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Society of the Spectacle

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4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  10,595 Ratings  ·  298 Reviews
The Das Kapital of the 20th century. An essential text & the main theoretical work of the situationists. Few works of political & cultural theory have been as enduringly provocative. From its publication amid the social upheavals of the 1960's up to the present, the volatile theses of this book have decisively transformed debates on the shape of modernity, capitali ...more
Paperback, revised, 132 pages
Published 1983 by Black & Red (Detroit, MI) (first published 1967)
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Hadrian
Short aphoristic tract about materialism, advertising, and how many aspects of public life are not reflections of real attitudes, but are instead artificial, and how consumerism sometimes embody aspects of a religious dogma.

Debord may even be more right than he knew. Even rebellion, not only that of the 1960s but also the present day, has been made into a commodity.

Szplug
Jan 03, 2010 Szplug rated it liked it
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 ...more
Chris_P
*The Society of the Spectacle
Review in English below.*


Δεν ξέρω κατά πόσο ευθύνεται η μετάφραση του Μπαμπασάκη για την δυσκολία που παρουσιάζει το κείμενο του Debord, αλλά πρόκειται για ένα πολύ απαιτητικό ανάγνωσμα που για να το κατανοήσει κανείς, χρειάζεται απόλυτη συγκέντρωση και αφοσίωση. Πίσω όμως από την εξεζητημένη γραφή, βρίσκεται ένα ευαγγέλιο που γράφτηκε το '67 και ενέπνευσε τον γαλλικό Μάη του '68. Ένα έργο που, όσο περνούν τα χρόνια, μοιάζει να γίνεται όλο και πιο επίκαιρο. Το ερώτημ
...more
Ryn Shane-Armstrong
Feb 08, 2011 Ryn Shane-Armstrong rated it liked it
I read Society of the Spectacle way back in college -- when one is young and naive, and you're supposed to care about heady, outdated French philosophy that is utterly disconnected from the real. But now that I'm older and I have a world of experience to draw from, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't resonate as it once did. To wit, the so-called "radical" situationist ethic is now a totally mainstream, mass media commodity in and of itself. Beijing hosts pillow fight flash mobs in Tian'anmen square, ...more
kelli
Dec 06, 2008 kelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very difficult to read for several reasons:

• It is a very direct translation from the original French text.
• The Situations had developed their own vocabulary to describe what were then new and unidentified sociological phenomena (we now have a different lexicon to describe this more widely acknowledged phenomena today.)
• Debord, in this book, practices what he preached with the Situationists in his use of detournment (the reuse of elements of well-known media to create a new work w
...more
Tosh
Sep 15, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who think this election will make the big difference
Shelves: books-bought
It only took 154 pages to change our world. Guy Debord's manifesto/book length essay that is truly a masterpiece of political writing that borders on the poetic. It is also a crystal clear view how culture is formed in the 20th (and of course the 21st) century.

The theater is built in front us and we are lead to believe that we actually participate in its adventure. As Johnny Rotten said at the last Sex Pistols concert in the late 70's "Have you ever felt the feeling that you have been had?" Wel
...more
ماهرعبد الرحمن
كان هذا منذ وقت بعيد،لماذا أنا أفكر أو أكتب وفقا لما تنتظره أنت؟ ولماذا أتصرف مع صديقتى وفقا لما أظنه نموذجيا فى عقلها؟ولماذا أدخل فى مراتبيتكم الأخلاقية فأحترم الكبير بالضرورة؟ بالقطع إننى أقوم بتمثيل(لنستخدم منذ الآن كلمة:إستعراض)دور ما فى مجتمعكم،أتوق للنموذج المتفق عليه عندكم.. مع مرور الوقت قد أتلاشى تماما ولا يبقى منى سوى ما تريدون أنتم، بل وأكثر من هذا فسوف أنتظر منكم بدورى ماأتوقعه منكم.والمجتمع الرأسمالى الحديث نضج إلى الحد الذى أصبحت النماذج فيه مستقرة(نموذجية)الثورى/ الفاشل عاطفيا/الح ...more
Clif
Apr 03, 2014 Clif rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 is more concerned 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
...more
jeremy
Feb 14, 2008 jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
9. in a world that really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.

20. ...the absolute denial of life, in the shape of a fallacious paradise, is no longer projected onto the heavens, but finds its place instead within material life itself. the spectacle is hence a technological version of the exiling of human powers in a "world beyond" - and the perfection of separation within human beings.

67. ...a use of the commodity arises that is sufficient unto itself; what this means for
...more
Benoit Lelièvre
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
...more
Miquixote
THE book about how the technological spectacle consumes us and gives us A.D.D. Excellent to accompany Manufacturing Consent and its analysis of information control.

Most are well-aware of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman and the Propaganda Model presented in Manufacturing Consent, of how the media is pure propaganda. But the idea of 'spectacle' being something part of our daily lives, not just in the media, of our consumer society as one of consuming spectacles virtually everywhere, is under-studie
...more
Patrick
Nov 09, 2007 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Do not follow my example
We're all duped by the illusions produced by contemporary consumer society. But fear not: simply utilize your free time creatively and grant autonomous political and economic powers to self-governed workers' councils within every vestige of society and all will be well. Best quote: "Plagiarism is necessary. Progress demands it." (p. 145)
Greg
In theory I love this book, in it's actual form with words and a seeming intentional difficulty (ya know to avoid being co-opted by the spectacle of the totality of consumerist society) I'm only lukewarm about it. Give me Adorno any day over this.
Elisabeth
Jan 07, 2013 Elisabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bright sunny styles starting at $8 are spectacle. Tanning beds and stairmasters are spectacle. Sonny and Cher are spectacle. Sonny as mayor is spectacle. Any mayor “cleaning up” Times Square and polishing it with corporate spit is spectacle. Little New York in Las Vegas is spectacle. Little New York in Vegas in Dubai is spectacle. Little New York in Vegas in Dubai inside Tokyo Disney in a feature-film starring a topless Nicolas Cage saving the natives with guns in a Gatorade jihad is spectacle. ...more
Emma Sea
Aug 25, 2013 Emma Sea rated it it was amazing
Eerily prescient, and still a brilliant read about the alienation of labor, the advertisement of time, and the banalization of space.
Simon
Aug 27, 2013 Simon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just as Fight Club can be described as Twilight for boys, Society of the Spectacle can be described as Fight Club for young adults who have renounced their membership of Anonymous in order to focus on their careers as Social Justice Warriors.

Interesting for the historical context, but nothing more really. A redundant midway point between Marx and Baudrillard, in which the former's ideas are obfuscated for the purposes of pretension. Though I imagine translation is partly to blame for that. Its
...more
Jimmy
Aug 29, 2008 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leftist-studies
Even for a theoretical text written by an extreme leftist, in the late sixties, in Paris, this is a convoluted read. The chapters seem to demarcate different aspects of the idea that is the spectacle. There is a lot of debate over whether or not this book had much political influence over the events of May 1968 in Paris. If nothing else those same student activists had to have had some faith in the ideas put forth here. The structure seems haphazard. There is a very aphoristic, almost Nietzschea ...more
'Izzat Radzi
Buku ini menyentuh secara falsafah tentang budaya dan sejarah, secara khusunya, apa yang berlaku sekitar tahun 1967-1968 (vietnam war dan kempen baginya, dan surge of social movement di negara-negara dunia ketiga)

Disentuh sedikit tentang konsumerisma, kritik atas marx & marxisme, russian version of marxism dan paling banyak, critique of capitalism.

Untuk bacaan lanjut dari buku ini :
- Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (Guy Deobord juga, 20 tahun selepas buku ini)
- Dialectic of Enlighte
...more
Mira
Feb 26, 2008 Mira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Read this for research purposes while writing thesis "Perception and the spaces between art". I don't want to ruin this by reviewing it in a highly analytical manner, so I'll just say that it applies as much now as when it was written. A great text about the repackaging of culture and the coersion of visual freedom.
George-Icaros Babassakis
Ὅ,τι πιὸ ἔγκυρο ἔντονο εὐφυὲς γιὰ νὰ κατανοήσει κανεὶς σὲ τί κόσμο ζοῦμε τὰ τελευταῖα 50 χρόνια.
Armando Bravo salcido
Pese a todo, la elaboración principal del libro concierne más que directamente al concepto de espectáculo, a una elaboración post-marxista (situacionista en específico) de la forma de acumulación del capital y de las condiciones de reproductibilidad de esta acumulación pertenecientes a las sociedades del siglo XX. Por esto Debord hace referencia en otro lado (Comentarios a las sociedad...) a un "numero de investigaciones" que tomando categorías distintas han llegado a conclusiones equiparables y ...more
Richard Wu
Jun 28, 2017 Richard Wu rated it liked it
Homework, I suppose, one assigns oneself to get a better grip on the Marxist diaspora, with prose as—little surprise—lucid as the state of constant inebriation in which our bibulous author insisted on keeping himself. Yet the broad thesis, that society has turned into a giant TV show trying always to one-up itself in absurdity and whose sole objective is to permaglue our eyes to the screen, seems to me rather prescient. It is this aspect which draws me to the work, which suggests there is more t ...more
Carey Lamprecht
Oct 20, 2007 Carey Lamprecht rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Critics of modern culture
Guy DeBord was a front-runner for the Situationalists in Paris. They lead/inspired the Paris Commune uprising of 1968. This book serves as Guy DeBord's manifesto. He nailed post-modern, technologically-valuing globalized capitalism years before it became the monster we see before us. And it is still painfully relevant today. The style he uses is very challenging, although abbreviated and clear. It can seem to go on and on, but each point he states has been carefully selected and weighed. It is d ...more
Steven
Sep 04, 2016 Steven rated it it was ok
Can't imagine what put me on this book now except some weird venn-diagramish intersection of things I was reading about Trump, Suburbia, and Reality-TV, plus it was right there on one of my bookshelves with its seductive title. It's abstract and abstruse, full of dialectical jujitsu and Situationist private language, which makes it a difficult read. And it is oh so circular in its argumentation. Still, some nice turns of phrase, especially in the 50 or so statements about what the Spectacle is: ...more
Karina
Oct 04, 2010 Karina rated it really liked it


This book describes the problem : defined as The Spectacle. But how many of us dare to challenge the hegemony of the image obsessed society we have created? Debord wrote this tract in the sixties before the consumer society really took off. It was a prophetic warning.
Ask yourself this : aren't we all guilty of creating this monster? And how are we going to stop it?
The truth is in this book. Read it and weep.
Nate D
Feb 08, 2008 Nate D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: situationists, subversives
Probably the definitive summation of Situationist theory. Debord can get kind of caught up in his own terminology systems (probably the translation doesn't help here) and I definitely don't know enough Marx/Hegel/Russian History to follow everything, but definitely a pretty worthwhile and interesting take on 20th century culture and politics, even so.
Chris
Jan 24, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Debord elaborates on the organic unity of the spectacle, just as Marx does with capital. The spectacle is not simply advertisements, 24-hour news cycles, celebrities, and reality television, but is rather a social relation that constructs our spatio-temporal reality around its own biases for time-disciplined labor and strip mall architecture.
Arjun Ravichandran
Brilliant book ; hard to read initially because of its "poetic" nature and the ambiguity that entails. But keep at it, and there plenty of insights to mull over. A classic. Read "The Revolution of Everyday Life" as well.
Carlos Recamán
Aug 05, 2016 Carlos Recamán rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Está especialmente bien la parte en la que se molesta en intentar explicar qué está diciendo.
Lee Foust
Oct 21, 2016 Lee Foust rated it really liked it
My reading and studies in philosophy aren't really in-depth enough, I don't think, for me to say anything particularly enlightening about Debord's most famous little book here. What I think I've understood from it is fascinating and I think still quite relevant--if not even more so than at the time of the book's composition. I think that the spectacle is still growing in its reification of social life, if perhaps a tad more interactive in the age of the web--or at least I hope that's the case.

I'
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  • The Revolution of Everyday Life
  • Situationist International Anthology
  • The Coming Insurrection
  • History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics
  • The Production of Space
  • Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
  • The Culture Industry
  • The Practice of Everyday Life
  • The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge
  • One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
  • Empire
  • Illuminations: Essays and Reflections
  • Simulacra and Simulation
  • Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents
  • The Emancipated Spectator
  • The Coming Community
  • Writing and Difference
  • Introduction to Civil War
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Guy Ernest Debord was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International. In broad terms, Debord's theories attempted to account for the spiritually debilitating modernization of the private and public spheres of everyday life by economic forces during the post-WWII modernization of Europe. Alienation, ...more
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“Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.” 70 likes
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