Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents (October Books)

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9780262134040: Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents (October Books)

This volume is a revised and expanded version of a special issue of the journal October (Winter 1997) that was devoted to the work of the Situationist International (SI). The first section of the issue contained previously unpublished critical texts, and the second section contained translations of primary texts that had previously been unavailable in English. The emphasis was on the SI's profound engagement with the art and cultural politics of their time (1957-1972), with a strong argument for their primarily political and activist stance by two former members of the group, T. J. Clark and Donald Nicholson-Smith.

Guy Debord and the Situationist International supplements both sections. It reprints important, hard to find essays by Giorgio Agamben, Libero Andreotti, Jonathan Crary, Thomas Y. Levin, Greil Marcus, and Tom McDonough and doubles the number of translations of primary texts, which now encompass a broader and more representative range of the SI's writings on culture and language. In a field still dominated by hagiography, the critical texts were selected for their willingness to confront critically the history and legacy of the SI. They examine the group within the broader framework of the historical and neo-avant-gardes and, beyond that, the postwar world in general. The translations trace the SI's reflections on the legacy of the avant-garde in art and architecture, particularly on the linguistic and spatial significance of montage aesthetics. Many of the translated works are by Guy Debord (1932-1994), the impresario of the SI, especially known for his book The Society of the Spectacle.

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From the Inside Flap:

"The short and highly accessible texts featured in this anthology touch on most of the major philosophical preoccupations of Debord and the Situationists. Ranging from movements like Surrealism and the Bauhaus to figures like Lucien Goldmann and Jean-Luc Godard, they reveal what a dialectical analysis of culture in the mid-twentieth century could yield. The more recent contributions to the volume provocatively engage crucial elements of the Situationist legacy and reflect knowledgeably, and in some instances passionately, upon them. An impressive editor, McDonough expertly and even-handedly navigates the polemical reefs of the Situationist history and legacy."
--Alexander Alberro, School of Art & Art History, University of Florida

"The essays in this collection provide a dazzling variety of perspectives while remaining faithful to the idea that the Situationist project contains a revolutionary message for present and future generations. More than this, with wit, lucidity, and elegance, the essays in this book dissect the century we have just left, anticipating, as the Situationists would have it, the revolution as a world of endless possibilities."
--Andrew Hussey, Lecturer in French, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, author of The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord

"The time has come to forget about the glossy clichés surrounding the group and put their theories back where they belong, in the Batallian gutter of the everyday political arena. After all, one should not forget that Guy Debord’s project was a revolutionary one, a devastating critique of the effects of local and global capitalism. This volume is a timely jolt when one realizes that irreverence and political critique today are often considered an attack against the state, or even a terrorist act. In our new polarized world, debate and critique have become suspicious even when one attempts to 'understand' his/her own 'situation,' as independent thinking has become a threat to a generally welcomed blindness, stupidity, and nationalism. So this is a dangerous book because in its very structure it makes us think. Buy it, or better yet, steal it, as the 'Situ' used to say. It will clean up your brain from the mass of soot left there by your favorite newspapers."
--Serge Guilbaut, Professor, Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory, University of British Columbia, Canada

About the Author:

Thomas F. McDonough is Associate Professor of Modern Architecture and Urbanism in the Art History department at Binghamton University, and an editor of Grey Room.

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