from Guy Debord

To Nicole Debrie
18 December 1989
Dear Nicole:

In a certain way, the impertinent bartender[1] had a reason (the worst) when he said to me: "But if you do not like this whiskey, why do you order it?" And if I were in prison, and he were a guard, perhaps I would have smiled at the justness of the word. And if I were someone else, perhaps I would have responded:

"Despite all that one has suppressed and destroyed in Paris, I still love it. And I believe that today this neighborhood remains the best in Paris. And this is why I live here. And your very strange pseudo-bistro, although it -- at the moment and not at all by chance -- contains hardly anything that one can drink, it remains the only one in the neighborhood. And me, being an alcoholic since my youth, I drink what I find but I do not always find what I like. And moreover I did not say that this whiskey is bad, but that it isn't 20 years old, because I had recently sampled the whiskey in the enticing bottle with the same label, which wasn't 20 years old but was very good nevertheless (twelve years is sufficient), but which had changed greatly over the course of the last three weeks; and I know it well, because I had already sampled (two or three times) the contents of the second bottle, which were better adapted to the century of commercial petroleum. I am well instructed about the fact that they have only degraded "Isleys"[2] for the last two or three years. And moreover I had not even positively affirmed that the whiskey in question isn't 20 years old, but that this is only what the label says; and it is obviously your trade to pretend to believe it, but it is useless and risky to try proselytism in an effort to convert the sceptics by hucksterish mummery, thus simultaneously defying politeness, good sense, the evidence itself, and the good taste of the client, which is supposed not to exist."

Oh! But without being racist, I never discuss anything with bartenders, neither concerning myself not the destiny of the world. Furthermore, this one more resembled a highway filling-station attendant than a waiter in a cafe. He will surely habituate himself, as you say, to be a little less daring with the remaining clientele, when this poor clientele habituates itself to consume "super," as at a service-station pump, which is the current goal of the networks of the "Dens of Bacchus." In addition, I have not found it suitable to discuss anything with those who are the directors or the salaried employees of crime, and I surely do not bring to them the precious security of my presence. What is true for government ministers quite naturally extends down to humans kept as pets.

The stupid baroness,[3] who seems to have no other goal in life than to contradict me, and who will hardly win at this, undertook -- from the moment that I encountered her, a few days after this trifling incident and appearing to be quite proud to be up-to-date already -- to instruct me, with her habitual dogmatism, about what happened, whereas she had not been there and it was precisely me who had to scold the lying and too-familiar pet a little harshly. And what this inept baroness told me, in the style of a Khmer Rouge attorney, without even wanting to understand me, was quite obviously the fake version that this professional faker had been obligated to construct for his sake and that of other knaves (only Moliere and Staing would converse at the counter at this moment and this was extremely hastily, as you might think). Thus, I still do not want to discuss anything with a bartender, even through an interposed baroness. And the next time: why would she not bring up the philosophical opinions of her hairdresser?

I never go to the rue Saint-Sulpice.[4] I believe that Lewinter[5] is a good translator of prose (cf. Groddeck). I would not have too much confidence in his translations of poetry, but in fact I know nothing of them. When he writes his own books, he seems quite empty but also gives the impression of madness. It appears that he is a charming man. Orwell's Essays must indeed be published [in translation] one day or another. When? It seems to me that this book has been scheduled for several years now. . . . I see that you now tend towards Leftism. [Jean-Francois] Martos will surprise you: he has a conception of the historian's work that appears quite close to the Egyptian chronicles of the 13th dynasty. But all of his quotations are rigorously authentic.

Important conclusion to these futile considerations: if you discover a usable bistro within a radius of 1,000 to 1,500 meters around us, I will frequent it with pleasure. Two years ago, it seemed to me that there were four or five in the sixth arrondissement. Today I can't find any closer than the eleventh!

Alice is better.
We embrace you.

[1] At the Petit Bacchus.

[2] A malt whiskey, with the characteristic taste of peat, thrown upon the market of plugged-in consumption.

[3] Sonia W., another human pet [loufait] of the place.

[4] Headquarters of Editions Gerard Lebovici.

[5] Translator's note: Roger Lewinter was a French psychoanalyst and the author of Groddeck et "Le Royaume millenaire" de Jerome Bosch : essai sur le paradis en psychanalyse, published by Champ Libre in 1974.

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

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