Note on the use of stolen films

On the question of stolen films, that is to say, the fragments of outside films imported into my films -- and notably in The Society of the Spectacle -- (here I principally envision the films that interrupt and punctuate, with their own words, the text of the "commentary," which is that of the book), it is necessary to note:

One can already read in "How to Use Detournement" (Levres nues, #8): "Thus it is necessary to conceive a parodic/serious stage in which the accumulation of detourned elements . . . are employed to render a certain sublimity."

"Detournement" is not the enemy of art. The enemies of art have instead been those who have not wanted to bear in mind the positive lessons of "degenerate art."

In the film The Society of the Spectacle, the (fictional) films detourned by me are not used as critical illustrations of an art of spectacular society, unlike the documentaries and news reels, for example. The stolen fictional films, being strangers to my film but transported into it, are charged, whatever their preceding meanings, with representing, on the contrary, the negation of the "artistic negation of life."

Behind the spectacle, there is real life that has been deported to [the] beyond [of] the screen. I have claimed to "expropriate the expropriators." Johnny Guitar evokes real memories of love, Shanghai Gesture [evokes] other adventurous places, For whom the bell tolls [evokes] the defeated revolution. The Western Rio Grande can evoke all action and historical reflection. Arkadin at first evokes Poland and then the just life. Russian film, integrated into the discourse, is also in some way rendered to the revolution. The American film on the Civil War (on Custer) evokes all of the class struggles of the 19th century, and even their future.

There is a displacement in In girum, which has several important differences: I have directly filmed some of the images, I have directly written the text of this film, finally the theme of the film is not the spectacle but, on the contrary, real life. It remains that the films that interrupt the discourse come to positively support it, even if there is a certain ironic dimension (Lacenaire, the Devil, the fragment of Cocteau, or the annihilation of Custer's regiment). The Charge of the Light Brigade can "represent," quite clumsily and eulogistically, a dozen years of action by the S[ituationist] I[nternational]!

And, of course, the use of music -- detourned like all the rest, but which each person will experience normally -- always has a positive intention, "lyrical," never distant.

(Published in In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni: Edition critique (Editions Gerard Lebovici, 1990; Gallimard, 1999). Reprinted in the booklet accompanying the "In Girum" part of Guy Debord, Oeuvres Cinematographiques Completes, a three-DVD set released November 2005, and also in Guy Debord Correspondance, Volume VII, January 1988 to November 1994. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! January 2006.)

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