Society of Spectacles

You guys know that your jerks are well read.  After all, “jerks don’t watch TV; we read books.”  Part of being so monumentally well read is being open to reinterpreting the texts we’ve already engaged.  While on – I love saying this – a recent jaunt to Paris, I did just that.

Jerks who engage cultural studies under the tutelage of Marxists inevitably encounter Guy Debord.  He was on my mind frequently in Paris – not least because that’s the city that inspired The Society of the Spectacle.  But I’ll come back to that.

You probably won’t be surprised that even Paris cannot live up to our jerky standards.  Abby’s had arguments with men who want to charge her 8 Euro for un café.  And I have learned first-hand that even the Franchy-Franch love their shitty exposé television programs.

Take a look at this guy:

Guess who shoved a TV camera in my face at 5:30 in the morning.

As best I can tell, he was filming a TV program about people’s dissatisfaction with Ryanair. (As a side note, check out Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair who even “outrages his own mother.”  We kind of wish he wore glasses more often.)

But the jerk in question spent the entire morning – 5:30AM to noon – trying to goad customers into ranting their dissatisfaction on film.  Having, myself, spent a week and a half in Europe at that point (and being in the company of Abby when I’m at home), I had already perfected my withering look of utter disdain.  Naturally, this man was the recipient of it – and other attempts to sabotage his shots – every time he approached me.

Abby knows this is a particular skill of mine.  Just ask her.

Oh hello there, you dreamboat.

It all got me thinking about this guy again.

I thought about the cover of the edition of The Society of the Spectacle that I first read:

Hmmm... It's just that it seems so obvious now. How did I miss it?

It got me thinking that maybe I had missed something in my earlier readings of the text.  After all, the first translation I read was not approved by the author (as the one I own now is).  Maybe it was time for me to re-examine it in search of overlooked knowledge.

Sure enough – take a look at the first statement:

The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles [emphasis in original]. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation. [Debord 12]

It seems so true to me.  What – after all – are our days but an “accumulation of spectacles” and the works produced by those wearing them?

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~ by likebadlovesongs on June 18, 2010.

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