from Guy Debord

To Gilles Cahoreau[1]
6 April 1989
Dear Sir:

Contrary to your prediction, I will respond to you for several reasons.

I never judge historians or even biographers before reading their works. The stupidities of the Pompidou Center,[2] or the sophisticated cretins who claim to have read me, do not interest me at all, and could not change my conduct. Finally, your letter was intelligent; although I completely reject the hypothesis that the phrase that you cite is a lure [leurre]. One can call "lure" anything that misleads rapid reading or computers.[3] In any case, there isn't a single inexact or deceptive piece of information [in my book]. I suggest another hypothesis to you: what if, in this book -- for a reader capable of understanding dialectical, strategic thought (Machiavelli or Clausewitz)[4] -- there are in fact no lures? What if the only lure is the very evocation of the possibility of there being lures?

I did not know Francois Truffaut. Like everyone else, I have seen two or three of his films, which have appeared "talented" to me, as the tales of Maupassant would say. I do not consider him to be my contemporary: I cited Maupassant precisely because he had a certain, commonly recognized quality, and because I've read little and think nothing of him. Thus, I don't think anything about Francois Truffaut and I would have supposed that, until his death, he would have thought nothing of me, for his part having even less reason to know me. Since his death, I have learned that I was wrong: he thought and spoke much ill of me; this is especially notable in the testimony of the lawyer [named] Kiejman, during the series of stupid broadcasts that the radio-journalist Max Geneve (a well-known illiterate) devoted to the situationists last year. I will grant that Kiejman's testimony is perhaps suspect because I was obliged to insult him in 1978.[5] I do not know if the other parts of your research have recouped information that relates to the strange hatred that Truffaut long had for me, but in any case I believe it is more fitting to notify you of it, because it would be strange if my belated recognition of the fact transformed my indifference into sympathy where you are concerned.

Obviously there is no proximity between the place where L'Enfant sauvage[6] was filmed and Bellevue-la-Montagne. The first idea comes from a historical anecdote, I believe, while the other from my taste for scenery that is off the beaten track. In this sense, there is a common point: the wildness of Auvergne.

Among other things, I do not know if the Notre Dame affair[7] affected Truffaut, and I do not believe that the belated explications concerning the Sex Pistols,[8] which I obviously haven't read, can be worthy of much faith. I did not know Michel Mourre, who immediately repented, and I did not participate in the scandal. But shortly afterward I got to know two leaders of the operation, Ghislain de Marbaix and Serge Berna, also imprisoned for the attack, who became my friends. It is true that the scandal was the expression of the most radical hooligans [voyous] in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, like the subsequent attempt to dynamite the Eiffel Tower,[9] and in this sense it counted among the acts that led to the formation of the situationist movement (notably through Berna, who was a member of the Lettrist International in 1952).

You see that I have made an effort to respond very precisely to those questions of yours that I understand and know the answers to. But I understand less what you are asking with respect to Lebovici. I will allow that he enters into your subject matter and in a very marginal fashion; myself, as well. But what, more exactly, would you like to know from me about the affairs (amicable, artistic or business?) that existed between Truffaut and Lebovici? I know nothing relevant. I do not believe that you are asking me what Lebovici thought of Truffaut during the period that I associated with Gerard? It must appear to you that the indirect testimony of a dead person, relayed by someone who is unknown to the person in question, lacks all methodological rigor. Or do you ask me for my opinion of Gerard Lebovici himself?

Guy Debord

[1] Biographer of Francois Truffaut.

[2] Translator's note: exhibition about the Situationist International that opened on 21 February 1989.

[3] Translator's note: see first paragraph of Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, which was written in such a way to defeat or resist quick reading or processing by a computer.

[4] Translator's note: see Debord's letter to Eduardo Rothe dated 21 February 1974.

[5] In 1977. See letter dated 22 August 1977.

[6] Film by Francois Truffaut, filmed in 1969 in l'Averyron.

[7] In the book by Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces. ["Sex Pistols" in English in the original.]

[8] Translator's note: the "attempt" never got beyond the very first stages of conceiving the idea.

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

To Contact NOT BORED!