GUY LOUIS DEBORD (French: ; December 28, 1931 – November 30, 1994)
was a French
* 1 Early life * 2 Involvement with the Letterists * 3 Founding of the Situationist International * 4 Political phase of the Situationist International * 5 After the Situationist International * 6 Death * 7 Legacy * 8 Written works * 9 Films * 10 Bibliography * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 13 External links
INVOLVEMENT WITH THE LETTERISTS
Debord joined the
Letterist International when he was 19. The
Letterists were led dictatorially by
Isidore Isou until a widely
agreed upon schism ended Isou's authority. This schism gave rise to
several factions of Letterists, one of which was decidedly led by
Debord upon Gil Wolman's unequivocal recommendation. In the 1960s,
Debord led the
Situationist International group, which influenced the
FOUNDING OF THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL
In 1957, the Letterist International, the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus , and the London Psychogeographical Association gathered in Cosio d'Arroscia (Cuneo), Italy, to found the Situationist International, with Debord having been the leading representative of the Letterist delegation. Initially made up of a number of well-known artists such as Asger Jorn and Pinot Gallizio, the early days of the SI were heavily focused on the formulation of a critique of art, which would serve as a foundation for the group's future entrance into further political critiques. The SI was known for a number of its interventions in the art world, which included one raid against an international art conference in Belgium during 1958 that included a large pamphlet drop and significant media coverage, all of which culminated in the arrest of various situationists and sympathizers associated with the scandal. In addition to this action, the SI endeavored to formulate industrial painting, or, painting prepared en masse with the intent of defaming the original value largely associated with the art of the period. In the course of these actions, Debord was heavily involved in the planning and logistical work associated with preparing these interventions, as well as the work for Internationale Situationniste associated with theoretical defense of the Situationist International's actions.
POLITICAL PHASE OF THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL
In the early 1960s Debord began to direct the SI toward an end of its artistic phase, eventually excluding members such as Jorn, Gallizio, Troche, and Constant - the bulk of the "artistic" wing of the SI - by 1965. Having established the situationist critique of art as a social and political critique, one not to be carried out in traditional artistic activities, the SI began, due in part to Debord's contributions, to pursue a more concise theoretical critique of capitalist society.
With Debord's 1967 work,
The Society of the Spectacle , and excerpts
from the group's journal, Internationale Situationniste, the
Situationists began to formulate their theory of the spectacle, which
explained the nature of late capitalism's historical decay. In
Debord's terms, situationists defined the spectacle as an assemblage
of social relations transmitted via the imagery of class power, and as
a period of capitalist development wherein "all that was once lived
has moved into representation". With this theory, Debord and the SI
would go on to play an influential role in the revolts of May 1968 in
AFTER THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL
Published by Éditions Gérard Lebovici (1990)
In 1972, Debord disbanded the Situationist International after its original members, including Asger Jorn and Raoul Vaneigem , quit or were expelled. (Vaneigem wrote a biting criticism of Debord and the International. ) Debord then focused on filmmaking with financial backing from the movie mogul and publisher, Gérard Lebovici (éditions Champ Libre ), until Lebovici's mysterious death. Debord was suspected of Lebovici's murder. Distraught by the accusations and his friend's death, Debord took his films and writings out of production until after his death. He had agreed to have his films released posthumously at the request of the American researcher, Thomas Y. Levin . Debord's two most recognized films are Society of the Spectacle (1973) and "In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (fr)" (1978).
After dissolving the Situationist International, Debord spent his time reading, and occasionally writing, in relative isolation in a cottage at Champot with Alice Becker-Ho, his second wife. He continued to correspond on political and other issues, notably with Lebovici and the Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti . He focused on reading material relating to war strategies, e.g. Clausewitz and Sun Tzu , and he designed a war game with Alice Becker-Ho .
Debord married twice, first to Michèle Bernstein and then Alice Becker-Ho . Debord had affairs with other women, including Michèle Mochot-Bréhat . Bernstein wrote a vaguely fictional but detailed account of the open relationships Mochot and she had with Debord in her novel All The King's Horses.
Just before Debord's death, he filmed (although did not publish) a
documentary, "Son art et son temps" ("His Art and His Times"), an
autobiography of sorts that focused primarily on social issues in
Debord's suicide is as controversial as it is unclear. Some assert
it was a revolutionary act related to his career. Due to his
involvement with the radical
Situationist International (SI), as well
as his sadness at ‘the society as a spectacle’ being considered a
cliché in later life, many think that Debord felt hopeless about the
very society he was trying to shed light on. Debord was said to be
“victim of the Spectacle he fought”. Among the many commentaries
on Debord's demise, one scholar noted: “
On January 29, 2009, fifteen years after his death, Christine Albanel , Minister of Culture , classified the archive of his works as a "national treasure " in response to a sale request by Yale University . The Ministry declared 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 twentieth century." Similarly, Debord once called his book, The Society of the Spectacle, "the most important book of the twentieth century". He continues to be a canonical and controversial figure particularly among European scholars of radical politics and modern art.
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Guy Debord's best known works are his theoretical books, The 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. The Society of the spectacle was written in an “interesting prose”, unlike most writings in that time or of that nature. For Debord, the Spectacle is viewed as false representations in our real lives. The Spectacle is a materialized worldview. The spectacle 'subjects human beings to itself'.
Debord was deeply distressed by the hegemony of governments and media
over everyday life through mass production and consumption. He
criticized both the capitalism of the West and the dictatorial
communism of the Eastern bloc for the lack of autonomy allowed to
individuals by both types of governmental structure. Debord postulated
that Alienation had gained a new relevance through the invasive forces
of the 'spectacle ' - "a social relation between people that is
mediated by images" consisting of mass media, advertisement, and
popular culture. The spectacle is a self-fulfilling control mechanism
for society. Debord's analysis developed the notions of "reification "
and "fetishism of the commodity" pioneered by
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LIBERTARIAN MARXIST TENDENCIES
* v * t * e
The Situationist International (SI), 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 . As founder of the SI, it has been suggested that Debord felt driven to generalize and define the values, ideas, and characteristics of the entire group, which may have contributed to his hand-picking and expulsion of members. The hierarchical and dictatorial nature of the SI existed, however, in the groups that birthed it, including the Letterists and the Surrealists.
Debord's first book, Mémoires , was bound with a sandpaper cover so that it would damage 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, "
Often, it is suggested that Debord was opposed to the creation of art, however, Debord writes in the Situationist International magazine ("Contre le Cinema") that he believes that "ordinary" (quotidian) people should make "everyday" (quotidian) art; art and creation should liberate from the spectacle , from capitalism, and from the banality of everyday life in contemporary society. In "The Society of the Spectacle," Debord argues that it is the price put on art that destroys the integrity of the art object, not the material or the creation itself. It is important to note that Debord does not equate art to "the spectacle."
Debord began an interest in film early in his life when he lived in
Cannes in the late 1940s. Debord recounted that, during his youth, he
was allowed to do very little other than attend films. He said that he
frequently would leave in the middle of a film screening to go home
because films often bored him. Debord joined the Lettrists just as
Isidore Isou was producing films and the Lettrists attempted to
Overall, Debord challenged the conventions of filmmaking; prompting his audience to interact with the medium instead of being passive receivers of information. As a matter of fact, his film Hurlements exclusively consists of a series of black and white screens and silence with a bit of commentary dispersed throughout. Debord directed his first film, Hurlements en faveur de Sade in 1952 with the voices of Michèle Bernstein and Gil Wolman. The film has no images represented; instead, it shows bright white when there is speaking and black when there is not. Long silences separate speaking parts. The film ends with 24 minutes of black silence. People were reported to have become angry and left screenings of this film. The script is composed of quotes appropriated from various sources and made into a montage with a sort of non-linear narrative.
Later, through the financial support of Michèle Bernstein and Asger Jorn, Debord produced a second film, Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps, which combined scenes with his friends and scenes from mass media culture. This integration of Debord's world with mass media culture became a running motif climaxing with "The Society of the Spectacle". Debord wrote the book The Society of the Spectacle before writing the movie. When asked why he made the book into a movie, Debord said, "I don't understand why this surprised people. The book was already written like a script". Debord's last film, "Son Art et Son Temps", was not produced during his lifetime. It worked as a final statement where Debord recounted his works and a cultural documentary of "his time".
* 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
* Critique de la séparation (Critique of Separation) 1961 (short
film, Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni)
* La Société du spectacle (Society of the Spectacle ) 1973 (Simar
* 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
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.
* Debord, Guy (1957). Report on the Construction of Situations . * Mémoires , 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 . The Society of the Spectacle: Annotated Edition, Bureau of Public Secrets, 2014, ISBN 978-0-939682-06-5 . * 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" , ISBN 85-87193-77-5 . * All the Guy Debord’s books and films as well as unpublished texts were gathered in a volume of Œuvres, éditions Gallimard, collection Quarto, Paris, 2006. * "The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation"
* ^ "Dead Bored: Debord’s Dead!
Andrew Hussey on the death of a
turbulent thinker". Philosophynow.org. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
* ^ Bourseiller, Christophe. "Vie et Mort de Guy Debord". Agora.
* ^ "Pierre Guillaume Remembers Guy Debord". Notbored.org.
Retrieved 27 December 2014.
* ^ A B Jappe, A (1999). Guy Debord, Concept of the Spectacle.
Berkely, CA: University of California Press.
* ^ Bourseiller, ibid
* ^ Andreotti, L. "Review: Leaving the twentieth century: The
Situationist International." Journal of Architectural Education,
49(3), p. 197.
* ^ Internationale Situationniste No. 1, June 1958, pages 29-30,
* ^ Debord, Guy. Correspondence: The Founding of the Situationist
International. Semiotext(e). 2008.
* ^ Knabb, Ken.
Situationist International Anthology. Bureau of
Public Secrets, 2007.
* ^ A B C Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. Zone Books,
* ^ "The Veritable Split in the SI", 1972
* ^ Guy Debord, "Reflections of the Death of Gérard Lebovici"
* ^ "Guy Debord". Notbored.org. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
* ^ "Le Jeu de la Guerre: RelevÃ© des positions successives de
toutes les forces au cours d\'une partie - Guy Debord, Alice Becker-Ho
- Livres". Amazon.fr. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
* ^ McDonough (2002).
Mario Perniola , An Aesthetic of the Grand Style: Guy Debord, in
"Substance", 1999, n.90.
* 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 ,
ISBN 84-605-9961-2 .
Situationist International by Simon Ford, Black Dog
Publishing, 2004, illustrated.
* Debord: Le naufrageur,
Jean-Marie Apostolidès , Flammarion, 2016.
* Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Greil
Harvard University Press
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