from Raoul Hausmann

To Guy Debord
24 March 1963

I am writing a book on neo-Dadaism, this brazen exploitation of a situation that was current 40 years ago. Obviously, I had to make contact with Mr Kunzelmann of the SPUR movement,[1] who confirmed for me that this movement has links with Dada. I then purchased two issues of Internationale Situationniste and, in issue #5,[2] I found a quotation from a letter from [Kurt] Schwitters to me, dating from 1947, in which there is an allusion to Lettrism,[3] which is nothing other than an imposture. If Isidore Isou claims to be the first to have made lettrist poems, then he should be aware of the recitatives of [Hugo] Ball in his 1916 Diaries and the declarations of Schwitters in G from 1923. As for Mr [Maurice] Lemaitre, he published in UR in 1947 a design that he simply copied from a design by a North American Indian, published in 1912 in Danzel's book The Origins of Writing (Anfange der Schrift), [a copy of] which I possess. All of the paintings of the Lettrists are only imitations of my Poem-Posters and Painting-Texts from 1918 to 1923.

But to return to my new book, which will appear in Germany, I would like to know your position concerning Dada and neo-Dadaism, [because] in your journal I cannot distinguish them, nor even your own ideas. I would be grateful to you if you could give me precise information.

Why "situationism"? Because a situation is [something that is] painful, dangerous, boring, stupid, insignificant, without importance and it can be understood as one wants, a situation says NOTHING.

What are your relations with "the SITUATIONIST Times" #2,[4] which Noel Arnaud sent me a while ago?

Please accept my distinguished salutations.[5]
Raoul Hausmann

[1] Kunzelmann, along with the rest of the Spurists, had been excluded from the Situationist International in March 1962.

[2] "Open Creation and Its Enemies," by Asger Jorn.

[3] "I am very sad, but despite all my efforts, Mr Mesens does not wish to publish PIN. Even when I told him that we do not want money, he laughed and said that, if he published it, it would be necessary for him to give us money, but that he had not intention of doing so. He read it attentively but he didn't like it. I said that it would have been more current 25 years ago, but that today we do not encounter much comprehension. . . . There is something else: there are imitators, for example, the Lettrists in Paris, who have copied the Ursonate by Hausmann and me, and we are not even mentioned, we who did it 25 years before them, and with better reasons." Jorn notes: Letter dated 29 March 1947, quoted in Courrier Dada. In his 1992 edition of this book (Editions Allia, Paris), Marc Dachy notes: "In response to the emerging Lettrist movement, which had reacted strongly and questioned the priority of the Russian futurists at the time of a conference convened in 1946 in Paris by the poet, publisher and typographer Ilia Zdanevitch, Zdanevitch held another conference in 1947 at Geography Hall. Entitled 'After us, lettrism,' it degenerated into a brawl and subsequent polemics with Isidore Isou. In 1949, Ilia Zd definitely marked the break by publishing Poetry of Unknown Words, an exceptionally mixed anthology of verbal and plastic creations, and by a press conference (in June) to 'demonstrate the priority of futurist and Dadaist investigations.'"

[4] Published in 1962.

[5] Guy Debord responded on 31 March 1963, thus beginning an example of letters that would last until 1966.

(Given to Marc Dachy by Guy Debord and deposited at Fonds Guy Debord, created by Christian Bourseiller at the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! July 2007. Footnotes by the translator.)

To Contact NOT BORED!