from Guy Debord

To Eduardo Rothe
Monday, 19 November 1973
Dear Eduardo:

Although I know from experience that passion sometimes prevents you from seeing and understanding everything that happens, I have always been sure that one can have confidence in you in every case in which you have confirmed something that you have ascertained yourself. I recently said so to Patrick.[1]

Thus, without any discussion, I accept the affirmations of the type that are made in your letter of 13 November.

I am content that there has not been, as I have sometimes feared, an error in The Veritable Split (page 88: the information concerning you).[2] I would have regretted that there was a single inexactitude in a book so vigorously correct; and also that it concerned you.

I now communicate to you some information.

The confusion between the two Francois -- George and anti-George[3] -- is truly extraordinary and quite annoying. The George in question had once again made contact with me seven or eight months ago, by telephoning the ex-Bernstein:[4] he wanted to know if it was on my orders that people came to strike him and steal from him! I had completely forgotten the existence of this mental defective for almost ten years and it was a strange vanity on his part to feign to believe that I had been preoccupied with him. Thus he desired that I would reassure him concerning this violence, at his place on the rue des Quatre-Vents. Of course, I did not respond to him, although my silence allowed him the vainglory to claim that I had persecuted him; because otherwise I would in some way have disavowed people who were unknown to me. And I do not doubt that someone might have excellent reasons for striking the neo-Sartrian of Les Temps Modernes and [Le Nouvel] Observateur, the retarded schoolmaster and opportunist; just like his wretched brother, who is badly hidden under the pseudonym of Manchette.[5]

Concerning [Jaime] Semprun: someone of this name, over the summer, addressed himself several times to my film editor -- in each case by telephone, and by evoking friends that they had in common, so as to eventually become an assistant editor. Fortunately, she told me about it several months later; and without, moreover, understanding why I found this behavior to be ill-advised. It could not have been a calumny on her part, because she did not know any of the situ[ationist]s, their problems or their milieu. This Semprun or pseudo-Semprun seemed very well acquainted with the SI. It was thus a question of a hardly believable coincidence (the name Semprun is quite uncommon; and everything led me to believe that it could not be his father[6] . . .) or, more probably, a deliberate imposture: no doubt not to infiltrate the making of the film, but rather to compromise the real Semprun? As I suppose that you have many other enemies, one could only conclude that the deceit was perpetrated by George-Manchette, as this would be in the consistent style of these insignificant fakers.

As far as Mario,[7] it is a fact that he did not have the air of appreciating the atmosphere of your encounter in Paris. And he immediately believed he recognized a photo pf Francois George, which I showed him that very day -- but he is totally ignorant of the history, if one can call it that, of this poor cunt. He did not again cite your anecdote about the true George: a quite remarkable forgetting. On the contrary, Mario did not say that the famous recording would be presented as a "capolavoro"[8] of the group of your friends. And, not understanding French, he had not at all judged the meaning of it. It was me who said it, because he made me understand that the recording was a pitiful nullity.

I appreciate that you recognize the necessity of a certain vigilance on my part: "We will become even more inaccessible, even more clandestine. The more our theses become famous. . . ."[9] The multiple progressions of revolutionary critique over the last few years fortunately allows me -- and moreover obligates me -- to make even fewer concessions where hierarchical-spectacular or empty pseudo-dialogues are concerned. And you know that, in the worst epochs, I already made too many.

I will see you again with pleasure. This week, I will be busy mixing the sound for my film (which is effectively completed). Then I will spend several weeks in Italy. You can telephone me there (278 30-26) after 10 January so we can set a date.

Estimado companero, salud![10] Best wishes,

Adjoined text: to laugh a little at the historian Dansette.[11]

Guy Debord
The Society of the Spectacle

Mr Adrian Dansette, from the Institute, in a work that he dedicates to May 1968 (Plon, 1971), writes:

"One cannot understand certain aspects of the student explosion, its poetic crackling and its glimmering troubles, without also listening to and looking at a category of protesters who went much further than the Castroists in their scorn for rationality (...) Thus we have the members of the Situationist International (...) The literary beauty of some of the graffiti of May can be credited to their activity. Their own writings are at the level of their comportment. Carried to excess, they attained insignificance by this very excess, so much so that it appeared to be artificial. Everything is affected in their attitude, the systematic violence with respect to others, the crudity of their manner of expressing themselves, their search for originality in their slender builds, their hair-styles and their clothes. These artificial excesses are hardly impressive and no doubt they will only exercise a passing influence."

This historian, who probably proposes to exercise a definitive influence in the reassuring interpretations of the explosion, of which he has summarily conducted the trial, has necessary "listened and looking at" -- among the "other writings" of the situationists -- the book by Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, which is one of the best-known examples of the critical theory formulated by the SI; published in 1967 and often commented upon by the 1968 movement.

The current reprint of this book can permit one to evaluate more justly, with the passage of time, what does or does not merit being exhaustively defined insofar as excess, insignificance, systematic violence, crudity of expression, scorn for rationality, artificial originality and artificial excess.

Many people, and not just the Institute, estimate that these terms exactly describe the thought and conduct of Guy Debord and his comrades. But many others believe that they are more applicable to the current state of the world, that is to say, the class power that everywhere directs the economy and social life in the way that one knows. Those who do not think like Mr Dansette consider that the situationists have only appeared, like "glimmering troubles," in the twilight of this world.

[1] Patrick Cheval.

[2] "Patrick Cheval, Eduardo Rothe and Paolo Salvadori, despite regrettable incidents that have forced us to separate ourselves from them, are estimable comrades." [Translator's note: on 26 August 1973 -- in a letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti -- Debord declared himself ready to break all relations with Rothe, and advised Sanguinetti to do the same, because "Eduardo 'militates' with a group of the worst pro-situs," which included Jaime Semprun and Francois George.]

[3] Francois Martin who, along with Jaime Semprun, went to "shake [down]" a certain Jean Franklin who was none other than the Francois George in question.

[4] Translator's note: Michele Bernstein, a founding member of the Situationist International and Guy Debord's first wife. The expression "ex" does not refer to their marital relations, but is a denigrating prefix that suggests that, to Debord, she was no longer who she was or had been. Note Debord's remarks to Gianfranco Sanguinetti in a letter dated 30 August 1973: "Although she is quite different, in many regards, to what she was previously with me, I suppose that in favorable moments, if she only keeps half of her old talents, one won't be bored with her." After 1970, Debord also consistently referred to Raoul Vaneigem as "the ex-Vaneigem."

[5] Jean-Patrick Manchette, who, although frequenting [the company of] pro-situs and ex-situationists in the milieus of the neo-polar and the cinema, signed his real name.

[6] Jaime Semprun, son of Jorge Semprun, who was a man of French letters and a former leader of the Spanish Communist Party.

[7] Mario Masanzancia.

[8] "Masterpiece" in Italian.

[9] Translator's note: this is a quotation from "Theses on the SI and Its Time," published in The Veritable Split in the International, published in 1972.

[10] Formula utilized by the Spanish anarchists. [Translator's note: Good health, esteemed comrade."]

[11] Announcement for the reprinting of The Society of the Spectacle, quoting a passage dedicated to the situationists in the book, May 1968, by Adrian Dansette, of the Institute, which was published by Plon in 1971.

(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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