The Society of the Spectacle

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spectacleI write all the time about bullshit detectors, cartoons and caricatures. I can be cranky, surly and intolerant of stupidity. I hate dumb commercialism and uncritical thinking. I want us all to be awake and dealing in reality, not giving up our critical power and dimly following someone else’s orthodoxies, especially those of so-called experts.

Of the negative feedback I get from public writing (outside of a couple whack jobs who periodically cannot keep themselves from sending along totally insane and hateful emails) by far the most frequent are along the lines of ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’ or ‘you fail to make a point’ or ‘this article is devoid of value and offers no actionable conclusion’ (hello SeekingAlpha, home of the linear, academic and/or auto-piloted paint-by-numbers thinker).

Anyway, I just stumbled upon the word ‘Situationist’, which I had not seen or thought about in years. It made me think about the Rabbit Hole and its idea of coming from a different place and seeing things from a different angle. Human mass-psychology is a big part of it but even more so, sociology. Why do people herd? Why do they accept the word of experts from on high?

I have entered a commercial phase with this website (why, just look at those ads) and in my market writing, no doubt about it. Within that I strive to be an honest and hard working writer because anyone who thinks they can add value to other peoples’ outlooks had better make sure he or she is not bullshitting themselves first, and not getting hung up in their own ego or self-congratulatory hubris.

The nearly 3 year bear market in gold turned my stomach not because of its price action (that was a breeze, actually) but because of what I saw come out of the orifices of so-called experts directed at a consuming public that depends on good information. When the shit hit the fan, many of the foremost luminaries simply cranked up the volume in dispensing the usual bromides, assumptions and hubris.

Over in the broad financial spectrum it is even worse, as the buttoned down financial services industry presents only the most surface view of the situation (PE’s, GDP, employment, etc.) without illustrating any mechanics whatsoever that are behind the creation of a boom phase that has featured improvement in these areas. The commodity is stock picks and the medium is coin, as in making some.

I was in a good mood yesterday, but ended the day with a bee in my bonnet and a lot of it has to do with the geopolitical problems in the world and the way that the mainstream financial media incorporates them. It was probably that headline with the ‘oil knows more than gold’ shtick that turned me.

Listen, everybody is trying to sell you something, including me. I think I have something of quality to sell you and I think there are other items of quality out there as well. But there is a lot of crap flying around and it is growing exponentially with the internet (which, they say, was supposed to liberate information?) and by my eye, in many ways it has put the Spectacle on steroids.

Now, I often talk about the markets being fun. That is because in my disgust I have an absolute blast seeing the colors and shades of this spectacle and trying to manage it from a vantage point of being separate from it, not a component of it. So when I don’t come with stock picks or guru calls as sometimes demanded, you know why; because we are dealing in decoding representations (in service of course, to proper investment stance) and I find that so much more interesting than stock picks at a casino filled with commodity obsessed patrons.

* Here’s the Wiki about Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. I saw a Situationist art exhibit at the ICA in Boston when I was much younger, read up a little and found that so much of their outlook made sense with mine. Why have I always felt out of step with society and out of time with it? Because modes of mass communication are one big, spectacular representation (caricature) moving forward, feeding on itself. Commoditization and commercialization are compelling forces. Peoples’ assumptions held dear, in many cases, are commodities in my opinion.

Debord: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”