- Birthday, Books, Politics, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Boredom is always counter-revolutionary. Always.”

 

Happy birthday, Guy Debord! Here are some quotes from the theorist, philosopher, and filmmaker:

 

“The more you consume, the less you live.”

 

“Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.”

 

“Conversation is almost dead, and soon so too will be those who knew how to speak.”

 

“With the destruction of history, contemporary events themselves retreat into a remote and fabulous realm of unverifiable stories, uncheckable statistics, unlikely explanations, and untenable reasoning.”

 

“On every occasion, by every hyper-political means, we must publicize desirable alternatives to the spectacle of the capitalist way of life, so as to destroy the bourgeois idea of happiness.”

 

“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 representation.”

 

“Art need no longer be an account of past sensations. It can become the direct organization of more highly evolved sensations. It is a question of producing ourselves, not things that enslave us.”

 

“The more his life is now his product, the more he is separated from his life.”

 

“The false choices offered by spectacular abundance—choices based on the juxtaposition of competing yet mutually reinforcing spectacles and of distinct yet interconnected roles (signified and embodied primarily by objects)—develop into struggles between illusory qualities designed to generate fervent allegiance to quantitative trivialities.”

 

“The spectacle erases the dividing line between self and world, in that the self—under siege by the presence/absence of the world, is eventually overwhelmed; it likewise erases the dividing line between true and false, repressing all directly lived truth beneath the real presence of the falsehood maintained by the organization of appearances. The individual, though condemned to the passive acceptance of an alien everyday reality, is thus driven into a form of madness in which, by resorting to magical devices, he entertains the illusion that he is reacting to this fate.”

 

“We must destroy the Spectacle itself, the whole apparatus of the commodity society…We must abolish the pseudo-needs and false desires which the system manufactures daily in order to preserve its power.”

 

“The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language, from the objects it glorifies to the behavior it regulates, stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative.”

 

“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.”

 

“Revolution is not ‘showing’ life to people, but making them live. A revolutionary organization must always remember that its objective is not getting its adherents to listen to convincing talks by expert leaders, but getting them to speak for themselves, in order to achieve, or at least strive toward, an equal degree of participation.”

 

“Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption, a by-product of the circulation of commodities, is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal. The economic organization of visits to different places is already in itself the guarantee of their equivalence. The same modernization that removed time from the voyage also removed from it the reality of space.”

 

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

 

“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.'”

 

“Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.”

 

“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 an 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!”

 

“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.”

 

“The spectator’s consciousness, imprisoned in a flattened universe, bound by the screen of the spectacle behind which his life has been deported, knows only the fictional speakers who unilaterally surround him with their commodities and the politics of their commodities. The spectacle, in its entirety, is his ‘mirror image.'”

 

“When culture becomes nothing more than a commodity, it must also become the star commodity of the spectacular society.”

 

“Such a perfect democracy constructs its own inconceivable foe, terrorism. Its wish is to be judged by its enemies rather than by its results. The story of terrorism is written by the state and it is therefore highly instructive. The spectating populations must certainly never know everything about terrorism, but they must always know enough to convince them that, compared with terrorism, everything else seems rather acceptable, or in any case more rational and democratic.”

 

“The alienation of the spectator to the profit of the contemplated object is expressed in the following way: The more [the spectator] 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 desires.”

 

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

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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