from Guy Debord

To Annie Le Brun
5 December 1992
Dear Annie:

I still cannot believe [the authenticity of] the text attributed to Schuster,[1] even when I try to follow its internal critique. I will only believe it when you have external confirmations that you believe are trustworthy.

I will explain. I am persuaded that this monstrous petition expresses very exactly the most profound ambitions of the people involved, as well as the veritable intentions of the politico-cultural authorities of the moment, in the wake of their first operation, which was sketched out [in 1989] at the Pompidou Center: it is that part of reality that has all the force of parody. But what I refuse to believe is the fact that the computer used by the petitioners and loaned by the Elysee was sabotaged to the point of causing them to confidently utilize expressions so unfavorable -- or, as one says today, counter-productive -- from the point of view of their own hideous project.

The way [Philippe] Sollers has been acting can leave no doubt in anyone's mind, especially me, as you know. After reading his laughable Fete a Venise,[2] it appears clear that he wants to insinuate that he participated in the [Situationist International's] Conference in Venice and that he figured among the mythical "clandestine situs."[3] And, moreover, I have seen, thanks to Jean-Jacques [Pauvert], that this animal has claimed to Antoine Gallimard that he knows me personally. He has redoubled his cynical audacity by giving me a wreath of laurels in the pages of L'Humanite.[4]

Each time that he pleases to speak eulogistically of me to one of these agents of the spectacle -- or when he receives the orders to do so -- there are several malevolent robots who conclude that there must be some kind of connivance between this noble critic and I; the era has rendered people stupid and manipulations easy; this is the goal of someone like Sollers. The obvious conclusion is that one must never mind what mediatics[5] think or pretend to think. I showed this long ago and will not change. I am an artist no more than [Arthur] Cravan was, though it is true that I'm truly interested in such questions, there where they are still posed and I feel obliged to be something more than an artist. But, finally, even if I am an artist, it is certain that I do not consider Sollers to be a fellow artist, which would be too sophisticated for him.

The catastrophe of this century still hasn't been measured, although we have already begun to do so. Its amplitude surpasses everything that has been formulated until now (even by me in my most beautiful excesses). It is no longer possible to consider Sollers to be at the level of Cocteau, for example. The problem is not that Sollers has less talent than Cocteau, because -- in a world this degraded -- even Cocteau would pass for a very great talent these days. What counts is that Sollers plies another trade. One could compare him even more pertinently with Bernard Tapie.[6] It would be very unjust to reproach Tapie for being a rich man and it would also be unjust to reproach him for not being a rich man: he is a swindler whose affairs are conducted within the mediatic cavalry, just like the others of his era. The appearances of their psychologies or characters are quite secondary with respect to the fundamental realities, although these factors aren't negligible in determining individual aptitudes. The surrealists had the most sincere and certainly well-justified scorn for Cocteau. But Cocteau's existence was a very minimal nuisance for the subversive truth of the surrealist movement. The one who effectively worked to combat this truth, around 1950, was [Jean-Paul] Sartre, and today it is Schuster (even if he did not write the text we're discussing).

I do not fear that you have pained Jean-Jacques [Pauvert] by being alarmed by his remark about Sollers. In my opinion, because Sollers is universally known for what he really is, the scathing irony of the phrase[7] will not leave any doubt.

After all these tiring discussions and the nuances that we see in the diverse horrors of these times, and though we must surely speak of them again, it is a pleasure to tell you of my complete adhesion to your analysis of Manrique.[8] You understand why he pleases me so. To the point of making me certainly risk the reproach that my feudal and crypto-Catholic (and perhaps even Francoist) tendencies finally been unmasked. So! I must also confess that on this point I am wrong: it is the only one of my texts that no one has thought to calumniate.

Hoping to see you again very soon,
With all my heart,

[1] A petition of the "Current and future readers" [ACTUA-Liseurs] of surrealism, bearing the signatures of [Jean] Schuster, Jose Pierre, J[ean-]C[laude] Silbermann, addressed to the President of the Republic.

[2] Translator's note: Philippe Sollers, Festival in Venice (Gallimard, 1993).

[3] Translator's note: the "clandestine situationists" were people behind the Iron Curtain who wanted to officially (publicly) join the Situationist International, but could not due to the jeopardy it placed them in.

[4] "Have you read Debord?" Interview between Arnand Spire and Philippe Sollers, L'Humanite, 5 November 1992.

[5] Translator's note: there is no adequate equivalent in English for mediatiques, which means people who either appear in or work for the mass media.

[6] Translator's note: A wealthy businessman, politician and media clown, born in 1943. In May 1992, Tapie was forced due to resign because he was indicted for criminal wrongdoing.

[7] "Guy Debord, despite the aura of mystery that surrounds him, has been well presented. Sollers, among others, has made a very beautiful presentation of Panegyrique in Le Monde . . ." [Translator: Sollers had spoken of Panegyric in the 2 October 1989 issue of Le Monde.]

[8] Stanzas on the death of his father, translated by Guy Debord in 1980.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2009. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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