from Guy Debord

To Ivan Chtcheglov
30 April 1963
Dear Ivan:

I now respond to many things all at once (because of the lateness of this letter: excuse me, a lot has unexpectedly arisen). There are several points to which I didn't respond, because of reasons revealed at the end of your most recent letter -- 28 April [1963]. But I have taken good note of these points, as well. Thank you for the commentary on the debut of the "Formulary [for a new urbanism]" -- in fact, only the epigraph.[1] I hope that we can also have the rest immediately. Critique aided by detourned films can be illuminating (I here retrieve the technique that you began to apply in your "Quadro-dimensional corpus of which the action happens in several novels already published or to be published"). In the case of Crin-Blanc,[2] there is a weakness derived from its deliberately sub-mythological fabrication, by a mediocre director -- but, at the same time, I take it into my head that this film (the only time I saw it) reminds me of an era, etc., otherwise called the "corpus" that is always widening itself. There exists a Western called Johnny Guitar that, at its beginning, is a striking illustration of the derive and even, in the opinion of Michele and I, an image of a person whom you resemble. After a third section, the film continues on with a conventional adventure.

On the role of alcohol, we are quite in agreement. I also, as the day goes on, drink fruit juice. All the same, the dosage is difficult.

Planete (80,000 readers at present) is indeed the worst. And this is linked to all the vulgarity of a new society of oppression, mixed together with spectacular comfort, intellectual and otherwise. The subtlety of this society is elsewhere. The two aspects are to be destroyed, nothing less. Your formula, "communicating vessels," for those who hide all current artistic and vital research, and disoccult ancient thought or historical secrets ("There's nothing in them to understand" and "We have understtod all"), is very good. They are the valets of order, they are eternally the same enemies of those who have protected or created something against order. Falsely divulging or completely hiding are two sucessive tactics: they are applied, for example, to thought and modern art.

Yes, the specialists of today's hyper-specialized world have justly become such that one can do better than they can, with the minimum to start with, however little one starts from a center (the hypothesis of a center?). Whereas it is impossible to say the same thing of the old specialist, the artisan: everyone referred to the same center and quality was in the thoroughness of a fixed game. Today, all the rules of the game go up in flames, as Marx almost said; one can thus look to resuscitate old games -- or luxuries (and then one is with the dominant forces, which actually do not permit any games, cf. the poor Merovingian festivals of junk organized by Georges Mathieu). On the contrary, one can approach a new universal game without rules ("When one thinks that all these people are here for one to play with!" -- Gilles Ivain, on the Boulevard Saint-Michel). This is the side of the only possible and very difficult [to achieve] revolution of our era.

As you say, the derive is a dangerous business, for the [same] complex reasons that geographical exploration, political militantism, [and] perhaps also certain psychoanalytic research (see Wilhelm Reich) have been or still are dangerous activities.

For the journal [Internationale Situationniste], it is necessary that we speak of a living voice (to envision more precisely supercessions). We know well that there are inevitable weaknesses (or difficultly avoidable?) in certain forms of action. Even the fact of publishing a slightly "regular" journal is very tiresome; and, at the same time, one of our only weapons to define and hold on to a base. As for the internal changes of this series [of issues], one can talk. But there are so many problems and things to do.

Maryse[3]: disappeared two or three months ago, in search of Carlos, always a traveler and an uncomfortable traveler. More of Homme de Main.[4] Is it possible that she caught up with his parents?

What you say about "the Chateau"[5] confirms for me that this organization can only reproduce -- crudely, even more crudely -- the organization of the exterior world. The chances of resistance to them are still slight. We must "take care of ourselves," this is clear; there are no others in whom we can recognize a sufficient level of understanding or praxis to do this. The most interesting aspect of your account of the evolution of the Chateau towards a normal bureaucracy is the role of architectural transformation (and, subsequently, the regression of vocabulary: he who speaks the language of the enemy becomes the enemy, despite his "good will").

An architecture adapted to situationist usage, a higher level of thought and liberty among the inhabitants, if we can unite them -- in England or elsewhere -- would permit several small situations without futures by which the future would be agreeably modified.

Given that the strike of 1963 reminds them of the one in August 1953, we must remember what can follow it.

Cordially yours,

(Michele [says]: it is necessary to come down from the Chateau and watch it pass.)[6]

[1] "Sire, I am from the other country."

[2] Film by Albert Lamorice (1953).

[3] Former companion of Ghislain de Marbaix, nicknamed "the Tatooed."

[4] Bar of ambiance founded by Ghislain de Marbaix and his companion, [on the] rue Jussieu.

[5] The Chateau of La Chesnais (in Chailles, Loir-et-Cher) had been transformed into an "avant-garde" psychiatric hospital.

[6] Allusion to Ivan's words concerning the bar Le Tonneau d'Or [the Golden Keg], rue de la Montagne-Saint-Genevieve: "It is necessary to descend from the Keg and watch it pass."

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

To Contact NOT BORED!
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998