from Guy Debord

To Gallizio
10 February [19]58
Caro Pinot, grande e nobile amico[1]:

After a discussion, I transmit to you our -- unanimous -- advice concerning [Walter] Olmo.

We are disposed to pay for some of his recordings and, of course, to make known the name of their author by retaining these recordings as simple raw material that is destined, along with other materials, to be used in a construction of ambiance, the collective organization of which obviously will have nothing to do with Olmo, who is not a situationist and can't pass for one. We prefer Olmo to others because of his past relations with the experimental conceptions of the Imaginist Bauhaus and because of the friendship that you still show him.

But it is unthinkable that Olmo claims to have personal direction of the auditory part of a situationist exposition (one that is, by definition, unitary in its means and ends). Beyond the practical imbecility of his pretense -- why would we make known someone who flatters himself for being in disagreement with us and whose ideological motivations for disagreement with us are laughable fuckeries? -- and the basely arriviste character that this pretense reveals, there is in all of this the definitive confession that Olmo has never theoretically understood the problems of modern research and what a constructed ambiance can be. He hasn't spoken of "ambient" music[2] -- a simple word, like [Enrico] Baj's "anti-style" -- with the goal of approximating us; in reality, he still has a 19th century conception of the composer, who presents his personal works. His only perspective is that of the radio, that is, musique concrete[3] or electronic music.[4]

Moreover, we must bear in mind a fact that has escaped us: two years ago, a young man named Jean-Michel Rankovitch (who is a nephew of Marshal Tito[5] and a friend of Michele [Bernstein]) presented a show in which unaudible ultra-sound provoked certain psychic effects in the audience. Everyone knows that this is more advanced along the road that our situationist experiments situate themselves.

Thus we ask you to advise Olmo that the authorization that you have transferred to him is henceforth absolutely null, because the ensemble of the Situationist International has agreed to break off talks with him as the result of the following two decisions:

1) We will never accept any element of an auditory ambiance realized by someone who has Olmo's retrograde ideas -- even if they pay us for them.

2) We have definitively ended all discussions with Olmo, whose case will henceforth be treated like that of [Piero] Simondo.

Receive, carissimo Pinot, the friendly greetings of all of la squadra di Parigi.[6]


P.S. As for the [use of] odors [in your exhibition], we must still discuss this question here [in Paris] and I will write you again. But my immediate opinion is that it isn't necessary to be bothered with the creation of a perfume in a flask: only to obtain a fragrant ambiance by directly burning certain basic resins, as you have proposed, inside [of the gallery] and in the street.

[1] Dear Pinot, great and noble friend.

[2] Translator: it would be impossible not to have a reference here to the series of "ambient" records put out by the English musician Brian Eno in the 1980s and 1990s. See in particular Music for Airports.

[3] Translator: a form of avant-garde music, pioneered by French composers in the 1950s, that used unusual objects to create unusual sounds.

[4] Translator: a form of avant-garde music, pioneered by both American and French composers in the 1950s, that used electronic devices to generate unusual sounds.

[5] Translator: Communist leader of Yugoslavia.

[6] The Paris team.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 1, 1957-1960. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! October 2005.)

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