from Guy Debord

To Michel Bounan
29 May 1992
Dear Michel:

The viral theory of AIDS-related death, which is so reassuring during the wait for the vaccine, will soon be just as frivolous as "dormitive virtue"[1] when it comes to explaining the new opium for modern-day people, and this is why society is mute! "Away with you, grotesque nutmeg," as Lautremont says.[2]

The dog days of summer seem to begin earlier and are worse each year. Here, we are -- temporarily? -- seeing an almost uninterrupted series of very violent storms. I understand that Parisians have the air of being slightly sad, but at the moment they must console themselves that they aren't being massacred in Yugoslavia.[3]

Thank you for the remarkable books.[4] I recently told you that [Jean-Jacques] Pauvert has not spoken to me of [Editions] Ramsay, fortunately. I only alluded to the intellectual reputation of this unfortunate publishing house. I have since learned that it has filed for bankruptcy! In fact, and more and more clearly, Pauvert has shown that he speaks in the name of [Antoine] Gallimard and assures me of his excellent intentions. I demanded as an absolute preliminary that Gallimard admits that he spoke without basis in 1969, when he announced that all the situationists wanted to be N.R.F. authors (I am so habituated to malevolent interpretations that I would not be surprised to hear that I only made my vehement denials at the time so as to keep secret the negotiations, which were conspiratorially prolonged so as to conclude a generation later). I also made sure to guarantee the pre-condition that I refuse to be in contact with any other person who might represent this publishing house (here I was especially thinking of [Philippe] Sollers, of course). There have been no objections to my demands.

With equal assurance, I have started the new treatment that you have prescribed for me. I will try to make precise my principal symptoms, which seems to have nearly supplanted the previous ones (gout and asthma). I will go back in time [je remonterai loin]. I can say that, in my youth, being a good walker, I obviously "knew" that the rule de la Montage Sainte-Genevieve or the rue Lepic were steeply inclined, but this didn't affect me at all, and it would not be excessive to say that I climbed them without perceiving the incline. Two or three years ago, in a very flat area of Paris, I could feel with my feet all of the uneven surfaces that had been created almost everywhere by the repeated re-building of the sidewalks, curbs, garage entrances, etc. This year, in Champot, I could feel all of the details of my courtyard, which in sum "I ignored" as a direct sensation, and this effect has been greatly augmented by obscurity. This is the only historical change that life, by passing, introduces into a landscape that, in itself, remains invariable. It seems to me that this diminution of my sense of balance is "primary" with respect to a certain weakening-numbness in my legs, also a very real phenomenon. I have begun to take Zincum Met. 9 CH and also Argentum Nitr. What do you think? And what of the dosages? Finally: are these symptoms orthodox with respect to the magnificent portrait of my illness that you initially traced out?[5] You know how much I am convinced that one must be faithful to one's illness.

With our best wishes to you all,

[1] Translator's note: Cf. the medical quackery in Moliere's play La malade.

[2] Translator's note: This phrase was also cited by Raoul Vaneigem in his essay, "To Have As Goal Practical Truth," published in Internationale Situationniste #11, October 1967: "Away with you, grotesque nutmeg, charlatan of incurable diseases."

[3] Translator's note: the civil war in Yugoslavia was at its height at this time.

[4] On tyranny by Vittorio Alfieri and Thoughts by Giacomo Leopardi.

[5] See Debord's letter to Bounan dated 23 March 1991.

(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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