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.
already encountered in numerous books but without believing them. Recalling what one has experienced oneself, one does not have to inquire into every detail of the observation never made or the surprising paradox. Thus I owe it to the truth 48 PANEGYRIC 1 to note, as others have done, that the English police seemed to me the most suspicious and the most polite, the French police the most danger ously trained in historical interpretation, the Italian police the most cynical, the Belgian police
consequences of the disaster by landing his infantry at Eion, which saved that town. Lieutenant von Clausewitz himself, with the fine army marching on Jena, was far from expecting what they would find there. But all the same, at the Battle of Neerwinden in Royal-Roussillon, Captain de Saint- Simon gallantly took part in the five charges by the cavalry, which as a fixed target had already been exposed to the fire of enemy cannon whose balls swept away whole files, while the ranks of 'the insolent
have preserved, anywhere at all, any charm except the pleasure of experiencing it. I will speak later of how certain phases of another, not very well known war unfolded: 67 PAN EGYRIC 1 between the general tendency of social domina tion in this era and what managed, despite everything, to come and disrupt it, as we know. Although I am a remarkable example of what this era did not want, knowing what it has wanted seems to me perhaps not enough to establish my excellence. Swift says, with a
all told, solely through absence or by default. The moment of decadence of any form of social supe riority is doubtless rather more amiable than its vulgar beginnings. I remain attached to this prefer ence, which I had felt very early on, and I can say that poverty has principally given me a great deal of leisure, since I had no ruined properties to manage or dreams of restoring them through participation in the government of the state. It is true that I have tasted pleasures little known
dimension at a reassuring philological distance: There I stagged a few kiddies the switcher was waiting for: prigs and millers. They were mobs you could trust, for they stood no repairs when it came to ramping. They were often limed by the reelers, but they were good at slanging innocent and tipping them rum gammon. That's where I learned how to chaff cross-kidders, so that long after, and even now, I'd 24 PANEGYRIC 1 rather keep dubber-mummed about such lays. Our hustling and our rigs are