J.S. (1947-2010)

A communiqué from Editions Encyclopédie des Nuisances, dated 9 August 2010, announced the death of Jaime Semprun, which took place six days earlier. This bit of news didn’t inspire any commentary in the written press, with the notable exception of an article by Jean-Luc Porquet, published in Le Canard enchaîné on 11 August. There was also a succinct bit of necrology inserted into Libération on 10 August.

Reactions have been a little more numerous on the web. The majority of them are content to quote the communiqué by Editions Encyclopédie des Nuisances or Porquet’s article. Certain commentators have, however, seasoned their potluck by adding several ingredients of their own concoction. One thinks that Jaime Semprun was a member of the Situationist International. Another illustrates his necrology with a photo of Jorge Semprun, the father of the deceased. If the familial link that unites the two Semprun men did not escape any of these Internet explorers, no one mentioned that Claude Roy, the second husband of Loleh Bellon, was Jaime Semprun’s father-in-law. Yet Roy had praised the Relevé provisoire de nos griefs contre le despotisme de la vitesse [published by the EdN] in his Le Rivage et les jours (1990-1991). In the catalogue of books published by Editions de l'Encyclopédie des Nuisances, one also finds two authors close to Claude Roy: Kostas Papaioannou and Jean Lévi.

Since the rumor of this death is still not settled, we can use it to recall that Jaime Semprun’s first two books, La Guerre sociale au Portugal and Précis de récupération, are out of print. This is the moment to remember that, to this day, the former remains the best analysis of the proletarian revolution in Portugal, which was hidden under the “democratic” trappings of the Carnation Revolution [25 April 1974].

Jean-Luc Porquet observes, “the Encyclopédie, first a journal and then a publishing house, was the only enduring offspring of the situationist adventure led in the 1960s by Guy Debord and his band, which was the only one to undertake radical, innovative and trenchant thinking.” We believe that this image doesn’t fit the Semprun of L'Abîme se repeuple. At the beginning, the Encyclopédie des Nuisances certainly inscribed itself in the critique of harmful conditions [nuisances] elaborated at the start of the 1970s by Debord’s The Real Split. But the brilliant Discours préliminaire of November 1984 is far above some of the last works published by Editions de l'Encyclopédie des Nuisances, in which the critique of the society of the spectacle is gradually replaced by the critique of industrial society. This evolution, which was discrete and tinted by Semprun’s bitterness, is clear in some of the authors whom he published: the ex-situationist René Riesel and the university professor Jean-Marc Mandosio (whose Le Chaudron du négatif, though it dazzled Jean-Luc Porquet, seems to be anything but “luminous” to us). In the end, the Encyclopédie was closer to Anders and Kaczynski than to Marx and Debord.

(Written by Jules Bonnot de la Bande, published 15 August 2010, and translated into English that same day by NOT BORED!).

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