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potlatch #6

information bulletin of the french section of the lettrist international

27 July 1954

Translated by Reuben Keehan and WNLA

The Sound and the Fury - Berstein, Conord, Dahou, Debord, Fillon, Véra, Wolman
Notes for an Appeal to the East - Dahou
Best News of the Week
Soft Drugs
The Definition of Myth - Conord
Psychogeographical Classifieds

The Sound and the Fury

In 1947, onomatopoeic poetry marked the first scandalous appearance of a new current of ideas. In the years that followed, a group, gathered under the name "lettrists" after the poetry they proclaimed, extended its field of action to the novel, the painting (1950) and cinema (1951).

Positive dadaism, this phase of the movement undertook a critique of the formal evolution of aesthetic disciplines with an exclusive concern for the new; not the taste for originality at any cost — an objection raised all too readily — but the desire to submit to the mechanisms of invention. The predicatable dialectical enlargement of Lettrism's objectives, marked by lively factional struggles and the exclusion of superannuated leaders, eventually posed the problem of the only possible use for these mechanisms: their direction toward passionate ends.

Founded in 1952, The Lettrist International united the movement's extremist tendency. In October of the same year, following the scandal provoked against Charlie Chaplin by the International's members — denounced by the lettrist Right — all solidarity with the retrograde tendency was repudiated and its members purged.

Every step we've taken since then has been precise in every way.

We have always acknowledged that for us, a certain type of architecture, for example, or social agitation, represents nothing less than the means of approaching the construction of a way of life.

Only the hostility of bad faith has driven a section of public opinion to confuse us with a phase of poetic expression – or its negation which matters little to us; as much as any other historical form which has been able to tackle literature.

It is as clumsy to pigeon-hole us as mere partisans of some aesthetic as it is to write us off – as some have done – as drug addicts and gangsters. We have said quite clearly that the set of demands deifned not so long ago by surrealism – to cite this system – appear to us as a minimum whose urgency cannot be escaped.

As for our personal ambitions, they have little place in the causes to which we have fervently committed ourselves.

for the Lettrist International:
Michèle-I. Bernstein, André-Frank Conord, Mohamed Dahou, G.-E. Debord, Jacques Fillon, Véra, Gil J Wolman

Notes for an Appeal to the East

The Arab States are dying. Where does this leave their national political structures , founded on the misery of their populations?

There was no Egyptian revolution. It died in its infancy; it died with the textile workers gunned down in the name of 'communism.' In Egypt, they placate the masses by showing them the Suez canal. The English won't make it too far – only to Jordan, perhaps, or Libya.

Saudi Arabia bases its social existence on the Koran and sells its petrol to the Americans. The entire Middle East is in the hands of the military. Capitalist powers encourage rival nationalisms and play them off against each other.

We need to go beyond any idea of nationalism. North Africa must rid itself not only of foreign occupation, but of its feudal masters. We have to recognize our nation everywhere that our idea of liberty reigns, and nowhere else.

Our brothers are beyond questions of race and border. Certain oppositions, like the conflict with the state of Israel, can only be resolved by a revolution in both camps. The Arab countires have to know that we have a common cause. There is no West in front of you.

Mohamed Dahou

Best News of the Week

"Cease-fire signed throughout Indochina" (France-Soir, 22 July)

"Tunisia, 20 July, AFP – The Fellaghas movement is still a force to be reckoned with. During the last thirty-six hours, rebel gangs have been reported moving across the south western mountains in the direction of Kef. The authorities are ready for the actions of these outlaws and have taken every precaution to put down this menace. It has been reported elsewhere that 150 young men have left Sahel to join the Fellaghas." (Le Parisien Libéré, 21 July)

Soft Drugs

The futility of known distractions explains the consent that a majority is ready to give to the most distressing of enterprises deemed to be serious: continental wars or the bargains available in the department stores.

The "means of escape" which can be bought and sold are so pitiful that only the imbecile repression of our Christian heritage society can generate a difference between the traditional drunkeness of the sailor and a disposition to morphine.

Escape is never possible, but the changing of all of the conditions of our life certainly is. The remainder is not amusing, but vulgar. Those who choose the easy way only know how to lose themselves in promiscuities, in soft drugs, boredom, petiness...

What is a King without distractions?

The possibilities for new types of behavior lie within play.

This is a game which can only be conducted with the utmost rigor.

The Definition of Myth

It is the women who have wasted their lives to be born twenty years too early. In this way it goes to Ivich, who has existed forever. She was already ageless when Oedipus landed at the gates of Thebes. Much later, her swift passage was recorded by others. Sometimes glimpsed, sometimes, adored, never bound.

For some years it has looked as though she is preparing to return in force, which will be done until all things will at last have their influence. Her latest appearance dates from The Roads to Freedom. But they could have been mistaken: Sartre, myopic as he is, saw Ivich as a blonde, even though she's a brunette.

Rarely has her passage been spotted in our country, but she often takes refuge where she is expected. Oh, she ignores, or dares not even acknowledge. She espouses by waiting for approximations. Oh, cause and misfortune of the world, and the exhaustion of Ivich, who dares not even look up. Men are brutal, boisterous; they throw their weight around. But deep down they cannot escape an enormous silence. However, if in this universe there are a few smiles, it may soon happen. For they seek Ivich. She marches toward us. But life moves on without end, just like in novels. To be continued, therefore, next issue...


Psychogeographical Classifieds

The Lettrist International is looking for three apartments to rent in the rue Valette (5th Arrondissement).

Editor in Chief: André-Frank Conord, 15 rue Duguay-Trouin, Paris 6e.