Guy Debord

Guy Debord (December 28, 1931-November 30, 1994) was a member of the Lettrist International, Socialisme ou Barbarie and the founder and chief theorist of the Situationist International (SI).


Life and work

Debord was the son of Paulette Rossi and Martial Debord. His best known works are Society of the Spectacle ( and Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (

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 the forces of market capitalism during the post-WW2 modernisation of Europe. Feelings of alienation, Debord postulated, could be accounted for by the invasive forces of the 'spectacle' - the seductive nature of consumer capitalism. Debord's analysis applied the critique of commodification by Karl Marx and Georg Lukács to what is superficially called 'the media' and claimed that alienation was more than an emotive description, but a historically determined outcome of capitalism. The SI attempted to create a series of strategies that drew directly on the traditions of Dada and Surrealism.

The SI initially drew membership from the Lettrists - a post-Surrealist group of writers and poets dedicated to the destruction of bourgeois values by reducing the written word to onomatopoeic syllables. However, the SI broke with the formal aims of the Lettrists and, after subsuming much of their membership, were fully established in their own right by 1965 after an intense period of theoretical analysis, publications and expulsions of various members.

The SI are often attributed as being one of the key ideological catalysts for the May 1968 revolution centered around Paris.

The original edition of Debord's earliest books, Memories, was bound with a sandpaper cover so that it would destroy other books placed next to it.

He committed suicide on November 30, 1994.


  • Hurlements en faveur de Sade 1952

[Howlings in favor of Sade]

  • Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps, Paris, 1959 (short film, Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni).

[On the passage of some persons through a rather short period of time]

  • Critique de la séparation, Paris, 1961 (short film, Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni).

[Critique of seperation]

  • La Société du spectacle, Paris, 1973 (Simar Films)

[The Society of the Spectacle]

  • Réfutation de tous les jugements, tant élogieux qu’hostiles, qui ont été jusqu’ici portés sur le film « La Société du spectacle », Paris, 1975 (short film, Simar Films).

[Refutation of all judgements whether hostile or in praise which up to now where given on the film 'The Society of the Spectacle']

  • In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (Simar Films)1978

[Wandering around in the night we are consumed by fire] This film which was meant to be Debord's last one is largely autobiographical but begins with a thorough and pitiless critique of the spectator

  • Guy Debord, son art, son temps, 1995 (television film, by Guy Debord and Brigitte Cornand, Canal Plus)

[Guy Debord - his art and his time]


Works by Debord

  • To Put an End to Nihilistic Comfort 1953
  • Memories 1959
  • La Société du spectacle,1967, numerous editions, in English: The Society of the Spectacle, Zone Books 1995
  • Œuvres cinématographiques complètes 1978, new edition in 1994, in English: Complete Cinematic Works: Scripts, Stills, and Documents, AK Press Distribution 2003
  • Commentaires sur la société du spectacle1988, in English: Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Verso 1990

Further reading

  • Internationale situationniste, Paris, 1958-1969. Réédition intégrale chez Van Gennep, Amsterdam, 1970, chez Champ Libre, 1975, et chez Fayard, 1997; complete translations are available in German: Situationistische Internationale, Gesammelte Ausgabe des Organs der Situationistischen Internationale, Hamburg 1976-1977 and in Spanish: Internacional situacionista : textos completos en castellano de la revista Internationale situationniste (1958-1969), Madrid : Literatura Gris, [1999-2001]
  • Situationist International Anthology, edited by Ken Knabb 1981
  • Guy Debord - Revolutionary, Len Bracken 1997

External links

eo:Guy DEBORD es:Guy Debord fr:Guy Debord it:Guy Debord


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