Tag Archives: France

In the Library: … La Société du spectacle“ a Book by Debord

Some of the information below is from wiki the other is from a website solely devoted to Debord’s book La Société du Spectacle

La Société du Spectacle (Society of the Spectacle) is a black and white 1973 film by the Situationist Guy Debord based on his 1967 book of the same name. It was Debord’s first feature-length film. It uses found footage and detournement in a radical criticism of mass marketing and its role in the alienation of modern society.

With the term spectacle, Debord defines the system that is a confluence of advanced capitalism, the mass media, and the types of governments who favor those phenomena: “the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of ‘mass media’ which are its most glaring superficial manifestation”.[4] The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which “passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity”.

“The spectacle is not a collection of images,” Debord writes, “rather; it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.”

Degradation of human life

Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: “All that was once directly lived has become mere representation.”[1] Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as “the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing.”[2] This condition, according to Debord, is the “historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life.”[3]

In his analysis of the spectacular society, Debord notes that quality of life is impoverished,[6] with such lack of authenticity, human perceptions are affected, and there’s also a degradation of knowledge, with the hindering of critical thought.[7] Debord analyzes the use of knowledge to assuage reality: the spectacle obfuscates the past, imploding it with the future into an undifferentiated mass, a type of never-ending present; in this way the spectacle prevents individuals from realizing that the society of spectacle is only a moment in history, one that can be overturned through revolution.[8][9]

Debord’s aim and proposal is “to wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images,” “through radical action in the form of the construction of situations,” “situations that bring a revolutionary reordering of life, politics, and art”. In the situationist view, situations are actively created moments characterized by “a sense of self-consciousness of existence within a particular environment or ambience”.[10]

Debord encouraged the use of détournement, “which involves using spectacular images and language to disrupt the flow of the spectacle.”

Mass media and commodity fetishism

The Society of the Spectacle is a critique of contemporary consumer culture and commodity fetishism. Before the term “globalization” was popularized, Debord was arguing about issues such as class alienation, cultural homogenization, and the mass media.

When Debord says that “All that was once directly lived has become mere representation,” he is referring to the central importance of the image in contemporary society. Images, Debord says, have supplanted genuine human interaction.[1]

Thus, Debord’s fourth thesis is: “The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.”[11]

In a consumer society, social life is not about living, but about having; the spectacle uses the image to convey what people need and must have. Consequently, social life moves further, leaving a state of “having” and proceeding into a state of “appearing”; namely the appearance of the image.[12]

“In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.”[13]

 Comparison between religion and marketing

Debord also draws an equivalence between the role of mass media marketing in the present and the role of religions in the past.[14][15] The spread of commodity-images by the mass media, produces “waves of enthusiasm for a given product” resulting in “moments of fervent exaltation similar to the ecstasies of the convulsions and miracles of the old religious fetishism”.[16][17]

Other observations Debord makes on religion: “The remains of religion and of the family (the principal relic of the heritage of class power) and the moral repression they assure, merge whenever the enjoyment of this world is affirmed–this world being nothing other than repressive pseudo-enjoyment.”[18] “The monotheistic religions were a compromise between myth and history, … These religions arose on the soil of history, and established themselves there. But there they still preserve themselves in radical opposition to history.” Debord defines them as Semi-historical religion.[19] “The growth of knowledge about society, which includes the understanding of history as the heart of culture, derives from itself an irreversible knowledge, which is expressed by the destruction of God.”[20]


What’s an UNGA?

whitehouselogoPresident Obama delivered a speech at UNGA — the United Nations General Assembly — in New York City. The President expressed optimism at the prospects for diplomacy in solving a range of long-simmering conflicts across the globe:

“For decades, the United Nations has in fact made a difference — from helping to eradicate disease, to educating children, to brokering peace,” he said. “But like every generation of leaders, we face new and profound challenges, and this body continues to be tested. The question is whether we possess the wisdom and the courage, as nation-states and members of an international community, to squarely meet those challenges; whether the United Nations can meet the tests of our time.”

Find out more about President Obama’s UNGA trip.

President Obama speaks to the UN General Assembly

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Speaker Boehner Has a Choice to Make

Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer writes about the fiscal debate and why it’s time for GOP lawmakers to pass a simple budget resolution that doesn’t defund Obamacare and focuses on keeping the goverment open and our economy moving forward.


Equal Futures Partnership — A New Agenda for Progress

Valerie Jarrett celebrates the anniversary of the Equal Futures Partnership, a coalition of countries who have committed to take action to remove barriers to opportunity and promote equality for women and girls in our countries.


Countdown to Affordable Health Care

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius discusses another milestone on the road to affordable health care — less than 100 days until coverage.


Art Takes Paris : The Art World’s Finest, be a part of it ~~ 4 days left to register

Calling all creatives! Submit your best work and be guaranteed to have your work seen by some of the hottest names in the art world. We’re searching for the next great artist in Art Takes Paris. It could be you


Every single entrant will be reviewed by our strongest jury panel yet.

$10,000 Cash Grant  |  Feature Exhibition in Paris this Fall  |  Luxury Hotel Stay
Jurors from The Met, The Andy Warhol Museum, Lisson Gallery, and Marianne Boesky Gallery will select one creative as the GRAND PRIZE award winner, receiving a  solo show in Paris this November. Learn more >>

Pour une agricultur​e durable

The Nicolas Hulot Foundation has launched a petition on Change.org to support a reform of the CAP, which goes in the direction of sustainable agriculture for the future.   CAP stand for : Common Agricultural Policy


                          La Politique Agricole Commune de l’Union européenne est en cours de réforme. C’est l’occasion de demander à nos dirigeants de défendre une agriculture durable, juste et solidaire.                       
      Signez la pétition


Chaque année, vous donnez, souvent sans le savoir, 100 euros pour soutenir majoritairement une agriculture gourmande en énergie et en pesticides.

En tant que citoyens européens, vous financez par vos impôts la PAC : la Politique Agricole Commune des États membres de l’Union européenne. Un budget annuel colossal de 50 milliards d’euros par an, qui ne sert qu’en minorité une agriculture durable, et qui n’encourage pas les agriculteurs qui optent pour des pratiques plus écologiques, pourvoyeuses d’emploi, justes et solidaires. Il faut que cette tendance s’inverse.

Nous avons une occasion d’agir sans précédent : la PAC est actuellement en cours de réforme et cela ne se produit que tous les 7 ans. La Fondation Nicolas Hulot a donc lancé une pétition sur Change.org afin de soutenir une réforme de la PAC qui va dans le sens d’une agriculture d’avenir.

Cliquez ici pour signer notre pétition.

Nous demandons que cette réforme soit organisée autour de quatre principes : favoriser l’installation de nouveaux agriculteurs, accorder plus d’aides aux systèmes agricoles les plus respectueux de notre environnement, répartir de manière plus équilibrée les aides entre les types d’agricultures et les différents pays, et ne plus pénaliser les agricultures du Sud.

À la Fondation Nicolas Hulot, nous avons toujours eu à cœur de créer des passerelles entre les citoyens et les décideurs politiques. Cette réforme de la PAC est une opportunité sans précédent d’agir sur un sujet qui vous concerne.

Aujourd’hui même, les députés européens sont invités à voter un premier texte, avant que les discussions entre le Parlement européen, la Commission européenne et les représentants des états membres ne s’engage. En cette date symbolique, vous avez la possibilité de faire entendre votre voix sur la manière dont cet argent est utilisé. Plus vous serez nombreux à soutenir ces principes, plus la portée de notre action sera importante.

Cliquez ici pour signer notre pétition pour une agriculture d’avenir, écologique, juste et solidaire.

En espérant compter sur votre soutien,

Nicolas Hulot,

Président de la Fondation Nicolas Hulot pour la Nature et l’Homme