References and Notes for Lettrism:

*1. A short history of Isou's life can be found in Jean-Paul Curtay's introductory essay for the exhibit catalog (which also contains an extensive amount of illustrations and other rare documents), Letterism and Hypergraphics: The Unknown Avant-Garde 1945-1985 (New York: Franklin Furnace, 1985): Romania 1925 -- Isou's mother was pregnant with him. Isou's father happened to have a lot of free time. He decided to make an experiment. He prepared himself by training a dog to give the forthcoming baby an exceptional start. He coached the "super-baby" into walking, biking, talking, reading, writing, drawing as soon as he could and, later pumped into the boy all the knowledge he held. A more detailed study in French of Lettrism by Curtay can be found in his La Poesie Lettriste (Paris: Éditions Seghers, 1974).

2. Several essays examining Lettrist art can be found in the special issue 'Lettrisme: Into the Present' of Visible Language, Volume XVII Number 3 (Cleveland, OH: Merald E. Wrolstad, Summer 1983).

3. 29. The origins of the spectacle is the loss of the unity of the world, and the gigantic expansion of the modern spectacle expresses the totality of this loss: the abstraction of all specific labor and the general abstraction of the entirety of production are perfectly translated in the spectacle, whose mode of being concrete is precisely abstraction. In the spectacle, one part of the world represents itself before the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is nothing more than the common language of separation. What ties the spectators together is no more than an irreversible relation at the very center which maintains their isolation. The spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate. Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit, MI: Black & Red, 1970). An "unauthorized" translation with no copyright typical of many Situationist publications. Ironically, Zone Book's 1995 publication of Donald Nicholson-Smith's translation of this work, has a very restrictive copyright which prohibits even publishing quotes from the work electronically.

4. Greil Marcus, 'Guy Debord's Mémoires: A Situationist Primer' in On the passage of a few people through a rather brief moment in time: THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL 1957-1972, edited by Elisabeth Sussman (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1991), p. 127. This is an exhibit catalog of essays, illustrations and artistic documents for a retrospective held at the Pompidou Center, Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from 1989 to 1990.

5. Translated in English in Situationist International Anthology, edited and translated by Ken Knabb (Berkeley: the Bureau of Public Services, 1981), p. 319.

6. An account of the May '68 Strike from the view point of the Situationists (complete with detourned comics and graffiti), can be found in Enragés and Situationists in the Occupation Movement, France, May '68, by René Viénet, English translation (Brooklyn/London: Autonomedia/Rebel Press, 1992 [Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1968]).

7. Sadie Plant, The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (London and New York: Routledge, 1992).

8. Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).

9. Stewart Home, THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE: utopian currents from Lettrisme to Class War (London: Aporia Press & Unpopular Books, 1988).


Last Modified 21 January 1998