Book//mark – Society and Spectacle | Guy Debord, 1967

Society and Spectacle | Guy Debord, 1967
The Society of the Spectacle, 1967                                                 Guy Debord


“The spectacle presents itself as a vast inaccessible reality that can never be questioned. Its sole message is: “What appears is good; what is good appears.” The passive acceptance it demands is already effectively imposed by its monopoly of appearances, its manner of appearing without allowing any reply.”

“The spectacle cannot be understood as an abuse of the world of vision, as a product of the techniques of mass dissemination of images. It is, rather, a Weltanschauung which has become actual, materially translated. It is a world vision which has become objectified.

“The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society.”

“The spectacle is the false consciousness of time”

Guy Debord – Critique of Separation 1961


“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”

“The spectacle is a social relation between people that is mediated by an accumulation of images that serve to alienate us from a genuinely lived life. The image is thus an historical mutation of the form of commodity fetishism.”

“The spectacle is nothing more than the common language of this separation. What binds the spectators together is no more than an irreversible relation at the very center which maintains their isolation. The spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate.”

“The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender “lonely crowds.”

“Separation is itself an integral part of the unity of this world, of a global social practice split into reality and image. The social practice confronted by an autonomous spectacle is at the same time the real totality which contains that spectacle. But the split within this totality mutilates it to the point that the spectacle seems to be its goal.”

“This society eliminates geographical distance only to produce a new internal separation.”

“The spectacle thus unites what is separate, but it unites it only in its separateness.”


Guy Debord – Critique of Separation, 1961


“The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”

“The present phase of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having into appearing, from which all actual ‘having’ must draw its immediate prestige and ultimate function.”

“The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.”

“In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.”

“But a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes insane.”

“None of the activity stolen by work can be regained by submitting to what work has produced.

“the obvious degradation of being into having”

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Guy Debord – Critique of Separation 1961


“With the generalized separation of the worker and his products, every unitary view of accomplished activity and all direct personal communication among producers are lost.”

“System, as the advanced economic sector which directly shapes a growing multitude of image-objects, the spectacle is the main production of present-day society.”

“The spectacle subjugates living men to itself to the extent that the economy has totally subjugated them. It is no more than the economy developing for itself.”

“The concrete life of everyone has been degraded into a speculative universe.”

“Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it.”

“Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.”

“The status of celebrity offers the promise of being showered with ‘all good things’ that capitalism has to offer. The grotesque display of celebrity lives (and deaths) is the contemporary form of the cult of personality; those ‘famous for being famous’ hold out the spectacular promise of the complete erosion of a autonomously lived life in return for an apotheosis as an image. The ideological function of celebrity (and lottery systems) is clear – like a modern ‘wheel of fortune’ the message is ‘all is luck; some are rich, some are poor, that is the way the world is…it could be you!”

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“As long as necessity is socially dreamed, dreaming will remain a social necessity. The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.”

“When a newly independent art paints its world in brilliant colors, then a moment of life has grown old. by art’s brilliant colors it cannot be rejuvenated but only recalled to mind. the greatness of art makes its appearance only as dusk begins to fall over life.”

“The critical truth of this destruction the real life of modern poetry and art is obviously hidden, since the spectacle, whose function is to make history forgotten within culture”

“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity”

“Decomposed ersatz of myth is revived in the spectacular context of the most modern means of conditioning and illusion.”

“The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.”

“Like lost children we live our unfinished adventures.”

“The passions have been sufficiently interpreted; the point now is to discover new ones. ”

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 1967

Guy Debord – Critique of Separation 1961
Critical  of separation, 1960. Guy Debord and André Mrugalski (cinematographer)

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