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Hands Off Alexander Trocchi!

Guy Debord, Jacqueline de Jong & Asger Jorn

7 October 1960

FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, the British writer Alexander Trocchi has been kept in prison in New York.

He is the former director of the revue Merlin, and now he participates in experimental art research in collaboration with artists from several countries, who were regrouped on 28 September [1960] in London in the Institute of Contemporary Arts (17 Dover Street). On that occasion, they unanimously expressed in public their solidarity with Alexander Trocchi, and their absolute certainty in the value of his comportment.

Alexander Trocchi, whose case is due to be tried in October, is — in effect — accused of having experimented with drugs.

Quite apart from any attitude on the use of drugs and its repression on the scale of society, we recall that it is notorious that a very great many doctors, psychologists and also artists have studied the effects of drugs without anyone thinking of imprisoning them. The poet Henri Michaux has hardly been spoken of in recent years on the successive publication of his books announced everywhere as written under the influence of mescalin.

Indeed, we consider that the British intellectuals and artists should be the first to join with us in denouncing this menacing lack of culture on the part of the American police, and to demand the liberation and immediate repatriation of Alexander Trocchi.

Since it is generally recognized that the work of a scientist or an artist implies certain small rights, even in the USA, the main question is to bear witness to the fact that Alexander Trocchi is effectively an artist of the first order. This could be basely contested for the sole reason that he is a new type of artist; pioneer of a new culture and a new comportment (the question of drugs being in his own eyes minor and negligible).

All the artists and intellectuals who knew Alexander Trocchi in Paris or London ought to bear witness without fail to his authentic artistic status, to enable the authorities in Great Britain to take the necessary steps in the USA in favour of a British subject. Those who would refuse to do this now will be judged guilty themselves when the judgment of the history of ideas will no longer allow one to question the importance of the artistic innovation of which Trocchi has been to a great extent responsible.

We ask everyone of good faith whom this appeal reaches, to sign it, and make it known as widely as possible.