Production, Circulation, and Consumption of Alienation; or: Some Notes on Debord’s Society of the Spectacle

synthetic zerø

First, I think it’s appropriate to begin w/ a quote from Hegel, as Debord himself does, albeit a different selection, one from Hegel’s Jena lectures 1805-6:

The human being is this Night, this empty nothing which contains everything in its simplicity–a wealth of infinitely many representations, images, none of which occur to it directly and none of which are not present…We see this Night when we look a human being in the eye, looking into a Night which turns terrifying. [For from his eyes] the night of the world hangs out toward us.

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Why begin this way?  What does Hegel’s anthropological metaphysics have to do with Debord’s punchy book?  I think in large part it is Hegel’s treatment of identity and non-identity that Debord finds useful, and how they play into processes of identity-formation.  For Hegel, the human being (nor the “Spirit” which encompasses humans individually and collectively)…

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