The customs of publishers and ours

The SI has sometimes chosen to use the form of competitive publishing to obtain a diffusion of its theses that is qualitatively different from that which it can guarantee from autonomous publishing. In what concerns us, we are well aware of the limits of this choice and we only expect from a commercial publishing purely commercial relations (it is sufficient to know that we have never agreed to discuss either the contents or the form of the texts that we desire to publish). Publishing of the bourgeois-competitive type cannot in general claim to guarantee any coherence between it and its authors, and it cannot assume their characteristic comportments as its responsibility.[1]

It is precisely on these bases that we have claimed to found our relations with the Sugar publishing house, after it acquired the rights to reproduce Treatise on Living for the Usage of the Young Generations in Italy from Gallimard. This was agreed on the condition, imposed by [Raoul] Vaneigem, that the translation and [any] possible introduction to it was entrusted to Gianfranco Sanguinetti or a person designated by him. The fact that the collaboration of our comrade was not accepted without reservations, the house's continual opposition (manifested as obstacles and delays that had no apparent reasons) and, to top it all off, the rumor of complacent relations between the editor, Luigi Guidi, and certain anti-situationists accumulated all of the elements of an intolerable situation. Guidi even believed himself authorized to Vaneigem write a letter of assorted expressions of vain respect and insinuations concerning the Italian section of the SI. At that moment, all that was left was the provocation of a sufficient and definitive clarification: in response to a letter from Vaneigem that reiterated all of the terms of the arrangement and that no longer allowed any ambiguity, Editions Sugar said that it had decided to renounce the publication of the book, thereby showing that they neither wanted nor could allow a correctness[2] that was incompatible with their ulterior motives. And then the editor of Sugar inopportunely addressed a letter to Gallimard that we publish along with our response, in which he [Massimo Pini] can be recognized for what he is. What this editor believes that he does not share are not our "principles," but our lack of them.

Dear Madame Kastelitz,

It with a great regret that we are obliged to renounce signing the contract for the book by Vaneigem, Treatise on Living. Actually, we have ascertained that Clause II concerning the translator engages us too much, without counting the bizarre attitude of Mr Vaneigem, whose letters do not allow the possibility of a meeting. We frankly regret what this does to a publishing house like yours, for which we have so much esteem, but we are sure that you understand the situation and also that it is not possible for a publisher who has translated much more difficult authors, such as [William] Burroughs and [Georg] Lukacs, to have imposed upon it a translator whom we do not know and whose principles we do not share.

You will find the contract attached.

Please believe, dear Madame, the expression of my best wishes.

Sugar Editor
Massimo Pini
Milan, 19 May 1969

Trash can,

As a result of blowing the trumpet of Burroughs and Guidi, you have ended up feeding yourself exclusively with their spit.[3] Do not change food. Paving stones are indigestible and, for the time being, being an editor is a dangerous trade.

When you understood that you could not swallow the morsel, you beat a retreat with a prudence that one of your colleagues had the occasion to envy. Thus, you have not only saved your furniture -- because, if the translation had not been that of Sanguinetti, you would have measured the fragility of things -- , but you have also protected yourself from a supplementary coat of scorn.

This, at least, will not seem bizarre to you: I spit in your eye.[4] Lick it!

Raoul Vaneigem
Brussels, 17 June 1969

[1] Here, the French version has these two elements reversed (elle n'engage pas leur responsibilite dans son comportement) and does not include any word that renders the Italian proprio (non ne impegna la responsabilita nel proprio comportamento).

[2] The Italian word employed here is correttezza. The French word, correction, can also mean "proofreading."

[3] The Italian here is broda biancastra (whitish soup). The French is pertes blanches (vaginal discharges).

[4] The Italian here is ti sputo in un occhio. The French is je te pisse a la raie (I piss on you).

(Published in Internazionale Situazionista: Journal of the Italian Section of the Situationist International, #1 July 1969. Translated from Italian into French by Joel Gayraud and Luc Mercier, Editions Contre-Moule, June 1988. Translated from the French, with recourse to the Italian original when necessary, by NOT BORED! June 2007. All footnotes by NOT BORED!)

To Contact NOT BORED!
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998