Debord – Society of the Spectacle (1967/1983)

Spectacle, for Debord, refers broadly to the convergence of representation,
media, the proliferation of image-objects, and visually gripping mass
circulations given to
commodity: "a monopoly of appearances" (12). 
spearheaded the Situationist
International movement which was resolutely
actionist, performative, politically motivated, and theoretically sophisticated
(expansive of avant-garde, from Dada to surrealism).  In

Society of the Spectacle
, Debord issues a series of relatively short
vignettes–manifesto-like blurbs each attending to the effects of the spectacle,
from the separations of workers and their products to widespread isolationism.  Debord was concerned with the implications of the massification of the image,
consumerist patterns, and the spread of disillusionment pushed by the complacent
and consenting bourgeois profiteers.  Among the multiple definitional
turns, Debord writes, "spectacle is the opposite of dialogue" (18).

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Retromediation and Novelty

Cross-posted to
Network(ed) Rhetorics.

Frankly, as I read "Remediation, Genre, and Motivation: Key Concepts for
Teaching with Weblogs," by Brooks, Nichols and Priebe, all of NDSU,
I wondered about the consequences of framing
weblogs as remediations of older forms–the journal, the notebook and the
filter.  What results from a setup of weblogs that calibrates their
potential in terms of paper-based corollaries?  It’s difficult to know
exactly how this was framed beyond the evidence we find in
the article
(the framework, the research narrative, the questionnaire, the data-sets, the
conclusion) and in the related links (the

weblogs themselves

a reading list


) so I’m reluctant to respond to the essay with firmly resolved
skepticism, especially considering that it reflects some of the earliest uses of
blogs to teach writing. Yet through this limited lens, I have doubts about

why we need to liken blogs to paper
counterparts.  What’s gained?  Is it a way to legitimate composition
pedagogy adventurously (inventively, imaginatively!) straying from
long-recognized forms, forms often occupying the lion’s share of weight in the
event-oriented syllabus or program-wide curricular design?  Is it a way to
call up, for students, a sense of the familiar?  Although it is, perhaps to
a lesser degree than resonates in this article, necessary at times to present
students with a grounding in the familiar, when Brooks et. al. tell us, "we
wanted to balance the novelty of the activity with a grounding in familiar
literate practices," my initial thought is that a high stakes
flattening/deadening/adequation is inevitably brought about.  And this, I
think, must bear on motivation, if only subtly, tacitly.

What do I suggest instead?  Well, it
depends on the broader aims of the course. For collective course blogs, I’m less
and less inclined to model exemplary entries for the whole class, and rather
than talking about what blogs enable by connecting them to the written forms
they (more or
less) resemble, I
prefer to introduce blogs to students in terms of their impact on how we

think (sure, paper variations impact
thought, too), develop and write with/about ideas and so on (more to this, but
I’ll let it rest here).