from Guy Debord

To Floriana
25 March 1986
Dear Floriana:

I have just received the diagrams of the kriegspiel[1] game. It is necessary that I verify them, one by one, with a great deal of attention. But I can already say that, as images, they are everything they should be. We will have a beautiful book.

The catalogue is very good. I only see one modification to note for the next time: the cover of the journal I.S.[2] (78th title) must be rephotographed with the inset "Editions Gerard Lebovici," as has already been done with the Souvarine (101st title). Over time, the increase of such modifications to books published before 1984, and also the numbers of "classics" that this publishing house [Editions Gerard Lebovici] keeps through so many reprintings, will make clear its faithfulness its lineage.

I laughed heartily at the souvenirs from the old cultivated bookstore.[3] They have perfectly exposed in advance all the reactions that you tried out upon me in January, and have even exposed my rapid evolution! All this does not rejuvenate me. Moreover, they truly have the merit of putting back into question the ideas accepted since 1960, because they were the first occupants of the new house -- this is the exact phrase[4] to use, because plaster was the great material in Saint-Sulpician art. The neighborhood greatly improved since then, and in part thanks to the boldness that it showed when we arrived there, like the Napoleonic Guard, to transform a half-won battle into a triumph.

It will be necessary for us to speak of Kessler.[5] Much more intelligent than the hobby horse[6] of the V.C.R. type that dislodged Marie-Christine,[7] Kessler understood that kriegspiel is not a question of a plaything [jouet], but a game [jeu]. The magazines that he sent me confirmed that the Americans had, for twenty years or more, remained at the same picturesque simulation of an infinity of precisely historical battles, replayed on different maps with different unities or "technologies,"[8] which all want to be ludic figurations of (equivalent) representations of these particular, already-determined battles. The French have only tried to translate or imitate this. "The Game of War" is the representation of battle in general, and even war itself. Which is what one said for a long time about chess, but only chess. "Ludimos effigiem belli,"[9] to quote the formula of Bishop Vida (?) in his remarkable didactic poem from 1529, Scacchia ludus. On the other hand, I am a little perplexed by Kessler's propositions, given my ignorance of the media[10] that he evokes, plus my doubts about his personality.

With respect to the investigation, I fear that I was misunderstood when I evoked "sociological conditions" to be elucidated.[11] This is not always a matter of individual irresponsibility. If I considered that, sociologically, there were more drug addicts and crazy people in the streets, and that they can kill anyone, this was to recognize that here it would almost be impossible to find a particular murderer. But if, in a less current and clearer sociological vision, I considered that there are certain (often new) domains in which the mafia operates and follows its strategic interests by procedures that we know, then -- quite on the contrary -- I soon thereafter derived two primary conclusions: 1) for each of these crimes, there is a single person responsible, and 2) many people, or at least a good number of them, although remaining silent, are in the loop. Which also has something encouraging in it. The mafia is an historical phenomenon that began with the "disappearance" of witnesses, continued through neutralization (as exhaustive as possible) of the police, and culminated with the "scientific" pretension of only being a myth, of having never existed. The mafia, which for so long expressed a retardation of capitalism and the State, has become ultra-modern in our world, because spectacular conditions (the spectacle serves more to hide than to show) -- more clumsily each year -- have immensely augmented the mafia's impunity and thus the field of its operations, field in the geographical sense, but also in the sense of "sectors of activity."[12] Nevertheless, the spectacle must not always aim at being understood, no more than current society.

Would you like to come here on 13 April? and remind always scatterbrained Lorenzo that he must come for a weekend[13] between now and then, if he would soon make intensive progress in psychology.[14]

We embrace you all.

[1] Translator's note: cabinet game invented by Guy Debord.

[2] Translator's note: Internationale Situationniste, the collected run of which was published by Editions Champ Libre in 1975.

[3] In the Saint-Sulpice neighborhood. [Translator's note: this was the location of the offices of Editions Gerard Lebovici and also the old "stomping grounds" of the Lettrist International. It is discussed and depicted in Debord's film On the passage of several people through a brief unit of time (1961).]

[4] Translator's note: the French idiomatic expression used here is il essuyait les platres, which means "to try out the plaster," that is, the plasterboard walls of a house.

[5] Translator's note: Counselor on intellectual properties for Debord's Kriegspiel. See letter dated 24 May 1976.

[6] Guillaume de Chajournes. [Translator's note: the French word Debord employs here, le hobereau, can mean "hobby" or, colloquially, "squire." We have chosen "hobby horse" because the V.C.R. is a horse race.]

[7] Translator's note: Marie-Christine de Montbrial, a friend of Gerard Lebovici who worked at Gaumont and who intended to help promote kriegspiel.

[8] Translator's note: English in original.

[9] "What we play is a representation of war."

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

[11] Translator's note: see letter dated 5 March 1986.

[12] Translator's note: Debord will speak at great length about the mafia in Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988).

[13] Translator's note: English in original.

[14] With a view to avoiding military service.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 6: Janvier 1979-Decembre 1987 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2006. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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