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the production of a world of simulacra? How is his framework differentfrom Guy Debord's and which one is more convincing for you? Use the essaywe read in the class to substantiate. Spectacle to Simulacrum and the (Im)Possibilities for Subversion In order to understand Guy Debord's insistence on the spectacle as society and Jean Baudrillard's notion of simulacrum beyond the surface level semantic differences of explosion/implosion and dissimulation/simulation, Karl Marx's critique of commodities and the commodification of social life as commonplace in industrialized capitalist societies is essential. Both Debord and Baudrillard take Marx's theory, stretch it further, and imbue its very core meaning into a modern capitalist society which witnessed a dramatic shift in its socialized landscape through technology, media, and violent moments of (re)production of commodities and images through these mediums. Guy Debord, in Society of the Spectacle (1967), examined the move from a Marxist perspective of the proliferation of commodities in capitalism to using that framework as it applies to a new society, beyond Marxist theory, which has manufactured social life to a nullifying extent of absurdity. For Debord and the thinkers or artists involved in the Situationists International, social consensus became obtained through the blasé attitude of capitalism's cultural hegemony in the new 'society of the spectacle'. The proliferation of images, commodities, and 'infotainment' into one's socialization created such an abstraction of every day life that one's very expression of self came through this spectacle of consumer products and media society. In speaking of Debord's theory of spectacle, Best wrote: “... the concept also refers to.. all the means and methods power employs which subject individuals to societal manipulation, while obscuring the nature and effects of capitalism's power and deprivation.”1
1 Best, Steven and Douglas Keller. The Postmodern Turn. “From the Society of the Spectacle to the Realm of Simulation: Debord, Baudrillard, and Postmodernity.” p89.
Clark – p2 This, in its most basic form, represents a pre-packaged consumable world which is constructed by others as opposed to being produced by one's self. Debord envisioned human agency as a means of radically shifting from the spectacle to a fostering, or creation of, “total subversion and revolution of the established society.”2 Passive spectators would become active subjects, attempting to understand and illuminate the depth behind the hijinks of the reproducibility of images and spectacle. This very positivist idea motivated the Situationists in pursuing social and cultural revolution through art, activism, and attempted disambiguation from the spectacle. For Baudrillard, there was no point – capitalism and the very concept of the spectacle had already achieved its superlative plans of simulation; even in Debord's words - “the total occupation of social life.”3 There was no more agency for individuals to act with in a radical fashion to subvert the spectacle. Reality is lost, modern capitalism catapulted society unwillingly into postmodernity, which witnessed realities being “infinitely extended and multiplied,” instituting the actualization of simulacrum – a self-referential society of images without a real behind the funhouse mirrors of the hyperreal spectacle.4 Baudrillard invokes Marxism only to dismantle it as for him it no longer applies since the concept of postmodernity takes Debord's theory of the spectacle and turns it on its head in which even the illusion of radical subversion is already manufactured. “Like a grinning Cheshire cat,” Baudrillard's theory of simulacrum at once acknowledges the society as spectacle but with the serious differentiation by which dissimulation as a mask for reality is only the earliest stages of what unfolded as a simulation of even that dissimulation; simulation, singular – simulacrum, here and now for Baudrillard.
2 Best, p80. 3 Ibid., p85. 4 Ibid., p101.
political resistance for Debord yet the same cannot be said for Baudrillard. turning it inside out. it becomes not unreal or surreal. but hyperreal. causing simulacrum's hyperreality to become the organizing principles of society. the rather linear path Baudrillard takes through Marxism. Behind the illusion of a dizzying contemporary capitalism of images and signs. cultural. “a hallucinatory resemblance of the real with itself” (Baudrillard. and reproduced in myriad ways which is the context for Baudrillard's theory of the real vanishing amongst capitalism's consumptive ability to implode meaning itself. p102. while scurrying past Debord's notion of the spectacle. In his deconstructive radicalism. Postmodernity for Baudrillard represents the spectacle as already having eroded possibility for subversion projected within Debord's theory. doubled or multiplied within reproductive processes. consumed. . open to infinite multiplication. it instead transcends from being something which can be exploded to something which has already imploded. a “reality” replicated from a model. volatilized from medium to medium. For me.”5 The idea of infinite multiplication becomes important when understanding that the spectacle's hyperreality becomes incommensurable to reality itself as it becomes duplicated. Baudrillard's theory is described in Best's essay as “when the “real” no longer directly represents and is artificially (re)produced. there is a real to be found and brought to the forefront of social. a myth or fantasy. grabbing the most salient critiques and bending them towards the pronouncement of the future hyper-spectacle is most convincing to me Clark – p4 5 Best. 1983a: 3).Clark – p3 The tensions between Debord's spectacle and Baudrillard's simulacrum lie not necessarily at the substantive argument both thinkers present but more so in the theory of abstraction and implosion of society which for Baudrillard is the (inevitable) transition from a neo-Marxist critique of capitalism into postmodernity. packaged.
spoke in a way to these thoughts of Bukowski in “On Nihilism” where he elucidated on his dialectics of nihilism: “The apocalypse is finished.youtube.9 Debord. today it is the precession of the neutral. There's nothing left to save..”8 is present in Best's essay regarding simulacra and its devastating effects through capitalism's rather miraculously indifferent recklessness as it whizzes past even the active participant who merely gazes – blasé. of forms of the neutral and of indifference. Best. --Consumer capitalism – in its par excellence creation through “mesmerizing images and stupefying forms of entertainment” – inculcated the society of the spectacle. we're so bored talking about it. Simulacra and Simulation.”6 Baudrillard. Jean. I identify closely with Baudrillard's sense of deconstruction.com/watch?v=MHRcKjvX1xE. . At some level. such is our general situation in an era of involuntary transparency.' Baudrillard's claim that contemporary nihilism is best seen through the lens of an “irresolution [which] is indissolubly that of the system. Melancholic and fascinated [by our disappearance]. Ibid. we don't even want to save ourselves. certainly as it is grounded within the American experience of a mid-20'ssomething who was raised in a middle-class family from Connecticut. in his published book Simulacra and Simulation. deluged. according to Guy Debord. p160. Charles Bukowski. p159.' 'Do that..” University of Michigan Press.. famed nihilist poet. along with the Situationists. once said about American culture and civilization: “I think most talk is so boring. http://www. choosing to focus on the importance of social revolution in an effort to Clark – p5 6 7 8 9 Bukowski. wanted to continue in a neo-Marxist tradition of theoretical criticisms.”7 This sense of 'involuntary transparency.for a number of reasons.' 'Do this' – we're all so boring saying everything. enraptured by the images and signs of the spectacle's postmodern hyperreality. 'Save this. Baudrillard. Charles. “On Nihilism. I mean. p80.
and separates. capitalism at its most basic level facilitates the separation of labor and commodity and yet for Debord. politically. and a cultural revolution á la the philosophies of human potential brought forward by thinkers like Nietzsche and Sartre (both influences to the Situationists) had to foment in order to craft a subversion to the spectacle. depoliticizes. the society of the spectacle defines individuals as consumers and attempts to constitute their desires and needs. As I wrote in my essay on Georg Simmel's The Metropolis and Mental Life and Marx's commodity fetishism. p85. The very facets of daily life had to be reclaimed. the use of language on a product's packaging promising unfettered happiness if you only buy this brand over another. and the construction of status according to the accumulation of commodities are essential to the functioning of the spectacle's apparatus.emphasize the creation of liberated spaces – intellectually. Still further. “A formulaic fetishism with commodities works in place of the rational self which disappears once inculcated with such a desire to express one's self through a material existence. Instead of the increased philosophization of reality. as Best laconically explains: “Unlike early capitalism. first creating and then exploiting them. avenues of expression opened. whose structural exigences lay in the forceful exploitation of labor and nature and in defining the worker strictly as producer. As Marx and many other theorists thoroughly elaborated on. socially. capitalism's consequences also traversed into the separation of art and life for instance.”10 This is exemplified in the bombardment of images and billboards on the highways. .” Debord's notion of the Clark – p6 10 Best. Debord found the spectacle to conversely philosophize reality. The 'permanent opium war' that Debord spoke of in Society of the Spectacle focused on the abstraction of daily life as an inherent necessity to the functioning of an all-encompassing consumer capitalism which pacifies. cracks in capitalism's veneer exploited. culturally.
Capitalism. there are no longer active participants and passive spectators – we have become subsumed by the spectacle. There is an “advanced state of abstraction in which the object is absorbed altogether into the image and dematerializes in closed cycles of semiotic exchange” representational of the subject being absorbed into hyperreality in which the object becomes the signifier of all Clark – p7 11 Best. creating what I would propose as active spectators. the tarnishing of sincere communication in the age of electronic media and information imploded opportunities for subversion and self-emancipation. but it becomes the hyperreality of the spectacle. but instead continually duplicating and (re)producing the illusion as reality through this mass proliferation of images. even Debord and his cohorts fell to the realization that in a frenetic modern capitalist society. The spectacle continues to operate in the simulacra of images and signs. . the shadowy specter in the background.”11 The personal liberation that Guy Debord and the Situationists advocated for from this hyperreality was a process of self-reclamation. self-emancipation from the confines of the spectacle. For Baudrillard. The proliferation of images as signifiers of one's own existence and very language of expression become the only medium with which reality seems to function. no longer denoting a referent which is tangible. continues to produce these images and commodities for a placated market eager to consume the illusion of the spectacle as “more real than real itself. However.spectacle not only takes this concept and exacerbates it tenfold. p91. Capitalism's growth parallel to that of electronic media gave way to Baudrillard's truculence toward absolute abstraction and ultimate consequences to the implosion of the spectacle. The spectacle is not simply an extension of the relationship between consumer/subject and commodity/object but instead the simulation of social models and political economy of the sign.
12 Akin to Debord's invocation of Marx's earlier critiques of capitalism. Not only does this bumper sticker become a total commodification of history and religion but at the very least. simulacrum developed a sign value instantiated through the society of the spectacle's practice of organizing images into a hierarchy of value. For instance. as it is described by Best. Disneyworld. Bumper stickers adorning nearly every car on the highway. do not have their own use value as attributed to their raw material according to physical use but instead.meanings. the deserts of California. simply reasserts the loss of an objective reality and lays claim to the sign value of images being the superseding force behind a postmodern capitalist spectacle. engrossed by the spectacle. mass (re)production of art. the example of the phenomenon of bumper stickers on automobiles in the United States. particularly the “Coexist” ones adorned with various religious symbols. The objects themselves. it creates an a-historical and depoliticized image of these symbols themselves. televised for everyone to watch. history itself – these are examples of which Baudrillard uses to contemplate the very abstraction each have gone through within the hyperreality of simulacrum. but also of the Clark – p8 12 Ibid. radical semiological reality becomes infinitely extended and multiplied into which now anything can pass as meaning or reality according to Baudrillard. Without a real to be uncovered behind the funhouse mirrors of the spectacle. Baudrillard takes a step further and initiates an important distinction between Marx's concept of use value and that of sign value. 'reality' television shows. Semiological (re)processing. Religion certainly plays no small part in this simulation of reality as it has become a theatrical performance of grandeur. . Michael Jordan. p96. Best aptly described religion's role in the spectacle as being that which has always been a major representation of hyperreality and source of capital.
14 Best. This technique has transcended into practice for the Army so that soldiers can now fire missiles from control centers based in the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq with (horrifying) exact precision. What appears most frightening from this sort of implosion of reality is not only the rather sickening look one gets on their face while Clark – p9 13 Best p107. emblazoned on papal souvenirs from posters. and “bottled (holy?) water” the Pope. postmodern society where distinctions as those between subject and object. the shift from modernity to postmodernity is seen at precisely the moment when the spectacle undermined any possibility of dissimulation. then. virtualized. stuffed animals. This sort of experience is now famously used as a recruiting technique amongst the United States armed forces divisions. cards. where a “fully processed simulatory. no longer accessible. and religion. political. and so on. Christianity. sweatshirts. The crux of the argument. appearance and reality. and the image or commodity itself is projected into a status of more real than real. . cybernetic.commodification of the Pope himself. p106. at this point is to elaborate on the notion that for Baudrillard.13 Cultural. Video games provide the ultimate experience of war without ever leaving the comfort of your favorite chair. is now fit for consumption. Internet users can watch live video feeds from across the world of a safari in central Africa or of a beach in Greece without stepping foot from their bedroom. one could be both here and there. are obliterated”14 came to absolute fruition. historical incidents or situations are often made into a sellable commodity then given a sign value as an image in turn reproduced ad nauseam until the original 'story' or 'situation' is no longer coherent. The spectacle has introduced itself into postmodernity in endless ways. actualized. surface and depth. the separation between a “here and now” and a “there and then” is masked. At any moment.
ensuring that there could be no mistake what this image in particular represented to the American psyche. labeled as a terrorist. the world witnessed the end of one of the longest contemporary moments of the spectacle's multifaceted simulations. Bin Laden was imbued with a sign value. torture. singing songs of freedom and jubilation. Bin Laden was leveraged to such a threadbare excess of rhetoric with an increasing sign value that even with the very passing of this person created a physical nationalistic fervor at campuses and cities around the United States. palms stuck to the plastic controller with their own sweat. “the true enormity [of the effect on the Iraqi people] was buried in the barrage of media images that coded it as the struggle of Good against Evil and helped to mobilize the public in support of it” which resonates particularly cacophonously now in our post-9/11 globalized world. most recent to Best at the publication date of that article. Osama bin Laden was used by the United States government as an alibi to mercilessly bomb. Since September 11th 2001. Hundreds took the streets. eyes frenzied. or rather war pornography. maim. Most recently. cheering and waving American flags. and television screens. The Gulf War in 1991. magazines. This is the Clark – p10 . An extension of this is war photography. mobilizing in front of the White House. Essentially. and occupy Afghanistan with hundreds of thousands of United States troops stationed throughout the country. was a media sensation due to the very ability of constructing facts on the ground. teeth gnarled like a wild animal ready to strike – but the very authentication that this – this simulation – is at some level constructed as reality. and spent time circulating through the front covers of newspapers.playing these games – drool trickling from the corners of their mouths. The infotainment news stories used the same photograph over and over again. a common practice that is now inseparable from the practice of the United States foreign policy.
essence of a depoliticized and a-historical image which was part in parcel nurtured through the spectacle of commodification of history. http://www.edu/faculty/jeanbaudrillard/articles/the-spirit-of-terrorism/.egs. capital. and religion. at the very same time. of terrorism in our postmodern hyper-spectacle: “Death is the key (to the game) not only the brutal irruption of death in direct. the mother of events that never happened – as an invisible target with the goal of operational elimination16.com/archive/2001/09/24/010924ta_talk_wtc. steadfastness. “The Spirit of Terrorism”. almost perverse. The New Yorker. In a level of stupefying. http://www. Jean. for the sake of its abreaction as if an answer to the United States' exertion of hegemonic global power would never receive a response to itself. geography. November 2001. It was merely a symbolic event. everything which America strove to be. in real time. the effigy. obsession. As Susan Sontag wrote in her controversially-perceived New Yorker piece about September 11th.S trade. the spirit. Susan. one that Baudrillard is even humorously attracted to. The 'suicidingly spectacular' event marked the shift from any tangible ideology or politics in relation to this act to the very essence. Osama bin Laden came to be the meaning. The twin towers themselves embodied this very particular power – the two enormous metaphorical middle fingers extended towards the world. the ostentatious necessity for everything American strove to disavow and yet ironically. but also the irruption of a more-than-real death: symbolic and sacrificial death . September 2001. symbols representational of U. .”15 Baudrillard was able to witness this fantastical event and wrote an essay in November of 2001 entitled The Spirit of Terrorism which articulated the action as globalization battling itself for the first time – the absolute event. 16 Baudrillard. The very conjuring up of the name created a lull to any argument against the occupation in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq that followed.the Clark – p11 15 Sontag. the media infotainment that arose out of the lingering hours after the incident was intent upon the very goal to “infantilize the public.newyorker.
no appeal event. . Hence. September 11th signified the very resurrection of the image as event. and at the same time act as a diversion and a neutralization (as happened for the events of May 68). that is. Baudrillard continues. and its inverse. and the model of a symbolic violence that it cannot access. could we have possibly expected a different response from those cheering on the illusion of freedom as Osama bin Laden was murdered? His image and the perverse fascinations afforded to them could only be answered to as it 'passed' with total Clark – p12 17 Ibid. “terrorist actions are both the magnifying mirror of the system's violence. the hegemonic system was unable to dismiss itself from its responsibility of the role it plays amongst the symbolic order in the spectacle. 19 Ibid. the only violence it cannot exert: that of its own death.. it absorbs the latter and gives it back as consumer goods. They can be infinitely multiplied. the videos. For this reason.”19 The violence of this event institutes a response of equal proportion but one of fascination with the image. the face behind the chaos.”18 The barrage of media that came as interruptions of the videos repeating the towers crumbling (suiciding) over and over again is what is most pertinent to explain how 9/11 was the 'absolute event' in relation to the further grounding of – or even commitment to – simulacrum.. The image consumes the event.absolute. for the rather ambiguous role of images in our media is to “capture the event (take it as hostage) at the same time as they glorify it.”17 The towers symbolized a system of globalized capital with which the United States remains the epicenter (but not the sole manifestation of) and the collective suicide of those who flew the planes into the towers symbolized a provoking (or questioning) of that power with the assumption that for Baudrillard (the only possibility) would be an answer actualizing the eventual suicide of that system. 18 Ibid.
replayed. Morse illuminates her concept of semifiction as a loss of the 'here and now': “knowing a representation is not real. and freeways all share a simultaneous nonspace and temporalities of distraction. space is defined as being “composed of intersections of mobile elements” while place is a “proper. where representations of fictions are given qualities of every day life thus not only facilitating but enchanting the loss of here and now toward total distraction.” The future becomes symbiotically bound with the present through the techno-social realm of media. elsewheres and elsewhens in the here and now.”20 Television.. we witnessed the 'spectacle of terrorism' invoke the 'terrorism of the spectacle'. shopping malls. as Morse describes. Here. . Using Michel de Certeau's writing. shopping malls. in her essay An Ontology of Everyday Distraction. With the negation of 'referential anchorage' to the modern world and a further creation of nonspace.”21 Distraction becomes confused as the representation of space within place and “the inclusion of. between a distinction of space and place. but nevertheless momentarily closing off the here and now and sinking into another world. or distraction. Amongst the backdrop of non-referential images reproduced. 21 Ibid. The sinking into another world which Morse describes as liquidity is precisely the point in which the viewer or participant slips into the elsewhere's and elsewhen's which is Baudrillard's simulacrum. Margaret. Using television..jubilation. p191. and distinct location. p195. and the freeway as examples of these everyday distractions. stable. and syndicated – the event of 9/11 is the absolute event which portrays the very hyperreality (and consequent fetishization of such) behind the spectacle as a loss of reality. An Ontology of Everyday Distraction. the subject continues to feel a distraction from Clark – p13 20 Morse. What undergirds this very belief in the spectacle and fetishization of images is what Margaret Morse describes as the fiction effect.
misled. the gaze of the subject is startled. and the landscape is unreal and full. “narration 22 Morse. television provides not only another example of dreamlike displacement. As reality continues to become mythologized for Barthes. and the subject's phantasmagoria of the interior. the regime of images. Á la Barthes. When Barthes speaks of the utter dismemberment from reality that he feels while driving in an automobile. simultaneously.”22 The glass. even present but somehow unreal to us. recorded transmission to the masses. serving as a window seemingly into the 'outside'. As Barthes states. The television viewer experiences the double distance from the outside world's environment through the ambiguity and entanglement of space/place but also a disengagement through the separation of temporal Clark – p14 and spatial elements in the host's one-way. the constructed spectacle that serves as our more-real-than-real society where the 'landscape' is realized. p203. The same can be said of looking through the regime of images.reality as a sort of dreamlike displacement. it can ultimately be related to the feeling one experiences amidst today's society as spectacle. confused.” This dizzying alteration between presence/distance and transparency/depth is at the very heart of what's at stake for Baudrillard's claims toward the simulacrum. offers a phantasmagoric view into the landscape just beyond. . “the glass is at once present to me. not being able to ignore “the transparency of the glass and the depth of the landscape. but what Morse describes as a 'double distance' which the viewer experiences in environments where space and place are separated. he describes his conscious attendance of grasping “the presence of the glass and the distance of the landscape” but at once. With images displayed on television screens both “everywhere and nowhere in particular.” face-to-face contact is further eroded in a continual disengagement with some level of actuality. acknowledged. there is an out there which is reported through the television and enforces the double distance of inside/outside. Hence.
is dereferentialized. or control. a liquid convergence of varying analogs into one. The Great Machine. 24 Ibid.. will be a simulacrum of an ultimately fictitious situation of enunciation rather than a world outside. 25 Ibid. . A common theme throughout Margaret Morse's work is precisely this idea of exchange values through virtualities. furthering a culture of images whereby lines become blurred between real/not real. p203. leading to what could certainly be described as the zombie effect (or Simmel's blasé attitude) – “contradictory states of excitement enhanced to the point of overstimulation mixed with relaxation descending into confusion and torpor. p201. then/elsewhen – illusion/reality. that is. and place represented through television creates the feeling of fragmentation and profound disorientation for the viewer but at the same time that there is a feeling of freedom.. here/elsewhere.”23 The disjunctive flows of space. Hundreds of 'itineraries' give the viewer options. p208. engage with the constructed Clark – p15 'comfort zone' away from the demands of labor. paramount reality. where one may attempt to somehow 'let go' of capitalism. lifted out of a spatio-temporal context (however real) into a symbolic or affective realm.”24 Virtually constructed. is a self-fulfilling prophecy where the outside world is being constructed under multiple layers of representation... time. Television (the freeway and shopping mall) became constructed place(s) of presumed liberation from the spectacle.. quite literally through the remote. [for instance] the news. yet we are not able to because we are simply 23 Morse. recreated as a phantom within elsewhere”25 allying seemingly incompatible cultural systems with specific exchange values (and sign values)... distanced from any objective reality. precisely speaking to Baudrillard's society of simulacra where reality is fiction and virtuality is merely just an extension of such. this state of being is expressed through images and consumption via “a banished.
work. most notably from The Cyborg 26 Best. 27 Morse. nourishing a further commodification of images and goods. Beyond the separation Marx explains between the metropolitan inhabitant and the production of commodities. The cyberworlds of today – the limitless high-speed railways of information and images – create the Other as an ambiguous. at the heart of his claim regarding simulacrum.passing from one virtual-temporal world into another. Where Morse posits the articulate summation of the effect malls have on one's contemporary identity to “shore up the boundaries of the self via commodities which beckon the promise of perfection. 9/11. p102.”27 Best continues on this idea to speak of the virtual malls that have exploded via the Internet. and video games still do not speak to perhaps the most fascinating fantasy of the virtual age – the Internet. the cyberspace interaction nexus of commodity/subject is elevated to its extreme. The Internet is the perfectly embodied manifestation of the dulling immediacy which media presents to the spectacle as the fully actualized ability to live out our days in a cybernetic hyperreal – the raison d'être of simulation. Entire new lexicons and vocabularies had to be constructed to explain the new engendered identities exposed through the proliferation of the Internet. porno videos stimulate libido in abstraction from the problems of real relations with others and reduce complex gender identities to mere sex puppets. . malleable subject which is left entirely to your imagination. Morse's conception of those three distractions as inherent to the spectacle. Computer games allow you to literally create alternate realities where you no longer have to be yourself and you escape an already constructed reality to construct another.. or politics.”26. Baudrillard's theory of the ecstasy of communication speaks to this further annunciation of the spectacle. Best describes the transmogrification of techno-reality according to Baudrillard through “video or computer games are more fascinating and alluring than school. p198. bin Laden.
lies awaiting exposure. No longer are there secrets. With the growth of the Internet. a sense of patience or waiting for news. A sort of Orwellian panopticon society has replaced Debord's spectacle. Baudrillard offers his ideas behind the ecstasy of communication being rendered nearly translucent by modern technology. is communication and the ways in which the Internet has effaced interpersonal relationships. though. . talk shows like Jerry Springer and Maury. celebrityhood.. the hyperreal is actualized in the very apparition of the Internet. With the growth of YouTube. Privacy is nonexistent as the unparalleled growth of communication technology. what Morse referred to as the paramount reality of face-to-face conversation. the Internet. and the loss of a subjective realm of knowledge is transformed by the images and phantasmagoria of an objective virtual reality. the curtains have been pulled to the side and the spotlights have pervasively taken over to be “exposed to the harsh and inexorable light of information and communication. Continuing on the idea of immediacy. reality television shows like Jersey Shore and Friends. and surveillance dominates social spaces not only through a hierarchy of aesthetics but by using the spectacle to dictate the rules of engagement with the spectacle.29 This 28 Best. p111. dictatorial form with which the spectacle may have sprung from according to Best and Debord has not only morphed but conjoined in hybridity with a “libidinal and psychic control” based upon seduction through simulacrum and commodities. 29 Ibid. The Orwellian concentrated. one can film themselves doing anything fathomable.Manifesto by Donna Haraway. and even the judicial process is made into compelling television drama for hours throughout the day. Perhaps most compelling. p118. and within minutes – receive views from all across the world. or even the sanctimonious peace in death.”28 The spectacle has witnessed the “obscene” become ordinary – ranging from Facebook's colonization of social spaces. post it to the Internet.
One day we're all going to wake up and realize. etc. The bunks were set up. its captured us. becoming itself a mutating set of signs.com/?v=FC4OKUBU. The only stipulation to the 100 plus volunteers that wanted to join Harris' social experiment is that they would be filmed everywhere. “The Internet is like this new human experience – at first. We Live in Public (film).”30 The documentary entitled We Live In Public hauntingly speaks to this. Our every action will be counted.”31 What becomes the cornerstone to the film is in fact the portrayal of Josh's life as it crumbles alongside his growing affinity and identification with the selves he creates during his adventures with the Internet and technology. free food. and you're really becoming [sic] in these constrained. with television monitors and cameras in the corners with a remote so that each “cell” could 30 Ibid. . Time goes by. What is of use in speaking of Baudrillard and We Live In Public is the installation piece. twenty four hours a day. http://www. showers. grounding the theatricality of the Internet both in its infancy and after it had consumed daily life for a total induction into the society of the spectacle.. Josh. the postmodern self dissolves in the realm of ersatz experience. Harris. Quiet. in the early 1990's which combined live streaming video and live chat. p103. 31 Harris.banality is explained perfectly be Best as subjects become “lost in the funhouses of the hyperreal. virtual boxes.. A underground bunker in New York City became transformed overnight into a breathing virtual city with its own church. predicted the growth of the Internet but what made his case so profound that a documentary would be made of it was that he predicted the need with which the Internet would be wound so closely to American cultural life. Pseudo. resembling concentration camps cells.. much like Baudrillard and Debord.megavideo.com. doing everything. The film documents Josh Harris as he founded the first Internet television site. everyone is going to like it but there will be a fundamental change in the human condition. police force..
A continued erasure of privacy. The participants went hysterical. Daily life became the spectacle that everyone tuned in to see or gathered around the shower to watch as two people had intercourse with one another. The obscene became normalized. The subjects of the experiment became parasites in unto themselves. in the most absurd of attempted flawless circumstances. instead. being so connected with one another. Serving as a microcosm of what-was-to-come in this techno-social-political spectacle of postmodernity. In a way. filtered through the television screens and video cameras. and ultimately the separation between self and the image of self deteriorated all faculties of those living underground as the millennium dawned. Quiet was able to illustrate the effects of the Internet and technology on subjects as it miraculously infiltrates and takes over. entirely failed. people want 15 minutes of fame – everyday. all of the time. What began to unfold in this very peculiar way was the disjuncture between the apparent freedom of being in this everything-goes experiment but being consistently chained to this experiment in a bizarre fashion because you were constantly being videotaped. a melting of freedom under the circumstances of surveillance and simulation. Harris' postulation that the volunteers may become more intimate. showing that as “we willingly trade our privacy for the connection and Clark – p19 . broadcasted from cell to cell through wires. Reality television. melded into reality. doing things that one does every day.watch what everybody else is doing. created under a designed sociality. Andy Warhol's notion of 15 minutes of fame in a lifetime was blown to pieces by Harris' experiment which he claimed provided a solid basis to disprove that claim as no longer true. they are the bunkmates of this cellular hotel. this is exactly what Morse describes in her analysis of modernity and television yet the channels are composed not of a pre-recorded one-way broadcast anymore.
there is nothing left to save or hope for which We Live in Public exhibited to its fullest extent. This. unfolding without any sort of impediments.weliveinpublicthemovie. begs deeper questions about the separation between private/public social lives and really. Perhaps his social experiment showcased an early manifestation of reality television: people enacting their slow march towards total simulation of life. Facebook and Twitter.”32 The film concludes with his last experiment of being filmed twenty four hours a day in an apartment with a budding relationship broadcasted live in the Internet. it is more a survival among the ruins than anything else. For someone like Debord. --For Best. The constant invocation that one needs to find the fractures in the spectacle with which to engulf it by playing “with the pieces of a moribund culture” not only through ironic commentary but the production of new cultural values is to Baudrillard's claim that we must “reach a point where one can live with what is left. in real time. but with every technological advancement such as MySpace. But even if one were to follow that faulty line of thought all the way through. 33 Ibid. it is clear that Debord's analysis of society of the spectacle and its possibilities for subversion are more convincing for him. http://www. [we] becomes more elusive. a meaning to life. There must be some sort of hope towards living out this spectacle as it takes over each corner of our lives. the end is evident: the experiment imploded (not exploded) on itself as the participants turned not only on themselves but each other.”33 Even if one were to entertain Best and Debord in Clark – p20 32 We Live in Public.recognition we all deeply desire. . But for Baudrillard.com/about-2/. p117. the comfort of the possibilities in subversion are ever present – they must be. of course. It could even be argued that Quiet is reality – it was a reality which was made by people..
Whole Foods takes part in the continued adoptive rhetoric of diversity and a politics of difference as part of a neoliberal multiculturalist dogma which asserts itself in an ethnic commodification of sustainability. 'greening the planet'. Politically. Even provided as examples within the essay comparing Debord and Baudrillard. As he explains the essence of Debord and the Situationists International's goals to “reconstruct society and everyday life to overcome the apathy. too – Best initiates a discourse which insinuates the modern forms of revolutionary activism have been able to suppress dissimulation into a cultural or political revolution of sorts. . Texas and the ability both Whole Foods and Book People had to market even a supposed “counterculture” approach to capitalism. Best describes the display of wares at Whole Foods as mesmerizing. yet if one has visited the Austin Whole Foods. and fragmentation induced by the spectacle” merely by attempting to decolonize the spectacle through “destroying spectacular relations.assuming that the spectacle has not yet presupposed modern society and subversion is a possibility. p92. Book People resembles the metaphor of depoliticization of semiotics in the Coexist bumper stickers described earlier as the bookstore coyly erects a Buddhist rock garden and meditation space next to a statue of Buddha – the mass-market god of commodified Western-appropriated spirituality. Clark – p21 34 Best. it is beyond mesmerizing – it is the epicenter of globalized agricultural capital and spectacle. deception. the technique itself is a market strategy. of course).”34 Best offers the revival of the Situationists spirit in politically radical circles today as a “curious afterlife” which signifies a newly rejuvenated struggle to subvert the spectacle! As hopeful. the alternatives which have presented themselves as antitheses to the commodification of daily life have already been consumed by the spectacle and sold back to society. and provider of micro loans for the developing Third World (for empowerment. passivity. Best makes note of Austin.
many of the groups with which Best is invoking here are merely attempts at subversion that are simply manifestations of the spectacle. Debord. http://www. Baudrillard envisioned the “fantastic perfection” of control. Organizations like CrimethInc35 are comprised of very affluent. apocalyptic visionaries of vanguardist anarchism. and all one needs to do is entire into its interplay. and so on. predominantly white.altruistic. not yet entirely collapsing. and spectacle as being the most radical act of today: “Of course.com/. all that is out of date. In a sense. representing not only the illusion itself as reality but that as illusion. there's no need now for Situationism. Everything which happens today is radical. the very notion Clark – p22 35 CrimethInc. p104. There's a great wealth of radical events. for me. Situationist modes of radicalism have passed into things and into situations. The spectacle's hyperreality is radical. not us!”36 He is absolutely right – the spectacle is an absolute radical moment in history playing itself over and over again that shows itself as mysteriously. the real terrorists are not so much us. capital. Indeed. We are already living amongst the ruins except that the ruins remain holographic and mirror-like. today.crimethinc. as the events around us. and utopian as Debord is – unfortunately. Events are the most radical things today. This. Reality is Situationist. is inherently the problem with a cultural revolution rushing towards and advocating for a total subversion of the spectacle – we have moved from the possibilities into impossibilities. 36 Best. radical. somehow. . Nowadays. reality is radical. individual sensibility no longer exists. The hyper-critical. Their literature resembles much of the theory behind the Situationists and their (im)possibilities of exploding the spectacle through creating non-spectacular relationships but essentially reinvent the spectacle's tropes in new ways. The spectacle itself has bent as a manifestation of an inverse implosion.
”39 as a 37 Best.. It is like the tired old cinema scene of the opulent ballroom where the piano and strings music fades out. p118. we continue to watch the slow. As both Debord and Baudrillard have passed on. or to create. p211. As this essay attempted to lay out. . 38 Ibid. stating “the spectacle has. continued to gather strength. “cut off from the surrounding desert. to find.”38 We are still lonely.. to discover. Even as Best continues to grasp for a plausible meaning in asserting that the “hyperreal can always be contextualized. The very attempt to find it is in and of itself a furthering of the spectacle. symbolic procession of a self-imposed cultural death – ceremonious weddings. Yet. deconstructed.. and unasked” to see what realities hide behind the illusion is absurd. There is no longer a Real to access. every chance to celebrate the very existence of life itself is elevated to a platform of excess in an attempt to access something real. equipped with endless funhouse mirrors. spotted with islands of activity. and the hyperreal experiencing a theological death only to be resurrected as a reproduced and representational Real is fanatical.. and people know it. the depth of the illusion. still isolated. but the evening's partygoers continue to waltz in their suits and dresses. Las Vegas is a human-sized city. Even Debord agreed with this idea towards the end of his life..that we live in simulated society is radical. [and] learnt new defensive techniques”37 as it continued(s) to eclipse the possibilities of subversion.. is shallow – it is a manufactured reality. p116. from glowing tables to garden oases. still grasping for any kind of subjective meaning amongst the spectacle. Vapid indulgence and total distraction from reality is ever-present in the streets lined with sparkiling lights. birthdays. “everyday life is shit.. [with] darkened and Clark – p23 low-ceilinged casinos. 39 Morse. the line of vision begins to blur. peering into the heart of the spectacle. still. Baudrillard's concept of simulacrum illustrates that behind the very illusion Best wanted Debord's theories to expose. graduations.
or is it perhaps that Dubai took some examples from the West's own simulated manufactured landscape? In America. The architecture of Las Vegas is radical – there are rivers flowing through hotels modeled after the Parisian streets in which you can actually ride a boat. lush gardens with vines that continue to wrap themselves around trusses. the object that encapsulates the spirit of an era is used to document that era41. put together a book entitled iDubai40 which features photographs from Dubai's metropolis of malls which he took from his iPhone. a photographer. .total illusion presented as the ultimate real. Baudrillard documents his a road trip over the highways of the United States Clark – p24 and his observations of the unravelling topography of the U. It seems entirely possible that Sternfeld could produce the same book while snapping photos on an iPhone in Las Vegas as well.daylightmagazine. an exact replica to those in Paris' canals. Joel Sternfeld. Indoor skiing pavilions and snowboarding trails are there in Dubai for the indulging while an opportunity to merely gaze across the a/effected landscape with simulatory.S. He comes up with the term astral 40 http://www.org/podcast/november2010-0. There are waterfalls. one which Baudrillard exclaims there is no escape from. slumped in a wooden chair. holographic destinations mirrored as spatial condensations is impossible to forego. through the hotel underneath a roof that changes images (imaginary) according to the time of day. 41 http://www. desert scenes with camels and exotic animals walking across what appears to be a vast desert – all this amongst a fully-functioning gambling casino. The images in this book are of bored teenagers. sipping on Starbucks lattes or of a Muslim woman dressed in a burqa with stonewashed denim detailing on the back.steidlville. Sternfeld achieves a unity of form and content. In the fetishized object of the past three years.html.com/books/965-iDubai. It is the expression of the intrusion of commodities on capitalist societies across the world.
the power of simulation..”42 The power of the game. transpolitically by the power of the game.”43 In a crude and brief summation of the points expressed throughout. and is at once also ready to move on once it has been found gorging in the corner by itself. America. our chasms of affection. careened Baudrillard through these sensory environs as he witnessed the varying ontological levels with which the spectacle in all its gloriousness has permeated. the obscenity of obviousness. electronically by television.” the America which Baudrillard became familiar with created a feeling of being “starblasted. geologically by deserts. In reference to Debord and countering his narrative of subversion. Baudrillard states it beautifully by simply noting that capital is always one step ahead. the power museum that American has become for the whole world. as Best would make Baudrillard out to be explaining in his published works. horizontally by a car. capital has already passed on to another.. But the act of subverting the spectacle by creating a counter-cultural 42 Baudrillard. . stereolithically by megalopoloi. We aren't living out our last wishes amongst some apocalypse. passing on to other realms in order to gather all that is possible. Clark – p25 everything comes in waves. By the time one phase has been unmasked. the exhilaration of obscenity.america which for him describes the essence of what the United States' persona means to him: “joy in the collapse of metaphor. the obviousness of power. Verso Press. but it seems that in this 'capitalist' society capital can never actually be grasped in its present reality. 1988. As against our disappointed virginity. It is not that our Marxist critics have not tried to run after it. p27. but it always stays a length ahead of them. stating “Not only can history not be caught up. These aren't the end times.. altitudinally by plane. or the power of the illusion. rather. Baudrillard writes more extensively about Marxism and its criticisms toward not only capitalism but simulacrum in America. 43 Ibid. Jean. p86.
it makes sense that as the spectacle and capitalism continue grow and permeate. and engage with it at the very least to understand and be conscious of the ways which simulacrum works – its intricacies and nuances. p213.. The deserts proved so fascinating to Baudrillard because of their delivery “from all depth there – a brilliant. I am advocating for a sort of documentation of the spectacle because we can no longer disconnect. and the potential for its future(s). with no origin. This doesn't mean that one sits idly whilst amassing commodities and trinkets but that one is consistently conscious of this spectacle and its invasions and pacifications into our daily lives. to document the spectacle. crippling any possibility for a thoughtful critique on capital and its impact on culture. Rather. superficial neutrality. a challenge to meaning Clark – p26 and profundity. . to some degree. these active spectators who live with the ruins to necessitate a future in which every corner of the globe doesn't become introduced into the simulacrum. We must remain. no 44 Morse. Baudrillard entices a further engagement with the spectacle to understand its abuses.revolution is gone. happens within the spectacle to reiterate from before) but to merely be aware of its presence and affects/effects is a goal worthy of acknowledging. its past. We must play with the grinning Cheshire cat and get better at playing its game. Morse prescribes in her conclusion a similar idea in “recognizing the extent and scope of an attenuated fiction effect in everyday life. might already be a step toward bringing distraction within a controlled psychic economy of disavowal.. Carrying in the vein of progressive philosophy. a challenge to nature and culture. We have to learn to 'live amongst the ruins'. Baudrillard doesn't collapse into an apathetic nihilism.”44 We have left the possibilities and have moved into the impossibilities. perhaps the goal isn't to try to outstep its growth or determine a new future different than the confines of the spectacle (this reimagining. In a way. this project of projection. an outer hyperspace. mobile.
45 America.' the last option is to take Baudrillard's advice of living amongst the ruins and constantly attempting to understand it better.reference-points. . p133.”45 Without prospects for subversion of a system which has created itself to surmise the future 'here and now.
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