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Few works of political and cultural theory have been as enduringly provocative as Guy Debord s The Society of the Spectacle From its publication amid the social upheavals of the s up to the present, the volatile theses of this book have decisively transformed debates on the shape of modernity, capitalism and everyday life in the late twentieth century Now finally available in a superb English translation approved by the author, Debord s text remains as crucial as ever for understanding the contemporary effects of power, which are increasingly inseparable from the new virtual worlds of our rapidly changing image information culture I never went to university nor did the majority of my friends and so never received any manner of guidance or instruction, or even bar table theoretical bullshitting, at the academic level to go along with my burgeoning interest in philosophy, politics, and culture For better and for worse and mostly the latter I have carved my own path through the tangled thickets of critical genius and doctrinal snares, a haphazard sampling of great minds from across the ages, non systematic and initially s I never went to university nor did the majority of my friends and so never received any manner of guidance or instruction, or even bar table theoretical bullshitting, at the academic level to go along with my burgeoning interest in philosophy, politics, and culture For better and for worse and mostly the latter I have carved my own path through the tangled thickets of critical genius and doctrinal snares, a haphazard sampling of great minds from across the ages, non systematic and initially stemming from the tutelary prose of Bertrand Russell For this reason, I found myself coming to the Marxist exponents without a solid grounding in the master s thought and, thus, ofttimes ended upconfused and or led down erroneous trails than I presumably would have been with a sounder grasp of the theoretical details Or not mayhaps a certain amount of ignorance, or na vet , actually allowed me to penetrate the occlusions or obfuscations that ensnareddeeply immersed adepts Who, apart from The Shadow, knows In any case, Society of the Spectacle was amongst my first forays into the labyrinthine philosophical cultural terrain of the postwar twentieth century I found it a tantalizing and mysterious conundrum, with moments of a profound and shocking clarity but, overall, quite difficult, a serious challenge to follow, unpack, and comprehend As Jimmy Cline nicely puts it Even for a theoretical text written by an extreme leftist, in the late sixties, in Paris, this is a convoluted read The saying goes that life s a circus, but Debord seems to be addressing what exactly must constitute a post modern society such that the triumphal late capitalist incarnation of the circus with its gaudily omnipresent cultural, political, and economic performers, venues, and effects need be generated and configured in order to mold and maintain it as such.I read this back in the late nineties, and truth to tell I can hardly remember any clear cut details Unless the book really gripped me, my shelf life for reliable reading memory is about, oh, five years, max I would love to have another go at it soon perhaps after I have finally gotten around to ingesting my electronic copy of Sadie Plant s Situationist exposition as I would hopefully have a better understanding of what exactly Debord was trying to say and why he was trying to say it determining its relevance in the new century in relation to such a springboard effort as, say, Heath and Potter s collaboration should prove an interesting task, especially now that the spectacle can be bothand less circumscribed with the advent of a vast array of media mediums that operate 24 7 As for the prose itself these piquant poetic puzzles and artful allusions, these polished arrangements of a bespectacled, chain smoking, Gallic sphinx I trust they have lost none of their Gordian charm to the abrasions of time Re read this bad boy for research purposes The spectacle is a concept that s very swanky to talk about in dinner parties like George Orwell s 1984, but it is often simplified and, ironically enough, objectified by its debaters Everybody acknowledge we live in the society of spectacle, but either don t believe its rules apply to them or adopt a defeatist attitude towards it.What is the spectacle, then Debord has a great way of summarizing it the colonization of human life by commodities It s Re read this bad boy for research purposes The spectacle is a concept that s very swanky to talk about in dinner parties like George Orwell s 1984, but it is often simplified and, ironically enough, objectified by its debaters Everybody acknowledge we live in the society of spectacle, but either don t believe its rules apply to them or adopt a defeatist attitude towards it.What is the spectacle, then Debord has a great way of summarizing it the colonization of human life by commodities It s people arguing over iPhones vs Androids People crafting their identity around fictional characters ahem Tyler Durden ahem and shunning their relationship to their real environment It s people thinking hard work alone will lead them anywhere they want because they ve been told by people who haven t necessarily worked harder than them in order to become successful and who are very self conscious about protecting the social order they prosper in You get the gist We live in a neoliberalism economy where the most important think we can do is buy, so the best way we can turn the system around it by starting to think critically about your own consumerism It s 2017 Let s make Guy Debord cool again I gave this Guy a chance.In any expository writing, particularly when persuasion is the goal, the writing should be as clear as possible to reach the widest audience.This essay is laid out in numbered statements Some are only a sentence long, others may run a page or two, but all are written in a style that tells me the author isconcerned with his style than the content Perhaps this is the thing to do in intellectual circles, where stylish profundity that requires effort to decode is val I gave this Guy a chance.In any expository writing, particularly when persuasion is the goal, the writing should be as clear as possible to reach the widest audience.This essay is laid out in numbered statements Some are only a sentence long, others may run a page or two, but all are written in a style that tells me the author isconcerned with his style than the content Perhaps this is the thing to do in intellectual circles, where stylish profundity that requires effort to decode is valued.See if you can figure out what the following means This is statement number 56 The spectacle, like modern society itself, is at once united and divided The unity of each is based on violent divisions But when the contradiction emerges in the spectacle, it is itself contradicted by a reversal of its meaning the division it presents is unitary, while the unity itself is divided Say what These are not the words of someone who is writing to the masses, the very masses that he is out support and enlighten Debord is writing for the intellectual 1% of which he is a member.It s not that he has nothing meaningful to say If I can get anything out of what I have read, he believes in much of the socialist communist bedrock that people are alienated from the work they do and that we live in a word of products paraded before our eyes which induce us to spend our labor maintaining the system that produces them Therefor, humanity supports a system, we do not have a system that supports our humanity The goal is to keep us wanting and buying, while not paying attention to the fact that we are deluded.I made it a third of the way through before looking on the shelf for another book to read I enjoy intellectual challenge, but I appreciate clarity above all There are many ideas that require mental effort to understand, that even the most lucid prose is hard pressed to convey, but what Debord is taking on is not one of those ideas To expect change, which I believe he does, is idle if you can t get people to understand the points you are trying to make to alert them to their plight So this book is an unintentional tragedy having nothing to do with the subject.You will find that here and there one of Debord s numbered statements will ring perfectly true and make its point, but this is so rare that it isn t worth the effort to plow through all the rest.One star for a book that commits suicide.PS there is a possibility that the translator mangled the translation from French to English, but that s a stretch