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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 01:52 PM CDT

The resurrection of Guy Debord

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Guy-Ernest Debord would be spinning in his grave – had he not been cremated following his suicide in 1994. The arch-rebel who prided himself on fully deserving society's "universal hatred" has now officially been recognised as a "national treasure" in his homeland.

The resurrection of Guy Debord

The situationist arch-rebel has finally been recognised as a 'national treasure' in France – but would he have appreciated it?

by Andrew Gallix
Wednesday 18 March 2009
guardian.co.uk

Guy-Ernest Debord would be spinning in his grave – had he not been cremated following his suicide in 1994. The arch-rebel who prided himself on fully deserving society's "universal hatred" has now officially been recognised as a "national treasure" in his homeland.

The French government has duly stepped in to prevent Yale University from acquiring his personal archives, which contain almost everything he ever produced from the 1950s onwards: films, notes, drafts, unpublished works and corrected proofs, as well as his entire library, typewriter and spectacles. The crowning jewel is, of course, the manuscript of The Society of the Spectacle, Debord's devastating pre-emptive strike on virtual reality. The small wooden table on which his magnum opus was composed is also thrown in.

It's difficult to convey how bizarre it is to hear Christine Albanel – Sarkozy's minister of culture – describing the revolutionary Debord as "one of the last great French intellectuals" of the second half of the 20th century. A love-in between a resurrected Andreas Baader and Angela Merkel would be only marginally more surprising. Then again, intellectuals have been something of a Gallic speciality ever since the Dreyfus Affair. They're accorded the privileged status usually reserved for the likes of Bono on these shores. Jean-Paul Sartre's funeral, in 1980, attracted some 50,000 punters. I doubt whether Noam Chomsky or Tom Paulin will top that.

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