from Guy Debord

To Floriana Lebovici
19 March 1988
Dear Floriana

I have received the letter from X[1] and I find it embarrassing. I prefer to not respond to him, because I fear vexing him with a kind of polemic that, I see clearly, would not fail to quickly become bitter: one knows from very recent proof that the anti-nuclear writers[2] are touchy and irritable in the very way that, previously, the poets were too often thought to be so.

I have said to X that maps[3] would be necessary; he responded to me that he would see what had figured in the original edition, and indeed this was indeed a readymade and serious choice. But he found that there were no maps in the original edition. He concluded right away that they would not be necessary!

One has a tendency to believe that it is absolutely impossible to have read this book (and he has translated it very well) without understanding that maps are obviously indispensable for several passages. And not battle plans, which have nothing to do with strategy. But with regions in which certain campaigns that have unfolded from [the time of] Frederick II to the end of the wars of the Empire.

There are at least summary maps (very bad, moreover) in Naville's translation. One can naturally resort to an atlas. I have a number of good atlases, and I know how inconvenient it is to make use of them. And people only have modern atlases with economic data, airports, etc. The atlas used must represent the countries at the time and the information must be that which concerns the facts about the countries (where are the towns, mountains, rivers, perhaps the roads); and especially without getting lost in a crowd of other data that uselessly complicate the maps.

In this conclusion [reached by X], I see a typical example of non-sensibility to practice, supported by a reasoning founded on ignorance. When one gets involved in the re-publication of books, it is necessary to have a minimum of comprehension of the history and the strategy of publishing. At the beginning of the 19th century, maps were uncommon in the books of military history in which they were the most indispensable (the lines of operation and the dispositions [of forces] in the battles), not to mention in a treatise on the very essence of strategic thought, in which one could always, as a last resort, completely do without them. In the works of his youth, Jomini[4] did not cease to complain about the insufficient number of maps that he could have printed. The secret is quite simple. It is impossible to even comprehend the largest part of strategic questions without reference to geography, the territorial dimension. But maps were very expensive. For each map printed in a book, it was necessary to have an original engraving made, very complex, by an engraver, and more or less specialized in topographic questions. Today, you know how the processes of reproduction of just about anything costs almost nothing. This is why the absence of maps gives a terrible impression of impoverishment, just as the choice of bad maps is a confession of bad taste.

I have no intention of arguing with X, so as to prove to him that something is lacking. And no longer with Semprun.[5] I am quite tired of Leftists after thirty-six years of almost continual experience [with them]. I believe that I have done enough for them. I address myself directly to you so that this very important book is not marked by such a fault, which is so easy to avoid by people with good sense.

I send you a kind of vague model of the seven maps that can be photographed at the [Bibliotheque] Nationale, in black and white, [seven] out of the good maps of the period (1820-1830), that is to say, before the railroads. But if possible in French! In total, the desirable references are:

1) Central Germany and the campaigns of Frederick II;
2) the zone of the battles in the north and the Netherlands;
3) Northern Italy and Switzerland;
4) the Spanish war;
5) the Russian campaign;
6) the campaign in France in 1814 and that of 1792;
7) the totality of Europe.
I embrace you.

[1] Translator's note: Jean-Pierre Baudet, who demanded in Signed X that his name and the letters that Debord wrote to him not appear in this volume.

[2] Translator's note: Jean-Francois Martos and Jean-Pierre Baudet? Jaime Semprun, author of The Nuclearization of the World?

[3] To illustrate the new [French] edition of Clausewitz' On War [which Jean-Pierre Baudet translated from the German].

[4] General Henri Jomini, author of a Summary of the Art of War, published by Editions Champ Libre.

[5] Translator's note: Jaime Semprun, publisher of the Encyclopedia of Nuisances.

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

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