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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: 289,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Guy Ernest Debord (1931 - 1994) was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, founder of the Letterist Faction, and founding member of the Situationist International (SI). Debord's first book, Memoires was published in 1959 bound with a sandpaper cover so that it would destroy other books placed next to it. Debord's best known work is his theoretical book, Society of the Spectacle (1967) which some consider a catalyst for the Paris uprising of 1968. Debord also wrote a number of autobiographical books and short pieces, and produced various films including a cinematic version of Society of the Spectacle. Will Self is an English author, journalist and television personality. Self is the author of nine novels, five collections of shorter fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing. His work has been translated into 22 languages and his novel Umbrella was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars society of the spectacular! 9 Nov 2006
Format:Paperback
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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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Abolition of Boredom is nigh!!! 24 Mar 2010
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
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 Dyonisian 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 shockwaves 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 fuelled 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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3 of 3 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
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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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars don't bother 28 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback
there are much better translations, such as the one by Ken Knabb; that can easily be found online for free. this is not an easy or even accurate translation of a book who's key principals are on Wikipedia. Reading it will not enlighten you any more unless you are especially into Situ literature. I recommend reading or watching 'The Angry Brigade' (Carr) and then downloading Knabb's translation for a skip read.
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