(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Don’t Be Distracted with the Surface; Inquire Deeper

The spectacle appears at first as just a maelstrom of images swirling about the suck hole of their own nothingness. Here is a political leader. Here is one with better hair. Here is an earthquake in China. Here is a new kind of phone. Here are the crowds for the new movie. Here are the crowds for the food riot. Here is a cute cat. Here is a cheeseburger. If that were all there was to it, one could just load one’s screen with better fare. But the spectacle is not just images. It is not just another name for the media. Debord: “The spectacle is a social relationship between people mediated by images.” The trick is not to be distracted by the images, but to inquire into the nature of this social relationship.

McKenzie Wark, “The Spectacle of Disintegration,” Public Seminar, Mar. 2016

I’m reminded of one of the central tensions in the sort of spectacular ideological dynamic described here as it occurs at least in the U.S., namely that which exists between a conception of the world as primarily made up of agentive individuals or of relations among those individuals. What sorts of forces produce the spectacle, and, having disintegrated, what becomes of even these?

But more than that, the passage is a good reminder to be suspicious.


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This entry was posted on March 31, 2016 by and tagged , .
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