FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris

by LETTRIST INTERNATIONAL

The Lettrists present at the September 26 meeting jointly proposed the following solutions to the various urbanistic problems that came up in discussion. They stress that no constructive action was considered, since they all agreed that the most urgent task is to clear the ground.

The subways should be opened at night after the trains have stopped running. The corridors and platforms should be poorly lit, with dim lights flickering on and off intermittently.

The rooftops of Paris should be opened to pedestrian traffic by means of modifications to fire-escape ladders and construction of bridges where necessary. Public gardens should remain open at night, unlit. (In a few cases, a steady dim illumination might be justified on psychogeographical grounds.)

Street lamps should all be equipped with switches so that people can adjust the lighting as they wish.

With regard to churches, four different solutions were proposed, all of which were considered defensible until appropriate experimentation can be undertaken, which should quickly demonstrate which is the best.

G.-E. Debord argued for the total destruction of religious buildings of all denominations, leaving no trace and using the sites for other purposes.

Gil J. Wolman proposed that churches be left standing but stripped of all religious content. They should be treated as ordinary buildings, and children should be allowed to play in them.

Michèle Bernstein suggested that churches be partially demolished, so that the remaining ruins give no hint of their original function (the Tour Jacques on Boulevard de Sébastopol being an unintentional example). The ideal solution would be to raze churches to the ground and then build ruins in their place. The first method was proposed purely for reasons of economy.

Lastly, Jacques Fillon favored the idea of transforming churches into houses of horror (maintaining their current ambience while accentuating their terrifying effects).

Everyone agreed that aesthetic objections should be rejected, that admirers of the portals of Chartres should be silenced. Beauty, when it is not a promise of happiness, must be destroyed. And what could be more repugnant representations of unhappiness than such monuments to everything in the world that remains to be overcome, to the many aspects of life that remain inhuman?

Train stations should be left as they are. Their rather poignant ugliness contributes to the feeling of transience that makes these buildings mildly attractive. Gil J. Wolman proposed removing or scrambling all information regarding departures (destinations, times, etc.) in order to facilitate dérives. After a lively debate, those opposing this motion retracted their objections and it was wholeheartedly approved. It was also agreed that background noise in the stations should be intensified by broadcasting recordings from many other stations, as well as from certain harbors.

Cemeteries should be eliminated. All corpses and related memorials should be totally destroyed, leaving no ashes and no remains. (It should be noted that these hideous remnants of an alienated past constitute a subliminal reactionary propaganda. Is it possible to see a cemetery and not be reminded of Mauriac, Gide or Edgar Faure?)

Museums should be abolished and their masterpieces distributed to bars (Philippe de Champaigne’s works in the Arab cafés of rue Xavier-Privas; David’s Sacre in the Tonneau on rue Montagne-Geneviève).

Everyone should have free access to the prisons. They should be available as tourist destinations, with no distinction between visitors and inmates. (To spice things up, monthly lotteries might be held to see which visitor would win a real prison sentence. This would cater to those imbeciles who feel an imperative need to undergo uninteresting risks: spelunkers, for example, and everyone else whose craving for play is satisfied by such paltry pseudogames.)

Buildings whose ugliness cannot be put to any good use (such as the Petit or Grand Palais) should make way for other constructions. Statues that no longer have any meaning, and whose possible aesthetic refurbishings would inevitably be condemned by history, should be removed. Their usefulness could be extended during their final years by changing the inscriptions on their pedestals, either in a political sense (The Tiger Called Clemenceau on the Champs Élysées) or for purposes of disorientation (Dialectical Homage to Fever and Quinine at the intersection of Boulevard Michel and rue Comte, or The Great Depths in the cathedral plaza on the Île de la Cité).

In order to put an end to the cretinizing influence of current street names, names of city councilors, heroes of the Resistance, all the Émiles and Édouards (55 Paris streets), all the Bugeauds and Gallifets, and in general all obscene names (rue de l’Évangile) should be obliterated.

In this regard, the appeal launched in Potlatch #9 for ignoring the word “saint” in place names is more pertinent than ever.

LETTRIST INTERNATIONAL, October 1955

“Projet d’embellissements rationnels de la ville de Paris” originally appeared in Potlatch #23 ( October 13, 1955). Translated by Ken Knabb.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail