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Society of the Spectacle

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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  13,357 ratings  ·  417 reviews

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 1960s 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 ava

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Paperback, 120 pages
Published 1983 by Black & Red (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 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
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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
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Ryn Shane-Armstrong
Feb 08, 2011 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
Clif
Apr 03, 2014 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
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kelli
Dec 06, 2008 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
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Pat
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia, non-fiction
Zitti tutti, va in scena il Potere!

Non c'è dialogo. Non c'è scelta. Gli individui sono testimoni passivi, ammirano le immagini, scelte dal potere, che sostituiscono la realtà. Il pubblico guarda, non agisce e non reagisce. Reale e virtuale si confondono, perdono identità. Si assiste così alla “rimozione di ogni verità vissuta sotto la presenza reale della falsità assicurata dall'organizzazione dell'apparenza”. È vero ciò che il potere mostra. Il resto è impostura. Il reale perde consistenza, è a
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Tosh
Sep 15, 2007 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
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jeremy
Feb 14, 2008 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
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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
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Eadweard
42
The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. Not only is the relation to the commodity visible but it is all one sees: the world one sees is its world. Modern economic production extends its dictatorship extensively and intensively. In the least industrialized places, its reign is already attested by a few star commodities and by the imperialist domination imposed by regions which are ahead in the development of productivity. In the advanced
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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.
Emma Sea
Aug 25, 2013 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 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
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Patrick
Nov 09, 2007 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)
George-Icaros Babassakis
Ὅ,τι πιὸ ἔγκυρο ἔντονο εὐφυὲς γιὰ νὰ κατανοήσει κανεὶς σὲ τί κόσμο ζοῦμε τὰ τελευταῖα 50 χρόνια.
Steven
Sep 04, 2016 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
Malcolm
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's quite short (at only 150 or so pages) but it ain't snappy - Debord manages to excoriate ideology, alienation, much of the Old Left, almost all of the New Left and provide us with a circuitous and at times dense analysis of the emerging consumer society of the late 20th century. I keep coming back to it, and I keep finding turns of phrase and pieces of an argument that make me revisit and revise my political sense of the world around me. A deserved classic.
Walter Schutjens
I have long wanted to read about the Situationist movement, after having read some radical socialist texts and some radical postmodern texts... what better synthesis is there to be found? "Society of the Spectacle" is a philosophical work that describes the working of the "spectacle" as a product of modern consumerism that exists in social interaction through means of pseudo -representation (if that doesn't mean anything to you, dont worry it didn't to me either at first). In essence, everything ...more
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
Elisabeth
Jan 07, 2013 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
Jimmy
Aug 29, 2008 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
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Karina
Oct 04, 2010 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.
Mira
Feb 26, 2008 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.
Caleb
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Debord's cogent and illuminating text employs Marxist idealism to expose a plane of unreality. By realizing the void between subject and spectacle, we find a new affirmation of Nietzsche: that a will to (or realization of) nothingness is better than no will at all.
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 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.
Turt
Jul 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Absolute trash. Perverter of young minds.
Michael
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anarchists, radicals, punks
Recommended to Michael by: The Anarchist Switchboard
Shelves: anarchism, politics
It’s funny, because this book has been more-or-less “in my orbit” for the past 25 years or so, but I only got around to actually reading through it for the first time just now. That makes it a bit difficult to review, because in some ways I knew what I was getting in to when I first opened it, but in other ways it was a surprise. Maybe that helps explain the fact that it struck me as being at times very cutting-edge, and at others quite out-of-date.

This book was originally a manifesto of sorts,
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Mateo R.
Leí solamente el primer capítulo. Vomito lo que me pasa por la cabeza acá para, algún día (con suerte con más entendimiento), cuando lea todo el libro, poder contrastar pensamientos:

Guau. Debord pinta un panorama desolador y no puedo evitar ver en parte a nuestro mundo reflejado en lo que dice. Antes de empezar aclaro que todo lo siguiente está sujeto a un "si mal no entendí" porque tranquilamente puedo haber malinterpretado lo que leí.

Entiendo por qué Debord describía a la sociedad del siglo XX
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Lee Foust
Sep 29, 2016 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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Carey Lamprecht
Oct 20, 2007 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
Daniel
May 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this due to an interest in learning more about the history of the May 1968 demonstrations in France, the history of art, and the Situationalists. The problem is that this is a primary source for those events, it is the philosophy and theory of Situationalism (though Debord didn't care for that term). I find the ideas fascinating, but like many works of philosophy it is written densely, and at times incomprehensibly as little to nothing is defined or adequately explained. Critics have stat ...more
Metemorfoz
Yaklaşık on sekiz yıl önce almıştım bu kitabı, tam olarak bitirmek bugüne düştü. Daha o zamanlar bölük pörçük okumuşluğumuzla bile tartışırdık bir, iki arkadaş Debord ve sitüasyonistleri, gençlik işte, bildiğiniz gibi...
Bu kadar önemli, kült mertebesinde bir kitaba review yazmak da neyin nesi, veyahut onu puanlamak, diyor olmama rağmen kendi kendime iki satır bir şey yazmak istedim yine de. ilk yetmiş, yüz sayfasını okumuş olmak bile o kadar çok açmıştı ki dimağımı, siyasi perspektifimi a'dan
...more
Feliks
Dec 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A strange work of social criticism. The cover is deceptive--this is not a book about mass media or audience behaviors. It is more like a history of socialist ideas; the author spends most of his time in this little volume analyzing subtle strands of Marxist thought. The format is also odd--the author writes in a 'diary' style, like a Wittgenstein or a Lichtenburg. It is not a continuous narrative but rather a collection of notes organized around a theme. This can be frustrating--'choppy' reading ...more
Tuğçe Kozak
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
To be or not to be artık to appear like or not to appear like
Nate D
Feb 08, 2008 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 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.
Carl Denton
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
yeah a lot of this book is unnecessary/unconvincing but I think he's correct in identifying 'the spectacle' as a relevant/necessary object for theoretical study. I thought this was great
Vagabond of Letters
4.5-5/10. Very disjointed.
Florence
"The Society of the Spectacle" is a translation of a French language thesis written in 1931. Guy Debord's theories are virtual predictions of our present society.

Let's take for an example, Madonna's song, "A Material Girl". It may raise images of a woman obsessed with fashion, beauty, design, art and possibly travel. The author would describe her as "consumed by the spectacle" and "precipitated by the concrete process of an autonomous economic system of production."
(Yes, you may need Google to r
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Bookworm
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Society of the Spectacle is a commentary about the power that governments and mass media hold over people in their day-to-day lives. For Debord, this hold is managed through the relation between mass production and consumption, an issue also addressed by Marcuse in One Dimensional Man, and Adorno and Horkheimer in the Dialectic of Enlightenment.

Debord argues that society is full of spectators drugged by the spectacle created within hegemonic practices. His aim is to awaken the sleeper throu
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Daniel Leverquin
Korifej situacionističke internacionale, Gi Debor je sebe smatrao filmskim stvaraocem, a na projekcijama svojih filmova publiku je znao da posipa brašnom (naši političari nas polivaju nekim drugim materijalom već decenijama pa ih smatramo normalnim), stekavši tako status ekscentrične ličnosti nije drugačije živeo, družio se sa beskućnicima, uličarima, i bio i ostao pravi marginalac. Njegov politički milje je ultralevica, u majskim događajima iz 1968. predstavljao je najekstremniju opciju.

Društvo
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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
“Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.” 86 likes
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