Seeing the Specter: A Gothic Metaphor of Subjectivity, Popular Culture, and Consumerism

Abstract:

Due to their very nature, some societal forces are invisible to common perception. Using the work of Foucault and Baudrillard, this essay develops a theory of “the Specter” — an invisible consumer phenomenon that perpetuates a negative symbolic exchange between the subjective viewer and the commodity form. The Specter promulgates itself as a totalizing consumer force, yet Baudrillard suggests that there is always a point at which Impossible Exchange operates. With the revivification of critical insight, the specter returns to its rightful place as an aspect of symbolic exchange, creating a holdfast for the subjective viewer. Through various media such as the pop music of the Postal Service, a contemporary novel by Sarah Ash, and the Mummy of Lenin, this paper explores the relationship between subjectivity, ideology, and consumer culture.

Full Article (PDF):application/pdf iconseeing-the-specter.pdf

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