12.8.2. Imposters (continued)


This translation is a first draft, and has not been independently proofread. However, to the best of my knowledge this text has never been translated into English. Therefore I am making it available in this form with the caveat that there are likely to be mistakes in it. PLEASE APPROACH IT WITH CAUTION!

Draft 0.0 (14 January 2016)

IMPOSTERS (continued)

There are now so many people who have tried, in private, to pass themselves off as members of the SI that we’ve given up taking note of the names we’ve been given. The list would be too long, and yet be quite incomplete: it could almost help to give an appearance of authenticity to all of those not named. It’s enough for us to note that in France there are no Situationists who live in the provinces (and certainly not Strasbourg). In Paris itself, it really isn’t difficult to identify a Situationist when one doesn’t have a strong desire to be deceived, or an exceptional deficiency of judgement.

In any case, some of the exploits of false situationists are most likely fabricated, or embellished from some incident or other [1], by their supposed “victims” – such as the rumour from June 1968 that a professor named Jankélévitch received a very insulting letter signed by the SI. We must confess that we are almost totally ignorant of the work, and the existence, of a philosopher of Professor Jankélévitch’s stature. We have never written to him and we will, in all likelihood, continue not to read him. Perhaps he would like to be sufficiently modern, in the eyes of his students, for the situationists to insult him too. We can do nothing about that. That would be favouritism! [2]

Around the same time, numerous wizened wafflers [3] from the current collapse of the modernist literary scene – in particular Mme Marguerite Duras – claimed that their homes were visited by “situationists” who would boldly ask them for a hundred Francs to support their revolutionary activities. Nobody sensible could believe for a moment that the Situationists have ever financed themselves by collecting scraps [4], least of all from the homes of those they despise.

As for Argumentist [5] philosopher Kosta Axelos: he might have been attacked in his home, terrorised, and finally burglarised by four, seven, or fifteen situationist delinquents [6] (the figure is prone to change). After having told everyone [7] about this savage gangland team, he wrote to us directly, rebuking us for these “Fascist and Stalinist-style doings”. This philosopher really enjoys writing to us. We responded to him, as always, with some abuse and the guarantee that we would publish his slanderous letter. Axelos probably understood that this would only be the start of our response: given that [8] he wrote to us once more asking that we not publish his previous letter, under the pretext that it could be damaging to himself and some friends in a dispute that they have with people who are most certainly worse than Axelos. Although we considered the case less than convincing, we wished to forgo any appearance of having harmed this person from that side of the dispute. Thus, sadly, our readers will be deprived of some charming philosophical complaints.

It seems that some people have imagined that Mr. Hubert Tonka, whose comic titled Fiction de la contestation aliénée was published by Pauvert in June 1968, was a situationist. This modish little work proclaimed itself to be obviously satirical, although its adroitness falls quite far from supporting the intention [9]. Nonetheless, even though Mr. Tonka hasn’t any kind of relationship with the SI, it would be absolutely illogical to thus deduce that he was mixed up in the persecution that Kostas Axelos complained of.

[1] “construits de toutes pièces, ou devéloppés à partir de n’importe quoi” – “built from scratch, or elaborated from anything”

[2] “Point de favoritisme!” – contraction of “Au point de favoritisme” (“To the point of favouritism!”)

[3] “tartines recornies” – literally “shrivelled slices of bread”, however “pondre un tartine” means to write a long and boring text. The use of the word “tartine” is part of a play on words here: the phrase “tartine… de la déconfiture” parallels “tartine de confiture” (”bread and jam”).

[4] “mégots” – literally “(cigarette) butts”/”fag ends”

[5] Axelos had been editor of the journal “Arguments”.

[6] “blousons noirs” – initially a French subcultural group of the 1950s analogous to the English “rockers”, named for the black leather jackets they wore. The phrase eventually became used to refer to “juvenile delinquents” of any kind.

[7] “conté partout” – literally “recounted everywhere”

[8] “toujours est-il que” – literally “the fact remains that”

[9] “bien que le talent soit fort loin de soutenir l’intention” – literally “although the talent is very far from supporting the intention”