Régis Debray

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Régis Debray
Regis Debray.jpg
BornJules Régis Debray
(1940-09-02) 2 September 1940 (age 81)
Paris, France
OccupationJournalist, writer, academic
LanguageFrench
NationalityFrench
Alma materÉcole Normale Supérieure
Pantheon-Sorbonne University
GenrePhilosophy, current events
Notable awardsPrix Femina
Prix Décembre

Jules Régis Debray (French: [dəbʁɛ]; born 2 September 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 associating with Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967 and advancing Salvador Allende's presidency in Chile in the early 1970s.[2] He returned to France in 1973 and later held various official posts in the French government.

Life[edit]

1960 to 1973[edit]

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

During 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 concerning the topic. It was published in Cuba in the "Cuadernos" collection by Casa de las Americas in 1967, by Maspero in Paris, in New York (Monthly Review Press and Grove Press), Montevideo (Sandino), Milan (Feltrinelli) and Munich (Trikont).

Guevara was captured in Bolivia in October 1967; on 20 April 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 was sentenced on 17 November to 30 years in prison. He was released in 1970 after an international campaign for his release which included appeals by 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 1996[edit]

After the election in France 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 positions in France, including an 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 for Bernard Stasi, which examined the origins of the 2003 French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools. Debray endorsed the 2003 law. This was in defense of French laïcité (separation of church and state) which intends to maintain citizens' equality by the prohibition of religious proselytism in the school system. Debray, however, seems to have encouraged a more subtle treatment of religious issues with regard to 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 investigates the religious paradigm as a social nexus able to assist collective orientation on a wide, centuries-long scale. This caused him to propose the project of an Institut Européen en Sciences des Religions, a French institute founded in 2005 for monitoring of sociological religious dynamics, and informing the public about religious issues through conferences and publications.

Work: mediology[edit]

Debray is the initiator and chief exponent of the discipline of médiologie or "mediology", which attempts to scientifically study the 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 the gaze, he distinguished three regimes of the images (icon, idol and vision). He also strove explicitly to prevent misunderstandings by differentiating mediology from a simple sociology of mass media. He also criticized the basic assumptions of the 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," which did not primarily fulfill an artistic function but rather a religious one.

Current political views[edit]

In a February 2007 opinion-editorial in the newspaper Le Monde, Debray criticized the tendency of the entire French political class towards conservatism. 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 1960s "messianism"), and rejecting any common national project. He criticized the new generation in politics as competent but without character, and lacking ideas: "So they [think they] have recruited philosophy with André Glucksmann or Bernard-Henri Lévy and literature with Christine Angot or Jean d'Ormesson". He asked voters to endorse the "left of the left," in an attempt to end a modern "anti-politics" which has become political marketing.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Debray was married to the Venezuelan Elizabeth Burgos. They had a daughter together, Laurence, who was born in 1976.

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

In French:

  • Révolution dans la révolution ? : Lutte armée et lutte politique en Amérique latine [essai](Paris, Maspero, 1967, series: Cahiers libres)[4]
  • La Frontière, suivi de Un jeune homme à la page [littérature] (Paris, Le Seuil, 1967, series: Écrire)[5]
  • Nous les Tupamaros, suivi d'apprendre d'eux (Paris, Maspero, 1974, series: Cahiers libres)
  • La guérilla du Che (Paris, Le Seuil, 1974, series: Histoire immédiate)[6]
  • L'Indésirable [littérature](Paris, Le Seuil, 1975)
  • Les rendez-vous manqués (pour Pierre Goldman) [littérature] (Paris, Le Seuil, 1975, series: Combats)[7]
  • Journal d'un petit bourgeois entre deux feux et quatre murs [littérature] (Paris, Le Seuil, 1976)[8]
  • La neige brûle [littérature] (Paris, Grasset, 1977)[9] Prix Femina
  • Le pouvoir intellectuel en France (Paris, Ramsay, 1979)
  • Critique de la raison politique (Paris, Gallimard, 1981, series: Bibliothèque des idées)[10]
  • La Puissance et les Rêves (Paris, Gallimard, 1984)
  • Comète ma comète [littérature] (Paris, Gallimard, 1986)[11]
  • Christophe Colomb, le visiteur de l'aube, suivi des Traités de Tordesillas [littérature] (Paris, La Différence, 1991, series: Les voies du Sud: histoire)[12]
  • Contretemps : Eloge des idéaux perdus (Paris, Gallimard, 1992, series: Folio actuel)[13]
  • Trilogie "Le temps d'apprendre à vivre" I: Les Masques, une éducation amoureuse [littérature] (1992)
  • Vie et mort de l'image : une histoire du regard en Occident (Paris, Gallimard, 1992, series: Folio actuel)[14]
  • L'État séducteur: les révolutions médiologiques du pouvoir (Paris, Gallimard, 1993)[15]
  • L'œil naïf (Paris, Le Seuil, 1994)[16]
  • Manifestes medialogiques (Editions Gallimard, 1994)
  • Contre Venise [littérature](Paris, Gallimard, 1995, series: Folio)[17]
  • A demain de Gaulle (Paris, Gallimard, 1996)[18]
  • La République expliquée à ma fille (Paris, Le 1998)[19]
  • L'abus monumental (Paris, Fayard, 1999, series: L'abus monumental)[20]
  • Shangaï, dernières nouvelles [littérature] (Paris, Arléa, 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 : matériaux pour l'histoire de l'éternel en occident (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2001, series: Champ médiologique;[21] Paris, Odile Jacob, 2003, series: Poches Odile Jacob; Prix Combourg 2003)
  • L'Enseignement du fait religieux dans l'école laïque: rapport au ministre de l'Education nationale (Paris, Ministère de l'éducation nationale, 2002)[22]
  • L'édit de Caracalla ou plaidoyer pour des Etats-Unis d'occident (Paris, Fayard, 2002). Written by Debray under pseudonym of "Xavier de C...".[23]
  • Le Feu sacré : Fonction du religieux (Paris, Fayard, 2003)
  • L'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament à travers 200 chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture (Paris, Presses de la Renaissance, 2003), 2 volumes: Tome I: L’Ancien testament à travers 100 chefs-d’œuvre de la peinture (2003); Tome II: Le Nouveau testament à travers 100 chefs-d’œuvre de la peinture (2003)[24]
  • À l'ombre des lumières : Débat entre un philosophe et un scientifique (2003) (Entretien avec Jean Bricmont).
  • Ce que nous voile le voile (Paris, Gallimard, 2004)[25]
  • Le plan vermeil: modeste proposition [littérature](Paris, Gallimard, 2004)[26]
  • Le siècle et la règle. Une correspondance avec le frère Gilles-Dominique o. p. (Paris, Fayard, 2004)
  • Julien le Fidèle ou Le banquet des démons [théâtre] (Paris, Gallimard, 2005, series: NRF)[27]
  • Sur le pont d'Avignon (Paris, Flammarion, 2005, series: Café Voltaire)[28]
  • Les communions humaines (Paris, Fayard, 2005, series: Les dieux dans la Cité - Bibliothèque de culture religieuse)[29]
  • Supplique aux nouveaux progressistes du XXIe siècle (Paris, Gallimard, 2006)[30]
  • Aveuglantes Lumières : journal en clair-obscur (Paris, Gallimard, 2006, series: NRF)[31]
  • Un candide en Terre sainte (Paris, Gallimard, 2008)[32]
  • Dégagements (Paris, Gallimard, 2010)[33]

In English:

  • Revolution in the Revolution? Armed Struggle and Political Struggle in Latin America (London and New York, M.R. Press, 1967)[34]
  • Media Manifestos: On the Technological Transmission of Cultural Forms (London, Verso, 1996).
  • Against Venice (Berkeley, Calif., North Atlantic Books, 1999; New York, Pushkin Press, 2001).
  • God: An Itinerary (New York, Verso, 2004).
  • Transmitting Culture (New York, Columbia University Press, 2004).
  • Empire 2.0: A Modest Proposal for a United States of the West by Xavier de C*** (Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 2004)

Articles[edit]

  • La Puissance et les Rêves: 3 Intermezzos, translated into English by Sian Reynolds, in Parker, Geoff (ed.), Cencrastus No. 19, Winter 1984, pp. 17 - 22, ISSN 0264-0856
  • "This Was an Intellectual". TELOS 44 (Summer 1980). New York: Telos Press

Reports[edit]

Reviews[edit]

  • Maxwell, Stephen (1981), Le Pouvoir Intellectuel, review of Teachers, Writers and Celebrities: The Intellectuals of Modern France, in Murray, Glen (ed.), Cencrastus, No. 7, Winter 1981-82, pp. 41 & 42, ISSN 0264-0856

References[edit]

  1. ^ Debray Growls At A World In Chaos The Times of India, December 19, 2009
  2. ^ Horne, Alistair (1972, revised 1990), Small Earthquake in Chile, London: Papermac, pp 347 and 351 [1990 edition].
  3. ^ La Coupe de l'Elysée 2007, par Régis Debray, Le Monde, 27 February 2007 (in French)
  4. ^ /oclc/802842692&referer=brief_results Révolution dans la révolution? : lutte armée et lutte politique en Amérique latine, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  5. ^ La Frontière, suivi de Un jeune homme à la page, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  6. ^ La guérilla du Che, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  7. ^ Les rendez-vous manqués (pour Pierre Goldman), worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  8. ^ Journal d'un petit bourgeois entre deux feux et quatre murs, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  9. ^ La neige brûle, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  10. ^ Critique de la raison politique, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  11. ^ Comète ma comète, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  12. ^ Christophe Colomb, le visiteur de l'aube, suivi des Traités de Tordesillas, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  13. ^ Contretemps : Eloge des idéaux perdus, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  14. ^ Vie et mort de l'image : une histoire du regard en Occident, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  15. ^ L'État séducteur: les révolutions médiologiques du pouvoir, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  16. ^ L'œil naïf, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  17. ^ Contre Venise, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  18. ^ A demain de Gaulle, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  19. ^ La République expliquée à ma fille, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  20. ^ L'abus monumental, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  21. ^ Dieu, un itinéraire : matériaux pour l'histoire de l'éternel en occident, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  22. ^ L'Enseignement du fait religieux dans l'école laïque: rapport au ministre de l'Education nationale, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  23. ^ L'édit de Caracalla ou plaidoyer pour des Etats-Unis d'occident, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  24. ^ L'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament à travers 200 chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  25. ^ Ce que nous voile le voile, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  26. ^ Le plan vermeil: modeste proposition, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  27. ^ Julien le fidèle, ou, Le Banquet des démons : théâtre, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  28. ^ Sur le pont d'Avignon, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  29. ^ Les communions humaines, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  30. ^ Supplique aux nouveaux progressistes du XXIe siècle, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  31. ^ Aveuglantes Lumières : journal en clair-obscur, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  32. ^ Un candide en Terre sainte, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  33. ^ Dégagements, worldcat.org. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  34. ^ Revolution in the Revolution? Armed Struggle and Political Struggle in Latin America, worldcat.org. Retrieved 27 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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