Raoul Vaneigem Quotes
“The millions of human beings who were shot, tortured, starved, treated like animals and made the object of a conspiracy of ridicule, can sleep in peace in their communal graves, for at least the struggle in which they died has enabled their descendants, isolated in their air-conditioned apartments, to believe, on the strength of their daily dose of television, that they are happy and free. The Communards went down, fighting to the last, so that you too could qualify for a Caribbean cruise.”
“Purchasing power is a license to purchase power. The old proletariat sold its labour power in order to subsist; what little leisure time it had was passed pleasantly enough in conversations, arguments, drinking, making love, wandering, celebrating and rioting. The new proletarian sells his labour power in order to consume. When he’s not flogging himself to death to get promoted in the labour hierarchy, he’s being persuaded to buy himself objects to distinguish himself in the social hierarchy. The ideology of consumption becomes the consumption of ideology.”
“The nihilist makes one mistake: he does not realise that other people are also nihilists, and that the nihilism of other people is now an active historical factor. He has no consciousness of the possibility of transcendence. The fact is, however, that the present reign of survival, in which all the talk about progress expresses nothing so much as the fear that progress may be impossible, is itself a product of history, is itself the outcome of all the renunciations of humanity that have been made over the centuries. Indeed, the history of survival is the historical movement which will eventually undo history itself. For clear awareness of just how nightmarish life has become is on the point of fusing with a consciousness of the successive renunciations of the past, and thus too with the real desire to pick up the movement of transcendence everywhere in space and time where it has been prematurely interrupted.”
“If love is under siege, it is because it threatens the very essence of commercial civilization. Everything is designed to make us forget that love is our most vivid manifestation and the most common power of life that is in us. Shouldn't we wonder how the lights that glimmer in the eye can blow a fuse for a time, even as barriers of oppression break and jam our passions? Yet despite a life stunted and distorted by mediated Spectacle, nothing has ever managed to strip love of its primal force. Although the heart's music fails to overwhelm the cacophony of profit efficiency, bit by bit it composes our destinies, according to tones, chords, and dissonances which render us happy if only we learn to harmonize the scattered notes that string emotions together.”
“What drives us to despair is not the immensity of our unsatisfied desires, but the moment when our fledgling passion discovers its own emptiness. Insatiable desire for passionate knowledge of one pretty girl after another stems from anxiety and from fear of love, so afraid are we of never encountering anything but objects. The dawn when lovers leave each other's arms is the same dawn that breaks on the execution of revolutionaries without a revolution. Isolation a deux cannot prevail over the isolation of all. Pleasure is broken off prematurely and lovers find themselves naked in the world, their actions suddenly ridiculous and feeble. No love is possible in an unhappy world.”
“Malaise invades me as the crowd around me grows. The compromises I have made with stupidity under the pressure of circumstances rush to meet me, swimming towards me in hallucinating waves of faceless heads. Edvard Munch's famous painting, The Cry, evokes for me something I feel ten times a day. A man carried along by a crowd, which only he can see, suddenly screams out in an attempt to break the spell, to call himself back to himself, to get back inside his own skin. The tacit acknowledgments, fixed smiles, lifeless words, listlessness and humiliation sprinkled in his path suddenly surge into him, driving him out of his desires and his dreams and exploding the illusion of 'being together'. People touch without meeting; isolation accumulates but is never realized; emptiness overcomes us as the density of the crowd grows. The crowd drags me out of myself and installs thousands of little sacrifices in my empty presence.
Everywhere neon signs are flashing out the dictum of Plotinus: All beings are together though each remains separate. But we only need to hold out our hands and touch one another, to raise our eyes and meet one another, and everything comes into focus, as if by magic.”
“No more Guernicas, no more Auschwitzes, no more Hiroshimas, no more Setifs. Hooray! But what about the impossibility of living, what about this stifling mediocrity and this absence of passion? What about the jealous fury in which the rankling of never being ourselves drives us to imagine that other people are happy? What about this feeling of never really being inside your own skin?”
“Kendimi ararken hangi sapa yollarda yolumu yitiririm? Beni koruma numarasıyla, beni kendimden ayıran perde ne? Beni oluşturan bu ufalanmış parçaların içinde kendimi nasıl yeniden keşfedebilirim? Kendimi kavrama konusunda asla bilmediğim bir belirsizliğe doğru ilerliyorum. Sanki önümdeki yol önceden belirlenmiş. Sanki iç dünyam, kendi yarattığını sandığı; ama gerçekte onu biçimlendiren zihinsel bir manzaranın çizgilerinin bir parçası. Saçma -dünyanın rasyonelliğini onayladığı ve tartışmasız kabul edildiği için saçmalar saçması- bir güç beni durmaksızın sıçramaya zorluyor; ama asla terk edemediğim sert bir zeminde ayaklarım. Ve kendime doğru yaptığım bu yararsız atlayışımla, sadece bugünle olan bağımı yitirme başarısını gösteriyorum: çoğu kez, kendimden uzakta, ölü zamanın ritmiyle yaşarım.”
- Date of birth: March 21, 1934
- Born: in Lessines Hainaut, Belgium, Belgium.
- Description: Raoul Vaneigem (born 1934) is a Belgian writer and philosopher. He was born in Lessines (Hainaut, Belgium). After studying romance philology at the Free University of Brussels (now split into the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel) from 1952 to 1956, he participated in the Situationist International from 1961 to 1970. He currently resides in Belgium and is the father of four children.
Vaneigem and Guy Debord were the two principal theoreticians of the Situationist movement. Although Debord was the more disciplined thinker, Vaneigem's slogans frequently made it onto the walls of Paris during the May 1968 uprisings. His most famous book, and the one that contains the famous slogans, is The Revolution of Everyday Life (in French the title was more elaborate: Traité du savoir-vivre à l'usage des jeunes générations).
After leaving the Situationist movement Vaneigem wrote a series of polemical books defending the idea of a free and self-regulating social order. He frequently made use of pseudonyms, including "Julienne de Cherisy," "Robert Desessarts," "Jules-François Dupuis," "Tristan Hannaniel," "Anne de Launay," "Ratgeb," and "Michel Thorgal." Recently he has been an advocate of a new type of strike, in which service and transportation workers provide services for free and refuse to collect payment or fares.
From www.nothingness.org: "Along with Guy Debord, the voice of Raoul Vaneigem was one of the strongest of the Situationists. Counterpoised to Debord's political and polemic style, Vaneigem offered a more poetic and spirited prose. The Revolution of Everyday Life (Traité de savoir-vivre à l'usage des jeunes générations), published in the same year as The Society of the Spectacle, helped broaden and balance the presentation of the SI's theories and practices. One of the longest SI members, and frequent editor of the journal Internationale Situationniste, Vaneigem finally left the SI in November of 1970, citing their failures as well as his own in his letter of resignation. Soon after, Debord issued a typically scathing response denouncing both Vaneigem and his critique of the Situationist International."Further biographical information can be found at www.nothingness.org and www.notbored.org.