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Society Of The Spectacle

29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0934868075
ISBN-10: 0934868077
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Society Of The Spectacle + Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism) + The System of Objects (Radical Thinkers)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

In all that has happened in the last twenty years, the most important change lies in the very continuity of the spectacle. Quite simply, the spectacle's domination has succeeded in raising a whole generation moulded to its laws. The extraordinary new conditions in which this entire generation has lived constitute a comprehensive summary of all that, henceforth, the spectacle will forbid; and also all that it will permit. --Guy Debord

About the Author

Born in Paris in 1931, Guy Debord was a filmmaker, social critic, and founder and longtime member the Situationist International (1957-1972). He died in 1994.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Black & Red (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0934868077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0934868075
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Maurice Burford on December 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an awful, reductive and artless translation of Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle." It appears to be a translation for "dummys," which I assume would have Debord spinning in his grave.

There are free PDFs of a better translation of this book ALL OVER the internet. It's a tremendously wonderful book, but this translation just doesn't do it justice. Don't waste your money on this.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Decades old, this slim volume has only become more relevant with age, delineating the ways in which we are shaped by false & distorted images of reality, rather than reality itself. If anything, the advent of the digital age has only increased the power of the image-makers to shape how we view both the world & ourselves -- and that view is utterly artificial & infinitely malleable. Those who control the images control society ... and we see this every day, in the consumerist lifestyle that's fed to a hungry populace eager to gobble it down. Anything of depth, from political discourse to ethical questions to the spiritual dimensions of life, is reduced to simplistic slogans & images designed to manipulate the individual as subtly but irrevocably as possible.

But did I say "the individual"? Even a cursory glance at contemporary society reveals few genuine individuals. The image of individuality is marketed & sold, of course, so that everyone feels special & singular; but the end result always seems to be people who are "individuals" just like millions of others, all believing themselves to be unique. Yet they all buy the same lifestyle, the same ideas, the same Pavlovian responses to their environment, just as they've been perfectly programmed to do. Oh, there's a gloss of superficial variation, to enhance the notion of individuality! But as for the real thing? The few who don't buy into the image are those derided as freaks, outsiders, uncool, etc.

Let's face it -- even the ideas expressed in this review can & have been commodified, marketed & sold to plenty of people. That's how insidious & pervasive the society of the spectacle really is. We are everywhere faced with a shiny, trendy, relentlessly cheerful image designed to flatter & ensnare us in its meshes.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By motivatedbunny on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not one to avoid complex writing that involves reading and re-reading to comprehend the meaning of the text, but this translation is less than ideal. I found another one online that is actually easy to read. The book itself is a worthwhile read, but I suggest that THIS particular translation requires too much work to comprehend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. J. Ford on March 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't think of myself as someone who shies away from tackling a challenging text (whether the difficulty is attributable to poor writing, or to the complexity of the ideas being communicated, or to some other reason), but....
I ordered this version because it was the least expensive. The publisher is Black & Red, and the translator is not named.
Use Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to compare this edition to the Donald Nicholson-Smith translation (which is available free online as a 64 page .pdf Adobe Acrobat file), and you'll see what I mean.
I called Amazon's customer service because I didn't know what reason to give for the return ("Lousy Translation"?). As usual, they were very helpful, e-mailed me a return label, and gave me an instant refund, so I'm sending this edition back to them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By pattrice jones on January 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Essential reading in these mediated days when activists of all stripes tend to unthinkingly participate in, rather than break out of, the spectacle, play-acting dissent rather than actually challenging power structures.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Carpenter on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
...Then perhaps you might do with a little more critical thought concerning your consumption of media. Considering the proliferation of the Internet/pervasive advertising as new additions to our "Spectacle," this text acquires even more implications beyond the author's experience. The translation seems solid, and considering how many times I've heard that this is a "difficult" text, I was pleasantly surprised. Even so the text requires focused reading, it's definitely not something you can pick up and read in little bits--you'll get lost. The binding/paper seem to be high quality. The anti-copyright on the info page is a nice touch.

You'll just have to deal with the irony of _buying_ this, considering its contents.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Griffith on September 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent, if you understand it. You won't fully understand it without The German Ideology. That's right, Debord is a Marxist. Probably one of the more influential, seeing how they say that Society of the Spectacle started the 60's riots in France -- so they say.
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Format: Paperback
Guy Debord, the most well-known of the Situationists, wound up the only one by 1972. The prickly pose he assumed is evident in this book. It asserts his confidence early on in this 1967 book. In this English translation (I rely on Ken Knabb's rendering), it conveys the concept that Marx's alienation is no longer found only in the factory. It follows the worker in the streets and the shops, and at home among entertainment, goods, and relationships. The Spectacle is Capital accumulated until it is made visible. It is inescapable. Its former diffusion, those reading Debord nowadays aver, has given way to a total presence in digital and virtual media, as these overlap with our "real-world" space and time, so as to pull us into the grasp of capitalism forever. This book in numbered sections and chapters, addresses what must be an educated rather than everyday reader, still.

Such a society rejects any promises to those whom it entices. It's free of illusions, as it's cynical. "The spectacle is the bad dream of modern society in chains and ultimately expresses nothing more than its wish for sleep." Commodity fetishes produce "habitual submission." Even those who free themselves from Marxist dogma and try to assert anarchism, Debord warns, are isolated when the time comes for "collective decision making." A minority trying to lead a pre-revolutionary struggle is not the same as a "postrevolutionary society of free individuals." Debord later affirms workers' councils as the best solution. He glances at this more than analyzes it.
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