01 May 2021

Lipstick Traces—Détournement Is Quick, You Are Slow

Greil Marcus
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (1989)

[My notes say:]

p. 403—"On its own page, "The Cathars Were Right" is funnier and more ominous than I can make it. My translation is slow and détournement is always quick—a new world in a double take, in the blink of an eye."

Even as a skeptic, I can probably grant this much as far as it goes. In fact the quickness angle suggests an unassailable test for the skeptic to deploy in making an empirical or anecdotal study of actual works: if someone doesn't Get It right away, as GM would have it here, the device has in that instance failed.

To me, GM's particular phrasing of this observation suggests comparison with the moment of enlightenment in koan study and similar Adept domains of Buddhist thought. The comparison ends only where the preparatory/groundwork phase is concerned: ironically, the Buddhist version is in some sense consciously cultivated whereas détournement ostensibly plays on conditioning that subjects are mostly unaware they are receiving, or if aware they receive it passively.

[from a post-it, 2017]

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