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Ken Knabb
Knabb 2003

Full name

Kenneth S. Knabb

Alternative names

Ken Knabb

Presence at Shimer


Presence on Earth



Shimer College 1965


Mount Carroll period alum

Kenneth Knabb was a student at Shimer College in the early Great Books period, enrolling through the early entrance program and graduating in 1966.

Brief descriptionEdit

This brief description is released under the CC0 copyright waiver.

Ken Knabb (b. 1945) is an American radical writer and translator, particularly known for his translations of Guy Debord and the Situationist International. His works include The Relevance of Rexroth (1990), the Situationist International Anthology (1981), and the collection Public Secrets (1997). More recently, Knabb has written extensively on the Occupy movement. He holds a bachelor's degree from Shimer College in Chicago, where he enrolled via the early entrance program. (from Shimer College Wiki)



imported from wikipedia:Ken Knabb.

Ken Knabb is an American writer, translator, and theorist,[1] best known for his translations of Guy Debord and the Situationist International.

Early lifeEdit

Knabb was born in Louisiana in 1945 and raised in Missouri. He attended Shimer College (Illinois) 1961-1965, then moved to Berkeley, California, where he took part in the countercultural and radical adventures of the sixties.[2] In 1969, having become disillusioned with the increasingly authoritarian tendencies in the New Left movement, he became an anarchist. Later that same year he discovered some pamphlets by the Situationist International and was so struck by them that he began experimenting with his own situationist-style critiques and interventions. Over the next few years he taught himself French in order to read the original situationist writings (most of which were then unavailable in English) and made several extended visits to France to meet various situationist groups and individuals, as well as shorter trips to meet contacts in other European countries and in Japan and Hong Kong.[3]


In 1981 Knabb published the Situationist International Anthology, a large collection of articles drawn mostly from the French journal Internationale Situationniste. His other translations include Guy Debord's film scripts (Complete Cinematic Works), Debord's The Society of the Spectacle, and Ngo Van's In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary. Knabb's own writings include leaflets, comics, pamphlets and articles on Wilhelm Reich, Georges Brassens, Gary Snyder, the 1960s hip counterculture, the 1979 Iranian revolution, the 1991 Gulf war, and the 2006 anti-CPE revolt in France. Longer works include The Relevance of Rexroth (a study of the anarchist poet and essayist Kenneth Rexroth), Gateway to the Vast Realms (a reader's guide to 500 recommended books), and The Joy of Revolution (an examination of the pros and cons of diverse radical tactics followed by some speculations on how a nonstate and noncapitalist postrevolutionary society might function).[4]

Perspectives Edit

Although Knabb has remained in substantial agreement with most of the situationist perspectives, some of his writings can be seen as attempts to meld, or at least to juxtapose, those perspectives with the rather different tone and scope of Kenneth Rexroth and with the experiential insights of Zen Buddhism (he is a long-time Zen practitioner). In a 1977 pamphlet, for example, he critiqued what he saw as the situationists' blindspot regarding religion.[5] Conversely, he has also criticized the political naiveté of "socially engaged" Buddhists.[6] Another of his recurring themes is the importance of paying attention to the psychological or "subjective" aspect of radical activities.[7]


  1. Knabb, Ken. "Reflections on the Uprising in France"
  2. Knabb, Ken. "Confessions of a Mild-Mannered Enemy of the State"
  3. Knabb, Ken. "Confessions of a Mild-Mannered Enemy of the State"
  4. Knabb has published all of his writings without copyright. Most are included in his book Public Secrets. All are online at his "Bureau of Public Secrets" website [1]. For bibliographical information, see [2]. For diverse reviews and reactions to his works, see [3]
  5. "The Realization and Suppression of Religion"
  6. "Strong Lessons for Engaged Buddhists"
  7. "Double-Reflection"


  • The Relevance of Rexroth (1990)
  • Public Secrets: Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb (1997)
  • (trans.) Situationist International Anthology (1981; revised and expanded edition, 2006)
  • (trans.) Guy Debord’s Complete Cinematic Works (2003)
  • (trans.) Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (2004)
  • (trans.) Ngo Van's In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary (2010)

External linksEdit

The above article is a biography of a living Shimerian, and is therefore governed by the Wikia and Shimer College Wiki policies on biographies of living people. All information should be verifiable from public sources. The article must not be defamatory or invasive of privacy. Please feel free to improve this page.

This page is part of the Shimer College Wiki, an independent documentation project. Shimer College, the Great Books college of Chicago, is not responsible for its content.

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