Spectacle

When it comes to blogs, the cliche used to be that everyone wrote identical, banal entries about their lives and emotions. In 2010 the cliche is that everyone writes identical, banal entries about celebrity and ‘low culture’. Post-Perez, if you will. A Lady Gaga magazine cover will be reproduced on hundreds of thousands of blogs and pored over like it is an undiscovered Van Gogh. These images, this culture, has moved from being something that bombards us to something that is not only eagerly consumed, but breathlessly replicated in a perverse facsimile of production. People make a living out of this noise.

My university dissertation was on the Situationists and how prescient many of their theories and ideas were. This paid particular attention to Guy Debord’s ‘The Society of the Spectacle’. It is a work which, in the succinct words of wikipedia, “provides an extensive reinterpretation of Marx’s work, most notably in its application of commodity fetishism to contemporary mass media” and “expands the concept of Marx’s theory of alienation to include far more than labor activity.” Capitalism is “mediated by images.” All social relationships are conducted through the spectacle, and the spectacle is “the chief product of present-day society.” It is the totality of reality, far more than the technology which we use to embrace it.

I can’t recommend it enough. It reads like a primer (a warning?) for 2010, where we sit on our mobile phones when friends are sitting cm away, commodity (and commodity-image) fetishism has completely replaced religion and social life has left “a state of ‘having’ and proceed(ed) into a state of ‘appearing’.”

It’s kinda depressing.