We're Tired of Playing With Ourselves


June 1973 poster by Isaac Cronin, Dan Hammer, and Jeanne Smith. Hundreds of copies were posted in the Bay Area along with Ken Knabb’s comic-poster Reich: How to Use. For an account of this and related adventures, see “Confessions of a Mild-Mannered Enemy of the State.”

No copyright.

Submitted by Fozzie on April 19, 2024



We have not forgotten you, even though we have not yet found you. You are ever before us as we stalk the streets of the city: we are moved not by your image (which is as impoverished as the streets), but by what you really can and must become.


We are three people much like yourselves, rather like the best of you. For several years we carried on with each other (and with several other friends) what are considered normal social relations in circles like ours. Some of the time we lived together; even when we didn't we saw each other regularly. We had some common perspectives toward daily life, concerning what we did and didn't want from society as it is now organized. We worked as little as possible, skimming the surplus off the sides of the economy in a variety of ways. We read all the best books (Capital, The Maltese Falcon, etc.), listened to the best music, ate at the best cheap restaurants, got drunk, went for hikes and trips to the beach and Paris....

We were anti-spectators of the spectacle of decomposition. We read the Chronicle just like you do, which is to say "critically," which is to say that the very chic cynicism which appeared to add spice to our lives actually helped drain the life out of us. We had plenty of clever remarks about the lacks and excesses of the bourgeois world, but despite the fact that we were often reproached by others for being too bold we were actually too timid. We wanted to be ruthless with ourselves, but we were as civil and secretive with each other as you are with your best friends and as afraid of self-analysis as anyone else. What was familiar was unrealized simply because it was familiar—and familial. We occasionally criticized each other, whenever our idiosyncracies became an aggravated as to make them unendurable, but, as in polite society and alienated encounters, even this criticism served the purpose of smoothing over differences and emptying commonality of content. When we returned from Paris, Jeanne and Isaac found their old rut in San Francisco, living the life of the modem couple. They knew that the exclusivity of their relationship was draining both of them, but were incapable of doing something different. Dan, meanwhile, retreated to the country rather than confront the paucity of his social contacts, preferring an existence of isolated non-unpleasure to the risks involved in creating new relations. Our deceived gaze met only our misery and its price.


The sky didn't open up one day. But since we weren't quite yet dead, enough was soon too much. We received a terrific kick in the ass from Jean-Pierre Voyer's Use of Retch and from our friend Ken Knabb's use of Voyer in his Remarks on Contradiction and its Failure1 The work of Voyer was the first since Debord that concretely shed light on our alienation. We realized that we were to a great extent accomplices in the ruling spectacle, and that character is the form of this complicity. We began the strategically crucial task of character assassination—after some tentatives which either over-psychologized the attack on character (Isaac and Jeanne) or defended against this attack by criticizing psychology (Dan)—including in that attack those traits of our own and of each other which we had previously accepted as "part of the package," which we'd patronizingly accepted as immutable, which we'd timidly considered "too personal" to criticize except when they became unavoidably excessive. This negative task began, positivity was released from the chains of repression. Then we began to discover whom we'd been sitting next to all these years. There is less risk than one would fear in stripping oneself bam, and it leads to the most delightful meetings.

What is important to us is not the individual structure of our character, nor the explanation of its formation, but the impossibility of its application to the construction of situations.

Our attack on this rot has made external restraints—especially our inability to meet you—all the more unbearable. The enrichment of our relations with each other has underscored the poverty of our relations with the rest of the city. This poverty retums in its course to attack and destroy what we are creating. The failure to extend the attack on character is the precondition for the re-emergence of character in the individual. "Like a revolution in a small country, the person who breaks a block, a routine, or a fetish must advance aggressively to discover or incite radical allies outside, or lose what he has gained and fall victim to his own internal Thermidor." (Knabb, op. cit.)

The forces opposed to you have all the advantage of organization, discipline, and habitual authority; unless you bring strong odds against them, you are defeated and ruined. The insurrectionary career once entered upon, act with the greatest determination, and on the offensive. The defense is deadly because it only leads to an intensification of isolation. Surprise even yourself with your boldness, prepare new successes, however small but daily. Heighten the pleasure which the first successful rising has given you; attack the vacillation which always follows the strongest impulse and which always looks out for the safer side; attack your character before it can collect its strength against you; in the words of Denton, the greatest master of revolutionary policy yet known: de l'audace, de l'audace, encore de l'audace!


"To show a great unfulfilled desire is to show one's inferiority." But showing this great desire is our proof of each other's excellence. Just as the secret misery of daily life is the real State secret, so secret desire made public is the real revolutionary conspiracy.

And you, you ever-so-desirable beings—this brings as back to you. Every day we walk past scores of you who are as full of excellence as we, and you walk past us. We look at each other, only to shrink back, victims of the law of bourgeois science wherein like objects repel each other, thereby failing in their attempt to become subjects. We expect this address to help us break some of the barriers to meeting you. You may see your chance to strike here, and write to as or come looking for us. But whether or not you even see this, we're coming after you.

For days without chains and nights without armor,

Dan Hammer Jeanne Smith Isaac Cronin
P.O. Box 1044
Berkeley, California 94704

From: https://www.bopsecrets.org/CF/were-tired.htm

  • 1Both available from Ken Knabb, P.O. Box 1044, Berkeley 94704. A reading of Voyer will have a most salutary effect on your comprehension of this address.



2 months 3 weeks ago

Submitted by Fozzie on April 19, 2024

Incredible lash up of Wilhelm Reich and Maoist levels of self-criticism going on here.

Posting up this text around town and including a photo of yourselves is amazing though.