from Guy Debord

To Constant
8 August [19]58
Dear Constant:

I hope that you can send me the article of which you spoke in the first few days of September (the 7th can serve as a deadline).

Yes, any spirit of "picturalism" must be hounded and this, though obvious, isn't easy to get everyone to accept.

I do not believe that we would like to over-estimate the importance of surrealism in comparison with the other investigations that you mentioned. It even seems to me that the aesthetic that surrealism finally imposed is less advanced. The privileged place of this movement -- that is to say, because the first issue of the [situationists'] journal extends it beyond the critique that is devoted to it -- comes from the fact that surrealism presents itself as a total enterprise, concerning a complete way of living. It is this intention that constitutes surrealism's most progressive character, which obliges us now to compare ourselves to it, so as to differentiate ourselves (the passage from a utopian revolutionary art to an experimental revolutionary art). Of course, we are still far from this passage. All that truly interests us can still only be at the stage of the claim. Thus, the lack of realism is an almost inevitable fault but which is necessary to combat among us as much as possible.

I hope that your article[1] provides the debate with a good number of elements that have been lacking from it, and severely criticizes certain points in the first issue that were too unrealistic. [Piet] Mondrian has certainly enunciated many of our current positions ("Art is a simple product of replacement in an era in which life lacks beauty. Art will disappear to the extent that life will have more balance," etc.). But is this in a revolutionary perspective or, rather, that of mystical "balance"? It is well understood that we do not have a doctrine to be approved and shared. The experiment that we would like to conduct, if we are capable of conducting it, supposes an open discussion (which can become a polemic) between all those who align themselves with the general line of research (in the same way that confrontations with artists who are radically foreign to these preoccupations devolves into a simple literary journal).

I appreciate your rigor concerning the editorial committee, since you fear taking responsibility for ideological tendencies of which you disapprove. I hope that you express yourself in complete freedom. This will certainly help the really experimental faction in the SI.

Amicably to you and Nelly,

[1] "On our means and perspectives," cf. I.S. #2, p. 23.

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

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