from Guy Debord

To Henri Lefebvre
5 May 1960
Dear Henri Lefebvre

The text in question is actually directed against the "world of expression" of pseudo-communication; against a kind of politics of the worst. In what way can this be said to be revolutionary-romantic?[1] Revolutionary romanticism, such as you have defined it[2] insofar as contents and motivations, can be applied to the analysis of all the manifestations of modern consciousness (including expression in a Stendhalian form of novel). But it seems to us that, in the precise manifestation that is the dissolution of modern art, the forms that negate themselves are directly motivated by the central contradiction of revolutionary romanticism, are even the forms of this content.

If Romanticism in general can be characterized by a refusal of the present, then its traditional existence is a movement toward the past; and its "revolutionary" variant is an impatience for the future. These two aspects struggle against each other in all modern art, but I believe that only the second aspect, which gives way to new claims, represents the importance of this artistic era.

Can one think that one is living today and thus be revolutionary romantic -- if that is the phrase -- even unconsciously, when no one has ever been socialist-realist, for example, without a firm decision?

Thus I count on "situationist" perspectives (which, as you know, don't fear to go far), at least to confirm our romanticism on the revolutionary side; and, at best, to supercede all Romanticism.

I will also be in Paris around May, and woulde be very happy to meet you.

Quite cordially,
G.-E. Debord

[1] On 30 April 1960, Henri Lefebvre wrote: "I appreciate the irony of the appearance of the slogan 'revolutionary Romanticism' on your [post] card, at the side of your name. But did you desire to be accurate? [...] Do you want to empty out the 'world of expression,' which doesn't at all displease me, but doesn't restore 'revolutionary Romanticism' or what is called 'revolutionary Romanticism'?"

[2] Revolutionary Romanticism, co-authored by Henri Lefebvre, Lucien Goldman, Claude Roy and Tristan Tzara (1958).

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. Footnote by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2005.)

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