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

Posted in 2008 Journal


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