from Guy Debord

To Michel Bounan
Champot, 1 July 1991
Dear Michel:

While classifying my archives, I found the enclosed document,[1] which has become touching after having been rather droll at first. Just the same, it testifies to the serious manner of the situs towards their limited number of subscribers,[2] and also the manner in which we worked in 1971. If I had read this letter before 1972, I would have sent you The Veritable Split as a replacement for I.S. #13.[3]

I am disconcerted by what Alice tells me concerning the masperization[4] carried out by your Italian translator.[5] I believe I had seen all of the excesses of incompetence among today's translators. But this is quite another practice, which overtly claims its utility for the defense of social peace: the expurgated version. This must be because of the many obscenities that are sprinkled through out the book, not to mention your implicit defense of the practice of stealing books, and thus the revolting theories that have claimed -- but without deceiving anyone -- to embellish frightening anti-democratic sophisms. All this testifies as well to the genre of respect that the friends of Mr Allia[6] give him in several countries, and not only in Prague![7]

The scholarly article that you sent me[8] is quite pleasing. No doubt the motivation is a simple competition for the credit and the premises. In the same way as, for example, the monopolistic possession of the commerce in blood facilitates infallibility in the therapeutic process by radically simplifying it; likewise, the fact of being kept away from manna does much to develop the intelligence of so many specialists. You have said that it would be uncomfortable to find the vaccine for a virtual virus or its successor. The very name, the etymology of AIDS, which one thus treats as a personalization of the (almost only) bad aspect of the conditions of current life, and almost as an allegory, expresses the quite simple empirical confirmation of the existence of an "atypical" breakdown -- a breakdown of which the ascertainment must remain unthought. Thought has become dangerous in our modern world, and this is the great utility of the spectacle, which is the veritable vaccine against this really unacceptable risk.

I believe that one can historically represent this medical impasse by the following comparison. The non-existent treatment for the stealth virus (as one describes a famous bomber) cannot combat AIDS any more than the non-existent treatment for the problem of unemployment will never be capable of suppressing the agonized "sensibility of the banlieus" that have become uncontrollable, because the problem of unemployment doesn't exist, but uniquely [what exists is] the general problem of the production of commodities in ultra-modern capitalism. The immunological defenses of a civilization are breaking down in living conditions, culture, human relations, intelligence -- everywhere.

Furthermore, the Congress of Florence has confessed that it would be better to cease philosophizing vainly on the question of AIDS, and that it will no longer consider another. Theoretical debate ceases to be in fashion. The curative practice is in place and, after all, it is as commonplace to die at a hospital as on a highway.

At the same time, there is the phenomenon that, in Italy, one has designated these last few years by the pretentiously inverted name "Stendahl's Syndrome": the psychological breakdown of tourists, not always American, who -- several days after their arrival in an "art town" (Florence, Venice, Rome) -- in sum no longer have "immunological" defenses against the beauty of the environment.

Champot does not at all produce this effect in me, because in reality it is neo-Paris to which I am allergic, and even more so than in 1975.[9] Thus my blood pressure is 15.6 and 8.8. The gout isn't manifesting itself.[10] The asthma has been much less pronounced in the three preceding days. The insomnia is in full retreat, at least for the moment.

Thanking you again on this subject, I send you all of our best wishes. We will expect you in September.


[1] Translator's note: not included or even summarized by Editions Fayard, this would appear to be a letter sent by the Situationist International's editorial committee to the subscribers to the journal Internationale Situationniste. Because he had resigned from the editorial committee in 1969, Debord did not write this letter (it was probably written by Rene Riesel), and it appears that he didn't read it until 1991.

[2] Among whom Michel Bounan figured.

[3] The last issue of I.S, announced but never published. [Translator: the last publication produced by the Situationist International, The Real Split in the International was published in 1972 and signed by Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti.]

[4] Translator's note: Debord's version of "bowdlerization," based on the name of a publishing house (Editions Maspero) that frequently deformed the texts it published.

[5] For Editions Vallecchi. [Translator: Bounan's The Time of AIDS was translated into Italian by Carla Tassini as Tempi di Aids. Una lettura antropologica della malattia (1991).

[6] Translator's note: Gerard Berreby, editor of Editions Allia.

[7] Where Gianfranco Sanguinetti resided. [Translator: deprived of both Bounan's letter to Debord and/or any further information about "Prague," the reader is unable to make sense of this passage: it has been masperized by Editions Fayard!]

[8] "The AIDS Virus: is it science fiction?" (Policy Review, Summer 1990).

[9] Translator's note: the year Debord left Paris (and France), to live in Spain and Italy.

[10] Translator's note: see Debord's letter to Bounan dated 23 March 1991.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! February 2009. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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