1. A Joy
I recall happy faces, for the most part young people, if not even just teenagers – it takes fifty years to make a man, and most of us were not yet half that age – A joy – very special because it was a historical joy, with an incomparable tone. I have searched high and low for its equal, and I don’t see it.
A discrepancy without equal, in most of the militant groups, between the event and its representation: typical, outdated, compromised, overused discourses – when not downright antithetical, clumsy, stupid, awkward, false (the “pro-Chinese” shamelessly praised Stalin, the gulags, the Moscow trials, Enver Hoxha!). The most timid unduly praised the “popular front” and the “Resistance”; in short: whatever took place in another time, through the pure inability to consider what had never taken place. The Unknown overwhelmed them from all sides, inebriated them, would have left them breathless if it hadn’t been for the old emaciated refrains: their youth, freed from the servile duty to prohibitions that had just the day before limited the possibilities in play to the usual conflicts with heavy overcoats.
3. Old Moons
The beginning of the end for the old moons that had launched pale glows into earlier skies. Retrospective statement of the obvious about a relationship (underground, but direct) between the French May and the internal collapse of the pyramid of state lies and terror that had assumed the appearance of a fatal future in the East for three or four decades. It took the living dead a quarter of a century to realize that they were living dead, but on May 13 for the first time, “the stalinist scoundrels were in the caboose”.
4. The Real End of the “Post-War Period”
The real end of the “post-war period” – After Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, the horrendous colonial wars in Indochina, Algeria, Vietnam, a deep need to look elsewhere was noticed. A certain juvenile pleasure in disorder was a way of breaking down the obstacles of the already given. Proselytes of every sort attributed the most diverse aims to the movement. Everyone brought their demands to that flow. The movement welcomed them all. But the unique tone that was its own did not depend on demands. A fact that may be hard to understand: aware of what it no longer wanted, that May did not have a precise idea of its future and perhaps had no need for one. It went to meet the unknown with a lack of concern never seen in analogous events.
5. A Young Life Awakening
The vital poem of life that awakens. Any poetry other than that of living life would have caused a shrug of the shoulders. Nietzsche: “I am not always sad. I don’t always have ideas.”
6. Return of the Repressed
The return of the repressed, of all the “madnesses of freedom” – from Saint-Just to Rimbaud, passing through Mallarme and Sade, the surrealists and Dada. Far from the obsessions of all the police of thought and feeling. Holderlin, Nietzsche, Breton; and not Jdanov, Stalin, Kanapa. History substantially changed direction. At a single stroke, the prefrontal overturning of symbolic activity occurred in history. Goodbye forever, reptilian brain! Goodbye forever, brow ridges!
7. The innocence of becoming
The innocence of becoming became dangerous again. An adventurous search for a bit of authentic unknown in history. What enthusiasm in this leap. Moods and nuances are all that will be remembered of it.
8. The Impossible
Disarmingly guileless hopes were affirmed with the most tender seriousness. The linear History of yesterday, having escaped the bed into which it was channeled by ideological terror, exploded into unpredictable, distant stars, beyond the barriers. The “im-possible” seemed to be the minimum that was desirable.
9. Authorized by Oneself
The two symmetrical infamies that had terrorized the century were delegitimated together by the children of the protagonists of the preceding generation, which symmetrically lacked the means for reestablishing moral authorities discredited by so many repetitions and now without a future – The first attempt to come out from the logic of resentment in "revolutionary" movements. A new life wanted to live, which was authorized only by itself.
10. “Rather Life!”
Those whose lives then vibrated to the emotional pitch of freedom and existence will never cease to be affected by it. How could they line up for ordinary life any more – taking care in their retreat not to pay tribute to the grayness of the day. They certainly didn’t fight to get wretched “official recognition” or to go up the ladder – “Rather life!”
11. Here and now
The French May was the first revolutionary movement whose stake was not the conquest of state power. In this perhaps it prefigured the future of truly liberatory human movements: when individuals, many of them, will devote themselves to themselves. Concerned with the effective possibilities that they will have at their disposal for entering directly into the new life that they will have the strength to conceive here and now. And here they are suddenly becoming responsible.
12. Non Serviam
“Not a society of slaves without masters, but a society of masters without slaves.” No revolution despised voluntary servitude as much as the revolution of that May, and, more than this, it distanced itself from the old fatality of separating one’s life from oneself. The taste for style again found an effective use. The S.I. gave it back the brilliance it always had with cruelty and genius.
13. Many Free Human Beings
One result that statistical experts and ideologues didn’t notice: that May would restore many free human beings to themselves, human beings who would never again return to the ranks. This is no small thing. The tone of life would change. What more could one want from an effective revolution that didn’t limit itself to the expectations of slaves? – We had this.
A mutation in spirits. A potent incitamentum to experimentation with concrete freedom. This bad example given to all would go on feeding new audacities. “Do away with the heritage of May '68”, monsieur Sarkozy, is one of the most rhetorical of programs.
15. The Authentic Place
Making the economy ironic. Desecrating the political. The return of complete life as complete, not as mishap, but as possibility, since everything is starting over, with each new young life. The content of real existence – things that have place only once – considered in earnest.
16. A Single Cry: “Be beautiful!”
The end of the separation between art and life, formulated not as a “demand” that leads to a coalition of desires always frustrated at not achieving their aims, but as a sovereign practice of life as art, that suddenly gives everyone what they no longer had a way of “reclaiming” abstractly for an abstract future. The enjoyment of the present, of play, of efforts dared: superior resources of festival and joy. With this, stammerings, so many hints of beautiful moments. - A single cry: “Be beautiful!”
“Slaves, we don't curse life!”
*Latin for incitement