The influence Situationist Guy Debord has had on modern society — especially the advertising industry — is enormous.
Debord himself would have hated this.
His feelings about advertising were similar to those of Karl Marx on Capitalism.
Debord first entered my consciousness in 2001 when the Guardian published a piece in conjunction with the release of his biography.
Was the suicide of Guy Debord a revolutionary act? Andrew Hussey, researching a book on the leader of the French Situationists, is drawn into a clash of egos and conflicting ideas.
Despite never having read a word he’d written I was fascinated by what I thought he stood for.
On n’est pas ici pour répondre a ces conneries.
Above is a translation of what Debord is said to have said at a Situationist International Meeting at the ICA in London in 1960.
This was upon being asked to explain Situationism.
He had apparently only just told the crowd that the only thing he wanted people to take away from the event was that Situationism itself didn’t really mean a thing.
The exact words he is said to have used are : “we’re not here to answer cuntish questions”
Which could equally have been translated as ‘this is pointless.’
On n’est pas ici pour répondre a ces conneries sounds far more colloquial to the French than cuntish questions sounds to English ears.
But ever since I first heard it, I have always liked the sound of cuntish questions. It’s what I originally wanted to call this website. I only backed out when I picked up on the negative reactions it sometimes causes.
As a person who sends out the occasional Freedom of Information request to the government I have some issues with boundaries and might be described by some as a person who asks difficult sometimes cuntish questions.
Given that my questions have yielded such limited results — however simply they’ve been put — I am now convinced that every question I ask contains an element of cuntishness.
But is this fair? Are my questions really cuntish or merely deemed as such by those who have something to hide?
The Spanish use the term coñazo which references female genitalia but in practice signifies unnecessary hassle.
Is all this negativity just down to patriarchy in western language?
I’m not the first person in the world to muse on the meaning of cuntishness. Is it purely Phatic or does it mask something sinister?
In France women use the word putain and pute all the time. C’est completement normale. Though the word actually means whore in French — in London it is synonymous with the words damn and fuck.
Speaking of ‘Putains’, one of my favourite French films from the 60’s and 70’s period is La Maman et La Putain starring Jean-Pierre Leaud who made several films with Francois Truffaut.
The director, Jean Eustache, like Debord, shot himself.
This is Debord’s film The Society of the Spectacle.
It was a huge influence on Koyaanisqatsi which you can watch backwards and read Debord’s name in the Credits here:
What is Debord’s legacy today?
This is a hard one for me to answer.
Debord’s wife is just as much if not a greater intellectual than him.
Alice Becker-Ho has written on linguistics and the etymology and semantics of slang and jargon.
The Tarnac case and the Invisible Committee are also part of Debord’s legacy. A left wing part Jewish anti-fascist anti capitalist anti-government group, the fact that the members are mainly if not all white and not Arab has had French Authorities nervous and overreacting for some years now.
The Film version of the Tarnac Affaire is called Le Grand Jeu
Here are some old links to books and articles about Debord:
Another article about Guy Debord
Book about Situationism:
Simon Sadler searches for the Situationist City among the detritus of tracts, manifestos, and works of art that the Situationist International left behind. From 1957 to 1972 the artistic and political movement known as the Situationist International (SI) worked aggressively to subvert the conservative ideology of the Western world. The movement's broadside attack on "establishment" institutions and values left its mark upon the libertarian left, the counterculture, the revolutionary events of 1968, and more recent phenomena from punk to postmodernism. But over time it tended to obscure Situationism's own founding principles. In this book, Simon Sadler investigates the artistic, architectural, and cultural theories that were once the foundations of Situationist thought, particularly as they applied to the form of the modern city.According to the Situationists, the benign professionalism of architecture and design had led to a sterilization of the world that threatened to wipe out any sense of spontaneity or playfulness. The Situationists hankered after the "pioneer spirit" of the modernist period, when…