I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images.”
-George Duchamel, Scenes de la vie future (1930)
A Situationist International detourned poster representing the society of the spectacle.
The Duchamel quote above was also used in Walter Benjamin's book Illuminations . It refers to people who have their own thoughts replaced by those introduced by mass media.
The idea of détourning existing comics with often ironic sayings came about in the 60s Pop Art movement but was also used by French Situationists in the late 60s.
The Situationist International was formed in 1957 as a merger between the international movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, headed by Asger Jorn and the Lettrist International headed by Guy Debord.
The Situationists were highly politicised at a time when it was fashionable for avant-gardes to separate from social revolt.
Guy Debord’s (1931–1994) best-known work, La société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) (1967),https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-society-of-spectacle-guy-debord.html is a polemical and prescient indictment of our image-saturated consumer culture. The book examines the “Spectacle,” Debord’s term for the everyday manifestation of capitalist-driven phenomena; advertising, television, film, and celebrity.
Debord defines the spectacle as the “autocratic reign of the market economy.” Though the term “mass media” is often used to describe the spectacle’s form, Debord derides its neutrality. “Rather than talk of the spectacle, people often prefer to use the term ‘media,’” he writes, “and by this they mean to describe a mere instrument, a kind of public service.” Instead, Debord describes the spectacle as capitalism’s instrument for distracting and pacifying the masses. The spectacle takes on many more forms today than it did during Debord’s lifetime. It can be found on every screen that you look at. It is the advertisements plastered on the subway and the pop-up ads that appear in your browser. It is the lists telling you “10 things you need to know about ‘x.’” The spectacle reduces reality to an endless supply of commodifiable fragments. For Debord, this constituted an unacceptable “degradation” of our lives.
We all like to think we’re in control of our perceptions and decisions. but every day we are unconsciously being .manipulated. Because we’re human, the very things that make us human in the first place, like empathy, emotion, and exhaustion to name a few, give those who are unscrupulous, desperate, or egotistical an edge when it comes to distorting our thoughts and judgments, especially by governments.
And in certain ways the problem is getting worse. Information overload is one reason we’ve grown more vulnerable to manipulation. Research .suggests that we receive five times more information now than we did 30 years ago, and daily we are bombarded. This is the Spectacle that Debord warned us about. Hitler himself said, “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” We must discriminately keep awake and aware. Be careful and beware. Be weary of your thoughts being replaced and dominated by moving images, that dull and passify you, best to stay awake, with your life in your own hands, move away from the spectacle that seeks to control you.