Signed X

There are publications from which it is preferable to remain absent, so as to not bail out their faults when they have reached a truly unacceptable degree; as one can also flatter oneself that our memory will be effaced from the mind of a deceived and docile public, except for the small number of those who have a more demanding idea of the truth.

The readers of the "Correspondence" of Guy Debord published by Fayard now have in their hands the sixth volume[1] of a sieve that hopes to make its holes forgotten.

One already knows that this "Correspondence" is not one and only bears the name,[2] since it was decided to completely eliminate all of the letters addressed to Guy Debord: a fault that is fully sufficient to disqualify it; one also knows, supplementally, that as the Debordologue [Christian] Bourseiller has pointed out,[3] it includes important lacunae among the letters written by Debord, for example, to Michele Bernstein, to Jacqueline de Jong and to Michele Mochot-Brehat, and that it finesses many postcards and brief notes, not necessarily negligible; one also knows that it has not included the letter to Daniel Denevert dated 26 February 1972, the importance of which is nevertheless completely uncontestable; and, a small particularly remarkable detail, one is quite obliged to ascertain that it breathes not a word of this, which obviously settles nothing.

As for the people who were not opposed to the publication of letters that were addressed to them, they thus admit that a publication can have such faults and that they nevertheless can find it acceptable.

No doubt, some of them felt some desire to show their disapproval, but one must believe that this desire was a passing fancy and, when one has the habit of declaring that nothing can be done, one ends up choking down one's saliva. Moreover, for some people, the secret pleasure of seeing their family names appear in this mediatized[4] anthology finally removed the displeasure of accepting such scornful and contemptible conditions? For still others, always ready to see the positive, it was important to not hinder the publication of "the correspondence of Guy Debord," provided that what they contributed to only made a hemiplegic[5] monstrosity, the contrary of what could have been expected and which had to justify their support.

One could also see these questions differently, That is why on 5 April 2006 I sent to Editions Fayard a registered letter in which I recalled that several, already published volumes had illustrated their unilateral approach, which deformed a correspondence, amputated of any response; that, through an artifice of this type, their publishing-politics presented the interlocutors of Mr Debord as reduced to mutism, and incapable of having inspired, nourished or contradicted what he had expressed in his own letters; that I certainly did not have the intention of discussing methodological questions with a publisher so diversified that it had published the collaborator Brasillach and Pope Ratzinger,[6] or authorities as unquestionable as Jacques Attali and Guy Sorman,[7] but that, more modestly, I would content myself with formally prohibiting the publication of letters that Mr Debord addressed to me between 1985 and 1989, as well as the parts concerning me in the letters he addressed to third-parties; because there could be no question of me participating, even involuntarily, in an operation of deformation as crude and systematic [as this one].

Reading Volume 6 shows that Editions Fayard has taken this demand seriously. I can only declare myself satisfied, encouraging them to do the same with Volume 7.

In this case, consequently some will be surprised, nay, unhappy, to ascertain that it is sufficient to ask so as to obtain, and that it will henceforth obvious that those others have done nothing of the kind. Others, less instructed by these circumstances, will wonder who is the mysterious "X" who appears in a repeated fashion in certain letters. Still others will conclude that the portions of the letters that concerned me were of little importance, and that their disappearance is not a great loss. Modesty prevents me from contradicting the latter; I nevertheless believe that I must observe that they are wrong, since they no longer have access, for example, to the important letter addressed by Debord to Jean-Francois Martos and me on 9 September 1987,[8] a letter in which he nourishes in a detailed fashion the redacting of a pamphlet against those who, shortly beforehand, he was the most enthusiastic friend (the Encyclopedia of Nuisances).

For my part, it seems to me that, when the quality of a publication shows itself to be so deplorable, one must worsen it further, so as to render the shameful even more shameful.[9] In any case, this appears to me to be more in conformity with the spirit of the times in which these letters were written, a spirit that disappeared in such a massive fashion at the time of their publication.

My only regret in the matter concerns a certitude now established: if other correspondents, even in small numbers, had adopted the same attitude as mine, the pressure would have notably increased in favor of an acceptable edition, which is a hypothesis that is now suspended in a more uncertain future. Thus, those who have not acted fully share the responsibility for this false publication, and it matters little, hereafter, knowing if they are unhappy or flattered or, most probably, both at once.

Jean-Pierre Baudet
3 February 2007

[1] Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 6: Janvier 1979-Decembre 1987, published by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2007.

[2] In French, correspondance not only means "letters," but also "transfer" and "connection." One might say that for every letter, there is another, "corresponding" one.

[3] See Bourseiller's awful essay Guy Debord, or the Decline of the Day.

[4] We have chosen this neologism because "mediated" does not carry the sense intended here, which is along the lines of "spectacularized."

[5] Paralyzed on one side of the body.

[6] Robert Brasillach (1909-1945) was a French, pro-Nazi author. Fayard published his book on Corneille in 1938 and then again in 2006. Pope (former Cardinal) Joseph Ratzinger (1927- ) was a Nazi as a child. Fayard has published nine different books by him.

[7] Jacques Attali (1943- ) was a counselor to Francois Mitterand and a recuperator of situationist ideas. Fayard has published twenty-four of his books, including Noise. Guy Sorman (1944- ) was a bureaucrat in the French government in the 1960s and 1990s. Fayard has published fifteen of his books.

[8] But we have access to it, and have posted a translation of it here.

[9] An allusion to a remark in Karl Marx, "A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right."

(Published on-line by Les Amis de Nemesis on 3 February 2007. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June/August 2007. Footnotes by the translator.)

To Contact NOT BORED!
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998