Prose on Magritte’s pipe
A representation of a pipe and a pipe are two completely different things. In fact, two things can hardly be more different. So what does this mean for pornography, digital piracy branding, and the value of a dollar bill? They’re all representations. They’re all signs, not material–not an actor, a song, or a calorie. A representation is a representation. Metaphysics, not physics. One can either raise the objection that, for instance, pornography does not objectify women because the product is not women, or it does objectify women because it sells an image of women, or our entire social structure is built around images, not things–what DeBord calls “the spectacle.” You can think of innumerable things that are spectacles which people treat as real. Facebook, for example, or books, or every metaphor in our language. The kick comes in when you notice people get violent over spectacles. Snatch a dollar out of someone’s hand, rip it apart, and they will bloody your nose over a spectacle. Throw half of their sandwich away–an object with intrinsic value–and they probably won’t hurt you a bit. This even extends into our entire juridical polity. English legalism, from which we inherit our valuing of written law and the rights of man, is built on the spectacle–on the sign. That is not a pipe. The Constitution constitutes nothing. Its substance is not essence, but spectacle. A military and police budget of billions is *reasonably* built on the strength of people surrendering to and holding sacred a piece of 18th century vellum (or whatever) drawn up by rhetorically-gifted bourgeois defectors. And the funny thing is they thought they were rationalists. Or: that is not a pipe. A pronoun does not truly signify a person’s gender. The syllable “he” in no way references the reality of an individual. That particular collection of atoms named by its mother “Jack” does not necessarily correlate to species taxonomy—human—or gender—male. That is not a pipe and the peculiar grammar of English does not make you a man simply because that is how you’re referenced. Even your penis might have nothing to do with it. Is it a penis or a bundle of nerves that developed precisely like a clitoris save for a couple of minor details? The idea of the spectacle refers to every thing your mind can dream up and categorize. From large ontologies like your field of vision or small ontologies like molecular structure. From your notion of self-hood arises the spectacle, from interpretation the mysticism.