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Signs, Signifiers, and the Spectacle

The French school of mid twentieth-century philosophy drew particular attention to signs, signifiers, and the spectacle. Begun a few years after the widespread acceptance of Freudian theory the writings of Jacques Lacan (Écrits), philosophy and psychology melded in some very enlightening ways. Of course this movement was precipitated by the invention of the television which was then called the small screen.

Once television gained popularity and the discipline of advertising skyrocketed, philosophers and other intellectual disciplines took note of the shifts subsequently brought about in the general population. The French school of philosophers, notably led by Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, and Guy Debord, began publishing research papers, articles, and books in earnest, all regarding the future fallout from this, the new technologically skewed worldview. Although I will not bore or burden you with their heavier theories (After all, this is about sex.), several of their conclusions must be addressed in order to understand how society (the body politic) thinks and acts – most especially surrounding sexuality – in this newly fashioned paradigm. Understanding this shift is critical as society moves into the twenty-first century.

Guy DeBord published a very short treatise called The Society of the Spectacle which can be found on the internet. In it Debord postulates that the spectacle has become the driving force by which and with which people are motivated to action and by which they judge almost everything. Jean Baudrillard hypothesized that because of the importance which humankind has attributed to the spectacle, coupled with the impossible Platonic ideal of perfection (in German philosophy, the concept of ubermensch), anything original will be reproduced again and again and as many times as necessary, with each appropriation tending more and more to seek greater perfection. This occurs until whatever the object originally was (with its original flaws) morphs into the perfect representation of the original flawed object. The new perfect object (or person) will have been so altered through this process, such that it (he/she) will be far removed from truth or reality. So the new perfect will represent the original which of course was flawed BUT the new will certainly only exist as a false image or idea.

We see this clearly today when the pictures of Playboy or Vogue models are, as standard practice, photo-shopped to render the image perfect, even though everyone knows the photographed model is not. The societal obsession with the representation of perfection where in our souls we know there can never be perfection creates a dissonance with far reaching consequences to the human mind. Bulimia, anorexia, suicide, and schizophrenia are just a few of the afflictions fed by this unreasonable ridiculous quest. Just think of the many types of diets, exercise, and weight loss programs sold.

Now that the stage is set one can easily see why a host of people (men or women) can be so easily fooled, defrauded, seduced, or otherwise compromised, clearly because of this unattainable drive to achieve perfection. This knowledge in the hands of a scoundrel or malefactor can easily be weaponized to attain any goal whether frivolous or dangerous. [Enter, Donald Trump.] The knowledge of signs, signifiers, and spectacle can also be used to bend the will of most anyone you or I consciously target.

A clever reasonably rational person with nefarious intentions is thus able to acquire and maintain sexual dominance over a less forceful individual. To guard against abuse we must all be vigilant in always watching the spectacle around us for the signs and the signifiers. Those lazy and unobservant will surely pay a high price.

The answer is difficult for most, BUT here it is: Trust nothing; trust no-one; trust those closest to you – even less.  Always maintain a critical perspective on every topic, on every viewpoint, with each and every person. Question more! Question, question, question! (To live like this without having people think you are paranoid: that is the trick!)  

Next Post: Simple Smart Seduction Schemes

FACTOID: In the mid-1400s it was believed that incest upon the altar was an effective prophylactic against the plague.

STOP & CONSIDER: Does anyone wonder why Ivanka Trump always seems to be with either one of her brothers, Eric Trump or Don Trump Jr.? Just asking….

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