from Guy Debord

To Francoise Lung[1]
Wednesday [June-July 1963]
Dear Francoise:

Thanks for the translation.[2] The Japanese comrades speak a summary English. The translation should not risk being too literal (rather one should reproach it for not being literal enough! But I can correct several points in which the notions of art criticism, the critique of art, etc., are mixed together).

So much the better if Jollivet[3] reawakens.

Yes, I know about the split that’s taking place in P.O.[4] The Barjot (Cardan)-Canjuers-Chatel[5] tendency represents the worst regression, [and] the passage to a certain respectable sociologism (neo-Arguments),[6] but complicated by revolutionary pretensions and a late and disgraceful taste for modernism and “new ideas” – but it would certainly difficult for them to formulate one or two ideas that “belong to them” (sociology, on the one hand, and SI-style people, on the other hand, have already gone far, while they have slept – even the careers of [Edgar] Morin or [Georges] Lapassade are already too well-assured for Chatel to be their rivals).

Perhaps one shouldn't push cruelty to the point of judging them on the basis of a text by Alain Girard[7] (that I have not read). Alain is currently an extremist with respect to the average “revision” of this tendency. Moreover, he is an imbec – let’s not abuse medical vocabulary – he’s a fool. He wasn’t one two years ago,[8] but he has furiously become a fool so as to justify foolish conduct at any price. History marches on – often like this, at all levels. More easily through its bad side, says the other.[9]

Whether the left counter-tendency ([Jean-Francois] Lyotard, P[ierre] Guillaume, Edward Taubé) will or will not finally begin an acceptable political activity, I don’t know. But at least it seems to represent the only chance to save what was positive in the old work of “S. ou B.,”[10] which will be liquidated in one year with [the success of] this tendency – an outcome that will be comic and detestable at the same time.

Michele [Bernstein] has written to you apropos of job searches.

Guy Debord

[1] With the journal, Notes critiques.

[2] A translation [into English] of “For a Revolutionary Judgment of Art” appeared in Notes critiques in June 1962.

[3] J.-L. Jollivet, director of the journal Notes critiques. [See letter dated 8 December 1961.]

[4] Pouvoir ouvrier. See letter dated 5 May 1961.

[5] Translator: “Barjot” and “Cardan” were pseudonyms of Cornelius Castoriadis. “Pierre Canjuers,” with whom Debord wrote “Preliminaries for a Definition of the Unity of the Revolutionary Program,” was the pseudonym of Daniel Blanchard. “Chatel” was the pseudonym of Sebastien de Diesbach.

[6] Translator: a striking comparison, not only because of the “sociological” similarity of the two groups, but also because Arguments collapsed in 1962 and Pouvoir ouvrier/Socialism ou Barbarie would collapse in 1965, just two years after this letter was written. (Debord thought it would happen in just one year.)

[7] Translator: Alain Girard is discussed in a letter dated 12 July 1961.

[8] Cf. letter dated 12 July 1961.

[9] Translator: “the other” seems to be a reference to Marx. If so, perhaps the remark about history’s march is a reference to Hegel.

[10] Socialisme ou Barbarie.

(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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