from Guy Debord

To Raoul Hausmann[1]
31 March 1963

In response to your letter of 24 March [1963],[2] I sent you today a collection of copies of the journal Internationale Situationniste. I believe that, in them, we have explained our position with regard to Dadaism and today's reactionary imitations of it, principally in #2, pages 6-8; #6, pages 12-13; #7, pages 20-23; #8 page 11 -- this list isn't complete.

To summarize, we characterize Dadaism as the revolutionary moment that dominated the culture of the era (and which, despite its negative motivations, provided a mass of innovations that are abundantly useful to what currently calls itself modern art). By contrast, all neo-Dadaism is a reprise -- more or less dissimulated -- of the formal aspect of Dadaism, matched with an ideology, a "justification," that is always reactionary (openly played upon reactionary foundations, as in [Georges] Mathieu, or in the envelopment by some kind of fog, as in several of the "new realists").

The case of Spur is more ambiguous. Several times tied to the situationist movement, but never really integrated into it, the Spurists have never really superceded the state of ignorance, which is solidly organized in contemporary Germany, concerning the cultural and political avant-garde movements prior to 1933. A part of the Dadaist aspect of Spur is surely a manner -- innocent, ignorant -- of renewing of neo-Dadaism with a certain (but insufficient) violence, rather than deliberately exploiting it. I don't know to what degree this limited violence will survive in their current or future activity.

The Situationist Times is only a title that was taken from the situationist movement to serve the worst stupidities. Except for one, who had been with us for some time, there are none among those responsible whom we would even want to meet. Noel Arnaud is obviously one of these.

Concerning your letter's references to Lettrism (on the precise points you cite, I accept your judgments),[3] perhaps I might indicate that, to my knowledge, the journal Ur[4] appeared in 1951, not in 1947?

We want nothing with "Situationism," we explicitly reject the word, we refuse the doctrine. We have wanted to define -- as much as possible, we have begun to experiment with -- a practically situationist activity. In the sense of creating situations or moments, if one can use that word. Environments and actions, in interaction. You are quite severe with the concept of situation; you find all situations painful and insignificant. One can respond that situations in life present themselves "spontaneously," most often automatically. Not always: certain situations please us. If one constructs them freely, they will be, without doubt, less insignificant. This is to be tried out. In all cases, we make a complete break with the official and recognized avant-gardes that have come to the fore since the [second world] war.

Please accept my sincere salutations. And also, whatever your judgment of the S[ituationist] I[nternational], please believe my [high] estimation of your Courrier Dada[5] and the grand era that it treats.

Guy Debord

[1] Raoul Hausmann, creator of the journal Der Dada in 1919, author of the famous manifesto "What is Dadaism and what does it want in Germany?" which in 13 points mocks all ideologies. Fleeing Nazism, he found refuge in France and definitively established himself in Limoges after the war.

[2] Translator's note: See letter to Debord dated 24 March 1963.

[3] "If Isidore Isou pretends to be the first to have made lettrist poems, then he should pay attention to the recitals of [Hugo] Ball in his newspaper of 1916 and [Kurt] Schwitter's declarations in G in 1923. As for Mr Lemaitre, he published in Ur, in 1947, a design that he simply traced from a North American Indian design that was published in 1912 [...] All the lettrists' paintings are only imitations of my Poem-Posters and Tableaux-Writings of 1918 to 1923."

[4] Ur, Notebook for a cultural dictate, Lettrist journal founded by Maurice Lemaitre in 1951, re-started in 1963.

[5] Book by Raoul Hausmann published in 1958.

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

To Contact NOT BORED!