from Guy Debord

To Branko Vucicovic[1]
5 January 1966
Dear Sir:

Your critique -- I want to say: the discussion of the points that you emphasize -- is completely legitimate and certainly does not offend us. I am happy that this correspondence creates several clarifications.

You have reason to say that there is a regrettable appearance of "monologue" in our publication [Internationale Situationniste]. I will add three remarks on this point.

1) A certain part of it is the result of our attitude towards research, advancing towards a new formulation. And certainly the global crisis of culture leaves no other route, for he who wants to go beyond it must firmly place himself on a departure point that is radically different (which in fact first of all restores the truth of the liberatory attempts of the past). It is necessary to contrast oneself clearly with the old confusion; and thus also with its open or sly or simply unaware partisans. It is obviously necessary for us to submit to the negative weight of the attitude that we have chosen. We must avow this negative.

2) Another and enormously heavier part of the "monologue" of the SI derives from the almost total boycott that we have encountered. Of course, we have done nothing to create it, and we even do all that is possible -- without repudiating ourselves -- to break it. Without doubt, you can measure the degree of this boycott by the fact that no journal, no newspaper in France has ever devoted a short or severe critique to the SI, even though several glaring plagiarisms (with the particular points of our theses being used without and against us) hardly permit one to think that the intelligentsia that knows us would, in good faith, judge that this lack of interest in the subject [of the SI] permits one to be officially ignorant of us.

3) We hope that this aspect of "monologue" is clearly on track to be reduced by the extension of our real contacts and certain precisions in practices. We accept and look for all discussions and experimentation in veritable terms. We are quite in agreement with you on the unity of the problem of the current avant-garde. In fact, we open the dialogue everywhere where this state of mind manifests itself in a radical sense. Because this state of mind is in itself divided by a struggle between its truth, on the one hand, and its recuperation organized by power, on the other. Thus, we accept a really positive side in the partial attempts of the American happening [English in original]. This all the more reinforces our analysis that the happening was born outside of all direct influence of the SI's theories (but as an attempt to respond to the same objective problems that we have described). But, for example, the first importation of it to Europe as an artistic commodity presented by those of our traveling salesmen who have a patent on this commodity has completely inverted the meaning of the American happening, and the official cultural spectacle gives to the Americans (or the Polish . . .) the "European values of the avant-garde," which are not for us or people like us, but, on the contrary, are the official avant-garde of empty and harmless questioning. Nevertheless, a part of the recent American avant-garde, following its own movement, has gone as far as extending itself to the problems of the status of the Blacks and the contestation of the American university. At this point, we begin to meet them, concretely.

We slowly develop, for ourselves, our communication: the terrain is finally favorable, but are means are very limited. Although the project of our friend Alexander Trocchi has swerved towards an unfortunate artistic wave, it has also served as a point of contact with the more profound tendencies that are forming at this moment in the USA and that you have heard of. For example, the Free University of New York [English in original], of which the address is 20 East 14th Street, New York (N.Y. 10003).

We are in agreement with you on the formula: "no formulation of political tasks that haven't been deduced from artistic experiences" (cf. I.S. #8, p. 11: "From modern art [...] one will now see reappear the revolutionary theory that came from philosophy in the first half of the 19th century." Forgive me the quotation. Along with "modern art," one wants to say culture -- from poetry to psychoanalysis, for example). But the totality of the cultural experiences of this era already deduces the political tasks ("political," as well "artistic," finally being the terms of criticizable specialization).

Quite cordially,
Guy Debord

P.S. As for the books of which you speak: mine isn't finished yet. That of [Raoul] Vaneigem is ready, but has already been refused by four publishers in Paris -- a supplementary illustration of the boycott mentioned above. Have you received our recent mailings, a tract on Algeria and a brochure in English? The [new issue of our] journal will appear a little later.

[1] Translator: a Czechoslavakian art historian. Parts of this letter were published in the essay, "The Ideology of Dialogue," Internationale Situationniste #10, March 1966.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 3, 1965-1968. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! August 2005.)

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