from Guy Debord

To Giorgio Agamben
6 August 1990
Dear Giorgio

I was a little worried when you recently asked me if I did not like the text that you added to my Comments [on the Society of the Spectacle], and I was especially angry because I remained unable to respond to you. No doubt you had difficulty believing that SugarCo still had not yet sent me a copy of the book, published in March [1990] and, moreover, did not send me one, despite an appeal from my Parisian publisher. It was indeed a quite surprising insolence.

I have just received a copy, and only because an Italian friend has judged it useful to communicate it to me, along with the other edition (Agalev) from Bologna.[1]

Of course I was completely charmed as I read your Glosses.[2] You have spoken so well, in all of your texts, of so many authors, chosen with the greatest taste (about which I am reassured, with the exception of several exotics of whom I am very regrettably ignorant and four or five contemporary Frenchmen whom I do not want to read at all), whom one finds inevitably honored with figuring in such a Pantheon.[3]

I was happy to have attempted -- in 1967[4] and completely contrary to Althusser's sombre denial[5] -- a kind of "salvage by transfer" of the Marxist method by adding to it a large dose of Hegel, at the same time as it reprised a critique of political economy that wanted to bear in mind the Marxist method's ascertainable developments in our poor country, as they were foreseeable from what preceded them. And I greatly admire how you have very legitimately reached back to Heraclitus, with respect to the effectively total expropriation of language, which had previously been the "communal"! This is assuredly the right direction to take up the true task again, which had previously been called "putting the world back on its feet" and "philosophizing with a hammer."

Quite amicably,
Guy Debord

[1] Another Italian translation of Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. [Translator: the "Italian friend" was Paolo Salvadori.]

[2] This appears to be the text published in English as "Marginal Notes on Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle," which appears in Means without End: Notes on Politics, translated from the Italian by Vincenzo Bineetti and Cesare Casarino, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2000.

[3] Agamben's "Marginal Notes on Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle" mentions Gilles Deleuze, Carl von Clausewitz, Niccolo Machiavelli, Spinoza, Marx, Louis Althusser, Karl Kraus, Elias Canetti, Nietzsche, Heraclitus, Rabbi Akiba, Carl Schmidt, and Alain Badou.

[4] In the form of the book, The Society of the Spectacle.

[5] Agamben had written: "In the 1960s, however, the Marxian analysis of the fetish charcater of the commodity was, in the Marxist milieu, foolishly abandoned. In 1969, in the preface to a popular reprint of Capital, Louis Althusser could still invite readers to skip the first section, with the reason that the theory of fetishism was a 'flagrant' and 'extremely harmful' trace of Hegelian philosophy."

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! January 2009. All footnotes by the translator.)

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