from Guy Debord

To Constant
21 March [1959]
Dear Constant:

Excuse me for not having responded more quickly to your request for the notes on psychogeography. [Asger] Jorn suddenly appeared, back from Italy and immediately left for Denmark, where I followed him so as to see about the popular universities. I admitted, on the spot, that this is an extremely interesting terrain (not for urbanism, but at least for architecture, because at one of the schools -- that of Askov -- one can control the construction of a certain number of buildings. Also interesting as a popular basis and as "experimental instruction"). There is still too much optimism in Jorn's views concerning our immediate practical possibilities. But I believe that it is a direction to be followed. I will speak to you about it in greater detail. The trip has lasted longer than anticipated; I only just returned and found your letter, which arrived this past Monday.

Concerning Denmark, there is plenty of commotion surrounding the SI -- which, moreover, is very badly understood. I gave two interviews, to people who were worthwhile. Dahlmann Olsen[1] seems to want to join us. I do not have great confidence in him, but, after all, he is an architect. There is also Jorgen Nash,[2] very likable but I do not know more about him. And someone else who seems to me to have conducted research into sound -- and in detournement -- which cross-checks and confirms the evolution that I have seen in France and Belgium for the last few years. Thus, he will no doubt find himself comfortable with our most extreme perspectives. I do not know exactly who will come to [the conference of the situationists in] Munich, but at least one of them will.

Concerning the news from Holland. The conference is very good. I believe that the article in the newspaper is also a very good thing for propaganda. The fact that one cites [Isidore] Isou in it isn't embarassing (and it is quite just: he has counted as much in this development as Pinot Gallizio!) I have asked Jorn to translate this newspaper for me. I think that the polemic cited at the end says that you have rejected the "magical" and irrational formula that one finds sweetly clinging to us.

Thus, I'm thinking of coming to Amsterdam on 1 May (except of course if the absence of money makes it impossible . . . ). And in two weeks I will send to you our soundtrack.[3]

We are agreed about [the appearance of] Armando[4] at Munich. It is up to you to judge. I have received a catalogue from the Dutch Informal Group. But is a little obscure [vaseux], but no doubt likable. Something like the Spur Group.[5] And many of our current friends can certainly come from it. As a general rule, I desire the strongest Dutch participation at Munich. Holland is on the way to becoming the dominant section of our International, our most advanced base!

For your works that are about to be published, I adjoin to this letter several summary notes that you can -- partially -- use as elements of your own work. But they are products of the stream of consciousness,[6] scattered reflections, perhaps certainly contradictory? Only keep in mind that which you can admit into your own demonstrations.

At the same time, under separate cover, I send a more coherent article on psychogeography, which appeared here almost four years ago.[7] It will be necessary for you to return this journal to me. You can pull quotations from it.

Concerning the Munich text,[8] Bear in mind that this isn't a text by the assembly, but a declaration of principle, a minimum declaration, so as to unite and engage the people who call themselves "situationists" in a fashion that is a little [too] easy. The texts on U.U.,[9] etc. to be developed together will engage them more deeply and concretely (and will also eliminate certain people as well). But above all it is necessary to lead them to accept a minimum, a communal revolutionary perspective [optique]. It seems to me that turning oneself towards the workers' movement is the most scandalous thing [to do] in decomposed modern art, which has generally become apolitical or fascist (Klein,[10] [Georges] Mathieu, the better-known members of the "Angry Young Men"[11]). It is the best struggle against the "pictorial" tendency.

What you say ("the working class has historically not had a culture, which implies the possibility, the necessity, of a culture of a new type") is exactly one of the essential bases -- and voluntarily hidden since then -- of Marx's thought: "The proletariat is revolutionary or it is nothing." It is here that our own experimental work on a new culture/usage of life is both justified and usable by the authentic revolutionary movement.

Moreover, I believe in the possibility and even the necessity of a new beginning for the revolution -- and even in Europe, which isn't stable and is threatened by fascism. Even in the case that such jolts remain "local," we already have supports, positions that have been taken up, in six different countries. We must prepare ourselves to work at the maximum in the best. . . . The interaction between thought and politics is as old as the world, it is true. What is new -- unfortunately -- is the interaction between a revolutionary movement in culture and the authentic revolutionary movement in politics. I say "unfortunately" because I think that all of the conditions were already present in the 1920s.

See you soon. Cordially yours,

[1] Robert Dahlmann Olsen, a Danish architect, publisher, writer about art, and organizer of exhibitions who was part of the editorial committee of Eristica #2, July 1956.

[2] Translator: Asger Jorn's brother.

[3] Translator: this would appear to have been a recording made by Walter Olmo and purchased for the SI by Pinot Gallizio.

[4] Armando, a painter, situationist in the Dutch section.

[5] Translator: German in original. The Spur Group was based in Munich.

[6] Translator: literally, the stream of the pen (au fil de la plume).

[7] Guy Debord, "Introduction to a critique of urban geography," Les levres nues #6, September 1955.

[8] "Inaugural declaration of the Third Conference of the SI to revolutionary intellectuals and artists."

[9] Unitary urbanism.

[10] Yves Klein, a French painter whose monochrome paintings were announced by the "First Exhibition of Psychogeography," Taptoe Gallery, Belgium, 2-26 February 1957.

[11] Group of English artists (John Osborne, Colin Wilson, Kenneth Tynan, etc.) constituted in 1956. [Translator: "Angry Young Men," English in original.]

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 1, 1957-1960. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! October 2005.)

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