Stanzas on the Death of Guy Debord
by James Brook
--Jorge Manrique, Coplas por la muerte de su padre
wages murder the first caress
the photograph in evidence
the diagram of the village
we had the dream of water
a bitter draft from a broken cup
"C'est un homme
from the rubble of information
Guy Debord (1931-1994), filmmaker, writer, and revolutionary, was one of the founders of the Situationist International. He is best known as the author of The Society of the Spectacle (1967)[translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, Zone Books: New York 1994]; his other books include Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988)[translated by Malcolm Imrie, Verso: London 1990] and Panegyric (1989)[translated by James Brook, Verso: London 1991]. Debord made the first French translation of Jorge Manrique's Coplas por la muerte de su padre (Jorge Manrique, Stances sur la mort de son père, Editions Champ Libre: Paris 1980).
The text of the sixth stanza is taken verbatim from the fourth canto of Les Chants de Maldoror by Lautréamont, a favorite writer of Debord's: "A man or a stone or a tree is going to begin the fourth canto."
The penultimate line of the seventh stanza is from Debord's Mémoires (privately printed in 1958; reprinted by Belles Lettres: Paris 1993), the last line of which reads: "Je voulais parler la belle langue de mon siècle." [I wanted to speak my century's beautiful language.] In his collage text, this was the only line that Debord himself authored.
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