from Guy Debord

To Piero Simondo
Thursday [14 February 1957]
Dear Piero:

Thanks for your letter and the documents. I am completely in agreement with the letter that you sent to Constant [Nieuwenhuis]. And the letter from Constant seems good to me: I believe there will also be a very interesting collaboration with him in the future. If we create something (and we will), Constant will certainly be invited to participate.

Follow up to the Oscar [aka Asger Jorn] affair: I spoke with Michele [Bernstein] on the telephone. Oscar has already returned to Paris, and he sent a long letter [full] of very confused excuses and explanations. He said that he doesn’t want a split (we know that’s true); that there was a series of misunderstandings, but that such stories arise everywhere he goes (we know that’s true: it is exactly what must change); and that he is a “specialist in self-critique”: you remember that we demanded that he make his self-critique and said that we were specialists in splits.

The stupefying shadow of explication that he advanced was this: you, Piero, had not wanted to go to Brussels, and he noted well the repugnance that you showed in putting your famous shirt in Oscar’s valise! It is almost a crazy story.

Apart from this, from the moment of his arrival in Brussels, he was occupied with selling your gouaches: he sold two of them. Even so, he had been happy to telephone. He also foresaw the sale of a psychogeographical map,[1] but the maps were [precisely] what he lacked.

In the painful situation in which we’d placed them, Oscar and Ralph [Rumney] did this: [put up] a display of canvases on the first Monday; and an exhibition of ceramics on the following Monday (I don’t know if the conferences were in fact held). And Oscar now proposes that, next Saturday, there should be a private showing of psychogeographical maps, still at the Taptoe Gallery. Naturally, I refused.

I told Michele to respond to Oscar with an invitation to come by when he’d like to. And then he must explain himself exactly [and] on the bases that we have defined together, and absolutely not otherwise: because he must already be ready to do so after so many stories about phantoms, concerning characters, chance and parapsychology.

I have only sent to Ralph, in London, the text that I transmitted to you in my preceding letter.[2] Thus it is useless for you to sign it, since Ralph doesn’t know you directly, and especially since he has no desire to maneuver against us.

As is his habit, Oscar tries to maneuver against absent people – he has already begun with the delirious story of [your] shirt – but this time it will be impossible for him to do so. But for Oscar, the text of the response to Ralph is already obsolete since he has agreed to the entirety of its positions and has proposed explanations.

Thus I think that the crisis has come to the point of a favorable denouement. It remains the case that there has been a lot of sabotage against us, that is to say, against the Movement, in Brussels and in London. We must compensate by a definitive clarification of our relations, especially with Oscar. We are on the best possible basis to produce [opérér] this clarification, so as to impose collective direction and what is serious in our communal affairs. When we have unequivocably obtained this, I believe that we will have advanced far. And the entirety of the manifestation in Brussels will finally have a positive result, thanks to our successful “strike.”

Agreed on what you’ve told me concerning our forthcoming publications. Upon my return [from Cannes] to Paris – it is to Paris that you must send your texts – I will translate all that remains from the Italian [into French]. I have copies of Oscar’s manuscripts – except for the texts that precede Structure and Change and follow Form and Function, which I have never read. And I will send you a manuscript that I’m preparing and, especially, two issues of Les Levres nues in which there are two theoretical texts on psychogeography and “détournement.”

I also estimate that the story of Brussels will give us the necessary impetus to establish a style of working that is the indispensible minimum for an action organized at the international level. At this moment, I haven’t stopped writing, copying texts and giving instructions by telephone like a businessman.[3] There is a chain of communication across Europe, from London to Alba, and even in Amsterdam. This is very good.

What’s making things difficult for me this morning is that I passed the whole night drinking and that traces of it remain. Fortunately I have clear ideas, but my hand isn’t very steady, and this leaks into my writing.

Give my regards to the whole team, and particularly [Walter] Olmo, who must historically appreciate the letter that I sent him before Brussels.[4]


[1] One of the five maps planned for [inclusion in] the exhibition at the Taptoe Gallery in Brussels.

[2] Translator: see letter dated 12 February 1957.

[3] Translator: English in original.

[4] Translator: see letter dated 28 January 1957.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol "0": Septembre 1951 - Juillet 1957: Complete des "lettres retrouvees" et d l'index general des noms cites by Librairie Artheme Fayard, October 2010. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2011. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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