from Guy Debord

To Maurice Wyckaert
Saturday night [1 October 1960]
Dear Maurice:

A little while ago, I saw Penrose,[1] who was passing through Paris for a day. He will return in 8 days and then Asger [Jorn] will seize him by the throat. In agreement with us IN PRINCIPLE, he expresses in reality diffuse and -- it is necessary to say -- panic-stricken reservations. I was indeed very polite, but sharp, with him; and quite threatening in an indirect way. Indeed, after he feigned agreement with us and high esteem for Alex,[2] I said to him:

For the first time, I regret not being more famous. That is to say, we have chosen a route by which we will only have weight in 10 or 15 years. But Alex, who is in prison, doesn't have the time to wait for our valorization, which will be the same as that, for example, which belatedly accompanied surrealism(!). Thus we see that, for Alex's benefit, we are constrained to address ourselves to people and institutions that we would otherwise never want to contact (for our own "artistic" interests). Thus, we are weak and even maladroit on this terrain: it is thus necessary to hope that the people to whom we address ourselves understand the extreme particularity of the occasion, and what they have to do. Otherwise, if we ascertain that their abstention prevents Trocchi from getting the least bit of aid, then quite naturally we will encounter those who experienced the awkwardness of reducing us to despair (in this instance) on the terrain to which we are accustomed, where we are strong and frightening: scandal, aggression as strong as is necessary -- the situationists being absolutely resolved on it.

I ask you to believe that, at the end, he was very pale and way too gentle. I left things there; it was a very good beginning.

I have forgotten the best news! The boycott of Arguments[3] reaches its peak. We have learned that, because of Mathieu, several solicited people have spontaneously refused to participate in #19.[4]

Moreover, [Edgar] Morin came to ask Asger for permission to come to his (tapestry) studio and shoot a sequence of a film that Morin -- in the guise of sociologist-scenarioist and with the help of the film-maker Jean Rouch -- is making on the everyday life of the French. Asger absolutely refused to meet Morin, because of his shady manoeuvres concerning us in the past.

Then, last week, Morin said to me, through a third party, that he desired to meet me; that he doesn't approve of Mathieu nor of his collaboration with Arguments (OF WHICH MORIN IS THE DIRECTOR!); and also that his journal is completely open to us henceforth. . . .

Naturally, I responded: "TOO LATE. We totally reject this journal, now and forever. And I REFUSE to meet this M. Morin. . . ."

(Give this to Attila [Kotanyi] so he can laugh.)

The political situation here in France: the "Declaration on insubordination"[5] has finally created a scandal -- a very strong governmental repression that wants to break the signatories immediately, and by any means (total boycott on the economic-cultural plane, indictments and new laws designed to increase prison sentences for new signatories, searches and arrests last week). A very decisive and serious conflict has finally begun.

It is in this ambiance -- with which I'm quite happy -- that I have finally received an invitation to sign the Declaration; Thursday evening, upon arriving in London.[6] Michele and I did so right away (in this context, we feared there wouldn't be another opportunity).

Tomorrow evening, I meet with H. Lefebvre to see what remains to be done (?). In addition, I'm shooting film,[7] which is very absorbing.

Theoretically, from the point of view of the S[ituationist] I[nternational], even from the point of view of the German section, all is clear to me:


-- it is necessary to fear certain things, including the arrest of Michele and I? I don't know.

-- probably to envision the publication of I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #5 outside of France.

-- provisionally to constitute Alsemberg[8] as secretariat (you being the secretary) of the Situationist Central Council, of which the tasks must be:

1) to keep the SI up-to-date on all the developments in France, quickly, as they occur.

And, eventually, to take up the operation in favor of A. Trocchi (I think I'll have a tract[9] about him -- in English -- next week).

2) To put into the shelter a sufficient quantity of our publications and unpublished manuscripts.

Regards to you, Attila, and Magda

[1] Roland Penrose, the inaugurator and organizer of surrealism in England. In 1947, he was one of the founders of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA).

[2] Trocchi, arrested in New York, for possession of narcotics.

[3] Journal founded by Edgar Morin, Jean Duvignaud and Kostas Axelos in 1956.

[4] October 1960.

[5] Or the "Manifesto of the 121," launched 1 September 1960. See The Minute of Truth in Internationale Situationniste #5, December 1960.

[6] 29 September [1960].

[7] [For use in] Critique of Separation.

[8] Wyckaert's hometown, near Brussels.

[9] Hands Off Alexander Trocchi! (tract dated 7 October 1960 and signed by Guy Debord, J. de Jong and Asger Jorn). Cf. I.S. #5, p. 12.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. Footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2005.)

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