DIY Culture Industry: Signifying Practices, Social Networks and Other Instrumentalizations of Everyday Art

Baudrillard on DIY (orig. 1984)

“I would never have believed that the New York marathon could move you to tears. It really is the end-of-the-world show. Can we speak of suffering freely entered into as we might speak of a state of servitude freely entered into? In driving rain, with helicopters circling overhead and the crowd cheering, wearing aluminum foil capes and squinting at their stop-watches, or bare-chested, their eyes rolling skywards, they are all seeking death, that death by exhaustion that was the fate of the first Marathon man some two thousand years ago. And he, let us not forget, was carrying a message of victory to Athens. They also dream no doubt of bringing a victory message, but there are too many of them and their message has lost all meaning: it is merely the message of their arrival, at the end of their exertions, the twilight message of a futile, superhuman effort. Collectively, they might rather seem to be bringing the message of a catastrophe for the human race, which you can see becoming more decrepit by the hour as the runners come in, from the competitive, athletic types who arrive first to the wrecks who are literally carried to the finishing line by their friends, or the handicapped who do the race in their wheelchairs. There are 17,000 runners and you can’t help thinking back to the Battle of Marathon, where there weren’t even 17,000 soldiers in the field. There are 17,000 of them and each one runs alone, without even a thought for victory, but simply in order to feel alive. ‘We won’, gasped the man from Marathon as he expired. ‘I did it!’, sighs the exhausted marathon runner of New York as he collapses on the grass in Central Park.

I DID IT! The slogan of a new form of advertising activity, of autistic performance, a pure and empty form, a challenge to one’s own self that has replaced the Promethean ecstasy of competition, effort, and success.

The New York marathon has become a sort of international symbol of such fetishistic performance, of the mania for an empty victory, the joy engendered by a feat that is of no consequence.”


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