Sunday, 3 February 2013

Guy Debord's Top Ten Quips About the Superbowl!

"What would I do?"--Guy Debord

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

The images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at. The specialization of images of the world evolves into a world of autonomized images where even the deceivers are deceived. The superbowl is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the nonliving.

The superbowl presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is ostensibly the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation.

The superbowl is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images.

The superbowl cannot be understood as a mere visual excess produced by mass-media technologies. It is a worldview that has actually been materialized, that has become an objective reality.

Understood in its totality, the superbowl is both the result and the project of the present mode of production. It is not a mere decoration added to the real world, it is the very heart of this real society’s unreality. In all of its particular manifestations — news, propaganda, advertising, entertainment — the superbowl is the model of the prevailing way of life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choices that have already been made in the sphere of production and in the consumption implied by that production. In both form and content the superbowl serves as a total justification of the conditions and goals of the existing system. The superbowl is also the constant presence of this justification since it monopolizes the majority of the time spent outside the production process.

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 superbowl is at the same time the real totality which contains that superbowl. But the split within this totality mutilates it to the point that the superbowl seems to be its goal. The language of the superbowl consists of signs of the dominant system of production — signs which are at the same time the ultimate end-products of that system.

The superbowl cannot be abstractly contrasted to concrete social activity. Each side of such a duality is itself divided. The superbowl that falsifies reality is nevertheless a real product of that reality. Conversely, real life is materially invaded by the contemplation of the superbowl, and ends up absorbing it and aligning itself with it. Objective reality is present on both sides. Each of these seemingly fixed concepts has no other basis than its transformation into its opposite: reality emerges within the superbowl, and the superbowl is real. This reciprocal alienation is the essence and support of the existing society.

In a world that has really been turned upside down, the true is a moment of the false.

The concept of “the superbowl” interrelates and explains a wide range of seemingly unconnected phenomena. The apparent diversities and contrasts of these phenomena stem from the social organization of appearances, whose essential nature must itself be recognized. Considered in its own terms, the superbowl is an affirmation of appearances and an identification of all human social life with appearances. But a critique that grasps the superbowl’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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