The following quotations are from:
Guy DeBord, The Society of the Spectacle
Feuerbach: “But for the present age, which prefers the sign to the sign signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence… truth is considered profane, and only illusion is sacred. Sacredness is in fact held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.” 6
“1. In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.
- The images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudo-world that can only be looked at. The specialization of images of the world evolves into a world of autonomized images where even the deceivers are deceived. The spectacle is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the nonliving.
- The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation.
- The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images.
- The spectacle cannot be understood as a mere visual deception produced by mass-media technologies. It is a world-view that has actually been materialised, a view of a world that has become objective.
- Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the result and the goal of the dominant mode of production. It is not a mere decoration added to the real world. It is the very heart of this real society’s unreality. In all of its particular manifestations—news, propaganda, advertising, entertainment—the spectacle represents the dominant model of life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choices that have already been made in the sphere of production and in the consumption implied by that production. In both form and content the spectacle serves as a total justification of the conditions and goals of the existing system. The spectacle also represents the constant presence of this justification since it monopolizes the majority of the time spent outside the production process.” 7-8
“12. The spectacle presents itself as a vast inaccessible reality that can never be questioned. Its sole message is: ‘What appears is good; what is good appears.’ The passive acceptance it demands is already effectively imposed by its monopoly of appearances, its manner of appearing without allowing any reply.” 9-10
“18. When the real world is transformed into mere images, mere images become real beings—dynamic figments that provide the direct motivations for a hypnotic behaviour. Since the spectacle’s job is to use various specialized mediations in order to show us a world that can no longer be directly grasped, it naturally elevates the sense of sight to the special pre-eminence once occupied by touch: the most abstract and easily deceived sense is the most readily adaptable to the generalized abstraction of present-day society.” 11
“20. Philosophy—the power of separate thought and the thought of separate power—was never by itself able to supersede theology. The spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispersed the religious mists into which human beings had projected their own alienated powers, it has merely brought those mists down to earth, to the point that even the most mundane aspects of life have become impenetrable and unbreathable. The illusory paradise that represented a total denial of earthly life is no longer projected into the heavens, it is embedded in earthly life itself. The spectacle is the technological version of the exiling of human powers into a ‘world beyond’; the culmination of humanity’s internal separation.
- As long as necessity is socially dreamed, dreaming will remain a social necessity. The spectacle is the bad dream of a modern society in chains and ultimately expresses nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep.” 12
“…the modern spectacle depicts what society could deliver, but in so doing it rigidly separates what is possible from what is permitted. The spectacle keeps people in a state of unconsciousness as they pass through practical changes in their conditions of existence.” 14
“27. Due to the very success of this separate production of separation, the fundamental experience that in earlier societies was associated with people’s primary work is in the process of being replaced (in sectors near the cutting edge of the system’s evolution) by an identification of life with nonworking time, with inactivity. But such inactivity is in no way liberated from productive activity. It remains dependent on it, in an uneasy and admiring submission to the requirements and consequences of that system. There can be no freedom apart from activity, and within the spectacle activity is nullified—all real activity having been forcibly channelled into the global construction of the spectacle. Thus, what is referred to as a ‘liberation from work,’ namely the modern increase in leisure time, is neither a liberation of work itself nor a liberation from the world shaped by this kind of work. None o fthe activity stolen by work can be regained by submitting to what that work has produced.” 15
“29. The spectacle was born from the world’s loss of unity, and the immense expansion of the modern spectacle reveals the enormity of this loss. The abstractifying of all individual labour and the general abstractness of what is produced are perfectly reflected in the spectacle, whose manner of being concrete is precisely abstraction. In the spectacle, a part of the world presents itself to the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is smiply the common language of this separation. Spectators are linked solely by their one-way relationship to the very centre that keeps them isolated from each other. The spectacle thus reunites the separated, but it reunites them only in their separateness.
- The alienation of the spectator, which reinforces the contemplated objects that result from his own unconscious activity, works like this: The more he contemplates, the less he lives; the more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him. The spectator does not feel at home anywhere, because the spectacle is everywhere.” 15-16