from Guy Debord

To Andre Frankin
Sunday [24 July 1960]
Dear Andre:

With the exposure of the conspiracy that would to place the Kasai and Kivu among the Katangan secessionists, the events in the Congo become ever more tragic. Does one move towards colonial reconquest, that is to say, towards a new Korean War? It appears sure that, if the expeditionary force of the U[nited] N[ations] doesn't soon chase away the Belgian forces from the six provinces, the chaos will not end until there is an all-out war or, indeed, an organized liquidation of several authorities of the Congolese "state," which would result in total anarchy, a new juridical void and partitioning. Lumumba and Kagavuba didn't exaggerate in the slightest when they telephoned K[1] to say that their lives are in danger. They are in a position that recalls the end of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg:[2] they are practically in the hands of the soldiers. It is rather poignant to see a government leader such as Lumumba disarmed. He is right to always chose the side of the masses that have overwhelmed him (he too must firmly count upon this famous Force as the only instrument of the State). At best, the installation of the U.N. troops will mean the repression of the spontaneous tendencies of the Congolese revolution (workers on strike, soldiers who want to chase away all the cadres of exploitation).

What has happened in the Congo over the last 12 days must be studied a long time, from all points of view; it appears to me as an essential experimentation with the revolutionary conditions of the Third World. The strongest possibility is that those who have pushed the recent extension of the secession will kill Lumumba[3] -- if he isn't protected from now on by U.N. troops -- because it is all too clear that he will never accept the division into two equal parts of the Congo, of which he represents the legitimate authority (it is already quite improbable that he won't counter-attack the Katanga). And what would make the Right in Belgium easily mobilize public opinion?

I hope to read your piece soon. You tell me that it is now being read. By which publisher? Naturally, the preface would be perfect for I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #5.[4] I believe that it will be necessary to do the maximum, so that the piece can be organized for "avant-garde actors." If we are capable of acting in several milieu of the theatre, it would be best. Your piece can play a decisive role in the prehistory of the anti-spectacle.

In the past, you have spoken -- written -- to me about a form adapted for both the stage and the radio. But what I understood of it made me think that all of its striking value depends on its presentation on the stage.

I entirely approve the terms of the preface, constituting a general programme for a new theatre, and it is necessary to immediately make this preface known as a programme. I am so distant from the problems and knowledge of the theatre that I have only thought about it once and in passing. I have retrieved these thoughts from a note made in May [19]57, which outlines two contradictory (complementary) possible developments from the present state. I provide a slightly abridged copy.

1. A future (tied to the derive) that puts the actors in the street (as the stage in its phase of dislocation has already begun to slide into the audience). The actors don't have roles. At the most, they have a theme, a motif much more firm than that of the old commedia dell'arte, a commitment to intervene in urban life, bearing in mind urban zones, traversed decors. These actors can specialize in their frightful or surprising roles or represent the sad or happy possibilities of life. They would stage a new spectacle without place (rupture of playful space), without order, that no one has to understand, but in which everyone can find occasions to live. This new spectacle would thus bring out the very fact of the sphere of the spectacle.

2. In the present, in the current conditions, a negation of the theatre by an excess of realism. Meeting of several people in a normal locale. Like Sacha Guitry (who loves to play in his real furniture), without intrigue, without spirit. Normal conversation, that is to say, not very intelligent, not very stupid. A permanent and empty spectacle, like life -- not beginning and not ending that day -- (the "three unities" under a microscope), with brief openings on what could be. (Thus would be pre-situationist: here the actors reproach themselves for not being actors -- in the sense that they say "Our life must be better constructed. . . .") Thus, a project of an anti-theatre against Ionesco-Beckett.

I thus thought about a precise history, of a sort of anti-history that also comes to an end. And I envisioned such a piece as an exact reconstitution of the relations between me and 2 other people, on such-and-such a day, for 3 or 4 hours (the piece would require at least this long to have its particular "realism"). Relations that would be sufficiently false and absent to suit this period of the theatre; but, all the same, bizarre enough to not evoke any kind of vaudeville or drama. Since I have done something else, naturally. But what do you think about point #2? I believe that it goes in the same direction you are going.

I hope that, one of these days, we can do something as collaborators in the cinema, especially where our hypotheses are the closest. In the meantime -- in September, only because my cameraman is currently being used by the infamous Chabrol -- I will to shoot a little thing that is much simpler.[5] Enclosed is a general call concerning topology.[6] Are you among those who have bright ideas on this question? Me, hardly so.

Cordially yours,

[1] Kennedy.

[2] Assassinated in 1919, the course of the Spartakist insurrection in Berlin.

[3] Which would take place later, on 17 January 1961.

[4] "Preface to the scenic unity, 'The Self and the Others,'" published in I.S. #5, p. 27.

[5] Critique of Separation.

[6] Cf. the circular of 18 July 1960 [by Asger Jorn].

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

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