Guy-Ernest Debord

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DEBORD, GUY-ERNEST (1931-94) French political activist, film-maker and, together with Vaneigem, the principal theorist of situationism.

Debord is best known for his Society of the Spectacle (1967) which, he remarked with some pride in 1993, remained in print almost continuously for twenty-five years, ahving been reprinted every eighteen motnhs (it is still in print).

The book, which anticipates many aspectsof the work of Baudrillard, describes in 221 numbered paragraphs the profound alienation in which the circulation of images has become more important than the accumulation of material commodities.

Like is no longer something to be lived, but a spectacle to be watched from a distance.

The spectacle is not merely a set of images, but a social relationship between people that is mediated by images; it does not realize philosophy, but philosophizes reality.

In the society of the spectacle, the concrete life of all is debased to being a speculative universe.

Even violent revolt is liable to be incorporated into the constant and constantly changing spectacle.

Debord's work is as deeply pessimistic as that of Marcuse, but is relieved by the glacial elegance of his aphoristic style.

He wrote relatively little, and in 1989 wryly - and quite accurately - described himself as one who had written much less than most people who write, but who had drunk much more than most people who drink.

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