Len Bracken (U.S. author of Guy DebordRevolutionary, Feral House, 1997), a friendly acquaintance of mine here in Washington, DC suggested we offer my typesetting and design services to you since we had handled the original typesetting operation for his GDR title.
He said that you had two or three titles requiring immediate servicing. We are certainly prepared to discuss the possibility of handling your account. On the platform issue, we use PageMaker 6.0, Illustrator 6.0 and Photoshop 4.01 on a Macintosh 8500/120.
Although I currently live and work from my home in Washington DC, a writer and web designer, most of my family ties are to the metropolitan Atlanta area. It perplexed me when Bracken was unable to shed any light on why you had contacted him rather than seek a local typesetter, although he hinted that perhaps we might barter some sort of publishing for typesetting deal. Whatever the variables, please feel free to contact me by email. A phone number will be supplied if needed.
Gabriel Thy Creative Director, First Canary Graphic Solutions Ink Systems
Originally published Mar 14, 1997. The belief in the sanctity of words is never more substantial an argument for that great principle than when those who use words to slander others slander themselves instead.
Neither Sadie Plant nor Stewart Home could be called 'Debord's puppy dogs', so try them outPlant: 'The Most Radical Gesture', Routledge, 1994; Home: 'The Assault on Culture', AK Press, 1988(?). Home also edited a reader "What is Situationism?' (AK Press, 1993) which has an essay by Jean Barrot, an interview with Ralph Rumney where he credits Michele Bernstein with doing most of the work of the S.I, and a reprint of the Dave Wise 'End of Music' article which started the whole S.I=punk thing which Greil Marcus was so keen on.
Does your p.s mean that Len's Debord book is on sale? He sent me a letter a year ago saying it was on its way, but I've never heard anything more. Who published it?
I told him both times in a rather grinding voice that I didn't want to hear about his petty acts of vandalism, that I didn't go for that sort of thing, adding something to the effect that yeah, he's been written up about these sort of things. He didn't even probe for content, but was juiced that he was "creating rumor, and rumors of rumors..."
Thanks Tim for the Home tip. Of course Home and Marcus rank as treasonous characters off Bracken's critical tongue, but since one of Bracken's novels is called "The Secret City" set here in DC, and not very written to boot, I now wonder who's secret is really being kept. A secret society is far preferable to an openly political cadre in as far as I am concerned. To pull a feather from the SI cap, to be political in today's climate, one must eschew politics, and simply use the game to learn and to expose, but the idealism and ranting is misleading and fruitless. Why imitate that which we find rather transparent and offensive in that which we would overthrow? As for Len's book on Debord, no, it's not off the presses yet. We only sent the hardcopy and disks to his publisher at the end of January. Feral House supposedly is publishing it, having already paid Bracken his author's slice but apparently (and here goes the gossipmongering again) Adam Parfrey is battling not a few personal problems of his own (sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll), and had subsequently lost the package in his corporate (well, small press) transition from Portland OR to sunny LA...
But Len called me earlier this week saying that Adam had called him, got his answering machine, but confirmed that all the components had been rediscovered and he was busy putting the money together to move forward. The book will actually go to a Michigan printer as soon as all the rough edges are worked out. Late '97 is probably the earliest bet. And the pre-press GT scoop on the Debord bio is this: it's sad that the author didn't interview Bernstein first hand. The book was researched from lots of published sources, and while a rather mediocre book from the standpoint of traditional biographies (and Len's own ridicously repeated rants that his book will stand for 500 hundred years), it is quite informative to someone who knew next to nothing about the movement and its major players beforehand.
My P.S. comment was solely reflecting Len's eagerness for any publicity, good or bad. Indeed I had gotten his name "out there" with the E-mail he so pompously despises. When he called me up to brag (to report on his revolutionary activity, in his "own" words) about his latest graffiti surge this week, and actually the week before as well, I told him both times in a rather grinding voice that I didn't want to hear about his petty acts of vandalism, that I didn't go for that sort of thing, adding something to the effect that yeah, he's been written up about these sort of things. He didn't even probe for content, but was juiced that he was "creating rumor, and rumors of rumors..." (My words). Len Bracken's a character alright. Trust Feral House gets its act together and puts the ink to the paper on this one. Hey, I earn a few lines of credit in the book as well, so let's carry on...
I'm glad I went into detail. I checked my database. November 14 was the transition date from Big Al to the current notation.
You asked me for editorial comments on "GUY DEBORD - Revolutionary" by the indefatigable 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, and shorter than a thrice-used candlestick.
Considering the Situationist International's (SI) big cheese was, by revolutionary and philosophical necessity, a subterranean conspiracy veiled in secrecy, trapped in a state of chaos 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) in English. Especially for newcomers to Guy Debord and the SI. I was surprised by the general sense of objectivity in handling the material, having presumed Bracken to be a terminal sycophant of Debord as the self-anointed philosopher king of the whole romanticized SI movement.
I was able to argue plainly and successfully my objections with Len to the man and the philosophy based on details the book offered over the last week of proofing and finalizing the 420 page manuscript. The author's style was rather straightforward, his own 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 biography, given the secrecy of much subversive material hidden by its originators, so as might be expected much of the narrative is speculative and heresay. 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. (Hmmm, something I might actually respect in the man given my own circumstances.)
Bracken indeed proved himself capable of putting flesh and flaw onto the man and the myth, much to the book's advantage. To his credit, Bracken's 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 pages, and I could only plead in a feeble GT 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 insist 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, and a satisfied Bracken wheeling out the door.
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...
"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""