Guy Debord: “The spectacle obliterates the boundaries between self and world”

The spectacle obliterates the boundaries between self and world by crushing the self besieged by the presence-absence of the world. It also obliterates the boundaries between true and false by repressing all directly lived truth beneath the real presence of the falsehood maintained by the organization of appearances. Individuals who passively accept their subjection to an alien everyday reality are thus driven toward a madness that reacts to this fate by resorting to illusory magical techniques. The essence of this pseudoresponse to an unanswerable communication is the acceptance and consumption of commodities. The consumer’s compulsion to imitate is a truly infantile need, conditioned by all the aspects of his fundamental dispossession. As Gabel puts it in describing a quite different level of pathology, “the abnormal need for representation compensates for an agonizing feeling of being at the margin of existence.”

Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (section 219).

8 thoughts on “Guy Debord: “The spectacle obliterates the boundaries between self and world””

  1. Reads like a description of religion. Supersize GOD! Don’t believe what you read, but read what you are told to believe. Like rats in a behavioralist’s cage, pressing frantically at the bar to get that reward.

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    1. The best my translation widget came up with is ‘under the range paves’. I am curious. Translation, por favor.

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  2. I just read about Situationist International / ’68 in Wikipedia. Very interesting to an old demonstrator.

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  3. “What could a businessman ever want more / than to keep us sucking at his store?…We owe you nothing. You are not what you own.” — Fugazi, “Merchandise”

    “Consciousness of decay reached its most explosive expression in Dada. Dada really did contain the seeds by which nihilism would have been surpassed; but it just left them to rot, along with all the rest. The whole ambiguity of surrealism, on the other hand, relies on the fact that it was an accurate critique made at the wrong moment. While its critique of the transcendence aborted by Dada was perfectly justified, when it in its turn tried to surpass Dada it did so without going back to Dada’s initial nihilism, without basing itself on Dada-anti-Dada, without seeing Dada historically,. History was the nightmare from which the surrealists never awoke: they were defenseless before the Spanish Civil War. For all their yapping they slunk after the official left like faithful dogs.[……….]The primacy of life over survival is the historical movement destined to undo history.” — Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life

    “History Died Laughing” — (song title) Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live

    “Beethoven’s Fifth? No, I needed a breeze, not a whirlwind.” — Ken Russell, Altered States: The Autobiography

    “Wocka wocka!” — Foz E. Bear

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  4. I wonder what it feels like to see through everything so clearly. Guy Debord shared that ability with Peter Watkins. In Edvard Munch, when the actors are looking at you, they’re looking through you. What are they looking at? The person standing behind the person standing behind the person stand behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behindthe person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind the person standing behind you.

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