Remembering Guy Debord (december 1931-november 1994)

“Guy Debord will not be missed” somebody wrote short after his death in 1994. On this day it is 20 years ago since he put a bullet in his heart after suffering a painful alcohol-related disease. His last film I’ll put a link to under here. I found this beautiful necrology for him at http://www.utne.com from 1995. I quote from it here:

“Lingua Franca (March-April 1995) notes that most of Debord’s theories about what he termed the “spectacle”—that never-ending torrent of advertisements, media events, entertainment, and communication technologies that takes up all of our “free” time and separates us from the fruits of our labors, from one another, and even from ourselves—were worked out in “a demimonde of barflies, criminals, and utopian co-conspirators, a sizable number of whom had been incarcerated, at one time or another, in prisons and madhouses.” In choosing to spend his life with criminals and madmen, Debord may have been desperately seeking unmediated reality.”
(sounds a bit like Jesus to me)
“But if Debord wanted above all else not to be famous, why did he make films and write books in the first place? Surely not to please or fascinate; anyone who has actually seen Debord’s first film, Howlings in Favor of Sade (1952), a mostly black screen accompanied by a dull, repetitive soundtrack, or tried to read Society of the Spectacle, which is written with an ever-increasing opacity seemingly designed to push readers out, rather than drawing them in, will understand that Debord’s work was always profoundly anti-spectacle.”

“…but it’s more likely that Debord was just a bitter man who couldn’t stand the world he so accurately described or the fact that his theories were in the end of interest only to hipster intellectuals and had no effect whatsoever on the ever-increasing power of the society of the spectacle.”

Only The Paranoid Survive – Derrida’s Lack of Application to Military Strategy

derrida meme

One of the interesting things about Derrida and deconstruction is the resistance towards power agencys who wants to use theoretical percpectives in order to increace power, domination etc. This is not only a literary phenomen, but relevant for some of our biggest conflicts nowadays too, like the Israel-Palestine conflict or the war on terrorism in Iraq. This is from an article on frieze.com:

“The Israeli Defence Forces have been heavily influenced by contemporary philosophy, highlighting the fact that there is considerable overlap among theoretical texts deemed essential by military academies and architectural schools

(…)

By training several high-ranking officers we filled the system [IDF] with subversive agents […] who ask questions; […] some of the top brass are not embarrassed to talk about Deleuze or [Bernard] Tschumi.’10 I asked him, ‘Why Tschumi?’ He replied: ‘The idea of disjunction embodied in Tschumi’s book Architecture and Disjunction (1994) became relevant for us […] Tschumi had another approach to epistemology; he wanted to break with single-perspective knowledge and centralized thinking. He saw the world through a variety of different social practices, from a constantly shifting point of view. [Tschumi] created a new grammar; he formed the ideas that compose our thinking I then asked him, why not Derrida and Deconstruction? He answered, ‘Derrida may be a little too opaque for our crowd. We share more with architects; we combine theory and practice. We can read, but we know as well how to build and destroy, and sometimes kill.’”

The Religious Blue Tint of Realism

In fantasy books by C. S. Lewis and Neil Gaiman I sense a style of realism that might occur as a result of their religious faith or backgrounds. Gaiman has stated in interviews that he loved to read Lewis as a child and that the Narnia chronicles inspired him as an author. Lewis was a christian and wrote a lot of books on christianity before he published the novels. Gaiman grew up in a jewish scientology family. Descriptions in the tradition of judean-christian world views tend to be offering a strong sense of realism, because their authors had the impression that they were writing nothing but the truth itself, and not mythology or fiction. Erich Auerbach has written about this. He had to draw the lines of a literary tradition because the nazis claimed that christianity was totally independent from judaism.

Blue tint: "In the tranquil fields and meadows of long-ago England, there is a small hamlet that has stood on a jut of granite for 600 years. Just to the east stands a high stone wall, for which the village is named. Here, in the hamlet of Wall, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. And here, one crisp October eve, Tristran makes his love a promise -- an impetuous vow that will send him through the only breach in the wall, across the pasture... and into the most exhilarating adventure of his life." Neil Gaiman, "Stardust"

Blue tint: “In the tranquil fields and meadows of long-ago England, there is a small hamlet that has stood on a jut of granite for 600 years. Just to the east stands a high stone wall, for which the village is named. Here, in the hamlet of Wall, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. And here, one crisp October eve, Tristran makes his love a promise — an impetuous vow that will send him through the only breach in the wall, across the pasture… and into the most exhilarating adventure of his life.” Neil Gaiman, “Stardust”

Green tint: "Night was falling now, and as I recalled what Akeley had written me about those earlier nights I shuddered to think there would be no moon. Nor did I like the way the farmhouse nestled in the lee of that colossal forested slope leading up to the Dark Mountain’s unvisited crest. With Akeley’s permission I lighted a small oil lamp, turned it low, and set it on a distant bookcase beside the ghostly bust of Milton; but afterward I was sorry I had done so, for it made my host’s strained, immobile face and listless hands look damnably abnormal and corpselike. He seemed half-incapable of motion, though I saw him nod stiffly once in a while." H. P. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness"

Green tint: “Night was falling now, and as I recalled what Akeley had written me about those earlier nights I shuddered to think there would be no moon. Nor did I like the way the farmhouse nestled in the lee of that colossal forested slope leading up to the Dark Mountain’s unvisited crest. With Akeley’s permission I lighted a small oil lamp, turned it low, and set it on a distant bookcase beside the ghostly bust of Milton; but afterward I was sorry I had done so, for it made my host’s strained, immobile face and listless hands look damnably abnormal and corpselike. He seemed half-incapable of motion, though I saw him nod stiffly once in a while.” H. P. Lovecraft, “The Whisperer in Darkness”

A Paragraph From The Night by Michèle Bernstein

Fakeplastictrees1

“In the water, Carole will raise a hand to signal that Gilles should join her: a signal that merges with the action of swimming and which, in any case, will not be understood, because Gilles will not have seen it and will be stretched out at Geneviève’s side – near to the heavily tanned Geneviève, at any rate – on the sand; from a distance, she’ll seem even more brown to Carole because of her high-cut black swimming costume, which Carole will consider very sophisticated all of a sudden, and will admire; it will cause her to regret her own basic blue cotton bikini. All alone, Carole will swim towards the shore, no longer conscious of the cool water surrounding her, but of the increasingly sharp image of the couple that she will swim towards (as opposed to swimming towards the shore).”

Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_Plastic_Trees