from Guy Debord

To Asger Jorn
6 July [1960]
Dear Asger:

It is very sad that [Christian] Christensen died at the same time that your book [Critique of Political Economy] was published. But perhaps the coincidence will greatly aggravate Denmark's bad conscience? Photo and dedication [in Critique] are surprisingly strong in this light.

There is a lot of news, about which it will be necessary to speak (I hope that we will meet up before [the conference in] London). I write very quickly on several points.

The reaction of the Leger Museum is very rare: an avowal of pure rage, an imprudent departure from the sure retrenchments of "scornful silence."

[Isidore] Isou has made an exposition of paintings composed by the public in a small library.[1] This is a clear plagiarism of your May 1959 exposition, with a theory that tries -- in delirious Isouian terms -- to integrate into Isouism all the negative factors that we represent to him over the last several years.

I am overwhelmed by letters and texts from the lamentable Estivals:[2] a response to my article in I.S. [Internationale Situationniste] #4, in which he complains of being maliciously trampled, ridiculed for the amusement of the gallery, etc; an imbecilic study of [your] On Form, in which he bravely tries to provoke "the explosion" of the SI [Situationist International] "already begun by [Ralph] Rumney"! Estival's type would be the ideal target for polemic if he was Minister of Culture or even in Herbert Read's place. But I fear that one can't justify the pursuit of a dialogue with such an obscure sub-product of university-sociologistic silliness.

We are agreed upon the one-year suspension of the "Spur" fraction [sic]. During this time, we will try to raise the level.

Very interested in the situological and situographic developments of topology. It will be necessary to quickly improve all of its scientific conclusions -- and to adapt or detourn them. The first task of our position is to intervene in it as an artistic activity (with a game of gestures elevated to the dignity of art), whereas the tendency to objective observation had previously been dominant.

Concerning [Wilhelm] Sandberg [of the Stedeljik Museum], I believe I have reported quite precisely the analysis that you have made of his current role. It is at least my analysis, if you note that the text obviously implies that "reformists" are preferable to reactionaries -- and that one must defend against them, because one is mistaken about the departure of [the Swiss artist] Max Bill. And I have never thought or written that these people have not had the most revolutionary intentions and tastes (in 1945 or today). But they are in a cultural and practical framework that renders the placement of this framework into question almost impossible. This doesn't excuse the sabotages of the Dutch [situationists] in the preparation [of the exposition]. More than money, it was enthusiasm that was lacking in Sandberg back in March. It is true that Sandberg knows the misery of our Dutch section better than we do! In any case, I regret that the editing of Die Welt als Labyrinth [The World as Labyrinth][3] is aimless; but it expresses nothing unfavorable about Constant. He didn't participate in the editing of I.S. [Internationale Situationniste] #4 (he only contributed his article[4] plus the photo of the American stadium). But I think that all this is clearer when one has seen the documents concerning the break [of the SI from Constant]. On the other hand, if the tone of the editorial note on Sandberg was a little impertinent and ironic -- but surely not aggressive -- perhaps this balances out the too exaggerated politeness that [Guiseppe] Pinot [Gallizio] showed him in our presence?

I am in agreement on the question of time. To put the accent on non-preserved art or all other deliberately "direct" situationist activity is not -- has never been -- a choice between amnesia and refusing history (which Estivals invented under the "present-ism" label). In the terms taken up by your Critique [of Political Economy] (page 22), the value of art is no longer to be found in its quality or its permanence. And it is already true that the SI itself has a history and also "works for history." I do not believe that [Andre] Frankin's notion of "No Future" can be reproached by Estivals. But his claims remain extremely mysterious for me as well!

Constant has only responded to my most recent letter: "If passion misleads me, indecision causes you to be lost."[5] That is to say, he wants to call "indecision" my decisions when they are absolutely opposed to his. And he hasn't responded to the only question still open: the 200 copies of his monograph, the absence of which determines the degree and forms of hostility that he gets from us. It will be necessary to be ready for diverse forms of pressure, especially on the question of the monographs. I have already taken care not to send him a single copy of I.S. #4. He won't get another copy before he honestly settles the practical questions that remain in suspense.

Pinot's monograph will be ready on 15 July. I include here a letter from Pinot, which is quite amusing (and frankly resumes the theme of the division of labor between the "hard" and agreeable in the situationist movement). It is the second [letter] that I have received: before, he had already spoken of Constant's exhibition, which he arranged with Genia. Thus, we certainly have an occasion to laugh at the result: there is good reason to bet that the pure Constant will rediscover his dear Pinot in Genia's gallery, will be quite pleased to make several conferences on unitary urbanism in the company of Jean-Jacques Lebel and the other pure anti-process[6] thinkers. Perhaps Constant will go as far as Brazil with the famous Soshana? And this happens so quickly.

Jacqueline de Jong wrote me that she adheres to the SI. She asks if you can contact the rest of the Dutch section. I responded that we must sweep these leftovers out of the SI and that she should come directly to the London conference. To raise the flag of Holland, perhaps?

Cordially yours,

[1] Exposition of "supertemporal" art, June 1960.

[2] Robert Estivals, director of the journal L'Avant-Garde Artistique.

[3] Cf. I.S. #4, p. 5

[4] "Description of the Yellow Zone" (I.S. #4, p. 23).

[5] By telegram.

[6] Collective manifestation "for the right of man to dispose of himself," organized by Alain Jouffroy and Jean-Jacques Lebel.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 1, 1957-1960. Footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2005.)

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