Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Society of the Spectacle

I recently re-read The Society of the Spectacle. I read the Knabb translation.

There is a pdf of the book online and physical copies are available. I needed it for my Kindle, however, so I downloaded the HTML, cleaned up the document and converted it to a mobi format.

UPDATE: Notes from the Sinister Quarter has created a superior version of this book. Go and get it from their website.

Below are some interesting quotes I found during this reading:

Kennedy survived as an orator to the point of delivering his own funeral oration, since Theodore Sorenson continued to write speeches for his successor in the same style that had contributed so much toward the dead man’s public persona.

Wherever abundant consumption is established, one particular spectacular opposition is always in the forefront of illusory roles: the antagonism between youth and adults. But real adults — people who are masters of their own lives — are in fact nowhere to be found.

Like the old religious fetishism, with its convulsionary raptures and miraculous cures, the fetishism of commodities generates its own moments of fervent exaltation. All this is useful for only one purpose: producing habitual submission.

The plain facts of history, however, are that the “Asiatic mode of production” (as Marx himself acknowledged elsewhere) maintained its immobility despite all its class conflicts; that no serf uprising ever overthrew the feudal lords; and that none of the slave revolts in the ancient world ended the rule of the freemen. The linear schema loses sight of the fact that the bourgeoisie is the only revolutionary class that has ever won;

Imprisoned in a flattened universe bounded by the screen of the spectacle that has enthralled him, the spectator knows no one but the fictitious speakers who subject him to a one-way monologue about their commodities and the politics of their commodities. The spectacle as a whole serves as his looking glass. What he sees there are dramatizations of illusory escapes from a universal autism.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty much every talking head these days, from politicians to whatever star-commodity, speak words written by some one else for affect. Most of the words are composed in that omnipresent bureaucratic language so dull in its empty literalness; some are less so, more sonorous, draw from an extended pallet. They are all weasel words, written by hucksters selling the dream of the never-ending reign of commodities.

    For example, picture all of those left liberals who opine on Keating's great Redfern Speech written by, um, you know, that dude who has made a career out of "exposing" the weasel words of bureaucrats and other ne'er-do-wells. Of course he was/is a bureaucrat; a public slave of political power in days gone by, now in his own service as writer-commodity of note, making money from "unveiling" that most well known of all public secret: politicians and bureaucrats and trade union bosses are lying self-serving cunts.

    Excellent choice Patrick. Great fragments from a book aimed at the society that makes the isolated fragment its principle of (not) life.