from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
Sunday evening, 16 March [1975]
Dear Paolo:

I have received your express letter and I quite well understand its minimum significance. The most recent Florentine story[1] unfortunately makes me think of the phrase that Schiller (in The Death of Wallenstein) puts into the mouth of his hero, an uncertain conspirator who has spoken too freely before deciding to move on to practice: "My words were bold, because my actions were not. Without making any plans, they go, with profound views, to involve me in a vast project . . . and to form a terrible accusation before which I will be reduced to silence." I believe that Schiller, despite his tiresome Kantian idealism, had read Machiavelli.

In the best possible case, this affair would only be the product of a hundred small imprudences, during a long extension of a bad life without principles and without pleasures -- a la Cheval,[2] as one says in France -- and nevertheless one can apply here the phrase of the famous disciple of Clausewitz: "A general who has been surprised by an adversary who has obviously been shown to be an imbecile certainly cannot honestly plead surprise, and must thus avow himself to be a prince of imbecility."

But the worst is also possible: a certain literary project[3] that he had to hide from everyone except you and that perhaps has been presently discretely to you alone -- in a kind of Nechayevian-Gongoresque[4] vanity -- but which has been recounted a bischero sciolto[5] to all the bitches [connasses] and in all the bistros of Europe, and thus has entered the ears of authors and publishers who are normally jealous? If it is this that has happened,[6] may the Proletariat in its wisdom have pity on us! Because nothing other than that could save the unfortunate author.

If you now plan to travel, I think you can rejoin our friend Rayo.[7] But perhaps you can pass through Paris to see me first? (telephone: 278 30 26). In Rayo's country,[8] there are many adventures, quite perilous, but which fortunately have more grandeur than danger in them. It would be necessary that we communicate before then, because it is important that I put you on your guard concerning one or two dangerous persons (I indicate to you straight off that it appears to me than one cannot have confidence in those of our shared friends who have lived for a while in England,[9] because of errors of judgment and quite baleful imprudences).

I expect news from you soon.

Best wishes,

[1] Riding in the car of his friend Mario Masanzanica, Gianfrano Sanguinetti and his companion were questioned by the carabiniers, then accused of and arrested for possession of drugs and weapons that were opportunely discovered inside the car. During four days of detention and interrogations, a series of searches were carried out at the homes of the Italian ex-situationists. Mario Masanzanica, in the framework of "anti-terrorism" laws, was accused of being the SI's "hitman" and the perpetrator of "hold-ups." He would be freed two months later, due to an absence of evidence.

[2] See the preceding "affair" in which Patrick Cheval was implicated (see Debord's letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti dated 31 January 1975 [footnote #3]).

[3] Project "Censor."

[4] Translator's note: Sergey Nechayev (1847-1882) was a Russian revolutionary and nihilist. "Gongoresque" appears to refer to the literary style of the Spanish poet Luis de Gonora (1561-1627), known for his strained conceits.

[5] Literally "in a fine line": an old Florentine expression that evokes a lack of reflection and casualness.

[6] Translator's note: this is not what happened. More likely, the arrest was triggered by the first possibility that Debord mentions.

[7] Eduardo Rothe.

[8] Portugal.

[9] Davide De Ambrosi.

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

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