from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
11 June 1974
Dear Gianfranco:

I have just received your letter of 1 June (which only left the post office in Florence on the 4th).

I am on this mountain[1] in the Massif Central, where last year I recorded the commentary to the film[2] in solitude and silence -- relative, nevertheless, since I now hear an airplane passing overhead.

It is thus to the address indicated below (which, of course, I ask you to keep rigorously secret) that one must write me. I'm thinking of remaining here for the summer and returning to Florence in September.

But, before then, I propose that you come see me during the month of July. On the one hand, the country is very beautiful; on the other hand, you can return to France without difficulty. Giscard,[3] that is to say, this "more rational, less capricious and less dreamy form of political power," which after the shock of 1968 seeks "the French bourgeoisie" so as to replace Gaullism, whose prestige suffered "a definitive humiliation" (I.S., 12, page 29), currently tries to differentiate itself -- insofar as it is "liberal" -- from the police practices of Gaullism, notably, on the question of foreign visitors. Obviously these beautiful intentions will not last long in the face of the practical necessities of the future repression in the growing crisis. But currently, the ukases[4] of Marcellin[5] are certainly less rigorous. This idiot, Cohn-Bendit,[6] has written to Giscard to sollicit the right to return to France: there probably will be no response.[7] In this type of circumstance, it is not at all necessary to ask, but simply to return in the name of an unquestionable right, previously injured by an arbitrary act, the risk of reiterating one would have to leave to power. Aside from a turning back at the border (very unlikely, because these instructions have perhaps been annulled, but especially because the affair is already three years old), it seems to me that you risk nothing. Try to come with your suberb car, if it still rolls. I will explain the route to take. Tell me if you agree in principle.

Also tell me on what date you plan to take your anti-alcoholism cure with the aid of truly strategic medicines, the only ones that can be useful.[8]

Do I gather correctly from your letter that Rayo[9] has finally passed through the columns of Hercules? I suppose that you have read the copy (made for Florence) of my letter of 8 May to the Lusitanians.[10] Today I received excellent news -- dated 29 May -- from this country. Rayo still has not arrived. All of the analysis made in this letter seems to have been confirmed (notably by the Stalinists!); also for the subversive possibilities scattered in the proletariat (the fisherman, the bakery workers, the metal workers and the maids in their encounters with the students and soldiers). My Portuguese publisher has put himself at the disposal of [our] friends so as to publish a Notice to the Portuguese Proletariat and other texts. Ridiculous Vaneigem has already returned to his office, after having preached transparency to three cretins, who have nevertheless been deceived. The repression has begun, three days ago.

The disappearance of your [financial] credit noblely accompanies the disappearance of the credit of Italy itself. If France in 1968 revealed the future, Italy since 1969 best expresses the reality of the European and global present, as you have said. Once more, Europe becomes Italian and this time the model of life that it exports is the model of disorder without remedy. The remedies will come.

I believe that the production will both reestablish your finances and will pleasantly bring you to the terrain of central battle, in which we can now do the most damage with the least effort. From now on, do your best -- if necessary by giving your support to Anne from Austria[11] (you have long deserved a hats off) -- so that the period that precedes the "family settlement," and thus the real possibilities for intervention, goes smoothly.

To speak of masters on the terrain of "revolutionary cinema," whatever the successes of this past spring, we are still at the beginning of combat. In Paris the film was -- I can say so modestly -- triumphant, on these levels: artistic, theoretical, public scandal and the horrified shock in the professional milieu, especially on the side of the critique of the cinema. But it still hasn't been triumphal on the level of massive distribution, that is to say, the veritable political hegemony that is necessary for an anti-spectacle. In the fifth week of exclusive showings, organized groups (leftists? Stalinists?) have completely sabotaged two screenings in a row. In the sixth week, the film was withdrawn from the Studio Git-le-Coeur under conditions of which I am still ignorant ([Gerard] Lebovici had been in conflict with the miserable Left Bank-intellectualist owners of the theatre since the first day of projection; moreover Le Monde had, for ten days, perfidiously eliminated the film from its list -- complete and "objective" -- of films in exclusive showings in Paris; and one has been beaten, I don't know how many times, in the theatre and on the street). Briefly, never has so much direct violence accompanied so dignified a film, itself without doubt the most violent one has ever seen. There have been enthusiastic people by the thousands. And I believe that the indignant people have been at least as numerous!

I only have here one article, which I'm sending to you. In Paris, I read a dozen favorable articles (but none were fully capable of understanding why and how this film is so surprising). Only two or three articles against it; but all with something like cunning and respect (due to cowardice, obviously). For the adversaries who have laughably dared to sign their disapproval, the rule is that the book (which they have neither read nor understood) is important and admirable, but the film is not clear and hardly convincing! Thus I find, a posteriori, false admirers of the book, who "ask themselves" about the "utility" of bringing it to the screen. Before, they never spoke of it.

Good: one will do still worse the next time. This film will be agitating for a long time. And it is necessary to bring out the second [film] at the moment when the public begins to reassure itself by admitting the first was an isolated, meteoric shock.

I have learned with pleasure that the princess makes more and more progress, and understands all of her duties.

See you soon. Jenny[12] and I embrace you.

P.S. Tell me when Rayo has departed.

The Portuguese want to distribute the film in their country, which is in the midst of a demi-revolution, and also to quickly translate and publish The Veritable Split.[13] But la morte vien dietro a gran' giornate. . . ."[14]

[1] "Here is our lair, which is not the historic monument that one might believe it is. The pseudo-post card is a pleasantry, the gift of a humorous friend." (Photo of the house in imitation of an old post card.)

[2] Translator's note: The Society of the Spectacle.

[3] Translator's note: Valery Giscard d'Estaing (born 1926) was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981.

[4] Translator's note: in Russian, a proclamation of the czar having the force of law.

[5] Who ordered the expulsion [from France] of Gianfranco Sanguinetti, who was notified on 23 July 1971.

[6] Translator's note: Daniel Cohn Bendit, who was born in France to German-Jewish parents who fled Nazi Germany, was expelled from France after 1968 as a "subversive."

[7] In fact, on 11 May 1975 Le Monde ran the headline "The Minister of the Interior maintains the travel interdiction aimed at Mr Cohn-Bendit."

[8] A strategy put in place to make himnself reform.

[9] Eduardo Rothe[, an ex-situationist].

[10] See the letter to Afonso Monteiro [dated 8 May 1974].

[11] Gianfranco Sanguinetti's aunt.

[12] Translator's note: Jenny was Karl Marx's wife. Here "Jenny" refers to Alice Becker-Ho.

[13] Translator's note: The Veritable Split in the International, written by Debord and co-signed by Debord and Sanguinetti in 1972.

[14] "But death comes step-by-step on great days. . . ." (Petrarch, Canzoniere).

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Excerpted version published in Autour des Films (Documents), the booklet accompanying Oeuvres Cinematographiques Completes, a three-DVD set released November 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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