Régis Debray

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Régis Debray
Regis Debray.jpg
Born (1940-09-02) September 2, 1940 (age 73)
Paris, France
Occupation Journalist, Writer, Academic
Language French
Nationality French
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure
Genre Philosophy, Current Events
Notable awards Prix Femina
Prix Décembre

Jules Régis Debray (born September 2, 1940) is a French philosopher, journalist, former government official and academic.[1] He is known for his theorization of mediology, a critical theory of the long-term transmission of cultural meaning in human society; and for having fought in 1967 with Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in Bolivia.

Life[edit]

1960 to 1973[edit]

Born in Paris, Regis Debray studied at the École Normale Supérieure under Louis Althusser, and appeared as himself in the groundbreaking cinema verité film Chronique d'un été by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin in 1960. He became "agrégé de philosophie" in 1965.

In the late 1960s he was a professor of philosophy at the University of Havana in Cuba, and became an associate of Che Guevara in Bolivia. He wrote the book Revolution in the Revolution?, which analysed the tactical and strategic doctrines then prevailing among militant socialist movements in Latin America, and acted as a handbook for guerrilla warfare that supplemented Guevara's own manual on the subject. It was published by Maspero in Paris in 1967 and in the same year in New York (Monthly Review Press and Grove Press), Montevideo (Sandino), Milan (Feltrinelli) and Munich (Trikont). Guevara was captured in Bolivia early in October, 1967; on April 20, 1967, Debray had been arrested in the small town of Muyupampa, also in Bolivia. Convicted of having been part of Guevara's guerrilla group Debray on November 17 was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was released in 1970 after an international campaign for his release which included Jean-Paul Sartre, André Malraux, General Charles de Gaulle and Pope Paul VI. He sought refuge in Chile, where he wrote The Chilean Revolution (1972) after interviews with Salvador Allende. Debray returned to France in 1973 following the coup by Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

1981 to 1995[edit]

Following the election of President François Mitterrand, in 1981, he became an official adviser to the Président on Foreign Affairs. In this capacity he developed a policy that sought to increase France's freedom of action in the world, decrease dependence on the United States, and promote closeness with the former colonies. He was also involved in the development of the government's official ceremonies and recognition of the bicentennial of the French Revolution. He resigned in 1988. Until the mid-1990s he held a number of official posts in France, including a Honorary Counselorship at France's supreme administrative court, Conseil d'État.

In 1996 he published a memoir of his life, translated into English as Régis Debray, Praised Be Our Lords (Verso, 2007).

2003 onwards[edit]

Debray was a member of the 2003 Stasi Commission, named after Bernard Stasi, which examined the origins of the 2003 French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools. Debray supported the 2003 law. This was in defense of French laïcité (separation of church and state) which aims to maintain citizens' equality through the prohibition of religious proselytism within the school system. Debray, however, appears to have encouraged a more subtle treatment of religious issues within school history teaching in France.

Debray is preoccupied with the situation of Christian minorities in the Near East (and with the status of the Holy Places in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and elsewhere), a traditional interest of the French state, and has established an observatory to monitor the situation. His recent work deals thoroughly with the religious paradigm as a social nexus able to support collective orientation on a wide, centuries-long scale. This led him to propose the project of an Institut Européen en Sciences des Religions, a French institute founded in 2005 aimed at monitoring sociological religious dynamics and informing the public on religion through conferences and publications.

Work: mediology[edit]

Debray is the founder and chief exponent of the discipline of médiologie or "mediology", which attempts to scientifically study transmission of cultural meaning in society, whether through language or images. Mediology is characterized by its multi-disciplinary approach. It is expounded best in the English-language book Transmitting Culture (Columbia University Press, 2004). In Vie et mort de l'image (Life and Death of Image, 1995), an attempted history of gaze, where he distinguished three regimes of the images (icon, idol and vision), he explicitly prevented misunderstandings by differentiating mediology from a simple sociology of mass media. He also criticized the basic assumptions of history of art which present art as an atemporal and universal phenomenon. According to Debray, art is a product of the Renaissance with the invention of the artist as producer of images, in contrast with previous acheiropoieta icons or other types of so-called "art," where these "works of art" did not fulfil an artistic function but rather a religious one.

Current political views[edit]

In a February 2007 op-ed in Le Monde, Régis Debray criticized the tendency of the whole French political class to move toward the right-wing of politics. He also deplored the influence of the "videosphere" on modern politics, which he claimed has a tendency to individualize everything, forgetting both past and future (although he praised the loss of the 1960s messianism), outside of any common national project. He criticized the new generation in politics as being competent but without character, and lacking ideas: "So they [think they] recruit philosophy with André Glucksmann or Bernard-Henri Lévy and literature with Christine Angot or Jean d'Ormesson". He called for a vote to the "left of the left," in order to attempt to block a modern "anti-politics" which has turned into political marketing.[2]

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Révolution dans la révolution? et autres essais (1967)
  • La Frontière, suivi de Un jeune homme à la page [littérature] (1967)
  • Nous les Tupamaros, suivi d'apprendre d'eux (1971)
  • L'Indésirable [littérature](1975)
  • Les rendez-vous manqués (pour Pierre Goldman) [littérature] (1975)
  • Journal d'un petit bourgeois entre deux feux et quatre murs [littérature] (1976)
  • La neige brûle prix Femina [littérature] (1977)
  • Le pouvoir intellectuel en France (1979)
  • Critique de la raison politique (1981)
  • Comète ma comète [littérature] (1986)
  • Christophe Colomb, le visiteur de l'aube, suivi des Traités de Tordesillas [littérature] (1991)
  • Contretemps : Eloge des idéaux perdus (1992)
  • Trilogie "Le temps d'apprendre à vivre" I: Les Masques, une éducation amoureuse [littérature] (1992)
  • Vie et mort de l'image (1995)
  • Contre Venise [littérature](1995)
  • L'œil naïf (1994)
  • A demain de Gaulle (1996)
  • La guérilla du Che (1996)
  • L'État séducteur (1997)
  • La République expliquée à ma fille (1998)
  • L'abus monumental (1999)
  • Shangaï, dernières nouvelles [littérature] (1999)
  • Trilogie "Le temps d'apprendre à vivre" II: Loués soient nos seigneurs, une éducation politique [littérature] (2000)
  • Trilogie "Le temps d'apprendre à vivre" III: Par amour de l'art, une éducation intellectuelle [littérature] (2000)
  • Dieu, un itinéraire (2001, Prix Combourg 2003)
  • L'Enseignement du fait religieux dans l'école laïque (2002)
  • Le Feu sacré : Fonction du religieux (2003)
  • L’Ancien testament à travers 100 chefs-d’œuvre de la peinture (2003)
  • Le Nouveau testament à travers 100 chefs-d’œuvre de la peinture (2003)
  • À l'ombre des lumières : Débat entre un philosophe et un scientifique (2003) (Entretien avec Jean Bricmont).
  • Ce que nous voile le voile (2004)
  • Le plan vermeil [littérature](2004)
  • Empire 2.0 [littérature] (2004)
  • Le siècle et la règle [littérature](2004)
  • Le siècle et la règle. Une correspondance avec le frère Gilles-Dominique o. p.
  • Julien le Fidèle ou Le banquet des démons [théâtre] (2005)
  • Sur le pont d'Avignon, Flammarion, 2005.
  • Les communions humaines (2005)
  • Supplique aux nouveaux progressistes du XXIe siècle, Gallimard, (2006).
  • Aveuglantes Lumières, Journal en clair-obscur, Gallimard, (2006).
  • Un candide en Terre sainte, Gallimard, (2008)

In English:

  • Revolution In The Revolution (Grove, 2000).
  • God: An Itinerary (Verso, 2004).
  • Transmitting Culture (Columbia University Press, 2004).
  • Against Venice (Pushkin Press, 2002).

Articles[edit]

Reports[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Debray Growls At A World In Chaos The Times of India, December 19, 2009
  2. ^ La Coupe de l'Elysée 2007, par Régis Debray, Le Monde, 27 February 2007 (French)

Further reading[edit]

Videos[edit]

External links[edit]