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Society of the Spectacle [Paperback]

Guy Debord , Martin Jenkins
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jun 2009
'One should bear in mind when reading this book that it was written with the deliberate intention of doing harm to spectacular society' Guy Debord. Originally published in France in 1968 The Society of the Spectacle is a brilliantly lucid analysis of the forms of social control and domination under modern capitalism. Since its publication it has had an enormous underground influence both on active revolutionaries and on radical cultural and political theory. Prescient in its condemnation of the image as the tool used by Capital to alienate us from the reality of our everyday lives, The Society of the Spectacle is more relevant than ever in the era of information and virtual technologies. This edition includes a short, sharp introduction by Martin Jenkins which draws out the continuing relevance of Debord's work for today.

Product details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Soul Bay Press (8 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955955335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955955334
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13.2 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice new edition of a prescient and urgent text 19 April 2012
By Ben_W
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an attractively presented edition of Debord's excellent neo-Marxian critique of capitalism, including an interesting new introduction. Two elements of Debord's brief masterpiece stood out, to me at least, as particularly relevant in the contemporary context:

(1) His warning (in 1968) that the rise of the service sector in the West and the shift of manufacturing to the East did not signal the emergence of a classless society, but rather the penetration of 'factory-like' working conditions into the new 'white collar' jobs being created and, ultimately, the intensification, rather than the resolution, of class antagonisms and exploitation. The global financial crisis (and specifically the implications of the various 'austerity measures' for 'ordinary' working people), along with the 'Occupy' protests ('the 99%' versus 'the 1%' etc) would seem to bear this argument out.

(2) The idea of the spectacle as 'a social relation between people that is mediated by images' has never been more relevant than in the age of Facebook, iPads and 24-hour rolling news - from 9/11 to the 'Arab Spring', the twenty-first century has proven that the society of the spectacle is still very much alive today.

A book well-worth reading.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars society of the spectacular! 9 Nov 2006
This book - in conjunction with some secondary literature and other NOT RANDOM situ texts - is one of the few which can come to revolutionise your perception ALL THE WAY DOWN. Of course : it is obscure and relies on a familiarity with alot of marxist terminology - but it bares, and demands, repeated readings which demonstrates how these concepts have alot of life in them! If I was to formulate its thesis then today it would be : you are always watching others do things instead of doing something which would exceed the gaze of another watching you. This is the road towards de-reification et al...
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Abolition of Boredom is Nigh 24 Mar 2010
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
De Bord is not an easy read. Locked into that European, let's make it as hard as possible to understand language of the left. Take a bow Deleuze, Guattari, Althusser, Marcuse, Habermas et al.

Unlike the above with the exception of Marcuse, who is a kindred spirit, the effort is worth it. More kernels of knowledge tumble out of De Bord than Nietzsche. The difference is, Nietzsche is a wade through a swamp of reaction to find the uncut diamonds. These need to be prised away from his misanthropy. De Bord is a streamlined philosopher in comparison.

He has more to say and conceptualises it succinctly when the language is decoded. Whilst Marx concentrated on economics, De bord analyses the banality of everyday life. He paints a vision of a poetic existence,a Dionysian fusion of art and living derived from the imaginative desires.

A huge impact on punk, live this day as though it is your last. Drawing on energy to invigorate rather than destroy. This little package sent shock-waves throughout the 80's.

Rebellion succumbs to mammon, the lure of cars, men/women/s available bodies, houses, the appollonian stability enticed many to lay down their cultural cudgels.

How they rue the days when Dionysius, the pipes of Pan and the intoxication of Bacchus were consigned to under the bed shoe boxed? Constant substance use fueled intoxication leads to eventual disaster but De bord was calling for a revolution of everyday life not for alcoholism.

Instead in the UK the grinding treadmill consumed young bodies and spat out dull grey lives. The lesson of tedium encased in this book, the Dionysian life, is not a template for a slow form of suicide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
i cannot recommend this book high enough, it is essential reading. tough written over 30 years ago, much of it apply more then ever. it also gives an overview of how a process we identify as currant, has been going on for much longer. read in order to act.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a life changer... 26 Mar 2011
By Rosscoe
...bringing clarity to how we are manipulated by the whole of the mass media, describing in unique precision how the spectacle (pure capitalism within globalisation) is bulldozing it's way through our lives within the veil of false democracy and who has created the distorted illusion of the reality we live in today.

If you are unaware of the way the political powers in place have manipulated, with skillful psychological prowess, the human collective conscious mind before reading this book, and are receptive to truth and read with an unbiased view point, this book will shock and lift a veil from your eyes you never knew was there. You will never see the world as you did before again after immersing yourself in the fantastic world of Guy Debord.

This book should be raised high at every anti government rally until we are free from the spectacle that controls the collective conscious, but be cautious when you follow this white rabbit and be prepared for an epic journey, you will emerge from this book a different person with a clearer vision and hopefully a mind that has changed for the better.

Contrary to some views here I found it easy to read as it helped expand on thoughts I already had. Along with Freddy and Karl's Communist Manifesto it could be the most dangerous book to challenge popular culture ever put into print.

I absolutely recommend buying this book if its the last thing you do. Once you have read it pass it on or buy it again for your friends and close family.
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