Sunday, June 3, 2012

Notes on the Spectacular Society: 41-50 - An Elaboration on the Visual Representation of the Spectacle

41. The visual model of the spectacle is not an essential aspect of it; rather, it merely helps inform the task of understanding it in its totality. This task can be described as dialectical and vertical—embarking on the journey requires that one remain grounded in some sense of responsibility (even if this responsibility is, itself, anchored within the spectacle). By dialectical I mean an approach to thinking that mitigates self-indulgence: a spectacular movement that oscillates back and forth, up and down in varying degrees of intensity. This oscillation invariably is expressed as part of the continuous and singular integrity of the spectacular wave form, but this oscillation has the potential to produce resonance, a term for a near becoming-one through the speed of wild fluctuations. Resonance produces a mutual experience that is a location with the spectacle-in-itself, centralized and total.

42. (The oscillation of strings produces a trans-substantial resonance that we give the name: music.)

43. The project of awakening or becoming-aware in the spectacle is about engaging it in its total moment of separateness. In this task, we can achieve unity in our mutual resonance with one another, in a community whose existence is bound up in the autonomy of individuals whose activity becomes connected through a collective resonance. The project of undermining the spectacle is not one of becoming-total itself—it is undertaking the perilous journey into the false totality of the spectacle itself, into Heaven to dethrone the false God who conceals himself as the inexorable perfection of human activity.

44. Hegel’s observation that a kernel of truth about a thing is possessed in its opposite is astute in its articulation of the duality at the heart of the spectacle. Each thing that reflects—or is reflected in—the spectacle is engaged in the production of the truth of its opposite (and consequently, itself) in that it maintains the truth of the false vacuum in which all spectacular activity thrives. The ‘reflexive mirror tendency’ at the heart of the spectacle does not reflect the inverted falseness of the spectacle itself, but rather the individually spectacular segments that are engaged in the work of producing reciprocal alienation. We are the truth of one another, and this is reflected within the spectacle’s generally induced separation: we are united within the medium of separation, that is, united in the sense that we are all collectively atomized and alone, a lonely crowd[8].

45. Resonance is the relationship between people whose individuality has become autonomy in that it no longer precludes connection with other people. Others are the necessary condition for meaning, both individually and collectively in the organizational form we call ‘civilization’ and its constituent ‘society’.

46. The x-axis within the visual representation can be understood as ‘responsibility’. This ‘responsibility’ exists not as Truth but, rather, the possibility of contingent truths that emerge from proximate discourse. Responsibility can be said to have a location and even if it is not definite we can say that it is proximate. Proximity and responsibility are essential elements of the understanding of spectacular politics insofar as they serve as tools to find one another in the dark.

47. The singular integrity of the continuous wavelength of human social activity is understood in terms of its amplitude which is also its intensity. Political and social activity expressed in terms of amplitude, then, is the intensification of already-existing political discourse: a cacophony of un-contemplative voices yelling louder in an attempt to engage in some sort of meaningful communication. At some point this increase in amplitude begat the total detachment of social activity from its axis (responsibility) such that the center of its wild shifts became rooted in praxis, i.e. convention. The connection to responsibility loses itself where it cannot exist without a representation to the production and maintenance of its own wholeness.

48. The relocation of the center of social activity in praxis is the origin of the inert-ia of the spectacle. The integrated term ‘inertia’ fails to capture the static motion of the praxis-oriented spectacular society—inert-ia reveals the trajectory of social activity bound up in its deference to itself, that is, its iterability as an expression of movement as opposed to an accumulation of novel growth. The society of the spectacle does have movement with a trajectory; however, it is in the direction of itself. This phenomenon can be called society’s inert-ia insofar as the term preserves the false vacuum of the spectacle animated through a continual expression of itself.

49. Alienation within the spectacle is present in all four quadrants and in all four directions. As the product of spectacular political activity, alienation is manifest not only in the inescapability of the spectacle as one moves anywhere (as movement, remember, is really the production of a mutual, seemingly antagonistic alienation—as one moves, one is expanding the horizon of one’s own alienation), but also in the imposition of a rigid segmentarity in the form of the quadrants and directions themselves. The presence of these directions and spaces in the imagination can be understood as a pre-occupation by the spectacle as these represent the already existing structural conditions of our atomized emptiness. Movement plays on the terms of the spectacle because it is already contained within it—activity is harnessed as kinetic energy to fuel machines that desire their own repression. The spectacle’s mode of production is fundamentally kinetic, powered by the friction of its raw intensity.

50. Movement within the spectacle is raw in that it is individualized and manifest primarily as the accumulation of itself, that is, the (re)production of itself by ‘recurring on that border, or extremity […] of its own disappearance’[9]. Expansion of something that is already one (whole) through a process that allows it to become more while still remaining one (whole) can only be described as kinetic; the displacement of the Real is not achieved without an intense collision of matter. The result of this collision is not the elimination of matter itself, but the occupation of its original location through a transpositioning of that matter to the realm of non-appearance in a universe defined exclusively by its manner of appearing.

[8] Riesman, David. The Lonely Crowd. 1950.

[9] Mouse on Mars. “Unity Concepts”, Idiology, 1999.