The ImCon as Simulacrum of Symbolic Imaginary: Dream-Worlds of Consumption and the Subject as Commodity

  • Marlon Xavier


This chapter discusses the idea that the ImCon may function as a simulacrum of symbolic-religious imaginary—a myth or desacralized religion based on a transcendental, totalizing ideology. Following the logics of total consumerism-capitalism, its colonization and fabrication of signification, imagination, fantasy, and dream imply the fabrication of an ideological hyperreality, which is discussed through Walter Benjamin’s concept of dream-world of consumption. The concepts of fetish, phantasmagoria, and collective dream are then introduced to discuss the ImCon’s mythico-ideological character and some of its effects. The chapter concludes by exploring the possibility that, by simulating a symbolic imaginary, the ImCon colonizes the unconscious psyche and, through archaic identity (participation mystique) and mimesis, institutes its subject as a consumer-commodity, or commodified self.


  1. Adatto, K. (2003). Selling out childhood. Hedgehog Review, 5(2), 24–40.Google Scholar
  2. Adorno, T. W., & Horkheimer, M. (2002). Dialectic of enlightenment: Philosophical fragments (E. Jephcott, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. (Original work published 1944).Google Scholar
  3. Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  4. Arendt, H. (1958). The origins of totalitarianism (2nd ed.). New York: Meridian Books.Google Scholar
  5. Arendt, H. (1963). On revolution. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Arendt, H. (1998). The human condition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1958).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arendt, H. (2005). The image of hell. In Essays in understanding: 1930–1954 (pp. 197–205). New York: Schocken Books. (Original work published 1946).Google Scholar
  8. Augé, M. (1999). The war of dreams: exercises in ethno-fiction (L. Heron, Trans.). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  9. Balandier, G. (1985). Le détour: Pouvoir et modernité. Paris: Fayard.Google Scholar
  10. Baudrillard, J. (1981). For a critique of the political economy of the sign. St. Louis, MO: Telos Press. (Original work published 1973).Google Scholar
  11. Baudrillard, J. (1983). Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  12. Baudrillard, J. (1988). The ecstasy of communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Baudrillard, J. (1993). Symbolic exchange and death (I. H. Grant, Trans.). London: Sage. (Original work published 1976).Google Scholar
  14. Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation (S. F. Glaser, Trans). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. (Original work published 1981).Google Scholar
  15. Baudrillard, J. (1996a). The system of objects (J. Benedict, Trans.). London: Verso. (Original work published 1968).Google Scholar
  16. Baudrillard, J. (1996b). The perfect crime (C. Turner, Trans.). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  17. Baudrillard, J. (1996c). Disneyworld Company. Liberation. Retrieved from
  18. Baudrillard, J. (1998). The consumer society: Myths and structures. London: Sage. (Original work published 1970).Google Scholar
  19. Baudrillard, J. (2000). The vital illusion. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Baudrillard, J. (2001). Selected writings (M. Poster, Ed., 2nd ed.). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  21. Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid modernity. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  22. Bauman, Z. (2001). The individualized society. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  23. Bauman, Z. (2005). Liquid life. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  24. Bauman, Z. (2007). Consuming life. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  25. Bauman, Z. (2011, August 12). Foi um motim de consumidores excluídos. O Globo. Retrieved from
  26. Belk, R. W., Wallendorf, M., & Sherry, J. F. (1989). The sacred and the profane in consumer behavior: Theodicy on the Odyssey. The Journal of Consumer Research, 16(1), 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Benjamin, W. (1991). Gesammelte Schriften (R. Tiedemann & H. Schweppenhäuser, Eds., Vol. V). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.Google Scholar
  28. Benjamin, W. (1996). Capitalism as religion. In M. P. Bullock & M. W. Jennings (Eds.), Walter Benjamin selected writings, Vol. 1: 1913–1926 (pp. 288–291). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original work written 1921).Google Scholar
  29. Benjamin, W. (1999). The arcades project (H. Eiland & K. McLaughlin, Trans.). Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Benson, A. L. (Ed.). (2000). I shop therefore I am: Compulsive buying and the search for self. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  31. Berry, G. (2010). The mythic element of mass media and its relation to Plato’s cave. PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication, ANZCA Special Edition (April), 72–85.Google Scholar
  32. Buck-Morss, S. (1989). The dialectics of seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  33. Buck-Morss, S. (2000). Dreamworld and catastrophe: The passing of mass utopia in East and West. Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  34. Calderón de la Barca, P. (2009). La vida es sueño. Retrieved from (Original work written 1635).
  35. Campbell, C. (2004). I shop therefore I know that I am: The metaphysical basis of modern consumerism. In K. M. Ekström & H. Brembeck (Eds.), Elusive Consumption (pp. 27–44). New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  36. Cassirer, E. (1946). The myth of the state. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Castoriadis, C. (1987). The imaginary institution of society (K. Blamey, Trans.). Cambridge: MIT Press. (Original work published 1975).Google Scholar
  38. Charles, M. (2009). Speculative experience and history: Walter Benjamin’s Goethean Kantianism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Middlesex University, London, UK.Google Scholar
  39. Clastres, P. (1989). Society against the state: Essays in political anthropology (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York: Zone Books. (Original work published 1974).Google Scholar
  40. Cohen, M. (2006). Benjamin’s phantasmagoria: The Arcades Project. In D. S. Ferris (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Walter Benjamin (pp. 199–220). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Curtis, A. (Director). (2002). The century of the self [Motion picture]. London: BBC Series.Google Scholar
  42. Cushman, P. (1990). Why the self is empty: Toward a historically situated psychology. American Psychologist, 45(5), 599–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Cypher, J., & Riggs, E. (2001). Colonizing the imagination: Disney’s wilderness lodge. Critical Studies, 21, 403–423.Google Scholar
  44. Debord, G. (1967). La sociètè du spectacle. Paris: Champ Libre.Google Scholar
  45. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2004). Anti-Oedipus (R. Hurley, M. Seem, & H. R. Lane, Trans.). London: Continuum. (Original work published 1972).Google Scholar
  46. Duarte, L. F. B. (1998). O Sono dos Justos: uma interpretação simbólica. Cadernos de Comunicação (Unisinos-RS), 1(4), 73–94.Google Scholar
  47. Duarte, L. F. B. (1999). O Sono dos Justos: elementos para uma metodologia de interpretação de textos culturais. Unpublished master’s thesis, Unisinos, São Leopoldo, Brazil.Google Scholar
  48. Dufour, D.-R. (2001, November 1). Rumo ao “capitalismo total”? Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved from,a121
  49. Eco, U. (1964). Apocalittici e integrati. Milano: Bompiani.Google Scholar
  50. Eliot, T. S. (1925). Eliot’s poems: 1909–1925. London: Faber & Gwyer.Google Scholar
  51. Ewen, S. (1989). Advertising and the development of consumer society. In I. Angus & S. Jhally (Eds.), Cultural politics in contemporary America (pp. 82–95). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Featherstone, M. (2007). Consumer culture and postmodernism (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  53. Ferguson, C. (Director). (2010). Inside job [Motion picture]. US: Sony Pictures.Google Scholar
  54. Freitas, M. G. (1999). Vida simbólica: uma aliança. Boletim do Centro de Estudos Junguianos C. A. Meier, 1(1), 1–5.Google Scholar
  55. Gaiman, N. (1989). The Sandman. Preludes and Nocturnes (1–8). New York: DC Comics.Google Scholar
  56. Gauchet, M. (2009). Marcel Gauchet: “nous sommes sous le coup d’une anesthésie”. Retrieved from 000403499/marcel-gauchet-nous-sommes-sous-le-coup-d-une-anesthesie-.html
  57. Gergen, K. J. (1991). The saturated self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  58. Gilliam, T. (Director). (2009). The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [Motion picture]. Canada, France, UK: Lionsgate/Sony Pictures.Google Scholar
  59. Giroux, H. A., & Pollock, G. (2010). The mouse that roared: Disney and the end of innocence. Lanhan, MA: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  60. Goldman, R., & Papson, S. (1996). Sign wars: The cluttered landscape of advertising. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  61. Gruzinski, S. (1988). La colonization de l’imaginaire. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  62. Guattari, F. (2010). The machinic unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis. New York: Semiotext(e). (Original work published 1979).Google Scholar
  63. Gunter, B., & Furnham, A. (1998). Children as consumers: A psychological analysis of the young people’s market. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Hannerz, U. (1989). Notes on the global ecumene. Public Culture, 1(2), 66–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Hannerz, U. (1992). Cultural complexity: Studies in the social organization of meaning. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Hetherington, K. (2005). Memories of capitalism: Cities, phantasmagoria and arcades. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(1), 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism, or the cultural logic of late capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Jameson, F. (1992). Signatures of the visible. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  69. Jhally, S. (1989). Advertising as religion: The dialectic of technology and magic. In L. Angus & S. Jhally (Eds.), Cultural politics in contemporary America (pp. 217–229). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  70. Jhally, S. (Ed.). (2006). The spectacle of accumulation: Essays in culture, media, and politics. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  71. Kellner, D. (2009). Jean Baudrillard. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2009 ed.). Retrieved from 2009/entries/baudrillard/
  72. Klein, N. (2000). No logo. London: Flamingo.Google Scholar
  73. Langman, L. (1992). Neon cages: Shopping for subjectivity. In R. Shields (Ed.), Lifestyle shopping: The subject of consumption (pp. 40–82). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  74. Lasch, C. (1984). The minimal self: Psychic survival in troubled times. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  75. Lash, S., & Lury, C. (2007). The global culture industry: The mediation of things. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  76. Lefebvre, H. (1971). Everyday life in the modern world. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  77. Maffesoli, M. (1990). Aux creux des apparences: Pour une éthique de l’esthétique. Paris: Le livre de Poche.Google Scholar
  78. Maffesoli, M. (1993). La contemplation du monde: Figures du style communautaire. Paris: Grasset.Google Scholar
  79. Maffesoli, M. (2008). Iconologías: Nuestras idolatrías postmodernas (J. Terré, Trans.). Barcelona: Península.Google Scholar
  80. Marcuse, H. (1964). One-dimensional man: Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society. Retrieved from
  81. Marx, K. (1847). Wages. Retrieved from
  82. Marx, K. (1990). Capital: Critique of political economy (B. Fowkes, Trans., Vol. 1). Harmondsworth: Penguin. (Original work published 1867).Google Scholar
  83. Marx, K. (1993). Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie. Der Produktionsprozeß des Kapitals. In Karl Marx Friedrich Engels Werke, Band 23. Berlin: Dietz Verlag. (Original work published 1867).Google Scholar
  84. McConnell, F. (2002). Preface. In N. Gaiman & E. Kramer (Eds.), The Sandman: Book of dreams (pp. 2–5). New York: HarperTorch.Google Scholar
  85. McLuhan, M. (1959). Myth and mass media. Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 88(2), 339–348.Google Scholar
  86. McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: The extensions of man. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published 1964).Google Scholar
  87. Molnar, A. (1996). Giving kids the business: The commercialization of America’s schools. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  88. Nordström, J., & Riddestråle, K. (2005). Karaoke capitalism: Daring to be different in a copycat world. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  89. Norris, T. (2006). Hannah Arendt & Jean Baudrillard: Pedagogy in the consumer society. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 25, 457–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Ovid. (1806). Les Métamorphoses (G.T. Villenave, Trans.). Paris: Gay & Ghestard.Google Scholar
  91. Osborne, P. (2005). How to read Marx. London: Granta.Google Scholar
  92. Poster, M. (2001). Introduction. In M. Poster (Ed.), Jean Baudrillard: Selected writings (2nd ed., pp. 1–9). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  93. Retort. (2004). Afflicted powers. New Left Review, 27. Retrieved from
  94. Ritzer, G. (2001). Explorations in the sociology of consumption: Fast food, credit cards and casinos. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  95. Rolnik, S. (2006). Entrevista a Suely Rolnik. Retrieved from
  96. Schor, J. (2004). Born to buy: The commercialized child and the new consumer culture. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  97. Silva, J. M. (2007). O silêncio do objeto: uma lógica hiper-espetacular. In J. Melo & O. Morais (Eds.), Mercado e comunicação na sociedade digital (pp. 159–163). São Paulo: Intercom; Santos-SP: Unisanta, Unisantos & Unimonte.Google Scholar
  98. Spears, R. (1997). Introduction. In T. Ibáñez & L. Íñiguez (Eds.), Critical social psychology (pp. 1–26). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  99. Stiegler, B. (2006). The disaffected individual in the process of psychic and collective disindividuation. Retrieved from
  100. Thussu, D. K. (Ed.). (1998). Electronic empires: Global media and local resistance. London: Hodder Arnold.Google Scholar
  101. Tomlinson, A. (1990). Introduction: Consumer culture and the aura of the commodity. In A. Tomlinson (Ed.), Consumption, identity and style: Marketing, meanings, and the packaging of pleasure (pp. 1–27). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  102. Vieira, A. G. (2003). Imagem, símbolo e narrativa na Psicologia Analítica de C. G. Jung. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.Google Scholar
  103. Virilio, P. (1994). The vision machine (J. Rose, Trans.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  104. Wachowski Brothers (Directors). (1999). The matrix [Motion picture]. US: Warner Bros. Pictures.Google Scholar
  105. Ward, G. (2009). The politics of discipleship: Becoming postmaterial citizens. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.Google Scholar
  106. Weir, P. (Director). (1998). The Truman Show [Motion picture]. US: Paramount Pictures.Google Scholar
  107. Wetherell, M., & Maybin, J. (1996). The distributed self: A social constructionist perspective. In R. Stevens (Ed.), Understanding the self (pp. 219–279). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  108. Williams, R. H. (1991). Dream worlds: Mass consumption in late nineteenth-century France. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  109. Zukin, S. (1991). Landscapes of power: From Detroit to Disney World. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marlon Xavier
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Caxias do SulCaxias do SulBrazil

Personalised recommendations