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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sources used in Society of the Spectacle

Members of the Situationist International November 1962. Guy Debord on right.

Detournements in Guy Debord's

The Society of the Spectacle

(Extracted from Releve des citations ou detournements de "La Societe du Spectacle," published by Editions Farandola, Paris, 2002. Corrected and translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. The translator has made no attempt to conform our renderings with those of Debord's other translators.)

Thesis 1
"All of life in the societies in which modern conditions of production reign presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles."
Marx, Capital: "The richness of the societies in which the mode of capitalist production reigns presents itself as an immense accumulation of commodities."
Thesis 2
"in which the liar has lied to himself."
Hegel, The Science of Logic: "Truth verifies itself."
"the autonomous movement of the non-living."
Hegel, The First Philosophy of Spirit (Iena, 1803-1804): "Money is the material, existing concept, the form of unity or even the possibility of all the things needed. Need and work elevated to this universality thus form for themselves in a great number of people an immense system of community and reciprocal dependence, a life that dies in itself autonomously from a dead reality, a life that, in its movement acts in a blind and elementary manner and which, like a wild animal, has need of being continuously trained and mastered with severity."
Thesis 4
"The spectacle is not an ensemble of images, but a social connection between people, mediated by images."
Marx, Capital: "Thus one discovers that instead of being a thing, capital is a social connection established by the intermediary of things."
Thesis 6
"is at once the result and the project"
A. Kojeve, Introduction to Reading Hegel: "As a result that is a project and as a project that is a result -- a result born from the project and a project engendered by a result; in a word, the real is revealed in its dialectical truth as a synthesis.
"It is not a supplement to the real world, its added-on decoration."
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right: "Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium (...) its solemn complement."
Thesis 7
"separation makes itself part of the unity of the world"
Thesis 8
"This doubling is itself doubled"
"Objective reality is present on both sides. Each notion thus fixed has for foundation only its passage into its opposite:"
"This reciprocal alienation is the essence"
Thesis 9
"In the world that is really inverted, the true is a moment of the false."
Hegel, Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit: "The false is a moment of the true (but no longer as false)"
Thesis 12
"What appears is good, what is good appears."
Hegel, Preface to The Principles of the Philosophy of Right: "What is real is rational, what is rational is real."
Thesis 13
"It is the sun that never sets"
Formula applied to the Empire of Charles V.
Thesis 14
"The goal is nothing, development is everything."
E. Bernstein, Theoretical Socialism and Social-Democratic Practice: "Movement is everything and the end is nothing."
Thesis 17
"degradation of being into having"
Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts: "In place of all the physical and intellectual meanings has thus appeared the meaning of having, which is imply the alienation of all meaning."
Thesis 18
"There where the real world changes into mere images, mere images become real beings."
Marx, The Holy Family: "For the man for whom the external world changes into a mere idea, mere ideas become sensible beings."
Thesis 19
"The spectacle is the inheritor of all the weaknesses of the Western philosophical project, which was a comprehension of activity dominated by the categories of seeing."
Johan Huizinga, The Decline of the Middle Ages: "One of the fundamental traits of the declining Middle Ages was the predominance of the sense of sight, a predominance that seems to be in close connection with the atrophy of thought. One thinks and expresses oneself through visual images."
"It does not realize philosophy, but philosophizes reality."
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right: "You cannot surmount philosophy without realizing it."
Thesis 20
"have not dissipated the religious clouds in which human beings have placed their own powers, which have been detached from them: it has only bound them to a terrestrial base. Thus it is the most earthbound life that becomes opaque and unbreathable. It no longer projects into heaven, but lodges in itself its absolute withdrawal, its fallacious paradise. The spectacle is the technical realization of the exile of human power in a beyond; the split achieved in the interior of the human being."
Thesis 21
"To the extent that necessity finds itself socially dreamed, the dream becomes necessary."
Thesis 22
"The fact that the practical power of modern society has detached otself from itself, and has built an independent empire in the spectacle, can only be explained by the other fact that this powerful practice continues to lack cohesion and remains in contradiction with itself."
Marx, Theses on Feuerbach: "But the fact that the profane basis detaches itself from itself and fixes itself in the clouds as an autonomous empire is only explained by the fact that this profane basis is divided into two antagonistic parties."
Thesis 23
"The most modern in [the spectacle] is also the most archaic."
Marx, Introduction to The Critique of Political Economy: "Such determinations would be common to the most modern epoch and the most ancient."
Thesis 24
"The fetishistic appearance of pure objectivity in spectacular relations hides their relational character between human beings and between classes: a second nature appears to dominate our environment through its fatal laws."
Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness.
Thesis 29
"In the spectacle, a part of the world represents itself to the world and is superior to it."
Marx, Theses on Feuerbach: "It thus tends to divide society into two parts, one of which is elevated above society."
"The spectacle unites the separate, but it unites it as the separate."
Hegel, Youthful Theological Works: "In love, the separate still exists but no longer as separate: as a unity, and the living encounters the living."
Thesis 30
"The alienation of the spectator to the profit of the contemplated object (which is the result of its own unconscious activity) expresses itself thus: the more he contemplates, the less he lives; the more he accepts recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires. The exteriority of the spectacle with respect to the actor appears in the fact that his own gestures are no longer his, but those of another who represents them to him. This is why the spectator does not feel at home anywhere, because the spectacle is everywhere."
Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts: "The renunciation of self, the renunciation of life and all desire is the central thesis [of political economy] . . . . The less you are, the less you manifest your life; the more you have, the more your alienated life grows, the more you accumulate your alienated being."
Thesis 31
"The spectacle is the map of this new world, a map that exactly covers the territory."
Korzybski: "The map is not the territory."
Thesis 35
"In the essential movement of the spectacle, which consists in retrieving for itself all that exists in the fluid state in human activity, so as to possess it in a coagulated state, insofar as things have become the exclusive value by their formulation in the negative of lived value, we recognize our old enemy that we know so well."
Marx, Toast to the Anniversary of the People's Paper.
"appears at first glance something trivial and understandable in itself, while it is, on the contrary, quite complex and full of metaphysical subtleties: the commodity."
Marx, Capital: "A commodity appears at first glance something trivial and understandable in itself. Our analysis has shown, on the contrary, that it is a very complex thing, full of metaphysical subtleties and theological quibbles."
Thesis 38
"equality in itself, the category of the quantitive"
Hegel, Encyclopedia.
Thesis 41
"as the familiar is not known,"
Hegel, Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit: "What is well known in general, exactly because it is well known, is not known."
Thesis 47
"the tendency of use value to fall"
Marx, Capital: "the tendency of the rate of profit to fall"
Thesis 51
"this autonomous victory must at the same time be its loss"
Marx, Letter to Ruge, September 1843: "its victory is at the same time its loss."
Thesis 52
"There where the economic Id was, must come the Ego."
Freud, The Ego and the Id.
Thesis 53
"where the commodity contemplates itself in a world it has created."
Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts: "He contemplates himself in a world that he himself has created."
Thesis 63
"surrounded by desolation and terror, at the tranquil center of misfortune."
Herman Melville, Moby Dick.
Thesis 66
"does not sing of men and their arms"
Virgil, Aeneid: "Of warfare and a man I sing."
"It is in this struggle that each commodity, by following its passion, in fact realizes in unconsciousness something more elevated:"
Hegel, Reason in History: "The tools and the means of something more elevated, more vast, which they know nothing of, which they realize in an unconscious fashion."
"the becoming-world of the commodity, which is also the becoming-commodity of the world."
Marx, Differences between Democritus and Epicurus: "At the same time that the world becomes philosophy, philosophy becomes the world."
"the particularity of the commodity exhausts itself by fighting"
Hegel, Reason in History: "It is the particular that exhausts itself in combat and is destroyed in part."
Thesis 71
"Nothing stops for it; this is the state that is natural for it and yet the most contrary to its inclinations."
Blaise Pascal, Thoughts.
Chapter IV
"The proletariat as subject and representation."
Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation.
Thesis 74
"men see themselves constrained to envision their relations in a disabused manner."
Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto: "Men are finally forced to envision their conditions of existence and their reciprocal relations with disabused eyes."
Thesis 76
"Hegel no longer had to interpret the world, but the transformation of the world."
Marx, Theses on Feuerbach: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in diverse manners: it is now important to transform it."
"absolute heroes who did what they wanted and wanted what they did."
Hegel, Encyclopedia: "The great men have wanted what they did, and did what they wanted."
"and close the session of the only tribunal at which the sentence of the truth can be rendered."
Hegel, Principles of the Philosophy of Right: "The history of the world is the tribunal of the world."
Thesis 80
"its historical injuries do not leave scars."
Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit: "The injuries of the Spirit heal without leaving scars."
Thesis 84
"consciousness always arrives too soon"
Hegel, Preface to The Philosophy of Right: "Philosophy always arrives too soon."
Thesis 90
"in which the theory of praxis is confirmed by becoming practical theory."
Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness.
Thesis 91
"and everywhere the result has greatly differed from what was wanted."
Thesis 92
"The anarchists realized an ideal."
Marx, The Civil War in France: "The working class has not realized an ideal."
Thesis 107
"bureaucratic atoms" . . . "The sovereign of the world possesses the effective consciousness of what he is"
Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit.
Thesis 114
"the demand for the permanent domination of the present over the past"
Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto: "In bourgeois society, the past dominates the present; in communist society, it is the present that dominates the past."
"because the proletariat can not truly recognize itself in a particular wrong it has suffered, nor in the reparation of a particular wrong, nor in a great number of these wrongs, but only in the absolute wrongof being pushed into the margins of life."
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right: "A class that claims no particular right due to the fact that it does not suffer from a particular wrong but absolute injustice."
Thesis 117
"the proletarian movement is its own product and this product is the producer himself. He himself is his own goal."
Hegel, Reason in History: "They have drawn from themselves the idea that they have made themselves; and it is their own goal that they have accomplished."
Thesis 119
"it does not represent the class."
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right: "a class that represents all the classes."
Thesis 121
"arms are nothing other than the essence of the combatants"
Thesis 122
"it can no longer combat alienation with alienated forms."
Hegel, Lessons on the Philosophy of History: "[The Church] has maintained the combat against the barbarity of sensuality in a barbaric and terroristic manner."
Thesis 123
"men without qualities"
Robert Musil, The Man Without Quality.
Thesis 125
"Man, 'the negative being who uniquely is to the extent that he suppresses Being,' is identical to time."
Kostas Papaioannou, Hegel: "Man and time are identical."
Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit: "The negative being uniquely is to the extent that he suppresses Being."
"History has always existed, but not always in its historical form."
Marx, Letter to Ruge, September 1843: "Reason has always existed, but not always in its rational form."
Thesis 159
"Bringing the workers to the status of "free" producers and consumers of the time-commodity was the preliminary condition for the violent expropriation of their time."
Marx, Capital.
Thesis 164
"The world already possess the dream of a time, of which it must now possess the consciousness so as to really live it."
Marx, Letter to Ruge, September 1843: "The world has for a long time possessed the dream of a thing, of which it now suffices to become aware so as to really possess it."
Thesis 177
"Even here, nothing ever happens; and nothing ever happens to it."
Asger Jorn, Speech to the Penguins and Other Writings.
Thesis 181
"The struggle of tradition and innovation"
Harold Rosenberg, The Tradition of the New.
Thesis 188
"When art become independent represents its world with brilliant colors, a moment of life has grown old and it does not let itself be rejuvenated with brilliant colors [...] The grandeur of art only begins to appear with the fall of life."
Hegel, Preface to The Philosophy of Right: "When philosophy paints gray on gray, a form of life grows old and does not let itself be rejuvenated with gray on gray; it only lets itself be known; the Owl of Minerva only takes flight at the fall of night."
Thesis 191
"Dadaism wanted to suppress art without realizing it; and surrealism wanted to realize art without suppressing it."
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right: "Philosophy could not realize itself without abolishing the proletariat; [and] the proletariat could not abolish itself without realizing philosophy."
Thesis 195
"conflict is at the origin of all things of its world."
Heraclitus, Fragment 53: "War is the father of all things."
Thesis 202
"As in all historical social science, it is always necessary to keep in view, for the comprehension of "structuralist" categories, that the categories express forms of existence and conditions of existence."
Marx, Introduction to Critique of Political Economy: "In all historical and social science in general, it is always necessary to remember that the subject -- here modern bourgeois society -- is already given in reality as in the mind, and that categories express forms and modes of existence."
"Just as one does not appreciate the value of a man according to the conception that he has of himself"
Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy: "One does not judge an individual on the idea that he has of himself."
"Structure is the daughter of current power."
Jonathan Swift: "Praise is the daughter of current power."
"With the result that it is not structuralism that feels it must prove the transhistorical validity of the society of the spectacle; it is, on the contrary, the society of the spectacle that imposes itself as a massive reality that feels it must prove the cold dream of structuralism."
Marx, Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy: "The example of work shows in a striking fashion that the most abstract categories -- despite their validity (because of their abstraction) for all the epochs -- are not so much abstract determinations as much as the products of historical conditions and only have their full validity for them and in their limits."
Thesis 203
"Because it is obvious that no idea can lead beyond the existing spectacle, but only to the beyond of the ideas existing in the spectacle. To effectively destroy the society of the spectacle, it is necessary that men put into action a practical force."
Marx, The Holy Family: "Ideas can never lead beyond an old order of the world, they can only lead beyond the ideas of an old order of the world (...) To realize ideas, it is necessary that men put them into play as a practical force."
"This theory does not expect miracles from the working class."
Marx, The Civil War in France: "The working class does not expect miracles from the Commune."
Thesis 205
"In its very style, the exposition of dialectical theory is a scandal and an abomination according to the rules of the dominant language, and for the tastes that they have produced, because in the positive use of existing concepts it includes, at the same time, the intelligence of their recovered fluidity and their necessary destruction."
Marx, Preface to Capital: "In its rational aspect, [the dialectic] is a scandal and an abomination for the ruling classes and their doctrinaire ideologues, because in the positive conception of existing things, it includes, at the same time, the intelligence of their fatal negation, and their necessary destruction."
Thesis 208
"Detournement has not founded its cause on anything exterior to its own truth"
Stirner, The Ego and Its Own: "I have founded my cause on nothing."
Thesis 217
"separation has built its world."
Proverbs, 9, 1: "Wisdom has built her house."
Thesis 221
"To emancipate itself from the material bases of the inverted truth, this is what the self-emancipation of our epoch consists. This 'historical mission to instaurate truth in the world' . . . ."
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right: "It is thus the task of history, before the beyond of the truth has disappeared, to establish the truth in the here-and-now."
"the class that is capable of being the dissolution of all the classes"
Marx, Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right.

(Extracted from Releve des citations ou detournements de "La Societe du Spectacle," published by Editions Farandola, Paris, 2002. Corrected and translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. The translator has made no attempt to conform our renderings with those of Debord's other translators.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just looked at random at Thesis 80 in SOTS. In it Debord is discussing Marx's inversion of the Hegelian 'spirit': the so called 'rip off of Hegel's 'historical wounds that leave no scars' is actually summarising Hegel's position.

This article is selectively quoting out of context - the author has a bee in their bonnet about Debord.

12:23 am  

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