Howling for de Sade
The Great Festival of Night

Usage of the arts, as badly as one has treated them and the ends to which one wants to bend them, isn't done without involving dubious associations and suspect admirations. It is too easy to seduce a cultural world that is already forgotten by history. Next to the rosebush of preliminary studies, a beautiful place in French literature is reserved for scandal, bad boys, modernism. The exclusive isn't on anyone.

And if we do not take care, even the cultivated rabble will come to recognize in two or three of us the meagre writing talents sufficient to one day or another finish the summary of a publication such as Les Temps Modernes:[1] in it one can see a Colette Audry[2] praise the virtuouso [Jean] Cocteau; [3] a Raymond Borde[4] discovers that the cinematographic form must be renewed urgently, and provides his recipes; a paranoiac by the name of Misrahi,[5] in issue # 109, explicates bullfights in terms of the unavowed homosexuality of the matadors.

Three years ago, it was instead the career [carriere] of Astruc[6] that envisaged a few Lettrists who had created a stir in the cine-clubs. It is well known that certain people were not disgusted by it. It was thus fitting to place an obstacle in it by way of a burst that, by emphasizing to the extreme the strongly derisory aspect of all personal, lyric expression today, would serve to re-group those who envisaged a more serious action.[7]

As a consequence, this film includes no images. The soundtrack, in fits and starts, only lasts 20 minutes in a one-and-a-half-hour-long production. The interruptions of the sound, which are always quite long, leave the screen and the theatre absolutely black. The replies are exchanged by quite unusual and monotonous voices. The almost constant use of press clippings, legal texts and quotations detourned from their meanings render the intelligence of the dialogue all the more difficult.

This film doesn't end. After an allusion to the incomplete stories that are given to us to live as -- to use the term that designated the advance-scouts in the armies of the Thirty Years' War -- enfants perdus,[8] a black sequence of twenty-four minutes unfolds, in the face of the rage of the sausage rolls [friands] of beautiful audacity, its disappointing apotheosis. The game continues; and each day we are more sure of leading it properly.

(Foreword to the unpublished scenario of Hurlements en faveur Sade published in Brussels in December 1955, in issue 7 of the journal Les Levres nues, edited by Marcel Marien.)[9]

[1] Founded in 1945 by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

[2] Friend of Sartre and Beauvoir.

[3] French filmmaker.

[4] Another friend of Sartre & Beauvoir and contributor to Les Temps Modernes.

[5] Robert Misrahi, another writer in the Sartre circle.

[6] Alexander Astruc, a filmmaker and writer.

[7] Debord is referring to the formation of the Lettrist International in the fall of 1952.

[8] Lost children.

[9] The original French edition doesn't say who wrote this very awkward parenthetical.

(Published in Autour des Films (Documents), the booklet accompanying Oeuvres Cinematographiques Completes, a three-DVD set released November 2005. Translated from the French and footnoted by NOT BORED! January 2006.)

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