from Guy Debord

To Ricardo Paseyro
Paris, 31 October 1989
Dear Sir:

I hope that you will forgive me for the commercially literate and mechanical appearance that clothes this response to your too-generous letter: my handwriting is often hard to read, and time hasn't made it any better.

I have greatly admired your Eulogy for Illiteracy,[1] which will shock the educated rabble of the day. And I have learned much from it. I had not thought to recognize in imposed illiteracy the same tendency to the total dispossession of each community and the entirety of humanity that the modern economy and the State have made to triumph universally. In sum, [it is] a gift as captious as the obligation of a car for each and every person or political representation. And, nevertheless, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.[2]

And so, and in the pure estimation of Armand Robin,[3] the new illiteracy arrives as a supplementary misfortune. I have known a good number of intelligent illiterates. But they learned to speak in the company of Gypsies, in a village in Kabylie, in a town in Spain. This cannot be done on a highway or before a TV set. Henceforth complete or partial illiterates will be alone and lost in an impenetrable forest of lies.

Must one not see a correspondence of the same type between the progressive social disappearance of domestics and the rapid collapse of the idea that whatever book is published will only have possible interest if the author was written it himself, on the basis of observations that he himself has assembled and judged? But, at the same time, each one is supposed to be capable of driving a car and cooking the savory products of agribusiness factories in the microwave oven.

It is with great pleasure that I will meet you. We will not lack for bad things to say about everyone. I propose to you [meeting in] a kind of bar where one can hope to be discrete, in the neighborhood of our [respective] publishers. Tell me the afternoon and the hour that suits you within the next few days.

Quite cordially,

[1] Published by Editions Robert Laffont.

[2] "I fear the Greeks, even when they make offerings" (Virgil, Aeneid).

[3] Whose poem "The program of several centuries" was reproduced in Paseyro's Eulogy.

[4] Preceded by his Chinese seal.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! December 2008. Footnotes by the publisher.)

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