Reappropriating the Spectacle: the Situationist International 1957-1972 – 6.10.2014

“La vie privée est privée de quoi? De la vie tout simplement.” – Guy Debord [1]

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1. What was the Situationist International?

The Situationist International (“SI”) was a group of European artists and political thinkers founded in 1957 and best known for their humanistic critique of consumerism and of the role of the mass media and their influence on the May 1968 student uprisings in Paris. The movement (if such it was) dissipated shortly afterwards, but its legacy has continued to be felt in fields as diverse as urban planning, social theory and cultural studies, cinema and punk rock. Continue reading

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Privacy and Freedom in the Internet Age – 16.06.2014

Barely a quarter-century old, the Internet has revolutionized social and economic institutions to an unimaginable extent; and it’s hard to keep up with developments, never mind predict where it will lead. Those who do venture predictions put forward the most diverse set of scenarios : from the cyberoptimists who see in the internet a tool for social levelling and better governance to the cyberpessimists who see in it the realization (a generation late) of George Orwell’s predictions in 1984. Despite the lack of clarity, we’re all called upon to navigate its uncharted waters. In this evening’s discussion, we’ll look at the impact of the internet on social values and institutions, and on the freedom of the individual to live in ways which may not concord with current mainstream attitudes.
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Democracy and its discontents – 28.04.2014

In Civilization and Its Discontents (“Das Unbehagen in der Kultur”, 1930), Freud argued that the individual’s quest for instinctual freedom, that is to say his primary drives, are intrinsically opposed to the requirements of civilization, which therefore inevitably gives rise to dissatisfaction and neurosis. As the net effect of civilization is to increase unhappiness, Freud finds in it a paradox, which he does little to elucidate. Civilization seems to be a force above man, a deus ex machina to which he is unwillingly subject. But, if so, how has this come about, historically, biologically, sociologically and economically?
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The sociology of intelligent conversation – 7.04.2014

Le Salon Brussels is a new social network for discussion of science, art, politics, philosophy and literature, with the aim of learning, sharing ideas, socializing and making friends. It is inspired by the French literary salons of the 17th to 19th century, together with the democratic and progressive spirit of Bohemian coffeehouse culture.

In this introduction, we will briefly explore the social factors which gave rise to these cultural phenomena, their development, mutations and, perhaps arguably, extinction. What role did these institutions play in the life of their members and in society at large? Do the “society of information”, post-industrialism and other contemporary social trends have the potential to open a new space for public intellectuals, or to reconfigure social mobility? In short, what is constant and what is changing? The answers to these questions may help us to imagine, shape and communicate our new initiative.
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