from Guy Debord

To Ivan Chtcheglov
[Beginning of April 1963]
Dear Ivan

Your letter in two episodes has arrived, not without a delay in the delivery of the second one, due to a strike by the postal workers. There are frequently strikes and troubles of all sorts that are contemporaneous with our letters. I have never forgotten the first time I met you, at the moment that news came of the revolt in East Berlin,[1] the historical importance of which has been well confirmed since then.

I desire with all my heart that, in the agitation that develops at La Chesnais,[2] the bureaucrats are routed, of course without their defeat leading you to replace them or to compete with them in their unfortunate specialty.

A delay has also been caused by a trip (perhaps it would be more exact to speak of a drinking party mixed in with trips) that, at present, has brought me to the Coast, where I debate with myself in a scene sufficiently confused by a little girl -- who perhaps is only half-interesting -- and a very advanced alcoholism. In the entirely pathological sense of the term: I drink several times a day, but principally in the morning, when it appears as the only remedy, after which things go less badly, one again finds oneself capable of doing everything and, right away, of drinking much more. This is all nothing new. But still, things have gone a little bit further. All this in a frightening decor, of a modernism at the same time hideously pretentious and miserable. My brother has found me an incredible lodging where it is necessary to turn over a bar (yes, ugly and crowded) to discover an electric cooking-stove that is the only thing I have to cook with; [a lodging] where it is necessary to turn over a library (empty) to make a bed emerge, that is, if one can make it budge in relation to the movement of terrestrial rotation and one's own movements.

This all says how much I am prepared (after fifteen days: Debord, Atlantis -- well, yes -- avenue d'Antibes, Cannes -- then to Paris) to feel keenly all that you say about the architexts and all our old theses, which the last few years have confirmed in such a terrible manner. The "Formulary" [3] is actually a very condensed document, almost Heraclitean; it hasn't aged over the last ten years. Only now does it begin to find its readers, to the extent that the S[ituationist] I[nternational] has educated them. One begins to understand what was then only comprehensible to two or three of us, perhaps because the development of things now permits one to follow certain perspectives further than we ourselves could comprehend at that moment. We have also made a German edition of this text, I don't know if you have read it. Obviously, I will be, as I am with all my friends, very interested in your commentary upon this text; and, more generally, in all that would come from the eventual activity that you evoke. It is true that metagraphic writing has been nearly abandonned by the SI, but I believe, as you do, that it contains many unexplored resources for very diverse forms of communication (not only psychoanalytic). I believe in a revival of research into it. Probably more clearly situated in the interior of specific groups in which communication exists -- and thus constructed places that protect or at least permit this. Metagraphy has, it seems to me, the merit of communication between us. Thus, it is totally opposed to Lettrist metagraphy, of which pictoral developments, meaningfully reversed in "hypergraphy," have since led to a sort of sub-sector in abstract art.

In our adventurous search for the bases of a new communication, and their expansion around 1954, we didn't sufficiently bear in mind the disintegrating forces of the entourage, forces that we still face at Saint-Germain-des-Pres. It is even more difficult, in that we don't allow them to advance from certain bases, and try to be able to resist them. It is this that is especially desirable.

As regards the law concerning non-profit associations, to which you alerted us, [Alexander] Trocchi's [sigma] project is entirely funded on the English equivalent. As for the application, the sooner we see it, the better.

You say that this era is more and more dead. But: yes and no. It seems to us, from many signs, that the living forces are beginning to look for each other, behind the official decors (Left or Right, court or garden) of the lamentable theatre of the era. It is all still to be played out.

I remember April,[4] etc. There is so much work in progress, as we have said. It is true, it is still true.

I hope that we will see you soon.


[1] 16 June 1953.

[2] Psychiatric hospital in which Chtcheglov was interned: "The conditions to which Ivan Chtcheglov is being subjected can be understood as one of the always-more-differentiated forms that assumes, with the modernization of society, control over life, which has led, in other times, atheists to be placed in the Bastille or political opponents to be exiled." I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #9, p. 38.

[3] "Formulary for a new urbanism," text signed Gilles Ivan (alias Ivan Chtcheglov), cf. IS #1, p. 15.

[4] "I'll remember April," one of the standards of American jazz. [English in original.]

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. Footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2005.)

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