from Guy Debord

To Jean-Pierre Baudet
26 October 1986
Dear Jean-Pierre:

Arriving in Arles, I found your letter of 29 September. My response will thus lack freshness, because Floriana [Lebovici] herself responded to you a while ago.

I have read your manuscript[1] in a single day, as soon as I received it, at the beginning of October, and I sent it on to Floriana the next day, advising her to publish it as soon as possible. I sent her five or six observations to transmit to you, but which only concern trifles. Given the subject matter and its urgency, I believe that you must not lose time by stylistically tightening up perhaps two or three pages out of the whole: which would give it, here and there, a little more power. But you have said very well that it cannot have an appropriate style when it is a question of speaking of such things. Thus, the greatest power comes from these pages, alas, in a terrifying manner. It is the first typographic text that must not be evaluated in ciceros, points or signs, but in becquerels!

I see no incompatibility with [Jaime] Semprun's text,[2] which is very brilliant as literature, but which speaks of an experience that is unfortunately surpassed; and which doesn't go as far in the theorization of the complete perversion of all previous scientific methodology: an overturning that ends a period of about 500 years (with which everyone, of course, has been more or less impregnated for a long time). Indeed, it seems to me that it is good that Editions [Gerard] Lebovici publishes both books, for want of having three of them. At the unfortunate moment in which we find ourselves, this publishing house appears in sum as the only pole of general resistance to the dominant lie. It is necessary that the profound truth of nuclear energy is exposed there.

I add, and I believe that this truly is not an unwritten provision, that I have no "decision" to express with respect to the books that Editions G.L. does or does not publish. They have never asked my advice, I believe (with perhaps one or two exceptions while Gerard was still alive?) with respect to what was completely excellent. Thus I have always given a favorable opinion. One can even say that asking my opinion is in fact useless when it comes to these texts.

As for On War,[3] do not forget that my ignorance of German surpasses credulity. As I was also unaware that, later on in life, I would become an internationalist and dialectician (and, if I had known this, I would have thought, incorrectly, that others would be so numerous in these domains that one would never have had need of my incompetence), I have been -- in this area, as in others -- the worst student of my generation. I have only read Naville's translation. Carried away by the grandeur of the content, the function of which I certainly grasped, I did not even detect the weakness of the translation's form. It was Gerard, twenty-five years later, who told me that he detected a tone of "pre-Nouvel Observateur" poverty.[4] And he easily convinced me, because of all that I had very clearly and recently seen with respect to its re-translations into Arabic, Chinese, Russian and American [English] (languages that I also do not know).

I imagine that Vatry, as the Captain of the Dragons who translated The Russian Campaign, hardly relished the "Hegelian coquetteries" for which one has also reproached Marx. I know that Clausewitz was not directly Hegelian, [and] no doubt had not read Hegel. It is not necessary to let oneself be impressed by this schoolmaster's critique, [made] through a Flaschenarsch.[5] Kant and Fichte sufficed for him [Clausewitz], simply by dominating the very reality of the strategic sphere, to be something truly close to a Hegelian dialectician. During the same period, the true summit of theoretical thought (thus of the veritable, fundamental science), Hahnemann[6] resembled a Hegelian dialectician by conceiving of homeopathy. It is, on the contrary, by not understanding Hegelian "terminology" that one does not understand Clausewitz, and thus strategy, as well.

Is it truly necessary to add the texts that are included in the German edition? It includes all the incomplete versions, etc. But here? And what would be a good translation of Pascal's Thoughts into German?

I see that they want to teach us to live with the atom, asbestos, motorways, South Africa, unemployment, [artificial] terrorism, [Andre] Glucksmann and also, perhaps, Vaneigem. But will they succeed?

I hope that we will soon see each other in Paris.


P.S. Tell Jeff [Jean-Francois Martos] that the clumsy cretin (Bertrand Delcour) whose text I sent him now tries to telephone me here, the very day of my arrival. Which gives the impression that he has special information. But could his text, which has the air of idiocy, have been written by a computer? In general, Jeff can at least situate nearly everyone on the chessboard of ultra-Leftism. He must become our Bourtsneff.

[1] Chernobyl: Anatomy of a Cloud, published anonymously by Editions Gerard Lebovici in 1987.

[2] The Nuclearization of the World, published in 1980 by Assomoir and reprinted in 1986 by Editions Gerard Lebovici.

[3] Jean-Pierre Baudet's translation of Carl von Clausewitz' Vom Kriege.

[4] The breezy, impoverished style of writing published in newspapers and popular magazines.

[5] Bottle-ass in German.

[6] Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843).

(Translated from the French by NOT BORED! October 2008.)

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