Trump and the ‘Society of the Spectacle’ – The New York Times

I read and applied Debord’s theses in the 60s and 70s in front of the classroom:  I made my students (insofar is ever possible) to look beyond me standing up in front of them lecturing and focus! on the idea or narrative they were reading or I was talking about.  They had authority, they had the senses, they had reason.  Look beyond me.  Look at yourself, experience yourself.  Be authentic as you can.  (Odd to say.)  Trust the authority of your senses and reason.  Some progress I made and was never futile.

Stephen Greenblatt’s work in several places brings up the spectacle of the king, etc., in European history and ceremony.  The “people” had placed so much of their thinking and focus on the power of the king (English as the example here, I think) that ofttimes when someone touched the king’s robe or the king himself, they would be healed of some afffliction.  The spectacle may seem to heal, but the healing comes from within.

We (I) have to disconnect some of our habit patterns and technological use of gadgets from the spectacle of X (lots of things, including Trump) for periods of time and get back into the moment, this moment, this person, the eyes and other senses.  Norman O. Brown wrote a very good section on how the eyes played an inordinate role (still do) in making the spectacle nearly-all-there-is in our field of awareness.

I could write more (and might) about this Debord, Greenblatt, Brown connection.  Till then, I’ve gotta pay attention to the non-spectacle in my life right now:  drinking coffee on a cloudy morning in north Texas.

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