Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle is a polemical call out trying to shed light on our image-saturated consumer culture through a Marxist theory lens. In this session of the book club we will be focusing on the first chapter, The Culmination of Separation. Debord claims that a mediatised spectacle objectifies society, reducing it to mere appearance which tends to alienate and divide society due to lack of identification with the “other”.
In his book, The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord voices the concerns of his contemporaries, re-affirming the nature of the various facets of late capitalist/Marxist ideologies and their effect on society. Debord's style of writing closely resembles the hypnotic and tautological nature of 'The Spectacle' that he proceeds to expound. In chapter 1, The Culmination of Separation, Debord connects seemingly disparate outcomes of capitalism to highlight their psychological and secular impact on the proletariat.
Debord’s premise is that technology, with its superfluous array of media and marketing, has inundated all aspects of living. Whilst serving capitalist objectives, the predominantly ‘visual’ nature of these has resulted in a world in which all aspects of directly-lived experience have been replaced by a pseudo world of aspirational living in which fulfilment of ‘being’ is replaced by ‘having’ and further, ‘appearing’ and life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles.
[SYMPOSIUM] is a monthly reading group on the intersections between art practice and critical theory. Please visit the website for more information, to book and download the text.