Translated by Stuart Kendall
Introduction by McKenzie Wark
Yesterday, the police interrogated me at length about the journal and the Situationist organization. It was only a beginning. This is, I think, one of the principle threats that came up quickly during the discussion: the police want to regard the SI as an association in order to set about its dissolution in France. I protested, emphasizing that the artistic movement was never legally constituted by moral individuals in a declared association. Not being constituted, the SI cannot be officially dissolved, but they tried to intimidate us heavily. It seems they take us for gangsters!
This volume traces the dynamic first years of the Situationist International movement—a cultural avant-garde that continues to inspire new generations of artists, theorists, and writers more than half a century later. Debord’s letters—published here for the first time in English—provide a fascinating insider’s view of just how this seemingly disorganized group drifting around a newly consumerized Paris became one of the most defining cultural movements of the twentieth century. Circumstances, personalities, and ambitions all come into play as the group develops its strategy of anarchic, conceptual, but highly political “intervention.”
Brilliantly conceived, this collection of letters offers the best available introduction to the Situationist International movement by detailing, through original documents, how the group formed and defined its cultural mission: to bring about, “by any means possible, even artistic,” a complete transformation of personal life within the Society of the Spectacle.
Writer, filmmaker, and cultural revolutionary, Guy Debord (1931–1994) was a founding member of the Lettrist International and Situationist International groups. His films and books, including Society of the Spectacle (1967), were major catalysts for philosophical and political changes in the twentieth century, and helped trigger the May 1968 rebellion in France.