JARRY IN GIDE

“Who is that?” asked Bernard.
“What!  Don’t you know the author of Ubu Roi?”
“Not possible!  That Jarry?  I took him for a servant.”
“Oh, all the same,” said Olivier, a little vexed, for he took a pride in his great men.  “Look at him more carefully.  Don’t you think he’s extraordinary?”
“He does all he can to appear so,” said Bernard, who only esteemed what was natural, and who nevertheless was full of consideration for Ubu.
Everything about Jarry, who was got up to look like the traditional circus clown, smacked of affection – his way of talking in particular; several of the Argonauts did their utmost to imitate it, snapping out their syllables, inventing odd words, and oddly mangling others; but it was only Jarry who could succeed in producing that toneless voice of his – a voice without warmth or intonation, or accents or emphasis.
“When one knows him, he is charming, really,” went on Olivier.
“I prefer not to know him.  He looks ferocious.”
“Oh, that’s just the way he has.  Passavant thinks that in reality he is the kindest of creatures.  But he has drunk a terrible lot tonight; and not a drop of water, you may be sure – nor even of wine; nothing but absinthe and spirits.  Passavant’s afraid he may do something eccentric.”

André Gide, The Counterfeiters.

THIRTEEN CHORUSES FOR THE DIVINE MARQUIS

FIRST CHORUS
“You are afraid of the people unrestrained—how ridiculous!”
— Sade

I dreamed I called Rita Hayworth on the phone and asked her if she hears the babies of Hiroshima screaming in the night.

“No,” she said, “I useta have kinda kooky problems like that but my analyst cleared them all up.”

But — I insisted — after all, it was your picture that was painted on the Bomb. Not Harry Truman, or Einstein, or even Marilyn Monroe. You.

“Well, yeah, if you wanna look at it that way,” she said. “But, Christ, they was sticking my picture on everything those days.”

But, but — I shouted — don’t you feel any sense of responsibility?

“Waita-minit, Mac,” she said, “what are ya, some kinda nut? Nobody ever asked me nothing about it. They just went ahead and dropped it.”

But, but, but  — I screamed — all those people — 550,000 of them, according to one estimate I read  — blown apart by a picture of you —

“Look, Clyde,” she said firmly. “My analyst told me it don’t do no good to brood over such things.”

And the line went dead with a hollow click, like a coffin closing snugly on Dracula as the morning sun throws its white and ghastly nuclear radiations into the cool darkness of dream.

++Continue reading…
Or read the original Realist article from 1966 here.
Or read the same article on a website here.

Continue reading “THIRTEEN CHORUSES FOR THE DIVINE MARQUIS”

OULIPO

Raymond Queneau’s Cent mille milliards de poèmes, published in 1961 is a set of ten sonnets printed on card with each line on a separated strip. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 1014 (100,000,000,000,000) different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day. (Apologies for borrowing from Wikipedia.  Not apologies to Wikipedia, apologies to you for having to read words borrowed from Wikipedia).

Interactive English translation here

IVAN SPLITS IN TWO

“…The poet’s attempts to write a statement concerning the terrible consultant had gone nowhere. As soon as he got the pencil stub and paper from the fat attendant, whose name was Praskovya Fyodorovna, he rubbed his hands in a business-like way and hastily settled himself at the little table. The beginning came out quite glibly. To the police. From Massolit member Ivan Nikolaevich Homeless. A statement. Yesterday evening I came to the Patriarch’s Ponds with the deceased M. A. Berlioz…’ And right there the poet got confused, mainly owing to the word ‘deceased’. Some nonsensicality emerged at once: what’s this – came with the deceased? The deceased don’t go anywhere! Really, for all he knew, they might take him for a madman! Having reflected thus, Ivan Nikolaevich began to correct what he had written. What came out this time was: ‘… with M. A. Berlioz, subsequently deceased …’ This did not satisfy the author either. He had to have recourse to a third redaction, which proved still worse than the first two: ‘Berlioz, who fell under the tram-car…’ – and that namesake composer, unknown to anyone, was also dangling here, so he had to put in: ‘not the composer…’ After suffering over these two Berliozes, Ivan crossed it all out and decided to begin right off with something very strong, in order to attract the reader’s attention at once, so he wrote that a cat had got on a tram-car, and then went back to the episode with the severed head. The head and the consultant’s prediction led him to the thought of Pontius Pilate, and for greater conviction Ivan decided to tell the whole story of the procurator in full, from the moment he walked out in his white cloak with blood-red lining to the colonnade of Herod’s palace. Ivan worked assiduously, crossing out what he had written, putting in new words, and even attempted to draw Pontius Pilate and then a cat standing on its hind legs. But the drawings did not help, and the further it went, the more confusing and incomprehensible the poet’s statement became…”

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (Chapter 11).

ZUM HENKER

“The condition cannot be described.  I’m in blood over the ankles, I’m awash in blood.  In fact – That’s the whole of the matter.  There is blood flowing from all the walls, and it runs together on the street, in the gutter, or it just floods along the sidewalk.  Sometimes it reaches to my knees.  I know very well what this is.  The light is turned off.  I am in total, coal black cellar-darkness, imprisoned in the colour black.  It is a known phenomenon.  I know both the popular and the technical name for it – a man of my experience and my reading!  But it doesn’t help much, other than to give me the precise possibility to say that this is a sickness – I have sickness-awareness;  I can give it a name.  It’s one thing to live in a world where blood flows from the windowsills, from the mountains and from the clouds – but it is another thing to put a little Latin name to it.  In a world of pure pain, where all exterior impressions are like being touched at a point on your body where the skin has been flayed off.  It’s a state of complete pitch-black dark and pain – where you are held prisoner under a dome which doesn’t allow you to perceive any other living being in the world than yourself.  There is nothing outside of me – which is Hell.”

Jens Bjørneboe, History of Bestiality.