The City as a Spectacular Monster and the Hysterical Baudrillardian Flâneur

    • Lucca November 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Gian Carla Agbisit, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines


    Propelled by the new kind of capitalism, and aided by a scientific and technological progress that culminates in virtual perfection, the city has now become both the producer and the consumer of spectacle. In fact, the city has become, in itself, a grand spectacle that uses the reification of categories as a differential device that helps perpetuate the spectacle. Using Baudrillard’s critique of the consumer society and his idea of simulation, the diversity of the city is read here as a part of the spectacle, making revolutionary movements against the spectacular society impossible. This is simulation at its best. In the city, everything has become part of a show. Consequently, the city houses urbanites that have become preoccupied with images. The senses of hearing, of smelling, of tasting, and of touching have been under the rule of seeing. Everything has to appear, hence everything has to be seen, and vice versa. In the city, the tyrant has different faces, and oppression is no longer about forcing the other to hide, but of forcing everything to appear. In this seemingly endless cycle of seeing and showing, and showing and seeing, critique is diminished to banal images, and the critic is believable only if he becomes the voyeur. Taking after Baudrillard’s idea that the demise of Marxist theory is its preoccupation with the concepts of labor and capital, the traditional Marxist, still enchanted by the drama of the proletariat, can never recognize, and therefore, can never respond to the oppression of the banality of meaning. Perhaps, even, the traditional Marxist critique of society is a dream that leads to the fulfillment of the spectacle society. This paper aims to articulate the temporal nuances of Baudrillardian declarations of simulation and to propose the combination of Benjamin’s idea of the flâneur and Baudrillard’s idea of radical thought as the critic of the urban.