from Guy Debord

To Constant
Friday [16 October 1959]
Dear Constant:

Quite obviously, I make clear that I never thought that you were responsible for that unfortunate church! It's an example of a decision by which editorial sabotage can detourn the best text in a journal. This is what obliges us to be prudent in collaborations with the journals that we do not control, because many people will be infinitely more resolved to speak to us if they can blur our true problems and compromise us. Alberts certainly has a troubling responsibility as the editor of this issue, but especially because someone had to give him such a photo [of a church] and why choose this one rather than any of the [photos of the] models made by [Har] Oudejans and Alberts himself?

It is obvious that their excuse (indifference to destination, within the general problem of a model of a church) is extremely criticizable, not only from the point of view of U.U.,[1] but even from that of classical urbanism. We risk falling back into a kind of art-for-art's-sake, into free-formalism; a little like the ideology of the [International Movement for an] Imaginist Bauhaus, if the secret Catholicism of Simondo[2] had dominated it more than he actually did!

I think that their "sculpture," objectively and in their minds, was intended to deride the idea of the church. But to the extent that doubt is raised, their scultpure is absolutely opposed to the first point of the Amsterdam Declaration.[3] I believe that it will be necessary to develop this critique in the future and to guard against a certain cynical opportunism on the part of the architects.[4]

I am quite in agreement that the signature of [Asger] Jorn on the shady German manifesto[5] is suspect and annoying. Furthermore, it is necessary to say that the first draft of this text that he gave me was quite different. The manuscript that he signed was changed later -- by whom? -- into a more confused and retrograde text (the first version had already been partially unacceptable). All this was before the Munich Conference.[6] But the bottom of the problem is the "tactic of the open door"[7] that Jorn and [Pinot] Gallizio have tried to apply everyhwre [in the SI]. I am still opposed to it. I do not see what reinforcement this German group [of painters called "Spur"] provides us; it may even do the contrary. It is a question of being vigilant concerning the development of things since Munich. As it seems, more and more, that they haven't made any progress, can one perhaps envision exclusions where they are concerned?

In any case, since Munich and, indeed, quite a bit more than previously, I systematically refuse to receive anyone who comes to speak to me of the SI if, first, they haven't given proof of their interest. Thus I have eliminated, with or without politeness, seven different people (I do not count those who remain at the telephonic or epistolary stage). Pinot is always the principal recruiter. And it seems to me that we already have among us too many young, artistically old men who have missed out on their own 19th Century.

For the moment, what we can do better is produce an issue of the [situationists'] journal that is interesting and clear. I expect your contribution next week. Afterwards, I propse that we envision, in parallel, 1) the appeal to architects and urbanists, 2) the organization of the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum.

Cordially. I hope that we will see each other soon.


[1] Translator: unitary urbanism.

[2] Translator: Piero Simondo was excluded from the Situationist International 25-26 January 1958, for his "secret" Catholicism.

[3] Translator: The Amsterdam Declaration was co-authored and co-signed by Constant and Guy Debord, 10 November 1958. Its first point says "The situationists must take every opportunity to oppose retrograde forces and ideologies, in culture and wherever the question of the meaning of life arises."

[4] Translator: the two Dutch architects, Har Oudejans and A. Alberts, who'd been admitted into the SI six months earlier.

[5] Manifesto, dated November 1958.

[6] Translator: 17-20 April 1959.

[7] Translator: the policy of the SI is that its "door" is open to new members.

(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.)

To Contact NOT BORED!
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998