconsuming, andthcpast÷
worksoIart,styIcs,historiccitics÷ is avidIyconsumcdtiIIborc-
dom andsatíctysct in. In such circumstanccs itisimpossibIcto
avoidcscapism(thcdcsirctogctawayIromcvcrydayIiIc),andas
arcsuIt cscapism and ñight arcpromptIy andcasiIy saIvagcd by
tourist organizations, institutionaIism, programming, codibcd
m¡ragcsand thc sctting in motion oIvast controIIcd migrations.
WhcnccthcdcsccrationoIthcqucstanditsob|cctsbythcqucstcrs
thcmscIvcs, ashistorictowns andrcgions, muscums andgaIIcrics
arc submcrgcd undcr thc ñood oIconsumcrs who thus consumc
nothingbut thc aII-pcrvading,incrcascd and muItipIicd prcscncc
oIthcirIcIIows.
Asumma anæysissumccstoshowthatthcrcarctwodistinct
typcs O Icisurc' structuraIIy' opposcd. a) Icisurc intcmatcdwith
cvcryda Ic (thcp��saIoI óaiIypapcrs,tcIcvision,ctc.)and¬
�� ���
si
���
Ii
�� ���
thc Krkc�mian �hõr�ctcr who, bHr¤b� rric� �� �
1cd cIdrcn ,totc hss�� g�' cry-
t
�� �
c

cr
¹
g
"³º�� �
cc
��Tº�
si
ºÌ¹
, b) thc
P
os
]���
oI
dcparturc, the dcmand îorcvasion, thc wü to cscapc through
worIdIincss, hoIidays, LSD,dcbauchcry ormadncss.
Z strol through the land ofmake-beleve
ThccxpcrimcntaIandconccptuaIgropingsoIcontcmporaryphiIo-
sophyand socioIogyhavc discovcrcd oncthingatIcast, andthat
is sociaImakc-bcIicvc÷ not tobcconIuscdwithindividuaIimam-
nationorwiththc vast symboIichcritagc oIthc past.*
ThcbcstcxampIcsoIsociaImakc-bcIicvcarctobcIoundncithcr
inbIms nor in scicncc bction, but in womcn's magazincs,¬hcrc
cxpcricncc andmakc-bcIicvcmcrgcinamanncrconducivctothc
¯ Among the exerts of social make-believe we mention at random: L.
Bachelard, J.-Ï. Sartre, 1. and N. Morn, V. Barthes, JCDuvigaud, H.
Raymond, and of course the authors of plays, science fiction, flms, etc.,
whom it would be too lengthy to name.
86 Everyday Life in the Moder V orId
reader's utter bewilderment. Indeed, a single issue may include
practical instructions on the way to cut out and sew up a dress or
precise information such as where and at what price to buy another,
alongside a form of rhetoric that invests clothes and other objects
with an aura of unreality: all possible and impossible dresses,
every kind of dish from the simplest to those whose realization
requires the skill of a professional, garden chairs and occasional
tables, furniture worthy of a castle or a palace, all the houses and
all the fats are presented to the reader with the codes that ritualize
such ' messages ' and make them available by programming every­
day life. The reader, according to his persopal taste, invests this
subject-matter with a concrete or an abstract interpretation, sees
it as pragmatic or imagnary, imagines what he sees and sees what
he imagines. Here too literature and publicity are distinguished
only by the diferent way in which each is laid out on the page to
attract the eye of the reader, the rhetoric of advertisements being
ofen more literary (and better written) than the reading matter,
which adopts the methods of publicity and fills the same meta­
phorical function of making insignificance ' fascinating' and
translating everyday life into make-believe so that the face of the
consumer lights up with a smle of satisfaction. Such publications
insinuate into each reader's daly life. all possible daily lives, in­
cluding the unrestricted (or presumed such) everyday lives of the
demi-gods, happiness made possible . æ æ . Dis a fact that women do
read these practical texts on make-believe fashions and these
make-believe sections (including publicity) on practical fashions,
thus proving our theory of a level of reality where superfcial
analysis only perceives juxtaposed sectors (living, food, clothing
and fashions, furnishing, toarism, towns and urbanism, etc.), each
sector governed by a system and forming a kind of social entity, but
where we discover sub-systems that make possible the functional
organization of everyday life and its subjection to compulsions
that are anything but unselfish. Let it be remembered that our
aim is to prove that a system of everydalf does not exist, not­
;iistadng--�n-th�-��deavours t· establish and setile't fr good
ana �tthe�����liysub=systems separated b irreducible
gaps, yet situated on one plane and related to it.
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 87
LEVELS OF SOCIAL 8EALITY
{Strategies OÍDOWCI ûHC ODDOSI¡IOH
ÏCISDCC¡IVCS ûHC DIOSDCC¡IVCS
LOHCCD¡UûÌ ûHC ¡HCOIC¡ICûÌ KHOWÌCCRC
lRûCUûÌÌV CCSCCHCIHR ¡OWûICS CXDCIICHCC)
Ideologies of property, rationality and the state
Images and
ideologies
l´ CUÌ¡UIC´
ÍIûRCH¡CC ûHC
SDCCIûÌIZCC)
{Princiles lC¡HICS, ûCS¡HC¡IC, ûCS¡HC¡ICISH, Dû¡¡COS
ûHC HOCCÌS, ICCOÌORICS SCCH ûS HOH-ICCOÌORICS SUCH ûS
SCICH¡ISH, DOSI¡IVISH, S¡IUC¡UIûÌISH, ÍUHC¡IOHûÌISD,
C¡C.)
LIRûHIZIHR sub-systems ¡Hû¡ ûIC ]US¡IÛCC DV DIIHCIDÌCS
,¯HC ICCOÌORV OÍCOHSUHD¡IOH
ÏUDÌICI¡V ûS ICCOÌORV
Illusions and myths related to ideology and to current rhetoric
NPÞL¬ÜLÏ1LNL
lSOCIûÌ)
lIHVOÌVIHR
IHCIVICUûÌ
HûKC-DCÌICVC ûHC
COÌÌCC¡IVC
SVHDOÌISHS)
{VOCûDUÌûIV
Language
ODDOSI¡IOHS
ÌIHKS
Rhetoric
,
metaphysical ÍUHC¡IOH
lOÍWII¡IHR)
,
metonymical ÍUHC¡IOH
lOÍ SDCCCH)
{�OICS
uûRCS
¡HIHRS
Emotional projections consolidating make-believe or actualized
as adaptation
ÏLLbÏb ûHC
ÏÜP7Ïb
Everyday lfe
{Adaptation {DOCICS
lOÍû HUHûH ¡IHC
DCIHR ¡O HIS SDûCC
Hû¡UIûÌDCIHR) CCSIIC
Compulsions
{´ NûÌUCS´ HûSCCH¡ OI
VûHISHIHR. ÍCS¡IVûÌS,
ÌCISUIC, SDOI¡, ¡HC CI¡V,
UIDûHISH, Hû¡UIC, C¡C.
lCC¡CI-
HIHISHS
HO¡CC DV
SCICHCC,
HûS¡CICC DV
¡CCHHOÌORV)
{DIOÌORICûÌ {HUÌ¡IOÌC DU¡ UHI¡CC
RCORûDHICûÌ IH ¡HC SOCIûÌ HûS¡CIV
CCOHOHIC OÍHû¡UIC ûHC IH
C¡C. praxis
5b Everyday Life m the Modem World
This theory, which we shall not develop here, is summed up in
the diagam on page 87, and our commentary of this diagram w
serve as defence and justification.
The diagram is more or less consistent with the tri-dimensional
code (cf. LeLangage et�

société chapter VII), that is, with the
theory distinguishing thlee dimensions of reality expressed in
speech: symbols, paradigms and links. Indeed, the to theories
defne the same phenomena, one in terms of levels, the other in
terms of dimensions. Comulsions might, for instance, be gaded
from 0to 10; for the inhabitants of a ' lage community', that is
for conditions in an urban settlement and a particularly signifcant
standard of everyday life, the total of compulsions would approach
the highest gade, whle it would decrease in the case of a suburban
district dweller and decrease further if we consider the well-to-do
citizen living in a residential area in a big town. Adaptation and
compulsion have conflicting and complex relations ; he who ada¡ts
to circumstances has overcome compulsion, but the technical
mastery of ' natural ' determinisms is not sufcient; one could say,
roughly, that more compulsion (controlled and codified) equals
less adaptation, but the relation is not one of logical inversion but
of dialectical conct; adaptation absorbs compulsions, transforms
them and turns them into products.
Such concts and problems of everyday life involve !ctitious
solutions, superimposed on the realsolutions when these are, or
seem to be, im¡ossible.Thus problems and the search for solutions
overstep the frontier of make-believe, 'projections' unobtrusively
fll the gap between experience and make-believe and people pro­
ject their desires on to one goup of objects or another, one form
of activity or another: the home, the fiat, furnishing, cooking,
going away on holiday, ' nature', etc. Such projections invest the
object with a double existence, real and imaginary.
We have seen that language is a medium of make-believe, and
the contradictions that arise at this level ; and we shaH have more
to say on the subject later. There is a displacement, a decay of
symbols and a general shift towards signals and towards syntag­
madc links at the expense of symbolism and opposition. So long
as mae-believe exists, the displacement is not total, and, more-
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 89
over, metalanguage (or words about words) acts as compensation.
drtformerly represented a form of ada¡tation (of time, space,
desire) ; the work of art gave a perceptible shape to time and to
space, frequently even on a social scale as for instance in cities,
architecture and monuments. Aesthetics tends to operate more on
the level of make-believe, in the form of discussions on, and inter­
pretations of, art, or rhetoric; as to aestheticism, with its discus­
sions on art-discussions and on aesthetics, its illusory adaptation,
fictitious metamorphosis of everyday life and verbal consumption,
it occupies an intermediary position between make-believe and
ideology; all depends on the ' quality' of the discussions.
Style also implied ada¡tation when objects, instead of being
considered only as such and put to a defnite restricted rse qua
objects, were the common property of social experience; that con­
sumption can exist without such an adaptation and, simply
through a prescribed and exact correspondence of needs and
goods, is a postulate of the society of consumption; indeed, its
ideology (and pUblicity as ideology) is founded on this postulate
that is assumed to be the basis of satisfaction.
It is of some significance to note that the diagam on page
87 also illustrates the theory of objects and activities as
' sectors ' : clothing, food, furnishing, ' living' and environment and
possibly sex and sexuality; and can also be applied to towns and
urbanism, and to the motor-car. Not that it applies literally to each
specific sub-group or sub-system, but it can be theoretically
adapted to a specifc sector while still, apparently, maintaining its
essential outline; each theory would require a modulation of the
intial diagram so as to fit and define the sector in question; thus
the amount of compulsion and the success of adaptations vary
according to the theory; certain objects refuse to be restricted to
the level of experience or of make-believe and become emotionally
or imaginatively charged because they are both perceived (socially)
and expressed, while others attain a ' superior' status and become
ideologically overcharged; thus the ' detached' house is ex­
perienced by the inhabitant as something to which he has a chance
of adapting, but also as dream and ideology; the same applies to
clothes (ready-made, ready-to-wear, haute-couture) or to food
90 Everyday Life m the Moder World
(ordInarymeaIs,goodcookng,dInnerpartIesandbanquets),each
IeveIhavIngItsspeciûccontextofImagesandverbaIcommentarIes.
Make-beIIeve assuchIspartofeveryday IIfe, everybody expects
hsdaIIy(or�)ratIon,yetmakeÆei�:�or:�i�
¯· .. , ",�",,---"�"�"---"""""""",""�"-,",",�-,··"°º*'^-�^ ¨×·~ · -· -
reIatIon to everyda

exerIee compuIsIons and adata m:
Iu�disguIsem��������ofcompuIsIonandourIImIted
ca��iIy

apt, ittrcc æd !h»et o ´
'real ' probIem, and someimesItcanfurtIier adatonot c-
¯umscrib�rIence.
PubIIcIty does not onIy provide an IdeoIogy of consumptIon,
andItdoesmore thancreate an Image ofthe' I ' consumer, fuI-
û!Iedassuch,reaIIzInghImseIfIn actIousaud coIncIdIngwIthhis
own IdeaI. It Is based onthe ImagInary exIstence ofthIngs , It
evokesthemandInvoIvesarhetorIcandapoetrysuperImposedon
the art ofconsumIng and Inherent InIts Image, a rhetorIc that
Is not restrIcted to Ianguage but Invades experIence, a dIspIay
wIndow In the Iaubourg SaInt-Honore or a fashIon show are
rhetorIcaIhappenIngs,aIanguageofthIngs.But,aIthoughweshaII
returntothesub|ectofpubIIcItyIater,forthetImebeIngwemust
concentrate ontryIngtodennetheoutIine ofourunrestandour
dIscontent.
The sense ofdIsappoIntmentthatpervades consumptIonhasa
numberofcauses,andwearefarfromunderstandIngthemaII,but
wehavesucceeded, nonethe Iess, InIocatIngone ofthemInthe
absenceofadetermInedspIItordIvIsIonbetweentheconsumptIon
ofthIngsandthatofsIgnsandImagesderIvIngfromthesethIngs.
iact ofconsimng·�¬�(»na¢I�b� Iuia�I:iºtIo� { ûctI-
tIous)asareaIact(' reaIIty'ItseIfbeIngdIvIdedIntocompuIsIons
andadaµtamand¡hereforetricaI(|oyIneverymouth-
fuI, Ineveryperu��he ��t) and metonymIcaI (aII ofcon-
sumptIonandaIIthe|oy ofconsnmingìn+vcryoIcctandevery
actIon). ThIs In ItseIf wouId not matterIfconsumptIonwerenot
accepted as somethIng reIIabIe, sound and devoId of deceptIon
andmIrage,buttherearenonaturaIfrontIersseparatIngImagInary
consumptIon ortheconsumptIonofmake-beIIeve (the sub|ectof
pubIIcIty)andreaIconsumptIon,oronemIghtsaythatthereexIsts
aßuIdfrontIerthatIsaIwaysbeIngoversteppedandthatcanonIy
Te Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consuption 91
beûxedIntheory.Consumer-goodsarenotonIygIorIûedbysIgns
and 'good'InsofarastheyaresIgnIûed,consumptIonIsprImarIIy
reIatedtothesesIgnsandnottothegoods themseIves. Howthen
can frustratIon and disappoIntment be avoIded If peopIe have
nothIngmoresubstantIaIthansIgnstogettheIrteethInto!AdoIes-
centstodaywanttoconsumenow,atonce,andsuchamarkethas
been duIy and eûectIveIy expIoIted. Thus young peopIe tend to
IeadamargInaIeverydayIIfe, theIrownyet unchanged, opposed
tothatoftheIreIdersyetInaIIwaysIdentIcaItoIt,theIrpresence
overshadows aduIt vaIues, possessIons and trades, and yet as
' adoIescents 'theyaremargInaI ,theyareIncapabIeofformuIatIng,
stIIlIessofImposIng,theIrvaIues,sothatwhattheyconsume,both
negatIveIyandmassIveIy,aretheaduItob|ectsthatsurroundthem
wIththeIrmaterIaIexIstenceandtheIrsIgns.ThIssItuatIonfosters
deepandmuItIpIefrustratIonsthatareInadequateIycompensated
by abrutaIassertIveness.
The case Is stIII more dIstressIngfor theworkIng cIasses, who
IIve In the mIdst of sIgns of consumptIon and consume an In-
ordInate amount ofsIgns, as everyday IIfe Is, for them, maInIy
domInated bycompuIsIonswItha mInImum ofadaptatIon. Con-
scIousness,InsuchcIrcumstances, cravesformake-beIIeve and Is
InevItabIydIsappoIntedbyIt,becausethemethodsofensIavement
andexpIoitatIontowhichtheworkIngcIasseshavetosubmItdIs-
guIse theIr true condItIon, and they are not aware ofbeIng ex-
pIoItedandensIavedIntheIrdaIIyIIvesanddaiIyconsumptIonto
the same degee as they are Inthe sphere ofproductIon. In the
' goodoIddays'theworkIngcIasseswereunawareofthestructure
ofproductIonandthereforeoftheIrbeIngexpIoIted,theIdeoIogy
ofexchange, ' workforwages ',servedasacoverforthereaIcon-
ditIons ofproductIon,thestructured~structurIngreIatIon (saIe of
workIng energy, ownershIp and admInIstratIon ofthe means of
productIonby one cIass). ThIs reIatIon has become vaguer stIII
sInce then, and the IdeoIogy of consumptIon onIy Increases Its
vagueness. ConsumptIon Is a substItute for productIon and, as
expIoItatIonIsmìensmed, IÌ¢ auy!co
TheworkIngcIassescannotheIpbeIngdIscontentedfortheyare
thenrstofthesocIaIstratatobeacquaIntedwIthsuchfrustratIon,
92 Everyday Life in the Moder World
thcir cIass consciousncss is not casiIy rcstorcd andyct docs not
cntircIydisappcarbutbccomcsacIass' misundcrstanding',andas
suchisinvoIvcdinaIIcIaimsandprotcststhatsprcadunobtrusivcIy
from qucstions ofpay (that arc ncvcr adcquatcIy soIvcd) to thc
organizationofthcir daiIyIivcs.
WchavcaIrcadynotcdthcambiguityofwomcn'sstatustoday.
£vcrydayIifc,towhichthcyarcconsi¿ncd,isaIsothcirstronghoId
fro�·!i� tI�ya. «vnh�i�.,io csc�pc b,tI�:unabout ´
mctbod oIcIuding thc rcsponsitü¡Iics o consciousucss ; vbcncc
thcir inccssant protcsts and cIsiIy formIatcd, dirocs �

� ¦
cIaims.
��
¯Ior thc intcIIcctuaI, makc-bcIicvc, ßowing with thc watcrs of

rhctoric,IanguagcandmctaIanguagc,isthcpcrmancntsubstitutc
forcxpcricnccthataIIowshimtoignorcthcmcdiocrityofhiscon-
dition, his Iack ofpowcr, ofmoncy and thc humiIiatingfact of
havingtosubmittocompuIsionsandmythsinordcrtocIimbafcw
rungs ofthc sociaIIaddcrandbccomcapopuIarwritcr, afamous
iournaIist, an cmincnt tcchnician orgovcrnmcnt advisor, ctc.
Inconscqucncc,protcsts,obicctionsandcIaimsdonotccascand
cannotbccradicatcdascachparticuIargroupinturnobiccts and
protcsts tryingtomakcthc most ofthcsituation.Thcrcicctionof
this socictybycvcr-rcncwcdgroupsofadoIcsccnts isthc mostsig-
nibcant ;itisatotaIrcicction,aII-cncompassing,hopcIcss,fruitIcss,
absoIutcand cndIcssIyrccurring. SuchgroupsfaII into two catc-
gorics,thcvioIcntandthc non-vioIcnt, forthcirrcfusaIimpIics an
attcmpt to cvadc cvcryday Iifc and cstabIish a ncwcxistcncc of
crcationandadaptationthathasvariousaspccts .vagrancy,drugs,
passwords,compIicitics, ctc.
Thc middIc cIasscs havc, ofcoursc, bccn had oncc again! By
whom,itisdimcuIttosay,forifcIassstratcgyposscsscsanactivc
' subicct' it can ncvcr bc caught rcd-handcd, bccausc it is ' madc
up' aI¡cr thc cvcnt by cxpcricncc; but thc middIc cIasscs, who
scrvc as pivot in thc manocuvrc, arc aIso its victims, and thcir
particuIarrcIationto obiccts andpropcrtyis bccoming agcncraI
rcIation. This intcrmcdiary stratum of socicty has aIways cravcd
satisfactioncvcr sincc it brst camc into cxistcncc . itcmizcd satis-
factionsanditcmsofsatisfaction;authorityandpowcrhavcncvcr
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 93
bccnitsIot(ncithcrhascrcativity,butfor dißcrcnt rcasons), and
itisimpossibIctospcakof 'styIc' inrcIationtoit÷ anabscnccof
styIc wouId bc morc to thc point ; thus thc circumstanccs that
charactcrizcd it havc sprcad to thc whoIc of socicty, with thc
cxccptionofthcruIingcIasscs or contcmporary cquivaIcnt ofthc
��
t

r
���
L�im1ow��1,v
which thcy arc madc popuIar prcscnts thcm in thc sctting ofa
supcriorbrandofthiscommodity;incxtrcmccascsthcyhavenot
cvcn a bxcdabodc ; thcsc dcmigods rcproducc inthcir opuIcncc
andpowcrarcviscdvcrsionofvagrancyandthctramp,wandcring
fromyacht to Grand HotcI to Châtcau; but thcy arc not onthc
samcpIancasthcordinarycitizcn;Iikcfairy-taIchcrocsthcypro-
vidccommonmortaIswithatangibIcimagc÷ soIdatahigbpricc÷
ofmakc-bcIicvc;thatwhichwaspossibIcandaIIthatwaspossibIc
havc takcnshapc. Hcrcis anothcr cvcryday Iifc, unrccognizabIc
yct rccognizcd with its swimming-pooIs, whitc Iacqucrcd tcIc-
phoncs, antiquc furniturc . . . yct thcrc rcmains onc insupcrabIc
supcriority: thc dcmi-gods do not Iivc inthc quotidian, whcrcas
thc commonmortaI,hisfcctgIucdtothcground,is ovcrwhcImcd
byit,submcrgcdandcngulfcd.)ThcmiddIccIasscswaIIowinsatis-
factionsandarcycthaIf-awarcofbcingswindIcd;thcycarryvcry
IittIc wcight, havc onIy a smattcring ofwcaIth, no powcr and no
authority,butthcirwayof Iifc sccmstohavcconqucrcdthcwhoIc
of socicty incIuding thc working cIasscs, so that thcy must Iivc
hcnccforthIikcthcproIctariatoronIyafractionbcttcr. Thus, asit
hasbccnsaidandrcpcatcd, sociaIstratatakcthcpIaccofcIasscs ;
andmorcovcrthcmiddIccIasscs, by dcnyingthc status of' cIass'
tothcworkcrs,havcacquircdi nrcIationtothcscproIctariatasort
ofdignity andcmincncc, a supcrior standing ÷ in short, a cIass
consciousncss, sothatthcyarc,unwittingIy, furthcringthccausc
of thc bourgcoisic. At prcscnt, this intcrmcdiary stratum ofthc
socicty ofcontroIIcd consumptionissIowIymcrgingwiththcpro-
Ictariat and though whitc-coIIar workcrs, smaII tcchnicians and
cIcrksputupastubbornrcsistcncctothis statcofaßairsitsprcads
nonc thc Icss, not bccausc of idcoIogicaI prcssurcs but simpIy
through thc obvious simiIarity of thcir cvcryday Iivcs and thc
idcnticaI cvasions from such Iivcs in packagcd tours and trips.
94 Everyday Life mthe Modern World
Resistitashemay,themiddIe-cIasscitizenisuneasiIyawarethat
in the society ofconsumptionthe consumer is consumed ~ not
himseIfinßeshandbIood,whoisstiIIasfreeastheIabourer:not
himseIt,buthisIife-time.ThetheoryofaIienationisreputedtobe
outoìdate:�deed, ~informsofaIienationmayperhapshave
vanished, suchas,forinstance,sexuaIaIienation,thougheventhis
is notcertainandthebasisofsexuaIrepression(the ' naturaI 're-
Iation, practicaIIy and cuIturaIIy enforced, of the sexuaI act to
fecundation)isveryfarfromextinct.ÞewtypesofaIienationhave
|oinedranks with the oId, enriching the typoIogy ofaIienation .
poIiticaI,ideoIogicaI,technoIogicaI, bureaucratic, urban,etc. We
wouIdsuggestthataIienationisspreadingandbecomingsopower-
fuIthatit obIiterates aIItraceorconsciousness ofaIienation.We
commitfortriaI,here andeIsewhere, ideoIogistswho wouId cIass
thistheoryamongantiquatedphiIosophies : notwithstandingtheir
wouId-be sardonic insinuations concern¡ng ideoIogicaI ' con-
spiracies ' and their ' instigators',theyfurther the cause ofcIass
strategy:withacIearconscience,neitherbetternorworsethanthe
others .thosewhoknowandthosewhounderstandnothingabout
anything.WhatisnewisthatthetheoryofaIienationisIeftwith
a diminishing phiIosophicaI referentiaI and has become asocial
¡ractice, acIass strategywherebyphiIosophy and history are set
aside so asto confusethe issue and successfuIIyinhibit anycon-
sciousness oftheactuaIstate oftotaI aIienation. Such a strategy
hasanumberofmoves at its disposaI :the pawnsare the middIe
cIasseswho aretotaIIyunawareoftheir aIienation, aIthoughthey
have served asmodeIsfor most chronicIers ofthisphenomenon.
One ñne morningthe middIe-cIasscitizenpasses out Iike a Vic-
torianIady, orIikethe Kierkegaardiancharacterhestartsshout-
ing ' Everything is now possibIe! ' : he is no Ionger contentwith
exchangingreaIityformake-beIieveandviceversa,with|umbIing
the IeveIs, he wantssomethingeIse : consuming satisñes him and
yetIeaves him dissatisñed: consumingis not happiness, comfort
andeasearenotaII,|oydoesnotdepend onthem:heisbored.
This societywishesto integrateits members, comunities, in-
dividuaIs, atoms and moIecuIes, to integrate them with itseIf
thoughitisnoIonger considered a ' sub|ect' : this isits probIem
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 95
andone ofitsma|orcontradictions. Þotthat it Iacksintegrating
powers, thoughthesearemainIyprevaIentinthespheresoftrade
and consumer-goods, but stiII active on the cuIturaI IeveI too:
whiIeeverydayIifeintegratesthosewho acceptit andeventhose
whom it does not satisfy: these Iast who wouId Iike something
morefuIñIIingarerapidIyandtotaIIyenguIfednonethe Iess, and
tothemthemostconvincingincitementstorevoItonIysoundIike
so much noise. Has not this society, gIutted with aestheticism,
aIready integrated former romanticisms, surreaIism, existentiaI-
ismandevenMarxismtoapoint °Ithasindeed,throughtrade,in
theformofcommodities !ThatwhichyesterdaywasreviIedtoday
becomescuIturaIconsumer-goods :consumptionthusenguIfswhat

wasintended to giiemeaning anddirection. It isaIIveryweIIto

dismissmeaningandtoconsiderthequestformean|ngabsurd,¡o
assimiIatetheabsurdtothereaIandtherationaI :butagreatgap
widens, a gap that the phiIosophers canface uminchingIy, but
onewherebyoursociety~ whichhasnootherideoIogicaIprops~
is deprived ofits integrating powers. For cuIture�that abstract
transIation ofeconomic and technoIogicaI demands - is of no
avaiI : whence theparadox, frequentIy discussed but onIy super-
üciaIIy anaIysed, ofa society whose function is integration and
participationandthatcannotsucceedinintegratingany oneof¡ts
groups ~ neither adoIescents, inteIIectuaIs, districts, towns, busi-
ness concernsnorwomen. TypicaI ofsuch an� nd¬·
potentsocietyisthe

UnitedStatesofAmerica.WhentheFrench
andEurop� � t¬rgeoisiep�ss�sscdanideoIo¬(theuniversaIity
ofReason)andasociaIpractice(thecreationofnationaity)they
hadintegratingpowers, butthechanneIIingofsuchuniversaIizing
ideoIogies into the restricted rationaIities oftechnoIogy and the
state hasreducedtheirformerstrategicaIpowertonothing, with
the resuIt that impotence prevaiIs in cuIturaI and especiaIIy in
integrative spheres.
InthesecircumstancesnewideoIogiesarerequiredandfeverishIy
soughtafter. ItwasevidentIyimpossibIetoIiveontheAmerican
funds of 1950 to 1960: de-ideoIogization, an increasingIy har-
monious reIease oftensions, the aboIition ofcIasses. ' End ideo-
m¯~
Iogies ! ' was the raIIyingcryofthe American attack. andsucha
96 Everyday Life m the Modem World
batterIng ram and such artIIIery made short work ofEurope's
ancIent fortresses , massIve IandIngs of specIaIIsts (socIoIogIsts,
psychoIogstsandothers)foIIowedInthewakeofthIsonsIaught.
WIthwhatresuIt °ÞowEuropeIsIIttIemorethanabattIeüeIdof
brokenphIIosophIesandtheorIes,wIthhere andthere aIoneand
muchbeIeaguered cItadeI orfort stIIIresIstIng (MarxIsm,hIstor-
IcIty).TheAmerIcanattackcoIncIdedwIththedownfaIIofStaIInIst
doæatIsm,andnowthedemandformoresubtIeIdeoIogesIsIn-
tense both In America and In Europe, sothatIt Is necessaryto
reñne the concept ItseIfofIdeoIog. We beIIeve that today thIs
conceptIncIudes,ontheonehand,theorIespurportIngtobenon-
IdeoIogIcaIand' rigorous 'and,ontheother,aIargeproportIonof
socIaImake-beIIeve, fostered by pubIIcity (that tends to become
both IdeoIogy and experIence) , today an IdeoIogy must not be
seen as such, It mustmake no appeaI to emotIvIty, InvoIve no
aIIegIance to specIüc IeadershIps, but don a scIentIüc d¡smse,
shortofimItatIngacertaInpsychoanaIysIsoracertaInoccuItIsm
and fooIhardIIystakIng ontheIrratIonaI.
AtanInferIorIeveIofthebuIId-up,asasoptotheIowercIasses,
we have economism. VuIgar and vuIgarIzed, It has no easy IIfe
becauseItworksasanIdeoIogyofexpansIon,asproductIvIsm,as
organIzIng ratIonaIIty or as the prospect ofImmInent aûuence.
Such concepts, though aIready dIscarded Inthe UnIted States,
havestIIIarosyfuturebeforethemInunderdeveIopedFranceand
mayweIIbeIncIuded omcIaIIy, one ofthesedays, In aunIversIty
currIcuIum or that of some othcr state-sponsored InstItutIon.
EconomIsmhastheconsIderabIeadvantage ofunItIngadecayed
MarxIsm and a degenerate bourgeoIs ratIonaIIsm, furthermore,
It convenIentIy cIothes the organIzatIon and the ratIonaIIzed
expIoItatIonofeverydayIIfe.
Butthere areothermoresubtIeundertakings. TheIdeoIogyof
jininit, or oIhappIness b\an¢1 1 , Is onIy another
form of the IdeoIogy of���muon (happIness through con-
summ eidcoIo- of�H�(womenpossessIngthe
technique ofhappIness!),butwIthsomethIngmoreappeaIIng.
The Ideo1ogy ofcuIture or cuIturaIIsm supports the unsteady
theory ofthe coherence and sIngIeness ofcuIture, whIch Is the
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 97
omcIaItheory, but, Infact, cuItureIsatomIzedandsub-cuItures
ofvarIous denomInatIons are no noveIty: country lIfe, cIty IIfe,
arIstocracy, proIetarIat, bourgeoIsIe, ' underdeveIopedcountrIes ',
cuItureofthemasses,etc. ,butsomany 'sub-cuItures '~evenwhen
dIsguIsedIn the HarIequIncape made for the purposeby one of
them(nameIy 'cIassIcIsm')~ donotmakeacuIture,thefragmen-
tatIon of specIaIIzed knowIedge and Iabour Is not conducIve to
unIty.CuItureIsnotamyth,ItIsworse :ItIsa state���UnIty
ofc untbc1 :+hatofcuIturaI
instItutIons ,whence 'masscuIture'andconsumptIonaresuppIIed
wIth ' best quaIIty products ' and works that are saId to be
' unaduIterated'.
FunctIonaIIsm, formaIIsmandstructuraIIsm have thIsIncom-
monwIthscIentIsmandposItIvIsm:theyaIIparadeasnon�Ideo-
IogIcaI.YettheIdeoIogIzIngprocessIscIearenough,andconsIsts
InextrapoIatIon-reductIonwhereby the IdeoIogy makes absoIute
truthsofreIatIve,specIücconcepts.TheImportanceoftheIdeoIogy
oflanguageentItIesIttoachaptertoItseIf,ItIsreIatedontheone
hand to the remarkabIe discoverIes of the buddIng scIence of
linguisticsandontheotherto' Ianguagephenomena'thatpertaIn
to everydayIIfe. LetItsumcetonoteforthetImebeIngthatthIs
IdeoIogyIsbasedonasImuItaneousrepresentatIonofIanguageas
theke)tosocialrealit)(whIchbecomesperceptIbIebymeansofIts
specIücformsofspeech)andasas)stem(IncIudIngandInvoIvIng
theunItyofreaIItyandInteIIigIbIIIty) ,whereasthetheoryweshaII
beIntroducIngInthefoIIowIngchapterstressesthefactthatweare
surroundedbymetalanguage,words aboutwords,orthedecodIng
offormermessageswIthoutthefaIntestcIaImeIthertonoveItyor
tothe decodIngof' realIty' .
."¯�� ¢
�.�.�a Ianguage phenomenon' that rcquires our par-
`�~·
cularattention,not the IeastoftheprobIems thatItraIsesIsIts
emcIency, the character and scope ofIts Inßuence. We hope to
showLow, b a uocss ofs�bstItution ~ one amongIts �a�y �
processes ~ pubIIcIty assumes In part the roIe form�rIy LeId by
IdeoIogIes :tocIothe,dIssImuIateandtransformreaIIty,thatIsto
sayproductIonreIatIons.
IdeoIogyInIts former capacIty (possessIngthepower to grIp,
98 Everyday Life in the Modem World
liberate and integrate, that once characterized rationalism) could
only subsist if everyday life could be seen as an actively coherent
system; and this view is impossible. Such a system should first be
proved by experience, for if everyday life is to be seen as a system
this system must be structured and closed. Unfortunately for this
theory, as soon as the quotidian is presented as a system (a com­
pendium of meanings) it collapses and is seen to be meaningless,
a compendium of non-meanings, to which we try to append a
meaning; indeed, everyday insignificance can only become mean­
ingful when transformed into something other than everyday life;
in other words, it is not possible to construct a theoretical and
practical system such that the details of everyday life will become
meaningful in and by this system. Furthermore there is no system
because there are so many sub-systems situated, as we have seen,
not within a single s)stem but at dm erent leiels o! realit), the
lacunae and gaps between them fled with foating mists . . . ; and
the only system sufciently comprehensive to be worthy of the
name is the system of substitutes¯ so comprehensive, in fact, that
all ' theories ', ' analyses ' and 'inquiries ' risk turning into sub­
stitutes to save trouble and uphold a ' system' that only exists in
words !
Zfew sub-systems
Theoreticians of structuralism frequently use the word ' system' ;
but their vocabulary is sadly lacking in precision. For the word has
gradually become vague and indeterminate, and though exactness
may be included in its connotations and its rhetoric it has certainly
no part in its denotation, which signifies about as much as ' what's­
its-name' or ' thingummybob' . Yet the fact remains that a system
is a unity or it is nothing,* for if there are more than one the
existence and efect of each will be only relative. and none can
stand alone. In such circumstances it would be more correct to
speak of sub-systems, though of course, this puts an end to the
authority and dignity of the structure, prerogatives of the one
¯ PS ñICHCÌ ÏOUCûUÌ¡ HûS CCDOHS¡tû¡CC IH ¡HC ÌûS¡ DûRCS OÍ HIS DOOK Les
Mots et les choses, ÏûtIS, 1VÚÚ. WHICH IS ûS SVDIÌÌIHC ûS COUÌC DC WISHCC.
• '

The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 99
absolute system surrounded by prophetic mistiness. . . . Sub­
systems were already implicit in Hegelianism with the theory of an
al-encompassing philosophico-political system, a circle surround­
ing circles, a sphere containing spheres.
The conditions required for the existence· of sub-systems are:
a) a distinct, specific and specialized (social) activity; objectives
corresponding to this activity, specific, classifiable and that can be
labelled; situations determined by the relation between activity
(social agent or subject; groups and individuals) and objectives,
so as to constitute an indissoluble whole;
b) organizations and institutions justifying one another at state
level or at the level of another state-sponsored institution; the
institutions make use of the organizations as ' implements ' with
which to manipulate social activity while a competent devoted
bureaucracy promptly ransacks the common weal, so that a
hierarchy -, or hierarchies - is rapidly constituted;
c) texts (forming a cor¡u) that ensure the communication of
activity, the participation of its organizing actions., the sway and
authority of the corresponding institutions ; these texts are some­
times already organized. into codes, or they consist of documents,
treatises, manuals, guides, or the illustrations and literature of pub­
licity, from which the explicit corpus and code may be analytically
deduced; such analyses, when successful, reveal and define what
some linguists (Hjemslev, A. J. Giemas) call connotational
language.
According. to this definition, fashon is a sub-system; * so is
cookery when it renounces the status of a regional, - household
craft consisting of orally transmitted recipes, to become a formal­
ized, specialized activity, the object of manuals and gastronomical
guides with a hierarchy of place-names and dishes, and serving
. as pretext for social rituals ; however it is, for the most part,
" LÎ. H. Ûût¡HCS, Le Systeme de la mode, ÏûtIS, 1VÚÚ. Ì¡ IS HûtCÌV HCCCSSûtV
¡O SûV ¡Hû¡ m HIS WOtK ¡HC DC¡HOCICûÌ ûHûÌVSIS OÍ ¡HC ÌûHRUûRC OÍÍûSHIOH IS
Û.tS¡tû¡C. ÌOWCVCt,¡HC ´CXDCtICHCC´OÍÍûSHIOHlSOCIOÌORICûÌ .WODCH,Dû¡CtIûÌS,
DtICCS ~ IH D1ICÍ, ¡HCSVS¡
p
D´S IDDûC¡ Ot IDDOt¡ûHCC) IS ÌûCKIHR. bUCHWûS ¡HC
ûU¡HOt´S IH¡CH¡IOH. Lu COHCCO lWI¡H ¡HC IHSCt¡IOH OÍ ÍûSHIOH IH¡O CVCtVCûV
ÌIÍC) DtCCCCCS O1 ÍOÌÌOWS HIS.
100 Everyday Life m the Modem World
successful in eluding systematization and retains its household and
regional character. Sub-systems are the result of a sort of nucleus
of signifcances favouring a certain sphere of social space so that
it acquires powers of attraction and repulsion; this is an isoto¡e
(A. J. Griemas). The nucleus of language attracts activity, de­
priving it of its spontaneity, and transforming actions and skills
into signs and significations at the expense of adaptation. Such a
process takes place in the sphere of make-believe.
Tourism migt aso be called a sub-system in the so-called con­
sumer society; ' culture', too, that appears as an entity in this
light; sexuality and eroticism could also be classed under this
heading; but, from the viewpoint of programmed everyday life,
nothing can beat the motor-car.
Practical and explicit inquiries into the role and function of the
motor-car are remarkably inconclusive to date ; there are a number
of essays and studies on the subject that migt serve as introduc­
tions to our analysis, but most of them are more symptomatic than
informative. We shall, however, leave to others the task of com­
piling a methodical treatise, since our aim is to prove the existence
of a ' sub-system', a specific semantic field invading and inuencing
everyday life, and to this end we shall show that :
a)The motor-car is the epitome of ' objects ', the Leading-Object,
and this fact should be kept in mind. It directs behaviour in
various spheres from economics to speech. Trafc circulation is
one of the main functions of a society and, as such, involves the
priority of parking spaces, adequate streets and roadways. The
town only puts up a feeble resistance to this ' system' and wher- .
ever such resistance occurs it is duly quashed. Certain experts use
the general term ' urbanism', with its philosophical and rational
implications, to designate the efects of trafc circulation carried
to their extreme limits. Space is conceived in terms of motoring
needs and trafc problems take precedence over accommodation
in self-termed technical rationality; it is a fact that for many people
the car is perhaps the most substantial part of their ' living con­
ditions '. It might be interesting to point out some curious
phenomena: motorized trafc enables people and objects to con­
gregate and mix without meeting, thus constituting a striking
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 101
example of simultaneity without exchange, each element remain­
ing enclosed in its own compartment, tucked away in its shell ;
such conditions contribute to the disintegration of city life and
foster a ' psychology' or, better, a ' psychosis' that is peculiar to
the motorist; on the other hand the real but limited and pre-
. established dangers do not prevent most people from ' taking
risks ', for the motor-car with its retinue of wounded and dead, its
trail of blood, is all that remains of adventure in everyday life, its
paltry ration of excitement and hazard. What is also significant is
the place of the car in the only global system we have identified,
the system of substitutes ; as a substitute for eroticism, for adven-
.
ture, for living conditions and for human contact in large towns
the car is a pawn in the ' system' that crumbles away as soon �s it
has been identified. It is an unimposing technical object, depend­
ing on relatively simple functional requirements (it must move,
therefore work - using and wasting a considerable amount of
energy - light up the way before it, change direction and speed)
and structual requirements (engine, chassis and body, equipment),
and figures also in a simple, unimposing functional and structural
social complex where it plays an increasingly important part; it
gives rise to an attitude (economic, psychic, sociological, etc.),
assumes the dimension of a complete object and has an (absurd)
significance ; in fac¡�_2.c.achas
.
1. QtJ'QJqlr.< society so
much a. eier)da) lne on which ¡t imposes .its laws and whose
establishment it ensures by fixing it on a leiel(levelling it). Today
the greater part of everyday life is accompanied by the noise of
engines, and is taken up with their ' rational ' exploitation and the
demands of the motor industry and motor repairs.
b) This is not the end; a car is not merely a material object with
certain technical advantages, a socio-economic means and medium
involving demands and compUlsions. It fosters hierarchies. an
obvious hierarchy determined by size, power, cost, and a more
complex and subtle hierarchy depending on ¡er!ormance.
There is a certain amount of lee-way between the two hierar­
chies, so that they do not exactly coincide ; a margin or interval
separates them in which there is room for talk, discussion and
controversy, in a word for speech. A defte point in the material
102 Everyday Life in the Modern World
scale does not correspond precisely to a point on the performance
scale; thus I might climb a rung or two by becoming a champion
(for a minute or a day?) within a specific restricted circle ; there
are limits, of course ; but what are they? When I overtake a more
powerful car than that which I am driving, I change my place in
the first hierarchy by climbing a rung in the second, that concerned
with performance and requiring foolhardiness, ability and cunning,
therefore freedom; my achievement becomes a topic of conversa­
tion with my passengers, later with my acquaintances and friends
to whom, especially if I have taken some risk, I am sure to boast
of my feat ; in these circumstances the hierarchy is no longer
oppressive and compUlsive, but integrative.
We note that this characteristic of automotive objects is similar
to that of the human body in its relation to sport ; there is a physi­
cal hierarchy (weight, strength, height, etc.) and a hierarchy of
performance, but also a telescoping of the two.
Moreover this dual hierarchy corresponds (a¡¡roximatel)there­
fore fluidly - and therein lies its general significance and its specific
significance for the theoretician) to the social hierarchy: there is
analogy (not homology) between social standing and the grading
of cars. As the two scales do not coincide there is an incessant
shift from one to the other with no definite cause for interruption,
and this undefined, indefinite, reversible and ever-recurring - yet
imperative - character of the rating allows for an infnite variety
of combinations, contradictions and computations.
c) As a result the practical significance of the motor-car, as an
instrument of road communication and transport, is only part of
its social signifcance. This highly privileged object has a second,
intenser signifcance, more ambiguous than the first, real and
symbolic, practical and make-believe and its hierarchization is
both expressed and implied, sustained and enhanced by its sym­
bolism. The car is a status symbol, it stands for comfort, power,
authority and speed, it is consumed as a sign in addition to its
practical use, it is something magic, a denizen from the land of
make-believe. Speech becomes rhetorical and unrealistic when re­
ferring to the motor-car; this significant object has a significant
retinue (language, speech, rhetoric), its various significances in-
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 103
volving, intensifying and neutralizing each other as it stands for
consumption and consumes symbols, symbolizes happiness and
procures happiness by symbols. The motor-car's roles are legion:
it is the sum of everyday compulsions, the prime example of the
social favours bestowed on mediator and medium and it is a
condensation of all the attempts to evade everyday life because it
has restored to everyday life hazard, risk and significance.
d) This object has its own code, the Highway Code, a fact that
speaks for itself. Volumes are filled with semantic, semiologic
and semiotic interpretations of the Highway Code that is the epi­
tome of compUlsive sub-codes disguising by their self-importance
our society's lack of directive and of a general code. It demon­
strates the role of signals ; but the scholar who wishes to complete
a thorough semiologic ( or sociologic) interpretation of the �otor­
car must include in the basic corpus -in addition to this code -
further documents such as legal, journalistic or literary tracts,
advertisements, etc. The Leading-Object has not only produced a
system of communication but also organisms and institutions that
use it and that it uses.
At this point the situation becomes comical, or rather absurd.
Such sub-systems, we are convinced, can only lead to pleonasm,
to destruction through tautology as the object destroys every­
thing and then itself. The tourist trade, whose aim is to
attract crowds to a particular site - historic city, beautiful view,
museum, etc. - ruins the site in so far as it achieves its aim: the
cit, the view, the exhibits are invisible behind the tourists, who
can only see one another (which they could have done just as well
elsewhere, anywhere). Fashion? How many women are really fa­
shionable ? A handful of models, cover-girls and demi-goddesses,
who quake in their shoes lest they should cease to be fashionable
because fashion, which they make, eludes them no sooner
launched, and they must keep up with it or rather ahead of it in a
perpetual giddy-making overtaking. Formal cookery is on the way
out ; the unenlightened customer has come to appreciate rites,
appearances and settings more than the actl1 al dishes, so that hotel
and restaurant owners, on the look-out for easy profit, substitute
form for quality; the enlightened customer will have to discover
104 LvcrVdaV LÎÍc Înthc NOdcrn V Orld
thc IíttIc cafc, thc símoIc, unorctcntíous rcstaurant run by an
ambítíouschcf. Astothcmotor-car- notwíthstandíngítssoccíñc
attractíonasdcsccratoroftownandcountrysídc- saturatíonooínt
wíII soon bc rcachcd hcrc too and ís índccd, to thc horror of
tramc cxocrts, aIrcady ín síght ínthcform ofhnaI frcczíng and
íncxtrícabIc hxíty. In thc cxocctancy of thís cvcr-rcccdíng, fas-
cínatíng cuImínatíon, motorísts ín Amcríca and Gcrmany socnd
IonghoursínroadsídcmotcIs contcmoIatíngthcdow oftramc on
thc motorways" and cvídcntIy ñndíng thc oastímc cxtrcmcIy (íf
nottotaIIy)rcwardíng.
Wc arc sumcícntIy famíIíarwíth obsoIcsccncc ínthcory andín
oractícc torcaIízc that thc wcar ofmotor-cars ís forcsccn, con-
dítíoncd and oromammcd; wc míghtcvcn suggcst (wítha rathcr
doubtfuI oun) that thc automotívc vchícIc ís thc arch-symboI of
autodcstructíon, and as such, though tcrmcd ' durabIc consumcr
goods ' and ínvoIvíng ocrmancnt structurcs (thoroughfarcs,
motorways, ctc.) ít takcs oIacc ofhonour ín thc systcm ofsub-
stítutcs.
OnccouIdsaythat oubIícítyísa sub-systcm;yctsuch a hyoo-
thcsís aoocars to bc unacccotabIc. Kathcr, ít ís thc Ianguagc of
tradc at íts mostcIaboratc, comoIctcwíth symboIs, rhctoríc and
mctaIanguagc, thc mcans by whích thc tradcd objcct andíts am-
bíguous (abstract-<oncrctc, formaI-oractícaI) tradcvaIuc subsíst.
Jhc foIIowíngthcory takcn from Marx`s DasKa¡italsccms aot
and concIusívc: tradc ís a form_, óstínctfrom íts cotct (socíaI
Iabour), andíts contíngcntrctínuc(ncgotíatíons,oaIavcrs,words
andscntcncc�ríí�díaIcctícaIthcoryreduces
thc actoftradíngto ítssímp�1�just as, Iatcr, wcsha1I sccAhc
scmantícthcorydíscardíngwordstorcdccmthccsscncc ofthc act
otcommunÎcatíon,orIanguagc. Suchaform,furthcrmorc,ís on!y
ísoIatcd from íts contcnt and contíngcncícs at a hrst oocratíon;
conscqucntstagcsof thcínquíryrcstorcbothcontcntandhístorícaI
and socíoIogícaI condítíons oftradc, whích, whcn ' ourc` formís
undcr anaIytícaI obscrvatíon, arc sct asídc for furthcr consídcra-
tíon- thc contcntoIaccdbctwccnbrackcts, thc contíngcncícsdís-
¯ bCC¡HCCûIICû¡UICS DV bCHDC l¡HOURH HISHUHOUI, ¡IHRCCWI¡HûDSUICI¡V,
ISHûIHÌCSS CHOURH ûHC CûSIÌVIC¡IICVûDÌC, ¡Hû¡ IS, HCIRIHRIH¡O ûCCCDIûHCC).
Ãc UurcauOratÎO bOOÎctV OÍ LOntrOÍÍcd LOnsmptÎOn 105
cardcd. Jhís aIIowsthc Iínkíngofformto asocíaIcxocrícncc, íts
graduaI cmcrgcncc and thc crcatíonofíts own socíaI cxocrícncc
so that ít bccomcs, ín fact, thc cxocrícncc. It wouId índccd bc
símoIc-míndcdto scctradc vaIuc as aorc-cstabIíshcds)stemcon-
ccaIcd ín thc words and gcsturcs of thosc conccrncd ín tradc
(buycrs, scIIcrs, tradcsmcn, thc caoítaIísts of commcrcc, ctc.).
Jradc as form contaíns a logic; as thcoroduct ofIabourít oro-
duccsscqucnccs,íntcIIígíbIyIínkcdactíons ; ítísbotha socíaI and
aníntcIIcctuaIohcnomcnon. Jhísformcvcngovcrns thcIanguagc
thatorcccdcdít, adaotíngíttoítsowncnds ;andthcrcsuItísmorc
than a símoIc connotatíonaI Ianguagc - though ccrtaín groups
such as tradcsmcn, for ínstancc, do oosscss just such a scmantíc
sub-systcm. Iotwíthstandíng rcsístanccs - whích may bcunsur-
mountabIc- fromformcrtradítíons andhxatíons as wcIIasfrom
rcvoIutíonaryootcntíaIítícs,tradctcnds(wíthoutcvcrcntírcIysuc-
cccdíng) to constítutc a ' worId` (or shouId wc say that ' systcm`
famiIíarundcrthcnamcofcaoítaIísm?). AndoubIícíty,ofcoursc,
dcscríbcsobjcctsíntcndcdforasoccíñcuscandoosscssíngatradc
vaIuc (quotcd onthcmarkct), ín amanncrsuch as to índucc thc
consumcr to buy. Jhat ís howít startcd, that was íts functíonín
thc ninctccnth ccntury: to ínform, to dcscríbc and to orovokc
dcsírc; and índccd, that ís stíII onc of íts functíons, now ovcr-
shadowcd, howcvcr, byothcrs ; ínthc sccondhaIfofthctwcntícth
cc

ntury ín Iurooc, or at any ratc ín !rancc, thcrc ís nothing -
whcthcr objcct, índívíduaI or socíaI grouo - that ís ialuedaoart
from íts doubIc, thc ímagc that advcrtíscs and sanctíñcs ít. Jhís
ímagcdu¡licatesnotonIyanobjcct`smatcríaI,ocrccotíbIccxístcncc
but dcsírc andoIcasurc that ítmakcs ínto ñctíons sítuatíngthcm
ínthcIandofmakc-bcIícvc,oromísíng 'haooíncss `-thchaooíncss
ofbcíngaconsumcr. JhusoubIícítythatwasíntcndcdtooromotc
consumotíonísthchrstofconsumcrgoods ;ítcrcatcsmyths- or,
síncc ítcancrcatcnothíng, ítborrows cxístíngmyths, canaIízíng
sígnihcrs to a duaI ouroosc: to oñcr thcm as such for gcncraI
consumotíonandtostímuIatcthcconsumotíonofasoccíhcobjcct.
Jhus ítsaIvagcs andrccondítíons myths, thcSmíIcMyth(thcjoy
of consuming ídcntíhcd wíth thc ímagínary joy ofthc man or
woman dcoíctcd consumíng thc objcct), thc OísoIay Myth (thc
106 Everyday Life in the Modem VorId
socíaIactívítyconsístíngínouttíngthíngsondísoIayand,ínturn,
oroducíngsuch objccts as thc ' dísoIay unít `,forínstancc).
Hcrc wc havc a oícturc, thc ohotograoh of an athctíc haIf-
nakcdyouth cIíngíngforaII hc ís worth, arm andthíghmuscIcs
tcnscd, to thc ríggíng of a yacht that cIcavcs thc watcr at fuII
soccd; trcmcndous soccd ís cvokcd by thc ûyíng foam and thc
tcnsíon ofthc roocs ; thc bcautífuI adoIcsccnt scans thc horízon:
what docs hc scc that cIudcs thc cyc of thc ocríodícaI-rcadcr 7
Oangcr or Yísíon, or nothíng at aII 7 . . . Morcovcr hc ís doíng
nothíng, ncíthcrIandín¿norturníng; hcísmagniñccnt, that`saII.
Jhccaotíontothísoícturcrcads : 'ArcaIman`sIífcísmarvcIIous,
ycs, marvcIIous ! It`s truIy marvcIIous to ñnd cvcrymorníngthc
tonicfrcshncss ofyour Aftcr-Shavc . . . `
Wc aoocndafcw obscrvatíons :
a) Hcrc ís aoícturcaccomoanícdbyacaotíon. Ocorívcdofíts
caotíonthcoícturcwouIdhavc nomcaníng, orítmíghthavcany
numbcrofmcaníngs ; thís ís acommonoIacc.Jhccaotíonwíthout
thc oícturc wouId bc absurd; thís gocs wíthout sayíng. Wc notc
howcvcrthc avaíIabíIíty ofsígniñcrs(anakcdmanínthc sun,thc
sca,thcboat, ctc.)andofsígníñcd(rcaI Iífc, oIcnítudc, humanity).
Aftcr-Shavc XoubIícítyhooks thcsc vagrancícs onc to thc othcr
by mcans of a soccíñc brand of consumcr goods and wíth thc
objcctoforomotíng saIcs.
b) !ormcr myths arcthus rcstorcd: naturc, víríIíty, víríIíty ín
naturaIsurroundíngs,thcnaturaIncssofvíríIíty.Wíthsuchthcmcs
mythsassucharcdíscardcd- unIcsswcconccdctothctcrmavcry
vagucandgcncraIscnscthatwouIdaIsoíncIudcídcoIogy.Publicit)
acts as ideolog), ímoartíng an ídcoIogícaI thcmc to an objcct
(Aftcr-Shavc) andcndowíngítwíth a duaI rcaI andmakc-bcIícvc
cxistcnc�. Itaoorooríatcs ídcoIogícaItcrms andIínksthc saIvagcd
sígníñcrs tothc rc-condítíoncd sígníhcd wíthout furthcr rcfcrcncc
to mythoIogy.
c)Aohotograohcrworkingforsomcadvcrtísíngagcncyhaoocns
to catch thc ' soontancous ` attítudc ofthís suocrb youth on thc
dcck ofayacht and gívcs ít a soccíñc mcaning- thc oIcasurc of
usíngagívcnaftcr-shavc- by thc subtcrfugc ofoíctoríaIrhctoríc
andcaotíon;orbythctwofoIdterrorism:' BcawcII-groomcdman.
Ý '
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 1 07
Lvcrymorníngbccomcatrcmcndousguywho aoocastohímsclf
and to womcn. \sc thís Aftcr-Shavc, or you wíII bcnobody and
knowít . . . '

Jhusou�cítVís thc��ofMod��m sn a�
tcxtfor ��c
� �����
c

&IIavaíIabIcsígníñcrsandvacantsígníhcds ;ítísartandIítcraturc,
¡t¯zkam 1� nzthccs1o rccondítíon thcm for íts
owncnds ; aswíthtradc,whíchíttakcstoítsIogícaIIímíts,ítcon-
fcrs on aII thíngs and onaII bcíngs thc oIcnítudc of duaIíty and
duoIícíty, thc duaIvaIuc ofobjcct (utíIítyvaIuc) and ofconsumcr
goods (tradc vaIuc), by a carcfuIIy organízcd confusíon ofthcsc
' vaIucs ` tothcadvantagcofthc Iattcr.
¡ubIícíty acquírcs thc sígníñcancc ofan ídcoIogy, thc ídcoIogy
oftradc,andítrcoIaccswhatwasonccohíIosoohy,cthícs,rcIígíon
and acsthctícs. Jhc tímc ís oast whcn advcrtísíng trícd to con-
dítíonthcconsumcrbythc rcoctítíonofsIogans ; todaythc morc
subtIcforms ofoubIícítyrcorcscnt awhoIc attítudctoIífc: ífyou
knowhowtochooscyouwíIIchooscthísbrandandnoothcr;thís
Iabour-savíngdcvíccwíIIgívcfrccdomtowomcn;thísfucIísyour
fucI. Jhc cxtrcmcIy vast ' contcnt ` thcsc aoorooríatcd ídcoIogícs
constítutcdocsnothíngtodímíníshthcaooarcnt sínccrítyofoub-
Iícíty`s conccrnwíth thc oubIíc`s wcII-bcíng; thc ínjunctíons that
íntcrruot ñIms and ncws ítcms on Amcrícan tcIcvísíonorovc thc
dcothofthísconccm:youarcathomc,ínyourIívíng-room,ínthc
comoany ofthc dímínutívc scrccn (rathcr than ofthc mcssagc ít
transmíts,asscrtsMcIuhan)andyouarcbcíngIookcdaftcr,carcd
for, toId how to lívc bcttcr, how to drcss fashíonabIy, how to
dccoratc your housc, ín short how to cxíst ; you arc totaIIy and
thoroughIy orogrammcd, cxccot that you stíII havc to choosc
bctwccn somanygoodthíngs, sínccthcactof consumíngrcmaíns
aocrmancntstructurc.JhcSmíIcMythísout-rankcd; consm¡ng
ísnojokc; wcII-wíshíng and hcIofuI, thc whoIc ofsocícty ís wíth
you, and consídcratc ínto thc bargaín, for ít thínks ofyou, ocr-
sonaII\,ítorcoarcsforyouocrsonaIIysoccíaIIyocrsonaIízcdítcms;
orbcttcrstíII, thcsc ítcms arc dcIivcrcdtoyourocrsonaIízíngfrcc
wílI to bc uscd at your Icísurc: thís armchaír, thcsc asscmbIcd
cIcmcnts,thísbcd-Iincn,thísundcrwcar;thís andnotthat.Wchad
108 Everyday Life in the Moder World
mis|udgedsocietv,allofus ,itismatenalandfraternal ,ourvisible
familv is duµlicated bv this invisible one, better and esµeciallv
moree6cient,thesocietvofconsumµtionthatshowersconsidera-
tionandµrotectivecharms onevervbodv.Whocanbungrateful
enoughtobeuneasv'
The swivels turatgroundlevel. Consuming ofdisµlavs, dis-
µlavs ofconsuming. consvming ofdisµlavs ofconsuming, con-
suming ofsigns and signs ofconsuming, each sub-svstem, as it
triestoclosethecircuit,givesanotherself-destructivetwist,atthe
level ofevervdav life.
Siæ-consumingdeservea·urµarticularattention.Ithasclearlv
deñned µroµerties ,s •.!r instance, is the ritualized con-
sumµtion oferotic svmbols. But sometimes it is hard to�it
fromm�duess ,thuswehavesee crazeforthe ' Scoubidou',
a sv�tl ofuselessness, contrivanc� andabur raiionaIit, ob-
sessive and|ovless , andthecrazeforkev-rings, svmbols ofµro-
µertv. Inthesµace ofafew weeks orafewmonthsthecrazeis
born,increaseslikeawhirlwind,sweeµingthousandsofµeoµleoû
theirfeet, andthensubsideswithoutleavingatrace.
' Culture' is also anitem ofconsumµtioninthis societv, not
entirelv similar to the others, however, for this µarticular, so-
calledfree consumeractivitv (that is indeed alittle less µassive
than most wavs ofabsorbing readv-made goods) has an air of
festivitv that endowsitwith asortofunitv, sociallvrealthough
ñctitious,aµartofmake-believe.Worksofartandstvlesaredis-
tributed for µromµt consumµtionand towns are devoured with
sucharemarkable showofµleasurethat it seems to denote out-
standinglv imµerative needs and frustrations : foreigners, subur-
banites,touristsofalldescriµtionshungrilvdevouritsheart(where
it still exists). Thus everv ob|ect and µroduct acquires a dual
existence,µerceµtibleandmake-believe ,allthatcanb consumed
becomes a svmbol ofconsumµtion and the consumer is fed on
svmbols, svmbols ofdexteritv and wealth, ofhaµµiness and of
love, sign and signiñcance reµlace realir, there is a vast sub-
stitution,amassivetransfer,thatisnothingbutanillusioncreated
bvthe swivel'sgiddvtwists.
WouIdthisironicimage(illustrationofastructuralanalvsis)be
r
¦
Te Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 109
a correct reµresentatIon ofthe societv inwhich we are living1
Evervdav life, as theground onwhich µeoµle andthings stand
surrounded bv eddIes and whirlµoolsthat graduallv carrv awav
µeoµle, things andthe ground itselfandmerge in the vast mael-
strom oftrade 'Itmavbe afractionover-dramatic. Bvstressing
|nstabilitvandchangeitoverlooksourtasteforsoliditv,durabilitv
andeûortandthe asceticimµlications ofsuchtastes. Itmightbe
truertosavthatevervdavlifeis acrust ofearthoverthe tumels
and«av�s�oftheunconsciousandagainstaskvlineof�certaintv
and illusion th�t wccaU M�� Iecveñ e¡c1¨the¨´
HeavensofPermanence,amongthegreaterµlanetsareScientiñc-
ness, clear, cold and somewhat shadowv, and the twin µlanets
VirilitvandFemininitv,therearestars,constellationsandnebulae,
h¡gh over the µolarhorizonwe have Technologv and elsewhere
Youthfulness ,there are noiae suchas Reliabilitv, frozen, extinct
stars like Beautv and the strange signs ofEroticism, amongthe
ñxed stars ofthe ñrst magnitude we mightµlace Urbanism and
Urbanization(solongaswedonot omitHaturalness,Rationalitv
and a few others) , and then the sub-lunar µlanets, Fashion(or
' fashIonabiI¡tv') locatable in the vicinitv of Femininitv, and
Sµortiveness,etc.
Whatµhilosoµhvdoesitboast,thissocietvdevotedtothetran-
sitorv, all-consuming, self-termed µroductivist, inconstant and
dynam c, wors mince

!nouring stabilitv andxenerat-
"'~´�'�"�¬~·¬~+«.~= �
��� ��¯¯¯·¯~·· .`¹·
ing coherence and structure, this incoherent societv for ev±r a¡
br
�=
n
x|¤ínì�!sirnco÷� ¬¸_.�
t
~¡ �, )(¸·,,--
���¯ �
µroduceitsownµhilosoµhvorchallengeµhilosoµhicalreferences
thathelµtogivemean¡ngandvaluetorealitv'Toµutthequestion
diûerentlv, how can a societv function that considers creative
abilitv unimµortant and has built itsfoundations on an all-con-
sumingactivitv(consuming,destructiveandself-destructive),that
isobsessedwithcohere¤ce,makesµrecisionanideologvandwhere
the actofconsumingisanendlesslvrecurrent diagram'
The answers to these questions must be µostµoned, for bv
referring to the consum¡tiono!signs we have µreµaredthe wav
forourinquirvintolinguisticµhenomena.
á Lingistic Phenomena
The decline ofreferentials
Scholars of contemporary linguistics can be divided into two
goups. There are those who consider language as a social ex­
perience and examine the morhological, syntactic and lexical
characteristics of the languages (or tongues) in current use, in­
cluding sub-systems and connotational speech (pertaining to
sexual and erotic experience, work and working life, city life,
without omitting written and literary language) in their inquiry.
The other method consists in seeing linguistics not as a specialized
but as a general science and, indeed, an exemplary one; and on
tbis basis scholars focus their attention on general problems or
information and communication, their inquiry thus constituting
a sociological (bistorico-sociological) and cultural phenomenon.
But tbs leads us to question the significance of such inquiries, of
even if they have any significance, if the fact of seekng or rejecting
a significance has a signficance.
The following theoretical point should be considered: words
and groups of words (specific signifcant units, monomials) indicate
tbis or that, they denote. There is an intimate relation between
denotation and Sigied, yet the fst concept covers more than
the second. The word ' chair' signifies a concept, the concept of
' chair' ; it does not matter whether the object ' chair' exists or not;
the sigfied ' chair', completely independent, is a kind of formal
Linguistic Phenomena 1 1 1
absolute. Now, ' I bought tbis chair in the Faubourg Saint­
Antoine' is a statement involving a context that is not only lin­
guistic but practical and social ; we cannot situate or defne a tbing,
the object ' chair', the reality ' road', the French language, without
French society and without specifications of space and of time. It
is the context that endows a denotation with transmissible specif­
cation; the denotative function involves a contextual or referential
function, presupposes a reference that specifies the signifed's iso­
topism (or heterotopism), its isochronism (or heterochronism)!
the referential determines whether the signified are or are not
situated in the same place at the same time. Is it possible to con­
nect signs and ensure their concatenation without such a referen­
tial ? Can the context be reduced to the words and phrases (groups
of signs) preceding and following a given message, and has> such
a reduction a validity other than that of an arbitrary' decision on
the part of the speaker? An answer in the afrmative (with reser­
vations) seems apt enoug in the case of a written text ; but where
speech is concered it is inadequate. If we accept the negative, we
are justified in discarding linguistic methods, since the problem
is no longer restricted to language - not that it is translinguistic,
but the referentials are social phenomena (depending on socio­
logy). We shall now reconsider and elaborate a theory discussed
in a previous work, * stressing, to begin with, the significant decline
ofreferentials at the beginning of the twentieth century.
A hunded years ago words and sentences in a social context
were based on reliable referentials that were linked together, being
cohesive if not logically coherent, without however constituting
a single system formulated as such. These referentials had a logical
or commonsensical unity derived from material perception (eucli­
dean three-dimensional space, clock time), from the concept of
nature, bistorical memory, the city and the environment or from
generally accepted ethics and aesthetics. Tbis phenomenon stressed
the general character of a society as ' subject', and moreover the
society possessed (or believed it possessed, wbich comes to the
same) a general basic code of honour, honesty and self-respect.
"1Lgage et la societe, Pars, 1VÚÚ.
1 12 Evetday Life in the Moder World
We have already noted society's innate tendency to relate produc­
tive activity to creative ' values', and although this attitude had
diferent and often contradictory interpretations according to the
various social classes and ideologies, it was none the less full of
meaning. It was in this context that Das Ka¡itaI (1867) linked
theoretical language to a philosophical ' consensus ' that had pre­
viously been almost entirely unconscious or misunderstood.
' Man' and ' Humanity' were no longer seen as entities, abstract
essences, any more than was the ' subject' ; ' pure' philosophy was
, already outstripped and Man and Humanity were defined as
actions and activities, specific concrete ' subjects ' or ' agents '
afecting ' objects' and aiming at ' objectives', both of which were
equally specific and concrete, situated in an historical context.
Notwithstanding (or because of) contradictions this society's
¡aishad unit.
owever, around the years 1 905-10 the referentials broke down
l
one after another under the inuence of various pressures (science,

technology, and social changes). Common sense and reason lost
their unity and finally disintegrated; the ' common-sense' <oncept
of absolute reality disappeared and a new perceptible ' real ' world
was substituted or added t9 the reality of ' well-informed' percep­
tion, while functional, technical objects took the place of tradi-
.
tional objects. In 1910, in fact, the reign of electricity began with
"
'"-electric lights, ' electric signals and objects operated by electricity
and this important innovation afected not only industrial pro­
duction, it invaded everyday life, altering the relation of night
and day and the perception of outlines. But this was not by any
means the only innovation; there were others that were perhaps
more significant and if we have singled out electricity it is mainly
for its symbolic value.
We might say that from this date the sense of sight caught up
with that of hearing that was formerly in the lead, making the
grasp of perceptible reality more rewarding through the simul­
taneous progression of both senses ; for it would indeed be a sign
of prejudice to stress nothing but our losses. But is this really an
acquisition? Yes, with reservations. It is not only that the com-.
plexity of our senses and of the information they impart has in-
Lingistic Phenomena 1 1 3
creased; the sense of hearing has acquired a greater aptitude for
interpreting visual perceptions and the sense of sight for inter­
preting auditive ones, so that they signify each other reciprocally.
The senses ae more highly educated and their theoretical ability
has increased; they are becoming ' ti;�SGadng-.
i
�3
cy
+·�··1 º! �º� �ª�! º-�
with immediacy to become ' concrete'. Thus objects, in practice,
beo anc¬·oi,anca" second nature' takes the
place of the fst, the initial layer of perceptible reality. The paint­
ings and the music of about 1910 seem to corroborate this theory.
There was then a schism among panters, one school (in Central
Europe) gving fst place to the signfied, the viewer contributing
the signifier (if he could) ; another (in Paris) stressing the signifier
and allowing the viewer to fill in the signified; this was cubism
(picasso, Braque, etc.). In both cases the massive intervention of
symbols and the shift from the expressive to the signifcant split
the unity of signfier and signified and the referential of perceptible
reality vanished.
At about the same time the theoretical and practical possibilities
of unprecedented speed changed the perception of motion. Static
and mobile, like light and dark and like outlines, lost their status
of independent, juxtaposed absolutes and became relative. Though
the theory of relativity has no immediate connection with these
social phenomena in the sphere of perception, the parallel is too
striking not to be mentioned. With the loss of absolute time and
space - the space of Euclid and Newton - perceptible reality lost
its stable referentials - a fact that was promptly translated into the
sphere of aesthetics ; perspective changed, the vanishing point, a
token of geometric space, vanished; it was the same with the tonal
system in music, where the key-note is a token of a fxity granted
to the section of sound continuum thus limited. The tonal system,
like the system of perspective, was both learned and popular; both
corresponded to perceptions that had been collectively elaborated
over centuries, they were identified with common sense. Erudte
music (harmony) and popular songs, complex pictorial composi­
tions and art-school studies were dependent on identical prn­
ciples, on rules considered permanent, universal and absolute;
I I4 Everyday Life m the Modem Word
ratíonaIízcdsystcms,suchaspcrspcctívcandtonaíty,warantcda
IormaIamccmcntbctwccnthcartíst-ínscachoIaignmeraIorhís
cmotíonsandímamníngs- andthcvícwcrorIístcncrcontríbutíng
hís sígnibcdtothcsímñcrspcrccívcd. Morcovcr thcworkoIart
might aIso rcIcr to morc subtIc sígmbcrs, to thc artíst's morc ín-
tímatc sub|cctívíty, anguísh, rcgrct, dcsírc. Though rcIatcd to a
ccrtaínsccmíngIypcrmancntratíonaIíty,aIIthíscoIIapscdaround
1910 ín£uropc,whcrcítwasbccomíngthcorctícaIIyapparcntthat
' our spacc' was|ust onc among many possíbIc spaccs, and pcr-
hapsonIycxístcdínrcIatíontous(atourIcvcI),whíIccIscwhcrc,at
díûcrcntIcvcIs,thcrcm¡ghtbc othcr spaccs, othcr tímcs. Thc dís-
covcryoIrcIatívítycmphasízcdthcprcscncc oIancwpcrccptíbIc
rcaIity: thc ' sccond naturc' addcd to thc ñrst, thc sígn-ob|cct or
ob|cct-sígn. Thcsc wcrc unavoídabIc practícaI changcs ín thc
critcria oIcvaIuatíonas wcII as conccptuaI changcs , but IccIíngs
and cmotíons wcrc aIso dísíntcgratíng, psychoIogy and psycho-
anaIysíswcrcto makc suspcctthcínnoccncc oIthcbabc, amyth
that compcnsatcdIor orígínaI sín ínthc ChrístíanIaíth, and thcy
madc spontancíty, purítyand chastíty cquaIIy suspcct.
AIIthcothcrrcIcrcntíaIswcrctodsappcarínthcwakcoIcom-
mon-scnsc pcrccptíon. Iaturc, RcIígíon and thc Cíty, not to
mcntíon thc phíIosophícaI AbsoIutc, rcIigíous dogma and moraI
ímpcratívcs,whíchwouIdínvoIvcathcoryoIídcoIogícsaswcIIas
athcory oIrcIcrcntíaIs. AmorcdctaíIcd account oIthcsccarth-
quakcs wouId show that aItcr cachtrcmor ancw and sccmíngIy
soundcrIaíth sprang up, causíng massívc cmotíonaI inieatmenta
and odd ínIatuatíons. Whcncvcr thc ' vaIucs ' oI work dccIínc,
Icísurc naturaIIy prospcrs, and vícc vcrsa. Thís synchromc día-
gram oIthc uphcavaIs gívcs onIy part oIthc pícturc, morcovcr
thcsc cxpIosíons÷ímpIosíons havc bccn goíng onIor ovcr haIIa
ccntury.Hístory,asawcII-cstabIíshcdtcmoormoroccssbou _
prchcnsíbIcandídcntíbabIc,hasccascdtobcarcIcrcntíaIsínccthc
hís�ncphcnomcnon oI ícrtíon�o��
anaxp'¢m

��c��mpIíshcdIact,
andJ soncs¯d¾ :fboJstonccit¡ooc ysurs
asavagucrcgrct,as:t ng mntandpícturcsqucorascom-
mcrcíaIízcd, organízcdtradcvaIucIor síghtsccrs.
Lingistic Phenomena 1 1 5
ThcnítwasthctmoIproductíonrcIatíons÷ thoughthcscdíd
notvaníshcntírcIyIromthc sphcrc oIknowIcdgc, orhowcouId
wc knowwhatwcwcrctaIkíngaboutandwhowastaIkíng?Con-
sumíngcrcatcsnothíng,notcvcnarcIatíonbctwccnconsumcrs,ít
onIyconsumcs,thc
·
actoIc�

míng, aIthoughsígníñcantcnough
ínthísso-caIIcdsocíctyoIconsu�s¯soIítaactrs`
tc �aa) �����c.

Tc�wítht��!iyoIprouctío��

��u�
ccptoIactívc,crcatívcandproductívc' man'tcndcdtodísappcar,
andconscqucntIythcímagcandconccptoI socíctyasabody(auníty).
To avoídmísundcrstandíngs wcstrcssthcIactthatwc arc not
dcpIoríng thc dísappcarancc oIcthícaI and rcIígíous crítcría nor
that oI mctaphysícaI and thcoIogícaI absoIutcs. Thc words oI
Iíctzschc and oI Dostoycvsky, ' God ís dcad', arc pcrhaps Icss
rcsoundíngthanthoschcardtwo thousandycarsago by aGrcck
saíIor,' Thcgrcat godPanís dcad',butthcystíIIrc-ccho,though
wc may wondcr u God was rcaIIydcadIor Marx and Marxíst
matcríaIísm, sccíng that Marx acccptcd wíthout sumcícnt prooI
thcñnaIíty oIcvoIutíon, thc ratíonaIíty oIactíonandIabour,thc
sígníñcanccoIIíIcandthcunívcrsc.WchavcnoíntcntíonoI|udg-
íngmodcrníty ortryíngtodctcctsymptoms oIdccay,dccIíncand
dccadcncc, íIwc takc as ourmodcIthc Grand StyIc, suchsymp-
toms cannot IaíI to transpírc, and ís thcrc any rcason why wc
shouIdnotm ouraímonsuchídcaIsasthcgrcatcstworkoIart÷
Vcnícc÷ orthcpcrIcct styIc÷Athcns,FIorcncc~ ínIactthcCíty,
so Iong asít subsísts ? IIthc vcrdíct ís scvcrc whcn|udgcmcnt ís
bascd onsuchcrítcríawhy shouIdwcnotuphoIdítagaínstthosc
whobndítuncndurabIc?8utthísísnotthcprobIcm,andwcmust
díscard Iíctzschcanthcorícs, Ior oursub|cctís morcIímítcdand
prccísc. WhíIc avoídíng socíoIogísm (advantagcs oIcomprchcn-
sívcncssgra0cdontoaspccíaIízcdscícncc)andñndíngIauItwíth
socíoIogy up to a poínt, our sub|cctís nonc thc Icss socíoIomcaI.
Forínstancc, thc Cíty was IormcrIy conccívcdín opposítíon to
thccountrysídc,but wíth thc countrysídc mcdíatíng bctwccn thc
CítyandIaturc,ínthcIastccntury,howcvcr,thcsítuatíonhasbccn
rcvcrscdandthccountryísnowsccnandconccívcdínrcIatíonto
thcCíty,rctrcatíngbcIorcthcínvadíngCíty,thcspccíñcwcíghtoI
1 16 Everyday Life mthe Modem World
each termhas altered. Tms is thetime ofthe Citv's exµlosion
(wh¡ch does not imµlv that urban exµerience and societv are
disintegrating as the former oµµosition is transcended and that
nothingwillbeleñ).AtthevervmomentwhentheCitvbecomesa
referentialitceasestobeamaterialcertaintv,andwhatisthereto
fallbackonforthecitizenandtheµeasantalike °Thiscomµlexof
sociologicalµhenomenacannotbewithoutseriousconsequences.
Logic, whenisolated,cannotbeusedas areferential~ exceµtbv
µhilosoµhersand afew exµerts~ foritµrescribes coherence and
rulesforthetransmissionofamessagethatdoesnotcancelitself
out,andthataµµlvtoallmessages.Science,orratherscientiücness,
triestoassumetheroleofreferentialnowadavs,eventhatofuni-
versalcode, an assumµtionthatinverts theterms , science isbv
deñ::itiontheknowledgeofrealitv,butrealitvisnottherealitvof
knowledge~ and still less ofscientiücness,exceµtwhere ameta-
µhvsicofknowledge isconcened.
Of all the referentials onlv two are still left standing, one,
µhilosoµhvinthehighestsµheresofculture,theother,inthemost
trivial and commonµlace sµhere, evervdav life. That is whv
µhilosoµhvhasacquiredso muchsigniñcancc,not|ustanvµhilo-
soµhv, butPhilosoµhv,the Message,thatPhilosoµhvwhIchhas
fashioned throughout historv an image ofthe Universe and of
Man. . . . Itsinconsistencies(unevenness,useandabuseofterms,
metaµhors, µhilosoµhIcal rhetoric) are overlookcd and onlv the
essencesubsistsasareferenceformeditationandreûection.Philo-
soµhvmavbenecessarv,butitisnotenough,and,notwithstanding
the eûorts ofmanv µh¡losoµhers, this has alwavs been the case.
Attheotherendofthescalethereisevervdavlife,buttrvtouse
it asareferentialanditbecomesunendurable.So,infact,weare
leftwithonereferentialandthattheµrerogativeofhigherculture!
Onemight|ustaswellsavthatallreferentialshavevan¡shedand
thatwhatremainsisthememorvandthedemandforasvstemof
reference.
In these circumstances it seemsthat the onlv basis for social
relationsissµeech,deµrivedofcriteria,veracitvandauthenticitv
and even ofob|ectivitv. In other words such relations have no
foundations, and sµeech, theform ofcommunication,is now in-
Linguistic Phenomena 1 17
strumentandcontentaswell ,throughafogofverbositvthecon-
tent sometimes makesa briefaµµearance andbefore itvanishes
weareabletoidentifvitasevervdavlife, butnoonewantstosee
itorevenknowthatitisthere,noonecanacceµtit,itisthesub-
|ectofallconversations andno one mentions it.Itisnotdesire,
|ust evervdavlife. ' Here I must intervene | ' cries our friend the
ob|ector. ' You sµeakofevervdavlifeinalmostµsvchoanalvtical
terms. Where, accordingtovou, is evervdavlifesituated°Everv-
whereandnowhere, obviousandinvisible,werefusetoseeitand
wereµressit,thereisaconsciousnessofevervdavlifeinevervdav
sµeech. Ùthereisaconnectionbetweenevervdavlifeandtheun-
conscious, between evervdav life and desire, will voube sokind
astoexµlainit. '
.
With µleasure. The ñrst thing that distinguishes them is the
historicitv of ev�t¸m,�1hat it is born and simultaneouslv
dcavsad·�sµers, that it is not sometmngiundcrÌying
~.... .. " • • .·�·~·.. . • • ' ..-·.... " ,�¸,. .· ,.....- , •..-··-~•• ····· • ,"" " ••. �~·.-· ·� ·�.-- ..·. . .. ... . .. ··,

actionandrelationsinasµhereoutsidehistorv,itisaµ.eieuou
¸ _ ,¸ ,., ¸••¸ -------- --,••" , .... '---" . .. . ..-.'--,." --"" '." •.. .,,.' ..--·',.·,,", ' ^·´- .:••·..~-~~- - .¸ , . .... • • �•• -¸
and a concatenation of µhenomena of a social or sociologcal

omr.1a1ddenmctu��-t¬t ���tu � �t.,i:Js
integral(thoughnotanintegrating)µartofevervdavlife.Attemµts
toaµµrehd�verlifcint�h�tuaIIyfailnobecus�IVan¡�hs�!
intotheunconscious, but becauseit collaµses. Andvetit is sig-

mdeverywherc .1¡ubin tecmiques of haµµiness (or
ratbcrsa+isfaction),organismsandorganizations.Moreover,what
right have we to suggest that the unconscious is hidden behind
consciousnesslIkethewingsinatheatre °Theunconsciousisonl
consci
'�°
e
�� .. ��� ..
i
� ���'�������
resµecteve�1ife:s i¤�ced

���sunconscious. What is
desire °Psvchologists,µsvchoanalvstsandaLosew!uformulate
the questionthus lackµhIlosoµhicaleradition,for desire is not,
true µhilosoµhersknowth¡sandhave knownitforalongtime.
Desire 'desires ',andinsofar asthIstermthatdenotesastateof
' being'meansanvthing,desiredesiresitself,desiresitsend,itsdis-
aµµearanceinañashofsatisfaction.Onlvthesign¡ñedisinvolved
intheactofdesiringonethingoranother,beingsatisüedbvitand
mding satisfaction in it, the signiñer, as µsvchoanalvsts know,
disaµµears. Moreover,evervdavlifeñguresinnearlvevervnews-
1 1 8 Everyday Lie in the Moder World
paperand magazne articIe ~ especiaIIvin women's magazines~
vetitcannotbes)stematizedassuch,onIvtakentotbeIimitwhere
it(itsunendurabiIitv)mustexpIode, andthat is what Iikens itto
desire.Butdesirecanbeneitherextinguishednorgrasped,itsverv
essenceis unknown (orevenifithasanessence) ,foritiseIusive
and when deüned as instinctive or sexuaI it emerges in another
form, asaII-pervasive, butwhen redeünedas awhoIe, aswiIIfor
power, hiddenreason, it breaks out in the form ofcrueItv, mad-
ness, vioIence,theunpredictabIe. Wem¡ghtsavthatevervdavIife
is thepIaceofdesire, so Iongaswespecifv that it is aIso~ indeed
pmanIy¯ !huõ a6desire,thepIacewheredesiredies of
satisfaction and re-cmñom its ashes. A craftv qu�st on
deservcs aeasiveanswer, soweshaII:avthat,ves,thereisacon-
nectionbetweenevervdavIifeandtheunconscious,betweeneverv-
davIifeanddesire, andvet, no, thereis a distinction,mainIvin
that the power ofmateriaI ob|ects is part ofevervdav life, that
evervdavIifetends tomergewithmateriaIob|ects,whereasdesire
doesnot~ whichis the secretofits power.
The absence of referentiaIs has consequences that are aII the
moreserioussincespeechmergeswithimagetocreateaniIIusion
ofstructure, the image appearing as referentiaI, aIthough it has
not (and cannot have) anv such function. Image and speech
re-echo each other, the imageintroducinga vast, undeûned and
vcgateuran¿e·1·igniûcances(oÍsæ ¡batom1e
ex¡resseu1nee �
º�a nd
aptcars to be supported bv the image whn it is t� z�t
requireº asupporI, buIs��� |>�u«��¤¤I¤¤
g
toeither.
A Hoseexamnationshowsthattheuncou¡lingofsigniüersand
signiüed is not a speciüc IocaI and IocaIized phenomenon but
occurswhen,forinstance,animage~ aphotograph~ isdescribed
inwordsashavingdißerentmeaningswhichare expressedinthese
words ,thecommentatormav,infact,bem¡staken,hecansavtoo
muchortooIittIe,m¡ssthe 'reaI 'meaning.ThedecIineofreferen-
tiaIshasgeneraIizedtheuncoupIing,intheabsenceofareferentiaI
andacodeprovidingcommon¡laces(to ¡oiandkoina,sociaItopics)
theIinkbetweenthetwosignsisinsecure,weareaIreadvfamiliar
Linguistic Phenomena 1 19
withtheûoatingstockofmeaninglesssignmers(stravimageseither
conscious or unconscious). Once upon atime, works ofartwere
signiûcant constructs presented to the senses (sight, hearing,
touch) but not disconnected, ' viewers' and ' Iisteners', who, as
such, were not entireIvpassive, contributed the signiûed to the
signiûer,coupIingtheonetotheother,theseparationbetweenthe
two aspects of sign and signiücance was not a divorce, it had
nothingûnaIaboutitandattractionwasstiIIactiveIv connecting
them so that thev were not independent one ofthe other, thus
spectator and Iistener couId md what was signiüed in the sig-
niûer (meant in the meaning) and vice versa, the message was
' freeIv're-assembIed,vetitsinterpretationwasbasedonafamiIiar
code depending on a given referentiaI, monuments cathedraIs
GreektempIesandeighteenth-centurvpaIaces~ aIIst.Iizedworks.
infact~ wereperceivedinthiswav. Themargin ofuncertaintvis
not easiIv üIIed in when referentiaIs are Iacking, signiüers are
massiveIvandindiscriminateIvconsumedinsignconsumption,the
coupIing made anvhow, anvwhere, thus a speciüc ' svstem' mav
hook itseIfon to disconnected signiüers. Iashion is |ust such a
svstem: vou can ' sav it' with cIothes as vou can ' sav it' with
ßowers , Þature, Spring, Winter, evening, morning, mourning,
parties,desire,freedom~the 'svstem'makesuseofevervthingin-
cIudingadaptationthatbecomesüctitiousandmake-beIieve,anv-
thing can be said ~ or nearIv anvthing. SuccessfuI coupIing is a
matter of authoritv that can impose whatever it chooses ~ or
aImost ,insomecases,itistrue, ' aImost'prevaiIs.
AnditisinevervdavIife thatthe coupIingofsigniüer and sig-
niüedtakespIace, more orIess successfuIIv, andratherIessthan
more.Livingis donethere andsigniüeds are aIIottedto signiüers
inthe bestpossibIewav, evervbodv beingconvincedthath¡swav
is the best ~ which might account for the fascination ofsigns :
ûoatingin swarms andcIoudsthevarefreeforaII,everavaiIabIe
and, takingthe pIace ofaction, thev appropriate theinterest for-
merIv investedinactivitv.
Among the manv compIex processes ofsubstitution, dispIace-
mentandrepIacement,themostpecuIiaristhatbvwhichIinguistic
reIations ~ or the reIations estabIished bv forms of speech and
120 Everyday Lie in the Modem World
language - replace those based on activity (work and division of
work, co-operation in and for a ' work' or an ' output ', emotions,
etc.). Active groups with their active relations communicating
through reference to habits, objects and objectives are replaced by
groups whose relations are based on formal communication,
means thus becoming ends and form content. Social groups based
on productive activity (businesses, corporations) are now specific,
isolated phenomena, and uthey do aim at a general status it is
through ideologies (the rationality of business, for instance). Large
' unofcial ' groups based on speech and linguistic relations have
taken over the role of the dscarded groups almost entirely; they
are, for the most part, more biological than social, consisting of
groups of women, adolescents, old people, who produce nothing
but talk; these people talk for the pleasure of talking, for a feeling
of togetherness, to be ' in', to communicate without object or
objective because that is the group's sole life and justifcation; it
is the reign of talk, verbosity and gossip that goes into writing at
the slightest provocation. This linguistic proliferation has socio­
economic parallels in the proliferation of ofces and ofce stafs,
in the ' serious' hair-splitting that passes for rational efciency and
in the tactlessness of bureaucracies to whom ' private lives ' are
always suspect - because they are suspected not of ' privation' but
of evading regulations. Language gives a value to things and things,
furthermore, only acquire a social existence when they are named,
denoted and systematized. (This assertion cuts both ways, for a
' thng' naturally only exists socially when it is named, yet uthis
statement is tured into a law it can be extremely dangerous, for it
involves the justification of absolute power, the power of the one
who ' names', that was formerly the prerogative of God and his
representatives, then that of the Prince and his court; and so
from triviality and tautolog there is but one step to total authori­
tarianism !)
Language endows a thing with value, but in the process it de­
values itself. Simultaneously it makes everyd!yJ,� ev: :,.
life, eludes it, disguises and conceals it,
h
di

.it behind the orna­
ments
of
+:�¬�.ai+«u-,s
o th
at, Tnii e-course of eve
ry
:
day life, la
n
guage and linguistic relations become denia/- of
Lingistic Phenomena 121
e�Jife. Speech i s duplicated, on the one hand continuing
to serve as a tool for the practical analysis of reality (erceptible
and social), fulfilling its function, which is to denote and describe
situations ; but it wastes away in the process. There are few things
more curious and significant than a ' live' interview (as ' unin­
hibited' and spontaneous as possible), tape-recorded and sub­
mitted to a semantic analysis. " A couple of adjectives recur with
an amazing frequency (' rotten' , ' super') ; two or three adverbs
and adverbial phrases sufce to indicate the whole range of com­
pulsions (' had to' , ' automatically' , ' it is' , ' it isn't', ' that's how
it is ') ; the same words are used -very inadequately -to denote the
efects of compulsion, unpleasantnesses and disappointments;
some terms serve to describe a thing emphatically or cynically, but
without distinguishing it from things in general : object, gadget or
simply ' that ' ; ' one' is used to modestly designate the speaker,
having the advantage of designating others as well and thus dis­
solving personalities ; ' we' is supposed to have undertones of
daring, it asserts and rashly asserts itself; the other is usually' they' ,
they did this or that, they came; ' they' are interference, authority,
administration, bureaucracy and power in general (before which
words are defenceless and cringing) ; adaptation is even less
adequately qualified and has to make do with an odd connotation
or two: 'Aren't we snug in our little nest ? . . . ', ' What about it ?'
Such i s the inadequate expression of true inadequacy, the in­
adequacy of experience. But let this suburban householder ex­
patiate on his make-believe existence, the extraordinary advantages
of suburban householding, let him forget compulsions and worries,
and he becomes inexhaustable, he passes from ' cool ' to ' hot' ,
launches into artless rhetoric: compared to the city and its cramped
living conditions his house stands for Nature, sunshine, greenery,
health and above all for liberty (deludedly, since the suburb is only
an ofshoot of the city and still part of it, the ' householder' is still
a city-dweller and even if he sees himself as outside the city and
thinks he is opposed to it, he is not outside urban society),
whereas the city and city life are artificial, morbid and enslaving.
¯ LÍ. ÌHS¡I¡U¡ CC SOCIOÌORIC UIDûIHC.Les Pavilonnaires, ÏûIIS, 1VÚÚ, VOÌ· ÌÌ
l. ÌûHOH¡).
122 Everyday Life in the Moder World
Thus, according to ' habitat', the conditions and standards of
everyday life - its sub-systems - obtrude in the very heart of lan­
guage (notwithstanding, or rather because of, its inadequacies) ;
speech both conceals and reveals, it says what it doesn't say.
Everyday life is always hiding behind folds and circumvolutions,
for it cannot exist if it is not self-elusive. Evasion is precisely the
function of make-believe, and it fulfils it; ensnared as they ar in
everyday life, people tend to contrast it with the non-quotidian,
home life with work, or work with leisure, and thus everyday life
is duplicated and one of its halves is in the land of make-believe.
That which is most everyday discards its quotidianness in the
imaginatIOn, thl!
L
for m!y, pe; Jmong-them �subur
b�
house
h
older ¯ privacy is the non-quot��p (a make-believe pri­
vacy, embelliS
h
ed and sheltered from the outside world, from view,
from the sun, from the eyes of neighbours and even those of the
family, by partitions, curtains, draperies ; containing many objects ;
in the peace and silence of some quiet corner where nothing ever
happens ; and with a balance of space and time at one's disposal).
For the inhabitant of a large building in a new town things will be
very diferent, for his time-table is fixed, formulated, functional­
ized, inscribed on the walls, in what is left of roads, in shopping
centres, parking spaces, bus stops and stations. The suburban
householder talks in monologues, the new-town dweller talks in
dialogues, with the authorities and with the absent but ever­
present state ; he speaks the language of wisdom, an organized wis­
dom claiming ever more organization. The rational neurosis of the
suburban householder is echoed by the neurotic rationality of the
other for whom make-believe is the rationality of commitments
that fx his time-table and consume his life; the quotidianness of
' privacy' snuggling in the heart of everyday life is identified with
a brief period of recuperation between days, weeks, months of
commitments, afer exhaustion. For each one the meaning of life
is life without meaning; self-realization is a life without a history,
total quotidianness, but unseen and evaded as soon as possible.
The following points should be stressed: if we immobilize reality
and fix the mind on static categories we are confronted with a chart
of opposites where each term echoes the other in an unambiguous
Lingistic Phenomena 123
relationship, work against leisure (and vice versa), everyday life
against holidays (and vice versa) ; but when we cease to think in
categories we see that, in fact, experience makes of each of these
contrary terms a substitutefor the other, so that leisure is a sub­
stitute for work, and work for leisure, going away on holiday and
interrupting everyday life is a substitute for everyday life and vice
versa. The dif erence between these two points of view is the dif­
ference between static reflection and thought, between structuralist
ideology and dialectic logic.
But we cannot overlook the case of the city dweller living in the
heart of the city (where such a thing subsists), who, even when he
is impecunious, is a privileged person nowadays; in a few years
the heart of every city (Paris, London, New York) will be owned
entirely (apart from the odd exception) by the magnates of power
and fnance; but be that as it may, the city dweller today has a
diferent relation to everyday life than that sufered unwillingly by
the suburban householder or the new-town dweller, for in his case
adaptation counterbalances compulsion. As we have said, even
when he is not wealthy the city dweller reaps the benefits of
past glories and enjoys a considerable latitude of initiative, the
make-believe existence of his environment is less fctitious and
unsatisfactory than that of his suburban or new-town counterpart;
it is enlivened by monuments, chance encounters and the various
occupations and distractions forming part of his everyday ex­
perience; city make-believe favours the adaptation of time and
space and the city dweller appropriates its ' centrality' that pro­
vides a qualltity of signifiers as yet incompletely isolated from the
signified. In certain streets of central Paris it is still possible to hear
a language that has preserved the freshness of a popular idiom, its
liveliness and exuberance - for a little while . . .
Is it an extension offormer times that survives with the styles of
a past grandeur in some of the socially favoured neighbourhoods
at the heart of older cities ? We call to mind for instance the Gare
Saint-Lazare, the Boulevard Saint-Michel, Saint-Germain-des­
Pres or the Champs-Elysees in Paris ; the Galleria of the Piazza del
Duomo in Milan and that part of New York that stretches from
Times Square to Central Park. Is there here a passive resistance -
124 Everyday Life in the Modern World
stemningfromayearningforbygonedays÷againsttheonsIaught
ofeverydayIife, its fuII accompIishent so drabIy iIIustrated by
thesuburbsofmorphoIogicaIIyexpIodedcities,estates, newtowns
andnewneighbourhoods °CouIdthisbeseenasapromise,asign°
IndeeditcouId.ThoughregretsdonotfuIûIpromisestheydo
notforbidthemeither. Inthesefavoured spots, t�embryo

º.'º
e
�¹'��¨���Y·´Í" ¹�
s
¹�³ ¹º�� / ¹¹"
y
triumph�he' hot 'styIeispreservedandhasachance ofsurvivaI
whiIethecity'straditionaIvaIuesstiIIoverridethemercenaryones
(tourists, coaches, etc.) : ��¤ l�·-�9��¹¹ º!ª
er
^
i

s

,
��'
-
Iiferate inthis settinandtey dramatize everydayIife, givingit
resonance and �xte�so ����l9��������
ne
kowswhatoneistaIkingaboutandwhy(toacertainextent)one
istaIking:vioIence,endemicbut repressed,at IastexpIodes :news
succeedsnews,piIesup andaIIat oncesomethingnewisaboutto
happen:thesenseofpIayûndsanoutIetinoIdgamesrestoredor
improvisednew ones. Yet there is sureIy somethingparadoxicaI
about this yearningfor ancient cusIoms and their reinstatement
andrenewaI,anditiscertainIyduetosnobbishnessmorethanany-
thingeIsethatashabbyñatfurnishedwithbitsofoIdfurniture,a
diIapidatedfarmhouse oratumbIedownIabourer'scottageIack-
ingaII comortare seenas ' reaIûnds 'byweaIthyeccentricswho
buythemforvastsumsthathaveno reIationwiththeirintrinsic
vaIue.
ThecitymightbeseenasaneûectiveresistancetoeverydayIife
andas!¡svirtuaIconq eror:wecouIdsaythatitisnerareaÞ
k�-beIievc!+b above daiIy compuIsions nor a system of
signs for contempIationand consumption, but' something eIse',
successfuIIy overcoming a discarded, decayed, functionaIized,
structuraIizedand' speciaIized' everydayIife.CouIdthecitystand
forapotentiaIreferentiaI÷ notthe morphoIogicaItownmapped
out onthe ground and embodiedin symboIsand signs, but city
Iifeandsociety°ThenotionisnotunreasonabIe,butitinvoIvesa
risk:forwhat dourbanismandthecitystipuIate,what aretheir
practicaI basis and theoreticaI foundations ° As yet we do not ÷
andwe are notsupposedto÷ know. Forthetimebeingwe had
better avoid procIaiming a new entity, a new Platonic Idea, an
Lingistic Phenomena 125
essenceandproceedwithcautionsoIongasthetendency ÷towards
an urban society ÷ has not been eIucidated and theoreticaIIy
eIaborated.
A cry ofIocel¡nes�s fnntt�dp�h� andthe caveswhere,
at the heart of everyday Iife, the most Iimted �� ciizcd
q
��!
i
�����¹9
d
�������
co
¹
unicationandinformation.Emcientcommunicationisnow
a possibIeimpossibiIity, an obsession and a torment : possibIe
everymnuteofthedayyetimpossibIebecauseoneofitsconditions
isIacking:canpeopIe(groupsandindividuaIs)communicatc¤i�h-
out referentiaIs ° Don'tthey comnunicate through a referenti�I°
If no irrefutabIe referentiaI is at hand for them, around 1Lem,
won'ttheyIookcIsewhere(butwhere°)fora ûctivereferentiaI,any
referentiaI °ÞowthatsemioIogicaIûeIds (not onIycommonsense
butaIsomusicandsong,gestures,rituaIbehaviour,faciaIexpr�s-
sions),onceunanimousIyaccepted,havebeendiscardedasreferen-
tiaIs, what wiII take their pIace, for they must berepIaced° Þot
onIyforindividuaIs(Iarge orsmaIIgroups)whentheyareineach
other'spresencebutforsocietyasabody.TheIofiestinteIIect(do
notimagine,dearreader,thatwearespeakingwithironicintent,
forwe areindeedreferringtothemostpenetratingmind,capabIe
of unremitting inquiry into sociaI and inteIIectuaI matters in
generaI)assertsthatifIinguisticreferentiaIshavedisappeareditis
because1amuageJsnow nownreRrentia¹he IofiestinteIIect
ignores�ovpretcmsto¡gnore,a)¡hat¡::T �yitwithdrawsinto
itseIf, sets outtouseandabuseitsownIanguage:b)thatitpaves
thewayfor(orfoIIowstheroadof)popuIarconscience, orevery-
day Iife.
SuchatendencyisobviousinIiteraturefromasearIyasthemid
nineteenth century (faiIure of the RevoIution, consoIidation of
capitaIism, spreadoftradeandindustryand ofmonetarypower,
etc.) andcanbedividedintothreeperiods .
a) the alchemy ofspeech: thepoet'swordsandsentences, freed
fromimpediments sumcingtotransformeverydayIife,transgress
andtransûgure reaIity(fromBaudeIaireto1oyce) :
b) language as second realty: poetry being a second nature
superimposed on the perceptibIe, sociaI nature ('hot' Iyricism,
1 26 Everyday Lie in the Moder World
realism and surrealism, also expressionism, futurism, cubism, etc. ) ;
c)form as reality: pure literature, the prose of life in all its cold­
ness and starkness as, for example, in the ' new novel ', but also in
neo-formalism in general, in self-termed structuralist literature,
etc.
Ths tendency is equally apparent in philosophy in three distinct
movements :
a) refections on the philosophical Logos: language seen as expres­
sion of absolute Reason, supreme subject, connected to a content,
and form of this content - objective or metaphysical (Hegel and
his followers) ;
b) refections on philosophical language or on the vocabulary of
philosophy taken to be the essence of philosophy, the heirloom
and legacy of the philosopher: vocabulary, semantics, philo­
sophical terms take frst place ;
c) language as philosophy seen from two diferent angles : funda­
mental ontology (Heidegger) and logical positivism.
The tendency is also perceptible in the scientific world, which is
separate from philosophy yet connected with it :
a) elaboration ofspecialized scientic idioms since the mid nine­
teenth century;
b) refections on these idioms and quest for a general linguistic
metascience (positivist scientism), a metalanguage of specialized
science;
c) linguistics set up as a model for science and scholarship in
general, epistemology raised to the status of at exemplary system­
atic (exact) study, a model of intelligibility, reality and experience
(both theoretical and practical, the science of information and
communication parading as the science of sciences, sociological
reality ' personified ').
This triple development is indeed remarkable; through it emerge
intellectual structures that are also social structures (and super­
structures of society) ; it is both ideological and institutional.
This society is functionalistic, formalistic and structuralistic, it
draws its images (ideologies) from concepts of function, form and
structure isolated and interpreted and supplemented by a philo­
sophy; the images it projects (rovided by its ideologies and
Linguistic Phenomena 127
launched on the market of ideas), derived from its own operational
concepts, end in a cul-de-sac. In fact a society cannot proJ

rly
consist of nothing but forms, f� cions ��t�tur�s any more
'tnan it· cali conSst of tb sum oflndlduals, as Madiscovered
when he diagnosed iIdividalism as · the main ideolog of the
bourgeois society; to idrtdid ít the thee concepts sh(uld�be
used simultaneously wthout preference or prejudice; a studf of
this society based on these three kconcepts leads to 8 further­
analysis ba�ed on . the t� concepts of U qu6tdjn and the
!! odern, and thus we can appreciate the practical and ideologic;l
impact of these last as we discover how our society advertises and
vis�

ze

itself in relation to what it ieally ls-=
·
iT�the ~
astomshmgly tenuous and amazingly tough links tha:Lh. old it �o- .
gether and on which it is based, the unchanging quotidIan, ever- ¯
changing · :oaeffiifY:- Tne soiution t;his c; n1adicon-Is-tob-�
=)
found, as we no- see, in the sphere of linguistic relations where
stability and change are no longer opposed. Our society holds
together and operates through speech, whence the emergenc
·
e- of
the triple- aspects. of speecg, refec!i(f!
J
philosophy), science and
rhetori� whether literary u: om¬���
.. . .
However our present purpose does not involve unfolding the
motives and justifications for this triple tendency, nor its causes
and the similarities between the three aspects. A chapter on the
history of ideologies and ideas in the moder world has its place
elsewhere, * but here we shall restrict rather than extend our scope,
concentrating on what the preceding analysis has revealed, which
is mainly the the
?
ry of levels and dimensions in language.
Metalanguage
The theory of metalanguage is based on logical, philosophical and
linguistic research (and the critique of this research). It is defned
as : a message (group of signs) controlling the code of the same or
another message. When a person confides to another part of his
code, by defining a word or by recapitulating to elucidate a meaning,
"LÍ.Introduction a fa moderite, ÏûtIS.DU! ûÌSO VOÌ. ÌÌÌ OÍCritique de fa vie
quotidienne, ÏûtIS, IH DtORICSS.
128 Everyday Life in the Modem World
he is using metalanguage. Thus metalinguistic operations are
the normal, current, essential operations of speech (R. Jakobson).
Metalanguage, words about words, speech at one remove, is
present in ordinary speech, so much so that speech is unthnkable
without this preliminary transmission of a code, or without meta­
language which is part of the experience of speech. To borrow a
metaphysical metaphor, language is enclosed in a casing of meta­
language. The function of linguistics is to decipher, decode and or­
ganize the above operation; linguistics is metalanguage assuming
an epistemological statu by setting itself above language. Meta­
language both precedes and follows the use of language - that is
of speech; it encloses speech, of which it is a condition and a
reflection.
By a justifiable abstraction of words, content and social context
from language, linguists are able to penetrate the form oflanguage
(its inherent principle). Sociological analysis, on the other hand,
restores the context and shows in a diferent light linguistic forms,
functions and structures, the levels and dimensions of language,
and the secondary systems or sub-systems (connotational) in­
cluded in conventional or denotative systems. Linguists may well
call such an analysis ' trans-linguistic' - implying that it is ' trans­
scientific' ; for instance, if I show how Marx considered trade and
trade values as a form (identifed by specific abstraction), then as
a logic, a language, a double chain of things and meanings, there­
fore as a ' world', and ifI then assert that Marx was right and that
the first part of Das Kapital, where this theory is formulated, is
quite remarkable and too often misunderstood, according to some
people I will be committing a non-scientific action, launching into
ideology and subjective philosophy. Is it not presumption on the
part of a specialized science to set itself up as a rule of conduct and
to challenge the scientifcness of methods that do not conform to
such rules ? However, if some linguists do not see eye to eye with
sociological methods, it is their loss.
By restoring social context, the dialectical movement is thus
restored. If I consider trade with its values and wares as a simple
form I abstract the logic, the extensions, the language and the
world that are part of it ; such an apparently exact method in-
Lingistic Phenomena 129
volves errors and a deceptive portrayal, for only a dialectical
theory that keeps track both of social labour and of the context in
which the form evolves can grasp the reality of the problem -
namely the tendencies and contradictions enveloped and developed
within the form. For instance, should I consider the world of trade
in isolation, seeing it as wealth and its expansion as growth, I
would be unaware of the limitations imposed on it by the existence
of other ' worlds ' such as ancient cities and potential cities, the
world that precedes and the world that follows the all-powerful
reign of industry and trade. By proceeding thus in all good faith
(ignoring or discarding Marx's theories), I compose a meta­
language of trade; I believe that I am politico-economically
minded, I gloss over the more violent tragedies of modernity and
everyday� life; but the consequences of such an attitude, of such
' scientific' silence, are indirectly related to strategies that obstruct
the integration of so-called underdeveloped regions and countries
(as well as of so-called socialist countries) with the ' free' world,
the world where trade unfurls freely! In these circumstances a
would-be science can teach us nothing about
r
eality - meta­
language cannot be seen as either harmless or innocent !
By restoring the dialectical movement - afer the linguist's justi­
fied abstraction and formalization -contradictions that the linguist
had overlooked will be revealed. We repeat : the linguist is entitled
to his methods, but not to proscribe the exposition of such con­
tradictions. There is contradiction between referential and meta­
linguistic functions, the latter eroding the former and supplanting
them; the vaguer the referential the more distinct and significant
grows metalanguage. Thus language and speech serve as referen­
tials where metalanguage thrives; metalanguage discards and dis­
solves referentials and works on speech at one remove (or even
two); conversely, the disappearance of each successive referential
heralds a new extension to metalanguage (or a new specific sector
of metalanguage), so that metalanguage becomes a substitute for
language by assuming the attributes of referential-endowed lan­
guage; the- disappearance of each referential liberates a signifer
. and makes it available, whereupon metalanguage promptly appro­
priates it, employing it for jobs ' at one remove', which contributes
130 £verydayLife inthe ModernWorId
-
tothedecIineofreferentiaIs,whiIemetaIanguagreigns,detached
and' cooI '.
The theory eIaborated here and eIsewhere maintains that ex-
amination ÷ with a strong Iens and under a powerfuI Iight~ of
IanguageandspeechinsociaIIife, cuIture andsciencediscIosesa
strange ambiguity.itismetaIanguagethatis aIways inevidence.
Theconceptofthemessage (formaIIyexactintheabstracttheory
ofcommunication)mustbesubmittedtoamorethoroughanaIy-
sis. There existpseudo-messages|ust asthere are pseudo-events,
pseudo-news and pseudo-noveIty, and pseudo-production and
spuriouscreationstoo÷foronIyrationaIistfanaticismcanuphoId
thetheorythatworks(ofphiIosophy, S, Iiterature),Iikemathe-
maticsandcapitaI,conformto theIawofaccumuIationthatisre-
strainedonIybynegIiæbIefactors.AccumuIationsofmessagesare
iIIusory messages , they decipher former messages, they are taIk
abouttaIk,proceedbyrecurrenceand areacceptibIeas exegesis,
as historicaI ' redections ', but not in so far as they deny their
referenceandreIegateittothe shadows, andin sofar astheyre-
questarefutationoftheirownhistoricity.AmoreorIessinnocent
exampIeofth¡stypeofmessageisthatfairIypopuIarcontrivance,
thebookmade entireIyofunacknowIedged quotations.
ThismayserveasintroductiontoaradicaIanaIysisofmodo-
ity, ananaIysis,needIess to say, thatshatters favourabIe precon-
ceptions, biasedenthusiasmsandthe apoIogist's rosy portrayaIs.
There is no happy medium between the seIf-satisñed seIf-con-
gratuIations that every reader û:ids in the papers every day of
everyweeI,andthisradicaI anaIysis. OurcriticaI attitude tothe
secondhaIfofthetwentiethcenturyis simiIartothatwhichMarx
adopted in his theory ofthe predominant ideoIogy ofthe m¡d
nineteenthcentury, theindividuaIandindividuaIism. IfIinguistic
preoccupations dominate the scene today it is because we have
passedunawaresfromIanguage to metaIanguage. Here compIa-
centconsciencewhispers .'AIIthebetter,thingsareastheyshouId
be,ourprobIemsarebothpracticaIandeternaI. ' TowhichradicaI
criticismrepIies . ' YourcastIeisbuiItonair,youbeIieveyoucan
step, withtheheIp ofIanguage, out ofiIIusion into a truth that
vouimagineisaIIaroundandreadyatanyminutetoemerge ,but
LinguisticPhenomena 1 31
you are wrong! We are now reaping the fruits ofaII the faiIed
revoIutions of the Iast hundred years or so in Europe, ofthe
frustratedcreativepossibiIitiesinherentin industriaI production,
andofthesettingupofidoIsthatonIyconsumeanddevour.These
preoccupations of which you boast redect no great cuIturaI
weaIth but are symptoms, rather, of a canker gnawing at the
very roots of civil¡zation. . . . ' Here we Iist a few of these
symptoms .
a) Works ofart. Howmanyofthese÷ apparentIyconforming,
inthesamewayasmemoryandIearning,totheIawofaccumuIa-
tion÷ donotowe their ' message' tometaIanguage °Thegreater
part , andamongthosethatdonot aIargeproportionreñect, be
it onIy onthe sunace, identicaI tendencies. We are not alIuding
heretominorworks,copiesorimitationsofgreatmasters,butto
the outputofthesemastersthemseIves÷ induentiaIworks,highIy
originaI, expressive and signiûcant (ofnoveIty andmodeoity).
WedonothavefartoIookforanexampIe.PicassowiIIdo,and
wearenotafraidofaddressinghiminperson,apostrophizinghim
withthe insoIence his eminence demands . ' PabIo Picasso! You
are the greatest Iiving artist, and, as such, you are famous and
famed, acknowIedged aII theworId over.That yourfame causes
yousomediscomfortisseIf-evident,buthowdoyouinterpretthis
fame°Do yousincereIybeIievethataIIthose crowds bow down
beforeyourgenius °Whereisthe fauIt, the feint (your own), the
faIIacy°DoyouknowhowMarxIived,howhedied,howtothis
dayhisthoughtIiveson°IfitistruethatyouyearnedforRevoIu-
tion as a thirsty man yearns for waterwhyhas your work been
accepted, assimiIated, integrated° Does it bear witness to the
RevoIutionorrathertoitsfaiIure °Whoare you, PabIoPicasso °
Whereareyou°Aretheyyours,aIIthoseghoststhatpeerthrough
yourcanvasses,VeIazquez,the SpanishSchooI,ÞegroA, Greek
Civil¡zation,the Mediterranean,theMinotaurandmucheIse be-
sides °Is onIythe OceanIacking°Youarethe museum ofmake-
beIieve. . . . YouareaworId'sconcIusion,thesumofanoperaiion.
ThewhoIepastIiestherereducedtoitseIements, dismantIed,dis-
membered, bya superb andspurioustrick.Thehighest point of
your Iife was reachedat its endwhen you understoodthatyour
1 32 Everyday Life in the Modern World
subject was the Painter and his Model ; when with melancholy
pleasure, untroubled humour and self-inficted cruelty you said at
last what you had to say, and you exposed the language of painting
as a complex of signs, a writing. You said all there was to say: how
the painter in relation to what he paints is enthusiasm and dis­
paragement, tenderness and cruelty, admiration and disenchant­
ment, respect and mocking desecration in succession. The Model
is not simply a woman but the world and art. Thank you for those
twenty or so canvasses, for this crowning self-destruction . . . '
And to whom, indeed, might not such a speech be addressed?
To aU those who contrived and adopted the metalanguage of
Revolution, of love ? It is even simpler for the philosopher; the
theories, problems and categories of those who are faithful to the
philosophical tradition get so inextricably mixed up with philo­
sophical history that no one can unravel the skein, and in the best
of cases the philosopher only reveals what Plato, Spinoza or Fichte
' really' thought. The philosopher philosophizes in/on philosophy
as the poet writes in/on poetry, the novelist on novels (and novel­
ists), the playwright on plays, the scriptwriter on the cinema,
novels, plays and philosophy. Everywhere talk about talk at one
remove, the ' cool ', metalanguage and its shadows seen as original
- and that are occasionally original when they are conscious of
being shadows, cold and inconsistent, destructive and self­
destroying.
Our questioner grows (understandably) impatient - and indig­
nant. ' You've done a nice running-down job, I will say that for
you! Have you no respect for anything, does nothing find favour
in your eyes ?' That is not the question - and furthermore it is
badly put. The only question is whether or not our argument is
valid, whether it counts and accounts for anything, if it has a hold
and if it restores something - to object and objectives, to subject
and subjects, that is to say, to operative strategies. Moreover the
accusation is unfounded, for our radical analysis has not swept
everything away and there are works of art still standing in the
sites it has cleared, works that are generally considered, or have
been considered, minor and that deal (directly or indirectly) with
everyday life, mostly circuitously without naming it, but depicting
~
Lingistic Phenomena 133
it in such a way that it is better not to name it or describe it openly.
If you want me to name these works here they are : Ubu, Voyage
au bout de fa nuit, Demain les chiens, Under the Volcano, Naives
Hirondeles, L'Extricable, Les Choses. Ù the questioner wants
to know who we are talking about, our reply is : ' People I like,
and all the worse for you if you don't know them. Moreover
nothing compels you to see this list as fnal. Complete it if you feel
like it. ' 'All you are doing is trying to save your face. We were
talking about everyday life - then you went of on a long diatribe
against modern literature and art - afer which you want to come
back to everyday life again and pretend you never lef it. Do you
want me to believe that Ubu is everyday life ? ' ' That is just what
it is. And furthermore I suspect you of hypocrisy, for you must
know as well as anybody that Ubu stands for the Father, the
Head, the Boss, the Master, in fact for the father-fgure of every­
day life. Ubu links everyday life and modernity; how otherwise
can we explain why this barely outlined, spontaneous joke still
obsesses us all to the extent that this era might be called the era of
Ubu? Jarry succeeded in naming the unnameable, in making a
statue of mud and a memorial to vileness. Moreover his work is
not immune from radical criticism, for it provokes laughter by
exposing the gory muddle and it invests with fictitious interest
those things which destroy interest ; it performs a metaphorical
function and is indebted to metalanguage. Allusions to everyday
life that make it a subject of irony and humour can only help to
make it bearable* by hiding it under draperies of words and
metaphors.
b) The vast cultural consumption, purporting to consume works
of art and styles but in reality only consuming symbols (symbols of
works of art, symbols of' culture '). The consumer consumes meta­
language, thus lessening the wear of experience values ; the sight­
seer in Venice does not absorb Venice but words about Venice, the
written words of guide-books and the spoken words of lectures,
loudspeakers and records; he listens and looks, and the com­
modity he receives in exchange for his money, the consumer goods,
" ÎIKC ¡HCDOOK8OÍ LHII8¡I8C ÛOCHCÍOI¡, ÍOt ID¡8CC.
134 Everyday Life in the Modern Wodd
the trade value, is a verbal commentary on the Piazza San Marco,
the Palazzo dei Dogi, or Tintoretto; but the experience value, the
thing itself (the work of art) eludes his avid consumption which is
restricted only to talk.
This is not a misuse of the term ' metalanguage', for it is really
talk at one remove, talk about talk. The city (Venice, Florence),
or the museum, the work of art, this painter, that group of pain­
ters, that particular painting, exist in the sphere of thought ; it is
impossible to perceive them other than through the work of
historians, so that didactic speech is necessarily interposed be­
tween works of art and their understanding; such speech clears
a narrow opening to a steep stairway that leads to the perception
of styles and works of art and it bears the name of ' advanced
culture' ; but mass culture and the tourist trade have to make do
with the consumption of words about words, or metalanguage.
Moreover metalanguage is far from modest and unassuming; on
the contrary, it has high ambitions and it aims at ' furthering
participation', at ' introducing to . . . ' The City, Beauty, Nature,
or Naturalness are served out to the tourist, the spectator, the
bulk consumer. This metonymic function of speech is any­
thing but artless ; it bandies essences, entities and forms, creating
in the hearer an illusion of participation. Speech passes with ease
from the part to the whole - from a few aesthetic terms and the
formulae of aestheticism to Art, from a few stones to the City,
from a fashion-picture to Fashion; and from the relative to the
Absolute. Metalanguage and its use by/for the consumer corres­
ponds to the neo-Platonic vision - one more substitute ! Let us not
indulge in jokes about the harassed crowds sprinting through the
Uf and the Palazzo dei Dogi, or stagnating like huge puddles
under the downpour of descriptive words (the guides' enlightening
information), yet seeing nothing, quite incapable of seeing any­
thing, of doing anything but consume the commodities ofered to
them at a high price.
c) Whether concerted strategy, or the global efect of a mixture
of contingent activities, the result is the same; we are confronted
with a dual process : industrialization and urbanization. Marx
perceived the frst aspect of the process and understood how it
Lingistic Phenomena 135
should be dealt with, how to give it a significance by rational plan­
ning; his solution was ' social man' as potential of work and pro­
duction. The working classes were to have taken upon themselves
this historic mission, but instead they have been partially dis­
possessed of this mission (more or less, depending on the country
and the region) and reduced to an economic pressure group,
their place taken by political and technical bodies. Thus produc­
tion has been organized to a certain (unequal) extent, but deprived
of its significance; nature has been technically mastered, but with­
out enabling man to adapt to his own vital and social nature.
However, the second aspect of the process, urbanization, eluded
Marx for historical reasons ; when Das KapitaZ was published a
hundred years ago urbanization was in its infancy. The process
has never been understood; scientific inquiries have purely and
simply reduced it to the organization and to the compulsions of
industrial production, when it is precisely not reducible to indus­
trialization but gives it meaning and direction, and it is at ths
level that adaptation (theoretical and practical) takes first place.
The productive potential expressed and realized in industrial pro­
duction might have been diverted towards that most essential of
productions, the City, urban society. In such a city, creation of
creations, everyday life would become a creation of which each
citizen and each community would be capable.
Industrialization can only fnd its fulflment in urbanization -
carried out according to the idea of the City and of urban society,
as a creation and not as an ideology. Industry in itself is only a
means, and when means are taken for ends rationality becomes
absurdity.
We have thus been unable to give to language -that is, to thought
and active conscience - that which our practical and theoretical
inquiry expected and required; metalanguage - words about acts
and about the words that accompany actions - has taken the place
of language; in other words, we are surrounded by emptiness, but
it is an emptiness fled with signs ! Metalanguage replaces the mis;- - -,'
sing City that is missing because it has mis-fed. Everyday life
stagnates like a great swamp hidden by mists and swarms of buz­
zing insects. Metalanguage is a grand substitute for the historical
136 Everyday Life in the Moder World
missions that have been left undone, for responsibilities unful­
fled, but it exudes a feeling of latent guilt, a vague sense of
frustration and malaise.
The absurd
Flaubert invented the absurd in that ambiguous and misunder­
stood work Bouvard and pecuchet. " In the preface to the Pleiade
edition it is described as a caricature of scientism and of the self­
taught scholar and at the same time as the development of the
character of M. Homais; but this does not tally with the author's
opinion of his book that he saw as deeply significant.
In the very centre of the city by the Bastille (' because of the
excessive heat the Boulevard Bourdon was deserted '), in a vividly
sketched urban landscape (' the inky waters of the Saint-Michel
canal, limited by its two sluices, were stretched straight as a plumb­
line. There was a barge loaded with logs in the middle and two
rows of barrels on the banks ') - a commercial setting laid waste
by the week-end - something is going to happen, a chance yet sig­
nificant encounter. ' Two men appeared, one from the direction of
the Bastille, the other from that of the Jardin des Plantes . . . . They
sat down at exactly the same time on the same bench. ' They are
two transcribers, two men whose work consists in writing; one of
them had been engaged as copy clerk by a Head of Department
impressed by his talent; the other had been inspired to make the
most of his beautiful handwriting. But each of them had un­
doubtedly contributed - independently and unwittingly (having
probably, in his long-forgotten schooldays, left a written exercise
on his desk) - to a series that has added to the fame and fortunes
of a well known publisher (Larousse) and which bears the title
' Progressive Selection of Fifty Types of Handwriting. For Practice
in the Deciphering of Manuscripts. Including 1) Precepts of Be-
¯ Ì¡ ûÌSO ÛRUtCS ÎH ûH CûtÍÎCt WOtK. ´ ÛU¡ ¡HC CûtÎHR OÍ¡HCItCOS¡UHCS WûS
COUH¡CtDûÍûHCCC DV ¡HC tCSDCC¡ûDÎÍΡV OÍ¡HCÎt ÍûCCS. . . . ²HÎS ûSSCHDÌûRC OÍ
HûÌÍ-HûKCC WOHCHHûCC m ¡HK OÍ¡HC ÎHSÎCC OÍû HûtCH. ÎHCCCC ûH CVCH
COûtSCt COHDûtÎSOH CûHC ÎH¡O HÎS HIHC. ÏVCtV ¡VDC OÍ DCûU¡V WûS, ÎH ÍûC¡,
DtCSCH¡ . . . ' Sentimental Education, ÎOHCOH, 1VJÚ, DD. 1 JÜJ1.
Linguistic Phenomena 137
haviour for Children and Improving Anecdotes ; 2)Examples of
Invoices, Industrial Notices ; 3) Examples of Epistolary Styles. '
This long-forgotten booklet opens : ' The spectacle of the universe,
the brightness of the sun, the extraordinary variety of plants and
animals, all these wonders are proof of God's existence. ' - in a
beautiful round copperplate hand! But let us return to our two
heroes. One is a widower, the other a bachelor, one more or less
rakish, the other chaste, but they have in common an uneventful
and very ' everyday' life and they are both equally reserved. Simul­
taneously they observe: ' How pleasant it would be to live in the
country! " communicating because they were starved of communi­
cation. ' They thought more, so they sufered more. ' So our two
friends go to ChavignoUes, in the hope offorgetting everyday life,
of transcending it. Afer each abortive attempt they are back in the
quotidian: cooking, the home, the neighbours, women. Their ti�e
is spent consuming; they consume things they have not produced
and that are not even produce, not bread or furniture (though
ancient, rustic furniture might be included) or tasty dishes or wine
(though a drop from time to time is not unpleasant) or even
objects ; they consume works of art, culture, the whole of culture,
all the books. Thus we follow Bouvard and Pecuchet through a
nightmare of self-imposed cultural consumption, the consumption
of books, of all written matter; this nightmare is our daily bread
too. They are at work, and their endurance (our own) is tremen­
dous ; they dive head frst into signifiers, they swim, swallow
mouthfalls of the inebriating tide that carries them and though they
are breathless they stick to it. Unrelenting and methodical they go
through everything: first agriculture (since they had longed for the
countryside, nature, freedom), next chemistry, physiology, astro­
nomy, physics, geology, archeology, history, literature, linguistics,
aesthetics, philosophy and education. The circuit is now closed
since students of education learn about nature, agriculture, chem­
istry, philosophy, etc. ; clumsily closed it opens again. Wending
their way, circling around, Bouvard and Pecuchet chance upon
systems, innumerable systems : spiri tualism, materialism, Hegel­
ianism; aU that is rational is real ; the absolute is both subject and
object; when God assumed a material form he demonstrat�d a
1 38 Everyday Lie in the Modern World
consubstantial union with nature: his death bore witness to essen­
tial death, death was part of him; but there is also the logical
system according to which errors stem mainly from one cause and
are the consequence of an erroneous use of words. Then there are
the contrived systems like those of Allery, Paris or Fenaigle. (For
Allery each number is represented by a symbol, 1 a tower, 2a bird,
3 a camel, and so on; Fenaigle divides the universe into houses
containing rooms each of which has four walls with nine panels
and a symbol in every panel.) Bouvard and Pecuchet also happen
to be the casual and detached eye-witnesses of historical events
such as the 1848 Revolution, the Coup d'Etat . . .
But what have they gained in the end, at the close of their circuit
of the world of culture ? Words, words and wind. They have not
even consumed very many works of art but mostly secondary
works, commentaries, exegeses, treatises, manuals and guides :
metalanguage ! Thus they are able to get their bearings (more or
less) and find their way - to a certain extent - in the labyrinth of
specialization. As to the signifed, what, afer all, was its status for
the encyclopedists whom our heroes would emulate ? Superfuity
and pleasure . . . . They said as much; indeed, they said very little
else. Thus our heroes saw nothing, acquired nothing, understood
nothing but words and wind, and our friend Flaubert was well
aware of it ; that is what is signified, what he signified! . . . Yet
Bouvard and Pecuchet are no fools, no more so than Flaubert,
who identified with them; far from being stupid they wanted to
educate themselves, acquire experience, raise themselves above
the norm; had they lived today in 1968, as liberal left-wing intel­
lectuals, they would have added to their collection of achieve­
ments existentialism, Marxism, technology, the social sciences,
and they would have methodically perused L'
E
xPIess, Le Nouvel
Observateur, La Quinzaine litteraire, supplemented, needless to
say, by Le Jardin des Modes, Elle, and Marie-Claire.
When the circuit ¡sclosed nothing is left but to start again at the
beginning. As transcribers, they have entered the realm they never
left, the realm of written matter. So the only hope is that of re­
ceiving another legacy that will enable them to start all over again.
Who are Bouvard and Pecuchet, apart from being a pair of
Lingistic Phenomena IJV
famous characters among those who are condemned to immor­
tality? Our own reflection? By a strange twist of irony they were
written before their creator took any interest in them: ' There were
once two clerks . . . ' ; yet thanks to intellectual courage this tale of
two clerks, this sad little story of two poor devils nourished on
handwriting and metalanguage, became a work of art; a new kind
of laughter was bor, bitter and silent. So they were no fools,
trapped by words, stumbling over props and backdrops ; they
managed to acquire some experience : ' Bouvard was amazed at the
contrast between the things around him and that which was said,
because it always seems that words should be in harmony with the
setting and that high ceilings are made for lofty minds . . .
Here then is the absurd. The Death of God is grandiose and
tragic; but his ' demise' ? One vaguely imagines (context, referen­
tial, or simply connotation ?) the stricken family, the widow's tears,
the orphans' sobs, the burial rites, the solicitor's arrival, the un­
sealing of the wil and the family misunderstandings over the
division of the estate. And that is the end of speculative or theo­
logcal Good Friday, notwithstanding the priest (' the priest rose;
his presence was required elsewhere '). Such are the words of
Pecuchet (the crafty devil).
This then is how in his pseudo-novel Flaubert, that crafty devil
of a pseudo-bourgeois, informs the world of what awaits it when
revolutions misfe; he makes it an occasion for revealing how, in
his opinion and according to what, as an eye-witness, he has ob­
served, revolutions misfe: half of man (and of men), the worse
half, wants to change something and asserts whenever it gets a
chance that everything must be cbanged; the better half, the jolly
good fellow, finds life all right as it is.
The absurd is laughter and comedy with a diference, it is not
irony and it is not humour; here neither the situation nor the
action are funny; indeed, there is no clearly defined situation or
action; they are not required. The story does not have to be
' credible' ; credibility has vanished with the referentials, and this
contributes to a sense of ease and linguistic freedom. If there is a
common place it is everyday life, from which we soar on the wings
of language. The laughter derives from words and nothing but
140 Everyday Life in the Modern World
words ; this is linguistic comedy, the vis comica of word-play -
puns, spoonerism, alliteration and assonance employed methodi­
cally, not just for a questionable joke (according to classical
standards) or a witticism, but for hundreds of pages. Not everyone
can understand such a performance.
Who has not heard of the Gauls, has not learnt at school half
a dozen stock phrases about Gaul and the Gauls ? They were
strong and stupid, they buttered their hair, were overrun by the
Romans. . . . History cannot be cancelled out even when it is
humiliating; all we can do is fnd an excuse, and a good one.
France is Gaul ; and yet it isn't Gaul, since there were the Romans,
the Barbarians, the Franks, so many invasions, so many wars -
including the last - and the Germans, the English, the Americans ;
and then France is France once again, Gaul and not Gaul. Things
are what they are, and at the same time they are not what they are,
they always hide something diferent, something more. History or
story-telling? There is a gap, hardly perceptible it seems, but seen
from close up it is quite a sizeable crack that will have to be flled­
filled with words, words about history; metalanguage. There are
quantities of signifiers free of things signified, true history under­
stood and misunderstood, signifiers ready for consumption. The
situation was vacant, but it had, none the less, to be located in
order to give France, the France of the Gauls and the Gaullists,
its absurd epic. With what enthusiasm it was accepted, this long­
awaited epic, this story that seems to have been written by children
but is so popular with the grown-ups, the young middle ranks,
knowledgeable, educated, well acquainted with words and things !
Does this mean that there is only one world for children and for
grown-ups, for infant prodigies and infantile adults ?
Fill the gap between signifier and signified (and vice versa) with
a slight intellectual gesture that exactly sums up the paradox of the
disconnection and the unexpectedness of clearing it, and you have
found the absurd. It implies a relatively high ' cultural ' standard,
a well-stocked, agile mind; for the shuttling from past to present
and from present to past, from the familiar (the quotidian) to the
unfamliar, when expertly maintained by linguistic ambiguities
presupposes a fairly wide range of knowledge; the point of the
Lingistic Phenomena 141
verbal paradox, the allusion, must be grasped in a complex of end­
less reverberations (without reference), while images support and
facilitate the process, anachronisms divided into signifier-signified
elements. the verbal signifier reflected in the supporting image, and,
inversely, the fnal signifed being reality. You have thus an epic
within everybody'S reach, to hand, at home, on the hearth in the
very midst of the family and everyday life.
Is this counterfeit history, this analogical sham made of linguis­
tic tricks, a myth? Or is it an ideolog? Perhaps we are rather
overstating the case, for it is only Asterix the Gaul, and why
should he not be named? France has found both a myth and
an ideology, and in the process of pretending tragedy has
vanished, there are no longer any victims; as to the enemy, we
knock him out, he promptly recovers consciousness and we all
laugh heartily. No passion, no eroticism, few women; abs�rdty
is spontaneously generated, cool here (although it gesticulates, it
is still cool), hot there; here fun and games without violence, else�
where every possible violence (more or less simulated: eroticism,
mass murders, Lucky Luke, Bond, Satanik).
Compare Bouvard and Pecuchet to this ' freely' fowing absurd:
word-play is not thrust at you in every line, there are not even two
puns to a page; how very tedious this funny book can be . . .
Flaubert created this genre, this category (disguising the death
of ' classical' and ' romantic' categories of art and aesthetics as
well as the death of linguistic aestheticism) ; he had not yet freed
himself from referentials but he contributed to their destruction.
The absurd was not yet in its prime, it had not yet achieved the
comical dignity of pure writing, of leisure, of metalanguage and
the mass-consumption of language.
There are other aspects to this linguistic consumption, such as
televised games and competitions, crossword puzzles,- but we are
not really concerned with these. What is more to the point would
be an analysis of contrived games (crossword puzzles, yes, but also
the pools) and the artifcial conjunction of eroticism and con­
trivance, ' make-believe' commodities sold at a high price : betting
machines that have acquired an immense popularity in Las Vegas
and elsewhere, in which numbers are coupled with erotic signifers
I42 Everyday Lie m the Modem World
to signify momentary almost oneirological satisfactions of desire.
Our object is, in fact, to expose the non-quotidian as the quotidian
in disguse, returing to the quotidian to hide it from itself; this
operation is carried out to perfection by means of language con­
sumption (or metalanguage consumption), more successfully even
than by means of display consumption, which in any case it assists.
Thus before/for us daily consumption assumes its dual aspect
and its basic ambiguity. Taken as a whole, quotidian and non­
quotidian, it is material (sensorial, something to be taken, used,
consumed, experienced) and theoretical (or ideological - images,
symbols, signifiers, language and metalanguage being consumed) ;
it is complete (tending towards a system of consumption based on
the rationalized organization of everyday life) and incomplete (the
system is for ever unfinished, disproved, threatened, unclosed and
opening on to nothingness) ; it is satisfaction (of needs, this one or
that one, the need for this or for that, therefore sooner or later it
is saturation) and frustration (only air was consumed, so the desire
re-emerges) ; it is constructive (choice of objects, ordering, fng,
contrived freedom) and destructive (it vanishes in the centre of
things, slides down the slopes of piled-up objects accumulated
without love and for no purpose). The so-called society of con­
sumption is both a society of afuence and a society of want, of
squandering and of asceticism (of intellectuality, exactitude, cold­
ness). The ambiguities proliferate, each term reflecting its opposite
(its precise opposite, its contradiction, its mirror-image) ; signify­
ing it and being signified by it, they stand surety for and substitute
each other while each one reflects all the others. It is a pseudo­
system, � system of substitutes, the system of non-systems,
cohesion of incoherence. The breaking point may be approached
but never quite attained: that is the limit.
+ Terrorism and Everyday Life
The concept ofterrorism
Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to literature what
belongs to it; terrorism was frst perceived by writers and critics
-possibly because their ears and eyes are sharper than most, owing
to their professional alertness and a cheerful spitefulness that
passes for wit. Terrorism was in the air -like most things that are let
loose and spread, signifers, metalanguage, abstract forms in
search of materialization and pure thought hungering for power -
and these gentlemen had been aware for some time of certain pres­
sures constricting their art (reputed to be the freest of activities,
enjoying freedom of opinion, of conscience, of ideology), the most
disturbing of which were intrinsic to the art itself. But for these
easy-going intellectuals action only meant exertion and the fact of
standing by one's opinions was a joke that should not be carried too
far; so they did not inquire further -more especially since they were
willingly relieved of the task by psychoanalysts and sociologists. "
The concept of a terrorist society is now more or less established;
various stages in the development of this phenomenon can be
distinguished:
a) Any society involving, on the one hand, poverty and want
¯ YC ûIC ICÍCIIIHR ¡O J. ÏûUÍHûH, ñ. ÛÌûHCHO¡, Û. ÛûI¡HCS, Ì. ñûICUSC,
D. ÛICSDH, C¡C.
144 Everyday Life in the Moder World
and on the other a privileged class (possessing and administrating,
exploiting, organizing and obtaining for its own ends as much
social overtime as possible, either for ostentatious consumption or
for accumulation, or indeed for both purposes at once) is main­
tained by the dual method of (ideological) persuasion and com­
pulsion (unishment, laws and codes, courts, violence kept in store
to prevent violence, overt violence, armed forces, police, etc.). A
class society (and we know as yet no other) is a repressive society.
We aU know what part the Roman Catholic Church played in the
repressive societies of Western Europe ; as a state and rival to the
political state the church provided ' spiritual ' careers for its fol­
lowers ; thus it was soon in possession of a bureaucracy, a hier­
archy, a (hilosophical) ontology and a practical knowledge; it set
the sacred against the profane, the spiritual against the temporal,
directing its greatest eforts towards the ' spiritual ' and spiritual
power; subversive ideas and individuals were judged, condemned
and handed over to the secular authorities to be dealt with. Oh
most admirable contrivance, alas now sadly in need of repair !
A study of the foundations of a repressive society must be far
reaching; only a superfcial anarchist or Marxist interpretation can
restrict the significance of this concept to the police force and to
class legislation, for as things now stand the repressive nature of
any society is more deeply rooted than that. Since the beginning
of time groups, castes, classes and societies have always upheld as
the truth and as ' principles ' those things on which their survival
depended - ideologically interpreted; but might it not be possible
to establish a coherent society, whose foundations are not built on
a rock or ' pedestal ' and consolidated by basic repressions ? There
are those who too hastily admit this hypothesis ; others who too
readily refute it. The taboo of incest has been seen as the basis of
society and culture, the cornerstone of the structure, but it would
be more scientific and more exact to assert that every society has
been faced with conficting needs ; the strength and power of each,
its defensive and ofensive capacity depended on the number of its
members, but, in order to survive, the number had also to be
limited by the natural yield of a given environment, the society's
technological development and its productive capacity. Societies
Terrorism and Everyday Life 145
have solved the problem as best they could, some declining, others
surviving or prospering; but survival methods have necessarily
involved the control by one means or another of births within the
society. Thus the basis of repression is a controled balance of
sexuality and fecundation; at one period repression would stress
the limitation of births by enforcing celibacy on some members
of the community, by the sacrificial ofering of infants or by en­
couraging prostitution, homosexuality and onanism; at another,
on the contrary, the reproduction of the population would be
em
p
hasized by dissociating sexuality from pleasure so that it be­
came an act of fecundation, a social duty; there are evidently a
number of variations and shadings between these two extremes,
and other factors intervene ; but the feld ofrepression covers bio­
logical and physiological experience, nature, childhood, education,
pedagogy and birth, it prescribes abstinence and asceticism and suc­
ceeds in imposing an ideology of hardship seen as virtuous and fulfil­
ling. Thus it might be said thatfor certain periods, at least, repression
spreads to the privileged classes, when their' values' and strategies re­
quire that discipline and compulsion be practised in their own ranks.
This incessant confct between repression and evasion, compul­
sion and adaptation is the history ofeveryday lie, which we have as
yet barely outlined (observing the paradox that the periods of most
successful adaptation and greatest creativity were precisely those
where ancient, brutally compulsive societies based on violence and
oppression reigned).
Thus it is inexact to restrict an analysis of repression to econo­
mic conditions (one of the mistakes of economism) or to institu­
tions and ideologies ; both attitudes omit the important factor of j
everyday life, of the pressures and repressions at all levels, at all
times and in every sphere of experience including sexual and emo­
tional experience, private and family life, childhood, adolescence
and maturity - in short, that which would seem to elude social
repression because it is spontaneous and ' natural '.
b) An over-repressive society modifies the conditions of repres­
sion, its methods, means and foundations; with apparent in­
nocence and by means of skilful compulsion it directs adaptation ¨
into the channels of ' purely' private experience - the family, the
146 Everyday Life in the Modern World
home - and portrays freedom as something spiritual and ideal
that fits in perfectly with material oppression; repressive duties
are, moreover, entrusted to intimate groups, to the famly or the
father, or better still, to the individual conscience. A good example
of such an over-repressive society is that which was dominated by
Protestant ideology; far more astute and more rational than
Roman Catholicism in its theological and philosophical make-up,
and dogmatically less repressive, Protestantism performed the re-

pressive function of religion with greater subtlety; God and reason
+were the portion of each individual, everyone was his own mentor,
\ responsible for the repression of his desires, the control of his
· .
. ´ instncts ' the result was asceticism without an ascetic dogma,
· 7
�without anyone enforcing asceticism; the whipping boy and scape-

goat being sexuality; but, repressed, condemned and unadapted,
`�
desire became the ferment of rebellion and revolt. We cannot over­
look the historical link between Protestantism and capitalism; �
Protestantism provided the images and the language that capital­
ism, unobtrusively, adopted; when Roman Catholicism proved
insufcient for the task Protestantism slipped into its shoes, inten­
tion replaced ritual and faith supplanted works ; this religion
furthered the generalization of industry and trade that appro­
priated its values by appearing to respect them (conscience, faith,
personal contact with God)
.
Thus we may define an over-repres­
sive society as one that, in order to avoid overt confcts, adopts
a language and an attitude dissociated from conflicts, one that
deadens or even annuls opposition; its outcome and materializa­
tion would be a certain type of (liberal) democracy where com­
pulsions are neither perceived nor experienced as such; either they
are recognized and justified, or they are explained away as the
I
necessary conditions of (inner) freedom. Such a society holds
violence in reserve and only makes use of it in emergencies ; it
; relies more
.
on the self-repression i

herent in
?
rganized everyday
life; repreSSIOn becomes redundant H proportIOn to the perform­
ance of its duties by (individual or collective) sel-repression. A
society can proclaim that the Kingdom of Freedom is at hand
when compulsion passes for spontaneity and adptation no longer
exists either in word or concept.
Terrorism and Everyday Life 147
* c) A terrorist society is the logical and structural outcome of an
over-repressive society; compulsion and the illusion of freedom
converge; unacknowledged compulsions besiege the lives of com­
munities (and of their individual members) and organize them
according to a general strategy; the distinction between other­
directed and inner-directed conscience is abolished since what now
plays the part of inner is the other disguised, integrated and justi­
fied; opposition is silenced either through being condemned as a
perversion and thus invalidated, or by integration. According to
our theory a society where violence and bloodshed reign is not a
' terrorist ' society, for whether red or white, political terror is
short-lived; it is a means used by a specific faction to establish and
maintain dictatorship; political terror is localized, it cannot be
imputed to the social ' body', and such a society is terrorized
rather than terrorist. In a terrorist society terror is difuse, violenCe ×
is always latent, pressure is exerted from all sides on its members,
who can only avoid it and shift its weight by a super-human efort; .
each member is a terrorist because he wants to be in power (if only
briefly) ; thus there is no need for a dictator; each member betrays
and chastises himself; terror cannot be located, for it comes from
everywhere and from every sQecific thing; the ' system' (in so far as *
��
it can be called a ' system') has a hold on every member separately
and submits every member to the whole, that is, to a strategy, a
hidden end, objectives unknown to all but those in power, and that
no one questions. But this does not mean that such a society can
avoid change, for it may find itself in a state of crisis while doing all
it can to avoid it; but when such upheavals occur they are ofcially
interpreted and directed (or misdirected) ; it is conservative as a
body, owing to a certain resilience (or lack of it) in its public ser- t
vices, institutions and structures ; its ' values ' need no explaining, l\�'
they are accepted, they are compelling and any desire to under-
stand or question them savours of sacrilege. In appearance at least
a terrorist society is coherent and powerful, and there would be
no answer to such terrorism if it did not exploit an ideology of
Reason and of Liberty and thus involve irrationality with Reason,
compulsion with Liberty, violence with so-called persuasive
measures, in a word contradiction with an illusory coherence.
148 Everyday Life in the Modern World
The argument that emerges from the preceding pages. is that a
terrorist society, that is, a society of maximum repression, cannot
maintain itself for long; it aims at stability, consolidation, at pre­
serving its conditions and at its own survival, but when it reaches
its ends it explodes. It is based on the organization of everyday
life (which is also its objective) of which terror is the outcome.
Infringements from the everyday life it ordains are condemned as
madness and perversion, for although everyday life is the rule it is
free neither to set itself up as a principle, to organize itself nor
even to appear as everyday life.
However, to uphold this theory we must do more than declare
that happiness is not the accumulation of satisfactions and that a
thousand pleasures do not make a single joy* ; and to pronounce
¯ This seems the place to clear up a few misunderstandings and settle a
couple of controversies. When ideas are ' in the air' they are also susceptible
to practical analysis. The concept of a ' repressive society' derives from
Malinovski, and we all know that Malinovski found no trace of censorship,
repression or Oedipus-complex among the Trobriands, where, according to
m,sexual experience and fecundity were socially controlled by other methods.
Censorship and repression have, for him, defite and therefore restricted
causes; if a repressive society exists it is because there is social repression; and
therefore he takes Freud to task for having ratifed and generalized certain
localized circumstances (those of family life in a given Wester society at the
beginning of the twentieth century) and thus founded a scientific proposition
and a general rule for social experience on a specific form of repression; an
unfair criticism, on the whole, in view of Freud's faith in the liberating powers
of science, namely psychoanalysis. Since Freud?s day, however, an important
psychoanalytical movement - perhaps the most important of those that lay
claim to his theories - appears to have discarded this liberating function of the
science and to see it only as the recognition and the sanctioning of compul­
sions ; thus the incest taboo (or Oedipus-complex) is seen as a basic factor,
both theoretical and practical, of social experience. Herbert Marcuse calls this
tendency ' revisionist ', and this Marxist-inspired psychoanalyst accuses psycho­
analysis in general of being conducive to terrorism by salvaging perversions
afer defning them as neuroses and providing thus an ideological basis for
outdated social pressures exerted in the name of norms and normality on the
public ' consciousness ' and ' unconscious '. Thus he defes repression and
over-repression in psychoanalytical terms (the id, the ego, the super-ego, �ros
and Thanatos, the pleasure principle and the reality principle) and in this way
furthers the elaboration of the concept of repressive and over-repressive
Terrorism and Everyday Life 149
this or that philosophy inadequate and guilty of confusing plen­
tude and saturation will not help either. Here our imaginary ob­
jector intervenes once again: ' Let us not make mountains out of
molehills ! People are happy, aren't they? What more can they
want ? Their elementary needs are catered for, and what does it
matter if in the process their freedom is slightly restricted and a
few unrealistic ambitions or subjective illusions must be given up?
By improving living conditions all the old anxieties that still sur­
vive, notwithstanding satisfaction and even satiety, will fnally be
overcome. Your preoccupations are not the same as ours; we
consider man's hunger and thirst, his basic needs, we want to give
people food and drink, clothes and a place to lay their heads ; our
preoccupations are with want, sufering and death. Your aims are
societies ; but he just falls short of the concept of terrorism because his critical
analysis, remaining psychological, does not include the social (or 'socio­
logical ') and consequently the dual concept of quotidian and moderity.
Marcuse and a number of others have also missed the concept of' mondilte' ¯
and the correlative concept of actual or possible planetary distinctions.
Psychoanalysis in France has lately been split into rival factions or schools ;
for some the conicting relationship between children and parents illustrated
in the Oedipus-complex is still the central concept of psychoanalysis; for others
it is the relation of the unconscious to language that takes frst place. We would
refute both theories and consider as basic the child's relation to society, or to
everyday life; it is in social experience that the young ' human being' benefts
from his weakness and compensates for his vulnerability; he has, from the
outset, conicting desires and aspirations (security, adventure, protection, in­
dependence) and, on the one hand, he adpts to the circumstances and his own
social environment - more or less, depending on the circumstances and on his
own disposition - while, on the other, he undergoes compulsions; thus in the
family circle he has access to a daily life that either resolves or intensifies the
conict between bondage and experience (compulsion and adaptation) ; child
and adolescent continue to develop until they fnally get bogged down by
maturity, sinking into the morass of adulthood. Language and speech, as well
as parental pressures and individual emotional relationships, play an impor­
tant though unequal part in this dialectic movement.
Second theory or hypothesis : the social community's relation to the soil is
one of the elements in the make-up of repression. Such a relation presents a
dual aspect; on the one hand the (limited) natural resources and on the other
the consecration by the society of the soil to which it is attached, involving vast
sacrifces (sacrifcial cults). Urban life puts an end to such conscrations.
150 Everyday Life in the Modern World
soloftvthatthevareout ofreach,vouwanttoenableµeoµleto
liveµassionate,intenselivesfullofhaµµinessanddelight.Were-
|ectthe "human¨to assistman,vou asµireto aworld ofsuµer-
humanitvandµoetrvwiththehumanasstartingµoint,butwithout
the conceµt ofthe Suµerman. Such an attitude is not onlv un-
reasonable,itiswicked!Weconsideritacriminalundertakingto
kindedesireandtoµrovokeunrest,toreinstatethevaluesofthe
µast,oftheageofdearth- work,unitv, "man¨.Oursocietvmav
not have reached its ñnal balance, but wouldn`t it be better to
assistitratherthantoexµoseitsshortcomingsandaggravate dis-
content 'It|ogs alongasbestitcanwithoutknowingwhereitis
going,mavbe, butthisform ofµrogress has, nonethe less, bva
stroke ofluck,givenquife substantialresults ,ithastaughtusto
recognizethelimits ofthehuman condition. Letusacceµtthem.
Letuslearnfromµmlosoµhvthatemµiricalmanandreal societv
are ñnite, not the µhilosoµher`s mistrust of realitv, not µhilo-
soµhicaldiscouragement. Oh ves, we knowthatwe can relv on
vou, sociologistsandotherreµresentatives ofthe social sciences,
to draw conclusionsfrom historv that make historv redundant !
Weabhorthecomµlainers !Thevarenothingbutdeserters. Thev
want µrogress, µerhaµs, but like those soldierswho cannot turn
back becausethev know thatintherearthere are other, faithful
soldierswhowillshootthem,so thevadvanceblindlv,unwillinglv.
Youare deserterstounrealitv, andallwewantistoµutvouout
ofaction. . . `
This terrorist addresshas been attributed to our ob|ector be-
causeitcorresµondssoexactlvto argumentswehaveheardand
readtimeandtimeagain- thoughthisisanabridgedversion. . .
Aswesaidearlier, ñndingfaultisnotenough. Wemustestab-
lishtheconditionsfromwhichterrorismarises, discoverhowand
whv a terrorist societv exµlodes and esµeciallv we must ñnd the
opening, thewavofescaµe,allofwhichmustbedoneintheclearest
µossibleterms.
Thereexistamong our societv`s conñictingattitudes (analvsed
or analvsable) some that aµµear to herald a solution, indeed,
certaincontradictionsintheexistingcircumstancesseemdistinctlv
favourable to suchhoµes. On one hand, we see ' historv`,which
Terrorism and Everyday Life 151
continues willv-niIlv notwithstanding its denial and re|ection bv
some ideologists, drawing all highlv industrialized societies to-
wardsanurbansocietvwhere millions ofmen andwomenmust
liveandcongregate, suchisthe ' socializationofsocietv` so dear
tomoreorlessMarxist-insµiredreformers, thebarriersburstand
comunicationsofallkinds,material,social,intellectual,become
multiµle and comµlex as a feature, if not the main feature, of
' mondialization`. Ontheotherhand,themostunexµectedµheno-
mena of individualization take µlace in this massiñcation, this
µlanetarvµersµectivewheretheindividualseemstodisaµµear,and
thevtakeµlaceinevervdavlife.Hobodvnowadavswoulddenva
bovorgirloftwentvortwentv-ñvetherighttoleadanindeµendent
life,leavethefamilv,have- andifµossiblechoose- acareer,take
lodgingsanddisµoseofhimselforherselffreelv,thusinthismassi-
ñcation there exists a certain degree ofindividuation involving
µroblems ofrights, freedom ofwork, ofleisure, of careers, of
education, ofhousing, suchextensions ofhabeas corpus are not
achievedwithout di6cultv, and thev tend to take the form of
claims, andto beformulatedinethicalandlegalt�rms ,thevare
aµµroµriated bv the state for strategic µurµoses, but simul-
taneouslv recognizedandratiñedtoacertainextentbvit- asfor
instanceinthecase ofthehousing problem (anearlvandvervin-
comµlete manifestation, the mst stirrings, one might sav, of a
freedomthatwillsoonhavetobereformulatedasthefreedom of
the City).
Suchasµirationsthatbecome demandingdonotarrestthe de-
veloµmentofterrorism,housingrights~ whichcouldturnbuild-
ingintoaµublicservice~ arefarfrombeingrecognIzedasrights ,
thestate,bvinterveninginthisµroblem,hasmodiñedtheµractice
but not the theorv, it has µroduced new towns, whose main
characteristics are immediatelv obvious : thev are µublic dormi-
toriesfortherecuµeration-inmoresensesthanone- oflabourers
andworkerse|ectedfromthecitvcentre,andatthesametime(the
µresent)the shortage oflodgings is µart ofterrorismas it hangs,
threatening,overthevoung(andnotonlvthevoung) ,thehousing
µroblemstillexactsitssacriñceofthebestvearsoftheirlivesfrom
social grouµ whose members are mainlvrecruited amongthe
8
1 52 Everyday Lie in the Modem World
young proletarians or ' lower' midde classes ; these people must
frst ' settle' to earn the right to live, after whch, uthey are not
completely exhausted, they can begin to think about living - only
thnk about it, mind you, coming to ' Life' as they do through a
long disheartening struggle; and they have survived. Through a
thicket of pitfalls and hurdles these new freedoms must fnd their
way, but in so far as they are demands and aspirations they are
part of civilization; thus a certain number of cultural phenomena
overcome obstacles and problems to emerge into our society. ¡
would seem that a new contradction has now come to light - and
by no means a negligible one - between culture and society (our
society). Are such cultural phenomena conducive to a degree of
optimism and confdence in this society's future? A more careful
scrutiny will show them to be more potentialities than facts, aspira­
tions faintly tinted with assertiveness, and only an apologist or a
politician could see them as accomplished facts ; ' values' rather
than facts, not even acknowledged as rights (except ethically,
which is better than not at all, but does not go very far), there is
no proof that they will not vanish, for ua crisis occurs or the con­
sequences of ' massifcation' simply become overwhelming these
faintly outlined rights will be swept away. Some ' values' which
seemed to have settled into facts have already disappeared, at
least for the present; but in social time is there anything that is
not reversible, and in historical time is anything granted? Where
is the transition, the split, the point of no return situated?
Thus it is no use relying on these cultural phenomena, for ifthey
have a direction they do not show us how to reach the opening.
Our arguments would be incomplete and carry very little weight if
we did not show how these new values and rights are born and
how they develop until social recognition becomes inevitable.
Writing and terrorism
The signifcance ofthe written word emerges from a critical analysis
of compulsion, that characteristic feature of terrorist societies,
where it is excessive and outweighs adaptation; compulsive and
non-violent writing - or written matter - builds up terror. Ethno-
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 53
logists and historians (oth ancient and moder) associate the
signifcance of the written word either with the emergence of
sedentary societies ; or with the division of social labour into func­
tions of unequal value, with the function of the scribe among the
more valuable ones; or with the development of genealogical pre­
occupations that require written records. The discrepancies be­
tween these theories may be more apparent than real, for a seden­
tary society involves the consecration of the land; the exclusive
possession of a territory by one group and the religious outcome
of this possession are vindicated by mythical ancestors, the tribal
heroes, demi-gods and gods. Apart from genealogical tables con­
stituting memorials and a method by whch a society recorded
places and periods, a number of landmarks can be distinguished
in primitive sign-writing; before the age of agriculture - or con­
temporaneously with it -territories were marked out, tracks were
blazed and frontiers defned by hunters, pickers and nomadic
herdsmen; signs and directions go hand-in-hand: a bush or a tree;
a rock or a hillock may be used as signs under the stars that are
themselves signifcant. Later there are signs that constitute a form
of writing on the ground - a broken twig, a pile of stones, the
tracing of a trail and a way of situating landscape or site (of the
village or the town) in relation to the stars. Moreover such theories
present only a minor interest, the main point being to note the
imperative character of writing and inscription, its ' toughness' ;
writing makes law, is, in fact, law; it is compulsive because it im­
poses an attitude, it fixes (text and context), it is relentlessly re­
current (the past revived, memory), it is a witness (transmitting
and teaching) and it establishes history for all eternity by what is
everlasting.
We need hardly mention that writing is also the basis and the
starting point of innumerable achievements; through rules it
creates intelligibility; through recurrence it stimulates reflection
and reasoning; because it is permanent and definitive it furthers
accumulation (of knowledge, techniques) and social memory; as
a condition of art and learning it promotes social organization
and culture. With social labour and the division of labour - or
based on these - it became an essential superstructure even before
1 54 Everyday Life in the Moder World
¸ ideologiesexisted.Toacertainextentthecitvbeganaswritin on
theground, writingµrescn ed and signiñedthecitv`s µower, its
aministrative caµacitv, its µolitical and militarv swav, writing
imµosedthelawofthecitvonvillageandcountrvside.Laterwhen
theneedwasfeltforarehabilitationofsµeech,whentherearosea
demandforwarmthandlivelinessinthewrittentext,writingwas
stillanessentialfactorintheatricalandµoetichistorv.
Besidesconstitutingthebasis ofcultureand,toacertainµoint,
ofsocietv itself, writingwas also an intellectual and social tool,
coldandstatic,thoughto agreaterorlesserdegreeaccordingto
theµeriod,attimesitreducedsocialcommunitiestoµassivitv, at
othersitservedas abasisonwhichactivelvto elaborate asocial
structure, acitv, akingdom,anemµire. Butthoughcivilizations
mav be uµheld bv and for the written word it simultaneouslv
createsinertiathroughitsvervlastingness ,ittendstooutliveitself
andthatwhichisaconditionofhistorvtendsatthe sametimeto
freezeit.
WhenMosesdescendedfromMountSinaiandsetuµbeforethe
Children ofIsrael theTables ofthe Lawwrittenbvthe ñnger of
God,hecreatedtheeternalFather,centurieswerefoundedonhis
gesture and on its verbal commentarv, the holv narrative that
|ustiñedit. Hewasthe founderandhismvstiñcationbecamethe
truth. Thesetables ofµrinciµles owedtheirlongevitvtothe holi-
nessoftheirinscriµtion,andthefaithfulwouldneverdoubtthat
thev would last until the end oftime. Moses was certainlv in-
debted to a suµerior civilization for his understanding of the
virtues attendant tothewrittenword, beforethe artless Bedouin
whomhe wasleadingtotheirgreat historical fate he µerfonned
an action that was both magical and µre-eminentlv functional.
Hard and cold, stone was the µerfect svmbol ofthe Writing`s
timelessness,ofitsµermanenceand(aµµarent)deñnitiveness,and
thus ofitstrans-historicitv. TheWritingisanti-word, onceGod
hadwrittenµriortotimeandforalltime,hewas silent, andhis
reµresentativeswouldbereducedtointerµretingandcommenting
on the Tables of the Law, while others would question their
validitv,thusgivingrisetotheconßictbetweensµeechandwriting,
betweenthe SµiritandtheLetter.
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 55
Thereisnosocietvwithoutwritinguthiswordistakeninits
widestsense~ nosocietvwithoutsigns,landmarks,tracks, direc-
tions,vetonecansavthatagiantstridewastaken,andtherefore
a comµlete sµlit and deµarture fromthe µast occurred,whenthe
writtenwordwasinvented,whentablesoflaws,graµhismsandin-
scriµtionsñxedactionsandevents,battles,victoriesandsovereign
decisions forever more in the store ofhuman memorv. Historv
andsociologvwillsettledates :the citv,writtenonmaµµedsµace
andgraduatedtime,transitionsfromlawsofcustomtostiµulated
laws(thatis, fromhabit to conventional codes), the µoµulariza-
tion ofwriting bv µrinting, the cumulative function that written
matterassumesinthemodernworld,emµhasizedbvthereµroduc-
tionofµictures(theinñnitelibrarv,theabsolutebook,andñnallv
writingaµµroµriatingallthatis said,known,felt).

Ahistorvofwriting (bv andfor societv) wouldshowthatthe
writtenwordisanecessarvconditionforahinstitutions, thatthere
is noinstitution without writing. The written word as µrimal in�
stitutionalization enters social exµerience, ñxing creation and
activitvbvorganizingthem.Itistheoriginalandconstantmech-�
anismofsubstitution,fhewrittenwordrefersto' something'Ðse-
cmom,exµenence,event- andthenbecomesreferenceinitsown
right , written matter becomes a substitute forthe referential in
writing. Here the critical mind µerceives the contradiction and
disµlacement analvsedabove,indeed,ittakesthemattheiremer-
gence :written matter tends to act as metalanguage, to discard con- F
text and referential; µriortowrittenmatterthereareactionscon-
nectedtowords.Asmetalanguagewritingµroducescommentaries,
exegeses,sµeechatoneortworemovesononesub|ectoranother
keµt and µreserved bv inscriµtion. Thus metalanguage µrevails
over sµeech, that is whv scholasticism, bvzantinism, talmudism
andrhetoricµlavsuchanimµortantµartinsocietiesbasedonthe
Scriµtures.The second message grañedonto the ñrst that is or
µurµorts to be the inscriµtion of the original Word could be
critical, andthusatevervminuteadangerousanddisturbingchoice
ismadeµossible,achoicefhatisinherenttoreßectionandthere-
foretothehistorv ofthought,derived,the secondmessagemight
deviate. Couldthose who were inµossessionofthe written word
156 EverydayLifein the Moden VorId
andhadacquiredtheirauthorityfromit, refrainfromtakingthe
necessarymeasures to prevent suchdeviations °A societythatis
founded on writingandwritten matter tendstowards terrorism,
\fortheideoIogythatinterpretswrittentraditionssuppIementsper-
suasion withintimidation. However, the written word cannever
compIeteIy suppIant reaI tradition, the word passing unmediated
frommouthtoear:sothatthecontroversywiIIneverendbetween
the Letter andthe Spirit, with aII it invoIves in the way ofmis-
interpretations,heresiesanddistortions.A societybasedonScrip-
tures (that is to say, a society whose conditions ofsurvivaI are
|ustiñedandupheIdbymanifestationsconnectedwiththewritten
word) is based onprescription, it ordains the detaiIs ofpracticaI
experience, rituaIizes costumes, eating habits and sexuaIity (by
commandments and interdictions) : it aIso tends to enforce its
stipuIations by threats and sanctions, for it is not content with
procIaiminggeneraIinterdictionsandIeavingtheresttoitsmem-
bers' initiative. The enforcement ofsurvivaI-conditionsnormaIIy
grows stricter as time goes by, but there is no question yet of
organizingeverydayIife(thoughthetendencymaybeperceptibIe),
becausethe criticaI Word, interpretaìion, andthe formuIation of
further probIems cannot be heId in check by scripture or pre-
scription(incIudingwhatisexpressedby ob|ects :1hestructureof
houses and towns, monuments, the meanderings ofa roadfrom
thegates ofatowntoitscentre,etc.whichoccupynotonIyspace
butaIsotime) :furthermorethewrittenwordpreservesthenature
ofwhatisaccompIishedandmustbe|ustiüedbeforetheassembIed
popuIation: reIigions based on writing uphoId poIiticaI power,
consecrateitandsuppIyitwithideoIogies :butsuchreIigionscan
free neitherpower northemseIvesfromcoIIective controI, which
remains, evenfortheoIogians ofpower, the source ofsupremacy
(withtheattachedterritory). It is th¡s coIIective controI thatpre-
vents priests, warriors and ruIers from induIging their whims :
eventhemosttyrannicaIandmostcrueIamongthemhaveto|ustify
theiractionsbypubIicworks, monuments orfestivaIs, and it is
onIy when the threat vanishes with the community, when the
l FestivaI is a thng ofthe past and monuments and the city (as
´
form) aredecaying,whenthemeaningofsuchthingsisIost, that
Terrorism andEverydayLife 157
everydayIifebegins.Itswritten supportisbureaucracyandbureau-
cratic methods oforganization.
Therecurrentnature ofwritingmustnotbeoveHooked.With
writtenmatterthere isaIwaysthepossibiIityofgoingback:your
eyes,favouredbythenatureofwhattheyperceive,hoIdthispage
inasimuItaneousvision:youIeafthroughabookandyouretur
totheñrstpageifyouwantto,andyoucan,afterreadingitonce,
readitagaina second orevenathirdtime. There is achangein
theshapeoftimethatbecomestheconventionaItimeofwhatyou
are reading sothat you are no Ionger carried on its tide but in
controI,evenuthistimetendstoshriveIupandgrowcoIdunder
your eyes ~ or rather in your eyes. Here IittIe-known corres-
pondencesobtrudebetweenintelect andsociety (bothaunityand
adistinctionbetweentheseterms).The operationofmemorizing
andthatofmessage-receivingarepro|ectedonthepage:aforward
progressiondoesnot excIude aninverseprogressionstartingfrom
thepresentmoment, a recurrent re-reading. A book creates the
iIIusionofsuspendingtheprocessofageing, ofsub|cctingtimeto
knowIedge so thatitbecomes compIeteIy Iinear and cumuIative,
andasaresuIttemporaIityappearstobereducedtosimuItaneity,
growth and decay to instantaneousness. This is and is not an
iIIusion: uwe make itthe grounds for denyinghistory, thepast
and the future, we are deIuding ourseIves, confusing the worId
withthe book, or worse, with the Iibrary: yetforthe reader, in
frontofwhoseeyesthesignsdetachthemseIvesfromthesurround-
ing bIank in a manner both predictabIe and predetermined, a
pIeasurabIe sensation ofpIenitude ensues : extrapoIation creates
iIIusion and phiIosophicaI error by seeing writing and written
matter as modeIs ofsociety andtheworIdandby'ideoIogicaIIy'
transformingthereader's circumstances andhis deIight into ab-
soIutes. The absoIute bookisreIentIessIyperused:' itiswritten',
itssupreme authorandreader is the Lordwho created destiny,
and there is thus nothingthat is not predetermined. Ù God the
Creator made man in his image, therefore free and active God
theEternaIFaìherchastiseshim: asProvidencehecontroIs
·
every
gesture, he has foreseen each IowIiest worm. God stands for
supremerecurrence .heseesaIItimeatonegIancefrombeginning
158 Everyday Life in the Modern World
to end and from end to beginning; in the name of memory history
has been abolished; in the name of clarity reason - that fumbling
quester for meaning - has been discarded.
Henceforth the gigantic outline of a memory- and information­
machine stands on our horizon as the ultimate stage, both scienti­
fic and practical, of writing and recurrence. It inscribes and
prescribes, and there is no reason why it should not be on the best
of terms with the technologians' God, though it claims to replace
him on the grounds that it ' incarnates ' him in a complex network
of circuits and valves. Is it mere coincidence that the mechanically
minded, those who live in symbiosis with the machine, are also
men of precision where writing is concerned and the authors of
the book of absolute knowledge (called epistemology) - men who
are, in short, Cybernanthropoi ?
Written matter has a further peculiarity: mental operations,
coding and decoding are an intrinsic part of it, but they are not
included in the message. Suo are the rules of the game and that is
how forms operate; their clarity does not exclude risks and ob­
scurities that are inherent in their very exactness and limpidity.
Moreover - and this is more serious - the encoders and the real
network through which the message passes are also concealed in
such a way that their existence is ignored. The written word is
before us - apparently given in its totality by ' being before us' as
the philosophers say - and its innocent appearance exploits our
innocence. Whence the power of printed and written matter over
the innocent - and even over some that are not so innocent : it
is accepted unanimously and is the meeting point of magic and
reason; how could writing mislead? ' It is in the paper ! ' say the
artless. ' I have before me a proof, a document, ' say those who
think they are not so artless. Metalanguage itself has this privilege
of not revealing its ' nature' (or structure) ; it can be taken for a
language, for a message, and although it is given as based on a code
there is nothing to stop it from cheating and delivering codes that
have been tricked or truncated by ' decoders ' who take advantage
of the situation and mislead on the quality of the goods - namely
the code.
From ths new angle, presented by a sociology of terrorism and
Terrorism and Everyday Life 159
written matter, bureaucracy's propensity . to found its power on
the written word leaves little doubt. The power of the written

ord knows no restraint, and bmww sill, knowledg ad
rationality, founded as they are on written matter, infltrate every
. detail of administration. The state replaces providence; bur�u­
cracy, with the technical support of computers, supplants and in­
carnates the Lord; in this form of government where everyday life
is totally organized nothing escapes or can escape organization;
compUlsions are seen as understanding and foresight ; adaptation is
almost unknown both as concept and as practice (save for an im­
perceptible residue) ; if ' humane' bureaucrats were to think of
preserving the function of adaptation (which is highly impro bable),
their way of setting about it could only fnish it of. Such is the
terrorist society, where each individual trembles lest he ignore the
Law but thinks only of turning it to his own advantage by laying
the blame on someone else; a society where everyone feels guilty
and is guilty - guilty of possessing a narrow margin offreedom and
adaptability and of makng use of it by stealth in a shallow under­
ground darkness, alas, too easily pierced. The modern state-con­
cerned, political bureaucracy rivals the old church in its detailed
intervention, and is, in fact, a new church, a church with a new
meaning but reaching the same ends : moral discipline and basic
immorality, guilt, and duplicity before the law and those who
enforce it ; the surrounding darkness combated by many lights.
The multiplication and proliferation of ofces by ofces, or
Parkinson's Law, only partially defnes the process, namely the
bureaucratic organization of everyday life. Terrorism reaches a
' point where bureaucracy binds the ' individual ' hand and foot by
total exploitation, besides making him do most of its work, fling
forms, answering questionnaires ; bureaucracy bureaucratizes
the population more efciently than a dictatorshp, integrates
people by turning them into bureaucrats (thus training them for
the bureaucratic administration of their own daily lives) and
rrationalizes ' private' life according to its own standards. Bureau-
. cratic conscience is identifed with social conscience, bureaucratic
¸¯`
reason with pure reason and +bureaucratic mind with wisdom,
so that persuasion turns into compulsion - �hich an exact
... � ���.� � ·
¨ � 160 .ve�yday Life in the Modem World. '
` ��c·c|
·
-
:

��
dcm!ion oftcrrorísm.ThconIyocrsoc�tw ooono¯thc (inncr) �
gazc arc thc avcn
¸
s vc, thc onIy oossibiIity of �
�� (iIIusivcIy) adaoting to circumstanccs aoocars to bctmoughthc
racticc �can�crot�c�

m,thatis,t�oughconsuming
.
thc
symboIsofvioIcnccandcrotcsmmadc avaiIabIc tothc oubItc.
.
Eachburcaucracymaos outits owntcrritory,stakcsit outand
signoosts it; thcrcis thc trcasury`s tcrritory, thc tcrrítory ofthc
admínistration and thc juridícaI tcrritory. It wouId bc oossibIc
to makc a scmioIomcaI study ofcach tcrritory as a sub-systcm
dcocndíng on a corpus ofruIcs, dccrccs and statutcs, but sucha
studywouIdorcscntonIyaminorintcrcst,forthctotaIíty(orbody)
ofsuch tcrritorícs is thc rationaIIy rcstrictcdtcrrítory ofburcau-
cracy, a tcrrítory that shows oathoIogícaI (schízoid) symotoms,
notsomuchitsownasrcßcctionsofa sociaIoathoIogy,thcbnaI
mcrging of rationaIity and absurdity. Iurthcrmorc, thcsc tcrri-
torícs do not conncct Iíkc thc oicccs ofajigsaw ouzzIc andthcrc
arcgaosbctwccnthcm;thcscfrazcntsofanidcaIuníbcdburcau-
cracy do not Iívc togcthcrinharmony, yct thcyforman aIIiancc
against timc, thc arch-cncmy, timc that crodcs rcguIations and
assists thc stratagcms of carcfuIIy IabcIIcd ' objccts` stackcd in
thc burcaucratic tcrritory wh¡ch rcfusc to stay out. Burcaucracy
orcscribcs schcduIcs and oroscríbcs that whích cIudcs its orc-
scríotions.
ThcrcIationsbctwccn thc most ancicnt ofinstitutions (institu-
tionaIizcd rcIígion) and thc most modcrn, statc-conccmcd and
ooIíticaI, arc rivaIry and comoctition; thc ooIíticaI burcaucracics
dístiI thcir oarticuIar brand of omIosoohy and hnd thcmscIvcs
inthcoositíonofhavingtoooooscthccccIcsiasticaIburcaucracics`
justibcatory ohíIosoohy and ontoIogy; at thc samc timc thcsc
vcncrabIcandnotsovcncrabIcinstitutionscomoIcmcntcachothcr
asthcircñorts convcrgc. Thc hrst rcorcss dcsirc, thc sccondtakc
carc of nccds ; thc hrst cstabIísh ordcr in thc unconscious, thc
othcrs inconsciousncss ;thcmorc ancicntinstitutionshavcrcbncd
thcir disoIays and oracticcs in accordancc with thc ' dcoth` thcy
admnistcrwhíIc maintain¡ngabcbtting dctachmcntfromworIdy
mattcrs,whcrcasthcothcrsaimatwhatis onthcsurfacc,ohysicaI
activitics- consumotion,cvcrydayIifc;thc 'soirituaI `institutions
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 61
dircct thc orivatc Iifc ofcach indíviduaI, thcir ooIicy bcing to
tcrrorízc scxuaIity, whíIc thcruIc ofmodcrn institutions sorcads
tcrrorincvcrydayIifc.ThcrcsuItofthísconvcrgcnccismoraIdís-
<
� f -
cipIinc, thc insignia oftcrroríst socictics ; for cvcr cracking and�
ñIinginthccracks,thísisthcfacadccxh¡bitcdforthcba¯-> �
w�]I¿ovcrncd cvcryd�ifc; and in a wcII-dchncd and wcII-

quaIiocicty soirítuaI and civíc discioIínc coincidc wíth this
|noraIdíscioIinc,wmchisthcsuorcmcsignibcrofthcvastaccumu-
Iation ofscríoturaI signibcd.
ThoughwcbcIícvcthatasocictyshouIdnot oooosc frccdomof
soccch, thís docs not incIudc cvcry kínd ofsoccch nor cvcry kínd
offrccdom. Irccdom ofsoccch is not ofcquaI imoortancc wíth
thcfrccdomofwork,cducation,hcaIth, housing andthccity, and
a dccIaration of thc matcríaI rights of matcríaI man wouId bc
ncithcr morc nor Icss cñcctivc than thcformcr dccIaration. Ircc-
domofsoccchmightoossibIybcoIaccdonaoarwiththcfrccdom
ofthccityasaskyIíncofcivíIization,m

�thanasat�g
institutionaIrccognítion;morcovcr

tiycríticaIand ooctic�
canbc considcrcdinthíscontcxt, an thcsc forms of soccch owc
thciracknowIcdgcmcnttothcir ownoowcr;tcrrorismwíIIaIways
trytosiIcnccsuchvoiccsanditisthcrcforcuotothcmtobndcar�
thatwíIIhcar,cracksinthcwaIIsofdíscioIincthroughwhichthcy

caninhItratc. Iurthcrmorc, thcrc canbc no qucstion ofa socciaI
orovínccforooctry, aorovíncc ofoocts orohíIosoohcrs, ofintcr-
ocrsonaI rcIations ; to acccot such a status for soccchandbcIícvc
thatitisaoroofofacknowIcdgcmcntisasgoodascondcmníngit
to aghctto,thc ghctto ofthcin|cIIigcntsiaacccotcd andjustibcd
inthc namc ofthc Word; onc morc ghctto to addto thc othcrs l
Indccd,itisbcttcrtobcocrsccutcdthantobcaIIowcdthcfrccdom •
ofimootcncc. Thc scicncc ofthc Word can onIy bc cIaboratcd ·
thcorcticaIIyinoooositiontothcscicnccofwriting,andnottothat
ofIanguagc.
Wc arc far fromhaving broughtthc socioIogy ofwriting to a
succcssfuIissuc, orfromhavíng cxhaustcdthccríticaI anaIysis of
itsimoIícations.Thcwríttcnword,orhxcdsign,oosscsscsastatus
andoroocrtics of its own; andthis aooIics to musicaswcII 8 to
Ianguagc. Thc isotooc discovcrcd by Iinguists (Grcimas) is not a
162 Ivcryday Lìfc ìn thc Þodcrn\orId
Iínguístíctcrrítory onIy,butasocíaItcrrítory (ortcrritorics) too;
thc ísotooc ofwríttcn mattcr ís thc outcomc ofthc ìsotooc of
words, ofgrouos ofwords, scntcnccs, mcaníng and systcm; th¡s
hcIostocIucídatcitsoddmodcofcxìstcncc- oddbccauscwcarc
confrontcd wíth thc cxístcncc, both íntcIIcctuaI and socíaI, of a
form oosscssíng formaI oroocrtícs (rccurrcncc, amongst othcrs).
Asthc conccot ofisotope ìmoIìcsthat ofheterotope ìt ìnvoIvcs a
formaI (structuraI) cIassíhcatíon of íntcIIcctuaI and socíaI tcrrí-
torícs into ísotoocs and hctcrotoocs, rcIatcd and ìntcrmíngIcd,
butaIso cxcIusìvc anddissociatcd. Such a cIassìhcatìon cantakc
wríttcnmattcrasítsrcfcrcntíaI(whíchsctsitscIfuoorccíscIyasan
intcIIcctuaIandsocíaIcontcxtandasasubstitutcforrcfcrcntiaIs) ;
andthisísnotwìthout sígníbcanccforthcanaIytícaI study ofthc
urban tcrritory (or urban tcrrítorícs). Morcovcr thc formaI and
structuraI thcory wc arc cIaboratíngwouIdorcscnt onIyaIímitcd
íntcrcst íf ít díd not cnabIc us to dctcct thc møcmcnt Jhat
ncratcs andconncc

+�� toncs ; ínothcrwords, wc ha

c
rc�cÞ thgc·hcrc our thcory can íncIudc a formaI cIasst-
bcatíon ofthc structuraI rcIations ín a híst� ad��c I
movcmcnt. So ¡imc «|+« ¡·i¬, rIhcsc tcrrítorícs do not
±�.¬i,donotconstítutc aocrfcct, cohcrcntwhoIcthatcanbc
frozcn at any gívcn momcnt ;thc scoaratc oarts ofthcsc íntcIIcc-
tuaIandsocíaItcrrítoricsdonotcxhaustthcírrcIatíonshíoìnthcír
formaI juxtaoosítíon and structuraI oooositíon, and that whích
Iínks thcm togcthcr is m�cct` noru ncc 1such
ohiIosoohícaI hyoothcscs arc no Iongcr oocrant), but an actìon:
Soccch; Soccch hoIds togcthcr thc d¡sconncctcd fragmcnts
.
of
wrìtíng,andaIsoofthcsociaItcrrítory.CotIdthctímcofcrcatton
andhistorybcthctimcofsoccch, ofhístorícaIagcnts socakíngat
agí�cn momcnt í� gìvcn circumstanccs ?

Wc havc notyct ncarIy achicvcdthccomoIctc scqucncc .
8C!IVI!V
CIC8!IOHS . .
OIR8HZ8!IOH
DIOCUC!S
,8C!IVC I8!IOH8ÌI!V
IHS!I!U!IOH
S!8!IC I8!IOH8ÌI!V
Jcrrorìsm andIvcryday Lìfc 163
rationaIity bccomíng statíc ín burcaucracy aftcr thc oattcrn of
Scríoturc andgivíngríscto atcrroríst socicty.
Ictusnowtakca Iook at RoIandBarthcs` bookLe Systeme de
fa mode. " Is thís an art booktryíng to bc schoIarIy, or scícntíbc
schoIarshío dírcctcd towards an ' objcct` ? Wc do not havc to dc-
cídc.Thcbookísnotaboutfactsandthings, drcsscsandfashíons
orfashíonabIc womcnwcaríng drcsscs, actìons andsítuatíons; ít
docs nottcIIuswhatitmcanstobc ornottobcfashíonabIc. Io;
RoIandBarthcs has othcr objcctivcs, díñcrcntmcthods andadíf-
fcrcntscìcntíhc stratcgy;hísoroccdurc startsbyreducing thcsub-
jcct and cIiminatíng oart if not aII thc contcnt. Throughout 300
oagcs onfashíonnomcntíonismadc ofthc fact thatìtíswomcn
who wcar ' fashíonabIc` cIothcs, andífwc arcmadcawarcofthís
fact itis by instítutíonaI cxamoIcs - fashion ohotograohs, covcr-
gírIs. Body andbodicsarc withdrawnIikcthcwordínascmantíc
rcduction whíIc thc anaIysís ccntrcs on taIk about fashíon, thc
writtcngarb orwritingaboutcIothcs,ínothcrwordsthcIasmon
Magazínc,thcmaínsccÍìonbcingbascdontwoycarsinthcIifcof
aocrìodicaI.ThcauthorwrítcsamastcrIycssayonfashíoncssays,
scttIcs into mctaIanguagc wíthocrfcct Iucídítyf andwrítcs arhc-
torícaItrcatisc ;hc knows whathcisdoíngandmakcs no sccrct of
ít, though wíthout cntírcIy rcvcaIíng a mínd that ís too sharo for
comforI.ThushcIcavcstoanothcrscícncc(socíoIogy,ocrhaos,or
cconomyorhístory)thctaskofdcaIíngwith 'rcaIíty`-thccontcnt,
things(matcriaIs out ofwhíchcIothcs arc madc, tcchníqucs, cco-
nom¡c conditIons, ctc.) and ocooIc (who and whcrc fashíonabIc
womcn arc). With thc hcIo ofIanguagc hc constructs an cntìty,
akind ofcxtratcmooraIocrmancnt csscncc, ourcformdcbtIcdby
ìts ouríty: Iashion. IaradoxìcaIIy cnough ìt orcsìdcs ovcr thc
transítoryand íts formaI ourity is cxorcsscdín thc acccIcratíonof
transitíon.Whatís Iashíon?Aformofutooia.Ùwcímagíncthat
fashíonabIc womcn onIy cxìst ín oicturcs and that thc dcmi-god-
dcsscs oursuc Iashion wíthout cvcr ' bcíng` oart ofit and onIy
IabourundcrthcdcIusíonthatthcy' makc`ít,IashíonwouIdstíII
bcwhatít ís.Ifwc ímamnc thc ' fashíonabIcwoman` assìmoIya

+
ÛOÌ8HCÛ8I¡HCS, Le Systeme de Íu mode, Ï8IIS, 1 VÚÚ.
1 LÎ. D. Jö f. , D. ZJ1 .
Î ô4 Everyday Life in the Modern World
reader of fashon magazines, the social existence of this essence
would only be intensifed. Its place is in make-believe and in
realty, not at the frontiers that divide them but simultaneously
and jointly in the two, in their connection and contiguity. * It is
an Idea with ramifications and infuences (on society, opinions,
ide~ogies), set like a fag over a sector of intellectual and social
experience where intellectual and social are as intricately con­
joined as reality and make-believe. In short, it is an institution that
has given shape to a ' reality' where compulsion and adaptation
oppose each other and which has organized a creative and pro­
ductive activity, fng it in an essence by means of written matter,
the fashion magazine'S rhetoric. The author leaves to us the choice
of a context, and proceeds - like the rhetoricians of old, who
created an entity or essence, an Idea, to be used as example :
eloquence; or like hs own contemporaries who create Literature,
the Law, Logic. We can but admire the ability with which such
essences, situated in an intellectual or social territory or ' isotope',
appropriate every signification, every signifier, to signify them­
selves ! That is perhaps what is socially implied by ' being fashion­
able ' . . . e A further cause for admiration is that what appears to
be transitory precisely in so far as it is apparition, transparent and
apparent, turns out to be stable, formal and exact (but only if the
content is discarded as accidental and contingent, and left for
others to ponder). A ' world' is revealed in the construction that
discloses at the same time itself and this world, the ' world of
fashon', no more artificial than law or philosophy. ' This power
that enables man to contrive simplicity is the most social of all
institutions,
,
writes Barthes - neither more nor less artificial than
writing that exists as object and yet has no existence outside the
seeing eye because its only existence is formal. What is artificial is
not fashion but all that circumscribes it : the fashion trade. The
elaboration of Barthes' theory is faultless, irrefutable. The hypo­
thesis of a comparison between the pure form and the impurity of
the content (reality) appears to be condemned a priori and chal­
lenged by the author's method of approach; it is not, we repeat,
¯ LÍ. Û8¡HCS, OD. C¡., p. Z+ö.
Terrorism and Everyday Life Îôå
essential for the ' authenticity' of the disclosure/elaboration of a
fashion system that real women should wear dresses and clothes;
it is hardly necessary that real women, the readers of fashion
magazines, should read the captions that accompany ' fashion ­
photographs ' - possibly real readers only perceive the connota­
tion of the words that compose these accompanying captions ; pos­
sibly all they read are items of practical information (the name of
a couturier or a shop, the price of an article) ; all that matters is
that it should be written. Barthes has taken the elimination of the
Subject to the point of paradox. Fashion, he rightly assumes,
eliminates simultaneously the body as physical subject and adap­
tation as social subject, and this is where it difers from the ' ready­
made' and the ' ready-to-wear' ; it discards its own content :
woman, buyer and consumer, symbol of consumption and Oftrade
(including her body).
Must we acknowledge such a ' system' ? We can now proceed to
invert it, like any systematic construct - including philosophy. In
what sort of society does it take root, this closed. system that has
no value or meaning outside itself and that appropriates every
meaning for its own personal use, what condtions (not a priori in
the philosophical sense, but practical) does it require to exist and
function? The unambiguous answer to this question is that it re­
quires first (if not solely) a terrorist society. Not that fashion alone
and independently causes terror to reign, but it is an integral­
integrated part of terrorist societies, and it does inspire a certain
kind of terror, a certainty of terror. To be or not to be fashionable
is the moder version of Hamlet's problem. Fashion gover-
(day life by excluding it, for everyday life cannot be fashionable
a'ltherefore is not ; the demi-gods have not (or are supposed not
to have) an everyday lfe; their life passes every day from wonder
to wonder in the sphere of fashion; and yet everyday life is there,
perpetually excluded. Such is the reign of terror, especially as the
' fashion' phenomenon spreads to all spheres, the intellect, art,
'
' culture ' . . . . This system's knack of capturing everything within

reach is unimpeachable; pressure without a specific pressure-

group, it infuences the whole of society and its feld of action
inte�er�s with an�� tersects diferent fields with frontiers that are
`

. � � � ·
�- � � � ~
1 66 Ivcryday Lílc ínthc ÞodcrnW orId
cquaIIyvaguc. Thc whoIc ofsocíctyísassígncdandconsígncdby
a fcw systcms (or sub-systcms)thatrívaI and comoIctcthc arch-
systcm, mctaIanguagc.
Thc orcvaIcncc ofwríttcn mattcr favours thc constítutíon and
thc ínstítutíon ofsuch cntítícs by íts occuIíar orícntatíon and íts
aotítudc for accumuIatíon. Thcy cxíst both íntcIIcctuaIIy and
socíaIIy, thcy arc hctítíous and rcaI ; and thcy dctcrmínc socíaI
' oIaccs `,thcyarcnodaIooíntsínsocíaItcrrítorícs,thccIcmcntsof
atoooIogy (ortooícs) ofModcrníty.
Iashíon`s maín charactcrístíc ís íts unconccrn for adaptation;
íts objcctívc ís ncíthcr thc human body nor socíaI actívíty, but
changc andthc obsoIcsccncc ofthings. Ifthcrc ísany adaotatíon
ataIIít isourcIy accídcntaI andconbncd to that no-man`s-Iand
bctwccn thc ' rcady-madc` and ' couturc` : thc ' rcady-to-wcar` .
Thus oractícaI ratíonaIítytakcs advantagc ofgaos, íntcrvaIs and
cracks or, oncmíghtsay, ofcontradíctíon,tosIíoínunobscrvcd -
but notwíthout dímcuIty. Wc havcnoíntcntíon ofgívínghcrca
dctaíIcdhístoryofcIothíngoutsídcthcsystcmoffashíon(matcríaIs,
tradcandítsgrowth,thcarrívaIonthcsccncofthcrcady-to-wcar,
ítsadvantagcsanddísadvantagcs), yctítconstítutcsanímoortant
chaotcr, noncthc Icss, ínthccrítícaIstudyofcvcryday Iífc.
RoIand Barthcs` ínquíryíntofashíonandIítcraturc ís a major
contríbutíon tothcsocíoIogy ofwríttcn mattcr, andhc cvídcntIy
hadthís socíoIogy ín mínd. Thc conccot, though stcmmíng from
Iítcraturc, cIucídatcs ccrtaín socíoIogícaI orobIcms, namcIy thc
oIacc of thc socíaI and of thc íntcIIcctuaI. Barthcs dísmísscs
socíoIogy on bchaIf of scmíoIogy, but dcbncs ít nonc thc Icss
(oossíbIy unawarcs) bcforc díscardíngítfor othcrstoínvcstígatc;
forthisarcvcrsaI(ínvcrsíon)ofhísoroccdurc ísrcquírcd andthc
rc-cIaboratíon ofthcsystcm(sub-systcm)thathc buíItuo scmío-
IogícaIIy, justífyíng thc ínstítutíonaIízatíon of an ' csscncc` or
cntíty.
Thíscsscncc,fasmon, ísínnowayuníquc, andncíthcrísIítcra-
turc íts onIy rívaI. Amongthc othcr csscnccs arc ooIítícs, ccono-
mics,ohíIosoohy, ocrhaos rcIígíonand scícncc (or scícntíbcncss),
butwccannoIbctoo cautíous,mcthodoIogícaIIyandconccotuaIIy
(thcorctícaIIy) ín ourdíagnosís. ThctíckIísh oocratíon ofmakíng
Jcrrorísm andIvcryday Lílc 1 67
anídcoIogy out ofan íncomoIctc actívíty or an ' csscncc` froma
soccíaIízcddíscíoIíncbcarsthcnamcofextrapolation; forccnturícs
rcIígíontrícdtosctítscIfuo asasystcmandancsscncc(thcoIogy,
thcocracy) and faíIcd; as asystcmítcxoIodcdandthcfragmcnts
of varíous rcIígíons arc scattcrcd through hístory Iíkc a traíI.
' RcIígíosíty` míght bccomc an csscncc ; índccd, thcrc arc thosc
who wouIdassístít. Andwhynot ?Aftcr ah,ítwouIdbc oncway
of accommodatíng rcIígíon aIongsídc fashíon ín socíaI toooIogy
ortooícs. IoIítícscannotbcríghtIy(ratíonaIIy)dcbncdothcrthan
as a oractícc usíng ídcoIogícaI ínstrumcnts to attaín stratcgícaI
cndsína cIassstratcgy;whíchdocs not constítutc an csscncc, not-
wíthstandíng thc oowcrfuI ínstítutíonaIízatíons ínvoIvcd ín thís
actívíty (statc, ooIítícaI 'constítutíons` , ctc.). IíkcrcIígíon, phiIo-
soohyasoírcdtothc status ofagcncraIsystcmandassuchít cx-
oIodcd; íts fragmcnts - aIso scattcrcd throughout history can
stíII bc saIvagcd soIongasthcyarc not takcn forcsscnccsandarc
ooooscd topraxis.
AssocíaIandíntcIIcctuaIforms,csscnccshavc arcmarkabIc aír
of cxtratcmooraIíty ínhcrcnt ín thcír sígníbcancc and attríbutcd
tothcm;thcfaíthfuI -thcoIogíans,ohíIosoohcrs,moraIísts- aü!ay
cIaím to ctcrníty. Iashíon, ín thc modcrn scnsc, was born wíth
fashíon magazíncs and íts rcígn datcs from mctaIanguagc. BuíIt
on changc ítchangcs ccascIcssIy and thosc who Iaunchafashíon
today arc aIrcady orcoaríng tomorrow`s fashíon (coIIcctíons,
shows) ;thcdcmí-goddcsscsdíscardatníght- aIrcadyínthcoast-
thatwhíchthcyboughtínthcmomíng,andfashíonthrívcs oníts
own dcstructíon. Yctforthosc who arc outsídcfashíoníthas an
aírofctcrníty;outsídcrscannotundcrstandwhatwaswornycstcr-
day,ígnoríngasthcydowhatwíIIbcworntomorrow;ycstcrday` s
fashíons arc absurd, tomorrow`s ínconccívabIc but today ís ím-
mortaIízcd, ít ís cxístcncc (or non-cxístcncc). Wrítíng, mcta-
Ianguagc, s;ccch at onc rcmovc havc thc samc oroocrtícs of
íIIusory ctcrníty, aooarcnt anhístorícíty andthc tcrror that ísín-
hcrcnt ín thcsc. Thc ncccssary condítíons for thc cxístcncc of
csscnccscannowbcídcntíbcd(thoughnoncíssumcícntbyítscIf)
asanactívíty, an organízatíon andanínstítutíon bascd onmcta-
Ianguagc and wríttcn mattcr. Irom thís ooínt of vícw art and
1 68 Eve:day Life ìn the Modem World
cuIturc can aIso bcíncIudcdamongthccsscnccs ofsub-systcms,
forthcyrcquírcthc samc condítíons ; bcforcbcíngconccptsthcy
cxístcdactívcIyínworksofart, but sínccthcn oncmíghtsupposc
thatartandcuIturccxist' ínthcmscIvcs`,outsídcworksofartand
notínthcm; sucha mísapprchcnsíonísductothc mísusc ofIan-
guagc, thcusc ofmctaIanguagcandthcíIIusíonsínhcrcntín' onc
rcmovc`.
MctaphysícaI íIIusíons havc oftcn bccn dcnounccd by crítícaI
anaIysís. Thc pmIosophcr starts by cIassífyíng trccs - whích ís a
worthy occupatíon; thcn hc makcs pcar-trccs and appIc-trccs
stand forThcIcar-trcc andThc AppIc-trcc andmaIIythcsc for
ThcTrccorThcIdcaofThcTrcc;aftcrwhíchhc cndowsthcIdca
(thc cIassíbcatíon madc systcm and csscncc) wíth thc powcr to
gcncratc rcaI trccs, pcar-trccs and appIc-trccs. Thus thcrc arc
works ofart, works ofcuIturc(undcrcond¡tíonsthatmustbcdís-
ccrncd,wíthfunctíons,formsandstructurcsthatcanbcanaIyscd) ;
fromworks ofSthcmindpasscsto conccpts,andthcnartand
cuIturc arc sccn asthcjustíbcatíon ofworks ofart and cuIturc ;
andmaIIyorganízcd, ínstítutíonaIízcd' CuIturc` íscndowcdwíth
thc powcrto producc cuIturaI works. Iromthc cnd ofthc nínc-
tccnthccntury 'AforArt`s sakc` ímpIicdaconccptíon ofartas
ancntíty,assomctmngabovcworksofartandthcírcondítíonsof
cxístcncc. 'Art for Art`s sakc` ís art about art, mctaIanguagc,
spccch at onc rcmovc, thc work ofart aIrcady rctrcatíng bcforc
acsthctícs, acsthctícísm substítutcd as mctaIanguagc to works
ofart,whíIc artbccomcsan cntíty sumcícntuntoítscIf. Hcrcthc
phíIosophícaIíIIusíonísrcproduccdonaIargcrscaIc,ínanínstítu-
tíonaI cxpcrícncc and undcr condítíons that thrcatcn crcatíon,
whcrc cuIturaI goods arc dístríbutcd for avíd consumptíon but
wcaríngthc masks ofcntítícs caIIcd ' CuIturc` and'Art`.
ItísmorcovcrquítcpossíbIcthathíghIyínûucntíaIcxpcrtsfuIIy
cxpIoítíng mctaIínguístíc mcthods shouId succccd ín constítutíng
and ínstítutíng as csscnccs thc RcIígíous, thc IhíIosophícaI, thc
JurídícaI,thc IoIítícaI,thc Economícandcvcnthc IogícaI orthc
\rbanand\rbanísm.ThusthcywíIIattcmpttosubstítutccsscnccs
fort1c rcaIrcIatíonsofordínarycxpcrícncc,reducing thcIattcrto
formaI dcmtíons. Such an undcrtakíng shouId bc dcnounccd
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 69
bcforcítístooIatc,bydcmonstratíngítspoíntIcssncss ;thcscídco-
Iogícs- practícaI actívitícs sctupasautocratícprovínccs- wouId
íncvítabIycIash;índccd,thcyarcaIrcadysuñcríngfromthccñccts
ofsuchímpacts, somc bcíngnow pastrcpaír, whiIc for othcrs the
irreducible is taking its revenge andínítíatíngacountcr-attack.Thc
attcmpt to crcct cconomícs as an csscncc ís thc most pcmícíous
ofthcscundcrtakíngs ;ínstcadofsccíngíndustríaIproductíonand
íts organízatíon as a mcans to an cnd (socíaI, and conscqucntIy
urban Iífc) thcy arc takcn for thc cnd and, as such, íntítutíonaI-
ízcd;thusthcdoctríncofeconomism cmcrgcs,posturíngasscícncc
and thc scícntíbcaIIy acccptabIc csscncc of Marxíst thought,
whcrcas ít ís nothíng but anídcoIogy.
In ancarIícr scctíonofIhís bookwctrícdto díscovcrwhat thc
phíIosophícaI outIook ofmodcrn socícty was. Wc askcd: ' Síncc
thís socícty has bccníncapabIc ofcxtracíngfromíts vastphíIo-
sopmcaI hcrítagc and from íts own hístory that ímagc ofMan
whích,throughunccrtaínty, gropíngsandcontrovcrsy, hasaIways
bccnthc phiIosophcr`s objcctívc; síncc phíIosophy ís no Iongcr a
systcmbuta rcaIíty; andsínccspccíbcphíIosophicaIprojccts arc
cIaboratcdandnotahumanIyprojcctcdphíIosophy,whichphíIo-
sophícaIínßucncc orprojcctíonshaIIwcdíscovcrhcrcandnow! `
Thchypothcsísof apractícaInco-HcgcIíanísmí s notunrcasonabIc:
spccíaIízcdsub-systcmscncompasscdínatcntatívctotaIsystcmatí-
zatíon at statc IcvcI ; thus thc rcIatívc faíIurc of rcvoIutíonary
Marxíst thcorícs wouId bc countcr-baIanccd mrovsíonaIIy and
maIIy)byaccrtaínback-sIídíng,andthísnotonIyínthcsphcrcof
a pmIosophicaI rcßcctíon scarching for systcmatízaIíon, but ín
' rcaIíty`, namcIyínsocíaIcxpcrícncc govcrncd byídcoIogy. And
yct such anhypothcsís cannot standup to a crítícaI anaIysís, for
HcgcIíanísm - or nco-HcgcIíanísm - ínvoIvcs a conccptíon of
rcaIíty as pcrsuasívc rathcr than as compuIsívc powcr; though ít
ís truc that thc prcsumcd coíncídcncc of rcaIíty and ratíonaIíty
vírtuaIIy ímoIícs thc coíncídcncc ofcompuIsíon and pcrsuasíon.
ButísítfaírtomakcHcgcIrcsponsíbIcfortcrroríst socíctícs,for
thc abscncc ofadaptatíon sct up as príncípIc and systcm and
compuIsíon cxaItcd on bchaIf of a stratcgícaIIy subordínatcd
undcrstandíng?
1 70 Evcryday LìIc in thc NodcmW orId
Jhcidca oIa nco-IIatonic univcrsc, govcrncd in imagination
and in rcaIity Irom on high by cntitics that arc simuItancousIy
Iorms andpowcrs, sccmsmorcapt. ScII-govcrnmcnt, thc division
oIactiviticsintosociaIandintcIIcctuaI, andthcinstitutionaIization
oIactivityandabiIityassuchdctcrmincdbythcirowncndstcnd,
whcnthcyconvcrgc, to constitutcjust sucha ' univcrsc` ; whcncc
thc cosmic imagc mcntioncdcarIicr oIconstcIIations, pIancts and
stars spiIIing thcir various inñuxcs on thc soiI oI cvcryday IiIc,
Þxingitshcavcns andyctincapabIc oIbIockingthchorizon. Jhis
vision oIa ` univcrsc` coming to a standstiII (amid thc swirIing,
miIIing mists oI ñcctingncss) is worthy oI our attcntion. AII
socictics posscssing a distinct, compIcx hicrarchy (and thcrcIorc
bascd on writing and writtcn mattcr) havc probabIy aIways in-
cIincdtowards such a Iorm; thc summit oIahaII-Þctitious, haII-
rcaIintcIIcctuaI and sociaIIaddcrcan onIybcñcdto a starthat
is both hctitious (intcIIcctuaIIy) and rcaI (sociaIIy); but what is
diHcrcntinour socicty isthatthc stars havc changcd, thatwc no
Iongcr havc thc samc sky or thc samc horizon. IormcrIy thc in-
ñux oIthc stars produccd styIcs and works oIart, but our stars
shinc on cvcryday IiIc, our sun is bIack and it sprcads tcrror.
Among thc stars prcsiding ovcr thc Iatc oIcvcryday IiIc wc Iist
oncc again Iashion (or IashionabiIity), JcchnoIogy and Scicncc
(or scicntiÞcncss).
In thc Iast Icw ycars wc havc tricd IitcraIIy to institutionaIizc
adoIcsccnts. Wc arc not conccrncd with cnabIing thcm to Icad a
spccihcIiIcwithadcquatc activitics- thoughhcrcandthcrcwcII-
intcntioncdpcopIchavcgivcn this athought(withnopcrccptibIc
rcsuIts howcvcr) - Iorwhat counts is tointcgratc thc adoIcsccnt
intradcandconsumptionbyoHcringmmaparaIIcIcvcrydayIiIc.
Wctcndtosctupancsscncc,YoutmuIncss,withcommcrciaIizabIc
attributcs and propcrtics, pcrtaining to a priviIcgcd scction oI
socicty- oratIcastoncprcsumcdsuch- thusvindicatingthcpro-
ductionandconsumptionoIspccihcobjccts(cIothcs,Iorinstancc,
cpitomizcdandsymboIizcdby'jcans`). JhiscntitysctsanauraoI
innoccncconconsumptioningcncraIandanauraoIdcccncyand
' niccncss ` on adoIcsccnt consumption. Jhus thc star oIYouth
joinsthchighcstandbrightcstinourhcavcns.Jhccorpus rcquircd
Terorsm and Everyday Lie 1 71
Ior a study oIthis systcmmightbcdrawn cntircIyIromSalut les
Co pains. YouthIuIncss contributcs in its own way to tcrror, that
is,initsspcciaIsphcrcoIinñucncc-whichcxtcnds,growingIaintcr
andIaintcr,rightthroughsocictyIromcndtocnd;indccd,whois
notaIraidoIsccmingyoungnoIongcr,oInoIongcrbcingyoung7
Who docsnotcontrastmaturityandinnoccncc,thcaduItandthc
adoIcsccnt 7 Who docs notmakcthc choicc bctwccn youth and
wisdom,aparaIIcIandaprimordiaIcvcrydayIiIc,unIuImmcntand
rcsignation7Jhus cvcryoncisconIrontcdinhisdaiIyIiIcwiththc
hcart-brcakingchoicc bctwccn non-Irccdom ornon-adaptation.
YouthIuIncss with its opcrationaI cnvironmcnt (organization
andinstitution),thchypostasisoIrcaIyouth,cnabIcsthcscadoIcs-
ccntsto appropriatccxistingsymboIizations,toconsumcsym boIs
oI happincss, croticsm, powcr and thc cosmos by mcans oI
cxprcssIy cIaboratcd mctaIanguagcs such as songs, ncwspapcr
articIcs, pubIicity - to which thc consumption oI rcaI goods is
addcd;thus aparaIIcIcvcrydayIiIc iscstabIishcd. Jhc adoIcsccnt
cxprcsscs such a situation in his own way, strcsscs it and com-
pcnsatc�Iorit inthc tranccs and ccstasics (simuIatcd or sinccrc)
oIdancmg.SomctaIanguagcpIaysitsparttothccnd.cncycIopcdic
compcndium oI this worId, acsthcticizing point oIhonour, dis-
cnchantcd shadow sccing itscII as substancc and cnchantmcnt
aromaIcss worId`s aroma, ctc. Jhat which is signiÞcd by thcs-
vacant signihcrs thus appropriatcd isyouth itscII, thc csscncc oI
youth: youthIuIncss. Hcrc is anothcr pIconasm or tautoIogy:
youtmuIncss, signihcd by signiÞcrs that signihcd somcthing cIsc,
synonymous oIjoy, pIcasurc, IuIhImcnt bccausc it sanctions thc
consumption oIthc symboIs Ior such statcs. Youth is a prooIoI
thc joy oI bcing young, oI bcing young bccausc onc is young;
youthhasasociaIstandingbyvirtuc oIyouthIuIncss. ßutwhatis
IcHIor thoscwho do notgravitatc inthcorbitoIyouthIuIncss 7
J
·
o simuIatc youthIuIncss that simuIatcs IuIhImcnt, charm, hap-
pmcss, compIctcncss. Jhc incvitabIc outcomc oIsuch tuncd-up,
gcarcd-down dizzincss is aIccIing oIincaIcuIabIc discomIort and
unrcst, a scnsc oIIrustration that cannot casiIy bc distinguishcd
Irom saticty, a craving Ior makc-bcIicvc, compcnsations, and
cvasionsinto unrcaIity.
1 72 Everyday Life in the Moder World
InthisIoveIess everydayIifeeroticismisa substituteforIove.
ThoughitseemsdimcuItthatsexuaIityshouIdbeconceived, con-
stituted and instituted as an entity (therefore as a ' sub-system'
presidedoverinthispresidentiaIrcgimebyanessence),everything
Iends to indicate that such aprocedure is being attempted, that
suchan essence is intheprocessofformation. Itis impIicit inthe
Eros cuIt whose symptoms transpire here and there, an occuIt,
popuIar cuIt that invoIves omciating, human sacriûce and anti-
phrasesusuaIIyassociatedwith omciaIized creeds, and ofcourse
itsHighPriest, thedivineMarquis. TheproIiferation ofwritings
on suchthemesassex, sexuaIity, sexuaIintercourse andits more
or Iess normaI outIets proves the case, as does the use ofsuch
themes to promote pubIicity and trade. Sexuality, set up as an
essence, appropriates the svmboIs ofdesire: but desire does not
tmiveunderimposedconditions,so,facedwithsuchirreducibiIity,
this undertaking is doomedto faiIure: the anomie ofdesire, its
sociaI÷extrasociaI nature, resists sociaI and inteIIectuaI system-
atizations attempting to reduce it to a distinct, cIassiûed need
satisûed as such. Desire stides in everyday Iife, but it dies in a
speciaIizedcontext : to organize desireits signiûersmustbe cap-
turedandsigniûed,itmustbestimuIatedbysigns, bythesightor
rathertheactionofundressing,formsoftormentthatrecaIIthose
ofdesire. Butdesirerefusesto be signiûed, becauseitcreatesits
ownsignsasitarises÷ orsimpIydoesnotarise:signsorsymboIs
ofdesirecanonIyprovokeaparodyofdesirethatisnevermore
thanapretence ofthe reaIthing.
SexuaIity, reduced to a crystaIIized sociaI and inteIIcctuaI
essence, acheves the ûnaI spoIiation ofeverydayIife andthat is
itscontributiontoterrorism:butthendesiretakesrefugeinquoti-
dianness,whereitis reborn at randomin the surprise ofan en-
counter, in a quarreI. Methods simiIar to those used to controI
naturaI forces cannotbeappIiedto desire, fordesirerespondsto
adaptation,nottocompuIsion:ifonetriestoprovokeitbycom-
puIsivemethodsittakesrefugeinmake-beIieve,anditispreciseIy
initsescape-routesthatexpIoitersareambushed.Amake-beIieve
everydayIife doubIesthatofexperienceanditis herethatdesire
ûndsitsimaginarypermanence, animaginarysatiety:afterwhich
`
Terrorism and Everyday Lie 1 73
psychoIogists and anaIystsrecaIIitto itseIf÷ iftheycan. Desire
ignores recurrence as it ignores accumuIation: it emerges from
speech butnot from writing unIess it has been Ied astray, and
retuos a changeIing:ithasnothingin commonwithinteIIectuaI
operations, anymorethanwith sociaI activities.
SoaIthoughthe systematizingofErosprovesafaiIurethere is
stiII hopefor a strange cuIt, anda kind ofentity canbe distin-
guished, neither quite ûctitious nor quite reaI, quite inteIIectuaI
norquite sociaI . theentityknownasFemininity. Thsis the out-
comeofthefact(previousIydiscussed,butwhicbhasitspIaceinthe
presentanaIysis)that :
a) women, as consumers (apparentIy), directbureaucrauc so-
ciety'scontroIIedconsumption:or,in otherwords,thecontroIof
needsisdirectedtowardsFemininityasitistowardsYouthfuIness
b) �omen are symboIs ofthis society: ob|ects ofadvertisin�
strategres, they are aIso advertising sub|ects, nakedness, smiIes
livingdspIayunits . . . ,
,
c)womenareaIsosuperiorconsumergoodsandtradevaIuein
sofar astheyarephysicaIreaIities(agoodûgureis aIIthatisre-
quiredtoobtainweaIthandfame).SothattheuseoffemaIebodies
andundressheIpstoestabIishand|ustifytheadvertisingideoIogy
onwhichtheideoIogy ofconsumptionis based. Theact ofcon-
sumingacquiresacertaindiversityifitispresentednotsoIeIyfrom
thepoint ofview ofthe ob|ect andits destructionthroughcon-
sumption,butaIsofromthatofthefemaIeûgureandaIIitstands
for : takenasasymboIoftheconsumer'scustomaryact,itis con-
d�cive toan(apparent)evasion ofrhetoricandmetaIanguage: it
distracts attentionwhiIe substituting another act for that ofthe
consumer(awomancannotproperIybeconsumedlikeanob|ect),
andthisdiversioncontributesaconsumabIeaestheticisminherent
in what is known as ' cuIture'. As a star ofthe ûrst magnitude
Femininity occupies the centre of a consteIIation composed of
speciaI stars, amongst which can be disceoed the Spontaneous,
theÞaturaI,theCuItured,theHappyandtheLoving:inshortaII
thecharacters created by Femininity andthat circIe inits orbit.
ÞotexactIy characters, ornatures either, rather pseudo-natures,
products of cuIture, pure forms draped in artifacts. A certain
`
174 Everyday Life in the Modem World
mistrustofnatureasaproductIeadstothehypothesisthatthisis
a subterfuge empIoyed by automizationto creep inunobserved,
Þature can onIy be another namefor desire, which cannot be
capturedbywords.WeknowonIytooweII(havingIearntthehard
way) that automatism makes its appearance disguised as ' pure'
spontaneity÷ afactwhichdistressedcertainpoets,makingthem
Iong for death. Writing and the recurrence ofwriting create an
iIIusionofpurespontaneity,freedomandprofundity,butbeneath
and throughapparent spontancity the organization ofeveryday
Iifeis conducted.Fem¡nimgb(�cces�uUygoverntheevery-
dayIivesofCybernanthropoi,wheredesirewouId beonIy�aûctmn
÷ notagamebutaroIeand afunction:however,r(he crit�caI
mindwoman'ssigniûcanceineverydayIifeis too greattobecon-
ñned|o Femninnchancºcxists� ¡ftbe!nividuaI cani!b
11laivldual� n¡s1r:thisûeIdUa±e vameispIayeu, !u !'w ¬ake
isIost orwon:moreoverFemninityforbidsreaIwomenaccessto
their own Iives, adaptaíionto mcir :v::Iivºs,Irit sum Li
dviduaIity and particuIarity (speciûc diûerencºs ìo trapped
generaIitu. The same appIiesto' creativity',anessenceinvented
�ts andth»tconvenientIyIocaIizesindividuaIorcoIIective
creative energy, a sociaI ' pIace' situated in hobbies and ' do-it-
yourseIf' (whch denotes the generaI disrepair and negIect of
creative energy).
LndertheIaserofcriticaIanaIysisthevisibIeoutIineofeveryday
Iifed¡ssoIvesanditstrue shape emerges :buthowcanwe choose
betweenimagesthataIIcontainmetaphorsormetonyms,PIatonic
heavens,tree ofpIeonasms, compcndiumofviciouscircIes °Each
oneexpresseswhatthe others express withan imperceptibIe dif-
ference. suprasensitiveheavens,stars,consteIIations, signsofthe
Zodiac, sociaI and inteIIectuaI pIaces, regions ofspace and time
ruIed by essences : pIeonasms . autonomized ' pure' forms, IdoIs
procIaimed and accIaimed in theidentiûcation ofseIfwithseIf,
seIf-sumciency, seIf-sign¡ûcation(andtherefore seIf-consumµtion,
seIf-destruction) :viciouscircIes :swiveIs,eddies,ûctitiousûnaIities,
meanssetup asendsandbecom¡ngtheir ownends.
ThepresenceofIdoIsgivesacertainunitytothisweirdassort-
ment, IdoIswhoseoutstandingadvantageisthattheyareperfectIy
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 75
unremarkabIe (neithertoougIynortoobeautifuI,toovuIgar nor
tooreûned,neithertoogifednorwithoutgifts),thattheyIeadthe
same 'everyday'IifeasanybodyeIseandthattheypresenttoevery-
oneanimageofhis(everyday)Iife uansûguredby thefactthatit
isnothisbutthatofanother(anIdoI,thereforerichandfamous).
ThusitisabsoIuteIyfascinatingtowatchanIdoIamdhissateIIites
havingabath,kissinghischIdren,drivinghiscarordoingany one
ofthosethingsthateverybodydoesbutasifnobodyhadeverdone
thembefore.AndthisiswhatsuchmetaphorsastheHeavens,the
PIeonasmortheCircIe(vicious,infeoaI)hintatbutcannotdeûne.
AII this is heIdtogether by the power ofwords. Þot words as
such, speciûcsigns,detachabIesigniûersthathave nopower: but
bytaIk that has power, is incIuded in themethodsofpower: by
forms, by Iogic that have power, bymathematics that is emcient
and by trade vaIue that has tremendous power. This is indIs-
putabIe. Speech has power, but what power° A new theory is
comingintoview.
The theory offorms (a revival
WeshaIIattempttodeûnethemodeofexistence, bothsociaIand
inteIIectuaI,offorms.Theûrststepisthede-consecration of writing,
aprofanationthatfoIIows,ratherbeIatedIy,¯nd comuTc±en1¯ht¯�
decons
���
tionoftheIandandofwoman:weseeitasthIogicaI '"
¨
coe ofurbmundaJlm¤ctionsthat consoIi-
date and emphasize it. Inthe contextofan agrarian societythe
consecrationoftheIandandofwomanandthevaIueattributedto
aIIthatwasrare andprecious, were extended totheprocess of
writing,writingwas seen, furthermore, asthepropandpedestaI
ofthSacred,itstoodforanexampIeofcreationwhenitwasreaIIy
onIyamodeIforinstitutions.
However, by understanding the generaI properties ofwritten
matterweshouIdbeabIetosettheIimitsofitsrangeandimpIica-
tions andthusto de-consecrate it.
In oIden days when the condict (or comcting unity) between
th Sacred andthe AccursedprevaiIed~ resoIved bythe Profane
andProfanation÷ theconûctingreIationofLetterandSpiritwas
1 76 Everyday Lie in the Modem World
alsoµredominant ,Cnristianity didnotdisµeltneambigaitynor
terninate tneconñctby ascribing Letter and 8criµtures to tne
Fatner,tne8ook'sinterµretationtotne 8onandtneWordtotne
8µiritoíwnomnomoreis said onceitnas beennamed.
Intnecontextoímoderntimestnesocialtextµroíanesitselí;
itdiscardsnaturæcyclesandcyclictime,m ectiveandemotional
terrorsinsµiredbynaturalµnenomena,tneíearoítneunknown.
Writing is now a signiñer cnarged witnµreceµts immersing in-
dividuals andcommunitiesm tniscontext, wnicnµro]ects social
andintellectualorderontneneld.Industrialandurbanrationality
makeitµossibleatlasttounderstandtnisdualdialecticalmove-
ment oítne intellectual µrocess and tne social µrocess; and in
overcoming tnis scnism tne mind µerceives now 8criµture was
dividedíromtneWord,and,moreover,madetnisdivisiononeoí
its imµeratives, by arousingdoubtsas totneWord'sreliability;
butattne sametime tnistneoryenablesus to understand now
writing serves as a new startingµointíor tneWord; it oñers a
sµecincob]ecttotnis 'sub]ect'tnatsetsitselíinacriticalrelation
totneob]ect.Writtenmatterisbotnconditionandobstacle,cause
oítnesub]ectanditsultimatereincation.Anadditionalcontradic-
tion enables it still to benentíromtne outdated tradition oíits
consecrationwnileassumingtnecnaracteristicsandµroµertiesoí
rationality,oítnelinearandoítneµroíane;tniscontradictionnas
beenresolvedbyacriticaloµerationbasedonananalysisoímeta-
langaage;but sucnanoµerationrequirescertainconditions.Tne
city canbedeñned (among otner deñnitions) astne reading oía
socialtext,tnatis,asareµresentativemiscellanyoísocietyandtne
neritageoíµastgenerations,eacnoíwnicnnasaddedaµage;itis
also tneµlace oísµeecndoublingtne reading oíwritten matter,
interµreting, commentingonandquestioningit. Formerlyitbore
tnemarkoíreligionsandritesoriginatingintnecultivationoítne
soil; itradiatedíromacentralµoint, temµleorsanctuary- sites
tnatwereinvestedwitnaµarticularauraoísanctity- andtnecity
itselíwasinvested(surrounded,encircled, butalsoendowedwitn
µowers) by tne territory wnose sacred cnaracter it emµnasized,
castingoutevilintoíoreignlands.Urbanism,nowever,initsµrimi-
tiveíormunwittinglysaµµedtneíoundationsoítne 8acredwnen
Terrorism and Everyday Lie 1 77
itwas subordinatedtorationality,íoresigntandµolitics, sotnat
itis now relegated toíolk-lore. Reasonsandcauses, tnede-con-
secrationandtneµroíanationoítnesocialtextinurbanexµerience,
ledtotnede-consecrationandµroíanationoíwrittenmatter-but
notwitnoutacertaindelay.Ontneotnernandurbanliíedidnot
disaµµearwitntneexµlosionoíitsíormermorµnology;ontnecon-
trary, tne exµlosion wasaccomµanied,µaradoxically, byan im-
µlosion;inoneµlacecityliíemaybeconcentratedandemµnasized
in tne ruins oítnis morµnology (ancient cities anddistricts), in
anotnerittends to establisn itselías anewíormtnat still lacks
morµnologicalíoundations,asanembryo,avirtualityandµoten-
tiality,butdemandingacomµletesocialexµerienceandoccuµying
amaterial(sµatial)base.Andwearebackattneµroblemoíexist-
ing íorms and tneir mode oí existing (social and intellectual),
callingíoranewrationalitytnrougntneintricaciesoíreason.
8µeecnimµlies aµresence (sometimes an absence, evasion or
deceit,butrelative totneµresence), aµresencewnosereíerential
(niddenoraµµarent,nidingoraµµearing)isDesire ,sµeecncannot
beintentionallycool,initselíitis' not' . Writingisabsence(also
µresence, butin anind¡rectway onlyreacnedbyiníerence), re-
current andcumulative, it µossesses tne attributes oían ob]ect
(socially) and oí memory (intellectually) and only acquires tne
warmtn contributed byreadingtnroum tne actionoí a sµecinc
� reader, µublic reader, reciter or actor; itis essentially 'cool ' , it
inscribesand µrescribes, andtneñrst oíitsµrescriµtions is tne
reading tnat gives it being; cool because it is comµulsive, com-
µulsivebecauseitiscool,itassistsdesireinitsûignt;asexualinso
íarasitiswritten,indiñerentandnaugntyinsoíarasitistnelaw,
itisatningtnatsanctinesseµaration. D inscribestne scnismbe-
tweenreality and desire and between tne intellectual oµeration
andµulsionsorimµulses(oneoítnebasicingredients oíterror).
Desirecannotignoretneµastbutitignoresrecurrence ;tnougn
itisµerceivedonlywitnaneñortas' being'or' notbeing'itbotn
isandisnot ;itmakesitselíknownandexµressesitselí;anddesires
itselíií only íor selí-immolation tnrougn satisíaction, or to be
írustrated; itisactivity,actualityandactualization,itisµresence.
Writing, because it is µrecise, tends to be icily µristine, always
1 78 Everyday Life in the Modern World
cquaItoítscIfandthcrcforcaIícntodcsírc;whcn soccch,orcscncc
anddcsírc arc rcstorcd to ít thc ícc ís sct on Þrc and that ís thc
oaradox ofooctry (whích thc ooctacmcvcs, ocrhaos, byrcIatíng
thc dísordcrofwordstothc ordcrofrccurrcncc,adísordcrthatís
noncthcIcssordcrIy,th�tcannotbcdchncdasaIackoforccísíon
but that dcIívcrs wrítíng fromthc snarcs ofmctaIanguagc, sub-
stítutíng dcsírc to convcntíonaI- or non-cxístcnt - rcfcrcntíaIs -
dcsírc and thc time ofdcsírc, that choscn rcfcrcntíaI crcatcd by
ooctry).
Thc ooct docs notaboIíshwrítíngandthc orc
º
ísíon ofwrítíng,
butbyanaooarcntIymíracuIousacthcturnscooIncssíntowarmth,
abscncc ínto orcscncc, thc drcad ofdcsírc ínto dcsírc, soatíaIíty
ínto tcmooraIíty and rccurrcncc ínto actuaIízatíon. Thus whcn
dcsírc ñows ínto wrítíng, ínfusíng ítwíth íts own víbratíons, thc
wrítíngcxoands, ovcrßows and, burstíngítsbarrícrs andßoodíng
|hc cmbankmcnts, sorcads andcommunícatcs by mcans ofwhat
sccmcd to cncIosc and rcstríct ít ; whcn a trcmor runs through
wríttcnmattcr,whcnítsIímoídítyísdísturbcdandacquírcsbythís
disturbanccadíñcrcnttransoarcncywhcrcbyítIoscs ítsquaIítyof
objcct (íntcIIcctuaIandsocíaI),thcconscqucncc�rcíncaIcuIabIc;
andítísjustsuchamíracIc-whichhasnothíngírratíonaIaboutít,
whích conformstoa scIf-ímooscdordcr- thatcontríbutcs to thc
íncxoIícabIc charm of a símoIc Iovc-oocm madc, aooarcntIy, of
nothíngbut ourc form, orrhctoríc.
Thc conßíctíng rcIatíon of Soccch and Wrítíng cannot bc rc-
duccdtothcrcIatíonofmattcrandthcwríttcnwordanymorcthan
ítcanbcrcduccdtothatofsoírítandIcttcr,forítgocsmuchdccocr.
Ictítsumc to rccaIIhcrc that thosc who sookc wíthout wrítíng
oaíd wíththcír Iívcs for thís Iaw-brcakíng cooch-makíng act ; wc
thínk ofSocratcs, Chríst, ocrhaos cvcn Joan ofArc; and wc rc-
mcmbcr that Iíctzschc`s Zarathustra aoocaIcd to Soccch, Irc-
scncc, Tímc and Dcsírc not onIy ín ordcr to rc-anímatc frozcn
wrítíng but to oooosc wríttcn mattcr and íts accumuIatíon from
thcbcgínníngs ofWcstcrn cívíIízatíon. Dídthcoocthooctogívc
a morcIímoíd sígníbcancc tothcwords ofthctríbc, orsímoIy síg-
níhcancc ?Bcthatasítmay, ' dcathwastríumohantínthatstrangc
voícc`.
Terrorism and Everyday Life 179
A pure (formal) space defnes the world ofterror. Ùthcorooosí-
tíon ís rcvcrscd ít orcscrvcs íts mcaníng. tcrror dcbncs a ourc
formaI soacc, íts own,thc soacc ofítsoowcrandíts oowcrs ;tímc
has bccn cvíctcd fromthís uníbcd soacc ; thc wrítíng that hxcs ít
hascIímínatcdsoccchanddcsírc,andínthísIítcraIsoacc,ísoIatcd
from actíon, orcscncc and soccch, so-caIIcd human actíons and
objccts arc cataIogucd, cIasscd and tídícd away, togcthcr wíth
wrítíngsthatarc Iíncd uo onwríttcn mattcr."Thc suocríoroowcr
that kccosthcmínsuch ordcr íscvcrydayIífc.
Thc double existence offorms undcrstood ín thís way (íntcIIcc-
tuaI and socíaI) ínvítcs a furthcr ínquíry ínto thís contradíctíon,
maskínganambíguítythatínturnconccaIsadíaIcctícaI (conßíct-
íng)movcmcnt. Morcovcr,ífwccanundcrstandthísduaIasocct -
orasoccts-ítshouIdhcIoustograsofurthcrrcIatíonssuchasthat
ofrcaIíty andoossíbíIíty, or oforoduct and act (what thc ohíIo-
soohcrsuscdtocaIIthcrcIatíonofobjcctto subjcct). ThísísaIso
thcrcIatíonofformtocontcnt,forformswouIdcxístasourcíntcI-
IcctuaI abstractíonsandassocíaI objcctsífthcy couId- but thcy
cannotdoso,thcycannotcxístdcorívcdofcontcnt;thísasoíratíon
toaourcabstractíonímoosíngítsIawsandítsstrícturcsísoartof
thc oowcr offorms, ítcndows thcm wíth thc oowcr to tcrrorízc,
Spccíbc contracts cxíst charactcrízcd by thcír contcnt ; thus a
marríagccontractsoccíbcsandrcguIatcsthcrcIatíonbctwccntwo
índívíduaIsofoooosítcscxaccordíngtoagívcnsocíaIcodc(ordcr),
subordínatíngscxuaIrcIatíonstorcIatíonsoforoocrty(oatrímony,
marríagcoortíon,ínhcrítanccandítstransfcr,thcdívísíonoforo-
ocrty, ctc.) ; a workíng contract rcguIarízcs thc acquísítíon and
saIcofworkíngcncrgy;andso on.IcvcrthcIcssthcrcísagcncraI
formofcontractoragrccmcnt, ajurídícaIformbascd onthccívíI
codc; andwc obscrvc that aII contractuaI rcIatíons orcsuooosc a
díscussíonanddchnítíonínvcrbaIform,bythccontractíngoartícs,
of thc contract`s ' faírncss `, though nothíng rcmaíns of such
¯ ÅDUS ¡CIIOI IS HO¡ ¡DC SD8CC OÍ Í8ÌSC COHSCICHCC (La Fausse conscience, 8
¡DCSÎS DV J. L8DCÌ, Ï8IIS) DU¡ OÍ ¡IUC COHSCICHCC OI OÍ ¡DC COHSCICHCC OÍ
IC8ÌI¡V, ISOÌ8¡CCÍIOHDOSSIDIÌI¡V,VII¡U8ÌI¡V 8HCSD8DIHR8C¡IVI¡V. ¡CIIOI IS HO¡
SIHDÌVD8¡DOÌORIC8Ì. I¡ DCCOHCS HOIH8Ì.
1 80 Everyday Life in the Moder World
prcIímínarícs, thc proofbcíngínthcwrítíng,thcomcíaIdccd;and
acontractísconcIudcdbythcsígnaturcsofbothpartícs-thcmost
sígníbcantformofwrítíng.
SímíIarIy thcrc ís no thought wíthout an objcct, no rcßcctíon
wíthout contcnt.Yctthcrccxísts agcncraIformofthoughtbascd
oncIassíhcatíon, whích ísIogíc. Ictus summarízcínafcw tcrms
thcprobIcmofthc díaIcctícaI movcmcnt offormandcontcnt,too
o0cnovcrIookcdtothcadvantagcof' purc`form,cxistíngassuch,
íntcIIcctuaIaswcIIassocíaI.Thcrcísnoformwíthoutcontcntand,
ínvcrscIy, nocontcntwíthoutform;rcûcctíonscparatcsformfrom
contcntthussupportíngthc form`s naturaIíncIínatíontocx¡stas
purc csscncc ; and rcßcctíon ítscIfconstítutcs aform that aspírcs
tothcstatusofunívcrsaIcsscncc (thc phíIosophcr`sambítíonand
íIIusíon). ' Iurc` form, by íts vcry purity, acquírcs an íntcIIímbIc
transparcncy, bccomcs opcrant, a mcdíum ofcIassíbcatíon and
actíon; but as suchít cannot cxíst ; asformítísnomorcthanan
abstractíon, and what ís pcrccívcd as cxístíng ís thc uníty (con-
mctíng, díaIcctícaI) ofform and contcnt. Iorm ísoIatcd fromíts
contcnt (or rcfcrcntíaIs) ís cnforccd by tcrrorísm. Our radícaI
anaIysísturnsformaIísm, structuraIísmandfunctíonaIísmagaínst
thcmscIvcs, attacks obscssíonaI cIassíbcatíonwíth a cIassíhcatíon
offorms andcxposcsthcírgcncraI contcnt, whíchíscvcrydayIífc
maíntaíncd by tcrror. Wc obscrvc ín a dccrcasíngIy abstract pro-
grcssíon.
a) logical forms. IntcIIcctuaI . thcabsoIutcpríncípIc ofídcntíty
A ÷A, a mcaníngIcss tcrm, a tautoIogy, thcrcforc íntcIIígíbIc,
Iímpíd and transparcnt bccausc ít ísvoíd of contcnt. SocíaI . thc
pIconasm (cnds takcn as mcans, cntíty madc autonomous and
voíd) ;
b)mathematical forms. IntcIIcctuaI .cnumcratíonandcIassíhca-
tíon, ordcrandstandard,cquaIítyíndístínctíon,totaIítyandsub-
totaIítícs. SocíaI . ordcríng, ratíonaI organízatíon;
c) linguistic forms. IntcIIcctuaI . cohcrcncc. SocíaI . cohcsíon of
rcIatíons, codifyíng;
d)forms ofexchange. IntcIIcctuaI . cquívaIcnccs, standardízíng,
comparíng(quaIítícsandquantítícs,actívítícsandproducts, nccds
and satísfactíons). SocíaI . tradc vaIuc, consumcr goods (whcncc
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 81
ít acquírcs Iogíc and Ianguagc and tcnds to constítutc a ' worId'
bascd onítsform) ;
c )forms ofcontract. IntcIIcctuaI .rccíprocíty.SocíaI .thcjurídícaI
formaIízatíonofrcIatíonsbascdonrccíprocíty,acodíbcatíonthat
cxtcnds to thc cIaboratíon ofabstract príncípIcs;
f)forms ofpractico-sensorial objects. IntcIIcctuaI . baIanccpcr-
ccívcd orconccívcdínthc objcct. SocíaI . thcsymmctryofobjccts
(íncIudíng hiddcn rcIatíons bctwccn thíngs, bctwccn cach tmng
andíts scttíng, bctwccnthcscIfandthcdoubIc, ctc.) ;
g) urban forms. IntcIIcctuaI . símuItancíty. SocíaI . cncountcrs
(bríngíngtogcthcr ncíghbouríng products and actívítícs) thatín-
tcnsífy - by matcríaIízng and dc-consccratíng - thc Iandscapc,
produccdby Iabourandímposcdas form uponnaturcínagívcn
tcrrítory;
h)thcform ofwriting. IntcIIcctuaI .rcpctítíon.SocíaI .accum Iõ-
tíon.
Wcomítrccurrcncc;conccívcdbysomc(uItímatcIybyIíctzschc)
asthc formofcxístcncc.
Ifthcformofwrítíngoccupícsanínfcríorposítíontothatofthc
cítyín thís dccrcasíngIy abstract hícrarchy offorms ítís bccausc
our cIassíbcatíon stípuIatcs ncíthcr príoríty, Iogíc, ontoIogy nor
hístorícítybutgocsfrompurc,transIucídformtosubstantíaIcon-
tcnt,aorogrcssíonthatínvoIvcsanowfamíIíardíaIcctícaIrcIatíon
that ofform and contcnt. Iorm ín íts absoIutc puríty (A ÷A.
ís absoIutcIy unvíabIc; thc grcatcst paradox ofrcßcctíon ís brst
thatsuchaformcanbcformuIatcdandformaIízcdwíthsuchprc-
císíonandthcn thatítshouIdbccñcctívc. How andwhy7Whcrc
docsthíscmcícncycomc from,thísworkíngabíIity ofpurcform7
WíthoutthcsIíghtcst possíbIc doubtfromthcfact thatít makcs
anaIysíspossíbIc,thatístosay,ítaIIowsforthcdívísíonof' rcaIíty
,
aIongíts Iínc ofIcast rcsístancc, ítsjoínts anddísconncctíons, íts
IcvcIs and dímcnsíons ; wc aII know that anaIysís kíIIs, has thc
fcarsomc powcr ofdcath and Iífc that dísconncct and rc-conncct
ín díñcrcnt combínatíons thc fragmcnts and cIcmcnts prcvíousIy
dísconncctcd.
Thus thc rorm ís rcun¡tcd to a varíabIc, rcsísung, contcnt
on which ít imposcs ordcr and constraínt. But thc contcnt ís
1 82 Everyday Life in the Modern World
irreducibIe,isinfactthe irreducible. ThecompIexprocess of(ana-
Iytic)knowIedgeandexperience, encompassedwithin theprocess
ofform andcontent,encompassesthatofreductionandtheirre-
ducibIe.IntheIastanaIysis(butisaIastanaIysisnecessary°) the
contentis desire seen neither asthe desire to be nor asthe desire
nottobe,tocontinuenortoend,tosurvivenortoexpire,butas
thedesireforactionandcreationsigniûedbyaIIthingsandidenti-
ûedbynone,conceaIedinthesigniûedandundersigns,andthere-
fore reveaIed asthe signiûerwithout signiûed wh¡chgives Iife to
others and can be foundin Speech and in Time but neither in
SpacenorinWritingnorinanyspatiaIsigniûed.
EverydayIifeispartofthecontent,butambiguousIy:ontheone
handitderivesfromthe emciency offorms, istheirresuItorre-
suItant. Product and residue, suchis the deûnition ofeveryday
Iife: forms simuItaneousIy organize it and are pro|ected upon it,
but their concerted eûorts cannot reduce it : residuaI and irre-
ducibIe,iteIudesaIIattemptsatinstitutionaIization,itevadesthe
grip offorms. Everyday Iife is, furthermore, the time of desire .
extinction and rebirth. Repressive andterrorist societies cannot
IeaveeverydayIifeweIIaIone butpursueit, fence itin, imprison
itinitsownterritory. ButtheywouIdhavetosuppressittohave
done withit, andthatis impossibIe because they needit.
Wedonothavetodemonstratethatformcannotdependonit-
seIfforexistence:ourmainconcernistoshowthatformaspires
invain÷ to a ' substantiaI ' existence, infact, toessentiaIity. It is
rationaIIydemonstratedthat ' pure'form,theformof Iogic, con-
tract orwriting, hasnoright toautonomy,aIthoughithassuch
pretensions : the ' purity' of a form invoIves its non-existence.
CriticaIanaIysismustthereforeprovethesociaIexistenceofsome-
thingthathasnoapparent 'substantiaI 'existence :andtheanswer
isthatformsdependonsociaIconscienceatthesametimeasthey
induence it : they cannot do without speech, though they drain
speechtotheirownadvantage,activityonbehaIfoftheagent,and
action onbehaIfofmediation. Thus anidea ortheory emerges .
Speechmaintains, assembIesanduniûesisoIatedforms, notina
form- orastructure orafunction- butinanaction.
Speechisnecessarybutit is insumcient,foritrequiresabasis,
Terrorism and Everyday Life 183
a materiaI substantiaI foundation. Production may be seen as
answeringsuchrequirements ÷ initsduaIaspect, asproduction
ofworkandofproduce÷ andsocaneveryday lie insofarasitis
the resuIt of actuaI production reIations and ofthe residue of
formscIassiûedabove.
HereourcriticaIanaIysisIinksupwiththepecuIiarphenomenon
oftheintegration-disintegration ofmodernsociety. Themembers
ofthis society (individuaIsandcomunities)asweIIasthewhoIe
body(insofarasabodyexists),itscuItureanditsinstitutions,are
obsessed with the need to integrate and to be integrated ÷ an
obsession,we note, thatis symptomaticneitherofaconsiderabIe
integrativecapacitynorofatotaIincapacitytointegrate. Speciûc
integrations occurin their owntime andpIace, butitis totaIin-
tegrationthatisrequired. Bythe subterfuge oforganizingevery-
day Iife the working cIasses have been partiaIIy integrated with
present-daysociety÷ whichimpIiestheirdisintegrationasacIass :
andatthesametime, asa consequence ofthisphenomenon,the
whoIe society is in the process ofdisintegrating÷ its cuIture, its
unity and its vaIues. We have aIready seen that our society no
Ionger constitutes a system (notwithstanding state power and
armedforce,theintensiûcationofcompuIsionandterrorism)but
onIyaIotofsub-systems, a con|unction ofpIeonasms threatened
withmutuaIdestructionorsuicide.ThusitisnotreaIIysurprising
if obsessionaI integration and speciûc Iimited integrations (of
pubIicitytotrade,programmingtoeverydayIife)Ieadtoasortof
generaIized raciaIism stemming from the disabiIity to integrate
properIy. everybody against everybody eIse: women, chiIdren,
teenagers, proIetarians, foreigners are inturn sub|ectedIo ostra-
cism and resentment, becoming targets ofundeûned terrorisms
whiIethewhoIeisstiIIheIdtogetherbythekeystoneofspeechand
thefoundationsofeverydayIife.
The concept ofa ' zero point', Iike those ofterrorismandof
writing,isderivedfromIiterarycriticism:acoincidencethatisnot
reaIIysurprisinginview ofthe perspicacity ofthose among our
foremost critics who undertook the ' radicaI ' investigation, and
aIsobecauseIiteratureisthenaturaIinteIIectuaIvehicIeandsociaI
basisofmetaIinguisticpopuIarity,ofthespreadofwrittenmatter.
184 Everyday Life in the Moder World
We shall appropriate for our own ends the stylistic concept elabora­
ted by Roland Barthes* for his analysis of the transformations in
literary writing. ' Zero point' can be defined as the neutralization
and disappearance of symbols, the attenuation of pertinence (con­
trast) and the prevalence of associations of words and sentences,
associations seen as evidence of ' what goes without saying'. The
writing claims to state simply and coldly what is, when it only ex­
poses a formal coherence. Zero point is a neutral state (not an act
nor a situation) characterized by a pseudo-presence, that of a
simple witness, and therefore a pseudo-absence.
There is a zero point of language (everyday speech), of objects
(functional objects split up into elements and contrived by arrang­
ing and combining these elements), of space (space shown as dis­
play, even when it is laid out in lawns and planted with trees, the
space taken over by trafc circulation, deserted spaces even in the
heart of the city), of need (predictable, predcted, satisfied in ad­
vance by imaginary satisfaction), and there is also a zero point of
time: time that is progammed, organized according to a pre­
existing space on which it inscribes nothing, but by which it is
prescribed. Zero point is a transparency interrupting communica­
tion and relationships just at the moment when everything seems
communicable because everything seems both rational and real ;
and then there is nothing to commuicate!
The social topology or topics of this landscape has undergone
a change; it would be too much to say that darkness had des­
cended, for it is only twilight and we can still distinguish an assort­
ment of neutralized places, each as neutral as possible, but each
one assigned to a specific function, from above or in the whirl­
wind of an entity; these are ghettos, hygienic ghettos withal, and
functional too; there is the ghetto of creativity and hobbies (do-it­
yourself, collecting, gardening), the ghetto of happiness and of
freedom (holiday resorts and holiday camps), the ghetto of speech
(small groups and their talk), there is a place for Femininity and
one for Youthfulness, one for trafc circulation, one for trade and
one for consumption; and there are places for communication.
¯ LÍ. Le Degre zero de l'ecriture, Paris, 1VJö.
'
Terrorsm and Everyday Life 1 85
But we must not overstress the dreariness of the scene, for real
dialogues and real communication do take place; not, perhaps,
where they are expected, not in the places specially designed for
comunication and dialogue; but they happen elsewhere, when
speech arises from a brief encounter, usually lively, sometimes
violent and always free from the neutralizing efects of the pre­
determined site; in this ' elsewhere' something may be said and
heard above the monotone of written matter that appropriates all
the ' topics' and cancels them out. More or less everywhere there
are bodies (social, constituted) that stop up the channels of com­
munication whle claiming to encourage it, appointing given places
and times for it in everyday life; but once groups and classes suc­
ceed in meeting face to face, once they come to grips, a free
dialogue explodes under the dialectical impetus.
Thus we ha¬! is �bs�s_���_wit�ii!<�e! commun­
cation, participation, integration and coherence, all the things it
lacks, althings it misses. These are- o
ui

t
o
;
Tcs�

o��
pr
ObleI
s ;
we
·
i
m
agine we are solving problems by naming topics, by end­
lessly, learnedly, obsessively dscussing topics ; we dissect lone­
liness, lack of communication, discontent. But there is nothing
unusual about these subjects ; what is unusual is loneliness in the
midst of overcrowding, lack of communication in a proliferation
of signs of communication; new and unusual also is the fact that
the place of communication is always elsewhere, in substitution.
Zero point is the lowest point of social experience, a point that can
only be approached and never reached, the point of total cold; it
is made up of partial zero points - space, time, objects, speech,
needs. A kind of intellectual and social asceticism can be discered
at zero point under all the apparent afuence, the squandering and
ostentation as well as under their opposites, economic rationality,
resistance. Moreover it can be held responsible for the decline of
the Festival, of style and works of art ; or rather it is the sum of
features and properties resulting from their decline. In fact zero
point defines everyday life -except for desire that lives and survives
in the quotidian.
Maybe our description of this ' freezng' landscape is mislead­
ing, for it has nothing in common with an ice-age scene; it is
1 86 Everyday Life in the Moder World
merely a picture of boredom. On the other hand we all know only
too well the dangers inherent in the boredom eating away at the
heart of modernity. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that
whole nations are bored, while others are sinking into a boredom
at zero point. We can say that people are satisfed, happy . . . ; of
course they are, for they have come to accept and even to like
boredom at ' zero point' ; they prefer it to the hazards of desire.
Our inquiry into the manner in which forms exist has led to an
investigation of social reality. Ought we to reconsider and modify
our concept of ' reality' ? The existence and the efects of forms
are unlike those of sensorial objects, technical objects, meta­
physical substances or ' pure' abstractions ; though they are ab­
stract they are none the less intellectual and social objects, they
require sensorial, material and practical foundations but cannot
be identifed with such vehicles. Thus trade value requires an ob­
ject (a product) and a comparison between objects in order to
appear and express its content which is productive collective
labour and a comparison between labours. However, object and
content without form have neither a specifically intellectual nor a
specifcally social reality. To a certain extent form defines a thing's
signifcance; yet it possesses something both more and less, some­
thing diferent from what is signified; it constitutes an object's
signifcance but also appropriates it, allows itself to be signified
and absorbs the signifer. Thus trade idioms are made of pre­
existing languages that they adapt to their own use. The con­
catenation of efcient causes and efects is not the whole of social
' reality' ; classical causality and determinism must give way to
another process of exposition and explication; but this is no
excuse for rejecting causality or substituting a kind of irrealism for
' reality', for in both cases the analysis by-passes the problem of
the existence and efects of forms. They are real but not in the
terms of other types of reality; they are projected on the screen
of everyday life without which they would have nothing to explore,
defne and organize; in this way the various rays constitute a
single beam and light up a territory that would otherwise be
plunged in darkness. Once again the metaphor expresses too much
and not enough.
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 87
Our analysis has proceeded up to this point from the higher to
the lower, from forms to reality and content, to the base that is
also a basis. We shall now settle down in everyday life, but not
without a backward look at our analytical trip. Let us try to put
ourselves in the place of a person living his everyday life without
any historical, sociological or economic knowledge and without a
particularly curious or critical mind; from this viewpoint we can­
not help noticing a phenomenon that requires a further analysis ;
this inmate of everyday life, whether male or female, a member of
one social class or another, has no (or hardly any) intimation of
all that we have .disclosed and discussed; he takes for granted all
that he observes, he accepts as the here and now everything he sees
and perceives, all his experiences ; he may fnd them neither just,
justifed nor justifable, but that is how it is, things are what th�y
are ; unless he happens to be a pathological case or a case of anomie
he will almost entirely ignore the depth of desire and the stars
that rule over him, for he rarely raises or lowers his gaze, looking
only around him at the surface that he takes for � reality' . This
everyday being lives a double illusion, that of limpidity and evi­
dence (' that's how it is ') and that of substantial reality (' it can't
b any diferent ') ; thus the illusion ofimmediacy in everyday l�fe
is defned.
Terrorism maintains the illusion, the zero point of critical
thought. It is the terrorist function of forms (and of institutions
deriving from these forms) to maintain the illusions of trans­
parency and reality and to disguise the forms that maintain reality.
People living in everyday life refuse to believe their own experience
and to take it into account; they are not obliged to behave in this
way, nobody forces them, they force themselves-a typical feature of
the terrorist society; only a very small minority draw conclusions
from what they know. Everyday experience is not cumulative;
though there is a tendency to endow elderly people with 'experience'
all they have really acquired is cynicism and resignation.
Where experience is concerned everyday life is wasted, but it is
highly appreciated as a limited practice, that of an individual
existence doomed sooner or later to failure and resignation.
Those who resist are promptly isolated, integrated, silenced or
1 88 EverydayLife inthe Modern World
reconditioned,accusedbysomeofIackingexperience,byothersof
beingwantinginwisdom.Ob|ectionsarewhatisnotexpressed,for
theworId ofterror, of' pure' forms and ' pure ' spaceisaIso the
worId of siIence when metaIanguages are exhausted and are
ashamedofthemseIves.
Wenowhavebeforeusthe outIineofadiscipIine orscience (if
oneis notafraidofwords),ascience thatwouIdexposetheposi-
tion ofeveryday Iife in reIation to forms and institutions , that
wouId discIose these reIations impIied in quotidianness, but im-
pIicit and obscure in the quotidian.* In everyday Iife when we
thinkwe seeeverythingquitecIearIywe are mostdeIuded,when
weare convincedthatwearepIungedindarknessachinkofIight
has aIready pierced the shadows , the operationthat wiII expose
the doubIe iIIusionrequiresthe precision ofan experienced sur-
geon. Aninquiryinto everyday situationspresupposesacapacity
forintervention,apossibiIityofchange(reorganization)inevery-
dayIifethatwouIdnotbedependentonarationaIizing,program-
ming institution. To initiate such apraxis either a conceptuaI
anaIysis or ' socio-anaIyticaI ' experiences are necessary, as a
generaIizedsociaIpracticeitispartofthecuIturaIrevoIutionthat
isbasedontheaboIitionofterrorism- oratIeastonthepossibiIity
ofacounter-terroristintervention.
The opening
In sofar as there canbe demonstrationin such matterswe have
demonstrated the non-closing of the circuit. There is no singIe
absoIutechosensystembutonIysub-systemsseparatedbycracks,
gapsandIacunae,formsdonotconverge,theyhavenogriponthe
content and cannot reduce it permanentIy, the irreducible crops
¯ ÌHCUIIICS OÍ ¡HIS H8¡UIC H8VC 8ÌIC8CV DOH UHCCI¡8KCH DV LCOIRCS
Î8D8SS8CC, ÛCHC Ï8ÌOU 8HC ¡HC HCHDCIS OÍ ¡HC LIOUDCS CC ÜCCHCICHC
ÌHS¡I¡U¡IOHCÌÌC, 8HC HIRH¡ DC C8ÌÌCC socio-analyses, ÍOI \HCV DICSUDDOSC IH¡CI-
VCH¡IOHS IH¡O 8H 8C¡U8Ì SI¡U8¡IOH, 8 COHHUHI¡V´S CVCIVC8V ÌIÍC. ÅHC SOCIO-
8H8ÌV¡IC8Ì IH¡CIVCH¡IOH dissociates IH¡O DÌ8CC 8HC ¡IHC ¡HC DC8IIHRS OÍ ¡HC
SI¡U8¡IOH, COHDIHCC d ¡HCV 8IC WI¡H Í8ÌSC CVICCHCC. I¡ associates CXDCIICHCCS
¡H8¡ WCIC DICVIOUSÌV ÍOICIRH ¡O I¡, 8HC ¡HCH DIOCcCCS DVIHCUC¡IOH 8HC ¡I8HS-
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 89
·
\
upagainaftereachreduction.Thoughnecessaryforscientiücpro-
cedures, onIy a reIative, temporary reduction can be achieved,
entaiIingfurtherprocesses. Scienceis reIatedtoapraxis, invoIves
apraxis, presupposes or precedes a praxis; everyday l¡fe, as a
Iayer of unreality and an iIIusory transparency constitutes a
frontierbetweendarknessandIight,theseenandtheunseen,far
fromcIosingitseIfit isonIyaplane.
Þowthat the openinghasbeenIocatedaIIthat remains isto
directourinquirytowardsit,foritbearsafamIIiarname .thatof
urban life, orurbansociety.
Urban society rises from the ashes ofruraI society and the
traditionaIcity. Formany centuries peasant Iife andanagricuI-
turaIreaIitypredomnated, encirclIng and besieging thecity, set-
ting its Iimits. Buta newera ofurban societyis dawningwhere
theexperiencevaIuesthatoriginatedinthedistantpastofagricu1-
turaI traditions wIlI at Iast outshine the trade vaIues that now
overshadowthem,itsconceptionandrealIzationrequireadepar-
turefromformerideoIogies(outdatedsurvivaIs,utopianeIabora-
tions). There are certain neighbourhood in the one-time urban
centres ofcities, neighbourhoodsthatwere once prosperous but
arenowusuaIIyinhabitedbyadi0erentcIassofpeopIefromthose
whofoundedthem,whereurbanl¡fesurvivesorattempts tosur-
vive,eIsewhereitcan be found, withinteIIectuaI or sociaI over-
tones,tryingtocreateanew 'centraIity',butonIythepartisansof
thatideoIogyknownas' economIsm'canseeurbansocietyasthe
outcomeofindustriaIproductionandorganization,onIythesup-
porters ofbureaucratic rationaIism conceive the new experience
asdistributionofaterritoryanditsprogramming,andbothout-
Iooks threaten the deveIopment of this new-bor hope. Con-
verseIy,onIyideoIogistsbeIievethaturbansocietycanbefounded
CUC¡IOH. ÅHUS 8H¡I-b¡8ÌIHIS¡ ODDOSI¡IOH IHSICC COHHUHIS¡ D8I¡ICS W8S, IH I¡S
¡IHC, 8 ICH8IK8DÌC C8SC OÍ SOCIO-8H8ÌVSIS, 8HC SOHC OÍ I¡S ÛHCIHRS L DC
ODSCIVCC IH Ì8¡CI CCVCÌODHCH¡S lSOCIOÌORIC8Ì ID D8¡ICUÌ8I, ñ8IXIS¡ IH
RCHCI8Ì). ÅHC ¡HIIC VOÌUHC OÍ ¡HC Critique de la vie quotidienne WIÌÌ CCVCÌOD
CCI¡8IH ÍC8¡UICS OÍ ¡HIS 8CCOUH¡ 8HC WIÌÌ DIOD8DÌV DC COHSCC 8CCOICIHR

¡O ¡HC ÍOÌÌOWIHR DÌ8H. ÛIS¡, UHHCCI8¡CC CVCIVC8V ÌIÎC S�

OHS 8DC
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HIS8DDICHCHSIOHS. ¡HCH 8H CÌUCIC8¡IOH OÍ OIHS

190 Everyday Life in the Modern World
ongroupsemancipatedaIreadyfromIabourandsociaIcIassdivi-
sionsandthatthereissuchathingasanurban' system' , forsuch
ideaIists the new societywouId be modeIIed onthose ofancient
Greece, but they forget that these were dependent on sIavery.
Urbansocietystemsfromencounters,itmustexcIudesegregation
andbe distinmishedby thefactthat it añordsthe time andthe
pIaceforindividuaIandcoIIectivemeetings, thecoming-together
ofpeopIe from diñerent cIasses, with diñerent occupations and
diñerentpattemsofexistence.Thisurbansociety÷whichisalready
morethanadream÷ isbasednotontheaboIitionofcIassdistinc-
tions,butontheeIiminationofantagonismsthatündtheirexpres-
sioninsegregation,itmustinvoIvediñerencesandbedeünedby
thesediñerences.T¡me in the cit_ an�bythe citywiIItn-
dentofnaturaIcycIesbuotsubmitIedtotheIineardivisionsof
rationaIizeddura¡Ion: itwiII·��ri¬��tn-ss,�a
timeh·it ccb�ti��:L� �����
occ��� �����«c� 1iwiBb�thc�:Iacan
time���·��� ����,becauseinthissenseurban
Iife wiIIinvoIve the performance ofnumerousfunctions andwiII
stiIIbetransfunctionaI.ThoughitwiIIbethepIaceofanothertime
thanthat offormaI spatiaIity, apIacewhere speechprevaiIs over
writing and metaIanguage, the city wiII none the Iess involve
structures (spatiaI, formaI) , its practicaI existence wiIl be prac-
ticaIIydeüned(inscriptionandprescription)butthismorphoIogy
wiIIpro|ect(inscribe,prescribe)ontheneIdreIationswhosesociaI
andinteIIectuaI reaIitywiIInot be reduced tothispro|ection. In
thecityspeechwiIlunifythescatteredeIements ofsociaIreaIity,
functions and structures, disconnected space, compuIsive time ,
the city wiII have its everyday Iife, but qu�silI·-b�
banished, and terror, more in evidence here than eIsewhere, wiII
be�o¡csuccessfuIIy opposed, eitherby vioIence (aIways Iatent)
orbynon-vioIenceandpersuasion,fortheessenc� ofht�¬iII
be.achaIlengeIoterror, a mannerofcounter-terrorism.Thecity's
uninhibited seIf-expression and creativity (morphoIogy, setting,
shaped sites,adequatespaceandspaces)wiIIrestore
itprevaiIs overcompuIsionandsetsaIimitto
theimaginationtostyIeandworksofart,
Terrorism and Everyday Life 191
monuments,festivaIs, sothatpIayandgameswiIIbe given their
former signiücance, a chance to reaIize theirpossibiIities , urban
societyinvoIvesthis tendencytowardstherevivaIoftheFestivaI,
and, paradoxicaIIy enough, such a revivaI Ieads to a revivaI of
experience vaIues, the experience ofpIace and time, ævingthem
priority over trade vaIue. Urban society is not opposed to mass
media, sociaI intercourse, communication, intimations, but onIy
tocreativeactivitybeingtumedintopassivity,intothedetached,
vacant stare, into the consumptionofshows andsigns , itpostu-
Iates an intensiücation of materiaI and non-materiaI exchange
wherequaIityissubstitutedforquantity,andendowsthemedium
ofcommunicationwithcontentandsubstance.UrbansocietywiII
not tumeverydayIife into make-beIieve andwiII not be content
withthrowingadiñerentIightonquotidianness,butitwiII1ra�s-
formthe quotidinits ownquotidianterms.
Z short dialogue
' Youhave, aswastobeexpected,abandonedevery trace ofscien-
tinc directionandyour wouId-be anaIyticaIessayhasturnedout
tobeadiatribe.'
' You wereforewamed. Questions and criticism are onIy for-
biddenbyscientiücness,adiscipIinethatügures,aswehaveseen,
amongtheso-caIIed"pure" forms andthesemi-PIatonic arche-
types ofthisIittIe worId, whereas scientiüc knowIedge stipuIates
acti on,criticismandtheoreticaIoppositionsimuItaneousIy,accord-
ing to the procedure ofour essay (where we have attempted to
takestock,deüneadirection,widenhorizons).Moreoverahyper-
criticaI outIook is better than a totaI Iack of criticism, for it
stimuIates evenconformists Iike you.'
' YourconcIusionis avindication ofurbansocietycouchedin
high-ßownpropheticterms.'
' Þotat aII. ThereexistsareaIistic andfar-sighted conception
ofurbanpossibiIitiesthatcoincides neitherwiththehistorynor
thescience ofurbandeveIopmenttodate,nor ideoIogy
caIIedurbanism; suchaknowIed¿egrows as
fromtheembryomcstate,andactiveIyLL1LIL
1 92 Everyday Lie in the Modem World
' Utopist! '
'And why not ? For me this term has no pejorative connota­
tions. Since I do not ratif compulsion, norms, rules and regula­
tions; since I put all the emphasis on adaptation; since I refute
"reality", and since for me what is possible is already partly real,
I8indeed a utopian; you will observe that Ido not say utopist;
but a utopian, yes, a partisan of possibilities. But then are we not
all utopians, apart from you?'
' I am not the only one, and "we" at least do not confuse investi­
gation and commital, trial and indictment. According to you
people are miserable, terrorized. '
' You haven't understood a thing, not a singe thng! Inever said
that people were terrorized but that they were terrorists. I said
that a lot of people were satisfied and that a terrible unease pre­
vails none the less. This contrast that translates a contradction
is my subject, my problem. '
' We were looking forward to hearing some details on the dif­
ferent everyday lives of the various social classes - the bour­
geoisie, working-class families. But on the way you forgot that
there were classes, and it would sem that everyday life is the same
for everybody. Have you abolished distinctions ?'
' By no means ; but our object in writing this book was not to
describe everyday life according to each class and community; we
had no intention of providg budgets - either of money or of
time; such Ü inquiry is worthy of consideration, though it will b
hard to carry out without indulgng in sociological trivialities,
anecdotes and inessential reports based on statistics and a great
show of scientific or pseudo-scientific efciency; if ths sort of
study is to receive the approbation of most experts it must abound
in examples of stereotypes and patters if not in those of incomes,
strata and averages ; it would have to stay on the surface of thngs
- and when I say things Imean things. The strategy that aims at
programming everyday life is generalized, it is a class strategy;
some may indeed beneft from such a project and its realization,
but others, the majority, will have to put up with it as best they can.
At th� top hierarchical ladder there are those (the demi­
gods) �ey transcend everyday life ; at the bottom of
Terrorism and Everyday Lie 193
the ladder, among the new poor, the vast majority bears the weight
and supports the great pyramd, living in the paradox of " satis­
faction-frustration" and enduring it when it has already become
a contradiction. You can draw your conclusions . . . '
' Don't you think you are a bit lefist at times ?'
' I beg your pardon. There are rightist ideologists and lefist
ideologists, though admittedly ideological distinctions are not
always made according to the strictest logic; right and lef analyses
never seem to coincide, whether they refer to history, technology
or the so-called society of consumption. The term leftism is
evoked when a lefist analysis refers to a so-called leftist ideology
such as economism or technocratism. That is my answer. Now,
just one word more on utopism. ¡is serious, disturbing, to ques­
tion anything concerning everyday life; thus there are a number of
infitesimal alterations that would be possible in trafc circula­
tion or in the motor-car itself, that experts consider out of the
question because they would entail too great an output of capital,
involve too many consequences. And what does this prove ? That
everyday life should be put to the question as a whole. Homo
sapiens, homo faber and homo ludens end up as homo quotidianus,
but on the way they have lost the very quality of homo; can the
quotidianus properly be called a man? ¡is virtually an automaton,
and to recover the quality and the properties of a human being it
must outstrip the quotidian in the quotidian and in quotidian
terms. '
J
First fndings
Towards a Permanent
Cultural Revolution
The main points of our analysis can be sumed up 8 follows :
a) The Marxist theory was sigifcant in that it gave a language,
a concept and a direction to industrial production at its advent
and dsclosed the new creative energes inherent in this indlstry.
Marx accomplished his historic mission, developing the ideas of
the great Bntish economists Smith and Ricardo, and those of
Saint-Simon; he adopted the methods and concepts of Hegel's
philosophy but redirected them against Hegelianism, and he re­
drected against the ' upside-down world' in general all that it had
achieved; fally he stressed and clarified the fact that industry
was capable of mastering nature and of transforming the actual
material and social world.
b) D is now possible, a hundred years after the publication of
the fst volume of Das KapitaZ (1867), to take stock and sort out
the achievements from the shortcomings in the Marxist doctrine.
Once Marx hadstressed the dual aspect of production (production
of things and relations, production of works and produce) he went
on to stress the production of produce - the essential, specific
aspect of industrial production in a capitalist state ; in this way it
became possible (though that was not his intention) to give a
unilateral interpretation to his theory and thence to science and
to social reality. Moreover urbanization - a process that, though
Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution 195
linked to industrialization, is distinct and specifc - had barely
started in Marx's time, so that he was unable to grasp its signif­
cance or its relation to industrialization, did not, and indeed could
not, perceive that the production ofthe city was the end, the objec­
tive and the meaning of industrial production. Whence a further
limitation imposed upon his theory and an added occasion for
misinterpretation, since industry was thus seen to contain its own
meaning, rationality and objectives. Society today has acquired
the reputation of dynamism when in fact it is stagnating in the
no-man's-land between industrialization and urbanization where
industry and economic expansion still figure as objectives and
the true goal is considered accidental and contingent.
In Das KapitaZ Marx dialectically (critically) analysed capitalist
methods of production. He exposed (afer Smith and Ricardo, but
going deeper and further) the form of trade value and consuner
goods as the cornerstone, the theoretical and historical basis of
this method of production. Reverting to an earlier theory Marx
denounced the dangers involved in the practically limitless expan­
sion of trade value and money and their material µower. Perceiv­
ing the ' world' of trade's fon, logc and language he foresaw its
power both for destruction and for creativity; on the one hand its
serious consequences, its virtualities, on the other hand the social
force that could restrain this threatening tyranny, control the
market and its laws and subordnate the mastery of nature to
man's adaptation of his own natural and social being.
c) Marx's warning went unheeded, especially by those political
parties that used his theories as a password (on the one hand
economism where organization, programing and industrial
rationality prevailed, on the other politism with the stress on in­
stitutional and ideological activism, both under the aegis of a
philosophism of history, or of material reality). The theory of ex­
change, of trade value and its laws, and of overcoming them, lost
its clarity, deteriorating into a utopian lefism (that aimed at trans­
cending the law of exchange and value by a total revolutionary
action) or an opportunist rightism adopting most of the theories
of economism; and from this point the concept of adaptation was
completely discarded by Marx's followers. The working classes'
196 Everyday Life in the Moder World
main mission was now seen to be political (the modifcation of
state institutions) or economc (expansion of production involving
trade expansion), thus the necessity to curb trade expansion was
ignored, as were the methods and the social and intellectual scope
of such a curbing. In this way one of the crucial lessons to be
learnt from Marx and Das Kapital fell on deaf ears and was lost
to social conscience, ideology and theories.
d) The conditions of capitalist production have not altered; in­
deed they have been consolidated by the discredit into which Marx­
ist theories have fallen and favoured by historical events that acce­
lerated technological development at an incalculable cost to
society - two world wars and a third already in sight ; in one half
of the world these conditions are now fmly established, while
weighing heavily on the other half. Such �situation has caused a
considerable misappropriation of creative energy; the working
classes should (and could) have taken upon themselves the realiza­
tion of possibilities inherent in industrial production, but they
have not (as yet) carried out this mission; there have been motives
and causes, substitutions, displacements, replacements and dver­
sions. To understand this complex process new analytical methods
and a new intellectual approach are required; for want of such an
analysis it has been possible to believe in the presence of hidden
unfathomable structures within our society and, indeed, within all
societies ; if, in fact, the process cannot be imputed to an ' agent',
analysis discovers none the less a class strategy whereby creative
activity is replaced by contemplative passivity, and by the vora­
cious consumption of signs, displays, products and even works of
art so long as they are those of past ages ; this thankless consump­
tion thrives on history, works of art and styles but refutes history
and no longer understands works of art, ignoring or rejecting their
terms. The reductive process was practised before being sanctified
as an ideology; all contemporary ideologies are reductive, in­
cluding those that are taken for efective sciences ; they ratify a
disabling praxis disguised by promises and illusions of a fnal ful­
fment. Ideologies turn facts into laws and actual reduction into
' scientificness ' .
e) Thus everyday life, the social territory and place of controlled
Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution 1 97
consumption, of terror-enforced passivity, is established and pro­
grammed; as a social territory it is easily identified, and under
analysis it reveals its latent irrationality beneath an apparent
rationality, incoherence beneath an ideology of coherence, and
sub-systems or disconnected territories linked together only by
speech. To the question: ' How can such a society function, why
doesn't it fall apart ?' the answer is : ' By language and metalan­
guage, by speech kept alive under talk at one or two removes,
under floods of ink. ' This territory seems fm enough, but it is
not impervious to earthquakes, not by any means ! Marx never
considered economics as determinative, or as determinism, but he
saw capitalism as a mode of production where economics pre­
vailed, and therefore that itwas economics which had to be ta�ked;
nowadays everyday life has taken the place of economics, it- is
everyday life that prevails as the outcome of a generalized class
strategy (economic, political, cultural). It is therefore everyday
life that must be tackled by broadcasting our policy, that of a
cultural revolution with economic and poltical implications.
f) The concept of revolution - even of total revolution - is still
valid; moreover a revolution cannot be other than total. Uthe
concept has become vague it is the fault of reductions, uncritically
accepted and dogmatized. When the idea of revolution is restored
to include all its implications, three planes can be distinguished:
1) An economic plane where revolutionary strategy makes its ob­
jective clear ; the growth of industrial production and its planifica­
tion are necessary but they are not all ; the aim and direction (or
the orientation and fnality) are thus defined: to achieve an afuent
economy and to increase industrial production, by total auto­
mation, in proportion to social needs (instead of to individual
programmed demands), these needs being identified with the
demands of a nascent urban society; but the automation of pro­
duction must in no way involve the automation of the consumer,
for such a consequence is symptomatic of a generalized mystifca­
tion. When revolutionary action is restricted to the economic
plane it gets bogged down and loses sight of its true objective.
2) A political plane where the objective of revolutionary strategy
has not changed in the past century -from this point of view there
198 Everyday Lie m the Moder World
isnocausctomodify,rcviscoramoIifyMarx`sthcory-thcdecay
ofthe state rcmainsits aimanddircctivc. RcstrictcdtothcooIiticaI
oIanc aIonc, rcvoIution oroduccs SIaIinism, thc statc as IdoI,
mcanstakcnforcnds. Iostatc-conccrncdandooIiticaI structurc
iscntitIcdtothcnamcofMarxismifthcscaims and dircctivcsarc
not cxorcssIyformuIatcd anddo notconstitutc itssociaIoracticc
both in tcrms of stratcgicaI objcctivc and on thc oIanc oftcch-
niquc; short ofwmchit is imoossibIc (thcorcticaIIy, inthcory) to
socak of rcvoIution, Marxist doctrinc or stratcgy, or of action
dircctcd towards imoroving thc worId, cxistcncc and socicty.
MorcovcritisonIytootructhat,whcnoncaooroachcsthchighcr
rcmons ofstatc oowcr, diaIcctics sccmto Ioscthcirrights,foritis
asthoughoowcrcouIdovcrcomcorogrcss,aIIorogrcss,andignorc
contradictions instcad of scttIing thcm. And yct orogrcss con-
tinucs,foritishistorywhoscorogrcssisacknowIcdgcdbyoowcr
bccauscoowcrmakcs it.
3) A cultural plane. ThisavcnuchasbccnbIockcdbycconomistic,
ooIiticizingandohiIosoohizngintcrorctationsofMarx`sdoctrinc.
It had bccn assumcdthat oncc rcvoIutionary action had undcr-
mincd thc cconomic basis and thc ooIiticaI suocrstructurcs thc
rcstwouIdfoIIow,thatis idcoIomcs,institutions,inoncwordcuI-
turc; howcvcr thc oIanc has rc-acquircd or acquircd its soccibc-
ncss ;* its signibcancc was rccognizcd whcn thc rcvoIution cn-
countcrcd obstacIcs and sctbacks on thc othcr oIancs. In thc
Iº20s, shortIy aftcr coming to oowcr, Icnin notcd thc urgcnt
nccdfora' cuIturaI `transformationofthc SovictworkingcIasscs,
atransformationthatwouIdcnabIcthcmtoadministcrthccountry
and its industry, mastcr tcchniqucs and assimiIatc or cvcn out-
strio Wcstcrn scicncc and rationaIity. Today thc cIaboration of
orojccts on thc cultural oIanc is justibcd by thc acknowIcdgcd
¯ YC ÍCCÍ¡HCICIS HOCûÍÍHCIC¡O¡ûKCSICCSÍOI OIûRûIHS¡¡HCCUÍ¡UIûÍICVOÍU-
¡IOHIH LHIHû. ÌS I¡ LHIHCSC SOCIC¡V OI¡HC LHIHCSCICVOÍU¡IOH ¡Hû¡ ISIC¡UOIHR
¡O I¡S SOUICCT ÌS ¡HIS ICVOÍU¡IOH ~ WHC¡HCI HOVCÍ OI ICHOVû¡CC ~ ODDOSIHR I¡S
OWHCOUH¡CI-¡CIIOI¡ODUICûUCIû¡IC¡CIIOIISHTPICDÍûVûHC¡HCÏCS¡IVûÍDCIHR
ICIHS¡û¡CC DV ¡HIS ICVOÍU¡IOHT LI IS I¡ OHÍV HODIÍIZIHR ûÍÍ ûVûIÍûDÍC CHCIRV IH
¡HC DIOSDCC¡ OÍ û HCW WOIÍC WûIT YHû¡ COUH¡S, WHû¡ IS SIRIÛ.CûH¡, IS ¡HC
ICVIVûÍ OÍû COHCCD¡.
Towards a Peranent Cultural Revolution 199
soccihcncssofthisoIanc.ItwouIdsccmthatitmightonIybcoos-
sibIctoby-oassthcstatc anditsinstitutions, torcdircct 'cuIturaI `
institutionstowardsnon-tcrroristobjcctivcswhcn anovcrt, ifnot
an omciaI cuIturaI crisis ariscs, a crisis ofidcoIogics, ofthc in-
stitutions thcmscIvcs, whcn tcrror wouId bc inadcquatc for thc
cIosingofthc microcosm. And it couIdonIybcoossibIcto cvadc
thc comouIsions of cconomism, of cconomic rationaIity, oro-
grammingandthat IimitcdformofrationaIitythatcannotsccits
ownIimitations, inso far assuchcomouIsionsdo not succccdin
cIosingtbccircuit according to thcir orogramming, insystcmat-
izingthc whoIc ofsocicty; whcncc thc advantagc both ofcracks
inthc structurc and ofthc umorcsccn dcmands ofaorogrcssivc,
orcssing 'rcaIity` , urbanrcaIity.
Togcthcrwiththcconccotofman andofhumanism (thchuman-
ism ofcomoctitivc caoitaIism and ofthc IibcraI bourgcoisic) thc
conccot ofcreation has faIIcninto discrcdit. Onc ofthcb:st and
mostcsºcntiaI conditions forthc rcaIization ofa cuIturaIrcvoIu-
tion is that thc conccots of art, crcation, frccdom, adaotation,
styIc, cxocricncc vaIucs, human bcing, bcrcstorcdandrc-acquirc
thcir fuII signibcancc; but such a condition can onIy bc fuIñIIcd
a0cr a ruthIcss criticism of oroductivist idcoIogy, cconomic
rationaIismandcconom¡sm,aswcIIasofsuchmythsandoscudo-
conccotsasoarticioation,intcgrationandcrcativity,incIudingthcir
oracticaI aooIication, has bccn ocrformcd.AcuIturaI rcvoIution
rcquircs acuIturaI stratcgy with ruIcsthatcan bcsct down.
The philosophy ofcompulsion and the compulsion of
philosophy
Ior two thousand ycars it had bccn thc ohiIosoohcr`s roIc to
undcrstandthcthcorcticaIstatusofnaturaIandsociaImaninthc
univcrsc andinhisnaturaIcnvironmcnt. Thc cñortsofohiIosoohy
simuItancousIy suooIicd and symboIizcdthcanswcr,whiIcohiIo-
soohysummcduothcdisconncctcdcxocricnccsandknowIcdgcof
various activitics. Thc advcnt ofindustrycomoIctcIychangcdthc
status ofohiIosoohy and ofthc ohiIosoohcr; for thisncwpraxis
aoocarcd on rcûcctionto bcthc dcoositaryofthc crcativc cncrgy
200 Everyday Life in the Moder World
proper to social man, that creative energy which was included in
philosophy but submitted there to the limitations of speculative
and contemplative thought, to philosophical systems. D had
formerly ben the philosopher's task to disclose and formulate the
significance of relations and phenomena, but now industry gave
things a new meaning; a new direction; the mastery of material
reality, taking the place of a ' detached' knowledge of phenomena
and laws, the part once played by philosophy now devolved to a
transfgured knowledge. Philosophy has taken part in the conict
between the city and the countryside, in the acceptance of ' nature'
as such, in the prevalence of agricultural production, in the cult
of uniqueness and in the division of labour in a society where
labour was unequal, etc. ; was its function to end there ? Is philo­
sophy extinct ? Has it become a legend? Most emphatically not.
Critical reflection, one of the products of the philosophical tradi­
tion, rejects a positivist solution; philosophy is not a thing of the
past, indeed, it is starting a new lea�e of life; no longer restricted to
the elaboration of systems, it is perpetually contrasting the philo­
sopher's image, his concept and his ideal of manknd with reality
and experience ; this involves a knowledge of the whole of philo­
sophy, as quest and as goal, a knowledge of all the philosophers,
of the historical context and conditions of the diferent philo­
sophies, their conflicting relations and their general trend. The
supreme aim of the new revolutionary doctrine is to re-interpret
the philosophers who interpreted the universe, to learn from them
the theoretical procedure of change, and to achieve by these means
the theoretical revolution.
Thereby the tendency to elaborate (apparently) new philo­
sophical systems is not without its dangers ; a philosophical system
cannot easily avoid, nowadays, incorporating well-worn, not to
say worn-out theories, categories and problems, and, moreover,
contributing to terrorism; for dogmatism is undoubtedly an
aspect (and by no means the mildest) of generalized terrorism.
Certain words have made their appearance oflate in the vocabu­
lary of a would-be philosophical trend or a trend that merely
dodges philosophical problems ; such words acquire the value of
what they signify: norms, compulsions, demands, imperatives,
Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution 201
not to mention ' rig our' and, of course, the word ' system'. These
words refect the limited rationalism of bureaucracy, of techno­
cratic ideology, of industrial programming (which ignores the new
problems of urbanism on behalf of a single organization, that of
industrial expansion, and high-handedly decides the partition of
territories, the distribution of populations).
We are thus witnessing the making of a system, the philosophy
of compulsion. Social deternisms are no longer seen as obstacles
to be overcome, data to be mastered and adapted by responsible
measures, but as basic, essential, specifc, as compulsive elements
to be noted and respected; and this for the political motives we
have already had occasion to condemn. Philosophy, now serving
as metalanguage for this class strategy, disguises and justifies it,
not by presenting it as a generalized plan or the result of political
intentions, but by cataloguing it among the necessary evils
'
; iUs
only too easy to pass from the philosophy of finitude and finality
to that of a total acceptance of things as they are, of life as it is - a
sophism that contradicts philosophy.
Philosopheal tradition involves restrictions of a negative order,
forbidding the assertion of certain absurdities, the pronouncement
of tautologies or of postulates lacking in coherence; in this respect
it is, like logic, an incomplete but essential discipline. This tradition
attacks the philosophy of acceptance by radical analysis, distanc­
ing, rebellion and liberty; it sets against the philosophy of finitude
the philosophy of desire. From such conflicts the mind emerges
refreshed and restored, free from philosophical metalanguage, and
avoids the two pitfalls : the death of classical philosophy, and the
continuation of ancient philosophy.
He who asserts that he can do without a philosophical language
is making an untrue statement and, furthermore, this sophist is
using precisely such a language to formulate his claim. It is how­
ever true that metalanguage (including the metalanguage of philo­
sophy and philosophy as metalanguage) finally convicts itself. But
the intervention or a new philosophy or a philosopher of genius
inventing new terms or changing the names of things is not an
answer to the problem; if a scatty notion exists surely it is that of
transforming existence through the transformation of words ! No
202 Everyday Life m the Moder World
sooner is it stated than this proposition convicts itself. At the
height of metalanguage the speaker raises his speech to the nth
degree (is there an ultimate degree °)for the absolute message, the
fat lux of our age; but all to no avail. The answer is everyday life,
to rediscover everyday life - no longer to neglect and disown it,
elude and evade it -but actively to rediscover it while contributing
to its transfiguration; this undertaking involves the invention of a
language - or, to be precise, an invention of language - for every­
day life translated into language becomes a diferent everyday life
by becoming clear; and the transfguration of everyday life is the
creation of something new, something that requires new words.
The philosophical discipline preserves its educational, didactic
purpose. With the city and in the city, alongside monuments and
festivals, philosophy was primarily creation. Apart from being
landmarks in historical time the diferent philosophical traditions
indicate a 'time-space' relation, a space subjected to time, marked
by it, a space on which time is inscribed. Such themes are central
to a culture restored by a new preoccupation with everyday life,
its analysis and transformation; for among the main objectives of
the cultural revolution are the reinstatement o
f
works of art with­
out any prejudice to product, and the restoration of time as the
supreme gift (life time); philosophy cannot be excluded from
culture, and in the new culture it will be given a new and
diferent significance by restoring - as with time and creation -its
experiential value.
A radical critique of aesthetics and aestheticism as metalanguage
is justified by the philosophical approach to art; moreover aesthe­
ticism today parodies the transfiguration of everyday life by the
use of unmediated techniques - techniques that omit art as the
medium of adaptation: swinging, singing mobiles, panels whose
colour changes at a movement or at a word, musical corridors, a
promenade made to look like a stage setting - this sort of aesthe­
ticism does not keep the promises it makes; and the restoration of
art will make short work of these 'modern' antics.
Towards a Peranent Cultural Revolution 203
Our cultural revolution
We have tried to prove that the 'cultural revolution' is a concept;
it is implicit in Marx, explicit in the works of Lenin and Trotsky,
and has been revived in a specific context by Mao Tse-tung in
China. It is linked as a concept with the Marxist doctrine : what
are the relations between basis, structure and superstructures, be­
tween theory and practice, between ideology, knowledge and
strategic action °Are such relations fed or changing, structural
or contingent °
We do not intend to set up the Chinese revolution as a model;
its interest and its significance lie in the fact that it gave new life
and definition to the concept by expressing it in a 'moder' idiom;
but the same scheme could not apply both to a predominantIy
agricultural nation and to one that is highly industrialized; it
could not be transplanted, for a transposition of this kind is only
possible in the minds of theoreticians influenced by the pculiar
practice to which we have already alluded (displacements, sub­
stitutions, replacements).
Our cultural revolution cannot be envisaged as aesthetic; it is
not a revolution based on culture, neither is culture its aim or its
motive; we cannot aspire to infuse social reality and experience
with culture, when our culture is fragmentary, crumbling and dis­
solving into moralism, aestheticism and technical ideology; this
state of afairs would be more obvious were it not for the clearly
defined terrorist role of a 'culture' where only philosophy still
stands, and only on the condition that it is given a direction. The
objective and directive of our cultural revolution is to create a cul­
ture that is not an institution but a style of life; its basic distinction
is the realization of philosophy in the spirit of philosophy. The
logical outcome of a critical appraisal of culture, of the prestige
and glamour attached to this term, and of its institutionalization,
is a total acknowledgement of philosophy, of its theoretical and
practical significance, its educational, experiential, intellectual and
social importance. The philosophy we have in mind is Western
philosophy from Plato to Hegel, and we are concered neither
with American pragmatism nor with Confucius and Buddha; for
204 Everyday Life in the Modern World
ítíscommonknowIcdgcthatthccuIturc ofthc\nítcdStatcshas
no soIíd ohíIosoohícaI backíng; that ín thc \SSKthc omcíaI
cuIturc adootcd aohíIosoohy dcrívcd fromMarxístthcorícs that
wcrc íntcndcd for a oractícaI rcaIízatíon; whíIc thc Iast has a
ohíIosoohy ofíts own that wc shaII not orcsumc to díscuss. The
theoretical revolution which constitutes the frst step towards a
cultural revolution is based on philosophical experience.
JhcrcvívaIofartandofthcmcaníngofarthasaoractícaInota
' cura' aím;índc�d,ourcuIturaIrcvoIutíonhasnoourcIy 'cuI-
turaI ` aíms, but dírccts cu¡turc towards cxocrícncc, towards thc
tranºhzuraIíon of cvcryday !¡fc. Jhc rcvoIutíon wíII transform
eistence,notmcrcIythcstaIcandthcdístríbutíonoforoocrty,for
wc do nottakc mcans forcnds. Jhís can aIso bcstatcdasfoIIows :
' IctcvcrydayIífcbccomcaworkofart!IctcvcrytcchnícaImcans
bc� cm ¡1a¬sforma¡íon ofcvcryday Iífc ! ` !rom an
intcIIcctuaI ooínt of vícw thc word ' crcatíon` wíII no Iongcr bc
rcstríctcdtoworksofartbutwíIIsígnífya scIf-conscíousactívíty,
scIf-conccívíng, rcoroducíng íts own tcrms, adaotíng thcsc tcrms
andíts ownrcaIíty (body, dcsírc,tímc, soacc),bcíngíIsowncrca-
tíon; socíaIIy thc tcrm wíII standfor thc actívíty ofa coIIcctívíty
assumíngthcrcsoonsíbíIíty ofítsownsocíaIfunctíonanddcstíny-
ìn othcrwords forseladministration. SuocrÞcíaI obscrvcrs notc
thc dístanccthat scoaratcs¡ckíngfromBcIgradc, or thcy míght
contrast scIf-admínístratíon and cuIturaI rcvoIutíon; but such
ooIítícaI comoarísons arc ínvaIíd ín thc contcxt ofconccot and
sígníÞcancc ; scIf-admínístratíonínvoIvcsccrtaíncontradíctíonsín
ítsmakc-uo,amongwhicharc 'cuIturaI ` contradíctíons ;thus,far
from rcjcctíng thc cuIturaI rcvoIutíon, thís ohcnomcnon con-
stítutcs onc ofítsfcaturcs ; thoughítdocsnotsoIvcthcorobIcms
raíscdby scIf-admínístratíonthísfactmakcs thcírcxactformuIa-
tíonoossíbIc.
IcI us sctforth somc ofthc asoccts orcIcmcnts ofthc rcvoIu-
tíonary oroccss :
a) Sexual reform and revolution. Jhc changcs contcmoIatcd arc
not conccrncd onIy wíth'maIc-fcmaIc` rcIatíons, jurídícaI and
ooIítícaI cquaIíty bctwccn contractíng and cngagcd oartícs, nor
wíthdc-fcudaIízíng and dcmocratízíng thc rcIatíons bctwccn thc
Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution 205
scxcs ; thcrcform shouIdmodífythc(cmotíonaI and ídcoIogícaI)
rcIatíons bctwccn scxuaIíty and socícty. Kcorcssívc socícty and
scxuaI Icrrorísm must bc Iíquídatcd and dísoatchcd by aII thc
thcorctícaI and oractícaI mcans avaíIabIc; scxuaI rcorcssíonmust
no Iongcr bc thc conccm (índccd, thc maín conccrn) ofínstítu-
tíons ; ítmust bc cradícatcd; thcmorc soasrcorcssíonandtcrror
arcnotIímítcdtothccontroI ofscxuaIactívítícs, butcxtcndtoaII
thc cncrgícs and ootcntíaIítícs of thc human bcíng. D ís not a
mattcrofaboIíshíngaIIc�ntroIofscxuaIactívítícs ;índccd,acom-
oIctc abscncc of controI míght rcsuIt ín thc dísaoocarancc or
Icsscníng ofdcsírcby turníng ítínto an unmcdiatcd nccd; dcsírc
cannot cxíst wíthout controI, aIthough thc rcorcssíon bascd on
controIkíIIsdcsírcorocrvcrtsít. ControIshouIdbcínthchandsof
thoscconccmcd,notcnforccdbyínstítutíons,stíIIIcssbythcjoínt
mcthodsofcthícs andtcrror.
b) Urban reform and revolution. JhcrcshouId bc no mísundcr-
standíngsatthísooínI ;urbanísmwíIIcmcrgcfromthcrcvoIutíon,
not thc rcvoIutíon from urbanísm; though, ín fact, urban cx-
ocrícncc and ínoartícuIar thc struggIcforthccíty (for ítsorcscr-
vatíon and rcstoratíon, for thcfreedom of the city) orovídcthc
scttíngandobjcctívcsforanumbcrofrcvoIutíonaryactíons. \ntíI
thc ratíonaIíty of índustríaI oIaníñcatíon undcrgocs a radícaI
changc and índustríaI admínístratíon ís rcorganízcd, oroductíon
wíII ncvcr bc gcarcd towards urban cxístcncc and thc socíaI rc-
quírcmcntsofurbansocíctyassuch.JhcbattIcísthcrcforcfought
out onthcÞcIdoforoductíonand ít ís thcrc that stratcgymust sct
íts objcctívcs. A oractícaI rcaIízatíon ofurban socícty ínvoIvcs
boIh a ooIítícaI orogrammc (covcríng thc whoIc of socícIy, Ihc
cntírctcrrítory) and an cconomíc controI.
!urthcrmorc, anurban reform couIdassumctodaythc roIcand
thcsígníÞcanccthatwcrc,forhaIfaccntury, thosc ofthc agricul­
tural reform (andthat ít stíIIorcscrvcs ín somc oIaccs) ; thc struc-
turc of nco-caoítaIíst owncrshío, Iaws and ídcoIogícs wouId bc
shakcn by thís rcvoIutíonary rcform. Ico-caoítaIísm and thc
socíctyofControIIcdConsumotíonarcnotconccrncdwíthchcck-
íngthcdccayofwhat ísIcftofurbancxístcncc today, wíthínvcnt-
íng ncw dcvcIoomcnts, cnabIíng thcm to bccomc gcncraIízcd or

206 Everyday Life in the Modern World
with helping and encouraging the growth of a nascent urban so­
ciety; while the very notion of play as a work of art, of the city as
play, would strain the imagination of even the most cultured
bourgeoisie who would therefore b quite incapable of providing
the necessary spatio-temporal conditions.
c) The Festival rediscovered and magnifed by overcoming the
confict between everyday life and festivity and enabling these
terms to harmonize in and through urban society, such is the fnal
clause of the revolutionary plan. This specification brings us back
to where we began, to the concept of adptation, setting it in its
rightful position above the concepts of mastery (of material reality)
and of praxis in the usual acceptance of the term.
Saint-Just said that the Goncept of happiness was new to France
and to the world in general ; the same could be said of the concept
of unhappiness, for to be aware of being unhappy presupposes that
something else is possible, a diferent condition from the unhappy
one. Perhaps today the confict ' happiness-unhappiness ' or
' awareness of a possible happiness-awareness of an actual un­
happiness ' has replaced the classical concept of Fate. And this
may be the secret of our general malaise.
Paris 1 967
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Henri Lefebvre
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/

�eryday Life in the Modern World
Translated by Sacha Rabinovitch

HARPER TORCHBOOKS Harper & Row, Publishers New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London

c

Contents
La vie quotidienne dans Ie monde moderne
published in 1968 by Editions Gallimard, Paris

1 An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries

1

2 The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 68

Everyday Life in the Modern World translation first published in 1 9 7 1 by Allen Lane The Penguin Press and is here reprinted by arrangement.

3 Linguistic Phenomena 4 Terrorism and Everyday Life

1 10 1 43 1 94

This translation Copyright ©-197 1 by Sacha Rahlnovitch All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 1 0022. First
HARPER TORCHBOOK

5 Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution

edition published 1 9 7 1 06- 1 3 1 608-3

STANDARD BOOK NUMBER:

Everyday Life in the Modern World .

labours or leisure. Imagine that you have before you a complete set of calendars dating from 1 900. Pencil poised. those occurrences that must have been silently developing in the hidden depths of time. of which you select one at random that happens to represent a year towards the beginning of the century.eyou have marked. you then close your eyes and make a cross beside a day in this year. you are confronted with news items. You go to the public library and consult the national press for this date.1 An Inquiry. news items and a few marginal reports are all that is now available to reconstruct the everyday life of those twenty-four hours. you open your eyes and you find that it is the sixteenth of Ju. the sayings of contemporary personalities.1J. but there is practically nothing that might enable you to foretell (or to suppose that a reasonably perceptive person living in those days could have foretold) any of the events about to take place.for this continent and country at least. and Some Discoveries In the past fifty years .. neither will you find much information as to the manner in which ordinary men and women spent that day.. Now you try to discover what took place on this particUIa:raay"-among so many others in a relatively peace­ ful and prosperous year . accidents. a clutter of dusty reports and stale information and some unconvincing revelations concerning the wars and upheavals of the time. . their occupations. Publicity (still in its infancy). on the other hand. preoccupations.

Zola and perhaps others ? * \ I merges Hermann Broch. It might. for no obvious reason. * The momentous eruption of everyday life into literature should not be overlooked. things and people in the narrative are conceived in terms of the object and subject of classical philosophy. . essential com­ mon man. contract . a life elusive in its finitude and its infinity and one that reflects the spirit of the age. was inevitable . so many years after the author's death. be­ comes all Cities. and the spontaneity of instinctive i'mpulses (Molly) . dominated by the sign of Gemini.2 Everyday Life in the Modern World Having perused papers and periodicals from this not-so-distant past . Dichten und Erkennell. .of whom nobody at the time had ever heard .masks. includ­ ing the fluids of womanhood . according to Hermann Broch. objects are super-objects. his wife Molly and his friend Stephen Dedalus. for the birth in some quiet village or town of children who. But was this revelation as sensational then as it seems now. each facet of the quotidian from anonymity. In his endeavour to portray the wealth and poverty of everyday life Joyce exploited language to the farthest limits of its resources. images and symbols and general. but before attempting them we would like to point out some of the main features of one of the most controversial and enigmatic works of its time. 237. and as such was narrated in every detail to become.noting the familiarity of headlines and the out-of-date typo­ graphy . and Some Discoveries 3 The answers to these questions may contain a lot that is unexpec­ ted. be more exact to say that readers were suddenly made aware of everyday life through the medium of literature or the written word. Flaubert. 1955. as to the truly protean subject. the symbolic and the prophetic. it is a complex of metamorphoses.the quotidian steals dynasty or the fate of some social group. with all the trap­ � the show. it has discarded the think that I think that I think . the anonymous and the divine made one) the with Man and Man is engulfed in mediocrity. including its purely musical potentialities. man . Zurich. the City. Thus it is by chance and not by chance that this particular day a sixteenth of June at the beginning of the twentieth century . here are the imaginary. the metaphysical speculations of'amazed' man (Stephen Dedalus). they change. expand. During these epic twenty-four hours in the history of Ulysses (Odysseus. both literary the negation of everyday life through dreams. Enigmatic powers preside. costumes. as Joyce's narrative rescues. history.you can now give rein to your fancy: might not something have happened on that sixteenth of June which the press has omit­ ted to report ? You are indeed free to imagine that it is precisely then that a certain Mr Einstein . one after the other. Ulysses is diametrically opposed both to novel presenting stereotyped protagonists and to the t�aditional novel recounting the story of the hero's progress. Otis-Zeus. But in making use of all the poten­ tialities of speech a twofold disruption of language. a symbol of'universal everyday life '. ' and unfurls through the medium of interior monologue. the classical object and subject of philosophy are found here in concrete form .had his first perception of relativity in the Zurich room where he inspected patents and toed the narrow lonely path between reason and delirium. the River stands for all rivers and waters. its' already almost inconceivable physiognomy'. the'I significant in the lives of a certain Bloom. the seemingly simple object before us dissolves when subjected to the influence of acts and events from a totally different order . You might further select this early summer's day with the sun in its solstice. of substitutions. the rIse and fall of a pings of an epic . man-God. But they are not static. Dublin. that is to say. however. the book's publication and those twenty-four hours that were its subject matter ? And was it not foreshadowed already in Balzac. . Here. Bloom's overwhelming triviality is encompassed by the City (Dublin). would grow up gifted with an exceptional awareness of the times and events. here is the world. 183-210. This subjectivity which unfurls is time in its dual aspect of man substantial immanence-transcendance of the philosophers.was / An Inquiry. scenery . Nor can anyone prove that you are wrong if you choose to believe it was that day and no other that an imperceptible but irreversible action (the apparently insignificant decision of a bank manager or a Cabinet minister) accelerated the passage from competitive capitalism to a different form of capital­ ism thus initiating the first cycle of world wars and revolutions. pp. �entQry of everyday life implies Een if such a negation presupposes a certain amount of irony -towards symbol and imagery .

§. rivers and waters but when two washerwomen at dusk evoke the legend of the river. Sometimes 'they' are four: four wayfarers who are also the four Old Men. Thus womanhood is signified by fluidity. the city with its � river and 'it?bay . as well as the different levels of meaning familiar. Atlantis. Musicality always prevails over 'the. death. material city and image of the City. waking. dream and reality ceaselessly merg. its source unrevealed. sleeping and dreaming.a symbolic system with coherent cross­ reference§ (though it must be admitted that in the glare of linguistic fireworks the coherence is not always self-evident). leading the reader into the turmoil of a linguistic carnival.not localized or particular chan e the chan e of transition and the transitory.\ topical. which may be a symbol or simply a specific sound). his linguistic resources seem truly inex­ haustible. is symbolized over and over again in womanhood and in the river. all the rivers of the world are its tributaries. and Some Discoveries 5 and divinity. tofon mical and topographical: Dublin. time.The history of a single day includes the history of the world and of civilization.!gnified and vice ve� the accent is continually being displaced. the woman and the other.. Where for others the relation signifier-signified is purely formal.not merely a distinctive setting. for Joyce it . of . h��e the one-pie�­ dominates. or in the triple form of the man. a complex that is /7-"". the flowing Liffey. tedious and fascinating . the four Evangelists. engulfing and �niting the cosmic (objective) and the subjective in its con­ tinuitl:. fun of surprises and sighs. a festival of language. a delirium of words . absence).. slow. literal..l. The writing captures the world of desire and the narrative is dreamlike in its matter-of-factness (precisely in its matter-of-factness). analogi­ cal. the . c) Yet duration is not entirely structureless. the everyday and the cosmic.�� nified. here and elsewhere. There is in Joyce and not only in Ulysses . uninterrupted. a city cut to the size of the citizens: the people of Dublin have mcmlded their surroundings . the quotidian. which mould them in turn. monotonous and varied. Anna Livia Plura­ belle. strife and silence. Heaven.Lb_eJLome�. We find symbolical systems of womanhood. Joyce works on a substance. though he works in his own med!um. the inherent musicality of language or rather of speech . not to mention the ultimate un­ fathomable meaning (related perhaps to enigmas of wandering.4 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. in no way contrived. the historical and the cosmic.. the trivial. but a mystical presence. proper and figurative. of ordinary objects (a lighted cigar in the dark recalls �� the Cyclops' eye). the written word. the heroic and the divine. And these meanings co­ ��Joyce excels in the art of weaving them together. of metaphysical thought [-c�' (the maze). . It would be interesting to construct a science of \��� � . gathering and receiving speech till the reader hears the subject's voice emerge from the page with all the connota­ tions of SUbjectivity. Molly and her impetuous dream-desires in the boundless. polyvalence. rich. composing tugues with his themes. mythic or mystic. the scene of action. Time is the time of change . Ithaca. and in his hands it acquires polyphony. melodic line and harmonic progression determine the phras­ ing with necessary transitions (recurrence of the key-note. -historical. polyphony from the musi­ cian so that we find here writing. kindred. superimposed as in an orchestral score. there the other. of the city. b) Meanings proliferate.. It has been suggested that one could write out the mean­ ings on musical staves. the four Horsemen of he Apocalypse. Before pursuing our investigation let us summarize the preceding observations: a) This narrJ1tive has a referential or 'place'. merge. the writer does not hesitate to borrow polyrhythmics.is the Heraclitean flux.is essentially dialectica.the polyphony pertaining normally only to orchestral music. purely literal. converge and mingle. Drifting through the streets of Dublin the wanderer gathers together the scattered fragments of this reciprocal assimilation. Hell. Connotations play the part of harmonics. foreign and so forth.Iim. unpunctuated realm between sleeping and waking. it reproduces the flowing image of a cosmic day.. symbolical. the four Corners of the Earth.the time of the narrative. The writing tries to capture the enigmatic depth. the River is the symbol in conflict of d' which reality and dream are one and which is without form.ggmfis. ing but with reality giving the tone. from being signifier it becomes Sig. language and speech organically merged and redefined by the methods of musical composition. flowing.e.

an orange. Ulysses is Bloom.I>lu. Is there not clearly perceptible'in Joyce's writing a sort of tonal system conveyed precisely by its fluidity. resurrection are categories of magic and of the imaginary but also of reality concealed within the visible. yet are not intelligibility and 'translatability' insured by Joyce's symbolical constructions carried as they are on the tide of Heraclitean time? foherent groups of symbols are easily tra!!§. vastly. .t" doesn't well up or flow any longer. roles..:. symbol�w��� .her (in so far as 'cultures' exist .�. :\ia-{.I shall proceed to make inventories and catalogues.The works of Joyce and his contemporaries elude the strictures of dimension by subjecting words to musicality and thus making them indeterminate. Furthermore Joyce is dated. 1!2! in its objectivity (which had meaning only in relation to the subject) Qut as a thllig. there is not a subterfuge. never departing from the perceptible presented as the concrete .. . fly. years. truly soars on the wings of harmony instead of being reduced and limited by syntactical strictures. . months. .6 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry.' author whose work meanders through an impenetrable atmosphere of supreme boredom? There are others besides his Molly who are reduced to drowsiness by those endless pages. .f ':. " 'Why must you goand choose"a.oQ�!!1i"�9c1!!:�tio!1. And why should I not choose that raindrop sliding t1\otto(:l: :. return to the key­ note. trick or contrivance that he spares us: hints (with a wink and a nudge). and with it the characters.I will start from an ordinary object.:. yes. If the authorized questioner who has just intervened is right. or perhaps simply by literature. and Bloom re-enacts Ulysses and the Odyssey. startings and endings.� distinct) was fully exploited by Joyce. almost a pure form. distinct but undistinguished. repetition. every gap in coherent speech is filled with something. If I want to write today . puns. recollection. epochs and centuries intermingle. Joyce's Ulysses is everyday life transfigured not by a blaze of supernatural light and song but by the words of man.': . as dated as nineteenth­ century music in an epoch of atonality.mdtheir repetitions reveal ontological correspondences that are fused with Being.. And how can you have the cheek to quote an untranslatable author into the bargain ? All you say is com­ pletely meaningless to those who are not well versed in the English language. hours. all the more reason to define what has changed in half a century. and man could be represented by the prophetic bird: 'Be my guide. however. trompe-l'oreille. What has changed after roughly half a century? That the subjec� (. punctuation in depth .cyclical !ime underl� all�!!g!iillan�"�"c. a mug. days. an optimistic sym­ bolism reflecting a youthful century ! d) For Joyce . with Joyce at the beginning of the century each group of symbols was thematically related.after Vico and perhaps Nietzsche . but with what? What? The language of Zarathustra. whether it is everyday life or the art of representing it through metamor­ phosis. from which it is none the less . and Some Discoveries 7 everyday life starting from these symbols. wlth every� � life as mediator he passes from the relative to the absolute. quotidian and epic merge like Same and Other in the vision of Per­ petual Recurrence. concrete music and ran­ dom constructions.: has become blurred is news to no one. and what the consequences are.that is write fiction . beginnings are recapitulations and rebirths. a lot. an age where symbolism was in its prime. such groups play the .Joyce challenges the incidental. . though such a 'science' belongs to another age than our own. sing and agree in their little nests. Alas. or both.!/. continuity and transitoriness? Clear phrasing. so that Nietzsche is always present while Joyce recedes .. As the mystic or the metaphysician . itJ :. persons have slid into the background. .. tension followed by the resolution of a cadence. . dear bird. the narrative. Now it is the ob'ect �d. ). The dichotomy"word­ writing" (reminiscent of those other dichotomies "melody-har­ mony" and "harmony-rhythm". He made writing unpredictable by the inces­ sant intervention of a hero who is always just ahead or trailing behind.­ ferred from one language to aIwther and from one 'culture o � f@Q!.The great river of Heraclitean becoming has many a � surprise in store: it is linear. not at all? We shall see.' Maybe. are none of these still intel­ ligible? Could Beethoven be lapsing into folk-lore? Or Wagner? What neo-dogmatism! Nietzsche? How the times have changed! A little. Everyday life is com­ p�of cycles within wider cycles.. it has lost its outline. a fly of which I shall attempt a detailed description.':"�'·part of 'universals'. what birds have done in the past men will do tomorrow.and be� cause he is a poet .

.And Blum: 'Bought drinks?'. a sinister collabora­ tion of civilization and nature. you the light-coloured mortar.' know? The courtyard of the old inn with the dark-red brick walls and Fine. And yet it is the quotidian that is conjured up. gestures.. words are elusive anf! only that which is stipulated remains. Moreover it is not every subject that can be submitted to such a formal elaboration: things. Claude Simon.. The past.of English beer.. a dis­ tinguished scholar or a novelist? If a novelist.. an affinity that makes comparison possible while enabling us to note the contrasts. they circle around the place and their circling leads to death or captivity at the hands of the enemy. Flanders Road. 'Oh yes! . and only expose its'objective' or spectacular aspects.. failure. and I: 'Yes. symbols and word-play abound. symbolized and actualized by it as they flow from the remote past. present and future merges time with space and is more easily realized in a film than in literature. of writing reduced to its essence. Can one even say An Inquiry. in both we find the eternal triangle. lyricism. words. is achieved by means of pure prose. It can be seen as a methodical attempt to create a rational style that deliberately avoids tragedy.. people. We are never sure in what moment of time the story is situated. the writing of strict form. In the course of the narrative. and Some Discoveries 9 book and Ulysses notwithstanding the differences that distinguish them. where 'novelistic' implications are always present.. a) Here we find no acknowledged. Blum said (now we were lying in the darkness in other ' words intertwined overlapping huddled together until we couldn't move an arm or a leg without touching or sbjfting another arm or leg. but only of language imitating'reality'. tedious­ ness or interest).. a landscape laid waste by war and rain where corpses . In both works short periods of time expand. the sashes painted white. husband and lover. it will be the world and still only a vanishing raindrop. ten pages. * because there is a certain affinity between this . on that raindrop. Now let us compare this to what we had noted in Ulysses. was Flanders Road. There are many ways of interpreting what is still known as the 'new novel' (apart from considerations of success.is a product neither of the subject as creator nor of the object as eation. Time is cancelled out in the process of exploring it. for me it will become the symbol of everyday life whilst avoiding everyday life. nor in which tense is the narrative. the sweat streaming over our chests gasping for breath like stranded fish. The simultaneity of past.rot in the mud and slime. b) Man's fate is not enacted here against a backdrop of normal everyday life. are reduced to bare necessities. a coming and going in time.. men are the playthings of fate. Writing can only show an everyday life inscribed and prescribed. and the leaded windows. dream and remembrance recreate a universal everyday life. when the quest for a perfect recurrence. it will stand for time and space. London. pre-established referential. Shall we select for our particular example of 'objective' writing. Let us take an example. stifling.i1. before tragedy took over. confusion and controversy.. we are in time of war. in Joyce a Bloom. Memories are centred around the place. who shall it be? We have made the arbitrary choice of Claude Simon in his book it was like one of those posters for some brand. or space within time. which pro­ ceeds in cycles.Qbjective' clarity could be seen as a sort of projector isolating the object on a stage if one were to overlook the fact that objects must first be created. And can any­ one be sure that time will not intervene and disrupt such per­ manence? Is everyday life's changelessness a guarantee? Films and literature use everyday life as their frame of reference but they con­ ceal the fact. 1962. wife. The symbolism is spatial.8 Everyday Life in the Modern World down the windowpane? I could write a whole page. the place being the only stable thing there is. This '. the wagon stopping once again in the dark and no sound audible except for the noise of breathing the lungs desperately sucking in that thick clamminess that stench of bodies mingled as if we were already deader night. . In Claude Simon there is a Blum... and we do not need to know. the place is a place of desolation. a coincidence that suggests a connection per­ haps not wholly unintentional on the part of the later author. Listen: than the dead since we were capable of realizing it as if the darkness the \ J &at a story is being told? A story is no longer a story when words . and the girl carrying the copper mugs . aiming instead at a pure transparency of language that might almost be called �atia1.It was .

its illusion and its dis­ appointments. the others in the life of tragedy. The 'world' is divided into the world of everyday life (real. the revelation of its hid­ den possibilities.£�JJ. Though it simulates speech. Godard). and meaning too has vanished. everyday life becomes less and less bearable less and less interesting. but if he is right then this verso corresponds exactly to the recto. the semantic theme has changed.·-thf� . disparities. Our investigation has thus exposed a definite change both in the things written about and in the way of writing. everything is made explicit. This pure writing has attained freezing point in so far as this point is pure transparency. The writing imitates speech in an attempt to purify or perhaps to exorcize it. only memories and sentences. The critic J. speech where the sentence conveys similarities. We shall come across these problems again and again under different aspects. empirical. the �oidable. but this is not the place to analyse these sub-divisions. disappointment. Significance. solitude. analogical or hermetic. We only wish to underline the met�hysic�i. with its sequel of disillusions.10 Everyday Life in the Modern World controlled by logic and order. Now the writer unmasks. were only paving the way to tragedy (ero. nor with any attempt at generalization.�I11. situations that emerge and conclude. speech has disappeared." tial is aboIlSi1edbYtrUtlthe atrthor h�� f� �hioned a--reali"iyfrom 1. yefthe"autho. emotions. he does not attempt to entrap depth. The writing aims at saying every­ thing that can be written.marrieocouplesand Iov�are alike frustrate"d. Connotations? Harmonics? Yes. therefore no repose. stated and explained. as the 'real' referen­ . in fact everything that serves to build up a 'character'. dialogues (that are not really dialogues). the writing is a linear trajectory. a writing that is precise and pure as musical intervals fixed by pitch. Could this be the cool style unambigu. it is there.. c) Language becomes the only referential. un­ veils.p2!"�r y .:"manage"s to create intolenible tediousness simply by telling it. Ti!2'e is divided into similarities and disparities II before it dissolves into memory and fate. Ricardou calls it the 'verso of writing'. Artaud).. ai. and meaning too. ously replacing the hot style of the preceding period? In a cold passionless voice the author tells of passion.·and betrayed�·1:h� first in everyday life. Beckett). We are not concerned here with further ramifications such as the contem­ porary theatre (Ionesco. or the metaphorical world of writing tends either towards artificial oppositions and illusory contradic­ tions or towards self-destruction in the comedy of insanity (exis­ tentialism.. remembrance negates temporality.ti-. It is indeed the very essence of writing. the theme disintegrates il-nd is recomposed around the literal. practical) and the world of meta­ phor. translated into an elabo­ rate verbal form. and even those who believe they have eluded it are its VlCtlms. . extensions of sound and boundlessness. sensations. there is no determining note (referential). signs are distinct in their difference and the difference is entirely revealed in the significance. metaphorical writing. whether proper. the writer's ear is attuned to depth and he rejects all that is not perfectly cl�ar.t-::r:ct�0�. literature. or so it seemed. passion and love). ticism. a literature passed through the crucible of literalness and aiming at total precision. there are interruptions but no beginnings or endings.. by writing.£f. At one end of this skyline dominated by important works we observed the emergence of everyday life. discovers.. adjusted by pitch and thus eliminating fluidity. by litera­ ture.. the order and disorder of impressions. A voice or voices? A toneless voice. it has lost the alternate tensions and easings correspond­ ing to beginnings and endings. The extra· ordinary in everyday life was everyday life at last revealed: deception. the passion only accen­ tuating the void and the hunger it was supposed to satisfy but from which it really stemmed. without ambiguity or polyphony (or polyrhythm or polyvalence). A comparison with atonality will perhaps make this clearer. The cycle of betrayals and frustra­ tions spirals down from remembered time.II: An Inquiry. . at the opposite end everyday life reappears but in a different perspective. figurative. actions and happenings. films (Resnais. there are intermissions but nothing that really corresponds to an act or an event. Passionate love turned out to be terribly similar to love without passion. � hich are almost iden. and Some Discoveries 1 1 tical. in reality logic and order.. in fact through a century and a half as the narrative passes from generation to generation. poetry (Ponge)."f�t���-. replaces expression. etc. Even the word-play is exposed.

as such. rational yet real. and Some Discoveries 1 3 \. both superficial and basic.has. The s a pl1ilo� ophi� <::onq::PJ that cannot be understood . isolated here from speculative system­ atizations and directed towards the study of everyday life. implicit in its nature. developed and adorned with superfluities and hyperboles. the reverse of existence and the perversion of truth. philosophy still directs such inquiries and is alone capable of connecting fragmentary ideologies and specialized sciences. Notwithstanding the assaults of positivism and pragmatism. Is it possible that everyday life is no more than a primitive stage in the development of thinking and living where such modes of experience are still undifferentiated.\ ness and exuberance. It requires a realism it cannot achieve and aspires to transcend itself qua philosophical reality. analysis of everyday life that will expose its ambiguities its base. another facet of existence and of truth? Either philosophy is pointless or it is the starting point from which to undertake the transformation of non-philosophical reality. free. indeed. opposed. Philosophical man and ordinary everyday man cannot coexist. Marx concentrated mainly on the everyday existence of the working classes from the dual viewpoint of productive power and illusions to overcome. through the wide range of its interests. projects the image of a ' complete human being '.sfig�.12 Everyday Life in the Modem World Philosophy and everyday life An Inquiry.lllity. an unavoidable triviality. where all that is perceptible seems to be part of the universe and where the world is seen as the sum of all that is? Could it be only a rather low-brow interpreta­ tion of experience where 'world' or 'universe' appear to contain _ . from everyday man's point of view. been refined. his fumbling myopia and constricted outlook). the potentialities and limita­ tions of mankind. because for him 'all'. and that it could be entirely self-sufficient. . fully realized. for approximately twenty centuries. and his weakness \ � � becomes evident when h e tries t o achieve what i s humanly possible through his philosophy. to everyday life. The philosopher who sees himself qua philosopher as complete wisdom is living in the world of the imagination. Philosophy is self-contradictory and self-\ destructive when it claims its independence from the non-philo-I sophical. but when it attempts to solve the riddles of reality it only succeeds in proving the unreality. accomplished. In the social framework of freely competitive capitalism. We must try to overcome simultaneously the shortcomings of the philosopher and those of the non-philosopher (his lack of ideo­ logical clarity. \ - . -outs@. with all its triviality and its triteness. Everyday life is non-philosophical in relation to philosophy and I reprefe�lit:y i:rL!el�t�oIl to }�t':. its poverty and fruitfulness . We shall now tackle everyday life from the new angle of philo­ sophy. Should philosophy be isolated for ever from the contamination of everyday life and detached from everyday contingencies? Is the quotidian an obstacle to the revelation of truth. This image . the world and man.and by these . thepliiIosophical lif�i� considered superior to everyday life. In the nineteenth century the axis of thought was redirected from speculation towards empirical practical realism. which is. with the works of Karl Marx and the budding social sciences forming land­ marks on the line of displacement. must be thought and then realized.esIgnatesfor and by philosophy the non­ philosophical al!-:<Ij�llntllipkable in another context. Secluded. from the philosopher's point of view. the real or imaginary responsibilities.rti��··i� -·philosophical terms. It li. be­ cause philosophy would endow him with a positive conscience and proofand act as censor. abstract and \ detached. revised. and.e phIlosophy. and there is no method to equal it in linking and assessing disconnected material. moreover it cannot be dis­ pensed with if we want to understand the essence and existence. and its major achievement is in this self-surpassing. unorthodox means release the creative energies that are an integral / part of it. it is a con­ ceptthatricither belongs to rior reflects everyday �ife. borrowing for this purpose the terminology of philosophy and its more elaborate concepts.implicit already in Socrates' maieutic . Furthermore it is not the product of pure philosophy but comes of philosophical thought directed towards the non-philosophical. The solution is then to attempt a philosophical inventory and. but rather expresses its�p?ssibfe-traD. This is because philosophy.

deadlocks? Responsibility involves guilt. Kierke­ gaardian anxiety and despair and the liberalism Nietzsche strove to overthrow. theoretical and practical. a moment made of moments (desires. that is. a construc­ tive theory of everyday life emerges. if we adopt the Nietzschean theory of values. Ihe limitations of philosophy . a barrier. culture and ignorance. Continuing our address to the philosopher. superior and inferior. either we exert all our energy (such energy as every individual qua social individual pos­ sesses) in consolidating existing institutions and ideologies .whilst \ � [ • '!: . the Idea and the Soul. and to put our faith in mythologies with philosophy as the greatest cosmogonic and theological myth of all. The question is how far can a compendium of compulsions and determi�sms (desires specialized labour .State. reciprocal and·simul": taneous control? Does such a revolutionary attitude allow for the inherent rationality of history. philosophical systems or political organizations .products and achievements .reality without truth. a place where creative energy is stored in readiness for new creations? A place that can be reduced neither to philosophical subjective definitions nor to objective representations of classified objects such as clothing. spiritual and material.means and ends . a critical theory of everyday life must ensue. But there are more dilemmas to come. Divinity. \ As a comPendium of seemingly unimportant activities and of . geo­ graphical and historical compulsions) assume the appearance of a freely created world. jurisdiction and sociology but also of everyday life. or a buffer but a field and a half­ way house. but in so doing they will not . and 'non-! I philosophical' indicating mutual recognition. have solved the problem.). Church. projection of something greater than free­ dom? Philosophers may ignore these compulsions and deter­ minisms when laying down their laws. and who is to be held responsible? It would seem that to be innocent existence must lack meaning and direction. of production and of the thought involved in all creative activity.the definitions' philosophical'.always and ever counterbalance the limitations without reality -. Marx and the Marxists are still clear enough: rationality is the outcome of action.fragments of understanding . We cannot eliminate a priori the Nietzschean theory of nihilism as a rung in the ladder of progress. etc.biological. everyday life is more than something that eludes natural. because it is more and other than these? It is not a chasm. This is the first step. products and exhibits other than natural. furnishings. But does the fact of giving a meaning (this mean­ ing) to history and society not imply their responsibility in meaning­ lessness. appearances and manifestations. economics. violence. and to undertake a radical transformation not only of the state and politics. either to go beyond Hegel in identifying (Philosophical) reason with (social) reality (in realizing philosophy). If we adopt the Hegelian and Marxist trend. society and aU forms of specialized activity and labour? Where does it come from. Depth and Substance and on the other events. I address the philosopher in his own terms.14 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. Could it represent a lower sphere ofnieaning. the realization of the rational through philosophy. of labour and the organiza­ tion of labour. nourishment. a halting place and a springboard.passivity and creativity . absurdities. this rationality explicated by philosophy and implicit in everyday life? Hegel's reply is unambiguous: rationality comes from Reason. Humanity? It is impossible to overstress our objection to this kind of philo­ sophical traditionalism. or to revert to metaphysics. of alignments and of a pre-estab­ lished meaning behind the meaninglessness of events. we formulate the problem in the clearest possible terms: we are faced with a di­ lemma. and Some Discoveries 15 and enclose the only truth there is? Is it perhaps but a collection of trivia not worthy of being associated with the 'serious ' pre­ :occupations of modern philosophy such as Nature. Is our attitude an answer to classical philosophy? Is it possible\ to use philosophy as a frame of reference for the study of what it I terms non-philosophical.'f everyday life . divine and human myths. the dialectical interaction that is the inevitable starting point for the realization of the possible.etc.truth . labours.. Philosophy should not serve as a bar@r nor should it oppose attempts at improving the world and per­ petuate distinctions between triviality and seriousness by isolating on the one hand notions of Being. pleasures . to refute the distinctions between philosophical and non-philosophical.

. this theory of the realization of philosophy is to be found in Hegel. and Some Discoveries 17 be confused with those where rx attributes to the proletariat at one and the same time the refusal and the capacity to make a fresh starfrromaTundamental break in history. Marx philosophie. which is not only a philosophical system but the practical (political) organization of Right and the State. If philosophy can be realized. rational and real. We are not submitting here for the reader's approval or his scepticism an interpretation of Marx and Marxist thought. The writings of Marx on the realization o philosophy expand f Hegel's theory while directing it against itself. Socrates. we are interpreting the history of philosophy. and he cannot forget that the first professional philosopher. are the way of philosophy and the road of everyday life. and the subject of such theories be only the middle classes and state bureaucracy? Are the working classes not involved in the continuation of history? Such passages throw a certain light on the fate of Hegelianism and are themselves clear only in this context.everyday life. she is more easily moved to anger. through thickets. a kind of crossroads. The politico-philosophical system puts an end to history as it dis­ closes its meaning. who. * But they should not . asserted that everyday life is the object of philosophy precisely because it is non-philosophical. thornbushes and swamps. ousgen�Q@ the �pher who has learnt and adopted the attit�des of philosop�y (contemplat�on and speculation) sees p eYSlfJl. of taking risks. as we stand at their point of inter­ � section. in fact. more given to emotivity and sensuality. why should Hegel's and not the whole of philosophy from Plato on be freed at last from accidents and redundancies? Why should his theories be restricted to a state governed by a con­ stitutional monarchy. Paris. the certainty that is the philosopher's quest -. and philosophical adventures are free from any but spiritual dangers. An Inquiry. . we ) refuse to see them as the substance and hidden being of human reality. then. but the path of philosophy keeps to the heights. passion and action. when re­ quired. in such a predicament. joy. We have. used only everyday objects to illustrate his dialogues: pots with the potter. we devalue them and we revalue the mere residuum upon which they are built . either we elect to serve 'causes' or we support the humble cause of everyday life. and we could do worse than to examine the lie of the land before we pro­ ceed any further. thus overlooking that of everyday life.ne. Thus we' direct I( the course of philosophy away from its traditional objectives. k 5:"'1. though he IS capable. to their true proportions. For Hegel philosophical reason was not a theory of pre-existing reality but was being realized in the state founded under his own eyes and with his own assistance. he intercepts history at the point where it brings about this union. the philosophical and theoretical situation in the mid nineteenth century. t �� �-. and this applies more s�ecificany to'the female of the species. seizes it in its dual and single character.lations. circumscribed by his po es- . contemplation to contemplate and speculation to attain total abstraction. culture. while everyday man. ahead the track winds. over and done with. They are divided by a mountain range. Behind us.. The theory whereby philosophy is not content to philosophize.-jt. finds himself completely bewildered. it surprises him more than anything else in nature.'�'In1:hissense day lIfe as the repOSItory of mysteries and wonders that elude ltis disci12E. indeterminate and yet to be. for him the coincidence (identity) of reality and the rational is neither accomplished. or we reduce these entities (state.1 6 Everyday Life in the Modern Wodd attempting to consolidate the quotidian on which these 'super­ structures' are established and maintained. barely visible. We have now reached a junction. goes back much further and its beginnings can be traced to Cartesian rationalism. less estranged from the mysteries of birth and death and all forms of elemental s ontane sions and his needs. who never wrote his own philosophy. s��ll. 1964. These only add a few superficuil assertions to the first. shoes with the cobbler. theoretical and practical. etc. But the theory.�-.. closer to nature. The philosopher tries unsuccessfully to dwell in the seclusion of his! . philosophical and political. often regrets his limitations· the latter is or has nothing to do with everyday man's search for security. Con­ fronted with these objectives we retain a certain philosophical out- look that is foreign to everyday man. church. nor ideal.�. Cf.

. in its widest sense) leads to the study of re-production or the conditions in which actions producing objects and labour are re-produced. We must not for­ get that we are practising a sort of maieutic in assisting the birth of everyday life's potential plenitude. has distracted the attention of scholars from a subject that was in the earliest days of philosophy a major preoccupation: music. flow. of theme and of com­ bined intervals in a melody.rvl"\ di. Marx and those of that Eastern philosophy which culminated in Nietzsche and includes Heraclitus as well? Could everyday life be the occasion for such a confrontation and does it possess the key to the mystery or a clue to some higher truth? Modern scholarship shows a particular interest in language. Emotions and feelings from the past are re-evoked and moments recalled by and through music (and by the imagination and art in general). months. mechanical movements both human and properly mechanic. Hegel. We will resist the-temptation to use such resolutions as a cover Jor more unquiet if not Il.. the relation Would it be possible for philosophy to rediscover the innocent wonder of revelation while dealing with everyday life? Whatever Y. but we reserve all rights to 'U ft' change the rules and to introduce new concepts.ections for the use of concepts. on the contrary. Music is movement. We may borrow for this purpose the philosopher's Y:r-'.18 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. . There can be recurrence of motif. natural and rational time. and yet it is based on re-'\ currence.. . social and individual life.lQLt:Cdisquieting intentions. exhaustless temporality glimpsed only by some of the greatest philosophers? Images. hours. a new man must now be produced and the notion of maieutic will have to stand up to that of change and revolution. and Some Discoveries 19 last philosophers have always associated with reminiscence and re­ cognition (of the subject in reflection. an interest that is a legacy from the age-old preoccupation with the Logos (connected to the nature of the Logos). and of related activities such as reading and writing. all melodies tend towards an end (cadence) that may start a repeat . a 'iOS"f"convergence? It is common knowied�naiYsis-stress�ih�-inorbid effects of trau­ matic repetitions as weliaSi:he--ther�ffu�iS-ot. The study of lan­ guage. whose understanding was a matter for reflection long before that of lan­ guage.the \ more so when transcribed. imagination and the imaginary would seem�_ to be involved in this temporal flow and to extend it. years. The recurrence of octaves in a sequence of given sounds.�c:��rence) intercepts the theory of becoming. Yet the situation has consider­ ably changed since Socrates. Though we try to direct the course of philosophy and establish ourselves firmly in metaphilosophy we have no intention of doing � away with our philosophical heritage. unity in difference. Could a fundament�l. What then of repetition? Is everyday life one aspect or the meeting place of all repetitions? Does it answer one of the questions inherited from philosophy by meta-philo­ sophy: how to collate Heraclitean. under­ go gradual or sudd�J1 modifications. all transmissible themes are potentially recurrent . Could images. days. and yet is not the fabric of the imaginary woven from threads of remembrance t and therefore of recurrence? Images would thus be akin to memories and imagination to memory as well as to cognition. etc. We are not setting posi­ tivism against speculation. our decision to explon. Hegelian and Marxist notions of becoming WIth the crucial fact of recurrence? How to coriciJiate theH-. thus we assert . and re-assume their component proportions or..Qhiloso�hY will a�ways v��il­ -" late between scorn and admiration for what IS non-phIlosophical.tallledfrom an elucidation-of these.ra�iitean theory of perpetual Otherness-� where recurrence is a stumbling-block . weeks..which universal motion invalidates? Would it be possible to establish a dialogue between the followers of Hera­ clitus.. which I (� /� � _� [ \ \ -. history. we only wish to extend philosophy so � ><>V as to realize philosophical reason and determine the unity of reality and reason.-recur. all music included in the sound con­ tinuum is repeatable. time. The riddle of (. the study of creative activity (of production.�nc�} Everyday life is made of recur'* (e"nces: gestures of labourancrIel�ure. memory and knowledge thus recapture a fragmented unity.currence be concealed within Heraclitean time flowing through the cosmos. of the object in conception and of being in truth). linear and cyclical repetitions.as the key-note at the end of an octave divided into intervals (a scale) marks the beginning of another octave.and Parmenides' theory of immutable iden­ tity and sameness. ! the outcome of such a confrontation . re-commenced.

.. exuberance and sensuality and all analysis. metres. Number: everything is calculated and measured. . reality is their particular province. or just surviving or living their lives to the full. but look again: it has grown infinite beside your finitude. yet it is the object of his conquest. What have science and the scientist to say?'It is nothing'. Tragedy: all is tragedy: life. the scientist refuses to see anything in this residuum.until the source runs dry of classical and non-classical harmony. their depth of connotation that not even philosophical rhetoric can restore it): number and tragedy. philosophy. for there exists a demography of animals and of people as well as of things. time their agony. canals. They live well or ill. Call i t material culture i f you like.. furnishing.20 Everyday Life in the Modem World number and quality are inherent to harmony. And what of everyday life? Everything here is calculated" tion between music and everyday life as well? Does music express the secret nature of everyday life. on the other. It is all vitality. but to assert that the residuum cannot be reduced and that the realm of word and of song is the rerogative of civilization and gives it meaning. and. but the nature of non-existence and of suffering still eludes me. .he has known that both comprised two facets or sides (such words have so completely lost their freshness. I can count the dying. which it encircles but fails to reduce: the residuum. or compensate. . the wisdom of the future. But then tragedy? Number is confronted with something it cannot grasp. here and now.The musician here could enlighten the philo­ sopher. given the ever-increasing split now practically'structural' . timbres) and it is at the same time nothing else but lyricism. ing creatures. for its triviality and superficiality? Does it serve as a link between 'inner' and'outer' life. poetry or games? p because everything is numbered: money. boundaries to calculation.'nothingness'. Everyday life is sustenan!. such a discipline contributes a logic both specific and general. dancing. nothing. . Yet people are born. kilo­ grammes. the growing pettiness of everyday life? Could the same questions be asked in connection with a number of other 'sub­ jects'. then comes the tidal wave. rhythm. it is always there though it recedes. ocean by a strip of sand. psychological or sociological it is the subject and the specific province of corres­ ponding methods and disciplines. but only the greatest composers know how to reconcile the two facets. history. profusion and dream. sociology. these specialized sciences have shared between them the part of reality that eludes philosophy. are there limits to enumera­ tion. What entitles you to set everyday life thus in the lime� light? What is it after all? Whether economic. ships and dredgers. on the contrary. Obstinately myopic. and Some Discoveries 2 1 reclaimed from the sea b y dams. atonality. The characteristic error of traditional philosophy and metaphysics is to deny the value of numbers and of science. live and die. seems to be nothing much. for music is nothing else but number and proportion (in­ tervals.e. minutes. The residuum is where conquest and creation take place.. but d o not confuse the issue. their repetition and inversion and the recurrence of intervals and of series. and harmony has become an art and a discipline through the theory of chords.dividing the quotidian and the non­ quotidian. l . painting. failure and victory. is there not a certain connec­ t ! An Inquiry. . psychology. affording a syntax and controlling and containing be­ coming . It is in everyday life that they rejoice and suffer. such as architecture. where they make or fail to make a living either in the wider sense of surviving or not surviving. neighbourboods. At this point our objector will break in with a load of accumu­ lated arguments (of which he will certainly find no shortage): 'Non-philosophical reality? Real life? And with what else have the so-called humanities and social sciences been dealing for the past century or so? Political economy.indeed since Pythagoras . if it is not infinite and infinitely valuable what is to become of him? His fate and that of the poet are one. environmJmt. If there is a relation between music on the one hand and. and not only objects but also living think­ . but they live in everyday life. death. a polder c othing. can it be forceful and meaningful. precision and permanence. barriers to mathematics? No. fluctuating: set up a wall and the mathematician will scale it. there are none or they are expandable. calories . though he ignores it. all the paraphernalia for overcoming and mastering the tides. and thanks to them reality and the rational will regain their unity. once such a link has been established. homes. the tonal system and its dissolution. art and language. Since man first speculated on music and thought .

history and sociology.or " the mind " . not the result today of science. thus on behalf of linguistics.assessment. determinism. concepts. but you cannot. you must withdraw this advantage from psychology. and Some Discoveries 23 Your demographies and inventories are only one chapter of a much wider science . of goods in short supply? Is this inequality. Are the sciences of which you think so highly not responsible among other things for the maintenance of existing conditions and for the unequal . unforeseen short­ ages arise : shortages of space.and in this they succeed. however metho­ dically you may study the meanings of these things you will not avoid the dramatic attitude and the lyrical tone because you choose to dispense with the assistance of competent scholars and sciences. they are the arguments of positivism and science.attempted and hoped to overcome fate. for they are compounded of ideologies. WIth the Industrial Revolution social existence i� the nineteenth century slowly emerged from millenary conditions of want and SUbjection to unpredictable natural powers. seen as a model for scientific precision. \ . formerly imputed to legislation. but a phenomenon that accounts for behaviour. But how are these determined? We tnJlst not forget that man or " the ihi!?-d " could not cover the distance from blind SUbjection to freedom at a single leap . Such a critical analysis corresponds to a study of compUlsions and partial deter­ minisms . These sciences came into being when man . You seem to forget that these so-called disciplines have only a relative existence. such rational ambitions are not entirely vain. in the name of necessity.-"rfexposesthe JlQssibililTes of contllct between the rational and the lrratronaI in our society andour time. still less a theory of economics. it aims at a reversal of the upside-down world where determinism and compulsion are considered rational even though reason has always attempted to control determinism � �li!ies_<:lfev�rl��YJiXe could be realized it would be possible for -l . As a consequence of scientificness you will be forced to deny this quality to certain specialities in favour of others . you appear to belong to the school of thought that denies scientific relativism and sees science as absolute . time. Want cannot be overcome all at once . continue to be rare. . rationality and the kno'Yledge of facts? Let it be understood that short supply is not for us an illuminating feature of history. We shall therefore make a serious reply : 'Why indeed should not one or other of the specialized sciences (history or political economy) contribute to the study of everyday life? And why should not such a study become the province of a provisionally selected science. Are the objectives of these sciences entirely unselfish and are they as impartial as the experts would have us believe? Are the assertions of these experts absolutely reliable? The endeavours of the so-called humanities cannot easily be rid of their ideological coefficient.' Our objector's arguments are serious . more precious. as the specialized sciences aim at operativeness . rationality and civilization. necessities and the necessary. objectives. while he saw himself as an upholder of freedom. law. a thing's obsolescence and its chances of sur­ vival are only one stage in the process of ageing . some products answering basic requirements may be­ come available in certain industrial areas.which last it is their task either to consolidate or eliminate. but others. thus permittmg the formulation ofconcf�iQbTems ofproductjQ[! (in its widest sense) : how the social existence of human beings is produced. they have methods. What is their status? It has never been clear whether they carve their subjects and pro­ vinces from a whole too vast to be encompassed by their special­ ities. The study of everyday life affords a meeting place for specialized sci� somethmg more beSiUeS. Thus for the sociologist DurkheilI1< compulsion was identified with social reality. related as they are on the one hand to practical activities and on the other to ideologies . we believe. 0. though they cannot avoid the occasional clash with the restricted rationality of existing societies or with legalized and institutionalized absur­ dities. master nature and control its laws .and often unfair ./ 22 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inqu iry. such as sociology for instance? Now. or whether they project their individual light-rays on to global reality. and such circumstances required a long period of transition before attaining the conditions to which reason aspired. Indeed. have overlooked the danger such an attitude presents for the specialized sciences you are defending. its transition from want to affluence and from appreciation to depreciation. and furthermore. It is by means of such contradictions that the specialized sciences seek a greater rationality. fields and provinces..

� .:. legitimate and counterbalance each other. a compound of insig­ nificances united in this concept. It would indeed be surprising if we were restricted to the diptych modernity and the quotidian. b�th r scious b�f�-e-theYwere adopted by language and thought. including people and what they say. nor is it a manual of instruc­ -c=. Everyday life. but insert a distinc­ tion or two .ihey w{.foll�h other in" such a regular. Rational understanding has always been directed towards existing conditions . 'Reader. and it is the ethics underlying �"routine and the aesthetics of familiar settings. into a form of human freedom. The attitude which /puts a value on compulsion involves an ideology disguised as rationalism and science which it is our intention to refute. corre­ lated phenomena that are neither absolutes nor entities: everyday life and modernity. what is taken for granted and that of which aIltheParts .24 Everyday Life in the Modem World i. for already a third phenomenon is peeping over the horizon: the rational or the �hat can reason have to do with everyday life and modernity? What connection can there be between the ratIOna .'''� app��I".not readily discern- ible in so-called modern spectacles or in the spectacle the modern world makes of itself to itself. you are led astray by mirages when you try to connect a signifier to a signified declamation. and the irratjoDal? We are already familiar with such questions. according to Hermann Broch. In this world you just do not know where you stand. revealing and veiling it. All these might well be written. the �!it of OJ!L!jID:�:Jts various aspects are as momen­ tous in our opinion as the atomic threat or the conquest of space with which they are surely interdependent. and on the way we shall consider some new -. �--they will lead to a further examination of the function and place of the imagination. This word stands for wbat is Dovel. Today the universal qU0idian. . thus it is u�dated and (apparently) lllslgiiilicaiit'. or are they compendia of facts specifically meaningless before their appropriation by lan­ guage and thought? The main point is to stress here and now their simultaneity and their connection.:. from films and newspapers and ratify the commentaries that . both sides signify each other reciprocally .<!�!ermine their meanings. It is impossible to state once and for all which of the two is the signifier and which the signified.. Qaradoxical and bears the imprint of technicality and worldliness .though not in order to accept them and bow before their scientijicness. At this point it encounters the modern. For their definition and connection facts will have to be examined.-. it is not a treatise on the correct _use of modernity and everyday life.. The quotidian is what is humble and solid. � . are they systems of implicit or explicit meaning. the one crowning and concealing the other. Will you deny modernity in favour of scientificness? You would rather annex it and pass off your science as an incarnation of the modern. by which the products of nature and necessity are turned into creations and assets. Our argument against such a pretension is the simult ll�ouS -.for instance everyday life and modernity . Are these realities essential. declaration or propaganda by which what you should believe or be is signified.?:!lce 91thes�two inter-dependent "realities". Here are the two sides of a reality more amazing than fiction: the society of which we are members. but they are not our concern. and Some Discoveries 25 pt people to ada to their existence once ag�n .and the situation is changed: you are now the active interpreter of signs.such a possibility " being one of the requirements of creative activity... And we conclude our exposition with two connected. responds and corresponds to modernity. .��pies and pre­ occupies it is practically untellable. this is not a newfangled guide to a maze of moments. you will become a passive victim of the situation . it is art and aestheticism . facts.ih6ugh It. nd it is (apparently) daring and transitory. proclaims its initiative a is acclaimed for .. is the verso 0(_ mo�ernity. especially as we are really more interested in transforming everyday life than in setting it out rationally.l �. An Inquiry.:. and up to the moment of the inquirJ th�re is nothing but aimless signifiers and disconnected signifieds. brilli�t. The quotidian and the modern mark and mask.�e -:unserrcon and the Modern. each one in turn becomes signifier or signified according to the slant of the inquiry. the Quotidian -�-S ' ��f -f� ul a S. unvarying su�ssion tnar those concerned� can to question their sequence . But are they? This question will be dealt with later. a compound of signs by which our society expresses and justifies itself and which forms part of its ideology. dreams and satisfactions . If you allow the swarms of signs to flow over you from television and radio sets.tiGtl&_on the art of falling on one's feet.

an incessant self-analysis. We do not believe that our undertaking should distinguish knowledge and analysis. Critique de la vie quotidienne (Paris). The important thing is to keep going and to discover what we can on the way. objects / and the world o(o eCts� 'time-iables'. In the initial stage of our inquiry we shall try to understand thes _ n� bJ is often sparked off by 'salvages ' (from and by reflection) of previously neglected or misinterpreted facts which are then appreciated according to certain ' values' . anthropology or ethnology of contemporary communities. the second was published in 1963. issued in 1959 and it is an introduction.n. reason and language . if the system though real and true forbade critical distancing. Undertakings of this order apparently meaningless facts and organize them according to a pattern and a method. a comparative study would require a wide knowledge of different countries and lan­ guages if it is not to become a superficial race-psychology . but it An Inquiry. published in 1 946.� systematicall� � "'�� give a meaning to apparent meaninglessness and insignificance and what could be more meaningless than everyday life ? Such a project requires a critical attitude. or on the contrary towards their . that r of facts. political or metaphysical) that we could accept. If we accept the quo­ tidian passively we cannot apprehend it qua quotidian. it must be both polemical and theoretical. if the truth was a question of ' all or nothing '.as distinct from art. classifying them according to categories that are both empirical and distinct and filing them away under such headings as family sociology. or it does not and everything is still to be said. Everyday life . we have to step back and get it into perspective. neither awareness of it nor any awareness at all would then be possible . for either the system includes everyday life and there is no more to be said. But are not present-day Frenchmen trying as best they can to emulate the Americans ? What are the signs of insularity and specificity ? Is there a world-scale tendency towards homogeneity in everyday life and ' modernism'. we would not be able even to grasp it. The advancement of learning � �<.* The following section is a summary of the first three volumes of the The present work is a ' digest ' of the third volume that is still in progress . The first. essence and existence. :I). or the study of costumes and be_. was re­ . consumption-psychology. In addition theses and hypotheses concerning society as a whole is not unpleasant to scan the horizon even while knowing that it is out of reach. Our study centres mainly . a critical analysis of everyday life will discover ideologies and the understanding of everyday life must include an ideological analysis and.on everyday life in France and we can but ask if it is the same elsewhere or if here it is singular and typical. if there were a system (social..is indeed the living proof that such a system does not exist.)' All that remains now to end this introduction is to beg the reader's indulgence for its shortcomings. we would be completely involved. it contains the main themes while discarding a numbe analyses and arguments. Critical distancing.such as labour for Marx and sex for Freud. First stage* We are about to undertake a fairly important inquiry into facts that philosophy has hitherto overlooked and the social sciences have arbitrarily divided and distributed.and only too obviously . On the other hand if there is no such complete and perfect system it will not be easy to sift knowledge from ideology . Or they ignore everyday facts such as furniture. Indeea�'th. debating and collating go together. especially. either from the beginning of knowledge we would know all there was to know or it would be beyond our reach for ever. is to say. for instance. while the task of extricating some kind of pattern from this jigsaw puzzle devolves to the practitioner (advertiser or town planner). though these answers cannot be entirely satisfactory .or debatable ideologies .If.e experts of specialized sciences tend to isolate facts to their own conveniences. science and philosophy . and Some Discoveries 27 haviour.26 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId terms such as the City. (We purposely avoid the terms " urban" and " urbanism" for fear of multiplying words that qualify concepts but surreptitiously tend towards entities and essences. differentiation ? These questions necessarily concern our problem and we shall try to answer them as pertinently as possible. . news 'items-�an(radvertise­ me ��!i9-joti!I�� l'hilosopher in his scorn for the quo��c1ia.

etc.�. bears the imprint of a style.we will get to it in the end. Thus the analysis of everyday life will involve conceptions and appreciations on the scale of social ex­ perience in general. art and objects .their gravity or lack of gravity . Social and human facts are no more distinct (conceptually. and if we do not start from the whole . tools.28 Everyday Life in the Modern World must be part of our inquiry in so far as it is the analysis of a portion of the reality of social experience and holds this portion for sig­ nificant. the Aztecs. 1 967. culture (or what is left of it). today there is no style. nothing had as yet become pro­ ) . ideologically and theoretically) than are social com­ munities related by certain affinities to form a whole. which would have us believe that.but he cannot undertake to avoid humour and irony and to maintain throughout the gravity proper to all forms of scholarship. and does not succeed in isolating what was specifically quotidian after trade and monetary economy had become generalized with the establishment of capital­ ism in the nineteenth century. utensils. it is essential to know all about the Bororos or the Dogons and that we will discover the meaning of culture and civilization through studying the habits of these popu­ lations.and all the poetry of existence has been evicted. the author assumes full personal responsibility in this series of opera­ tions and implicates no other person in any of its risks . Our own everyday life is typical for its yearning and quest for::Lstyle that obstinately eludes it. L'Homme et fa societe. If we wish> to define everyday life we must first define the society wher� it is lived. III.�h the most remarkable and at the same time the most popular is �thnology. The series consecrated to the study of everyday life gives � * The critical theory of everyday life is thus radically distinct from the study of interpersonal relations from which arise psycho-sociological theories that claim to identify the ' specifically social ' (Cf. From then on the prose of the. A method that aims at a comprehensive view of society is naturally opposed to empiricism and the collation of endless facts or would-be facts. This applies to all theoretical inquiries. of ' man ' or of the ' world '. in order to under­ stand the modern world. however.By challenging the position of others . this is done by inserting the quotidian into the general: state. that such theoretical and practical inquiries will take no account of individualities . and the most r _ An Inquiry. sooner or later they merge with a general conception of society. The quotidian is not only a concept but one that may be used as a guide-line for an understanding of ' society'. Nietzsche at least was more thorough than these ethnological romanticists when he went right back to the earliest sources of civilization beyond ' Ju�eo­ Christianity to pre-Socratic Greece and the East with Zarathustra. words. This does not mean. The present inquiry should not be confused with those forming part of a popular series: Everyday life in different ages and civiliza­ tions. With the Incas. costumes. in that ' they illustrate the total absence o everyday life in a given com­ f munity at a given time. distinguishing from an assortment of apparently insignificant phenomena those that are essential and co-ordinating them. circuitous meanderings of whi. in Greece or in Rome. Some of the volumes of this series are remarkable. tn� and the yoetry ri. where the quotidian and modernity take root. This seems * 4:he best way of tackling the problem. short of remaining entrenched arbitrarily in the particular and in theoretically dis­ connected facts and ideas. eve:�x detail (gestures. still identical.so much so that style and culture can now be distinguished and only a muddled and confused idea of it. the long way round is sometimes only an excuse for escape. It is surely to be preferred to those long. notwithstanding the attempts to achieve one by resurrecting for­ mer styles or by settling among their ruins and memories . � �f. 63). Thus the difference between our inquiry and others on material life and culture stands out from the start. . we must define . and Some Discoveries 29 cedure for understanding society and defining it in depth.he challenges his own.m:� :iY���. That is where it leads.which seems the correct method . world spread. For the historian who is not content with dating events it is essential to know how people opposed."Its changes and perspectives. not eve -tli uotldIan . though we are well aware of the interest and utility of such inquiries we cannot but question the probability of their leading to a better understanding of our own society. until now it invades everything . tech­ nics and technicalities.not even in the risk of error . it cannot avoid connec­ tions with strategical variables or the strategy of knowledge and action. p.literature.

and Some Discoveries 3 1 1 �lrJ)P � 1-'l � . nor consider them as a �ingle .�rn. it challenges both � philosophism and economi . The term produc. scholarship. Such is the main outline . FelatioRs) changed under the inflMence . The Introduction a fa critique de fa vie quotidienne took part in these controversies. but the material reproduction of the tools of production. Paris. A culture IS also a praxis or a � r"'� means of distributing supplies in a society and thus directing the flow of production .--. first edition. which it may be extremely rewarding to catalogue.30 Everyday Life in the Modern World were clothed and in what sort of dwellings they lived in various communities. The book contains an interpretation of Marxist thought which is relevant to the present inquiry .. Paris. and it is effective since science plays an essential part in material production. and\ � IDlght bear the name of ' culture '. circumstances.he reduced to a philosophical system (dialectical . Scholarship pertains to the superstructures in connection with ideologies.such as culture. yay creations (including social time and space). Ideologies are made of understanding and interpretations (religious or philosophical) of � C th� world and knowledge plus a certain am�unt of illusion.. and on the other material production or the making of things .. Such is the basic asser. is 1) an economical basis : labour. until they are shattered by de-structuralism.more forceful and a wider significance. their reproduction being the outcome of a complex imulse rather than that of inertia or passivity .Y\ tkf tion acquires -. for instance. tion or theoretical postulate of the Introduction. functions and structures of such things. which involves the production of social relations. In France at that time economic and social existence were in the rocess of reconstruction and many people eved that they were building a new society. refusing to admit that Marx's legacy ccUI. controls nature.varied from one place or one class to another .. bowls .we should neither dissociate dwellings. � 'of thi� predominant feature t at t!l:ne� the world to prose. 1959. this praXiS i �dpoiesis does nottakeplace in the higher spheres ofa society (state. it also signifies the � k" self-production of a ' human being' in the process of historical \ "'l l �elf-development. countries and periods. not only biological (which is the province of demography). Braudel : La Civilisation materielle. peopl@. I. costumes or food by filing them into . classes. Paris. the operation was then given the philosophical name of materialism.. it is in the widest sense a means of production. 3) a superstructure : jurisdiction (acts and laws). tfl. Cf. when a 1 they were beli r@ly doing was to re-establish the old social order in a slightly modified fo1J)l. systems of differing significance. and the division and organization of labour . according to Marxist theories.or our own . This outline became inapplicable as a consequence of its drastic simplification. 1 967.w. Furthermore. function and structure which constituted their style. 1946.ken in its fullest sense. Wntten shortly after the LIberatIOn In 1946 the Introduction a � Q r­ fa critique de fa vie quotidiennet bears the mark of the prevailing "I" tll�. production is not merely the making of products : Ka � signifies on the one hand ' spiritual ' production. of technical in­ struments and of social relations into the bargain . Though they were subject to a possibly endless number of variations. _ :� �:c P- ! ! .and adapts it to humanity by humanity. that is t9 An Inquiry.. * but we are concerned with the fact that peasant cupboards had a certain style (where peasants had cupboards) or with the fact that household utensils pots. the term embraces re-production.�� * t Vol. when interpreted according to Marx's early works (though still bearing Das pitaf in mind) .. producing material objects and wealth. this impuls ich Jh. in other words our inquiry bears upon an understanding of the interdependence and simultaneous distinctness of the forms. second edition.�� general concept . when _ nces market� beca�e common between the capital and the pr� rythIng (objects. it only produced an endless series of controversies on the utility of superstructures. Finally. �any-faceted phenomenon that affects objects and beings. furniture. determined by the basis and determining relations of ownership . used dogmatically (and very un-dialectically). both structured and structural.. F. If we want to understand former societies . ' culture ') but in everyday life. a society's social relations remain f �onstant. 2) a structure : social relations. however popular interpretation reduced the superstructures to a mere shadow of the basis . In other words a society. they maintained a certain unity of form. institutions (amongst others the state) and ideologies.' materialism) or to a theory of political economy. pans. Histories of furniture and of costumes are of the greatest interest.

32 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry. A revo{Ii. it is true. . there was still a general belief in the possibility of man's self-realization through productive and creative activities. people ca� no l�nger l�ad their everyday lives. it faded away and was soon almost completely forgotten.. A specific alienation turned material poverty into spiritual poverty. completely devaluing it and smothering it under the spurious glamour of ideologies. it is the . Rather than rebuild French society during the crisis and try to secure the leadership in this reconstruction. still formed a socio. From a sociological point of view the French nation. Different forms of activity might. one fact emerged : work was endowed with an ethical as well as a practical value. culture. as it put an end to the fruitful relations arising from the direct contact of creative workers with their material or with nature. in such a society.. consumption thus re-enters the plan as dependent upon production and with the specific mediation of ideology. point ofdelicate balance and that where imbalance threatens. whereby soci­ ety would be reconstituted according to principles of labour and the labourer. At this turning point of history.into a passive awareness of disaster and gloom. Social alienation turned creative awareness . These views coincided with a political plan. controversies and political clashes. in fact. \ J Such a ' revisionist ' or 'rightist ' conception of dogmatic theories gave rise. in order to prevent its degenerating into philosophism and eco­ nomism. . into the realm of make-believe or . structures and superstructures. project and expectation would coincide in an historical moment. At that moment of history (1946). a mere exuberance. be stressed according to different class ideologies. elaborated by competent organizers.or per­ haps because of . but a specific activity inherent in a mode of existence. preached the spiritual value of work I �c ) considered as effort and mortification. in this ideal society production would play an impor­ tant part and social rationality would assume the dual aspect of an extensive social promotion of the working classes and a general replanning of the economy. This was the time when writers and poets were also trying to discover or rediscover true values . just after the Liberation. among workers and labourers. some. This implies first that �re is not useless. people still hoped to ' express ' themselves through a profession or a trade. so long as they can live . But this moment was not to be.would consolidate this unity. certain social groups praised all intellectual activities (in 1946 the term ' cultural' was not yet in use). with such prospects ahead. it deprived everyday life of its power. would it not be better to make the crisis an occasion for a ' change of life '? Notwithstanding its lofty though short-lived aims the Introduc­ tion a fa critique de fa vie quotidienne is dated. the second · Liberation . This whole appeared (or re-appeared) virtually complete.and the basic ' reality' of art . Their quest led them towards nature and towards imagination. aliena­ tion assumed a new and deeper significance. scholarship and ideology. notwithstanding . In this revised form there is a feed­ back (temporary balance) within determined production relations (capitalism) between production and consumption. lution takes place when and only when. among ' labourites " not a few saw a true dignity in manual labour and found vindication for their class-consciousness in such views. and second that class interests (structurally connected to production and property relations) can­ not ensure the totality of a society's operative existence unaided.: Everyday life emerges as the sociological point of feed-back. theIr ordinary hves relatIOns are constantly re-established. in France at any rate. imbued with religious fervour. owing to their upper-class prejudices. others.: economico-politico-ideological whole.desperate struggles. But notwithstanding such controversies on the nature and essence of ' creativity '. institutions and organizations. it is the of �L aU the possible specific and specialized activities outside c-social experience) and the product of society in general. disregarding its productive and creative poten­ tialities. the notion of production then acquires its full si e as production by a human being of his own �xisteDce Further­ more. had a rather condescending attitude to work of any kind and manual labour in particular. this crucial yet much disparaged point has a dual character. and Some Discoveries 33 Jr �(t � r\ a source of ideologically motivated actions and activities. to an extremist (leftist) political attitude. This active role of ideologies had to be reinstated in the Marxist plan ".the social change that was to follow shortly in the footsteps of the political Liberation (victory over the oppressor) .

desire. govern­ ment) but to ' alter existence '. Savings were in kind seeds. The new humanism did not aspire to enlist rhetoric and ideology in the cause of a reform of superstructures (constitutions. even though experience had proved that middle-class fortunes were dis­ persed by the third generation and that the only way to avoid this was to raise one's financial standard. salary. its tedious tasks.. : the permanence of life rooted in the soil.. where the first paneC? represents the miser)? of eveD1tlay life. time.recurreiir gestUies-ot·� a world. a taste that had been eradicated from the lower and middle classes. . work and works of art . space. usually untouched. existen­ tialism. Surrealism. The second panel portrays the power of everyday life. basic preoccupations with bare necessities. good wine and a certain degree of comfort. abstinence. State..)o. �dTts ciaiIDto rejuvenaie�i:hefor��r liberal humanism -. recurrence.and were usually squandered at festi­ vals. wife or daughter. The result is a sort of contrasting diptych. save but chose to enioy the present rather than invest in the future (' � .. repressed desires. crushed and overwhelmed.�d somefhliig perhaps to the post-Liberation climate. he gave the woman. spontaneity. his family and society. husband or father.. the sur­ vival of poverty and the endlessness of want. its continuity. money.. they led a hand-to-mouth exist- ence having neither the possibility nor the inclination to save. the class .and the importance of her function is still increasing though in 1946 it wa� still relatively limited. held the purse strings . the re-production of essential relations. rather than to dwell too much on . meanness and avarice. the discrepancies in everyday life from one social class to another resulted more from the type of income received (wages. their means were extremely restricted. unearned income) and the manner in which it was administered and distributed. This criti����Jora­ it with the i tion of a f?:J:!l. provisions. and Some Discoveries 35 �I that of basic primordial reality.. more rarely. In 1 946. etc. the community. Consumption was the wife's province . A high standard of rationality was attained by the middle classes where the head of the household. administration was divided equally between the woman. a household allowance and put aside the remainder in the form of savings . minutiae and on purely practical distinctions between communities and classes. preserved fruit.. than from its size.crety bU:t-�l��t tion. the ability to create in terms of everyday life from its solids and its spaces . ' object' of he�ineV1table ·'siibject'ancf tounda­ history and . paying what was asked for reasons of pride as much as of humility..34 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. chicken-run. they had inherited from their peasant ancestry a taste for good food.t p�t�!]tia!iti�s�5>L��ty. the husband's pay was handed over to the wife. etc.�· Of· sensory experience. vitality. with pleasure. naturalism. Certain observations made at the time have become. environment and the home. a sort of intimate knowledge of things outside the sphere of material reality : health.. Such is the sociological content of the Introduction Ii fa critique de la vie quotidienne.everyday life .. The labourers did not stint. and she allotted a small sum to her mate for his personal expenses.ut the stress on social 'r��Igy' endowing 1!her�Il. after twenty years.��ry-�f �n. if he was a good husband and she a good housewife. humilia­ tions reflected in the lives of the working classes and especially of women. attempting to capture a panoramic view.�tk. In those days the peasantry still practised a natural or closed economy . As for the working classes. the adaptation of the body. tradesmen. a climate of economy. Such women spent without bargaining.' child-bearing and child-rearing.to make something lasting for the individual.) and the man who took care of the cultivation of the land. upon whom the conditions of everyday life bear heaviest .r') ...iJi�l"LIllisunderstood reality . the good father founded the family fortune or increased it. hardship. but the book goes further. who was in charge of the house and out-houses (garden. and it was transmitted by legacy. the un­ predictable and unmeasurable tragedy forever lurking in everyday life . the power of woman. A typical l middle-class f�mil� saved and invested at the least possible risk for the best pOSSIble Income. each in its way P.nf� o. understanding and . if he did not economize and . as today. fees. the coincidence of need with satisfaction and. desire . the feed-back already mentioned between culture and productivity.r -t�replace it by a new re��luti. the realm of numbers.was thus related to humanism. sociological and joUrnalistic commonplaces.he went counter to his conscience.

:. whether violent or non-violent. a particular view of history and the historicity of every. the shapelessness of subjective experience and the chaos of nature. something extraordinary in its very ordinariness.rt··iaiiing "to tnI. however. the battlefield where wars"" are waged between the sexes. talk about what they felt and did. which is at the bottom of al� the contradictions among these terms. I j .will no longer be a " �_ ��is of so�iety.-tidian. overlook the fact that when it was written we were just emerging from the two festivals so generously organized by the Popular Front and the Liberation and that the disruption of everyday life was then an integral part of revolutionary activity and of revolu­ tionary romanticism in particular. and more questionable still in relation to family life. should we give them up for good and all. wild and violent in festivals? The revolu­ tion of the future will put an end to the quotidian. and a revolution. its specific objec­ tive will be to annihilate everyday life. None the less our critical analysis of everyday life involves. a bureau­ cracy. of the man in the street .tytIiaCparomes fIle" Fesfivar.l1-. of which play and games are only one aspect. But the revolution betrayed our hopes and became part of everyday life. an economic control and a rationalization of production in the narrowest sense of the term. ideologies . and the period of transItion will also take on a new meaning. super­ structures) .iZed· actiVJ. StYIe has"degeneratecI lntocu. Where exactly did our artlessness lie? Perhaps the theory of everyday life had become contaminated by a form of populism. yes. con­ sequently acquires the new significance of a liberation from the quotidian and the resurrection of the Festival. We should not. Are such assertions.estival has co not mpletelydlSappeare(r and�though it only survives in meetings. and Some Discoveries 37 ideologies. or can they be reformulated more artfully? This question will be answered later. oppose everyday life and re­ organize it until it is as good as new. take risks. a split that led to specialization and decay.Ilsfoi�" it . an·o. how to get involved. and is an increasmgly specIaJ.tate of affairs. An important problem now emerges from this context : the prob­ lem of the Festival. The revolutions of the past were.cruel. The Introduction a fa critique de fa vie quotidienne stressed its peasant origin and the simultaneous decline of Style and the Festi­ val in a society dominated by the qu-. indeed. confronted with tliis s. the adapted and the non-adapted. these are none the less pleasant enough imitations on a reduced scale. the struggle between .the Festival . communities.. petitions and projects irredeemably out­ dated. an institution. A project to resurrect the Festival would thus appear to be justified in a society whose characteristics are an absence of poverty and the growth of urban­ ism. generations..of people who knew how to enjoy themselves. we were left wondering if the word ' revolution ' meant anything any more.did it become clear that there was a power concealed in everyday life's apparent banality. b · After twenty years we may summarize and clarify the intentions of this book. a depth beneath its triviality. politics and ideology. parties and funfairs that are a poor substitute and fall short of the required glamour. This was less clear and more questionable if we considered urban rather than country or village life. it will usher in prodigality and lavishness and break our fetters.fture--=-subdlVldedlnto ev�ry(ray culture for the masses and higher culture.�ent adorn­ ingeverydaYlife b:. magnifying the life of the proletariat. but then is there not always something cruel. Only when considering the life of the working classes . where antagonisms are bred that break out in the ' higher ' spheres (institutions. mediations between these terms and their aftermath of emptiness. but the time perspective that makes them clearer does little to disguise their artlessness. "However�theI�. violently or peaceably as the case may be. its spurious rationality and authority unmasked and the antithesis between the quotidian anft . This revolution will not be restricted to the spheres of economy. festivals . It implied both an obsession with the working classes (values of trade and labour and the comradeships of labour) and a philosophical obses­ sion with the genuineness concealed within the ambiguity of experience and within artificiality and spuriousness. notwithstanding the hardships women so bravely bore and which endowed them with a certain dignity.whether of labour or of leisure . so that.J \ .36 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. Art can replace neither style nor the Festival.and by redeeming and extolling their creative ability . in \ retrospect.

whereas to "day we have (commercialized) products and exploitation has re . actions and gestures and is replaced by culture. / '� . cruelty and power (the Aztecs.. positivism or a more or less subtle form of rationalism) were equally inadequate for such a task and only serve to enhance the commonplace. to gestures . standing between the death of style and its rebirth.. that art could neither re-assemble the disjointed fragments.challenge and change it.. f) the profane displacing but not replacing the sacred and the accursed . without much success.as. monuments and festivals. resurrect the Festival and gather together culture's scattered fra � ments for a trans guratlOn of everyday ljfe lV' . and they try. thus the main section of the work would have dealt with the historical evolution of everyday life showing: a) the gradual dissociation of quotidian and non-quotidian (art. Rome) produced great styles and great civilizations. accompanied by a sense of loss (of nature and the past) and an absence of rhythm .I Placed violent oppression. thanks to their higher incomes. The projected work would also have shown that all attempts to save the situation were doomed to failure.t. and why we a� ed m formulatmg a revolutionary plan to recreate a sty . work and production. and they could . d) the substitution of signs . but so did the aristocratic wisdom of Egypt or of India.p. Modern mim (the man who praises modernity) �he man · . its lack of unity. . That is why we musLcrmtrast style and � to show l:lfl the i latter's fragmentary character. Style gave significance to the slightes object. ethics.\. In the heart of poverty and (direct) oppression there wa style.38 Everyday Life in the Modern World � An Inquiry. the dwind­ ling of tragedy and temporality . replace styIe nor infuse the quotidian with non-quotidianness . but it is the bourgeoisie who control the quotidian. transform that which eludes ' culture ' . until the advent of competitive capitalism and the expansion of the world o trade the quotidian as such did not exist. private and public affairs . symbols and myths have disappeared to­ gether with collective works such as cathedrals. There was a style of cruelty. Undoubtedly people have always had to be fed. housed and have had to produce and then re-produce that which has been consumed . the proliferation of signs and signifieds failing to make up for the general lack of significance. wisdom . b) the decay of style that ceases to influence objects. it was a concrete significance. Ii.r if of transition. it is indeed one of the major paradoxes Of \ history. . meta­ physics.for symbols and symbolism . philosophy) and the consequent dissociation of economics and direct returns. and Some Discoveries 39 religion. of their disproportionate sense of private property and of the excessive importance attributed to economics. to make it into one long holiday so as to avoid its drudgery. since capitalism had to be preserved . . not an abstraction taken piecemeal from a system of symbols. c) man's estrangement from nature. the Critique de la vie quotidienne itself. in former times labours ofskill were produced. clothed.-� l Second stage This summary of theories formulated in an earlier work is given here for a specific reason. e) the dispersal of communities and the rise of individualism (not to be confused with self-realization) . The sequel to the Introduction.b:ut uptiI-1!le nineteenth century. The Critique de la vie quotidienne was to have related these facts to the bourgeoisie as a consequence of their ideologies (rational­ ism based on a narrow-minded interpretation of laws and con­ tracts). art and aestheticism or ' art for art's sake ' . Everyday life is the vital element in which the working classes thrive. � � . In the past this might still be done . ��) �)}� �7 � o. g) the division of labour stressed to the point of specialization and the subsequent loss of unity compensated by ideology . was to have developed and clarified these theories and elaborated the assertions . and the point we are f .and later signals .tGial. to actions and activities. making here is cn. a style of .or might . h) anguish arising from a general sense of meaninglessness. a style of power. that ideologies (aesthetics. the Dutch bourgeoisie in the seven- �7 \ ��) day life can only be compiled by exposing its emergence in the . With the rise of the masses (who were none the less still exploited) and with democracy (the masses still being exploited) great styles.

comfortably established in their era and their homes. in those days art was a link between fidelity and free­ dom. insignificance and significance. A class cannot be con­ sidered as a philosophical ' subject ' any more than can a society . both in quantity and in quality . Furthermore the model for such a society. and Some Discoveries 41 their radicalism . but such times cannot be restored. or. Clearly such a process is extremely complex. that an invisible conductor directed the operations from behind the scenes ? ' The question is allowable. Thus an attitude of mind and con­ science that had seemed to be deep and lasting was universally deprived of significance. Social liberation had miscarried . in terms of days and weeks. a theoretically defined ' situation ' or a carefully planned ' class strategy'. the other two panels of which were an analysis of ideo­ logies and a theory of the individual (with a complementary theory of individualism) called respectively ' Mystified Conscience' and ' Frustrated Conscience'. which is in some respects worse) of Stalinist socialism . The dialectic trend of history had been turned momentarily . ' What ? How ? Do you really mean to say that there was a vast conspiracy to expropriate the working classes. but none the less it was they who were still in the limelight and directing the play.their ambition to reach the very roots of humanity and of society. new perceptions and lively feelings. And yet class strategy. this work was never completed or pub­ lished. but it concerns once again history and the historian. and attempts to build a new society based on this conscience had not succeeded. perhaps .. because their ' principles ' and their ' culture ' were ' superior' to those of the working classes. for the bour­ geoisie as an international class had succeeded in absorbing or neutralizing Marxisl1! and deflecting the practical implications of Marxist thonght. dialectic thought had lost its roots. but from 1950 on the situation was reversed. had fallen into disrepute. This section of the projected work was to have been the first of a triptych. The role and the ideologies of the work­ ing classes were losing their distinctness .40 Everyday Life in the Modern World teenth century did just this. Between 1950 and 1960 the social conscience. the exposition of our present inquiry can only benefit from references to this ' history' of recent times that reveals a number of significant facts. situation and design existed. lost their clarity of outline . and a new mystification was being launched: the middle classes would only retain a minimum of power and wealth . Militarily over-run and reduced to impotence. However. the workers were being dispossessed of their conscience. After ten years it is hard to say what exactly happened . Basically capitalism (some­ what modified but structurally identical) and the bourgeoisie (out­ side and above its many national and international components) had regained the initiative. as it were. the U S S R. But had they ever lost it ? Possibly between the years 1917 and 1933 . . between style and culture . Evidently there was never a fully conscious ' cause'. where they were also able to admire their numerous conquests over the unruly ocean.against itself and had been annihilated . as the failure of the Liberation in Western Europe was echoed by the failure (or near failure. in a word. the working classes . found it a stimulating experience to see their opulence reflected in the works of contemporary painters. by assimilating rational planning while pervert­ ing the society from which this philosophically superior ratiopality oppressors . To begin with. and the ideology stemming from production. adventure and stability. because the author soon realized that the momentous changes taking place in society at the time had transformed his ' subject ' to the point of making it unrecognizable or virtually non­ existent. The modern bour­ geoisie banks on the absurd illusion of replacing art by aestheti­ CIsm. over distant countries and over their An Inquiry. the notion of a revolution and the entire socialist ideology were depreciated and were losing originated.were losing ground socially and politi­ cally . it is a process.who increased. very fast in the perspective of history. when they wanted to enjoy the fruits of their labour : the leading citizens. Though written in part. fas­ cism had served its purpose : as a strategic episode in the battle of the international bourgeoisie it had its after-effects. .Here the questioner intervenes asking. creation and the humanist notion of work. yet there is little doubt that the way to historical truth had been blazed and many a half-truth had been uncovered. .slowly.

ion (profane. At the time of the Liberation. but its importance is secondary because the main point is to understand what the cOilsequences were of the tremendous amount of personal initiative. nostalgias and increasingly outdated traditions. Now the renewal was taking place without and therefore against them. but they survived by swimming with the tide. what half-significant systems vanished unob­ trusively at that time. up to a point.42 Everyday Life in the Modern World but they possess unity. eradicating productive conscience in so far as it was creative . though it may appear to be successful and may be described by its well-wishers as a ' silent ' or ' invisible ' revo­ lution. law. the positive or effective aspects of rationalism predominated . During the period in question. engineering. and Some Discoveries 43'1?1 peasants and artisans and of competitive capitalism ? What ideologies and ' values '. rationalism had been associated for a long time with science and technology on the one hand . The Marxists had claimed that they alone were capable of injecting new energy into the nation. . decayed or discarded ? It would be as difficult as it would be tedious to relate . etc. had once been universally acknowledged. furthermore such questions are not our concern but that of the historian of ideologies and institutions. where they served as a cover for the fact that they were com­ bining into organized bodies which formed the social and institu­ tional backbone of the new France. be thus defined. Faith in the dignity of work and the worker had been drained from the working classes and was replaced by rhetoric and nihilism. France was still suffering from the after-effects of the years immediately preceding the Second World War : stagnation. and with the state on the other. The concept of organization (isolated from transitional organicism) merged into that of institution in neD-capitalist social practice (which may. lay. gQw it was state-concerned and politica� (though officially state-concerned organizations were apolitical). birth control and the money-mindedness of the ruling classes under the Third Republic. which was an institu­ tionally modified version of former capitalism (competitive. Together with the decline of rational thought (and the liberal theory of thought as the province and embodiment of freedom) there was a tendency to ignore individual ethical notions of the quality of execution and of labour and of self-realization in one's craft. wholeness. Such ethics . The ' process ' passed over the heads of most people like a tidal wave over bathers by the sea. But was it a genuine renewal ? A revolution that miscarries always bears the mark of failure . anti-religious or even anti-clerical). totality. where possible. Outside philosophical scholarship. social tragedy. its institu­ tions based on a compromise between industry and agriculture and between the city and the country. architecture. it is in fact no better than a parody. What were these traditions that had survived from an age of An Inquiry.).which were an ideological representation mediating between product and labour or between trade value and ' value ' in the philosophical sense . To put it in a nutshell : this was the end of a form ()[ratiQnalism. ideo­ logical undertakings and of activities of all kinds during this crucial period. and such characteristics naturally involved a certain amount of sterile illusions. then monopolistic) with production relations unchanged . those who managed to keep their heads above water had their share of ducking and buffeting. social planning (a world-scale distortion and integration by the bour4�� ' � geoisie of a Marxist notion) and organization (first at business leveJ � The concept o� only but later generalized) were its province. c) the simultaneous liquidation of the past and of historical influences challenged by the temporarily successful strategy. but were now restricted to the members of a few more or less ' liberal ' (or so-called) professions (medicine. _ rationalism underwent a change . This was un­ deniably an old country and predominantly agrarian. in a word ' system '. by blurring and. b) the redirecting of creative activities with revolutionary ten­ dencies.as well as the placing of a value on creative activity. Let us reformulate the question thus : 'Who was responsible ? ' It is an important question. and had not succeeded in so doing. so long as the relation between these concepts is made clear and the boundaries of a now ' operative ' rationality are specified).wh� JeaSOn� indi� -Wy dual attitude and rationalism an opiE. This process assumed different aspects : a) the introduction of neo-capitalism.

.44 Everyday Life in the Modem Worid ..
Where man still depended on nature, where he was still inspired by the monuments of the past, fear reigned invisible - fear of want, of disease, of the unknown, of woman, of the child, of sexuality, of death and the dead. This fear gave rise to defence and protection mechanisms, incantations and magic. One of the objectives of the Critique de la vie quotidienne was an analysis of superstitions in­ volving words and gestures and their function in displacing and negating this deep-rooted fear. In the period we are studying the predominance of rationalism was incompatible with such fears, and indeed they seemed to recede ; but they were merely displaced, not eradicated. Terror now replaced fear, terror of impending atomic warfare and the threat of an economic crisis ; not any longer .the terf9r of nature but. notwithstanding the change to ideolQg,ical and practical rationality, the terror of society. Such terror did not do away with the former fears either, but was simply added to them. As a consequence the minor superstitions of everyday life, far from being expelled, became ' over-specialized' ideological con­ structs such as horoscopes and exotic beliefs that fostered, rather than overcame, the need for security, moralism and moral order, and were, in fact, the reverse of rationalism. Security was becoming institutionalized. The former superstitions that used to pervade everyday life and give irrational value to objects (a crust of bread, a piece of string, an old candle-end) now receded before a greater and more deep­ rooted irrationality that was an extension of official rationality; tragedy was dying out because it had merged with terror and was repressed by rationality; nature was receding too, for even the manual labourer had lost contact with his material in the con­ catenation of actions and gestures. Yet a sort of general natural­ ization of thoughts, reflections and social contacts still transpired that was like the verso of rationalism, the meeting-place of irra­ tionalism and rationality. According to Marx, objects reflect abstract forms that seem to belong to them, to be part of their nature as trade value is reflected in wares : social and moral forms appear as given in a society, and so do forms of art, aesthetics and aestheticism, and the ritualized forms of social relations. The rational is considered normal according to the norms of a society

An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 4�
sufficiently self-conscious and organized for the misunderstanding (or metonyme) to take root; and the normal becomes customary and the customary is taken for natural, which in turn is identified with the rational, thus establishing a circuit or blocking. The con­ sequence of such apparent (and contrived) logic - naturalism under­ studying as rationalism - is that all contradictions are abolished, reality is rational, reality is ideality, knowledge is ideology. It now becomes necessary to ask two questions, or two series of questions. First, this society was changing face ; change and an ideology of change, particularly in France, had replaced the stagnation of an earlier period when the ideologies were those of a well-to-do bou:geoisie uncons iously ccepting its self-annihilation � � through the WIdespread practIce of bIrth control. To what extent "�had this society changed ? Could such terms a s capitalism, Bourgeois society, liberal economy, etc., still apply to France or to any other country ? If not, what could such a society be called ? Should it have a name, or ought one to be content with an inconclusive study ofchange or simply with suggestions for a pattern of change ? Such questions are of a general interest and might be asked by the scientifically minded in general, though each specialized science . will have its own specific methods of inquiry - and foremost among these will be sociology ; but the second series of questions has a more restricted scope. Does the quotidian still have any significance in this society and, iL thiLS_Q9iety� basic preoccu:p�tions are ,......., r�tionality, ?rganization alld plalJEing� s-i1s tiTrpo�sible to dis- . tinguish a level or dimension that can be called everyday lif ? e er the quotidian in such a society is taken to stand for what ISorganized and ratjonal, and it is everything or it is nothing. Surely j' ihis concept must disappear at the same time as the singularities, survivals and extensions from an age of peasants and craftsmen or from that of the bourgeoisie of competitive capitalism. Let us consider to begin with the first series of questions.

�vX()�\.. ,, �

�(\Y J �� J
, ,� i '

� .

EJ!.h

) � \

What should the new society be called?
Until the first rather confused formulation of this question be­ tween 1950 and 1960 (gradually made more explicit thanks to

'�6 Everyday Life in the Modern World

An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 47

sociology) it was customary to speak of ' society' without further qualification, thus making of social reality an entity, a ' social nature' opposed to the individual or superimposed on the com­ munity; 0r to speak with polemical intent of ' capitalist' or ' bourgeois' societies - designations that, without actually dis­ appearing, have lost today much of their impact and authority. Later, sociologists borrowing from Saint-Simon launched the term ' industrial society'. It was indeed clear that, for the great modern nations at any rate, industrial production, involving the increasingly important role of state and organized rationality, was acquiring an unprecedented magnitude. Industry was not a com­ plement of agriculture; the two did not happily co-exist, but the first absorbed the latter so that agriculture, in fact, became industrialized. On the other hand the real distinctions between ' capitalism' and ' socialism' were not those exposed in their re­ spective ideologies. There were, moreover, a number of common elements in these two political regimes which claimed to be radi­ cally and systematically contradictory; foremost among these was the rationality devolving from the industrial society's organization of productive labour and business concerns. Could it be that they were only two variants of one species? The term ' industrial society', though supported by theories, provoked a great deal of controversy. Here, in brief, are the argu­ ments of the opposition. Is there one industrial society or are there many, and does each nation find (or fail to find) its specific course in and by industrialization? Can socialism be defined simply as- a method of rapidly industrializing underdeveloped countries, or does it lead by new methods to a specific form of society and civilization? Can it be asserted, even if the substitution of socialism for capitalism no longer appears inevitable, that the world-scale expansion of industry and the industrialization of the world are conducive to homogeneity, to identical (because rational) struc­ tures in all countries? Will the discrepancies increase, or will they gradually vanish? The suggested term would appear to imply a premature solution to such problems. Furthermore to accept such a term we must ignore the fact that agricultural production has only been totally superseded in certain

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areas and that ' world agriculture' persists. However, an ' agricul­ tural society' completely independent of industrialization is now inconceivable, and this fact gives rise to violent antagonisms. The sUggested term with its attendant concepts and theories does not )1 )allow for the formulation of questions, and in addition stresses rY fconomic expansion. Sociology might, indeed, take different l'i � aspects of social reality into consideration, but if it tends to favour .JJk economics it must inevitably over-emphasize development at the expense of quality (the greater or lesser complexity of social rela­ tions, their fruitfulness or sterility) for economic rationality; and there is the further risk of its overlooking other determining factors. Is industrialization possible without urbanization? Would the main feature of a so-caned ' industrial society' not be (apart from a quantitative increase in material production) the expansIon of cities, or rather of an urban society? Would not the logical pro­ cedure for a ' social science' then be to start from this double - or " double-faceted - proposition: industrialization and urbanization ? For the operation cannot fail to be scientifically questionable if the ! two aspects are dissociated, the one being set above the other and taken to a scientific extreme. In other words, the term ' industrial society' is exact in a dif­ ferent sense from that given to it by its promoters. Industry or the economic capacity for material production has not been rationally mastered';..the theory is still incomplete, even where socialism is concerned; industrial expansion is only meaningful (acquires orien­ tation and significance) when understood as this double process and through it. If.dustriaITheory has given rise !�i��hl!iqlles (of: , ganization and planning), but it was only with Marx that these C 1--..J.\ 'Lt'(ot4" -,-were in any way signjfjca:l'l-ti- since :Marx, and more especially since the working classes were dispossessed of the ' values' of produc­ �ion, we have fallen short of the meaning instead of elucidating and r� alizing it. Urban existence gives significance to industrialization, which in turn contains it as a second aspect of the process. From a certain critical angle (at which we may place ourselves) it is pos­ sible to see urbanization and its problems as dominating the in­ dustrial process. What scope has an ' industrial society' if it fails to produce a fruitful urban life? None, unless it be to produce jo!....

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48 Everyday Life in the Modem World
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An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 49

the sake fli--Jwedtlcing. k class can produce for profit, vide the bourgeoisie. But a society, even when the bourgeoisie or a portion of the bourgeoisie are in power, cannot readily produce for the sake of producing, and if it seems to do so it is really producing for power and domination, that is for war ; otherwise every trace of ideology, culture, rationality and significance disappears. Does the one necessarily rule out the other ? In brief, only a portion of the facts to be set forth and explained are condensed in the suggested term; it comes up against a number of problems that cannot be elucidated - let alone formulated and solved - through its categories. This theory is an ideology, a form of modernized rationalism, and its extrapolations and additions are contrived by a skilful dissimulation of the tragic element; it tends towards a mythology of industrialization. Its theoretical flects (rather than signifies) a lack of meaning and the exposition re flects the mis­ way such a society replaces absence by illusion; it re taken identification of the rational with the real, the exact identifi­ cation of absurdity and rationality (limited and ratifying its limitations). Certain theoreticians, rightly impressed by the important role of technicality in the so-called industrial society, have suggested the name of technological society. They maintain that the image of 3: ' technological environment' is more specifically characteristic of such a society than that of a ' natural environment'. This proposition includes . a number of indisputable facts from which it draws a definition, a concept and a theory. It is a fact that in our society technology has become a deter­ mining factor, not only by revolutionizing productive conditions and involving science directly in its technical achievements. Indeed theory and appreciation go much further, and it is, unfortunately, only too true that technology - unmediated by a controlling mind or a significant culture - gives rise to a particular form of social flected in the social and and industrial conscience. Technology is re individual conscience by means of images and objects and their related words. For instance a photograph obtained with a maxi­ mum of technological means and a minimum of ' subjective ' inter­ vention .becomes part of remembrance and daydreaming in the

family album, in the periodical or on the television screen. The technical object with its dual functional and structural character, perfectly analysable and ' transparent ', is given no definite status ; it completely invades social experience : a town may become a technical object ; sound-packets obtained through highly perfected techniques provide musical components ; a sequence of images technically noteworthy - by the quality of the photography, the continuity and the montage - becomes part of a film; a barely modified car or bicycle is offered to the public as a piece of sculp­ ture ; three or four pieces of technical objects are exhibited as ' plastic space ' ; with Op and Pop art aestheticism is added to the . technicistic trend. The glance that is cast upon a technical object passive, concerned only with the way it works, with its structure, how it can be taken apart and put together, fascinated by this backgroundles�<!.�sQla)l:.._alLin transparent surface - this glance is the prototype-of a social act; therein liesthe effectiveness of tek. vision. The real message, says McLuhan, is the medium or machine ; no ; the message is pure reflection : the eye on the image infinitely reproduced in the form of social relations, a cold eye and, as such, possessing feed-back, balance, coherence and perpetua­ tion; images change, the eye remains ; noises, sounds, words are auxiliary and subsidiary, symbols of impermanence. What has become of Hegel's theory of art as a partial system, a compendium of significances bestowed on selected objects serv­ ing as active mediations between the other systems and sub-systems that constitute a society (material requirements, ethics, law, politics, philosophy) ? According to this theory the partial system is only a mediation, but one with a pregnant actuality that confers cohesion on society. Now the reflection of our relation to a tech­ nical object, the ' medium ' (screen, set, etc.), reflection of a reflec­ tion, replaces art as ' mediation'. Culture is a decaying myth, an ideology superimposed on technology. To the intensive consumption of technological tokens we may now add the highly consumable commodity: aestheticism, or words describing art and aesthetics. T� ni��lity decked with aestheti­ h cism and lacking any specific artistic mediation or culture is one of the more obvious justifications for the term technological society.

we may assume a trangormation of technicali!y -:: that was formerly limited and repressed by the effects of birth control . for it would be more apt and exact to say urban environment since tech­ nology only produces an 'environment' in the city and by the city. Furthermore the expression 'technological environment' is questionable. to conceal the fact that it is unbearable and to promote its his­ torical novelty at the cost of history and historicity. In this predicament .50 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry. Such a pre­ dicament threatens moreover to become structural.that is the paradox . The future alone contains the answer to such problems. and that in other ways than those suggested by its promoters. it tends to eliminate all the mediations that gave social experience its complexity and connected material production to ideologies. If this relative truth is seen as absolute it becomes an error.technicity becomes revolutionary.S�ch . a radar station. might it be the outcome of history ? It would seem on the contrary to be the product of a specific pre­ dicament. no current utility that might influence everyday life and improve it. However. have a strategic value . Indeed. weighing on the whole of social experience while breaking away from it . principles and the often contending groups of signs and significances that enlivened social existence. their rationality directed towards specific ends and means. In short the designation 'technological society' is also only partly appropriate. they only simulate technicity. Indeed. Our definition undergoes a meta­ morphosis. a cover for the obverse. in fact. so that we should really say 'technocratico-bureaucratic society' and thus deprive the term of its authority.�Qi:. And not only its authority. it claims to be a technical object and sees itself as such. this scientificness only serves to justify bureaucratic rationality and to prove (illusively) the com­ petence of the technocracy. rapid depreciation of military and technical equipment. and Some Discoveries 51 We shall now give our reasons for rejecting this term. and act as substitutes for each other.arms race. technicity and 'scientificness ' meta­ morphosed into autonomous entities re-echo each other. What ofthe term affluent society ? Our society'S rapid promotion to afHuence could well be seen as a characteristic feature by which to define it. justify each other. they spell power and political prestige. It may be asked if such a society is still a society precisely in so far as it is technological.re-echoes another in endless rotation. but they have no social purpose. a new form of world-scale competitiveness with all the consequences this implies. what strikes the critical observer in the present society is a deficiency of technicality.mjni!!g_f£l. Is this what is hidden behind rationality and our ' society's rational behaviour ? Is this situation final ? While dispensing with historicity and with the historical as method. an ideological illusion an� a myth to justify a situation.iive o�y by means of a social 'layer' tending to become a caste or class: the technocracy. The first and fore­ most of the technocracy's shortcomings is that it does not exist.ra�" 'i� economicallY� Ls oper. the application of technology to everyday life a substitute for technocracy which is itself a sub­ stitute for the true leaders of economy and politics.. where every compendium of meanings apparently independent and self-sufficient . for this proposition exposes its in­ accuracy as well. to be changing under our eyes into a scientific society where great scholarship is rationally applied to the understanding of matter and of human reality. everyday experience benefits only from 'technical fall-outs '. As to gadgets. that it is a legend and an ideology and that the alleged reign of technology is. rockets or missiles. the challenge of political regimes and systems. obsolescence of technological objectives . technocratic influences are active only in or­ ganizational and institutional spheres. In so far as the term 'technological society' is correct. such as the conquest of space.into an autonomous l IL( �Qcil!!�J. A system ofsub­ stitutions emerges. While our society appears to be pacifically evolving towards a superior rationality. outside the city technology produces isolated objects : a rocket. and under our critical scrutiny technicality and technicity prove to be substitutes. All the vast achieve­ ments of technology.to provoke strato­ spheric incidents in political as well as in cosmic space. its role is that of an unfulfilled revolution (though it claims the status of an indepen­ dent factor). industrial production and 'technology' could . and it now seems more befitting to say 'technocratic society'.

but if people think of their holidays all the year round.f time (leisure) and compulsive ree time (the various demands other than work such as transport. months and years are classed in three categories. Rostow. as the theoreticians of leisure with their following of journalists and popularizers never tire of repeating. rather than the threat of unemployment to the working classes. Time-tables. Is it this prospect. An Inquiry. it will become apparent that compulsive time increases at a greater rate than leisure time. fessions. members of the ' liberal ' pro­ tions is that affiuence has no value and significance if it fails to Society of leisure perhaps ? Indeed.52 Everyday Life in the Modem World lead to an unlimited productivity by way of the total automation of production. trade and quality in creative activity are dis­ integrating and those attached to leisure are in the process of coming into being . Modernity is therefore not self-evidently included in !he age of leisur�. We be devoted to creative activities or simply to pleasure and happi­ ness. but space is in short supply. but the transition promises to be long and dangerous. is based on facts . . Furthermore. and thus undermine the very founda­ tions of trade value. sales-assistants. etc. . In our countries we suffered formerly from shortages of bread but never from a lack of space . the most remarkable aspect demands and compulsions of productive labour so that time may of the transition we are living through is not so much the passage from want to affiuence as the passage from labour to leisure. on the other hand. official formalities. nuclei of poverty and material want still subsist. the Who can deny that leisure is acquiring an ever increasing im­ portance in France and in all so-called industrial societies ? The stress of ' modem life ' makes amusements. like those that preceded it. this does not imply that the situation has created a ' style ' giving a new significance to leisure . Compulsive time is part of everyday life and tends to define it by' the sum of its compulsions. Only the total automation of production could make a society of leisure possible . that restrains automation ? This is not the place to dwell on such problems. com is now plentiful (bread remaining scarce in some parts of the world). but there is little evidence of their having found it. Last and not least of our 0bjec­ recreate the Festival and if festivals are not its objective. so great would be the investment of capital required for its realization. Unfortunately for the definition (borrowed from the American ideologists Galbraith. in the United States and the highly industrialized countries of Europe. It is true that the ' values ' that were formerly attached to work.). weeks. In the meanwhile labour and its drastic division of productive . has displaced This term. A pledged time (professional work). etc. but a couple of generations would have to be sacrificed in the venture. . for basic needs that might be termed ' social ' . The prospect then is one of unremitting labour to bequeath to future generations a chance of founding a society of leisure that will overcome the proletarianizing new social strata (clerks. etc. total automation and affiuence could lead to a total depreciation of certain com­ modities produced in excess. anxiety and is becoming its focal point. new universal social phenomenon. the holiday. Time is also becoming scarce. people may be looking for such a style in the atmosphere of holiday resorts.) automation is accompanied by a number of restraining effects that might well be more serious than most theoreticians believe . new shortages crop up in the so-caned affiuent society. it is the new horizon. In the so-caned affiuent or even lavish societies. Furthermore. reveal new phenomena : if the hours of days. Leisure contains the future. The overcrowding of highly industrialized countries is especially pronounced in the larger towns and cities. and desire. a new form of want is being generated everywhere : though basic needs are now catered for (at what cost ?). and Some Discoveries 53 are undergoing the uneasy mutation of our major ' values '. but other facts exist that make it unacceptable.). of commodities in short supply became a ' science ' trying to mutation of an epoch. productive societies show no concern for the more re­ fined or ' cultural ' needs of the individual nor. certain technicians. Thus we can reject this definition like the previous ones on the grounds that it is only exact in part and extrapolates these half-truths to become absolute. distractions and re­ laxation a necessity. this new poverty takes root and spreads. when comparatively analysed. We saw how the distribution prove its basic ' scientificness '.

indeed. or is he merely a modest. The theoreticians of the ' consumer society ' mean or imply something more by this term . including art.clothing. There exist. Does adver­ tising create the need. thus consumer activity would have made its momentous debut in organized rationality . ostentation. does it. everyday life. shape desire ? Be this as it may. \ . social exist­ ence and political power ? But what does this ideology disguise and shape. food. it is a generalized display : television. we are told. besides. theory and practice. from the man of few and modest needs to the man whose needs are many and fertile (in potential energy and enjoyment) . even specific needs are not submitted to unbiased research . furnishing ? The term we have just examined is not entirely satisfactory. advertising is unquestionably. Our answer is first that in France we have not noticed any serious attempts at social and cultural ' market research ' but only at research into specific needs. and it is not yet a freely chosen activity pursued for itself. Today leisure is first of all and for (nearly) all a temporary break with everyday life. and is it not in fact the sole and vital mediator between producer and consumer. the manner of the inquiry reacts on the needs and be­ comes a part of social practice that freezes them. television sets.). if not that specific level of social reality we call everyday life. literature and imagination with its ceaseless in­ trusions upon our daily experience and our more intimate aspira­ tions ? Is it not on the way to becoming the main vincing statistics that in highly industrialized countries the con­ sumption of material and cultural goods is on the increase and that so-called ' durable' goods (cars. from priva­ tion to possession. pro­ duction was not controlled by demand. cinema. aggravating . but this non-labour (control. in the pay of capitalist producers. in this society of a modified capitalism we have seen the transition from a state of inadequate production to one of boundless. permeating social language. is the role of advertising ? Is the advertiser the magician of modern times work­ ing out spells to entrap and subjugate desire. tourism.the worker's compulsion. supervision) is none the less daily work. The transition from penury to affluence is a fact . leisure is no longer a festival. but like aU transitions it is not easily accomplished. These observations are correct but trivial. not only of solvent demands but of the desires and needs of the consumer . Careers replace trades everywhere. exciting products to be launched shortly on the market in answer to such requirements ? No doubt the truth lies between these two extremes. other more powerful methods of directing needs than market and motivation research. etc. would be taken into consideration and (integrated as such with scientific rationality) embodied in the experience of a highly organized society . is it not the first of consumer goods and does it not provide consumption with all its paraphernalia of signs. dominated as it is by inexplicable compulsions and trailing shreds of a past age in its wake. and is not this fact confirmed by the importance and effi­ ciency of propaganda modelled on advertising methods ? Has not institutionalized advertising replaced former modes of communi­ cation. We are undergoing a painful and premature revision of all our old ' values ' . Nowadays. It would indeed be too easy to show how badly and belatedly the consumer society has increased in popularity since the period under consideration (1950-60). In automated industry there is no longer any contact with the material or even with the machine itself. images and patter ? Is it not the rhetoric of our society. The term An Inquiry. when capitalist economy and industrial production were still in their infancy. It is the transition from a culture based on social needs . and that contractors were ignorant of market and consumer alike and their haphazard pro­ duction was launched to await the expected and desired consumer. the reward of labour. sometimes even pro­ digal. It has been proved by con­ ideology of our time. honest intermediary investigating public requirements and broadcasting the discovery cif new. and Some Discoveries 55 Moreover.54 Everyday Life in the Modern World operations continues to dominate social experience.) are acquiring a new and ever greater significance. etc. What. luxury. a powerful instrument . more likely. and therefore into solvent demands. in so far as it exists. the organizers of production are aware of the market. they assert that once upon a time in the pre-history of modern society. there would no longer be any reason to consider it as a level of reality. peculiar to urban existence have been studied. with all its ' objects ' . for instance. with­ out alleviating . consumption (waste.

avoided the demands of state control. but against a background of general crisis. inspired from works of art or antiques) and thus occupy a level of social reality. sociologists. Thus what commands our attention is a diff erence of levels and not the rational equality of demands. or even suppressed. Not the consumer nor even that which is consumed is important in this image. opposing Hegel to Marx. consumption and communi­ cation . We have already discussed the all-pervasive presence of an extra­ ordinary phenomenon. down below sprawl the vulgari­ zations. no total rationalization of industry. an ideology that has bereft the working classes of their former ideals and values while maintaining the status and the initiative of the bourgeoisie. Thus after an internal split culture too is decaying. the enormous amount of signifiers liberated or insufficiently connected to their corresponding signifieds (words. as the ideal become reality ('me'. bears the weight of institutions ? They subdivide it and distribute it between themselves according to compulsions representing and realizing the requirements of the state and. Will this age witness the triumph of Hegelian­ ism and ofthe totalitarian state rather than achieve the philosophy of a human totality ? The state has certainly acquired in all countries more authority since the war than it ever possessed be­ fore. occasionally reinstated as advanced learning . economic program­ ming and organized rationality. and that today we are still experiencing such an opposition. even in the countries of the 'Third World" in ' socialist ' countries and in the Anglo-Saxon countries that had. active subject become ' objective ').56 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. Such is the predicament in which the ideology of production and the significance of creative activity have become an ideology ofconsumption. that of the informed consumer for instance. what foundations support them and whom do they implicate ? What. but the vision of consumer and consuming as art of consumption. the culture of the masses. jewellery. houses. that of the state's decay. like all protests against state control. by the addition of a new alienation to the old. gestures. images and signs).or retrieved to be turned into consumer goods (furniture. It has substituted for the image of active man that of the consumer as the possessor of happiness and of perfect rationality. be­ tween the importance of real technical constructs and the petty gadgets with their ideological wrappings. secluded in their ivory towers we have subtle intellectuality. Moreover the structure is already showing signs of decay in France and elsewhere and both ' public ' and ' private ' relations have their own problems to face. Since the beginning of all these changes and the birth of modernity. In Western neo-capitalist countries there has been no overt pro­ gramming of production. and Some Discoveries 57 the curbing of desires. etc. rough and bawdy games. its strategies. complex literary word-play and a certain amateurism in styles and history . In most cases they seem oblivious to the fact that they are reverting to Hegelian theories. Yugoslavia alone perhaps is still free from its grip. the individual. living. The powers of decision are exerted from on high. or ' purity' signified in the whiter-than-white of a detergent. and thus made available to advertising and propaganda : a smile as the symbol of everyday happiness. they reject the most remarkable of his theories. But on what are these powers exerted. the historical. thriftiness and the necessity of eking out goods in short supply to a new culture resulting from production and consumption at their highest ebb. Such questions may seem pointless. economists and politicians have frequently stressed the significant role of the state. In this process of ideological substitutions and dis­ placements man's awareness of his own alienation is repressed. as to the discarded sig­ nifieds (styles.) they are left to get on as best they can.the pre­ rogative of the elite . We saw the discrepancy between these and the technical trivialities of everyday life.that results are obtained. if not everyday life. puns in poor taste. yet . but it would be more pointless still to accept the situation without a murmur or to elaborate theories in support of the state and to whitewash it. As a reaction to Marx and often in open protest against him. a difference that is programmed and organized so that the pyramidal structure of modern society rests on the broad base of everyday life which is the lowest level. until re­ cently. strategies and strategical variables are elaborated and opposed above our heads. arms and strategy .space and nuclear research. Though technology has achieved a remarkable degree of perfec­ tion it is always at state level .

of dearly beloved labour. Whatever the size of his income or the class to which he belonged (employee. The new town was the typical. But the concept of'ihe quoiidiiiii had lllidergone a nieia�\ 1 morph5sis'-by which-iriicqllired-a g��ater not a lesse� sigcificance. leading to a blurring of class distinctions and of ideological 'values'. Moureux.. perhaps on account of there being no cafes and pleasure-grounds : the colonizers of the metropolis do not encourage levity .�. these included the suburbs of cities. t Everyday life was cut up and laid out on the site to be put t{)gether I " " .. segregation and intense police supervision.•. In France and elsewhere neo-capitalist leaders had become aware L ofthe fad t hat coI9ri. thus we should not underestimate the role of semi-program­ ming. a sort of total organization has sneaked in unobtrusively. each piece depending on a number of organizations and institutions. . were not confronted with a choiCe between 'moderru1:y and every­ day life._ "' . neatly subdivided and programmed to fit a controlled. gifted and intelligent men (.".righ angl��-��(r-ilieir frequent .._ �. � >.. and though the structure lacks coher­ ence..... . significant phenomenon in which and on which this organization could be read because it was there that it was written. minor technician). tech­ nicians and manual labourers . n���n:1fd:�eaT :s() for instance. etc.. its shortcomings hid­ den behind an obsessive coherence and its incapacity for creative integration disguised as participation and communality. " � . " '''''''. of \ I.' . i / -··-·� ·-·-"·--··��···�--"··�··�"··-"·--"-·..) were strangely reminiscent of colonial or semi-colonial towns..!!g�". .. what was projected on this screen? Everyday life organized.¥<!�y }ife had ceased to be a ' subj�ct' ric�j� J)otential subjectivit)' ..�F tq. by employees. . between the ordinary and the extraordinary. . This well-organized exploitation of society . grates and jolts.eve In the modern worlc!�!. clerk. was inscribed in this social text to be deciphered by those who knew the code.i� \Y�r�.ii. and Some Discoveries 59 a kind of programming. In Europe after the war a few J \ I "��""� �.. ... thus the status of the proletarian became generalized. More than once between 1 950 and 1960 he considered abandon­ ing both concept and inquiry.... . And what do these organizations organize. exact time-table. " 0 " ' .".."" . What. the countryside.'" . vrsias· opeii oufSUCnas �w" ea / investme�ts in national territorie� �nd the organization of home trade (which did not exclude the exploitation of ' underdeveloped countries ' for manpower and raw material and as sites for invest­ ments . first volume (I ntroduction a fa critique de fa vie quotidienne. ' . but these were more forbidding and austere. " . everyday life was no longer the no-man's-land. " '. none the less it works.only they were no longer the main preoccupation). needless to say.'> it had lost some of"ifs impIlcaiions..'-wIiir 'requrrlng thaTpeopl� -..rationally exploited (including the latest com- " mercial and semi-programmed organization of leisure).mg e trouble than they were worth .E:.'-. each one ..TlieroJ:l:oWlng In:fefeiices may bea:rawn from whatprecedes : a) In France as in other neo-capitalist countries the changes in social practice had not eliminated the notion of everyday lif we e. 1 946) and the 't _ _.:"ho they were is not our concern) saw _� ! \'the possibility of exploiting consumption to organize everyday life. private life.:involved consumption and was no longer resti1Cted'tO the'proauc­ ti�e ci�is'ses'oiiIY.� . c-apitali:s11i.. National Accounts and preoccupations with consumer-research in France. .. and this explains the tiine-lapse between the second (1962).�ns (Sarcelles. zones "of agricultural production and all outlying districts inhabited.. leisure . .. the in­ habitant of the new town acquired the generalized status of prole­ tarian . • again like the pieces of a puzzle.. quality. with their straightroaascrisscrosslng.t police patrols* . ..'�d�pt ' e f oderi1circumStances�J:Ui(C�daptedtOo-:-Forme"rIy--f1ie' leaders � of industry produced haphazardly for a problematic market . public organizations and subsidiary institu­ tions operate on this basis. offices.�f.working life. limited family business concerns predominated adding their bourgeois treble to the chorus praising the wonders of trade. furthermore the.. mortgages and hire-purchase must also be considered among these features.· ·-·o.. it had become an ' object' of social * These were not the only significant features and should not be singled out from the others . What did the leaders do ? All areas outside the centres of political de­ cision and economic concentration of capital were considered as semi-colonies and exploited as such. ihe stnking -contrast between want and affluence. t The author admits that he hesitated for some years before reaching such conclusions..L rand there "Y�s_§l_£ha. if not everyday life ? Around 1960 the situation became clearer. the poor relation of specialized activities .58 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry.� !!l!!t?gy.�. . . apart from such features as the negation of traditional towns. but otherwise It was uncliangeQ..

. means of satisfying and frustrating such needs evolve and.--. the coolie if anything requiring more than the millionaire. nor with the (incomplete) control that trade has achieved by influencing the consumer . these deficiencies and activities show a certain stability that mi.-------- - . though we refute economism by a radical analysis. b-6tthe struct !LOOies-'does'no c t-1ian ysiological and biological needs and _ . more specifically."�� ves according to a rhythm that does not coincide with the 1il!l.•• theIr corresponding acruevements are shaped by styles.7__' " -. buildings and cities from the oriental town of proto-history down to the present day ..._-----.�__'". erotic achievements. .. What happened in France between 1950 and 1960 ? We are now in a position to answer this question in greater detail though we wish to make it quite clear that our concern is neither with matters of State and administration. Thus there are other things besides capital that are subject polistic capitalism of State'. gestures. etc. . whereas in the past century new facts have come to light. and Some Discoveries 6 1 organization.. populations.". The number of objects that a person can actually use in a lifetime cannot increase indefinitely.oo � �_�____"___�_____ _.----_.ilii:a1� of : . Eyer: .. In a society. in so far as they are physiological and biological. the time required for growing up or growing old and natural fertility oscillate on a relatively limited scale. for in Das Kapital and connected works it is based on the history of England and Western Europe alone. . it is better to leave such matters to the economist. gestural conventions change.cumulative processes. Emotions and feelings change but they are not stored up . Marx's theory of ac­ cumulation must be brought up to date.. . almost a contradiction. a society loses all cohesion if it cannot r�:-establish its unity. Far from disappearing as subject of reflection. moreover it owes nothing either to literature or to a ' social philosophy' extraneous to social reality. Thus an illusion is created of the unbroken coiiiiIiUity o{houses. The number of calories required by an American millionaire and a Hong Kong coolie is identical.. are modified. In short the effects of accumulation on everyday life �:re-sup�cial though they cannot be completely eliminated. '' ' * This definition is not incompatible with certain others such as 'mono­ t o accumulation: for instance knowledge. how­ ever (which it could not have failed to do if the revolutionary move­ ment had prevailed). stress the economic aspect and denotes a certain partiality for economism._�.60 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry. Physical performances. . for instance .iht sug­ gest the presence of a ' human nature ' and a progressive con­ tinuity.x2YlifSbJwhen it change�. goo and f E 'fashions ' is accelerated by the process of accumulation. between cyclic and linear (rational) time and. but in our opinion it allows for a more thorough analysis of the society's functions and structure and it goes further into actualities and potentialities than the latter. between cumula­ tive (social) and non-cumulative processes. memory is a typical process of ac­ cumulation and therefore an essential component of mechanisms that materialize and techrucalize such a process. with strictly urban prob­ lems. the object of its organization (consumption instead of production) and the level at -y1ifW This which it operates and upon which it is based� \ definition has the advantage of being scientific and more precisely formulated than any of the others* .J1f��"·· ih� -d�p���i�ti��·. mental fatigue sets in at shorter and shorter intervals till it overtakes that of machines. that is why mode�n society tries to control the changes that ds' t���ce··" l� ev� �1ay. . physical habits alter from one generation to another. intentional physical expressions (serving as a means of communication) such as mimicry. it was more firmly entrenched than ever."""'___' .. techniques and even.. . though here opposing tendencies check or arrest the process . a) There is a contrast. technical appliances. However. neither are aspirations.. to a certain extent.�\ of accumulaii'on and in �'�pac� that c���t'b�j4i �tifi�!I._"��. our society see!lls to be heading for disaster and self-destruction while war maintains peace � ur. How can the distinctive features that have emerged during this inquiry be summarized and formulated ? We propose the following term : Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consump­ ti0l!: whereby this society's rational character is defined as well as the limits set to its rationality (bureaucratic).""-. civiliza­ tions and cultures .. which appears to ideology and ' values ' in the society it defines. But everyday life is not cumulative. b) All the suggested definitions of our society have proved un­ acceptable. grimaces.

Symbols had been prominent in this field for many centuries. we shall see �' tha[he -�ust register once and for all each action. is a fairly vivid awareness of creative impotence and of the deceptive nature of a form of consumption that takes no account of styles and of the achievements of the past. The result.. some stood for what was rare and valuable (jewels. but none the less the sense of a loss ofsub$fance prevails. Signals ancl. it differs from these in that its only significance is conventional. Where did the sense of substantiality of former ages come from ? Was it from nature or from the apparent uniqueness of so many things and the consequent value attached to them ? From tragedy and death.�l!. .the rationalists of organization. Such ' objects possessed a symbolic value that was already outdated.62 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry. in this respect it can he compared to certain signs such as letters that compose articulated units (words and monomials) but that are otherwise meaningless. ' Displays of reality' have become a display trade and a dis­ play of trade offering a perfect example of a pleonasm.clCl. * Everyday life is preserved in mediocrity or it must perish (violently or otherwise. IE-sr _. .:Jt�Yt:: e�· � � try to figure o!lt how_!. ornaments. and con­ tradictory into the bargain. signals can be grouped in codes (the highway code is a simple and familiar example). symbols de­ rived from nature but containing definite social implications.h nt::� ma!!�. Former certainties fml that were related to a content (real or apparent). The natural outcome ofthis situation was an attempt to compensate ideologically for these short­ comings .�!!e ��::tl]. if it has not already happened. the long looking-glass or .) . In­ dustrial production had not yet swamped and absorbed the re­ mains of peasant production and crafts . Today a fur��. though such redundancy is seen as a satisfactory stability (feed-back) by . '* We shall come across the notion of obsolescence again further on. controls behaviour and consists of contrasts chosen pre­ cisely for their contradiction (such as. and especially after the invention of the printing press. and Some Discoveries 63 here and there by various methods. whence the theory of ' participation' followed by �he theory of ' creativity'. or from style and the ethics of art as the substantial mediator of form ? We may well ask! d) Before the Second World War there were still traces of an older society surviving in France and elsewhere in Europe. however. Though the signal figures in the semantic field together with the symbol and the sign. What a terrifying vision of future humanity this image conjures up ! c) The redirecting of creative energy from works of art to shows and displays of reality (the cinema. villages still thrived and the countryside surrounded the town even in industrial countries . assigned to it by mutual agreement. etc.�gtory. The signal com­ mands. though it is accepted as ' pure' form and thus assumes the role of structure . red and green) . the legacies ofpre-capitalism had not yet been set aside as folk-lore (nor exhibited as such for tourist consumption) . reduced now to a single dimension (re-assembled frag­ ments) by the elimination of all other dimensions of language and meaning such as symbols and significant contrasts. is taking place. from signs to signals. codes.�. gesture and __ . industrial pro­ ducts co-existed with the products of rural crafts.. thus forming systems of compulsion. the whole of society as the theatre where meaning is enacted in various specific contexts). others represented riches and profusion in the midst of penury: thus the massive cupboard or sideboard.. not e�c d� . b) Remarkable changes have taken place in the semantic field considered as a whole (that is. but always under compulsion). This shift to signals in the semantic field involves the subjection of the senses to compulsions and a general conditioning of every­ day life. furthermore. Thus the conflict between accumulation and non-accumulation is resolved in the methodical subordination of the latter and its organized destruction by a rationality bordering on the absurd but excelling in the manipulation of people and things. the cumbersome double-bed. for instance. How­ ever. Form without content is deceptive.Pt()y!cl�J)t:l!f!i9�! �ystems for the mCl!!:! lt JZYfg Q1LQ[ii�9Qi� �nd l'ii things� tJ:tQllgh they .�lh. in the early stages of our civilization there was a perceptible shift from symbols to signs as the authority of the written word increased.!lse�Qis �. television) has notable implica­ tions. a tragic sense more pregnant than the ' disenchantment' with rationality that Max Weber (who still had faith in rationality) analysed. word of ' another ' as though these were signals.

the more intelligent among them hope to achieve this by a spontaneous.-. In other words trade economy. A programmed non-automation of the productive quotidienne of which this section is a summary. * The Critique de la vie quotidienne in its projected design was to have Conscience has not ceased to be frustrated.<!Q"Y. eliminating the residue of these strata. the control of circulation and of information). everyday life in its appropriate urban setting. present ideology as non-ideological and as a safeguard against mystifications (' pure' science. on the contrary. the widescale institution of efficient appara­ tus and an urban expansion adapted to speci:qc ends (directing offices.���!!�<!. political and social activities conv. roles.g�J �nes. economists. assured of its ability and' proud of its success. vol.-�. etc. and there are many candidates among philo­ sophers. we do not incriminate the ' machine ' whether electronic or otherwise . advanced culture. but today we can add to the theory of individualism (of contacts and communication) a new claim : the right to solitude. objects bearing the mark of creation were reserved for the ' elite '. that swoop down on everyday life and pursue their prey in its evasions and departures. architects. town planners. rather than an autocratic. or democratic. ill of Critique de la vie It may not be amiss to repeat here that we have no regrets or nostalgias for former times . situations and functions. method. _ -.. The apparent exceptions were works of art and styles of high or low periods . satisfactions.----. etc. Daily life is the screen on . is attaining its goal and its half-conscious intentions are coming to light : to cybernetize society by the indirect agency of everyday life. a tendency officially caned ' urbanism '. it has spread . The great event of the last few years is that the effects of indus­ trialization on a superficially modified capitalist society of pro­ duction and property have produced their results :�.-�. stimulated by neo-capitalism. )! its power and its weakness . Cybernetization threatens society through the allotment of land..s1?�ci�J:rovince. now over-seIfconscious.£rogrammed .:O����" w�� favoured by the disintegration of the traditional town and the expansion of urbanism. and Some Discoveries 65 society projects its light and its sha. the ' man of synthesis ' is very much in demand.) are not only increasingly aware of the quotidian. 'values'. in due course.ess grip. the so-called superior activities (applied sciences. * * Third stage: after 1960 To subdivide and organize everyday life was not enough . Thus the dividing process that can still be seen in the new towns is finished and is being repiaced by the practical reconstruction of a kind of unity.hl�h-��' formed a triptych with ' Mystified Conscience' and ' Frustrated Conscience'.) .. Yet there are powers. and lastly. Such a p. the ' cool ' prevails. which accounts for our discarding the project. The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption... colossal and despicable.-.. The prob­ lem of synthesis returns to the fore. If tragedy still exists it is out of sight . a special market and a specific branch of production (copies and imitations of original works) taking charge. invaded what is sometimes known as 'material culture '.-. sociologists. * An Inquiry. Every­ thing is ostensibly de-dramatized . These superimposed strata of variously dated objects lost their sentimental value in the period we are discussing through the intervention of a form of capitalism that organized and controlled consumption and the dis­ tribution of so-called durable consumer goods. it has be­ come their.j!�J!�!!.-.t --EVeryday life in France is organized according to a concerted programme .-----. structure and lUiiCtionallze ICThe other levels of socIety(�ithth�'����ption-onliesf ate. As to the mystification. . dreams and fantasies to crush it in their reI<:mtl. and the same could be said of buildings.64 Everyday Life in the Modern World the grandfather clock reflected an almost mythological past and became status symbols for the aristocracy and the middle classes alike . nearly all of them bank incon­ spicuously on a certain ' robotization' shaped on their own synthetic model which they would programme .w1llch operates on a much more exalted plane) only exist in relation to everyday life and the utility and significance of constructs is estimated in direct propor­ tion to their structural effect on it. the next chapter and. instead of tragedy there are objects. furthermore the term has permeated even journalism .g e �to consolIdate. to privacy and to escape from contemporary terrorisms. t Cf.--. certainties.. now it had to be programmed. demo­ graphers and other technicians . jobs. ideologists.

for a state where. . only desires happen to figure among the irreducibles. we do not contrast an ' outer-directed' with an ' inner-directed' man. and Some Discoveries 67 Our theories are more or less in agreement with those of Ameri­ can critical sociology. But we would also try to prove the failure of such tendencies through 'irreducibles '.has raised a number of important questions. amongst which is that of the social function of business concerns. in its own way. urbanization and urbanism.notwithstanding the weight of orthodox industry-sponsored 'research' . We have just added a ticklish problem to our theory. ideologies. we repeat. As a result.:. a poisonous flower to a pretty posy: could the organization of everyday life (with its 'brilliance '. edu­ cation. consump­ tion is organized on the pattern of production. and the consumer. stereotypes.�. �that nei ��� . etc. Can terrorist pressures and repression reinforce individual self-repression to the point of closing all the issues ? Against Marcuse we continue to assert that they cannot. but consumer-information is treated to condition­ ing . scintillation and ' modernism') be the French high-road to americanization ? We return to a question formulated earlier on: ����e_l! homo�:. The robot and the com/ puter are.for the time being . does not submit to cybernetic processes . in the future.. alienates privacy by housing its dependants in hierarchized dwel­ lings. Cybernetization appeared to operate through the police (Orwell) or through bureaucracy. The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption is heading for fresh contradictions. subordinating social existence to its totalitarian demands and leading to ' synthesis'. the technocrats. Its control is sometimes overpowering and. however conditioning.Y!!!��!I!£del._. the business concern tends to level out society.nnicity �I. � ���!!:_?! - � . seeping through " the ch_��1�_9 highly organized everyday life.su on th � � f gg�-sts �� � feminism.or the expansion of productivist ideology . su La �ds mainlY 'fYl!!h!iWiY::Y�tfe. but though this sociology has elucidated a number of important facts it has neglected the essential concepts of everyday life and modernity. production apparatus . patterns. or.would foster or reveal a smgle absolute system. . to by-pass this appro­ priation involving a rational world-scale programming. that the big ' modem' business concern is not content with the status of economic unit (or group of units) nor with political influence. his memory alone is unimpeachable. lack­ ing a general theory of society. furthermore it constricts and apparatus leads to a progranunatizing of the consumer. pre­ vail in Europe and in France ? Is the americanization of France heading straight for success. and does -exp an­ sion �g QnnevelopmentiQJbe PQinLQ[integrat!OiWm ideology l? andJirchnology . rebellion and assertiveness.11111 P" 66 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry.- .discrepanCIeS and resistancesmust in­ eV1tabiYbrin:�tthe-dis�ption of the whore structure ? Do -----. of ideologies and of economics (theory of expansion) it has left the last word to the economists. especially the female of the species. * American critical sociology . but tends to invade social experience and to set itself up as a model of organization and ad­ ministration for society in general. through published works corroborating practical experience. By displacing basic problems such a society collapses . . under cover of an anti-American policy and using for its ends a social group. * as the liquida­ Marcuse. 1968. contradictions that resist re­ pression and transposition.----". promotion. It usurps the role of the city and takes over functions that are the city's by right and that should. functions. not the consumer.---:"--�"��S developed nations prQ. be those of an urban society : housing. on' the con­ trnry. as only industrial production can be automated and the con­ sumer is elusive and must be tracked down. moreover we would prove that though man is directed. One Dimensional Man. etc. at first reactionary but finally submitting in the hope of satisfying a thirst for power ? The answers to these questions will have to be deferred.) he sees himself none the less as more than ever self-sufficient and de­ pendent only on his own spontaneous conscience even under robotization. botlitheoretical ally � for_the r�� un�rdeveloped.which may perhaps restrict cybernetic rationality and the programming of everyday life .has neither desires nor appetites . leisure. it is a failure where social life is concerned tion of humanism proves. by outer circumstances (compul­ sions. Unlike Riesman. London. even prefabricated. We are now aware. whereas automation would (perhaps) free creative energies and make them available for works of art. while the robot .

This involved: a) a whole perceptible to reason (dialectic). c) a/orm perceptible to understanding: trade (exchange value) with an unlimited capacity for expansion. and a cover too for ' operations ' whereby problems are distributed according to per­ sonal values and interests that are best left unaired if protests and disputes would be avoided. devoid of concept and theory. A hundred years ago Marx published the first part of Das Kapital. particularized. Ipediating between the base (organization and\livision--labourr�n(rili�'s�Stry£iY1:��Jutions. In this way it was possible to see how social labour might eventually control the ' world' of trade and set a limit to its sensel��� �xpansion . The fact of standing back to get things into perspective does not involve a withdrawal into formal learn­ ing. notwithstanding conflicting ambitions). In our opinion. however. historical time. a language that emerged and took shape in Das Kapi/al in relation to specific referentials (dialectic reason. polemics do not detract from ' scientificness' . a work that includes both a scientific exposition of social reality and suggestions for realizing the possibilities of this society. As for critical objec- tions. We assert that for us a 'pure ' science that holds action at arms' length is not a real science even when it is true. on the contrary. but such controversies are as old as philosophy and scientific research and are far from nearing extinction. individual and social. possessing self­ regulating devices that were spontaneous but restricted (com­ petitive capitalism tending to produce a rate of average profit). not in order to exhaust the subject but to prove our theory. however.-1:l1e-. of science and of the Revolution (or of the world of trade. and theoretical conflicts prevent it from stagnating. specialized and general. of the scientific understanding of this world and of the action that would control and transform it). If scholars take the trouble to attack this definition they will certainly direct their fire mainly against its lack of ' scientificness' and try to demonstrate that its value is purely subjective and its range polemical.The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 69 2 The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption Coherence and contradiction We shall now examine some of the features of this society that justify our definition of it. or rather divided and standardized according to social averages).history and change. e) a coherent language answering at one and the same time the needs of practical experience. public offices and moral. ideo­ -&f JiiSTIt logies. knowledge thrives on irony and on opposition. social space. possessing the means of production.. artistic and intellectual ' values') by means of the structured-structuring relations of production and pr�£eJ:ty .. the bourgeoisie (united. com' . we are pre­ pared to add to certain assertive formulae pur own: ' Scientism against science ! Rationalism against reason! Rigorism against rigour! Structuralism against structure ! ' etc.a:·'$oci�1 structu��. simple and com­ plex.. of eluding . are they not perhaps the best way to positivity ? Our defini­ tion can only be refuted by those who refuse to name this society as a whole and consider it as a compendium of phenomena. d1. constituting a ' world' with its logic and its language and inseparable from a content : social labour (defined dialectically: qualitative and quantitative. this last being a caricature of the first. b) a specific cause: society ruled and administered by a class. 'Pure ' epistemology and a rigorous procedure provide a strategical with­ drawal and cover against serious onslaughts. and therefore incapable of becoming permanent.i� ideology then-being lndiviilucJ/isiit (dis­ guising and vindicating the society's basic character) .

-fhe more it will-stress this ideal. in and for the individual conscience .70 Everyday Life in the Modem World mon sense. is the organizing cause political leadership. . .:� .-flius -ihe I-dearoCevery--state bureaucracy is moral rectitude. all one has to do is take it to pieces like a mechanical object. A century ago individualism provided philosophers and scholars __ _ '({j ( . as NIetzsche was well aware.or what is left of its unity that enables it to go on functionrhg as a unit without completely disintegrating. of learning and action. and so on and so forth. the culture of the elite is a substitute for the culture of-the masses. however.) . media of information. and the more corrupt and corruptIiig-iCis. what remains of Marx's masterly plan is a question of ' capital ' significance that has not yet received an answer. only be ascertained after re�r. According to its own categories this society is no longer a society . a car : engine. g) this society's possibilities of quantitative expansion and quali­ tative development. Mter a century. But is there even a structure.��i��1 rather than for the rational functioning of a society served by responsible and self-effacing statesmen. productive) has grown vague . they are not so much ideologies as organized sub­ stitutes . the ' hidden structure ' is composed of a series of substitutes corresponding in number to the institutions and public offices .�/. which assertion allows for the diag­ nosis of a malaise that can. sorting to a further analysis. the whole structure defined by Marx a hundred years ago is collapsing for want of a revolution that would have sus­ tained and furthered ' human totality'. the ' system' in so far as it exists is concealed by the ' sub-systems ' and is a system of mutual and multiple substitutes . the state. but here we can do little more than make this assertion and give a brief outline of the insufficiencies to be supplement�d. Is it possible to analyse such a society according to its own cate­ gories ? But of course . Though the working class and its function seem t. is to avoid organicist metaphors without losing sight of the whole.7'""l-" as for such significant social constituents as the city.pawns in a game of strategy and neither un biased nor disinterested .s crevices. �he army. The difficulty. the general character of social relations and foundations is not all that is going to pieces . of specialized sciences and of systems and ' sub-systems '. their empty shell ? ' Values ' The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 7 1 that preserve an apparent substantiality are intended t o forbid what theycon:ceilf.) . they serve a dual practical and ideological purpose. Institutions and public offices with the ends and values that sustain and justify them can only be described as the ' cause ' if one \�(ignores the meaning of the word. namely i�{limm. And all the possibilities are now strategical prospections.£. etc. We strongly oppose such a pro­ cedure. precisely because he was a theore­ tician of values . equipment and appliances . we have fragments of culture. because its categories are part of its publicity . is su-speCt. Specialized systems of values are conducive to systems of communication. censorship. body. it is not solely. and it is not easy to overcome the feeling th�state work�L���E:. this attitude implies the collaboration of scholar and revolutionary. llI1���_-'�!:ll:�l<: �lld � g : . and (especially) without for��!�I1g� ortig_1!��Jll. The very uotion of '�alues . . nature pro�ides a substitute for those who wish to avoid contradictions or c0nceal them . as much for the society '. etc. as the followers of Lukacs maintain. technology is the substitute for the technocracy and rationality for public offices. f) specific contradictions within the given whole (particularly between the social character of productive labour and the profits of ' private ' property) . it suffices to analyse functions (institutions). The creative cause (col­ lective. for a society cannot be reduced to separate pard without something being lost in the process. but what have they to communicate apart from their own rules of conduct. .-?_�. structures (groups and strategies) and f orms (systems and channels. What we want to demonstrate is the fallacy ofjudging a society according to its own standards. It is not enough to say that the works of Marx are neces­ sary for an understanding of the second half of the twentieth century yet not sufficient for such an understanding. bureaucracy ? It dis­ integrates on all sides and can no longer be seen as the cement that holds the structure together.o be disappearing. The world is fragmented and so are individual nations .'. it is our last hope. each circling round the other (social pleonasm) . a unity ? If the structure is decaying. of theory and practice .

..�lX-= theYJl:. For adolescents and st:!!®nts the situation is reversed. the house and the home... Everyday life weighs heaviest on women. to the bog into which they are sinking and simply ignore it . they have their substitutes and they are substitutes .). others escape into makebelieve.dividu� fr��<!om... ' something' that is perhaps Desire. it 1:JY_.£heZJ()!"m oi-�tra transfox!!!. . certain conditions are required for a conception of J:he quotidian ��d a theory of quotidianness.1()1? the .tiQnS_ fl. formulated in the most scientific way pos­ sible. To sum up : a) Is the quotidian definable ? Can it serve as the starting point for a definition of contemporary society (modernity)..ifj�f1. because it is not a province anarational exploit ation has avaTIed itself of more refined methods .ano. they would like to take . 9f sigIJ. that the critical analysis of everyday life reveals ' everything' because it takes ' everything' into account. it is also essential not toTilkeTHor-granted bufto-see lt in critical perspective. so that the inquiry avoids the ironic slant. taneity'.2f��E�idera' ition and is tl:J. and as such it would be the main product of the so-called ' or­ ganized' society of controlled consumption and of its setting.�re wil­ ..A<1J�l!!!l. I!§� .that everything stems from every­ day life which in turn reveals everything. etc.g. operationalism or scientism. structural­ ism..e_of the !J:uman con� tionally ition..or factual basis . closing-is.tth. . Thus everyday-life must sh�rtIybe���e the one perfect system obscured by the other sys­ tems that aim at systematizing thought and structuralizing action.-to" conquecf � ii J9:Q. It is highly probable r-it-Oyfeversing the situation.of.!!! !ll:o. rea�_�n and resourcefulness.about men. and encompasses its essence and its unity ? b) Does this method lead to a coherent non-contradictory theory of the contradictions and conflicts in social ' reality '..tsubStiiutes thrive. but it presupposes a preliminary action or thought-action . today ideologies have changed and they bear names such as functionalism. .a�d itTsat1h eir''Co. Likewise they are both dities and symb21s for com­ b}lyers and consumers of commo modities (in adverti��-ments.e provin. or.ot!J.:�. Some are bogged down by its peculiar cloying substance.or on account of . Everyday life has become an 2!?i�£!. the identification of a fragmentary or partial sphere. r� _.lld ling to recapture in this way the lost harmonLof language r��ty. femininity. they disguise the basic fact .The. they complain . Every­ a �SC�!_�� �£::l���ip:1y g.y ay-j:�u. it is no longer th�Lpla��e where human suffering and heroism are enacted.£il�QIe �f����g ! � l2 it. close their eyes to their surroundings.iJ:J.�--wh. as nudes and smiles). .which is specifically part of eve�ife-l:l. . It � ased to��be·-a-�. Short of these two conditions understanding becomes impossible and our words will fall on deaf ears .\<1J'�.g This coherent logical theory is also conducive to practical action. etc..�!:. exploited colonial province of society.riiecfli-pr'ovide-s'a: 'aosoo circfuT{production-consumption­ production).ir ' spon. than heretofore. or Reason (dialectics) or even the City.the. to a concep­ tion of the real and the possible ? To these questions.Q!fQ!���\.l:). etc.) with categories and images.) . ft. Robotization probably succeeds so well with"women 'because ��f the things that matter to them (fashions.IJ:la tegy:-TTme afon��ill reveal whether it will be possible for ti. they parade as 'non-ideologies ' in order to merge more readily with the imagination. the· s!!.J!. . Because of their ambiguous position in everyday life .w. fashion.but they are always beside the point t re the subject of eveIYd§l:)! lif�<t its �ctims or objects and substitutes (beauty. If the circuit is not completely closed it is not for want of purpose or strategical intent but only because ' something' irreducible intervenes.� of organizati<?1!.QIJ:lplex a clea!_ii�!d day life is� le�o iIl. �?iJ � � modernity. where demands are foreseen because they are induced and desires are run to earth. . and it was necessary to raise this veil in order to catch a glimpse of reality and thence of possibility. this method replaces the_ sp self-regulation of the competitive era. economists. our reply is a condensation of the previous assertions. . � . qll.t�jp. attack it and-' circuiLfrom. the space-time of opeffji-" voluntary ( programmed '�'elf-regclation. notwithstanding . since they have never k��wn e �day life. the human condition life God and the gods . because �h�� p� orga. the first being that one must live or have <lived in it.72 Everyday Life in the Modern World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 73 (historians. in other words.­ that they also get somethliigo·ufo but the weight is none the less on their shoulders. formalism.t�2.and none are so deaf as those who refuse to hear.

were it dog­ matic and absolute. romanticism. in­ tellectual honesty in such ' operationalism ' is not imperative. fashions . blindly accept authority and acknowledge circumstances . The more serious specimens of this breed of theoreticians elaborate sub-systems and specific codes to organize a society. Yet derelict and oppressed as it was. we do not acknowledge the segregation oflearning and poetry. that split the structure. contradictions and objections that intervene and hinder the closing of the circuit. ' Dogmatism ! ' cries our objector. . They have a number of successful means of evasion. tourism.all the specialized activities that provide subject-matter for pamphlets. any more than that of science and action. all issues closed. horoscopes. and on the other problems tactfully left to the experts. we are all utopians. culture and submission. this existence never lacked style . and all they know about it is through their parents. time-tables. . Those who see only assumptions in our assertions and who uphold segrega­ tion in the name of epistemological precision may find some dif­ ficulty in maintaining their position to the very end without compromising with their painfully torn consciences or giving in to the suffering of that unity which is the postulate of philosophy and also of that which is beyond philosophy. a vague potentiality in black and white. Once upon a time there was a sad. lyricism ! ' So now we have incurred the final insults . for reflection necessarily involves a form of utopia if it is not content to reflect and ratify compUlsions. Such was in fact the objection raised against Marx. education. basically religious or metaphysical (does the basic ideology matter?). catalogues. oppressed exist­ ence. Utopia ? Yes indeed . calling it ' social science'. private lives. furnishings. children. Criticism. so soon as we wish for something different and stop playing the part of the faithful per­ former or watch-dog. leisure. poetry. restricted. Fournier and Saint-Simon in the nineteenth century. objections or any attempt to seek an opening ' elsewhere ' are dismissed as utopia by these ideologists . ' urban science' or ' organizational science ' . the im­ mediate and mediations. They frequently even accept the system of methods by which social experience and everyday life are submitted to compulsion. The land. style reigned and . conditioning. Scientism and positivism provide excellent sub­ jects for discussion and perfect substitutes which oppose and imply each other : pragmatism. and all the substitutes are at their disposal dreams. These honest theoreticians impose their own limits to their endeavours and re­ fuse to question invisible patterns. ' This is no more than litera­ ture. dwellings. ' structuring' and programming. abstract and concrete. object and subject . connects paternity and maternity. was ruled by King God and Queen Death. There exists an ideology or mythology of maturity for their personal use that belongs to parents. ' You give a definition to which you stick and from which you draw ex­ orbitant conclusions. ' By no means . and how right they are ! They are supported by a special brand of reason and restricted rationality (their own). divided into a thousand and one domains. . working lives. culture. In other words we refute segregation in favour of an unbiased constructive attitude of mind based on practical and theoretical understanding. wives. cookery. yet they can be worded more subtly as : subjectivism. operationalism on the one hand.74 Everyday Life in the Modern World part in it but are afraid of being caught up in it. we selected our definition namely the Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption from a choice of suggested definitions after examining their asser­ tions and their foundations and discarding the others as unsound. positive and negative. whereas we have undertaken to prove the existence of irreaucibles. the fight for the lost cause of individualism. etc. moreover we concede the relativity of our definition. they are in it. assertions and criticism. What of the intellectual ? He is in it all right ! Intellectuals have careers. To be sure. history and many more besides. . ignore the significant absence of a general code. functionalism. guide books. all hope would be lost. facts and opinions. make-believe. but in a slightly marginal position so that they think of themselves as being outside and elsewhere. theses. dwellings in one place or another. protests. not without stress­ ing in each case the inadequacy of such philosophical categories at the same time as their utility and necessity. that in turn organizes everyday life in approximate categories such as environ­ ment. art. it implies an The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 75 attempt to interfere with existing conditions and an awareness of other policies than those in force.

At this point we must formulate a few simple (but practical) questions. because it serves a. that is social relatio s. leads to com­ parative studies and to the_�i:§fq!x ofe. a clear and a guilty con­ science for ever misunderstanding potentialities. the result. There has been incalculable progress since those good old days . Spain. We do not wish to cry over spilt milk but to explain such tears and how they inspire 'rightist' censures of our society. infor­ mation. Then there is loneliness. the tourist organizations.which has the advantage of being something we can place and name. ' Security' assumes an importance that is out of all proportion in a world of cosmic ventures and nuclear threats. for understanding./ . An unbelievable amount of contradiction comes to light in this society of structure and structuring. functionalism. In­ versely. c) the estab / of everyday life. Greece ? Those systems for the con­ sumption and exploitation of leisure and curiosity. must be som�� m6der m!i. were it not to stress the unity of each society and each period. . or the desire to understand.crati�. and wish the :gOIllllations. indeed. and that those from the film and the theatre world move there from ' smart' neighbourhoods and 'residential distRcts' ? Because of this attitude the city is being turned into the most precious and valued possession of the privileged classes and the greatest asset of consumption.and who does not prefer everyday triviality to famine if the choice were to be made.76 Everyday Life in the Modem World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 77 I permeated its every aspect. But such a history.1 (nineteenth century) . Belgium. methods of production and ideologies. Everyday life is both the cause and the result of these failures .g "immodesty and ostentation in the display it gives"of i t��li-t�-it��i£����� plyt h�-appe�r�rt e pasi?Ii"ls preciselY to b.f_e���day life. though we cannot give them our full attention here. b) the death ��styl� / lishment and the consolIdation ( ."" stand. of India an ordinary everyday life ? ' Social security' even when it questio� biy-b�rea. cannot alone account for this phenomenon. though possible and essential. which wouldSn Owho wrn-ihepasthundfedyears or so it has"""beCome more crystallized with each successive failed revolution. . to which it confers a specific significance. � 1¥n�!�� star�1_tll� brea." Y is un abandonment to a world of misery.��!EclaYJife. The ruling classes have always used science as their justifi­ cation. educated middle-class citizens. There is little cause to_ show open-mouthed admiration as the reign of death recedes from our planet . How is it that the more or less derelict and decaying centres of large cities are restored and occupied by well-to-do. �� � h-nostalgias-andfu�ti�s-tb:atlilsn ecessary to under. integration and coherence. the price that has to be paid for it. and we have no intention of denying 'progress '. the cause. would be no better than a __ catalogue of details (objects) or a series of misunderstandings. that the ludic aspect of social life should not be left to philosophers while scholars are already studying strategies and formalized games. First there is the conflict be­ tween demands for seriQusness (why shy from resounding words and not say straight out : the demand for truth and truthfulness ?) and the absence of any absolute criteria or general code by which to understand and judge. we oppose our science to theirs.'. technicians and high officials with a clear conscience ­ not a cumbersome commodity and highly quoted on the market­ for there is nothing worse than a clear conscience that has been rationalized. news. set to music and silence.:kin� �:lJ�"5>. we have no qualms in asserting that it is the rotten fruit on the tree of science.:� be better than neglect and -. but only of understanding its obverse. Indeed. because pressures and compulsions tighten their grip after every successive failure .that of the Liberation being the most significant. we suggest that science should not be entitled to provide intellectuals. and contrasting with the multiplication of messages. it is.e sto f everyday life must jherefore include at least tI!!:�e Jand the birth 9f ��l!¥!� �) secti6ns : a) �. we consider that games and play would be the most apt subject for scientific inquiry. Why do the wealthy ruling classes snap up and mono­ polize antiques ? Why do people flock to all the ancient towns and cities of Italy. applied ration­ alism. Science should not shun these theories and problems on the pre­ text that they lack seriousness.. TB. . institutionalized and bureaucratized by science . Were we to continue this story we would see that these people lived in extreme poverty but were never­ theless snug and warm.-"()bstacie"-and""b-a:re�:and ri ---after each tremor social existence is reorganized around the quotidian. it recedes before the nuclear threat . .

varying in significance but of a g rg r nature . when the need is promptly solicited by devices identical to those that led to satiety. Needs are seen as clearly defined gaps. cultures. Are we discovering the unconscious. for the requisite critical perspectives and concepts obtrude without being formulated or expressed as such .p. integration equals disintegration. The roots of unrest Our society contains its own self-criticism. both states being produced by similar manipulations. with all possible alacrity. the conditions in our hospitals and of medicine in general. sciences. risk. ever stipulat­ proletariat in its downfall.to save a sick child. but worse �e contradic � that c���ists in considering compulsion as the basis of social ot:der and a social programme.and harder still to enact. moreover the proletariat cannot abandon its historical mission without renouncing its status.or will be . every known and imagined need is . the significant 'desires ' concealed beneath the sig­ nified? No need to go so far. oscillating between satisfaction and dissatisfac­ tion. What we see is in fact a society tending tactically and strategically towards the integration of the working classes and partially succeeding . sometimes people avoid mentioning or even noticing it. and simul­ �w contrv � . intellectuals. as far as solvent needs are concerned. the dreariness of ing the rules of the game. and the suicide of a class is. Thus controlled consumption does not only plan objects for consump­ tion but even the satisfaction obtained through these objects. 'Values' usually undergo a general crisis where satiety is . but it is there none the less.78 Everyday Life in the Modem World There is a striking contrast between the incredible performances ­ at social and technical cost . to say the least. Thus by studying the basic stratum .satisfied. play and strategy at the heart of natural processes and social activities.ms<:�. to commit hara-kiri will be the suicide of capitalism as a society. Among the contradictions that come to light let us select at random that between the death of the ludic spirit. Such satisfaction consists in saturation obtained. the difficulties en­ countered in obtaining remedies. not always out­ spoken . for we are discussing everyday life. and the genocides. For the proletariat. The result of compelling the proletariat to renounce its status .. a status and assured leisure to revolutionary ventures. particularly the last . It is impossible to ignore the fact that a sense of unrest really prevails. notwith­ standing the repressions and oppressions that reflect a very different attitude and objective. a wounded man._ _ ti� taneously using the ideology of Liberty as a face-saver.of handing it a knife. __ _ .n�Le. Contradiction is not always on the surface. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction go hand in hand or oppose each other according to the place or the people. adolescents.everyday lif dicU. in so far as these facts are true they must be imputed to the establisPment of everyday life rather than to the 'choice ' of security and the rejection of creative insecurity . latent. among the more important is the opposition betweethJ��lL:qig1!L ideologies or technocratic lUyths and everyday reality. needs are thus incessantly re-stimulated by well-tried methods until they begin to become rent­ able once again. neatly outlined hollows to be stopped up and filled in by consumption and the consumer until satiety i�chieved. Satis faction is the aim and objective of this society and its official justification . they are apparent in the lacunae of social ex­ perience so long as these are not stopped up with the ever-present verbal mists that can so easily be taken for substantial 'reality '. women. for it cannot fail to be dragged with the - The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 79 everyday programming in its rational organization. 'opted' and re­ jected their historical mission. implicit. prolong the agony of the dying . Assertions such as these are highly suspect.at the cost of sacrificing the integration of its other elements. play on motivations denies and destroys motivations precisely to the extent of its hold over them and without. that they have 'chosen '. com­ munities. hard to imagine . as it were. and the scien­ tific discovery of chance. Many sociologists have suggested that the working classes of the world prefer the security of a job. moreover.by the repressive organizations of every­ day life through compulsions and by a persuasive ideology of consumption more than by consumption itself . for if it 'chooses' to be integrated in a society governed by the bourgeoisie and organized in view of capitalist production and profit it must cease to exist as a class.

�� �ev�£opmenLtQ. 'environment'. For a distinction must be made between satisfaction. All the works of the past few decades that have left their mark are those which. seeking an exit.�i� �i���nts �f society. at best. . or marks time. There is little point in dwelling on the destruction of the past by the massive consumption of works of art. an aspect of the general process that is basic today after many decades in which the former was subordinated to the latter. rather than marking time. (of needs.:urha��f!:1iQi=A�rdi. but we shall consider. his needs. styles and cultures. being the limitations imposed by capitalist production as such. space and time) cannot provide an end. in the more or less permanent crisis of the theatre. Perhaps..e r. in a dark tunnel.of which the first is perhaps that ' satiety . is devoid of finality and of meaning. was the subject of careful study.Q.. or they represent it as more degrading even than it is .�i!�J?���!£�91?1lj£� §lg9:. We have seen that this society is undergoing a remarkable ex­ pansion (economic.or the relations between pro­ duction and property by which society is SUbjected to one class (the bourgeoisie) possessing full administrative power . significance vanishes to re-emerge in disguise . experts are well acquainted with the life-expect­ ancy of objects : three years for a bathroom. try to restore tragedy by exposing the devices that provoke and ratify satiety. there is a slump of ideas. In consequence the technical mastery of material experience is not counterbalanced by the adaptation of man to his own personal The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 8 1 experience. But at no l level and on no terms can we accept and ratifY"��P �QlJJism. though the situation has a certain significance or significances .a terrible lack of significance filled by nothing but rhetoric. others. The discrepancy between expansion and development echoes a further and more basic discrepancy between (technical) mastery and adaptation.!lc:re<equany�short:§iggteg� Our society has no idea where it is going. Indeed. his body.rie��< thaJ. a void makes itself felt . Some depict everyday life in sadistic or masochistic detail. . portray it. instead. Obsolescencg. . and who will discover happiness ? This sense of unrest that pervades everyday life is one of the main themes of contemporary literature. philosophy.�'pefore becoming a technique. this is no ��s. but if the situation is now reversed class strategy still maintains this subordination. the cinema. a car. directly or indirectly. . . the devices inherent to this consump­ tion. . .�ocio­ J� log � l a!J!ie. It gropes. These familiar propositions acquire significance only if we specify their terms : expansion refers to the process of industrialization. production-organizing offices know how to exploit them to reduce life-expectancy and accelerate the turnover of products and of capital. art and culture. a way of escape . time and space. but the bourgeoisie can. etc. only achieve satisfaction . however successful others may have been for a time. quantitative. blindfold. However.except in terms of class strategy (the consolidation of everyday life) . eight for a bedroom. .it-o-our� th��ry-(whl�h1ias��""C-"-­ already been formulated and will be further developed) urbanization gives significance to industrialization. Pleasure was once the prerogative of the aristocracy who knew how to give it a meaningful place in their lives . Its limitations are an integral part of this society. it is in fact committing suicide while standing stilI . complexification and enrichment of social relations including those of city life are left to ' culture' and institutionalized on that score. thus provoking an intolerable situation where a city crisis is added to all the other permanent crises. . The development. three for a business. pleasure and happiness. it is wrong because Ingn'(.structuring) .�s th� b.�l!l?E����E:!illg it. and class strategy does not tend towards development but towards the ' balance' and ' harmony' of expansion as such. measured in ton�and kilometres) and a limited development. such statistics are part of the demography of objects and are correlated to the cost of production and profit. the scandal has reached world-scale proportions in the case of the car industry. our society's inherent un­ rest becomes a social and intellectual phenomenon. literature and philosophy these are the works that are remembered. whose authors evidently deplore the death of tragedy through satiety.80 Everyday Life in the Modern World generalized . Through this residue of culture (not to be confused with what is officially known as ' cultural'). with its ceaseless superficial modifications so totally opposed to that perpetual change which is the basic aspiration of the· ' modern mind'.. five for a living-room. There is little change in basic class re­ lations (structured .

while following their own inclinations. but both in theory and in practice ���I!Se u��Ht�nsi!Qti!le.�s . qualitative and appealing.jJ rvade ther. however. so that 'real life ' need not still stagnate in everyday life . witches. The cult of the transit<:>ryxe.�t:. and the manipulated transitoriness of rapidly deteriorating objects. though horoscopes do affect it in a certain way. first. I B M calculators and programming) . Aubert. moreover. a direction. particularly in the United States. towns and of ' living '.s. quacks. mystifications are passed off as scientific discoveries and a fool.82 Everyday Life in the Modern World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 83 expert. destiny inscribed in the stars. . fortune-tellers. Horoscopes might form the subject of a methodical in­ quiry. We should not. What. Secondly. planned and programmed. measurable in terms of time. the article by J. those con­ cerned with state and administration. . with notes by . needs must also become outdated and new needs take their place . if he introduces himself as an J. dwellings. day life. the con­ stellations. indeed. the heavens as divine writing that only the initiate can decipher. obsolescence ofneeds should be taken into consideration. I. apart from pub­ licity. star-gazers . the cinema) are infested with psychologism and psychological te�ts such as : ' Discover who you are '. full-time organization. overlook the fact that horoscopes in­ volve the fragments of a universal vision. ' Learn to know yourself. stability and permanence. Here. their themes classified. on the other hand the deterioration of objects (quantitative.but refie�ts it 1'1s a class strategy* �Ild i� in tot'�i �ontradiction t� ' the cult of. un­ willed and unwanted) is part of a class strategy directed towards a rationalized (though irrational as procedure) exploitation of every­ . This is the symbolic heritage that inspired architecture. confront and reflecfone· ano Everyday life and its soufces of information (the press. of objects.their vaticinations. for those To this now familiar theory we add two observations . --·---·� everyday life. Such an ideolo� requires compensations which �re provided by occultism. the class that dictates fashions and tastes and has the world for its playground . Baudrillard. for if ' in­ tellectual ' fatigue and the obsolescence of objects are to have a rapid effect. so they fall back on magic and witchcraft. how do they interpret the signs and how are they influenced by the interpretations ? A zone of ambiguity is established half way between belief and make-believe. and a system could be drawn from horoscopes in general (and thence a sub-system for our society) . environment and dwellings that are re­ garded as lasting). of}P:Qg�:r1lity _ . it is the monopoly of a class. structured. and the demand for. willed. yet directed towards action by justifying individual tactics so that those concerned believe and do not believe what they say. the zodiac. it is as though people had nothing in their daily lives to give them a meaning. and it may well be these social expressions of desire that they are really attacking and destroying . productive power is such that it would now already be possible to achieve an extreme fluidity of existence. scientificness supplies its mechanisms (how and on what are mere details so long as there are computers. this is the strategy of desire.l!g. electronic brains. pp. irrationality thrives and prospers . ' Today psychology and psychoanalysis are not only clinical and thera­ peutic sciences but ideologies. feelings or interests . with prin­ ciples of finality as its major preoccupation. and behave as if they believed. is acclaimed and respected. Perhaps they hope in this roundabout way to adapt their desires. one has only to read the papers .!Jn this light a contrast or contradiction appears between institutionalized durability object­ ively structured (according to a logic of procedures. 96-107.!!l. their texts considered as a corpus or coherent and clearly defined body.fiects the essell�e. why do they consult them. discover and orientate them.:�ry:��Jife. When transitoriness is not suffered but de­ sired. including the administration of towns. the * cr. if we probe into the private lives of the members of this society we find that they are. indeed. among others. suffered. do people expect from horo­ scopes. but we shall not attempt such an undertaking as it would not advance our particular problem. was sealed into great monu- who manipulate objects to make them less durable likewise mani­ pulate motivations. with a whole-scale. in many cases. This is a society with rational aims and pretensions. Thus the rationality of economism and technicity produces its opposite as their ' structural' complement and reveals � its limitations as rest�cted rationalism and irratjo�j. Utopie (paris). as a me?-ll� oX�JfE!?!!i.

seeks an outlet in new forms of religiosity.84 Everyday Life in the Modem World ments of past cultures and summarizes a topology . In such circumstances it is impossible to avoid escapism (the desire to get away from everyday life).set up against the use of contraceptives. * A stroll through the land o make-believe f Among the experts of social make-believe we mention at random: G. frigidity. ideological and political . and the past works of art.situated between two opposite poles : horoscopes on one side. e�erytJ1ing lla.._ _ � f the. between experience and make-believe . the foremost . museums and galleries are submerged under the flood of consumers who thus consume nothing but the all-pervading.�ec��e. The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 85 Satiety and a stubborn quest for satisfaction. We see it rather as a symptom of the obverse. but in women's magazines. A summa analysis suffices to show that there are two distinct types 0 leisure/' structurally' opposed: a) leisure integrated with everydaYllfe (the p� �sal ofdaily papers. E. and on the other cos­ monauts. And everything points to the fact that now a new cult of the Cosmos is emerging from our poor. physiological (real or fictitious). Life is trapped in an intermediary zone between cyclic and rational­ ized linear time. demand for. Eroticism is obsessive nowadays. codified mirages and the setting in motion of vast controlled migrations. and a demand for compensations. Barthes. their myths and mythologies. space exploration with its quota of sacrifice.complementing and compensating it.��. It is because such religious traditions survive that sexuality. television. though this obsession only superficially reflects an in­ tensification of virility (or femininity) and a greater aptitude for sexual pleasure. 4JiaYe. whence the impressive number of collective rapes and sadistic or masochistic rituals. E_()�si1:l!t?1 : .!l. H. etc. institutionalism. films..J:t.J::�?'1� si!1!a. b) the :Q!'osp��� of departure.Q sb. Countering this re-emerging cult of the World . it is emotionally .investing erotic acts with a lost significance . debauchery or madness.an heir­ loom of religion .r��l�'§"<?. * The best examples of social make-believe are to be found neither in illms nor in science fiction. is another more ' human' cult. and V. For instance the particular significance of cycles. and of course the authors of plays.. !�ITij!ed £!lildre.. Sartre. li�� ! � E § �.is the ideological relation of fecundation to the sexual act that sanctions and consecrates physiological phenomena and blind determinism. confront and reflect each other as they merge . his adap­ tation is also blocked by basic repressions. �bltr�ctt<:r wbQ. down-trodden everyday life . holidays. Whence the desecration of the quest and its objects by the questers themselves. etc.. . The cult of Eros denotes a desire to restore former interdictions so that transgres­ sions . increased and multiplied presence of their fellows. whom it would be too lengthy to name. historic cities . a lack of virility and femininity. evasion. and as a result escapism and flight are promptly and easily salvaged by tourist organizations.s. Man's adaptation to his desire is arrested mid way between the real and the possible.is avidly consumed till bore­ dom and satiety set in. It seems that the influence of this cosmogony is not quite spent. and numbers governing cycles (twelve and its multiples). tOIt< m§ n�}y�p�l:!P!�L1.) and con::CJ Ai§£9 J�Jl:!tt jt c. Jean Duvignaud. t() escape through worldliness.Qrrifie� �� �nd ·· e. J. Ki�I:J�!<E��nlil:ln. Qt<fQI('thl� !:!. the exploitation of their achievements for purposes of propaganda. R. that of Eros. as historic towns and regions. survives to this day. dissatisfaction and unrest contradict. Morin.�. where experience and make-believe merge in a manner conducive to the Bachelard.psychological.or the Cosmos .. the.or irrationally .not to be confused with individual imagi­ nation or with the vast symbolic heritage of the past. styles. and that is social make-believe .Leg�' gyery­ .become pos­ sible .. show-consuming turns into a show of consuming. Raymond. c:>��. L S D. Interdictions are extended to every­ day life even when their ideological justification is absent : vide the obstacles . the win. science fiction.-P.the division and orientation of space and the projection of time on to cosmic and social space for the use of shepherds and peasants and later of the inhabitants of towns.t�-pmfQI11!4 �� The experimental and conceptual gropings of contemporary philo­ sophy and sociology have discovered one thing at least. not overcome but self­ conscious. programming. debarred by society from adaptation.!?: t���� .

positivism. It is a fact that women do read these practical texts on make-believe fashions and these make-believe sections (including publicity) on practical fashions. leisure. .). clothing and fashions. ideologies seen as non-ideologies such as scientism.B E LI E V E (social) (involving individual make-believe and collective symbolisms) Language { vocabulary oppositions links { { meta physical function (of writing) metonymical function (of speech) Rhetoric { �OrdS unages things Emotional projections consolidating make-believe or actualized as adaptation POESIS and P R AXIS { Ada ptation (of a human being to his natural being) Com pulsions (determinisms f Everyday li e noted by science. thus proving our theory of a level of reality where superficial analysis only perceives juxtaposed sectors (living. not­ . aestheticism. furnishing. garden chairs and occasional tables.��lliysub=systems separated by irreducible gaps. mastered by technology) { { bOdies time space desire biological geographical economic { { ' Values' nascent or vanishing : festivals. sees it as pragmatic or imaginary. Such publications insinuate into each reader's daily life. the city. etc. patterns and models.iihstandlng--� n-th�-��deavours to·establishand setile '1t for good anlarr�th�tthe���. invests this subject-matter with a concrete or an abstract interpretation. the rhetoric of advertisements being often more literary (and better written) than the reading matter. praxis . Let it be remembered that our aim is to prove that a system of everydaylife does not exist. happiness made possible.) Organizing sub-systems that are justified by principles The ideology of consumption Publicity as ideology Illusions and myths related to ideology and to current rhetoric M A K E . all possible daily lives. aesthetics. rationality and the state Images and ideologies (' culture ' fragmented and specialized) { { Principles (ethics.al taste. . imagines what he sees and sees what he imagines.86 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 87 LEVELS O F S O CI A L REALITY reader's utter bewilderment. urbanism. food. each sector governed by a system and forming a kind of social entity. all the houses and all the fiats are presented to the reader with the codes that ritualize such 'messages ' and make them available by programming every­ day life. nature. Here too literature and publicity are distinguished only by the different way in which each is laid out on the page to attract the eye of the reader. but where we discover sub-systems that make possible the functional organization of everyday life and its subjection to compulsions that are anything but unselfish. furniture worthy of a castle or a palace. structuralism. { Strategies o f power and opposition Perspectives and prospectives Conceptual and theoretical knowledge (gradually descending towards experience) Ideologies of property. etc. . a single issue may include practical instructions on the way to cut out and sew up a dress or precise information such as where and at what price to buy another. towns and urbanism. yet situated on one plane and related to it. alongside a form of rhetoric that invests clothes and other objects with an aura of unreality : all possible and impossible dresses. every kind of dish from the simplest to those whose realization requires the skill of a professional. functionalism. toarism. etc. sport. The reader. Indeed. multiPle but united in the social mastery of nature and in etc. in­ cluding the unrestricted (or presumed such) everyday lives of the demi-gods. according to his persop. which adopts the methods of publicity and fills the same meta­ phorical function of making insignificance ' fascinating' and translating everyday life into make-believe so that the face of the consumer lights up with a smile of satisfaction.

Style also implied adaptation when objects. 'projections ' unobtrusively fill the gap between experience and make-believe and people pro­ ject their desires on to one group of objects or another. the same applies to clothes (ready-made. or rhetoric . one in terms of levels. that is for conditions in an urban settlement and a particularly significant standard of everyday life. but the technical mastery of ' natural ' determinisms is not sufficient . or seem to be. one form of activity or another : the home. Aesthetics tends to operate more on the level of make-believe. all depends on the ' quality ' of the discussions. while others attain a ' superior' status and become ideologically overcharged . adaptation absorbs compulsions. real and imaginary. haute-couture) or to food This theory. We have seen that language is a medium of make-believe. instead of being considered only as such and put to a definite restricted rise qua objects. food. The diagram is more or less consistent with the tri-dimensional code (cf. ' nature '. and our commentary of this diagram will serve as defence and justification. furnishing. and inter­ pretations of. while it would decrease in the case of a suburban district dweller and decrease further if we consider the well-to-do citizen living in a residential area in a big town. chapter VII). Art formerly represented a form of adaptation (of time. frequently even on a social scale as for instance in cities. So long as make-believe exists. It is of some significance to note that the diagram on page 87 also illustrates the theory of objects and activities as ' sectors ' : clothing. the work of art gave a perceptible shape to time and to space. but it can be theoretically adapted to a specific sector while still. the displacement is not total. the fiat. with its discus­ sions on art-discussions and on aesthetics. but the relation is not one of logical inversion but ofdialectical conflict. roughly. and the contradictions that arise at this level . that more compulsion (controlled and codified) equals less adaptation. that con­ sumption can exist without such an adaptation and. going away on holiday. architecture and monuments. Indeed. 'living ' and environment and possibly sex and sexuality . that is. Le Langage et ��societe. desire) . which we shall not develop here. space. and. Such conflicts and problems of everyday life involve fictitious solutions. Compulsions might. were the common property of social experience . maintaining its essential outline . furnishing. and can also be applied to towns and urbanism. for the inhabitants of a 'large community '. each theory would require a modulation of the initial diagram so as to fit and define the sector in question. its ideology (and pUblicity as ideology) is founded on this postulate that is assumed to be the basis of satisfaction. is a postulate of the society of consumption. more- . cooking. transforms them and turns them into products. and we shaH have more to say on the subject later. is summed up in the diagram on page 87. Thus problems and the search for solutions overstep the frontier of make-believe. the other in terms of dimensions. with the theory distinguishing thlee dimensions of reality expressed in speech : symbols. its illusory adaptation. for instance. thus the amount of compulsion and the success of adaptations vary according to the theory . metalanguage (or words about words) acts as compensation. he who adapts to circumstances has overcome compulsion. certain objects refuse to be restricted to the level of experience or of make-believe and become emotionally or imaginatively charged because they are both perceived (socially) and expressed. There is a displacement. paradigms and links. simply through a prescribed and exact correspondence of needs and goods. superimposed on the real solutions when these are. it occupies an intermediary position between make-believe and ideology . impossible. fictitious metamorphosis of everyday life and verbal consumption. etc. thus the ' detached ' house is ex­ perienced by the inhabitant as something to which he has a chance of adapting. art.SS.Everyday Life in the Modem World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 89 over. a decay of symbols and a general shift towards signals and towards syntag­ madc links at the expense of symbolism and opposition. Not that it applies literally to each specific sub-group or sub-system. as to aestheticism. and to the motor-car. indeed. Adaptation and compulsion have conflicting and complex relations . ready-to-wear. but also as dream and ideology . the total of compulsions would approach the highest grade. in the form of discussions on. Such projections invest the object with a double existence. apparently. be graded from 0 to 100. one could say. the two theories define the same phenomena.

although we shall return to the subject of pUblicity later.� "�p�cifi�-. and"therefore 1l!.pt.. none the less. stilI less of imposing. so that what they consume. yet ma ke-believe h. . opposed to that of their elders yet in all ways identical to it. because the methods of enslavement and exploitation to which the working classes have to submit dis­ guise their true condition. but there are no natural frontiers separating imaginary consumption or the consumption of make-believe (the subject of publicity) and real consumption. Publicity does not only provide an ideology of consumption. a rhetoric that is not restricted to language but invades experience .te a. Thus young people tend to lead a marginal everyday life. .. How then can frustration and disappointment be avoided if people have nothing more substantial than signs to get their teeth into ? Adoles­ cents today want to consume now. or one might say that there exists a fluid frontier that is always being overstepped and that can only . l:tct of c"01. and it does more than crea. "� .". ". each level having its specific context ofimages and verbal commentaries.C! 2f�h�"illla�il1:fltio. at once.t!. Consumption is a substitute for production and. a language of things.tll J:lQ.d. good cooking. This in itself would not matter if consumption were not accepted as something reliable. realizing himself in actions a.Jficti­ tious) as a real act (' reality' itself being divided into compulsions ancIadaptauOns). both negatively and massively. in every peru��rof sumption and all the joy of consuminglneveryob]ect"and every action). craves for make-believe and is inevitably disappointed by it. It is based on the imaginary existence of things . The sense of disappointment that pervades consumption has a number of causes. sound and devoid of deception and mirage.ZPerience. It g'Wws-propru:tioately less obtrusive--­ The working classes cannot help being discontented for they are the first of the social strata to be acquainted with such frustration. for the time being we must concentrate on trying to define the outline of our unrest and our discontent. possessions and trades. and the ideology of consumption only increases its vagueness. and they are not aware of being ex­ ploited and enslaved in their daily lives and daily consumption to the same degree as they are in the sphere of production. and sometimes if can' furtlier adapfatloil"or"cil":"'""'" cumscrib�e-. ".�" '. . their own yet unchanged. for them. and such a market has been duly and effectively exploited.. they are incapable of formulating. The case is still more distressing for the working classes. it evokes them and involves a rhetoric and a poetry superimposed on the art of consuming and inherent in its image ..n image of the ' I ' consumer.. their presence overshadows adult values. a display window in the Faubourg Saint-Honore or a fashion show are rhetorical happenings. This relation has become vaguer still since then. " " " " � -""� . their values. are the adult objects that surround them with their material existence and their signs. ownership and administration of the means of production by one class).' real' proi:ilems.�d������� be fixed in theory. Consumer-goods are not only glorified by signs and ' good ' in so far as they are signified.90 Everyday Life in the Modern World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 9 1 (ordinary meals. who live in the midst of signs of consumption and consume an in­ ordinate amount of signs. in such circumstances.""".lSllJl!iggj�J�:�J}1)!�1!"£lQ".. served as a cover for the real con­ ditions of production. . ' work for wages '.. the structured-structuring relation (sale of working energy. In the ' good old days' the working classes were unaware of the structure of production and therefore of their being exploited .ht!. Make-believe as such is part of everyday life. But. . as everyday life is. ]. consumption is primarily related to these signs and not to the goods themselves.""th�" biiterne"s's"oTcoUfllcis and thi' 'wel"ght ' of " '." ' p. .ric. This situation fosters deep and multiple frustrations that are inadequately compensated by a brutal assertiveness. everybody expects his daily (or �) ration.al (joy in every mouth­ P "the obj� and metonymical (all of con­ �t) ful. Con­ sciousness. " relation to everyday experierwe (compulsions and ildaj5fiffionJ= 'of compulsion and our limited i(mu�tdisguise th� cap��ity. t� ".nd coinciding with his own ideal. the ideology of exchange. and we are far from understanding them all. and yet as ' adolescents ' they are marginal .� �"---"""""""". ful­ filled as such. in locating one of them in the absence of a determined split or division between the consumption of things and that of signs and images deriving from these things. " .�.�i�i�-" . dinner parties and banquets). but we have succeeded. mainly dominated by compulsions with a minimum of adaptation. - . as n exploitation is mtensdied.1I:.

fruitless. have only a smattering of wealth. this intermediary stratum of the society of controlled consumption is slowly merging with the pro­ letariat and though white-collar workers.) The middle classes wallow in satis­ factions and are yet half-aware of being swindled . thus the circumstances that characterized it have spread to the whole of society. hopeless.�undabout met:hocl ofeludl!lg the responsibi1ities of consciousness . white lacquered tele­ phones.sold at a high'price of make-believe .(The imag-. absolute ' and endlessly recurring. The middle classes have. that which was possible and all that was possible have taken shape. directionless \ : claims.an absence of style would be more to the point .���e-.. his lack of power. protests. but the middle classes. in extreme cases they have not even a fixed abode . drugs. furthering the cause of the bourgeoisie.by �! �t9 r��L�!Io.�. an eminent technician or government advisor. -to esc�pe by th�. yet there remains one insuperable superiority: the demi-gods do not live in the quotidian.. etc. complicities. � ! ' � . these demigods reproduce in their opulence and power a revised version of vagrancy and the tramp. and moreover the middle classes.\j::� � --Por the intellectual. The rejection of this society by ever-renewed groups of adolescents is the most sig­ nificant .r. a famous journalist. with the exception of the r!lling classes or contemporary equivalent of the �. by denying the status of ' class' to the workers... is also their stronghold '1 . passwords. fro� -..'-�. . flowing with the waters of rhetoric. a superior standing . and it is impossible to speak of ' style' in relation to it . objections and claims do not cease and cannot be eradicated as each particular group in turn objects and protests trying to make the most of the situation. because it is ' made up ' after the event by experience . like fairy-tale heroes they pro­ vide common mortals with a tangible image . Thus. unwittingly.'-how� t � _ -which they are made popular presents them in the setting of a superior brand of this commodity. and their particular relation to objects and property is becoming a general relation. no power and no authority. . all-encompassing.. of course. At present. are also its victims. whereas the common mortal. In consequence. social strata take the place of classes . so that they must live henceforth like the proletariat or only a fraction better. but for different reasons). . but they are not on the same plane as the ordinary citizen..in short. so that they are. submerged and engulfed.92 Everyday Life in the Modern World their class consciousness is not easily restored and yet does not entirely disappear but becomes a class ' misunderstanding'." -. antique furniture . Here is another everyday life. authority and power have never The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 93 been its lot (neither has creativity. a class consciousness. the violent and the non-violent.th�i�. ___ \. been had once again ! By whom. We have already noted the ambiguity of women's status today. . wandering from yacht to Grand Hotel to Chateau . language and metalanguage. etc. for their refusal implies an attempt to evade everyday life and establish a new existence of creation and adaptation that has various aspects : vagrancy. to which they are consigned. as it has been said and repeated.). This intermediary stratum of society has always craved satisfaction ever since it first came into existence : itemized satis­ factions and items of satisfaction. for if class strategy possesses an active ' subject' it can never be caught red-handed. have acquired in relation to these proletariat a sort of dignity and eminence. is overwhelmed by it. is the permanent substitute for experience that allows him to ignore the mediocrity of his con­ dition. make-believe. and as such is involved in all claims and protests that spread unobtrusively from questions of pay (that are never adequately solved) to the organization of their daily lives.hi�h. his feet glued to the ground. unrecognizable yet recognized with its swimming-pools. but their way of life seems to have conquered the whole of society including the working classes..th�y -try:. they carry very little weight. Such groups fall into two cate­ gories. Everyday life. wnence � their incessant protests and chimsily forrimlated. it is a total rejection. who serve as pivot in the manoeuvre. it is difficult to say. small technicians and clerks put up a stubborn resistence to this state of affairs it spreads none the less. not because of ideological pressures but simply through the obvious similarity of their everyday lives and the identical evasions from such lives in packaged tours and trips. of money and the humiliating fact of having to submit to compulsions and myths in order to climb a few rungs of the social ladder and become a popular writer. Q.

enriching the typology of alienation : political. such as. consumption thus engulfs what was intended to give meaning and direction. an increasingly har­ monious release of tensions.:� b. a gap that the philosophers can face unflinchingly.::-.not himself in flesh and blood. notwithstanding their would-be sardonic insinuations concerning ideological 'con­ spiracies ' and their 'instigators'.. but the channelling of such universalizing ideologies into the restricted rationalities of technology and the state has reduced their former strategical power to nothing. sexual alienation.neither adolescents.a potent society is the JJnited States of America. It is all very well to dismiss meaning and to consider the quest for meaning absurd. consuming is not happiness. atoms and molecules. ' End ideo--logies ! ' was the rallying cry of the American attack. intellectuals. the middle-class citizen is uneasily aware that in the society of consumption the consumer is consumed .which has no other ideological props is deprived of its integrating powers. in­ dividuals. a class strategy whereby philosophy and history are set aside so as to confuse the issue and successfully inhibit any con­ sciousness of the actual state of total alienation. We would suggest that alienation is spreading and becoming so power­ ful that it obliterates all trace or consciousness of alienation. comfort and ease are not all. who is still as free as the labourer. glutted with aestheticism. but his life-time.. districts. through trade. already integrated former romanticisms. of the sexual act to fecundation) is very far from extinct. neither better nor worse than the others : those who know and those who understand nothing about anything.nd !. busi­ ness concerns nor women. What is new is that the theory of alienation is left with a diminishing philosophical referential and has become a social practice.is of no avail . One fine morning the middle-class citizen passes out like a Vic­ torian lady. existential­ ism and even Marxism to a point ? It has indeed. he is bored. not himself.JE. but one whereby our society . with jumbling the levels. this is its problem h ' 1 . In these circumstances new ideologies are required and feverishly sought after. or like the Kierkegaardian character he starts shout­ ing ' Everything is now possible ! ' . with the result that impotence prevails in cultural and especially in integrative spheres. he is no longer content with exchanging reality for make-believe and vice versa. here and elsewhere. . and such a ' - . For culture � that abstract translation of economic and technological demands . ideologists who would class this theory among antiquated philosophies . to assimilate the absurd to the real and the rational . for instance.94 Everyday Life in the Modern World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 95 Resist it as he may. the abolition of classes. these last who would like something more fulfilling are rapidly and totally engulfed none the less. while everyday life integrates those who accept it and even those whom it does not satisfy. they further the cause of class strategy . to integrate them with itself though it is.. Not that it lacks integrating powers. though these are mainly prevalent in the spheres of trade and consumer-goods. and one of its major contradictions. consuming satisfies him and yet leaves him dissatisfied . communities. It was evidently impossible to live on the American funds of 1950 to 1 960 : de-ideologization.urgeoisie p �ss�sse(ran 'ideology '(the universality of Reason) and a social practice (the creation of nationality) they had integrating powers. no longer considered a ' subject' . practically and culturally enforced. bureaucratic. and to them the most convincing incitements to revolt only sound like so much noise. The theory of alienation is reputed to be out of date . whence the paradox. joy does not depend on them . surrealism. he wants something else . New types of alienation have joined ranks with the old. of a society whose function is integration and participation and that cannot succeed in integrating any one of its groups . although they have served as models for most chroniclers of this phenomenon. technological. with a clear conscience. Typical of such an �llK. towns. We commit for trial. but still active on the cultural level too .. though even this is not certain and the basis of sexual repression (the ' natural ' re­ lation. c�in forms of alienation may perhaps have vanished. etc. urban. ideological. Has not this society. This society wishes to integrate its members. in the form of commodities ! That which yesterday was reviled today becomes cultural consumer-goods . �deed. frequently discussed but only super­ ficially analysed. When the French and Europ�. but a great gap widens. the pawns are the middle classes who are totally unaware of their alienation. Such a strategy has a number of moves at its disposal .

t'!:. on the one hand. We hope to show-how. have still a rosy future before them in underdeveloped France and may well be included officially. it is worse : it is a state �� �210gy-. we have economism. etc. it has no easy life because it works as an ideology of expansion. but. ie" a . today an ideology must not be seen as such. happiness by_anE-_. language phenomenon' that requires our parbcular attention. the fragmen­ tation of specialized knowledge and labour is not conducive to unity. The importance of the ideology of language entitles it to a chapter to itself. . massive landings of specialists (sociologists. proletariat. ' underdeveloped countries '. in fact. Ideology in its former capacity (possessing the power to grip.�y: �. 1Jy' a pr6cess -()rs�bstitui:l0n -. but with something more appealing.ology. as a sop to the lower classes. Vulgar and vulgarized.1� . furthermore. on the other. fostered by pUblicity (that tends to become both ideology and experience) . Yet the ideologizing process is clear enough. that is to say production relations.one among. but don a scientific disguise.-ld(. processes .irecan-01il)7'uud'a:ffhe''111gh srie e ihat of cultural 'OeTo e' vC institutions .96 Everyday Life in the Modem World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 97 battering ram and such artillery made short work of Europe's ancient fortresses . and now the demand for more subtle ideologies is in­ tense both in America and in Europe. With what result ? Now Europe is little more than a battlefield of broken philosophies and theories. or the decoding of former messages without the faintest claim either to novelty or to the decoding of ' reality'. it must make no appeal to emotivity. The American attack coincided with the downfall of Stalinist dogmatism. formalism and structuralism have this in com­ mon with scientism and positivism: they all parade as non�idtlo­ logical. We believe that today this concept includes.. words about words. ---->"-. not the least of the problems. so that it is necessary to refine the concept itself of ideology. in a university curriculum or that of some other state-sponsored institution. But there are other more subtle undertakings. ideologies : to clothe. Culture is not a myth. Economism has the considerable advantage of uniting a decayed Marxism and a degenerate bourgeois rationalism. specific concepts. but so many ' sub-cultures ' . The ideology of l�fYlininity'" or of. psychologists and others) followed in the wake of this onslaught. involve no allegiance to specific leaderships.even when disguised in the Harlequin cape made for the purpose by one of them (namely 'classicism') . culture of the masses.do not make a culture .feEJini!. is only another form of the ideology of ���l:l!llptiml (happiness through con­ sllmingjancrih. though already discarded in the United States. which is the official theory. and consists in extrapolation-reduction whereby the ideology makes absolute truths ofrelative. �11?�tt. Functionalism. as organizing rationality or as the prospect of imminent affluence. culture is atomized and sub-cultures of various denominations are no novelty: country life. city life. histor­ icity). a large proportion of social make-believe. it is related on the one hand to the remarkable discoveries of the budding science of linguistics and on the other to 'language phenomena' that pertain to everyday life. � . whence ' mass culture ' and consumption are supplied with ' best quality products ' and works that are said to be 'unadulterated '. dissimulate and transform reality..that it raises is its \�_.-"--""� . The ideo Jogy of culture or culturalism supports the unsteady theory of the coherence and singleness of culture. as productivism. efficiency. bourgeoisie. the character and scope of its influence.i!Y.publicity assumes in part the role form�rly held by . its �i!ia. At an inferior level of the build-up. it conveniently clothes the organization and the rationalized exploitation of everyday life. with here and there a lone and much beleaguered citadel or fort still resisting (Marxism. aristocracy. whereas the theory we shall be introducing in the following chapter stresses the fact that we are surrounded by metalanguage.1ll:l!�ali!� (women possessing the technique of happiness!). short of imitating a certain psychoanalysis or a certain occultism and foolhardily staking on the irrational. Let it suffice to note for the time being that this ideology is based on a simultaneous representation of language as the key to social reality (which becomes perceptible by means of its specific forms of speech) and as a system (including and involving the unity of reality and intelligibility) . one of these days. Such concepts. Unity of ciirfi.1. theories purporting to be non­ ideological and 'rigorous ' and.()L!�c.

classifiable and that can be labelled . or the illustrations and literature of pub­ licity. which signifies about as much as ' what's­ its-name ' or ' thingummybob '. treatises. R. manuals. the institutions make use of the organizations as ' implements ' with which to manipulate social activity while a competent devoted bureaucracy promptly ransacks the common weal. everyday insignificance can only become mean­ ingful when transformed into something other than everyday life . 1966. c) texts (forming a within a single system but at different levels of reality. It is hardly necessary is a unity or it is nothing. Sub­ systems were already implicit in Hegelianism with the theory of an all-encompassing philosophico-political system. Yet the fact remains that a system ! authority and dignity of the structure. not The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 99 absolute system surrounded by prophetic mistiness. to become a formal­ ized. or they consist of documents. A. . J. to which we try to append a meaning . the object of manuals and gastronomical guides with a hierarchy of place-names and dishes. Griemas) call all ' theories '. the ' experience ' offashion (sociological : women. as soon as the quotidian is presented as a system (a com­ pendium of meanings) it collapses and is seen to be meaningless. and none can stand alone. Unfortunately for this theory. For the word has connotational language. Le Systeme de la mode. 1966. . . Furthermore there is no system because there are so many sub-systems situated. indeed. situations determined by the relation between activity (social agent or subject . a circle surround­ ing circles. specific. guides. prices .in brief. However. as pretext for social rituals . Such was the author's intention. Such a system should first be proved by experience. which is as sybilline as could be wished. in other words. to say that in his work the methodical analysis of the language of fashion is Mots et les choses. The conditions required for the existence· of sub-systems are : a) a distinct.98 Everyday Life in the Modem World liberate and integrate. fashion is a sub-system . that once characterized rationalism) could only subsist if everyday life could be seen as an actively coherent system . the participation of its organizing actions. specific and specialized (social) activity .* for if there are more than one the existence and effect of each will be only relative. Paris. though of course. the system's impact or importance) is lacking. groups and individuals) and objectives. prerogatives of the one As Michel Foucault has demonstrated in the last pages of his book Les first rate. Our concern (with the insertion of fashion into everyday life) precedes or follows his. . that activity. gradually become vague and indeterminate. . into codes. and the only system sufficiently comprehensive to be worthy of the name is the system of substitutes - corpus) that ensure the communication of so comprehensive. when successful. reveal and define what some linguists (Hjemslev. and this view is impossible. a sphere containing spheres.is rapidly constituted .* so is cookery when it renounces the status of a regional. from which the explicit corpus and code may be analytically deduced .. the sway and authority of the corresponding institutions . ' analyses ' and 'inquiries ' risk turning into sub­ stitutes to save trouble and uphold a ' system ' that only exists in words ! ew A f sub-systems Theoreticians of structuralism frequently use the word ' system ' . b) organizations and institutions justifying one another at state level or at the level of another state-sponsored institution. In such circumstances it would be more correct to speak of sub-systems. the lacunae and gaps between them filled with floating mists . objectives corresponding to this activity. materials. however it is. such analyses. for the most part. so as to constitute an indissoluble whole . and though exactness may be included in its connotations and its rhetoric it has certainly • i According . this puts an end to the * no part in its denotation. Paris. . . . so that a hierarchy -.household craft consisting of orally transmitted recipes. a compendium of non-meanings. Barthes. these texts are some­ times already organized. but their vocabulary is sadly lacking in precision. * Cf. for if everyday life is to be seen as a system this system must be structured and closed. and serving . or hierarchies . as we have seen. specialized activity. to this definition. it is not possible to construct a theoretical and practical system such that the details of everyday life will become meaningful in and by this system. in fact.

and this fact should be kept in mind. 1). on the other hand the real but limited and pre. it is a fact that for many people the car is perhaps the most substantial part of their ' living con­ ditions '. thus constituting a striking . such conditions contribute to the disintegration of city life and foster a ' psychology' or. however. chassis and body. assumes the dimension of a complete object and has an (absurd) significance .c. and is taken up with their ' rational ' exploitation and the demands of the motor industry and motor repairs. established dangers do not prevent most people from ' taking risks '. with its philosophical and rational implications.). We shall. nothing can beat the motor-car.achas .. a margin or interval separates them in which there is room for talk. adequate streets and roadways.�<:i: society so much a. equipment). for the motor-car with its retinue of wounded and dead. Griemas). The nucleus of language attracts activity. It fosters hierarchies: an obvious hierarchy determined by size. therefore work . for adven. ever such resistance occurs it is duly quashed. Traffic circulation is one of the main functions of a society and. It is an unimposing technical object. b) This is not the end. power. for living conditions and for human contact in large towns the car is a pawn in the ' system' that crumbles away as soon �s it has been identified. the system of substitutes . but most of them are more symptomatic than informative. the Leading-Object. Space is conceived in terms of motoring needs and traffic problems take precedence over accommodation in self-termed technical rationality. sociological.its laws and whose establishment it ensures by fixing it on a level (levelling it). is all that remains of adventure in everyday life. ture. and figures also in a simple.s everyday life on which it imposes . a car is not merely a material object with certain technical advantages. its trail of blood. so that they do not exactly coincide . A definite point in the material successful in eluding systematization and retains its household and regional character. a ' psychosis' that is peculiar to the motorist. its paltry ration of excitement and hazard. to designate the effects of traffic circulation carried to their extreme limits. Practical and explicit inquiries into the role and function of the motor-car are remarkably inconclusive to date .using and wasting a considerable amount of energy . since our aim is to prove the existence of a ' sub-system '. in a word for speech. It directs behaviour in various spheres from economics to speech. as a substitute for eroticism.100 Everyday Life in the Modem World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 101 example of simultaneity without exchange. better. Certain experts use the general term 'urbanism'. It might be interesting to point out some curious phenomena : motorized traffic enables people and objects to con­ gregate and mix without meeting. sexuality and eroticism could also be classed under this heading. and a more complex and subtle hierarchy depending on performance. too. a specific semantic field invading and influencing everyday life. What is also significant is the place of the car in the only global system we have identified. de­ priving it of its spontaneity. involves the priority of parking spaces. but. There is a certain amount of lee-way between the two hierar­ chies. this is an isotope (A. depend­ ing on relatively simple functional requirements (it must move. that appears as an entity in this light. from the viewpoint of programmed everyday life. The town only puts up a feeble resistance to this ' system ' and wher. psychic. in fac. Tourism might also be called a sub-system in the so-called con­ sumer society .QtJ'QJ!qll�r. J. tucked away in its shell . Sub-systems are the result of a sort of nucleus of significances favouring a certain sphere of social space so that it acquires powers of attraction and repulsion .. etc.t!!:�_!l!Q!2r:.light up the way before it. a socio-economic means and medium involving demands and compUlsions. ' culture '. cost. as such. each element remain­ ing enclosed in its own compartment. leave to others the task of com­ piling a methodical treatise. Today the greater part of everyday life is accompanied by the noise of engines. and transforming actions and skills into signs and significations at the expense of adaptation. it gives rise to an attitude (economic. Such a process takes place in the sphere of make-believe. change direction and speed) and structural requirements (engine. unimposing functional and structural social complex where it plays an increasingly important part . there are a number of essays and studies on the subject that might serve as introduc­ tions to our analysis. and to this end we shall show that : a)The motor-car is the epitome of ' objects '. discussion and controversy.

that concerned with performance and requiring foolhardiness. anywhere). . Formal cookery is on the way out . intensifying and neutralizing each other as it stands for consumption and consumes symbols. etc. museum. as an instrument of road communication and transport. risk and significance. semiologic and semiotic interpretations of the Highway Code that is the epi­ tome of compUlsive sub-codes disguising by their self-importance our society's lack of directive and of a general code. but the scholar who wishes to complete a thorough semiologic (or sociologic) interpretation of the �otor­ car must include in the basic corpus .in addition to this code further documents such as legal.ists. symbolizes happiness and procures happiness by symbols. indefinite. The Leading-Object has not only produced a system of communication but also organisms and institutions that use it and that it uses. there is a physi­ cal hierarchy (weight. substitute form for quality . or rather absurd. there are limits.ruins the site in so far as it achieves its aim : the city. this significant object has a significant retinue (language. the Highway Code. We note that this characteristic of automotive objects is similar to that of the human body in its relation to sport . practical and make-believe and its hierarchization is both expressed and implied. but what are they ? When I overtake a more powerful car than that which I am driving. power. the unenlightened customer has come to appreciate rites. etc. I change my place in the first hierarchy by climbing a rung in the second.character of the rating allows for an infinite variety of combinations. therefore freedom . a denizen from the land of make-believe. Speech becomes rhetorical and unrealistic when re­ ferring to the motor-car . This highly privileged object has a second. The car is a status symbol. Fashion ? How many women are really fa­ shionable ? A handful of models. my achievement becomes a topic of conversa­ tion with my passengers.and therein lies its general significance and its specific significance for the theoretician) to the social hierarchy : there is analogy (not homology) between social standing and the grading of cars. it stands for comfort. but integrative. intenser significance. eludes them no sooner launched. real and symbolic. we are convinced. but also a telescoping of the two. which they make. I am sure to boast of my feat . appearances and settings more than the actl1al dishes. the exhibits are invisible behind the tou. whose aim is to attract crowds to a particular site . journalistic or literary tracts. Volumes are filled with semantic. speech.historic city. The tourist trade. thus I might climb a rung or two by becoming a champion (for a minute or a day ?) within a specific restricted circle . the view.) and a hierarchy of performance. later with my acquaintances and friends to whom. reversible and ever-recurring . so that hotel and restaurant owners. height. Such sub-systems. c) As a result the practical significance of the motor-car. especially if I have taken some risk. who can only see one another (which they could have done just as well elsewhere. to destruction through tautology as the object destroys every­ thing and then itself. The motor-car's roles are legion : it is the sum of everyday compulsions.102 Everyday Life in the Modern World scale does not correspond precisely to a point on the performance scale . sustained and enhanced by its sym­ bolism. the prime example of the social favours bestowed on mediator and medium and it is a condensation of all the attempts to evade everyday life because it has restored to everyday life hazard. cover-girls and demi-goddesses. authority and speed. it is consumed as a sign in addition to its practical use. who quake in their shoes lest they should cease to be fashionable because fashion.yet imperative . rhetoric). beautiful view. of course . in these circumstances the hierarchy is no longer oppressive and compUlsive. can only lead to pleonasm. As the two scales do not coincide there is an incessant shift from one to the other with no definite cause for interruption. on the look-out for easy profit. and they must keep up with it or rather ahead of it in a perpetual giddy-making overtaking. etc. a fact that speaks for itself. It demon­ strates the role of signals . is only part of its social significance. strength. ability and cunning. Moreover this dual hierarchy corresponds (approximately there­ fore fluidly . the enlightened customer will have to discover . it is something magic. d) This object has its own code. more ambiguous than the first. advertisements. and this undefined. contradictions and computations. its various significances in- The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 103 volving. At this point the situation becomes comical.

This image duplicates not only an object's material.om revolutionary potentialities. It would indeed be simple-minded to see trade value as a pre-established system con­ cealed in the words and gestures of those concerned in trade (buyers.104 Everyday Life in the Modern Worid the little cafe. are set aside for further considera­ tion .9. that was its function in the nineteenth century : to inform. is harmless enough and easily retrievable. We are sufficiently familiar with obsolescence in theory and in practice to realize that the wear of motor-cars is foreseen. since it can create nothing. formal-practical) trade value subsist. however. intelligibly linked actions .and conclusive : trade is a form . the simple. fas­ cinating culmination. as the product of labour it pro­ duces sequences. words s and sentence�esand rituai rThi� dialectical theory reduces the act of trading to its sim2!�r. trade tends (without ever entirely suc­ ceeding) to constitute a ' world ' (or should we say that ' system ' familiar under the name of capitalism ?). its gradual emergence and the creation of its own social experience so that it becomes. that is.). Such a form. consequent stages of the inquiry restore both content and historical and sociological conditions of trade. One could say that publicity is a sub-system . perceptible existence but desire and pleasure that it makes into fictions situating them in the land of make-believe. it is the language of trade at its most elaborate. merging into acceptance). Trade as form contains a logic. of course.�:II! just as. sellers. or at any rate in France.that is valued apart from its double. the Display Myth (the See the caricatures by Sempe (though his humour. describes objects intended for a specific use and possessing a trade value (quoted on the market). the capitalists of commerce. the Smile Myth (the joy of consuming identified with the imaginary joy of the man or woman depicted consuming the object).or. and the result is more than a simple connotational language . we might even suggest (with a rather doubtful pun) that the automotive vehicle is the arch-symbol of autodestruction. is only isolated from its content and contingencies at a first operation. motorways. individual or social group . whether object. which. later. tradesmen.notwithstanding its specific attraction as desecrator of town and countryside . for instance. now over­ shadowed. canalizing signifiers to a dual purpose : to offer them as such for general . that is still one of its functions. or language. to describe and to provoke desire . though termed ' durable consumer goods ' and involving permanent structures (thoroughfares. motorists in America and Germany spend long hours in roadside motels contemplating the flow of traffic on the motorways* and evidently finding the pastime extremely (if not totally) rewarding. etc. Notwithstanding resistances .saturation point will soon be reached here too and is indeed. it is both a social and an intellectual phenomenon. there is nothing .the happiness of being a consumer. it creates myths . and indeed. And publicity. complete with symbols. already in sight in the form of final freezing and inextricable fixity. it borrows existing myths.consumption and to stimulate the consumption of a specific object. when ' pure ' form is under analytical observation. con­ ditioned and programmed . adapting it to its own ends . promising ' happiness ' . tinged with absurdity. Rather. and as such. palavers. in a manner such as to induce the consumer to buy.) it takes place of honour in the system of sub­ stitutes. . in fact. unpretentious restaurant run by an ambitious chef.though certain groups such as tradesmen. As to the motor-car . The following theory taken from Marx's Das Kapital seems apt -. do possess just such a semantic sub-system. Thus publicity that was intended to promote consumption is the first of consumer goods . the image that advertises and sanctifies it. furthermore. the experience. in the second half of the twentieth century in Europe. That is how it started. This form even governs the language that preceded it. the contingencies dis* The Bureaucratic Society 0f Controlled Consumption 105 carded. to the horror of traffic experts.which may be' unsur­ mountable . the means by which the traded object and its am­ biguous (abstract-concrete. and its contingent retinue (negotiations. In the expectancy of this ever-receding. rhetoric and metalanguage.the content placed between brackets.from former traditions and fixations as well as f. etc. yet such a hypo­ thesis appears to be unacceptable. we shall seethe semantic theory discarding words to redeem the essence of the act ofcommunication. Thus it salvages and reconditions myths. by others .Q!.stinct from its CQ1ltent (social labour). This allows the linking of form to a social experience.

the naturalness of virility. to mythology. The caption to this picture reads : 'A real man's life is marvellous. Thus pu�city is the PO� �!. for it thinks of you. it prepares for you personally specially personalized items . the ideology of trade. The Smile Myth is out-ranked .Lof Mod ��_ t1!. Publicity acts as ideology. that's all. these assembled elements. tremendous speed is evoked by the flying foam and the tension of the ropes . Use this After-Shave. the whole of society is with you. producing such objects as the ' display unit '.�P _ �� J)§��§§iQ!J. it is art and literature. in your living-room.106 Everyday Life in the Modem WorId social activity consisting in putting things on display and. yes. or by the twofold terrorism : ' Be a well-groomed man. he is magnificent. by a carefully organized confusion of these ' values ' to the advantage of the latter. ethics. this and not that. . this fuel is your fuel.4J?I�_q text for �IT �l:19c(. per­ sonally. Deprived of its caption the picture would have no meaning. humanity). the boat. virility in natural surroundings. Here we have a picture. the injunctions that interrupt films and news items on American television prove the depth of this concern: you are at home.eJS:J!§g!! ap. " rr--'gre"aiiitingsoTtheFeSilvarto recondition them for its iel��vi own ends . . how to decorate your house. etc. or nothing at all ? . consuming is no joke . or better still. cared for. and considerate into the bargain. Publicity acquires the significance of an ideology. or you will be nobody and know it . religion and aesthetics. except that you still have to choose between so many good things. the beautiful adolescent scans the horizon: what does he see that eludes the eye of the periodical-reader ? Danger or Vision. the dual value of object (utility value) and of consumer goods (trade value). these items are delivered to your personalizing free will to be used at your leisure : this armchair. The extremely vast ' content ' these appropriated ideologies constitute does nothing to diminish the apparent sincerity of pub­ licity'S concern with the public's well-being .unless we concede to the term a very vague and general sense that would also include ideology. We had . the photograph of an athletic half­ naked youth clinging for all he is worth. asserts McLuhan) and you are being looked after. as with trade.' __ � '_ (" . this labour-saving device will give freedom to women.!�§f J!lM P ayS. in the company of the diminutive screen (rather than of the message it transmits. for instance). The caption without the picture would be absurd . marvellous ! It's truly marvellous to find every morning the tonic freshness of your After-Shave . virility. this is a commonplace. to the rigging of a yacht that cleaves the water at full speed . in short how to exist . It appropriates ideological terms and links the salvaged signifiers to the re-conditioned signified without further reference The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 1 07 Every morning become a tremendous guy who appeals to himself and to women. today the more subtle forms of publicity represent a whole attitude to life : if you know how to choose you will choose this brand and no other . plenitude. told how to live better. The time is past when advertising tried to con­ dition the consumer by the repetition of slogans . it con­ fers on all things and on all beings the plenitude of duality and duplicity. . arm and thigh muscles tensed. c) A photographer working for some advertising agency happens to catch the ' spontaneous ' attitude of this superb youth on the deck of a yacht and gives it a specific meaning . ' We append a few observations : a) Here is a picture accompanied by a caption. since the act ofconsuming remains a permanent structure. you are totally and thoroughly programmed. . Moreover he is doing nothing. b) Former myths are thus restored : nature. and it replaces what was once philosophy. After-Shave X publicity hooks these vagrancies one to the other by means of a specific brand of consumer goods and with the object of promoting sales. this goes without saying. the sea. neither landing nor turning . or it might have any number of meanings . which it takes to its logical limits.the pleasure of using a given after-shave . how to dress fashionably. With such themes myths as such are discarded . . We note however the availability of signifiers (a naked man in the sun. imparting an ideological theme to an object (After-Shave) and endowing it with a dual real and make-believe existenc�_.) and of signified (real life. in turn. well-wishing and helpful. this underwear . . QL�LJj!�!! reJ ! !l all available signifiers and vacant signifieds . .by the subterfuge of pictorial rhetoric and caption . this bed-linen.

. sign and significance replace reality. at the level of everyday life. however. this incoherent society for ev af er l� �liaciS br�ilini·polnT?�'·Is-rCneo:H�.--�--���. Fashion (or ' fashionability') locatable in the vicinity of Femininity.�. a massive transfer. perceptible and make-believe . thus we have see:!lJlle craze for the ' Scoubidou'.. that is nothing but an illusion created by the swivel's giddy twists. there are novae such as Reliability. etc. symbols of pro­ perty. Would this ironic image (illustration of a structural analysis) be r I a correct representation of the society in which we are living? Everyday life. socially real though fictitious. symbols of dexterity and wealth. Who can be ungrateful enough to be uneasy ? The swivels tum at ground level.�of the unconscious and against a skyline of �certainty .. defined properties .--"-. cold and somewhat shadowy. What philosophy does it boast. increases like a whirlwind.-'� produce its own philosophy or challenge philosophical references that help to give meaning and value to reality ? To put the question differently. contrivanc� ·aD. all that can be consumed becomes a symbol of consumption and the consumer is fed on symbols.e. there are stars. as it tries to close the circuit. dis­ plays of consuming. gives another self-destructive twist. durability and effort and the ascetic implications of such tastes.s. makes precision an ideology and where the act of consuming is an endlessly recurrent diagram ? The answers to these questions must be postponed. inconstant and qynaIDlc. con­ suming of signs and signs of consuming. In the space of a few weeks or a few months the craze is born.lbr instance. for this particular. better and especially more efficient. a part of make-believe.-----� �.es-Oll( particular attention. frozen. self-termed productivist. as the ground on which people and things stand surrounded by eddies and whirlpools that gradually carry away people. clear.nce. It might be truer to say that everyday life is a crust of earth over the tunnels and £l:Ly�s. all-consuming. destructive and self-destructive). tourists of all descriptions hungrily devour its heart (where it still exists).n:··-ne·o:pj�totii�·il? -:5oes"it-·--. Rationality and a few others) . constellations and nebulae . and the craze for key-rings. is the ritualized con­ . for by referring to the consumption of signs we have prepared the way for our inquiry into linguistic phenomena. this society devoted to the tran­ sitory. ' Culture' is also an item of consumption in this society.Qmetimes it is hard to � it from m�_dness . Sign-consuming desery. -ing coherence and structure.ce.�-�--. and then subsides without leaving a trace. sumption of erotic symbols. not entirely similar to the others. "'" . all of us . By stressing instability and change it overlooks our taste for solidity.--���. "'-. Thus every object and product acquires a dual existence. and Sportiveness. things and the ground itself and merge in the vast mael­ strom of trade ? It may be a fraction over-dramatic. worsfilJ2Q!1!KJi l a a."d-absurd rationaliiy. among the greater planets are Scientific­ ness.. so­ called free consumer activity (that is indeed a little less passive than most ways of absorbing ready-made goods) has an air of festivity that endows it with a sort of unity. each sub-system.108 Everyday Life in the Modern World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 109 misjudged society. high over the polar horizon we have Technology and elsew4ere Youthfulness . subur­ banites. a sy�bol of uselessness. there is a vast sub­ stitution. it is maternal and fraternal. consuming of displays of consuming. and the twin planets Virility and Femininity. extinct stars like Beauty and the strange signs of Eroticism. of happiness and of love .J!Qnouring stability and venerat.--. sweeping thousands of people off their feet. and illusion th�t we··cair i!?����!i�jT1re-oveffie·acn. that is obsessed with coherep. But s. among the fixed stars of the first magnitude we might place Urbanism and Urbanization (so long as we do not omit Naturalness. our visible family is duplicated by this invisible one. Works of art and styles are dis­ tributed for prompt consumption and towns are devoured with such a remarkable show of pleasure that it seems to denote out­ standingly imperative needs and frustrations : foreigners. 'ob­ sessive and joyless . It has clearly .-->. .:ttfu!�'ls•. the society of consumption that showers considera­ tion and protective charms on everybody. and then the sub-lunar planets. how can a society function that considers creative ability unimportant and has built its foundations on an all-con­ suming activity (consuming.-'''. Consuming of displays.lrefli-llie-·-U c Heavens of Permanence .

the reality ' road'. they denote. without however constituting a single system formulated as such. if the fact of seeking or rejecting a significance has a significance. 1966.not that it is translinguistic. indeed. but where speech is concerned it is inadequate. clock time). their inquiry thus constituting a sociological (bistorico-sociological) and cultural phenomenon. and moreover the society possessed (or believed it possessed. the object ' chair'. ' I bought tbis chair in the Faubourg Saint­ Antoine' is a statement involving a context that is not only lin­ guistic but practical and social . There are those who consider language as a social ex­ perience and examine the morphological. but the referentials are social phenomena (depending on socio­ logy). monomials) indicate tbis or that. of even if they have any significance. The following theoretical point should be considered : words and groups of words (specific significant units. without omitting written and literary language) in their inquiry. the French language. and on tbis basis scholars focus their attention on general problems or information and communication. Le Langage et la societe. from the concept of nature. Now. syntactic and lexical characteristics of the languages (or tongues) in current use. to begin with. we are justified in discarding linguistic methods.. There is an intimate relation between of re erentials at the beginning of the twentieth century. yet the first concept covers more than the second. But tbis leads us to question the significance of such inquiries. the concept of ' chair ' . Tbis phenomenon stressed the general character of a society as ' subject'. wbich comes to the same) a general basic code of honour. Is it possible to con­ nect signs and ensure their concatenation without such a referen­ tial ? Can the context be reduced to the words and phrases (groups of signs) preceding and following a given message. bistorical memory. The other method consists in seeing linguistics not as a specialized but as a general science and. presupposes a reference that specifies the signified's iso­ topism (or heterotopism). work and working life. It is the context that endows a denotation with transmissible specifi­ cation. an exemplary one . the city and the environment or from generally accepted ethics and aesthetics. we cannot situate or define a tbing. being cohesive if not logically coherent.Linguistic Phenomena 111 3 Linguistic Phenomena absolute. without French society and without specifications of space and of time. . since the problem is no longer restricted to language . it does not matter whether the object ' chair ' exists or not . city life. the signified ' chair '. the significant decline The decline of re erentials f Scholars of contemporary linguistics can be divided into two groups. in­ cluding sub-systems and connotational speech (pertaining to sexual and erotic experience. f A hundred years ago words and sentences in a social context were based on reliable referentials that were linked together. completely independent. If we accept the negative. is a kind of formal . its isochronism (or heterochronism)! the referential determines whether the signified are or are not situated in the same place at the same time. * stressing. Paris. the denotative function involves a contextual or re erential f function. honesty and self-respect. and has> such a reduction a validity other than that of an arbitrary' decision on the part of the speaker ? An answer in the affirmative (with reser­ vations) seems apt enough in the case of a written text . We shall now reconsider and elaborate a theory discussed in a previous work. denotation and Signified. These referentials had a logical or commonsensical unity derived from material perception (eucli­ dean three-dimensional space.. The word ' chair ' signifies a concept.

it was none the less full of meaning. Thus objects. they are becoming ' t Das Kapita/ (1867) linked theoretical language to a philosophical ' consensus ' that had pre­ viously been almost entirely unconscious or misunderstood. The tonal system. the parallel is too striking not to be mentioned. another (in Paris) stressing the signifier and allowing the viewer to fill in the signified . and social changes). on rules considered permanent. both of which were equally specific and concrete. (picasso. It is not only that the com-. i� cy tg�i�!2. be ancrsi ·o ancra" second nature ' takes the place of the first.perceptible reality lost its stable referentials . one school (in Central Europe) giving first place to the signified. altering the relation of night and day and the perception of outlines. perspective changed. It was in this context that Linguistic Phenomena 1 1 3 creased . But is this really an acquisition ? Yes. with reservations. lost their status of independent.!!l:�<!i�!�?E:?_. ' pure ' philosophy was . they were identified with common sense. In both cases the massive intervention of symbols and the shift from the expressive to the significant split technology. and although this attitude had different and often contradictory interpretations according to the various social classes and ideologies. the vanishing point.Q. The senses are more highly educated and their theoretical ability has increased . Braque. owever. Notwithstanding (or because of) contradictions this society's with immediacy to become ' concrete '.). The paint­ ings and the music of about 1910 seem to corroborate this theory. it was the same with the tonal system in music. But this was not by any means the only innovation. technical objects took the place of tradi- the unity of signifier and signified and the referential of perceptible reality vanished. situated in an historical context. specific concrete ' subjects ' or ' agents ' affecting ' objects ' and aiming at ' objectives '. Common sense and reason lost of absolute reality disappeared and a new perceptible ' real ' world was substituted or added t9 the reality of ' well-informed ' percep­ tion.the space of Euclid and Newton .�!!�LflQ. etc. the signifier (if he could) . there were others that were perhaps more significant and if we have singled out electricity it is mainly for its symbolic value.�SGaFding -. the sense of hearing has acquired a greater aptitude for interpreting visual perceptions and the sense of sight for inter­ preting auditive ones. while functional.llc. abstract essences. both corresponded to perceptions that had been collectively elaborated over centuries. the ' common-sense ' <:oncept I " '"-electric lights.1 12 Everyday Life in the Modern World We have already noted society's innate tendency to relate produc­ tive activity to creative ' values '. Though the theory of relativity has no immediate connection with these social phenomena in the sphere of perception. vanished . their unity and finally disintegrated . any more than was the ' subject ' . around the years 1 905-10 the referentials broke down one after another under the influence of various pressures (science. like light and dark and like outlines.. like the system of perspective. plexity of our senses and of the information they impart has in- tional objects. complex pictorial composi­ tions and art-school studies were dependent on identical prin­ ciples.�tr1i£![2:g-=�9§l?I�es�_ 3: coIiieSlgiiii: gns· bJeCts. the reign of electricity began with . ' electric signals and objects operated by electricity and this important innovation affected not only industrial pro­ duction. the initial layer of perceptible reality. the viewer contributing \H I l praxis had unity.a fact that was promptly translated into the sphere of aesthetics . a token of geometric space. universal and absolute . h�ans-'. this was cubism There was then a schism among painters.:£. already outstripped and Man and Humanity were defined as actions and activities. was both learned and popular. so that they signify each other reciprocally. Erudite music (harmony) and popular songs. We might say that from this date the sense of sight caught up with that of hearing that was formerly in the lead. where the key-note is a token of a fixity granted to the section of sound continuum thus limited. In 1 9 1 0. With the loss of absolute time and space . At about the same time the theoretical and practical possibilities of unprecedented speed changed the perception of motion. making the grasp of perceptible reality more rewarding through the simul­ taneous progression of both senses . in fact. ' Man' and ' Humanity ' were no longer seen as entities. Static and mobile. juxtaposed absolutes and became relative. for it would indeed be a sign of prejudice to stress nothing but our losses. it invaded everyday life. in practice.

our subject is none the less sociological. retreating before the invading City. all this collapsed around 1910 in Europe. Florence ."'. and per­ haps only existed in relation to us (at our level). Religion and the City.Ya � a pla. iiToy ineo{i}. ' The great god Pan is dead'. for our subject is more limited and precise. so long as it subsists ? If the verdict is severe when judgement is based on such criteria why should we not uphold it against those who find it unendurable ? But this is not the problem. purity and chastity equally suspect. and we must discard Nietzschean theories. at different levels. We have no intention ofjudg­ ing modernity or trying to detect symptoms of decay.�:'c . decline and decadence. o andlllstoncltrlfaS-lfisapp'earo. where it was becoming theoretically apparent that ' our space ' was just one among many possible spaces. and vice versa. gram of the upheavals gives only part of the picture.ru. but they still re-echo . however. which would involve a theory of ideologies as well as a theory of referentials. if we take as our model the Grand Style. Though related to a certain seemingly permanent rationality. W1IIi in:�H:�. To avoid misunderstandings we stress the fact that we are not deploring the disappearance of ethical and religious criteria nor that of metaphysical and theological absolutes. The words of Nietzsche and of Dostoyevsky.gy[ � Jie. organized trade value for sightseers. but with the countryside mediating between the City and Nature .�er.:g����d th�'�. anguish. as SOintIiin quaint and picturesque or as com­ mercialized.process botlLGQJP. leisure naturally prospers. and they made spontaneity.· ·· te( .. and is there any reason why we should not fix our aim on such ideals as the greatest work of art Venice . a myth that compensated for original sin in the Christian faith. in this so-called society of consu �sa:-solitarY ac(tr ansiDTt:. as a well-established tempor.or the perfect style .��. The dis­ covery of relativity emphasized the presence of a new perceptible reality : the ' second nature' added to the first. regret. such symp­ toms cannot fail to transpire .'t:Ile'Iustoric"ciiY'too"oiiiy suMves" g e as a vague regret.. or how could we know what we were talking about and who was talking ? Con­ suming creates nothing. and consequently the image and concept ofsociety asa body (a unity). History. desire. causing massive emotional investments and odd infatuations. For instance. other times. Moreover the work of art might also refer to more subtle signifiers. it only consumes.fd oi. warranted a formal agreement between the artist . the significance of life and the universe. but feelings and emotions were also disintegrating.Athens.c phenomenon of ' an aspecrorsOClaT'expeneD:ce'an(r'cUitur�\ th��c��mplished fact.in search of signifiers for his emotions and imaginings . creative and productive ' man' tended to disappear. These were unavoidable practical changes in the criteria of evaluation as well as conceptual changes . psychology and psycho­ analysis were to make suspect the innocence of the babe.. the specific weight of rationalized systems._ prehensible and identifiable. All the other referentials were to disappear in the wake of com­ mon-sense perception: Nature. the sign-object or object-sign. moreover these explosions-implosions have been going on for over half a century. seeing that Marx accepted without sufficient proof the finality of evolution. to the artist's more in­ timate subjectivity..1 14 Everyday Life in the Modem World Linguistic Phenomena 1 1 5 Then it was the turn of production relations .. the act of cO� ming. the situation has been reversed and the country is now seen and conceived in relation to the City. not even a relation between consumers. though we may wonder if God was really dead for Marx and Marxist materialism. the rationality of action and labour. religious dogma and moral imperatives.and the viewer or listener contributing his signified to the signifiers perceived. are perhaps less resounding than those heard two thousand years ago by a Greek sailor.:.though these did not vanish entirely from the sphere of knowledge. the City was formerly conceived in opposition to the countryside. not to mention the philosophical Absolute. . Whenever the ' values ' of work decline. in the last century. A more detailed account of these earth­ quakes would show that after each tremor a new and seemingly sounder faith sprang up.in fact the City. while elsewhere. This synchronic dia:. there might be other spaces.cL:c his�ri. such as perspective and tonality. ' God is dead'. although significant enough ll . has ceased to be a referential since the ]Q � � the Liberation. n lill l: m O" TogeiIi� with th ��iii y ofproductio��: 'th�'im. While avoiding sociologism (advantages of comprehen­ siveness grafted on to a specialized science) and finding fault with sociology up to a point. t cept of active.

veracity and authenticity and even of objectivity. in fact.. an assumption that inverts the terms .. desires its end...e. And yet it is sigllifre<f"eyerywhere :"Tii'"puhllclty. metaphors. the signifier. not just any philo­ sophy.. into the unconscious. . ' You speak of everyday life in almost psychoanalytical terms. .'.'----" . one. If a-hldden'S1:ruct1:l�� . •. obvious and invisible. Where. its dis­ appearance in a flash of satisfaction. and it concatenation of phenomena of a social or sociological . ..<. science is by definition the knowledge of reality.�Jhi!t it is born and simultaneously �spers. everyday life... In other words such relations have no foundations. this has always been the case. • . '_w _' ' .1 16 Everyday Life in the Modem World Linguistic Phenomena 1 17 each term has altered. in techniques of happiness (or rather sa tisfaction).. .r_". Its inconsistencies (unevenness..." . the form of communication. i ." . true philosophers know this and have known it for a long time. It is not desire. '. With pleasure.and still less of scientificness. The first thing that distinguishes them is the historicity of ey�!Y. If there is a connection between everyday life and the un­ conscious.for it prescribes coherence and rules for the transmission of a message that does not cancel itself out.'--. but Philosophy. organisms and organizations. it is the sub­ ject of all conversations and no one mentions it..tit:..d"i� ·thl� respect eve�life is iIl:�_e. everyday life figures in nearly every news'-<"'_" _." --"" '.----. we refuse to see it and we repress it.. .. At the very moment when the City becomes a referential it ceases to be a material certainty.<:>. ._."':Il_ !���. So.' . . the other. as psychoanalysts know.. Logic.. according to you.••... psychoanalysts and iiIithose wlio formulate the question thus lack philosophical erudition. philosophical rhetoric) are overlooked and only the essence subsists as a reference for meditation and reflection..'.. there is a consciousness of everyday life in everyday speech. between everyday life and desire.. Of all the referentials only two are still left standing. through a fog of verbosity the con­ tent sometimes makes a brief appearan. •. Science.. This is the time of the City's explosion (which does not imply that urban experience and society are disintegrating as the former opposition is transcended and that nothing will be left).d �yen:. even that of uni­ versal code. Philo­ sophy may be necessary.. and speech. but it is not enough.. that it is not someihl g�stai1Cunderlying !1 n -a�caysandPr . disappears.. -- ' -'-" . and.. . _ _ .. we are left with one referential and that the prerogative ofhigher culture ! One might just as well say that all referentials have vanished and that what remains is the memory and the demand for a system of reference.. What is desire ? Psychologists. being satisfied by it and :fjJ:J. or rather scientificness. 1-' order.". . the Message. it is a pll:eii6menon . ..� �()_���!l:s unconscious. for desire is not. Desire ' desires '. .. Moreover. . and what is there to fall back on for the citizen and the peasant alike ? This complex of sociological phenomena cannot be without serious consequences. desire desires itself. . cannot be used as a referential . but reality is not the reality of knowledge . but try to use it as a referential and it becomes unendurable. is now in- strument and content as well.'.'••.--.. when isolated. notwithstanding the efforts of many philosophers. philosophy in the highest spheres of culture . that Philosophy which has fashioned throughout history an image of the Universe and of Man. ' .()?�lle�� ��Il��J?-lt i!� . ._ ._. and that apply to all messages. . tries to assume the role of referential nowadays. but because it collapses.except by philosophers and a few experts .. . what right have we to suggest that the unconscious is hidden behind consciousness like the wings in a theatre ? The unconscious is only consci. .••" . '. ..:: ·that ·�{��b. In these circumstances it seems that the only basis for social relations is speech._ ...+.QgtJ':Jjftl.. action and relations in a sphere outside history. ."'0"0 •• '0. no one can accept it. in the most trivial and commonplace sphere. -. will you be so kind as to explain it.."'.'-. Attempts to apprelw:o. . That is why philosophy has acquired so much significance . and in so far as this term that denotes a state of 'being' means anything._' ." " . . is everyday life situated ? Every­ where and nowhere. . '--� -­ � j -. ".ding satisfaction in it. .� '-'-�" _.t�-� �-�rists: "ii-is an .". . just everyday life.'.--. integral (though not an integrating) part of everyday life.lay lifeint�U��tJlallyfail nQtheGa:us�jtyani_�b. ' Here I must intervene ! ' cries our friend the objector.".� . use and abuse of terms."" " •• _ �.J2f _�y·�� . except where a meta­ physic of knowledge is concerned.<.'. . .. At the other end of the scale there is everyday life .�""_ . ." • • . <�'. deprived of criteria.. Moreover.�s. " • • ' .ce and before it vanishes we are able to identify it as everyday life. ." . but no one wants to see it or even know that it is there.... • •---� ••- ! . Only the signified is involved in the act of desiring one thing or another.

but when redefined as a whole.indeed pnmarily"'::"tlie"nou::'place rudesire.all st lized :works in fact . ' viewers' and ' listeners'. mainly in that the power of material objects is part of everyday life. and yet. the place where desire dies of satisfaction anci re-emerges"" from its ashes. so long as we specify that it is also .it is · th� i. yes._Q_r"io'Cfuig to either. Among the many complex processes of substitution. displace­ ment and replacement. Once upon a time. morning.which is the secret of its power.i s�ac and i j g. hidden reason. for it is elusive and when defined as instinctive or sexual it emerges in another form. the coupling made anyhow.1 1 8 Everyday Life in the Modern World Linguistic Phenomena 1 19 - paper and magazine article . -birt"s :1�i �Qthl�"g--i9� I��A�9!1_. between every­ day life and desire . Fashion is just such a system : you can ' say it' with clothes as you can ' say it' with flowers . contributed the signified to the signifier. We might say that everyday life is the place of desire. the separation between the two aspects of sign and significance was not a divorce. yet its interpretation was based on a familiar code depending on a given referential. only taken to the limit where it (its unendurability) must explode . mad­ ness. The absence of referentials has consequences that are all the more serious since speech merges with image to create an illusion of structure.:.' h�t appears to be supported by the image when. And it is in everyday life that the coupling of signifier and sig­ nified takes place . as such. freedom . who. : . the unpredictable. Nature. Spring. coupling the one to the other. it had nothing final about it and attraction was still actively connecting them so that they were not independent one of the other. undefined and fsignificances-CorsignijlersTtliifcanoiiIy-be­ angeo vanegatea"r e expressedin speecli (become-siinij{ dr-Sp�£i! !g1iii1. anywhere . so we shallsay that. taking the place of action.or nearly anything. parties. monuments cathedrals Greek temples and eighteenth-century palaces . hearing. the commentator may. its very essence is unknown (or even if it has an essence) .or the relations established by forms of speech and . Successful coupling is a matter of authority that can impose whatever it chooses . whereas desire does not . A " crafty qu�. The decline of referen­ tials has generalized the uncoupling.which might account for the fascination of signs : floating in swarms and clouds they are free for all. there is a con­ nection between everyday life and the unconscious. Living is done there and signifieds are allotted to signifiers in the best possible way. works of art were significant constructs presented to the senses (sight. But desire can be neither extinguished nor grasped.: t requires a "supp-ori:-. A dose examination shows that the uncoupling of signifiers and signified is not a specific local and localized phenomenon but occurs when. Image and speech re-echo each other. evening. and that is what likens it to desire. it is true.a photograph . thus spectator and listener could find what was signified in the sig­ nifier (meant in the meaning) and vice versa . thus a specific ' system' may hook itself on t6 disconnected signifiers. Winter.tion deserves alfevasive answer. they appropriate the interest for­ merly invested in activity. ' almost' prevails. the image introducing a vast.were perceived in this way. although it has not (and cannot have) any such function. more or less successfully. mourning. signifiers are massively and indiscriminately consumed in sign consumption. miss the ' real' meaning. social topics) the link between the two signs is insecure . The margin of uncertainty is not easily filled in when referentials are lacking.especially in women's magazines yet it cannot be systematized as such. as will for power. everybody being convinced that his way is the best . an image . as all-pervasive. ever available and. the image appearing as referential. in fact. there is a distinction. for instance. no.the ' system' makes use of everything in­ cluding adaptation that becomes fictitious and make-believe. violence.or almost . any­ thing can be said . we are already familiar ���� with the floating stock of meaningless signifiers (stray images either conscious or unconscious). were not entirely passive. touch) but not disconnected. in some cases. he can say too much or too little. the message was ' freely' re-assembled. it breaks out in the form of cruelty.is described in words as having different meanings which are expressed in these words . the most peculiar is that by which linguistic relations . in the absence of a referential and a code providing common places (topoi and koina. be mistaken. that everyday life tends to merge with material objects. desire. and rather less than more.

. for a ' thing' naturally only exists socially when it is named.). old people. . eludes it. since the suburb is only an offshoot of the city and still part of it. it asserts and rashly asserts itself. Large ' unofficial' groups based on speech and linguistic relations have taken over the role of the discarded groups almost entirely . lan. verbosity and gossip that goes into writing at the slightest provocation. fulfilling its function. two or three adverbs and adverbial phrases suffice to indicate the whole range of com­ pulsions (' had to '. ' automatically'. it is the reign of talk. Paris. then that of the Prince and his court . who produce nothing but talk. ' that's how it is ') . ' super') . sunshine. and if they do aim at a general status it is through ideologies (the rationality of business. tape-recorded and sub­ mitted to a semantic analysis. . isolated phenomena. Tniiie-course of every::­ day life. let him forget compulsions and worries. emotions.to denote the effects of compulsion. . and so from triviality and tautology there is but one step to total authori­ tarianism !) Language endows a thing with value. they are. administration. ' we' is supposed to have undertones of daring. for the most part.very inadequately .because they are suspected not of 'privation ' but of evading regulations. life. health and above all for liberty (deludedly.guage and linguistic relations become denials . But let this suburban householder ex­ patiate on his make-believe existence. to be ' in '.replace those based on activity (work and division of work. means thus becoming ends and form content. for it involves the justification of absolute power. * Cf. ' it isn't '. Social groups based on productive activity (businesses. Language gives a value to things and things. corporations) are now specific. There are few things more curious and significant than a ' live ' interview (as ' unin­ hibited' and spontaneous as possible). ' it is'. co-operation in and for a ' work' or an ' output '. authority. disguises and conceals it. the same words are used . (This assertion cuts both ways. the extraordinary advantages of suburban householding. adolescents. to communicate without object or objective because that is the group's sole life and justification. these people talk for the pleasure of talking. hidi�g it behind the orna­ ments of rh�t�ri�-an(rmake:believe: so that. yet if this statement is turned into a law it can be extremely dangerous. only acquire a social existence when they are named. greenery. II (N. ' What about it ?' Such is the inadequate expression of true inadequacy. Simultaneously it makes everyd!!yJ!f�. but without distinguishing it from things in general : object. This linguistic proliferation has socio­ economic parallels in the proliferation of offices and office staffs. adaptation is even less adequately qualified and has to make do with an odd connotation or two : 'Aren't we snug in our little nest ? . they came . that was formerly the prerogative of God and his representatives. some terms serve to describe a thing emphatically or cynically. they did this or that. 1966. ' one' is used to modestly designate the speaker. o n the one hand continuing to serve as a tool for the practical analysis of reality (perceptible and social). morbid and enslaving. objects and objectives are replaced by groups whose relations are based on formal communication. ' they' are interference. bureaucracy and power in general (before which words are defenceless and cringing) . * A couple of adjectives recur with an amazing frequency (' rotten'. the power of the one who ' names'. Institut de sociologie urbaine: Les Pavillonnaires. Active groups with their active relations communicating through reference to habits. more biological than social. but in the process it de­ values itself. consisting of groups of women. denoted and systematized. gadget or simply ' that ' . having the advantage of designating others as well and thus dis­ solving personalities . '. launches into artless rhetoric : compared to the city and its cramped living conditions his house stands for Nature.of Linguistic Phenomena 1 2 1 e�Jife. Haumont) . the in­ adequacy of experience. Speech i s duplicated. unpleasantnesses and disappointments. etc. the ' householder' is still a city-dweller and even if he sees himself as outside the city and thinks he is opposed to it. which is to denote and describe situations . he is not outside urban society). the other is usually ' they '. whereas the city and city life are artificial. in the ' serious' hair-splitting that passes for rational efficiency and in the tactlessness of bureaucracies to whom 'private lives ' are always suspect .� eveJ::y_d_a:y. for a feeling of togetherness. he passes from ' cool ' to ' hot'. but it wastes away in the process. furthermore. vol. for instance). and he becomes inexhaustable.120 Everyday Life in the Modem World language .

total quotidianness. and with a balance of space and time at one's disposal). its liveliness and exuberance . the Boulevard Saint-Michel. from the sun. between structuralist ideology and dialectic logic. in the peace and silence of some quiet corner where nothing ever happens . its inadequacies) . Saint-Germain-des­ Pres or the Champs-Elysees in Paris . from the eyes of neighbours and even those of the family. New York) will be owned entirely (apart from the odd exception) by the magnates of power and finance .for a little while . ensnared as they are in everyday life. The difference between these two points of view is the dif­ ference between static reflection and thought. curtains. so that leisure is a sub­ stitute for work. in shopping centres. the new-town dweller talks in dialogues. The following points should be stressed : if we immobilize reality and fix the mind on static categories we are confronted with a chart of opposites where each term echoes the other in an unambiguous - Linguistic Phenomena 123 relationship. and it fulfils it. but be that as it may. weeks. As we have said. functional­ ized. bus stops and stations. the make-believe existence of his environment is less fictitious and unsatisfactory than that of his suburban or new-town counterpart. the conditions and standards of everyday life . even when he is impecunious. chance encounters and the various occupations and distractions forming part of his everyday ex­ perience. by partitions.its sub-systems . everyday life against holidays (and vice versa) . it is enlivened by monuments. work against leisure (and vice versa). an organized wis­ dom claiming ever more organization. The suburban householder talks in monologues.y.obtrude in the very heart of lan­ guage (notwithstanding. with the authorities and with the absent but ever­ present state . speech both conceals and reveals. The rational neurosis of the suburban householder is echoed by the neurotic rationality of the other for whom make-believe is the rationality of commitments that fix his time-table and consume his life . formulated. containing many objects . self-realization is a life without a history. inscribed on the walls. parking spaces. London. he speaks the language of wisdom. home life with work. Everyday life is always hiding behind folds and circumvolutions. householder privacy is the non-quot� (a make-believe pri­ vacy. For each one the meaning of life is life without meaning . even when he is not wealthy the city dweller reaps the benefits of past glories and enjoys a considerable latitude of initiative. but when we cease to think in categories we see that. who. and thus everyday life is duplicated and one of its halves is in the land of make-believe. from view. That which is most everyday discards its quotidianness in the � hem� suburb imaginatIOn. for his time-table is fixed.:Jimong-t �p. for in his case adaptation counterbalances compulsion. in a few years the heart of every city (Paris. the city dweller today has a different relation to everyday life than that suffered unwillingly by the suburban householder or the new-town dweller.122 Everyday Life in the Modern World Thus. going away on holiday and interrupting everyday life is a substitute for everyday life and vice versa. draperies . people tend to contrast it with the non-quotidian. the quotidianness of ' privacy ' snuggling in the heart of everyday life is identified with a brief period of recuperation between days. the Galleria of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan and that part of New York that stretches from Times Square to Central Park. city make-believe favours the adaptation of time and space and the city dweller appropriates its ' centrality ' that pro­ vides a quall1tity of signifiers as yet incompletely isolated from the signified. Evasion is precisely the function of make-believe. experience makes of each of these contrary terms a substitute for the other. according to ' habitat '. In certain streets of central Paris it is still possible to hear a language that has preserved the freshness of a popular idiom. or work with leisure. Is there here a passive resistance - . it says what it doesn't say. is a privileged person nowadays. months of commitments. Is it an extension offormer times that survives with the styles of a past grandeur in some of the socially favoured neighbourhoods at the heart of older cities ? We call to mind for instance the Gare Saint-Lazare. pejigf�=-. but unseen and evaded as soon as possible. embelliShed and sheltered from the outside world.!J. But we cannot overlook the case of the city dweller living in the heart of the city (where such a thing subsists). . For the inhabitant of a large building in a new town things will be very different. . or rather because of. and work for leisure. in what is left of roads. thl1!Lfor mEl. for it cannot exist if it is not self-elusive. after exhaustion. in fact.

1y oLt}1e �X1!!���_.izea. functionalized. Such a tendency is obvious in literature from as early as the mid nineteenth century (failure of the Revolution. b) language as second reality: poetry being a second nature superimposed on the perceptible. The city might be seen as an effective resistance to everyday life eror .. new towns . but city life and society ? The notion is not unreasonable. decayed. have been discarded as referen­ tials. A cry of 10nelines�L.. successfully overcoming a discarded.fmm_th�. �11.1-.g�L��x }J·I1:l:1. .i. spread of trade and industry and of monetary power. for they must be replaced ? Not only for individuals (large or small groups) when they are in each other's presence but for society as a body. etc. but it involves a risk.towards an urban society .against the onslaught of everyday life.4:�p_�!!. Could the city stand for a potential referential . transgress and transfigure reality (from Baudelaire to Joyce) .]Qi1�iliii� iJi[:lli! ��i _" . For the time being we had better avoid proclaiming a new entity.-. the most li. news succeeds news.) and can be divided into three periods : a) the alchemy of speech: the poet's words and sentences.. possible every minute of the day yet impossible because one of its conditions is lacking. for what do urbanism and the city stipulate.�Qll].". a dilapidated farm house or a tumbledown labourer's cottage lack­ ing all comfort are seen as ' real finds ' by wealthy eccentrics who buy them for vast sums that have no relation with their intrinsic value. endemic but repressed.-at the heart of everyday life. won't they look elsewhere (but where ?) for a fictive referential. .f"� q��!i ������". that we are speaking with ironic intent.� and the caves where.) .ited-"�. ritual behaviour.�oY preteh"ds"to ignore.dly. violence. and information. sets out to use and abuse its own language .si�!s".. In these favoured spots. once unanimously accepted. -.1�r�'-. social nature (' hot' lyricism. etc. an � essence and proceed with caution so long as the tendency . Yet there is surely something paradoxical about this yearning for ancient customs and their reinstatement and renewal. what will take their place..has not been elucidated and theoretically elaborated.Ciai. '���Y�is�!i()ri�����()ii1"e�����i�gtl. an obsession and a torment .��LggjJe.':!"E.:':!.11 � ()ne mows what one is talking about and why (to a certain extent) one is talking. freed fr9m impediments sufficing to transform everyday life. around ihem."hlgh . facial expr�s­ sions). Though regrets do not fulfil promises they do I embryo not forbid them either.a. coaches. its full accomplishment so drably illustrated by the suburbs of morphologically exploded cities. happen . for we are indeed referring to the most penetrating mind.124 Everyday Life in the Modern World Linguistic Phenomena 125 stemming from a yearning for bygone days . any referential ? Now that semiological fields (not only common sense but also music and song. or every­ day life. but ' something else '.bove daily compulsions nor a system of signs for contemplation and consumption.ihj. consolidation of capitalism. J��9liferate in this setting and tlley dramatize everyday life.d��ih�JniQi�f. a sign ? Indeed it could. piles up and all at once something new is about to .".a����"�Y. dear reader. C�!!£��g! ()!Jler"\".. at last explodes . th � . The loftiest intellect (do not imagine. a new Platonic Idea. the sense of play finds an outlet in old games restored or improvised new ones. what are their practical basis and theoretical foundations ? As yet we do not and we are not supposed to . giving it resonance and �xte�si o.know. and it is certainly due to snobbishness more than any­ thing else that a shabby flat furnished with bits of old furniture. Efficient communication is now a possible-impossibility.. structuralized and ' specialized ' everyday life. we could say that it is neither a realm and aSltS virtual con9. can people (groups and individuals) communicate wi�h­ out referentials ? Don't they communicate through a referentt�l ? If no irrefutable referential is at hand for them. Ofm�k�::-belTev. gestures."a:) tliariiil1iisw�y it withdraws into itself. estates. " � �� cPIIlIIlunicatioIl.not the morphological town mapped out on the ground and embodied in symbols and signs. capable of unremitting inquiry into social and intellectual matters in general) asserts that if linguistic referentials have disappeared it is because language"is'now ifs "Own"feferentla[The loftiest intellect ign6reS." r� triumph �he ' hot ' style is preserved and has a chance of survival while the city's traditional values still override the mercenary ones (tourists.riseS-._<!Q�.s�. b) that it paves the way for (or follows the road of) popular conscience.and new neighbourho ods ? Could this be seen as a promise.

and thus we can appreciate the practical and ideologic. supreme subject. the science of information and communication parading as the science of sciences. b) reflections on these idioms and quest for a general linguistic metascience (positivist scientism).this c-. gether and on which it is based.l impact of these last as we discover how our society advertises and vis���ze� itself in relation to what it ia ls-=·iiowTtr��r���es the <. Paris. concentrating on what the preceding analysis has revealed.see. the prose of life in all its cold­ ness and starkness as. whence the emerge ·e.1 26 Everyday Life in the Modern World realism and surrealism. through it emerge intellectual structures that are also social structures (and super­ structures of society) . the t� concepts of the . nor its causes and the similarities between the three aspects. c) language as philosophy seen from two different angles : funda­ mental ontology (Heidegger) and logical positivism. ever. When a person confides to another part of his code. which is separate from philosophy yet connected with it : a) elaboration o specialized scientific idioms since the mid nine­ f teenth century . science and . end in a cul-de-sac. In fact a society cannot proJl�rly re consist of nothing but forms.. as we no. the unchanging quotidIan.. etc. semantics. it is both ideological and institutional. A chapter on the history of ideologies and ideas in the modern world has its place elsewhere.n0��. f��ctions ��l(i �t��tur�s any mo 'tnan it· cali conSist of the sum oflndlvlduals. formalistic and structuralistic. connected to a content.objective or metaphysical (Hegel and his followers) .e. c) linguistics set up as a model for science and scholarshi in p general. which is mainly the the?ry of levels and dimensions in language. philo­ sophical terms take first place . sociological reality ' personified '). form and structure isolated and interpreted and supplemented by a philo­ sophy . This triple development is indeed remarkable . the heirloom and legacy of the philosopher : vocabulary. etc. rhetori� whether literary ()t: Qtb. as Marx discovered when he diagnosed iIldividualism as · the main ideology of the bourgeois society .� However our present purpose does not involve unfolding the motives and justifications for this triple tendency.old it �o. reality and experience (both theoretical and practical. This society is functionalistic. * cr. in self-termed structuralist literature. b) re flections on philosophical language or on the vocabulary of philosophy taken to be the essence of philosophy. .. . Introduction a fa modernite.aspects. refiec!i()f! Jphilosophy).. and form of this content . in progress. This tendency is equally apparent in philosophy in three distinct movements : a) reflections on the philosophical Logos: language seen as expres­ sion of absolute Reason. futurism. a metalanguage of specialized science . a studf�of this society based on these three keY concepts leads to a. e lly astomshmgly tenuous and amazingly tough links tha:Lh.\ changing ·:fuoaeffiifY:. c)f orm as reality: pure literature. but also in neo-formalism in general. Metalanguage The theory of metalanguage is based on logical. further­ analysis ba�ed on . to imderstdizd it the three concepts sh()uld�be used simultaneously without preference or prejudice .exemplary system­ atic (exact) study. of speecg. The tendency is also perceptible in the scientific world. also expressionism. in the ' new novel '.of nc the triple. . epistemology raised to the status of at?.. cubism. by defining a word or by recapitulating to elucidate a meaning. qu6tidjq:n and the !!!odern. Paris. the images it projects (provided by its ideologies and Linguistic Phenomena 127 launched on the market of ideas). It is defined as : a message (group of signs) controlling the code of the same or another message. but also vol. a model of intelligibility. philosophical and linguistic research (and the critique of this research).) . Our society holds together and operates through speech. III of Critique de fa vie . it draws its images (ideologies) from concepts of function.Tne soiution t. derived from its own operational concepts. * but here we shall restrict rather than extend our scope.n1:radictlon-Is-tobe-�=) found. for example. quotidienne. in the sphere of linguistic relations where stability and change are no longer opposed.

restores the context and shows in a different light linguistic forms. but not to proscribe the exposition of such con­ tradictions. I believe that I am politico-economically minded. linguists are able to penetrate the form of language (its inherent principle). content and social context from language. on the other hand. but the consequences of such an attitude.contradictions that the linguist had overlooked will be revealed. if I show how Marx considered trade and trade values as a form (identified by specific abstraction). I compose a meta­ language of trade .implying that it is ' trans­ scientific ' . a language. of which it is a condition and a reflection. the dialectical movement is thus restored.disappearance of each referential liberates a signifier .128 Everyday Life in the Modem World he is using metalanguage. decode and or­ ganize the above operation . There is contradiction between re erential and meta­ f linguistic f unctions. words about words. metalanguage discards and dis­ solves referentials and works on speech at one remove (or even two). it is their loss. functions and structures. whereupon metalanguage promptly appro­ priates it. Sociological analysis. or without meta­ language which is part of the experience of speech. so that metalanguage becomes a substitute for language by assuming the attributes of referential-endowed lan­ guage . and the secondary systems or sub-systems (connotational) in­ cluded in conventional or denotative systems. a double chain of things and meanings.after the linguist's justi­ fied abstraction and formalization . linguistics is metalanguage assuming an epistemological status by setting itself above language. By a justifiable abstraction of words. and if I then assert that Marx was right and that the first part of Das Kapital. Thus language and speech serve as referen­ tials where metalanguage thrives. I would be unaware of the limitations imposed on it by the existence of other ' worlds ' such as ancient cities and potential cities. I gloss over the more violent tragedies of modernity and everyday� life . the world where trade unfurls freely ! In these circumstances a would-be science can teach us nothing about reality . speech at one remove. then as a logic. the levels and dimensions of language. the latter eroding the former and supplanting them . Jakobson). language is enclosed in a casing of meta­ language.meta­ language cannot be seen as either harmless or innocent ! By restoring the dialectical movement . such an apparently exact method in- Linguistic Phenomena 129 volves errors and a deceptive portrayal. where this theory is formulated. it encloses speech. launching into ideology and subjective philosophy. if some linguists do not see eye to eye with sociological methods. and makes it available. the disappearance of each successive referential heralds a new extension to metalanguage (or a new specific sector of metalanguage). the. there­ fore as a ' world'. conversely. If I consider trade with its values and wares as a simple form I abstract the logic. We repeat : the linguist is entitled to his methods. By restoring social context. so much so that speech is unthinkable without this preliminary transmission of a code. Thus metalinguistic operations are the normal. should I consider the world of trade in isolation. To borrow a metaphysical metaphor. is quite remarkable and too often misunderstood. By proceeding thus in all good faith (ignoring or discarding Marx's theories). the vaguer the referential the more distinct and significant grows metalanguage. Meta­ language both precedes and follows the use of language . Is it not presumption on the part of a specialized science to set itself up as a rule of conduct and to challenge the scientificness of methods that do not conform to such rules ? However. are indirectly related to strategies that obstruct the integration of so-called underdeveloped regions and countries (as well as of so-called socialist countries) with the ' free ' world. Linguists may well call such an analysis ' trans-linguistic ' . according to some people I will be committing a non-scientific action. is present in ordinary speech.that is of speech. for instance. essential operations of speech (R. of such ' scientific ' silence. current. the world that precedes and the world that follows the all-powerful reign of industry and trade. for only a dialectical theory that keeps track both of social labour and of the context in which the form evolves can grasp the reality of the problem namely the tendencies and contradictions enveloped and developed within the form. which contributes . the language and the world that are part of it . seeing it as wealth and its expansion as growth. The function of linguistics is to decipher. Metalanguage. the extensions. For instance. employing it for jobs ' at one remove '.

. A more or less innocent example of this type of message is that fairly popular contrivance. as historical ' reflections '. of a canker gnawing at the very roots of civilization.of language and speech in social life. biased enthusiasms and the apologist's rosy portrayals. the feint (your own). Pablo Picasso ? Where are you ? Are they yours. pseudo-news and pseudo-novelty. you believe you can step. conform to the law of accumulation that is re­ strained only by negligible factors.for only rationalist fanaticism can uphold the theory that works (of philosophy. how he died. Negro Art. We are not alluding here to minor works. by a superb and spurious trick. Accumulations of messages are illusory messages . literature). acknowledged all the world over. and this radical analysis. expressive and significant (of novelty and modernity). There exist pseudo-messages just as there are pseudo-events. be it only on the surface. like mathe­ matics and capital. There is no happy medium between the self-satisfied self-con­ gratulations that every reader finds in the papers every day of every week.130 Everyday Life in the Modern World Linguistic Phenomena 1 3 1 - to the decline of referentials. art. the Spanish School. they are talk about talk. ' Here we list a few of these symptoms : a) Works of art. How many of these . but you are wrong! We are now reaping the fruits of all the failed revolutions of the last hundred years or so. as such. Velazquez. but to the output of these masters themselves . they decipher former messages. These preoccupations of which you boast reflect no great cultural wealth but are symptoms. but not in so far as they deny their reference and relegate it to the shadows. in the same way as memory and learning. Here compla­ cent conscience whispers : 'All the better. highly original. the book made entirely of unacknowledged quotations. ' To which radical criticism replies : ' Your castle is built on air. That your fame causes you some discomfort is self-evident. Picasso will do . and of the setting up ofidols that only consume and devour. If linguistic preoccupations dominate the scene today it is because we have passed unawares from language to metalanguage. all those ghosts that peer through your canvasses. our problems are both practical and eternal. an analysis. needless to say. apostrophizing him with the insolence his eminence demands : ' Pablo Picasso ! You are the greatest living artist. identical tendencies. that shatters favourable precon­ ceptions.apparently conforming.with a strong lens and under a powerful light . integrated ? Does it bear witness to the Revolution or rather to its failure ? Who are you. while metalanguage reigns. to the law of accumula­ tion . The highest point of your life was reached at its end when you understood that your . and. out of illusion into a truth that you imagine is all around and ready at any minute to emerge . dis­ membered. and we are not afraid of addressing him in person. Our critical attitude to the second half of the twentieth century is similar to that which Marx adopted in his theory of the predominant ideology of the mid nineteenth century. rather. The concept of the message (formally exact in the abstract theory of communication) must be submitted to a more thorough analy­ sis. of the frustrated creative possibilities inherent in industrial production. culture and science discloses a strange ambiguity : it is metalanguage that is always in evidence. . and pseudo-production and spurious creations too . the individual and individualism. proceed by recurrence and are acceptible as exegesis. The whole past lies there reduced to its elements. The theory elaborated here and elsewhere maintains that ex­ amination . and among those that do not a large proportion reflect. how to this day his thought lives on ? If it is true that you yearned for Revolu­ tion as a thirsty man yearns for water why has your work been accepted. This may serve as introduction to a radical analysis of modern­ ity. with the help of language. detached and ' cool'. .influential works. you are famous and famed.do not owe their ' message ' to metalanguage ? The greater part . things are as they should be. Greek Civilization. We do not have far to look for an example. . but how do you interpret this fame ? Do you sincerely believe that all those crowds bow down before your genius ? Where is the fault. dismantled. You are a world's conclusion. the Mediterranean. assimilated. and in so far as they re­ quest a refutation of their own historicity. copies or imitations of great masters. the fallacy ? Do you know how Marx lived. the sum of an operation. the Minotaur and much else be­ sides ? Is only the Ocean lacking ? You are the museum of make­ believe. . in Europe. .

a writing. untroubled humour and self-inflicted cruelty you said at last what you had to say. the playwright on plays. of love ? It is even simpler for the philosopher . Demain les chiens. L'Extricable.and indig­ nant. or have been considered. The philosopher philosophizes in/on philosophy as the poet writes in/on poetry. the Boss. he listens and looks.after which you want to come back to everyday life again and pretend you never left it. and you exposed the language of painting as a complex of signs. Nai"ves Hirondelles. If the questioner wants to know who we are talking about. destructive and self­ destroying. for it provokes laughter by exposing the gory muddle and it invests with fictitious interest those things which destroy interest . spontaneous joke still obsesses us all to the extent that this era might be called the era of Ubu ? Jarry succeeded in naming the unnameable. respect and mocking desecration in succession. whether it counts and accounts for anything. and the com­ modity he receives in exchange for his money. Voyage au bout de fa nuit. the novelist on novels (and novel­ ists). does nothing find favour in your eyes ? ' That is not the question . ' You've done a nice running-down job. mostly circuitously without naming it.1 32 Everyday Life in the Modern World subject was the Painter and his Model . minor and that deal (directly or indirectly) with everyday life. Complete it if you feel like it. If you want me to name these works here they are : Ubu.and furthermore it is badly put. . and in the best of cases the philosopher only reveals what Plato. The only question is whether or not our argument is valid. Ubu links everyday life and modernity. the Master. We were talking about everyday life . it performs a metaphorical function and is indebted to metalanguage. when with melancholy pleasure. that is to say. in fact for the father-figure of every­ day life.then you went off on a long diatribe against modern literature and art . for this crowning self-destruction . Spinoza or Fichte ' really ' thought. and all the worse for you if you don't know them.to object and objectives. our reply is : ' People I like. plays and philosophy. works that are generally considered. You said all there was to say : how the painter in relation to what he paints is enthusiasm and dis­ paragement. the Head. tenderness and cruelty. Allusions to everyday life that make it a subject of irony and humour can only help to make it bearable* by hiding it under draperies of words and metaphors. for our radical analysis has not swept everything away and there are works of art still standing in the sites it has cleared. but depicting Linguistic Phenomena 133 it in such a way that it is better not to name it or describe it openly. for you must know as well as anybody that Ubu stands for the Father. might not such a speech be addressed ? To aU those who contrived and adopted the metalanguage of Revolution. the sight­ seer in Venice does not absorb Venice but words about Venice. the written words of guide-books and the spoken words of lectures. Moreover nothing compels you to see this list as final. thus lessening the wear of experience values . And furthermore I suspect you of hypocrisy. to subject and subjects.J: . the ' cool '. symbols of ' culture '). Moreover the accusation is unfounded. problems and categories of those who are faithful to the philosophical tradition get so inextricably mixed up with philo­ sophical history that no one can unravel the skein. . the theories.and that are occasionally original when they are conscious of being shadows. * Like the books of Christiane Rochefort. novels. . The Model is not simply a woman but the world and art. purporting to consume works of art and styles but in reality only consuming symbols (symbols of works of art. to operative strategies. the consumer goods. the scriptwriter on the cinema. Under the Volcano. The consumer consumes meta­ language. for instance. metalanguage and its shadows seen as original . loudspeakers and records .. cold and inconsistent. admiration and disenchant­ ment. Everywhere talk about talk at one remove. I will say that for you ! Have you no respect for anything. ' 'All you are doing is trying to save your face. Les Choses. Do you want me to believe that Ubu is everyday life ? ' ' That is just what it is. indeed. b) The vast cultural consumption. if it has a hold and if it restores something . Thank you for those twenty or so canvasses. how otherwise can we explain why this barely outlined. ' And to whom. in making a statue of mud and a memorial to vileness. Our questioner grows (understandably) impatient . Moreover his work is not immune from radical criticism.

the thing itself (the work of art) eludes his avid consumption which is restricted only to talk. Beauty. from a fashion-picture to Fashion . exist in the sphere of thought . or stagnating like huge puddles under the downpour of descriptive words (the guides' enlightening information).' sing City that is missing because it has mis-fired. Marx perceived the first aspect of the process and understood how it Linguistic Phenomena 135 should be dealt with. Everyday life stagnates like a great swamp hidden by mists and swarms of buz­ zing insects. and when means are taken for ends rationality becomes absurdity.one more substitute ! Let us not indulge in jokes about the harassed crowds sprinting through the Uffizi and the Palazzo dei Dogi. or metalanguage. his solution was ' social man ' as potential of work and pro­ duction. urbanization. it is impossible to perceive them other than through the work of historians. the result is the same .words about acts and about the words that accompany actions . it has high ambitions and it aims at ' furthering participation '. from a few stones to the City. Moreover metalanguage is far from modest and unassuming . . or the museum. it bandies essences. when it is precisely not reducible to indus­ trialization but gives it meaning and direction. the Palazzo dei Dogi. the bulk consumer. Speech passes with ease from the part to the whole .-. or Naturalness are served out to the tourist. and it is at this level that ada ptation (theoretical and practical) takes first place. this painter. nature has been technically mastered. We have thus been unable to give to language -that is. Florence). everyday life would become a creation of which each citizen and each community would be capable. is a verbal commentary on the Piazza San Marco. eluded Marx for historical reasons . This metonymic function of speech is any­ thing but artless . so that didactic speech is necessarily interposed be­ tween works of art and their understanding . The city (Venice. but deprived of its significance . the second aspect of the process. Nature. or the global effect of a mixture of contingent activities. but mass culture and the tourist trade have to make do with the consumption of words about words. how to give it a significance by rational plan­ ning . However. we are surrounded by emptiness. the spectator. when Das KapitaZ was published a hundred years ago urbanization was in its infancy. creating in the hearer an illusion of participation. and from the relative to the Absolute. urban society. creation of creations. quite incapable of seeing any­ thing. Industry in itself is only a means. that particular painting. their place taken by political and technical bodies. entities and forms. or Tintoretto . Metalanguage and its use by/for the consumer corres­ ponds to the neo-Platonic vision . of doing anything but consume the commodities offered to them at a high price. This is not a misuse of the term ' metalanguage '. that group of pain­ ters. The productive potential expressed and realized in industrial pro­ duction might have been diverted towards that most essential of productions. in other words. the City.. such speech clears a narrow opening to a steep stairway that leads to the perception of styles and works of art and it bears the name of ' advanced culture ' .that which our practical and theoretical inquiry expected and required . Metalanguage is a grand substitute for the historical . In such a city. to thought and active conscience . but instead they have been partially dis­ possessed of this mission (more or less. at ' introducing to . talk about talk. but with­ out enabling man to adapt to his own vital and social nature. as a creation and not as an ideology. for it is really talk at one remove.134 Everyday Life in the Modern Wodd the trade value.has taken the place of language . Industrialization can only find its fulfilment in urbanization carried out according to the idea of the City and of urban society. depending on the country and the region) and reduced to an economic pressure group. yet seeing nothing. ' The City. . we are confronted with a dual process : industrialization and urbanization. metalanguage . but it is an emptiness filled with signs ! Metalanguage replaces the mis. The process has never been understood.from a few aesthetic terms and the formulae of aestheticism to Art. but the experience value. The working classes were to have taken upon themselves this historic mission.. the work of art. Thus produc­ tion has been organized to a certain (unequal) extent. c) Whether concerted strategy. scientific inquiries have purely and simply reduced it to the organization and to the compulsions of industrial production. on the contrary.

but this does not tally with the author's opinion of his book that he saw as deeply significant. they consume works of art. nature. two men whose work consists in writing . the whole of culture. . culture. ' Two men appeared. innumerable systems : spiri tualism. One is a widower. After each abortive attempt they are back in the quotidian : cooking. they swim. In the very centre of the city by the Bastille (' because of the excessive heat the Boulevard Bourdon was deserted '). astro­ nomy. of all written matter . Bouvard and Pecuchet chance upon systems. in fact. one of them had been engaged as copy clerk by a Head of Department impressed by his talent . . . one from the direction of the Bastille. ' This long-forgotten booklet opens : ' The spectacle of the universe. London.something is going to happen. archeology. agriculture. a vague sense of frustration and malaise.independently and unwittingly (having probably. but they have in common an uneventful and very ' everyday ' life and they are both equally reserved. There was a barge loaded with logs in the middle and two rows of barrels on the banks ') . the other chaste. circling around. ' Sentimental Education. all these wonders are proof of God's existence. clumsily closed it opens again. the absolute is both subject and object . geology. physics. ' They are two transcribers.a commercial setting laid waste by the week-end . philosophy. when God assumed a material form he demonstrat�d a It also figures in an earlier work : ' But the daring of their costumes was counterbalanced by the respectability of their faces. The absurd Flaubert invented the absurd in that ambiguous and misunder­ stood work Bouvard and pecuchet. 3) Examples of Epistolary Styles. were stretched straight as a plumb­ line. all the books. 2) Examples of Invoices. linguistics. for responsibilities unful­ filled. the neighbours. This assemblage of coarser comparison came into his mind. philosophy and education. ' They thought more. and their endurance (our own) is tremen­ dous . . of transcending it. . 1956. the home.to a series that has added to the fame and fortunes of a well known publisher (Larousse) and which bears the title ' Progressive Selection of Fifty Types of Handwriting. physiology. ' So our two friends go to ChavignoUes. left a written exercise on his desk) . freedom). . They sat down at exactly the same time on the same bench. * In the preface to the Pleiade edition it is described as a caricature of scientism and of the self­ taught scholar and at the same time as the development of the character of M. . Including 1) Precepts of Be* Linguistic Phenomena 137 haviour for Children and Improving Anecdotes . . in the hope of forgetting everyday life. the brightness of the sun. the other a bachelor. materialism. For Practice in the Deciphering of Manuscripts. in a vividly sketched urban landscape (' the inky waters of the Saint-Michel canal. this nightmare is our daily bread too. a chance yet sig­ nificant encounter. Hegel­ ianism . not bread or furniture (though ancient. Unrelenting and methodical they go through everything : first agriculture (since they had longed for the countryside. women. Thus we follow Bouvard and Pecuchet through a nightmare of self-imposed cultural consumption. present half-naked women made him think of the inside of a harem . ' . swallow mouthfalls ofthe inebriating tide that carries them and though they are breathless they stick to it. chem­ istry. one more or less rakish. aU that is rational is real . etc. so they suffered more. The circuit is now closed since students of education learn about nature. They are at work. Simul­ taneously they observe : ' How pleasant it would be to live in the country ! " communicating because they were starved of communi­ cation. history.136 Everyday Life in the Modern World missions that have been left undone. Wending their way. But each of them had un­ doubtedly contributed . . Industrial Notices . next chemistry. in his long-forgotten schooldays. they dive head first into signifiers. indeed an even . limited by its two sluices. rustic furniture might be included) or tasty dishes or wine (though a drop from time to time is not unpleasant) or even objects . pp. Homais . the other from that of the Jardin des Plantes. Every type of beauty was. aesthetics.in a beautiful round copperplate hand ! But let us return to our two heroes. the consumption of books. the other had been inspired to make the most of his beautiful handwriting. . the extraordinary variety of plants and animals. 1 50-51. literature. but it exudes a feeling of latent guilt. they consume things they have not produced and that are not even produce. Their ti�e is spent consuming .

Who are Bouvard and Pecuchet. the better half. acquire experience. . The laughter derives from words and nothing but ' . . . the widow's tears. and Marie-Claire. that is what is signified. treatises. Le Nouvel Observateur. after all. became a work of art . . and our friend Flaubert was well aware of it .1 38 Everyday Life in the Modern World consubstantial union with nature : his death bore witness to essen­ tial death. technology. bitter and silent.to a certain extent . but his ' demise ' ? One vaguely imagines (context. wants to change something and asserts whenever it gets a chance that everything must be cbanged . The absurd is laughter and comedy with a difference. the un­ sealing of the will and the family misunderstandings over the division of the estate. referen­ tial. and this contributes to a sense of ease and linguistic freedom. They said as much . but there is also the logical system according to which errors stem mainly from one cause and are the consequence of an erroneous use of words. no more so than Flaubert. was its status for the encyclopedists whom our heroes would emulate ? Superfluity and pleasure. from which we soar on the wings of language. it is not irony and it is not humour . the social sciences. 1 a tower. and they would have methodically perused L'ExPIess. . Such are the words of Pecuchet (the crafty devil). who identified with them . finds life all right as it is. he makes it an occasion for revealing how. Thus our heroes saw nothing. the Coup d'Etat . . 3 a camel. because it always seems that words should be in harmony with the setting and that high ceilings are made for lofty minds . Yet Bouvard and Pecuchet are no fools. If there is a common place it is everyday life. this sad little story of two poor devils nourished on handwriting and metalanguage. When the circuit is closed nothing is left but to start again at the beginning. they managed to acquire some experience : ' Bouvard was amazed at the contrast between the things around him and that which was said. As to the signified. what he signified ! . and so on . ' . or simply connotation ?) the stricken family. the realm of written matter. (For Allery each number is represented by a symbol. La Quinzaine litteraire. they would have added to their collection of achieve­ ments existentialism. .) Bouvard and Pecuchet also happen to be the casual and detached eye-witnesses of historical events such as the 1848 Revolution. needless to say. So they were no fools. he has ob­ served. far from being stupid they wanted to educate themselves. stumbling over props and backdrops . the worse half. 2 a bird. they are not required. Fenaigle divides the universe into houses containing rooms each of which has four walls with nine panels and a symbol in every panel. had they lived today in 1968. in his opinion and according to what. the burial rites. as an eye-witness. at the close of their circuit of the world of culture ? Words. . his presence was required elsewhere '). yet thanks to intellectual courage this tale of two clerks. understood nothing but words and wind. apart from being a pair of Linguistic Phenomena 1 39 famous characters among those who are condemned to immor­ tality ? Our own reflection ? By a strange twist of irony they were written before their creator took any interest in them : ' There were once two clerks . the orphans' sobs. But what have they gained in the end. Paris or Fenaigle. informs the world of what awaits it when revolutions misfire . Here then is the absurd. here neither the situation nor the action are funny . The Death of God is grandiose and tragic . as liberal left-wing intel­ lectuals. they have e"ntered the realm they never left. supplemented. the jolly good fellow. And that is the end of speculative or theo­ logical Good Friday. So the only hope is that of re­ ceiving another legacy that will enable them to start all over again. trapped by words. that crafty devil of a pseudo-bourgeois. raise themselves above the norm . indeed. They have not even consumed very many works of art but mostly secondary works. credibility has vanished with the referentials. by Le Jardin des Modes. Marxism. acquired nothing. notwithstanding the priest ( ' the priest rose . As transcribers. The story does not have to be ' credible ' . . This then is how in his pseudo-novel Flaubert. commentaries. . the solicitor's arrival. manuals and guides : metalanguage ! Thus they are able to get their bearings (more or less) and find their way . a new kind of laughter was born. there is no clearly defined situation or action . exegeses. indeed.in the labyrinth of specialization. what. Elle. death was part of him. revolutions misfire : half of man (and of men). words and wind. Then there are the contrived systems like those of Allery. they said very little else. .

cool here (although it gesticulates. hot there . alliteration and assonance employed methodi­ cally. to hand. else� where every possible violence (more or less simulated : eroticism. of metalanguage and the mass-consumption of language. no eroticism. but for hundreds of pages. hardly perceptible it seems. Flaubert created this genre. and then France is France once again. the Americans . few women . so many wars including the last . Satanik). knowledgeable. as to the enemy. on the hearth in the very midst of the family and everyday life. History or story-telling ? There is a gap. You have thus an epic within everybody'S reach. none the less. at home.but we are not really concerned with these. here fun and games without violence. mass murders. this analogical sham made of linguis­ tic tricks. such as televised games and competitions. metalanguage. ' make-believe ' commodities sold at a high price : betting machines that have acquired an immense popularity in Las Vegas and elsewhere. The absurd was not yet in its prime. Things are what they are. this is linguistic comedy.. the English. The situation was vacant. . the Barbarians. and why should he not be named ? France has found both a myth and an ideology. there are no longer any victims . crossword puzzles. Who has not heard of the Gauls. since there were the Romans. and in the process of pretending tragedy has vanished. of leisure. No passion. Gaul and not Gaul. . inversely.140 Everyday Life in the Modern World words . has not learnt at school half a dozen stock phrases about Gaul and the Gauls ? They were strong and stupid. agile mind . the point of the Linguistic Phenomena 141 verbal paradox. Compare Bouvard and Pecuchet to this ' freely' flowing absurd : word-play is not thrust at you in every line. in which numbers are coupled with erotic signifiers . something more. anachronisms divided into signifier-signified elements. and yet it isn't Gaul. it is still cool). There are other aspects to this linguistic consumption. Bond. yes. abs�rdity is spontaneously generated. for it is only Asterix the Gaul. words about history . . how very tedious this funny book can be . for the shuttling from past to present and from present to past. so many invasions. and you have found the absurd. true history under­ stood and misunderstood. this long­ awaited epic. the Franks. educated.and the Germans. not just for a questionable joke (according to classical standards) or a witticism. we knock him out. from the familiar (the quotidian) to the unfamiliar. must be grasped in a complex of end­ less reverberations (without reference). its absurd epic. Lucky Luke. a well-stocked. and a good one. a myth ? Or is it an ideology ? Perhaps we are rather overstating the case. there are not even two puns to a page . the vis comica of word-play puns. the verbal signifier reflected in the supporting image. it had not yet achieved the comical dignity of pure writing. when expertly maintained by linguistic ambiguities presupposes a fairly wide range of knowledge . and. were overrun by the Romans. but also the pools) and the artificial conjunction of eroticism and con­ trivance. this story that seems to have been written by children but is so popular with the grown-ups. signifiers ready for consumption. Is this counterfeit history. With what enthusiasm it was accepted. . but it had. What is more to the point would be an analysis of contrived games (crossword puzzles. he had not yet freed himself from referentials but he contributed to their destruction. the final signified being reality. well acquainted with words and things ! Does this mean that there is only one world for children and for grown-ups. this category (disguising the death of ' classical' and ' romantic ' categories of art and aesthetics as well as the death of linguistic aestheticism) . for infant prodigies and infantile adults ? Fill the gap between signifier and signified (and vice versa) with a slight intellectual gesture that exactly sums up the paradox of the disconnection and the unexpectedness of clearing it. while images support and facilitate the process. he promptly recovers consciousness and we all laugh heartily. they always hide something different. History cannot be cancelled out even when it is humiliating . but seen from close up it is quite a sizeable crack that will have to be filled ­ filled with words. the allusion. the young middle ranks. It implies a relatively high ' cultural ' standard. they buttered their hair. to be located in order to give France. Not everyone can understand such a performance. spoonerism. . and at the same time they are not what they are. the France of the Gauls and the Gaullists. There are quantities of signifiers free of things signified. all we can do is find an excuse. France is Gaul .

Taken as a whole. The so-called society of con­ sumption is both a society of affluence and a society of want. something to be taken. more successfully even than by means of display consumption. disproved. language and metalanguage being consumed) . it is material (sensorial. It is a pseudo­ system. The breaking point may be approached but never quite attained : that is the limit. H.. owing to their professional alertness and a cheerful spitefulness that passes for wit. its mirror-image) . its contradiction.142 Everyday Life in the Modem World to signify momentary almost oneirological satisfactions of desire. Riesrnan.like most things that are let loose and spread. on the one hand. of ideology). it is satisfaction (of needs. each term reflecting its opposite (its precise opposite. quotidian and non­ quotidian.more especially since they were willingly relieved of the task by psychoanalysts and sociologists. used. signify­ ing it and being signified by it. We are referring to J. � system of substitutes. etc. cohesion of incoherence. slides down the slopes of piled-up objects accumulated without love and for no purpose). this one or that one. M. Terrorism was in the air . of squandering and of asceticism (of intellectuality. Paulhan. it is constructive (choice of objects. abstract forms in search of materialization and pure thought hungering for power and these gentlemen had been aware for some time of certain pres­ sures constricting their art (reputed to be the freest of activities. metalanguage. But for these easy-going intellectuals action only meant exertion and the fact of standing by one's opinions was a joke that should not be carried too far . . R. The ambiguities proliferate. Thus before/for us daily consumption assumes its dual aspect and its basic ambiguity. unclosed and opening on to nothingness) . ordering. returning to the quotidian to hide it from itself. terrorism was first perceived by writers and critics . various stages in the development of this phenomenon can be distinguished : a) Any society involving.images. the need for this or for that. enjoying freedom of opinion. of conscience.possibly because their ears and eyes are sharper than most. contrived freedom) and destructive (it vanishes in the centre of things. Blanchot. they stand surety for and substitute each other while each one reflects all the others. this operation is carried out to perfection by means of language con­ sumption (or metalanguage consumption). Our object is. it is complete (tending towards a system of consumption based on the rationalized organization of everyday life) and incomplete (the system is for ever unfinished. so they did not inquire further . Barthes. therefore sooner or later it is saturation) and frustration (only air was consumed. the system of non-systems. signifiers. in fact.. filing. the most disturbing of which were intrinsic to the art itself. cold­ ness). Marcuse. consumed. 4 Terrorism and Everyday Life The concept o terrorism f Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to literature what belongs to it . signifiers. which in any case it assists. so the desire re-emerges) . exactitude. * The concept of a terrorist society is now more or less established . experienced) and theoretical (or ideological . threatened. symbols. to expose the non-quotidian as the quotidian in disguise. poverty and want . D.

brutally compulsive societies based on violence and oppression reigned). the number had also to be limited by the natural yield of a given environment. pedagogy and birth. as a state and rival to the political state the church provided ' spiritual ' careers for its fol­ lowers . at one period repression would stress the limitation of births by enforcing celibacy on some members of the community. armed forces. private and family life. childhood. homosexuality and onanism. etc. education. at all times and in every sphere of experience including sexual and emo­ tional experience. adolescence and maturity . We aU know what part the Roman Catholic Church played in the repressive societies of Western Europe . both attitudes omit the important factor of $ everyday life. others who too readily refute it.ideologically interpreted . This incessant conflict between repression and evasion. but it would be more scientific and more exact to assert that every society has been faced with conflicting needs . castes.144 Everyday Life in the Modern World and on the other a privileged class (possessing and administrating. the cornerstone of the structure. Thus it might be said that for certain periods. in order to survive. Thus the basis of repression is a controlled balance of sexuality and f ecundation. but the field o repression covers bio­ logical and physiological experience. it set the sacred against the profane. a (Philosophical) ontology and a practical knowledge .). childhood. at least. thus it was soon in possession of a bureaucracy. but. directing its greatest efforts towards the ' spiritual ' and spiritual power . at another. the strength and power of each. exploiting. b) An over-repressive society modifies the conditions of repres­ sion. f and other factors intervene . its methods. that which would seem to elude social repression because it is spontaneous and ' natural '. Thus it is inexact to restrict an analysis of repression to econo­ mic conditions (one of the mistakes of economism) or to institu­ tions and ideologies . organizing and obtaining for its own ends as much social overtime as possible. whose foundations are not built on a rock or ' pedestal ' and consolidated by basic repressions ? There are those who too hastily admit this hypothesis . means and foundations. courts. a social duty . police. Oh most admirable contrivance. or indeed for both purposes at once) is main­ tained by the dual method of (ideological) persuasion and com­ pulsion (punishment. overt violence. the . subversive ideas and individuals were judged. there are evidently a number of variations and shadings between these two extremes. when their ' values' and strategies re­ quire that discipline and compulsion be practised in their own ranks. laws and codes. The taboo of incest has been seen as the basis of society and culture. the spiritual against the temporal. Societies Terrorism and Everyday Life 145 have solved the problem as best they could. its defensive and offensive capacity depended on the number of its members. only a superficial anarchist or Marxist interpretation can restrict the significance of this concept to the police force and to class legislation. by the sacrificial offering of infants or by en­ couraging prostitution. Since the beginning of time groups. for as things now stand the repressive nature of any society is more deeply rooted than that. others surviving or prospering . with apparent in­ nocence and by means of skilful compulsion it directs ada ptation 'it into the channels of ' purely ' private experience . repression spreads to theprivileged classes. a hier­ archy. the reproduction of the population would be emphasized by dissociating sexuality from pleasure so that it be­ came an act of fecundation. but might it not be possible to establish a coherent society. alas now sadly in need of repair ! A study of the foundations of a repressive society must be far reaching . yet barely outlined (observing the paradox that the periods of most successful adaptation and greatest creativity were precisely those where ancient. of the pressures and repressions at all levels. condemned and handed over to the secular authorities to be dealt with. on the contrary. violence kept in store to prevent violence. some declining. A class society (and we know as yet no other) is a repressive society. either for ostentatious consumption or for accumulation.the family. the society's technological development and its productive capacity.in short. nature. it prescribes abstinence and asceticism and suc­ ceeds in imposing an ideology ofhardship seen as virtuous and fulfil­ ling. compul­ sion and adaptation is the history o everyday lif which we have as f e. classes and societies have always upheld as the truth and as ' principles ' those things on which their survival depended . but survival methods have necessarily involved the control by one means or another of births within the society.

A good example of such an over-repressive society is that which was dominated by 1.» '/ �\i without anyone enforcing asceticism. political terror is localized. that is.I d . opposition is silenced either through being condemned as a perversion and thus invalidated. A society can proclaim that the Kingdom of Freedom is at hand adaptation no longer .146 Everyday Life in the Modern World home . repressed. the distinction between plays the part of inner is the other­ Protestant ideology . far more astute and more rational than of religion with greater subtlety God and reason pressive I) l'iI were thefunctionof each individual. We cannot over­ look the historical link between Protestantism and capitalism. and that no one questions. terror cannot be located. each member is a terrorist because he wants to be in power (if only briefly) . one that deadens or even annuls opposition . repreSSIOn becomes redundant m proportIOn to the perform­ l\�'t? ance of its duties by (individual or collective) when compulsion passes for spontaneity and exists either in word or concept. but. desire became the ferment of rebellion and revolt. violence with so-called persuasive measures. and such a society is terrorized rather than terrorist. everyone was. it relies more on the self-repression i herent in rganized everyday ? � . either they are recognized and justified. or they are explained away as the � . each member betrays and chastises himself. Such a society holds violence in reserve and only makes use of it in emergencies . Protestantism provided the images and the language that capital­ ism. it is a means used by a specific faction to establish and maintain dictatorship . everywhere and from every sQecific thing . But this does not mean that such a society can avoid change. life . pressure is exerted from all sides on its members. to a strategy. moreover. they are accepted. in a word contradiction with an illusory coherence. and there would be no answer to such terrorism if it did not exploit an ideology of Reason and of Liberty and thus involve irrationality with Reason. to the individual conscience. adopted . for it may find itself in a state of crisis while doing all it can to avoid it . unacknowledged compulsions besiege the lives of com­ munities (and of their individual members) and organize them according to a general strategy . In a terrorist society terror is diffuse. when Roman Catholicism proved insufficient for the task Protestantism slipped into its shoes. his own mentor. institutions and structures . adopts a language and an attitude dissociated from conflicts. the control of his instincts ' the result was asceticism without an ascetic dogma. condemned and )\. violenCe '/ is always latent. it is conservative as a body. faith. its ' values ' need no explaining. political terror is short-lived. thus there is no need for a dictator. the ' system ' (in so far as :l( �-� . who can only avoid it and shift its weight by a super-human effort .\:'� . directed and inner-directed conscience is abolished since what now other disguised. but when such upheavals occur they are officially interpreted and directed (or misdirected) . compulsion and the illusion of freedom c) A converge . in order to avoid overt conflicts. or by integration. its outcome and materializa­ tion would be a certain type of (liberal) democracy where com­ pulsions are neither perceived nor experienced as such . owing to a certain resilience (or lack of it) in its public services. integrated and justi­ fie d. this religion furthered the generalization of industry and trade that appro­ priated its values by appearing to respect them (conscience. ' unadapted. self-repression. the whipping boy and scapegoat being sexuality .and portrays freedom as something spiritual and ideal that fits in perfectly with material oppression . entrusted to intimate groups. to the family or the father. I necessary conditions of (inner) freedom. personal contact with God) . or better still. it cannot be imputed to the social ' body '. In appearance at least a terrorist society is coherent and powerful. Protestantism performed the re- Roman Catholicism in its theological and philosophical make-up. repressive duties are. objectives unknown to all but those in power. According to our theory a society where violence and bloodshed reign is not a ' terrorist ' society. they are compelling and any desire to understand or question them savours of sacrilege. for it comes from it can be called a ' system') has a hold on every member separately and submits every member to the whole. for whether red or white.j i' and dogmatically less repressive. portion .) l\' ': } / -\I responsible for the repression of his desires. inten­ tion replaced ritual and faith supplanted works . a hidden end. compulsion with Liberty. unobtrusively. Thus we may define an over-repres­ sive society as one that. .' Terrorism and Everyday Life 147 terrorist society is the logical and structural outcome of an over-repressive society .

and this Marxist-inspired psychoanalyst accuses psycho­ analysis in general of being conducive to terrorism by salvaging perversions after defining them as neuroses and providing thus an ideological basis for outdated social pressures exerted in the name of norms and normality on the public ' consciousness ' and ' unconscious '. causes . and we all know that Malinovski found no trace of censorship. Such a relation presents a dual aspect . remaining psychological. both theoretical and practical. at pre­ serving its conditions and at its own survival. he has. as well as parental pressures and individual emotional relationships. on the one hand the (limited) natural resources and on the other the consecration by the society of the soil to which it is attached. notwithstanding satisfaction and even satiety. the super-ego. he ada pts to the circumstances and his own social environment . to organize itself nor even to appear as everyday life. clothes and a place to lay their heads . in­ dependence) and. the pleasure principle and the reality principle) and in this way furthers the elaboration of the concept of repressive and over-repressive sacri fices (sacri ficial cults). for some the conflicting relationship between children and parents illustrated in the Oedipus-complex is still the central concept of psychoanalysis. he undergoes compulsions. on the whole. but he just falls short of the concept of terrorism because his critical analysis. When ideas are ' in the air ' they are also susceptible to practical analysis. if a repressive society exists it is because there is social repression . for others it is the relation of the unconscious to language that takes first place. Herbert Marcuse calls this tendency ' revisionist '. a society of maximum repression. Marcuse and a number of others have also missed the concept of ' mondialite' and the correlative concept of actual or possible planetary distinctions. that is. but when it reaches its ends it explodes. and to pronounce * Terrorism and Everyday Life 149 this or that philosophy inadequate and guilty of confusing pleni­ tude and saturation will not help either. definite and therefore restricted therefore he takes Freud to task for having ratified and generalized certain localized circumstances (those of family life in a given Western society at the beginning of the twentieth century) and thus founded a scientific proposition and a general rule for social experience on a specific form of repression . Your preoccupations are not the same as ours . The concept of a ' repressive society ' derives from Malinovski. Since Freud?s day. depending on the circumstances and on his own disposition . However. and Censorship and repression have. the ego. adventure. �ros and Thanatos. will finally be overcome. on the other. it is in social experience that the young ' human being ' benefits from his weakness and compensates for his vulnerability . an important psychoanalytical movement . Thus he defines repression and over-repression in psychoanalytical terms (the id. involving vast - This seems the place to clear up a few misunderstandings and settle a couple of controversies. namely psychoanalysis.perhaps the most important of those that lay claim to his theories . Language and speech. child and adolescent continue to develop until they finally get bogged down by maturity. however. Infringements from the everyday life it ordains are condemned as madness and perversion. It is based on the organization of everyday life (which is also its objective) of which terror is the outcome. or to everyday life . it aims at stability. suffering and death. repression or Oedipus-complex among the Trobriands. from the outset.while. of social experience. on the one hand. in view of Freud's faith in the liberating powers of science. consolidation.148 Everyday Life in the Modern World The argument that emerges from the preceding pages.more or less. we want to give people food and drink. is that a terrorist society. we consider man's hunger and thirst. where. thus the incest taboo (or Oedipus-complex) is seen as a basic factor. Urban li e puts an end to such consecrations. an unfair criticism. f . cannot maintain itself for long. aren't they ? What more can they want ? Their elementary needs are catered for. Here our imaginary ob­ jector intervenes once again : ' Let us not make mountains out of molehills ! People are happy. to uphold this theory we must do more than declare that happiness is not the accumulation of satisfactions and that a thousand pleasures do not make a single joy* . Your aims are societies . play an impor­ tant though unequal part in this dialectic movement. does not include the social (or ' s ocio­ logical ') and consequently the dual concept of quotidian and modernity. protection. Psychoanalysis in France has lately been split into rival factions or schools . conflicting desires and aspirations (security. sinking into the morass of adulthood. thus in the family circle he has access to a daily life that either resolves or intensifies the conflict between bondage and experience (compulsion and adaptation) . our preoccupations are with want. and what does it matter if in the process their freedom is slightly restricted and a few unrealistic ambitions or subjective illusions must be given up ? By improving living conditions all the old anxieties that still sur­ vive. his basic needs. for him. according to him. sexual experience and fecundity were socially controlled by other methods. We would refute both theories and consider as basic the child's relation to society. Second theory or hypothesis : the social community's relation to the soil is one of the elements in the make-up of repression.appears to have discarded this liberating function of the science and to see it only as the recognition and the sanctioning of compul­ sions . for although everyday life is the rule it is free neither to set itself up as a principle.

are far from being recognized as rights . so they advance blindly. by a stroke of luck. you want to enable people to live passionate. We must estab­ lish the conditions from which terrorism arises. the barriers burst and communications of all kinds. such extensions of habeas corpus are not achieved without difficulty. the first stirrings. and at the same time (the present) the shortage of lodgings is part of terrorism as it hangs. but without the concept of the Superman. . perhaps.150 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 5 1 so lofty that they are out of reach.in more senses than one . not philo­ sophical discouragement. the state. of careers. certain contradictions in the existing circumstances seem distinctly favourable to such hopes.a career. sociologists and other representatives of the social sciences. unity. intellectual. freedom of work.though this is an abridged version . Our society may not have reached its final balance. unwillingly. finding fault is not enough. all of which must be done in the clearest possible terms. . Oh yes. " man ". which continues willy-nilly notwithstanding its denial and rejection by some ideologists. take lodgings and dispose of himself or herselffreely. to reinstate the values of the past. none the less. There exist among our society's conflicting attitudes (analysed or analysable) some that appear to herald a solution . ' This terrorist address has been attributed to our objector be­ cause it corresponds so exactly to arguments we have heard and read time and time again . drawing all highly industrialized societies to­ wards an urban society where millions of men and women must live and congregate . and they tend to take the form of claims. material. leave the family. of housing. . We re­ ject the " human" to assist man . Such an attitude is not only un­ reasonable.and if possible choose . Let us learn from philosophy that empirical man and real society are finite. the way of escape. we see ' history '. by intervening in this problem. to draw conclusions from history that make history redundant ! We abhor the complainers ! They are nothing but deserters. You are deserters to unreality. not the philosopher's mistrust of reality. but like those soldiers who cannot turn back because they know that in the rear there are other. the most unexpected pheno­ mena of individualization take place in this massification. has modified the practice but not the theory . it has taught us to recognize the limits of the human condition. but wouldn't it be better to assist it rather than to expose its shortcomings and aggravate dis­ content ? It jogs along as best it can without knowing where it is going. of a freedom that will soon have to be reformulated as the freedom of Such aspirations that become demanding do not arrest the de­ velopment of terrorism. intense lives full of happiness and delight. but this form of progress has. if not the main feature. On one hand. They want progress. this planetary perspective where the individual seems to disappear. and all we want is to put you out of action . the housing problem still exacts its sacrifice of the best years of their lives from social group whose members are mainly recruited among the the City). we know that we can rely on you. become multiple and complex as a feature. . Nobody nowadays would deny a boy or girl of twenty or twenty-five the right to lead an independent life. threatening. you aspire to a world of super­ humanity and poetry with the human as starting point. such is the ' socialization of society' so dear to more or less Marxist-inspired reformers . housing rights . a . over the young (and not only the young) . and they take place in everyday life. Let us accept them. given quite substantial results .as for instance in the case of the housing problem (an early and very in­ complete manifestation.oflabourers and workers ejected from the city centre . they are appropriated by the state for strategic purposes. whose main characteristics are immediately obvious : they are public dormi­ tories for the recuperation . have . and to be formulated in ethical and legal t�rms . it has produced new towns. faithful soldiers who will shoot them. indeed. discover how and why a terrorist society explodes and especially we must find the opening. maybe. On the other hand. of ' mondialization'. of education. thus in this massi­ fication there exists a certain degree of individuation involving problems of rights.which could turn build­ ing into a public service . one might say. of leisure. As we said earlier. social. it is wicked ! We consider it a criminal undertaking to kindle desire and to provoke unrest. of the age of dearth . but simul­ taneously recognized and ratified to a certain extent by it .work.

current (the past revived. thus a certain number of cultural phenomena overcome obstacles and problems to emerge into our society. memory).or based on these . for if they have a direction they do not show us how to reach the opening. pickers and nomadic no proof that they will not vanish. as a condition of art and learning it promotes social organization and culture. which is better than not at all. aspira­ tions faintly tinted with assertiveness. law . signs and directions go hand-in-hand : a bush or a tree. the exclusive possession of a territory by one group and the religious outcome of this possession are vindicated by mythical ancestors. it is compulsive because it im­ poses an attitude. and they have survived. because it is permanent and definitive it furthers accumulation (of knowledge. the tracing of a trail and a way of situating landscape or site (of the village or the town) in relation to the stars. mind you. the point of no return situated? Thus it is no use relying on these cultural phenomena. but does not go very far). not even acknowledged as rights (except ethically.or con­ long disheartening struggle . It would seem that a new contradiction has now come to light . Later there are signs that constitute a form of writing on the ground . is. at least for the present .1 52 Everyday Life in the Modem World young proletarians or ' lower ' middle classes .and by no means a negligible one . techniques) and social memory .territories were marked out. there is temporaneously with it . a rock or a hillock may be used as signs under the stars that are themselves significant. or with the division of social labour into func­ tions of unequal value. after which. Our arguments would be incomplete and carry very little weight if we did not show how these new values and rights are born and how they develop until social recognition becomes inevitable. before the age of agriculture . but in social time is there anything that is not reversible. through rules it creates intelligibility . they can begin to think about living . Through a thicket of pitfalls and hurdles these new freedoms must find their way. for a seden­ tary society involves the consecration of the land . a pile of stones. We need hardly mention that writing is also the basis and the starting point of innumerable achievements . demi-gods and gods.builds up terror. its ' toughness ' . where it is excessive and outweighs adaptation . or with the development of genealogical pre­ occupations that require written records. With social labour and the division of labour . these people must first ' settle ' to earn the right to live.or written matter . and in historical time is anything granted ? Where is the transition. coming to ' Life ' as they do through a Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 53 logists and historians (both ancient and modern) associate the significance of the written word either with the emergence of sedentary societies . if they are not completely exhausted. present only a minor interest. tracks were blazed and frontiers defined by hunters. that characteristic feature of terrorist societies.a broken twig. for if a crisis occurs or the con­ sequences of ' massification' simply become overwhelming these faintly outlined rights will be swept away. and only an apologist or a politician could see them as accomplished facts . Some ' values ' which herdsmen . Moreover such theories seemed to have settled into facts have already disappeared. ' values ' rather than facts.between culture and society (our society). in fact. the tribal heroes. it is a witness (transmitting and teaching) and it establishes history for all eternity by what is everlasting. compulsive and non-violent writing . it fixes (text and context).only think about it. Are such cultural phenomena conducive to a degree of optimism and confidence in this society's future ? A more careful scrutiny will show them to be more potentialities than facts.it became an essential superstructure even before writing makes law. Ethno- . with the function of the scribe among the more valuable ones. The discrepancies be­ tween these theories may be more apparent than real. Apart from genealogical tables con­ stituting memorials and a method by which a society recorded places and periods. it is relentlessly re­ Writing and terrorism The significance ofthe written word emerges from a critical analysis of compulsion. a number of landmarks can be distinguished in primitive sign-writing . the split. but in so far as they are demands and aspirations they are part of civilization. through recurrence it stimulates reflection and reasoning. the main point being to note the imperative character of writing and inscription.

the holy narrative that justified it. cold and static. it takes them at their emer­ gence : written matter tends to act as metalanguage. He was the founder and his mystification became the truth. When Moses descended from Mount Sinai and set up before the Children of Israel the Tables of the Law written by the finger of God. of society itself. thus giving rise to the conflict between speech and writing. talmudism and rhetoric play such an important part in societies based on the Scriptures. writing was also an intellectual and social tool. and thus of its trans-historicity. and the faithful would never doubt that they would last until the end of time.*' text and re erential. once God had written prior to time and for all time. speech at one or two removes on one subject or another kept and preserved by inscription. the second message might deviate. Moses was certainly in­ debted to a superior civilization for his understanding of the virtues attendant to the written word. As metalanguage writing produces commentaries. to a certain point. when there arose a demand for warmth and liveliness in the written text.and then becomes reference in its own right . a choice that is inherent to reflection and there­ fore to the history of thought. writing prescn ed and signified the city's power. written matter becomes a substitute for the referential in writing. a city. the written word refers to ' something' else custom. at times it reduced social communities to passivity. that there is no institution without writing. byzantinism. exegeses. indeed. while others would question their validity. and therefore a complete split and departure from the past occurred. Hard and cold. A history of writing (by and for society) would show that the written word is a necessary condition for aU institutions. the populariza­ tion of writing by printing. . at others it served as a basis on which actively to elaborate a social structure. victories and sovereign decisions for ever more in the store of human memory. it tends to outlive itself and that which is a condition of history tends at the same time to freeze it. writing was still an essential factor in theatrical and poetic history. the absolute book. centuries were founded on his gesture and on its verbal commentary. its administrative capacity.no society without signs. a kingdom. the cumulative function that written matter assumes in the modern world. Here the critical mind perceives the contradiction and displacement analysed above . direc­ tions. to discard con. There is no society without writing if this word is taken in its widest sense . known. yet one can say that a giant stride was taken. The written word as primal in� stitutionalization enters social experience. before the artless Bedouin whom he was leading to their great historical fate he perfonned an action that was both magical and pre-eminently functional. expenence. landmarks. transitions from laws of custom to stipulated laws (that is. when the written word was invented.� anism of substitution. written on mapped space and graduated time. Could those who were in possession of the written word . from habit to conventional codes). prior to written matter there are actions con­ f nected to words. he was silent. The Writing is anti-word . its political and military sway . To a certain extent the city began as writin on the ground. he created the eternal Father . Besides constituting the basis of culture and. felt). Thus metalanguage prevails over speech. Later when the need was felt for a rehabilitation of speech. and his representatives would be reduced to interpreting and commenting on the Tables of the Law. derived. The second message grafted on to the first that is or purports to be the inscription of the original Word could be critical. stone was the perfect symbol of the Writing's timelessness. emphasized by the reproduc­ tion of pictures (the infinite library. an empire.1 54 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 55 t ideologies existed. and thus at every minute a dangerous and disturbing choice is made possible. History and sociology will settle dates : the city. event . But though civilizations may be upheld by and for the written word it simultaneously creates inertia through its very lastingness . between the Spirit and the Letter. writing imposed the law ofthe city on village and countryside. battles. It is the original and constant mech. though to a greater or lesser degree according to the period. fixing creation and activity by organizing them. These tables of principles owed their longevity to the holi­ ness of their inscription. tracks. when tables of laws. of its permanence and (apparent) definitiveness. graphisms and in­ scriptions fixed actions and events. and finally writing appropriating all that is said. that is why scholasticism.

and there is thus nothing that is not predetermined. etc. even the most tyrannical and most cruel amongthem have to justify their actions by public works. the past and the future. the meanderings of a road from the gates of a town to its centre. it ordains the details of practical experience. However. With written matter there is always the possibility of going back. Its written support is bureaucracy and bureau­ cratic methods of organization. which remains. when the meaning of such things is lost. when the Festival is a thing of the past and monuments and the city (as form) are decaying. and you can. furthermore the written word preserves the nature of what is accomplished and must be justified before the assembled population. because the critical Word. Here little-known corres­ pondences obtrude between intellect and society (both a unity and a distinction between these terms). yet for the reader. read it again a second or even a third time. with all it involves in the way of mis­ interpretations. A society based on Scrip­ hires (that is to say. The absolute book is relentlessly perused. we are deluding ourselves. and it is only when the threat vanishes with the community. a pleasurable sensation of plenitude ensues . extrapolation creates illusion and philosophical error by seeing writing and written matter as models of society and the world and by 'ideologically ' transforming the reader's circumstances and his delight into ab­ solutes. but such religions can free neither power nor themselves from collective control. even for theologians of power. a recurrent re-reading.or rather in your eyes. God stands for supreme recurrence : he sees all time at one glance from beginning \ 1 l and had acquired their authority from it. of subjecting time to knowledge so that it becomes completely linear and cumulative. the written word can never . The operation of memorizing and that of message-receiving are projected on the page . ' it is written '. and the formulation of further problems cannot be held in check by scripture or pre­ scription (including what is expressed by objects : the structure of houses and towns. as Providence he controls every gesture. A book creates the illusion of suspending the process of ageing. It is this collective control that pre­ vents priests. growth and decay to instantaneousness. that . completely supplant real tradition. for it is not content with proclaiming general interdictions and leaving the rest to its mem­ bers' initiative. after reading it once. the present moment. warriors and rulers from indulging their whims . so that the controversy will never end between the Letter and the Spirit. which occupy not only space but also time) . refrain from taking the necessary measures to prevent such deviations ? A society that is founded on writing and written matter tends towards terrorism. he has foreseen each lowliest worm. its supreme author and reader is the Lord who created destiny. hold this page in a simultaneous vision. if we make it the grounds for denying history. This is and is not an illusion . monuments. a society whose conditions of survival are justified and upheld by manifestations connected with the written word) is based on prescription. and as a result temporality appears to be reduced to simultaneity. you leaf through a book and you return to the first page if you want to. in front of whose eyes the signs detach themselves from the surround­ ing blank in a manner both predictable and predetermined. favoured by the nature of what they perceive. the source of supremacy (with the attached territory). There is a change in the shape of time that becomes the conventional time of what you are reading so that you are no longer carried on its tide but in control. with the library. The enforcement of survival-conditions normally grows stricter as time goes by. it also tends to enforce its stipulations by threats and sanctions.156 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId Terrorism and Everyday Life 157 everyday life begins. confusing the world with the book. the word passing unmediated from mouth to ear . even if this time tends to shrivel up and grow cold under your eyes . a forward progression does not exclude an inverse progression starting from . If God the Creator made man in his image. religions based on writing uphold political power. or worse. but there is no question yet of organizing everyday life (though the tendency may be perceptible). eating habits and sexuality (by commandments and interdictions) . interpretation. consecrate it and supply it with ideologies . therefore free and active' God the Eternal Father chastises him. The recurrent nature of writing must not be overlooked. for the ideology that interprets written traditions supplements per­ suasion with intimidation. your eyes. ritualizes costumes. heresies and distortions. monuments or festivals.

alas.and information­ machine stands on our horizon as the ultimate stage. Metalanguage itself has this privilege of not revealing its ' nature ' (or structure) . filling forms. coding and decoding are an intrinsic part of it. Cybernanthropoi ? Written matter has a further peculiarity : mental operations. supplants and in­ carnates the Lord . founded as they are on written matter. bureaucracy's propensity . those who live in symbiosis with the machine. The modern state-con­ cerned. infiltrate every . in short. answering questionnaires . bur�u­ cracy. if ' humane ' bureaucrats were to think of preserving the function of adaptation (which is highly improbable). only partially defines the process.namely the code. Such is the terrorist society. namely the bureaucratic organization of everyday life. integrates people by turning them into bureaucrats (thus training them for the bureaucratic administratio n of their own daily lives) and rrationalizes ' private ' life according to its own standards. political bureaucracy rivals the old church in its detailed intervention.apparently given in its totality by ' being before us' as the philosophers say . both scienti­ fic and practical. it can be taken for a language.the encoders and the real network through which the message passes are also concealed in such a way that their existence is ignored. ' I have before me a proof. of writing and recurrence. and duplicity before the law and those who enforce it . a new church. Henceforth the gigantic outline of a memory.and its innocent appearance exploits our innocence.158 Everyday Life in the Modern World to end and from end to beginning . Bureau. how could writing mislead ? ' It is in the paper ! ' say the artless. are the rules of the game and that is how forms operate . with the technical support of computers. in fact. guilt. their way of setting about it could only finish it off. From this new angle. bureaucratic mind with wisdom.to found its power on the written word leaves little doubt. presented by a sociology of terrorism and Terrorism and Everyday Life 159 written matter. knowledge and rationality. are also men of precision where writing is concerned and the authors of the book of absolute knowledge (called epistemology) . ' say those who think they are not so artless.has been discarded. for a message.�hichiS an exact ' . and there is no reason why it should not be on the best of terms with the technologians' God. besides making him do most of its work. a church with a new meaning but reaching the same ends : moral discipline and basic immorality. in the name of clarity reason . in the name of memory history has been abolished.and this is more serious . It inscribes and prescribes. bureaucracy bureaucratizes the population more efficiently than a dictatorship. the surrounding darkness combated by many lights.and even over some that are not so innocent : it is accepted unanimously and is the meeting point of magic and reason . Moreover . Terrorism reaches a 'i point where bureaucracy binds the ' individual ' hand and foot by total exploitation.guilty of possessing a narrow margin offreedom and adaptability and of making use of it by stealth in a shallow under­ ground darkness. where each individual trembles lest he ignore the Law but thinks only of turning it to his own advantage by laying the blame on someone else .men who are. though it claims to replace him on the grounds that it ' incarnates ' him in a complex network of circuits and valves. in this form of government where everyday life is totally organized nothing escapes or can escape organization . or Parkinson's Law. The written word is before us . Suoo. Is it mere coincidence that the mechanically minded. The state replaces providence . a society where everyone feels guilty and is guilty . but they are not included in the message. and is. adaptation is almost unknown both as concept and as practice (save for an im­ perceptible residue) .that fumbling quester for meaning . The multiplication and proliferation of offices by offices. · i cratic conscience is identified with social conscience. too easily pierced. bureaucratic flO reason with pure reason and tI. and although it is given as based on a code there is nothing to stop it from cheating and delivering codes that have been tricked or truncated by ' decoders ' who take advantage of the situation and mislead on the quality of the goods . so that persuasion turns into compulsion . their clarity does not exclude risks and ob­ scurities that are inherent in their very exactness and limpidity. compUlsions are seen as understanding and foresight . Whence the power of printed and written matter over the innocent . The power of the written �ord knows no restraint. and bureanctatic skill. a document. detail of administration.

� <o. for ever cracking and � f':�i�: filling in the cracks. time that erodes regulations and assists the stratagems of carefully labelled ' objects ' stacked in the bureaucratic territory which refuse to stay put. yet they form an alliance against time. t�ough consuming the . Each bureaucracy maps out its own territory.. Freedom of speech is not of equal importance with the freedom of work. there is the treasury's territory. m � than as a !i g � institutional recognition. and this applies to music as well as to language. � direct the private life o f each individual.. housing and the city..Eve�yday Life in the Modem World. the political bureaucracies distil their particular brand of philosophy and find themselves in the position of having to oppose the ecclesiastical bureaucracies' justificatory philosophy and ontology . and a declaration of the material rights of material man would be neither more nor less effective than the former declaration. i. these terri­ tories do not connect like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and there are gaps between them . education.- ' -. at the same time these venerable and not so venerable institutions complement each other as their efforts converge. health. are rivalry and competition . ' ' Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 6 1 . possesses a status and properties of its own .o � v 160 . Furthermore. the first establish order in the unconscious. 1 theoretically in opposition to the science of writing. We are far from having brought the sociology of writing to a successful issue.r ��J (illusively) adapting to CIrcumstances appears to be through the J '-12i"actice �e an� erot c �m. the final merging of rationality and absurdity.>�\i ./�. The result of this convergence is moral dis. The science of the Word can only be elaborated . that is./roY-cipline. the more ancient institutions have refined their displays and practices in accordance with the ' depth' they administer while maintaining a befitting detachment from worldly matters.'?:. The isotope discovered by linguists (Greimas) is not a <' . which is the supreme signifier of the vast accumu­ lation of scriptural signified. moreover�n'ly critical and poetic � . these fragments of an ideal unified bureau­ cracy do not live together in harmony. one more ghetto to add to the others ! Indeed. a territory that shows pathological (schizoid) symptoms. of inter­ personal relations . their policy being to terrorize sexuality. there can be no question of a special province for poetry. Free­ dom of speech might possibly be placed on a par with the freedom of the city as a skyline of civilization. : '-fr ---:.?f �� t. The first repress desire. cracks in the walls of discipline through which they � can infiltrate.. whereas the others aim at what is on the surface. and not to that ) : of language. the second take care of needs . can be considered in this context.. \ -o::-maIZe-belie �� � '.\�><-( . the ghetto of the intelligentsia accepted and justified in the name of the Word . the others in consciousness . ���(\: A<. for the totality (or body) of such territories is the rationally restricted territory of bureau­ cracy. \ symbols of violence and erotlcIsm made avatlable to the public. the ' spiritual ' institutions .consumption.�§_operrto-fhe (inner) gaze are the aven s ve. the arch-enemy. the only possibility of . decrees and statutes.di:t. not so much its own as reflections of a social pathology. The written word. state-concerned and political. but such a study would present only a minor interest. tv-. to accept such a status for speech and believe ' that it is a proof of acknowledgement is as good as condemning it to a ghetto.. this does not include every kind of speech nor every kind of freedom. stakes it out and signposts it . Furthermore. or from having exhausted the critical analysis of its implications. terrorism will always try to silence such voices and it is therefore up to them to find ear�/ that will hear. Though we believe that a society should not oppose freedom of speech. the territory of the administration and the juridical territory. or fixed sign. � . It would be possible to make a semiological study of each territory as a sub-system depending on a corpus of rules.: " ' . everyday life .:::� .cl a . t. \�/ : c\ definItion of terrorism. this is the fa9ade exhibited for the ben. andthese forms or speech owe their acknowledgement to their own power . and in a well-defined and well) \qualifledsociety spiritual and civic discipline coincide with this Imoral discipline.Vcx"""f-'-'�� w �!!:governed everyd �ife .:"":-::7\b"'Ck . Bureaucracy prescribes schedules and proscribes that which eludes its pre­ scriptions.. physical activities . The relations between the most ancient of institutions (institu­ tionalized religion) and the most modern. the insignia of terrorist societies . a province of poets or philosophers. .: . it is better to be persecuted than to be allowed the freedom • of impotence.. while the rule of modern institutions spreads terror in everyday life.( !. The only perspe�ti.

we ha�e gf:nerates and connec� " re our theory can include a formal classIe re�ched "tli -Stage"Whe j�a �L fication of the structural relations in a his!<:>.. {such hilosophical hypotheses are no longer operant). but an action: p Speech . of historical agents speaking at a gi�en momeni i� given circumstances ? " ' We have not yet nearly achieved the complete sequence : Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 63 rationality becoming static in bureaucracy after the pattern of Scripture and giving rise to a terrorist society."roi' these territories fu �Jl:aafy. this helps to elucidate its odd mode of existence . of this fact it is by institutional examples . No . a kind of extratemporal permanent essence. Body and bodies are withdrawn like the word in a semantic reduction while the analysis centres on talk about fashion. Paradoxically enough it presides over the transitory and its formal purity is expressed in the acceleration of transition. The author writes a masterly essay on fashion essays. Let us now take a look at Roland Barthes' book Le Systeme de fa mode. 251 . meaning and system . t Cf.!�£:jl do not movement. both intellectual and social. So time Claiills"Tis flghts.c. Le Systeme de fa mode.£9. of writing.fashion photographs. orgamzatlOn institution { active rationality static rationality . If we imagine the ' fashionable woman ' as simply a . do not constitute a perfect. cover­ girls. Moreover the formal and structural theory we are elaborating would present only a limited interest if it did not enable us to detect the mQYement 1.le links them together is n��bject ' nor. in other words. Fashion would still be what it is.. though without entirely revealing a mind that is too sharp for comfort. he knows what he is doing and makes no secret of it. With the help of language he constructs an entity.3!:. . and if we are made aware. etc.odd because we are confronted with the existence.e of speech.d .162 Everyday Life in the Modern World linguistic territory only. the separate parts of these intellec­ tual and social territories do not exhaust their relationship in their formal juxtaposition and structural opposition. eco­ nomic conditions. but a social territory (or territories) too .��.1?:��0�� .) and people (who and where fashionable women are). As the concept of isotope implies that of heterotope it involves a formal (structural) classification of intellectual and social terri­ tories into isotopes and heterotopes. amongst others). but also exclusive and dissociated. pure form defined by its purity : Fashion. things (materials out of which clothes are made. Roland Barthes. it does not tell us what it means to be or not to be fashionable. in other words the Fashion Magazine. his procedure starts by reducing the sub­ ject and eliminating part if not all the content. * Is this an art book trying to be scholarly. the written garb or writing about clothes. the isotope of written matter is the outcome of the isotope of words. p. of groups of words. !. If we imagine that fashionable women only exist in pictures and that the demi-god­ desses pursue Fashion without ever ' being' part of it and only labour under the delusion that they ' make ' it. p. or scientific scholarship directed towards an ' object ' ? We do not have to de­ cide. activity creatiOns products } . sentences. the main section being based on two years in the life of a periodical. techniques. . 38 f. or economy or history) the task of dealing with ' reality ' . Such a classification can take written matter as its referential (which sets itself up precisely as an intellectual and social context and as a substitute for referentials) . related and intermingled. Roland Barthes has other objectives. perhaps. dresses and fashions or fashionable women wearing dresses. actions and situations . 1 966. What is Fashion ? A form of utopia. Throughout 300 pages on fashion no mention is made of the fact that it is women who wear ' fashionable ' clothes.nce. different methods and a dif­ ferent scientific strategy . of a form possessing formal properties (recurrence. C0-uld the time of creatIOn and history be the tiIlJ.the content. and that which . and also of the social territory. and this is not without significance for the analytical study of the urban territory (or urban territories). settles into metalanguage with perfect lucidityt and writes a rhe­ torical treatise . Paris. The book is not about facts and things. . coherent whole that can be frozen at any given moment .. Speech holds together the disconnected fragments . Thus he leaves to another science (sociology.bat tories .dc:3!p.1W.

who created an entity or essence. in their connection and contiguity. what conditions (not a priori in the philosophical sense. he rightly assumes. system that has no value or meaning outside itself and that appropriates every meaning for its own personal use.J and independently causes terror to reign. . but practical) does it require to exist and function ? The unambiguous answer to this question is that it re­ quires first (if not solely) a terrorist society. � "" . Fashion. In what sort of society does it take root. it is not.:!' '" \J . The author leaves to us the choice of a context. Not that fashion alone be transitory precisely in so far as it is apparition. this closed. should read the captions that accompany ' fashion ­ photographs ' . to signify them­ selves ! That is perhaps what is socially implied by ' being fashion­ able ' . * ( ( \ \ �. Fashion gover�day life by excluding it. all that matters is that it should be written. pos­ sibly all they read are items of practical information (the name of a couturier or a shop. A ' world ' is revealed in the construction that discloses at the same time itself and this world. and it does inspire a certain kind of terror. turns out to be stable. We can but admire the ability with which such essences. situated in an intellectual or social territory or ' isotope '. the fashion magazine'S rhetoric. . p. no more artificial than law or philosophy.1 64 Everyday Life in the Modern World reader of fashion magazines.ade (including her body).like the rhetoricians of old. art. op. buyer and consumer. . . .. set like a flag over a sector of intellectual and social experience where intellectual and social are as intricately con­ joined as reality and make-believe. opinions. >-- . the readers of fashion magazines..:: -\2'. Its place is in make-believe and in reality. but it is an integral­ integrated part of terrorist societies.including philosophy. their life passes every day from wonder to wonder in the sphere of fashion . the social existence of this essence would only be intensified. . irrefutable. and proceeds . and left for others to ponder). The elaboration of Barthes' theory is faultless. fixing it in an essence by means of written matter. a certainty of terror. * It is an Idea with ramifications and influences (on society. an Idea. it is an institution that has given shape to a ' reality ' where compulsion and adaptation oppose each other and which has organized a creative and pro­ ductive activity. 0� "-' � . formal and exact (but only if the content is discarded as accidental and contingent. not at the frontiers that divide them but simultaneously and jointly in the two. or like his own contemporaries who create Literature. ' � <. it discards its own content : woman.neither more nor less artificial than writing that exists as object and yet has no existence outside the seeing eye because its only existence is formal. especially as the ' fashion' phenomenon spreads to all spheres. What is artificial is not fashion but all that circumscribes it : the fashion trade. appropriate every signification. transparent and apparent. Barthes. and this is where it differs from the ' ready­ made ' and the ' ready-to-wear ' . we repeat. This system's knack of capturing everything within reach is unimpeachable . the Law. the price of an article) . the demi-gods have not (or are supposed not to have) an everyday life . it influences \\:. cit. Barthes has taken the elimination of the Subject to the point of paradox.possibly real readers only perceive the connota­ tion of the words that compose these accompanying captions . the ' world of A further cause for admiration is that what appears to fashion'. like any systematic construct . Terrorism and Everyday Life 165 essential for the ' authenticity ' of the disclosure/elaboration of a fashion system that real women should wear dresses and clothes. institutions. pressure without a specific pressure- cr. ' culture ' . Logic. eliminates simultaneously the body as physical subject and adap­ tation as social subject. 248. and yet everyday life is there. Must we acknowledge such a ' system ' ? We can now proceed to 6'i invert it. The hypo­ thesis of a comparison between the pure form and the impurity of the content (reality) appears to be condemned a priori and chal­ lenged by the author's method of approach .� � ". ide ogies).'J group. perpetually excluded. the intellect. writes Barthes . it is hardly necessary that real women. to be used as example : eloquence . for everyday life cannot be fashionable a 'lliI therefore is not .'. �s with an���the whole of society and its field of action tersects different fields withl frontiers that are inte�er . every signifier. Such is the reign of terror. To be or not to be fashionable is the modern version of Hamlet's problem. ' This power that enables man to contrive simplicity is the most social of all . symbol of consumption and Oftr. In short.

intervals and cracks or. political ' constitutions '. Built on change it changes ceaselessly and those who launch a fashion today are already preparing tomorrow's fashion (collections. The necessary conditions for the existence of essences can now be identified (though none is sufficient by itself) as an activity. essences have a remarkable air of extratemporality inherent in their significance and attributed to them . in the critical study of everyday life. and fashion thrives on its own destruction. they are fictitious and real . Among the other essences are politics. As social and intellectual forms. fashion. there are those who would assist it. From this point of view art and . and neither is litera­ ture its only rival. tomorrow's inconceivable but today is im­ mortalized. Politics cannot be rightly (rationally) defined other than as a practice using ideological instruments to attain strategical ends in a class strategy . for centuries religion tried to set itself up as a system and an essence (theology. is in no way unique.1 66 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId equally vague. moralists . And why not ? After aU. though stemming from literature. econo­ mics. they are nodal points in social territories. in the modern sense. speech at one remove have the same properties of illusory eternity. to slip in unobserved ­ but not without difficulty. trade and its growth.theologians. Yet for those who are outside fashion it has an air of eternity . Fashion's main characteristic is its unconcern for adaptation . none the less. its advantages and disadvantages). but defines it none the less (possibly unawares) before discarding it for others to investigate . The prevalence of written matter favours the constitution and the institution of such entities by its peculiar orientation and its aptitude for accumulation. The concept. ignoring as they do what will be worn tomorrow . and he evidently had this sociology in mind. The whole of society is assigned and consigned by a few systems (or sub-systems) that rival and complete the arch­ system. but change and the obsolescence of things. for this a reversal (inversion) of his procedure is required and the re-elaboration of the system (sub-system) that he built up semio­ logically. it is existence (or non-existence). yet it constitutes an important chapter. the elements of a topology (or topics) of Modernity. one might say. Thus practical rationality takes advantage o f gaps. philosophers. as a system it exploded and the fragments of various religions are scattered through history like a trail. Roland Barthes' inquiry into fashion and literature is a major contribution to the sociology of written matter. shows) . opposed to praxis. an organization and an institution based on meta­ language and written matter. etc. ' Religiosity ' might become an essence . not­ withstanding the powerful institutionalizations involved in this activity (state. its fragments . its objective is neither the human body nor social activity. They exist both intellectually and socially. apparent anhistoricity and the terror that is in­ herent in these. which does not constitute an essence. methodologically and conceptually (theoretically) in our diagnosis. If there is any adaptation at all it is purely accidental and confined to that no-man's-land between the ' ready-made ' and ' couture ' : the ' ready-to-wear ' .can still be salvaged so long as they are not taken for essences and are.also scattered throughout history . meta­ language. The ticklish operation of making Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 67 an ideology out of an incomplete activity or an ' essence ' from a specialized discipline bears the name of extrapolation. the faithful . philo­ sophy aspired to the status of a general system and as such it ex­ ploded . the demi-goddesses discard at night . elucidates certain sociological problems. it would be one way of accommodating religion alongside fashion in social topology or topics. the arrival on the scene of the ready-to-wear. yesterday' s fashions are absurd. Barthes dismisses sociology on behalf of semiology. namely the place of the social and of the intellectual. perhaps religion and science (or scientificness). Like religion. of contradiction. indeed. and they determine social ' places '. Fashion. philosophy. but we cannoLbe too cautious. justifying the institutionalization of an ' essence ' or entity. metalanguage. We have no intention of giving here a detailed history of clothing outside the system offashion (materials. theocracy) and failed .). outsiders cannot understand what was worn yester­ day. Writing. This essence. was born with fashion magazines and its reign dates from metalanguage.already in the past that which they bought in the morning.all lay claim to eternity.

for Hegelianism . and finally organized. Thus there are works of art. gropings and controversy. And yet such an hypothesis cannot stand up to a critical analysis. namely in social experience governed by ideology. as something above works of art and. as such. in an institu­ tional experience and under conditions that threaten creation. aestheticism substituted as metalanguage to works of art. outside works of art and not in them . and since specific philosophical projects are elaborated and not a humanly projected philosophy.would inevitably clash. after which he endows the Idea (the classification made system and essence) with the power to generate real trees.or neo-Hegelianism . and then art and culture are seen as the justification of works of art and culture . while for others the irreducible is taking its revenge and initiating a counter-attack. and this not only in the sphere of a philosophical reflection searching for systematization. these ideo­ logies .which is a worthy occupation . The attempt to erect economics as an essence is the most pernicious of these undertakings . where cultural goods are distributed for avid consumption but wearing the masks of entities called ' Culture ' and 'Art '. has always been the philosopher's objective . but in ' reality '. pear-trees and apple-trees. before being concepts they existed actively in works of art. through uncertainty. Metaphysical illusions have often been denounced by critical analysis. from works of art the mind passes to concepts. the Juridical. which philo­ sophical influence or projection shall we discover here and now ? ' The hypothesis o fa practical neo-Hegelianism i s not unreasonable : specialized sub-systems encompassed in a tentative total systemati­ zation at state level . posturing as science and the scientifically acceptable essence of Marxist thought. since philosophy is no longer a system but a reality . thus the relative failure of revolutionary Marxist theories would be counter-balanced (provisionally and finally) by a cer:tain back-sliding. and consequently urban life) they are taken for the end and. the Economic and even the Logical or the Urban and Urbanism.practical activities set up as autocratic provinces . for the absence of adaptation set up as principle and system and compulsion exalted on behalf of a strategically subordinated understanding ? . then he makes pear-trees and apple-trees stand for The Pear-tree and The Apple-tree and finally these for The Tree or The Idea of The Tree . reducing the latter to formal definitions. they are already suffering from the effects of such impacts. Such an undertaking should be denounced Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 69 before it is too late. 'Art for Art's sake ' is art about art. but since then one might suppose that art and culture exist ' in themselves '. with functions. In an earlier section of this book we tried to discover what the philosophical outlook of modern society was. their conditions of existence. for they require the same conditions . works of culture (under conditions that must be dis­ cerned. such a misapprehension is due to the misuse of lan­ guage. Here the philosophical illusion is reproduced on a larger scale. the work of art already retreating before aesthetics. thus the doctrine of economism emerges. the use of metalanguage and the illusions inherent in ' one remove '. the Political. We asked : 'Since this society has been incapable of extracting from its vast philo­ sophical heritage and from its own history that image of Man which. Thus they will attempt to substitute essences for the real relations of ordinary experience.involves a conception of reality as persuasive rather than as compulsive power . But is it fair to make Hegel responsible for terrorist societies. intitutional­ ized . institutionalized ' Culture ' is endowed with the power to produce cultural works. indeed. some being now past repair.1 68 Everyday Life in the Modem World culture can also be included among the essences of sub-systems. whereas it is nothing but an ideology. From the end of the nine­ teenth century 'Art for Art's sake ' implied a conception of art as an entity. by demonstrating its pointlessness . forms and structures that can be analysed) . the Philosophical. though it is true that the presumed coincidence of reality and rationality virtually implies the coincidence of compulsion and persuasion. instead of seeing industrial production and its organization as a means to an end (social. while art becomes an entity sufficient unto itself. The philosopher starts by classifying trees . speech at one remove. It is moreover quite possible that highly influential experts fully exploiting metalinguistic methods should succeed in constituting and instituting as essences the Religious. metalanguage.

hap­ . but our stars shine on everyday life.it in the trances and ecstasies (simulated or sincere) of dancmg. that we no longer have the same sky or the same horizon. to constitute just such a ' universe ' . aestheticizing point of honour. governed in imagination and in reality from on high by entities that are simultaneously forms and powers. power and the cosmos by means -of expressly elaborated metalanguages such as songs. stresses it and com­ pensate� for . for instance.to which the consumption of real goods is added.which extends. seems more apt. Youthfulness contributes in its own way to terror.or at least one presumed such . the essence of youth : youthfulness. fixing its heavens and yet incapable of blocking the horizon. All societies possessing a distinct. Among the stars presiding over the fate of everyday life we list once again Fashion (or fashionability). epitomized and symbolized by 'jeans '). Thus the star of Youth joins the highest and brightest in our heavens. The corpus required Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 7 1 for a study of this system might b e drawn entirely from Salut les Copains. of no longer being young ? Who does not contrast maturity and innocence. compensations. We tend to set up an essence.thus vindicating the pro­ duction and consumption of specific objects (clothes. of being young because one is young.for what counts is to integrate the adolescent in trade and consumption by offering him a parallel everyday life.though here and there well­ intentioned people have given this a thought (with no perceptible results however) . But what is left for those who do not gravitate in the orbit of youthfulness ? To simulate youthfulness that simulates fulfilment. newspaper articles. indeed. Technology and Science (or scientificness). pleasure. Youthfulness. Youth is a proof of the joy of being young. planets and stars spilling their various influxes on the soil of everyday life. This entity sets an aura of innocence on consumption in general and an aura of decency and ' niceness ' on adolescent consumption. growing fainter and fainter. with commercializable attributes and properties. half­ real intellectual and social ladder can only be fixed to a star that is both fictitious (intellectually) and real (socially) . dis­ enchanted shadow seeing itself as substance and enchantment aromaless world's aroma. the division of activities into social and intellectual. pmess. Self-government. completeness. thus a parallel everyday life is established. signified by signifiers that signified something else. The inevitable outcome of such tuned-up. pertaining to a privileged section of society . In the last few years we have tried literally to institutionalize adolescents. the hypostasis of real youth. the adult and the adolescent ? Who does not make the choice between youth and wisdom. This vision of a ' universe ' coming to a standstill (amid the swirling. youth has a social standing by virtue of youthfulness. in its special sphere of influence . eroticism. right through society from end to end . milling mists of fleetingness) is worthy of our attention. The adolescent expresses such a situation in his own way. whence the cosmic image mentioned earlier of constellations. and evasions into unreality. Here is another pleonasm or tautology : youthfulness. So metalanguage plays its part to the end : encyclopedic compendium of this world. etc. our sun is black and it spreads terror. That which is signified by thes vacant signifiers thus appropriated is youth itself. who is not afraid of seeming young no longer. synonymous of joy. complex hierarchy (and therefore based on writing and written matter) have probably always in­ clined towards such a form . We are not concerned with enabling them to lead a specific life with adequate activities . to consume sY1. publicity .1 70 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId The idea of a neo-Platonic universe. a parallel and a primordial everyday life. that is. Formerly the in­ flux of the stars produced styles and works of art. the summit of a half-fictitious. . geared-down dizziness is a feeling of incalculable discomfort and unrest. a sense of frustration that cannot easily be distinguished from satiety. but what is different in our society is that the stars have changed. unfulfilment and resignation ? Thus everyone is confronted in his daily life with the heart-breaking choice between non-freedom or non-adaptation. when they converge.llbols of happiness. . and the institutionalization of activity and ability as such determined by their own ends tend. Youthfulness with its operational environment (organization and institution). enables these adoles­ cents to appropriate existing symbolizations. fulfilment because it sanctions the consumption of the symbols for such states. a craving for make-believe. charm.

but also from that of the female figure and all it stands for . its social-extrasocial nature. it must be stimulated by signs. neither quite fictitious nor quite real. this undertaking is doomed to failure . so. to organize desire its signifiers must be cap­ tured and signified. they are also advertising subjects. and returns a changeling. living display units . . and this diversion contributes a consumable aestheticism inherent in what is known as 'culture '. con­ stituted and instituted as an entity (therefore as a ' sub-system' presided over in this presidential regime by an essence). quite intellectual nor quite social : the entity known as Femininity. but which has its place in the present analysis) that : a) women. any more than with social activities. it has nothing in common with intellectual operations.if they can. and it is precisely in its escape-routes that exploiters are ambushed. the control of needs is directed towards Femininity as it is towards Youthfulness ' b) �omen are symbols of this society. classified need satisfied as such. not to compulsion . but desire does not thrive under imposed conditions. forms of torment that recall those of desire. the divine Marquis. direct bureaucratic so­ ciety'S controlled consumption. But desire refuses to be signified. amongst which can be discerned the Spontaneous. rather pseudo-natures. that such an essence is in the process of formation. Though it seems difficult that sexuality should be conceived. objects of advertisin strategIes. sexual intercourse and its more or less normal outlets proves the case. . faced with such irreducibility. signs or symbols of desire can only provoke a parody of desire that is never more than a pretence of the real thing. popular cult that involves officiating. The proliferation of writings on such themes as sex. taken as a symbol of the consumer's customary act. nakedness. everything tends to indicate that such a procedure is being attempted. A make-believe everyday life doubles that of experience and it is here that desire finds its imaginary permanence. Methods similar to those used to control natural forces cannot be applied to desire. if one tries to provoke it by com­ pulsive methods it takes refuge in make-believe. Sexuality. So although the systematizing of Eros proves a failure there is still hope for a strange cult. appropriates the symbols of desire .1 72 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 73 In this loveless everyday life eroticism is a substitute for love. smiles. This is the out­ come ofthe fact (previously discussed. achieves the final spoliation of everyday life and that is its contribution to terrorism. As a star of the first magnitUde Femininity occupies the centre of a constellation composed of special stars. the anomie of desire. in other words. it is con­ d�cive to an (apparent) evasion of rhetoric and metalanguage . for desire responds to adaptation. Desire ignores recurrence as it ignores accumulation. an occult. because it creates its own signs as it arises . Desire stifles in everyday life. . after which '\ psychologists and analysts recall it to itself . the Cultured. products of culture. as consumers (apparently). Not exactly characters. human sacrifice and anti­ phrases usually associated with officialized creeds. or. as does the use of such themes to promote publicity and trade. It is implicit in the Eros cult whose symptoms transpire here and there. pure forms draped in artifacts. and of course its High Priest. the Natural. A certain � \ . but then desire takes refuge in quoti­ dianness.or simply does not arise . where it is reborn at random in the surprise of an en­ counter. in a quarrel. or natures either. by the sight or rather the action of undressing. Sexuality. c) women are also superior consumer goods and trade value in so far as they are physical realities (a good figure is all that is re­ quired to obtain wealth and fame). sexuality. resists social and intellectual system­ atizations attempting to reduce it to a distinct. in short all the characters created by Femininity and that circle in its orbit. it distracts attention while substituting another act for that of the consumer (a woman cannot properly be consumed like an object). The act of con­ suming acquires a certain diversity ifit is presented not solely from the point of view of the object and its destruction through con­ sumption. and a kind of entity can be distin­ guished. reduced to a crystallized social and intellectual essence. an imaginary satiety. but it dies in a specialized context . it emerges from speech but not from writing unless it has been led astray. set up as an essence. the Happy and the Loving. So that the use offemale bodies and undress helps to establish and justify the advertising ideology on which the ideology of consumption is based.

However. the Pleonasm or the Circle (vicious. tree of pleonasms. but beneath and through apparent spontaneity the organization of everyday l life is conducted. by mathematics that is efficient and by trade value that has tremendous power. rather belatedly. self-signification (and therefore self-consumption.the conflicting relation of Letter and Spirit was __ . Femininiry�g!J. pleonasms : autonomized ' pure ' forms. offorms. we see it as the logical oI u come of -urbaruzaf1c)nand alnhe-con. infernal) hint at but cannot define.-Idols whose outstanding advantage is that they are perfectly unremarkable (neither too ugly nor too beautiful.lvldual can back ihe 11la. that they lead the same ' everyday' life as anybody else and that they present to every­ one an image of his (everyday) life transfigured by the fact that it is not his but that of another (an Idol. kissing his children. Nature can only be another name for desire. stars.sii5lliitS� in� dividuality and particularity (specific diiIerences) io t. The first step is the de-consecration ofwriting. We know only too well (having learnt the hard way) that automatism makes its appearance disguised as ' pure ' spontaneity . it stood for an example of creation when it was really only a model for institutio ns. but what power ? A new theory is coming into view. Not words as such. as the prop and pedestal of the Sacred. And this is what such metaphors as the Heavens. fliiiftlie slake is lost or won.vldual� {i i-s-iil-this field tliat t1ie giime is played. by forms. social and intellectual places. fictitious finalities. making them long for death. a social 'place ' situated in hobbies and ' do-it­ yourself' (which denotes the general disrepair and neglect of creative energy). therefore rich and famous). but how can we choose between images that all contain metaphors or metonyms. All this is held together by the power of words. eddies. neither too gifted nor without gifts). freedom and profundity. where desire wouldbe -oniy�a fiction cal .a:iid comp1emehTSLh e-�­ de-cons���tion of the land and of woman . self-destruction) . Platonic heavens. furthermore.resolved by the Profane and Profanation .Ifchance--exists� iftheTiia. is included in the methods of power . compendium of vicious circles ? Each one expresses what the others express with an imperceptible dif­ ference : suprasensitive heavens. means set up as ends and becoming their own ends.ces�uny govern the every­ day lives of Cybernanthropoi.J2I!he crit� mind woman's significance in everyday life is too great to be con1iIle(rio FeillinlnltY. Thus it is absolutely fascinating to watch an Idol amid his satellites having a bath. Speech has power. detachable signifiers that have no power . writing was seen. by understanding the general properties of written matter we should be able to set the limits of its range and implica­ tions and thus to de-consecrate it. moreover Femininity forbids real women access to their own lives. an essence invented �rts and that conveniently localizes individual or collective creative energy. �l:l:<:. constellations. The same applies to ' creativity'. The presence of Idols gives a certain unity to this weird assort­ ment. specific signs. but by talk that has power. both social and intellectual. which cannot be captured by words. a profanation that follows. adaptafion-to. signs of the Zodiac. In the context of an agrarian society the consecration of the land and of woman and the value attributed to all that was rare and precious. Writing and the recurrence of writing create an illusion of pure spontaneity. ' . for -it . driving his car or doing any one of those things that everybody does but as if nobody had ever done them before.i1ieir -ciwii-llves. however.i.rapped generalitit::s. vicious circles : swivels. The theory o f f orms (a revival) We shall attempt to define the mode of existence. too vulgar nor too refined.not a game but a role and a function . were extended to the process of writing.174 Everyday Life in the Modem World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 75 mistrust of nature as a product leads to the hypothesis that this is a subterfuge employed by automization to creep in unobserved.a fact which distressed certain poets.tradictions that consoli­ date and emphasize it. regions of space and time ruled by essences . by logic that have power. This is indIS­ putable. self-sufficiency. Idols proclaimed and acclaimed in the · identification of self with self. In olden days when the conflict (or conflicting unity) between the Sacred and the Accursed prevailed . Under the laser of critical analysis the visible outline of everyday life dissolves and its true shape emerges .

in one place city life may be concentrated and emphasized in the ruins of this morphology (ancient cities and districts). that is. hiding or appearing) is Desire . led to the de-consecration and profanation of written matter . the explosion was accompanied. a virtuality and poten­ tiality. cause of the subject and its ultimate reification. temple or sanctuary . because it is precise.but not without a certain delay. made this division one of its imperatives. as a representative miscellany of society and the heritage of past generations. encircled. com­ pulsive because it is cool. Christianity did not dispel the ambiguity nor terminate the conflict by ascribing Letter and Scriptures to the Father. evasion or . or to be frustrated. it assists desire in its flight. on the con­ trary. it radiated from a central point.1 76 Everyday Life in the Modem World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 77 also predominant . speech cannot be intentionally cool. interpreting. deceit. actuality and actualization. Speech implies a presence (sometimes an absence. by arousing doubts as to the Word's reliability. but relative to the presence). The city can be defined (among other definitions) as the reading of a social text. casting out evil into foreign lands. It inscribes the schism be­ tween reality and desire and between the intellectual operation and pulsions or impulses (one of the basic ingredients of terror). cool because it is compulsive. it is also the place of speech doubling the reading of written matter. always . Writing is absence (also presence. however. but also endowed with powers) by the territory whose sacred character it emphasized. And we are back at the problem of exist­ ing forms and their mode of existing (social and intellectua. it possesses the attributes of an object (socially) and of memory (intellectually) and only acquires the warmth contributed by reading through the action of a specific reader. Urbanism. Written matter is both condition and obstacle. it is a thing that sanctIfies separation. foresight and politics. and the first of its prescriptions is the reading that gives it being. tends to be icily pristine. public reader. it inscribes and prescribes. On the other hand urban life did not disappear with the explosion of its former morphology. commenting on and questioning it. it discards natural cycles and cyclic time. this contradiction has been resolved by a critical operation based on an analysis of meta­ language. reciter or actor. by an im­ plosion . Writing. so that it is now relegated to folk-lore. each of which has added a page . Industrial and urban rationality make it possible at last to understand this dual dialectical move­ ment of the intellectual process and the social process. moreover. which projects social and intellectual order on the field. in another it tends to establish itself as a new form that still lacks morphological foundations. in its primi­ tive form unwittingly sapped the foundations of the Sacred when � it was subordinated to rationality. indifferent and haughty in so far as it is the law. Reasons and causes. In the context of modern times the social text profanes itself. paradoxically. calling for a new rationality through the intricacies of reason. as an embryo. Writing is now a signifier charged with precepts immersing in­ dividuals and communities in this context. Formerly it bore the mark of religions and rites originating in the cultivation of the soil. it is presence. but such an operation requires certain conditions. it is essentially ' cool'. it makes itself known and expresses itself. but at the same time this theory enables us to understand how writing serves as a new starting point for the Word . re­ current and cumulative.and the city itself was invested (surrounded. and. the Book's interpretation to the Son and the Word to the Spirit of whom no more is said once it has been named. the fear of the unknown.l). a presence whose referential (hidden or apparent. An additional contradic­ tion enables it still to benefit from the outdated tradition of its consecration while assuming the characteristics and properties of rationality. and desires itself if only for self-immolation through satisfaction. asexual in so far as it is written. though it is perceived only with an effort as ' being' or ' not being' it both is and is not . but in an indirect way only reached by inference). the de-con­ secration and the profanation ofthe social text in urban experience. it is activity. Desire cannot ignore the past but it ignores recurrence . in itself it is ' hot'.sites that were invested with a particular aura of sanctity . of the linear and of the profane . it offers a specific object to this ' subject' that sets itself in a critical relation to the object. and in overcoming this schism the mind perceives how Scripture was divided from the Word. but demanding a complete social experience and occupying a material (spatial) base. affective and emotional terrors inspired by natural phenomena.

' death was triumphant in that strange voice '. bursting its barriers and flooding the embankments.or non-existent . when its limpidity is disturbed and acquires by this disturbance a different transparency whereby it loses its quality of object (intellectual and social).. this aspiration to a pure abstraction imposing its laws and its strictures is part of the power of forms. sophers used to call the relation of object to subject). Thus when desire flows into writing. classed and tidied away. a disorder that is none the less orderly. etc.but they cannot do so. isolated from action. the writing expands. and it is just such a miracle . spreads and communicates by means of what seemed to enclose and restrict it . presence and speech. th�t cannot be defined as a lack of precision but that delivers writing from the snares of metalanguage. This is also the relation of form to content. we think of Socrates. perhaps. but by an apparently miraculous act he turns coofness into warmth.) . or of product and act (what the philo. Christ. or simply sig­ nificance ? Be that as it may.referentials desire and the time of desire. it endows them with the power to terrorize. by relating the disorder of words to the order of recurrence. perhaps even Joan of Arc . it becomes normal. Nevertheless there is a general form of contract or agreement. spatiality into temporality and recurrence into actualization. for it goes much deeper.it should help us to grasp further relations such as that of reality and possibility. and we observe that all contractual relations presuppose a discussion and definition in verbal form. presence and desire are restored to it the ice is set on fire and that is the paradox of poetry (which the poet achieves. or rhetoric. its own.that contributes to the inexplicable charm of a simple love-poem made. by the contracting parties. sub­ stituting desire to conventional . and in this literal space. terror is not simply pathological. when speech. which conforms to a self-imposed order . inheritance and its transfer. the consequence�re incalculable . virtuality and shaping activity. The double existence o forms understood in this way (intellec­ f tual and social) invites a further inquiry into this contradiction. so-called human actions and objects are catalogued. the writing that fixes it has eliminated speech and desire. Time and Desire not only in order to re-animate frozen writing but to oppose written matter and its accumulation from the beginnings of Western civilization. Paris) but of true conscience or of the conscience of reality. a working contract regularizes the acquisition and sale of working energy . Moreover. If the proposi­ f tion is reversed it preserves its meaning : terror defines a pure formal space. a juridical form based on the civil code .1 78 Everyday Life in the Modern World equal to itself and therefore alien to desire . a thesis by J. and so on. Gabel. of nothing but pure form. Terrorism and Everyday Life 179 A pure (f ormal) space de fines the world o terror. Pre­ sence. The poet does not abolish writing and the prec:ision of writing. the dread of desire into desire. if we can understand this dual aspect-­ or aspects . when a tremor runs through written matter. infusing it with its own vibrations. masking an ambiguity that in turn conceals a dialectical (conflict­ ing) movement. they cannot exist deprived of content . subordinating sexual relations to relations of property (patrimony. for forms would exist as pure intel­ lectual abstractions and as social objects if they could . Specific contracts exist characterized by their content . absence into presence. isolated from possibility. apparently. time has been evicted from this unified space . that chosen referential created by poetry). Let it suffice to recall here that those who spoke without writing paid with their lives for this law-breaking epoch-making act . and we re­ member that Nietzsche's Zarathustra appealed to Speech. of the contract's ' fairness '. marriage portion.which has nothing irrational about it. the space of its power and its powers . overflows and. thus a marriage contract specifies and regulates the relation between two individuals of opposite sex according to a given social code (order). The conflicting relation of Speech and Writing cannot be re­ duced to the relation of matter and the written word any more than it can be reduced to that of spirit and letter. the division of pro­ perty. * The superior power that keeps them in such order is everyday life. . though nothing remains of such * Thus terror is not the space of false conscience (La F ausse conscience. together with writings that are lined up on written matter. Did the poet hope to give a more limpid significance to the words of the tribe.

which is everyday life maintained by terror. Intellectual : simultaneity. the greatest paradox of reflection is first that such a form can be formulated and formalized with such pre­ cision and then that it should be effective. Social : ordering. between the self and the double. and a contract is concluded by the signatures of both parties . and what is perceived as existing is the unity (con­ flicting. Yet there exists a general form of thought based on classification. a meaningless term. g) urban forms.the landscape. Form isolated from its dontent (or referentials) is enforced by terrorism. d) f orms o exchange. Social : thejuridical f e)f formalization of relations based on reciprocity. this working ability of pure form ? Without the slightest possible doubt from the fact that it makes . b) mathematicalf orms. needs and satisfactions). its joints and disconnections. too often overlooked to the advantage of ' pure ' form. resisting. If the form of writing occupies an inferior position to that of the city in this decreasingly abstract hierarchy of forms it is because our classification stipulates neither priority. h) theform of writing. no content without form . Intellectual : equivalences. How and why ? Where does this efficiency come from. a tautology. the official deed . equality in distinction. attacks obsessional classification with a classification of forms and exposes their general content. a medium of classification and action . which is Logic. translucid form to substantial con­ tent. but as such it cannot exist . structuralism and functionalism against themselves.by materializing and de-consecrating . Intellectual : the absolute principle of identity A. no reflection without content. a codification that extends to the elaboration of abstract principles . activities and products. reflection separates form from content thus supporting the form's natural inclination to exist as pure essence . becomes operant. ontology nor historicity but goes from pure. There is no form without content and. existing as such. between each thing and its setting. Similarly there is no thought without an object. codifying. Social : the symmetry of objects (including hidden relations between things. produced by labour and imposed as form upon nature in a given territory . conceived by some (ultimately by Nietzsche) as the form of existence. logic. Intellectual : balance per­ f f) f ceived or conceived in the object. Social : trade value. content on which it imposes order and constraint. Intellectual : reciprocity. Form in its absolute purity (A A is absolutely unviable . a progression that involves a now familiar dialectical relation that of form and content. entity made autonomous and Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 8 1 it acquires logic and language and tends to constitute a ' world ' based on its form) . orms o contract. Social : acculllUla­ tion. intellectual as well as social. its levels and dimensions . as form it is no more than an abstraction. rational organization . Intellectual : repetition. by its very purity. Our radical analysis turns formalism.1 80 Everyday Life in the Modern World preliminaries. inversely. standardizing. consumer goods (whence . Intellectual : coherence. analysis possible. dialectical) of form and content. Social : the pleonasm (ends taken as means. Intellectual : enumeration and classifica­ tion. therefore intelligible. we all know that analysis kills. c) linguistic forms. it allows for the division of ' reality along its line of least resistance. and reflection itself constitutes a form that aspires to the status of universal essence (the philosopher's ambition and illusion). has the fearsome power of death and life that disconnect and re-connect in different combinations the fragments and elements previously disconnected. that is to say. Let us summarize in a few terms the problem of the dialectical movement of form and content. Thus the form is reunited to a variable.the most significant form of writing. ' Pure ' form. etc. We omit recurrence . Social : encounters (bringing together neighbouring products and activities) that in­ tensify . the proof being in the writing. orms o practico-sensorial objects. totality and sub­ totalities. We observe in a decreasingly abstract pro­ gression : a) logical forms. f comparing (qualities and quantities.) . order and standard. Social : cohesion of relations. acquires an intelligible transparency. But the content is = ) = void) . A limpid and transparent because it is void of content.

Here our critical analysis links up with the peculiar phenomenon of the integration-disintegration of modern society. on the one hand it derives from the efficiency of forms. . is their result or re­ sultant. the time of desire : extinction and rebirth. residual and irre­ ducible. foreigners are in turn subjected to ostra­ cism and resentment. Specific integrations occur in their own time and place. are obsessed with the need to integrate and to be integrated . the form of logic. fence it in. but as the desire for action and creation signified by all things and identi­ fied by none. programming to everyday life) lead to a sort of generalized racialism stemming from the disability to integrate properly : everybody against everybody else . encompasses that of reduction and the irre­ ducible. Production may be seen as answering such requirements . Everyday life is part of the content. arid that is impossible because they need it. Speech is necessary but it is insufficient. it eludes all attempts at institutionalization.which implies their disintegration as a class . and action on behalf of mediation.in its dual aspect. Product and residue. although it has such pretensions . the intensification of compulsion and terrorism) but only a lot of sub-systems. Thus an idea or theory emerges : Speech maintains. It is rationally demonstrated that ' pure ' form. activity on behalf of the agent. the ' purity ' of a form involves its non-existence. imprison it in its own territory. The concept of a ' zero point'. a conjunction of pleonasms threatened with mutual destruction or suicide. Critical analysis must therefore prove the social existence of some­ thing that has no apparent ' substantial ' existence . but their concerted efforts cannot reduce it . encompassed within the process of form and content. In the last analysis (but is a last analysis necessary ?) the content is desire seen neither as the desire to be nor as the desire not to be. We do not have to demonstrate that form cannot depend on it­ self for existence . Repressive and terrorist societies cannot leave everyday life well alone but pursue it. we note. and the answer is that forms depend on social conscience at the same time as they influence it .its culture.and so can everyday lif in so far as it is e the result of actual production relations and of the residue of forms classified above. not in a form . it evades the grip of forms. teenagers. its culture and its institutions. forms simultaneously organize it and are projected upon it. they cannot do without speech. to essentiality.but in an action. the whole society is in the process of disintegrating . But they would have to suppress it to have done with it. but it is total in­ tegration that is required. concealed in the signified and under signs. and at the same time. our main concern is to show that form aspires in vain .1 82 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 8 3 irreducible. as a consequence of this phenomenon. to survive nor to expire. Everyday life is. a material substantial foundation.to a ' substantial' existence. in fact. The members of this society (individuals and communities) as well as the whole body (in so far as a body exists). for it requires a basis. becoming targets of undefined terrorisms while the whole is still held together by the keystone of speech and the foundations of everyday life. and also because literature is the natural intellectual vehicle and social basis of metalinguistic popularity. furthermore. has no right to autonomy. of the spread of written matter. The complex process of (ana­ lytic) knowledge and experience. assembles and unifies isolated forms. is derived from literary criticism . as production of work and of produce . Thus it is not really surprising if obsessional integration and specific limited integrations (of publicity to trade. to continue nor to end. though they drain speech to their own advantage. is in fact the irreducible.or a structure or a function . like those of terrorism and of writing. By the subterfuge of organizing every­ day life the working classes have been partially integrated with present-day society . but ambiguously .an obsession. and there­ fore revealed as the signifier without signified which gives life to others and can be found in Speech and in Time but neither in Space nor in Writing nor in any spatial signified. con­ tract or writing. its unity and its values. a coincidence that is not really surprising in view of the perspicacity of those among our foremost critics who undertook the ' radical' investigation. children. that is symptomatic neither of a considerable integrative capacity nor of a total incapacity to integrate. proletarians. We have already seen that our society no longer constitutes a system (notwithstanding state power and armed force. women. such is the definition of everyday life .

time. and therefore a pseudo-absence. where they are expected. once they come to grips. discontent. each as neutral as possible.oui topTcs� o�� prObleIIls . satisfied in ad­ vance by imaginary satisfaction). But there is nothing unusual about these subjects . participation. all the things it � -· lacks. there is the ghetto of creativity and hobbies (do-it­ yourself. new and unusual also is the fact that the place of communication is always elsewhere. Zero point is a neutral state (not an act nor a situation) characterized by a pseudo-presence. the attenuation of pertinence (con­ trast) and the prevalence of associations of words and sentences. the squandering and ostentation as well as under their opposites. hygienic ghettos withal. organized according to a pre­ existing space on which it inscribes nothing. it would be too much to say that darkness had des­ cended. ·m we i agine we are solving problems by naming topics. perhaps. Zero point is a transparency interrupting communica­ tion and relationships just at the moment when everything seems communicable because everything seems both rational and real . Paris. 1958. integration and coherence. predicted. the point of total cold. or rather it is the sum of features and properties resulting from their decline. that of a simple witness.except for desire that lives and survives in the quotidian. not. ' Zero point' can be defined as the neutralization and disappearance of symbols. * i . associations seen as evidence of ' what goes without saying '. and functional too . deserted spaces even in the heart of the city). we dissect lone­ liness.�! is�bs�s_� cation. collecting. but once groups and classes suc­ ceed in meeting face to face. constituted) that stop up the channels of com­ munication while claiming to encourage it. economic rationality.space. of objects (functional objects split up into elements and contrived by arrang­ ing and combining these elements). what is unusual is loneliness in the midst of overcrowding. the ghetto of speech (small groups and their talk). of need (predictable. the space taken over by traffic circulation. sometimes violent and always free from the neutralizing effects of the pre­ determined site . and then there is nothing to communicate ! The social topology or topics of this landscape has undergone a change . from above or in the whirl­ wind of an entity . A kind of intellectual and social asceticism can be discerned at zero point under all the apparent affiuence. and there are places for communication. for it has nothing in common with an ice-age scene .1 84 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 85 But we must not overstress the dreariness of the scene. and there is also a zero point of time: time that is programmed. but they happen elsewhere. objects. it is made up of partial zero points . gardening). Le Degre zero de l'ecriture. there is a place for Femininity and one for Youthfulness. appointing given places and times for it in everyday life . cr. Moreover it can be held responsible for the decline of the Festival. The writing claims to state simply and coldly what is. learnedly. in substitution. resistance. Zero point is the lowest point of social experience. These are. Maybe our description of this ' freezing' landscape is mislead­ ing. speech. a free dialogue explodes under the dialectical impetus. for real dialogues and real communication do take place . usually lively. needs. not in the places specially designed for communication and dialogue . lack of communication. of space (space shown as dis­ play. but each one assigned to a specific function. the ghetto of happiness and of freedom (holiday resorts and holiday camps). it is We shall appropriate for our own ends the stylistic concept elabora­ ted by Roland Barthes* for his analysis of the transformations in literary writing. when speech arises from a brief encounter. one for traffic circulation. one for trade and one for consumption . In fact zero point defines everyday life . of style and works of art . More or less everywhere there are bodies (social. ��_wit�(!iil:!<?�e! communi­ Thus we hav�y_!. a point that can only be approached and never reached. lack of communication in a proliferation of signs of communication . allthe things it misses. for it is only twilight and we can still distinguish an assort­ ment of neutralized places. these are ghettos. in this ' elsewhere ' something may be said and heard above the monotone of written matter that appropriates all the 'topics ' and cancels them out. by end­ lessly. obsessively discussing topics . . even when it is laid out in lawns and planted with trees. f There is a zero point o language (everyday speech). when it only ex­ poses a formal coherence. but by which it is prescribed.

whether male or female. Ought we to reconsider and modify our concept of ' reality' ? The existence and the effects of forms are unlike those of sensorial objects. looking only around him at the surface that he takes for � reality '. Terrorism maintains the illusion. the zero point of critical thought. thus the illusion o immediacy in everyday l�f f e is de fined. has no (or hardly any) intimation of all that we have . but that is how it is.disclosed and discussed. They are real but not in the terms of other types of reality .1 86 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 87 Our analysis has proceeded up to this point from the higher to the lower. he may find them neither just. It is the terrorist function of forms (and of institutions deriving from these forms) to maintain the illusions of trans­ parency and reality and to disguise the forms that maintain reality. to the base that is also a basis. People living in everyday life refuse to believe their own experience and to take it into account. yet it possesses something both more and less. he takes for granted all that he observes. though they are ab­ stract they are none the less intellectual and social objects. they require sensorial. a member of one social class or another. integrated. We shall now settle down in everyday life. from forms to reality and content. On the other hand we all know only too well the dangers inherent in the boredom eating away at the heart of modernity. Everyday experience is not cumulative . for they have come to accept and even to like boredom at ' zero point' . This everyday being lives a double illusion. he accepts as the here and now everything he sees and perceives. justified nor justifiable. some­ thing different from what is signifie d. . The con­ catenation of efficient causes and effects is not the whole of social ' reality ' . of course they are. Thus trade idioms are made of pre­ existing languages that they adapt to their own use. Let us try to put ourselves in the place of a person living his everyday life without any historical. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that whole nations are bored. classical causality and determinism must give way to another process of exposition and explication . only a very small minority draw conclusions from what they know. . they prefer it to the hazards of desire. that of limpidity and evi­ dence (' that's how it is ') and that of substantial reality (' it can't be any different ') . from this viewpoint we can­ not help noticing a phenomenon that requires a further analysis . happy . We can say that people are satisfied. unless he happens to be a pathological case or a case of anomie he will almost entirely ignore the depth of desire and the stars that rule over him. for in both cases the analysis by-passes the problem of the existence and effects of forms. material and practical foundations but cannot be identified with such vehicles. in this way the various rays constitute a single beam and light up a territory that would otherwise be plunged in darkness. but not without a backward look at our analytical trip. things are what th�y are . but it is highly appreciated as a limited practice. they are projected on the screen of everyday life without which they would have nothing to explore. . object and content without form have neither a specifically intellectual nor a specifically social reality. define and organize . Thus trade value requires an ob­ ject (a product) and a comparison between objects in order to appear and express its content which is productive collective labour and a comparison between labours. Our inquiry into the manner in which forms exist has led to an investigation of social reality. it constitutes an object's significance but also appropriates it. while others are sinking into a boredom at zero point. they are not obliged to behave in this way. . for he rarely raises or lowers his gaze. but this is no excuse for rejecting causality or substituting a kind of irrealism for ' reality '. sociological or economic knowledge and without a particularly curious or critical mind. To a certain extent form defines a thing's significance . that of an individual existence doomed sooner or later to failure and resignation. all his experiences . technical objects. meta­ physical substances or 'pure ' abstractions . Those who resist are promptly isolated. Once again the metaphor expresses too much and not enough. Where experience is concerned everyday life is wasted. allows itself to be signified and absorbs the signifier. However. nobody forces them. silenced or merely a picture of boredom. they force themselves-a typical feature of the terrorist society . thoughthere is a tendency to endow elderly people with 'experience' all they have really acquired is cynicism and resignation. this inmate of everyday life.

e. utopian elabora­ tions). combined as be in Marxist general). involves a praxis.1 88 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 89 . and some of its findings observed in later developments (sociological in particular. \ reconditioned.�y. Con­ versely. But a new era of urban society is dawning where the experience values that originated in the distant past of agricu1tural traditions will at last outshine the trade values that now overshadow them . by others of being wanting in wisdom. a community's everyday life. �.'·. Now that the opening has been located all that remains is to direct our inquiry towards it. elsewhere it can be found. for it bears a familiar name : that of urban lif or urban society. as a generalized social practice it is part of the cultural revolution that is based on the abolition of terrorism . only ideologists believe that urban society can be founded duction. a remarkable case of socio-analysis. Objections are what is not expressed. the irreducible crops * up again after each reduction. Though necessary for scientific pro­ cedures.ucted according < A. Thus anti-Stalinist opposition inside communist parties was. but only the partisans of that ideology known as ' economism' can see ·urban society as the outcome of industrial production and organization . The third volume of the Critique de la vie quotidienne will develop certain features of this account and will probably be consp. Urban society rises from the ashes of rural society and the traditional city. forms do not converge.:. Science is related to a praxis.. set­ ting its limits.�ariations and / <'. with intellectual or social over­ tones. accused by some of lacking experience. that would disclose these relations implied in quotidianness. There are certain neighbourhoods in the one-time urban centres of cities. The opening In so far as there can be demonstration in such matters we have demonstrated the non-closing of the circuit. where urban life survives or attempts to sur­ vive . then an elucidation of forms. U \ : \�:" : :' : : misapprehensions. they are with false evidence. in its time. and then proceeds by induction and trans- . An inquiry into everyday situations presupposes a capacity for intervention. and might be called socio-analyses. and both out­ looks threaten the development of this new-born hope. gaps and lacunae ." its.'t fi> V \ e to the following plan: first. presupposes or precedes a praxis.. encircling and besieging the city.<�. only a relative. its conception and realization require a depar­ ture from former ideologies (outdated survivals.{ ':\5L< > �· \/: . it associates experiences that were previously foreign to it. For many centuries peasant life and an agricul­ tural reality predominated. entailing further processes. 'f'\00. the operation that will expose the double illusion requires the precision of an experienced sur­ geon. everyday life. a possibility of change (reorganization) in every­ day life that would not be dependent on a rationalizing. To initiate such a praxis either a conceptual analysis or ' socio-analytical ' experiences are necessary . trying to create a new ' centrality' . far from closing itself it is only a plane. the seen and the unseen. can Inquiries of this nature have already been undertaken by Georges Lapassade. * In everyday life when we think we see everything quite clearly we are most deluded. We now have before us the outline of a discipline or science (if one is not afraid of words). The socio­ analytical intervention dissociates into place and time the bearings of the situation. unmediated everyday life. but im­ plicit and obscure in the quotidian. for the world of terror. of 'pure ' forms and 'pure ' space is also the world of silence when metalanguages are exhausted and are ashamed of themselves. a science that would expose the posi­ tion of everyday life in relation to forms and institutions .. Rene Lalou and the members of the Groupes de Recherche Institutionelle. as a layer of unreality and an illusory transparency constitutes a frontier between darkness and light. for they presuppose inter­ ventions into an actual situation. There is no single absolute chosen system but only sub-systems separated by cracks. temporary reduction can be achieved.or at least on the possibility of a counter-terrorist intervention. only the sup­ porters of bureaucratic rationalism conceive the new experience as distribution of a territory and its programming. they have no grip on the content and cannot reduce it permanently . when we are convinced that we are plunged in darkness a chink of light has already pierced the shadows . program­ ming institution. + . neighbourhoods that were once prosperous but are now usually inhabited by a different class of people from those who founded them.

� ofth(:Lcjt�.�th�'ti. vacant stare. a mannerof GQ]!njer:-terrorism. but they forget that these were dependent on slavery. more in evidence here than elsewhere. but on the elimination of antagonisms that find their expres­ sion in segregation.k�:�i)�� ��db�y(.�'�fune�-. Urban society is not opposed to mass media.d_�. compulsive time . Questions and criticism are only for­ bidden by scientificness.1?f b t-�ti� p merges�" Thls wiirb� the� iac�-arur hlc d occ���' �� �ti�. ' 'You were forewarned. and. such a revival leads to a revival of experience values. urban society involves this tendency towards the revival of the Festival. festivals.is based not on the abolition of class distinc­ tions.190 Everyday Life in the Modern World Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 9 1 on groups emancipated already from labour and social class divi­ sions and that there is such a thing as an urban ' system' . and actively "UJLlU J' U . A short dialogue ' You have. Though it will be the place of another time than that of formal spatiality. a discipline that figures. the experience of place and time. This urban society . abandoned every trace of scien­ tific direction and your would-be analytical essay has turned out to be a diatribe.�gh 'W h'iCe time'of'. among the so-called " pure " forms and the semi-Platonic arche­ types of this little world. but it will tra�s­ form the quotidi:ill