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A Few Extra Remarks
on Guy Debord - Revolutionary


K I O S K

B O O K S K E L L A R

C H A I N T H I N K E R

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Guy Debord: Revolutionary

A Few Extra Remarks on GDR

Extraphile

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M O R E  B R A C K E N  N O I S E

Persona non grata

2 .  l e n  b r a c k e n

strings is misguided: Debord is well known for his dispassionate, lucid, objective critique. I chose to remain relatively loyal to Debord and, to a certain extent, transmit his example as if I were a mere transmission unit in his game of war (not so much considering him the same way he considered himself, as if I could really do that, rather reporting on his very healthy ego along with the rest). I don't want people to necessarily "feel" the necessity of social revolution, rather to arrive at this conclusion through a logical analysis of historical conditions, conditions one must feel for oneself, not be made to feel using the charms and other arms of the spectacle. Besides, a man like Gut debord is so far superior to me that to make that sort of emotional appeal that Brown advocates, in a book on Debord, would invite still more confusionism between distinct projects. I write about my life, my friends and my revolutionary fantasies in my novels, especially my latest, Secret City. My more programmatic, activist and theoretical work apart from Debord is available in Neo-cataline Conspiracy and Select Extraphile Screeds, where I cover a great deal of ground in relatively few pages (a call for the universal cancelation of Debt, a concise history of workers' councils that I think could be advanced by zeroworker councils that render much of what is now "work" illicit, etc.) I recently published a pamphlet of Aphorisms Against Work on the eve of Labor Day and gave a copy to the Secretary of Labor after her sermon on labor at the National Cathedral (receiving considerable solidarity from bystanders in the process). But to in any way confuse my protest with the life's work of a man like Guy Debord would be confusionist and hence detrimental to the advances made by Debord in radical theory and praxis. If I am mildly critical about aspects of the use of reification, ideology, and false consciousness in Debord's writing, it is with the recognition that these concepts were used in an effective praxis that has not been surpassed in any other industrialized country (to limit one's critique of a unified praxis such as Debord's to the realm of theory is also confusionist, because it is this praxis that takes Marx and Debord out of the realm of philosophy).

MARCUS' TREATMENT OF DEBORD is either intentionally confusionist or hopelessly confused (or both). As good as rock, punk and call it what you will, has or hasn't been for Debord, or for the receptiveness to the idea of revolution more generally (and leaving aside the fact that Johnny Rotten was always good Christian boy, even in the Sex Pistols), I'd hoped that my book would take Debord out of the realm of rock criticism. In other words, there is a great deal of Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces that taints the subject under discussion, at least when the subject under discussion is Debord (although he also gave unjustifiably gave short shrift to Picabia by lumping him in with the others he erroneously identified as late-coming imitators - Cravan and Duchamp? - in his description of the early history of Dada). In the process of looking at his use of "the reversible connecting factor," a patently false category, I found numerous instances where Marcus was confusionist; so many instances, in fact, that I would say that confusionism is his method.

OTHER THAN THIS CONFUSIONISM, which I take seriously, I don't have anything against Greil Marcus. Marcus' success as a writer isn't matched, in my mind, by Debord, Sanguinetti and Vaneigem; or novelists such as Orwell, Traven and Tenin - don't think that envy has anything to do with my criticism; I don't aspire to be a crock critic. While in Manchester for the Hacienda conference I kept thinking back to the comment some guy made to his wife at a Virginia bar: "That's Engels," he said with a laugh, pointing at me. Of course I've failed in my effort to be the Engels to Debord. But as Picabia says, there are only failures and unknowns in this world. Imply that I'm an opportunist if you want, Bill Brown, but I know who I am. It doesn't surprise me in the least that someone as confident in his knowledge as you wouldn't learn anything new from me. Brown made up his mind long ago about Debord the same way he'd made up his mind about me when I sent him the first issue of Extraphile: he sent it back, angrily pronouncing me guilty of association with Bob Black. In part, this essay is designed to instruct Bill Brown to go back and learn what he thinks he knows from scratch, the way anyone who wants to master something should do from time to time.

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