from Guy Debord

To Patrick Straram
22 November [1960]
Dear Patrick:

The disappearance of the Notebook [for a landscape to be invented], which you foresaw in your letter of the 4th [of November], is regrettable. But only due to the fact that its essential condition has itself disappeared: a living group, expressing itself in such a publication, recognizing itself in it, developing in it a certain communal programme, and thus encountering other forces. Lacking the coherent unity of a group of this type, you believe (as I do, too) that it would be perfectly vain to wear oneself out by setting up a journal alone or practically alone, or with exterior, far-away contributors. This could at best be a work of critique or a history of "modern thought"; but hardly the complete engagement and the type of game that pleases us.

Quite surely, what I said on the desirable formation of a section of the S[ituationist] I[nternational] in Canada -- in a period that remained to be seen -- was uniquely in the perspective of the contributions of the Notebook and especially in the perspective of a rapid and decided radicalization of "the surest" (?) elements -- the most sure of themselves -- among those who were assembled around issue #1 and those who, most probably, would have risked joining you on the clearly new positions expressed by this journal.

If you so quickly found so many difficulties in even pursuing this very open assemblage, that is to say, if the hostile reaction -- which is normal -- had discouraged rather than radicalized this group, then it is certain that my perspectives were much too optimistic, no longer even to be discussed.

I am content with the possibility of meeting with you in [19]61, in whatever European country that you arrange.

Here, there is still no trace of [Louis] Portugais, which is very good. But also no trace of the journals that he was to drop off, which is a shame.

Yesterday, I was at the Quai des Orfeures, interrogated about the Declaration of the 121[1] -- today 254 [signatories], at least. The cops, who would like to isolate certain "responsible parties," tried a priori to open the exit doors to the signatories they've already interrogated. As I am one of the rares ones who has specified and affirmed in writing that I received and approved the text the day before the famous ordinances (and the notable strengthening of penal sanctions) went into effect, I can not pretend to have participated in the drafting of it. But I declared, from the sole fact of having signed it, that I not only shared vague responsibility with the other signatories, but also shared specific responsibility with he (whomever he is) who faces the most serious personal responsibilities. I refused to sign my deposition insofar as it wasn't completed by this specification, in the absence of which the claim of sharing responsibility is completely abstract, precisely because certain people are more worried than others. The affair thus follows its course, and the appearance of I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #5 surely won't settle matters. In France, the shock of this affair isn't negligible. It is even stronger among the intelligentsia of diverse countries, including the USA.

I am in complete agreement with your appreciation of Truffaut as a "great classic" of the cinema -- even if such an appreciation is made by opposing this classicism to the more current and superior value of the supercession of expression. Because the peril lies in shifting the relations at the interior of culture to a great level (as one has elevated all the Congolese soldiers to the highest level). Thus, one reinforces the inflation and total confusion of the critical vocabulary of modern art. If a Truffaut is at least a classic; if Resnais has already achieved the supercession of expression, etc; then how can one evoke our own positions and researches? As absolute nullity or, on the contrary, as assured triumph, even more grandiose. Two judgments that will be proven false.

Cordially yours,

P.S. If Correa hasn't sent you the Durrell, this could be a very petty sign of his "political" disappointment, of which I spoke to you in a preceding letter. Thus, I prefer to send it to you myself. At this moment, I have to bear an infinity of expenses but, as soon as possible, I will send you a part of the books that are necessary -- beginning with the subscription to Liberation.[2]

[1] Translator's note: See The Minute of Truth in Internationale Situationniste #5, December 1960.

[2] Liberation, a daily newspaper, with positions close to those of the F.C.P. [French Communist Party], founded in 1944 by the journalist Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie, published until November 1964.

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

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