from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
10 October 1975
Dear Gianfranco:

This morning I received your letters of the 2d and 4th of October (#1), at the same time as I received the "common edition."[1] I am thrilled by the ensemble of the news. All this appears to confirm what I have previously told you: you play so much better when the game is greater. And, as a matter of fact, one can certainly say that the game now reached "le piu alte cime."[2]

It is already a triumph. It is a Marengo.[3] The immediate question to anticipate is already that of the profound exploitation and, without losing an instant, "a gran' giornate,"[4] in the Napoleonic style after Iena. The author of the work of which we speak will at least have the reputation as the most intelligent and brilliant author of the entire country: one from whom one can expect everything and whose opinions and projects will really count. This will only last, at this degree, a certain period of time. It is in this period that it will be necessary to pursue the routed enemy as far as possible. In which direction should this pursuit be directed? In all directions, in the sense in which it is a question of seizing to the maximum the bases of action that will subsequently permit other operations of comparable importance (but, obviously, not in the same genre, which is used up for a hundred years in Italy and perhaps for ten years in all of Europe). But I believe that the strategic center that will be necessary to seize as soon as possible might be the foundation of a cinematographic production company (and, naturally, without putting a Lira into it, through the customary method of shit-crushing[5]). Secondarily, after the desirable split with this one, envision a new publishing house: and you see quite well how the purchase of this house, in fact doubtful, but truly sublime, by the A. family[6] -- if it takes place -- would, in itself, be a kind of supplementary masterpiece. I add in passing that the intelligent and impecunious historian of the hills[7] would be, after the split with the Cousin,[8] the very definition of a precious collaborator, and thus the contrary of the professor[9] of whom we recently spoke.

I also admire the splendor of the strategy of shit-crushing in the astonishing affair of the boat-phantoms.[10] This is only a detail, but an important one, and it can announce others, allowing one to see how Queen Ann[11] has, quite normally, passed over to a more favorable attitude with the recent great progress of the Revolt.

The common edition appears perfect and very cleverly presented. One can at present anticipate a great success in sales whatever happens. Without a doubt, the wrapper[12] appears to be an imprudence (its last question) but it is necessary to consider that:

a) the new publisher should be free to make the wrapper as he wants and one should demand of him, in a pressing manner, that he avoids the one that is already the equivalent of an implicit confession, without there being any assurance of a [right-wing] counterpart; and

b) perhaps this is the moment in which it is good that the question is posed, in a public [setting] that seems very little carried to envision this as well; thus, it would be excellent that the question is presented, but still not answered. (Moreover, this could be useful so as to bar the road to the Cousin, with respect to certain tendencies that I have envisioned below.)

I admire how the Doge's plan of operation was realized point by point, and his excellence exactly hung upon the possibility of this plan being realized point by point (which, at the beginning, constituted his great danger and his only weakness).

You have certainly remarked that the Cousin simply contradicted himself, in terms that were so clumsily chosen that one did not believe him (L'Espresso: "Le convinzioni e i pensieri espressi nel volume, secondo i miei amici, non possono appartenere a un cattolico"[13]). This was a danger, but not a very great one. To break such an imposture, if need be, it would suffice to add to the "Saint Anselm" text[14] a paragraph of supplementary raillery (which would be good in any case) on the illiterates who did not recognize the very clumsy detournements of Alexis[15] (such pages, such-and-such a line), the V.S.,[16] no more than the celebrated pleasantry by Paul-Louis,[17] and the letter from the brave, old madman Frederick.[18] This would have been an excellent, unstoppable way of authenticating the signature of the real author. Because anything can happen; and many might want -- after having spoken so much of a scandal and thus contributed to it -- to organize suddenly a conspiracy of silence so as to make its most important and most frightening conclusion disappear. There would be as many subjective as objective motivations for wanting this.

Thus I return now to the practical details concerning the last stage of the battle. A first draft of the Saint Anselm document must be written as soon as possible, and I must get a copy of it here [at this address]. You absolutely must have all the addresses used up until now (and add to it the rest of the Italian press, including the Leftist papers). This new "press service" must include at least 500 people. It would even be good if you already had all of the envelopes typed up (in a format suitable for a tract or short pamphlet). And a printer as trustworthy as possible. You must not sleep until all of this has been assembled.

Thus, with the agreement of L[ebovici], we will retain the French edition as a weapon to conclude as we would like. I will finish the translation in the days that follow. Look after what the Cousin says in response to L[ebovici], who wrote to them, asking for the rights, more than six days ago.

The interview, unfortunately truncated, is a little weak in comparison to the book. No doubt several atrocities will take place in the mainstream [grande] press, but not with the tone of an atrocity (advanced, like opinions, in a kind of "consultation" given by a specialist). Perhaps it would be useful to spread this rumor? But I especially believe that our brave gentleman[19] finds himself confronted by the problems faced by any author: he is chic, but all interviews strongly lack chic. Thus, it is necessary to stop or increase the dose of atrocities. In my opinion, the best road by which to attain an atrocity, and to impassion everyone, is to concentrate all other possible declarations -- during the current phase -- into the reactions and critiques incited by the book. Thus, attack Cesare M[erzagora][20] with disdain, for example, by saying: "Poor M[erzagora] has believed all his life that, by completely ignoring the classical thinkers, one would be assured of having original ideas: now, however, his own experiences have demonstrated his error to him. Obviously, the author cannot be M[erzagora], and no one who knows him truly could believe that he was. One must be astonished, moreover, that his denials are founded on trifles, such as the book's style or having little fondness for Mattioli, whereas one can believe that there are several ideas in this book that would really shock him. For example, in his political life, this man, who loves freedom [franchise], has never declared frankly [franchement] that elections are only illusions for the people, or that the lie is the strongest weapon of the proprietary classes." This type of argumentation (in a certain way already in transition towards Saint Anselm) is applicable to all, Bocca,[21] etc., and especially those who have dwelled upon or only critiqued trifles.

More generally, it is necessary (and with Saint Anselm, as well) to always employ a terrible logic in this argumentation: all those who have criticized some aspect of the book have implicitly accepted all the rest of it; either they have agreed with it or -- not knowing how to read -- they have seen nothing other in it that merits being set aside with indignation.

An Italian woman,[22] who will soon published a collection about Gallizio[23] with a very unintelligent but quite honest introduction, and full of charming documents, and who also is preparing a book on the origins of the SI,[24] has written to me and asks for your address. Do you want me to give it to her, and which one (c/o the Doge)?

Yesterday, I finished the montage of the film[25] (that is to say, I finished giving my directions). I have used good images for everything that I wanted to say, and I think that it will be extremely striking. But there are still at least six weeks of laboratory work to be done, and I still must devote time to something else. If you think that it would be useful that we speak of the current developments, could you not come to Paris for several days at the end of the October?

Best wishes,

P.S. The Asian's[26] proposition for a small announcement: "Exchange five sunken boats for a yacht in good condition."

[1] Translator's note: The book by "Censor," of which there were two editions: one "deluxe," the other populaire.

[2] "the highest summits."

[3] Translator's note: The location of a great victory by Napoleon (1800).

[4] "on great days" (Petrarch).

[5] Allusion to the "ecrase-merdre" of Jarry (The Paralipomenes of Ubu).

[6] The brother-in-law of Agnelli proposed to buy the publishing house.

[7] Historian friend of Gianfranco Sanguinetti who divined the identity of the person behind "Censor."

[8] Mr Sergio Scotti Camuzzi (Professor of Justice at the Catholic University, cousin of the "Doge" and the first publisher of "Censor").

[9] Paolo Salvadori.

[10] Indemnification reclaimed from the Italian government for five large fishing boats that belonged to Gianfranco Sanguinetti's grandfather and were sunk during the war.

[11] Gianfranco Sanguinetti's aunt, returned to the best feelings [for Gianfranco] after having seen the success of "Censor."

[12] "Who is Censor? An enlightened conservative? A cynical reactionary? A disguised supporter of the Left?"

[13] "The convictions and thoughts expressed in this volume, according to my friends, could not come from a Catholic."

[14] An ironic designation of the Proofs of the Inexistence of Censor by his Author, published in January 1976. [Translator's note: Saint Anselm (1033-1109) produced an ontological proof for the existence of God: God is "that than which nothing greater can be thought."]

[15] Alexis de Tocqueville.

[16] The Veritable Split [in the International: a Public Circular of the Situationist International, Champ Libre, 1973].

[17] Literary fake of a letter attributed to Louis XVIII by Paul-Louis Courier.

[18] Nietzsche.

[19] "Censor."

[20] Cesare Merzagora, ex-President of the Italian Senate.

[21] Giorgio Bocca, a journalist, "the first dupe of The Veritable Report by Censor" (cf., Guy Debord, Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle").

[22] Mirella Bandini. [Translator's note: a contributor to On the Passage of a Few people Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International, 1957-1972 (1989), and the author of For a History of Lettrism (2003), among other works.]

[23] Pinot Gallizio and the Experimental Laboratory at Alba.

[24] Aesthetics and Politics: From COBRA to the Situationist International (1948-1957).

[25] Translator's note: Refutation of All Judgments, Either Full of Praise or Hostile, That Have Made Until Now About the Film "The Society of the Spectacle" (1975).

[26] Translator's note: Alice Becker-Ho.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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