Article summary: Theory of the Dérive

In Honours blog on June 5, 2009 at 6:10 am

Debord, Guy-Ernest.”Theory of the Dérive” Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November 1956)

This is one of the seminal texts for the theory of the dérive. Debord is where to start from when looking into this theory.

“In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.” (pg. 1)

“Chombart de Lauwe notes that “an urban neighborhood is determined not only by geographical and economic factors, but also by the image that its inhabitants and those of other neighborhoods have of it.”” (pg. 1)

“We can say, then, that the randomness of a dérive is fundamentally different from that of the stroll, but also that the first psychogeographical attractions discovered by dérivers may tend to fixate them around new habitual axes, to which they will constantly be drawn back.” (pg. 1)

“The average duration of a dérive is one day, considered as the time between two periods of sleep…But this duration is merely a statistical average. For one thing, a dérive rarely occurs in its pure form: it is difficult for the participants to avoid setting aside an hour or two at the beginning or end of the day for taking care of banal tasks; and toward the end of the day fatigue tends to encourage such an abandonment.” (pg. 2) So you can dérive without being completely true to the theory. Purity is not compulsory, which works for me, I will probably be doing a partial dérive only.

The spatial field of a dérive may be precisely delimited or vague, depending on whether the goal is to study a terrain or to emotionally disorient oneself. It should not be forgotten that these two aspects of dérives overlap in so many ways that it is impossible to isolate one of them in a pure state.” (pg. 2)

I’ve got a book written by Debord on hold at the library, so I’ll continue the Debord summary a little later.


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