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Vivian Southwood

Related: SI - Guy Debord

Guy Debord will not be missed

With the suicide of Guy Debord, the last of the classic Western European radicals is dead. Debord shot himself in the head last November. In what is now almost a tradition for French thinkers, he first completed a television program about himself and his work, to screen on Canal Plus.

Debord is best known for his classic book The Society of the Spectacle, which recently appeared in an authorised English translation from Zone Books, but is best known for the underground edition circulated for many years now by a bunch of Detroit anarchists called Black & Red.

The first line of that book states that "the world appears as an immense accumulation of images." It goes on to trace in outline a society in which being has been transformed into having, or in other words in which the whole of culture and everyday life has been brought to market. But further, Debord says that having has now been transformed into appearing. This is the society of the spectacle. Taking Hegel's fundamental belief that "what is rational is real and what is real is rational," Debord rewrites it ironically for our times as "that which appears is good, that which is good appears." The whole of culture has been separated from everyday life and now appears as an endless stream of marketable images. This was Debord's melancholy diagnosis, more than 20 years ago now, of the shape of things to come. --Vivian Southwood viahttp://www.toysatellite.org/doods/txt/debord.htm [Mar 2006]

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