Correspondence with an Author

Or What Rachel Kushner Knows About Gianfranco Sanguinetti

4 January 2013
Ms. [Rachel] Kushner:

In the course of your article concerning the images that inspired The Flamethrowers, which was published in the Winter 2012 issue of The Paris Review (No. 203), you claim that “a woman who was friends with (…) Gianfranco Sanguinetti” reported to you “coolly” and “disdainfully” that all that the ex-Situationist “does (…) now” is live (“he lives,” that’s all).

Since you don’t name or even say anything more about this woman, it is impossible to discern what her agenda might be. And, since neither Sanguinetti personally nor any of his writings play a part in your novel, it is impossible to discern what possible motive you might have for passing along this bit of gossip to your readers.

In point of fact, Mr. Sanguinetti is active. In 2004, Silverbridge published his essay La Chatte, Hier et Aujourd’hui (“The Pussy, Yesterday and Today”) as part of 1724 Birth of the Cunt, an art installation and book created by Jason Rhoades. In 2011, Editions Kant published his monograph (Forms of Truth) on the photographs of the Czech artist Miroslav Tichy. Mr. Sanguinetti is currently working with me on the creation of an English-language anthology of his works (the first anthology of his writings in any language), which will be published this year under the title Put Aside All Lying.

Sincerely yours,

Bill Brown
New York City

[4 January 2013]
Dear Bill Brown,

I’m very glad you wrote me, because the issue is one of a very simple misunderstanding in meaning, perhaps my reference in the Paris Review was too ambiguous. I didn’t say that she answered “all he does is live.” She said he lives, period, suggesting that my question was naive. I asked her what he was up to, which turned out to have been, I realized in the way she answered, perhaps an unforgivably bourgeois-seeming question. It suggests that one, you know, has a nine to five job, perhaps, children, ‘hobbies’, an identifiable, approved life under capitalism. it was a clunky question in the context, asking after Sanguinetti in this rather naive way, what is he up to.When his life has been a series of intensities and commitments (as I merely gather, I don’t know him, but I definitely am aware of the Rhoades collaboration, since I wrote a long essay about it and other things in Artforum in 2006).

I’m not sure what gossip you mean. I only outed myself as being a bit eager and foolish in regard to a storied and key figure of subversion and political thought.

keep up the good work, and great news, about your collaboration.


PS: who is publishing the anthology? I look forward to it! I’ve always been intrigued by Sanguinetti, which hopefully you’ll recognize now that I’ve clarified what that exchange meant, in the Paris Review. Lastly, that’s amazing that you’ve already read my novel, did you get an advance copy? It’s true that Sanguinetti is not explicitly an aspect, since I don’t quite think of him as involved in the Autonomist movement, certainly not in Rome. But as I explain in that short essay, Debord has always been an inspiration to me, and specifically in girum, and these things, as far as novels are concerned, become metabolized and filtered to the point that a reader might not know what I reference or learn from in order to construct what I write.


[5 January 2013]
Dear Ms. Kushner:

Thank you for replying.

You are right to say that what you wrote about Sanguinetti was “ambiguous” and thus easily misunderstood. It has in fact been misunderstood by Gianfranco himself and his friends. As you can imagine, none of them are happy about it.

I would suggest that you inform “The Paris Review” that an official clarification is called for.

Sincerely yours,
Bill Brown

P.S. Yes, I have seen your article on the Rhoades collaboration. It contains an absolutely unforgivable error: “Sanguinetti’s advocacy of terrorism.” You conflate "Censor," the character that Sanguinetti created (it was “Censor” who authored The Truthful Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism), with Sanguinetti himself. This too requires an official clarification, even if it comes seven years after the fact.

Post-P.S. You write, “I don’t quite think of him as involved in the Autonomist movement, certainly not in Rome.” I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with this text, which proves that your “certainty” is quite mistaken:

[5 January 2013]

there is absolutely no need for a correction. The mere idea of it is ridiculous. correct what? that he lives?

More importantly, I am hereby officially requesting you not contact me again.

I don’t appreciate your harassment.

If I hear from you, I will consider it harassment and report it.


To Contact NOT BORED!