Guy Debord Quotes

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Guy Debord Quotes & Sayings

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#1. Behind the masks of total choice, different forms of the same alienation confront each other.
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#2. The society whose modernisation has reached the stage of integrated spectacle
is characterised by the combined effect of five principal factors: incessant technological renewal, integration of state and economy, generalised secrecy, unanswerable lies, and eternal present ...
- The Society of the Spectacle
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#3. He will essentially follow the language of the spectacle, for it is the only one he is familiar with.
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#4. Boredom is always counter-revolutionary. Always.
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#5. In the spectacle - the visual reflection of the ruling economic order - goals are nothing, development is everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself.
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#6. In a world that has REALLY been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.
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#7. We still have some time to take advantage of the fact that radio and television stations are not yet guarded by the army.
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#9. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.
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#10. Cyclical time already dominates the experience of nomadic populations because they find the same conditions repeated at every moment of their journey: Hegel notes that "the wandering of nomads is only formal because it is limited to uniform spaces." The society which, by fixing itself in place locally, gives space a content by arranging individualized places, thus finds itself enclosed inside this localization. The temporal return to similar places now becomes the pure return of time in the same place, the repetition of a series of gestures. The transition from pastoral nomadism to sedentary agriculture is the end of the lazy liberty without content, the beg inning of labor. The agrarian mode of production in general, dominated by the rhythm of the seasons, is the basis for fully constituted cyclical time. Eternity is internal to it; it is the return of the same here on earth. Myth is the unitary construction of the thought which guarantees the entire cosmic order surrounding the order which this society has in fact already realized within its frontiers.
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#11. Of the small number of things which I have liked and done well, drinking is by far the thing I have done best. Although I have read a lot, I have drunk more. I have written much less than most people who write; but I have drunk more than the majority of the people who drink.
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#12. The story of terrorism is written by the state and it is therefore highly instructive ... compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable, or in any case more rational and democratic.
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#13. The advertisements during intermissions are the truest reflection of an intermission from life.
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#14. Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.
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#15. No longer is science asked to understand the world, or to improve any part of it. It is asked instead to immediately justify everything that happens ... spectacular domination has cut down the vast tree of scientific knowledge in order to make itself a truncheon.
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#16. In our society now, we prefer to see ourselves living than living.
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#17. What is false creates taste, and reinforces itself by knowingly eliminating any possible reference to the authentic. And what is genuine is reconstructed as quickly as possible, to resemble the false.
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#18. Every given commodity fights for itself, cannot acknowledge the others, and attempts to impose itself everywhere as if it were the only one. The spectacle, then is the epic poem of this struggle, an epic which cannot be concluded by the fall of any Troy. The spectacle does not sign the praises of men and their weapons, but of commodities and their passions. In this blind struggle every commodity, pursuing its passion, unconsciously realizes something higher: the becoming-world of the commodity, which is also the becoming-commodity of the world. Thus, by means of a ruse of commodity logic, what's specific in the commodity wears itself out in the fight while the commodity-form moves toward its absolute realization.
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#19. The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality, reducing everyone's concrete life to a
universe of speculation.
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#20. 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.
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#21. 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.
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#22. Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance. It instantly undermines the commodity as such, and it also exposes what the commodity ultimately implies: the army, the police and the other specialized detachments of the state's monopoly of armed violence.
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#23. Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.
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#24. The word psychogeography, suggested by an illiterate Kabyle as a general term for the phenomena a few of us were investigating around the summer of 1953, is not too inappropriate. It does not contradict the materialist perspective of the conditioning of life and thought by objective nature. Geography, for example, deals with the determinant action of general natural forces, such as soil composition or climatic conditions, on the economic structures of a society, and thus on the corresponding conception that such a society can have of the world. Psychogeography could set for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. The charmingly vague adjective psychogeographicalcan be applied to the findings arrived at by this type of investigation, to their influence on human feelings, and more generally to any situation or conduct that seems to reflect the same spirit of discovery.

It has long been said that the desert is monotheistic. Is it illogical or devoid of interest to observe that the district in Paris between Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue de l'Arbalète conduces rather to atheism, to oblivion and to the disorientation of habitual reflexes?
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#25. The economic system founded on isolation is a circular production of isolation. The technology is based on isolation, and the technical process isolates in turn. From the automobile to television, all the goods selected by the spectacular system are also its weapons for a constant reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of 'lonely crowds.' . . .
'With the present means of long-distance mass communication, sprawling isolation has proved an even more effective method of keeping a population under control,' says Lewis Mumford in The City in History, describing 'henceforth a one-way world.' But the general movement of isolation, which is the reality of urbanism, must also include a controlled reintegration of workers depending on the needs of production and consumption that can be planned. Integration into the system requires that isolated individuals be recaptured and isolated together: factories and halls of culture, tourist resorts and housing developments are expressly organized to serve this pseudo-community that follows the isolated individual right into the family cell. The widespread use of receivers of the spectacular message enables the individual to fill his isolation with the dominant images―images which derive their power precisely from this isolation.
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#26. 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.
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#27. Just as early industrial capitalism moved the focus of existence from being to having, post-industrial culture has moved that focus from having to appearing.
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#28. At the halfway point of the journey making up real life, we were surrounded by a gloomy melancholy, one expressed by so many derisive and sorrowful words in the café of lost youth.
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#29. So far from realizing philosophy, the spectacle philosophizes reality, and turns the material life of everyone into a universe of speculation.
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#30. All that was once directly lived has become mere representation.
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#31. Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity
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#32. As specialists of apparent life, stars serve as superficial objects that people can identify with in order to compensate for the fragmented productive specialisations that they actually live.
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#33. ... in the case where the self is merely represented and ideally presented (vorgestellt), there it is not actual: where it is by proxy, it is not. -Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind
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#34. But a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes insane.
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#35. Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal.
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#36. 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. 6. 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.
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#37. The Sage of Toronto ... spent several decades marveling at the numerous freedoms created by a "global village" instantly and effortlessly accessible to all. Villages, unlike towns, have always been ruled by conformism, isolation, petty surveillance, boredom and repetitive malicious gossip about the same families. Which is a precise enough description of the global spectacle's present vulgarity.
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#38. Basketball is not a collection of jams, but a social relation among players, mediated by Michael Jordan.
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#39. 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 could be you!
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#40. The language of the spectacle consists of signs of the dominant system of production - signs which are at the same time the ultimate end-products of that system.
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#41. This society eliminates geographical distance only to produce a new internal separation.
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#42. the spectacle is an affirmation of appearances and an identification of all human social life with appearances. But a critique that grasps the spectacle's essential character reveals it to be a visible negation of life - a negation that has taken on a visible form.
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#43. 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.
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#44. An organization must always remember that its objective is not getting
people to listen to speeches by experts, but getting them to speak for
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#45. What appears is good; what is good appears.
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#46. 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.
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#47. The spectacle thus unites what is separate, but it unites it only in its separateness.
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#48. Images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream, and the former unity of life is lost forever. Apprehended in a partial way, reality unfolds in a new generality as a pseudo-world apart, solely as an object of contemplation. The tendency toward the specialization of images-of-the-world finds its highest expression in the world of the autonomous image, where deceit deceives itself. The spectacle in its generality is a concrete inversion of life, and, as such the autonomous movement of non-life.
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#49. There is nothing more natural than to consider everything as starting from oneself, chosen as the center of the world; one finds oneself thus capable of condemning the world without even wanting to hear its deceitful chatter.
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#50. When ideology has become total through its possession of total power, and has changed from partial truth to totalitarian falsehood, historical thought has been so totally annihilated that history itself, even at the level of the most empirical knowledge, can no longer exist. Totalitarian bureaucratic society lives in a perpetual present in which whatever has previously happened is determined solely by its police.
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#51. In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
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#52. 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.
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#53. Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.
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#54. Like lost children we live our unfinished adventures.
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#55. The power to homogenize is the heavy artillery that has battered down all Chinese walls.
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#56. None of the activity stolen by work can be regained by submitting to what work has produced. - The Society of The Spectacle
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#57. The erasure of the personality is the fatal accompaniment to an existence which is concretely submissive to the spectacle's rules, ever more removed from the possibility of authentic experience and thus from the discovery of individual preferences. Paradoxically, permanent self-denial is the price the
individual pays for the tiniest bit of social status. Such an existence demands a fluid fidelity, a succession of continually disappointing commitments to false products. It is a matter of running hard to keep up with the inflation of devalued signs of life. Drugs help one to come to terms with this state of affairs, while madness allows one to escape from it.
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#58. I have written less than most writers. But I have drunk far more than most drinkers.
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#59. Work is only justified by leisure time. To admit the emptiness of leisure time is to admit the impossibility of life.
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#60. The spectacle is capital accumulated to the point where it becomes image.

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