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Society of the Spectacle [Paperback]

Guy Debord , Martin Jenkins
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 1 2009
Debord argued that authentic human life had been replaced with mere representation, eroding our critical abilities, our knowledge and our perceptions. "In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation." "It reads - if you will savour a cliche - as fresh as paint - Never before has Debord's work seemed quite as relevant as it does now, in the permanent present that he so accurately foretold. Open it, read it, be amazed, pour yourself a glass of supermarket wine - as he would wish - and then forget all about it, which is what the Spectacle wants." Will Self
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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About the Author

Guy Ernest Debord (1931 - 1994) was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, founder of the Letterist Faction, and founding member of the Situationist International (SI). Debord's first book, Memoires was published in 1959 bound with a sandpaper cover so that it would destroy other books placed next to it. Debord's best known work is his theoretical book, Society of the Spectacle (1967) which some consider a catalyst for the Paris uprising of 1968. Debord also wrote a number of autobiographical books and short pieces, and produced various films including a cinematic version of Society of the Spectacle. Will Self is an English author, journalist and television personality. Self is the author of nine novels, five collections of shorter fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing. His work has been translated into 22 languages and his novel Umbrella was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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IN SOCIETIES dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Read the first page
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Arduous Jan. 25 2013
By nhaler
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
DeBord is, as Foucault once described Derrida (mistakenly, I believe), a "militant obscurantist". My review of the book will take into account DeBord's writing style, which is the real hurdle here. Whereas Derrida can seem paradoxical or to follow the paths of very questionable logics, who are not always self-evident, one can generally find their way back and come to an understanding. The content begins with cursory definitions which are easy to overlook. He does not dwell on explaining or rendering explicit many of his assertions. The language employed tends to follow a pattern, which through of the course of one's readership, is not any more revelatory than it was at the beginning. It requires a very circuitous investment of energy to keep one's eye on the target of the book, so to speak. Do not take these criticisms to undermine the value of the work or the importance of the message - I'm just describing the difficulty with which the general reader will have in approaching this book and pinning down the exact meaning of what he's trying to communicate.
It's for that reason I'm giving the book 3 stars, instead of 4 or 5. A writer concerned with the approachability of his work would employ a more standard writing style and not contribute to the reputation of "high-falutin nonsense" where one knows only the word, and not the idea, to which their argument continually refers.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Bad Translation Dec 29 2012
By Maurice Burford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an awful, reductive and artless translation of Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle." It appears to be a translation for "dummys," which I assume would have Debord spinning in his grave.

There are free PDFs of a better translation of this book ALL OVER the internet. It's a tremendously wonderful book, but this translation just doesn't do it justice. Don't waste your money on this.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a clear translation July 6 2010
By motivatedbunny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am not one to avoid complex writing that involves reading and re-reading to comprehend the meaning of the text, but this translation is less than ideal. I found another one online that is actually easy to read. The book itself is a worthwhile read, but I suggest that THIS particular translation requires too much work to comprehend.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required & indispensible reading Feb. 15 2011
By William Timothy Lukeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Decades old, this slim volume has only become more relevant with age, delineating the ways in which we are shaped by false & distorted images of reality, rather than reality itself. If anything, the advent of the digital age has only increased the power of the image-makers to shape how we view both the world & ourselves -- and that view is utterly artificial & infinitely malleable. Those who control the images control society ... and we see this every day, in the consumerist lifestyle that's fed to a hungry populace eager to gobble it down. Anything of depth, from political discourse to ethical questions to the spiritual dimensions of life, is reduced to simplistic slogans & images designed to manipulate the individual as subtly but irrevocably as possible.

But did I say "the individual"? Even a cursory glance at contemporary society reveals few genuine individuals. The image of individuality is marketed & sold, of course, so that everyone feels special & singular; but the end result always seems to be people who are "individuals" just like millions of others, all believing themselves to be unique. Yet they all buy the same lifestyle, the same ideas, the same Pavlovian responses to their environment, just as they've been perfectly programmed to do. Oh, there's a gloss of superficial variation, to enhance the notion of individuality! But as for the real thing? The few who don't buy into the image are those derided as freaks, outsiders, uncool, etc.

Let's face it -- even the ideas expressed in this review can & have been commodified, marketed & sold to plenty of people. That's how insidious & pervasive the society of the spectacle really is. We are everywhere faced with a shiny, trendy, relentlessly cheerful image designed to flatter & ensnare us in its meshes. None of us escapes it entirely ... but the first steps are recognizing the lie of the image & reclaiming as much of our own reality as we can. That's what this book will help you do -- highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Sept. 20 2011
By J. Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent, if you understand it. You won't fully understand it without The German Ideology. That's right, Debord is a Marxist. Probably one of the more influential, seeing how they say that Society of the Spectacle started the 60's riots in France -- so they say.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If this doesn't make you uneasy... Sept. 3 2009
By J. Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
...Then perhaps you might do with a little more critical thought concerning your consumption of media. Considering the proliferation of the Internet/pervasive advertising as new additions to our "Spectacle," this text acquires even more implications beyond the author's experience. The translation seems solid, and considering how many times I've heard that this is a "difficult" text, I was pleasantly surprised. Even so the text requires focused reading, it's definitely not something you can pick up and read in little bits--you'll get lost. The binding/paper seem to be high quality. The anti-copyright on the info page is a nice touch.

You'll just have to deal with the irony of _buying_ this, considering its contents.
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