Dear Esther,

Since you asked, I read Vaneigem’s resignation letter from the SI and Debord’s response. My sympathies are with Vaneigem, who chose silence and contemplation over “communal practice”.

Vaneigem handled the concept of the qualitative by the ton, but resolutely forget what Hegel, in The Science of Logic, called “the most profound and most essential quality,” which is contradiction. “In relating to it, actually, identity is only the determination of what is simple and immediate, of what is dead, insofar as contradiction is the source of all movement, of all life. This is only to the extent that a thing includes within itself a contradiction that shows itself to be active and alive.”

We could all use more meditation on what is simple and what is dead. But putting that aside, doesn’t Vaneigem include within himself a great contradiction?

It’s true that I’ve never been part a sustained communal project, so my sympathies for the contemplative might just be a fancy way of expressing my preference for the solitary. Forbearance is hard.

Debord’s faith is extraordinary:

We don’t have to pretend to ourselves that we are sure of anything or of anyone. We are only sure of the movement of history, insofar that we know how to recognize it by participating in it; and, without doubt, insofar as each one of us can recognize it in himself and is capable of proving it.

Can you imagine writing that with a straight face? It’s like old Descartes arriving with certainty at the actuality of the infinite before he can decide whether or not he has hands. Debord is sure of nothing but the movement of history! What a thing to be sure of! Not being a Christian, Marxist, or German, I’m not sure that history has a movement, but even if I thought it did – I’d be sure of a lot more before that.

What am I missing?

vale basilice,