Philippe Vasset’s La conjuration
Chapter Six, ‘Deep Dérive,’ explores Philippe Vasset’s La conjuration [The Conjuration] (2013). Vasset’s novel depicts a Paris now fully governed by logics of capitalist urban planning and spectacle. Vasset’s would-be psychogeographer narrator suffers existential crisis in such conditions. For him, the city has reduced its users to the role of those ‘computer-generated nobodies’ who appear in the proudly displayed images of future shopping centers. However, he founds a cult that develops, to mystical proportions, the art of anonymity, until they are able to penetrate undetected into even the most high-security skyscrapers of La Défense. In the ultimate psychogeographical space-hack, the cult is thus able to ‘abolish at will the frontier between public space and private property.’ As they circulate like ‘a school of fish’ through the urban fabric, they would experience the city in all its infinite nuance. However, as their ‘powers’ grow, abstraction and eschatology ultimately depict them as having lost touch with the territory. Their true, ironic, apotheosis comes when they fully resemble those ‘computer-generated nobodies’ that had fascinated the narrator early on. Vasset’s novel is read in the light of Situationist notions of the city and Bruno Latour’s writings on panoptica and oligoptica.
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