Signaling Debord

22 Jan


Guy Debord


Originally published on January 22, 1997

Well, it's finally finished. The Debord book is packed off to Portland. Took data to service bureau to have my Syquest media converted to Zip, and printed out a color proof of the cover. Nearly a month's worth of work is in the can. Now I can address what happened over New Year's, settle back into my own themes, but first I need to awaken afresh. I am tired, needing a night's rest.

Tomorrow I shall begin the prologue promised those long brackenish weeks ago. The details will no doubt seem shallow now, since most of you no doubt have struck conversations of some sort or another with the exiled in the meantime, but I am urged by inner demons and outer banks of fair recoil to capture the essence of my own perspectives. Thus I presume all of you are still interested in hearing these details, despite their tardiness, free from kneejerk but far from the thunder of that distant hour.

I am forwarding these two recent notes I sent to Steve (who has been remarkably steady in recent days after months of little to say), only because since I've been so busy and completely absorbed by Bracken's project my own e-mail generation had dropped to almost nothing. I didn't want you to think I had blown you off or anything as vulgar or self-preserving like that. Quite the contrary. I've been feeling guilty and depressed that you've written interestingly on several topics that I failed to engage because of my current workload, while simultaneously neglecting my own hefty writing project describing those sordid details of the changing of the guard here at the Dollhouse. Steve meanwhile weighed in with his interest in hearing more about the book project. You did not, but hey, you certainly caused a stir at the so-called Situationist camp a few weeks back that I thought you might still appreciate a few details while they were still warm in the oven.

After a month of working diligently for someone else I had a few general Mac housekeeping chores to manage, a major crash to weather, and I am now on my eighth day of flu sickness without antibiotic calvary persuading me that the end of this misery is yet in sight. So I face the hiss and boos of the faceless crowd as I admit that still the first line of the Great Storm ending 1996 has yet to find its way to page, although this Sunday, Groundhog's Day will mark the first month's anniversary of Tim and Jennifer's exile from the Dollhouse fevers.

Speaking of anniversaries, what day exactly do you turn 31 in all your sass and bosomly glow? Have you managed to seduce a frozen Swede onto your corporate tab? Would you tell me if you did? You wouldn't be pulling a Jack, now would you Lynn, all bathed in secret lights and bold rationalizations while flogging community standards with one hand tied behind your back and the other on a stack of sci-fi novels, with nothing but your feet and your mouth to accomplish the dirty deeds, now would you Lynn?

Of course I jest with you, but you know that as well as I do that in the eye of the hurricane, few details are lost. It's out there on the swirl that conflict states its name and bends the rules to suit its own game. But have a swell Minnesota memory. Nothing lasts forever, not even a Green Bay Packers grin....

You asked for editorial comments on "GUY DEBORD - Revolutionary" by Len Bracken. I have not forgotten, and was quite pleased that you asked for details of my impressions, so I suppose I should lay in a few lines on the topic right here, seeing as life is settling down again for me.

I had to tell him repeatedly that I was no cheerleader type, no empty flatterer, a symptom of my childhood no less, but that my comments were sincere and as comprehensive as I could make them.
Considering the Situationist International's (SI) big cheese was, by revolutionary and philosophical necessity a subterranean veiled in secrecy a state of being heightened by idiosyncracies leaning toward an accelerated paranoia and strong diva tendancies, the volume was a decent read for the first biography ever written about the man (vested propoganda offered as fact by Len). I was surprised by the general objectivity of the material, having presumed Bracken of being a terminal sycophant of Debord and the whole romanticized SI movement. I was able to argue plainly and successfully my objections to the man and the philosophy based on details the book offered with Len over the last week of proofing and finalizing the 420 page manuscript.

The author's style was rather straightforward, his voice almost non-existent, a minor flaw in the book as I pointed out to Len. As any serious reader might be I was plagued with the question, who is this Len Bracken fellow of few daylight credentials? Again, I emphasize, this was no ordinary bio, given the secrecy of the subversive material and its originators. Debord's two wives are still alive, intellectuals in their own right, and yet were not interviewed personally by the biographer. And while Bracken's bibliography and footnotes are extensive, this dependency on so much second and third hand information will no doubt register as a flaw with serious reviewers.

Historical threads of Debord's intellectual ancestors are woven rather seamlessly into the cloth of the story, while personal anecdotes from behind the scenes are perhaps in short number. By the end of the volume I had gained probably for the first time ever a respect for both the biographer and the subject, while still disdaining the ultimate outcome of such a philosophical stance. Debord was a tyrant and a romantic. He carved up friendships with bold sweeping strokes. Bracken indeed proved himself capable of putting flesh and flaw onto the man and the myth, much to the book's advantage.


SI Founders

However, his usual bluster and misplaced pomposity (Bracken's Breath) that this was a book that will be read for 500 years fortunately was kept out of the book, and I could only plead in a feeble Gabriel grit and grunt that my own ears had not been spared the oft repeated utterance, no doubt a trumped up cry for respect of a very needy author and personality. I had to tell him repeatedly that I was no cheerleader type, no empty flatterer, a symptom of my childhood no less, but that my comments were sincere and as comprehensive as I could make them. It was a roller coaster ride around here, but I think we did a pretty damn good job on the proofing, the layout, and an unbias review of the material. Could he not just leave it at that. Needless to say, I was not sad to see that job finished.

I am promised another $250 plus two copies of the finished product to add to the original $500. One can only speculate if I'll ever see either. Small press insecurities chewed at Len persistently over the month we worked together. Adam Parfrey is not intentionally a fly by nighter, but the Feral House Books wing span ain't exactly an eagle's badge of honor either...


© 1997 - 2013, Gabriel Thy. All rights reserved.

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