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Venice has Vanquished Ralph Rumney

Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958)

Translated by Reuben Keehan

Ralph Rumney

THE BRITISH SITUATIONIST Ralph Rumney, who had conducted a number of psychogeographical forays into Venice the Spring of 1957, subsequently set out with the goal of a more systematic exploration of the area, hoping to be able to present an exhaustive account by around June 1958 (cf. an announcement in Potlatch #29). At first the expedition went favorably. Having completed the initial elements of a plan of Venice whose notational technique clearly surpassed all psychogeographical cartography before it, Rumney imparted to his comrades his discoveries, his early conclusions and his hopes. By the month of January 1958, however, the news was taking a turn for the worst. Rumney, struggling against innumerable difficulties, slowed down more and more by the territory he had attempted to cross, abandoned one line of research after the other, and in the end, as he communicated to us in his moving message of 20 March, came to a complete standstill.

Diagram of all the courses taken in one year by a student living
in the 16th Arrondissement.
Published by Chombart de Lauwe
in "Paris et l'agglomération
parisienne" (PUF).

The explorers of old were aware of the high proportion of losses entailed in the quest for objective knowledge of geography. One must expect to see victims among the new searchers, the explorers of social space and its modes of use. The pitfalls are of a wholly different type, the stakes of a different nature: it is a matter of discovering a passionate use for life. It is natural for one to encounter all the defenses the world of boredom can muster. And thus, Rumney has disappeared, and his father has not yet organized a search party. The Venetian jungle is strong; it closed in on the young man, full of life and promise, now lost, dissolved in a multitude of memories.