Fall 1984

(Paris, with side trips to Bergerac, Mannheim, and Berlin. Seven weeks.)


September 3. Up early. Taxi Unlimited to BART, then to Oakland Airport by 10:30. Flight left at 2:00. Stopped at Seattle, then direct to Amsterdam. Watched Unfaithfully Yours.

September 4. Arrived at Amsterdam 11:00 a.m. Train to Paris. Had to switch a couple times, once getting off at the wrong Brussels station with two young German women — had coffee with them while we waited for the next train. Paris at 7:00 p.m. Métro to Christian’s.* His girlfriend Dominique also there. Talked re rock climbing, their recent doings in Europe, etc. Dropped my stuff at Joël’s and went with him to dinner, then back to his apartment, where I’ll be staying indefinitely.** Very tired as I got almost no sleep during my trip.

*My autobiography includes this brief description of Christian: “In fall 1984 I made another trip to France, staying most of the time in Paris with my friend Christian Camus. We had originally met in a situ context during my previous trip, but by this time his focus had shifted to experimenting with ways to enliven his own immediate milieu. That’s fine with me: if I have to choose, I prefer intellectually alive people who do interesting things with their life over those who do nothing but regurgitate political platitudes and gripe all the time. Full of playful irony, provocative banter and jokes in several languages, and possessing a keen insight into people’s games and scripts (in Eric Berne’s sense), Christian keeps me on my toes when I start becoming too stodgy and pedantic.”

**Christian and his brother Joël lived in adjoining apartments on Rue du Département in the 18th Arrondissement.
        This may be as good a place as any to note that despite living most of my life on fairly modest income, I have been able to make these lengthy foreign trips because of the truly remarkable hospitality of many friends. I originally got to know most of them via situationist connections and collaborations, but we have generally continued to be good friends even in cases where they are no longer very actively engaged in such things. Apart from occasional side trips, when I go to Paris I simply live there, often for months at a time. While I am there I of course incidentally see lots of interesting places and things, but my primary goal is to be with my friends and to meet new ones. During my time in Europe I’ve only made one purely touristic trip (a four-day jaunt to Venice in 1997). Apart from the three hotel nights during that trip, one night at a youth hostel in Germany in 1971, and three nights in a cheap room in Barcelona in 1979, I’ve never paid a penny for my accommodations during a total of more than two years abroad. Thus, except for the plane fares and somewhat more restaurant dining than usual, living in Paris has not been much more expensive than my usual life in Berkeley.

September 5. Up early — due to jet lag couldn’t get back to sleep after 8 or 9:00. Walked in the rain to the Deneverts’. They no longer live there and their phone isn’t good anymore either. Breakfast. To Au Vieux Campeur to look over rock-climbing equipment and guides to nearby climbing areas.* Then to Shakespeare & Co., then lunch (couscous), then checked out a few more bookstores and wandered around all afternoon (got a few books at Parallèles). To Gare de l’Est to cash traveler’s checks, dinner at Chartier, then back “home,” pretty tired. To bed at 9:00. Two German friends of Christian’s came in at midnight and stayed in another room.

*I had recently become an enthusiastic rock climber.

September 6. The Germans left right after getting up (they’re going to the coast for a couple weeks). Dominique called. I called Nadine: no definite plans for them coming up here yet. Finished William James’s Pragmatism. Wandered around the Louvre-Left Bank area. Bought both volumes of the original Surrealism journals. Met Christian at a café and we talked a bit — I about Paris being a temporary shock to my habits (the crowds, all the smoking); he with a good observation which I thought applied to me to some extent, whether he intended that or not, to the effect that talking about yourself all the time is like painting an apartment one color — that’s all you ever see. Back home. Joël and Dominique were there and I helped them move some furniture. Played a few things on Joël’s guitar. Discovered that Joël had got a copy of most of the Potlatches.* To a restaurant with them and Christian for paella. Joël then went back home, and the three of us stopped briefly at a punk place, then went to the Slow Club for jazz and dancing. A friend of Christian’s was in the band. I danced with Dominique. Not a bad place, but I was tired and the thick smoke was nauseating.** Home around 2:00 a.m. Read some Potlatch.

*Potlatch: mimeoed newsletter of the Lettrist International (1954-1957), the small French group (Debord, Chtcheglov, Wolman, Bernstein, etc.) that led into the Situationist International. The whole series was later reprinted, but the originals were extremely rare and before this time I had not known anyone who had ever so much as seen a copy, so this was a very exciting discovery.

**I’m pleased to report that in recent years there has been a significant reduction in the French tradition of widespread heavy smoking. The majority of my French friends don’t smoke, and the few who still do are generally much more discreet about it. (In any case, nowadays smoking is prohibited in most indoor public spaces in France, as in most other countries.)

Publicity for the book
SI Anthology cover

September 7. Read Potlatch all morning. Around noon Guy Bernelas came by (he’s painting the apartment next door). Joël and I went over to his place to pick up some things. Then shopping, then back home to lunch with Guy. Talked with him re SI Anthology* etc. Later Guylaine came by. I napped from 5:00-8:00. Christian called to cancel a dinner rendezvous because he has a bit of a cold. Dinner with Joël — conversation re garlic, different cuisines, living styles (e.g. Japanese).

*During 1980-1981 I had translated and published the Situationist International Anthology:

September 8. Finished reading all the Potlatches. Christian came over early afternoon (still a bit sick). I asked him what he thought about some of my recent writings. He went into a number of good points re not cluttering up the world with things that aren’t current, apropos; how people have a second level of life that’s ideological/compensation (which of course fits me too, to some extent). Then we drove to the cottage in Carrières where he and Joël grew up. I took a shower there and then rested a bit. Dominique and others started arriving for a party. All in all 15-20 people showed up. We played music — they, jazz; me a few blues etc. which they accompanied (trumpet, drums, sax, clarinet). Dinner, dancing, jokes. I did all the dishes while they were sharing jokes since I couldn’t understand most of them. Finally at 3:00 a.m. everyone left (except Christian and Dominique). Joël and I drove home. He talked about Brassens.

September 9. Finished a pamphlet on Poland by Trillaud. Worked a bit on the Religion pamphlet translation.* Joël picked up Christian at a Métro station. Then Christian went home to nap. Lunch with Joël and Guy (they looked through the SI Anthology). I went out at 5:00, wandering around, passing through the Parc des Buttes Chaumont (including an artificial castle that looked very wonderful from the outside). To Christian’s at 7:00. Hard to remember all we talked about. He went through a notebook of songs he’d collected and sang a lot of them, including several by the Quebec singer Félix Leclerc. He also showed me a lot of photos and drawings, and talked about Claude Lorrain, Günter, Guy, about his ventures with friends, and about his work (how he does it, how he tries to fit it in with the rest of his life). While eating there we exchanged some Russian etc. jokes, and much else. He did most of the talking and it was filled with excellent points and anecdotes — as it usually is. Back home after midnight.

Religion pamphlet, final French version
Religion pamphlet,
final French version

*I was preparing a revised French translation of my pamphlet The Realization and Suppression of Religion, merging and correcting the three or four independent versions that had appeared in France. This new version was eventually published in 1986 by Françou Labrugère:

September 10. Finished a pamphlet by Céline. (Actually mostly skimmed it, as he’s very slangy and hard to understand, and I don’t know if there’s much there to understand except his vicious contempt.) Read various newsclips on the Lebovici assassination.* Went to the Latin Quarter and xeroxed four copies of Potlatch. Rest of the afternoon wandering around bookstores. Called Roger and Linda and made a dinner date for tomorrow. Dinner at a Greek restaurant. Back home at 8:00. Joël Cornuault had called Christian to say they couldn’t come up till October 7. Christian came by briefly to drop off records, tape recorder, etc. Hollewenn, one of the women at the party, is staying at his place to get away from her obnoxious boyfriend.

*Gérard Lebovici, founder of Éditions Champ Libre and financer of Debord’s last three films, had been assassinated a few months earlier. The assassins were never found, but it was a professional job (bullets in the back of the neck and his wallet was left untouched), so it seems likely that it was for political reasons, perhaps connected with some of the books Champ Libre had published. Debord wrote a small book about it, Considérations sur l’assassinat de Gérard Lebovici, which was later translated as Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici (Tam Tam, 2001).

September 11. Called Nadine: may go down there in a couple weeks. Latin Quarter — stores closed. Lunch at the place across from the Jardin des Plantes where I used to eat with Isa. A cold or flu coming on. To Champ Libre office/store. Bought about 40 discounted books for $130 (to be shipped back to Berkeley). Found out that Debord will never allow his films to be shown in France again, due to his disgust with the public/media response (or lack of it) to the Lebovici assassination.* Home at 6:00. To bed for two or three hours, then up to talk to Christian and eat with Joël (talk re Raspaud). Felt pretty sick, so canceled my dinner with Roger and Linda.

*Debord’s films ultimately remained unavailable anywhere from 1984 until 2001, when his widow Alice decided to rerelease them.

September 12. Slept late. Sore throat. Up around 10-11 to eat breakfast, then back in bed till 1:00. Met Christian and Dominique at Place de la Nation. Drove to Fontainebleau. Overcast and I was still pretty sick, but once we got there and started doing some bouldering I felt pretty good. Very sandy rock. Almost no one else there. I showed Christian how to move on the rocks and he did pretty well. Dominique mainly watched. We left after a couple hours — a really good break and literal breath of fresh air. Strolled around a small town in the area. At a café for a bit — answered Christian’s question about what had become of the Notice group and the CRQS. Back to Paris. Brief stop at Dominique’s (to pick up things, as she’s going south tomorrow), then to an Italian restaurant.

September 13. To FNAC. Bought records of Brassens and Félix Leclerc plus one of Greek fiddling, and also one of a French pop singer Janine asked me to get for her. To Éditions Jean-Michel Place: bought at discount Cobra and Grand Jeu collected journals plus a dadaist collection. Got a few books for Christian at Shakespeare & Co. Home, tired and aching. Dinner with Joël, then he went off to see Jean-Jacques Raspaud (to see if he wants to meet me).

Paris in the rain
Paris in the rain

September 14. Read Debord’s Mémoires (1959). Christian came over — miscellaneous work on next-door apartment. He set up a record player in my place, then we went out for couscous. Then he went to work and I to the Louvre. Raining. Saw Claude Lorrain paintings, etc. Left after an hour and a half. Bought misc. texts at Parallèles (Tracts Surréalistes vol. II, etc.). Home. Christian home for three hours, then later back at 10:00. A “poem” by him — “Every day farm a little; every day hunt a little” — led us to discuss cultivating our friends while also going out and seeking new people. Read a woodenly traditional “Prospectus” that Guy had brought by announcing a forthcoming “Encyclopedia.”*

*The Encyclopédie des Nuisances, a situish journal (1984-1992).

September 15. Went with Joël to meet Raspaud* at a café. Talked about proofreading (his job); books of military strategy he’s reading; religion (he vaguely remembered my pamphlet); etc. He was quite friendly. A somewhat strange person. Humble (he considers that apart from the German translation of Society of the Spectacle he’s done nothing of importance). Poor health (asthma) — but the latter must be partly psychosomatic because when he took up karate it largely went away. Paranoid: at a later stop at another café he talked about the unified global repression etc. I replied that the system in America, at least, seemed to me to be pretty chaotic and unconscious, but I don’t think I succeeded in communicating well my remarks about America’s (lack of) consciousness combined with a certain “advancedness” in “practice.” Joined Christian and Hollewenn at a corner café near Joël’s place. The Germans (the couple — Stephen and Eve — plus Rolland) arrived at 8 or 9:00. To a restaurant, where we were also jointed by Betty (who had recently lived a year in Japan). The conversation at our table was pretty monopolized by Raspaud, who was lamenting the misery of his life and of life under the system in general etc. Christian countered him somewhat (mentioning various upsides and possibilities that remain). The party split up, Joël and the Germans going out and around, the rest of us back to Christian’s place for a bit — lighter conversation and perusing some photos. I stayed overnight there since the Germans were at Joël’s. Read a couple of joke books.

*Jean-Jacques Raspaud, co-author with Jean-Pierre Voyer of a book about the SI, assistant director of some of Debord’s films, and translator into German of The Society of the Spectacle.

September 16. To Betty’s for an hour (with Christian) to get addresses of Japanese restaurants etc. and look at the textile art she has and does. Then I went to Linda Lanphear’s at 1:00. Lopi Diop,* Ginny Popper, and Claude Crèche there too. Talk re Africa, American blacks, Canada (Ginny and Claude have traveled there). I didn’t broach the Voyer circle issues till late, and they only responded that people were turning more to their own lives, becoming more low-keyed, etc. Strolled with Linda and Lopi. Took them to Joël’s but unfortunately Christian wasn’t around. Loaned Linda Potlatch. Joël and I played a few Brassens songs. Lopi was a bit insistent on finding out what my continuing activity consisted of, but it was late and I only made a few laconic replies re my current démarche** (or lack of one). After they left, Joël and I went out to eat.

*I had stayed with Linda and her partner Roger Grégoire during my 1971 and 1973 trips. Lopi Diop was a Senegalese friend of theirs.

**démarche: literally, a step or movement or approach or procedure, but sometimes used more generally to refer to one’s projects and perspectives, e.g. What are you doing and why?

September 17. To Centre Pompidou — looked through books on Cheval’s Palais Idéal and on Jorn. Xeroxing. Met Christian back at Joël’s. We talked about Zen — he criticizing aspects of it based on his reading of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (which I’d given him), me explaining some of the history and context and what I thought authentic therein. I described the scene with Linda, Lopi, etc. He dropped me near Roger’s, where I met Roger and a girlfriend. Talk re his work, my rock climbing, etc. He and I then went to a Turkish restaurant where we talked at greater length about the Voyer circle, the New Orleans gathering,* and a conference they’d had at Paris last year, which had included lots of heated debates and breaks. The result for him, he felt, was to broaden or “personalize” him and his relations. We argued about the New Orleans gathering — he contending that my critiques of Voyer had tended to focus the discussion too much around his theories; I pointing out that since Voyer’s theories were the only thing that they all apparently had in common, it seemed appropriate for me to clarify that I did not agree with many of those theories and to challenge them to explain what practical relevance they thought those theories had. Roger and I did agree somewhat re the woodenness, voluntarism, etc., of much of our past experiences. We also shared a lot of miscellaneous gossip about various mutual friends (he said he’d reseen Fredy Perlman recently). Walked back home.

New Orleans gathering
Pierre, Linda, Rafael, Isaac, Nicole,
Roger, and Ken in New Orleans

*In October 1982 Roger and Linda had invited Isaac Cronin and me to New Orleans for a few days to meet several people loosely in the Voyer circle — three French couples (Roger and Linda, Pierre Brée and his girlfriend Nicole, and Jacques and Muriel); a Quebec guy (Paul Béland); and our hosts (Rafael Pallais and his wife Lucía, both from Nicaragua but then living in New Orleans). I thought it would be nice to see Roger and Linda and Pierre again and also interesting to visit New Orleans (which it was), but during our political discussions I had extensively criticized many aspects of Voyer’s writings and attitudes.

September 18. Mailed home a package of books. Found out the CRQS postal box was closed three years ago. Called Joël and Nadine and confirmed weekend trip. Called Nick Brandt. Went by Jeff Martos’s and Brigitte Larguez’s places but they weren’t in (if they still live there). Then to Valery Chasse’s (address given by Jim). She was there. Robert and Évelyne Chasse also — they’ve just moved to Paris. Talked with the two women — mainly Évelyne talked re New York and how it’s going downhill, as well as about Elwell, Donald,* Paris, etc. Robert and Alain (Valery’s boyfriend) came back after a hassle at the bank, which they proceeded to talk about (difficulty of exchanging money). Finally I talked briefly with Robert — re my current situation; Contemporary Issues,** etc. Exchanged phone numbers. They were friendly but seemed a bit guarded. Back to Joël’s. Recorded a bunch of songs for Christian. Played a few of the fiddle cassette numbers. To a good Chinese restaurant (where we met Hollewenn). Pleasant time. Lots of jokes (by Christian and me). Then to a club to hear a tango group. Home after 1:00.

*Robert Chasse, Bruce Elwell, and Donald Nicholson-Smith had all been members of the Situationist International (Robert and Bruce in New York, Donald in England and France). I had known Donald in Berkeley 1972-1973, but this was my first meeting with Chasse. I only later met Bruce in New York in 1999.

**Chasse’s 1968 critique of the New Left, The Power of Negative Thinking, or Robin Hood Rides Again, included some references to the theories of Josef Weber and his Contemporary Issues group.

September 19. Left a note at Jeff’s and wrote to his P.O. box. Various bookstores and wandering. To June Chiu’s, but a guy there said she’d moved. Home at 5:00. Brief chat with Joël and Guy. Guy left. Joël talked a bit about psychogeographical topics while we waited for Christian to call. Nap. Christian called. Met him at 9:30 and went to a Turkish restaurant. Talk re Raymond Chandler, Simenon, B. Traven, Jack London, Darien. Then we went to Betty’s and out to a bar with her. Lots of jokes and small talk, then we walked around a long time. Home at 1:30.

September 20. Rummaged through Christian’s books and files (re me, SI, etc.). Went by Pierre Brée’s but he wasn’t there. Letter to Berlin guy. To Christian’s in the evening. Looked at his photos, then we picked up Élisabeth (Peruvian) and went to a Turkish restaurant. Miscellaneous talk, including her re a Sartre story about suicide. Went to Hollewenn’s and the four of us went to a dance club with an Afro-Latin band (I danced mostly with Élisabeth). Then to a café, then home around 3:00 a.m.

September 21. Called Mannheim folks — visit welcome. Christian over at 1:00. He answered questions re the Religion pamphlet translation, then went back to work at 2:30. I wandered through the 18th and 17th Arrondissements. To Jean Pérès’s address — found he had moved two years ago. To Christian’s at 7:00. Listened to a cassette of a French Bob Dylan translator/imitator [Hughes Aufrey], then to the Hot Club for a jazz jam session (Christian playing trumpet). Fairly good Dixieland style. We left after a couple hours. To a bar briefly with Jann (met at the Carrières party). Then he left and Christian and I walked to the Latin Quarter and went to a Greek restaurant with good live music. Talked more about his démarche. He asked what I advised. I reiterated my previous recommendation that he write about his ideas and adventures. By way of example, I talked about the “We’re Tired” period.* Long walk back to the car, then he dropped me home at 2:30.

*The exciting period in early 1973 that included Isaac Cronin, Dan Hammer, and Jeanne Smith’s poster We’re Tired of Playing with Ourselves.

September 22. Packed. To Gare d’Austerlitz — train to Bergerac. Wandered briefly in Libourne during one-hour stopover, and chatted with a woman lawyer at the station who was reading Blake (I happened to be reading a book about him). Arrived in Bergerac at 5:30. Joël Cornuault met me at the station and we walked to their bookstore, where Nadine was. Chatted there awhile about the store, Rexroth translations, etc. After they closed it, we went to a good restaurant. A ways into the meal (which was excellent) I broached the question of their present relation with the situ perspective, as they seemed to have largely abandoned it. This led to some argument, with Joël in particular seeming to overreact rather vehemently against his past situ experiences. Finally I said that I didn’t really care that much about specifying their “positions” in relation to the situs — the argument had me defending things I didn’t really care for; that I could accept that they were taking a new direction, and that I was somewhat doing the same thing myself. After that, things lightened up. We talked about their videos, Joël’s soccer, Christian. Drove home in heavy rain. They live in a large place that is only a small part of a castle-house. Talked about rock climbing. Gave them a copy of Potlatch. Looked over their books, discussed various authors. To bed around 2:00.

Castle climbing
Castle climbing
With Nadine and Joël near Bergerac

September 23. After breakfast to Issigeac for shopping (tiny open-air market in front of a church). Back at their place, I attempted to demonstrate rock climbing on the castle walls, but they were too crumbly. Joël off to play soccer. Nadine and I started strolling around the land, but it rained too hard. Back home, we looked through some photos of theirs, then she read through the Religion pamphlet translation to correct the style. Joël back late afternoon. Started watching their three videocassettes. Luc, one of the collaborators on the third one, came. Afterwards discussed the videos, especially the third one, they explaining what they had in mind in creating it (as it had almost no text). Dinner here (lamb, soup, good pâtés, and goat cheese). Luc talked about French ascetic monks and those of India. After he left, talked about various topics with Joël and Nadine — early man (Lucy, The Birth of Fire or whatever that film is called), cosmology, nuclear winter, Reagan, racism in France, Nick Brandt, their relations here (mainly with the video co-authors and a local science-fiction writer). To bed a bit after midnight.

September 24. Joël stopped in at a gendarmerie to settle a traffic ticket, then we drove to see cave paintings (after a huge lunch at a good restaurant). Then to see a Bergerac castle (a guided tour, as was that in the cave). Then to Nadine’s brother’s (Jean-Michel). He has a magnificent pipe organ, which he played for us (Bach and Grigny), explaining things about the organ and the music. Then to a sort of country home-cooking restaurant, along with Jean-Michel’s lover Jo (they amusingly recounted how she is married to someone else but they all get along fine, like one big family). Drove home. Talked about their break with collaborators in the Gazette. Joël asked re my writing, so I described my current outlook, view of the past, etc. This led to some discussion of my difference from the situ type who’s always seeing the negative aspects of everything. This led to discussion of Frédéric, Brigitte, Sylvie, and others who were more or less of that type, or who emphasized violence, trashing things, etc. Then we talked re breaks — I partially defended their efficacy in certain regards (to clear the air, etc.), though agreeing that maybe now there is less reason to worry about the loss of the movement’s “coherence” due to the compromises of individuals. To bed a bit after midnight. Finished Wodehouse’s Joy in the Morning.

September 25. To Bergerac at 9:00 a.m. Café. Joël off to his first day of school teaching, Nadine and I to the bookstore. Talked with her re the store and re their videos. Met Joël at noon and they saw me off at the train station. The momentary trauma of the first night’s argument was considerably relieved during the next two days — we got along well, had interesting talks, etc. It had been disappointing and surprising for me to see them abandon some of the perspectives we’d shared (including fairly recently with our extensive SI Anthology collaboration).* But we still share a number of interests, notably including their enthusiasm for Rexroth. On the train ate lunch in the diner, wrote postcards, and napped. Arrived in Paris at 7:00 p.m. To Christian’s. Got a call from the people in Berlin — okay to visit. Also returned a call from Jeff — will see him tomorrow night. Got a letter (forwarded by Jim) from Joël and Nadine’s prisoner friend. One of Christian’s colleagues (Thierry) was there, and a friend of his, Régis, soon showed up. Drove to a restaurant. Long dinner. I didn’t talk much (tired and it was crowded and noisy and they did a lot of shop talk). Then to a couple of bars and a fruit-ice cream place. Back to their car at 12:30: a car window had been broken and my bag stolen. Mainly just a few clothes and trivialities, but also my rock climbing shoes and the Religion pamphlet translation with all Nadine’s corrections. A drag, though of course it could have been much worse.

*During my work on the Situationist International Anthology (1980-1981) Nadine and Joël had spent an immense amount of time answering hundreds of questions from me about the French SI texts (historical references, linguistic nuances, etc.) and going over all of my translation drafts. And this was before home computers and word-processing programs, let alone email and the Internet. It was all done by typed carbon copies or photocopies sent by snailmail: “On p. 14, line 17 of draft 3 of article B, word X should probably be word Y...” and so on through more than a thousand pages of manuscript drafts during more than a year! And then I had to retype the whole manuscript for the typesetter, proofread the typesetting, paste over corrected lines by hand, plan the whole layout of the book, paste in each page by hand, etc. Please don’t tell me that computers and email and the Internet are alienating and that it was better in the old days!

September 26. Uneasy sleep (dreams about the stolen bag). In the morning started trying to redo from memory Nadine’s Religion pamphlet corrections — in part simply to occupy and pacify my mind (though by afternoon I’d mainly gotten over the trauma). Did laundry, lunched, and bought a few replacements for things stolen (clothes, toothbrush, etc.). At 3:00 to Christian’s. Called Hamburg folks. Listened to In girum tape Christian was recording for me. Looked through his journals. Discussed his relations. At 7:00 to Jeff Martos’s. His girlfriend Étienette there (and her son Silvain). Had some absinthe (tasted just like anisette). Talked re past projects, friends. Jeff used to be friends with Prigent. He questioned me re cuts in SI Anthology. Talk re Poland (and his book on it)* and re my visit to see Joël and Nadine. They asked re my feelings about Joël and Nadine’s seeming “regression,” which led to me expressing somewhat my current démarche and view of situs. Some Russian and Polish jokes. Dinner (stew and salad) and liqueurs. Left around 12:30.

*La Contre-révolution polonaise par ceux qui l’ont faite (Champ Libre, 1983), which documented the dubious compromises of many of the leaders of the 1981 Solidarity movement.

September 27. Bought a new shoulder bag and an umbrella. To Joël’s, then to Christian’s. Betty over for dinner there, and also Hilda, another Peruvian, who wouldn’t stop talking. Günter called: okay for my visit tomorrow, though they had hoped I’d stay longer. After dinner Betty left (to study Japanese). Went to a bar for a bit, then home early for a change.

September 28. Packed. Walked to Gare de l’Est. Lunched, then train to Mannheim. Read Nick’s pamphlet on UK miners’ strikes. Arrived at Mannheim at 7:20 p.m. Günter met me at the station. Bus to Wolf and Tilla’s. Wolf at work (theater), he only showed up at 11:00. Angelika, Günter’s girlfriend, also there. Talked with them a long time while they prepared dinner — re our various developments the last five years, including their break with the Hamburg folks. Tilla and Wolf’s six-year-old daughter Mackie also there — delightfully friendly. Angelika is a translator from Frankfurt; she met Günter six months ago and is here for the weekend. To bed around midnight.

Gunter, Ken, Angelika
Günter, Ken, Angelika
Tilla, Gunter, Ken, Angelika
Tilla, Günter, Ken, Angelika
Günter, Ken, Angelika, Wolf
(Mackie and friend in foreground)

September 29. Played with Mackie (mainly going through an illustrated English-French-German kids’ book). Breakfast with Tilla and Wolf. With them to see computer place where Wolf works. He stayed there to work, and Tilla and I strolled through a huge mall, shopped (food and toys), then back home. She talked a lot re France and Germany and their possible future plans, and re their experience since the breakup of their group (mainly in the direction of more personal thinking and living since the breakup). Günter and Angelika over. Out to a large park: a forest alongside the Rhine. Rested awhile in the grass. Back home to eat German pastries. Described situs a bit for Angelika. She talked about modern Russian writers. Wolf and Tilla described a half-assed plan they’d considered to obtain a copy of Debord’s film In Girum, then we discussed the Lebovici assassination. Angelika left to meet a friend. Günter left shortly afterwards (after failed attempts to get airport info for me). Later over to Günter’s for dinner. Helmut, a friend of his from Berlin, was there, talking about a recent action against an anti-population defense setup on the German border. Dinner. Afterwards I played with Mackie — dancing, tickling, etc., to everyone’s delight. Home a bit after midnight.

September 30. Woke them up to the sounds of my cassette of American fiddle tunes. After breakfast went with Wolf and Tilla for a walk along the Rhine, across from BASF, a huge factory. Talked re current state of mind in Germany, compared with that during the Baader gang period, their sense of closed-in-ness (e.g. forests dwindling, more and more pollution), their thinking of moving to France. I invited them to see California, and we talked about stereotypes of the US, and about people’s repression or rejection (partly healthy or at least understandable) of the mass of negative or horrible things in the world, e.g. ex-situs sick of hearing about or talking about each new degradation of life, each new reification. Had a beer at a café overlooking the river. Home to pick up my bag. To Günter’s. Talked there (via Angelika’s translation) with Helmut about the “Spies for Peace”* and about “Geopolitics of Hibernation” and other SI texts (but he shies away from such supposely difficult theory). Went to pizza place late afternoon. Talked with Günter re his life and mine (what we like to do). Angelika responded to my question about what she was doing in life, or what she wanted. We joked about her having found the man of her dreams in Günter. (Actually she hasn’t known him very long.) She then drove me to the Frankfurt airport and helped me get my ticket. Over a ginger ale we chatted re Japanese (people and language). Gave her my address (since I may not see her again here). Plane at 8:00 p.m., arrived in Berlin an hour later. Taxi to Subversion folks’ place.** A lot of problem communicating since they are poor in English and don’t know much French, and I know no German. Raasan is out of town. The other three are Ernst, Monika, and Christina. After Ernst left to escort Christina home, I talked with Monika re the US, mainly countering their illusions re strikes, “revolutionary situation,” etc. My first impression was that they were rather rigid, but this was probably at least in part due to their not knowing what to expect from me, and also to their general political paranoia.

Double-Reflection in German
in German

*The Spies for Peace were some anonymous people who in 1963 discovered, publicized, and then invaded several ultrasecret bomb shelters reserved for members of the British government in the event of a nuclear war. In a pamplet that appeared later that year (The Situationists and the New Forms of Action in Politics and Art) Guy Debord praised the Spies for Peace action for “revealing the degree already attained by state power in its organization of the terrain and establishment of a totalitarian functioning of authority. This totalitarian organization is not designed simply to prepare for a possible war. It is, rather, the universally maintained threat of a nuclear war which now, in both the East and the West, serves to keep the masses submissive, to organize shelters for state power, and to reinforce the psychological and material defenses of the ruling class’s power.” Debord then quotes from Geopolitics of Hibernation (a 1962 SI article about the insane mania for fallout shelters in the United States): “Here, as in every racket, ‘protection’ is only a pretext. The real purpose of the shelters is to test — and thereby reinforce — people’s submissiveness.”

**The West Berlin group I was visiting published a journal called Subversion. They had translated my pamphlet Double-Reflection into German, and later also translated my article The Society of Situationism.

October 1. Breakfast — also there their two-year-old daughter Andrea (who has super-thick glasses like Ernst). They walked me to the metro. To Frederickstrasse, where I went through customs to East Berlin. There 9:30-3:30. Walked almost continuously the whole time: Alexanderplatz; a poor meal at a cafeteria; through a cemetery and a park; then a bookstore and record store (almost nothing of interest). Overall a rather depressing scene, though not as desperately miserable as I suppose much of East Europe is. Lots of posters and banners celebrating the 35th anniversary of the GDR [the East German Stalinist regime]. Tart and coffee at a café, then back to West Berlin. Walked, longer than I thought it’d be, to see a friend of Günter’s, but she wasn’t in. Much trouble with even the simplest questions due to my total ignorance of German. Metro home at 6:00. After dinner (hot dogs, cheese, and bread) had a long discussion with Ernst and Monika (Christina never showed up). I had skimmed a few of their texts that had been translated into French and found them almost totally uninteresting, and made a few critiques. They responded with some statements re “character” and “revolution” etc. which seemed either banal or abstract — I couldn’t see the point. Then we got into the Subrealists’ breakup (and the likelihood of us reseeing Lutz in Frankfurt), based on a couple remarks I’d made in passing (re Lutz’s apparent past domination of the group and the Mannheim folks’ feeling of relief after the break). They criticized the fact that such semi-hierarchy had been allowed to develop. I responded that I had frequently seen such things happen (emotionally originated breaks taking on a theoretical appearance/pretext) and that I couldn’t see what they meant by writing about “character” if they didn’t recognize such things as being common and not surprising, even if undesirable. They seemed to prescribe a rigid/rigorous exigence for revolutionaries. I responded by stressing the SI’s innovative “boredom is counterrevolutionary” spirit. We stopped around midnight.

October 2. They took me to a bookstore where I got the Alice in Wonderland books in German to give to Mackie. Then we walked to a kids’ park for Andrea to play. Left her and Monika there, walked with Ernst through poor neighborhoods and along the Berlin Wall (endless murals and graffiti). Joined them again for a hearty Greek lunch, then Ernst took me to the bus stop. Bus to airport, plane to Frankfurt 4:30-5:30, train to Mannheim. Günter met me (with the car of a friend). Dropped my bag at home, then we met Tilla, who was helping her friend Helge collate a book. To an Italian restaurant. Recounted my experience with the Berlin group. Home, Tilla read Alice to Mackie in bed, then she and I talked a long time, over grapes and apricot brandy, re the Berlin group (she glanced through their journals), Debord’s and Vaneigem’s styles, our respective early experiences (hers in a commune with various activist interventions, internal experiments, hip phases; me re the CEM period),* etc. I find her more and more congenial, intelligent, mature, pleasant to be with and talk to. Wolf came home around midnight and we chatted a bit more re the Berlin group (they pointing out various imitative or corny aspects of the journals). To bed after 1:00.

*I.e. the period in 1970 when I had first discovered the situationists and was inspired by the actions of the Bay Area situ group Council for the Eruption of the Marvelous.

October 3. To Günter’s for breakfast. He talked of a plan to translate Céline’s Mea Culpa. I criticized its excessive bitterness, resentment, etc., and talked about other such symptoms among the situs that I’d become dissatisfied with (hence my Religion pamphlet). We went on to discuss differences of USA, France, Germany. I recommended and described Rexroth. With Günter to Helge’s, where we helped her and Tilla collate. Lunched there. At 4:00 Wolf showed up and I went with him to do some printing errands in Heidelberg. Then to a place where Mackie was staying after kindergarten (with a friend of hers). The mother of the latter girl had also collated earlier at Helge’s. Talked over coffee with the father re their possible trip to USA. Home of dinner. Tilla left to meet people re a possible school for Mackie. Wolf and I played a dice game with Mackie. Günter arrived and read her Alice in Wonderland while Wolf left for a brief task at his work. Then Günter talked with me for a while about his trip to Haiti. To bed at 11:30.

October 4. To Tilla’s print shop. There all day while she, Günter, Wolf, and I helped complete a rush job on their silkscreen machine. Many mishaps during the day: Mackie was late for kindergarten and then Wolf forgot to take her at noon; and a can of blue paint got splashed all over the floor due to a glitch in the mixing machine. Periodic short meals and coffee when we had to stop to let the posters dry. Tilla talked a bit more re her commune experiences. Mackie was there most of the day, playing with a new post office game. After completion of the printing job we went to a Turkish restaurant. Also there: Helge and boyfriend, Peter and Christina and daughter Katrina (met yesterday evening). Talked mainly with Wolf re his various trips (England, Morocco, etc.) and re various German writers. Home at midnight.

October 5. Breakfast with Tilla and Günter. He took Mackie to kindergarten. Tilla talked about pros and cons of the Rudolf Steiner school where they may send Mackie next year. Pierre and François Gallissaires showed up around 6:00. I talked with Pierre a bit re his translations, etc., but most of the evening I felt a bit out of it while they were all in an excessively giddy spirit, laughing over reminiscences I knew nothing about. Long wait till Günter brought the food. When cooked it was too peppery. Pierre and Tilla played a dice game, and with Mackie racing some mechanical animals. Pierre and François both very “south France” in manner, rather a contrast with the Germans, and even with some Parisians. Pierre already in his fifties.

October 6. Breakfast with everyone. Wolf and I drove to Frankfurt Bookfair. (Günter and the Gallissaires brothers joined us there later.) For three or four hours I talked with Lutz and Hanna in their book booth (mainly just a few banalities re our activities over the last five years); with Günter Meyer (re his visits to Russia); with Tommy Mittelstädt (Hanna’s brother) and his wife Sara Baumfelder (the latter couple live in Paris and have a small bookstore); and with Venant Brisset (a French friend of theirs with whom I’ll get a ride back to Paris). Also talked with a Swiss guy who had been to San Francisco and loved it. Wolf and I drove back to Mannheim at 4:00 — first to another town to pick up printing, only to find that Tilla and Helge had already got it. François and Günter back (Pierre staying in Frankfurt, then going to Hamburg with the others when the fair is over Monday). I played with Mackie (who is a bit sick). Quick dinner, then out with Tilla, Günter, and François to an Italian restaurant for coffee and liqueurs. Tilla in particular seems very close to both Gallissaires brothers, and rather amorously to François.

October 7. Jogged alongside Wolf and Mackie on bike to buy coffee. Breakfast. Walked around Mannheim a couple hours. Downtown (not very lively since it’s Sunday), then along the river, and sat to watch a traditional German band and then a blues-rock band in a semi-outdoor theater. Back home at 2:30. Günter showed up with Angelika. While the two of them went to an exposition of photos of 19th-century North Africa, the rest of us went to a nearby forest. Walked about 4 kilometers in. At a restaurant ate handkase, a pretty disgusting German cheese with onions, which led to talk re some farting situations. Wolf and I jogged most of the way back. While waiting for Tilla and François, we visited a reconstructed castle, on which I did a little traversing [sideways rock climbing near the ground]. Drove back to Mannheim at 7:00. Günter and Angelika there, plus Christina, Peter, Katrina, and Mackie. Talked some with Angelika re Senegal (notably the custom of cutting off the clitoris). Dinner. With their guitar I sang some songs for the girls, and then Brassens’s “Fernande,” which was encored later. Photos by Peter etc. Broke up around 11:00. Said goodbye to Günter and Angelika and invited them both to California.

October 8. Breakfast with and goodbyes to Wolf, Tilla, Mackie, and François. Venant Brisset, with two friends, Charles Puskas and Guy Fargette, came by at 9:00. First we drove to Stuttgart, on a futile search for some sort of computer game for Charles. Then to Strasbourg, where they tried a few bookstores and succeeded in finding one to take their pamphlets. Lunch of charcuterie, bread, and beer. Then to Nancy (no luck with bookstores), then arrived in Paris at 11:00 p.m. During the trip we talked re my Religion pamphlet (Guy skimmed the English version), USA vs. France differences, my history, theirs (Trotskyist groups, Échanges et Mouvements, Ombre Hérétique, recent publication of Céline’s Mea Culpa, translations from Italian, etc.), Fifth Estate, Processed World, punks, and their encounter with the Fossoyeurs.* Finally we tired of talking and they listened to punk etc. cassettes for the remainder of the drive. Gave them a lot of my texts.

*The situish group “Les Fossoyeurs du Vieux Monde” (The Gravediggers of the Old World) had published a journal of that name in the late 1970s, and had then gone underground.

October 9. Christian over around 11:00. Went with him to a tea-house run by a woman friend of his. Chatted awhile with her and another woman working there. Then with him in search of a used accordion (no luck). Then he went to work. I went to Parallèles and bought a few pamphlets. Late lunch (4:00) at Tunisian place on Rue d’Aubervilliers. Home. Packed things and went to Christian’s (from now on I’ll be at Rue Gambetta, and he at Rue du Département). With him to get Hollewenn’s car, picked up Betty, met Élisabeth at Gobelins Métro, and we all went to a so-so Japanese organic restaurant for dinner.

October 10. Out at noon for lunch. Bought new Firés [a brand of rock-climbing shoes, to replace the ones that had been stolen] for $50, a collection of Brassens songs, and a few books at Shakespeare & Co. Postcards to Ellen and Margaret. To Dominique’s (just back from a month in south France). With her and Christian to Rue du Département, then a couscous restaurant, then to a bar. Christian asked me re the Mannheim folks — whether they were continuing a critique of daily life. After he explained what he meant by that phrase, I asked him what he thought about me in that regard. He made some points re my acting critically in some domains and passively/uninterestedly in others, and re my mostly not talking about or making judgments about people. At 11:00 he and Dominique went to Rue du Département and I to Gambetta.

Formal dinner with Christian
Formal dinner with Christian

October 11. Christian over around 9:00 a.m. I went to Dominique’s soon after — originally to bring Christian’s typewriter back to type the Religion pamphlet translation. But on his suggestion, I asked her and she was quite willing to type it herself (she being a professional typist and used to the French keyboard). Over tea (before she started typing) we talked about a remark I had made the night before that she had misunderstood; and re the situ tone, as exemplified in the Encyclopédie des Nuisances “Prospectus” Guy Bernelas had circulated, etc., so she was interested in reading my pamphlet. It took all day, interrupted by lunch there (eggs, spaghetti, etc.): her typing (except me briefly while she went to get laundry), me watching and checking. Her patience was remarkable — she insisted on finishing it all in one day. Done around 8:00 p.m. (the typewriter broke down just before the completion of the last page). To Rue du Département for dinner with Christian and Joël (ragout made by Joël). At 11:00 Christian and I went to the Slow Club. I danced a bit, but wasn’t in good form and was often refused. We left after 1:00, walking and talking about such places, me complaining that they usually just frustrated me. Christian said it was often more fruitful to expand one’s terrains and competences in general, instead of just aiming at one thing directly (e.g. finding a woman). Re the latter, he stressed that it was important to develop good relations generally, and that intimate ones would tend to develop from that. (This conversation continued at a gayish café-bar.) Taxi home around 3:00 a.m.

October 12. Christian over at 11:00. Talked more re finding women, and how I still tend to find women in the situ milieu more readily than elsewhere. He left for work. I reread the Religion pamphlet translation to polish it up. To Champs Elysées where Linda Lanphear works. She xeroxed three copies, and will do more next week. To Alésia bookstore to leave French translations of my writings for Guy Fargette and Charles Puskas. To Les Halles area to make a few more copies (poor quality) of the Religion pamphlet translation. To Gambetta; from there brought my things back to Rue du Département, where I’ll be staying the rest of the time (Christian changed his mind). Sorted out a few things here, then to Dominique’s for dinner, with Christian, Peter (an American), and five others (including some I’d seen at Carrières). Lots of wine and jokes. I felt a bit out of it till after dinner, when I did a few guitar bits, some of which they danced to. We also had some contests, e.g. who could balance on top of a cat-scratching post. At 2:00 we started to go out to some café, but with the shortage of cars and everyone rather tired, we decided to call it a night. I took a cab home.

October 13. Met Chasse at a café near their place. Mainly he talked, answering my questions re his views of the SI etc. His answers were rather impersonal — re theory, “the class,” international politics (Leninism and Stalinism, etc.). He continues to have these kinds of concerns, but this takes the form of simply thinking, discussing. He wasn’t interested in examining the sorts of things my pamphlets etc. have gone into. Though he was not unfriendly, I had the impression that he had no great interest in me apart from a mild politeness in agreeing to see me for this chat. At 4:00 we split up. I wandered around for the next three or four hours. Ran into a sympa bookstore where people were playing Irish music and offered me champagne. Then to Hollewenn’s at 8:00 for dinner. Also there: Dominique, Jean-Philippe (does some work relative to miners, which he talked about), Isolde (originally Italian, does Tarot readings), and Dominique (the guy who Hollewenn had problems with after the Carrières party). Dominique (the guy) talked re art, praising spontaneity and condemning anything else as imitative academicism (most of the others tried to nuance this position). Then the conversation turned to religion. Dominique (the woman) argued for the religion-is-bullshit view vs. Isolde’s sort of mysticism. I facetiously proposed a vote as to who believed in God. Five of us said we did not, with Isolde being the only yes vote. At midnight got a ride home with Jean-Philippe. (Christian wasn’t at the dinner because at the last minute an out-of-town woman friend had shown up.)

October 14. Awakened by Christian around 11:00. His visitor, a German woman, had turned out to be a disappointment. We listened to a few records, then he left to meet her again. Did laundry and had lunch. Called Dominique but she was busy. Called Pierre Brée. Met him at a café across from Gare du Nord at 6:00. Chatted there a couple hours. Largely re US vs. France and other European cultural differences (re Latins, Germany, Poland, etc.). He’d recently been to New York and Washington D.C. and wanted to go again to stay longer. To a Pakistani restaurant. Only slight discussion of political projects. My impression is that he is pursuing his own research/quest, even if he still thinks that his stuff with Voyer is/was good (e.g. he’d like to see it translated into English).* We also talked re American Indians, primitives, and more re cultural nuances in Europe and USA. Went to a beer parlor where a couple of women were singing German songs with accordion and piano. Left and split up around 11:30. Home (Rue du Département): Christian also sleeping there and already in bed. Message from Kathy: she’ll arrive Wednesday (three days from now).

*Pierre had collaborated with Voyer on their 1982 journal Revue de Préhistoire Contemporaine.

October 15. Christian up early to work. Dominique and Patrick Grauer came over. With them and Joël out to lunch at the Rue du Département home-cooking restaurant. There, among other things, Dominique criticized the Encyclopédie des Nuances “Prospectus” (which Guy and Patrick had distributed) simply on the basis that it was very difficult to understand. Then she and I wandered around the Barbès area, she looking for an oriental cloth to cover a cushion, and I, unsuccessfully, for a tube to hold the large Paris map Joël has given me to take back to Berkeley. At 4:00 went to Jeff’s. Gave him a few texts (Call It Sleep filmscript, Religion pamphlet translation, etc.). I said I was rather surprised that he had accepted Prigent’s delirious tract against me. He went over a few points in it that he thought were justified. We also discussed the Nautilus group, Voyer (he gave me copies of some really outrageous letters the latter had written after Lebovici’s death), etc. At 6:00 to Christian’s. Recorded some of our conversation. To Centre Pompidou, where he studied Arabic an hour while I wandered around in the library stacks. Then to a Thai restaurant — not bad, but much weaker on the curry than it should be. Then to a plush nightclub on the western outskirts of Paris to hear a jazz band. It was pretty good, though not the American one advertised. Between sets an obnoxious pianist-clown played and we left. Home around midnight.

October 16. To downtown. A long time looking for a mailing tube. (Not of course that that was so important; I wanted to walk around a lot anyway and I merely let that search guide me.) Finally found one. Tried to enter the Bibliothèque Nationale but was refused since I hadn’t prepared an academic pretext. More walking, occasional bookstores. Got a French Mafalda for Kathy. At 7:00 to Dominique’s. She was just finishing a Tarot reading with Isolde. With the latter’s boyfriend we had dinner there (a Madagascar dish). The boyfriend was from Réunion. Dominique talked about riding all night with a taxi driver friend, notably re the transvestite etc. scene in the Bois de Boulogne. Home at 10:00, then I went out again and wandered around the Goutte d’Or district. Stopped in one bar for a half hour — a dozen blacks and North Africans — then more wandering, then had a tea in a second bar where a black guy from Guadaloupe started a conversation with me. He did most of the talking — a sort of elemental gut radicalism re people, cops, prison, money, women, injustices, search for human relations, etc. I mainly just agreed and added a few nuances re conditions in the US. Back home at 1:00. Joël had accidentally locked himself out of his apartment, so he spent the night in “mine.”

October 17. Met Kathy* at the airport around noon. To her friend Gordon’s place. Tea, then to lunch at a restaurant. Besides miscellaneous exchanges re family, my trip, Christian, etc., I talked re the East Berlin mood. Gordon returned to his work. Walked with Kathy back to Gordon’s place, then back home for a nap, then met her and Gordon and Christian at a café at République at 6:30. Then to Pacific Palisades restaurant at Beaubourg. Christian said that Paris had regions and cultural couches [layers] (like a sandwich) — a simile that he expanded on in interesting detail. Lively conversation all around and everyone had a good time. At 10:00 we met Dominique at the Centre Pompidou, then to a punk café that was almost empty. Around 11:00 Kathy and Gordon left for the Métro, and we walked back to Christian’s car. On the way I talked with Dominique re psychedelics and the analogous sorts of repression of May 68 in France and of the 1960s hip experience in America. Back at “my” place Joël was making a late dinner.

*My sister Kathleen, who also joined me during my 1971 and 1991 Paris trips.

October 18. Dominique, Patrick, and another guy, Pierre, came over to move my double bed to her place. At noon to Kathy’s. We walked awhile (slight rain), ate lunch at Chartier, then went to a Douanier Rousseau exhibit. More walking, brief stop at the Louvre to see if they sell Claude Lorrain reproductions (no). Stop at café. Brief final check at Parallèles (nothing new). To Centre Pompidou. I browsed among books while Kathy was at the café on the top floor. At 8:00 we met Christian there, after he’d finished his hour of Arabic study. He showed Kathy how to use the language lab there if she wants to brush up her French. To Dominique’s for dinner. Twelve people, including Hollewenn, her boyfriend Dominique, Patrick, Isolde, Pierre, his girlfriend Sylvie, Élisabeth (French, not the Peruvian), and Bertrand. Pretty good time. I played guitar a bit. There was lively conversation, but much of it was in small groups, e.g. Christian talked alone with Kathy, other groups of two or three or four, with shifting around. Good meal, lots of beer, wine, rum. Broke up around 1:00. Too late for the Métro, so Kathy and I took a cab home. Joël had a woman at his place and seemed in good spirits. He helped me move a new single bed into my place.

Kathy, Gordon, Linda
Kathy and Gordon with Linda Lanphear

October 19. Christian over briefly to bring photos and a xerox of his journal of quotations. To lunch with Kathy. Intermittant rain. Met Guy Fargette at Saint-Lazare station. To café where he and I talked a couple hours — mainly answering his questions re US, Processed World, Fifth Estate, undialectical fetishism of concepts (anti-technology, democracy, autogestion, etc.). Then Kathy and I went to Gordon’s studio. He wasn’t in, but then we ran into him at a bar across the street. He briefly showed us around his studio.* Then to Roger and Linda’s, then to a restaurant. A woman friend of Roger’s had a drink with us, then left. Miscellaneous pleasant small talk. Huge meal (far too much) plus we were a bit rushed. 10:30 Métro to the Hot Club where Christian was playing trumpet. Around midnight we left and went to a party of Gordon’s fellow workers nearby. A guy there talked about his experiences in Korea. Left around 1:00 (cab home), except Christian who stayed.

*Gordon Harrison was a renowned animation artist. (Among other things, he was one of the main creators of Yellow Submarine.)

October 20. Called Nadine to say goodbye. Out walking around, brief visit to Bibliothèque Nationale, looking through catalog re Restif de la Bretonne, etc. Caught in rain, I ran to Gordon’s. Kathy was sick, so she didn’t come to dinner. Walked to Panama restaurent. Linda arrived first, then Christian, then Dominique. Also there: Roger, Ivana, Marx (another friend of theirs), Hollewenn, Lopi, his fiancée Anne, and another Senegalais, Patchi. I took photos with Kathy’s camera. While we were eating a guy fainted in the bar. Hollewenn [a doctor] tried to help out; eventually some professional medics came. I talked some with Lopi re Senegal; with Linda re a possible US trip; and with her, Christian, and Joël (who was there for an hour and a half before going to Guy Bernelas’s birthday party) re linguistic issues (slang, feminist reforms, expressions, etc.). In general a good time. Around 11:00 went to Dominique’s — she and I by Métro, the other nine in two cars. Talked with her re her and Christian’s relation, questions of transparency, of telling each other what other people have said, of talking when you’re mad, etc. Back at her place more drinking. I played some guitar. Some talk and joking re my “Bureau of Public Secrets: Special Investigator” business card. Miscellaneous dancing — attempts at tango unsuccessful. Patchi almost became sick (mixing so many different drinks). When he and Lopi talked it was hard to understand their French-African accent. Roger, Marx, and Hollewenn left. Soon afterwards (2:30) Christian drove Ivana and Patchi to République, me home, and Anne and Lopi some other place.

Roger, Hollowen, Christian, Linda
Roger, Hollowen, Christian, Linda
Dominique, Lopi, Roger, Hollowen, Christian
Dominique, Lopi, Roger, Hollowen, Christian
Dominique, Marx, Ivana, Patchi
Dominique, Marx, Ivana, Patchi
Dominique, Patchi, Lopi, Hollowen, Christian, Linda
Dominique, Patchi, Lopi, Hollewen, Christian, Linda
Ken, Dominique, Marx, Patchi
Ken, Dominique, Marx, Patchi

October 21. Christian and Dominique picked me up at 10:30 and we drove to Fontainebleau. On the way discussed with Christian the Voyer circle and certain types of situ rigidities. Met Betty and a woman friend of hers. Christian and I bouldered a lot while the three women collected mushrooms. Midafternoon drove to a café, then back to Paris. Stopped at Christian’s, then to Dominique’s. Christian and I continued the conversation recorded on cassette: mainly him responding to questions of mine. Betty and her friend showed up, and also the two English friends of Dominique’s friend. They knew no French, so I talked English for a while with them and taught them a few French words. During dinner I described/reenacted several Monty Python scenes. After dinner played a few songs. Then we all went to a café for a drink, where I talked with Betty re Japan and Japanese language. Home at 11:00.

October 22. To Kathy’s. With her to photo lab. Lunch at an organic place. Kathy chatted there with an American woman who sings for commercials in Paris. To Joël’s. He was there and in pretty good form. Joked, took photos. Dominique arrived. Joël sang a couple of his own songs. Christian arrived and we continued last night’s cassette by recording everyone’s conversation — jokes, silly questions, etc. To Gare du Nord. More good times while waiting for the train. (I danced with Dominique; last-minute promises with Christian to send jokes, news, etc., regularly.) Train left at 6:40 p.m. Amsterdam at midnight.

October 23. Bus and train to airport. Slept a bit on the floor. Checked in at 4:30 a.m. Got a bottle of duty-free Cointreau, changed money. On plane at 7:00. Rapped with a guy who buys and sells antiques. Customs at Seattle, then Oakland at 1:30 p.m. Bus and BART home. Went through correspondence, unpacked, laundry, cleaned out fridge, shopped. To bed at 8:00 p.m.


Account of Ken Knabb’s 1984 Paris trip.
No copyright.

Next Trip (1991)
Other Travel Diaries