Response to the question:
"Does thought enlighten both us and our actions with the same indifference as the sun, or what is our hope, and what is its value?"

La Carte d'apres nature, June 1954

special issue edited by Rene Magritte

This world was born of indifference, but indifference has no place in it. Thought is valuable only to the extent that it awakens demands, and compels their realization.

Those revolutionary students who demonstrated naked in Canton in 1927 were dying the following year in locomotive boiler rooms. Here the celebration of thought comes to an end. If we take some small satisfaction in the intelligence generally attributed to us, it is thanks to the means which that intelligence places in the service of a willfully-chosen extremism.

It is time to impose a new human condition. Economic restrictions and their moral corollaries are anyway destined to be destroyed through universal social harmony. The problems that we are still obliged to take into account will be overcome, along with today's contradictions, for the ancient myths will lose their force as we come to live more violent ones.

A complete civilization will have to be built: one in which all forms of activity tend perpetually towards an affective unsettling of life.

We have begun to address the problem of leisure -- which is already being discussed, despite the fact that the working classes have only recently escaped the burden of uninterrupted labor -- and which tomorrow will be the only problem.

The great civilization that is on its way will construct situations and adventures. A science of life is possible. The adventurer seeks out and creates adventure, rather than wait for it to come. The conscious use of environments will condition constantly renewed behaviors. The role of those small flights of chance which we call fate will continue to fade. An architecture, an urban planning and a mood-affecting form of plastic expression -- the first principles of which exist today -- will work in concert toward this end.

The practice of de-familiarization [trans: depaysement, also displacement] and the choice of encounters, the sense of incompleteness and ephemerality, the love of speed transposed onto the plane of the mind, together with inventiveness and forgetting are among the elements of an ethics of drifting (ethique de la derive) which we have already begun to test in the poverty of the cities of our time.

A science of relations and ambiences, which we call psychogeography, is being developed. It will give play in the society of others [trans: le jeu de societe, literally "the parlor game") its true meaning: a society founded upon play. Nothing is more serious. Amusement is the royal privilege that must be made available to everyone.

Happiness, Saint-Just proclaimed, is a new idea in Europe. This program is only now becoming realizable.

Sovereign attraction, which Charles Fourier discovered in the free play of passions, must be ceaselessly reinvented. We will work to create new desires, and will spare no effort in promoting them.

We will be the ones to infuse social conflict with the only authentic rage. Revolution isn't made by demanding 25,216 francs per month. Now is the time to seize control of life [trans: gagner sa vie, literally "to earn a living"], a completely material life in which everything is achievable:

Very little is to be expected of the strength and power of the mind.

Paris, May 5, 1954

For the Lettrist International: Henry de BEARN, Andre CONORD, Mohamed DAHOU, Guy-Ernest DEBORD, Jacques FILLON, Patrick STRARAM, Gil J. WOLMAN

[Editor's note: translated July 1998 by Nick Tallett.]



To Contact Us:
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998