from Guy Debord

To Gerard Lebovici
Champot, 18 July 1974
Dear friend:

Your letters of the 18th and 21st of June have arrived. Our exclusivity[1] had a very brief life, in conditions that, moreover, were rather unfavorable and hostile: I have seen the (quite mediocre) sum total of the number of attendees from the first week of the film according to the studio, and you will that it would have had a long run there. The most regrettable thing is that a long exclusivity would have done away with other problems concerning subsequent distribution. In September, we will see what happens in the provinces and, I hope, the outskirts of the cities. We must especially count on foreign markets (one tells me that Italian radio has reviewed the Parisian scandal, at length, even exhuming for the circumstance a tape recording of a speech by my assistant[2] at the time of the troubles at the University of Milan in 1968). But all this will occasion an increase of difficulties for you. I hope that you are not too discouraged. Of all the published critiques, the most remarkable is that written by the anonymous person who obviously expresses the opinion of the Mitterandist majority of Charlie Hebdo.[3] Perhaps one will make me too proud if, so as to ejaculate a small drop of envious incomprehension with respect to this film, one believes it necessary and clever to also reject Hegel, Marx, theory, the cinema in its entirety and History itself! And all this ends up revealing this person's intention to advertise, by identifying the absolute future that one has already browsed during the investigations at Vincennes[4] among the Lyotards, Castoriadises and others, that is to say, those people who shined in all their brilliance before 1960, [but] without unsettling their century.

I believe that it would good to make a short film dedicated to the refutation of the critiques enunciated, and also of those that are imagined to be favorable, but with an equal incompetence.[5] This film would also have the advantage of showing that the cinema can also be an excellent means for the communication of critique and polemic.

As a general rule, up until now we have only seen political critiques, as stupidly "for" as "against." But no one has yet understood that, above all, it is a question in this case of a completely new language in the cinema. The sequel will show this. But it will be necessary to impose this evidence by always appearing more forcefully on this terrain.

On the other hand, I am pleased to find -- as a happy consequence of the blindness caused by stupor -- that no one has even thought to pick out and denounce the audacious impertinence with which we used the films that suited us. You anticipated this, but I did not dare to believe it. One has thus created a very useful precedent.

I attach to this letter a poster,[6] which has become very popular, made by our friends in Portugal. Perhaps there will soon be the occasion to publish a book on this crisis, the originality and gravity of which are naturally almost completely hidden by the mass media[7] and the militants of the Left. The Portuguese edition of [The Society of the] Spectacle sold out several days after the fall of Salazarism.

Thank you for the check attached to your most recent letter. To take the initiative of paying any debt in a period of inflation is a gesture so rare and meritorious that one can not praise Editions Champ Libre enough.

Loyally yours, still
Guy Debord

P.S. I have asked [Jean-Jacques] Raspaud to liquidate the stock at the Cluny bookstore during the week in which insanity has seized it; and I do not know if this was done. I hope that you can see to it, because this bookstore now sells a pirated edition of Contre le Cinema.[8]

I would love to receive a copy of [Gerard] Guegan's book.[9]

[1] Translator's note: The exclusive showing of Debord's film The Society of the Spectacle at the studio Git-le-Coeur in Paris.

[2] Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[3] Issue dated 13 March 1974.

[4] Translator's note: Founded in 1969 as an alternative to traditional universities, the University of Vincennes was the home of such well-known "post-structuralist" philosophers as Jean-Francois Lyotard, Cornelius Castoriadis, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. Debord's dislike of Vincennes theorists was in part a response to their theories, but also to their means of supporting themselves. Michel Foucault "undertook a number of research projects for the Ministere de l'Equipment in the 1970s [...] Many well known sociologists and philosophers participated in research financed by this Ministry, such as Deleuze and Guattari who also undertook contract research [...] Lefebvre points out that recuperation has taken a specific form in the years after 1968 in that technocrats got the critics themselves to work out what would be applicable out of the radical critique. Many Marxists sociologists at this time accepted contracts from State ministries." Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas, translators' introduction to Henri Lefebvre, Writings on Cities (Blackwell, 1996).

[5] Translator's note: This is Debord's first reference to the 1975 film that would be called Refutation of All Judgments, Full of Praise or Hostile, That Have Made to This Point Concerning the Film "The Society of the Spectacle."

[6] Aviso ao proletariado portugues . . .

[7] Translator's note: English in original.

[8] Translator's note: a pamphlet, Against the Cinema was published in 1964 by the Situationist International.

[9] Rage in the Heart.

(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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