(Paris, with side trips to Bordeaux, Barcelona, Athens, Thessaloniki, Mannheim, and Nantes. Four months.)
August 9. Took a bus to the airport and flew to London. Watched Superman on the plane.
August 10. Arrived in London in the morning. Took train to Paris. Had some fun on it with a group of people: a Mexican family with an extremely pretty daughter who played classical guitar, two young Italian women, and a Frenchman. Arrived in Paris in the evening and helped the Mexicans get on their way. Couldn’t reach Joël or Nadine,* so took the Métro to near Nadine’s apartment. Eventually reached Joël (Nadine is out of town till probably next week). He let me into Nadine’s place, where I’m staying for the time being, and we rapped awhile. He went home around midnight. I showered and went to bed.
*Joël Cornuault and Nadine Bloch: I had first met them in Paris in 1973, when they were members of the CRQS. They had later visited me in California in 1978, and I have continued to visit them during each of my subsequent trips to France.
August 11. Did grocery shopping and rearranged the apartment some. Went by where Donna* has been staying but no one was there. She may be out of town. Left notes there and at another place she had stayed. Came back home and napped for three hours (jet lag). Met Joël for dinner (he had seen Daniel that afternoon to discuss Nadine). Then we walked through Rue Saint-Denis, Les Halles, etc.
*Donna Tse: I had stayed at her home during my 1977 Hong Kong trip. At this time she was working in Paris.
August 12. Spent much of the day reading situ pamphlets and leaflets of the last few years in Nadine’s collection. Nothing very noteworthy so far. Napped a couple hours. A friend of Donna’s called: she’s working out of town for a couple weeks. Ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Called Daniel: will meet him in a couple days.
August 13. Got up around 5:30. Read more pamphlets and made some notes about my situation. After noon went to visit with some Chinese acquaintances of Donna (they had no connection with the 70s* and had only met her here in Paris). We rapped a little and I played them some songs on a guitar they had. Then I went to Parallèles bookstore. Saw several interesting new Champ Libre** books, etc., but for the moment I only got a few magazines with articles about Iran. Briefly checked out other stores and had a sandwich. Home, found a note from Donna. Joël called but since I was tired we postponed meeting for a couple days. Donna called — she’s back in town and we arranged to meet tomorrow.
*A.k.a. 70’s Front: the Hong Kong anarchist group in which Donna had been involved.
**Founded by Gérard Lebovici in 1969, Éditions Champ Libre was during the next two decades an immensely influential radical book publisher. Its catalog featured books by Debord and several other more or less situationist authors; other important works of contemporary political analysis and critique (such as Simon Leys’s Les Habits Neufs du Président Mao and Jaime Semprun’s La guerre sociale au Portugal); and a wide range of earlier works of related interest, many of which Debord had recommended to Lebovici (Clausewitz, Bakunin, Makhno, Arthur Cravan, Karl Korsch, Boris Souvarine, Ante Ciliga, George Orwell, etc.). Here is its current catalog (under its present name, Éditions Ivrea).
August 14. Donna came over at noon. We ate lunch here, then went downtown, walked through the Tuileries, stopped for drinks. Ate dinner at Chartier,* then went to a Marx Brothers film (she had never seen them), then to our respective apartments.
*A large, popular, good, and (at that time) reasonably cheap Paris restaurant. It’s probably still one of the best places to get an idea of traditional Parisian cuisine and ambiences without spending too much money. Address: 17 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre.
August 15. Went to the Deneverts’* at 2:00 and talked with them for three hours. Daniel had found himself in a more and more unsatisfying role and, without rejecting his past, began a period of silence and of self-distancing from his old type of activity. He remains willing to see people on a more or less nonpolitical, immediate basis. We discussed some of the questions of “extremism” vs. “realism,” etc. Agreed to possibly get together later on a social basis (parties, going to the country, etc.) but not to sit around discussing things. Then I met Joël and two friends of his, Isabelle and Emmanuel, the latter the friend of Lahaeye’s who had responded to Nadine’s questionnaire. We went out to a couscous place, then to a café. Discussed Voyer some. I then went to Joël’s place for a drink, then home around 2:00 a.m.
*Daniel and Françoise Denevert, the other two original members of the CRQS. I had met them in 1973, carried on extensive correspondence and collaborations with Daniel during the next three years, then stayed with them for three months in 1976. In 1977 there had been a series of breaks between them and my Bay Area “Notice” group, and then within the latter group.
August 16. Joël stopped by. We arranged for me to feed his cat while he visits Nadine for a few days. Christian Camus called and will come over tomorrow. Donna called to say she was going to Belgium for two or three days so as to get a renewed carte de séjour [residence permit] coming back. She’s going with her Hong Kong boyfriend, who it turns out has been in Europe a year and got back in town yesterday.
August 17. Read situ texts. Went over and fed Joël’s cat. Christian Camus* came over at 6:00 and we went out to a café. He talked about his attempts to organize a regular café meeting of friends (failed) and to get friends together at gatherings at his home (more or less successful). I talked some about my last couple years’ depression, my Religion pamphlet, present possibilities. I like him.
*We had corresponded during the previous year or two (he had written to me in response to some of my publications), but this was my first meeting with Christian, who has been one of my best friends during the last 40+ years. As you will see, he hosted me during several of my subsequent Paris trips, and he has also visited me several times in California.
August 18. Finished Éliane Brau’s Le Situationnisme, ou la nouvelle Internationale. Fed Joël’s cat, washed his dishes, and cleaned up around the kitchen. Met Christian and some of his friends at a Pakistani restaurant — a guy from America and three young women, one French, the other two from New Zealand and England. Pretty enjoyable conversation. The Englishwoman, Fabia, turned out to be a recent acquaintance of Joël’s who is planning to help him translate Rexroth. (I had brought some of Rexroth’s books and talked to Christian about him.) Gave her my phone number. Christian off to Germany for a week.
August 19. A friend of Christian’s named Dominique Robin called, interested in meeting me. I’ll probably see her tomorrow. Went swimming. Finished Migeot’s De la manière de s’imposer dans le monde (blah) and started an interesting long pamphlet by Trillaud that I hadn’t seen before.*
*Coincidentally, two different authors named André. André Migeot’s two books (both published by Champ Libre) were classic examples of orthodox situ platitudes expressed in orthodox situ style with no substance whatsoever. In contrast, André Trillaud’s various self-published books and pamphlets are full of interesting and original insights. Trillaud and his wife Évelyne Bloch had visited me in Berkeley in 1977; both will reappear during some of my later Paris trips.
August 20. Did laundry. Went over to Dominique’s apartment at 6:00. She’s Christian’s girlfriend, though they have an open relationship and have never lived together. Attractive and sympathique. We ate dinner there and rapped for quite a while about all sorts of things.
August 21. Finished Trillaud’s pamphlet and Graves’s Claudius the God. Went to a few bookstores. Nadine returned with Joël. I met her in the evening and we ate at Chartier. Then she went to a friend’s apartment.
August 22. Donna returned, her boyfriend Kai having remained in Belgium to work (apparently they’re not getting along together very well). We went to two museums, one dealing with the history of the French Revolution, one of African art. Then she went to meet her friend June.
August 23. Donna came over and we ate a big dinner here. Then we went to Bob Dylan’s film Renaldo and Clara — not very interesting.
August 24. Walked around the Montmartre area (largely tourists). Donna and I went to eat dinner at Joël’s, with Nadine also there. Had a pretty good time. Ate and drank a lot. Rapped about wines, a Chinese poem of Donna’s, etc.
August 25. Wrote letters to the Amsterdam Institute and the Silkeborg Museum. Got and read much of the current Le Monde, L’Humanité, and Libération.* Went over to Donna’s for dinner. Chong, the 70s guy who played that two-stringed instrument, was there too (looking for work tomorrow). Spent a lot of time with them going over Chinese poems plus a few basic Chinese words that I learned.
*The Institute of Social History in Amsterdam is noted for its extensive collections of anarchist and other radical historical documents. The Silkeborg Museum in Denmark had a collection of early situationist documents, reputedly including one of Debord’s films. Le Monde is a “serious” mainstream paper roughly comparable to the New York Times. L’Humanité is the daily paper of the French Communist Party. Libération began in 1973 as a somewhat Maoist daily paper, but by this time it had evolved into a more eclectic radical paper.
August 26. Went swimming, then to see Fellini’s Casanova (rather jaded and depressing). Then to Donna’s place. Home (bringing a guitar loaned by a friend of hers). Emmanuel invited me to go to the country tomorrow. And Daniel called to leave a message for Nadine.
August 27. Met Emmanuel and Isabelle and we drove to Nadine and Joël’s place in the country. Ate lunch then took a walk down a canal and back (saw a boat shunted through a lock), then through a nearby town. Drove back to Paris (after a stop at a bar where I talked to Joël and Nadine about Contemporary Issues) and ate at a Chinese restaurant near Joël’s place.
August 28. Donna and I met her friend June downtown, along with an ex-Trotskyist guy named Long, also from Hong Kong. We bought some food and ate lunch in a park. I argued some with Long — though repelled by Leninist practice, he still clings to the idea of a vanguard party of some sort. We walked around, ending up at Père-Lachaise cemetery, and wandered through that for a couple hours. Then back to my place. I played some songs for them. Talked variously with June, including re the supersession of art. She and Long left for a rendezvous around 7:30. Donna and I had dinner, then listened to various records. I also read her a few poems and sang some more songs. She behaved very warmly toward me and ended up staying the night.
August 29. Donna left after breakfast. I didn’t do much for the rest of the day except a bit of reading and a lot of walking.
August 30. Met Christian for lunch and talked most of the afternoon. Then walked around a bit, then returned home. Read Vilar’s The Manipulated Man (loaned by Christian). Finished Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz.
August 31. Spent the day here reading (continuing to catch up on situ publications) and waiting for a call from Donna or June for an expected dinner. It never came, as each thought the other would call me. Jean-François Lahaeye dropped by and we rapped for two or three hours. Among other things I criticized his abstractness, constantly “demonstrating” things in his various pamphlets and papers on all sorts of topics.* But he’s a sympathetic and very enthusiastic guy. He’s leaving town for two weeks tomorrow. Donna finally called around 10:00 p.m. and then came over.
*You can get an idea of his style and prolixity from the titles in this bibliographical list of his works.
September 1. In the morning we slept late. Went by the store where June works and met her and her French friend. They were going out to lunch but didn’t have time to join us. We went to meet Christian and Joël and Nadine. We ate lunch, then went to Christian’s room where we talked all afternoon. There was general talk about the situation in France (malaise etc.) and what anybody was doing about it. This led to some discussion in which Donna questioned what we did from a sort of “solidarity” perspective (i.e. in what ways were we or were we not in solidarity with various struggles). Also discussed jazz, Chinese novels, Rexroth, etc. We split up around six, Donna to meet June, Christian going somewhere else, and Nadine, Joël and I going to a Marx Brothers film. While eating a pizza beforehand, we ran into Lahaeye and talked briefly with him (he enthusing over Stirner, whom he was reading).
September 2. Wrote notes to two German groups and to Linares. Made notes on my current situation. Read and took a walk.
September 3. Finished Pallais’s Incitation à la réfutation du tiers monde.* Did laundry. Donna called — she’s got a job. We’ll get together tomorrow. Nadine came over. We went through the situ texts I’ve been reading. Then to a Greek restaurant. Discussed dérives and her abandoned novel. At a café afterwards talked about our families and youth experiences. Walked a lot.
*A book on Third World struggles by Rafael Pallais, a Nicaraguan situ whom I later met in New Orleans and California.
September 4. Saw June briefly at her work. Made some notes for a leaflet. Donna came over for dinner. We went over Theses on the Paris Commune and a bit of Debord, and argued about anarchism and about the situation of women in the radical milieu. She talked about critiques of various 70s members. I played a few songs and a Leadbelly record. Then she went home.
September 5. Met June for lunch, then I walked to Belleville, with some idea of a possible later dérive there. Had a beer in an Arab café — some guys there were arguing a lot, I thought there might even be a fight. Came home and read. Finished Dick’s The Variable Man.
September 6. Christian and I went to dinner at Joël and Nadine’s. Discussed dérives, the state of the French movement, etc. Christian played a cassette of quotations plus music, then Nadine played one of her reading her leaflet plus an improvised poem-narration. Christian talked about Lenny Bruce and I reenacted Lord Buckley’s “Jonah and the Whale” routine.*
*Lord Buckley was a marvelously zany Beat standup comedian from the 1950s. Here is his wonderful Jonah story, which I had virtually memorized and attempted to reproduce for my friends in a mixture of French and English.
September 7. Donna came over for dinner (June wanted to go home instead). As we were finishing, Christian came by with his brother Joël, who has experimented somewhat with dérives.* We discussed this topic a bit. I played a couple Rexroth poems from an LP that he had recorded with jazz accompaniment, and sang them a few songs.
*Dérives: an experimental exploratory practice developed in the early 1950s by Guy Debord, Ivan Chtcheglov, and a few others. See Debord’s article Theory of the Dérive.
September 8. Went to Isa’s place but couldn’t find her (or it). Then to Rue Fagon, but Roger and Linda’s names were no longer listed. Browsed through bookstores, then went to Frédéric Goldbronn’s (ex-friend of Joël and Nadine’s). Left a note and ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant. He was home when I returned. We went out to a café, then to my place. He rapped notably about the autonomes, the young workers’ struggles, etc. He’s met Sanguinetti in Italy.
September 9. Met Nadine at Notre-Dame to see a grand Mass [out of curiosity, since I’d never seen one before]. Then we met Joël at a café. Rapped and drank coffee, then ate lunch and split up. Home, I made a few notes toward a leaflet but was too tired to do much. Joël and Nadine came over at 9:00. We played a little music (Nadine on flute). Rapped about Bookchin, Mumford, H.G. Wells. Looked at their photos.
September 10. Browsed through Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. Then went to see a movie by Viénet et al., Une petite culotte pour l’été, detourned from a Japanese porn film. Not very notable, though of course there were a few interesting points. Then home. Donna came over for dinner. I was rather depressed and she left soon after. Letter from Laurent Chaumette inviting me to Bordeaux before October. Last week I’d received an invitation to Nantes from Yves Chaumette (no relation).
September 11. Worked on the leaflet, which I must finish soon since I’ve decided to go to Bordeaux and then Greece in a couple weeks.
September 12. Worked on the leaflet. In the evening went to Frédéric’s and met two of the Nexialists* who live in Paris, Jordi Vidal and Joëlle Casse. We went to an excellent and expensive restaurant ($20 per person). Extensively discussed my Religion pamphlet, with which Jordi was largely in agreement. Frédéric argued against some of Jordi’s examples drawn from the French situ scene over the last decade. Jordi then added another example: a rumor that Sanguinetti had insulted Frédéric behind his back. Frédéric had not been aware of this, and he was so upset to learn about it that he left the table for twenty minutes. At 11:30 we went to a bar where François Boutonnet and another Nexialist from the south had just come to town. We continued talking about the “Religion”-related topics. Then, asked by Jordi, I said I didn’t see much of interest in their Toulouse “Détournement” booklet, and that in any case it was much too long. We argued about that for a while. At 2:15 they drove me home. With François there’s a possibility that I might visit Barcelona. (He had recently met Linares there, who has apparently more or less “retired” from radical activity for the moment.)
*A situ group that had published several pamphlets under the name “Internationale Nexialiste.”
September 13. Slept late. Wrote notes to Yves and Laurent. Typed a draft of my leaflet. Read Lettre de Dakar.* Finished Jack Vance’s The Blue World.
*A situ-influenced book by an anonymous Senegalese author, published by Champ Libre.
September 14. Slight work on leaflet. Joël and Nadine came over in the afternoon. We discussed my leaflet. They were largely critical and I was left unsatisfied with it, though not agreeing with some of their criticisms. Looked over Nadine’s draft. We discussed some general things re leaflets and re the state of things in France (re “situationism” etc.). They left for the country. Joël Camous came over and we rapped, went to a nearby Réunion restaurant, then on a short quasi-dérive — through a railway tunnel without a flashlight, then to a café, then wandering through a suburb (Saint-Ouen), then took a cab back to my place. He fixed himself an omelet, then left. The dérive was interesting, but I was somewhat tired and not really in the mood.
September 15. Went to a bookstore (closed) and by Jordi and Joëlle’s (not there). Donna came over for dinner. Discussed China, and I went over with her two Debord theses on that topic. Sang her a few songs, including “Tom Joad.” Christian came over with Jack and another friend. We went to a café. A black guy from South Africa accosted us and ended up joining us. He was somewhat crazy and dominated the conversation. Eventually he left; and then Donna. Then I talked with Christian about the leaflets, “public vs. personal,” etc.
September 16. Finished Bookchin’s The Limits of the City. Met Matou,* a friend of the Nexialists. We rapped in a café for an hour. He said that of the numerous situ writings since 1968, mine were among the few that were really interesting. Then he rapped about Algeria (where he’d lived), Trillaud’s texts (he’s an old friend of his), etc. We split. Home, I read an article by him. Decided to abandon the Paris leaflet.** Frédéric called and I met him and his friend Brigitte Larguèze for dinner, then to two cafés. Brigitte has put out a leaflet re the recent Longwy and Denain steelworker strikes, and she and a friend are in the process of reissuing a Jorn book. Got home after 2:00.
*Matou: Alain Montesse, a radical filmmaker who later hosted me during my 2008 Paris trip.
**I never published this leaflet (“Paris Spleen”), but in retrospect I felt it was actually pretty good and I later reproduced the text in my autobiography.
September 17. Got a copy of Debord’s film book.* Christian took me to the apartment where I’ll be soon be staying (Guy Bernelas’s, who’s out of town). We discussed Lu Xun. He’s leaving for Spain tomorrow, for a week. We split up and I went to Jordi and Joëlle’s for dinner. We rapped till 3:00 a.m. re Tolkien, Sade, Denevert, science fiction, Italian history, women in the situ milieu, etc. Though the conversation was mostly interesting and enjoyable, Jordi sometimes got carried away with lengthy reiterations of situ banalities (notably about Sade). It confirmed a recent inclination I’ve felt (also expressed by Nadine) toward a more “oubli” position, i.e. a more iconoclastic attitude toward literary and historical “references,” especially toward the more orthodoxly approved ones.
*Oeuvres Cinématographiques Complètes (Debord’s complete filmscripts), which had just been published by Champ Libre and which I translated into English many years later.
September 18. Jack came by to borrow keys and left some texts from Christian. Did laundry and read a Giscard interview. Donna came over for dinner. Read her Brigitte’s leaflet on Longwy. Listened to some Brassens songs. She left. Finished Schade’s Des êtres se rencontrent.*
*Jens August Schade’s Des êtres se rencontrent et une douce musique s’élève dans leurs coeur [Beings Meet and a Sweet Music Rises in Their Hearts]: a sort of proto-situationist novel extravagantly praised by Ivan Chtcheglov. Originally published in 1944, it was reprinted by Champ Libre in 1978.
September 19. Gathered up my things and straightened up Nadine’s apartment. Took my stuff over to Guy’s place. Got some Brassens records and a couple Buber books in French. Went to dinner with Jeff Martos* and Brigitte. We discussed my Religion pamphlet (Jeff has been receiving my texts since the Contradiction period). He’s translating Sanguinetti’s book Terrorism and the State. We went out to meet a friend of theirs, Arthur something. But when Brigitte called him, he said he had heard so many bad things about me that he didn’t want to meet me. Neither of them had any idea what those “bad things” were.** We then went to a café and had a couple beers. Around 3:00 a.m. I was about to walk home since it was too late for the Métro, but they offered to let me stay at their place. I slept on the floor and didn’t get much sleep.
*Jean-François Martos, who later authored Histoire de l’Internationale Situationniste (Champ Libre, 1989) and published his Correspondance avec Guy Debord (1998).
**The main “bad thing” was probably my 1977 pamphlet The Realization and Suppression of Religion, which raised issues that were virtually taboo in the situ scene, particularly in France. Though many French situs acknowledged the pertinence of at least some of my points in that pamphlet, others considered that my nuanced treatment of some aspects of religion was beyond the pale. The orthodox situ attitude was total condemnation of anything to do with religion. For some rather extreme examples of this attitude, see the two passages by Michel Prigent here.
September 20. Went to Nadine’s, showered and rested a bit. Then to Guy’s. By this time I was feeling pretty sick. Stayed in bed most of the day. Canceled a dinner rendezvous with Joël and Nadine; instead they came over here afterwards. We discussed possible publishing of my texts in France (too expensive); Le Grand Jeu; LSD experiences (I described the Millbrook book and various of my experiences). Listened to Jelly Roll Morton and Nadine borrowed a book about him.
September 21. Wrote a note to Laurent. Got Vaneigem’s new book. Saw Harold Lloyd’s Don’t Worry. While browsing at Shakespeare & Co., ran into Paul and Beth.*
*Fellow workers at a Berkeley publishing company where I worked part-time for many years as a proofreader and copyeditor.
September 22. Finished “Misère du féminisme” in La Guerre Sociale. Browsed some bookstores. Ate at Chartier, then at a café read an article by Tony Arno* on dérives.
*A.k.a. Anton Hartstein, an ex-member of the SI who had subsequently taken part in the group/journal Errata.
September 23. Went to Nadine’s to shower and take books. Then to dinner with François Boutonnet and his friend Anne. Anne split after dinner, tired. I criticized the Nexialists’ publications again. He talked about Spain and south France and gave me some Barcelona addresses. We went to a café, then split up at midnight.
September 24. Got up early, met Donna, François, and Anne, and we drove to see Matou’s films. Jordi and Joëlle also there, plus half a dozen others. The guy to unlock the door was late so we went to a café while we were waiting. Some talk between Donna and Jordi re anarchism. The films were rather frenetic for my taste, but they did suggest certain possibilities. Afterwards we discussed them and film in general at a café. One of the other people there had been in Berkeley for five years and he rapped some about the differences from France (as well as about some theater-related stuff that escaped me). Then to a crêpe restaurant for lunch. More talk about America. Then we split up, François to drive to Perpignan. I walked around checking out bookstores. Left a note at Brigitte’s then ate at a Vietnamese restaurant near here.
September 25. Called Daniel but he wasn’t free before I leave. Christian came over and we had lunch here then went to a café. He left and I went to meet Anne, who had called. We talked at her house and while walking through Père-Lachaise, then went to Guy’s place. Joël Cornuault and Donna showed up and we all went out to dinner. Miscellaneous conversation, including some Chinese writing. Then Donna left and we went to Joël’s. We had a long and rather tedious argument with Anne. She stated a rather abstract position on the state of the movement and we responded that this was largely a projection of the Nexialists’ particular experiences. This led to critiques of the stereotyped language she had used, etc., which Joël and I probably didn’t succeed in communicating very well to Anne since we remained more or less on the terrain of such pseudocommunication and there wasn’t much concrete to refer to. Joël drove us home.
September 26. Got some Ferré and Brassens records. Called Joël and discussed the unsatisfying conversation with Anne. He said that after many experiences like this, plus his lack of interest in this circle of people, he thought it best to be aggressive. I did not disagree, but contended that the polarization was not clearly made. Stopped by Jeff’s. He was still in the hospital, to be operated on in a couple days. Talked with Brigitte, criticizing the efficacy of trashing places, etc. We visited Jeff briefly, then went to eat dinner. Fred happened by and complained briefly about my telling Brigitte and Jeff about the incident with Sanguinetti before it was confirmed. Then he left. Brigitte and I rapped at a café till Fred rejoined us there at 11:00. I left them around midnight. Got a copy of the Jorn book* from Brigitte. Wrote Danny and Linda.
*The Danish artist Asger Jorn was one of the cofounders of the Situationist International in 1957, and remained a close friend of Debord despite having left the group a few years later. The book mentioned here was a reprinting of Pour la Forme, a large collection of Jorn’s articles originally published in 1957. You can find my translations of a few of those articles here.
September 27. Went to Nadine’s place, packed and took a shower. Went to Joël and Nadine’s for dinner, with Christian, Emmanuel, and Philippe (I think the latter is a friend of Fabia’s). Christian discussed his noticing how musicians frequently were poor in the rest of their lives (e.g. in their relations) though creative in their music. This led to a long discussion, somewhat abstract but fairly interesting, re art “versus” life (i.e. relations); whether there is a “technique” in relations; whether art today (as specialization) is completely an escape or not; etc. Taxi back to Guy’s place.
September 28. Got up early and took a train to Bordeaux. Arrived at 1:30 p.m. and met Laurent Chaumette. I did not meet his girlfriend because she is so freaked out from bad experiences in the situ scene that she refuses to see anyone (except him) who has ever so much as written a pamphlet. I criticized his wallowing in Kierkegaard, his flirtation with/fear of madness, his melodramatics. Then we met José Figueiredo and a couple of his friends. Had dinner together. Much of the discussion among them was circular debate re whether workers are resigned or radical, etc. Stayed the night at a place they’re fixing up for Annie (José’s friend).
September 29. Got some books and wandered around Bordeaux. Met Laurent at 4:30. Discussed responses (or lack of them) to letters. He talked about his youth (in Tahiti; isolated), then we met José and Annie and went to a restaurant. Called François Boutonnet to arrange to meet him tomorrow.
September 30. With José and Annie to a place in the country where we ate escargots and shrimp. Then ate a big lunch at a sort of working-class restaurant. Then to the train station. Met François at Perpignan. Ate dinner with him and a couple of his friends. Discussion of religion; and of the decline of workerism in France. Spent the night at his place.
October 1. Mailed books to U.S., then François dropped me at the train station. Arrived in Barcelona in the late afternoon. Took a cab to a friend of Linares’s* but found he was out of town. Left my pack at an anarchist bookstore and called Santi Soler. Wandered around. Ate dinner, then went to a café, then got a room in a pension.
*Fernando Linares had enthusiastically translated a number of my writings into Spanish, but he did not end up publishing any of them. I did not manage to meet him when I was in Spain.
October 2. Met Santi Soler. We communicated in French. He talked about his experiences in the MIL* and his recent publishing activities. We took the subway to Etcetera publications, then he helped me make a plane reservation, then we split up. I wandered around the Ramblas. Ate a pizza at Café Rivolta. Then to Café Karma. Met some members of the Theater of All Possibilities (from New Mexico) who were touring in Europe performing a William Burroughs adaptation. Exchanged cards (I briefly explained mine) and discussed theater (I made some basic critiques). They split with others of their group. I watched the crowds milling around on the Ramblas (including lots of prostitutes), then returned to the same pension as the night before.
*MIL: Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (Iberian Liberation Movement), a radical underground group in Spain. One of its members, Puig Antich, was executed by the Franco regime in 1974, and several other members were imprisoned and tortured. Santi Soler was among those arrested, but because he was so severely handicapped he was not tortured — the authorities thought it would look really bad if word got out that they had tortured a crippled hunchbacked midget with a whole slew of other health problems. Following Franco’s death in 1975, Spain had become somewhat less fascistic and Santi had been released from prison. For more on the MIL, see Salvador Puig Antich, Collected Writings on Repression and Resistance in Francos Spain (AK Press, 2021).
October 3. Had a light breakfast, made some notes, and finished reading a tract criticizing the CNT.* Strolled around, then had lunch, during which I chatted briefly with a young Taiwanese woman. Met Santi and a friend. They largely talked in Spanish. Then we went to the Centro de Documentación, a library of anarchist texts. I showed Santi’s friend some SI articles re Spain. Santi and I ate at Café Rivolta. I mainly let him rap about his experiences — in the MIL, in jail, in the CNT, etc. — then we continued a bit at the Café Karma. Then we split up and I returned to the same pension.
*CNT: Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, the Spanish anarchist labor union.
October 4. While breakfasting, read some interviews with Soler and others re CNT exclusions. Walked around. Picked up my backpack at the bookstore, got some stuff wrapped to mail home and went to the post office. It was closed for lunch; eventually I was able to mail it at the airport after some hassle. Took a plane to Athens, arriving in the evening. Went to Micháles (Miki) Anastasiádhes’s.* He discussed Greek situation, various books published by the anarchist bookstore/publisher Diethnis Vivliothiki (D.V.) [International Library], and his past (he’s lived in France, Norway, etc., and knows numerous languages).
*I don’t have any photos from my Greece trip, but here’s one of Miki when he later visited me in Berkeley in 1985:
October 5. Got up early; Miki and his Norwegian girlfriend Tonje slept late. With Miki went over D.V.’s Riesel translation to find omissions or alterations noted by Kostas Kouremenos. Took bus with him, then to Kouremenos’s place. Discussed his break with D.V. and his current (vague) notions of moving away from this sort of milieu. Went to D.V. and met Christos and Silvia. Chatted briefly about their publications. After Miki and Tonje arrived, we discussed the Kouremenos break and criticisms. I also criticized somewhat the eclecticism of their publishing, mentioning Bookchin as an example of the counterproductive character of some of the “documents” they’d reprinted. We ate a lavish Greek dinner with lots of wine. I talked a bit with Tonje about Carl Dreyer, The Kalevala, the situs, etc. Came home and while we were drinking sherry late into the night Miki, on a lark, called a friend in Paris (waking him up).
October 6. Looked over and discussed the SI note on the CNT [in Internationale Situationniste #11] with Miki. Went shopping with him, then ate a late lunch/breakfast. Went to meet Thémis Katsoúles. He discussed his break with Christos; and some of the history of the anarchist-etc. movement in Greece since 1972, about which he and some friends are working on a critical text. He declined to discuss much the translation-alteration issue, considering the ridiculousness of me being the go-between for rumors back and forth about nuances of Greek phrasing. Walked back home, discussed Champ Libre with Miki, then out to dinner with him, Tonje, and three of their friends. Back here, discussed Brecht.
October 7. Went through part of “Two Local Wars” with Miki and he discussed the Arab countries.* Hung around the house all day not doing much — late lunch, then I couldn’t go to the Parthenon etc. due to rain. Thémis and Anna came over and we went to Sewers of Gold, a film based on a famous bank robbery in Nice. Then to an Italian restaurant. Talked in French with Tonje about the early situs.
*Though Greek, Miki was raised in Lebanon, knew Arabic, and was very familiar with conditions in Arab countries. Two Local Wars is a 1967 SI article on the Vietnam and Arab-Israel wars.
October 8. Miki and Tonje left early for some red-tape errands. I did laundry. They returned, we ate lunch, listened to some Brassens and Jacques Brel, then Miki went to teach and Tonje and I went to see the Acropolis (it was closed but we saw the Greek theater) and a hill that overlooks Athens. Then we went to the D.V. I rapped with Nikos Balis (he and his wife are both translators). Arranged to drive to Thessaloniki with Christos on Friday. Went to a restaurant with Miki and Tonje, talking to them about the rather unexpected degree of situationist influence in Greece. Then home and to bed early.
October 9. Went to the Acropolis. Then had a sandwich and coffee and went by the home of a correspondent of Nadine’s (he’ll call tomorrow). Then walked a long way, had a late lunch, and went to see Katsoúlis. I mentioned the need for English or French accounts of Greek events. He described the uprising of November 1973 and those (briefer) of 1975 and 1976. Discussed the D.V. He and his friends plan to publish their text with another publisher. He briefly described his critiques of Miki’s old text on the development of Greek capitalism. He also criticized the separation of many situs’ theories from actual social movements (saying that they tended to evoke a “mystical proletariat”), but he exempted my writings from this critique. I took a cab back home. By mistake it took me way out of the way, and by the time I got back, Miki and Tonje were gone. Wrote a letter to Joël and Nadine. When Miki and Tonje finally got back (1:00 a.m.) Miki talked a bit about Greece economically and politically.
October 10. Read Miki’s article (in French) on Greek capital and discussed it with him. Played guitar for Tonje. Yiannis Ioannidis came by (ex-friend of Kostas’s) and we went over to his house. He rapped mainly about his critiques of the D.V. and about his own development. Ate dinner with Miki and Tonje, then we went to see the film Blue Collar. Saw Christos and Tina there and afterwards went with them and others to a bar. Discussed American black social manners (which I said were more or less accurately reflected in the film).
October 11. Went briefly to an archeological museum, then by the square where anarchists hang out [in the famous “Exarcheia” neighborhood]. Home, rapped with Miki, Tonje, Anna, and Thémis and sang songs with them. Thanásis Papadjímas had called from Thessaloniki and our trip was postponed till Monday. Read a couple chapters of a lousy book on Greece.
October 12. Read most of Miki’s thesis on eroticism etc. Went to the ancient Agora. Then got a copy of On the Road for Thanásis, who plans to translate it. Went to Nikos’s place and left a note. At the anarchist square met some people getting ready to paste up posters announcing a benefit concert for imprisoned anarchists. Went to see Monty Python’s Jabberwocky.
October 13. Walked around Colonus and the nearby area. Criticized Miki’s thesis (its academicism, etc.). Helped slightly with scraping their windows in prep for painting. Took them to a Chinese restaurant. Very expensive here ($15 each), but the cuisine was new to them and they liked it.
October 14. Went to meet Nikos but he wasn’t there. Walked around on a nearby hill/park, then back home. Ate dinner, then went out to a rock concert with Anna and Thémis; but it was too loud so Miki, Tonje, and I left and went to have an ice cream on Colonus. Finished reading a collection of miscellaneous fragments by and about Arthur Cravan.
October 15. Got up early. Anna and Thémis picked me up and we drove to Thessaloniki. Arrived late afternoon and waited an hour or so for Thanásis. He came and we rapped briefly and ate dinner (fixed by his mother who lives next door). He went off to study for an exam. I showered and read two recent articles by Gus Mok and Flora Chan.
October 16. Went out with Thanásis to check about a possible Bulgarian trip; but concluded that it would probably be too expensive. Split up, I went to a café, then back here. He returned and we ate lunch. Talked a bit with a friend of his re university agitation. The latter left and we went over Double-Reflection (clarifying idiomatic phrases, etc.).* After dinner he went to study while I saw a Peter Sellers movie and walked back here.
*Thanásis was planning on translating this pamphlet of mine, but it was eventually done by another guy, Tákes Athanarópoulos, and published ca. 1985:
October 17. Discussed Bookchin and the Kouremenos critiques with Thanásis. Then we went over The Realization and Suppression of Religion, The Society of Situationism, Remarks, and other writings of mine. Went out to dinner with him and a woman friend of his.
October 18. Talked briefly with Thanásis and his friend Spiros. Then he went to an exam and I went walking around. Saw a few Byzantine churches, then went to a café by the bay, wrote a few postcards and read a newspaper. Had a quick dinner then saw a Clint Eastwood movie, Joe Kidd. Back home, read a little.
October 19. In the afternoon finished Rosa Luxemburg’s The Mass Strike. In the evening went out with Thanásis and a woman friend of his. Met an Australian anarchist (in his fifties, originally from Bulgaria) at his hotel room. He seemed to be a fairly typical traditional anarchist. Went to a taverna and ate dinner. A music group was playing some rather lame songs. Spiros (seeing this music group was his idea) and five friends showed up later. Thanásis and his friend left. I stayed. Danced one round but couldn’t get any of the women to join me. Spiros and the others asked me about the situs, but it was too noisy for much communication. We drank a lot of retsina, then I walked home when they left.
October 20. Finished Einstein’s La Relativité. Walked to the pier. In the evening Thanásis helped me get a railroad ticket. Then we went to a café to discuss some questions of content in Double-Reflection. Also a bit about technology and Bookchin. Then to a bar where we heard a Hungarian jazz group that played American 50s/60s style. Some women friends of his showed up, including one from Hungary and another translating Kerouac’s The Subterraneans. We came home and sat up talking till 2:30 — about my pre-Contradiction history, other American groups, Kouremenos’s critiques, etc.
October 21. Ate breakfast and rapped with Thanásis and went to the train station. On the train to Athens (which took eight hours) I read a miscellany by and about Lewis Carroll and reread Through the Looking Glass. Back with Miki and Tonje (who had a bit of a cold). Their electricity was out till tomorrow, so we rapped by candlelight and then went to bed early.
October 22. Went out, as they were still working on the electricity. Walked around a bit, then contacted Thémis Katsoúlis. Met him and his girlfriend Mimé. Ate lunch and rapped for a few hours. Went over some of the translation errors/omissions. They discussed a few of the people (e.g. from the I.C.C.) who had visited Greece. I went over some of my overall impressions of Greece. Glanced through Red-Eye [an American ultraleftist journal]. Home, ate with Miki and Tonje, both still a bit sick, so we all had some limes and ginger tea. Finished Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince.
October 23. Got a cheap Paris airplane ticket from a friend of Miki’s. Then walked up and around a hill with a theater and the location of Socrates’s prison. Ate a late bad lunch, then to D.V. There I got free or at cost some of the Greek situ texts to send home. Then to Kostas’s. Rapped with him and his brother Stavros there and at a restaurant — about hippies, Quakers, American workers, etc. They’re both going to Paris soon.
October 24. Read a lot of Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class and a bit of Dolgoff’s book on Cuba. In the evening met Miki at 10:00, but he didn’t feel like a movie (we hadn’t found any good ones) so we just ate a sandwich and went to a café briefly.
October 25. Got a couple of rebetika records.* Tonje and I met Miki at his class and we went to a Japanese restaurant. Called Joël.
*Rebetika (a.k.a Rembetiko): Greek down-and-out urban songs somewhat analogous to blues. There are numerous recordings of the great original performers of the early twentieth century, and there’s also an excellent feature film that you can watch here.
October 26. Waited in the rain for a taxi — almost was late to the airport. Flew to Paris, arriving early afternoon. Took my packs to Joël Cornuault’s place. Called Christian and talked a long time. He described the 70s meeting, etc.* Read letters from Dan, Tony, Kathy; and from Revolte (learned also that one of the Revolte group had visited Paris while I was gone). Back to Joël’s. He showed up and we went out to eat. Talked till rather late, including about meeting people, maintaining one’s integrity, etc.
*The 70s members in Paris had had some sort of meeting or public event while I was in Spain and Greece, and Christian had attended it.
October 27. Met Christian at a café. Then to his apartment where his brother Joël and the woman from New Zealand were. We played some music together (Joël and I with guitars and Christian on trumpet) and listened to records of early jazz. Then I went to Donna’s. Flora Chan is also staying there. We ate dinner there, then Flora left to receive a phone call from Gus Mok (in England).* I left a bit later. At Joël Cornuault’s (where I’ll be staying) read over his Rexroth translations.**
*Flora Chan and Gus Mok: two other 70s members whom I had met in Hong Kong.
**During my Europe trips I had often attempted to turn my friends on to Kenneth Rexroth’s writings. In the case of Joël Cornuault this ultimately had very significant results. He was already at this time translating a few of Rexroth’s poems and essays into French, and in the decades since then he has translated two volumes of his essays and three volumes of his poetry.
October 28. Called Hamburg and arranged to meet the Revolte group in Mannheim in a couple weeks. And arranged to meet Daniel and Françoise tomorrow. Went dinner shopping with Joël. Then to buy a copy of the Paris-Moscou catalogue for Dan Hammer. Home, read Libération articles on China loaned by Donna. She and Flora came over, late, for dinner with Joël and me. Flora discussed Spain, the 70s’ activities (including a film, whereupon I showed her Debord’s scenarios). Loaned her anti-CNT articles.
October 29. Spent all day home (Joël at his last day of work). Read Minus 5 (loaned by Flora). Called travel agencies. Rearranged my things and prepared packages of books to mail home. Daniel postponed the dinner date. Joël came home and packed. We ate at the restaurant across the street. Then he took the train to Dordogne (to join Nadine for a week).
October 30. Mailed packages and did laundry — both of which took a long time due to various hassles. Donna came over for dinner, and paid back the $350 I had loaned her last year.
October 31. Vacuumed the apartment. Got some records and books. Stopped by Jeff’s and rapped a bit. He showed me a copy of the Sanguinetti-Fred correspondence. He hopes to finish and publish the Jorn book reprinting soon (postponed due to his eye operation). Brought stuff home, then went to Chartier, then to Shakespeare & Co., then to see Moonraker. Home, glanced through a huge dossier on the S.I. and the Fédération Anarchiste.
November 1. Went to the “Paris-Moscou” exhibit,* then stopped in at a church to listen to organ music, then walked around the Latin Quarter. Came home, then went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant across the street. Finished Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London.
*An exhibition at the Centre Pompidou on the interaction between the French and Russian artistic avant-gardes 1900-1930.
November 2. In all day waiting for phone call from Christian. Finished Watson’s The Double Helix. Did some cleaning. Finally Christian called at 6:00 (he’d been busy taking care of his sick father) and we met at a couscous restaurant at 8:00. Then to a café. Split up at 11:00 since he was tired. Loaned him Josef Weber’s “Unfinished Letter” and the two rebetika records.
November 3. Read in the afternoon. Emmanuel called and he and Isabelle came over. We rapped a long time, including reading some Alice in Wonderland together. Then we went to a restaurant, where I criticized Emmanuel for bemoaning the “political situation” without himself doing anything. We also talked a lot about modern physics (he’s a student in it).
November 4. Finished the FA/SI dossier. Went by Jeff’s but no one was there. Then to a Chinese restaurant. Then back to Jeff’s place. Brigitte was there and he came back later. Brigitte had stayed up all night with a friend who had tried to kill himself. We talked about Mesrine, surrealism and art books, California, etc.
November 5. Donna called; I arranged to stay at her place starting Thursday. Got some books and records. Ate at Chartier. Nadine and Joël returned around 11:00 p.m. We rapped awhile, but they were tired and went to bed soon.
November 6. Finished Wildcat Spain Encounters Democracy. Went over the “Case Study” translation with Joël and Nadine. Joël showed me some notes on dream and life and we discussed his project of reissuing some of our old texts. Went to the Deneverts’ for dinner. Daniel suggested my writing something comparing the American movement with the European one. Discussed some radical tendencies among the youth here. He’s thinking about writing something on the politicization of criminals. I described the few things I know about the ex-Notice people and my (vague) present perspectives. I gathered a lot of their pamphlets to distribute in Europe or to leave with Joël and Nadine. Spent the night there but didn’t sleep much due to after-dinner coffee.
November 7. Breakfast with Daniel and Françoise, then hauled back all the pamphlets. Joël was happy, having received some favorable comments on his Rexroth translations. I went to the Louvre with Nadine, then got some Chinese and Japanese novels for her. Then back home. She and Joël went out to dinner with his father. I ate at a Japanese restaurant, then met them for the film Somewhere in Europe.
November 8. Packed and mailed books. Called Hamburg and fixed a date to meet them in Mannheim. Read parts of two issues of Le Monde. Went over much of Yves Chaumette’s Realization and Suppression of Religion translation with Joël. They left. I went to a restaurant, then to Donna’s. Sang her a few Threepenny Opera songs.
November 9. Wandered around and browsed through bookstores. Donna returned, then went to June’s, then back.
November 10. Donna and I went to an exhibit of Oriental art and drama and puppet masks. We grabbed a snack at 6:00 (not having had lunch), then met Nadine, Isabelle, and Emmanuel at a café. June showed up a bit later. Our conversation included some joking about June’s and my French accents. Then to a Chinese restaurant for a big meal. Got a letter from Évelyne Bloch.
November 11. Went to Joël’s to take a shower. Stayed the afternoon there reading, and wrote a note to Yves Chaumette. At 6:00 went to the new apartment where Joël Camous is staying. A lot of people showed up: Guylaine; various of their friends or friends of friends from Peru, Australia, Holland, etc.; Dominique (who talked to me a bit about her trip to California); Joël and Christian and Donna. Joël and Guylaine went to dinner with Guy Bernelas; the rest of us ate there. I and some of the others played guitar; and they played a cassette of Joël, Christian, and me jamming. When Joël returned he discussed e.g. how Guylaine refers to her situ background when she meets strangers. Donna discussed some Lu Xun translations she had made for Christian.
November 12. Went with Donna to the paleontology museum; then to a good Chinese restaurant; then to see Apocalypse Now. Finished Brecht’s Threepenny Novel.
November 13. Bought my plane and train tickets. Did a bit of bookstore browsing (Joël wanted to be alone in the afternoon). Returned at 6:30. Christian came by and the four of us ate at the restaurant across the street. Christian discussed a lot of stuff about trees and lumber [which he had studied during a sojourn in the U.S.]. A young truck driver joined our conversation. He was comparatively lucid about life in this society, though overemphasizing the importance of individual solar power as a solution. Back, arranged my stuff for the trip.
November 14. Took the train to Mannheim and arrived at 8:00 in the evening. Met the Subrealists* — six of them — and after a snack sat rapping around a big table till after midnight. Much of the discussion concerned organization, since they place a notable value on collective activity. I also discussed some aspects of the American scene (the counterculture, my Religion pamphlet, etc.). Then I went with one of them to a nearby apartment to spend the night. Finished Rex Stout’s The Silent Speaker.
*I.e. the Revolte group mentioned earlier: a German situ group who referred to themselves as “Subrealists” and who published a journal called Revolte. They had translated numerous SI writings into German, including the complete French journal Internationale Situationniste. Three of them — Lutz Schulenburg, Hanna Mittelstädt, and Günter Meyer — lived in Hamburg, where their “Edition Nautilus” publishing operation was based. The other three — Wolfgang Ziegler, Mathilde (“Tilla”) Heilmann, and Günter Hoffmann — lived in Mannheim, though Günter also spent a lot of time in West Berlin.
November 15. I had a bad cold all day. We talked in the morning, then most of them went out for a walk and I took a nap. Then ate a good dinner with them. Played a few songs and played a bit with Wolf and Tilla’s little girl, Mackie. We argued a bit about a poetry tour they had organized which included a taped critique of poetry. Talked some about America — CEM actions, the Weathermen, the gay riot, and Contemporary Issues. I summarized some of my texts, which they had merely skimmed.
November 16. After breakfast I napped while they discussed their Iran pamphlet. Then I did dishes as they wound up. After dinner we discussed Iran, including a few questions they had about my poster,* then they summarized their pamphlet and I commented on various points.
*The Opening in Iran, a poster-article I had written about the 1978-1979 uprising in Iran. Here’s the cover of one of the three French translations:
November 17. In the afternoon they had another meeting while I reread the French version of their anti-nuke pamphlet and rested. Then we ate a big dinner and had a final talk. I made a couple points about their pamphlet, then resumed a few of my general orientations (e.g. the main points of Double-Reflection). Hanna, Lutz, and Günter Meyer drove back to Hamburg. I continued talking with the other three (Wolf, Tilla, and Günter Hoffmann) re Germany (repression, mood, etc.) and the USA.
November 18. Slept at the big apartment (as did Günter). After breakfast, more discussion of America — early hip experimentation, encounter groups, unions, etc. Then they took me to the train station at 2:30. Read much of Breton’s Entretiens and arrived in Paris at 9:00. Then to Donna’s.
November 19. Tried all day to reach Philippe (now staying at Joël’s) but didn’t succeed till late evening. Meanwhile got a couple books, went by Fred’s (not there) and Jeff’s. With the latter rapped for a while.
November 20. Went to Joël’s and showered and ate lunch with Philippe. In the evening met Christian. We ate dinner then went to Dominique’s (not there) to use her record player to record my rebetika records. He read me a draft critique of Joël’s pamphlet. He stayed there and I went back to Joël’s to spend the night (Philippe being elsewhere).
November 21. Got a couple books for the Deneverts; and my plane ticket. Went to the Deneverts’ for dinner. Talked about the Subrealists; Trillaud; the Fossoyeurs du Vieux Monde (it was partly a mise-en-question triggered by the Fossoyeurs’ journal that had made them seem rather depressed when I saw them in August); the surrealists; the situ notion of the individual (Daniel made a critique of “egoism” somewhat along the lines of what I’d done in my Religion pamphlet); etc. Daniel is now writing his “memoirs,” i.e. a text about their last ten years’ activity. I stayed the night there.
November 22. Slept late while they went to work. Daniel came back at 1:00 with his girlfriend Évelyne. We ate lunch and small-talked — our jobs, nursery rhymes. I went to Joël’s, showered, collected my things, prepared and mailed a package of pamphlets, then back to Donna’s. We went to Chartier, then to the film Don Giovanni.
November 23. Took the train to Nantes (during which I read most of Orwell’s My Country Right or Left). Met Yves Chaumette* in the evening. He then went to a Rosicrucian meditation. I walked around the city, then back to his place. He returned at 11:00 and we ate a late dinner. It was real cold, he not yet having got a heater.
*Yves Chaumette had recently published the first French translation of my pamphlet, The Realization and Suppression of Religion, along with a text of his own under the pseudonym Grégoire Palamas:
November 24. Lunch with Yves, then went with him to the warehouse that he and his Rosicrucian group were fixing up as their new meeting place. Then to dinner with some of them. Much occultist talking, with new-agey records and ambience.
November 25. With a warm sleeping bag, I slept better. We shopped and then ate lunch here. Discussed errors in his translation of my Religion pamphlet; then some of his questions re counterculture, neo-religions, etc. Late afternoon we went out. Stopped by a situ guy’s place but didn’t stay long — it turned out he hadn’t even read the Religion pamphlet as Yves had thought. We continued to walk and talk, stopping at two cafés and then at a Chinese restaurant for dinner.
November 26. Got up early and went to a café with Yves. Train to Bordeaux, where I lunched with Laurent Chaumette near the station. Then I continued on to Montpazier, where I was met by Joël and Nadine. Had dinner at their place. Discussed Iran situation; and what one might do in war situations. Finished Breton’s Entretiens.
November 27. Walked around the countryside with Joël and Nadine. Drove into the village and looked around for a house for them. After dinner Nadine (and I a bit) played the piano and organ. Then we discussed their pamphlet La Vie quotidienne et le reste. Notably I criticized Joël’s starting from the concept instead of the reality, thus staying on the terrain of what he wanted to criticize. After much related discussion of language, etc., I looked over Joël’s notes on the realization of art and made similar critiques. On this topic he and Nadine were less in agreement with each other and there was more debate.
November 28. Went on errands with Joël and Nadine (including Joël looking for a printer for a leaflet). Back here, went over the Religion pamphlet translation. Then to dinner at a family restaurant with the girlfriend of Nadine’s brother. Back here, finished the Religion pamphlet work.
November 29. Joël and Nadine dropped me off at the train station. Reached Paris at 6:00 p.m. and went to Joël’s to shower. Ate dinner at Chartier. Then to Donna’s (half-hour delay due to Métro strike). Waited outside her door. Flora showed up and let me know that Donna is in Holland. We talked about May ’68. Two Hong Kong guys showed up, and all four of us spent the night there.
November 30. The two guys left, then another one (who had written the Canadian Revolution Is Dead Introduction)* showed up. We ate lunch together and I noted the limitations of their project of anthologizing all the China Human Rights Movement articles. I went to get my photos, but most of them didn’t turn out (something was wrong with the camera so that they got overexposed). Called people to make dinner dates, etc. Browsed through some bookstores. Almost got caught slipping past a Métro ticket barrier.** Went to Jeff’s. There was a woman there from Greece with whom I argued probably a bit too fervently about the Vivliothiki translation-falsification question. More amicably we also discussed rebetika. Then to a restaurant where we ran into Jean-François Labrugère and a girlfriend. He had met Jeff because they were both translating Sanguinetti’s book On Terrorism and the State. Then to a café.
*The Hong Kong 70s group had published an English-language anthology of radical critiques of the Chinese “Cultural Revolution”: The Revolution Is Dead, Long Live the Revolution (1976), and the Canadian anarchist publisher Black Rose Books had reprinted the book in 1979. The Introduction to the Canadian edition had approvingly quoted an extensive portion of my article about the 70s (A Radical Group in Hong Kong). Among other pieces, The Revolution Is Dead... included the SI’s article The Explosion Point of Ideology in China, which is the best short account of the Cultural Revolution. For a more detailed account, see Simon Leys’s The Chairman’s New Clothes.
**More precisely, I did get caught by several Métro agents, but amazingly enough I managed to talk my way out of it by speaking with a very poor accent, giving the impression that I scarcely knew any French and could hardly understand what they were saying and stubbornly insisting that I had just arrived in France and had misunderstood how the ticket barriers worked. They finally threw their hands up in disgust at my apparent cluelessness and let me go!
December 1. Gus Mok arrived in the morning. We ate lunch together and talked. I reiterated my critiques of various aspects of the 70s. We all left in the afternoon, they to move to June’s. I browsed through stores looking unsuccessfully for surrealist journals. Then to Christian’s, and with him to a party at some friends of Dominique’s. I danced a fair amount. Spent the night at Christian’s.
December 2. Christian went to visit his father in the hospital, and after eating lunch I went to meet Jordi, Joëlle, François, and François’s six-year-old daughter Nadja. François gave me his pamphlet. Split up late afternoon. I went to Philippe’s to shower, then stopped by to invite Jeff for dinner Wednesday, then back to Donna’s. She showed up soon after (her boyfriend Kai having stayed in Belgium).
December 3. Ate a spaghetti lunch here with Donna. Then we went to see Alexander Nevsky at the Centre Pompidou; then a couple hours’ library browsing there (I looked through Étiemble’s Le mythe de Rimbaud). Then we had a quick pizza dinner and went to see the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby.
December 4. Spent the afternoon in the apartment with Donna. Went to dinner with the Deneverts. Discussed Iran a lot, they having recently considered the hypothesis of American-Iranian collusion in the embassy confrontation, with the possibility of writing something about it. Also discussed our previous breaks. They have not renounced most of their old positions/critiques; but it was basically the situation (our organizational closeness) that they wanted to break, not necessarily personal encounters or specific projects. Stayed the night there.
December 5. After a bit of talk with them over a late breakfast, I left. Bought train ticket, went to Joël’s, showered and packed. Jeff, Donna, and Christian came and we went to the restaurant across the street, later joined by Jack and a friend. Discussed Sanguinetti’s book. Then rushed to the train station, Jeff and Christian helping to carry my bags.
December 6. Train and boat overnight to London. Airplane to Seattle, then San Francisco. Took the bus home.
Account of Ken Knabb’s 1979 Paris trip.