Guy Debord: Wikis

  
  

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Guy Ernest Debord
Full name Guy Ernest Debord
Born December 28, 1931(1931-12-28)
Paris, France
Died November 30, 1994 (aged 62)
Bellevue-la-Montagne, Haute-Loire, France
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Marxism, Situationist
Main interests Social theory · Reification
Commodity fetishism
Notable ideas Spectacle
Détournement
Psychogeography
Dérive
Recuperation

Guy Ernest Debord (December 28, 1931 - November 30, 1994) was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International (SI). He was also briefly a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.

Contents

Life

Guy Debord was born in Paris. His father died early, and he was raised by his grandmother in a series of Mediterranean towns. He was a headstrong youth, and after graduating high school he dropped out of the University of Paris where he had been studying law. He became a revolutionary poet, writer and film-maker founding the Lettrist International schism with Gil J. Wolman. In the 1960s he led the Situationist International group, which influenced the Paris Uprising of 1968. Some consider his book Society of the Spectacle (1967) to be a catalyst for the uprising.[1]

In the 1970s Debord disbanded the Situationist International, and resumed filmmaking with financial backing from the movie mogul and publisher Gérard Lebovici (éditions Champ Libre). His two most recognized films date from this period: a film version of Society of the Spectacle (1973) and the autobiographical "In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni" (1978). After the dissolution of the Situationist International, Debord spent his time reading, and occasionally writing, in relative isolation, although he continued to correspond on political and other issues, notably with Lebovici and the Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti [2] and designed a war game [3]. He was married twice, to Michele Bernstein and Alice Becker-Ho.

His lifelong steady alcohol consumption began to take a toll on his health. Apparently to end the suffering from a form of polyneuritis brought on by his excessive drinking, he committed suicide,[4] shooting himself in the heart at his property (called Champot) in Bellevue-la-Montagne, Haute-Loire, on November 30, 1994.

In order to prevent the selling of Debord's archive to Yale University [5] the French Ministry of Culture officially declared it to be 'a national treasury', justifying this act by stating that "he has been one of the most important contemporary thinkers, with a capital place in history of ideas from the second half of the 20th century".[6]

Works

Guy Debord's best known works are his theoretical books, Society of the Spectacle and Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. In addition to these he wrote a number of autobiographical books including "Mémoires", "Panégyrique", "Cette Mauvaise Réputation..." and "Considérations sur l'assassinat de Gérard Lebovici". He was also the author of numerous short pieces, sometimes anonymous, for the journals "Potlatch", "Les Lèvres Nues," "Les Chats Sont Verts," and "Internationale Situationniste".

In broad terms, Debord's theories attempted to account for the spiritually debilitating modernisation of both the private and public spheres of everyday life by economic forces during the post-WW2 modernisation of Europe. He rejected as the twin faces of the same problem both capitalism of the West and the statism of the Eastern bloc. Alienation, Debord postulated, could be accounted for by the invasive forces of the 'spectacle' - "a social relation between people that is mediated by images". Debord's analysis developed the notions of "reification" and "fetishism of the commodity" pioneered by Karl Marx and Georg Lukács. This analysis probed the historical, economic and psychological roots of 'the media'. Central to this school of thought was the claim that alienation is more than an emotive description or an aspect of individual psychology: rather, it is a consequence of the mercantile form of social organization which has reached its climax in capitalism.

The Situationist International, a political/artistic movement organized by Debord and his colleagues and represented by a journal of the same name, attempted to create a series of strategies for engaging in class struggle by reclaiming individual autonomy from the spectacle. These strategies, including "dérive" and "détournement", drew on the traditions of Lettrism.

The SI was the fusion of several extremely small avant-garde artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (an off-shoot of COBRA), and the London Psychogeographical Association in 1957. After an intense period of theoretical analysis, publication and the expulsion of most of its few members, leading to the Second Situationist International, the Situationist Antinational and the Situationist Bauhaus, Debord dissolved the SI in 1972.

Debord's first book, Mémoires, was bound with a sandpaper cover so that it would destroy other books placed next to it.

Debord has been the subject of numerous biographies, works of fiction, artworks and songs, many of which are catalogued in the bibliography by Shigenobu Gonzalves, "Guy Debord ou la Beaute du Negatif".

On January 29 2009, 15 years after his death, the archive of his works have been classified as "National treasure" by the Minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, in response to a sale request by Yale University.[7]

Films

  • Hurlements en faveur de Sade (Howls for Sade) 1952
  • Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps (On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time) 1959 (short film, Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni)
  • Critique de la séparation (Critique of Separation) 1961 (short film, Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni)
  • La Société du spectacle (Society of the Spectacle) 1973 (Simar Films)
  • Réfutation de tous les judgements, tant élogieux qu’hostiles, qui ont été jusqu’ici portés sur le film « La Société du spectacle » (Refutation of All the Judgements, Pro or Con, Thus Far Rendered on the Film "The Society of the Spectacle") 1975 (short film, Simar Films)
  • In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (We Turn in the Night, Consumed by Fire) (Simar Films) 1978 This film was meant to be Debord's last one and is largely autobiographical. The film script was reprinted in 2007 in No: a journal of the arts.[8]
  • Guy Debord, son art, son temps (Guy Debord - His Art and His Time) 1994 (a 'sabotage television film' by Guy Debord and Brigitte Cornand, Canal Plus)

Complete Cinematic Works (AK Press, 2003, translated and edited by Ken Knabb) includes the scripts for all six of Debord's films, along with related documents and extensive annotations.

Popular culture

Debord was the inspiration for the character in the film Waking Life (2001) named "Mr. Debord",[citation needed] who quotes Robert Louis Stevenson: "Suicide carried off many. Drink and the devil took care of the rest."

Bibliography

Works by Debord

  • Debord, Guy (1957). Report on the Construction of Situations. 
  • Memoires, 1959 (co-authored by Asger Jorn), reprinted by Allia (2004), ISBN 2-84485-143-6.
  • La société du spectacle, 1967, numerous editions; in English: The Society of the Spectacle, Zone Books 1995, ISBN 0-942299-79-5. Society of the Spectacle, Rebel Press 2004, ISBN 0-946061-12-2.
  • La Véritable Scission dans L'Internationale, Champ Libre, 1972 (co-authored by Gianfranco Sanguinetti); in English: The Real Split in the International, Pluto Press 2003, ISBN 0-7453-2128-3.
  • Œuvres cinématographiques complètes, Champ Libre, 1978, new edition in 1994; in English: Complete Cinematic Works: Scripts, Stills, and Documents, AK Press 2003, ISBN 1-902593-73-1.
  • Considérations sur l'assassinat de Gérard Lebovici, éditions Gérard Lebovici, 1985; in English: Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici, TamTam 2001, ISBN 2-85184-156-4.
  • Le Jeu de la Guerre, 1987; in English A Game of War, Atlas Press 2008, ISBN 978-1-900565-38-7
  • Commentaires sur la société du spectacle, éditions Gérard Lebovici, 1988; in English: Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Verso 1990, ISBN 0-86091-302-3.
  • Panégyrique volume 1, 1989; in English: Panegyric, Verso 2004, reprinted 2009, ISBN 1-85984-665-3; in Portuguese: "Panegírico" [2002], ISBN 85-87193-77-5.
  • "The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation" [4]

Further reading

  • Internationale situationniste, Paris, 1958-1969. Réédition intégrale chez Van Gennep, Amsterdam 1972, chez Champ Libre 1975, et chez Fayard 1997, ISBN 2-213-59912-2; complete translations are available in German: Situationistische Internationale, Gesammelte Ausgabe des Organs der Situationistischen Internationale, Hamburg: MaD Verlag 1976-1977, ISBN 3-921523-10-9; and in Spanish: Internacional situacionista: textos completos en castellano de la revista Internationale situationniste (1958-1969), Madrid: Literatura Gris [1999-2001], ISBN 84-605-9961-2.
  • Situationist International Anthology, translated and edited by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets 1981; Revised and Expanded Edition 2006, ISBN 978-0-939682-04-1.
  • Guy Debord, Anselm Jappe, University of California Press 1999, ISBN 0-520-21204-5.
  • Guy Debord - Revolutionary, Len Bracken, Feral House 1997, ISBN 0-922915-44-X.
  • I situazionisti, Mario Perniola, Roma, Castelvecchi 2005, ISBN 88-7615-068-4.
  • The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord., Andrew Hussey, Cape 2001, ISBN 0-224-04348-X.
  • Guy Debord and the Situationist International, edited by Tom McDonough, MIT Press 2002, ISBN 0-262-13404-7.
  • "The Beautiful Language of my Century": Reinventing the Language of Contestation in Postwar France, 1945-1968, Tom McDonough, MIT Press 2007, ISBN 0-262-13477-2.
  • Guy Debord, Andy Merrifield, Reaktion 2005, ISBN 1-86189-261-6.
  • Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Greil Marcus, Harvard University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-674-53581-2.
  • 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International, McKenzie Wark, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2008 ISBN 1-56898-789-7
  • Los Situacionistas y la Anarquía, Miguel Amoros, Bilbao, Muturreko burutazioak, 2008, ISBN 978-84-88455-98-7.

References

  1. ^ Andreotti, L. "Review: Leaving the twentieth century: The Situationist International." Journal of Architectural Education, 49(3), p. 197.
  2. ^ Guy Debord
  3. ^ Le Jeu de la Guerre : Relevé des positions successives de toutes les forces au cours d'une partie accessed 14th January 2008
  4. ^ Hussey, Andrew (28 July 2001). "Situation Abnormal". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/jul/28/biography.artsandhumanities. Retrieved July 8, 2009. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Journal Officiel de la Republique Francaise du 12 fevrier 2009 (texte 120)
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Guy Ernest Debord (December 28, 1931November 30, 1994) was a French writer, philosopher, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Letterist International and Situationist International (SI). He was also briefly a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.

Contents

Sourced

  • Art need no longer be an account of past sensations. It can become the direct organization of more highly evolved sensations. It is a question of producing ourselves, not things that enslave us.
    • Internationale Situationist (no. 1, Paris, June 1958)

Society of the Spectacle (1967)

  • In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
    • Ch. 1, sct. 1
  • Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption ... is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal.
    • Ch. 7, sct. 168
  • Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.
    • Ch. 8, sct. 207

The Incomplete Works of the Situationist International (Nov. 1963)

  • Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.
    • Formula for a New City
  • Boredom is always counter-revolutionary. Always.
    • The Bad Old Days Will End

Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988)

  • It is hardly surprising that children should enthusiastically start their education at an early age with the Absolute Knowledge of computer science; while they are unable to read, for reading demands making judgments at every line.... Conversation is almost dead, and soon so too will be those who knew how to speak.
    • Ch. 10
  • The Sage of Toronto ... spent several decades marveling at the numerous freedoms created by a “global village” instantly and effortlessly accessible to all. Villages, unlike towns, have always been ruled by conformism, isolation, petty surveillance, boredom and repetitive malicious gossip about the same families. Which is a precise enough description of the global spectacle’s present vulgarity.

Panegyric (1989)

  • There is nothing more natural than to consider everything as starting from oneself, chosen as the center of the world; one finds oneself thus capable of condemning the world without even wanting to hear its deceitful chatter.
    • Vol. 1, pt. 1
  • Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.
    • Vol. 1, pt. 1
  • In the zone of perdition where my youth went as if to complete its education, one would have said that the portents of an imminent collapse of the whole edifice of civilization had made an appointment.
    • Vol. 1, Pt. 2

External links

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