Guy Debord: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of a Brilliant Crank


“This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Guy Debord (1931-1994), the filmmaker, revolutionary, writer, and consummate drinker who is most often identified as the secretary and guiding figure of the Situationist International (S.I.), as well as the author of the books The Society of the Spectacle (1967) and Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988). Debord was a refusenik who never held a day job; he was drawn to politics but contemptuous of established political parties. A born polemicist, he thought wage-earning was a euphemism for wage slavery and that human beings deserved better than representative government; we deserve direct democracy. His example, however quixotic, calls into question how far any of us are willing to go to better our circumstances. Surely this is worth considering, since life under global capitalism is, for most of the population, precarious at best—a point that no longer even seems worth qualifying. We live in an age of dizzying economic inequality, manmade ecological disasters, and political deadlock. The fact that so many of us might agree with that statement while remaining relatively apathetic has everything to do with Debord’s project, as well as with that of one of his intellectual successors, Jonathan Crary, the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University, about whom more later. Primarily, Debord longed to see the social order pass. He wanted a life without ‘dead time,’ so he positioned himself as the enemy of the daily grind, a scourge to consensus. The ‘spectacle’ was his name for the network of socio-cultural-economic forces with a vested interest in keeping people ensnared in a set of permissible routines: go to work, go home, watch TV, cheer on your favorite political team and, between those obligations, buy something. The spectacle was Debord’s conceptual gift to the public, a tool to get people thinking about ideology. …”
Hazlitt (July 2014)
Senses of Cinema: Guy Debord and the Aesthetics of Cine-Sabotage
SI Film Texts
Guy Debord’s Films
[PDF] Difference and Repetition: On Guy Debord’s Films -Giorgio Agamben
Filmography

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