Panegyric, Volumes 1 and 2
Panegyric, Volumes 1 and 2
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“I have written less than most writers. But I have drunk far more than most drinkers. All my life I have seen only troubled times, extreme divisions in society, and immense destruction; I have joined in these troubles. My method will be very simple. I will tell of what I have loved; and, in this light, everything else will become evident... Over the years, more than half the people I knew well had sojourned one or several times in the prisons of various countries; many, no doubt, for political reasons, but all the same a greater number for common law offenses or crimes. So I met mainly rebels or the poor. Our only manifestations, which remained rather rare and bried in the first years, were meant to be completely unacceptable; at first, especially by their form and, later, as they acquired depth, especially by their content. They were not accepted.” –Guy Debord
Guy Debord, as founding and pivotal figure of the Situationist International, pursued one of the twentieth century’s most arch and exciting assaults on modern life. His 1967 Society of the Spectacle (followed, twenty years later, by Comments on the Society of the Spectacle) was a fierce critique of late-capitalist culture and became the signal text for those involved in the political events of May 1968 and beyond.
Panegyric is Debord’s audacious autobiography, and here for the first time in English is the second, beautifully illustrated volume published together with the spare and classical text of the first. A rare combination of poetry and precision, it tells of something even rarer: a life that refused to adjust to the dominant malignancies of its time.
be capable of recognizing only six syllables in this line.) The general decadence is a means in the service of the empire of servitude, and it is only as this means that it is permitted to be called progress. One should know that servitude henceforth truly wants to be loved for its own sake and no longer because it might bring some extrinsic advantage. Previously, it could pass for a protec tion, but it no longer protects anything. Nowadays servitude does not try to justify itself by claiming to
f M ontpipeau 's your next stop, Or Ruel , watch you don ' t take the drop . For p laying these spots fast and loose Colin de Cayeux got the topman 's noose . ' VILLON , ' A Sterling Lesson for Lost Children. ' l, I M PA S S E DE C L A I RVAU X 1 02 ' All this is gone forever - events, men, everything slips away, like the ceaseless waves o f the Yangtze that vanish into the sea. ' LI PO, ' At Nanking . ' 1 03 'A c o m b i n a t i o n o f c i rcumstan c e s has marked a l m o s t
cracks.' Artforum 'As cryptic and self-effacing a selfportrait as can be found anywhere . ... Panegyric is almost purely literary, in the sense that one need know or care nothing of the author to be captured by it: Debord is seeking to hijack his era into timelessness.' Greil Marcus, London Review of Book
possible; nor was it necessary, because the veracity of the facts, like the coherence of the thought, was so well 10 PANEGYRIC 1 impressed upon his contemporaries and near posterity that any other witness felt discouraged when faced with the difficulty of introducing a different interpretation of the events or even quibbling over a detail. In the same way, I believe people will have to rest content with the history I am now going to present. Because no one, for a long time to come, will have
Some think it is because of the grave responsibility that has often been attributed to me for the origins, or even for the command, of the May 1968 revolt. I think rather it is what I did in 1952 that has been 22 PANEGYRIC 1 disliked for so long. An angry queen of France once reminded her most seditious subject: 'There is rebellion in imagining that one could rebel.' That is just what happened. Another, earlier contemner of the world, who said he had been a king in Jerusalem, had touched on