Thursday, October 14, 2010

An intelligent view of the Avant-Garde at the end of 1955

Potlatch #24, 24 November 1954

URBANISM. In Paris today we recommend visits to: Contrescarpe (Continent); Chinatown; the Jewish Quarter; Butte-aux-Cailles (the Labyrinth); Aubervilliers (at night); the public gardens of the 7th Arrondissement; the Medical-Legal Institute; rue Dauphine (Nesles); Buttes-Chaumont (play); the Merri neighborhood; Parc Monceau; Ile Louis (the island); Pigalle; Les Halles (rue Denis, rue du Jour); the Europe neighborhood (memory); rue Sauvage.

We do not recommend visits, under any circumstances, to: the 6th and 15th Arrondissements; the grand boulevards; Luxembourg; Champs-Elysees; Place Blanche; Montmarte; Ecole Militaire; Place de la Republique; Etoile and Opera; the whole 16th Arrondissement.

DECORATION. Project by J. Fillon for decoration of a living room: three quarters of the room, occupying the part that one crosses on entering through the only door, are elegantly furnished and have no particular purpose. At the far part of the room there is a barricade, partitioning off the functional part of the room, occupying one quarter of its total area. The barricade is absolutely authentic, built from cobblestones, sandbags, barrels, and other objects commonly used for this purpose. It is approximately as high as a person is tall, with several peaks and a few gaps. Loaded guns may be laid across the top. A narrow passageway leads to the functional part of the room, which is tastefully furnished and laid out in such a way as to provide a pleasant place to receive friends and acquaintances.

This living room, which of course also requires the appropriate lighting and ambient sound, could be used as a departure from the standard layout of a run-of-the-mill house, merely introducing a superficially picturesque element. Nevertheless, its true purpose is to form a part of a wider architectural complex where its decisive value in the construction of a situation comes to the forefront.

EXPLORATION. In the near future, a team of Lettrists, operating from a base on rue des Jardins-Paul, will undertake a thorough exploration of the Merri neighborhood, which has not yet appeared on any psychogeographical map. WE INVITE ALL AND SUNDRY JOIN THE LETTRIST INTERNATIONAL. We will keep a few.

EDUCATIONAL GAMES. A recent development, "ideological debate structured as a boxing match," seems to have a brilliant future among the intellectual elite, for whom it seems ideally suited. (IDEOLOGICAL DEBATE STRUCTURED AS A BOXING MATCH WILL HELP TO INCREASE YOUR PRESTIGE WHILE WASTING TIME.) Here are the rules:

The two opponents and the referee, whose decision is final, sit at the same table, separated from each other by the referee. The length of the match is decided beforehand along with the number of rounds and their precise duration.

When the referee declares the match has begun, the two opponents size each other up for a moment and then the first to go on the attack makes a statement on whatever subject he feels is appropriate. His opponent then responds, either with a vigorous rebuttal of the argument just formulated, or by making some statement on a related or unexpected topic, or -- best of all -- with a combination of the two. The referee makes sure that the opponents do not interrupt each other. nevertheless, any contender speaking for too long loses points. A chronometer marks the end of the round with an appropriate signal and the debate is broken off immediately.

The referee then awards the round to one of the opponents or calls a draw. During the break, the contenders' fans and trainers may bring them alcoholic beverages or cups of coffee (and in some cases, drugs). The match begins again when the order is given. The referee calls a knockout when either of the opponents, surprised by the vehemence or subtlety of an attack, is unable to continue the debate. Should no knockout occur, the winner of the match is decided at the end on points, depending on the number of rounds won. Cheating, even when obvious, is not penalized.

Already noted as favorite topics are Zen, the New Left, phenomenological ontology, Astruc, Gallic coins, censorship and the intelligence of chess.

The Lettrists, who would be unbeatable, do not play this game.)

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