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Society of the Spectacle Paperback – May 1 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 1 2009
CDN$ 182.96

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Soul Bay Press (May 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955955335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955955334
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13.2 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,994,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Writer, filmmaker, and cultural revolutionary, Guy Debord (1931--1994) was a founding member of the Lettrist International and Situationist International groups. His films and books, including "Society of the Spectacle" (1967), were major catalysts for philosophical and political changes in the twentieth century, and helped trigger the May 1968 rebellion in France. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Format: Kindle Edition
Guy Debord was the most important thinker in the Situationist movement in France. Often cited as a radical critique of the post capitalist milieu, as history documents what can occur with some French intellectuals, he left us far too soon.

Debord's ‘Society of the Spectacle’ is a rare work of pure social theory with only occasional references to the tangible. As a highly advanced and sophisticated post-Marxist work, Debord issues a stunning critique mainly of the demand side of capitalism and its culture industry. In my mind, it is almost incorrect to see much Marxian theory in this work as Debord was really playing in the sand pit of Thorstein Veblen and to some extent Charles Horton Cooley. It is doubtful that Debord even read those two geniuses but maybe he did.

It would be unfair to see The Society Of The Spectacle as a work which predicts modern phenomenons such as Facebook, now the fourth largest company in the world. For those who must find practical pegs to hang such theory on, it is impossible to ignore such things.

Debord however had bigger fish to fry, far bigger fish because he is referring, well, basically to the entire mode of modern Western civilisation. Yes, indeed, this is a post-Marxist work after all.

It is a masterful execution of abstract critique, only really recommended for those familiar with advanced social theory. Many who read this might wonder what it is about.

If I can summarise it in a soundbite, Debord answers the question, “If you have a society so advanced that all material needs are taken care of, what then is society about?” In short, it is about ‘The Spectacle’.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for a gift for a history buff and he is really pleased with it. Already all read and keeps talking about it.
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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa242b1a4) out of 5 stars 42 reviews
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1d18f90) 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.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1d191f8) 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!
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1d191bc) out of 5 stars Not a clear translation July 6 2010
By j-dabney - 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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1d194b0) out of 5 stars Five star book & a good clear translation Oct. 19 2014
By M. Noack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Five star book & a good clear translation. Debord is pretty clear & concise in any event. The problem with this Kindle edition is the lack of links. It is not particularly easy on a kindle to constantly jump between text & footnotes, & as this translation is annotated, every section is footnoted. I did not pay $7.99 for a text which is available free online because I am an idiot. I paid the money with the expectation that the text would be easier to use. Link the notes.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1d19510) out of 5 stars Translation is awful..... March 22 2014
By B. J. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't think of myself as someone who shies away from tackling a challenging text (whether the difficulty is attributable to poor writing, or to the complexity of the ideas being communicated, or to some other reason), but....
I ordered this version because it was the least expensive. The publisher is Black & Red, and the translator is not named.
Use Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to compare this edition to the Donald Nicholson-Smith translation (which is available free online as a 64 page .pdf Adobe Acrobat file), and you'll see what I mean.
I called Amazon's customer service because I didn't know what reason to give for the return ("Lousy Translation"?). As usual, they were very helpful, e-mailed me a return label, and gave me an instant refund, so I'm sending this edition back to them.

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