Notes on the Society of the Spectacle by “One-Way Street”
First notes and thoughts
“Philosophy, the power of separate thought and the thought of separate power, could never by itself supersede theology. The spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispelled the religious clouds where men had placed their own powers detached from themselves; it has only tied them to an earthly base. The most earthly life thus becomes opaque and unbreathable. It no longer projects into the sky but shelters within itself its absolute denial, its fallacious paradise. The spectacle is the technical realization of the exile of human power into a beyond; it is separation perfected within the interior of man.”
Before I: the art and praxis of appropriation
''This work -- comparable to the method of atomic fission, which liberates energies bound up within the atom -- is supposed to liberate the enormous energies of history that are slumbering in the 'once upon a time' of classic historical narrative.'' W. Benjamin
The words do not belong to Guy Debord, yet, intentionally or intuitively, he might be said to have followed their method in tracing the outlines of society becomes Society of the Spectacle; and yet, they were written before the history of the atomic bomb cleaved history irrevocably. In the failure of democracy, the power of whose definition arises before its possibility, society becomes singularly fragmented. This society feeds on the dissolution of mind: ours.
Some words strike us as doses of truth which tare through the common illusion, the appearances of every-day life which obscure what makes them so, distancing us from ourselves… This separation and alienation is a danger which threatens the fabric of human possibility and desire. This transmogrification of the social self occurs to some extent outside of the rational understanding of its (non)participants. Predominantly, all are (non)participants in a world which moves of its own accord – the key to whose production mechanism appears to be lost.
1. help! Think over the possible organization in relation to my thinking including Butler. Mmm…ejik…please rework entirely, including thematic order. One-way street! (rewrite or erase subtitle?)
2. Decide which terms to use, if the spectacle should remain a key term or be replaced by corporatism.
So far illusion, appearance, representation and spectacle function synonymously. Should they be distinguished? Perhaps corporatism (nightmare) should be the dominant synonym for spectacle, while representation is linked to mediation, and illusion and appearance work as dream on the last level where change is already potential?
This would be a translation of Debord’s ‘active waiting,’ as practicing theory, Butler’s appropriation in performativity, Benjamin’s awakening through dialectical images?
3. Method: dialectical images show historical movement, as dialectical movement, one which overcomes opposition revealing further paths…? (historicism?) cultural translation..
4. What is the relation between corporatism, bureaucracy and the state?