from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
2 April 1971

We have read your letter of 16 March [1971] very attentively.

Concerning the Treatise [on Living for the Younger Generations], we can do nothing, because Vaneigem resigned from the SI in November [1970]; and on a base that no longer permits us to entertain any sort of communication with him. Perhaps you can indicate to him directly this shady editorial operation [of which you speak]. (Marie-Paule Devos, 49, avenue Stuart Merril, Brussels 19.)

We take good note of the existence of F. Orsini and J. Fallisi,[1] as well as the scoundrels who accompany them. As for Ruffolo,[2] we believe more and more that he is an auxiliary of the police, because of a denunciation published several months ago in an Italian anarchist journal by one of those who have been imprisoned since the spring of 1969: he had been unmasked as a spy in that very prison, where he was a pseudo-prisoner who sometimes called himself an anarchist and sometimes a pro-situationist.

Concerning Silva's translation (attached are clarifications of the difficult words), we are in agreement on Le idee che armano il proletariato.[3] This is the best slogan. It seems that it is useless as a sottotitolo[4] (imprinted on the book); but it could be very good as a phrase on the wrapper (the paper that surrounds a new book placed in bookstores, if the publisher still maintains this old practice). The title itself (The SI and the Formation of the Modern Revolutionary Movement) is good.

Concerning the regrettable rupture between us: your motivations, your evaluation of the necessities or urgencies, remain discussable, by you and by the others. The methodological error in the organization isn't discussable.

Guy Debord

P.S. We are bothered a little by the police at this moment, notably in Italy. Pay attention: Calabresi & Company would like to discover a conspiracy of irresponsible Leftist extremists, perhaps who are in agreement with Borghese.[5] (So as to fabricate, in a conspiracy, a demonstration of the fascist-Leftist collusion that one indicated in Reggio and Aquila.) Here, we have received anonymously by mail (intimidation? or a police officer who is careful with the management of his future?) three filecards from the Renseignements generaux -- that is to say, our little FBI. These cards are devoted to Pavan, Sanguinetti and you. They are well informed (concerning birth dates and homes, except Pavan, whose home remains unknown). The general characteristic is something like this: "Those responsible for the Situationist International anarcho-Trotskyist movement." At the bottom, surveillance of contacts and movements is asked for, in France, but probably at the request of the Italian police.


Watrinage -- Untranslatable without commentary -- the summary execution of a captain or leader (principally an anarchist term, end of the 19th century, from the name of an [English] engineer named Watrin who was massacred by striking miners).

Toast -- Yes: brindisi.

Il castello di Elseneur -- This is where the action of Hamlet takes place (French version). In Denmark, this town is Helsingor. In Shakespeare, I don not know. It would necessary to see an Italian translation of Hamlet. It is there that Hamlet speaks of the "old mole" that Hegel and others took up (concerning the ghost).

Novlangue -- This is the French version of Orwell's term in 1984: "new language" [Newspeak] in bureaucratic abridgement. In Italian, something like nuovlingua or novlingua.

Cararmess -- French translation of a Bolshevik term from the civil war, in Babel's account, which here names Cavalerie rouge [Red Cavalry]. In Russian, this must be Cavarmy (?). Literally, it is the Newspeak version of the term "army of the cavalry." Army, in this meaning, seems to me corpo d'armata, rather than esercito. Might it be necessary to risk cavarmata or cavallarmata? The word must be ugly.

Immagini d' Epinal -- Meaning to say: "naive and crude popular imagery" (in the representation of a scene, the design and coloring). Epinal is the French town in which images were produced en masse in the 18th-19th centuries. As the great majority were images of soldiers and battles, there is in French a quite contemptuous sense, because of the militarist mystification that spreads itself through the use of the "naive" image.

Jdanovisme -- This is simply the doctrine of the Stalinist bureaucracy (specialized in culture and "socialist realist") that, I believe, we call Idanov in Italian transcription.

En peau de lapin [in the fur of a rabbit] -- Literally Sotto una pelle di coniglio. But it is certainly necessary to translate it otherwise. It is a popular expression that means something like: "worthless," "imitation," "obviously artificial" -- according to me, there is also a sense of a "poor disguise that doesn't rise to the level of an illusion." What's important is the "coarse" tone of the expression, although it is an old expression among workers, and not argot.

En sauce Garnault [in Garnault sauce] -- Literally: in salsa (di) Garnault." A pleasantry, this is a culinary expression, as if [the excluded situationist Jean] Garnault was a celebrated cook who arranged -- and cooked -- a plate dove si vede meglio la salsa che l'arrosto.[6]

A la Homais [in the style of Homais] -- This is an expression that here designates the pedantry of petit-bourgeois sub-rationality, to a comic degree, after a character in Flaubert (in Madame Bovary), the pharmacist Homais, disciple of the obsolete and ridiculous "Voltarian" ideology. Perhaps it would be better the leave the name, by translating it as "lo stile di Monsieur Homais" (with these last words in French). Here, one most often refers to "Monsieur Homais."

Fusional narcissism -- I do not pretend to know the exact meaning that this term has in the heads of miserable psychiatrists. But "fusional" is an adjective -- do you know it? -- for the concept of fusion (fusione). This isn't "fusionist," in the same way that "Marxian" isn't exactly "Marxist."

Vivoir -- This is a stupid French neologism (without doubt from architecture) that tries to translate literally living room [English in original]. Can one translate this into Italian according to the model that gives us the Latin term vomitorium, with respect to a usage a little different from a stanza [room]?

Surboum -- Argot word of young people (around 1945-50) that translates the American surprise-party [English in original], the practice of which removed the element of "surprise" [English in original] that was at the origin of these meetings.

[1] Filippo Orsini and Fallisi, bookseller/publishers of La Vecchia Talpa [The Old Mole] in Milan.

[2] Raffaele Ruffolo.

[3] The ideas that arm the proletariat.

[4] Subtitle.

[5] Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, see the letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti of 23 March 1971, note 2.

[6] "Where one see more of the sauce than the roast."

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972. Footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2005.)

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