from Guy Debord

To Jean-Jacques Pauvert
5 January 1992
Dear Jean-Jacques

I thank you and congratulate you for your skillful diplomacy, which disentangled such an embroiled situation and to the satisfaction of all, I hope. The important thing here, even the sine qua non, is that a climate of trust has been established. The rest will unfold without difficulty.

As I have assured you, I would make no counter-proposition to Antoine Gallimard. Thus, I accept the principle of the complete re-publication [of my works], the global sum of 700,000 francs, the engagement to publish five titles in the future and even the 14% that, [even] before Champ Libre, I had with Buchet in 1967. I only choose other methods of payment.

Two preliminaries must be integrated into the contract:

1) I only want to be in contact with Antoine and you yourself, thus excluding any other person who is employed by or otherwise represents Editions Gallimard; and

2) I would like to know the anticipated timetable for these reeditions, especially during the first two years, and I'd like to have the choice of the titles that will appear in that initial period.

We now move on the other questions that you brought up.

I am in agreement with the idea of a classic white bookcover and an interior use of the formulation you cited,[1] if this formula satisfies you and especially if it leaves you sufficient freedom for the subsequent books to be published by Gallimard. Since it is you who have proposed the general conditions, I believe that you have received the appropriate reassurances.

In these conditions, I see no difficulty in signing a contract directly with Gallimard. The apparent retrogression [on my part] will no doubt be characterized by several malevolent people as nothing but smoke and mirrors. And those perspicacious people will even glory in the fact that I want to deceive their eyes. In the language studied by Alice,[2] the injustice will go as far as saying that you are my baron.[3]

I do not want to influence or limit your choices when it comes to changing the author's name each time you use the aforementioned formula. You know how much I would love it if you could bring together into a single volume all of the available books by Annie,[4] that is, if she desires it. Alice's book, if you would like to take charge of it, too, is a work that is completely distinct from mine (the only shared point, very indirect, is that both concern something completely true, but which astonishes or scandalizes because many incapable people haven't known how to understand them). Alice's book concerns philology, society and history. But it can not figure among one of the specialized collections of the NRF[5] in which people like Goiraud, Duby, et al have dominated. The manuscript of the second volume[6] will be completed next month. The two volumes could be combined into a double volume, but the second one is perhaps ten times more important concerning the hypothesis that was already so convincing when it was advanced in the first one. If you can also negotiate this affair, you can be assured that the Gypsies are more and more in fashion, a thousand signs indicate it, and notably concerning the question of secret languages. Here the special requirement would be that the manuscript must not be read by anyone other than you and Antoine before it is sent to the printer. A crowd of specialists, at present secretly convinced, would certainly love to get a mere glimpse of it and thus quickly enrich their own works with many new examples, even though they still haven't understood the method by which they themselves could find them.

Now we come to my phantom lawsuit [against Editions Lebovici]. You haven't said what you think of my notes on the psychology here?[7] Do you not believe that it is a valuable strategy in the circumstances in which we currently find ourselves? To think how easy it is to establish the complete cretinism of the young Nicolas [Lebovici], thanks to the manner in which he has found himself completely incapable of understanding that he was robbed of his inheritance. I make clear that all this was done unknown to me. I have found it very surprising to learn about it a year later. Floriana Lebovici had once, towards the end, warned me about Nicolas, and complained in quite obscure terms that he "wasn't human." As I knew her to be dying, and as I had considered her son to be a deplorable lunatic, I absolutely did my best to abridge this aspect of the conversation, so painful to a mother.

You have told me[8] about the omerta that now rules among the lawyers, as there are similar ones among the doctors and the other present-day authorities. This solidarity permits lawyers to rule their colleagues with an iron fist, by lying as coldly as any government, and this always to the profit of the one who is the most cynical or, at the least, has the highest status, mediatic[9] or otherwise.

I will allow myself to ask you, given your vast experience with the question, if you think this practice is already universal; in France, for example. This interests me due to the reprise of my research into society. In fact, I now return to it.[10] I believe that I have progressed towards the form I spoke to you about -- "without demonstration or discussion" -- which, today, appears to impose itself. But if this form must still purify itself, the contents are already perfect. Even more so than the beautiful events of 1991, the improbable ineptitude of the explanations of them is marvelous. Although I do not wish to convince anyone, I would never risk generalizing upon an element about which I myself am not entirely persuaded.

Concerning lawyers, it seems to me that, to the extent there still exists some appearance of honesty among them, what the best of them do best is believe their clients and undertake to prove before a court that their clients are right. I can obviously not establish positive proof of a negative fact: namely, that there were no written contracts between me and Editions Lebovici. Since the adversary has claimed that his clients have copies of them, it is thus necessary to summon him to produce them and, if he does, argue that they are fakes.

As I do, you think that this whole lawsuit is only a fiction. I only wish to ascertain as soon as possible all the aspects in the adversary's mad conduct that are different from accepted [communal] practices. The most fabulous are the claims about Alice's book, an instance of pure theft, since there was neither a contract, previous customs, nor the least accounting furnished since its publication [in 1989]. As one says, "Who is being laughed at?" One might also say, "Who is useful to whom?" It is quite normal if Gallimard pays for the costs of this lawsuit. Could he not also be represented in it? At least from the moment that he signed a contract with me, he found himself injured by all of the acts that had previously been committed, quite deliberately, to the clear detriment of the works whose commercial development he has now undertaken. What do you think?

We will remain in Champot until mid-February. Would you like to see us here? Or afterwards, in Normandy?

Without our friendship,

P. S. This letter is not confidential. Thus, you can communicate it to any other person concerned.

[1] "Guy Debord's books are published by Gallimard, with the aid of Jean-Jacques Pauvert."

[2] Translator's note: Alice Becker-Ho, The Princes of Jargon (Editions Lebovici, 1990).

[3] Translator's note: argot for dupe.

[4] Annie Le Brun.

[5] Translator's note: an imprint of Gallimard.

[6] The Essence of Jargon.

[7] "Of psychology," confidential note dated 27 November 1991.

[8] Concerning an "attorney's note" from Mr Baudelot that was prohibited from being communicated outside the profession.

[9] Translator's note: there is no adequate equivalent in English for mediatique, which designates both the "media" and the spectacle itself.

[10] Translator's note: in June 1992, Debord would publish his preface to the third French edition of The Society of the Spectacle.

(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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