"What can we glean from these complex dynamics of word and image in a particular cultural industry? Rather than generalize specific ‘findings’ from stock photography to cultural and media production per se, I would prefer to focus on a largely ‘theoretical’ consequence and its methodo- logical implications: the refinement of our a priori assumptions about material and semiotic production and of our approaches to studying them. To borrow the terminology of Bruno Latour (1987): We need to open up the ‘black boxes’ of images and texts as self-evident, inert artifacts and stable, closed signifying elements, exploring instead their agency in one another’s ‘becoming’ across sites of production and circulation—and in the very processes of creating cultural practices and products."
— Paul Frosh, 2003, “Industrial ekphrasis: The dialectic of word and image in mass cultural production”, Semiotica Vol. 4
"The images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at. The specialization of images of the world evolves into a world of autonomized images where even the deceivers are deceived. The spectacle is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the nonliving."
— Guy Debord, The Society and the Spectacle
"When considered in relationship to space, the nation may be seen to have two moments or conditions. First, nationhood implies the existence of a market gradually built up over a historical period of varying length. Such a market is a complex ensemble of commercial relations and communication networks. It subordinates local or regional markets to the national one, and thus must have a hierarchy of levels. The social, economic and political development of a national market has been somewhat different in character in places where the towns came very early on to dominate the country, as compared with places where the towns grew up on a pre-existing peasant, rural and feudal foundation, The outcome, however, is much the same everywhere: a focused space embodying a hierarchy of centres (commercial centres for the most part, but also religious ones, ‘cultural’ ones, and so on) and a main centre -i.e. the national capital"
— Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space
"In the late nineteenth century, influenced by the drive to create a science of society modeled after developments in the hard sciences, William Jevons and Alfred Marshall, among others, established the neoclassical paradigm that continues to provide a model for mainstream economics. Choosing to concentrate on describing, preferably through a set of mathematical equations, the outcomes of different combinations of productive factors (land, labor, and capital), this school of thought eliminated most of the political from political economy.
In the twentieth century, the neoclassical view became what Kuhn (1970) calls “normal science,” or textbook economics. Not unlike the way Newtonian mechanics came to mean physics, the neoclassical approach came to mean economics. But the process of normalizing economics was one of continuous intellectual and political ferment that itself merits a volume on the political economy of economics (Foley, 2006). The so-called Austrian and Cambridge wings of the mainstream neoclassical school debated the centrality of markets and the role of the state. Institutional, Marxian, and corporatist approaches leveled more fundamental criticisms at the paradigm’s assumptions, concepts, conclusions, and engagement (or lack of engagement) with political and social life."
— Vincent Mosco, The Political Economy of Communication
This idea, that the realization of a chosen emotional situation depends only on the thorough understanding and calculated application of a certain number of concrete techniques, inspired this “Psychogeographical Game of the Week” published, not without a certain humor, in Potlatch #1:
“In accordance with what you are seeking, choose a country, a more or less populated city, a more or less busy street. Build a house. Furnish it. Use decorations and surroundings to the best advantage. Choose the season and the time of day. Bring together the most suitable people, with appropriate records and drinks. The lighting and the conversation should obviously be suited to the occasion, as should be the weather or your memories.
“If there has been no error in your calculations, the result should satisfy you.”
— Guy Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography
"Most of the world’s great cities have grown haphazardly, little by little, in response to the needs of the moment; very rarely is a city planned for the remote future. The evolution of a city is like the evolution of the brain: it develops from a small center and slowly grows and changes, leaving many old parts still functioning. There is no way for evolution to rip out the ancient interior of the brain because of its imperfections and replace it with something of more modern manufacture. The brain must function during the renovation. That is why the brainstem is surrounded by the R-complex, then the limbic system and finally the cerebral cortex. The old parts are in charge of too many fundamental functions for them to be replaced altogether. So they wheeze along, out-of-date and sometimes counterproductive, but a necessary consequence of our evolution.
In New York City, the arrangement of many of the major streets dates to the seventeenth century, the stock exchange to the eighteenth century, the waterworks to the nineteenth, the electrical power system to the twentieth. The arrangement might be more efficient if all civic systems were constructed in parallel and replaced periodically (which is why disastrous fires – the great conflagrations of London and Chicago, for example - are sometimes an aid in city planning). But the slow accretion of new functions permits the city to work more or less continuously through the centuries. In the seventeenth century you traveled between Brooklyn and Manhattan across the East River by ferry. In the nineteenth century, the technology became available to construct a suspension bridge across the river. It was built precisely at the site of the ferry terminal, both because the city owned the land and because major thoroughfares were already converging on the pre-existing ferry service. Later when it was possible to construct a tunnel under the river, it too was built in the same place for the same reasons, and also because small abandoned precursors of tunnels, called caissons, had already been emplaced during the construction of the bridge. This use and restructuring of previous systems for new purposes is very much like the pattern of biological evolution."
— Carl Sagan, Cosmos
"Before tackling the problem itself we must be quite clear in our minds that commodity fetishism is a specific problem of our age, the age of modern capitalism. Commodity exchange and the corresponding subjective and objective commodity relations existed, as we know, when society was still very primitive. What is at issue here, however, is the question: how far is commodity exchange together with its structural consequences able to influence the total outer and inner life of society? Thus the extent to which such exchange is the dominant form of metabolic change in a society cannot simply be treated in quantitative terms-as would harmonise with the modern modes of thought already eroded by the reifying effects of the dominant commodity form. The distinction between a society where this form is dominant, permeating every expression of life and a society where it only makes an episodic appearance is essentially one of quality. For depending on which is the case, all the subjective and objective phenomena in the societies concerned are objectified in qualitatively different ways."
— George Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness