Familiars of the Great Trick

On 29 November [1954], one of our people, having finally overtaken on a public road one of the signatories of the tract that Mr Andre Breton devoted to us at the beginning of October, got a hold of a copy of it.

We deliver to our readers the complete text of the Surrealist libel, of which the principal polemical originality is the fact that it was distributed surreptiously,[1] Mr Breton and his friends being imprudently engaged in an attempt to prevent us from knowing its tenor:

Title: Familiars of the Great Trick.[2]

"For a powerful communal action to be undertaken, it is necessary that the partners are animated by the same intentions and that one doesn't have valid reasons for scorning another. We have been lead, not without hesitations, to envision an enterprise with the Lettrist International (!?) in the framework of a celebration of the centenary of Rimbaud. The first act was to have been the declaration that is imprinted on the other side of this sheet.[3]

"This action encountered difficulties when we received #12 of Potlatch, organ of the Lettrists, dated 28 September 1954, in which one can read:

[In this place, quotation of the self-critique by A.-F. Conord, which was in fact published in #12.][4]

"We will not task ourselves with deciding if it is the author of this letter or those who have consented to publish it reveal themselves to be the most contemptible. That they repudiate their engagements several days later at first shows that the tribute made to Rimbaud counts much less to them than their own publicity, however shameful the means employed to get it. For them, the end justifies the means. If they falsify diverse remarks, no one should be surprised. They make much with Lenin, whose testimony they deform,[1] thus proving that they are deprived of the most elementary sense of loyalty to ideas, which precisely was the dominant quality of the great Russian revolutionary, and thus all authentic revolutionaries. Of this absent loyalty, nothing remains but Stalinist debris. By instinct, the people of Carrefour Chateaudun[5] recognize in them the individuals who offer their services. Nevertheless, we permit ourselves -- in case the Central Committee, due to its daily tasks, didn't have the spare time to make a close study of them -- to warmly recommend to its benevolent attention these apprentices who are so well endowed for the roles of witnesses in future trials of the style furnished once and for all in Moscow.

"A career suitable to their means opens before them. Good luck!"

Signatures: Bedouin, Benayoun, Breton, Dax, Flamand, Goldfayn, Hantai, Lebreton, Legrand, Mitrani, Oppenheim, Paalen, Peret, Pierre, Reigl, Schuster, Seghers, Toyen, Valorbe.

[1]. Note by Mr Breton:

"In a project of communal declaration, the Lettrists have put forth an altered text from Lenin, without identifying it as such: 'In a society founded on class struggle, one can not have an impartial literary history.' They didn't have any difficulty in recognizing that they replaced the word science in the original text with literary history and, carried away by this beautiful impulse, quote themselves in a recent political pamphlet by replacing literary history in its turn with literary critique: who are the [real] forgers?"

Today we content ourselves with rendering public Mr Breton's denunciations, and sending our comrades to re-read the complete collection of The Surrealist Revolution which, around the end of the first quarter of this century, was an intelligent and honest enterprise.

FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF POTLATCH: One can consult the complete collection of Potlatch at 32 rue Montagne-Genevieve. Visitors are asked to address themselves without fear to our friend Charles Guglielmetti, who hasn't been disfigured by any Lettrist razors, as rumor has it, but simply by the bus that unexpectedly arrived at this address on 15 August.

[1] sous le manteau: literally "under the overcoat."

[2] A reference to the bourgeois in Rimbaud's poem "Chant de guerre parisien."

[3] This text is unavailable to us.

[4] We are unable to provide this self-critique, because Potlatch #12 is unavailable to us.

[5] Square in Paris in which the Central Committee of the French Communist Party had its headquarters.

(Unsigned, and published in Potlatch #14, 30 November 1954. Translated and footnoted by NOT BORED!)

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