from Guy Debord

To Michel Bounan
21 April 1993
Dear Michel:

All that you've cited proves the conspiracy, quite foreseeable in the current situation, against The Time of AIDS and the fact that [Donald] Nicholson-Smith participates in it.[1] The machine that currently codes the degree of democratic access to a book -- if one presumes its interest to be too great -- disguises its real reasons behind the supposedly individual caprices of the members of the ad hoc network, and they prefer to justify such pseudo-caprices with the hypocritical appearance of an unworthy neo-morality that is simulated by the current stool pigeons of the intelligentsia: they only know three inadmissible crimes, at the exclusion of all the others: racism, anti-modernism and homophobia.

You must remember that it was the extraordinary accusation of homophobia against your book that gave me my first suspicions concerning Imrie's honesty.[2] I have not met him since then, but I have found many other reasons to become angry about his letters to me. I have refused him [the rights to publish a translation of] The Spectacle, after he increased his pressure to take from me, in great haste, the global English-language rights (and with what intention?).

I find that your second offense with La Vie innommable is even more successful; the censors, who expect the worst, won't be disappointed. Thus, you have left the framework -- already quite substantial, but apparently still slightly circumscribed around an (?) illness -- to become the main expert on the total disaster that will be ascertainable in the entire sphere of health. I was completely amazed by the discovery of alexithymia,[3] which, in the light of the knowledge that you have provided, appears to be the link that was, until now, missing in the contemporary exposition of the end of everything. I also believe that it is also the sufficient explanation for the statistical paradox of so many future suicidal people declaring that they are quite satisfied and/or very satisfied with their lot.

On the side of things where one wants to be the most positive, the boldest lies do not cease to see the brevity of their lives accelerate: as happens with the lives of their dupes. On 2 April,[4] one made the admirable confession that AZT -- which the day before would have been taken for a poison -- does nothing to reduce AIDS, but one can congratulate oneself because, in any case, it doesn't make it worse (?). And, moreover, one need not conclude that -- the bullet fired and on the course of its trajectory -- AZT would truly not be capable of slowing down AIDS' progression. Who said this? And who knows about it? Thus, the phantom [HIV] virus is not hindered by AZT, but it is necessary to continue to take it, first of all because one is already drugged by it (a very sufficient reason) and, furthermore, it is quite necessary that the suitable AIDS-patient expects that one will provide him with other, better-performing remedies. It will happen. But, after all, one must denounce the dishonest sophism that claims that AZT is "useless." How could its usefulness be measured? Does one claim to develop a psychosis of failure? One cannot simply say that AZT is useless. One must say that it is useless on its own. But as soon as one associates it with other medications that are still to be discovered -- the vaccine, for example -- this leads anywhere.

My health seems good, for the moment. In any case, it appears better than it was last year. My blood pressure is currently 18.4 and 9.7. For a long time I haven't felt the vertigo that had previously unbalanced me, especially going down the stairs, and that apparently couldn't go on for long without being perilous. Today, I only feel a certain difficulty at the moment of getting out of a car. Periods without insomnia are more frequent.

I am keeping to your prescriptions very exactly. Thanks for everything.


[1] As reader for Editions Verso (cf. letter dated 30 May 1991.

[2] Translator's note: Malcolm Imrie, at the time both an acquisitions editor and a translator employed by Verso Books.

[3] "The alexithymic patient does not present his suffering as something he directly experiences, but coldly enumerates objective signs in an impersonal fashion, as if he wasn't concerned." (Quotidien du Medecin, 20 March 1992). [Translator: examples of this linguistic disorder -- or, rather, this disorder that expresses itself through certain uses of language -- might include qui ne parassait pas pouvoir exister longtemps sans peril and Des periodes sans insomnie paraissent plus frequente.]

[4] According to French and British experiments with the AZT that was produced by an American pharmaceutical company.

(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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