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Published by: Craig Killaby on Feb 28, 2011
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MIT 3213 Craig Killaby February 9, 2011 Kane Faucher

Critical Response: The Totality of the Spectacle The society in which we live is one that is very complex. Many forces are at play; the creation of the spectacle is the combination of these forces. When looking at Guy Debord s The Society of the Spectacle it is clear that it is an outline of many different facets of society. The literature contains many different quotes about how Debord believes society has been constructed, and how people are seen as both passive consumers and active producers of the spectacle itself. Though the different aphorisms in the work are very complex and difficult, there are definitely some similarities between them. Specifically looking at a few aphorisms in the text, I will attempt to deconstruct each related maxim; linking the common themes of representation, alienation, and appearance between the aphorisms to convey the overall totality of the spectacle that I believe Debord is attempting to convey to the reader.

The first aphorismsets the tone that will carry on through the text. When Debord states where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles , he is stating that the societies in which modern capitalism has come to the forefront are the main contributors to the

those in capitalist societies are most affected as capitalism depends on the constant reproduction of spectacles. In a capitalist world we are constantly being told what is what. This framing of the structure of society further shows the totality of the spectacle. a society that has accumulated different representations of things that are fed back to us in the form of the spectacle. This explains that everything in the world is no longer what it appears to the eye. and who is right and wrong. what we are basing our lives on is simply the appearance of the real constructed into the reality in which people live their lives. When looking at this notion I tend to agree with Debord s statements. It is what it appears in respect to the spectacle.Killaby 2 society of spectacle. everything we see on a daily basis is the production of spectacles in all aspects of life. Most importantly. This aphorism takes into account all three themes of alienation. With the second part of this aphorism Debord really dives further into the notion that everything that was directly lived has moved into a representation . The representation of the spectacle in society is seen as positive. the second half of that statement is Debord clearly stating that we live in a society of the spectacle. Furthermore. We base our lives on the spectacle however. Another aphorism that deserves some attention is the twelfth aphorism in the text. representation and appearance as we have become alienated from real life through the representation of these spectacles in our lives. simply because of the . Debord states essentially that the spectacle frames the rules of the game by which we all play. indisputable and inaccessible. The key part about this is that it states the spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive.

When looking at this aphorism I also tend to agree with Debord. The totality of the spectacle is what is being critically engaged. it will in turn become spectacle.It relates in turn to the monopoly of appearance that the spectacle has in society.The second part of this aphorism deals with ones inability to retrieve the past. It is much like Hegel s framework that one cannot argue with Hegel without stepping into his arena. as stated in aphorism one. that which is good appears. That which is an opposition to the spectacle still has to frame their argument in reference to the spectacle itself. The passive acceptance relates to the alienation that one has developed between both reality and the past. making it difficult to get outside the boundaries of the spectacle. The simple fact of its existence is accepted simply by acknowledging that it appeared. Debord states That which appears is good. as well as the inability to recreate the past as an appearance or representation. by its monopoly of appearance.Killaby fact that there is no opposition to the spectacle. 3 The key to this aphorism is the statement of passive acceptance and the monopoly of appearance. or ones alienation from the past. Through the development of the spectacle through different means of production such as . and then in order for one to describe something in relation to something else. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply.If everything is a spectacle. one is not able to recreate the past without using spectacle.

and everything we describe about life 4 itself is spectacle. In unpackingthe maximit is clear that these two aphorisms inthe spectacle are total in the lives of human beings. theneverything we have done in the past can only be represented by adding to the spectacle. It could be argued that this view doesn t take into account human agency. as it seems philosophically sound to state that if everything is spectacle. Society has been founded upon the fact that human beings are social animals. It seems as though we have lost the ability to know who we are as people independently. perpetuating it further. we have become alienated from the things around us. and most importantly understand if we even exist as people independently of the spectacle itself. then people must be nothing more than just spectacle. the interactions that we have with one another formulate our opinions and in turn formulate who we are as people. This is an idea that I believe has to be discussed.Killaby capitalism. My argument is along the same lines as Debord. If the constant mediator of our lives is the society of the spectacle. To this argument I would say that human agency means nothing if the desires that the person wants are only based on the realities that they believe exist. as well as from ourselves. The spectacle is impossible to escape and . Throughout this paper I have discussed aphorisms one and twelve and stated both their similarities and their relation to the spectacle being a total concept involving the alienation. than we in turn are each independently nothing more than a living spectacle based on images and representations founded upon ones false conceptions of reality. If we are constantly surrounded by the spectacle. representation and appearance of images and things in our society.

Killaby perpetuates itself through many different facets of society making it a difficult and complex concept as a whole. 5 .

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