from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
Saturday, 20 October 1973
Dear Gianfranco:

Exegi monumentum aere perennius![1]

Yesterday evening, we arrived at the end of the 90 minutes of this famous film [The Society of the Spectacle]. I still have several small corrections to make, for three or four days next week. After that, the laboratory must work on it for a month, but almost always without me being involved. Thus, the film will be visible starting 25 November (but will not be released before the end of January, I think). And very soon, I will find myself free.

This film will be as shocking in form as in content. For the political content, it suffices to say that only Machiavelli, Marx, Bakunin and Durruti are well-treated in it (Hegel being only half-critiqued, by a very gentle banter). Clausewitz is also cited eulogistically, but indirectly. As for the rest of capitalism and revolution, I have dragged through the mud "all the princes, without exception, who have done all that was necessary to bring us to the state we are now in."[2] But, also, by a detourned negation of the spectacular negation, I have made the proletariat reappear -- having touched the earth at its lowest point and now "straightening itself up more terrible" --, even by using films that Stalinism filmed, in a falsified manner, in Russia.

The Corrette[3] is marvelous. It is the only music in the film. It isn't "the song of the spectacle," but the song of its negation accompanying the interruptions of real life and revolution: notably the sequence devoted to the occupied Sorbonne.

Now to speak of your letter of 12 October, which I received three days ago: we have admired how the sickness has, paradoxically, devloped the verse of your writing. This letter brought us joy; it is true as well that the information it contained was splendid.

I believe that Adriana is more intelligent; but I suppose that the trauma of Paris did not help her development. As I wrote you, she is very observant -- when she wants to be . . . -- and recounts the burlesque stories of the Swiss woodlice among which she has always lived, as well as the routine deficiencies of life in Florence, with a very lively drollery. On this last aspect, she noted quite finely the points about which I had already spoken to you. But of course she presents all this very gently to us and to you -- she presents herself as the charming thing ready to live for the best so one wants to take her seriously. But here such an idyll only lasted three or four days. But afterwards! It was a very weak audacity for her to claim that she understood nothing of my critiques, even though they were "well said" (it is also false to let it be understood that she gets along well with me, because, though our relations have been good, she seems as interested in Alice -- erotically, as well -- but heard exactly the same critiques coming from both of us). The cruel reality leaves no room for the least doubt, even for an idiot, because she quite simply returned after several days to ask quite clearly and explicitly if she could live with us again, "now that she has reflected and understood that she loves us" (sic), and because we refused on the spot. Although little Adriana seemed to turn into a simple faker, maladroit as well (what does she eventually hope for?), I believe that the comedienne is worse: the story of the letter that she sent to you without your address, while she misplaced ours -- Cazzo![4] This is exactly on the same level of the letter from De Michelis,[5] who wanted us to believe that she had left Paris several days previously, when Afono's girlfriend met her in the Latin Quarter a moment before she came to my place.

Something that still surprises me a little is how it is that these young cod-fish, who certainly think that we are the most intelligent people they have ever met -- and, still more assuredly, people whom it is dangerous to try to manoeuvre, which patent examples have proved to them -- simultaneously believe that they can lie to us as if we were perfectly stupefied or at least careless like Vaneigem. I suppose that there is a pathological blockage in their connections to reality, linked to the kind of life that this beautiful world leads. No doubt you will remember that I began to observe the phenomenon, in truly privileged experimental conditions, at the time of the old story of Eve and Loiseau.[6]

The most recent war in the Middle East[7] is a summit of the spectacle. A manifest accord[8] between Moscow and Washington -- and no doubt all of the Arab governments -- to finally arrive at a peace that is acceptable to the warmongering Arab populations. There is one aspect, "One will make you bleed, since you hold to it and you will see; in any case you will be happy afterwards," that reminds me of the last sorties from besieged Paris in 1870-71 that were organized by the government of the National Defense, which only thought about [eventually] capitulating, so as to demonstrate to the National Guard that it no longer had anything to lose and to make the Guard bleed as much as possible. In the current epoch (obviously Israel in the long term can be submerged, but what would the world be like at such a moment?), the Israelis can only batter the Arab armies. And, seeing the numerical relations of the forces and the qualitative quasi-equality of the equipment, this was indeed what they did since the second day of the conflict (likewise, they deliberately chose to attack on the first day). Thereafter, "the upside-down world"[9] deployed itself for six days in the mass media[10]: one was astonished by the "success" of the Arabs! One admired their courage, their "capacities" for fighting! One posed the cynical postulate that, for the Arabs, to dare to fight ten against one[11] was already a victory, even if the result was negative. One clearly recognized their unity and solidarity, more mythic than ever. One said coldly that, for the Arab armies, having the valor to be vanquished was a stupefying and admirable victory. In short, it seems to me that never has one scorned the Arabs so much. If they are content, so much the better for them. A commune will certainly not follow. They already do not have a Varlin[12] or even a Mustapha.[13] And even their Felix Pyat[14] died in Jordan in 1970.

Here, the strike at Lip[15] -- a quarter revolutionary but important and exemplary in any case -- shows the remarkable evolution of the workers since 1968. It has nourished, in a number of forms, the fire that will not fail to explode in it one day. Today, the negotiations were broken off and the government -- which has committed the great mistake of not giving in after six weeks or two months -- now wants to punish the strikers. But the damage has been done.

The story of Nadja the Florentine is delicious, even if things remain where they are. But I hope that we will see her in all her beauty.

Do you know if Leonor is thinking of coming soon?

I did not fully understand the story of the Florentine gentleman. If he is the one we call "the Hungarian" (id est: Pannonicus),[16] I believe that he should come to Paris on 25 November. And I will show him the film in a private showing.

I still think of embarking for Caldaie[17] during the last days of November.

See you soon. Best wishes,

[1] "I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze!" (Horace).

[2] Quotation from Machiavelli.

[3] "Sonata in C Major for Violincello and Clavichord," by Michel Corrette.

[4] Translator's note: Italian for "Fuck!"

[5] Eva De Michelis.

[6] Jean-Marc Loiseau.

[7] The Yom Kippur War, between Egypt and israel, [which started] 6 October 1973.

[8] Written in the margin: "Although perhaps badly calculated!"

[9] Translator's note: this phrase appears several times in the Bible (Psalms, 146,9; Isaiah XXIV, 1-2, 20-21; and The Acts of the Apostles XVII, 1-6), but also served as the title of Christopher Hill's book about "radical ideas during the English Revolution," The World Turned Upside Down (1972).

[10] Translator's note: English in the original.

[11] Written in the margin: "At least three against one in tanks and aviation."

[12] Eugene Varlin (1839-1871), a bookbinder, member of the International and the [Paris] Commune, lynched and shot on 28 May 1871.

[13] Mustapha Khayati, cf. letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti, dated 6 December 1969.

[14] Felix Pyat (1810-1889), a lawyer, journalist and man of politics, member of the [Paris] Commune, elected deputy in 1881.

[15] On 17 April 1973, the 1,280 salaried watchmakers at Lip in Besancon went out on strike in opposition to the liquidation of the firm. Starting on 18 June 1973, the strikers organized themselves and appropriated the factory, producing watches commercially on their own.

[16] Translator's note: Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[17] Translator's note: Via delle Caldaie, in Florence.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Excerpted version published in Autour des Films (Documents), the booklet accompanying Oeuvres Cinematographiques Completes, a three-DVD set released November 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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