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N.B.: Please first read: http://www.kaloskaisophos.org/rt/rtdac/rtdactf/rtdac-ha-dac-open-letter-to-helen-arnold.html An Open Letter to Helen Arnold: Please Resume Good-Faith Negotiations. Scab Translator Finally Admits Guilt But Immediately Rejects All Remedies and Unilaterally Cuts off All Negotiations After Announcing That She Will Continue as a Scab Translator; Still Fails to Acknowledge Conflict of Interest And Her Deception in Writing Letter of Protest to Bill Brown of Not Bored!


(DRAFT: 28 x 2009)


As a result of two amicable and mutually respectful discussions between Helen Arnold (HA) and David Ames Curtis (DAC) held in Paris on October 12 and October 28, 2009, the two parties have drafted and approved a Public Statement of Agreement and Resolution concerning the issues that have divided them since 2002-2003. It has been difficult for both parties, six years on, to reconstruct accurately and in full detail the timeline surrounding some of the events and actions involved in their dispute, and each party has lost some of the electronic and other written communications by which they might refresh their memories concerning one point or another. There is nevertheless ample agreement as well as mutual recollection and trust about the key facts, so that both parties have been able to reach the present settlement. These two parties are pleased to report that they are now able to put these matters definitively to rest. The present, definitive version has been signed after HA has consulted with Daniel Blanchard (DB), who, HA reports, has no objection to its contents.

1. Beginning in 2002, DAC approached, among several other former members of the Socialisme ou Barbarie (S. ou B.) group, HA and DB concerning two projects: (a) a proposal for DAC to translate a selection of S. ou B. texts into English for a British publisher DAC had already been able to interest in this translation project and (b) a proposal from the Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO) of the University of Michigan Library, with which DAC was and is in regular contact through Agora International (AI), to scan the entirety of S. ou B.’s 40 issues (1949-1965) using professional technical means, conforming to recognized archival standards, and entailing no cost to anyone except the University of Michigan Library, which houses the world-renowned Labadie Collection of Social Protest Material. Confusing the two projects, HA and DB misrepresented DAC’s intentions to former S. ou B. members with whom HA and DB were already in regular contact concerning the project to create an Anthologie of original French-language S. ou B. texts. HA wrongly informed former S. ou B. members that DAC wanted to undertake an impractical project that would translate all forty S. ou B. issues in their entirety, thereby misrepresenting not only DAC’s intentions but also his character and his capacity for good judgment. HA regrets any personal animus against DAC that might have led her to make such wholly unfounded misrepresentations. And now that other disagreements between her and DAC have been fully resolved, HA sees no impediment to DAC now undertaking the S. ou B. translation project, using Acratie’s 2007 Anthologie as a basis, or working with former S. ou B. members, AI, and others to undertake the full S. ou B. scanning project at SPO.

2. In 1999, with the knowledge of the literary heirs of the estate of Cornelius Castoriadis, DAC was duly authorized by the Publication Committee (PC) of the Association Cornelius Castoriadis (ACC), which oversees all rights to Castoriadis’s work, to undertake a number of book-length English-language translations of Castoriadis’s writings. The PC-approved translations included On Plato’s Statesman, which eventually was successfully published by Stanford University Press (SUP) in a translation by DAC, and an expanded version of Figures du pensable (FP), which was to be published by SUP as Figures of the Thinkable (FT) and was to include a significant number of non-FP texts selected from other volumes in Castoriadis’s Carrefours du labyrinthe series. A contract was signed by SUP and DAC for FT. In December 2000, SUP editor Helen Tartar (HT) informed DAC, however, that FT had to be split into two volumes and that the contract had to be rewritten as two separate contracts. The true reasons for this sudden change of an already signed contract remain unknown to both HA and DAC. Despite sincere efforts on DAC’s part to work with SUP, with the Castoriadis literary heirs, with the French publisher Le Seuil, and with the PC of the ACC until all its members resigned, and then with the ACC, DAC never received a definitive set of tables of contents for the two proposed separate volumes and thus was unable to complete and turn in his work. At one point, SUP’s HT claimed that a “mistake” had been made in the original FT contract and therefore SUP was not bound by its language, even though SUP had already signed this contract, had in its files a full list of contents for the expanded volume (itself based on discussions between Castoriadis and DAC before the former’s death) as well as many of the texts already sent to HT by DAC, and had included in the contract a total fee, half of which had already been paid to DAC upon signing the contract, that accurately reflected the size and contents of the expanded volume DAC had proposed to SUP with the approval of the PC of the ACC and with the full knowledge of Zoe Castoriadis (ZC), secretary of the ACC. At a later point, another SUP employee said that, if DAC would send in his work, two new replacement contracts would be sent forthwith; when DAC asked to see the contents of the new contracts, none were forthcoming. Starting in June 2003, subsequent to the Cerisy Colloquium organized around Castoriadis’s work, literary heir ZC and DAC were able to work out, to their apparent mutual satisfaction, an “8-Point Agreement” resolving outstanding editorial issues and specifying respective contents for two SUP replacement volumes, FT and The Rising Tide of Insignificancy; see: http://pagesperso-orange.fr/www.kaloskaisophos.org/rt/rtdac/8-pointagreement.html. Moreover, a letter http://www.kaloskaisophos.org/rt/rtdac/5viii03.html was sent on August 5, 2003 to Castoriadis literary heir Sparta Castoriadis (SC), asking for her explicit approval of the above-mentioned agreement (a point required by ZC for that agreement to go into effect), but neither SC nor ZC ever replied with a definitive and signed statement of approval to what seemed like the successful conclusion of good-faith negotiations. Thus, DAC rightly maintains that negotiations were ongoing at the time and remain open still, as HA, too, now recognizes.

3. At some point during the second half of 2003, SUP approached HA to provide a translation of FT. HA was assured by SUP that SUP had no intention of continuing to work with DAC, and HA made considerable efforts to receive from SUP precisely such assurances. What HA did not know at the time, but knows now, is that negotiations with the Castoriadis literary heirs were ongoing and that DAC had informed SUP of this fact. Moreover, as a condition for continuing ongoing negotiations, ZC explicitly forbade DAC from informing SUP of the specific contents of those negotiations. Misled by SUP about the ongoing nature of the labor conflict involving DAC, the Castoriadis literary heirs, and the ACC, as well as SUP, which had explicitly stated through their editor HT that SUP would not honor a contract it had signed, HA felt at the time of her signing of a contract with SUP that she was not violating professional ethical standards as a fellow translator by replacing DAC. However, HA made no efforts to inform DAC of the assurances HA received from SUP in order to try to corroborate them, a decision HA now regrets and for which HA now apologizes.

4. In December 2003, HA and DAC had the opportunity to exchange correspondence and engage in phone conversations about this turn of events. HA nevertheless refused to meet with DAC at the time and until October 2009 about the matter. HA now recognizes that, had she done so, she would have recognized that there was an ongoing labor conflict and that it was a violation of the professional ethics of a translator to replace a fellow translator during an ongoing labor conflict involving a contract the publisher was refusing to honor and had failed to replace with a new, mutually agreed upon one. HA regrets having rejected DAC’s offer to meet with her at the time, as she would have been made privy to crucial information HA has refused to listen to until almost six years later. HA also regrets that she did not heed at that time DAC’s warnings that she would come to regret precisely what she could have avoided simply by meeting with DAC before going ahead with the FT translation work.

5. Also in December 2003, HA and DB wrote a letter to Bill Brown of the anarcho-Situationist ’zine Not Bored to protest the online electro-samizdat publication that month of The Rising Tide of Insignificancy (The Big Sleep), “translated from the French and edited anonymously as a public service” http://www.notbored.org/RTI.pdf (now also available at: http://www.costis.org/x/castoriadis/Castoriadis-rising_tide.pdf). Given that HA had already signed a translation contract with SUP for FT at the time of HA and DB’s e-missive to Brown and given that their communication with him failed to reveal that crucial fact to Brown, HA now publicly apologizes to Bill Brown for having misled him about what was clearly an undisclosed conflict of interest. Given Bill Brown’s intensive, wide-ranging, and courageous efforts to make work by and about Guy Debord and the Situationists available to the English-speaking world over the past three decades while relating that group’s efforts to those of S. ou B., HA finds this lapse of judgment and concealment of interest all the more regrettable for the disrespect it reveals.

6. In light of the above facts, HA now publicly repudiates the FT translation she did for SUP as well as any other work she has done translating Castoriadis’s writings during this ongoing labor conflict. HA will write, in a publicly available way, to SUP, the ACC, and the Castoriadis literary heirs to urge them to resume negotiations forthwith with DAC and HA will refrain from doing any further translation work regarding Castoriadis’s writings or engage in any effort to promote, reprint, or otherwise advance the FT volume or any other Castoriadis publication in translation with which she has been associated. In her letter to SUP, HA will offer to return approximately US$5,000.00 (exact amount to be determined by examination of the total amount specified in the original SUP contract with DAC, subtracting the advance DAC received) she received from SUP, should SUP agree to her request that SUP publish DAC’s translation of the Rising Tide of Insignificancy texts listed in the June 2003 “8-Point Agreement” worked out between DAC and ZC on behalf of the ACC. HA also makes known publicly that she will make said amount available to another publisher willing to publish DAC’s Rising Tide of Insignificancy’s translations.

7. For his part, DAC publicly recognizes and states his sincere regret for any mental anguish or pain HA has undergone during the course of their six-year dispute. Both parties nevertheless recognize that this dispute does have a public component to it, since it was an issue of legal contracts and it involved publication of works in society as well as an ongoing labor conflict. HA and DAC recognize, additionally, that the entire dispute could have been avoided, had HA informed DAC in a timely fashion of SUP’s offer in the second half of 2003 to hire her to translate FT and/or agreed to meet with DAC in December 2003 or at some other time before she undertook the actual FT translation she now repudiates.

8. With this Public Statement of Agreement and Resolution, DAC will cease to make any further negative reference to HA as a “scab translator” or the like and he will endeavor to add a link, referencing an online version of this Public Statement, to any web page where HA has been referred to as such by himself or by others. Moreover, he will endeavor to have published the URL of that link in subsequent issues of any print journals or in any reprintings of books that have made references to HA as a “scab translator,” as DAC recognizes that their dispute is now amicably and fully resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.

9. Both parties, HA and DAC, agree not to pursue any legal course of action against the other concerning the above-mentioned issues so long as the stipulations in this Public Statement of Agreement and Resolution remain uncontested by both parties and so long as its points are adhered to by each party. Should any additional information come to light, both parties agree to work together to examine that information and try to verify or disprove it, and, if need be, negotiate in good faith to alter or amend the current Public Statement of Agreement and Resolution.

NOTE: See now: David Ames Curtis, An Open Letter to Helen Arnold: Scab Translator Finally Admits Guilt But Immediately Rejects All Remedies and Unilaterally Cuts off All Negotiations After Announcing That She Will Continue as a Scab Translator; Still Fails to Acknowledge Conflict of Interest And Her Deception in Writing Letter of Protest to Bill Brown of Not Bored!