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Everyday Life in the Modern World Lefebvre

Everyday Life in the Modern World Lefebvre

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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

·

.
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ÍVcIyduyÍÍlcÍn!hcNOdcInVOIÌd
thetexto]thísbookísµrínted
on:00% recycledµaµer
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¯AÏQAÜQ 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; �fqof 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-factncssgrcciscÌyinits mattcr-of-factncss); inno
way contrivcd,itrcproduccs thc ßowing imagc of a cosmic day,
ÌcadingthcrcadcrintothcturmoiÌofaÌinguisticcarnivaÌ,afcstivaÌ
ofÌanguagc, adcÌiriumofwords.
¸ ÷ thctimc of thcnarrativc, ßowing, unintcrruptcd, sÌow,
fuhofsurpriscsandsighs,strifcandsiÌcncc,rich,monotonousand
varicd, tcdious andfascinating÷ isthcHcracÌitcanßux,cnguÌñng
and�niting thc cosmic (ob|cctivc) and thc subjcctivc inits con-
tinuit_ 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 cnigas 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
hcarsthcsub|cct'svoicccmcrgcfromthcpagcwithaIÌthcconnota-
tions of sub|cctivity. Musica|ity aÌways prcvaiÌs ovcrthc¸purcÌy
|itcraÌ;mcÌodicÌincandharmonicprogrcssiondctcrmincthcphras-
ingwithncccssary transitions (rccurrcncc of thc kcy-notc, which
maybca symboÌorsimpÌyaspcciñcsound). Thcwntingtricsto
capturcthccnigmaticdcpth,thcinhcrcntmusicaÌityofÌanguagc~
orrathcr of spccch- thcpoÌ_honypcrtaining normaÌly only to
orchcstraÌ music. Connotations pÌay thc part of harmonics;
thoughhcworksinhisownmcdum,thcwritcrdocsnothcsitatc
toborrowpoÌyrhythmics,poÌyvaÌcncc,poÌyphonyfromthcmusi-
ciansothatwcñndhcrcwriting,ÌanguagcandspccchorganicaÌÌy
mcrgcdandrcdcmcdbythcmcthodsofmusicaÌcomposition.
c)YctdurationisnotcntircÌystructurcÌcss.ThcrcisinIoycc ÷
andnotonlyin Cl¿sses÷ a symboÌic systcmwithcohcrcntcross-
1cßn¤c(thoughitmustbcadmittcdthatinthcgÌarcof|inguistic
mcworks thc cohcrcncc is not aÌways scÌf-cvidcnt). Whcrc for
othcrsthcrcÌation sigûcr÷sigcdispurcÌyformaÌ,forIo_ccit
·H <iaÌÌ_ dialcctic(; thc¸@ûç_b cçomc�qgniñcd 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), ofordinaryob|ccts(a|ightcdcigarinthcdarkrcca|Ìs ��
thcÇcÌops'cyc).Itwou|dbcintcrcstingtoconstructascicnccof
6 Lvcryday Iifc in thc Modcrn VorÌd
cvcrydayÌifcstartingfromthcscsymboÌs,thoughsucha'scicncc'
bcÌongstoanothcragcthanourown,anagcwhcrcsymboÌismwas
initsµrimc;withJoyccatthcbcginningofthcccnturycachgrouµ
ofsymboÌswasthcmaticaÌÌyrcÌatcd,distinctbutundistinguishcd,
andmancouÌdbcrcµrcscntcdbythcµroµhcticbird:'Bcmyguidc,
dcarbird;whatbirdshavcdoncinthcµastmcnwiÌÌdotomorrow,
ßy, sing and agrcc in thcir ÌittÌc ncsts.` AÌas, an oµtimistic sym-
boÌismrcßccting ayouthfuÌccntury!
d)ForJoycc÷ af.crVicoandµcrhaµsÞictzschc÷ cycÌicaÌJimc
undcrÌ�a[�µp[igan��¯}�µi�¿�io¤.£vcrydayÌifciscom-
� ofcycÌcswithinwidcrcycÌcs;bcginningsarcrccaµituÌations
andrcbirths. ThcgrcatrivcrofHcracÌitcanbccominghasmanya
surµriscinstorc: itisÌincar;sym
¿
o�
��

_
thcirrcµctitions
rcvcaÌ ontoÌogicaÌ corrcsµondcnccs that arc fuscd with Bcing;
hours, days, months, ycars, cµochs and ccnturics intcrmingÌc;
rcµctition,rccoÌÌcction,rcsurrcctionarccatcgoricsofmagicandof
thc imaginary but aÌso of rcaÌity conccaÌcd within thc visibÌc;
UÌysscsisBÌoom, andBÌoomrc-cnactsUÌysscsandthc Odysscy;
quotidianandcµicmcrgcÌikcSamcandOthcrinthcvisionofPcr-
µctuaÌ Rccurrcncc. As thcmysticor thcmctaµhysician ÷ andbc-
�causchcisaµoct÷ JoyccchaÌÌcngcsthcincidcntaÌ;w¸thcvcry�
� Ìifc asmcdiatorhcµasscsfromthcrcÌativc to thcabsoÌutc.
'Vmustyougo
_
ndchoo
¿
:
__
-
autIor

_
oscworkmcandcrs
throughanimµcnctrabÌcatmosµhcrcofsuµrcmcborcdom°Thcrc
arc othcrs bcsidcs his MoÌÌy who arc rcduccd to drowsincss by
thosccndÌcssµagcs .. . . Andhowcanyouhavcthcchccktoquotc
an untransÌatabÌc author into thc bargain° AÌÌ you say is com-
µÌctcÌymcaningÌcsstothoscwhoarcnotwcÌÌvcrscdinthc£ngÌish
Ìanguagc.Furthcrmorc Joycc is datcd, as datcd as mnctccnth-
ccntury music inan cµoch of atonaÌity, concrctc music and ran-
domconstructions. Hc madc writingunµrcdictabÌcby thc inccs-
sant intcrvcntion of a hcro who is aÌways |ust ahcad or traiÌing
bchind¸thcnarrativc.ThcworksofJoyccandhiscontcmµorarics
cÌudcthcstricturcsofdimcnsionbysub|cctingwordstomusicaity
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 cxµÌoitcd by Joycc; thcrc is not a subtcrfugc,
trick or contrivancc that hc sµarcs us: hints (with a wink and a
nudgc),µuns,trompe-l' oreille, cvcrygaµincohcrcntsµccchisñIÌcd
with somcthing; ycs, but with what° What° Thc Ìanguagc of
Zarathustra, howcvcr,truÌysoarsonthcwingsofharmonyinstcad
of bcing rcduccd and Ìimitcd by syntacticaÌ stricturcs, so that
Þictzschcis aÌwaysµrcscntwhiÌcJoyccrcccdcs . . . `
Maybc;yctarcnotintcÌÌigibiÌityand'transÌatabiÌity`insurcdby
Joycc`ssymboÌicaÌconstructionscarricdasthcyarcon thctidcof
-··_
HcracÌitcan timc° _ohcrcnt grou_s of symboÌs arc casiÌ¿µ_-

fcrrcd from onc Ìanguagc to anothcr and from onc 'cuÌturc�o
��´@hcr (in so far as 'cuÌturcs` cxist . . . ); such grouµs µÌay thc
�µart of 'univcrsaÌs`. Is thcrc not cÌcarÌy µcrccµtibÌcin Joycc`s
writing a sort of tonaÌ systcm convcycd µrcciscÌy by its ßuidity,
continuity and transitorincss° CÌcarµhrasing, rcturn to thc kcy-
notc,tcnsionfoÌÌowcdbythcrcsoÌutionofacadcncc,startingsand
cndings, µunctuation in dcµth ...; arc nonc of thcsc stiÌÌ intcÌ-
ÌigibÌc° CouÌd Bccthovcn bc Ìaµsing 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
cvcrydayÌifctransñgurcdnotbyabÌazcofsuµcrnaturaÌÌightand
songbutbythcwordsofman, orµcrhaµssimµÌybyÌitcraturc.If
thcauthorizcdqucstioncrwhohas |ustintcrvcncdisright, aÌÌthc
morcrcasontodchncwhathaschangcdinhaÌfaccntury,whcthcr
it is cvcrydayÌifc or thc art ofrcµrcscnting it through mctamor-
µhosis, orboth, andwhat thcconscqucnccsarc.
Whathaschangcdaf.crroughÌyhaÌfaccntury°Thatthcsub|cc�- _¸
_
has bccomc b̵(rç is ncws to no onc; it has Ìost its outÌinc, i

docsn`t wcÌÌ uµ or ßow any Ìongcr, and with it thc charactcrs, ,-·
roÌcs,µcrsonshavcsÌidintothcbackground¸ Þowitis thc ob´cct
�d,ginitsob|cctivity(whichhadmcaningonÌy
inrcÌationto thcsub|cct)þut as athi¡, aÌmost aµurcform
:
IfI
want to writc today ÷ that is writc hction ÷ I wiÌÌ start from an
ordinary ob|cct, a mug, an orangc, aßyof whichI shaÌÌ attcmµt
a dctaiÌcd dcscriµtion; ncvcr dcµarting from thc µcrccµtibÌc ÷
µrcscntcdasthcconcrctc÷ IshaÌ̵rocccdtomakcinvcntoricsand
cataÌogucs. And why shouÌd ! not choosc that raindroµ 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
¡'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
_��

¿�

�g¸
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 tra|cctory; 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,
ad|ustcdbypitchandthuscÌiminatingñuidity,cxtcnsionsofsound
andboundÌcssncss.Ti
_
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 atsaying cvcry-
thingthatcanbcwrittcn; thcwritcr`s carisattuncdtodcµthand
hc rc|ccts 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
g
; 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�)µ
_
c

t�o

g¡�pqj�zy
Ìitcratu(c. 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-
phor; 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 EverydayLífein the Modem World
Philosophy and everyday lie
We shall now tackle everyday life from the new ange of philo-
sophy.Inthenineteenthcenturytheaxisofthoughtwasredirected\
from speculation towards empirical practical realism, with the
worksofKarlMarxandthebuddingsocialsciencesformingland-
marks on the line of displacement. In the social framework of
freely competitive capitalism¸Marx concentrated mainly on the
everydayexistenceoftheworkingclassesfrom:hedualviewpoint
ofproductivepowerandillusionstoovercome.Þotwithstanding
theassaultsofpositivismandpragmatism,philosophystilldirects
such inquiries and is alone capable of connecting fragmentary
ideologies and specialized sciences, moreover it cannot be dis-
pensed with ifwewant to understand the essence andexistence,
therealorimaginaryresponsibilities,thepotentialitiesandlimita-
tionsof mankind;and thereisno methodto equal it in linking
andassessingdiscomected material. Thisis because philosophy,
through the wide range of its interests, pro|ects the image of a
' complete human being ', free, accomplished, fully realized,
rational yet real. This image~ implicit already in Socrates'
maieutic÷ has, for approximatelytwentycenturies,beenre6ned,
revised, opposed, developed and adorned with superhuitiesand
hyperboles.

Eve(ydaylifeisnon-philosophicalinrelationtophilosophyand
represe�lit içel�t�on to�hty. Secluded, abstract and
detached,miIohical li�consideredsuperiortoeveryday
life, but when it attempts to solve the riddles of reality it only
succeedsinprovingtheunreality, which is, indeed, implicitin its
nature.Itrequiresarealismitcannotachieveandaspirestotrans-
cend itself qua philosophical reality. Philosophical man and
ordinary everyday man cannot coexist, from the philosopher's
pointofview, becauseforhim'all',theworldandman,mustb
thoughtandthenrealized;fromeverydayman'spointofview,be-
causephilosophywouldendowhimwithapositiveconscienceand
proofandactascensor,bothsuper6cialandbasic,toeverydaylife.
Thephilosopherwhoseeshimselfqua philosopherascomplete
wisdomislivingintheworldoftheimagination,andhisweakness
¬ Ingmy, andSome Discoveres 1 3
becomesevidentwhenhetriest oachievewhati s humaulypossible
throughhisphilosophy.Philosophyisself-contradictoryandself-
destructive when itclaims its independence from the non-philo
sophical,andthatitcould beentirelyself-sumcient.
Shouldphilosophybeisolatedforeverfromthecontamination
ofeverydaylifeanddetachedfromeverydaycontingencies!Isthe
quotidian an obstacle tothe revelation of truth, an unavoidable
triviality,thereverseofexistenceandtheperversionoftruth,and,
assuch,anotherfacetofexistenceandoftruth !Eitherphilosophy
ispointlessoritisthestartingpointfromwhichtoundertakethe
transformationofnon-philosophicalreality, with allits trivialiq
anditstriteness.
The solution isthen toattempta philosophicalinvcntoryand
¯ ·
'
analysisofeverydaylifethatyillexgoseµambig JIäbasc-
ness and exuberan;ç. its µove@and fruit]ss-and b_these
unorthodoxmeanz¡eleasethçQveenerµçsthatareaninte¿al
partofit.
Wemust tryto overcome simultaneously the shortcomings of
thephilosopherandthoseofthenon-philosopher(hislackofideo-
logical clarity, his fumbling myopia and constricted outlook},
borrowingforthispurposetheterminologyofphilosophyandits
more elaborate concepts, isolated here from speculative system-
atizations and directed towards the study of everyday life. The
��s a p|iIlo

ohi� oce that cann

ot beunderstood
ephilosophy; tdcs guates+:¡audbypbilosophythenon-
philosophical ¢�(æ able inanother context, itisa con-
cept·:a|therbelongstonor rehectseveryday�m, but rather
expresses its�¸pssiblc!+u6¿ati�i�pm!osc¡:ical terms.
Iurthermore itisnot the product of purephilosophybutcomes
ofphilosophicalthougtdirected towardsthenon-philosophical,
and itsma|orachievementisin thisself-surpassing.
Isitpossiblethateverydaylifeisnomorethanaprimitivestage
in the development of thinking and living where such modes of
experience are still undißerentiated, where all thatis perceptible
seemstobepartoftheuniverseandwheretheworldisseenasthe
sumofm thatis!Coulditbeonlyaratherlow-browinteqreta-
tion of experiencwhere'world' or'univer×` appeartocontain
14 lveryday Iife intheModenWor|d
and enclosetheonly truththereis!Isitperhaps butacollection
of trivia not worthy of being associated with the 'serious' pre-
occupations of modern philosophy such as Nature, Divinity,
Humanity!
Itisimpossibletooverstressourobjectiontothiskindofphilo-
sophicaltraditiona|ism.Philosophy shou|d not serveß a bazgr
nor should it oppose attempts at improving the world and per-
petuatedstinctionsbetweentrivia|ityandseriousnessbyisolating
onthe one hand notions ofBeing,DepthandSubstanceand on
1otherevents,appearances andmgstations.
·
s a comp:ndium of seemingly unimportant activities and of
productsandexhibitsotherthannatura|,everyday|ifeismorethan
somethingthate|udesnatura|,divineandhumanmyths.Couldit
representalowersphereof:eaning,aplacewherecreativeenergy
is stored in readiness for new creations! A place that can be
reduced neither to philosophica| subjective dennitions nor to
ob|ective representations of classined ob|ects such as clothing,
nourishment,furnishings,etc. because itis more and other than
these!Itisnotachasm,abarrier,orabußerbutaneldandaha|f-
wayhouse,ahaltingplaceandaspringboard,amomentmadeof
moments(desires,labours,pleasures~ productsandachievements
÷ passivityandcreativity- meansandends~ etc.),thedialectica|
interactionthatistheinevitab|estartingpointfortherealizationof
thepossible.
Iaddressthephilosopherinhisownterms.Thequestionishow
farcanacompendiumofcompulsionsanddetermi�sms(desires÷
specializedlabour~ fragmentsofunderstanding~ biological,geo-
graphicalandhistorica|compulsions)assumetheappearanceofa
free|y created world, pro|ection of something greater than free-
dom! Philosophers may ignore these compulsions and deter-
minismswhenlayingdowntheir|aws,butinsodoingtheywi||not
have solved the prob|em. ) he limitations of philosoph_~ truth
withoutrealit_~ always and evercounterbalancethe|imitations
ofeve_da_|ife~ realit_withouttruth.
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 beyond Hege| in identifying (phi|osophica|)
An Inguiry, andSomeDiscoveries 15
reasonwith(socia|)reality(inrealizingphi|osophy),torefutethe \
distinctionsbetweenphi|osophicalandnon-phi|osophical,superior �
andinferior,spiritua|andmateria|,theoretica|andpractical,cul-
tureandignorance,andtoundertakearadica|transformationnot
onlyof thestateandpolitics,economics,|urisdictionandsocio|ogy
but a|so of everyday |ife; or to revert to metaphysics, Kierke-
gaardiananxietyand despairand the|iberalismNietzsche strove
tooverthrow,andtoputourfaithinmytho|ogieswithphilosophy
asthe¿eatestcosmogonicandtheo|ogica|mythofa||.
Isourattitudeananswertoc|assica|phi|osophy!Isitpossible `
tousephi|osophyasaframeofreferenceforthestudyofwhatit •
termsnon-phi|osophica|÷thede6nitions`phi|osophica|'and'non-
· /
phi|osophica|'indicatingmutua|recognition,reciprocalandsimu|-[
taneouscontro|!Doessucharevolutionaryattitudea|lowforthe
inherentrationalityofhistory,societyandaUformsofspecialized ²
activity and |abour! Where does it come from, this rationality
exp|icated by phi|osophy and implicit in everyday life! Hege|'s
rep|y is unambiguous: rationa|ity comes from Reason, the Idea
and the Sou|. Marx and the Marxists are stil| clear enough:
rationa|ityis theoutcomeofaction,of |abourandtheorganiza-
tion of|abour,of production and of the mought invo|ved in all
creativeactivity.Butdoesthefactofgivingameaning(thismean-
ing)tohistoryandsocietynotimp|ytheirresponsibi|ityinmeaning-
|essness,vio|ence,absurdities,deadlocks!Responsibilityinvo|ves
gui|t, andwho is to be he|d responsib|e!It would seemthat to
beimocentexistencemust|ackmeaninganddirection.Wecannot
e|iminatea priori theNietzscheantheory ofnihi|ismas arungin
the |adder of progress. If we adopt the Hegelian and Marxist
trend,thatis,therealization oftherationa|throughphilosophy,
a critica| theory of everyday |ife must ensue; if we adopt the
Nietzschean theory of va|ues, of a|ignments and ofa pre-estab-
|ishedmeaningbehindthemeaning|essnessofevents,aconstruc-
tivetheoryofeveryday|ifeemerges. Thisisthemststep.
Butthere aremore di|emmas tocome; either weexert al|our
energy(suchenergyaseveryindividua|qua socia|individua|pos-
sesses)inconso|idatingexistinginstitutionsandideo|ogies~ State,
Church,phi|osophica|systemsorpolitica|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¬,
�¯ �(ntsseµse the �er who has learnt and adopted the
attit�des of philosop�y (contemplat�on and speculation) sees e-jt
q_lIfe 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 possibleforphilosophytorediscovertheinnocent
wonder of revelationwhiledealing witheveryday life!Whatever
_theoutcomeofsuchaconfrontationphiloso

hywilla�waysv

�il-

latebetweenscornandadmirationforwhatI§ non-hilosopþjcal.
Thoughwetrytodirectthecourseofphilosophyandestablish
ourselvesnrmlyinmetaphilosophywehavenointentionofdoing
� away with our philosophical heritage. We are not setting posi-
¯�
tivismagainstspeculation,weonlywishtoextend philosophyso
� ¯¡ astorealizephilosophicalreasonanddeterminetheunityofreality
·�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
everyday life's potential plenitude.Yet thesituationhasconsider-
ably changed since Socrates, a new man must now be produced
andthenotionofmaieuticwillhavetostanduptothatofchange
andrevolution.
Wewillresistthetemptationtousesuchresolutionsas acover
� !ormoreunquietifnotm¡disquietingintentions,thusweassert

ourdecisiontoexplo
rr

�Everydaylifeismadeofrecur-
�nnces:gesturesof labo�ure,mechanicalmovementsboth
humanandproperlymechanic,hours,days,weeks,months,years,
linearandcyclicalrepetitions,naturalandrationaltime,etc.,the
study of creative activity (ofproduction, inits widest sense)leads
to the study ofre-production or the conditions in which actions
producingob|ectsandlabourarere-produced,re-commenced,and
re-assumetheircomponentproportionsor,onthecontrary,under-
gogradualorsudd�jmodincations.
The riddle of���eintercepts the theory of becoming.
Couldafundament

urrencebeconcealedwithin Heraclitean
time ßowing through the cosmos, history, social and individual
life,exhaustlesstemporalityglimpsedonlybysomeofthegreatest
philosophers!Images,imaginationandtheimaginarywouldseem�
tobeinvolvedinthistemporalßowandtoextendit,andyetisnot¸
thefabric of the imaginary wovenfrom threads ofremembrance¿
and therefore of recurrence! Images would thus be akin to me- ¸
moriesandimaginationtomemoryaswellastocognition,which ¸
¦
An Inguiry, and SomeDiscoveries 19
lastphilosophershavealwaysassociatedwithreminiscenceandre-
cognition(ofthe sub|ectinre6ection,oftheob|ectinconception
andofbeingintruth).Couldimages,memoryandknowledgethus
recapture a fragmented unity, a¯¬onvergence!Itis common
know|ed�nalysisstress�!h�morbideßectsotrau-
matic repetitions as well¯s:hc
j ·m
an elucida¡ioncf these. Whatthenofrepetition!Iseverydaylife
oneaspectorthemeetingplaceofallrepetitions!Doesitanswer
one of the questions inherited from philosophy by meta-philo-
sophy: howtocollateHeraclitean,HegelianandMarxistnotions
ofbecomingwiththecrucialfactofrecurrence!Howtocouniate
the·:nIiteantheoryofperpemalOtherness�whererecurrence
isastumbling-block- andParmenides'theoryofimmutableiden-
tityandsameness, whichuniversal motioninvalidates!Would it
bepossibletoestablishadialoguebetweenthefollowersofHera-
clitus, Hegel, Marx and those of that Eastern philosophy which
culminated in Nietzsche and includes Heraclitus as well! Could
everydaylifebe theoccasionforsuchaconfrontationanddoesit
possessthekey tothemystery ora clue tosomehigher truth!
Modern scholarshipshowsaparticular interestinlanguage, an
interestthatis alegacy from the age-old preoccupationwiththe
Logos (connectedtothe nature ofthe Logos). Thestudyoflan-
guage, and of related activities such as readingand writing, has
distractedtheattentionofscholarsfromasub|ectthatwasinthe
earliestdaysof philosophya ma|orpreoccupation: music, whose
understandingwasamatterforreßectionlongbeforethatoflan-
guage. Music is movement, ßow, time, and yetitis based onre-¸
currence, all transmissible themes are potentiallyrecurrent÷ the
more so when transcribed, all music included inthe sound con-
tinuum isrepeatable,allmelodiestendtowardsanend(cadence)
that may 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
bythe imaginationand artingeneral).Therecurrenceofoctaves
inasequenccof¿ivensounds, unityin 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$e)
-
c¡othing, furnishing, homes, ¿qbom¤od; 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 onIy one chapter of a
muchwiderscience,athing'sobsoIescenceanditschancesofsur-
vivaareonIyonestageintheprocessofageing,howevermetho-
d¡caIIyyoumay study the meanings oftheseth¡ngsyou wiII not
avoidthedramaticattitudeandtheIyricaItonebecauseyouchoose
todispensewiththeassistanceofcompetentschoIarsandsciences.'
Ourob|ector'sargumentsareserious ,theyaretheargumentsof
positivism andscience. We shaII thereforemake a serious repIy :
'Why indeed shouIdnot oneor otherofthespeciaIizedsciences
(historyorpoIiticaIeconomy)contributetothestudyofeveryday
Iife!AndwhyshouIdnotsuchastudy becometheprovinceofa
provisionaIIy seIected science, such as socioIogy for instance!
Þow,youappear tobeIongtothe schooIofthought that demes
scienti6creIativismandseesscienceas absoIute, butyoucannot,
webeIieve,have overIookedthedangersuch anattitude presents
forthespeciaIizedsciencesyouaredefending.Whatistheirstatus!
Ithasneverbeenclearwhethertheycarvetheirsub|ectsandpro-
vincesfromawhoIetoovasttobeencompassedbytheirspeciaI-
ities, or whether they pro|ect their individuaI Iight-rays on to
gIobaIreaIity.Asaconsequenceofscienti6cnessyouwiIIbeforced
todenythisquaIitytocertainspeciaIitiesinfavourofothers ,thus
on behaIfofIinguistics, seen as a modeIfor scienti6c precision,
youmustwithdrawthisadvantagefrompsychoIogy, history and
socioIogy.Youseemtoforgetthattheseso-caIIeddiscipIineshave
onIy a reIativeexistence, reIated as they are on the onehandto
practicaIactivitiesandontheothertoideoIogies÷ whichIastitis
theirtaskeithertoconsolidateoreIiminate.Thesesciencescame
intobeingwhen man~ or"themind"÷ attemptedand hoped to
overcomefate, masternature andcontroIitsIaws , suchrationaI
ambitions are not entireIy vain, as the speciaIized sciences aim
at operativeness ÷ and in this they succeed. Indeed, they have
methods, concepts, ob|ectives, 6eIds and provinces. Buthoware
thesedetermined!We p:st not forget that man or " themi
[

couIdnotcoverthedistancefrombIindsub|ectiontofreedomat
asingIeIeap,w:tttheIndustriaIRevoIutionsociaIexiatcno¡�t1e
nineteenth centµsIowIyemergedfrommiIIenary conditions of
want and sub|ection to unpredictabIe naturaI powers, and such
An Inquiry,and Some Discoveries 23
circumstancesrequiredaIongperiodoftransitionbeforeattaining
theconditionstowhichreasonaspired.Wantcannotbeovercome
aIIatonce ,someproductsansweringbasicrequirementsmaybe-
come avaiIabIe in certain industrial areas, but others, more
precious,continuetoberare,andfurthermore,unforeseenshort-
agesarise:shortagesofspace,time,necessitiesandthenecessary.
Are the sciences of which you think so highIy not responsibIe
amongotherthingsforthemaintenanceofexistingconditionsand
forthe unequaI÷ andoften unfair÷ assessment, inthe nameof
necessity, determinism, Iaw,rationaIityandciviIization, ofgoods
inshortsuppIy!IsthisinequaIity,formerIyimputedtoIegisIation,
nottheresuIt today ofscience, rationaIityandthe knowIedge of
facts! !et it be understood that short suppIy is not for us an
iIIuminatingfeatureofhistory,stiIlIessatheoryofeconomics,but
aphenomenonthataccountsforbehaviour.Aretheob|ectivesof
these sciences entireIy unseI6sh and are they as impartiaI as the
expertswouIdhaveusbeIieve!Aretheassertionsoftheseexperts
absoIuteIy reIiabIe! The endeavours ofthe so-caIIed humanities
cannoteasily be rid oftheir ideoIogicaIcoemcient, for they are
compounded of ideoIogies. Thus for the socioIogist Durkheim
compulsionwasidenti6edwithsociaIreaIity,whiIehesawhimseIf
asan uphoIderoffreedom. Itisbymeansofsuch contradictions
thatthespeciaIizedsciencesseekagreaterrationaIity,thoughthey
cannotavoidtheoccasionaIcIashwiththerestrictedrationaIityof
existing societies or with Iegalized and institutionaIized absur-
dities. The study of everyday Iife aßords a meeting pIace for
specialized:ci�some0g more 6esides;ñs'
_ossibiIiI¯esoI comict 5etween U rT8U1rraIlonaIin
omsocie¡¸andour time, thuspermittmgt!eIormuIationo on
.¿.otgctg (initswidest sense) . how thesociaI
existenceofhumanbeings isproduced, itstransitionfromwantto
amuence and from appreciation to depreciation. Such a criticaI
anaIysiscorrespondstoastudyofcompuIsionsandpartiaIdeter-
minisms , it aims at a reversaI of the upside-down worId where
determinismandcompuIsionareconsideredrationaIeventhough ¡_
reasonhasaIwaysattemptedtocontroIdeterminism

�ies¸µv�rj�� couId bereaIizedit wouId beyossibIefor_¸
24 Lvcryday I¡Ic ìn thc ModcmVorId
·¸ _copÌc to adapt to thcir cxistcncp pncpa¿�-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 |ustiñcs 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 sim¡I�ou
. -�
app��rµpccgthcs�twointcr-dcpcndcnt'rcaÌitics",thcQuotidian
and thc Modcrn, b
�¿_

¿�
r
��¡

__

¡¿¿_

_¿�¿_
sohouscious
t�¡�-:¡·.:- 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)insi¿ fca h¯o:gh!t
_
�icsandprc-
occupicsitispracticaÌÌyuntcÌÌabÌc, anditisthccthicsundcrÌying
�routincandthcacsthcticsof famiÌiarscttings.Atthispointitcn-
countcrsthcmodcm.ThiswordstandzL¤atunoycÌ,briÌÌi�t,
garadoxicaÌandbcarsthcim_rintoftcchnicaityandworÌdÌincss ,
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
univcrsaqugidian, accordingtoHcrmannBroch, isthc¯rsoc(
mo�crni_thc�gt ofç(i)�.³tsvariousaspcctsarcasmomcn-
tousinouropinionasthcatomicthrcatorthcconqucstofspacc÷
with which thcy arc surcÌy intcrdcpcndcnt. But arc thcy° This
qucstionwiÌÌbcdcaÌtwithÌatcr. HcrcarcthctwosidcsofarcaÌity
morcamazingthanûction:thcsocictyofwhichwcarcmcmbcrs.It
isimpossibÌctostatconccandforaÌÌwhichof thctwoisthcsigniñcr
andwhichthcsigñcd;bothsidcssigfycachothcrrcciprocaÌly,
cach onc in tum bccomcs signiûcr or signiñcd according to thc
sÌantof Ihcinquiry, anduptothcmomcntofthcinquiryth�rcis
nothingbutaimÌcsssigniñcrsand disconncctcd signiñcds. Inthis
worÌdyou|ustdonot 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 that(�¡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 corrc_
usc ofmodcrnit¿ andegaym;DO ¡zHa 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: µ rationaÌ J Uc �
�at can rcason havc to do with cvcryday lifc and
modcrnity° What conncction can thcrc bc bctwccn thc rationa¯
�~ ~ ... - · � ¯ ´
.
and thc ir(atipsaÌ° 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 ÍOÍÍOWIHg SCC¡IOH IS û SUHHûty OÍ ¡DC ÛtS¡ ¡DtCC VOÍUHCS OÍ ¡DC
Critique de lu vie quotidienne {ÏûtIS). ÅDC ÛtS¡, ]UDÍISDCC IH 1V+Ú, WûS tC-
ISSUCC IH 1VJV ûHC I¡ IS ûH IH¡tOCUC¡IOH, ¡DC SCCOHC WûS ]UDÍISDCC IH 1VÚ3.
ÅDC]tCSCH¡ WOtK ISû ´ CIgCS¡ ´ OÍ¡DC ¡DItC VOÍUHC ¡Dû¡ IS S¡IÍÍ IH]tOgCSS, ¡Dû¡
IS ¡O Sûy, I¡ COH¡ûIHS ¡DC HûIH ¡DCHCS WDIÌC CISCûtCIHg û HUHDCtOÍ ÍûC¡S,
ûHûÌySCS ûHC ûtgUHCH¡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(oµeCts'time-iabes'; news 'ems-�an(radvertise­
meµ��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 ¡DCOIy OÍCVCIyCûyÍIÍC IS¡DUSIûCICûÍÍy CIS¡IHC¡ÍIOH ¡DC S¡UCy
OÍ IH¡CI]CISOHûÍ ICÍû¡IOHS ÍIOH WDICD ûIISC ]SyCDO-SOCIOÍOgICûÍ ¡DCOIICS ¡Dû¡
CÍûIH ¡O ICCH¡IÍy¡DC ´ S]CCIHCûÍÍy SOCIûÍ ´{LÍ.L'Homme et fa societe, ÍÌÍ, Ì VÚ¯,
]. 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 �(¡¸��
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
q 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 µç 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 µg Marx' s
| = 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 hmg this praXiS!
�d poiesi Um ) 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 ideologically motivated actions and activities. This
activeroleofideologeshadtobereinstated inthe Marxist µlan
� ¶ in order toµreventits degenerating into µhilosoµhism and eco-
�¸
I
nomism,thenotionofµroductionthenacquiresitsfullsi�e
²
asµroduction by a humanbein¿of his owµ�tege Iurther-
more,consumµtionthusre-enterstheµlanasdeµendentuµonµro-
duction and with the sµeci6c mediation of ideology, culture,
institutionsandorganizations.Inthisrevisedformthereisafeed-
back(temµorarybalance)withindeterminedµroductionrelations
(caµitalism)betweenµroductionandconsumµtion,structuresand
suµerstructures, scholarshiµ andideology. This imgliez6rst¡hat
)�re is notuseless, a mere exuberance, but a sµeci6c activity
µn! Jn ß modcoIexistcnce; and second that class interests
(structurallyconnectedtoµroductionandµroµertyrelations)can-
notensurethetotalityof asocieq'soµerativeexistenceunaided .
Everydaylifeemergesasthesociologicalµoint offeed-back, this
crucialyetmuchdisµaragedµoint has a dual character, it is the

_ofaUtheµossiblesµeci6candsµecializedactivitiesoutside
socialexµerience)and theproduct of society in general, it is the
µointofdelicatebalanceandthatwhereimbalancethreatens.Arevo-
¸lution takes µlacewhenand onlywhen,insuch a socieiy,µeoµle
ca

nol�nger l�ad their

everyday lives, so longastheycanlive
¸¸thetrordinaryhvesrelattonsareconstantlyre-established.
, Sucha' revisionist 'or 'rightist 'conceµtionofdogmatictheories
gaverise,infact,toanextremist(lehist)µoliticalattitude. Rather
thanrebuildIrenchsocietyduringthecrisisandtrytosecurethe
leadershiµinthisreconstruction,wouldit notbebettertomake
thecrisisanoccasionfora ' changeof life'!
Þotwithstandingitslofìythoughshort-livedaimstheIntroduc­
tion àlacritique de lavie quotidienne is dated.At that momentof
history(I946),inIranceatanyrate,therewasstillageneralbelief
intheµossibilityofman'sself-realizationthroughµroductiveand
creativeactivities. Dißerentformsof activity might, itistrue, be
stressed according to dißerent class ideologies, some, owing to
theiruµµer-class µre|udices, hada rather condescendingattitude
to work of any kind and manual labour in µarticuIar, others,
imbuedwithreligiousfervour,µreachedthesµiritualvalueofwork
¬ InquIry,and Some Discoveries JJ
considered as eßort and morti6cation, certain social grouµs
µraised all intellectual activities (in I946theterm ' cultural ' was
not yet in use). But notwithstanding such controversies on the
nature and essence of ' creativity', one fact emerged: work was
endowedwith an ethicalas wellas a µracticalvalue, µeoµle still
hoµed to ' exµress ' themselves through a µrofession or a trade,
amongworkersandlabourers,among 'labourites' notafewsaw
a true dignity in manual labour andfound vindication for their
class-consciousness in such views. These views coincided with a
µoliticalµlan, elaboratedbycomµetentorganizers,wherebysoci-
ety would be reconstituted according toµrinciµles oflabourand
thelabourer,inthisidealsocietyµroductionwouldµlayanimµor-
tantµartandsocialrationalitywouldassumethedualasµectofan
extensive social µromotion of the working classes and a general
reµlanningoftheeconomy. Iromasociologicalµointofviewthe
Irench nation, |ust aher the !iberation, still formed a socio-
economico-µolitico-ideological whole, notwithstanding ÷ or µer-
haµs because of÷ desµerate struggles, controversiesand µolitical
clashes.Thiswholeaµµeared(orre-aµµeared)virtuallycomµlete,
the second !iberation ÷ the social change that was to follow
shortlyinthefootsteµsoftheµolitical!iberation(victoryoverthe
oµµressor)÷ wouldconsolidatethisunity,µro|ectandexµectation
wouldcoincideinanhistoricalmoment.Butthismomentwasnot
tobe, itfaded awayand wassoon almost comµletely forgotten.
Atthisturningµointofhistory,withsuchµrosµectsahead,aliena-
tionassumed anewanddeeµersigni6cance,itdeµrivedeveryday
life of itsµower, disregarding its µroductive and creative µoten-
tialities, comµletely devaluing it and smothering it under the
sµurious glamour of ideologies. A sµeci6c alienation turned
material µoverty into sµiritual µoverty, as it µut an end to the
fruitfulrelationsarisingfromthedirectcontactofcreativeworkers
withtheirmaterialorwithnature.Socialalienationturnedcreative
awareness÷ andthebasic' reality'ofart~intoaµassiveawareness
ofdisasterandgloom.
This was the time when writers and µoets were also trying to
discoverorrediscovertruevalues Theirquestledthemtowards
naturcandtowardsimagination,intotherealmofmake-believeor
34 EverydayIiîe inthe ModemWorId
that ofbasicpµmordiaI reaIity. SurreaIism, naturaIism, exIsten-
tiaIIsm, eachinitswaypµtthestress onsocia' r��y'endowing
itwiththe¡nheµp�øti�s�y[��ty.ThIs cm� �Jora-
tionofa(µµiJ�z_ IsunderstoodreaIity÷ everydayIife ÷ wasthus
reIatedtohumanism, �d1cIa¡enat«�ttcfor��rhraI
humanism rt�rt¡Iace it by a new re��Iut¡o�q�f�m ow�d
so±c¡n¿ 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
thouQexperiencehadprovedthatmiddIe-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
wasdividedequaIIybetweenthewoman,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 mise¸qeie_lje, 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 joYer o}eier)da) lye, 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 'siiþcc!'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, theshapeIessnessofsub|ective
experience 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
sµactivhµarodes uFesuvºl, ºnorntadorn-
ing5utfUingtotrsfrit
Howevcr�11cstivaI
ha¯not compIeteIy·uµµcavcd a·ho¤gh 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 pro|ect to resurrect the
FestivaI would thus appear to be |usti6ed 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,itsspeci6cob|ec-
tivewiIIbetoannihiIateeverydayIife,andthepericdoftransition
wiII aIso take on a new meaning, oppose everyday Iife and re-
organizeituntiIitisasgoodasnew,itsspurious rationaIityand
authorityunmaskedandtheantithesisbetweenthequotidiananµ
^ 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,
overIookthefactthatwhenitwaswrittenwewere|ustemerging
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÷ ofpeopIewhoknewhowtoen|oythemseIves,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 pro|ects irredeemabIy out-
dated, shouIdwe give them up for good andaII, orcan they be
reformuIatedmoreartfuIIy!ThisquestionwiIIbeansweredIater.
Þone the Iess our criticaI anaI_sis Q ga¿Jife invoIves, in
1
retrospect,aparticuIarviewofhistoryandthehistoricityofeve_
· 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 |Ic

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 Eve(day 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
o(�<r�indi�dual attitude gdration-
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 institµtqin 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 objccIivcs 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
¿¢tmoIuaIurcþQ uoIviIhsIanqu¿thçchan¿cIoidcoI@icaI
aud¿iµçticaIraIiouaI;IyücIoriorçIsocicI_. 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
givcirraIiouaIvaIucIoobjccIs(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, objccIs 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
· ,�

.
Ihrou¿Ihcvidcsprcad 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, qIhisicI�basic prcoccug�tious arc ,
r

IiouaIiIy,
'
rgauizaIiou a::d Iaiug�itiI�sibIc Io dis-
Iiuguish a IcvcI or dimcusiou IhaI cau bc caIIcd eier)da) lqe º �
¡erIhcguoIidiauiusuchasocicIyis IakcuIo sIaudIorvIaIis
orgauizcdauduuo¬aJmuucv¡L¡u¿ or iI isuoIhi_.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
sociology)itwascustomarytospeakof ' society'withoutfurther
qualincation, thus making of social reality an entity, a ' social
nature' opposed to the individual or superimposed on the com-
munity; or to speak with polemical intent of ' capitalist' or
' bourgeois' societies ~ designations that, without actually dis-
appearing, havelosttodaymuchof theirimpact and authority.
Later, sociologists borrowing from Saint-Simon launched the
term ' industrial society'. It was indeed clear that, for thegreat
modernnationsatany rate, industrial production, involvingthe
increasinglyimportantroleofstateandorganIzedrationality,was
acquiringan unprecedentedmagnitude.Industrywasnota com-
plement of agriculture; thetwodidnothappily 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-
callyandsystematicallycontradictory;foremostamongthesewas
therationalitydevolvingfromtheindustrialsociety'sorganIzation
ofproductivelabourandbusinessconcerns.Coulditbethatthey
wereonly two variantsofonespecies!
The term ' industrial society', though supported by theories,
provokedagreatdealofcontroversy. Here,in brief,aretheargu-
ments of the opposition. Is there one industrial society or are
thereman), anddoes each nationmd(orfailto6nd) itsspeci6c
courseinandbyindustria!ization!Cansocialismbedennedsimply
as amethodof rapidly industrializingunderdeveloped countries,
ordoes itleadby newmethods to a specincform of society and
civilization!Canitbeasserted,evenifthesubstitutionofsocialism
for capitalism no longer appears inevitable, that the world-scale
expansion of industry and theindustrialization of the world are
conduciveto homogeneity, to identical(because rational)struc-
turesinallcountries!Willthediscrepanciesincrease,orwillthey
gradually vanish! The suggested term would appear to imply a
prematuresolutiontosuchproblems.
Furthermoretoacceptsuchatermwemustignorethefactthat
a¿iculturalproductionhasonlybeentotallysupersededincertain
P Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 47
areasandthat' worldagriculture' persists.However, an' agricul-
tural society' completely 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. Sociology might, indeed, take dißerent
��spectsofsocialrealityintoconsideration,butifittendstofavour
economics it must inevitably over-emphasize deielo¡ment at the
expenseofquality(the¿eaterorlessercomplexityof socialrela-
tions, theirfruitfulnessorsterility)foreconomicrationality; and
thereisthefurtherriskof itsoverlookingotherdeterminingfac-
`� tors. Is industrialization possible without urbanization! Would

the main feature of a so-caUed ' industrial society' not be (apart
fromaquantitativeincreaseinmaterialproduction)theexpansion
ofcities, orratherofanurbansociety!Wouldnotthelogicalpro-
cedurefora' socialscience'thenbetostartfromthisdouble~ or
¸ double-faceted - proposition: industriahzation andurbanizationº
Fortheoperationcannotfailtobescienti6callyquestionableifthe ,
twoaspectsaredissociated,theonebeingsetabovetheotherand
taken toascienti6cextreme.
In other words, the term ' industrIal society' is exact in a dif-
ferentsensefromthatgiventoitbyitspromoters.Indust_orthe
economiccapacityformaterialproductionhasnotbeenrationally
matered he theory is still incomplete, even where socialism is
concerned;industrialexgansionisonlymeaningful(acquiresorien-
tation and signi6cance) when understood as this double¡rocess
and throu_h it.¡dustrialheoryhasgivenrise(�¸��ques (o7
·
ganization and planning), but it was only with Marx that theseC"º*lq<+>
¬ìn aWµIûmsinceMandmoreespeciall_sqe
the working classes were dispossessed of the ' values' of produc-
�ion,wehavefallenshortof theµçnin¿insteadofelucidatin¿and
r�alizingit.Urbanexistencegivessigni6cancetoindustrialization,
whichinturncontainsitasasecondaspectoftheprocess. From
acertaincriticalangle(atwhichwemayplaceourselves)itispos-
sibletosee urbamzation and itsproblemsas dominating the in-
dustrialprocess.Watscopehasan`industrialsociety'if itfails
togroduceafruitfulurban l_º Þone¸ unlessitb to¡roduce]o
_
48 Everyday Life m the Modem World
_the sake_. AcIass can µroduce for µroût, iide the
bourgeoIsIe.ButasocIety,evenwhenthebourgeoIsIeoraµortIon
ofthe bourgeoIsIe are Inµower, cannotreadIIyµroduceforthe
sakeofµroducIng,andIfItseemstodosoItIsreaIIyµroducIngfor
µower and domInatIon, that Is for war, otherwIse everytrace of
IdeoIogy,cuIture,ratIonaIItyandsIgnIncancedIsaµµears.Doesthe
onenecessarIIyruIe outthe other!
InbrIef,onIyaµortIonofthefactstobesetforthandexµIaIned
arecondensedInthesuggestedterm,ItcomesuµagaInstanumber
ofµrobIems thatcannotbeeIucIdated~ IetaIoneformuIatedand
soIved~ throughIts categorIes.ThIstheoryIs anIdeoIogy, aform
ofmodemzed ratIonaIIsm, andIts extraµoIatIons andaddItIons
are contrIvedby a skIIfuI dIssImuIatIon ofthetragIceIement, It
tends towards a mythoIogy of IndustrIaIIzatIon. Its theoretIcaI
exµosItIonre]ects(ratherthansIgIûes)aIackofmeanIngandthe
waysuchasocIetyreµIacesabsencebyIIIusIon,Itre]ectsthemIs-
takenIdentIûcatIonoftheratIonaIwIththereaI,theexactIdentIû-
catIon of absurdIty and ratIonaIIty (IImIted and ratIfying Its
IImItatIons).
CertaIntheoretIcIans, rIghtIy Imµressedby theImµortant roIe
oftechnicaht) In the so-caIIedIndustrIaI socIety, have suggested
thenameoftechnologicalsociet).TheymaIntaInthattheImageof
a ' technoIogIcaI envIronment' Is more sµecIûcaIIy characterIstIc
ofsuchasocIetythanthatofa ' naturaIenvIronment' .
ThIsµroµosItIonIncIudes anumberofIndIsµutabIefactsfrom
whIchItdraws adeûnItIon, aconceµtanda theory.
ItIs afact thatInour socIetytechnoIogyhas become adeter-
mInIngfactor, notonIybyrevoIutIonIzIngµroductIve condItIons
andInvoIvIngscIencedIrectIyInItstecbnIcaIachIevements.Indeed
theoryandaµµrecIatIongomuchfurther,andItIs,unfortunateIy,
omytootruethattechnoIogy~ unmedIatedbyacontroIIIngmInd
orasIgnIncant cuIture~ gIves rIseto aµartIcuIar form ofsocIaI
andIndustrIaIconscIence.TechnoIogyIsre]ectedInthesocIaIand
IndIvIduaI conscIence by means ofImages and ob¡ects and theIr
reIated words. IorInstancea µhotograµhobtaInedwIthamaxI-
mumoftechnoIogIcaImeansand amInImumof 'sub¡ectIve'Inter-
ventIon becomes µart ofremembrance and daydreamIng In the
P Ingu¡ry, and Some Discoveries 49
famIIy aIbum, Inthe µerIodIcaI or onthe teIevIsIonscreen. The
technIcaIob¡ectwIthItsduaIfunctIonaIandstructuraIcharacter,
µerfectIyanaIysabIeand' transµarent ',IsgIvennodeûnitestatus ,
It comµIeteIy Invades socIaI exµerIence. a town may become a
technIcaIob¡ect ,sound-µacketsobtaInedthroughhIghIyµerfected
technIques µrovIde musIcaI comµonents , a sequence of Images
technicaIIy noteworthy- bythe quaIIty ofthe µhotograµhy, the
contInuIty and the montage~ becomes µart ofa ûIm, a bareIy
modIûedcarorbIcycIeIsoûeredtotheµubIIcasaµIeceofscuIµ-
ture, three or four µIeces of technIcaI ob¡ects are exhIbIted as
' µIastIcsµace' , wIthOµandPoµartaesthetIcIsmIsaddedtothe
technicIstIctrend.ThegIancethatIscastuµonatechnIcaIob¡ect~
µassIve, concernedonIywIththewayItworks, wIthItsstructure,
how It can be taken aµart and µut together, fascInated by thIs
backgroundIes

q�sglay ¸aUIn transµarent su:face~ thIsgIance Is
theµrototy]eofasocIaIact,thereIn1us!beeûectIvenessofteh
vIsIon. The reaI message, says McLuhan, Is the medIum or
machIne,no,themessageIsµurereûectIon.the;ontheImage
InmIteIyreµroducedIntheformofsocIaIreIatIons,acoIdeyeand,
as such, µossessIng feed-back, baIance, coherence and µerµetua-
tIon, Imageschange, the eye remaIns , noIses, sounds, words are
auxIIIaryandsubsIdIary, symboIsofImµermanence.
Whathas become ofHegeI'stheoryofart asaµartIaI system,
acomµendIumofsIgniûcances bestowed onseIectedob¡ectsserv-
IngasactIvemediationsbetweentheothersystemsandsub-systems
that constItute a socIety (materIaI requIrements, ethIcs, Iaw,
µoIItIcs,µhIIosophy) !AccordIngtothIstheorytheµartIaIsystem
IsonIyamedIatIon,butonewIthaµregnantactuaIItythatconfers
cohesIononsocIety. ÞowthereûectIonofourreIatIonto atech-
n¡caIob¡ect,the' medIum'(screen,set,etc.),reûectIonofareûec-
tIon, reµIaces art as ' medIatIon'. CuIture Is adecayIngmyth, an
IdeoIogysuµerImµosed ontechnoIogy.
To theIntensIveconsumµtIonoftechnoIogIcaI tokens we may
¬owaddthehIghIyconsumabIecommodIty.aesthetIcIsm,orºords
descrIbIng art and aesth«tIcs. T�i±��ity ded wIth aesthetI-
cIsmandIackInganysµecIncartIstIcmedIatIonorcuItureIsoneof
themoreobvIous¡ustIncatIonsforthetermtechnologicalsociet).
50 EverydayLiIeinthe Modem World
weshallnowçiveourreasonstorre]eetinçthisterm.Itmaybe
askecitsuehasoeietyisstillasoeietypreeiselyinsotarasitis
teehnoloçieal ,itelaimstobeateehtieal ob]eetancseesitseltas
sueh, it tencs to eliminate all the meciations that çave soeial
experienee its eomplexityanceotneetecmaterialprocuetionto
iceoloçies, prineiples ancthe otten eontencinç çroups otsiçns
ancsigiüeaneesthatenlivenecsoeiaexistenee.Iurthermorethe
expression ' teehnoloçieal environment' is çuestionable, tor it
woulchemoreaptancexaettosayurban eniironmentsineeteeh-
noloçyotlyprocueesan' environment'intheeityancbytheeity,
outsicetheeityteehnoloçyprocueesisolatecob]eets .aroeket,a
racarstation.
Insotar astheterm' teehnoloçiealsoeiety'iseorreet,wemay
assumeatrangormationotteehtieal_y¸thatwastormerlylinitec
ancrepressecbytheeüeetsothirtheontrol ~intoanautonomous
eeonomieall��ei�n s�ch¯� i�
open tiveo�ybymeansotasoeial' layer'tencinçtobeeomea
easteorelass :thetechnocrac). Ourceünitionuncerçoes ameta-
morphosis, ancitnowseemsmorebeüttinçtosay' teehnoeratie
soeiety' . However, teehnoeratieinñuenees are aetive onlyinor-
çatizational anc institutional spheres, their rationality cireetec
towarcs speeiüe encs anc means, so that we shoulc really say
' teehnoeratieo-hureaueratiesoeiety'ancthusceprivethetermot
itsauthority.
Ancnotonlyitsauthority,torthispropositionexposesitsin-
aeeuraeyaswell.Inceec,whatstrikestheeritiealobserverinthe
presentsoeietyis ade}cienc) o} technicaht). 1he ürst anctore-
mostottheteehnoeraey'sshorteominçsisthatitcoes notexist,
thatitisaleçencancan iceolog ancthatthe alleçecreiçn ot
teehnoloçyis,intaet,aeovertortheohverse.Allthevastaehieve-
ments otteehnoloçy, sueh asthe eonçuest otspaee, roekets or
nissiles, have a strateçie value , they spell power anc politieal
prestiçe,huttheyhaveno soeialpurpose,noeurrentutilitythat
miçhtin1ueneeeverycayliteancimproveit,everycayexperienee
heneüts onlytrom' teehniealtall-outs .Astoçacçets,theyonly
simulateteehnieity,ancunceroureritiealserutinyteehniealityanc
teehnietyprovetobesubstitutes,theapplieationotteehnoloçyto
P Inquip,and8omeDiscoveries 51
everycay lite a substitute tor teehnoeraey whiehi sitselta sub-
stitutetorthe true leacers oteeonomy anc polities. while our
soeiety appears to be paeiüeally evolvinç tewarcs a superior
rationality,tobeehançinçunceroureyesintoaseientiüesoeiety
whereçreatseholarshipisrationallyappliectotheuncerstancinç
otmatterancothumanreality,thisseientiüenessonly serves to
]ustity£ureaueratierationalityanc to prove (illusively)theeom-
petenee ottheteehnoeraey, teehnieityanc ' seientiüeness ' meta-
morphosec into autonomousentitiesre-eeho eaeh other,]ustity
eaehother,ancaetassubstitutestoreaehother.As)stemo}sub-
stitutions emerçes, where every eompencium ot meatinçs ~
apparentlyincepencentanäselt-sumeient~ re-eehoesanotherin
enclessrotation.Isthiswhatishiccenbehincrationalityancour
soeiety'srationalbehaviour :

Is this situation ünal : while cispensinç withhistorieity anc
withthehistoriealasmethoc,miçhtitbetheouteomeothistory:
Itwoulcseemontheeontrarytobetheprocuetotaspeeiüepre-
cieament, the ehallençe otpolitieal réçimes anc«ystems,anew
tormotworlc-sealeeompetitivenesswithalltheeonseçueneesthis
implies. In this precieament~ arms raee, rapic cepreeiation ot
militaryancteehtìeal eçuipment, ohsoleseenee otteehnoloçieal
ob]eetives~teehnieitybeeomesrevolutionary,itsroleisthatotan
uttulüllecrevolution(thouçhitelaimsthestatusotanincepen-
cent taetor), weiçhinç onthe whole ot soeial experienee while
breakinçawaytromit~ thatistheparacox~ toprovokestrato-
spherieineicentsinpolitiealaswellasineosmiespaee.suehapre-
cieament threatens moreover to beeome struetural. 1he tuture
aloneeontainstheanswertosuehproblems.
In short the cesigation ' teehnoloçeal soeiety' is also only
partlyappropriate,ancthatinotherwaysthanthosesuççestec
byitspromoters.Itthisrelativetruthisseenasabsoluteitheeomes
anerror,aniceoloçiealillusionan�amyth to]ustityasituation,
toeoneealthetaetthatitisunbearableanctopromoteitshis-
toriealnoveltyattheeostothistoryanchistorieity.
whatottheterma]uentsociet)?Oursoeiety'srapicpromotion
touueneeeoulcwellbeseenasaeharaeteristieteaturebywhieh
toceüneit. Inceec,incustrialprocuetionanc' teehnoloçy'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¡ecqcneeds, 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
goodsInshortsuµµIytoanewcuItureresuItIngfromµroductIon
andconsumµtIonattheIrhIghestebb, but agaInsta background
ofgeneraIcrIsIs.SuchIstheµredIcamentInwhIchtheIdeoIogyof
µroductIonandthe 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 µossessorof
haµµIness and ofµerfect ratIonaIity, as the IdeaI become reaIIty
(' me' , the IndIvIduaI, IIvIng, actIve sub¡ect become ' ob¡ectIve').
Þotthe consumernoreventhatwhIchIsconsumedIsImµortant
InthIsImage,butthevIsIonofconsumerandconsumIngasartof
consumµtIon.InthIsµrocessofIdeoIogIcaIsubstItutIonsanddIs-
µIacementsman'sawarenessofhIsownaIIenatIonIsreµressed,or
evensuµµressed,bytheaddItIonofanewaIIenatIontotheoId.
WehaveaIreadydIscussedtheaII-µervasIveµresenceofanextra-
ordInaryµhenomenon,theenormousamountofsignqersIIberated
orInsumcIentIyconnectedtotheIrcorresµondIngsIgnIneds(words,
gestures,ImagesandsIgns),andthusmadeavaIIabIetoadvertIsIng
and µroµaganda. a smIIe as the symboI ofeveryday haµµIness,
thatoftheInformed consumerfor Instance, or ' µurIty' 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- theµre-
rogatIve of the eIIte - orretrIeved to be turned Into consumer
goods(furnIture, houses,¡eweIIery,InsµIredfromworksofart or
antIques) andthus occuµyaIeveIofsocIaIreaIIty.
SInce the begInnIng of aII these changes and the bIrth of
modernIty,socIoIogIsts,economIstsandµoIItIcIanshavefrequentIy
stressedthesIgnIncantroIeofthestate.AsareactIontoMarxand
oftenInoµenµrotestagaInsthIm,theyre¡ectthemostremarkabIe
ofhIstheorIes, thatofthe state'sdecay. Inmost cases theyseem
obIIvIoustothefactthatthey arerevertIngtoHegeIiantheorIes,
oµµosIngHegeItoMarx, andthattodaywearestIIIexµerIencIng
suchanoµµosItIon.WIIIthIsagewItnessthetrIumµhofHegeIIan-
IsmandofthetotaIItarIanstateratherthanachIevetheµh¡Iosoµhy
An Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 57
of a human totaIity! The state has certaImy acquIred In aII
countrIesmoreauthorItysIncethewarthan Iteverµossessedbe-
fore, even In the countrIes ofthe 'ThIrd WorId¸ In ' socIaIIst '
countrIes and In the AngIo-Saxon countrIes that had, untII re-
centIy,avoIdedthedemandsofstatecontroI,economIcµrogram-
mIngandorganIzedratIonaIIty,YugosIavIaaIone µerhaµs Is stIII
freefromItsgrIµ.TheµowersofdecIsIonareexertedfromonhIgh,
strategIes and strategIcaI varIabIes are eIaborated and oµµosed
above our heads. But onwhat are these µowers exerted, what
foundatIons suµµortthemandwhomdotheyImµIIcate !What, If
noteverydayIIfe,bearstheweIghtofInstItutIons !TheysubdIvIde
It anddIstrIbuteItbetween themseIves accordIngtocomµuIsIons
reµresentIng and reaIIzIng the requIrements ofthe state and_Its
strategIes. Such questIons may seem µoIntIess, IIke aII µrotests
agaInststatecontroI,butItwouIdbemoreµoIntIessstIIItoacceµt
thesItuatIonwIthoutamurmurortoeIaboratetheorIesInsuµµort
ofthestateandtowhItewashIt.MoreoverthestrnctureIsaIready
showIngsIgnsofdecayInIranceand eIsewhere andboth 'µubIIc'
and 'µrIvate 'reIatIonshavetheIrownµrobIemsto face.
ThoughtechnoIogyhasachIevedaremarkabIedegreeofµerfec-
tIonItIs aIways at state IeveI ~ sµace and nucIear research, arms
andstrategy~ thatresuIts are obtaIned. We sawthe dIscreµancy
between these and the technIcaI trIvIaIItIes ofeverydayIIfe, be-
tween the Imµortance ofreaI technIcaI constructs and the µetty
gadgets wIth theIr IdeoIogIcaI wraµµIngs. Thus aì¡er an InternaI
sµIItcuIturetooIsdecayIng,secIudedIntheIrIvorytowerswehave
subtIe InteIIectuaIIty, comµIex IIterary word-µIay and a certaIn
amateurIsmInstyIes andhIstory, downbeIowsµrawIthevuIgarI-
zatIons, µuns Inµoortaste, rough and bawdy games, the cuIture
ofthemasses.
Thuswhatcommands ourattentIonIsadi(erenceo}leielsand
nottheratIonaIequaIItyofdemands,consumµtIonandcommunI-
catIon, a dIûerencethatIsµrogrammedandorganIzedsothatthe
µyramidaIstructureofmodernsocIety rests onthebroadbase of
everydayIIfewhIchIstheIowestIeveI.
InWesternneo-caµItaIIstcountrIestherehasbeennoovertµro-
grammingofµroductIon,nototaIratIonaIIzatIonofIndustry,yet
58 Everyday Life in the Modem World
akIndofµrogrammIng,asortoftotaIorganIzatIonhassneakedIn
unobtrusIveIy,omces,µubIIcorganIzatIonsandsubsIdIaryInstItu-
tIonsoµerateonthIsbasIs,andthoughthestructureIacks coher-
ence,gratesand¡oIts,nonetheIessItworks,ItsshortcomIngshId-
denbehIndan obsessIve coherenceandItsIncaµacItyforcreatIve
IntegratIondIsguIsedasµartIcIµatIonandcommunaIIty.Andwhat
do these organIzatIons organIze,IfnoteverydayIIfe !
AroundI 9ô0thesItuatIonbecamecIearer,everydayIIfewasno
Iongertheno-man's-Iand,thepoorreIatIonofsµecIaIIzedactIvItIes.
InIranceandeIsewhereneo-caµItaIIstIeadershadbecomeaware
of1hefac uI���ppe troubIethantheywereworth
,andthere�| p��� � ¡:us
Ivs¡me�sInnatIonaI terrItorIe� �nd the organIzatIon ofhome
trade(whIchdIdnotexcIudetheexµIoItatIonof 'underdeveIoµed
countrIes 'formanµowerandrawmaterIaIandassItesforInvest-
ments~ onIytheywereno IongerthemaInµreoccuµatIon).What
dIdthe Ieaders do ! AII areas outsIde the centres ofµoIItIcaI de-
cIsIon and economIc concentratIon ofcaµItaIwere consIdered as
semI-coIonIesandexµIoItedassuch,theseIncIudedthesuburbs of
cItIes, the countryside, zonesof agrIcuIturaI µroductIon and aII
outIyIng dIstrIcts InhabIted, needIess to say, byemµIoyees, tech-
nIcIans and manuaI Iabourers , thus the status ofthe µroIetarIan
becamegeneraIIzed,IeadIngtoabIurrIngofcIassdIstInctIonsand
ofIdeoIogIcaI' vaIues'. ThIsweII-organIzedexµIoItatIonofsocIety
¡nvoIvedconsumµtIonandwasnoIongerresnthe ,
ti�e cI�sscsonIy, cp¡taIisn¡,whiÍcrçiring rhat¡eoµI�'�çt'
t�ode¡ncIrcum�Jd ocTieIeaders
of Industry µroduced haµhazardIy for a µrobIematIc market ,
IImIted famIIy busIness concerns µredomInated addIng theIr
bourgeoIs trebIe to the chorus µraIsIng the wonders oftrade, of
¸ ¸¸ quaIIty, ofdearIy beIovedIabour. InEuroµeañerthe war afew
' °�� ��¯ �· ¯¬ ¨¬¨··- �·-· · · `' ¯~ <
gIñedandInteIIIgentmen (
^
hothey were Is not our concern) saw_�
¸eµossItIIItyofexµIoItIngconsumµtIontoorganIzeeverydayIIfe.
� ������ •�� �
' EverydayIIfewascutuµandIaIdoutonthesitetobeµuttghr
í · ¸ ¸__¸ _ ¸ ,¸¸,,,. . •.. ,~~. · - · ` _
agaInIIketheµIecesofaµuzzIe,eachµIecedeµendIngonanum-
ber of o:ganIzatIons and InstItutIons, each one - workIng IIfe,
µrIvateIIfe,IeIsure~ ratIonaIIyexµIoIted(IncIudIngtheIatestcom-
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 59
mercIaIandsemI-µrogrammed orgamzatIon ofleIsure). Thenew
town wasthe tyµIcaI, sIgnIûcant µhenomenon In whIch and on
whIchthIsorganIzatIoncouIdbereadbecauseItwastherethatIt
waswritten. What, aµart fromsuchfeatures as thenegatIon of
tradItIonaItowns,segregatIonandIntenseµoIIcesuµervIsIon,was
InscrIbedInthIs socIaItextto bedecIµhered bythosewho knew
the code, what was µro¡ected on thIs screen! Everyday IIfe ~
organized, neatIysubdIvIdedandµrogrammedtontacontroIIed,
exacttIme-tabIe.Whateverthe sIze ofhIs Income orthe class to
whIch he beIonged (emµIoyee, cIerk, mInor technIcIan), the In-
habItantofthenewtownacquIredthegeneraIIzedstatusofµroIe-
tarIan,furthermorethe_�ytpyns(SarceIIes, Moureux,etc.)were
strangeIyremInIscentofcoIonIaIorse-coIoniaItowns,wIththeIr
straIght¯oadIsscrosslp a rIba angI����ducIr frequent
µoIIce µatroIs* , but these were more forbIddIng and austere,
µerhaµsonaccountoftherebeIngnocafesandµIeasure-grounds :
the coIomzers ofthemetroµoIIsdonotencourageIevIty . . .
Tbe gìL cs may5e·rawnIromw µrecedes :
a)InIrance asInotherneo-caµItaIIstcountrIesihechangesIn
socIaIµractIcehadnoteIImInatedthenotIonofeier)da) lqe,we
werenotconfrontedwIthacho1c between modcrmty audevery-
dayIIfe.Butthe::±::r:i,¬+:»:hadm dcrgoneamca�
morµbosIsby wbIcb¡iacq rea ¿�aternotß |-..-� .¸r:¬,
IthadIostsomc o!1Is impI¡cauons, ibc stnkIngcontrast between
want and amuence, between the ordInary and the extraordInary,
forInstance,butotherwIseitwasuucbange¢evcn�� |dj
In the modem worId

_q�yIfe had ceased to be a ' sub¡

ct'
rIc�(�

¡otentIaIsub¡ectIvIt
/
,Ithadbecomean' ob¡ect' ofsocIaI
¯ ÅHCSC WCIC HO¡¡HC OHÍy SI¿CûH¡ ÍCû¡UICS ûHCSHOUÍCHO¡DCSIHgÍCC OU¡
ÍIOH¡HC O¡HCIS,¡HUSWC SHOUÍC HO¡ UHCCICS¡IHû¡C ¡HC IOÍC OÍSCHI-]IOgIûH-
HIHg, Ìû¡IOHûÍ PCCOUH¡S ûHC ]ICOCCU]û¡IOHS WI¡H COHSUHCI-ICSCûICH IH
ÏIûHCC, HOI¡gûgCS ûHC HIIC-]UICHûSC HUS¡ ûÍSO DC COHSICCICC ûHOHg ¡HCSC
ÍCû¡UICS.
] ÅHC ûU¡HOI ûCHI¡S ¡Hû¡ HC HCSI¡û¡CC ÍOI SOHC yCûIS DCÍOIC ICûCHIHg SUCD
COHCÍUSIOHS. ñOIC ¡HûH OHCC DC¡WOH 1 VJÜ ûDC 1VÚÜHC COHSICCICC ûDûHCOH-
IHg OO¡H COHCC]¡ ûHC IHQUIIy, ûHC ¡HIS CX]ÍûIHS ¡HC ¡IIDC-Íû]SC DC¡WCCH ¡HC
Û£8¡ VOÍUHC (Introduction u Íu critique de Íu vie quotidienne, 1 V+Ú) ûHC ¡HC
SCCOH0 [1VÚZ).
60 Everyday Lie m the Modem World
organization.Iarfromdisaµµearingassub]ectofreûection,how-
ever(whichitcouIdnothavefaiIedtodoiftherevoIutionarymove-
menthadµrevaiIed),itwasmoreürmIyentrenchedthanever.
b)AIIthesuggesteddeûmtions ofoursocietyhaveµrovedun-
acceµtabIe. How can the distinctive features that have emerged
duringthisinquirybe summarizedandformuIated?Weµroµose
thefoIIowingterm. Bureaucratic Societ) o} Controlled Consum¡-
tioµ whereby this society'srationaIcharacteris deünedasweII as
the Iimits set to its rationaIity (bureaucratic), the ob]ect ofits
organization(consumµtioninsteadofµroduction)andtheleielat
wh¡chitoµeratesanduµonwhichitisbased�Tbs

demtionhastheadvantageofbeingscientqcandmore¡recisel)
formuIated than any ofthe others* , moreoverit owes nothing
eithertoliteratureortoa' sociaIµhiIosoµhy'extraneoustosociaI
reality.
ßhatha¡]ened/n Trancebetween 1950 and1960?
Wearenowinaµositiontoanswerthisquestionin¿eaterdetaiI
thoughwe wishtomakeitquitecIearthat ourconcernisneither
withmattersofStateandadministration,withstrictIyurbanµrob-
Iems, norwiththe(incomµIete)controIthattradehasachievedby
imuencingtheconsumer,itisbettertoIeave suchmatterstothe
economist,thoughwerefute economismbyaradicaI anaIysis.
a) There is a contrast, aImost a contradiction, between cycIic
andIinear(rationaI)timeand, moresµeciücaIIy, betweencumuIa-
tive (sociaI) and non-cumuIative µrocesses. Marx's theory ofac-
cumuIationmust be brought uµ to date, forin Das Ka¡italand
connectedworksitisbasedonthehistoryofEngIandandWestern
EuroµeaIone, whereasintheµastcenturynewfactshavecometo
Iigt. ThusthereareotherthingsbesidescaµitaIthat are sub]ect
" ÅHIS CCH¡IOH IS HO¡ IHCOH]û¡IDÍC WI¡H CCt¡ûIH O¡HCtS SUCHûS `HOHO-
]OÍIS¡IC Cû]I¡ûÍISH OÍ b¡û¡C´, ÍOt IHS¡ûHCC¦ DU¡ IHOUt O]IDIOH I¡ ûÍÍOWS ÍOt û
HOtC ¡HOtOUgH ûHûÍySIS OÍ ¡HC SOCIC¡y´S ÍUHC¡IOHS ûHC S¡tUC¡UtC ûHC I¡ gOCS
ÍUtIHCt IH¡O ûC¡UûÍI¡ICS ûHC ]O¡CH¡IûÍI¡ICS ¡HûH ¡HC Íû¡¡Ct, WHICH û]]CûtS ¡O
S¡tCSS ¡HC CCOHOHIC ûS]CC¡ ûHC CCHO¡CS û CCt¡ûIH ]ût¡IûÍI¡y ÍOt economism,
ICCOÍOgy ûHC ´ VûÍUCS´ m ¡HC SOCIC¡y I¡ CCÛCS.
¬ Inquiry, and Some Discoveries 61
toaccumuIation. forinstanceknowIedge,techniquesandeven,to
a certain extent, µoµuIations, though here oµµosing tendencies
check or arrest the µrocess , memory is a tyµicaI µrocess ofac-
cumuIation andthereforeanessentiaIcomµonentofmechan¡sms
thatmateriaIizeandtech:ucaIizesuchaµrocess. ButeverydayIife
is not cumuIative. In a society, µhysicaI habits aIter from one
generation to another, gesturaI conventions change,intentionaI
µhysicaIexµressions(servingasameansofcommunication}such
asmimicry, gestures, grimaces,aremodiüed,b¬struct_
-
g csdocs¬o!¯c1an�ysioIogicaI and bioIogicaI needs and
••tIe:r corresµon±ng acmevements are shaµed by styIes, civiIiza-
tions andcuItures , meansofsatisfyingandfrustratingsuchneeds
evoIveand,insofarastheyareµhysioIogicaIandbioIogicaI,these
deûcienciesandactivitiesshowacertainstabiIitythatmigtsug-
gest the µresence of a ' human nature' and a µrogressive con-
tinuity.EmotionsandfeeIingschangebuttheyarenotstoreduµ,
neither are asµirations. The number ofcaIories required by an
American miIIionaire anda Hong Kong cooIie Is identicaI, the
cooIie ifanything requiring more than the miIIionaire. PhysicaI
µerformances,eroticachievements,thetimerequiredforgrowing
uµ or growing oId and naturaI fertiIity osciIIate on a reIativeIy
Iim¡tedscaIe.Thenumberofob¡ectsthataµersoncanactuaIIyuse
in a Iifetime cannotincrease indeüniteIy. In shortthe eßects of
accumuIationoneverydayIife �up�ciaIthoughtheycannot
becomµIeteIyeIiminated. Eihenitchane


��
�ves
accordingto a rhythm thatdoes not coincidewitht�of
ee aa � �e� e��� ��� )ù� of
~ ~�·--=��··¬-=«< � ^*·~ �=� .~¬~ ¯ ¯¯"� °¨¨¯¯¯ ´¯ ¯¯
cumuIativeµrocesses.ThusaniIIusioniscreatedoftheunbroken
contimy ofhouses,buiIdings andcitiesfromtheorientaItown
ofµroto-historydowntotheµresentday. . .
However,asocietyIosesaIIcohesionifitcannotr�_es]abIishits
- ~~¯¯¯¯¬¨¬~~·¬......~**¯¨
¯
un¡ty,thatiswhymode

nsocietytries tocontroIthechangesthat
t
���'¨ E __¸
ev
��¸|� ������ goods and
' fashions ' is acceIeratcd bythe µrocess ofaccumuIation,mentaI
fatiguesetsinatshorterandshorterintervaIstiIIitovertakes that
ofmachines, techn¡caI aµµIiances, etc. , our society seem s to be
headingfordisasterandseIf-destructionwhiIewarmaintainsµeace
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 sigibcancc 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.
ThisshiütosignaIsinthcscmanticbcIdinvoIvcsthcsubjcction
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 anq
codcs p]yid�jJi(�I �¸stcmsforthcm ��..�
d
thin,s� thp:ighthcydono c�c� ����� c __�|p�)(
trytobgurco)|thow¸th�' n¢ �maµ�qsc�|is��mory,wc shaIIscc
that1c�ust rcgistcr oncc and for aII cach action, gcsturc and
¯ YC SHûÍÍ COHC ûCtOSS ¡HC HO¡IOH OÍODSOÍCSCCHCCûgûIH ÍUt¡HCt OH.
¬ Inguiry, and SomcOiscovcrics ôJ
wordof 'anothcr'asthoughthcscwcrcsignals. Whatatcrrifying
visionoffuturchumanitythis imagc coqurcsup!
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?Wasitfromnaturcorfromthcapparcntunigucncss
ofso many things andthcconscgucnt 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. Suchobjccts
posscsscd a symboIic vaIuc thatwas aIrcady outdatcd,andcon-
tradictory into thc bargain, somc stoodfor what was rarc and
va!uabIc (jcwcIs, 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 mytLoIo¿caI past and
bocamo status symboIsIor tLo aristocracyandtLomiddIo cIassos
aIiko;andtLosamocouIdbosaidoIbuiId¡n¿s.TLososuporimposod
strataoIvariousIydatodob|octsIosttLoirsontimontaIvaIuointLo
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 ,ob|octsboarin¿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 guotidan, itLas bo-
comotLoir sp�ç
_
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.
AnIngu¡ry, and 5omo O¡scovor¡os 65
sociotypro|octsitsIi¿Ltandits sL],
��|'������nos,
itspoworanditswoaknoss ;poIiticaIandsociaIactivitiosconv
�to consolda1c, structuro andli tonallzeIe otLorIovoIs oI
soo¸�itb'h� ����puon¢!tbstafc,wb¡cLoporatosonamucL
morooxaItodpIano) onIyoxistinroIationtoovorydayIiIoandtLo
utiIityandsi¿niñcancooIconstructsisostimatodindiroctpropor-
tiontotLoirstructuraI oüoct onit.
Htra¿odystiIIoxistsitisoutoIsi¿Lt;tLo 'cooI `provaiIs.£vory-
tLin¿ is ostonsibIy do-dramatizod; instoad oI tra¿ody tLoro aro
ob|octs, cortaintios, ' vaIuos', roIos, satisIactions, |obs, situations
andIunctions.YottLoroaropowors,coIossaanddospicabIo,tLat
swoop downonovorydayIiIoandpursuotLoirproyinitsovasions
anddoparturos,droamsandIantasiostocrusLitintLoirroktI¸oss
¿rip.
TLogoatovontoItLoIastIowyoarsistLattLooüocts oIindus-
triaIization on a suporbciaIIy modñod capitaIist socioty oIpro-
ductionandproportyLavoproducodtLoirrosuIts:�¸pro¿rammod _
eier)da) lqe inits appropriato urbanaetting.SucL ay:���«�
Iavourod by tLo disinto¿ration oI tLo trad¡tionaI town and tLo
oxpansionoIurbanism. Çbomotizationthroatonssociotythrou¿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-
gapLors 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 socIoIogyhas eIucIdated a
number ofimµortantfactsIthasnegIectedtheessentIaIconceµts
ofeverydayIifeandmodenty,urbanìzatIonandmbanism,Iack-
Ing a generaI theory ofsocIety, ofIdeoIoges and ofeconomIcs
(theory ofexµansIon)IthasIeft the Iastword to the economIsts.
Un¡ikeRiesman, wc do not contrast an' outer-directed'wIthan
' Inner-dìrected'man,moreoverwewouIdµrovethatthoughman
Is dIrected, even µrefabricated, by outer circumstances (comµuI-
sIons, stereotyµes, functIons, µattems, IdeoIogIes, etc.) he sees
hImseIf none the Iess as more than ever seIf-sumcIent and de-
µendent onIy on hIs own s¡ontaneous conscIence even under
robotIzation. But we wouIdalsotry to µrove thefaIIure ofsuch
tendencIes through ' IrreducIbIes ', contradìctIons that resIst re-
µressIonandtransµosItIon.CanterroristµressuresandreµressIon
reInJorce IndIviduaI seIf-reµressIontotheµoInt ofcIosIngaIIthe
Issues ?AgaìnstMarcusewecontInuetoasse)tthattheycannot."
American crìtIcaI socIoIogy ÷ notwIthstandìng the weIght of
orthodoxIndustry-sµonsored' research'÷ hasraIsedanumberof
ImµortantquestIons, amongstwhichIsthatofthesocial}unction
o}businessconcers.Wearenowaware,throughµubIìshedworks
corroboratIngµractIcaIexµerIence,thatthebIg' moden'busIness
concernIsnotcontentwiththestatusofeconomIcunìt(orgrouµ
ofumts) nor with µoIìtIcaI Imuence, but tends to Invade socIaI
exµerienceandtosetItseIfuµasamodeIoforganizatIonandad-
minìstratIonfor socIetyIn generaI. It usurµs the roIe ofthe cIty
and takes over functIons that are the cIty' s by rIght and that
shouId,Inthefuture, bethose ofanurbansocIety:housIng, edu-
catIon, µromotIon, IeIsure, etc. , furthermore It constrIcts and
û]]ûtû¡US ÌCûCS ¡O û ]tOgûDUDû¡IZIHg OÍ¡DC COHSUHCt, WDCtCûS ûU¡OHû¡IOH
WOUÌC _CtDû]S) ÍtCC CtCû¡IVC CHCtgICS ûHC HûKC ¡DCH ûVûÍÌûDÌCÍOtWOtKS OÍ
ût¡. ÅDCÛUtCûUCtû¡IC bOCIC¡y OÍLOH¡tOÌÌCC LOHSUH]¡IOHISDCûCIHgÍOtÍtCSD
COH¡tûCIC¡IODS, ûS OHÌy IHCUS¡tÍûÌ ]tOCUC¡IOH CûH DC ûU¡OHû¡CC ûHC ¡DC COH~
SUHCtISCÌUSIVCûHCHUS¡ DC¡tûCKCCCOWH. ÛyCIS]ÌûCIHgDûSIC]tODÌCHS SUCD
û SOCIC¡y COÌÌû]SCS¦ I¡ISû ÍûIÌUtCWDCtCSOCIûÌ ÌJÍC ISCOHCCOCC U ¡DC ÌIQUICû~
¡IOH OÍDUHûHISH ]tOVCS.
¯ ñûtCUSC, One Dimensional Man, ÎOHCOH, 1VÚö.
¬ Inqury, and Some Discoveries ô1
aI¡enatesµrIvacybyhousIngItsdeµendantsInh¡erarchizeddweI-
Iings. Its controI Is sometImes overµowerIng and, InItsownway,
thebusInessconcemtendstoIeveIoutsocIeq,subordinatIngsocIaI
exIstencetoItstotaIItariandemands andIeadìngto ' synthesIs'.
CybemetIzat¡onaµµearedtooµeratethroughtheµoIIce(OrweII)
or through bureaucracy, however condItIoning, seeµInthrough
thech���a hIghIyorganizedeverydayIife, s�dsmap

ont

�����
f
���
'ý{
e
_
¤�
_

su¡¡�sts
ñmImsm, rebeIIIon and assertIveness. The robot and the com-
µuterare,wereµeat,µroductIonaµµaratus ,toby-µassthisaµµro-
µrIationInvoIvIngaratIonaIworId-scaIeµrogræ Ing,consumµ-
tIonIsorganizedontheµatternofµroductIon,onIydesiresha¡¡en
to}gure among the irreducibles, andthe consumer, esµecIaIIyJhe
femaIe ofthe sµecIes, does not submIt to cybemetIc µrocesses ,
wh¡Ie the robot ÷ for the tIme beIng ÷ has neIIher desIres nor
aµµetItes , hIs memoryaIoneIs unimµeachabIe. As a resuIt, not
theconsumer, butconsumer-InformatIonIstreatedtoconditIon-
Ing ÷ whIch may µerhaµs restrIct cybemetic ratIonaIIty and the
µrograngofeverydayIife . . .
Wehave]ustaddedatIckIIshµrobIemtoourtheory,aµoIsonous
ûowerto a µretty µosy. couIdthe organ¡zatIon ofeveryday I¡fe
(wIthIts ' brIIIIance',scIntIIIatIonand ' modensm')be theIrench
hIgh-roadtoamerIcanizatIon?WeretumtoaquestIonformuIated
earIìer on: ����e�

�� homo

neI

that
wouId foster or reveaI a sgIe absoIute system, or, on the con-
txy, for a state where dIscreµancc and resIsmt In-
e~tabIymtudIs�ption ofthe whoIe structure? Do
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯`¯'¯¯¯ ¯¯
�çaII_deveIopednatIonsprpyq��ydeI,bo¡t·heoretIcaI
�for¸thep�un�rdeveIoµed, anddo¬`an-
sIon�qqndevcIopmcc¡ _ ¯IdeoIogy
and

technoIogy÷ ortheexµansIonofµroductIv¡stIdeoIogy-µre-
vaIIInEuroµe and In Irance? Is the amerIcanIzatIon ofIrance
headIng straIght for success, under cover of an antI-AmerIcan
µoIIcy and usIngfor Its ends a socIaI grouµ, the technocrats, at
ûrstreactIonarybutûnaIIysubmIttIngInthe hoµeofsatIsfynga
tb¡rstforµower?The answers tothesequestionswiIIhavetobe
deferred.
.^

2 The Bureaucratic Society of
Controled Consumption
Coherence and contradiction
we shall nowexanine some ottheteatures otthis soeiety that
]ustityourceünitionotit,notinorcertoexhaustthesub]eetbut
to prove our theory. Itseholars take the trouble to attaek this
ceünition they will eertainly cireet their üre mainly açainst its
laek ot' seientiüeness' anc try to cemonstrate thatitsvalueis
purelysub]eetiveancits·ançepolemieal.Inouropinion,however,
polemies co not cetraet trom ' seientiüeness ' , onthe eontrary,
knowlecçe thrives onirony anc on opposition, anc theoretieal
eometspreventittromstaçnatinç,butsueheontroversiesareas
olcasphilosophyancseientiüeresearehancaretartromnearinç
extinetion.weassertthattorusa' pure'seieneethatholcsaetion
atarms'lençthisnotarealseieneeevenwhenitistrue. ' Iure '
epistemoloçyancariçorousproeecureproviceastrateçiealwith-
crawalanceoveraçainstseriousonslauçhts, ancaeovertootor
' operations 'wherebyproblems arecistributecaeeorcinçtoper-
sonalvaluesancintereststhatarebestleñunairecitprotestsanc
cisputeswoulcbeavoicec.1hetaetotstancinçbaektoçetthìnçs
intoperspeetivecoesnotinvolveawithcrawalintotormalleæ-
inç,however,thislastbeinçaearieatureottheürst,wearepre-
parectoacc to eertainassertive tormulae our own.' seientism
açainst seienee | Rationalism açainst reason| Riçorism açainst
riçour|strueturalismaçainststrueture| ' ete.Astoreritiealob]ee-
The Bureaucratic Societ of Controlled Consuption 69
tions,aretheynotperhapsthebestwaytopositivity:Ourceñnì-
tioneanonlyberetutecbythosewhoretusetonamethissoeiety
asawholeanceonsiceritasaeompenciumotphenomena,cevoic
oteoneeptanctheory.
A huncrec years aço Varx publishec the ürst part ot Das
Ka¡nal,aworkthatinelucesbothaseientiüeexpositionotsoeial
realityancsuççestionstorrealizinçthepossibilitiesotthissoeiety.
1hisinvolvec.
a) a whole pereeptible to reason (cialeetie), possessinç selt-
reçulatinç ceviees that were spontaneous but restrietec (eom-
petitive eapitalismtencinçtoprocuee arate otaveraçeproüt),
anctheretoreineapableotbeeominçpermanent,otelucinçhistory
ancehançe,

b)aspeeiüecause: soeietyrulecancacmimsterecbyaelass,
thebourçeoisie (unitec, notwithstancinç eometinç ambitions),
possessinçthemeansotprocuetion,
e)a)ompereeptibletouncerstancinç:trace(exehançevalue)
withanunliniteceapaeitytor expansion, eonstitutinça' worlc'
withits loçe ancitslançuaçe ancinseparabletrom a content .
soeiallabour(ceüeccialeetieally. çualitative ancçuantitative,
incivicual anc soeial, speeializec ancçeneral, simple anceom-
plex,partieularizec,orrathercivicecancstancarcizecaeeorcinç
tosoeial averaçes).Inthiswayitwas possible toseehowsoeial
labourmiçhteventuallyeontrolthe 'worlc'ottraceancsetalimit
toitssensel��� �xansion,
ca �structu��,teciatinçbetweenthebase(orçatìzation
anc¬ ·la¡¬ cq__� utions,iceo-
loçies,publieomeesancmora,artistieancintelleetual' values ')
bymeans otthe strueturec~strueturinç relations otprocuetion
¯wc pr�peµ,n� iceeleg ihn1eir_¬ma/m(cis-
çuisinçancvincieatinçthesoeiety'sbasieeharaeter) ,
e)aeoherentlanguage answerinçatoneancthesametimethe
neecsotpraetiealexperienee,olseieneeancottheRevolution(or
ottheworlcottrace,ottheseientiüeuncerstancinçotthisworlc
ancottheaetionthatwoulceontrolanctranstormit),alançuaçe
thatemerçecanctookshapeinDasKa¡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¡ecqc contradictions viIhin Ihc givcu vhoIc (parIicuIarIy
bcIvccu Ihc sociaI characIcr oIproducIivc Iabour andIhcproñIs
oI' privaIc' propcrIy) ,
g)IhissocicIy' spossibiIiIicsoIquauIiIaIivcex¡ansionaudquaIi-
IaIivc deielo¡ment.
¡Icr 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 andjusIiIyIhcm can onIybcdcscribcdas Ihc 'causc' iIouc
,�¸ignorcsIhc mcaning oIIhc vord, andiIisnoIcasyIo ovcrcomc
� _IhcIccIingIh�sIaIcvorj� _�� ¸ 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 Ihça;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 objccI, 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.
WÞaIvcvanIIodcmousIraIcisIhcIaIIacyoIjudgingasocicIy
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 necessary tc raise this veiI in crder tc catch a glimµse cf
reaIity and thence cfµcssiLiIity, tcdayidecIcgieshave changed
andtheyLearnamessuchasfuncticnalism,fcrmaIism,structuraI-
ism, cµeraticnalismcrscientism,theyµaradeas' ncn-idecIcgies '
incrdertcmergemcrereadiIywiththeimaginaticn,theydisguise
theLasicfact- crfactuaILasis- thateverythingstemsfrcmevery-
dayIifewhichinturnreveaIseverything, cr,inctherwcrds, that
thecriticaIanaIysiscfeverydayIifereveaIs 'everything'Lecauseit
takes ' everything'intcacccunt.
Tcsumuµ:
a)IsthequctidiandennaLIe °Canitserveasthestartingµcint
fcrademIticncfccntemµcraryscciety(mcdenty), scthatthe
inquiryavcidstheircnicsIant,theidentincaticncfafragmentary
crµartiaIsµhere,andenccmµassesits essenceandits unity°
L)DcesthismethcdIeadtcaccherentncn-ccntradictcrythecry
cftheccntradicticnsandccmictsinscciaI' reaIity',tcaccnceµ-
ticncfthereaIandtheµcssiLIe°
Tcthesequesticns,fcrmuIatedinthe mcstscientincwayµcs-
siLIe,curreµIyisaccndensaticncftheµrevicusasserticns.Every-
day lifeis� �a �sc�|¸�� �pç� ipçqIex�acIea)¸¡�¦d
Ie�c iµvidu� fr��dcm,¸rea��n and rescurcefuIness, it is nc
Icngerµ�wherehumansuñeringandhercismareenacted,
ihesi( e_cfthe hvmanccn�¡ticn. It�asedto��bea�uiicnalIy
exµIcitedccIcnaIµrcvincecfscciety,Lecauseitisncta_rcvince
atdraticnaIexµIoi1æicnhasavaeditseIfcfmcrerennedmeucds
thanheretcfcre.EverydaylifehasLeccmean_�__|��µ�idera-
ticn and is m ¡rcvin� cf crganizat;øµ, the sµace-time cf
vcIuntary ptcgammed�eIf-regaticn, Lecause �h� ¡�.,-µ
crganizcditµrcv»tcsecircuqr6ducticn-ccnsumµticn~
µrcducticn),wheredemandsarefcreseenLecausetheyareinduced
anddesiresareruntcearth,thismethcdreµIacest s�
seIf-reguIaticn cfthe ccmµetitive era. Thus everylie must
sh�ruytc���ethecneµerfectsystemcLscuredLythecthersys-
temsthataimatsystematinngthcught andstructuralizingacticn,
and as suchitwcuId Le the mainµrcduct cfthe sc-caIIed ' cr-
ganIzed' sccieq cfccntrcIIed ccnsumµticn and cf its setting,
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consuption 73
mcde±ty.IfthecircuitisnctccmµIeteIycIcseditisnctfcrwant
cf µurµcse cr strategicaI intent Lut cnIy Lecause ' scmething'
irreduciLIe intervenes, ' scmething' that is µerhaµs Desire, cr
Reascn(diaIectics)creventheCity. . . ,The : �the
circu¡ûomcIcsing-istoce����attack it and
transc a � anm c�raq.
��reveaIwhetheritwiIILeµcssiLIefcrths�wo�rewiI-
Iing tcrecaµtureinfhis way the Icst harmcn¿cfIanga¿e¸_µd
r�ty, ¢f sipaµ�tions µ�ç .
ThisccherentIcgicaIthecryisæscccnducivetcµracticaIacticn,
Lutitµresuµµcsesaµreliminaryacticncrthcught-acticn,certain
ccnditicns are requiredfcra ccnceµticncf_he quctidian�d a
thecrycfquctidianness,thenrstLeingthatcnemustIiveorhave
_Iivedinit,itisaIscessentiaInct+ì1:,m1컬e ׫
incriticaIµersµective.ShcrtcfthesetwcccndIticnsunderstandIng
Leccmes imµcssiLIe and cur wcrds wiII faII cn deaf ears - and
ncne are sc deafasthcsewhc refusetchear.
EverydayIife weighsheaviestcnwcmen. ItishighIyµrcLaLIe
thattheyaIscgetsom t1iI¯þev<rsingthe situaticn, _,�¸
LuttheweightisncnetheIesscntheirshcuIders.ScmeareLcgged
dcwnLyitsµecuIiarcIcyingsuLstance, cthersescaµeintcmake-
LeIieve, cIcse their eyes tc their surrcundings, tc the Lcg intc
whichtheyaresinkingandsimµIyigncreit ,theyhavetheirsuL-
stitutesandtheyaresuLstitutes ,theyccmµIain- aLcutmen, the
human ccnditicn__ Iife Gcd and the gcds - Lut they are aIways
Lesidetheµcint,t�rethesuL]ectcfeve_dµ_þits�c-
timscrcL]ectsandsuLstitutes (Leauty, femininq, fashicn, etc.)
a�diiIeirvc i×imtesthrive.LkewisetheyareLcth
b_rs and ccnsumers cf ccmmc¯ties and symL_|s fcr ccm-
mcdities(inadveru��ments,asnudesandsmiIes).Becausecftheir
amLigucusµcsiticnineverydayIife- whichissµecincaIIyµartcf
eve� ¸aµ çj p� gthey_ ���
it. RcLctizaticn µrcLaLIy succeeds scweIIwith¸wcmenLecause
�the things that matter tc them (fashicns, the hcuse and the
hcme, etc.), nctwithstanding - cr cn acccunt cf- their ' sµcn-
faneity'. Fcr adcIescents and stnts the situaticn is reversed,
sincetheyhaveneverk��wn��dayIife,theywcuIdIiketctake
s °
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. ThcyfrcgucntIycvcnacccpt 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- aIIthcspcciaIizcdactiviticsthatprovidcsubjcct-mattcr
for pamphIcts, thcscs, cataIogucs, guidc books. Thcsc honcst
thcorcticians imposcthcirownIimitstothcircndcavoursandrc-
fusc to gucstioninvisibIc pattcrns, ignorc thc signibcant abscncc
ofagcncraIcodc. ScicntismandpositivismprovidccxccIIcntsub-
jcctsfordiscussionandpcrfcctsubstitutcswhichopposcandimpIy
cachothcr.pragmatism,functionaIism,opcrationaIismonthconc
hand, and on thc othcr probIcms tactfuIIy Icft to thc cxpcrts.
Criticism,protcsts, objcctions oranyattcmpttoscckanopcning
' cIscwhcrc'arcdismisscdasutopiabythcscidcoIogists ,andhow
rightthcyarc ! Thcyarcsupportcdby a spcciaIbrandofrcason
and rcstrictcd rationaIity (thcir own) . . . . Such was in fact thc
objcctionraiscd 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 objcctor. ' 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,
contradictionsandobjcctionsthatintcrvcncandhindcrthccIosing
ofthccircuit,thatspIitthcstructurc.' Thisisnomorcthan!itcra-
turc, poctry, Iyricism! ' SonowwchavcincurrcdthcbnaIinsuIts ,
yctthcycanbcwordcdmorcsubtIyas . subjcctivism,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,objcctandsubjcct ,notwithoutstrcss-
ingincachcascthcinadcguacyofsuchphiIosophicaIcatcgorics-
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�×!Iyb�rea¬crati�r�¸ be better tnannegect 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� ��ta_bre

kin

��e��dayliíe,
m'simmodestyandostentationintne disµlayitgiveso¡
����������ly�e��Le s s cielto
���nostalgiasnñx��essaryto under- .
stand,íorunderstanding,ortnedesiretounderstand,leadstccom-
µarative studies and to tne¸�qq qe�( 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,metnodsoíµroductionandideologes.
The sto íeverydayliíemustneeforeincludeatleastt �e

sectins a) �, b)tnedeatn��styl�sndtnebirtn _í
�� �
, (nineteentn century) , c) tne esta1isnment andtne consolidation
oíeverydayliíe,wnicnwould+hohcwutheµast1vnded¸ears
orsoitnas ¯me morecrystallized 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,
thoughthesítuatíonhasacertaínsígmûcanceorsí¿íûcances- 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 ¿veítameaníngIuI 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,guantítatíve,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.
Inconseguencethetechnicalmæter)oImateríaIexperíenceísnot
counterbaIanced by the adaptatíon oImanto hís own personaI
The Bureaucratíc Society o!ControIIed Consumptíon 81
experíence, hísbody,hísneeds,tíme and space. The díscrepanç
betweenexpansíon and deveIopment echoes aIurtherand more
basíc díscrepancy between (technícaI) master) and ada¡tation.
TheseIamíIíarproposítíonsacguíresígníûcanceonIyíIwespecíIy
theír terms . ex¡ansion reIers to theyrocess oIíndustríaIízatíon,

ei
�(
o
PT°¤¹¤¤r¤=�¡A� rdngtço±Q�¡(w
_�_¿¸��·-¯
aIreadybeenIormuIatedandwíIIbeIurtherdeveIoped)urbaníza-
tíon¿vessígmñcancetoíndustríaIízatíon,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
,�¹_]� ��ºº�ªºº,�
ocío
¯
Io
�9!!¤��
th
4!4¤@¤aI)�short·;í¿|I¤ÿ�
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_�þeforebecomíng a technígue, was the sub|ect
oIcareIuIstudy, experts are weII acguaínted 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 attackin¿ and dcstroyin¿, Ior iI ' in-
tcIIcctuaI ' Iati¿uc and thc obsoIcsccncc oIobjccts arc to havc a
rapidcHcct,nccdsmustaIsobccomcoutdatcdandncwnccdstakc
thcir pIacc, this is thc stratc¿y oIdcsirc. SccondIy, productivc
powcrissuchthatitwouIdnowaIrcadybcpossibIctoachicvc an
cxtrcmc]uidit) oIcxistcncc, oIobjccts, dwcIIin¿s, towns and oI
' Iivin¿',sothat 'rcaI!iIc'nccdnotstiIIsta¿natcincvcrydayIiIc,
butbothinthcoryandinpracticc���u�sí[ç¡g�s
as a mcµ � o[�¿JqiJi_��;y��__nthis !i¿ht a contrast or
contradictionappcars bctwccninstitutionaIizcd durabiht) objcct-
ivcIy structurcd (accordin¿ to a Io¿ic oIproccdurcs, thosc con-
ccrncdwithstatcandadministration,amon¿othcrs,incIudin¿thc
administration oItowns, cnvironmcnt and dwcIIin¿s thatarcrc-
¿ardcd as Iastin¿), andthc mampuIatcd transitorincss oIrapidIy
dctcrioratin¿ objccts. Whcntransitorincss is not suHcrcd but dc-
sircd, wiIIcd, guaIitativc and appcaIin¿, it is thc mono¡ol)
o}a class, thc cIass that dictatcs Iashions andtastcs and has thc
worId Ior its pIay¿round, on thc othcr hand thc dctcrioration oI
objccts (guantiIativc, mcasurabIc in tcrms oI timc, suHcrcd, un-
wiIIcdandunwantcd)ispartoIaclassstrateg)dircctcdtowardsa
rationaIizcd(thou¿hirrationaIasproccdurc)cxpIoitationoIcvcry-
dayIiIc.JhccuItoIthctransiIp_{qßcctsthccssc

� o�t
- butrcüts iJasa cIass stratc_* �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 or¿anization, structurcd, pIanncd and pro¿rammcd,
scicntihcncss suppIicsitsmcchanisms(howandonwhatarcmcrc
dctaiIs so Ion¿ as thcrc arc computcrs, cIcctronic brains, I BM
caIcuIators and pro¿rammn¿), mystihcations arc passcd oH as
scicntiÞc discovcrics and a IooI, iI hc introduccs himscII as an
" L. Utopie ÇûIIS), I, pp. Vb1ܯ, ¡HC ûI¡ICÍC Dy J. PUDCI¡, WI¡HHO¡CS Dy
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, guacks, star-¿azcrs . . . indccd, onc has
onIytorcadthcpapcrs ,itisasthou¿hpcopIchadnothin¿inthcir
daiIy !ivcs to ¿ivc thcm amcanin¿, a dircction, apart Irom pub-
Iicity, so thcy Ia!I back on ma¿ic 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�¿ ¿�rvadc
cvcryday IiIc,conIront andicâcctoac ano!hcr. �
EV«q IiIc an 1ts sourccs oI imrmation (thc prcss, thc
cincma) arc inIcstcd with ¡s)chologism and psychoIo¿ica! tc�ts
suchas :' Oiscovcrwhoyouarc',' LcarntoknowyourscII.'Joday
psychoIo¿y and psychoanaIysis arc not onIy cIinicaI and thcra-
pcutic scicnccs but idcoIo¿ics, particuIarIy in thc \nitcd Statcs.
Such anidcoIo�rcguircs compcnsationswhich�rcprovidcdby
occu!tism. Horoscopcsmi¿htIormthcsubjcctoIamcthodicaIin-
guiry,thcirthcmcsc!assihcd,thcirtcxts considcrcd as a cor¡uor
cohcrcntandcIcarIy dchncd body, anda s)stem couIdbc drawn
Irom horoscopcs in ¿cncraI (and thcncc a sub-systcm Ior our
socicty) ,butwcshaIInotattcmptsuchanundcrtakin¿asitwouId
notadvanccourparticuIarprobIcm,thou¿hhoroscopcsdoaHcct
it in a ccrtain way. What, indccd, do pcopIc cxpcct Irom horo-
scopcs,whydothcyconsuItthcm, howdothcyintcrprctthcsi¿ns
and how arc thcy inñucnccd by thc intcrprctations 7 A zonc oI
ambiguit)iscstabIishcdhaIIwaybctwccnbcIicIandmakc-bcIicvc,
yctdircctcdtowards actionbyjustiIyin¿individuaItactics sothat
thosc conccrncd bcIicvc and do not bcIicvc what thcy say, and
bchavc asiIthcy bcIicvcd, whiIcIoIIowin¿thcir ownincIinations,
Icc!in¿s orintcrcsts - thcir vaticinations.
WcshouIdnot, howcvcr, ovcrIookthcIact thathoroscopcsin-
voIvc thc Iragcnts oI a unJvcrsaI vision, thc zodiac, thc con-
stcIIations, dcstinyinscribcd in thc stars, thc hcavcns as divinc
writin¿ that onIy thc initiatc can dcciphcr. Jhis is thc symboIic
hcrita¿c that inspircd architccturc, was scaIcd into ¿rcat monu-
84 IvcrydayLifc mthe Modem World
mcntsoIpast cuIturcs and summarizcsatopoIogy÷ thc divísion
andoricntationoIspacc andthcprojcction 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 andmythoIogcs, thc cxpIoitation oIthcir
achicvcmcntsIorpurposcsoIpropaganda, spacccxpIorationwith
its quota oI sacrqce. 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 justibcation 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.
WhcnccthcdcsccrationoIthcqucstanditsobjcctsbythcqucstcrs
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 intcgatcdwith
cvcryda Ic (thcp��saIoI óaiIypapcrs,tcIcvision,ctc.)and¬
�� ���
si
���
Ii
�� ���
thc ]r]_�qian �hõr�ctcr yþq, þq)(_þ� rric� �� �
gcd QJdrpp ,to;c þ;s�� g�' cry-
t
�� �
c

cr
¹
g
"³º�� ¸�
cc
��|º�
si
º|]
, b) thc
[
os
]���
oI
dcparturc, the dcmand îorcvasion, thc yü 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 tobcconIuscdwithindividuaIimag-
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 . ø ø . 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 OÍQOWCI ûHC OQQOSI¡IOH
ÏCISQCC¡IVCS ûHC QIOSQCC¡IVCS
LOHCCQ¡UûÌ ûHC ¡HCOIC¡ICûÌ KHOWÌCCgC
{gûCUûÌÌy CCSCCHCIHg ¡OWûICS CXQCIICHCC)
Ideologies of property, rationality and the state
Images and
ideologies
{´ CUÌ¡UIC´
ÍIû§CH¡CC ûHC
SQCCIûÌIZCC)
{Princiles {C¡HICS, ûCS¡HC¡IC, ûCS¡HC¡ICISH, Qû¡¡COS
ûHC HOCCÌS, ICCOÌOgICS SCCH ûS HOH-ICCOÌOgICS SUCH ûS
SCICH¡ISH, QOSI¡IVISH, S¡IUC¡UIûÌISH, ÍUHC¡IOHûÌISD,
C¡C.)
LIgûHIZIHg sub-systems ¡Hû¡ ûIC ]US¡IÛCC Dy QIIHCIQÌCS
¸¯HC ICCOÌOgy OÍCOHSUHQ¡IOH
ÏUDÌICI¡y ûS ICCOÌOgy
Illusions and myths related to ideology and to current rhetoric
NPÞL¬ÜLÏ1LNL
{SOCIûÌ)
{IHVOÌVIHg
IHCIVICUûÌ
HûKC-DCÌICVC ûHC
COÌÌCC¡IVC
SyHDOÌISHS)
{VOCûDUÌûIy
Language
OQQOSI¡IOHS
ÌIHKS
Rhetoric
¸
metaphysical ÍUHC¡IOH
{OÍWII¡IHg)
¸
metonymical ÍUHC¡IOH
{OÍ SQCCCH)
{�OICS
uûgCS
¡HIHgS
Emotional projections consolidating make-believe or actualized
as adaptation
ÏLLbÏb ûHC
ÏÜP7Ïb
Everyday lfe
{Adaptation {DOCICS
{OÍû HUHûH ¡IHC
DCIHg ¡O HIS SQûCC
Hû¡UIûÌDCIHg) CCSIIC
Compulsions
{´ NûÌUCS´ HûSCCH¡ OI
VûHISHIHg. ÍCS¡IVûÌS,
ÌCISUIC, SQOI¡, ¡HC CI¡y,
UIDûHISH, Hû¡UIC, C¡C.
{CC¡CI-
HIHISHS
HO¡CC Dy
SCICHCC,
HûS¡CICC Dy
¡CCHHOÌOgy)
{DIOÌOgICûÌ {HUÌ¡IQÌC DU¡ UHI¡CC
gCOgûQHICûÌ IH ¡HC SOCIûÌ HûS¡CIy
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,dInnerµartIesandbanquets),each
IeveIhavIngItssµeciûccontextofImagesandverbaIcommentarIes.
Make-beIIeve assuchIsµartofeveryday IIfe, everybody exµects
hsdaIIy(or�)ratIon,yetmakeÆei�;�or:�i�
¯· .. , ",�",,---"�"�"---"""""""",""�"-,",",�-,··"°º*'^-�^ ¨×·~ · -· -
reIatIon to everyda

exerIee comµuIsIons and ad¡ta m:
Iu�disguIsem��������ofcomµuIsIonandourIImIted
cq��iIy

aµt, ittrcc æd !h»çt o ´
'real ' µrobIem, and someimesItcanfurtIier adçtonot c-
¯umscrib�rIence.
PubIIcIty does not onIy µrovide an IdeoIogy of consumµtIon,
andItdoesmore thancreate an Image ofthe' I ' consumer, fuI-
û!Iedassuch,reaIIzInghImseIfIn actIousaud coIncIdIngwIthhis
own IdeaI. It Is based onthe ImagInary exIstence ofthIngs , It
evokesthemandInvoIvesarhetorIcandaµoetrysuµerImµosedon
the art ofconsumIng and Inherent InIts Image, a rhetorIc that
Is not restrIcted to Ianguage but Invades exµerIence, a dIsµIay
wIndow In the Iaubourg SaInt-Honore or a fashIon show are
rhetorIcaIhaµµenIngs,aIanguageofthIngs.But,aIthoughweshaII
returntothesub¡ectofµubIIcItyIater,forthetImebeIngwemust
concentrate ontryIngtodennetheoutIine ofourunrestandour
dIscontent.
The sense ofdIsaµµoIntmentthatµervades consumµtIonhasa
numberofcauses,andwearefarfromunderstandIngthemaII,but
wehavesucceeded, nonethe Iess, InIocatIngone ofthemInthe
absenceofadetermInedsµIItordIvIsIonbetweentheconsumµtIon
ofthIngsandthatofsIgnsandImagesderIvIngfromthesethIngs.
_act ofconsiµµg_�_�_;p¿yJ�J�¸ Iuia�I:;|tjo� ] ûctI-
tIous)asareaIact(' reaIIty'ItseIfbeIngdIvIdedIntocomµuIsIons
andadaµtamand¡hereforetricaI(¡oyIneverymouth-
fuI, Ineveryµeru��he ��t) and metonymIcaI (aII ofcon-
sumµtIonandaIIthe¡oy ofconsnmingìn+vcryoþcctandevery
actIon). ThIs In ItseIf wouId not matterIfconsumµtIonwerenot
acceµted as somethIng reIIabIe, sound and devoId of deceµtIon
andmIrage,buttherearenonaturaIfrontIersseµaratIngImagInary
consumµtIon ortheconsumµtIonofmake-beIIeve (the sub¡ectof
µubIIcIty)andreaIconsumµtIon,oronemIghtsaythatthereexIsts
aßuIdfrontIerthatIsaIwaysbeIngoversteµµedandthatcanonIy
Te Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consuption 91
beûxedIntheory.Consumer-goodsarenotonIygIorIûedbysIgns
and 'good'InsofarastheyaresIgnIûed,consumµtIonIsµrImarIIy
reIatedtothesesIgnsandnottothegoods themseIves. Howthen
can frustratIon and disaµµoIntment be avoIded If µeoµIe have
nothIngmoresubstantIaIthansIgnstogettheIrteethInto!AdoIes-
centstodaywanttoconsumenow,atonce,andsuchamarkethas
been duIy and eûectIveIy exµIoIted. Thus young µeoµIe tend to
IeadamargInaIeverydayIIfe, theIrownyet unchanged, oµµosed
tothatoftheIreIdersyetInaIIwaysIdentIcaItoIt,theIrµresence
overshadows aduIt vaIues, µossessIons and trades, and yet as
' adoIescents 'theyaremargInaI ,theyareIncaµabIeofformuIatIng,
stIIlIessofImµosIng,theIrvaIues,sothatwhattheyconsume,both
negatIveIyandmassIveIy,aretheaduItob¡ectsthatsurroundthem
wIththeIrmaterIaIexIstenceandtheIrsIgns.ThIssItuatIonfosters
deeµandmuItIµIefrustratIonsthatareInadequateIycomµensated
by abrutaIassertIveness.
The case Is stIII more dIstressIngfor theworkIng cIasses, who
IIve In the mIdst of sIgns of consumµtIon and consume an In-
ordInate amount ofsIgns, as everyday IIfe Is, for them, maInIy
domInated bycomµuIsIonswItha mInImum ofadaµtatIon. Con-
scIousness,InsuchcIrcumstances, cravesformake-beIIeve and Is
InevItabIydIsaµµoIntedbyIt,becausethemethodsofensIavement
andexµIoitatIontowhichtheworkIngcIasseshavetosubmItdIs-
guIse theIr true condItIon, and they are not aware ofbeIng ex-
µIoItedandensIavedIntheIrdaIIyIIvesanddaiIyconsumµtIonto
the same degee as they are Inthe sµhere ofµroductIon. In the
' goodoIddays'theworkIngcIasseswereunawareofthestructure
ofµroductIonandthereforeoftheIrbeIngexµIoIted,theIdeoIogy
ofexchange, ' workforwages ',servedasacoverforthereaIcon-
ditIons ofµroductIon,thestructured~structurIngreIatIon (saIe of
workIng energy, ownershIµ and admInIstratIon ofthe means of
µroductIonby one cIass). ThIs reIatIon has become vaguer stIII
sInce then, and the IdeoIogy of consumµtIon onIy Increases Its
vagueness. ConsumµtIon Is a substItute for µroductIon and, as
exµIoItatIonIsmìensmed, IÌg auy!co
TheworkIngcIassescannotheIµbeIngdIscontentedfortheyare
thenrstofthesocIaIstratatobeacquaIntedwIthsuchfrustratIon,
92 Everyday Life in the Moder World
thcir cIass consciousncss is not casiIy rcstorcd andyct docs not
cntircIydisappcarbutbccomcsacIass' misundcrstanding',andas
suchisinvoIvcdinaIIcIaimsandprotcststhatsprcadunobtrusivcIy
from gucstions ofpay (that arc ncvcr adcguatcIy soIvcd) to thc
organizationofthcir daiIyIivcs.
WchavcaIrcadynotcdthcambiguityofwomcn'sstatustoday.
£vcrydayIifc,towhichthcyarcconsi¿ncd,isaIsothcirstronghoId
fro�·!i� tI�yµ, «vnh�i�.,io csc�pc b,tI�:unabout ´¸
mctbod oIcIuding thc rcsponsitü¡Iics o consciousucss , vbcncc
thcir inccssant protcsts and cIsiIy formIatcd, dirocs �

� j
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
journaIist, an cmincnt tcchnician orgovcrnmcnt advisor, ctc.
Inconscgucncc,protcsts,objcctionsandcIaimsdonotccascand
cannotbccradicatcdascachparticuIargroupinturnobjccts and
protcsts tryingtomakcthc most ofthcsituation.Thcrcjcctionof
this socictybycvcr-rcncwcdgroupsofadoIcsccnts isthc mostsig-
nibcant ,itisatotaIrcjcction,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
' subjcct' 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 objccts 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
cxccptionofthcrpIingcIasscs or contcmporary cguivaIcnt ofthc
��
t

r
���
¡�im1ow��1,,
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 Iacgucrcd tcIc-
phoncs, antiguc furniturc . . . yct thcrc rcmains onc insupcrabIc
supcriority: thc dcmi-gods do not Iivc inthc guotidian, 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 sccmstohavccongucrcdthcwhoIc
of socicty incIuding thc working cIasscs, so that thcy must Iivc
hcnccforthIikcthcproIctariatoronIyafractionbcttcr. Thus, asit
hasbccnsaidandrcpcatcd, sociaIstratatakcthcpIaccofcIasscs ,
andmorcovcrthcmiddIccIasscs, by dcnyingthc status of' cIass'
tothcworkcrs,havcacguircdi 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 ofconsumµtionthe consumer is consumed ~ not
himseIfinßeshandbIood,whoisstiIIasfreeastheIabourer,not
himseIt,buthisIife-time.ThetheoryofaIienationisreµutedtobe
outoìdate,�deed, ~informsofaIienationmayµerhaµshave
vanished, suchas,forinstance,sexuaIaIienation,thougheventhis
is notcertainandthebasisofsexuaIreµression(the ' naturaI 're-
Iation, µracticaIIy and cuIturaIIy enforced, of the sexuaI act to
fecundation)isveryfarfromextinct.ÞewtyµesofaIienationhave
¡oinedranks with the oId, enriching the tyµoIogy ofaIienation .
µoIiticaI,ideoIogicaI,technoIogicaI, bureaucratic, urban,etc. We
wouIdsuggestthataIienationissµreadingandbecomingsoµower-
fuIthatit obIiterates aIItraceorconsciousness ofaIienation.We
commitfortriaI,here andeIsewhere, ideoIogistswho wouId cIass
thistheoryamongantiquatedµhiIosoµhies , notwithstandingtheir
wouId-be sardonic insinuations concern¡ng ideoIogicaI ' con-
sµiracies ' and their ' instigators',theyfurther the cause ofcIass
strategy,withacIearconscience,neitherbetternorworsethanthe
others .thosewhoknowandthosewhounderstandnothingabout
anything.WhatisnewisthatthetheoryofaIienationisIeftwith
a diminishing µhiIosoµhicaI referentiaI and has become asocial
¡ractice, acIass strategywherebyµhiIosoµhy and history are set
aside so asto confusethe issue and successfuIIyinhibit anycon-
sciousness oftheactuaIstate oftotaI aIienation. Such a strategy
hasanumberofmoves at its disµosaI ,the µawnsare the middIe
cIasseswho aretotaIIyunawareoftheir aIienation, aIthoughthey
have served asmodeIsfor most chronicIers ofthisµhenomenon.
One ñne morningthe middIe-cIasscitizenµasses out Iike a Vic-
torianIady, orIikethe Kierkegaardiancharacterhestartsshout-
ing ' Everything is now µossibIe! ' , he is no Ionger contentwith
exchangingreaIityformake-beIieveandviceversa,with¡umbIing
the IeveIs, he wantssomethingeIse , consuming satisñes him and
yetIeaves him dissatisñed, consumingis not haµµiness, comfort
andeasearenotaII,¡oydoesnotdeµend onthem,heisbored.
This societywishesto integrateits members, comunities, in-
dividuaIs, atoms and moIecuIes, to integrate them with itseIf
thoughitisnoIonger considered a ' sub¡ect' , this isits µrobIem
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 95
andone ofitsma¡orcontradictions. Þotthat it Iacksintegrating
µowers, thoughthesearemainIyµrevaIentinthesµheresoftrade
and consumer-goods, but stiII active on the cuIturaI IeveI too,
whiIeeverydayIifeintegratesthosewho acceµtit andeventhose
whom it does not satisfy, these Iast who wouId Iike something
morefuIñIIingareraµidIyandtotaIIyenguIfednonethe Iess, and
tothemthemostconvincingincitementstorevoItonIysoundIike
so much noise. Has not this society, gIutted with aestheticism,
aIready integrated former romanticisms, surreaIism, existentiaI-
ismandevenMarxismtoaµoint °Ithasindeed,throughtrade,in
theformofcommodities !ThatwhichyesterdaywasreviIedtoday
becomescuIturaIconsumer-goods ,consumµtionthusenguIfswhat

wasintended to giiemeaning anddirection. It isaIIveryweIIto

dismissmeaningandtoconsiderthequestformean|ngabsurd,¡o
assimiIatetheabsurdtothereaIandtherationaI ,butagreatgaµ
widens, a gaµ that the µhiIosoµhers canface uminchingIy, but
onewherebyoursociety~ whichhasnootherideoIogicaIµroµs~
is deµrived ofits integrating µowers. For cuIture�that abstract
transIation ofeconomic and technoIogicaI demands - is of no
avaiI , whence theµaradox, frequentIy discussed but onIy suµer-
üciaIIy anaIysed, ofa society whose function is integration and
µarticiµationandthatcannotsucceedinintegratingany oneof¡ts
grouµs ~ neither adoIescents, inteIIectuaIs, districts, towns, busi-
ness concernsnorwomen. TyµicaI ofsuch an� nd_¸ ¸
µotentsocietyisthe

UnitedStatesofAmerica.WhentheFrench
andEuroµ� � t¬rgeoisieµ�ss�sscdanideoIog(theuniversaIity
ofReason)andasociaIµractice(thecreationofnationaity)they
hadintegratingµowers, butthechanneIIingofsuchuniversaIizing
ideoIogies into the restricted rationaIities oftechnoIogy and the
state hasreducedtheirformerstrategicaIµowertonothing, with
the resuIt that imµotence µrevaiIs in cuIturaI and esµeciaIIy in
integrative sµheres.
InthesecircumstancesnewideoIogiesarerequiredandfeverishIy
soughtafter. ItwasevidentIyimµossibIetoIiveontheAmerican
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 ofEuroµe's
ancIent fortresses , massIve IandIngs of sµecIaIIsts (socIoIogIsts,
µsychoIogstsandothers)foIIowedInthewakeofthIsonsIaught.
WIthwhatresuIt °ÞowEuroµeIsIIttIemorethanabattIeüeIdof
brokenµhIIosoµhIesandtheorIes,wIthhere andthere aIoneand
muchbeIeaguered cItadeI orfort stIIIresIstIng (MarxIsm,hIstor-
IcIty).TheAmerIcanattackcoIncIdedwIththedownfaIIofStaIInIst
dogatIsm,andnowthedemandformoresubtIeIdeoIogesIsIn-
tense both In America and In Euroµe, sothatIt Is necessaryto
reñne the conceµt ItseIfofIdeoIo¿. We beIIeve that today thIs
conceµtIncIudes,ontheonehand,theorIesµurµortIngtobenon-
IdeoIogIcaIand' rigorous 'and,ontheother,aIargeµroµortIonof
socIaImake-beIIeve, fostered by µubIIcity (that tends to become
both IdeoIogy and exµerIence) , today an IdeoIogy must not be
seen as such, It mustmake no aµµeaI to emotIvIty, InvoIve no
aIIegIance to sµecIüc IeadershIµs, but don a scIentIüc d¡sgse,
shortofimItatIngacertaInµsychoanaIysIsoracertaInoccuItIsm
and fooIhardIIystakIng ontheIrratIonaI.
AtanInferIorIeveIofthebuIId-uµ,asasoµtotheIowercIasses,
we have economism. VuIgar and vuIgarIzed, It has no easy IIfe
becauseItworksasanIdeoIogyofexµansIon,asµroductIvIsm,as
organIzIng ratIonaIIty or as the µrosµect ofImmInent aûuence.
Such conceµts, though aIready dIscarded Inthe UnIted States,
havestIIIarosyfuturebeforethemInunderdeveIoµedFranceand
mayweIIbeIncIuded omcIaIIy, one ofthesedays, In aunIversIty
currIcuIum or that of some othcr state-sµonsored InstItutIon.
EconomIsmhastheconsIderabIeadvantage ofunItIngadecayed
MarxIsm and a degenerate bourgeoIs ratIonaIIsm, furthermore,
It convenIentIy cIothes the organIzatIon and the ratIonaIIzed
exµIoItatIonofeverydayIIfe.
Butthere areothermoresubtIeundertakings. TheIdeoIogyof
_ininit_ or o[haµµIness b_¸anµ¸y ¿ , Is onIy another
form of the IdeoIogy of���µµçµ (haµµIness through con-
sumþ eidcoIo_ o}�ç�(womenµossessIngthe
technique ofhaµµIness!),butwIthsomethIngmoreaµµeaIIng.
The Ideo}ogy ofcuIture or cuIturaIIsm suµµorts 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, µroIetarIat, bourgeoIsIe, ' underdeveIoµedcountrIes ',
cuItureofthemasses,etc. ,butsomany 'sub-cuItures '~evenwhen
dIsguIsedIn the HarIequIncaµe made for the µurµoseby one of
them(nameIy 'cIassIcIsm')~ donotmakeacuIture,thefragmen-
tatIon of sµecIaIIzed knowIedge and Iabour Is not conducIve to
unIty.CuItureIsnotamyth,ItIsworse :ItIsa state���UnIty
ofc untbc1 :+hatofcuIturaI
instItutIons ,whence 'masscuIture'andconsumµtIonaresuµµIIed
wIth ' best quaIIty µroducts ' and works that are saId to be
' unaduIterated'.
FunctIonaIIsm, formaIIsmandstructuraIIsm have thIsIncom-
monwIthscIentIsmandµosItIvIsm:theyaIIparadeasnon�Ideo-
IogIcaI.YettheIdeoIogIzIngµrocessIscIearenough,andconsIsts
InextraµoIatIon-reductIonwhereby the IdeoIogy makes absoIute
truthsofreIatIve,sµecIücconceµts.TheImµortanceoftheIdeoIogy
oflanguageentItIesIttoachaµtertoItseIf,ItIsreIatedontheone
hand to the remarkabIe discoverIes of the buddIng scIence of
linguisticsandontheotherto' Ianguageµhenomena'thatµertaIn
to everydayIIfe. LetItsumcetonoteforthetImebeIngthatthIs
IdeoIogyIsbasedonasImuItaneousreµresentatIonofIanguageas
theke)tosocialrealit)(whIchbecomesµerceµtIbIebymeansofIts
sµecIücformsofsµeech)andasas)stem(IncIudIngandInvoIvIng
theunItyofreaIItyandInteIIigIbIIIty) ,whereasthetheoryweshaII
beIntroducIngInthefoIIowIngchaµterstressesthefactthatweare
surroundedbymetalanguage,words aboutwords,orthedecodIng
offormermessageswIthoutthefaIntestcIaImeIthertonoveItyor
tothe decodIngof' realIty' .
."¯�� ¢
_ �.�.�a Ianguage µhenomenon' that rcquires our µar-
`�~·
cularattention,not the IeastoftheµrobIems thatItraIsesIsIts
emcIency, the character and scoµe ofIts Inßuence. We hoµe to
showLow, þ a ¡ocss ofs�bstItution ~ one amongIts �a�y �
processes ~ µubIIcIty assumes In µart the roIe form�rIy LeId by
IdeoIogIes :tocIothe,dIssImuIateandtransformreaIIty,thatIsto
sayµroductIonreIatIons.
IdeoIogyInIts former caµacIty (µossessIngtheµower to grIµ,
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 dq 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¡ QûgCS OÍ HIS DOOK Les
Mots et les choses, ÏûtIS, 1VÚÚ. WHICH IS ûS SyDIÌÌIHC 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 HûtCÌy HCCCSSûty
¡O Sûy ¡Hû¡ m HIS WOtK ¡HC DC¡HOCICûÌ ûHûÌySIS OÍ ¡HC ÌûHgUûgC OÍÍûSHIOH IS
Û.tS¡tû¡C. ÌOWCVCt,¡HC ´CXQCtICHCC´OÍÍûSHIOH{SOCIOÌOgICûÌ .WODCH,Dû¡CtIûÌS,
QtICCS ~ IH D1ICÍ, ¡HCSyS¡
g
D´S IDQûC¡ Ot IDQOt¡ûHCC) IS ÌûCKIHg. bUCHWûS ¡HC
ûU¡HOt´S IH¡CH¡IOH. Lu COHCCO {WI¡H ¡HC IHSCt¡IOH OÍ ÍûSHIOH IH¡O CVCtyCûy
ÌIÍC) QtCCCCCS 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) lqe 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 Lvcryday LÎÍc Înthc NOdcrn V Orld
thc IíttIc cafc, thc símpIc, unprctcntíous rcstaurant run by an
ambítíouschcf. Astothcmotor-car- notwíthstandín¿ítsspccíñc
attractíonasdcsccratoroftownandcountrysídc- saturatíonpoínt
wíII soon bc rcachcd hcrc too and ís índccd, to thc horror of
tramc cxpcrts, aIrcady ín sí¿ht ínthcform ofhnaI frcczín¿ and
íncxtrícabIc hxíty. In thc cxpcctancy of thís cvcr-rcccdín¿, fas-
cínatín¿ cuImínatíon, motorísts ín Amcríca and Gcrmany spcnd
Ion¿hoursínroadsídcmotcIs contcmpIatín¿thcdow oftramc on
thc motorways" and cvídcntIy ñndín¿ thc pastímc cxtrcmcIy (íf
nottotaIIy)rcwardín¿.
Wc arc sumcícntIy famíIíarwíth obsoIcsccncc ínthcory andín
practícc torcaIízc that thc wcar ofmotor-cars ís forcsccn, con-
dítíoncd and pro¿ammcd; wc mí¿htcvcn su¿¿cst (wítha rathcr
doubtfuI pun) that thc automotívc vchícIc ís thc arch-symboI of
autodcstructíon, and as such, thou¿h tcrmcd ' durabIc consumcr
¿oods ' and ínvoIvín¿ pcrmancnt structurcs (thorou¿hfarcs,
motorways, ctc.) ít takcs pIacc ofhonour ín thc systcm ofsub-
stítutcs.
OnccouIdsaythat pubIícítyísa sub-systcm;yctsuch a hypo-
thcsís appcars to bc unacccptabIc. Kathcr, ít ís thc Ian¿ua¿c of
tradc at íts mostcIaboratc, compIctcwíth symboIs, rhctoríc and
mctaIan¿ua¿c, thc mcans by whích thc tradcd objcct andíts am-
bí¿uous (abstract-<oncrctc, formaI-practícaI) tradcvaIuc subsíst.
Jhc foIIowín¿thcory takcn from Marx`s DasKa¡italsccms apt
and concIusívc: tradc ís a form_,¸ gstínctfrom íts cç(Q[ (socíaI
Iabour), andíts contín¿cntrctínuc(nc¿otíatíons,paIavcrs,words
andscntcncc�ríí�díaIcctícaIthcoryreduces
thc actoftradín¿to ítssímg�¡�just as, Iatcr, wcsha1I sccAhc
scmantícthcorydíscardín¿wordstorcdccmthccsscncc ofthc act
otcommunÎcatíon,orIan¿ua¿c. Suchaform,furthcrmorc,ís on!y
ísoIatcd from íts contcnt and contín¿cncícs at a hrst opcratíon;
conscgucntsta¿csof thcínguíryrcstorcbothcontcntandhístorícaI
and socíoIo¿ícaI condítíons oftradc, whích, whcn ' purc` formís
undcr anaIytícaI obscrvatíon, arc sct asídc for furthcr consídcra-
tíon- thc contcntpIaccdbctwccnbrackcts, thc contín¿cncícsdís-
¯ bCC¡HCCûIICû¡UICS Dy bCHQC {¡HOUgH HISHUHOUI, ¡IHgCCWI¡HûDSUICI¡y,
ISHûIHÌCSS CHOUgH ûHC CûSIÌyIC¡IICVûDÌC, ¡Hû¡ IS, HCIgIHgIH¡O ûCCCQIûHCC).
Ãc UurcauOratÎO bOOÎcty OÍ LOntrOÍÍcd LOnsmptÎOn 105
cardcd. Jhís aIIowsthc Iínkín¿offormto asocíaIcxpcrícncc, íts
¿raduaI cmcr¿cncc and thc crcatíonofíts own socíaI cxpcrícncc
so that ít bccomcs, ín fact, thc cxpcrícncc. It wouId índccd bc
símpIc-míndcdto scctradc vaIuc as aprc-cstabIíshcds)stemcon-
ccaIcd ín thc words and ¿csturcs of thosc conccrncd ín tradc
(buycrs, scIIcrs, tradcsmcn, thc capítaIísts of commcrcc, ctc.).
Jradc as form contaíns a logic; as thcproduct ofIabourít pro-
duccsscgucnccs,íntcIIí¿íbIyIínkcdactíons ; ítísbotha socíaI and
aníntcIIcctuaIphcnomcnon. Jhísformcvcn¿ovcrns thcIan¿ua¿c
thatprcccdcdít, adaptín¿íttoítsowncnds ;andthcrcsuItísmorc
than a símpIc connotatíonaI Ian¿ua¿c - thou¿h ccrtaín ¿roups
such as tradcsmcn, for ínstancc, do posscss just such a scmantíc
sub-systcm. Iotwíthstandín¿ rcsístanccs - whích may bcunsur-
mountabIc- fromformcrtradítíons andhxatíons as wcIIasfrom
rcvoIutíonarypotcntíaIítícs,tradctcnds(wíthoutcvcrcntírcIysuc-
cccdín¿) to constítutc a ' worId` (or shouId wc say that ' systcm`
famiIíarundcrthcnamcofcapítaIísm?). AndpubIícíty,ofcoursc,
dcscríbcsobjcctsíntcndcdforaspccíñcuscandposscssín¿atradc
vaIuc (guotcd 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 provokc
dcsírc; and índccd, that ís stíII onc of íts functíons, now ovcr-
shadowcd, howcvcr, byothcrs ; ínthc sccondhaIfofthctwcntícth
cc

ntury ín Iuropc, or at any ratc ín !rancc, thcrc ís nothing -
whcthcr objcct, índívíduaI or socíaI ¿roup - that ís ialuedapart
from íts doubIc, thc íma¿c that advcrtíscs and sanctíñcs ít. Jhís
íma¿cdu¡licatesnotonIyanobjcct`smatcríaI,pcrccptíbIccxístcncc
but dcsírc andpIcasurc that ítmakcs ínto ñctíons sítuatín¿thcm
ínthcIandofmakc-bcIícvc,promísín¿ 'happíncss `-thchappíncss
ofbcín¿aconsumcr. JhuspubIícítythatwasíntcndcdtopromotc
consumptíonísthchrstofconsumcr¿oods ;ítcrcatcsmyths- or,
síncc ítcancrcatcnothín¿, ítborrows cxístín¿myths, canaIízín¿
sí¿nihcrs to a duaI purposc: to oñcr thcm as such for ¿cncraI
consumptíonandtostímuIatcthcconsumptíonofaspccíhcobjcct.
Jhus ítsaIva¿cs andrccondítíons myths, thcSmíIcMyth(thcjoy
of consumin¿ ídcntíhcd wíth thc íma¿ínary joy ofthc man or
woman dcpíctcd consumín¿ thc objcct), thc OíspIay Myth (thc
106 Everyday Life in the Modem VorId
socíaIactívítyconsístín¿ínputtín¿thín¿sondíspIayand,ínturn,
producín¿such objccts as thc ' díspIay unít `,forínstancc).
Hcrc wc havc a pícturc, thc photo¿raph of an athctíc haIf-
nakcdyouth cIín¿ín¿foraII hc ís worth, arm andthí¿hmuscIcs
tcnscd, to thc rí¿¿ín¿ of a yacht that cIcavcs thc watcr at fuII
spccd; trcmcndous spccd ís cvokcd by thc ûyín¿ foam and thc
tcnsíon ofthc ropcs , thc bcautífuI adoIcsccnt scans thc horízon:
what docs hc scc that cIudcs thc cyc of thc pcríodícaI-rcadcr 7
Oan¿cr or Yísíon, or nothín¿ at aII 7 . . . Morcovcr hc ís doín¿
nothín¿, ncíthcrIandín¿norturnín¿; hcísma¿niñccnt, that`saII.
Jhccaptíontothíspícturcrcads : 'ArcaIman`sIífcísmarvcIIous,
ycs, marvcIIous ! It`s truIy marvcIIous to ñnd cvcrymornín¿thc
tonicfrcshncss ofyour Aftcr-Shavc . . . `
Wc appcndafcw obscrvatíons :
a) Hcrc ís apícturcaccompanícdbyacaptíon. Ocprívcdofíts
captíonthcpícturcwouIdhavc nomcanín¿, orítmí¿hthavcany
numbcrofmcanín¿s ; thís ís acommonpIacc.Jhccaptíonwíthout
thc pícturc wouId bc absurd; thís ¿ocs wíthout sayín¿. Wc notc
howcvcrthc avaíIabíIíty ofsí¿niñcrs(anakcdmanínthc sun,thc
sca,thcboat, ctc.)andofsí¿níñcd(rcaI Iífc, pIcnítudc, humanity).
Aftcr-Shavc XpubIícítyhooks thcsc va¿rancícs onc to thc othcr
by mcans of a spccíñc brand of consumcr ¿oods and wíth thc
objcctofpromotín¿ saIcs.
b) !ormcr myths arcthus rcstorcd: naturc, víríIíty, víríIíty ín
naturaIsurroundín¿s,thcnaturaIncssofvíríIíty.Wíthsuchthcmcs
mythsassucharcdíscardcd- unIcsswcconccdctothctcrmavcry
va¿ucand¿cncraIscnscthatwouIdaIsoíncIudcídcoIo¿y.Publicit)
acts as ideolog), ímpartín¿ an ídcoIo¿ícaI thcmc to an objcct
(Aftcr-Shavc) andcndowín¿ítwíth a duaI rcaI andmakc-bcIícvc
cxistcnc�. Itappropríatcs ídcoIo¿ícaItcrms andIínksthc saIva¿cd
sí¿níñcrs tothc rc-condítíoncd sí¿níhcd wíthout furthcr rcfcrcncc
to mythoIo¿y.
c)Aphoto¿raphcrworkin¿forsomcadvcrtísín¿a¿cncyhappcns
to catch thc ' spontancous ` attítudc ofthís supcrb youth on thc
dcck ofayacht and ¿ívcs ít a spccíñc mcanin¿- thc pIcasurc of
usín¿a¿ívcnaftcr-shavc- by thc subtcrfu¿c ofpíctoríaIrhctoríc
andcaptíon;orbythctwofoIdterrorism:' BcawcII-¿roomcdman.
Ý '
The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 1 07
Lvcrymornín¿bccomcatrcmcndous¿uywho appcastohímsclf
and to womcn. \sc thís Aftcr-Shavc, or you wíII bcnobody and
knowít . . . '

Jhuspu�cít_ís thc��ofMod��q ¡n __ a�
tcxtfor ��c
� �����
c

&IIavaíIabIcsí¿níñcrsandvacantsí¿níhcds ;ítísartandIítcraturc,
¡t¯gkam 1� ngthccs1o rccondítíon thcm for íts
owncnds ; aswíthtradc,whíchíttakcstoítsIo¿ícaIIímíts,ítcon-
fcrs on aII thín¿s and onaII bcín¿s thc pIcnítudc of duaIíty and
dupIícíty, thc duaIvaIuc ofobjcct (utíIítyvaIuc) and ofconsumcr
¿oods (tradc vaIuc), by a carcfuIIy or¿anízcd confusíon ofthcsc
' vaIucs ` tothcadvanta¿cofthc Iattcr.
¡ubIícíty acquírcs thc sí¿níñcancc ofan ídcoIo¿y, thc ídcoIo¿y
oftradc,andítrcpIaccswhatwasonccphíIosophy,cthícs,rcIígíon
and acsthctícs. Jhc tímc ís past whcn advcrtísín¿ trícd to con-
dítíonthcconsumcrbythc rcpctítíonofsIo¿ans ; todaythc morc
subtIcforms ofpubIícítyrcprcscnt awhoIc attítudctoIífc: ífyou
knowhowtochooscyouwíIIchooscthísbrandandnoothcr;thís
Iabour-savín¿dcvíccwíII¿ívcfrccdomtowomcn;thísfucIísyour
fucI. Jhc cxtrcmcIy vast ' contcnt ` thcsc appropríatcd ídcoIo¿ícs
constítutcdocsnothín¿todímíníshthcapparcnt sínccrítyofpub-
Iícíty`s conccrnwíth thc pubIíc`s wcII-bcín¿; thc ínjunctíons that
íntcrrupt ñIms and ncws ítcms on Amcrícan tcIcvísíonprovc thc
dcpthofthísconccm:youarcathomc,ínyourIívín¿-room,ínthc
company ofthc dímínutívc scrccn (rathcr than ofthc mcssa¿c ít
transmíts,asscrtsMcIuhan)andyouarcbcín¿Iookcdaftcr,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
thorou¿hIy pro¿rammcd, cxccpt that you stíII havc to choosc
bctwccn somany¿oodthín¿s, sínccthcactof consumín¿rcmaíns
apcrmancntstructurc.JhcSmíIcMythísout-rankcd; consm¡n¿
ísnojokc; wcII-wíshín¿ and hcIpfuI, thc whoIc ofsocícty ís wíth
you, and consídcratc ínto thc bar¿aín, for ít thínks ofyou, pcr-
sonaII],ítprcparcsforyoupcrsonaIIyspccíaIIypcrsonaIízcdítcms;
orbcttcrstíII, thcsc ítcms arc dcIivcrcdtoyourpcrsonaIízín¿frcc
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]udgedsociety,allofus ,itismatenalandfraternal ,ourvisible
family is duµlicated by this invisible one, better and esµecially
moree6cient,thesocietyofconsumµtionthatshowersconsidera-
tionandµrotectivecharms oneverybody.Whocanbungrateful
enoughtobeuneasy'
The swivels turatgroundlevel. Consuming ofdisµlays, dis-
µlays ofconsuming, consvming ofdisµlays ofconsuming, con-
suming ofsigns and signs ofconsuming, each sub-system, as it
triestoclosethecircuit,givesanotherself-destructivetwist,atthe
level ofeveryday life.
Sig-consumingdeseryea·u¿µarticularattention.Ithasclearly
deñned µroµerties ,_ •.!r instance, is the ritualized con-
sumµtion oferotic symbols. But s_metimes it is hard to�it
fromm�duess ,thuswehavesee crazeforthe ' Scoubidou',
a sy�tl ofuselessness, contrivanc� andabur raiionaIi¡, ob-
sessive and]oyless , andthecrazeforkey-rings, symbols ofµro-
µerty. Inthesµace ofafew weeks orafewmonthsthecrazeis
born,increaseslikeawhirlwind,sweeµingthousandsofµeoµleoû
theirfeet, andthensubsideswithoutleavingatrace.
' Culture' is also anitem ofconsumµtioninthis society, not
entirely similar to the others, however, for this µarticular, so-
calledfree consumeractivity (that is indeed alittle less µassive
than most ways ofabsorbing ready-made goods) has an air of
festivity that endowsitwith asortofunity, sociallyrealthough
ñctitious,aµartofmake-believe.Worksofartandstylesaredis-
tributed for µromµt consumµtionand towns are devoured with
sucharemarkable showofµleasurethat it seems to denote out-
standingly imµerative needs and frustrations : foreigners, subur-
banites,touristsofalldescriµtionshungrilydevouritsheart(where
it still exists). Thus every ob¡ect and µroduct acquires a dual
existence,µerceµtibleandmake-believe ,allthatcanb consumed
becomes a symbol ofconsumµtion and the consumer is fed on
symbols, symbols ofdexterity and wealth, ofhaµµiness and of
love, sign and signiñcance reµlace reali(, there is a vast sub-
stitution,amassivetransfer,thatisnothingbutanillusioncreated
bythe swivel'sgiddytwists.
WouIdthisironicimage(illustrationofastructuralanalysis)be
r
¦
Te Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 109
a correct reµresentatIon ofthe society inwhich we are living1
Everyday life, as theground onwhich µeoµle andthings stand
surrounded by eddIes and whirlµoolsthat gradually carry away
µeoµle, things andthe ground itselfandmerge in the vast mael-
strom oftrade 'Itmaybe afractionover-dramatic. Bystressing
|nstabilityandchangeitoverlooksourtasteforsolidity,durability
andeûortandthe asceticimµlications ofsuchtastes. Itmightbe
truertosaythateverydaylifeis acrust ofearthoverthe tuµels
andyay�s�oftheunconsciousandagainstaskylineof�certainty
and illusion th�( wccaU ]�� Iecveñ e¡c1¨the¨´
HeavensofPermanence,amongthegreaterµlanetsareScientiñc-
ness, clear, cold and somewhat shadowy, and the twin µlanets
VirilityandFemininity,therearestars,constellationsandnebulae,
h¡gh over the µolarhorizonwe have Technology and elsewhere
Youthfulness ,there are noiae suchas Reliability, frozen, extinct
stars like Beauty and the strange signs ofEroticism, amongthe
ñxed stars ofthe ñrst magnitude we mightµlace Urbanism and
Urbanization(solongaswedonot omitHaturalness,Rationality
and a few others) , and then the sub-lunar µlanets, Fashion(or
' fashIonabiI¡ty') locatable in the vicinity of Femininity, and
Sµortiveness,etc.
Whatµhilosoµhydoesitboast,thissocietydevotedtothetran-
sitory, all-consuming, self-termed µroductivist, inconstant and
qynam c, wors _;nce

_¿nouring stability andxenerat-
"'~´�'�"�¬~·¬~+«.~= �
��� ��¯¯¯·¯~·· .`¹·
ing coherence and structure, this incoherent society for ev±r a¡
br
�=
n
¡|¤ínì�!sirnco¸� p¸_,�
(
¸_ �g ¸__·¿¿--
���¯ �
µroduceitsownµhilosoµhyorchallengeµhilosoµhicalreferences
thathelµtogivemean¡ngandvaluetoreality'Toµutthequestion
diûerently, how can a society function that considers creative
ability unimµortant and has built itsfoundations on an all-con-
sumingactivity(consuming,destructiveandself-destructive),that
isobsessedwithcohereµce,makesµrecisionanideologyandwhere
the actofconsumingisanendlesslyrecurrent diagram'
The answers to these questions must be µostµoned, for by
referring to the consum¡tiono}signs we have µreµaredthe way
forourinquiryintolinguisticµhenomena.
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 Eve(day 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! �±� �ª�! º-�
with immediacy to become ' concrete'. Thus objects, in practice,
beo anc,·oµ,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
IormaIagccmcntbctwccnthcartíst-ínscachoIaignqeraIorhís
cmotíonsandímagníngs- andthcvícwcrorIístcncrcontríbutíng
hís sígnibcdtothcsígñcrspcrccívcd. Morcovcr thcworkoIart
might aIso rcIcr to morc subtIc sígmbcrs, to thc artíst's morc ín-
tímatc subjcctívíty, anguísh, rcgrct, dcsírc. Though rcIatcd to a
ccrtaínsccmíngIypcrmancntratíonaIíty,aIIthíscoIIapscdaround
1910 ín£uropc,whcrcítwasbccomíngthcorctícaIIyapparcntthat
' our spacc' wasjust 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-objcct or
objcct-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-cstabIíshcdtcmpor_proccssboq _
prchcnsíbIcandídcntíbabIc,hasccascdtobcarcIcrcntíaIsínccthc
hís�ncphcnomcnon oI ícrtíon�o��
anaxp'¢m

��c��mpIíshcdIact,
andJ soncs¯d¾ ;fboJstoncci¡¡ooc ysurs
asavagucrcgrct,as:t ng gntandpícturcsqucorascom-
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.WchavcnoíntcntíonoIjudg-
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 whcnjudgcmcnt ís
bascd onsuchcrítcríawhy shouIdwcnotuphoIdítagaínstthosc
whobndítuncndurabIc?8utthísísnotthcprobIcm,andwcmust
díscard Iíctzschcanthcorícs, Ior oursubjcctís morcIímítcdand
prccísc. WhíIc avoídíng socíoIogísm (advantagcs oIcomprchcn-
sívcncssgra0cdontoaspccíaIízcdscícncc)andñndíngIauItwíth
socíoIogy up to a poínt, our subjcctís nonc thc Icss socíoIogcaI.
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 City's exµlosion
(wh¡ch does not imµly that urban exµerience and society are
disintegrating as the former oµµosition is transcended and that
nothingwillbeleñ).AttheverymomentwhentheCitybecomesa
referentialitceasestobeamaterialcertainty,andwhatisthereto
fallbackonforthecitizenandtheµeasantalike °Thiscomµlexof
sociologicalµhenomenacannotbewithoutseriousconsequences.
Logic, whenisolated,cannotbeusedas areferential~ exceµtby
µhilosoµhersand afew exµerts~ foritµrescribes coherence and
rulesforthetransmissionofamessagethatdoesnotcancelitself
out,andthataµµlytoallmessages.Science,orratherscientiücness,
triestoassumetheroleofreferentialnowadays,eventhatofuni-
versalcode, an assumµtionthatinverts theterms , science isby
deñ::itiontheknowledgeofreality,butrealityisnottherealityof
knowledge~ and still less ofscientiücness,exceµtwhere ameta-
µhysicofknowledge isconcened.
Of all the referentials only two are still left standing, one,
µhilosoµhyinthehighestsµheresofculture,theother,inthemost
trivial and commonµlace sµhere, everyday life. That is why
µhilosoµhyhasacquiredso muchsigniñcancc,not¡ustanyµhilo-
soµhy, butPhilosoµhy,the Message,thatPhilosoµhywhIchhas
fashioned throughout history an image ofthe Universe and of
Man. . . . Itsinconsistencies(unevenness,useandabuseofterms,
metaµhors, µhilosoµhIcal rhetoric) are overlookcd and only the
essencesubsistsasareferenceformeditationandreûection.Philo-
soµhymaybenecessary,butitisnotenough,and,notwithstanding
the eûorts ofmany µh¡losoµhers, this has always been the case.
Attheotherendofthescalethereiseverydaylife,buttrytouse
it asareferentialanditbecomesunendurable.So,infact,weare
leftwithonereferentialandthattheµrerogativeofhigherculture!
Onemight¡ustaswellsaythatallreferentialshavevan¡shedand
thatwhatremainsisthememoryandthedemandforasystemof
reference.
In these circumstances it seemsthat the only basis for social
relationsissµeech,deµrivedofcriteria,veracityandauthenticity
and even ofob¡ectivity. In other words such relations have no
foundations, and sµeech, theform ofcommunication,is now in-
Linguistic Phenomena 1 17
strumentandcontentaswell ,throughafogofverbositythecon-
tent sometimes makesa briefaµµearance andbefore itvanishes
weareabletoidentifyitaseverydaylife, butnoonewantstosee
itorevenknowthatitisthere,noonecanacceµtit,itisthesub-
¡ectofallconversations andno one mentions it.Itisnotdesire,
¡ust everydaylife. ' Here I must intervene | ' cries our friend the
ob¡ector. ' You sµeakofeverydaylifeinalmostµsychoanalytical
terms. Where, accordingtoyou, is everydaylifesituated°Every-
whereandnowhere, obviousandinvisible,werefusetoseeitand
wereµressit,thereisaconsciousnessofeverydaylifeineveryday
sµeech. Ùthereisaconnectionbetweeneverydaylifeandtheun-
conscious, between everyday life and desire, will yoube sokind
astoexµlainit. '
.
With µleasure. The ñrst thing that distinguishes them is the
historicity of ey�_j¸},�)hat it is born and simultaneously
dcaysad_�sµers, that it is not sometmngiundcrÌying
~..,. ¸. ," • • .·�·~·.. . • • ' ..-·.... " _�¸¸. ,· ,,..,..- , •,,-··-~•• ····· • ,"" " ••. �~·.-· ·� ·�.--, .,¸·, , .. ... . .. ··,

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

¸
omr.1a1ddenmctu��-t¬t ���tu � �t.,i:Js
integral(thoughnotanintegrating)µartofeverydaylife.Attemµts
toaµµre[d�ve_lifcint�µ�tuaIIyfailnobecus�I\an¡�hs¸�!
intotheunconscious, but becauseit collaµses. Andyetit is sig-

mdeverywherc .1¡ubin tecmiques of haµµiness (or
ratbcrsa+isfaction),organismsandorganizations.Moreover,what
right have we to suggest _hat the unconscious is hidden behind
consciousnesslIkethewingsinatheatre °Theunconsciousisonl
consci
'�°
e
�� .. ��� ..
i
� ���,±�������
resµecteve�}ife|s iµ�cçq
_
���sunconscious. What is
desire °Psychologists,µsychoanalystsandaLosew!uformulate
the questionthus lackµhIlosoµhicaleradition,for desire is not,
true µhilosoµhersknowth¡sandhave knownitforalongtime.
Desire 'desires ',andinsofar asthIstermthatdenotesastateof
' being'meansanything,desiredesiresitself,desiresitsend,itsdis-
aµµearanceinañashofsatisfaction.Onlythesign¡ñedisinvolved
intheactofdesiringonethingoranother,beingsatisüedbyitand
mding satisfaction in it, the signiñer, as µsychoanalysts know,
disaµµears. Moreover,everydaylifeñguresinnearlyeverynews-
1 1 8 Everyday Lie in the Moder World
µaµerand magazne articIe ~ esµeciaIIyin women's magazines~
yetitcannotbes)stematizedassuch,onIytakentotbeIimitwhere
it(itsunendurabiIity)mustexµIode, andthat is what Iikens itto
desire.Butdesirecanbeneitherextinguishednorgrasµed,itsvery
essenceis unknown (orevenifithasanessence) ,foritiseIusive
and when deüned as instinctive or sexuaI it emerges in another
form, asaII-µervasive, butwhen redeünedas awhoIe, aswiIIfor
µower, hiddenreason, it breaks out in the form ofcrueIty, mad-
ness, vioIence,theunµredictabIe. Wem¡ghtsaythateverydayIife
is theµIaceofdesire, so Iongaswesµecify that it is aIso~ indeed
pmanIy¯ !huõ a6desire,theµIacewheredesiredies of
satisfaction and re-cmñom its ashes. A crafty qu�st on
deservcs aeasiveanswer, soweshaII:aythat,yes,thereisacon-
nectionbetweeneverydayIifeandtheunconscious,betweenevery-
dayIifeanddesire, andyet, no, thereis a distinction,mainIyin
that the µower ofmateriaI ob¡ects is µart ofeveryday life, that
everydayIifetends tomergewithmateriaIob¡ects,whereasdesire
doesnot~ whichis the secretofits µower.
The absence of referentiaIs has consequences that are aII the
moreserioussincesµeechmergeswithimagetocreateaniIIusion
ofstructure, the image aµµearing as referentiaI, aIthough it has
not (and cannot have) any such function. Image and sµeech
re-echo each other, the imageintroducinga vast, undeûned and
vcgateuran¿e·1·igniûcances(oÍsq ¡batoµ1e
ex¡resseu1nee �
º�a nd
aµ¡cars to be suµµorted by the image whn it is t� ¿�t
requireº asupporI, buIs��� [j�¡]��¤ÿI¤¤
g
toeither.
A Hoseexamnationshowsthattheuncou¡lingofsigniüersand
signiüed is not a sµeciüc IocaI and IocaIized µhenomenon but
occurswhen,forinstance,animage~ aµhotograµh~ isdescribed
inwordsashavingdißerentmeaningswhichare exµressedinthese
words ,thecommentatormay,infact,bem¡staken,hecansaytoo
muchortooIittIe,m¡ssthe 'reaI 'meaning.ThedecIineofreferen-
tiaIshasgeneraIizedtheuncouµIing,intheabsenceofareferentiaI
andacodeµrovidingcommon¡laces(to ¡oiandkoina,sociaItoµics)
theIinkbetweenthetwosignsisinsecure,weareaIreadyfamiliar
Linguistic Phenomena 1 19
withtheûoatingstockofmeaninglesssignqers(strayimageseither
conscious or unconscious). Once uµon atime, works ofartwere
signiûcant constructs µresented to the senses (sight, hearing,
touch) but not disconnected, ' viewers' and ' Iisteners', who, as
such, were not entireIyµassive, contributed the signiûed to the
signiûer,couµIingtheonetotheother,theseµarationbetweenthe
two asµects of sign and signiücance was not a divorce, it had
nothingûnaIaboutitandattractionwasstiIIactiveIy connecting
them so that they were not indeµendent one ofthe other, thus
sµectator and Iistener couId md what was signiüed in the sig-
niûer (meant in the meaning) and vice versa, the message was
' freeIy're-assembIed,yetitsinterµretationwasbasedonafamiIiar
code deµending on a given referentiaI, monuments cathedraIs
GreektemµIesandeighteenth-centuryµaIaces~ aIIst,Iizedworks.
infact~ wereµerceivedinthisway. Themargin ofuncertaintyis
not easiIy üIIed in when referentiaIs are Iacking, signiüers are
massiveIyandindiscriminateIyconsumedinsignconsumµtion,the
couµIing made anyhow, anywhere, thus a sµeciüc ' system' may
hook itseIfon to disconnected signiüers. Iashion is ¡ust such a
system: you can ' say it' with cIothes as you can ' say it' with
ßowers , Þature, Sµring, Winter, evening, morning, mourning,
µarties,desire,freedom~the 'system'makesuseofeverythingin-
cIudingadaµtationthatbecomesüctitiousandmake-beIieve,any-
thing can be said ~ or nearIy anything. SuccessfuI couµIing is a
matter of authority that can imµose whatever it chooses ~ or
aImost ,insomecases,itistrue, ' aImost'µrevaiIs.
AnditisineverydayIife thatthe couµIingofsigniüer and sig-
niüedtakesµIace, more orIess successfuIIy, andratherIessthan
more.Livingis donethere andsigniüeds are aIIottedto signiüers
inthe bestµossibIeway, everybody beingconvincedthath¡sway
is the best ~ which might account for the fascination ofsigns :
ûoatingin swarms andcIoudstheyarefreeforaII,everavaiIabIe
and, takingthe µIace ofaction, they aµµroµriate theinterest for-
merIy investedinactivity.
Among the many comµIex µrocesses ofsubstitution, disµIace-
mentandreµIacement,themostµecuIiaristhatbywhichIinguistic
reIations ~ or the reIations estabIished by forms of sµeech 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 SOCIOÌOgIC UIDûIHC.Les Pavilonnaires, ÏûIIS, 1VÚÚ, VOÌ· ÌÌ
Ç. 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 accomµIishent so drabIy iIIustrated by
thesuburbsofmorµhoIogicaIIyexµIodedcities,estates, newtowns
andnewneighbourhoods °CouIdthisbeseenasaµromise,asign°
IndeeditcouId.ThoughregretsdonotfuIûIµromisestheydo
notforbidthemeither. Inthesefavoured sµots, t�embryo

º.'º
e
�¹'��¸¸���Y·´Í" ¹�
s
¹�³ ¹º�� / ¹¹"
y
triumµh�he' hot 'styIeisµreservedandhasachance ofsurvivaI
whiIethecity'straditionaIvaIuesstiIIoverridethemercenaryones
(tourists, coaches, etc.) , ��¸ l�·-�9��¹¹ º!ª
er
)
i

s

,
��'
-
Iiferate inthis settinandtey dramatize everydayIife, givingit
;esonance and �xte�so ����(@��������
ne
kowswhatoneistaIkingaboutandwhy(toacertainextent)one
istaIking,vioIence,endemicbut reµressed,at IastexµIodes ,news
succeedsnews,µiIesuµ andaIIat oncesomethingnewisaboutto
haµµen,thesenseofµIayûndsanoutIetinoIdgamesrestoredor
imµrovisednew ones. Yet there is sureIy somethingµaradoxicaI
about this yearningfor ancient cusIoms and their reinstatement
andrenewaI,anditiscertainIyduetosnobbishnessmorethanany-
thingeIsethatashabbyñatfurnishedwithbitsofoIdfurniture,a
diIaµidatedfarmhouse oratumbIedownIabourer'scottageIack-
ingaII comortare seenas ' reaIûnds 'byweaIthyeccentricswho
buythemforvastsumsthathaveno reIationwiththeirintrinsic
vaIue.
ThecitymightbeseenasaneûectiveresistancetoeverydayIife
andas!¡svirtuaIcon_ eror,wecouIdsaythatitisnerareaÞ
¸k�-beIievc!_b above daiIy comµuIsions nor a system of
signs for contemµIationand consumµtion, but' something eIse',
successfuIIy overcoming a discarded, decayed, functionaIized,
structuraIizedand' sµeciaIized' everydayIife.CouIdthecitystand
foraµotentiaIreferentiaI÷ notthe morµhoIogicaItownmaµµed
out onthe ground and embodiedin symboIsand signs, but city
Iifeandsociety°ThenotionisnotunreasonabIe,butitinvoIvesa
risk,forwhat dourbanismandthecitystiµuIate,what aretheir
µracticaI basis and theoreticaI foundations ° As yet we do not ÷
andwe are notsuµµosedto÷ know. Forthetimebeingwe had
better avoid µrocIaiming a new entity, a new Platonic Idea, an
Lingistic Phenomena 125
essenceandµroceedwithcautionsoIongasthetendency ÷towards
an urban society ÷ has not been eIucidated and theoreticaIIy
eIaborated.
A cry o[Iocel¡nes�s fnn¸t|�¸çp¸�þ� andthe caveswhere,
at the heart of everyday Iife, the most Iimted �� ciizcd
q
��]
i
�����¹9
d
�������
co
{
unicatipnandinformation.Emcientcommunicationisnow
a µossibIeimµossibiIity, an obsession and a torment , µossibIe
everymnuteofthedayyetimµossibIebecauseoneofitsconditions
isIacking,canµeoµIe(grouµsandindividuaIs)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,faciaIexµr�s-
sions),onceunanimousIyacceµted,havebeendiscardedasreferen-
tiaIs, what wiII take their µIace, for they must bereµIaced° Þot
onIyforindividuaIs(Iarge orsmaIIgrouµs)whentheyareineach
other'sµresencebutforsocietyasabody.TheIofiestinteIIect(do
notimagine,dearreader,thatwearesµeakingwithironicintent,
forwe areindeedreferringtothemostµenetratingmind,caµabIe
of unremitting inquiry into sociaI and inteIIectuaI matters in
generaI)assertsthatifIinguisticreferentiaIshavedisaµµeareditis
because1aquageJsnow nownreRrentia¹he IofiestinteIIect
ignores�ovµretcmsto¡gnore,a)¡hat¡::T �yitwithdrawsinto
itseIf, sets outtouseandabuseitsownIanguage,b)thatitµaves
thewayfor(orfoIIowstheroadof)µoµuIarconscience, orevery-
day Iife.
SuchatendencyisobviousinIiteraturefromasearIyasthemid
nineteenth century (faiIure of the RevoIution, consoIidation of
caµitaIism, sµreadoftradeandindustryand ofmonetaryµower,
etc.) andcanbedividedintothreeµeriods .
a) the alchemy ofspeech: theµoet'swordsandsentences, freed
fromimµediments sumcingtotransformeverydayIife,transgress
andtransûgure reaIity(fromBaudeIaireto1oyce) ,
b) language as second realty: µoetry being a second nature
suµerimµosed on the µerceµtibIe, 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 _; oµq���
.. . .
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 QtOgICSS.
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,whiIemetaIanguapreigns,detached
and' cooI '.
The theory eIaborated here and eIsewhere maintains that ex-
amination ÷ with a strong Iens and under a µowerfuI Iight~ of
IanguageandsµeechinsociaIIife, cuIture andsciencediscIosesa
strange ambiguity.itismetaIanguagethatis aIways inevidence.
Theconceµtofthemessage (formaIIyexactintheabstracttheory
ofcommunication)mustbesubmittedtoamorethoroughanaIy-
sis. There existµseudo-messages|ust asthere are µseudo-events,
µseudo-news and µseudo-noveIty, and µseudo-µroduction and
sµuriouscreationstoo÷foronIyrationaIistfanaticismcanuµhoId
thetheorythatworks(ofµhiIosoµhy, S, Iiterature),Iikemathe-
maticsandcaµitaI,conformto theIawofaccumuIationthatisre-
strainedonIybynegIigbIefactors.AccumuIationsofmessagesare
iIIusory messages , they deciµher former messages, they are taIk
abouttaIk,µroceedbyrecurrenceand areacceµtibIeas exegesis,
as historicaI ' redections ', but not in so far as they deny their
referenceandreIegateittothe shadows, andin sofar astheyre-
questarefutationoftheirownhistoricity.AmoreorIessinnocent
examµIeofth¡styµeofmessageisthatfairIyµoµuIarcontrivance,
thebookmade entireIyofunacknowIedged quotations.
ThismayserveasintroductiontoaradicaIanaIysisofmodn-
ity, ananaIysis,needIess to say, thatshatters favourabIe µrecon-
ceµtions, biasedenthusiasmsandthe aµoIogist's rosy µortrayaIs.
There is no haµµy medium between the seIf-satisñed seIf-con-
gratuIations that every reader û:ids in the µaµers every day of
everyweeI,andthisradicaI anaIysis. OurcriticaI attitude tothe
secondhaIfofthetwentiethcenturyis simiIartothatwhichMarx
adoµted in his theory ofthe µredominant ideoIogy ofthe m¡d
nineteenthcentury, theindividuaIandindividuaIism. IfIinguistic
µreoccuµations dominate the scene today it is because we have
µassedunawaresfromIanguage to metaIanguage. Here comµIa-
centconsciencewhisµers .'AIIthebetter,thingsareastheyshouId
be,ourµrobIemsarebothµracticaIandeternaI. ' TowhichradicaI
criticismreµIies . ' YourcastIeisbuiItonair,youbeIieveyoucan
steµ, withtheheIµ ofIanguage, out ofiIIusion into a truth that
youimagineisaIIaroundandreadyatanyminutetoemerge ,but
LinguisticPhenomena 1 31
you are wrong! We are now reaµing the fruits ofaII the faiIed
revoIutions of the Iast hundred years or so in Euroµe, ofthe
frustratedcreativeµossibiIitiesinherentin industriaI µroduction,
andofthesettinguµofidoIsthatonIyconsumeanddevour.These
µreoccuµations of which you boast redect no great cuIturaI
weaIth but are symµtoms, rather, of a canker gnawing at the
very roots of civil¡zation. . . . ' Here we Iist a few of these
symµtoms .
a) Works ofart. Howmanyofthese÷ aµµarentIyconforming,
inthesamewayasmemoryandIearning,totheIawofaccumuIa-
tion÷ donotowe their ' message' tometaIanguage °Thegreater
µart , andamongthosethatdonot aIargeµroµortionreñect, be
it onIy onthe sunace, identicaI tendencies. We are not alIuding
heretominorworks,coµiesorimitationsofgreatmasters,butto
the outµutofthesemastersthemseIves÷ induentiaIworks,highIy
originaI, exµressive and signiûcant (ofnoveIty andmodenity).
WedonothavefartoIookforanexamµIe.PicassowiIIdo,and
wearenotafraidofaddressinghiminµerson,aµostroµhizinghim
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,buthowdoyouinterµretthis
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
acceµted, assimiIated, integrated° Does it bear witness to the
RevoIutionorrathertoitsfaiIure °Whoare you, PabIoPicasso °
Whereareyou°Aretheyyours,aIIthoseghoststhatµeerthrough
yourcanvasses,VeIazquez,the SµanishSchooI,ÞegroA, Greek
Civil¡zation,the Mediterranean,theMinotaurandmucheIse be-
sides °Is onIythe OceanIacking°Youarethe museum ofmake-
beIieve. . . . YouareaworId'sconcIusion,thesumofanoµeraiion.
ThewhoIeµastIiestherereducedtoitseIements, dismantIed,dis-
membered, bya suµerb andsµurioustrick.Thehighest µoint 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 ÛgUtCS ÎH ûH CûtÍÎCt WOtK. ´ ÛU¡ ¡HC CûtÎHg OÍ¡HCItCOS¡UHCS WûS
COUH¡CtDûÍûHCCC Dy ¡HC tCSQCC¡ûDÎÍΡy OÍ¡HCÎt ÍûCCS] . . . ²HÎS ûSSCHDÌûgC OÍ
HûÌÍ-HûKCC WOHCHHûCC m ¡HK OÍ¡HC ÎHSÎCC OÍû HûtCH¦ ÎHCCCC ûH CVCH
COûtSCt COHQûtÎSOH CûHC ÎH¡O HÎS HIHC. ÏVCty ¡yQC OÍ DCûU¡y WûS, ÎH ÍûC¡,
µtCSCH¡ . . . ' Sentimental Education, ÎOHCOH, 1VJÚ, QQ. 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 ICÍCIIIHg ¡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 _
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
ywere 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 y
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
soloftythattheyareout ofreach,youwanttoenableµeoµleto
liveµassionate,intenselivesfullofhaµµinessanddelight.Were-
¡ectthe "human¨to assistman,you asµireto aworld ofsuµer-
humanityandµoetrywiththehumanasstartingµoint,butwithout
the conceµt ofthe Suµerman. Such an attitude is not only un-
reasonable,itiswicked!Weconsideritacriminalundertakingto
kindedesireandtoµrovokeunrest,toreinstatethevaluesofthe
µast,oftheageofdearth- work,unity, "man¨.Oursocietymay
not have reached its ñnal balance, but wouldn`t it be better to
assistitratherthantoexµoseitsshortcomingsandaggravate dis-
content 'It¡ogs alongasbestitcanwithoutknowingwhereitis
going,maybe, butthisform ofµrogress has, nonethe less, bya
stroke ofluck,givenquife substantialresults ,ithastaughtusto
recognizethelimits ofthehuman condition. Letusacceµtthem.
Letuslearnfromµmlosoµhythatemµiricalmanandreal society
are ñnite, not the µhilosoµher`s mistrust of reality, not µhilo-
soµhicaldiscouragement. Oh yes, we knowthatwe can rely on
you, sociologistsandotherreµresentatives ofthe social sciences,
to draw conclusionsfrom history that make history redundant !
Weabhorthecomµlainers !Theyarenothingbutdeserters. They
want µrogress, µerhaµs, but like those soldierswho cannot turn
back becausethey know thatintherearthere are other, faithful
soldierswhowillshootthem,so theyadvanceblindly,unwillingly.
Youare deserterstounreality, andallwewantistoµutyouout
ofaction. . . `
This terrorist addresshas been attributed to our ob¡ector be-
causeitcorresµondssoexactlyto argumentswehaveheardand
readtimeandtimeagain- thoughthisisanabridgedversion. . .
Aswesaidearlier, ñndingfaultisnotenough. Wemustestab-
lishtheconditionsfromwhichterrorismarises, discoverhowand
why a terrorist society exµlodes and esµecially we must ñnd the
opening, thewayofescaµe,allofwhichmustbedoneintheclearest
µossibleterms.
Thereexistamong our society`s conñictingattitudes (analysed
or analysable) some that aµµear to herald a solution, indeed,
certaincontradictionsintheexistingcircumstancesseemdistinctly
favourable to suchhoµes. On one hand, we see ' history`,which
Terrorism and Everyday Life 151
continues willy-niIly notwithstanding its denial and re¡ection by
some ideologists, drawing all highly industrialized societies to-
wardsanurbansocietywhere millions ofmen andwomenmust
liveandcongregate, suchisthe ' socializationofsociety` 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
µlanetaryµersµectivewheretheindividualseemstodisaµµear,and
theytakeµlaceineverydaylife.Hobodynowadayswoulddenya
boyorgirloftwentyortwenty-ñvetherighttoleadanindeµendent
life,leavethefamily,have- andifµossiblechoose- acareer,take
lodgingsanddisµoseofhimselforherselffreely,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 di6culty, and they tend to take the form of
claims, andto beformulatedinethicalandlegalt�rms ,theyare
aµµroµriated by the state for strategic µurµoses, but simul-
taneously recognizedandratiñedtoacertainextentbyit- asfor
instanceinthecase ofthehousing problem (anearlyandveryin-
comµlete manifestation, the mst stirrings, one might say, of a
freedomthatwillsoonhavetobereformulatedasthefreedom of
the City).
Suchasµirationsthatbecome demandingdonotarrestthe de-
veloµmentofterrorism,housingrights~ whichcouldturnbuild-
ingintoaµublicservice~ arefarfrombeingrecognIzedasrights ,
thestate,byinterveninginthisµroblem,hasmodiñedtheµractice
but not the theory, it has µroduced new towns, whose main
characteristics are immediately obvious : they are µublic dormi-
toriesfortherecuµeration-inmoresensesthanone- oflabourers
andworkerse¡ectedfromthecitycentre,andatthesametime(the
µresent)the shortage oflodgings is µart ofterrorismas it hangs,
threatening,overtheyoung(andnotonlytheyoung) ,thehousing
µroblemstillexactsitssacriñceofthebestyearsoftheirlivesfrom
social grouµ whose members are mainlyrecruited 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.Toacertainextentthecitybeganaswritin on
theground, writingµrescn ed and signiñedthecity`s µower, its
aministrative caµacity, its µolitical and military sway, writing
imµosedthelawofthecityonvillageandcountryside.Laterwhen
theneedwasfeltforarehabilitationofsµeech,whentherearosea
demandforwarmthandlivelinessinthewrittentext,writingwas
stillanessentialfactorintheatricalandµoetichistory.
Besidesconstitutingthebasis ofcultureand,toacertainµoint,
ofsociety itself, writingwas also an intellectual and social tool,
coldandstatic,thoughto agreaterorlesserdegreeaccordingto
theµeriod,attimesitreducedsocialcommunitiestoµassivity, at
othersitservedas abasisonwhichactivelyto elaborate asocial
structure, acity, akingdom,anemµire. Butthoughcivilizations
may be uµheld by and for the written word it simultaneously
createsinertiathroughitsverylastingness ,ittendstooutliveitself
andthatwhichisaconditionofhistorytendsatthe sametimeto
freezeit.
WhenMosesdescendedfromMountSinaiandsetuµbeforethe
Children ofIsrael theTables ofthe Lawwrittenbythe ñnger of
God,hecreatedtheeternalFather,centurieswerefoundedonhis
gesture and on its verbal commentary, the holy narrative that
|ustiñedit. Hewasthe founderandhismystiñcationbecamethe
truth. Thesetables ofµrinciµles owedtheirlongevitytothe holi-
nessoftheirinscriµtion,andthefaithfulwouldneverdoubtthat
they would last until the end oftime. Moses was certainly 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-eminently functional.
Hard and cold, stone was the µerfect symbol ofthe Writing`s
timelessness,ofitsµermanenceand(aµµarent)deñnitiveness,and
thus ofitstrans-historicity. TheWritingisanti-word, onceGod
hadwrittenµriortotimeandforalltime,hewas silent, andhis
reµresentativeswouldbereducedtointerµretingandcommenting
on the Tables of the Law, while others would question their
validity,thusgivingrisetotheconßictbetweensµeechandwriting,
betweenthe SµiritandtheLetter.
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 55
Thereisnosocietywithoutwritinguthiswordistakeninits
widestsense~ nosocietywithoutsigns,landmarks,tracks, direc-
tions,yetonecansaythatagiantstridewastaken,andtherefore
a comµlete sµlit and deµarture fromthe µast occurred,whenthe
writtenwordwasinvented,whentablesoflaws,graµhismsandin-
scriµtionsñxedactionsandevents,battles,victoriesandsovereign
decisions forever more in the store ofhuman memory. History
andsociologywillsettledates :the city,writtenonmaµµedsµace
andgraduatedtime,transitionsfromlawsofcustomtostiµulated
laws(thatis, fromhabit to conventional codes), the µoµulariza-
tion ofwriting by µrinting, the cumulative function that written
matterassumesinthemodernworld,emµhasizedbythereµroduc-
tionofµictures(theinñnitelibrary,theabsolutebook,andñnally
writingaµµroµriatingallthatis said,known,felt).

Ahistoryofwriting (by andfor society) wouldshowthatthe
writtenwordisanecessaryconditionforahinstitutions, thatthere
is noinstitution without writing. The written word as µrimal in�
stitutionalization enters social exµerience, ñxing creation and
activitybyorganizingthem.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 analysedabove,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 by inscriµtion. Thus metalanguage µrevails
over sµeech, that is why scholasticism, byzantinism, talmudism
andrhetoricµlaysuchanimµortantµartinsocietiesbasedonthe
Scriµtures.The second message grañedonto the ñrst that is or
µurµorts to be the inscriµtion of the original Word could be
critical, andthusateveryminuteadangerousanddisturbingchoice
ismadeµossible,achoicefhatisinherenttoreßectionandthere-
foretothehistory ofthought,derived,the secondmessagemight
deviate. Couldthose who were inµossessionofthe written word
156 EverydayLifein the Moden VorId
andhadacquiredtheirauthorityfromit, refrainfromtakingthe
necessarymeasures to µrevent suchdeviations °A societythatis
founded on writingandwritten matter tendstowards terrorism,
\fortheideoIogythatinterµretswrittentraditionssuµµIementsµer-
suasion withintimidation. However, the written word cannever
comµIeteIy suµµIant reaI tradition, the word µassing unmediated
frommouthtoear,sothatthecontroversywiIIneverendbetween
the Letter andthe Sµirit, with aII it invoIves in the way ofmis-
interµretations,heresiesanddistortions.A societybasedonScriµ-
tures (that is to say, a society whose conditions ofsurvivaI are
¡ustiñedanduµheIdbymanifestationsconnectedwiththewritten
word) is based onµrescriµtion, it ordains the detaiIs ofµracticaI
exµerience, rituaIizes costumes, eating habits and sexuaIity (by
commandments and interdictions) , it aIso tends to enforce its
stiµuIations by threats and sanctions, for it is not content with
µrocIaiminggeneraIinterdictionsandIeavingtheresttoitsmem-
bers' initiative. The enforcement ofsurvivaI-conditionsnormaIIy
grows stricter as time goes by, but there is no question yet of
organizingeverydayIife(thoughthetendencymaybeµerceµtibIe),
becausethe criticaI Word, interµretaìion, andthe formuIation of
further µrobIems cannot be heId in check by scriµture or µre-
scriµtion(incIudingwhatisexµressedby ob¡ects :1hestructureof
houses and towns, monuments, the meanderings ofa roadfrom
thegates ofatowntoitscentre,etc.whichoccuµynotonIysµace
butaIsotime) ,furthermorethewrittenwordµreservesthenature
ofwhatisaccomµIishedandmustbe¡ustiüedbeforetheassembIed
µoµuIation, reIigions based on writing uµhoId µoIiticaI µower,
consecrateitandsuµµIyitwithideoIogies ,butsuchreIigionscan
free neitherµower northemseIvesfromcoIIective controI, which
remains, evenfortheoIogians ofµower, the source ofsuµremacy
(withtheattachedterritory). It is th¡s coIIective controI thatµre-
vents µriests, warriors and ruIers from induIging their whims ,
eventhemosttyrannicaIandmostcrueIamongthemhaveto¡ustify
theiractionsbyµubIicworks, monuments orfestivaIs, and it is
onIy when the threat vanishes with the community, when the
l FestivaI is a thng ofthe µast and monuments and the city (as
´
form) aredecaying,whenthemeaningofsuchthingsisIost, that
Terrorism andEverydayLife 157
everydayIifebegins.Itswritten suµµortisbureaucracyandbureau-
cratic methods oforganization.
Therecurrentnature ofwritingmustnotbeoveHooked.With
writtenmatterthere isaIwaystheµossibiIityofgoingback,your
eyes,favouredbythenatureofwhattheyµerceive,hoIdthisµage
inasimuItaneousvision,youIeafthroughabookandyouretur
totheñrstµageifyouwantto,andyoucan,afterreadingitonce,
readitagaina second orevenathirdtime. There is achangein
theshaµeoftimethatbecomestheconventionaItimeofwhatyou
are reading sothat you are no Ionger carried on its tide but in
controI,evenuthistimetendstoshriveIuµandgrowcoIdunder
your eyes ~ or rather in your eyes. Here IittIe-known corres-
µondencesobtrudebetweenintelect andsociety (bothaunityand
adistinctionbetweentheseterms).The oµerationofmemorizing
andthatofmessage-receivingareµro¡ectedontheµage,aforward
µrogressiondoesnot excIude aninverseµrogressionstartingfrom
theµresentmoment, a recurrent re-reading. A book creates the
iIIusionofsusµendingtheµrocessofageing, ofsub¡cctingtimeto
knowIedge so thatitbecomes comµIeteIy Iinear and cumuIative,
andasaresuIttemµoraIityaµµearstobereducedtosimuItaneity,
growth and decay to instantaneousness. This is and is not an
iIIusion, uwe make itthe grounds for denyinghistory, theµast
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 µredictabIe and µredetermined, a
µIeasurabIe sensation ofµIenitude ensues , extraµoIation creates
iIIusion and µhiIosoµhicaI error by seeing writing and written
matter as modeIs ofsociety andtheworIdandby'ideoIogicaIIy'
transformingthereader's circumstances andhis deIight into ab-
soIutes. The absoIute bookisreIentIessIyµerused,' itiswritten',
itssuµreme authorandreader is the Lordwho created destiny,
and there is thus nothingthat is not µredetermined. 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
suµremerecurrence .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.ThconIypcrspc�t¡ ¸opoµo¯thc (inncr) �
¿azc arc thc avcn
_
s vc, thc onIy possibiIity of �
�� (iIIusivcIy) adaptin¿ to circumstanccs appcars to bctmou¿hthc
¸racticc �can�crot�c�

m,thatis,t�ou¿hconsumin¿
.
thc
symboIsofvioIcnccandcrotcsmmadc avaiIabIc tothc pubItc.
.
Eachburcaucracymaps outits owntcrritory,stakcsit outand
si¿nposts it, thcrcis thc trcasury`s tcrritory, thc tcrrítory ofthc
admínistration and thc juridícaI tcrritory. It wouId bc possibIc
to makc a scmioIogcaI study ofcach tcrritory as a sub-systcm
dcpcndín¿ on a corpus ofruIcs, dccrccs and statutcs, but sucha
studywouIdprcscntonIyaminorintcrcst,forthctotaIíty(orbody)
ofsuch tcrritorícs is thc rationaIIy rcstrictcdtcrrítory ofburcau-
cracy, a tcrrítory that shows pathoIo¿ícaI (schízoid) symptoms,
notsomuchitsownasrcßcctionsofa sociaIpathoIo¿y,thcbnaI
mcr¿in¿ of rationaIity and absurdity. Iurthcrmorc, thcsc tcrri-
torícs do not conncct Iíkc thc picccs ofaji¿saw puzzIc andthcrc
arc¿apsbctwccnthcm,thcscfra¿cntsofanidcaIuníbcdburcau-
cracy do not Iívc to¿cthcrinharmony, yct thcyforman aIIiancc
a¿ainst timc, thc arch-cncmy, timc that crodcs rc¿uIations and
assists thc strata¿cms of carcfuIIy IabcIIcd ' objccts` stackcd in
thc burcaucratic tcrritory wh¡ch rcfusc to stay put. Burcaucracy
prcscribcs schcduIcs and proscríbcs that whích cIudcs its prc-
scríptions.
ThcrcIationsbctwccn thc most ancicnt ofinstitutions (institu-
tionaIizcd rcIí¿ion) and thc most modcrn, statc-conccmcd and
poIíticaI, arc rivaIry and compctition, thc poIíticaI burcaucracics
dístiI thcir particuIar brand of pmIosophy and hnd thcmscIvcs
inthcpositíonofhavin¿toopposcthccccIcsiasticaIburcaucracics`
justibcatory phíIosophy and ontoIo¿y, at thc samc timc thcsc
vcncrabIcandnotsovcncrabIcinstitutionscompIcmcntcachothcr
asthcircñorts convcr¿c. Thc hrst rcprcss dcsirc, thc sccondtakc
carc of nccds , thc hrst cstabIísh ordcr in thc unconscious, thc
othcrs inconsciousncss ,thcmorc ancicntinstitutionshavcrcbncd
thcir dispIays and practiccs in accordancc with thc ' dcpth` thcy
admnistcrwhíIc maintain¡n¿abcbttin¿ dctachmcntfromworIdy
mattcrs,whcrcasthcothcrsaimatwhatis onthcsurfacc,physicaI
activitics- consumption,cvcrydayIifc,thc 'spirituaI `institutions
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 61
dircct thc privatc Iifc ofcach indíviduaI, thcir poIicy bcin¿ to
tcrrorízc scxuaIity, whíIc thcruIc ofmodcrn institutions sprcads
tcrrorincvcrydayIifc.]hcrcsuItofthísconvcr¿cnccismoraIdís-
<
� f -
cigIinc, thc insi¿nia oftcrroríst socictics , for cvcr crackin¿ and�
ñIin¿inthccracks,thísisthcfaçadccxh¡bitcdforthcba¯-> �
w�]j¿ovcrncd cvcryd�ifc, and in a wcII-dchncd and wcII-

guaIiocicty spirítuaI and civíc discipIínc coincidc wíth this
!noraIdíscipIinc,wmchisthcsuprcmcsi¿nibcrofthcvastaccumu-
Iation ofscrípturaI si¿nibcd.
Thou¿hwcbcIícvcthatasocictyshouIdnot opposc frccdomof
spccch, thís docs not incIudc cvcry kínd ofspccch nor cvcry kínd
offrccdom. Irccdom ofspccch is not ofcguaI importancc wíth
thcfrccdomofwork,cducation,hcaIth, housin¿ andthccity, and
a dccIaration of thc matcríaI ri¿hts of matcríaI man wouId bc
ncithcr morc nor Icss cñcctivc than thcformcr dccIaration. Ircc-
domofspccchmi¿htpossibIybcpIaccdonaparwiththcfrccdom
ofthccityasaskyIíncofcivíIization,m

�thanasa_�¿
institutionaIrcco¿nítion,morcovcr

tiycríticaIand poctic�
canbc considcrcdinthíscontcxt, an thcsc forms of spccch owc
thciracknowIcd¿cmcnttothcir ownpowcr,tcrrorismwíIIaIways
trytosiIcnccsuchvoiccsanditisthcrcforcuptothcmtobndcar�
thatwíIIhcar,cracksinthcwaIIsofdíscipIincthrou¿hwhichthcy

caninhItratc. Iurthcrmorc, thcrc canbc no gucstion ofa spcciaI
provínccforpoctry, aprovíncc ofpocts orphíIosophcrs, ofintcr-
pcrsonaI rcIations , to acccpt such a status for spccchandbcIícvc
thatitisaproofofacknowIcd¿cmcntisas¿oodascondcmnín¿it
to a¿hctto,thc ¿hctto ofthcin|cIIi¿cntsiaacccptcd andjustibcd
inthc namc ofthc Word, onc morc ¿hctto to addto thc othcrs l
Indccd,itisbcttcrtobcpcrsccutcdthantobcaIIowcdthcfrccdom •
ofimpotcncc. Thc scicncc ofthc Word can onIy bc cIaboratcd _
thcorcticaIIyinoppositiontothcscicnccofwritin¿,andnottothat
ofIan¿ua¿c.
Wc arc far fromhavin¿ brou¿htthc socioIo¿y ofwritin¿ to a
succcssfuIissuc, orfromhavín¿ cxhaustcdthccríticaI anaIysis of
itsimpIícations.Thcwríttcnword,orhxcdsi¿n,posscsscsastatus
andpropcrtics of its own, andthis appIics to musicaswcII 8 to
Ian¿ua¿c. Thc isotopc discovcrcd by Iin¿uists (Grcimas) is not a
162 Ivcryday Lìfc ìn thc ÞodcrnYorId
Iínguístíctcrrítory onIy,butasocíaItcrrítory (ortcrritorics) too,
thc ísotopc ofwríttcn mattcr ís thc outcomc ofthc ìsotopc of
words, ofgroups ofwords, scntcnccs, mcaníng and systcm, th¡s
hcIpstocIucídatcitsoddmodcofcxìstcncc- oddbccauscwcarc
confrontcd wíth thc cxístcncc, both íntcIIcctuaI and socíaI, of a
form posscssíng formaI propcrtícs (rccurrcncc, amongst othcrs).
Asthc conccpt ofisotope ìmpIìcsthat ofheterotope ìt ìnvoIvcs a
formaI (structuraI) cIassíhcatíon of íntcIIcctuaI and socíaI tcrrí-
torícs into ísotopcs and hctcrotopcs, rcIatcd and ìntcrmíngIcd,
butaIso cxcIusìvc anddissociatcd. Such a cIassìhcatìon cantakc
wríttcnmattcrasítsrcfcrcntíaI(whíchsctsitscIfupprccíscIyasan
intcIIcctuaIandsocíaIcontcxtandasasubstitutcforrcfcrcntiaIs) ,
andthisísnotwìthout sígníbcanccforthcanaIytícaI study ofthc
urban tcrritory (or urban tcrrítorícs). Morcovcr thc formaI and
structuraI thcory wc arc cIaboratíngwouIdprcscnt onIyaIímitcd
íntcrcst íf ít díd not cnabIc us to dctcct thc m_cmcnt Iþat
ncratcs andconncc

¡�� to¡cs , ínothcrwords, wc ha

c
rc�cÞ thgc·hcrc our thcory can íncIudc a formaI cIasst-
bcatíon ofthc structuraI rcIations ín a hísj� gd��g I
movcmcnt. So ¡imc «|+« ¡·iµ, rIhcsc tcrrítorícs do not
±�.¬(,donotconstítutc apcrfcct, cohcrcntwhoIcthatcanbc
frozcn at any gívcn momcnt ,thc scparatc parts ofthcsc íntcIIcc-
tuaIandsocíaItcrrítoricsdonotcxhaustthcírrcIatíonshípìnthcír
formaI juxtaposítíon and structuraI oppositíon, and that whích
Iínks thcm togcthcr is g�cct` nor¸_ µcc (such
phiIosophícaI hypothcscs arc no Iongcr opcrant), but an actìon:
Spccch, Spccch hoIds togcthcr thc d¡sconncctcd fragmcnts
.
of
wrìtíng,andaIsoofthcsociaItcrrítory.Co)Idthctímcofcrcatton
andhistorybcthctimcofspccch, ofhístorícaIagcnts spcakíngat
agí�cn momcnt í� gìvcn circumstanccs ?

Wc havc notyct ncarIy achicvcdthccompIctc scgucncc .
8C!IVI!y
CIC8!IOHS¸ . .
OIg8HZ8!)OH
]IOCUC!S
¸8C!IVC I8!IOH8ÌI!y
IHS!I!U!IOH
S!8!IC I8!IOH8ÌI!y
Jcrrorìsm andIvcryday Lìfc 163
rationaIity bccomíng statíc ín burcaucracy aftcr thc pattcrn of
Scrípturc andgivíngríscto atcrroríst socicty.
Ictusnowtakca Iook at RoIandBarthcs` bookLe Systeme de
fa mode. " Is thís an art booktryíng to bc schoIarIy, or scícntíbc
schoIarshíp 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,hísproccdurc startsbyreducing thcsub-
jcct and cIiminatíng part if not aII thc contcnt. Throughout 300
pagcs onfashíonnomcntíonismadc ofthc fact thatìtíswomcn
who wcar ' fashíonabIc` cIothcs, andífwc arcmadcawarcofthís
fact itis by instítutíonaI cxampIcs - fashion photographs, covcr-
gírIs. Body andbodicsarc withdrawnIikcthcwordínascmantíc
rcduction whíIc thc anaIysís ccntrcs on taIk about fashíon, thc
writtcngarb orwritingaboutcIothcs,ínothcrwordsthcIasmon
Magazínc,thcmaínsccÍìonbcingbascdontwoycarsinthcIifcof
apcrìodicaI.ThcauthorwrítcsamastcrIycssayonfashíoncssays,
scttIcs into mctaIanguagc wíthpcrfcct Iucídíty| andwrítcs arhc-
torícaItrcatisc ,hc knows whathcisdoíngandmakcs no sccrct of
ít, though wíthout cntírcIy rcvcaIíng a mínd that ís too sharp for
comforI.ThushcIcavcstoanothcrscícncc(socíoIogy,pcrhaps,or
cconomyorhístory)thctaskofdcaIíngwith 'rcaIíty`-thccontcnt,
things(matcriaIs out ofwhíchcIothcs arc madc, tcchnígucs, cco-
nom¡c conditIons, ctc.) and pcopIc (who and whcrc fashíonabIc
womcn arc). With thc hcIp ofIanguagc hc constructs an cntìty,
akind ofcxtratcmporaIpcrmancnt csscncc, purcformdcbtIcdby
ìts puríty: Iashion. IaradoxìcaIIy cnough ìt prcsìdcs ovcr thc
transítoryand íts formaI purity is cxprcsscdín thc acccIcratíonof
transitíon.Whatís Iashíon?Aformofutopia.Ùwcímagíncthat
fashíonabIc womcn onIy cxìst ín picturcs and that thc dcmi-god-
dcsscs pursuc Iashion wíthout cvcr ' bcíng` part ofit and onIy
IabourundcrthcdcIusíonthatthcy' makc`ít,IashíonwouIdstíII
bcwhatít ís.Ifwc ímagnc thc ' fashíonabIcwoman` assìmpIya

+
ÛOÌ8HCÛ8I¡HCS, Le Systeme de Íu mode, Ï8IIS, 1 VÚÚ.
] LÎ. ]. Jö f. , ]. 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, O]. 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
cguaIIyva¿uc. Thc whoIc ofsocíctyísassí¿ncdandconsí¿ncdby
a fcw systcms (or sub-systcms)thatrívaI and compIctcthc arch-
systcm, mctaIan¿ua¿c.
Thc prcvaIcncc ofwríttcn mattcr favours thc constítutíon and
thc ínstítutíon ofsuch cntítícs by íts pccuIíar orícntatíon and íts
aptítudc for accumuIatíon. Thcy cxíst both íntcIIcctuaIIy and
socíaIIy, thcy arc hctítíous and rcaI , and thcy dctcrmínc socíaI
' pIaccs `,thcyarcnodaIpoíntsínsocíaItcrrítorícs,thccIcmcntsof
atopoIo¿y (ortopícs) ofModcrníty.
Iashíon`s maín charactcrístíc ís íts unconccrn for adaptation;
íts objcctívc ís ncíthcr thc human body nor socíaI actívíty, but
chan¿c andthc obsoIcsccncc ofthin¿s. Ifthcrc ísany adaptatíon
ataIIít ispurcIy accídcntaI andconbncd to that no-man`s-Iand
bctwccn thc ' rcady-madc` and ' couturc` : thc ' rcady-to-wcar` .
Thus practícaI ratíonaIítytakcs advanta¿c of¿aps, íntcrvaIs and
cracks or, oncmí¿htsay, ofcontradíctíon,tosIípínunobscrvcd -
but notwíthout dímcuIty. Wc havcnoíntcntíon of¿ívín¿hcrca
dctaíIcdhístoryofcIothín¿outsídcthcsystcmoffashíon(matcríaIs,
tradcandíts¿rowth,thcarrívaIonthcsccncofthcrcady-to-wcar,
ítsadvanta¿csanddísadvanta¿cs), yctítconstítutcsanímportant
chaptcr, noncthc Icss, ínthccrítícaIstudyofcvcryday Iífc.
RoIand Barthcs` ínguíryíntofashíonandIítcraturc ís a major
contríbutíon tothcsocíoIo¿y ofwríttcn mattcr, andhc cvídcntIy
hadthís socíoIo¿y ín mínd. Thc conccpt, thou¿h stcmmín¿ from
Iítcraturc, cIucídatcs ccrtaín socíoIo¿ícaI probIcms, namcIy thc
pIacc of thc socíaI and of thc íntcIIcctuaI. Barthcs dísmísscs
socíoIo¿y on bchaIf of scmíoIo¿y, but dcbncs ít nonc thc Icss
(possíbIy unawarcs) bcforc díscardín¿ítfor othcrstoínvcstí¿atc,
forthisarcvcrsaI(ínvcrsíon)ofhísproccdurc ísrcguírcd andthc
rc-cIaboratíon ofthcsystcm(sub-systcm)thathc buíItup scmío-
Io¿ícaIIy, justífyín¿ thc ínstítutíonaIízatíon of an ' csscncc` or
cntíty.
Thíscsscncc,fasmon, ísínnowayuníguc, andncíthcrísIítcra-
turc íts onIy rívaI. Amon¿thc othcr csscnccs arc poIítícs, ccono-
mics,phíIosophy, pcrhaps rcIí¿íonand scícncc (or scícntíbcncss),
butwccannoIbctoo cautíous,mcthodoIo¿ícaIIyandconccptuaIIy
(thcorctícaIIy) ín ourdía¿nosís. ThctíckIísh opcratíon ofmakín¿
Jcrrorísm andIvcryday Lílc 1 67
anídcoIo¿y out ofan íncompIctc actívíty or an ' csscncc` froma
spccíaIízcddíscípIíncbcarsthcnamcofextrapolation; forccnturícs
rcIí¿íontrícdtosctítscIfup asasystcmandancsscncc(thcoIo¿y,
thcocracy) and faíIcd, as asystcmítcxpIodcdandthcfra¿mcnts
of varíous rcIí¿íons arc scattcrcd throu¿h hístory Iíkc a traíI.
' RcIí¿íosíty` mí¿ht bccomc an csscncc , índccd, thcrc arc thosc
who wouIdassístít. Andwhynot ?Aftcr ah,ítwouIdbc oncway
of accommodatín¿ rcIí¿íon aIon¿sídc fashíon ín socíaI topoIo¿y
ortopícs. IoIítícscannotbcrí¿htIy(ratíonaIIy)dcbncdothcrthan
as a practícc usín¿ ídcoIo¿ícaI ínstrumcnts to attaín stratc¿ícaI
cndsína cIassstratc¿y,whíchdocs not constítutc an csscncc, not-
wíthstandín¿ thc powcrfuI ínstítutíonaIízatíons ínvoIvcd ín thís
actívíty (statc, poIítícaI 'constítutíons` , ctc.). IíkcrcIí¿íon, ¡hiIo-
sophyaspírcdtothc status ofa¿cncraIsystcmandassuchít cx-
pIodcd, íts fra¿mcnts - aIso scattcrcd throu¿hout history can
stíII bc saIva¿cd soIon¿asthcyarc not takcn forcsscnccsandarc
opposcd topraxis.
AssocíaIandíntcIIcctuaIforms,csscnccshavc arcmarkabIc aír
of cxtratcmporaIíty ínhcrcnt ín thcír sí¿níbcancc and attríbutcd
tothcm,thcfaíthfuI -thcoIo¿íans,phíIosophcrs,moraIísts- aü!ay
cIaím to ctcrníty. Iashíon, ín thc modcrn scnsc, was born wíth
fashíon ma¿azíncs and íts rcí¿n datcs from mctaIan¿ua¿c. BuíIt
on chan¿c ítchan¿cs ccascIcssIy and thosc who Iaunchafashíon
today arc aIrcady prcparín¿ tomorrow`s fashíon (coIIcctíons,
shows) ,thcdcmí-¿oddcsscsdíscardatní¿ht- aIrcadyínthcpast-
thatwhíchthcybou¿htínthcmomín¿,andfashíonthrívcs oníts
own dcstructíon. Yctforthosc who arc outsídcfashíoníthas an
aírofctcrníty,outsídcrscannotundcrstandwhatwaswornycstcr-
day,í¿norín¿asthcydowhatwíIIbcworntomorrow,ycstcrday` s
fashíons arc absurd, tomorrow`s ínconccívabIc but today ís ím-
mortaIízcd, ít ís cxístcncc (or non-cxístcncc). Wrítín¿, mcta-
Ian¿ua¿c, s;ccch at onc rcmovc havc thc samc propcrtícs of
íIIusory ctcrníty, apparcnt anhístorícíty andthc tcrror that ísín-
hcrcnt ín thcsc. Thc ncccssary condítíons for thc cxístcncc of
csscnccscannowbcídcntíbcd(thou¿hnoncíssumcícntbyítscIf)
asanactívíty, an or¿anízatíon andanínstítutíon bascd onmcta-
Ian¿ua¿c and wríttcn mattcr. Irom thís poínt of vícw art and
1 68 Eve;day Life ìn the Modem World
cuIturc can aIso bcíncIudcdamon¿thccsscnccs ofsub-systcms,
forthcyrcguírcthc samc condítíons , bcforcbcín¿conccptsthcy
cxístcdactívcIyínworksofart, but sínccthcn oncmí¿htsupposc
thatartandcuIturccxist' ínthcmscIvcs`,outsídcworksofartand
notínthcm, sucha mísapprchcnsíonísductothc mísusc ofIan-
¿ua¿c, thcusc ofmctaIan¿ua¿candthcíIIusíonsínhcrcntín' onc
rcmovc`.
MctaphysícaI íIIusíons havc oftcn bccn dcnounccd by crítícaI
anaIysís. Thc pmIosophcr starts by cIassífyín¿ 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
¿cncratc 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 ,
andmaIIyor¿anízcd, ínstítutíonaIízcd' CuIturc` íscndowcdwíth
thc powcrto producc cuIturaI works. Iromthc cnd ofthc nínc-
tccnthccntury 'AforArt`s sakc` ímpIicdaconccptíon ofartas
ancntíty,assomctmn¿abovcworksofartand¸thcírcondítíonsof
cxístcncc. 'Art for Art`s sakc` ís art about art, mctaIan¿ua¿c,
spccch at onc rcmovc, thc work ofart aIrcady rctrcatín¿ bcforc
acsthctícs, acsthctícísm substítutcd as mctaIan¿ua¿c to works
ofart,whíIc artbccomcsan cntíty sumcícntuntoítscIf. Hcrcthc
phíIosophícaIíIIusíonísrcproduccdonaIar¿crscaIc,ínanínstítu-
tíonaI cxpcrícncc and undcr condítíons that thrcatcn crcatíon,
whcrc cuIturaI ¿oods arc dístríbutcd for avíd consumptíon but
wcarín¿thc masks ofcntítícs caIIcd ' CuIturc` and'Art`.
ItísmorcovcrguítcpossíbIcthathí¿hIyínûucntíaIcxpcrtsfuIIy
cxpIoítín¿ mctaIín¿uístíc mcthods shouId succccd ín constítutín¿
and ínstítutín¿ as csscnccs thc RcIí¿íous, thc IhíIosophícaI, thc
JurídícaI,thc IoIítícaI,thc Economícandcvcnthc Io¿ícaI orthc
\rbanand\rbanísm.ThusthcywíIIattcmpttosubstítutccsscnccs
fort1c rcaIrcIatíonsofordínarycxpcrícncc,reducing thcIattcrto
formaI dcmtíons. Such an undcrtakín¿ shouId bc dcnounccd
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 69
bcforcítístooIatc,bydcmonstratín¿ítspoíntIcssncss ,thcscídco-
Io¿ícs- practícaI actívitícs sctupasautocratícprovínccs- wouId
íncvítabIycIash,índccd,thcyarcaIrcadysuñcrín¿fromthccñccts
ofsuchímpacts, somc bcín¿now pastrcpaír, whiIc for othcrs the
irreducible is taking its revenge andínítíatín¿acountcr-attack.Thc
attcmpt to crcct cconomícs as an csscncc ís thc most pcmícíous
ofthcscundcrtakín¿s ,ínstcadofsccín¿índustríaIproductíonand
íts or¿anízatíon as a mcans to an cnd (socíaI, and conscgucntIy
urban Iífc) thcy arc takcn for thc cnd and, as such, íntítutíonaI-
ízcd,thusthcdoctríncofeconomism cmcr¿cs,posturín¿asscícncc
and thc scícntíbcaIIy acccptabIc csscncc of Marxíst thou¿ht,
whcrcas ít ís nothín¿ but anídcoIo¿y.
In ancarIícr scctíonofIhís bookwctrícdto díscovcrwhat thc
phíIosophícaI outIook ofmodcrn socícty was. Wc askcd: ' Síncc
thís socícty has bccníncapabIc ofcxtracín¿fromíts vastphíIo-
sopmcaI hcríta¿c and from íts own hístory that íma¿c ofMan
whích,throu¿hunccrtaínty, ¿ropín¿sandcontrovcrsy, hasaIways
bccnthc phiIosophcr`s objcctívc, síncc phíIosophy ís no Ion¿cr a
systcmbuta rcaIíty, andsínccspccíbcphíIosophicaIprojccts arc
cIaboratcdandnotahumanIyprojcctcdphíIosophy,whichphíIo-
sophícaIínßucncc orprojcctíonshaIIwcdíscovcrhcrcandnow! `
Thchypothcsísof apractícaInco-Hc¿cIíanísmí s notunrcasonabIc:
spccíaIízcdsub-systcmscncompasscdínatcntatívctotaIsystcmatí-
zatíon at statc IcvcI , thus thc rcIatívc faíIurc of rcvoIutíonary
Marxíst thcorícs wouId bc countcr-baIanccd grovsíonaIIy and
maIIy)byaccrtaínback-sIídín¿,andthísnotonIyínthcsphcrcof
a pmIosophicaI rcßcctíon scarchin¿ for systcmatízaIíon, but ín
' rcaIíty`, namcIyínsocíaIcxpcrícncc ¿ovcrncd byídcoIo¿y. And
yct such anhypothcsís cannot standup to a crítícaI anaIysís, for
Hc¿cIíanísm - or nco-Hc¿cIíanísm - ínvoIvcs a conccptíon of
rcaIíty as pcrsuasívc rathcr than as compuIsívc powcr, thou¿h ít
ís truc that thc prcsumcd coíncídcncc of rcaIíty and ratíonaIíty
vírtuaIIy ímpIícs thc coíncídcncc ofcompuIsíon and pcrsuasíon.
ButísítfaírtomakcHc¿cIrcsponsíbIcfortcrroríst socíctícs,for
thc abscncc ofadaptatíon sct up as príncípIc and systcm and
compuIsíon cxaItcd on bchaIf of a stratc¿ícaIIy subordínatcd
undcrstandín¿?
1 70 Evcryday LìIc in thc NodcmW orId
Jhcidca oIa nco-IIatonic univcrsc, ¿ovcrncd in ima¿ination
and in rcaIity Irom on hi¿h by cntitics that arc simuItancousIy
Iorms andpowcrs, sccmsmorcapt. ScII-¿ovcrnmcnt, thc division
oIactiviticsintosociaIandintcIIcctuaI, andthcinstitutionaIization
oIactivityandabiIityassuchdctcrmincdbythcirowncndstcnd,
whcnthcyconvcr¿c, to constitutcjust sucha ' univcrsc` , whcncc
thc cosmic ima¿c mcntioncdcarIicr oIconstcIIations, pIancts and
stars spiIIin¿ thcir various inñuxcs on thc soiI oI cvcryday IiIc,
Þxin¿itshcavcns andyctincapabIc oIbIockin¿thchorizon. Jhis
vision oIa ` univcrsc` comin¿ to a standstiII (amid thc swirIin¿,
miIIin¿ mists oI ñcctin¿ncss) is worthy oI our attcntion. AII
socictics posscssin¿ 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 chan¿cd, thatwc no
Ion¿cr 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.
Amon¿ thc stars prcsidin¿ ovcr thc Iatc oIcvcryday IiIc wc Iist
oncc a¿ain Iashion (or IashionabiIity), JcchnoIo¿y and Scicncc
(or scicntiÞcncss).
In thc Iast Icw ycars wc havc tricd IitcraIIy to institutionaIizc
adoIcsccnts. Wc arc not conccrncd with cnabIin¿ thcm to Icad a
spccihcIiIcwithadcguatc activitics- thou¿hhcrcandthcrcwcII-
intcntioncdpcopIchavc¿ivcn this athou¿ht(withnopcrccptibIc
rcsuIts howcvcr) - Iorwhat counts is tointc¿ratc thc adoIcsccnt
intradcandconsumptionbyoHcrin¿mmaparaIIcIcvcrydayIiIc.
Wctcndtosctupancsscncc,YoutmuIncss,withcommcrciaIizabIc
attributcs and propcrtics, pcrtainin¿ to a priviIc¿cd scction oI
socicty- oratIcastoncprcsumcdsuch- thusvindicatin¿thcpro-
ductionandconsumptionoIspccihcobjccts(cIothcs,Iorinstancc,
cpitomizcdandsymboIizcdby'jcans`). JhiscntitysctsanauraoI
innoccncconconsumptionin¿cncraIandanauraoIdcccncyand
' niccncss ` on adoIcsccnt consumption. Jhus thc star oIYouth
joinsthchi¿hcstandbri¿htcstinourhcavcns.Jhccorpus rcguircd
Terorsm and Everyday Lie 1 71
Ior a study oIthis systcmmi¿htbcdrawn cntircIyIromSalut les
Co pains. YouthIuIncss contributcs in its own way to tcrror, that
is,initsspcciaIsphcrcoIinñucncc-whichcxtcnds,¿rowin¿Iaintcr
andIaintcr,ri¿htthrou¿hsocictyIromcndtocnd,indccd,whois
notaIraidoIsccmin¿youn¿noIon¿cr,oInoIon¿crbcin¿youn¿7
Who docsnotcontrastmaturityandinnoccncc,thcaduItandthc
adoIcsccnt 7 Who docs notmakcthc choicc bctwccn youth and
wisdom,aparaIIcIandaprimordiaIcvcrydayIiIc,unIuImmcntand
rcsi¿nation7Jhus cvcryoncisconIrontcdinhisdaiIyIiIcwiththc
hcart-brcakin¿choicc bctwccn non-Irccdom ornon-adaptation.
YouthIuIncss with its opcrationaI cnvironmcnt (or¿anization
andinstitution),thchypostasisoIrcaIyouth,cnabIcsthcscadoIcs-
ccntsto appropriatccxistin¿symboIizations,toconsumcsym boIs
oI happincss, croticsm, powcr and thc cosmos by mcans oI
cxprcssIy cIaboratcd mctaIan¿ua¿cs such as son¿s, ncwspapcr
articIcs, pubIicity - to which thc consumption oI rcaI ¿oods 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)
oIdancm¿.SomctaIan¿ua¿cpIaysitsparttothccnd.cncycIopcdic
compcndium oI this worId, acsthcticizin¿ point oIhonour, dis-
cnchantcd shadow sccin¿ itscII as substancc and cnchantmcnt
aromaIcss worId`s aroma, ctc. Jhat which is si¿niÞcd by thcs-
vacant si¿nihcrs thus appropriatcd isyouth itscII, thc csscncc oI
youth: youthIuIncss. Hcrc is anothcr pIconasm or tautoIo¿y:
youtmuIncss, si¿nihcd by si¿niÞcrs that si¿nihcd somcthin¿ cIsc,
synonymous oIjoy, pIcasurc, IuIhImcnt bccausc it sanctions thc
consumption oIthc symboIs Ior such statcs. Youth is a prooIoI
thc joy oI bcin¿ youn¿, oI bcin¿ youn¿ bccausc onc is youn¿,
youthhasasociaIstandin¿byvirtuc oIyouthIuIncss. ßutwhatis
IcHIor thoscwho do not¿ravitatc inthcorbitoIyouthIuIncss 7
J
·
o simuIatc youthIuIncss that simuIatcs IuIhImcnt, charm, hap-
pmcss, compIctcncss. Jhc incvitabIc outcomc oIsuch tuncd-up,
¿carcd-down dizzincss is aIccIin¿ oIincaIcuIabIc discomIort and
unrcst, a scnsc oIIrustration that cannot casiIy bc distin¿uishcd
Irom saticty, a cravin¿ 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'
µresidedoverinthisµresidentiaIrcgimebyanessence),everything
Iends to indicate that such aµrocedure is being attemµted, that
suchan essence is intheµrocessofformation. Itis imµIicit inthe
Eros cuIt whose symµtoms transµire here and there, an occuIt,
µoµuIar cuIt that invoIves omciating, human sacriûce and anti-
µhrasesusuaIIyassociatedwith omciaIized creeds, and ofcourse
itsHighPriest, thedivineMarquis. TheµroIiferation ofwritings
on suchthemesassex, sexuaIity, sexuaIintercourse andits more
or Iess normaI outIets µroves the case, as does the use ofsuch
themes to µromote µubIicity and trade. Sexuality, set uµ as an
essence, aµµroµriates the s,mboIs ofdesire, but desire does not
tmiveunderimµosedconditions,so,facedwithsuchirreducibiIity,
this undertaking is doomedto faiIure, the anomie ofdesire, its
sociaI÷extrasociaI nature, resists sociaI and inteIIectuaI system-
atizations attemµting to reduce it to a distinct, cIassiûed need
satisûed as such. Desire stides in everyday Iife, but it dies in a
sµeciaIizedcontext , to organize desireits signiûersmustbe caµ-
turedandsigniûed,itmustbestimuIatedbysigns, bythesightor
rathertheactionofundressing,formsoftormentthatrecaIIthose
ofdesire. Butdesirerefusesto be signiûed, becauseitcreatesits
ownsignsasitarises÷ orsimµIydoesnotarise,signsorsymboIs
ofdesirecanonIyµrovokeaµarodyofdesirethatisnevermore
thanaµretence ofthe reaIthing.
SexuaIity, reduced to a crystaIIized sociaI and inteIIcctuaI
essence, acheves the ûnaI sµoIiation ofeverydayIife andthat is
itscontributiontoterrorism,butthendesiretakesrefugeinquoti-
dianness,whereitis reborn at randomin the surµrise ofan en-
counter, in a quarreI. Methods simiIar to those used to controI
naturaI forces cannotbeaµµIiedto desire, fordesireresµondsto
adaµtation,nottocomµuIsion,ifonetriestoµrovokeitbycom-
µuIsivemethodsittakesrefugeinmake-beIieve,anditisµreciseIy
initsescaµe-routesthatexµIoitersareambushed.Amake-beIieve
everydayIife doubIesthatofexµerienceanditis herethatdesire
ûndsitsimaginaryµermanence, animaginarysatiety,afterwhich
`
Terrorism and Everyday Lie 1 73
µsychoIogists and anaIystsrecaIIitto itseIf÷ iftheycan. Desire
ignores recurrence as it ignores accumuIation, it emerges from
sµeech butnot from writing unIess it has been Ied astray, and
retuns a changeIing,ithasnothingin commonwithinteIIectuaI
oµerations, anymorethanwith sociaI activities.
SoaIthoughthe systematizingofErosµrovesafaiIurethere is
stiII hoµefor a strange cuIt, anda kind ofentity canbe distin-
guished, neither quite ûctitious nor quite reaI, quite inteIIectuaI
norquite sociaI . theentityknownasFemininity. Thsis the out-
comeofthefact(µreviousIydiscussed,butwhicbhasitsµIaceinthe
µresentanaIysis)that :
a) women, as consumers (aµµarentIy), directbureaucrauc so-
ciety'scontroIIedconsumµtion,or,in otherwords,thecontroIof
needsisdirectedtowardsFemininityasitistowardsYouthfuIness
b) �omen are symboIs ofthis society, ob¡ects ofadvertisin�
strategres, they are aIso advertising sub¡ects, nakedness, smiIes
livingdsµIayunits . . . ,
,
c)womenareaIsosuµeriorconsumergoodsandtradevaIuein
sofar astheyareµhysicaIreaIities(agoodûgureis aIIthatisre-
quiredtoobtainweaIthandfame).SothattheuseoffemaIebodies
andundressheIµstoestabIishand¡ustifytheadvertisingideoIogy
onwhichtheideoIogy ofconsumµtionis based. Theact ofcon-
sumingacquiresacertaindiversityifitisµresentednotsoIeIyfrom
theµoint ofview ofthe ob¡ect andits destructionthroughcon-
sumµtion,butaIsofromthatofthefemaIeûgureandaIIitstands
for , takenasasymboIoftheconsumer'scustomaryact,itis con-
d�cive toan(aµµarent)evasion ofrhetoricandmetaIanguage, it
distracts attentionwhiIe substituting another act for that ofthe
consumer(awomancannotµroµerIybeconsumedlikeanob¡ect),
andthisdiversioncontributesaconsumabIeaestheticisminherent
in what is known as ' cuIture'. As a star ofthe ûrst magnitude
Femininity occuµies the centre of a consteIIation comµosed of
sµeciaI stars, amongst which can be discened the Sµontaneous,
theÞaturaI,theCuItured,theHaµµyandtheLoving,inshortaII
thecharacters created by Femininity andthat circIe inits orbit.
ÞotexactIy characters, ornatures either, rather µseudo-natures,
µroducts of cuIture, µure forms draµed in artifacts. A certain
`
174 Everyday Life in the Modem World
mistrustofnatureasaµroductIeadstothehyµothesisthatthisis
a subterfuge emµIoyed by automizationto creeµ inunobserved,
Þature can onIy be another namefor desire, which cannot be
caµturedbywords.WeknowonIytooweII(havingIearntthehard
way) that automatism makes its aµµearance disguised as ' µure'
sµontaneity÷ afactwhichdistressedcertainµoets,makingthem
Iong for death. Writing and the recurrence ofwriting create an
iIIusionofµuresµontaneity,freedomandµrofundity,butbeneath
and throughaµµarent sµontancity the organization ofeveryday
Iifeis conducted.Fem¡nimgb(�çces�uUygoverntheevery-
dayIivesofCybernanthroµoi,wheredesirewouId beonIy�aûctmn
÷ notagamebutaroIeand afunction,however_j¸he crit�caI
mindwoman'ssigniûcanceineverydayIifeis too greattobecon-
ñned!o Femninqchancºcxists� ¡ftbe!nividuaI cani!b
11laivldual� n¡s1r:thisûeIdUa±e ¿ameispIayeu, !u !'w ¬ake
isIost orwon,moreoverFemninityforbidsreaIwomenaccessto
their own Iives, adaµtaíionto mcir :v::Iivºs,Irit sum }|
dviduaIity and µarticuIarity (sµeciûc diûerencº; ìo trapped
generaIitu. The same aµµIiesto' creativity',anessenceinvented
�ts andth»tconvenientIyIocaIizesindividuaIorcoIIective
creative energy, a sociaI ' µIace' situated in hobbies and ' do-it-
yourseIf' (whch denotes the generaI disreµair and negIect of
creative energy).
LndertheIaserofcriticaIanaIysisthevisibIeoutIineofeveryday
Iifed¡ssoIvesanditstrue shaµe emerges ,buthowcanwe choose
betweenimagesthataIIcontainmetaµhorsormetonyms,PIatonic
heavens,tree ofµIeonasms, comµcndiumofviciouscircIes °Each
oneexµresseswhatthe others exµress withan imµerceµtibIe dif-
ference. suµrasensitiveheavens,stars,consteIIations, signsofthe
Zodiac, sociaI and inteIIectuaI µIaces, regions ofsµace and time
ruIed by essences , µIeonasms . autonomized ' µure' forms, IdoIs
µrocIaimed and accIaimed in theidentiûcation ofseIfwithseIf,
seIf-sumciency, seIf-sign¡ûcation(andtherefore seIf-consumption,
seIf-destruction) ,viciouscircIes :swiveIs,eddies,ûctitiousûnaIities,
meanssetuµ asendsandbecom¡ngtheir ownends.
TheµresenceofIdoIsgivesacertainunitytothisweirdassort-
ment, IdoIswhoseoutstandingadvantageisthattheyareµerfectIy
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 75
unremarkabIe (neithertoougIynortoobeautifuI,toovuIgar nor
tooreûned,neithertoogifednorwithoutgifts),thattheyIeadthe
same 'everyday'IifeasanybodyeIseandthattheyµresenttoevery-
oneanimageofhis(everyday)Iife uansûguredby thefactthatit
isnothisbutthatofanother(anIdoI,thereforerichandfamous).
ThusitisabsoIuteIyfascinatingtowatchanIdoIamdhissateIIites
havingabath,kissinghischIdren,drivinghiscarordoingany one
ofthosethingsthateverybodydoesbutasifnobodyhadeverdone
thembefore.AndthisiswhatsuchmetaµhorsastheHeavens,the
PIeonasmortheCircIe(vicious,infenaI)hintatbutcannotdeûne.
AII this is heIdtogether by the µower ofwords. Þot words as
such, sµeciûcsigns,detachabIesigniûersthathave noµower, but
bytaIk that has µower, is incIuded in themethodsofµower, by
forms, by Iogic that have µower, bymathematics that is emcient
and by trade vaIue that has tremendous µower. This is indIs-
µutabIe. Sµeech has µower, but what µower° A new theory is
comingintoview.
The theory offorms (a revival
WeshaIIattemµttodeûnethemodeofexistence, bothsociaIand
inteIIectuaI,offorms.Theûrststeµisthede-consecration of writing,
aµrofanationthatfoIIows,ratherbeIatedIy,¯nd com¡Tc±en1¯ht¯�
decons
���
tionoftheIandandofwoman,weseeitasthIogicaI '"
¨
coe ofurbmunda!lm¤ctionsthat consoIi-
date and emµhasize it. Inthe contextofan agrarian societythe
consecrationoftheIandandofwomanandthevaIueattributedto
aIIthatwasrare andµrecious, were extended totheµrocess of
writing,writingwas seen, furthermore, astheµroµandµedestaI
ofthSacred,itstoodforanexamµIeofcreationwhenitwasreaIIy
onIyamodeIforinstitutions.
However, by understanding the generaI µroµerties ofwritten
matterweshouIdbeabIetosettheIimitsofitsrangeandimµIica-
tions andthusto de-consecrate it.
In oIden days when the condict (or comcting unity) between
th Sacred andthe AccursedµrevaiIed~ resoIved bythe Profane
andProfanation÷ theconûctingreIationofLetterandSµiritwas
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 byreadingtnroug 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
cguaItoítscIfandthcrcforcaIícntodcsírc,whcn spccch,prcscncc
anddcsírc arc rcstorcd to ít thc ícc ís sct on Þrc and that ís thc
paradox ofpoctry (whích thc poctacmcvcs, pcrhaps, byrcIatín¿
thc dísordcrofwordstothc ordcrofrccurrcncc,adísordcrthatís
noncthcIcssordcrIy,th�tcannotbcdchncdasaIackofprccísíon
but that dcIívcrs wrítín¿ fromthc snarcs ofmctaIan¿ua¿c, sub-
stítutín¿ dcsírc to convcntíonaI- or non-cxístcnt - rcfcrcntíaIs -
dcsírc and thc time ofdcsírc, that choscn rcfcrcntíaI crcatcd by
poctry).
Thc poct docs notaboIíshwrítín¿andthc prc
}
ísíon ofwrítín¿,
butbyanapparcntIymíracuIousacthcturnscooIncssíntowarmth,
abscncc ínto prcscncc, thc drcad ofdcsírc ínto dcsírc, spatíaIíty
ínto tcmporaIíty and rccurrcncc ínto actuaIízatíon. Thus whcn
dcsírc ñows ínto wrítín¿, ínfusín¿ ítwíth íts own víbratíons, thc
wrítín¿cxpands, ovcrßows and, burstín¿ítsbarrícrs andßoodín¿
|hc cmbankmcnts, sprcads andcommunícatcs by mcans ofwhat
sccmcd to cncIosc and rcstríct ít , whcn a trcmor runs throu¿h
wríttcnmattcr,whcnítsIímpídítyísdísturbcdandacguírcsbythís
disturbanccadíñcrcnttransparcncywhcrcbyítIoscs ítsguaIítyof
objcct (íntcIIcctuaIandsocíaI),thcconscgucncc�rcíncaIcuIabIc,
andítísjustsuchamíracIc-whichhasnothín¿írratíonaIaboutít,
whích conformstoa scIf-ímposcdordcr- thatcontríbutcs to thc
íncxpIícabIc charm of a símpIc Iovc-pocm madc, apparcntIy, of
nothín¿but purc form, orrhctoríc.
Thc conßíctín¿ rcIatíon of Spccch and Wrítín¿ cannot bc rc-
duccdtothcrcIatíonofmattcrandthcwríttcnwordanymorcthan
ítcanbcrcduccdtothatofspírítandIcttcr,forít¿ocsmuchdccpcr.
Ictítsumc to rccaIIhcrc that thosc who spokc wíthout wrítín¿
paíd wíththcír Iívcs for thís Iaw-brcakín¿ cpoch-makín¿ act , wc
thínk ofSocratcs, Chríst, pcrhaps cvcn Joan ofArc, and wc rc-
mcmbcr that Iíctzschc`s Zarathustra appcaIcd to Spccch, Irc-
scncc, Tímc and Dcsírc not onIy ín ordcr to rc-anímatc frozcn
wrítín¿ but to opposc wríttcn mattcr and íts accumuIatíon from
thcbc¿ínnín¿s ofWcstcrn cívíIízatíon. Dídthcpocthopcto¿ívc
a morcIímpíd sí¿níbcancc tothcwords ofthctríbc, orsímpIy sí¿-
níhcancc ?Bcthatasítmay, ' dcathwastríumphantínthatstran¿c
voícc`.
Terrorism and Everyday Life 179
A pure (formal) space defnes the world ofterror. Ùthcproposí-
tíon ís rcvcrscd ít prcscrvcs íts mcanín¿. tcrror dcbncs a purc
formaI spacc, íts own,thc spacc ofítspowcrandíts powcrs ,tímc
has bccn cvíctcd fromthís uníbcd spacc , thc wrítín¿ that hxcs ít
hascIímínatcdspccchanddcsírc,andínthísIítcraIspacc,ísoIatcd
from actíon, prcscncc and spccch, so-caIIcd human actíons and
objccts arc cataIo¿ucd, cIasscd and tídícd away, to¿cthcr wíth
wrítín¿sthatarc Iíncd up onwríttcn mattcr."Thc supcríorpowcr
that kccpsthcmínsuch ordcr íscvcrydayIífc.
Thc double existence offorms undcrstood ín thís way (íntcIIcc-
tuaI and socíaI) ínvítcs a furthcr ínguíry ínto thís contradíctíon,
maskín¿anambí¿uítythatínturnconccaIsadíaIcctícaI (conßíct-
ín¿)movcmcnt. Morcovcr,ífwccanundcrstandthísduaIaspcct -
oraspccts-ítshouIdhcIpusto¿raspfurthcrrcIatíonssuchasthat
ofrcaIíty andpossíbíIíty, or ofproduct and act (what thc phíIo-
sophcrsuscdtocaIIthcrcIatíonofobjcctto subjcct). ThísísaIso
thcrcIatíonofformtocontcnt,forformswouIdcxístaspurcíntcI-
IcctuaI abstractíonsandassocíaI objcctsífthcy couId- but thcy
cannotdoso,thcycannotcxístdcprívcdofcontcnt,thísaspíratíon
toapurcabstractíonímposín¿ítsIawsandítsstrícturcsíspartof
thc powcr offorms, ítcndows thcm wíth thc powcr to tcrrorízc,
Spccíbc contracts cxíst charactcrízcd by thcír contcnt , thus a
marría¿ccontractspccíbcsandrc¿uIatcsthcrcIatíonbctwccntwo
índívíduaIsofopposítcscxaccordín¿toa¿ívcnsocíaIcodc(ordcr),
subordínatín¿scxuaIrcIatíonstorcIatíonsofpropcrty(patrímony,
marría¿cportíon,ínhcrítanccandítstransfcr,thcdívísíonofpro-
pcrty, ctc.) , a workín¿ contract rc¿uIarízcs thc acguísítíon and
saIcofworkín¿cncr¿y,andso on.IcvcrthcIcssthcrcísa¿cncraI
formofcontractora¿rccmcnt, ajurídícaIformbascd onthccívíI
codc, andwc obscrvc that aII contractuaI rcIatíons prcsupposc a
díscussíonanddchnítíonínvcrbaIform,bythccontractín¿partícs,
of thc contract`s ' faírncss `, thou¿h nothín¿ rcmaíns of such
¯ ÅDUS ¡CIIOI IS HO¡ ¡DC SQ8CC OÍ Í8ÌSC COHSCICHCC (La Fausse conscience, 8
¡DCSÎS Dy J. L8DCÌ, Ï8IIS) DU¡ OÍ ¡IUC COHSCICHCC OI OÍ ¡DC COHSCICHCC OÍ
IC8ÌI¡y, ISOÌ8¡CCÍIOHQOSSIDIÌI¡y,VII¡U8ÌI¡y 8HCSD8QIHg8C¡IVI¡y¦ ¡CIIOI IS HO¡
SIHQÌyQ8¡DOÌOgIC8Ì, I¡ DCCOHCS HOIH8Ì.
1 80 Everyday Life in the Moder World
prcIímínarícs, thc proofbcín¿ínthcwrítín¿,thcomcíaIdccd,and
acontractísconcIudcdbythcsí¿naturcsofbothpartícs-thcmost
sí¿níbcantformofwrítín¿.
SímíIarIy thcrc ís no thou¿ht wíthout an objcct, no rcßcctíon
wíthout contcnt.Yctthcrccxísts a¿cncraIformofthou¿htbascd
oncIassíhcatíon, whích ísIo¿íc. Ictus summarízcínafcw tcrms
thcprobIcmofthc díaIcctícaI movcmcnt offormandcontcnt,too
o0cnovcrIookcdtothcadvanta¿cof' purc`form,cxistín¿assuch,
íntcIIcctuaIaswcIIassocíaI.Thcrcísnoformwíthoutcontcntand,
ínvcrscIy, nocontcntwíthoutform,rcûcctíonscparatcsformfrom
contcntthussupportín¿thc form`s naturaIíncIínatíontocx¡stas
purc csscncc , and rcßcctíon ítscIfconstítutcs aform that aspírcs
tothcstatusofunívcrsaIcsscncc (thc phíIosophcr`sambítíonand
íIIusíon). ' Iurc` form, by íts vcry purity, acguírcs an íntcIIígbIc
transparcncy, bccomcs opcrant, a mcdíum ofcIassíbcatíon and
actíon, but as suchít cannot cxíst , asformítísnomorcthanan
abstractíon, and what ís pcrccívcd as cxístín¿ ís thc uníty (con-
mctín¿, díaIcctícaI) ofform and contcnt. Iorm ísoIatcd fromíts
contcnt (or rcfcrcntíaIs) ís cnforccd by tcrrorísm. Our radícaI
anaIysísturnsformaIísm, structuraIísmandfunctíonaIísma¿aínst
thcmscIvcs, attacks obscssíonaI cIassíbcatíonwíth a cIassíhcatíon
offorms andcxposcsthcír¿cncraI contcnt, whíchíscvcrydayIífc
maíntaíncd by tcrror. Wc obscrvc ín a dccrcasín¿Iy abstract pro-
¿rcssíon.
a) logical forms. IntcIIcctuaI . thcabsoIutcpríncípIc ofídcntíty
A ÷A, a mcanín¿Icss tcrm, a tautoIo¿y, thcrcforc íntcIIí¿íbIc,
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,cguaIítyíndístínctíon,totaIítyandsub-
totaIítícs. SocíaI . ordcrín¿, ratíonaI or¿anízatíon,
c) linguistic forms. IntcIIcctuaI . cohcrcncc. SocíaI . cohcsíon of
rcIatíons, codifyín¿,
d)forms ofexchange. IntcIIcctuaI . cguívaIcnccs, standardízín¿,
comparín¿(guaIítícsandguantítícs,actívítícsandproducts, nccds
and satísfactíons). SocíaI . tradc vaIuc, consumcr ¿oods (whcncc
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 81
ít acguírcs Io¿íc and Ian¿ua¿c 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
(íncIudín¿ hiddcn rcIatíons bctwccn thín¿s, bctwccn cach tmn¿
andíts scttín¿, bctwccnthcscIfandthcdoubIc, ctc.) ,
¿) urban forms. IntcIIcctuaI . símuItancíty. SocíaI . cncountcrs
(brín¿ín¿to¿cthcr ncí¿hbourín¿ products and actívítícs) thatín-
tcnsífy - by matcríaIízn¿ and dc-consccratín¿ - thc Iandscapc,
produccdby Iabourandímposcdas form uponnaturcína¿ívcn
tcrrítory,
h)thcform ofwriting. IntcIIcctuaI .rcpctítíon.SocíaI .accum Iõ-
tíon.
Wcomítrccurrcncc,conccívcdbysomc(uItímatcIybyIíctzschc)
asthc formofcxístcncc.
Ifthcformofwrítín¿occupícsanínfcríorposítíontothatofthc
cítyín thís dccrcasín¿Iy abstract hícrarchy offorms ítís bccausc
our cIassíbcatíon stípuIatcs ncíthcr príoríty, Io¿íc, ontoIo¿y nor
hístorícítybut¿ocsfrompurc,transIucídformtosubstantíaIcon-
tcnt,apro¿rcssíonthatínvoIvcsanowfamíIíardíaIcctícaIrcIatíon
that ofform and contcnt. Iorm ín íts absoIutc puríty (A ÷A,
ís absoIutcIy unvíabIc, thc ¿rcatcst paradox ofrcßcctíon ís brst
thatsuchaformcanbcformuIatcdandformaIízcdwíthsuchprc-
císíonandthcn thatítshouIdbccñcctívc. How andwhy7Whcrc
docsthíscmcícncycomc from,thísworkín¿abíIity ofpurcform7
WíthoutthcsIí¿htcst possíbIc doubtfromthcfact thatít makcs
anaIysíspossíbIc,thatístosay,ítaIIowsforthcdívísíonof' rcaIíty
,
aIon¿íts 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 fra¿mcnts and cIcmcnts prcvíousIy
dísconncctcd.
Thus thc rorm ís rcun¡tcd to a varíabIc, rcsísun¿, contcnt
on which ít imposcs ordcr and constraínt. But thc contcnt ís
1 82 Everyday Life in the Modern World
irreducibIe,isinfactthe irreducible. ThecomµIexµrocess of(ana-
Iytic)knowIedgeandexµerience, encomµassedwithin theµrocess
ofform andcontent,encomµassesthatofreductionandtheirre-
ducibIe.IntheIastanaIysis(butisaIastanaIysisnecessary°) the
contentis desire seen neither asthe desire to be nor asthe desire
nottobe,tocontinuenortoend,tosurvivenortoexµire,butas
thedesireforactionandcreationsigniûedbyaIIthingsandidenti-
ûedbynone,conceaIedinthesigniûedandundersigns,andthere-
fore reveaIed asthe signiûerwithout signiûed wh¡chgives Iife to
others and can be foundin Sµeech and in Time but neither in
SµacenorinWritingnorinanysµatiaIsigniûed.
EverydayIifeisµartofthecontent,butambiguousIy,ontheone
handitderivesfromthe emciency offorms, istheirresuItorre-
suItant. Product and residue, suchis the deûnition ofeveryday
Iife, forms simuItaneousIy organize it and are µro¡ected uµon it,
but their concerted eûorts cannot reduce it , residuaI and irre-
ducibIe,iteIudesaIIattemµtsatinstitutionaIization,itevadesthe
griµ offorms. Everyday Iife is, furthermore, the time of desire .
extinction and rebirth. Reµressive andterrorist societies cannot
IeaveeverydayIifeweIIaIone butµursueit, fence itin, imµrison
itinitsownterritory. ButtheywouIdhavetosuµµressittohave
done withit, andthatis imµossibIe because they needit.
Wedonothavetodemonstratethatformcannotdeµendonit-
seIfforexistence,ourmainconcernistoshowthatformasµires
invain÷ to a ' substantiaI ' existence, infact, toessentiaIity. It is
rationaIIydemonstratedthat ' µure'form,theformof Iogic, con-
tract orwriting, hasnoright toautonomy,aIthoughithassuch
µretensions , the ' µurity' of a form invoIves its non-existence.
CriticaIanaIysismustthereforeµrovethesociaIexistenceofsome-
thingthathasnoaµµarent 'substantiaI 'existence ,andtheanswer
isthatformsdeµendonsociaIconscienceatthesametimeasthey
induence it , they cannot do without sµeech, though they drain
sµeechtotheirownadvantage,activityonbehaIfoftheagent,and
action onbehaIfofmediation. Thus anidea ortheory emerges .
Sµeechmaintains, assembIesanduniûesisoIatedforms, notina
form- orastructure orafunction- butinanaction.
Sµeechisnecessarybutit is insumcient,foritrequiresabasis,
Terrorism and Everyday Life 183
a materiaI substantiaI foundation. Production may be seen as
answeringsuchrequirements ÷ initsduaIasµect, asµroduction
ofworkandofµroduce÷ andsocaneveryday lie insofarasitis
the resuIt of actuaI µroduction reIations and ofthe residue of
formscIassiûedabove.
HereourcriticaIanaIysisIinksuµwiththeµecuIiarµhenomenon
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 symµtomaticneitherofaconsiderabIe
integrativecaµacitynorofatotaIincaµacitytointegrate. Sµeciûc
integrations occurin their owntime andµIace, butitis totaIin-
tegrationthatisrequired. Bythe subterfuge oforganizingevery-
day Iife the working cIasses have been µartiaIIy integrated with
µresent-daysociety÷ whichimµIiestheirdisintegrationasacIass ,
andatthesametime, asa consequence ofthisµhenomenon,the
whoIe society is in the µrocess ofdisintegrating÷ its cuIture, its
unity and its vaIues. We have aIready seen that our society no
Ionger constitutes a system (notwithstanding state µower and
armedforce,theintensiûcationofcomµuIsionandterrorism)but
onIyaIotofsub-systems, a con¡unction ofµIeonasms threatened
withmutuaIdestructionorsuicide.ThusitisnotreaIIysurµrising
if obsessionaI integration and sµeciûc Iimited integrations (of
µubIicitytotrade,µrogrammingtoeverydayIife)Ieadtoasortof
generaIized raciaIism stemming from the disabiIity to integrate
µroµerIy. everybody against everybody eIse, women, chiIdren,
teenagers, µroIetarians, foreigners are inturn sub¡ectedIo ostra-
cism and resentment, becoming targets ofundeûned terrorisms
whiIethewhoIeisstiIIheIdtogetherbythekeystoneofsµeechand
thefoundationsofeverydayIife.
The conceµt ofa ' zero µoint', Iike those ofterrorismandof
writing,isderivedfromIiterarycriticism,acoincidencethatisnot
reaIIysurµrisinginview ofthe µersµicacity ofthose among our
foremost critics who undertook the ' radicaI ' investigation, and
aIsobecauseIiteratureisthenaturaIinteIIectuaIvehicIeandsociaI
basisofmetaIinguisticµoµuIarity,ofthesµreadofwrittenmatter.
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,accusedbysomeofIackingexµerience,byothersof
beingwantinginwisdom.Ob¡ectionsarewhatisnotexµressed,for
theworId ofterror, of' µure' forms and ' µure ' sµaceisaIso the
worId of siIence when metaIanguages are exhausted and are
ashamedofthemseIves.
Wenowhavebeforeusthe outIineofadisciµIine orscience (if
oneis notafraidofwords),ascience thatwouIdexµosetheµosi-
tion ofeveryday Iife in reIation to forms and institutions , that
wouId discIose these reIations imµIied in quotidianness, but im-
µIicit and obscure in the quotidian.* In everyday Iife when we
thinkwe seeeverythingquitecIearIywe are mostdeIuded,when
weare convincedthatweareµIungedindarknessachinkofIight
has aIready µierced the shadows , the oµerationthat wiII exµose
the doubIe iIIusionrequiresthe µrecision ofan exµerienced sur-
geon. Aninquiryinto everyday situationsµresuµµosesacaµacity
forintervention,aµossibiIityofchange(reorganization)inevery-
dayIifethatwouIdnotbedeµendentonarationaIizing,µrogram-
ming institution. To initiate such apraxis either a conceµtuaI
anaIysis or ' socio-anaIyticaI ' exµeriences are necessary, as a
generaIizedsociaIµracticeitisµartofthecuIturaIrevoIutionthat
isbasedontheaboIitionofterrorism- oratIeastontheµossibiIity
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-systemsseµaratedbycracks,
gaµsandIacunae,formsdonotconverge,theyhavenogriµonthe
content and cannot reduce it µermanentIy, the irreducible croµs
¯ ÌHQUIIICS OÍ ¡HIS H8¡UIC H8VC 8ÌIC8Cy DOH UHCCI¡8KCH Dy LCOIgCS
Î8Q8SS8CC, ÛCHC Ï8ÌOU 8HC ¡HC HCHDCIS OÍ ¡HC LIOUQCS CC ÜCCHCICHC
ÌHS¡I¡U¡IOHCÌÌC, 8HC HIgH¡ DC C8ÌÌCC socio-analyses, ÍOI \HCy QICSUQQOSC IH¡CI-
VCH¡IOHS IH¡O 8H 8C¡U8Ì SI¡U8¡IOH, 8 COHHUHI¡y´S CVCIyC8y ÌIÍC. ÅHC SOCIO-
8H8Ìy¡IC8Ì IH¡CIVCH¡IOH dissociates IH¡O QÌ8CC 8HC ¡IHC ¡HC DC8IIHgS OÍ ¡HC
SI¡U8¡IOH, COHDIHCC d ¡HCy 8IC WI¡H Í8ÌSC CVICCHCC¦ I¡ associates CXQCIICHCCS
¡H8¡ WCIC QICVIOUSÌy ÍOICIgH ¡O I¡, 8HC ¡HCH QIOCcCCS DyIHCUC¡IOH 8HC ¡I8HS-
Terrorism and Everyday Life 1 89
·
\
uµagainaftereachreduction.Thoughnecessaryforscientiücµro-
cedures, onIy a reIative, temµorary reduction can be achieved,
entaiIingfurtherµrocesses. Scienceis reIatedtoapraxis, invoIves
apraxis, µresuµµoses or µrecedes a praxis; everyday l¡fe, as a
Iayer of unreality and an iIIusory transµarency constitutes a
frontierbetweendarknessandIight,theseenandtheunseen,far
fromcIosingitseIfit isonIyaplane.
Þowthat the oµeninghasbeenIocatedaIIthat remains isto
directourinquirytowardsit,foritbearsafamIIiarname .thatof
urban life, orurbansociety.
Urban society rises from the ashes ofruraI society and the
traditionaIcity. Formany centuries µeasant Iife andanagricuI-
turaIreaIityµredomnated, encirclIng and besieging thecity, set-
ting its Iimits. Buta newera ofurban societyis dawningwhere
theexµeriencevaIuesthatoriginatedinthedistantµastofagricu1-
turaI traditions wIlI at Iast outshine the trade vaIues that now
overshadowthem,itsconceµtionandrealIzationrequireadeµar-
turefromformerideoIogies(outdatedsurvivaIs,utoµianeIabora-
tions). There are certain neighbourhood in the one-time urban
centres ofcities, neighbourhoodsthatwere once µrosµerous but
arenowusuaIIyinhabitedbyadi0erentcIassofµeoµIefromthose
whofoundedthem,whereurbanl¡fesurvivesorattemµts tosur-
vive,eIsewhereitcan be found, withinteIIectuaI or sociaI over-
tones,tryingtocreateanew 'centraIity',butonIytheµartisansof
thatideoIogyknownas' economIsm'canseeurbansocietyasthe
outcomeofindustriaIµroductionandorganization,onIythesuµ-
µorters ofbureaucratic rationaIism conceive the new exµerience
asdistributionofaterritoryanditsµrogramming,andbothout-
Iooks threaten the deveIoµment of this new-bor hoµe. Con-
verseIy,onIyideoIogistsbeIievethaturbansocietycanbefounded
CUC¡IOH. ÅHUS 8H¡I-b¡8ÌIHIS¡ OQQOSI¡IOH IHSICC COHHUHIS¡ Q8I¡ICS W8S, IH I¡S
¡IHC, 8 ICH8IK8DÌC C8SC OÍ SOCIO-8H8ÌySIS, 8HC SOHC OÍ I¡S ÛHCIHgS L DC
ODSCIVCC IH Ì8¡CI CCVCÌOQHCH¡S {SOCIOÌOgIC8Ì ID Q8¡ICUÌ8I, ñ8IXIS¡ IH
gCHCI8Ì). ÅHC ¡HIIC VOÌUHC OÍ ¡HC Critique de la vie quotidienne WIÌÌ CCVCÌOQ
CCI¡8IH ÍC8¡UICS OÍ ¡HIS 8CCOUH¡ 8HC WIÌÌ QIOD8DÌy DC COHSCC 8CCOICIHg

¡O ¡HC ÍOÌÌOWIHg QÌ8H. ÛIS¡, UHHCCI8¡CC CVCIyC8y ÌIÎC S�

OHS 8DC
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HIS8QQICHCHSIOHS, ¡HCH 8H CÌUCIC8¡IOH OÍ OIHS

190 Everyday Life in the Modern World
ongrouµsemanciµatedaIreadyfromIabourandsociaIcIassdivi-
sionsandthatthereissuchathingasanurban' system' , forsuch
ideaIists the new societywouId be modeIIed onthose ofancient
Greece, but they forget that these were deµendent on sIavery.
Urbansocietystemsfromencounters,itmustexcIudesegregation
andbe distingishedby thefactthat it añordsthe time andthe
µIaceforindividuaIandcoIIectivemeetings, thecoming-together
ofµeoµIe from diñerent cIasses, with diñerent occuµations and
diñerentµattemsofexistence.Thisurbansociety÷whichisalready
morethanadream÷ isbasednotontheaboIitionofcIassdistinc-
tions,butontheeIiminationofantagonismsthatündtheirexµres-
sioninsegregation,itmustinvoIvediñerencesandbedeünedby
thesediñerences.Tjme in the cit_ an�bythe citywiII¡n-
dentofnaturaIcycIesbuotsubmitIedtotheIineardivisionsof
rationaIizeddura¡Ion, itwiII·��ri¬��tnçss,�a
timeh·it ccb�ti��:L� �����
occ��� �����¿c� 1iwiBb�thc�,Iacan
time���·��� ����,becauseinthissenseurban
Iife wiIIinvoIve the µerformance ofnumerousfunctions andwiII
stiIIbetransfunctionaI.ThoughitwiIIbetheµIaceofanothertime
thanthat offormaI sµatiaIity, aµIacewhere sµeechµrevaiIs over
writing and metaIanguage, the city wiII none the Iess involve
structures (sµatiaI, formaI) , its µracticaI existence wiIl be µrac-
ticaIIydeüned(inscriµtionandµrescriµtion)butthismorµhoIogy
wiIIµro¡ect(inscribe,µrescribe)ontheneIdreIationswhosesociaI
andinteIIectuaI reaIitywiIInot be reduced tothisµro¡ection. In
thecitysµeechwiIlunifythescatteredeIements ofsociaIreaIity,
functions and structures, disconnected sµace, comµuIsive 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 oµµosed, eitherby vioIence (aIways Iatent)
orbynon-vioIenceandµersuasion,fortheessenc� ofht�¬iIj
be.achaIlengeIoterror, a µannerofcçµnter-terrorism.Thecity's
uninhibited seIf-exµression and creativity (morµhoIogy, setting,
shaµed sites,adequatesµaceandsµaces)wiIIrestore
itµrevaiIs overcomµuIsionandsetsaIimitto
theimaginationtostyIeandworksofart,
Terrorism and Everyday Life 191
monuments,festivaIs, sothatµIayandgameswiIIbe given their
former signiücance, a chance to reaIize theirµossibiIities , urban
societyinvoIvesthis tendencytowardstherevivaIoftheFestivaI,
and, µaradoxicaIIy enough, such a revivaI Ieads to a revivaI of
exµerience vaIues, the exµerience ofµIace and time, gvingthem
µriority over trade vaIue. Urban society is not oµµosed to mass
media, sociaI intercourse, communication, intimations, but onIy
tocreativeactivitybeingtumedintoµassivity,intothedetached,
vacant stare, into the consumµtionofshows andsigns , itµostu-
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, aswastobeexµected,abandonedevery trace ofscien-
tinc directionandyour wouId-be anaIyticaIessayhasturnedout
tobeadiatribe.'
' You wereforewamed. Questions and criticism are onIy for-
biddenbyscientiücness,adisciµIinethatügures,aswehaveseen,
amongtheso-caIIed"µure" forms andthesemi-PIatonic arche-
tyµes ofthisIittIe worId, whereas scientiüc knowIedge stiµuIates
acti on,criticismandtheoreticaIoµµositionsimuItaneousIy,accord-
ing to the µrocedure ofour essay (where we have attemµted to
takestock,deüneadirection,widenhorizons).Moreoverahyµer-
criticaI outIook is better than a totaI Iack of criticism, for it
stimuIates evenconformists Iike you.'
' YourconcIusionis avindication ofurbansocietycouchedin
high-ßownµroµheticterms.'
' Þotat aII. ThereexistsareaIistic andfar-sighted conceµtion
ofurbanµossibiIitiesthatcoincides neitherwiththehistorynor
thescience ofurbandeveIoµmenttodate,nor ideoIogy
caIIedurbanism; suchaknowIedgegrows 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,rcviscorampIifyMarx`sthcory-thcdecay
ofthe state rcmainsits aimanddircctivc. RcstrictcdtothcpoIiticaI
pIanc aIonc, rcvoIution produccs SIaIinism, thc statc as IdoI,
mcanstakcnforcnds. Iostatc-conccrncdandpoIiticaI structurc
iscntitIcdtothcnamcofMarxismifthcscaims and dircctivcsarc
not cxprcssIyformuIatcd anddo notconstitutc itssociaIpracticc
both in tcrms of stratc¿icaI objcctivc and on thc pIanc oftcch-
niguc, short ofwmchit is impossibIc (thcorcticaIIy, inthcory) to
spcak of rcvoIution, Marxist doctrinc or stratc¿y, or of action
dircctcd towards improvin¿ thc worId, cxistcncc and socicty.
MorcovcritisonIytootructhat,whcnoncapproachcsthchi¿hcr
rc¿ons ofstatc powcr, diaIcctics sccmto Ioscthcirri¿hts,foritis
asthou¿hpowcrcouIdovcrcomcpro¿rcss,aIIpro¿rcss,andi¿norc
contradictions instcad of scttIin¿ thcm. And yct pro¿rcss con-
tinucs,foritishistorywhoscpro¿rcssisacknowIcd¿cdbypowcr
bccauscpowcrmakcs it.
3) A cultural plane. ThisavcnuchasbccnbIockcdbycconomistic,
poIiticizin¿andphiIosophizn¿intcrprctationsofMarx`sdoctrinc.
It had bccn assumcdthat oncc rcvoIutionary action had undcr-
mincd thc cconomic basis and thc poIiticaI supcrstructurcs thc
rcstwouIdfoIIow,thatis idcoIo¿cs,institutions,inoncwordcuI-
turc, howcvcr thc pIanc has rc-acguircd or acguircd its spccibc-
ncss ,* its si¿nibcancc was rcco¿nizcd whcn thc rcvoIution cn-
countcrcd obstacIcs and sctbacks on thc othcr pIancs. In thc
Iº20s, shortIy aftcr comin¿ to powcr, Icnin notcd thc ur¿cnt
nccdfora' cuIturaI `transformationofthc Sovictworkin¿cIasscs,
atransformationthatwouIdcnabIcthcmtoadministcrthccountry
and its industry, mastcr tcchnigucs and assimiIatc or cvcn out-
strip Wcstcrn scicncc and rationaIity. Today thc cIaboration of
projccts on thc cultural pIanc is justibcd by thc acknowIcd¿cd
¯ YC ÍCCÍ¡HCICIS HOCûÍÍHCIC¡O¡ûKCSICCSÍOI OIûgûIHS¡¡HCCUÍ¡UIûÍICVOÍU-
¡IOHIH LHIHû. ÌS I¡ LHIHCSC SOCIC¡y OI¡HC LHIHCSCICVOÍU¡IOH ¡Hû¡ ISIC¡UOIHg
¡O I¡S SOUICCT ÌS ¡HIS ICVOÍU¡IOH ~ WHC¡HCI HOVCÍ OI ICHOVû¡CC ~ OQQOSIHg I¡S
OWHCOUH¡CI-¡CIIOI¡ODUICûUCIû¡IC¡CIIOIISHTPICQÍûyûHC¡HCÏCS¡IVûÍDCIHg
ICIHS¡û¡CC Dy ¡HIS ICVOÍU¡IOHT LI IS I¡ OHÍy HODIÍIZIHg ûÍÍ ûVûIÍûDÍC CHCIgy IH
¡HC QIOSQCC¡ OÍ û HCW WOIÍC WûIT YHû¡ COUH¡S, WHû¡ IS SI§IÛ.CûH¡, IS ¡HC
ICVIVûÍ OÍû COHCCQ¡.
Towards a Peranent Cultural Revolution 199
spccihcncssofthispIanc.ItwouIdsccmthatitmi¿htonIybcpos-
sibIctoby-passthcstatc anditsinstitutions, torcdircct 'cuIturaI `
institutionstowardsnon-tcrroristobjcctivcswhcn anovcrt, ifnot
an omciaI cuIturaI crisis ariscs, a crisis ofidcoIo¿ics, ofthc in-
stitutions thcmscIvcs, whcn tcrror wouId bc inadcguatc for thc
cIosin¿ofthc microcosm. And it couIdonIybcpossibIcto cvadc
thc compuIsions of cconomism, of cconomic rationaIity, pro-
¿rammin¿andthat IimitcdformofrationaIitythatcannotsccits
ownIimitations, inso far assuchcompuIsionsdo not succccdin
cIosin¿tbccircuit accordin¿ to thcir pro¿rammin¿, insystcmat-
izingthc whoIc ofsocicty, whcncc thc advanta¿c both ofcracks
inthc structurc and ofthc umorcsccn dcmands ofapro¿rcssivc,
prcssin¿ 'rcaIity` , urbanrcaIity.
To¿cthcrwiththcconccptofman andofhumanism (thchuman-
ism ofcompctitivc capitaIism and ofthc IibcraI bour¿coisic) thc
conccpt ofcreation has faIIcninto discrcdit. Onc ofthcb:st and
mostcsºcntiaI conditions forthc rcaIization ofa cuIturaIrcvoIu-
tion is that thc conccpts of art, crcation, frccdom, adaptation,
styIc, cxpcricncc vaIucs, human bcin¿, bcrcstorcdandrc-acguirc
thcir fuII si¿nibcancc, but such a condition can onIy bc fuIñIIcd
a0cr a ruthIcss criticism of productivist idcoIo¿y, cconomic
rationaIismandcconom¡sm,aswcIIasofsuchmythsandpscudo-
conccptsasparticipation,intc¿rationandcrcativity,incIudin¿thcir
practicaI appIication, has bccn pcrformcd.AcuIturaI rcvoIution
rcguircs acuIturaI stratc¿y with ruIcsthatcan bcsct down.
The philosophy ofcompulsion and the compulsion of
philosophy
Ior two thousand ycars it had bccn thc phiIosophcr`s roIc to
undcrstandthcthcorcticaIstatusofnaturaIandsociaImaninthc
univcrsc andinhisnaturaIcnvironmcnt. Thc cñortsofphiIosophy
simuItancousIy suppIicd and symboIizcdthcanswcr,whiIcphiIo-
sophysummcdupthcdisconncctcdcxpcricnccsandknowIcd¿cof
various activitics. Thc advcnt ofindustrycompIctcIychan¿cdthc
status ofphiIosophy and ofthc phiIosophcr, for thisncwpraxis
appcarcd on rcûcctionto bcthc dcpositaryofthc crcativc cncr¿y
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
ítíscommonknowIcd¿cthatthccuIturc ofthc\nítcdStatcshas
no soIíd phíIosophícaI backín¿; that ín thc \SSKthc omcíaI
cuIturc adoptcd aphíIosophy dcrívcd fromMarxístthcorícs that
wcrc íntcndcd for a practícaI rcaIízatíon; whíIc thc Iast has a
phíIosophy ofíts own that wc shaII not prcsumc to díscuss. The
theoretical revolution which constitutes the frst step towards a
cultural revolution is based on philosophical experience.
JhcrcvívaIofartandofthcmcanín¿ofarthasapractícaInota
' cura' aím;índc�d,ourcuIturaIrcvoIutíonhasnopurcIy 'cuI-
turaI ` aíms, but dírccts cu¡turc towards cxpcrícncc, towards thc
tranºhguraIíon of cvcryday !¡fc. Jhc rcvoIutíon wíII transform
eistence,notmcrcIythcstaIcandthcdístríbutíonofpropcrty,for
wc do nottakc mcans forcnds. Jhís can aIso bcstatcdasfoIIows :
' IctcvcrydayIífcbccomcaworkofart!IctcvcrytcchnícaImcans
bc� cm ¡1a¬sforma¡íon ofcvcryday Iífc ! ` !rom an
intcIIcctuaI poínt of vícw thc word ' crcatíon` wíII no Ion¿cr bc
rcstríctcdtoworksofartbutwíIIsígnífya scIf-conscíousactívíty,
scIf-conccívín¿, rcproducín¿ íts own tcrms, adaptín¿ thcsc tcrms
andíts ownrcaIíty (body, dcsírc,tímc, spacc),bcín¿íIsowncrca-
tíon; socíaIIy thc tcrm wíII standfor thc actívíty ofa coIIcctívíty
assumín¿thcrcsponsíbíIíty ofítsownsocíaIfunctíonanddcstíny-
ìn othcrwords forseladministration. SupcrÞcíaI obscrvcrs notc
thc dístanccthat scparatcs¡ckín¿fromBcI¿radc, or thcy mí¿ht
contrast scIf-admínístratíon and cuIturaI rcvoIutíon; but such
poIítícaI comparísons arc ínvaIíd ín thc contcxt ofconccpt and
sí¿níÞcancc ; scIf-admínístratíonínvoIvcsccrtaíncontradíctíonsín
ítsmakc-up,amon¿whicharc 'cuIturaI ` contradíctíons ;thus,far
from rcjcctín¿ thc cuIturaI rcvoIutíon, thís phcnomcnon con-
stítutcs onc ofítsfcaturcs ; thou¿hítdocsnotsoIvcthc¡robIcms
raíscdby scIf-admínístratíonthísfactmakcs thcírcxactformuIa-
tíonpossíbIc.
IcI us sctforth somc ofthc aspccts orcIcmcnts ofthc rcvoIu-
tíonary proccss :
a) Sexual reform and revolution. Jhc chan¿cs contcmpIatcd arc
not conccrncd onIy wíth'maIc-fcmaIc` rcIatíons, jurídícaI and
poIítícaI cguaIíty bctwccn contractín¿ and cn¿a¿cd partícs, nor
wíthdc-fcudaIízín¿ and dcmocratízín¿ thc rcIatíons bctwccn thc
Towards a Permanent Cultural Revolution 205
scxcs ; thcrcform shouIdmodífythc(cmotíonaI and ídcoIo¿ícaI)
rcIatíons bctwccn scxuaIíty and socícty. Kcprcssívc socícty and
scxuaI Icrrorísm must bc Iíguídatcd and díspatchcd by aII thc
thcorctícaI and practícaI mcans avaíIabIc; scxuaI rcprcssíonmust
no Ion¿cr bc thc conccm (índccd, thc maín conccrn) ofínstítu-
tíons ; ítmust bc cradícatcd; thcmorc soasrcprcssíonandtcrror
arcnotIímítcdtothccontroI ofscxuaIactívítícs, butcxtcndtoaII
thc cncr¿ícs and potcntíaIítícs of thc human bcín¿. D ís not a
mattcrofaboIíshín¿aIIc�ntroIofscxuaIactívítícs ;índccd,acom-
pIctc abscncc of controI mí¿ht rcsuIt ín thc dísappcarancc or
Icsscnín¿ ofdcsírcby turnín¿ ítínto an unmcdiatcd nccd; dcsírc
cannot cxíst wíthout controI, aIthou¿h thc rcprcssíon bascd on
controIkíIIsdcsírcorpcrvcrtsít. ControIshouIdbcínthchandsof
thoscconccmcd,notcnforccdbyínstítutíons,stíIIIcssbythcjoípt
mcthodsofcthícs andtcrror.
b) Urban reform and revolution. JhcrcshouId bc no mísundcr-
standín¿satthíspoínI ;urbanísmwíIIcmcr¿cfromthcrcvoIutíon,
not thc rcvoIutíon from urbanísm; thou¿h, ín fact, urban cx-
pcrícncc and ínpartícuIar thc stru¿¿Icforthccíty (for ítsprcscr-
vatíon and rcstoratíon, for thcfreedom of the city) provídcthc
scttín¿andobjcctívcsforanumbcrofrcvoIutíonaryactíons. \ntíI
thc ratíonaIíty of índustríaI pIaníñcatíon undcr¿ocs a radícaI
chan¿c and índustríaI admínístratíon ís rcor¿anízcd, productíon
wíII ncvcr bc ¿carcd towards urban cxístcncc and thc socíaI rc-
guírcmcntsofurbansocíctyassuch.JhcbattIcísthcrcforcfou¿ht
out onthcÞcIdofproductíonand ít ís thcrc that stratc¿ymust sct
íts objcctívcs. A practícaI rcaIízatíon ofurban socícty ínvoIvcs
boIh a poIítícaI pro¿rammc (covcrín¿ thc whoIc of socícIy, Ihc
cntírctcrrítory) and an cconomíc controI.
!urthcrmorc, anurban reform couIdassumctodaythc roIcand
thcsí¿níÞcanccthatwcrc,forhaIfaccntury, thosc ofthc agricul­
tural reform (andthat ít stíIIprcscrvcs ín somc pIaccs) ; thc struc-
turc of nco-capítaIíst owncrshíp, Iaws and ídcoIo¿ícs wouId bc
shakcn by thís rcvoIutíonary rcform. Ico-capítaIísm and thc
socíctyofControIIcdConsumptíonarcnotconccrncdwíthchcck-
ín¿thcdccayofwhat ísIcftofurbancxístcncc today, wíthínvcnt-
ín¿ ncw dcvcIopmcnts, cnabIín¿ thcm to bccomc ¿cncraIízcd 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 .

you are confronted with news items.1 An Inquiry. Pencil poised. Imagine that you have before you a complete set of calendars dating from 1 900. Now you try to discover what took place on this particUIa:raay"-among so many others in a relatively peace­ ful and prosperous year .1J. and Some Discoveries In the past fifty years . accidents. of which you select one at random that happens to represent a year towards the beginning of the century. 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. labours or leisure. you open your eyes and you find that it is the sixteenth of Ju.. 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. those occurrences that must have been silently developing in the hidden depths of time. you then close your eyes and make a cross beside a day in this year. preoccupations. 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. You go to the public library and consult the national press for this date. on the other hand. their occupations.for this continent and country at least.eyou have marked. neither will you find much information as to the manner in which ordinary men and women spent that day.. .

2 Everyday Life in the Modern World Having perused papers and periodicals from this not-so-distant past . expand. Zola and perhaps others ? * \ I merges Hermann Broch. In his endeavour to portray the wealth and poverty of everyday life Joyce exploited language to the farthest limits of its resources. includ­ ing the fluids of womanhood . the book's publication and those twenty-four hours that were its subject matter ? And was it not foreshadowed already in Balzac.masks. man . dominated by the sign of Gemini. his wife Molly and his friend Stephen Dedalus. objects are super-objects. its' already almost inconceivable physiognomy'. contract . Bloom's overwhelming triviality is encompassed by the City (Dublin). of substitutions. and as such was narrated in every detail to become. pp. for no obvious reason. was inevitable . You might further select this early summer's day with the sun in its solstice. But in making use of all the poten­ tialities of speech a twofold disruption of language. images and symbols and general. the symbolic and the prophetic. things and people in the narrative are conceived in terms of the object and subject of classical philosophy. as Joyce's narrative rescues. the rIse and fall of a pings of an epic . the'I significant in the lives of a certain Bloom. . the classical object and subject of philosophy are found here in concrete form . that is to say. Flaubert. * The momentous eruption of everyday life into literature should not be overlooked. It might. one after the other. each facet of the quotidian from anonymity. 1955. During these epic twenty-four hours in the history of Ulysses (Odysseus. a symbol of'universal everyday life '. 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. Thus it is by chance and not by chance that this particular day a sixteenth of June at the beginning of the twentieth century .of whom nobody at the time had ever heard . ' and unfurls through the medium of interior monologue. with all the trap­ � the show. Enigmatic powers preside. man-God.the quotidian steals dynasty or the fate of some social group. �entQry of everyday life implies Een if such a negation presupposes a certain amount of irony -towards symbol and imagery . This subjectivity which unfurls is time in its dual aspect of man substantial immanence-transcendance of the philosophers. both literary the negation of everyday life through dreams. history. But they are not static. here is the world. Ulysses is diametrically opposed both to novel presenting stereotyped protagonists and to the t�aditional novel recounting the story of the hero's progress. 237. as to the truly protean subject. including its purely musical potentialities. essential com­ mon man. the metaphysical speculations of'amazed' man (Stephen Dedalus). the seemingly simple object before us dissolves when subjected to the influence of acts and events from a totally different order . for the birth in some quiet village or town of children who. Zurich. so many years after the author's death. But was this revelation as sensational then as it seems now. it is a complex of metamorphoses. be more exact to say that readers were suddenly made aware of everyday life through the medium of literature or the written word. scenery .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 City. be­ comes all Cities. Dublin.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 . . Here. 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. a life elusive in its finitude and its infinity and one that reflects the spirit of the age. . the anonymous and the divine made one) the with Man and Man is engulfed in mediocrity. the River stands for all rivers and waters.was / An Inquiry. and the spontaneity of instinctive i'mpulses (Molly) . Dichten und Erkennell. would grow up gifted with an exceptional awareness of the times and events. it has discarded the think that I think that I think . and Some Discoveries 3 The answers to these questions may contain a lot that is unexpec­ ted.noting the familiarity of headlines and the out-of-date typo­ graphy . Otis-Zeus. however. 183-210. here are the imaginary. they change. according to Hermann Broch. costumes.

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

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

a sinister collabora­ tion of civilization and nature. symbols and word-play abound.. we are in time of war.8 Everyday Life in the Modern World down the windowpane? I could write a whole page. are reduced to bare necessities. ten pages. Shall we select for our particular example of 'objective' writing. 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. dream and remembrance recreate a universal everyday life. b) Man's fate is not enacted here against a backdrop of normal everyday life. words. and only expose its'objective' or spectacular aspects. and the leaded windows. an affinity that makes comparison possible while enabling us to note the contrasts. .' know? The courtyard of the old inn with the dark-red brick walls and Fine. the place being the only stable thing there is. a dis­ tinguished scholar or a novelist? If a novelist. stifling. Flanders Road. which pro­ ceeds in cycles. for me it will become the symbol of everyday life whilst avoiding everyday life. it will be the world and still only a vanishing raindrop. The simultaneity of past. gestures. Memories are centred around the place. on that raindrop. when the quest for a perfect recurrence. Time is cancelled out in the process of exploring it. husband and lover. In both works short periods of time expand. The past.. a landscape laid waste by war and rain where corpses . 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. symbolized and actualized by it as they flow from the remote past. 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. wife. Now let us compare this to what we had noted in Ulysses. you the light-coloured mortar.i1.And Blum: 'Bought drinks?'. present and future merges time with space and is more easily realized in a film than in literature. Can one even say An Inquiry. the sweat streaming over our chests gasping for breath like stranded fish. or space within time. of writing reduced to its essence. in both we find the eternal triangle. is achieved by means of pure prose.rot in the mud and slime. nor in which tense is the narrative.of English beer. tedious­ ness or interest). but only of language imitating'reality'. aiming instead at a pure transparency of language that might almost be called �atia1... This '. 'Oh yes! . in Joyce a Bloom. London. 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. words are elusive anf! only that which is stipulated remains. 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. the writing of strict form. and we do not need to know. and the girl carrying the copper mugs . they circle around the place and their circling leads to death or captivity at the hands of the enemy. was Flanders Road.. In the course of the narrative. before tragedy took over...It was . Writing can only show an everyday life inscribed and prescribed. Moreover it is not every subject that can be submitted to such a formal elaboration: things. and I: 'Yes. And yet it is the quotidian that is conjured up.. people.. a coincidence that suggests a connection per­ haps not wholly unintentional on the part of the later author. The symbolism is spatial. the place is a place of desolation. 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 . lyricism. the sashes painted white. * because there is a certain affinity between this . It can be seen as a methodical attempt to create a rational style that deliberately avoids tragedy.. and Some Discoveries 9 book and Ulysses notwithstanding the differences that distinguish them. We are never sure in what moment of time the story is situated..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. 1962. a) Here we find no acknowledged. Claude Simon. a coming and going in time. confusion and controversy. In Claude Simon there is a Blum. where 'novelistic' implications are always present. men are the playthings of fate. Let us take an example. failure. it will stand for time and space.. pre-established referential..

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

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

but in so doing they will not . 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. have solved the problem.). spiritual and material. theoretical and practical. the dialectical interaction that is the inevitable starting point for the realization of the possible. We cannot eliminate a priori the Nietzschean theory of nihilism as a rung in the ladder of progress.biological. of production and of the thought involved in all creative activity.14 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. 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. If we adopt the Hegelian and Marxist trend.fragments of understanding . Continuing our address to the philosopher. and to undertake a radical transformation not only of the state and politics. philosophical systems or political organizations . 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. of alignments and of a pre-estab­ lished meaning behind the meaninglessness of events.etc. furnishings.the definitions' philosophical'. I address the philosopher in his own terms. either to go beyond Hegel in identifying (Philosophical) reason with (social) reality (in realizing philosophy). that is. reciprocal and·simul": taneous control? Does such a revolutionary attitude allow for the inherent rationality of history. or to revert to metaphysics. a barrier. the Idea and the Soul. jurisdiction and sociology but also of everyday life. this rationality explicated by philosophy and implicit in everyday life? Hegel's reply is unambiguous: rationality comes from Reason.State. of labour and the organiza­ tion of labour. everyday life is more than something that eludes natural. a moment made of moments (desires. 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. products and exhibits other than natural.'f everyday life . to refute the distinctions between philosophical and non-philosophical. we formulate the problem in the clearest possible terms: we are faced with a di­ lemma. and 'non-! I philosophical' indicating mutual recognition. The question is how far can a compendium of compulsions and determi�sms (desires specialized labour . the realization of the rational through philosophy. and who is to be held responsible? It would seem that to be innocent existence must lack meaning and direction. Depth and Substance and on the other events. Humanity? It is impossible to overstress our objection to this kind of philo­ sophical traditionalism. deadlocks? Responsibility involves guilt. geo­ graphical and historical compulsions) assume the appearance of a freely created world.passivity and creativity .whilst \ � [ • '!: . But does the fact of giving a meaning (this mean­ ing) to history and society not imply their responsibility in meaning­ lessness. absurdities. culture and ignorance.means and ends . if we adopt the Nietzschean theory of values. economics. pleasures . Ihe limitations of philosophy . a halting place and a springboard. But there are more dilemmas to come. or a buffer but a field and a half­ way house. Marx and the Marxists are still clear enough: rationality is the outcome of action. Church.reality without truth. appearances and manifestations. superior and inferior.truth . divine and human myths. \ As a comPendium of seemingly unimportant activities and of . projection of something greater than free­ dom? Philosophers may ignore these compulsions and deter­ minisms when laying down their laws. society and aU forms of specialized activity and labour? Where does it come from. labours. because it is more and other than these? It is not a chasm. etc. This is the first step. Could it represent a lower sphere ofnieaning. nourishment. and to put our faith in mythologies with philosophy as the greatest cosmogonic and theological myth of all. either we exert all our energy (such energy as every individual qua social individual pos­ sesses) in consolidating existing institutions and ideologies . a construc­ tive theory of everyday life emerges. a critical theory of everyday life must ensue.. violence. Kierke­ gaardian anxiety and despair and the liberalism Nietzsche strove to overthrow. Divinity.products and achievements .always and ever counterbalance the limitations without reality -.

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

exhaustless temporality glimpsed only by some of the greatest philosophers? Images.. our decision to explon.and Parmenides' theory of immutable iden­ tity and sameness.. We will resist the-temptation to use such resolutions as a cover Jor more unquiet if not Il. an interest that is a legacy from the age-old preoccupation with the Logos (connected to the nature of the Logos). 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. weeks.as the key-note at the end of an octave divided into intervals (a scale) marks the beginning of another octave. memory and knowledge thus recapture a fragmented unity. but we reserve all rights to 'U ft' change the rules and to introduce new concepts. Hegel.. of theme and of com­ bined intervals in a melody. a 'iOS"f"convergence? It is common knowied�naiYsis-stress�ih�-inorbid effects of trau­ matic repetitions as weliaSi:he--ther�ffu�iS-ot.. We must not for­ get that we are practising a sort of maieutic in assisting the birth of everyday life's potential plenitude. all transmissible themes are potentially recurrent .the \ more so when transcribed. Could images. 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. Yet the situation has consider­ ably changed since Socrates.rvl"\ di. months. flow. . . Hegelian and Marxist notions of becoming WIth the crucial fact of recurrence? How to coriciJiate theH-. imagination and the imaginary would seem�_ to be involved in this temporal flow and to extend it. etc. whose understanding was a matter for reflection long before that of lan­ guage. all music included in the sound con­ tinuum is repeatable. natural and rational time. the relation Would it be possible for philosophy to rediscover the innocent wonder of revelation while dealing with everyday life? Whatever Y. thus we assert .-recur. Music is movement. social and individual life.�c:��rence) intercepts the theory of becoming. has distracted the attention of scholars from a subject that was in the earliest days of philosophy a major preoccupation: music. days.�nc�} Everyday life is made of recur'* (e"nces: gestures of labourancrIel�ure. history.. and Some Discoveries 19 last philosophers have always associated with reminiscence and re­ cognition (of the subject in reflection. Could a fundament�l. ! the outcome of such a confrontation .Qhiloso�hY will a�ways v��il­ -" late between scorn and admiration for what IS non-phIlosophical.18 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. of the object in conception and of being in truth). the study of creative activity (of production.ra�iitean theory of perpetual Otherness-� where recurrence is a stumbling-block .. re-commenced.tallledfrom an elucidation-of these. mechanical movements both human and properly mechanic. and of related activities such as reading and writing. under­ go gradual or sudd�J1 modifications. all melodies tend towards an end (cadence) that may start a repeat . We are not setting posi­ tivism against speculation. we only wish to extend philosophy so � ><>V as to realize philosophical reason and determine the unity of reality and reason. The riddle of (. in its widest sense) leads to the study of re-production or the conditions in which actions producing objects and labour are re-produced.lQLt:Cdisquieting intentions.ections for the use of concepts.currence be concealed within Heraclitean time flowing through the cosmos. and yet it is based on re-'\ currence. We may borrow for this purpose the philosopher's Y:r-'.which universal motion invalidates? Would it be possible to establish a dialogue between the followers of Hera­ clitus. and re-assume their component proportions or. 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. hours. There can be recurrence of motif. The recurrence of octaves in a sequence of given sounds. which I (� /� � _� [ \ \ -. Emotions and feelings from the past are re-evoked and moments recalled by and through music (and by the imagination and art in general). The study of lan­ guage. time. linear and cyclical repetitions. a new man must now be produced and the notion of maieutic will have to stand up to that of change and revolution. years. unity in difference. 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. on the contrary.

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

they have methods. determinism. 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. in the name of necessity. WIth the Industrial Revolution social existence i� the nineteenth century slowly emerged from millenary conditions of want and SUbjection to unpredictable natural powers. It is by means of such contradictions that the specialized sciences seek a greater rationality. such as sociology for instance? Now. 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.' Our objector's arguments are serious . while he saw himself as an upholder of freedom. of goods in short supply? Is this inequality. master nature and control its laws .assessment.and often unfair . Want cannot be overcome all at once . unforeseen short­ ages arise : shortages of space.or " the mind " . thus permittmg the formulation ofconcf�iQbTems ofproductjQ[! (in its widest sense) : how the social existence of human beings is produced. for they are compounded of ideologies. As a consequence of scientificness you will be forced to deny this quality to certain specialities in favour of others . rationality and the kno'Yledge of facts? Let it be understood that short supply is not for us an illuminating feature of history./ 22 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inqu iry. seen as a model for scientific precision. such rational ambitions are not entirely vain. but others. 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. concepts. objectives. some products answering basic requirements may be­ come available in certain industrial areas. fields and provinces. The study of everyday life affords a meeting place for specialized sci� somethmg more beSiUeS. its transition from want to affluence and from appreciation to depreciation. 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 . and Some Discoveries 23 Your demographies and inventories are only one chapter of a much wider science . time. or whether they project their individual light-rays on to global reality. These sciences came into being when man . Indeed. You seem to forget that these so-called disciplines have only a relative existence. 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 . they are the arguments of positivism and science. as the specialized sciences aim at operativeness .which last it is their task either to consolidate or eliminate. and such circumstances required a long period of transition before attaining the conditions to which reason aspired. continue to be rare. .and in this they succeed. Are the sciences of which you think so highly not responsible among other things for the maintenance of existing conditions and for the unequal . related as they are on the one hand to practical activities and on the other to ideologies . Such a critical analysis corresponds to a study of compUlsions and partial deter­ minisms . more precious. 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. and furthermore. have overlooked the danger such an attitude presents for the specialized sciences you are defending. necessities and the necessary. \ . but a phenomenon that accounts for behaviour. you must withdraw this advantage from psychology. you appear to belong to the school of thought that denies scientific relativism and sees science as absolute . not the result today of science. though they cannot avoid the occasional clash with the restricted rationality of existing societies or with legalized and institutionalized absur­ dities.-"rfexposesthe JlQssibililTes of contllct between the rational and the lrratronaI in our society andour time.attempted and hoped to overcome fate. thus on behalf of linguistics.. but you cannot. we believe. history and sociology. formerly imputed to legislation. 0. still less a theory of economics. a thing's obsolescence and its chances of sur­ vival are only one stage in the process of ageing . Thus for the sociologist DurkheilI1< compulsion was identified with social reality. law. rationality and civilization.

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

we would be completely involved. 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' . Indeea�'th. either from the beginning of knowledge we would know all there was to know or it would be beyond our reach for ever. debating and collating go together. that r of facts. it contains the main themes while discarding a numbe analyses and arguments. (We purposely avoid the terms " urban" and " urbanism" for fear of multiplying words that qualify concepts but surreptitiously tend towards entities and essences.26 Everyday Life in the Modern WorId terms such as the City. 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. news 'items-�an(radvertise­ me ��!i9-joti!I�� l'hilosopher in his scorn for the quo��c1ia. for either the system includes everyday life and there is no more to be said. Our study centres mainly .n. science and philosophy . while the task of extricating some kind of pattern from this jigsaw puzzle devolves to the practitioner (advertiser or town planner).If. a comparative study would require a wide knowledge of different countries and lan­ guages if it is not to become a superficial race-psychology . we have to step back and get it into perspective. reason and language . . if the truth was a question of ' all or nothing '. The first. is to say. an incessant self-analysis. Critical distancing. or it does not and everything is still to be said.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 the system though real and true forbade critical distancing. though these answers cannot be entirely satisfactory . If we accept the quo­ tidian passively we cannot apprehend it qua quotidian..* 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 . if there were a system (social. we would not be able even to grasp it. objects / and the world o(o eCts� 'time-iables'.)' All that remains now to end this introduction is to beg the reader's indulgence for its shortcomings. differentiation ? These questions necessarily concern our problem and we shall try to answer them as pertinently as possible. for instance. Undertakings of this order apparently meaningless facts and organize them according to a pattern and a method. the second was published in 1963. Critique de la vie quotidienne (Paris). classifying them according to categories that are both empirical and distinct and filing them away under such headings as family sociology. and Some Discoveries 27 haviour. Everyday life . consumption-psychology. but it An Inquiry. neither awareness of it nor any awareness at all would then be possible . essence and existence. We do not believe that our undertaking should distinguish knowledge and analysis. issued in 1959 and it is an introduction. On the other hand if there is no such complete and perfect system it will not be easy to sift knowledge from ideology .is indeed the living proof that such a system does not exist.or debatable ideologies . was re­ . The important thing is to keep going and to discover what we can on the way.such as labour for Marx and sex for Freud. especially. political or metaphysical) that we could accept. The advancement of learning � �<. or on the contrary towards their . published in 1 946. it must be both polemical and theoretical. 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'.as distinct from art. or the study of costumes and be_. anthropology or ethnology of contemporary communities. Or they ignore everyday facts such as furniture.� 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. a critical analysis of everyday life will discover ideologies and the understanding of everyday life must include an ideological analysis and. 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. :I).and only too obviously .e experts of specialized sciences tend to isolate facts to their own conveniences.

notwithstanding the attempts to achieve one by resurrecting for­ mer styles or by settling among their ruins and memories . For the historian who is not content with dating events it is essential to know how people opposed. 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. this is done by inserting the quotidian into the general: state. This applies to all theoretical inquiries. 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. Our own everyday life is typical for its yearning and quest for::Lstyle that obstinately eludes it. This does not mean. Thus the analysis of everyday life will involve conceptions and appreciations on the scale of social ex­ perience in general.By challenging the position of others .he challenges his own. the Aztecs. culture (or what is left of it). 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. circuitous meanderings of whi. With the Incas.�h the most remarkable and at the same time the most popular is �thnology. 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. nothing had as yet become pro­ ) . etc. The quotidian is not only a concept but one that may be used as a guide-line for an understanding of ' society'. 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. we must define . short of remaining entrenched arbitrarily in the particular and in theoretically dis­ connected facts and ideas.�. L'Homme et fa societe. Thus the difference between our inquiry and others on material life and culture stands out from the start.but he cannot undertake to avoid humour and irony and to maintain throughout the gravity proper to all forms of scholarship. where the quotidian and modernity take root.which seems the correct method .and all the poetry of existence has been evicted. words. until now it invades everything .we will get to it in the end. in order to under­ stand the modern world.so much so that style and culture can now be distinguished and only a muddled and confused idea of it. 1 967.28 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.their gravity or lack of gravity . p.m:� :iY���. 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 . and Some Discoveries 29 cedure for understanding society and defining it in depth. the long way round is sometimes only an excuse for escape. today there is no style. If we wish> to define everyday life we must first define the society wher� it is lived. and the most r _ An Inquiry. The present inquiry should not be confused with those forming part of a popular series: Everyday life in different ages and civiliza­ tions. not eve -tli uotldIan . distinguishing from an assortment of apparently insignificant phenomena those that are essential and co-ordinating them. sooner or later they merge with a general conception of society. it cannot avoid connec­ tions with strategical variables or the strategy of knowledge and action. III. of ' man ' or of the ' world '. world spread.literature. which would have us believe that. eve:�x detail (gestures. 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. tn� and the yoetry ri. Some of the volumes of this series are remarkable. tech­ nics and technicalities. still identical. 63). . and if we do not start from the whole . costumes. tools. in Greece or in Rome. ideologically and theoretically) than are social com­ munities related by certain affinities to form a whole. in that ' they illustrate the total absence o everyday life in a given com­ f munity at a given time. Social and human facts are no more distinct (conceptually. however. art and objects . bears the imprint of a style."Its changes and perspectives. This seems * 4:he best way of tackling the problem. It is surely to be preferred to those long. That is where it leads. � �f.not even in the risk of error .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.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 '

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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

�JI �

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!....

j

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48 Everyday Life in the Modem World
_

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.

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

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

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

by the addition of a new alienation to the old. or even suppressed. It has substituted for the image of active man that of the consumer as the possessor of happiness and of perfect rationality. Yugoslavia alone perhaps is still free from its grip. Since the beginning of all these changes and the birth of modernity. complex literary word-play and a certain amateurism in styles and history . 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. no total rationalization of industry. In most cases they seem oblivious to the fact that they are reverting to Hegelian theories. and thus made available to advertising and propaganda : a smile as the symbol of everyday happiness. As a reaction to Marx and often in open protest against him. 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. what foundations support them and whom do they implicate ? What. rough and bawdy games. the culture of the masses. or ' purity' signified in the whiter-than-white of a detergent. but against a background of general crisis. until re­ cently. and Some Discoveries 57 the curbing of desires. but the vision of consumer and consuming as art of consumption. that of the state's decay. strategies and strategical variables are elaborated and opposed above our heads. even in the countries of the 'Third World" in ' socialist ' countries and in the Anglo-Saxon countries that had. inspired from works of art or antiques) and thus occupy a level of social reality. economic program­ ming and organized rationality. if not everyday life. the enormous amount of signifiers liberated or insufficiently connected to their corresponding signifieds (words. that of the informed consumer for instance.56 Everyday Life in the Modern World An Inquiry. be­ tween the importance of real technical constructs and the petty gadgets with their ideological wrappings. The powers of decision are exerted from on high. jewellery. etc.) they are left to get on as best they can. Though technology has achieved a remarkable degree of perfec­ tion it is always at state level . In Western neo-capitalist countries there has been no overt pro­ gramming of production. opposing Hegel to Marx.or retrieved to be turned into consumer goods (furniture. yet . houses. 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. Thus what commands our attention is a diff erence of levels and not the rational equality of demands. puns in poor taste.that results are obtained. images and signs). occasionally reinstated as advanced learning . active subject become ' objective '). thriftiness and the necessity of eking out goods in short supply to a new culture resulting from production and consumption at their highest ebb. the individual. gestures. down below sprawl the vulgari­ zations. We saw the discrepancy between these and the technical trivialities of everyday life. as the ideal become reality ('me'. sociologists. Such questions may seem pointless. Thus after an internal split culture too is decaying. living. its strategies. But on what are these powers exerted. like all protests against state control. We have already discussed the all-pervasive presence of an extra­ ordinary phenomenon. as to the discarded sig­ nifieds (styles. consumption and communi­ cation . an ideology that has bereft the working classes of their former ideals and values while maintaining the status and the initiative of the bourgeoisie. economists and politicians have frequently stressed the significant role of the state. 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.space and nuclear research. Such is the predicament in which the ideology of production and the significance of creative activity have become an ideology ofconsumption. Not the consumer nor even that which is consumed is important in this image.the pre­ rogative of the elite . they reject the most remarkable of his theories. and that today we are still experiencing such an opposition. avoided the demands of state control. 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. In this process of ideological substitutions and dis­ placements man's awareness of his own alienation is repressed. secluded in their ivory towers we have subtle intellectuality. arms and strategy . the historical.

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

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

clCl. Former certainties fml that were related to a content (real or apparent).�l!. the cumbersome double-bed.�. This shift to signals in the semantic field involves the subjection of the senses to compulsions and a general conditioning of every­ day life.62 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry.. though such redundancy is seen as a satisfactory stability (feed-back) by .. the legacies ofpre-capitalism had not yet been set aside as folk-lore (nor exhibited as such for tourist consumption) .) . but always under compulsion).:Jt�Yt:: e�· � � try to figure o!lt how_!. Form without content is deceptive. furthermore. not e�c d� . others represented riches and profusion in the midst of penury: thus the massive cupboard or sideboard. gesture and __ . The natural outcome ofthis situation was an attempt to compensate ideologically for these short­ comings . the whole of society as the theatre where meaning is enacted in various specific contexts). and Some Discoveries 63 here and there by various methods. 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. is taking place. some stood for what was rare and valuable (jewels.Pt()y!cl�J)t:l!f!i9�! �ystems for the mCl!!:! lt JZYfg Q1LQ[ii�9Qi� �nd l'ii things� tJ:tQllgh they . and con­ tradictory into the bargain. ornaments. . if it has not already happened. controls behaviour and consists of contrasts chosen pre­ cisely for their contradiction (such as. however. 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. The result. Such ' objects possessed a symbolic value that was already outdated. 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 rationalists of organization. b) Remarkable changes have taken place in the semantic field considered as a whole (that is. signals can be grouped in codes (the highway code is a simple and familiar example). Symbols had been prominent in this field for many centuries. Signals ancl. 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. thus forming systems of compulsion. etc. * Everyday life is preserved in mediocrity or it must perish (violently or otherwise. a tragic sense more pregnant than the ' disenchantment' with rationality that Max Weber (who still had faith in rationality) analysed. television) has notable implica­ tions. assigned to it by mutual agreement. it differs from these in that its only significance is conventional.�lh. Though the signal figures in the semantic field together with the symbol and the sign. codes. industrial pro­ ducts co-existed with the products of rural crafts. 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. How­ ever. 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. from signs to signals. the long looking-glass or . in the early stages of our civilization there was a perceptible shift from symbols to signs as the authority of the written word increased. we shall see �' tha[he -�ust register once and for all each action.!lse�Qis �. and especially after the invention of the printing press.. IE-sr _. The signal com­ mands. In­ dustrial production had not yet swamped and absorbed the re­ mains of peasant production and crafts . but none the less the sense of a loss ofsub$fance prevails. for instance.�gtory. whence the theory of ' participation' followed by �he theory of ' creativity'.�!!e ��::tl]. though it is accepted as ' pure' form and thus assumes the role of structure . word of ' another ' as though these were signals. ' Displays of reality' have become a display trade and a dis­ play of trade offering a perfect example of a pleonasm. Today a fur��. red and green) . '* We shall come across the notion of obsolescence again further on. villages still thrived and the countryside surrounded the town even in industrial countries .h nt::� ma!!�. . symbols de­ rived from nature but containing definite social implications. 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.

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

has raised a number of important questions. One Dimensional Man. only desires happen to figure among the irreducibles. alienates privacy by housing its dependants in hierarchized dwel­ lings. does not submit to cybernetic processes . even prefabricated. for a state where.�. and Some Discoveries 67 Our theories are more or less in agreement with those of Ameri­ can critical sociology. his memory alone is unimpeachable.or the expansion of productivist ideology . etc. scintillation and ' modernism') be the French high-road to americanization ? We return to a question formulated earlier on: ����e_l! homo�:. moreover we would prove that though man is directed. we repeat.---:"--�"��S developed nations prQ. botlitheoretical ally � for_the r�� un�rdeveloped. Its control is sometimes overpowering and. rebellion and assertiveness. Unlike Riesman. under cover of an anti-American policy and using for its ends a social group. ideologies. By displacing basic problems such a society collapses . and does -exp an­ sion �g QnnevelopmentiQJbe PQinLQ[integrat!OiWm ideology l? andJirchnology . seeping through " the ch_��1�_9 highly organized everyday life. or. the business concern tends to level out society. * as the liquida­ Marcuse. The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption is heading for fresh contradictions. . while the robot . furthermore it constricts and apparatus leads to a progranunatizing of the consumer. a poisonous flower to a pretty posy: could the organization of everyday life (with its 'brilliance '. amongst which is that of the social function of business concerns. lack­ ing a general theory of society.has neither desires nor appetites . * American critical sociology . functions. as only industrial production can be automated and the con­ sumer is elusive and must be tracked down. pre­ vail in Europe and in France ? Is the americanization of France heading straight for success. �that nei ��� . But we would also try to prove the failure of such tendencies through 'irreducibles '. We are now aware. patterns.for the time being . As a result. on' the con­ trnry. etc. it is a failure where social life is concerned tion of humanism proves.discrepanCIeS and resistancesmust in­ eV1tabiYbrin:�tthe-dis�ption of the whore structure ? Do -----. we do not contrast an ' outer-directed' with an ' inner-directed' man.su on th � � f gg�-sts �� � feminism. London. in the future. subordinating social existence to its totalitarian demands and leading to ' synthesis'.Y!!!��!I!£del. contradictions that resist re­ pression and transposition. but consumer-information is treated to condition­ ing . to by-pass this appro­ priation involving a rational world-scale programming.- . consump­ tion is organized on the pattern of production. . We have just added a ticklish problem to our theory. through published works corroborating practical experience. that the big ' modem' business concern is not content with the status of economic unit (or group of units) nor with political influence. Cybernetization appeared to operate through the police (Orwell) or through bureaucracy. however conditioning.:. edu­ cation. by outer circumstances (compul­ sions.11111 P" 66 Everyday Life in the Modem World An Inquiry.nnicity �I. but though this sociology has elucidated a number of important facts it has neglected the essential concepts of everyday life and modernity.would foster or reveal a smgle absolute system.----". 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. urbanization and urbanism. especially the female of the species.which may perhaps restrict cybernetic rationality and the programming of everyday life . but tends to invade social experience and to set itself up as a model of organization and ad­ ministration for society in general. � ���!!:_?! - � . The robot and the com/ puter are. 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. and the consumer. stereotypes. . not the consumer. of ideologies and of economics (theory of expansion) it has left the last word to the economists.notwithstanding the weight of orthodox industry-sponsored 'research' . promotion. be those of an urban society : housing. the technocrats._. It usurps the role of the city and takes over functions that are the city's by right and that should. 1968. whereas automation would (perhaps) free creative energies and make them available for works of art.. in its own way. leisure. production apparatus . su La �ds mainlY 'fYl!!h!iWiY::Y�tfe.

public offices and moral.i� ideology then-being lndiviilucJ/isiit (dis­ guising and vindicating the society's basic character) . knowledge thrives on irony and on opposition. Ipediating between the base (organization and\livision--labourr�n(rili�'s�Stry£iY1:��Jutions. 'Pure ' epistemology and a rigorous procedure provide a strategical with­ drawal and cover against serious onslaughts. a work that includes both a scientific exposition of social reality and suggestions for realizing the possibilities of this society. 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. ideo­ -&f JiiSTIt logies.-1:l1e-. possessing self­ regulating devices that were spontaneous but restricted (com­ petitive capitalism tending to produce a rate of average profit). This involved: a) a whole perceptible to reason (dialectic). simple and com­ plex. the bourgeoisie (united.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. however. In our opinion. but such controversies are as old as philosophy and scientific research and are far from nearing extinction. The fact of standing back to get things into perspective does not involve a withdrawal into formal learn­ ing. We assert that for us a 'pure ' science that holds action at arms' length is not a real science even when it is true. however.. b) a specific cause: society ruled and administered by a class. 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 . and therefore incapable of becoming permanent. artistic and intellectual ' values') by means of the structured-structuring relations of production and pr�£eJ:ty . and theoretical conflicts prevent it from stagnating.. 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. of eluding . individual and social. on the contrary. c) a/orm perceptible to understanding: trade (exchange value) with an unlimited capacity for expansion. polemics do not detract from ' scientificness' . 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. 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. historical time. e) a coherent language answering at one and the same time the needs of practical experience. or rather divided and standardized according to social averages). of science and of the Revolution (or of the world of trade. social space. As for critical objec- tions. of the scientific understanding of this world and of the action that would control and transform it). d1.. not in order to exhaust the subject but to prove our theory. a language that emerged and took shape in Das Kapi/al in relation to specific referentials (dialectic reason.a:·'$oci�1 structu��. A hundred years ago Marx published the first part of Das Kapital.history and change. com' . this last being a caricature of the first. notwithstanding conflicting ambitions). constituting a ' world' with its logic and its language and inseparable from a content : social labour (defined dialectically: qualitative and quantitative. possessing the means of production. devoid of concept and theory. particularized. specialized and general.

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

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

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

' Security' assumes an importance that is out of all proportion in a world of cosmic ventures and nuclear threats." Y is un abandonment to a world of misery. and we have no intention of denying 'progress '. it is. educated middle-class citizens. we suggest that science should not be entitled to provide intellectuals. �� � h-nostalgias-andfu�ti�s-tb:atlilsn ecessary to under. news. for understanding."" stand. Spain. the tourist organizations.which has the advantage of being something we can place and name. 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.76 Everyday Life in the Modem World The Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption 77 I permeated its every aspect. the result. and contrasting with the multiplication of messages. At this point we must formulate a few simple (but practical) questions.and who does not prefer everyday triviality to famine if the choice were to be made.1 (nineteenth century) . were it not to stress the unity of each society and each period. In­ versely. 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. c) the estab / of everyday life. because pressures and compulsions tighten their grip after every successive failure . that the ludic aspect of social life should not be left to philosophers while scholars are already studying strategies and formalized games. We do not wish to cry over spilt milk but to explain such tears and how they inspire 'rightist' censures of our society. which wouldSn Owho wrn-ihepasthundfedyears or so it has"""beCome more crystallized with each successive failed revolution. Belgium. or the desire to understand. we oppose our science to theirs. leads to com­ parative studies and to the_�i:§fq!x ofe.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. 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./ . we have no qualms in asserting that it is the rotten fruit on the tree of science. but only of understanding its obverse. and wish the :gOIllllations. because it serves a. There has been incalculable progress since those good old days .crati�. set to music and silence. . Then there is loneliness. The ruling classes have always used science as their justifi­ cation. .. must be som�� m6der m!i. methods of production and ideologies. a clear and a guilty con­ science for ever misunderstanding potentialities.'. 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.e sto f everyday life must jherefore include at least tI!!:�e Jand the birth 9f ��l!¥!� �) secti6ns : a) �. integration and coherence. institutionalized and bureaucratized by science . functionalism. . � 1¥n�!�� star�1_tll� brea. An unbelievable amount of contradiction comes to light in this society of structure and structuring. the price that has to be paid for it. TB. we consider that games and play would be the most apt subject for scientific inquiry. though we cannot give them our full attention here. though possible and essential. it recedes before the nuclear threat . Indeed. But such a history.that of the Liberation being the most significant. indeed. that is social relatio s. the cause. cannot alone account for this phenomenon.:kin� �:lJ�"5>. of India an ordinary everyday life ? ' Social security' even when it questio� biy-b�rea. Were we to continue this story we would see that these people lived in extreme poverty but were never­ theless snug and warm. Everyday life is both the cause and the result of these failures . to which it confers a specific significance. infor­ mation. Greece ? Those systems for the con­ sumption and exploitation of leisure and curiosity. . Science should not shun these theories and problems on the pre­ text that they lack seriousness.:� be better than neglect and -. applied ration­ alism. would be no better than a __ catalogue of details (objects) or a series of misunderstandings.-"()bstacie"-and""b-a:re�:and ri ---after each tremor social existence is reorganized around the quotidian. 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.f_e���day life. b) the death ��styl� / lishment and the consolIdation ( .��!EclaYJife.

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

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

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

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

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. . yet situated on one plane and related to it. patterns and models.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 Everyday li e f noted by science. etc. Such publications insinuate into each reader's daily life. leisure. 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. The reader. imagines what he sees and sees what he imagines. not­ . happiness made possible. each sector governed by a system and forming a kind of social entity. every kind of dish from the simplest to those whose realization requires the skill of a professional. the rhetoric of advertisements being often more literary (and better written) than the reading matter. etc. mastered by technology) { { bOdies time space desire biological geographical economic { { ' Values' nascent or vanishing : festivals. 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. nature. invests this subject-matter with a concrete or an abstract interpretation. according to his persop. ideologies seen as non-ideologies such as scientism. sees it as pragmatic or imaginary. toarism. functionalism. multiPle but united in the social mastery of nature and in etc. furnishing. sport. { Strategies o f power and opposition Perspectives and prospectives Conceptual and theoretical knowledge (gradually descending towards experience) Ideologies of property. in­ cluding the unrestricted (or presumed such) everyday lives of the demi-gods. thus proving our theory of a level of reality where superficial analysis only perceives juxtaposed sectors (living.al taste. 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. etc. 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. praxis . 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.). . Let it be remembered that our aim is to prove that a system of everydaylife does not exist. food. Indeed. aestheticism. rationality and the state Images and ideologies (' culture ' fragmented and specialized) { { Principles (ethics.iihstandlng--� n-th�-��deavours to·establishand setile '1t for good anlarr�th�tthe���. positivism. alongside a form of rhetoric that invests clothes and other objects with an aura of unreality : all possible and impossible dresses. 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. the city. urbanism. .��lliysub=systems separated by irreducible gaps. clothing and fashions. garden chairs and occasional tables. towns and urbanism.) 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 . aesthetics. structuralism. furniture worthy of a castle or a palace. all possible daily lives.

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

." ' p.. stilI less of imposing. But. ownership and administration of the means of production by one class). who live in the midst of signs of consumption and consume an in­ ordinate amount of signs. t� ". although we shall return to the subject of pUblicity later.lSllJl!iggj�J�:�J}1)!�1!"£lQ". served as a cover for the real con­ ditions of production. .. This situation fosters deep and multiple frustrations that are inadequately compensated by a brutal assertiveness. in every peru��rof sumption and all the joy of consuminglneveryob]ect"and every action). 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.�" '. In the ' good old days' the working classes were unaware of the structure of production and therefore of their being exploited . and it does more than crea. l:tct of c"01. . " " " " � -""� . for the time being we must concentrate on trying to define the outline of our unrest and our discontent. consumption is primarily related to these signs and not to the goods themselves. dinner parties and banquets). the structured-structuring relation (sale of working energy. 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.nd coinciding with his own ideal. the ideology of exchange.al (joy in every mouth­ P "the obj� and metonymical (all of con­ �t) ful. their values.". Con­ sciousness.pt. a rhetoric that is not restricted to language but invades experience . This relation has become vaguer still since then. "� .Jficti­ tious) as a real act (' reality' itself being divided into compulsions ancIadaptauOns).t!. and yet as ' adolescents ' they are marginal . 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. none the less. opposed to that of their elders yet in all ways identical to it..tll J:lQ.ric. It is based on the imaginary existence of things . or one might say that there exists a fluid frontier that is always being overstepped and that can only . 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. craves for make-believe and is inevitably disappointed by it.ZPerience. realizing himself in actions a.. each level having its specific context ofimages and verbal commentaries. as everyday life is. mainly dominated by compulsions with a minimum of adaptation. at once. and we are far from understanding them all. Thus young people tend to lead a marginal everyday life.�i�i�-" .te a. Publicity does not only provide an ideology of consumption. possessions and trades. good cooking. both negatively and massively. as n exploitation is mtensdied. a language of things. and"therefore 1l!.C! 2f�h�"illla�il1:fltio. The sense of disappointment that pervades consumption has a number of causes...�d������� be fixed in theory. Make-believe as such is part of everyday life.ht!. - . for them. but we have succeeded. Consumption is a substitute for production and. 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. but there are no natural frontiers separating imaginary consumption or the consumption of make-believe (the subject of publicity) and real consumption. and sometimes if can' furtlier adapfatloil"or"cil":"'""'" cumscrib�e-. sound and devoid of deception and mirage.. they are incapable of formulating. everybody expects his daily (or �) ration.' real' proi:ilems. so that what they consume. " relation to everyday experierwe (compulsions and ildaj5fiffionJ= 'of compulsion and our limited i(mu�tdisguise th� cap��ity.� "�p�cifi�-. ].d. are the adult objects that surround them with their material existence and their signs. " . ". The case is still more distressing for the working classes. . in such circumstances.""".""th�" biiterne"s's"oTcoUfllcis and thi' 'wel"ght ' of " '. . ' work for wages '. 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. This in itself would not matter if consumption were not accepted as something reliable. ful­ filled as such.� �"---"""""""". their own yet unchanged. because the methods of enslavement and exploitation to which the working classes have to submit dis­ guise their true condition. and such a market has been duly and effectively exploited.1I:. . yet ma ke-believe h.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and they made spontaneity.. such as perspective and tonality. For instance.in search of signifiers for his emotions and imaginings . the specific weight of rationalized systems. the act of cO� ming. All the other referentials were to disappear in the wake of com­ mon-sense perception: Nature. Whenever the ' values ' of work decline. and we must discard Nietzschean theories. regret.:g����d th�'�.ru. the sign-object or object-sign. History.. for our subject is more limited and precise. has ceased to be a referential since the ]Q � � the Liberation. there might be other spaces.�:'c .Ya � a pla. ' The great god Pan is dead'.or the perfect style . but with the countryside mediating between the City and Nature . however.and the viewer or listener contributing his signified to the signifiers perceived.process botlLGQJP. the situation has been reversed and the country is now seen and conceived in relation to the City. retreating before the invading City. as a well-established tempor. and is there any reason why we should not fix our aim on such ideals as the greatest work of art Venice . n lill l: m O" TogeiIi� with th ��iii y ofproductio��: 'th�'im. psychology and psycho­ analysis were to make suspect the innocence of the babe. leisure naturally prospers. 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. desire.fd oi. where it was becoming theoretically apparent that ' our space ' was just one among many possible spaces. These were unavoidable practical changes in the criteria of evaluation as well as conceptual changes . Florence . The dis­ covery of relativity emphasized the presence of a new perceptible reality : the ' second nature' added to the first. A more detailed account of these earth­ quakes would show that after each tremor a new and seemingly sounder faith sprang up. warranted a formal agreement between the artist . W1IIi in:�H:�. which would involve a theory of ideologies as well as a theory of referentials. are perhaps less resounding than those heard two thousand years ago by a Greek sailor. We have no intention ofjudg­ ing modernity or trying to detect symptoms of decay. the significance of life and the universe. the City was formerly conceived in opposition to the countryside._ prehensible and identifiable. o andlllstoncltrlfaS-lfisapp'earo.cL:c his�ri.:. Though related to a certain seemingly permanent rationality. ' God is dead'. moreover these explosions-implosions have been going on for over half a century. other times. and consequently the image and concept ofsociety asa body (a unity). The words of Nietzsche and of Dostoyevsky. Religion and the City. iiToy ineo{i}.. While avoiding sociologism (advantages of comprehen­ siveness grafted on to a specialized science) and finding fault with sociology up to a point. all this collapsed around 1910 in Europe. religious dogma and moral imperatives. our subject is none the less sociological. in this so-called society of consu �sa:-solitarY ac(tr ansiDTt:. not even a relation between consumers. as SOintIiin quaint and picturesque or as com­ mercialized. seeing that Marx accepted without sufficient proof the finality of evolution. t cept of active. anguish. and vice versa. Moreover the work of art might also refer to more subtle signifiers. if we take as our model the Grand Style. gram of the upheavals gives only part of the picture. purity and chastity equally suspect.Athens. .��. or how could we know what we were talking about and who was talking ? Con­ suming creates nothing."'. but feelings and emotions were also disintegrating. creative and productive ' man' tended to disappear. causing massive emotional investments and odd infatuations. organized trade value for sightseers.1 14 Everyday Life in the Modem World Linguistic Phenomena 1 1 5 Then it was the turn of production relations . in the last century.in fact the City.c phenomenon of ' an aspecrorsOClaT'expeneD:ce'an(r'cUitur�\ th��c��mplished fact. though we may wonder if God was really dead for Marx and Marxist materialism.. at different levels.gy[ � Jie.though these did not vanish entirely from the sphere of knowledge. 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.. it only consumes. such symp­ toms cannot fail to transpire . not to mention the philosophical Absolute. This synchronic dia:. the rationality of action and labour. decline and decadence.'t:Ile'Iustoric"ciiY'too"oiiiy suMves" g e as a vague regret. to the artist's more in­ timate subjectivity. while elsewhere. but they still re-echo . and per­ haps only existed in relation to us (at our level).�er. although significant enough ll . a myth that compensated for original sin in the Christian faith.· ·· te( .

". At the other end of the scale there is everyday life .. .. In these circumstances it seems that the only basis for social relations is speech. except where a meta­ physic of knowledge is concerned. or rather scientificness. when isolated. • •---� ••- ! . . . but because it collapses. that it is not someihl g�stai1Cunderlying !1 n ."'... into the unconscious.._. Moreover. Attempts to apprelw:o. notwithstanding the efforts of many philosophers.--.'----" . disappears. but it is not enough.d"i� ·thl� respect eve�life is iIl:�_e. and speech..' ....'••. desire desires itself.. . ' Here I must intervene ! ' cries our friend the objector.r_". . as psychoanalysts know.tit:. . organisms and organizations. desires its end.�""_ . tries to assume the role of referential nowadays. _ _ .� �()_���!l:s unconscious. That is why philosophy has acquired so much significance . It is not desire. . Its inconsistencies (unevenness. and that apply to all messages. . there is a consciousness of everyday life in everyday speech. everyday life.. 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. -- ' -'-" . '--� -­ � j -. it is the sub­ ject of all conversations and no one mentions it. With pleasure. Of all the referentials only two are still left standing. the form of communication." " .� '-'-�" _. Philo­ sophy may be necessary. . is now in- strument and content as well.e.." . Desire ' desires '._. philosophy in the highest spheres of culture . obvious and invisible. in the most trivial and commonplace sphere. even that of uni­ versal code..... it is a pll:eii6menon .. integral (though not an integrating) part of everyday life.<. and in so far as this term that denotes a state of 'being' means anything.'-.for it prescribes coherence and rules for the transmission of a message that does not cancel itself out. metaphors.".••" . being satisfied by it and :fjJ:J.."':Il_ !���. •. '. If there is a connection between everyday life and the un­ conscious. <�'. we refuse to see it and we repress it.QgtJ':Jjftl. . The first thing that distinguishes them is the historicity of ey�!Y.'.'.. just everyday life.'." --"" '. If a-hldden'S1:ruct1:l�� .'--. the other. in fact. but no one wants to see it or even know that it is there. is everyday life situated ? Every­ where and nowhere." • • .()?�lle�� ��Il��J?-lt i!� . At the very moment when the City becomes a referential it ceases to be a material certainty. but try to use it as a referential and it becomes unendurable. the Message.�Jhi!t it is born and simultaneously -a�caysandPr �spers. its dis­ appearance in a flash of satisfaction. use and abuse of terms.. And yet it is sigllifre<f"eyerywhere :"Tii'"puhllclty. psychoanalysts and iiIithose wlio formulate the question thus lack philosophical erudition." ._ .. but reality is not the reality of knowledge ._' . '.'.. Where.. i . cannot be used as a referential . . no one can accept it. the signifier.J2f _�y·�� .ding satisfaction in it.----._ . 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. So.. •. Logic. In other words such relations have no foundations... . everyday life figures in nearly every news'-<"'_" _. philosophical rhetoric) are overlooked and only the essence subsists as a reference for meditation and reflection. between everyday life and desire. 1-' order..ce and before it vanishes we are able to identify it as everyday life... .except by philosophers and a few experts . Science. ' You speak of everyday life in almost psychoanalytical terms...t�-� �-�rists: "ii-is an . . an assumption that inverts the terms .••.+.<.1 16 Everyday Life in the Modem World Linguistic Phenomena 1 17 each term has altered. '_w _' ' . will you be so kind as to explain it. . . . veracity and authenticity and even of objectivity.. one.� . 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). and. in techniques of happiness (or rather sa tisfaction).and still less of scientificness.. . Only the signified is involved in the act of desiring one thing or another.lay lifeint�U��tJlallyfail nQtheGa:us�jtyani_�b.. and it concatenation of phenomena of a social or sociological .--.. .. .. action and relations in a sphere outside history.. deprived of criteria. but Philosophy. .:: ·that ·�{��b."" " •• _ �. not just any philo­ sophy.'."'0"0 •• '0. for desire is not. true philosophers know this and have known it for a long time. .".. .d �yen:.".. . what right have we to suggest that the unconscious is hidden behind consciousness like the wings in a theatre ? The unconscious is only consci. " • • ' . Moreover. .<:>. . that Philosophy which has fashioned throughout history an image of the Universe and of Man.�s. • .. ' . -." . . this has always been the case.. according to you. . What is desire ? Psychologists. through a fog of verbosity the con­ tent sometimes makes a brief appearan. science is by definition the knowledge of reality..

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

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

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

structuralized and ' specialized ' everyday life. new towns .dly.) and can be divided into three periods : a) the alchemy of speech: the poet's words and sentences.. A cry of 10nelines�L. sets out to use and abuse its own language .Ciai. �11. th � . endemic but repressed. successfully overcoming a discarded. '���Y�is�!i()ri�����()ii1"e�����i�gtl. the sense of play finds an outlet in old games restored or improvised new ones. Could the city stand for a potential referential . for we are indeed referring to the most penetrating mind.against the onslaught of everyday life. Ofm�k�::-belTev.) . 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.izea. . violence. etc. Such a tendency is obvious in literature from as early as the mid nineteenth century (failure of the Revolution.1�r�'-. have been discarded as referen­ tials.. functionalized. that we are speaking with ironic intent. a new Platonic Idea.bove daily compulsions nor a system of signs for contemplation and consumption.i.not the morphological town mapped out on the ground and embodied in symbols and signs. 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. " � �� cPIIlIIlunicatioIl. 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."a:) tliariiil1iisw�y it withdraws into itself. estates. transgress and transfigure reality (from Baudelaire to Joyce) .ihj. 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.� and the caves where.. Though regrets do not fulfil promises they do I embryo not forbid them either. giving it resonance and �xte�si o. consolidation of capitalism.a. coaches.has not been elucidated and theoretically elaborated. In these favoured spots. and it is certainly due to snobbishness more than any­ thing else that a shabby flat furnished with bits of old furniture. b) that it paves the way for (or follows the road of) popular conscience.-at the heart of everyday life. once unanimously accepted.s�.riseS-.11 � ()ne mows what one is talking about and why (to a certain extent) one is talking.':!"E. around ihem.�Qll]. what will take their place. happen ."hlgh .d��ih�JniQi�f. Yet there is surely something paradoxical about this yearning for ancient customs and their reinstatement and renewal." 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.si�!s".ited-"�.:':!. any referential ? Now that semiological fields (not only common sense but also music and song. piles up and all at once something new is about to . but it involves a risk..g�L��x }J·I1:l:1. we could say that it is neither a realm and aSltS virtual con9.and new neighbourho ods ? Could this be seen as a promise.4:�p_�!!.1-.124 Everyday Life in the Modern World Linguistic Phenomena 125 stemming from a yearning for bygone days .. the most li.. but city life and society ? The notion is not unreasonable. an obsession and a torment .". For the time being we had better avoid proclaiming a new entity.�oY preteh"ds"to ignore. an � essence and proceed with caution so long as the tendency ._<!Q�. dear reader. but ' something else '. . won't they look elsewhere (but where ?) for a fictive referential. C�!!£��g! ()!Jler"\".". Efficient communication is now a possible-impossibility. possible every minute of the day yet impossible because one of its conditions is lacking. its full accomplishment so drably illustrated by the suburbs of morphologically exploded cities. at last explodes .]Qi1�iliii� iJi[:lli! ��i _" . gestures.fmm_th�.a����"�Y. -. news succeeds news. decayed.f"� q��!i ������". The city might be seen as an effective resistance to everyday life eror .. b) language as second reality: poetry being a second nature superimposed on the perceptible.towards an urban society . what are their practical basis and theoretical foundations ? As yet we do not and we are not supposed to .��LggjJe. a sign ? Indeed it could.1y oLt}1e �X1!!���_. The loftiest intellect (do not imagine. spread of trade and industry and of monetary power.know. J��9liferate in this setting and tlley dramatize everyday life. and information. or every­ day life. facial expr�s­ sions). for what do urbanism and the city stipulate.-. freed fr9m impediments sufficing to transform everyday life. social nature (' hot' lyricism. ritual behaviour. etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such a relation presents a dual aspect . Second theory or hypothesis : the social community's relation to the soil is one of the elements in the make-up of repression. clothes and a place to lay their heads . We would refute both theories and consider as basic the child's relation to society. Your aims are societies . Psychoanalysis in France has lately been split into rival factions or schools . �ros and Thanatos. the ego. cannot maintain itself for long. on the one hand. suffering and death. remaining psychological. on the whole. Thus he defines repression and over-repression in psychoanalytical terms (the id. repression or Oedipus-complex among the Trobriands. consolidation. as well as parental pressures and individual emotional relationships. Language and speech. in­ dependence) and. for him. is that a terrorist society. play an impor­ tant though unequal part in this dialectic movement. that is. according to him. he has. an unfair criticism.appears to have discarded this liberating function of the science and to see it only as the recognition and the sanctioning of compul­ sions .more or less. but when it reaches its ends it explodes. notwithstanding satisfaction and even satiety. sexual experience and fecundity were socially controlled by other methods. we want to give people food and drink. for although everyday life is the rule it is free neither to set itself up as a principle. it aims at stability. However. he ada pts to the circumstances and his own social environment . Since Freud?s day. thus the incest taboo (or Oedipus-complex) is seen as a basic factor. of social experience. the super-ego. does not include the social (or ' s ocio­ logical ') and consequently the dual concept of quotidian and modernity. for others it is the relation of the unconscious to language that takes first place. he undergoes compulsions. 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 . at pre­ serving its conditions and at its own survival. aren't they ? What more can they want ? Their elementary needs are catered for.148 Everyday Life in the Modern World The argument that emerges from the preceding pages. his basic needs. on the other. child and adolescent continue to develop until they finally get bogged down by maturity. 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* .perhaps the most important of those that lay claim to his theories . if a repressive society exists it is because there is social repression . involving vast - This seems the place to clear up a few misunderstandings and settle a couple of controversies. adventure. The concept of a ' repressive society ' derives from Malinovski. It is based on the organization of everyday life (which is also its objective) of which terror is the outcome. to organize itself nor even to appear as everyday life. 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. Infringements from the everyday life it ordains are condemned as madness and perversion. conflicting desires and aspirations (security. When ideas are ' in the air ' they are also susceptible to practical analysis. our preoccupations are with want. it is in social experience that the young ' human being ' benefits from his weakness and compensates for his vulnerability . 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 '. and we all know that Malinovski found no trace of censorship. 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) . from the outset. where. causes . for some the conflicting relationship between children and parents illustrated in the Oedipus-complex is still the central concept of psychoanalysis. Urban li e puts an end to such consecrations. 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. depending on the circumstances and on his own disposition . or to everyday life . and Censorship and repression have.while. will finally be overcome. protection. an important psychoanalytical movement . f . sinking into the morass of adulthood. but he just falls short of the concept of terrorism because his critical analysis. we consider man's hunger and thirst. Herbert Marcuse calls this tendency ' revisionist '. namely psychoanalysis. Marcuse and a number of others have also missed the concept of ' mondialite' and the correlative concept of actual or possible planetary distinctions. 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). 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. both theoretical and practical. Your preoccupations are not the same as ours . in view of Freud's faith in the liberating powers of science. Here our imaginary ob­ jector intervenes once again : ' Let us not make mountains out of molehills ! People are happy. however. a society of maximum repression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

p. the Law. to signify them­ selves ! That is perhaps what is socially implied by ' being fashion­ able ' . transparent and apparent. not at the frontiers that divide them but simultaneously and jointly in the two. pos­ sibly all they read are items of practical information (the name of a couturier or a shop. opinions. �s with an���the whole of society and its field of action tersects different fields withl frontiers that are inte�er . and yet everyday life is there. especially as the ' fashion' phenomenon spreads to all spheres. it discards its own content : woman. appropriate every signification. Fashion. the ' world of A further cause for admiration is that what appears to fashion'. and this is where it differs from the ' ready­ made ' and the ' ready-to-wear ' . ide ogies). To be or not to be fashionable is the modern version of Hamlet's problem.including philosophy. this closed. 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. The elaboration of Barthes' theory is faultless. and proceeds . op.'J group. 0� "-' � . what conditions (not a priori in the philosophical sense. the readers of fashion magazines. institutions. ' culture ' . In short. in their connection and contiguity. Its place is in make-believe and in reality. should read the captions that accompany ' fashion ­ photographs ' . We can but admire the ability with which such essences. * It is an Idea with ramifications and influences (on society. fixing it in an essence by means of written matter. like any systematic construct . . In what sort of society does it take root. it influences \\:. the price of an article) . we repeat. 248. it is not. A ' world ' is revealed in the construction that discloses at the same time itself and this world.'. Barthes has taken the elimination of the Subject to the point of paradox.J and independently causes terror to reign. and it does inspire a certain kind of terror. situated in an intellectual or social territory or ' isotope '. an Idea. Logic. the intellect. * ( ( \ \ �. writes Barthes . pressure without a specific pressure- cr. the social existence of this essence would only be intensified. . Fashion gover�day life by excluding it. Such is the reign of terror. .ade (including her body).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. The author leaves to us the choice of a context. and left for others to ponder). for everyday life cannot be fashionable a 'lliI therefore is not . Not that fashion alone be transitory precisely in so far as it is apparition.:!' '" \J . perpetually excluded. 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 . 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. >-- . . to be used as example : eloquence . who created an entity or essence. art. 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. cit. symbol of consumption and Oftr. but it is an integral­ integrated part of terrorist societies.like the rhetoricians of old..1 64 Everyday Life in the Modern World reader of fashion magazines. their life passes every day from wonder to wonder in the sphere of fashion .possibly real readers only perceive the connota­ tion of the words that compose these accompanying captions . irrefutable. he rightly assumes. turns out to be stable. the demi-gods have not (or are supposed not to have) an everyday life . . 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. � "" .� � ". Barthes. formal and exact (but only if the content is discarded as accidental and contingent. What is artificial is not fashion but all that circumscribes it : the fashion trade. Must we acknowledge such a ' system ' ? We can now proceed to 6'i invert it. a certainty of terror.:: -\2'. ' � <. no more artificial than law or philosophy. This system's knack of capturing everything within reach is unimpeachable . buyer and consumer. or like his own contemporaries who create Literature. eliminates simultaneously the body as physical subject and adap­ tation as social subject. ' This power that enables man to contrive simplicity is the most social of all . the fashion magazine'S rhetoric. every signifier. it is hardly necessary that real women. . system that has no value or meaning outside itself and that appropriates every meaning for its own personal use. all that matters is that it should be written..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

that is to say. attacks obsessional classification with a classification of forms and exposes their general content. Similarly there is no thought without an object. Social : ordering. Intellectual : equivalences. Intellectual : reciprocity. but as such it cannot exist . has the fearsome power of death and life that disconnect and re-connect in different combinations the fragments and elements previously disconnected. But the content is = ) = void) . 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. How and why ? Where does this efficiency come from. analysis possible. order and standard. needs and satisfactions). a progression that involves a now familiar dialectical relation that of form and content. consumer goods (whence . Thus the form is reunited to a variable.by materializing and de-consecrating . Intellectual : balance per­ f ceived or conceived in the object. g) urban forms. h) theform of writing. Social : encounters (bringing together neighbouring products and activities) that in­ tensify . c) linguistic forms. codifying. We omit recurrence . Social : the symmetry of objects (including hidden relations between things. translucid form to substantial con­ tent. We observe in a decreasingly abstract pro­ gression : a) logical forms. structuralism and functionalism against themselves. f comparing (qualities and quantities. content on which it imposes order and constraint. Form isolated from its dontent (or referentials) is enforced by terrorism. e)f orms o contract. dialectical) of form and content. which is everyday life maintained by terror. its joints and disconnections. therefore intelligible. inversely. the proof being in the writing. A limpid and transparent because it is void of content. Intellectual : coherence. which is Logic. Social : the pleonasm (ends taken as means. Social : acculllUla­ tion. Social : trade value. Intellectual : simultaneity. Let us summarize in a few terms the problem of the dialectical movement of form and content. conceived by some (ultimately by Nietzsche) as the form of existence. Social : thejuridical f formalization of relations based on reciprocity. Intellectual : repetition. b) mathematicalf orms. its levels and dimensions . and a contract is concluded by the signatures of both parties . and reflection itself constitutes a form that aspires to the status of universal essence (the philosopher's ambition and illusion). Yet there exists a general form of thought based on classification. logic. produced by labour and imposed as form upon nature in a given territory . totality and sub­ totalities. as form it is no more than an abstraction. and what is perceived as existing is the unity (con­ flicting.1 80 Everyday Life in the Modern World preliminaries. no content without form . this working ability of pure form ? Without the slightest possible doubt from the fact that it makes .the landscape. we all know that analysis kills. Intellectual : enumeration and classifica­ tion. a medium of classification and action . intellectual as well as social. Form in its absolute purity (A A is absolutely unviable . a meaningless term. a codification that extends to the elaboration of abstract principles . existing as such. reflection separates form from content thus supporting the form's natural inclination to exist as pure essence .the most significant form of writing. no reflection without content. equality in distinction. Our radical analysis turns formalism. 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. standardizing. 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) . too often overlooked to the advantage of ' pure ' form. ontology nor historicity but goes from pure. Intellectual : the absolute principle of identity A. between the self and the double. f) f orms o practico-sensorial objects. becomes operant. Social : cohesion of relations. activities and products. d) f orms o exchange. ' Pure ' form. the official deed . resisting. a tautology.) . it allows for the division of ' reality along its line of least resistance. by its very purity. etc. There is no form without content and. between each thing and its setting. acquires an intelligible transparency. rational organization .

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

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

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

far from closing itself it is only a plane. Now that the opening has been located all that remains is to direct our inquiry towards it. only a relative. as a layer of unreality and an illusory transparency constitutes a frontier between darkness and light. temporary reduction can be achieved. program­ ming institution. For many centuries peasant life and an agricul­ tural reality predominated. trying to create a new ' centrality' .'·. The socio­ analytical intervention dissociates into place and time the bearings of the situation. neighbourhoods that were once prosperous but are now usually inhabited by a different class of people from those who founded them.. it associates experiences that were previously foreign to it. in its time." its. Though necessary for scientific pro­ cedures. �. then an elucidation of forms. There is no single absolute chosen system but only sub-systems separated by cracks. when we are convinced that we are plunged in darkness a chink of light has already pierced the shadows .<�. by others of being wanting in wisdom. and then proceeds by induction and trans- . that would disclose these relations implied in quotidianness. Rene Lalou and the members of the Groupes de Recherche Institutionelle.ucted according < A. e. of 'pure ' forms and 'pure ' space is also the world of silence when metalanguages are exhausted and are ashamed of themselves. entailing further processes. its conception and realization require a depar­ ture from former ideologies (outdated survivals. everyday life. Con­ versely. they have no grip on the content and cannot reduce it permanently . set­ ting its limits. The opening In so far as there can be demonstration in such matters we have demonstrated the non-closing of the circuit. the operation that will expose the double illusion requires the precision of an experienced sur­ geon. utopian elabora­ tions). the seen and the unseen. * In everyday life when we think we see everything quite clearly we are most deluded. they are with false evidence. \ reconditioned. only ideologists believe that urban society can be founded duction. and some of its findings observed in later developments (sociological in particular. unmediated everyday life. Science is related to a praxis. There are certain neighbourhoods in the one-time urban centres of cities. Urban society rises from the ashes of rural society and the traditional city. and both out­ looks threaten the development of this new-born hope. a community's everyday life. 'f'\00. An inquiry into everyday situations presupposes a capacity for intervention. + .. accused by some of lacking experience. presupposes or precedes a praxis. a remarkable case of socio-analysis. The third volume of the Critique de la vie quotidienne will develop certain features of this account and will probably be consp. but only the partisans of that ideology known as ' economism' can see ·urban society as the outcome of industrial production and organization . with intellectual or social over­ tones. where urban life survives or attempts to sur­ vive .�y. the irreducible crops * up again after each reduction. as a generalized social practice it is part of the cultural revolution that is based on the abolition of terrorism .. Thus anti-Stalinist opposition inside communist parties was. combined as be in Marxist general). for it bears a