from Guy Debord

To Morgan Sportes
14 October 1988
Dear Morgan:

I only received your books yesterday: the continent has already drifted imperceptibly,[1] with the result that 27 rue Saint-Sulpice no longer found itself exactly at number 17.[2]

I immediately and with much pleasure read Le Souverain Poncif.[3] In it, the era is truly treated as it merits. There is in this book a terrible vertigo-effect that recalls -- more than Flaubert's Dictionnaire -- one of Swift's best, The Irrefutable Essay on the Faculties of the Soul.[4] I believe that this culminates in the moment when Xerox, after all that one has heard, distances himself splendidly from the dialogue by saying: "People who have something to say are so rare. In 90% of the cases. . . "

For the last two or three years, I have ventured to recognize and note almost all of the origins, truly quite mixed, of the pillages phrases that were used to compose my veracious memoirs,[5] but I have not succeeded as far as those that you asked me about ("the arrangement of the words that end up in speech . . . "). I can only say, thanks to the typography, that it came from the journal of Maurice Nadeau, Les Lettres nouvelles, around 1956-57.[6] This could even be the expression of the aesthetic of Nadeau at the time, which he expressed in person? Of course, I chose this phrase for its theme, the provocative stupidity of its end, and even -- I will tell you confidentially "artist to artist" -- because I found in it, detached from its context and transported into mine, a kind of beauty. The same that one can taste in the Bossuet, [quoted] several panes below. The friend from that time[7] whom you remind me of in several ways appears on page 5 of the chapter entitled "September 1953": "Singular profession such as ours. . . "

It is quite willingly that I will see you and give you -- clear observer that you already are -- all of the clarifications you would like concerning the origins of the days of which the fruits have surpassed the promise of the flowers, to speak in the manner of your learned characters.

Would you like to meet on Tuesday the 25th, at 6 pm, at the same dive on the rue du Cherche-Midi?


[1] Allusion to the title of Morgan Sportes' novel, Continental Drift.

[2] Translator's note: the location of Editions Gerard Lebovici. It would seem that there was a typo in the address on the envelop.

[3] A pseudo-dialogue between Rank and Xerox, who are like the Bouvard and Pecuchet of our era. [Translator: characters in a novel by Gustave Flaubert.]

[4] Translator's note: Cited by Asger Jorn at the beginning of "Open Creation and Its Enemies" (Internationale Situationniste #5, December 1960), this appears to be the French title of an essay of another name by Jonathan Swift.

[5] Nine pages of this book for which such indications have been made were reproduced in the Editions Alia reprint (2004) of Guy Debord's Memoires.

[6] Translator's note: Born in 1911, Nadeau was the author of a History of Surrealism, published in 1945.

[7] Ivan Chtcheglov.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! October 2008. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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