10 April, 2009
Guy Ernest Debord was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International (SI). He was also briefly a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.
Guy Debord was born in Paris. His father died early, and he was raised by his grandmother in a series of Mediterranean towns. He was a headstrong youth, and after graduating high school he dropped out of the University of Paris where he had been studying law. He became a revolutionary poet, writer and film-maker founding the Lettrist International schism with Gil J. Wolman. In the 1960s he led the Situationist International group, which influenced the Paris Uprising of 1968. His book Society of the Spectacle (1967) is considered a major catalyst for the uprising. In the 1970s Debord disbanded the Situationist International, and resumed filmmaking with financial backing from the movie mogul and publisher Gerard Lebovici. His two best films date from this period: a film version of Society of the Spectacle (1973) and the autobiographical "In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni" (1978). After the dissolution of the Situationist International, Debord spent his time reading, and occasionally writing, in relative isolation, although he continued to correspond on political and other issues, notably with Lebovici and the Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti and designed a war game.
His lifelong steady alcohol consumption began to take a toll on his health. Apparently to end the suffering from a form of polyneuritis brought on by his excessive drinking, he committed suicide, shooting himself in the heart at his property (called Champot) in Bellevue-la-Montagne, Haute-Loire, on November 30, 1994.