KOTANYI, Christophe. Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften”. Axel Roch, Magda van Suntum (Eds.) 544pages, ill. Berlin: Gegenstalt, 2020
Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften is a tri-lingual book in French, English and German by Christophe Kotanyi, the son of Attila Kotányi, who was a member of the S.I. between 1959 and 1963. The book drifts in the philosophies of subjectivity, as they were debated and talked over between 1945 and 1956 in Hungary, just before Attila Kotányi fled Hungary, and traces the tremendous influence on the SI through Attila Kotányi by the so-called Budapest Dialogical School, which consisted of Lajos Szabó, Béla Hamvas, and Béla Tabor. The author Christophe Kotanyi states for instance that “Attila Kotányi most certainly discussed [Lajos] Szabó’s theory of subjectivity with the Situationists in Paris, at a time when they were working on a political theory in terms of subjectivity as the active force, seeking to think beyond the romantic concept of subjectivity inherited from Marxism,” (see p. 332)
Indeed, Guy Debord puts in his Society of the Spectacle dialogue as true from of communication against falseness and deceitfulness of the spectacle. Debord claims in §18 the spectacle “is the opposite of dialogue.” And Debord ends his 1967-manifesto claiming that the “‘historical mission of installing truth in the world’ cannot be accomplished either by the isolated individual, or by the atomized crowd subjected to manipulation,” but “only where dialogue arms itself to make its own conditions victorious” (§221). This is the “dialogical principle” as just one example of what the situationist took apparently from the Budapest Dialogical School. Dialogical philosophies not only preceded situationism, but were also, as it seems, introduced to the situationists in person by Attila Kotányi. Kotányi’s influences on Debord are, probably similar to those of Ivan Chtcheglov, of tremendous historical interest.
In a similar way as Attila Kotányi introduced dialogical thinking and the political philosophy of subjectivity to the Situationists between 1959-1963, the author of Cent dérives introduces to the reader key topics of the philosophy of Lajos Szabó, Béla Hamvas, and Béla Tabor, a philosophy forgotten in the West, but central not only to Europe, but to situationism as well. The author of Cent dérives states for instance clearly that “Attila Kotányi transmitted this principle and method [the dialogical principle and the political theory of subjectivity of the Budapest Dialogical School] to the Situationists in Paris in the early sixties,” see also pp.75, 117, 124, 172, 332, etc. The book Cent dérives, thus, ends with an incredible theatre play about the situationists. Actors like “Guy Bordstein”, obviously a mix between “Guy Debord” and “Michèle Bernstein”, enter the stage as pirates that seem to steal and smuggle concepts and ideas in a play called “Le perroquet gris”…
The book equally drifts on a ship in various philosophical currents, and offers the reader ideas and concepts, not only in three languages, but also on 544 pages. The book has been published in Berlin by gegenstalt as hardcover with five different covers.