Why Lettrism


From this fundamental opposition which is definitively the conflict of a sufficiently new way of conducting one's life against an ancient tradition of alienating it, there arises antagonisms of all sorts, provisionally smoothed out in view of general action which is amusing and that, despite its awkwardness and insufficiencies, we still maintain today is positive.

Certain ambiguities also arise from the humour that some place, and others do not place, in their chosen affirmations for their stupefying aspect: although completely indifferent at any nominal survival through this or that famous literature, we write so that our works - practically non-existent - remain in history, with as much certainty as those histrionic people who would become "eternal". What's more, we declare on all occasions that we are beautiful. The baseness of arguments that are presented to us in the film clubs and elsewhere do not give us the opportunity to reply seriously. Elsewhere we continue to have plenty of charm.

The crisis of Lettrism, announced by the semi-open opposition of the old fogeies to the experimental cinematography, which to their discredit they judged as 'unstylish' violence, broke out in 1952 when the Lettrist Internationale, which regrouped the extreme fraction of the movement in the shadow of a magazine of this title, threw out damaging texts at a press conference held by Chaplin. The aesthetic-Lettrists, now in a minority, were not in solidarity with this action, leading to a break which their lame excuses did not succeed to postpone or subsequently heal - because according to them, the creative role carried out by Chaplin in the cinema makes him above criticism. The rest of 'revolutionary' opinion reproached us once again at this time, because the work and person of Chaplin still appeared to them to remain in a positive perspective. Since then, many of these have changed their opinion.

To denounce the senility of doctrines, or the men who have given their name to them, is an urgent and easy task for those who have retained the taste for resolving the most alluring questions posed by our day and age. Whatever the trickery of the lost generation who showed themselves between the last war and today, they are condemned to debunk themselves. Nevertheless, having recognised the bankruptcy of critical thought that these frauds have found before them, it can be seen how Lettrism has contributed to their more rapid oblivion; and that it is by no means strange that the presentation of an Ionesco, remaking several scenic excesses of Tzara thirty years later and twenty times more stupid, does not get a quarter of the distracted attention. There are several years to go before the exaggerated corpse of Antonin Artaud.

Return to Why Lettrism
Return to Lettrism
Return to Unpopular Home Page