Annual Fundraising Appeal
 Here’s an important message from John Pilger on why the Left needs CounterPunch:
Pilger
John Pilger is one of the world’s most courageous journalists. He’s been contributing to CounterPunch for years. But as he notes, the old media establishment is crumbling around us, leaving precious few venues for authentic voices from the Left. This collapse makes CounterPunch’s survival an imperative. We’re not tied to any political party or sect. Our writers are free to speak their minds. Let’s keep it that way.  Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Tear Down the Cathedrals and Replace Them with Ruins

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.