On the twenty fourth of August 2017 I returned from France to the remote isles of Skelligs: I admired the usual pictures from the basic boat trip around the rocky ermitage (no landing) — seasick in the vicinity y of the two immense teeth, center of a world. Omphalos. Navel of the world. Secret passage between two subtle worlds.________________________________________
(From the sixth to the thirteenth century, refuge of monks upon the stairs, in their strange beehives.)
-«Oh remember the first time we saw them, we thought they were dreams, left on the horizon, far away. Serious guardians above a festive evening, as we had in front of us the strange but banal apparition of two circus elephants, walking behind each other on that Irish beach after they had performed their little summer show, it was in Waterville…»
-" Weren’t there rather three of them ?"
-" You’re right, nuncle … One hanging onto the tail of the preceeding one, with his trump !"
-«And then we took notice that there was something odd in the holidays landscape, far stranger truly than those poor exotic animals, and it was the remote presence of two islands floating in the perspective of the darkening ocean, two islands that seemed as an impossible double gothic castle, two uncertain shadows belonging so obviously to a fairy tale, that we couldn’t understand why the audience of the little circus was not contemplating them, rather than the modest show under the red big top…»
Skellig Michael is dedicated to the half-god — or archangel — Michael, judge of the after death, weighing up the sins as did Maat Egyptian goddess of truth and justice before him.
— «Oh Fool, listen how men have created their dreams ! Archangels! Copy-paste of religious fantasies.»
— «Prithee, lord, even if you are a King to me, I must say: don’t take things literally and let history of religions to its specialists. You’d rather not forget that those islands belong to the land of a people of righteous people. Irish gentleness. Narrow roads and so helpful people. Elegance of the just. The Skelligs still belong to the land of Maat and Michael.»
-«It is not the same style of atmosphere, frankly not, as at our home, along the Rhine…»
-" Yeah but… You will give me a thing."
— «In your legislative Rhine countries texts, there is an obligation of assistance to every person in danger.»
— «It is in the Laws. But that is not openly noticeable in streets.»________________________________________________
-«And hear me about dreams and copy-paste of the ancient, Sirrah my Fool: as it is an historical fact that copt Egyptian clothes were also found on Mount St Michael in Brittany, same name, same pattern of an island, same dedication to priests, should’nt we conclude that Michael… that Michael would also be, on those eremitic Skelligs islands, a sign of previous settings… and so what, if Egyptians and Druids should be connected ?»_______________________________________________
Clergymen and solitude seem nevertheless to have preoccupied the very heart of all our rude and fighting predecessors.
In Egyptian papyrus Salt 825, two different sorts of eternity are quoted. Infinity of the Moment, and Forever Cycles.
Trinkets, baubles, Knick-knacks… Sold to the gullible pharaoh as fairy-tales — by scribes, witted enough to convince him they might connect his wealthy sapience of instant pleasures, to the everlasting pleasure of anxiolytics — what an affair, what a recipe! To detain the real and one only truth is such a violent power!
-" Tell me, sapience Fool: had an ancient Celtic fight between good and evil taken place here ?"
-" O Lear ! James Joyce has for sure written something about that."_______________________________________________
INTROÏTUS: The psychoanalytical Monk.
— «Would you really find it pleasant, you fearful Jesuit, to spend a life of monk? Would it be the reason why, being nothing but an obscure g.p., you have been cartooned as one of them some long years ago ?»
— «Listen, it is high time now to solemnly mount the truth gunrest: shall we choose the eternal truth and gravely blessed beauty of Ethics, beauty who is protected in the surrounding landscape of the Skelligs islands, or shall we accept to tolerate the growing hideousness of man’s collective fury in oversized modern towns ?»
-«Be wary. You are aging more and more quickly… You should not make yourself the prosecuting attorney who condemns all hideous ugliness … Especially if you look like your own… for the worse because you are not Dorian Gray… especially if you look like your old portrait … Could even a true believer follow seriously your decrees? Not a crowd, dear.»________________________________________________
-«The evil of mankind’s ego might, alas, come in contrast with such monks' retreats as those who daily obsess my automatic thoughts. Would you, dear inner voice, try to split myself into a mystical selfish exotic part and a superior philosophical one, epicurean but curiously selfless ?»
— «Haha, fury, yes, and the tremendous rumor of frightening waves on the rock, and the dry solitude, the lost sex, and the lone presence of nightmares and all this, reaching medieval monks in the top beehives, wind whistling on the summit of your dear Skellig Michael island !»
-«Am I dreaming of their fights against evil, or rather of the luxurious habit of lonely people, just comfortably in care of their own and luscious body. Body or… corpses, ready to wear.»
-«As a death would be ready to wear? Would you sleep or die, live twice, sleep thrice, would you send ahead, for all following centuries, a river of everlasting children, to sing your uncountable ancestors and wish you would pay clerks, priests, monks to set firmly your thoughts and experiments in their future beliefs and faiths ?»
CHAPTER ONE: Fashion dreams and a Job.
The holy rocks are a few miles away from Portmagee, three hundred and ninety inhabitants. Five or six pubs. Photos of the Skellig islands everywhere. The disease of a Skellig’s fashion has increased since Starwars used the place. The whole world of geeks is aware of their silhouette… Ready-to-wear landscapes. Death of a faith in the panorama as a mother’s body. The predictability of all sublimity, the future of sublime, is fashion and it’s starlets.________________________________________________
Nonetheless Portmagee is colourful. Since the year of my birth, a bridge has connected Portmagee to Valentia Island — six hundred and fifty inhabitants — and when I crave to contemplate the Skelligs, I would rather do it from the fields of this single-sloped Island.________________________________________________
At the end of August 2017, I firmly decided to come back for a longer stay the following May. And therefore also escape, for the first time in my life, my daily consultation practice. One has to gently prepare his death, I gently thought. Seriously. Thouroughly.
In addition to being a general practicioner for now more than twenty years, I had also become a therapist.
Using the dreams of my patients, I learned they had something to do with their memories. Intimate memories of their recent experiences. If you prevent a rat from dreaming, he forgets what you taught him on the day before. Our dreams secure our memory of recent experiences — but it is thanks to a majestic manner: everything my subconscious has quoted during the day will be connected to the immense radar built during my six first years, as I was, hypnotic dwarf, scanning all the frustrations of my immense parents, all the frustrations vehicled through the langage they used, all the frustrations, we the livings, denounce in the everlasting and obnoxious strength of Death.
Practicing three evenings a week, I did add dream analysis to my daily aspirin-prescribing life. Yes, did I think in August, yes, I would be back on the island, to meditate the 35 040 dreams I had listened to. On the top beehive of my evening solitary practices — I did listen, with the sexual Freudian ear it implied, and none of the dark suspicions it raises in the concierge’s mind. A monk. I couldn’t have guessed when I begun with dreams, that this meant the absolute impossibility of the burden of boredom. No repetition, I never encountered the same stream of dreams twice.
-«How to be secluded in May 2018 ?, you fearful Jesuit ?»
— «Yes, I have to do so. Yes, I should seriously come back in May. If not in Valentia, why not in the pleasant cottage close to Caherdaniel, «Blake's drum» on Lamb’s head… Skelligs in the sight from the main window. For sure I would come. I had bought a 2018 agenda, with Irish (oyrish) landscapes, one monthlyeach… Pomes penny each can I shout as a merchant of my own dream. Most definitely. The future of every tourist in Ireland is not only turf fires but also James Joyce, and his stars: Leopold, Stephen, Molly, Nora… Immense tapestry of fiction heroes, fictitious heroes but, after reading, inner family.
EXTROÏTUS: Was Jacques Lacan totally designed by James Joyce ?
JAMES JOYCE : Pomes penyeach, TILLY (Dublin, 1904)
He travels, after a winter sun,
Urging the cattle along a cold red road,
Calling to them, a voice they know,
He drives his beasts above Cabra.
The voice tells them home is warm.
They moo, and make brute Music with their hoofs.
He drives them with a flowering branch before him,
smoke pluming their foreheads.
Boor, bond of the herd,
Tonight stretch full by the fire!
I bleed by the black stream
from my turned bough!
-«My turned bough is that pencil I do still use to darken confident sheets of papers, ink, my blood, the ink Ocean, my country. Litterature has never delivered any official papers to me. Comfty, but homeless in a land of heroes: Lacan being the most tricky one…»
-«Lacan… is not on the usual list of James Joyce heroes !»
-«But shouldn’t he? Didn’t James Joyce apparition, in Paris, authorized, or at least helped, Lacan’s breaches of decorum ?»
-" Fucking tourist travel, but you fucking readers, you do harbor in books as cattle do, bond of the words’herd !"
— «Okay. Let me confess that, to me, „Ulysses“ has been the rejuvenating affair: a novel, complex and true enough to tear one away from his bookish troubles.»
— «You mean, little naughty shrink, that James Joyce supplanted your patron saint, Siegmund ?»
— «You hit the spot. Thanks to him, and in spite of my avidity for fundamental works, the novel took back its flight of eagle, far, very far above the horizon of annoying teachers expressing themselves about their own supremacy in their own feelings of what philosophy and psychology, and even History, had to be.»
— «What a surprise, to learn so late, that the future of the student you once were, has been partly secured by such a whimsical king-witch as Joyce !»
-«My future as a dream analyser, my future that became lately my present soon to be past ?»
-" For, weren’t you converted, because of the bizarre influence Joyce had on Lacan, weren’t you converted there in a kind of modern priest of the neglected, of the forgotten and hellenistic god of dreams, Telesphorus ?"
CHAPTER TWO: How to to transform microscopic Skelligs into macroscopic Manhattan. Method and description.
— «Listen. To be honest I can tell you that the long past of a life of psychoanalytical monk, this terrifying burden, presses with all the weight from now on, on my painful shoulders, and urges me, poor beast of the working herd, to return in May and stay in the saving ermitage of Valentia Island.»
— «Aha. There will you dream, lone and poetic on Skelligs' cliffs, as Malaparte surely did on his Capri’s cliffs, after the end of the tragic Second World War.»
-" It’s quite different: Malaparte was trying to forget what he learned about the Human Race, in the Italian skin of a journalist traveling from Finland to Moldavia with transit by Varshaw ghetto during the Second World War…"
-" But aren’t you, fearful Jesuit, hoping you might also forget all the founding crimes of multiple whispers that certainly have an echo in your daily consultations ?"
-«The second war ended, Malaparte left all his non-ambiguous nazi and monstrous protectors… but crimes and guiltness have no end.»
Without a doubt, I had to do so. I would do so. May, Kerry ! May, Eirinn ! May, Daedalus ! In May the fantastic green mountains of Kerry to face the freedom of the ocean, that freedom of the ocean sight which is, as Malaparte did quote, superior to the freedom of freedom itself.
I have never known, during the whirlwinds of my existence, the nature of my desire with such a tranquillity.________________________________________________
This complete absence of any doubt vanished immediately when my daughter proposed, in March, a short trip to the half score million New Yorkers connected to the island of Manhattan.________________________________________________
-«Was that unfortunate, dear ?»
— «Manhattan and its 1.626.153 inhabitants? Instead of becoming the noble monthly hermit, will I muster my despair in the muddy crowd, eyeless crowd, and poor me, one out of the 50 million or so visitors to the so called Big Apple? In the midst of 20 182 305 BosWash inhabitants… Divided, this is what I will be. Divided into this ridiculous parcel of a blind crowd!»
-" You could also say: what a sudden and quite pleasant growth, for the little, peaceful and marvelous Island of Valentia you were autistically dreaming of ?"
— «Blaspheme. Valentia, not yet as littered by enthusiastic consumers as the previously idyllic island of Manhattan, but in Manhattan, it all happened… Menhappened… The Indians disappeared…»
— «Not by death, but commerce.»
-«Is there any way to stay firmly in my Skelligish dreams when I shall approach Manhattan’s shadow ?»
My dear Tomi Ungerer, who spent some glorious years in New York in the sixties, has then told me: «Write a book»!________________________________________________
-" But what was your dream, insane and low leveled tourist? To be welcomed in the parade, by those millions of fanatics asking you humbly for autographs on Parade Avenue? To write a book as a soldier would hang a shield? To be the true-believer in mankind, discovering a nest if not the nest of everlasting lust, debauchery, appetite and greed powers ?"
-" Was my unmentionable wish to psychanalyse the American dream rather than my own monk’s nightmares, or did I even think I could dare, more suitable to my mood, to scrutinize the nightly dream famous Little Nemo had every night in his New Yorker comic strip from the year 1900 ?"________________________________________________
Tomi Ungerer has left America more than fifty years ago. He told me Nemo had been one of his favorite if not the favorite comics. He left for Eirin. Fifty years ago ! In other words: the time of a brilliant wink. Spent his time in a remote house facing Ocean fury in the mixed perfumes of grass and turf. A monk, far from all crowds. But trendy.
-" And believe me: I face crowds, daily…"
— «You're a poser ! Will you ennoble this little untrendy crowds of your little town ?»
— «In my city where, as anywhere else, the only very unfrequented path to reach identity is psychoanalysis…»
-" You should be less arrogant for such a late Freudian answer to the antique Greek wish of a real self acknowledgement."
— «I agree with you. In the beginning was the Word, but the word was hidden rather deeply under feet’s of inhibition, tons of neurosis, and loads of anxiety… Hence, yes, it took centuries…»
— «Shut up ! Such a lone path might seem so monotonous as to ruin all my hopes in any possibility of an improvement in man wisdom and…»
— «Such a difficultuous path could seem like the very short path I have been using, day in, day out, from joyful home to severe consultation place. My medical practice: a tiny studio crushed at the foot of a hideous tower of the sixties. But stairs to Wisdom, Truth, Justice…»
— «And why not also to Goodness and Nirvana? But what surprises and whim are left by such a routine to your aging eyes, poor little talkative dwarf? You travel, every day since 1989, from the Prussian part of the University, to the seventies quarter of its buildings: in most, five hundred meters…»
-" I ask myself: how can I be surprised, everyday, by changing lights, seasons, and those changing beautiful girls, waiting at their tram stop, at the end of my ever changing street ?"
-" It is nonetheless quite a pitiful poetic perception of your so boring everyday life. Unuseful fruit of the underground dreamworking that sweeten ceaselessly, without knowing anything of your days, your forgetful nights…"
-" Aye, not completely and maybe not at all… Waking up, I realize that my dreams, like archangel Michael, have spent judge nights weighing the events of the day before."
-«Dreams judge your days? You really think so or have you definitely become insane ?»
-«Usually silent judges. These Judges disclose me only very rarely my police record. That is the question.»
-" Glad to learn you are not in constant communication with your dream… How can you assert it could be as important a question as to be or not ?"
-" I told you my investigations, on the effect dreams have on our behavior, and on the consequences our acts, and the facts we daily meet, have on our dreams, is now practically thirty years old… Dreams contain something like a choice. They choose precisely wether something is good or evilish, not to a general standard, but to my own mysterious and most secret standards. They lean the comfort of their certitudes on an immense seat back, built during my first six years. Saint Augustin, colonial bishop of Hippone, already noticed it in its Confessions: at six years old, the child forgets, all of a sudden, practically everything of his previous years."
-«Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman who bothers me as a learned justice, needs a coxcomb because he is nothing but a fool, speaking of wisdom as wars whip our ears every time we dare to listen to the news? Is it an unavoidable necessity for you to quote Saint Augustin and tell me this unknown fellow was archbishop of a vanished city? And, honestly, do you really think I have forgotten what happened to me before I was six? "
-«All in that you had been passionate, all that your intense keen eyes of toddler had scrutinized. All that you learnt before, in a kind of hypnosis, you couldn’t, all of a sudden at six, or evoke it clearly any more, nor convene it clearly.»
-" You’re right, nuncle. As a matter of fact, I do remember, later, the atrocious years I spent, between seven and twelve. What did I observe, other that the obnoxious debt which was imposed by mortality on the worried foreheads of my teachers, as they were looking upon me, as boring as you are, teaching me a Langage, showing me behaviors, but also their own adult sexual frustrations, their specific social frustrations, and their precise knowledge frustrations … Why do we deserve such a long nightmare? Did I ask to be born? Why did I deserve those long years of submission to previous mankind ?"
-«In brief, dear, our chrysalide first put in tension all our sunny pleasures, and childish hopes, for a whole life. Put in tension millions of small springs, authoritarian little springs. A come back of a purified water, or else, swallows whose come back will tell you, everyday, if you look, either sunny or dark, swallows on their way back from your unconscious life, of your forgotten childhood where those swallows had passed the winter of careless childhood under sunny tropics … Swallows, dressed like the judges appointed by your subconscious.»
-«But the clandestine judge is my one judge, figment of my unique History: and his judgments a tapestry of that so strange oneself I might ignore, nuncle… What if I did add the initiatory journey to Delphic masters that would suddenly be efficient enough to permit me to know myself, to tear the Holy Curtain but therefore simply to reveal my automatisms of a family-robot, ah ! Pestilent gale to me, the tribal source of each of my crimes, and, in brief, the infantile revolution which suggests, in the lapel of my forehead, changing the world simply by listening to the Gnothi Seauton. »_______________________________________________
_ «How do they find a good shrink in New York? "
— «It sounds difficult, nuncle, for such rigorous expectations as yours…»
— «The question is: how could one have seriously translated Jacques Lacan ?»
-" Mark it, nuncle: as impossible a task as to translate Joyce’s Ulysses in French."
-«And how could anyone become efficient with no help from the chief-engineer?»
— «Is Lacan really your chief engineer ?»
-" As impossible to translate, you know, as would have been the task of Lacan, would have he not met the immense freedom of James Joyce. The same freedom that separates our bodies from all necessities in dreams. In a dream I can die smiling, observe immense pains laughing, feel immensely sad from a little neglected point, give the main role to a guy hastily observed as his train was crossing mine."
-" O, Maat, measure of all souls, jazz goddess with your feather, will yyou not join her deity as well anywhere else than in the Skelligs, nuncle? Isn’t jazz a real and universal measure for goodness? Haven’t you told me you always felt at home when surrounded by jazz amateurs ?"
-" Take heed, Sirrah… My parish, my morals: jazz. Is not the appearance of jazz as effective, regarding the goodness, as divine Divan? Is not it the innocence of the jazz, that in the end brought down the Nazis who forbade concerts?"________________________________________________
CHAPTER THREE: How to hope a quiet garden in the nearby of New York. Method end mistakes to be avoided.
My so-called neighbour «Friday», the unbelievably wise Jacquin, 85 years young, has left in my letter box, this sunday morning, as an accidental forerunner, an homage to an American garden (Dans ce jardin qu’on aimait) and so, for the two of us, who do both adore our «island», this garden can just evoke the Botanical Garden, utmostly universitarian, filled, saturated, and vibrating with the perfumed dust of the enthusiasms of Goethe and of his time for the Nature, as promoter of a veiled Truth.
For we both have crossed so many years along this fabulous Prussian Universitarian garden, it seems like now the memories that the Argonauts had to share: our years to patrol there, during the rusty bars which write in a decorative hand the perfumes of trees stemming from all the nations.
When I arrived in the street in 1964, Monsieur Jacquin was already there. Psychologue at the psychiatric clinic of the university hospital. Graphologue, too.
The homage, the homage book left in my letter box on that Sunday morning, took the form, surprisingly enough to me, (when I had just learn this new faith-and-daughter decree that sent me to New York), of a book telling a New York story. The story was not about skycrapers but about a garden.
Our street has two sides, as every street is supposed to. On one side stands a garden. Secret. Wise. Protected by the university as the university did protect Jacquin wisdom.
The university kaki whispers Bashôs poems, the university Virginian cypress utters Henry James Venetian tropism, and the university pound aims at the tragic deaths we have to face, as surrounded by the landscape of Culture, in Goethe «Elective affinities». For it is in such a pound that a child accidentally dies in the book. And for statues of Goethe watch, university garden. They even guard it.________________________________________________
Had I told to Jacquin I was on the eve of my second transatlantic trip? Probably not. (he had not been even slightly surprised by the first, ten years ago, which had been for French Guadeloupe. An island or another, here or there, in China or the French Alps, have no structural differences in his permanent humanist meditation)
Ce jardin qu’on aimait takes place in New York or, more accurately, five hundred kilometers away, in up-State New York, Geneseo. A book written by the utmostly French of all French writers, Pascal Quignard. French, not in the sense of a chauvinistic State, neither in the sense of a linguistical understatement. French as would be French the universalist behavior of all talented paradoxal thinkers, composers, sculptors, painters and bohemians. Rimbaud’s Frenchship… A text about the poor life of Father Simeon Cheney. The ghost of whom found its way into my letter box.
By Quignard, the writer whose shadow, nearly as much as Jean-Loup Trassard’s one, has followed, step by step, book by book, my lifelong love for the genuine. In his last book, the innocence is to face death without forgetting love. Death of the beloved is therefore moved from the necessity of observing a constant fact, death — to the field of contingency: death is there, but death might as well have not happened. What a weak love, if, unnecessary, it happened to faint in front of such a banality as death !_______________________________________________
The first movie that his book «Tous les matins du monde» inspired, had appeared to me, not as a historical documentary about Sainte Colombe the Composer, but a reference to the real daily lives of all my fortunate young friends.
They were fortunate indeed, fortunate enough to be musical students, rather than subdued as I was, to horrible medical studies, obscenities, pain, medical disdain and hierarchy, dead corpses, formaldehyde and sorrow. O my musical friends you had only to achieve musical triumphs, sentimental depths, philosophical stones. And poor me, in those fucking seventies I spent learning stupid fucking names of stupid fucking bones, by my shitty little heart… (Learn them seven times for you will forget them six times)
Yes my dear friends were playing cello, piano, alto, hours long jam sessions, or they were singing, composing, directing orchestras, once upon those vigorous times. They were observing Muses and observed by Love.
In the meantime I was a poor student of medicine, simply studying a gaggle of multiple and horrible diseases Mother Nature has chosen, to torture mankind.
A Catalogue I was supposed to learn and never forget. AIDS had not yet been the tragedy we should later fully discover. But I made my opinion about how defenseless our days on earth were. Studies secretly dedicated to the bourgeois wish our parents had, not to see us penniless in the struggle for life. But also their wish not to see us, as they had been forced to do, earning money through obedient jobs as bank clerks, insurance employee, merchants or, worse, dustman.
Mother Nature at first seemed to me just a runt. I was discovering, one internship after the other, that mass murderers were nothing but pale imitators of Her witted cruelty. I was realizing how French medical studies still resembled a war academy. And this was a notion closed to what we called carabinade. Philippe Le Guay made a movie, at that period, showing the infinite distance between Fragonard the painter and his cousin poor Fragonard the anatomist. The anatomist or the painter. The analyzer or the observer, the cutter or the color. Immediate pleasure or futurable science. Lively graces or icy skins. Les deux Fragonard.________________________________________________
But the book Tous les matins du monde was about Sainte Colombe.
Sainte Colombe, French composer, born in 1640… Have you ever listened seriously to a viola da gamba sonata? When cello player put his chair back to Berlin Wall as it was falling, in 1989, to play J.s. Bach cello Suiten, they echoed as an osiriac dance, as the only tool efficient enough to explicit and mock, simultaneously, wars, camps, crimes and boredom. And Sainte Colombe music is not that far from the osiriac seriousness of the six Bach cello Suiten.
In summer 1977 I had been invited in an medieval and wild castle, the castle of Montjustin. Those weeks turned on my second eternity (the first having been childhood). A frail eternity, unvaluable and transient. Transient, as any existential concept worth his salt.
There, dozens of instrumentists did prepare a concert, mainly for themselves. In the end, some inhabitants of the village came and enjoyed. The village was under the castle. An old renovated ruin, where the father of Charlotte and her two immensely beautiful sisters did welcome all of us.
The size of fireplaces hearths amazed me. Large enough to contain a whole cow, and beautifully shaped, adorned in the Renaissance way.
Day after day hearts were boiled (by the immense beauty of the three sisters, but also by the music), crushed, shared, burnt. Chostakovitch, Bach, red lips and jazz. A generous poetic of youth, surrounded by the songs of wind, the charm of sun, the fairy of the hill, and the sad smile of the father.
Antoine Walter, just to quote one of the musicians, Antoine Walter has since become the unbelievable inventor of a cubist cello, of the strange «Delcaflor» website and, recently, of an infinite meditation upon Jacques Lacan.
Antoine stood hours long under the chestnut trees in the courtyard, front of Montjustin entrance, running after the six Johan Sebastian Bach suiten für Cello. Music of the trees mixed with the Sarabands. I felt those weeks as a birth.
And so… in my 2018 letter box the last book of Quignard is no longer about Sainte Colombe but about the music notes tuned by the wind through bushes of an American garden, and quoted by Simeon Cheney, for little relief of his utmostly cruel mourning grief.
Takes place in a countryside, Geneseo, New York State.
It tells of old Father Simeon Cheney remaining faithful to his prematurously dead wife.
He quotes, alone and sad, all noises of their vanished common life, all whispers of their house and garden.
She died 24. He listened to and quoted each notes produced by the wind, the birds and the raind in garden they had loved, once, when together._______________________________________________
Faithful to her, just as we could choose to stay faithful to our own once upon a time youths.
In the great lonely silence of aging. I remember the unforgettable castle of Montjustin, its deities, realistic nymphs, sexual explosions of musical partitions, oath of eternal poetics, ethics, quests, politics.
Have youth and sex disasters flown off our blood just to let us in the peaceful whispers of a cloister? Did I also die, at 24 ? What for a garden lies in my secret wish of a daily monumental life, what for a gardener dream, on the eve to discover the Central Park of Manhattan ?
CHAPTER FOUR: Is Imiut phallic or not ?
-" Tell me, sirrah, am I just surrounded know by the shapes of a mummy, didn’t my ageing body became a corpse, prisoner of all frustrations strips? "
-«You, sinister monk of the boring truth, are already as dead as the dead Osiris, figured as a bandaged stick in the famous form of the Egyptian Imiut, that bandaged stick used in shrines to protect the future revival of greedy, corrupt, vain, but cautious pharaohs.»_______________________________________________
-«If that is, it sounds to me a serious and sustainable reason to invoke the right to go and swim regularly — as I daily do in our municipal open air swimming pool — throughout athletic bodies. Municipal, public and clean.»
— «Fear lust and desires, then. Illuminated people swim around you, in the enlightened water of Wacken pool, as mystical republican corpses would lightly fly in the Sixtin Chapel, or would heavily fly in Tintoresque Scuola San Rocco.»
-" Would you sustain that I am insane, when I use my right and ask an innocent refuge in the middle of those mainly elegant young people as they swim, or rather fly, around my sixty years unelegant old body ?"
— «Pitiful Peter Quince ! The Wacken opened air swimming pool, democratic Muse of the Solidarity, and so clean yer, faces a major illusionist of thy town, a fantastic grey cylinder of soon-to-be the once-upon-a-time European Parliament. Should your old Europe, as Vienna does in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften , prepare a great and official event to commemorate the long life of its dying moral and of the agonising republican values of Equality, Fraternity, Freedom ?»
(In the water no telephone call will ever distract me from my secret job: I am writing a theater play called : is there anything above Sex ?)
-" Dear monk, do you realize that European Parliament (a grey cylinder and a wooden dome, usually empty) is mourning Brexit as Simeon Cheney his young wife — are the British isles floating away. Northway to freeze? West way to reach the nasal accentuation of American powerful ducks ?"________________________________________________
-" Do you mean, O noble thinker, O you averroist, spinozist, freudist, do you mean my first landing in JFK airport will be cousin of British brexit? Am I unconsciously aimed toward Casavetes and Woody Allen land ?"
— «Fearful Jesuit, look how locked you are. European Parliament… You swim fifty meters toward a line of trees in the shape of the eye of the goddess Isis, isn’t it? Will you confess it is a goddess you imagine there? And then backward fifty meters with the sight of that non-specifically European architecture of a giant cylinder. Metallic grey as an empty target, loaded regularly with needy European deputies and the lobbies, daily obsessions And loads of vanished hopes ?»
-" How can you know such details … I remember having seen, inside the parliament, a glass elevator, thirty guys around fifty years of age were there, all glaring at the only woman who was passing by. Parallelling their wishes, community of weakness, their eyes seemed wide closed on anything else than their own appetites. Elected they were. Remote, so far away from their electors' sights, they did, for a while I guess, neglect anything but the majesty of the walking lady’s pace. Requiescant In Pacem. The wit of Shakespeare would have sent them at least a Fool to wake them. What a flag would have chosen King’s Lear Fool, for the rotten kingdom ?"________________________________________________
Before the erection of this very metallic Strasbourger duplicate of the Bruxelles Parliament, the place it occupies now along the river Ill, was beautifully designed. There was a charming little pond, old trees, immense poplars that hemmed the river, and, heaven’s vision, a peaceful and surrealist meadow…
A piston, nowadays, a piston and a half-ball. And terraced gardens. In the distant, we see the architectural Model, the Gothic magic which all the damned architects would have scrupulously had to follow. This flowery meadow, these poplars singers, all raised themselves as admirers devotees, with the prospect of our only primary school teacher, the educational… Ah… with the prospect of the educational tour of our cathedral! A tower, an arrow, so supple as a Jesuit, as well sure of her as an axiom. Built on the solid ground of Eckhart the friend of all moral sublimities, defender of poverty and self détachement.
-" The modern Parliament architecture seems but an answer to the magnificent dream of previous centuries."________________________________________________
-«For, dear Fool, the materials of buildings did not follow the enthusiasm one might have felt for the pursuit of the fantastic idea cautiously sculptured in the cathedral’s patterns.»
-" Nuncle: it would have been necessary to shave all the mountains rocks… What a pity, for those mountains pattern the horizon of the plain Rhenish, Made with the same red stoneware as the Cathedral…"
— «Hence what could we do, to improve the town, apart rubbing the meadows away and stop the use of all that pink stoneware, apart remain humble, and continue to live in simple sheds, in front of the mystic unlimitedness of our metaphysical building ?»
-«To follow this sort of fossilized medieval philosophy, as fossilized as your brain, as tattooed in the pattern of the cathedral mysterious plans as are the swimmers in your Sixtin Chapel, what would you have like to see ?»
— «My fellows would have, century after century, built monuments expressing the thoughts of Spinoza, then, later, of Michel Foucault !»
— Today, as You are foolishly divagating, the whole population of the town would be attached, with hammers and chisels, to some construction of a concrete Lacanian schematic ."
-" With, of course, naturally, no rebellion at all of the workforce which allowed pyramids, no rebellion but an enthusiasm… "
-«Peanuts, a small unimportant detail. Any further necessary detail, O my noble Lord ?»
— «Mmmh… And, yes, a free consented refusal, from all the workers, of such unuseful inventions as electricity neither utter a word of internal combustion engine.»
-" Why ?"
-" Because this would have implied some sort of a: «goodbye, the Artist!» And you know how mankind is relentlessly in the research of mental triumphs rather than pragmatism, sales, and saving of its efforts."
Erratic blocks of pink stoneware, in full erosion. (Future state of the present cathedral and of my own mind, after the passage of time’s archangels)
— «Listen, if you have ears under your Coxwomb… Would Platon, Spinoza and Karl Marx have been able to invent the Ethics, if they had not had under eyes unbelievable monuments erected through Greek and medieval philosophy? What was the secret tale, told permanently by the churches of Leyden, what whispers did their metaphysical architectures of the Empty suggest as an ethical pursuit of controversial thoughts? And what was officially hidden but still active, in the monuments Marx did see for sure in the Saar area as a young man, and who drove him toward the hope of a moral improvement of the whole stuff? And then, what a contrast now, with that strange fear keeping any desire of freedom so silent when, from the heights of Brooklyn Bridge, we only notice what an hermetic curtain years eighty have commercially pulled in front of the previous New York magic?»
-" Let’s be honest, old timer. We have long lost the strength given to mankind by her ethical memory of an eternal childhood, when, by force and travels, we merchandised lust and when ended Manhattan Indian beliefs in the respect one has to feel in front of the natural landscape, can’t you see ?"________________________________________________
-" As listening to dreams, I realize they are an ethical monument, to which stone monuments have been but an answer. In deep dreams of REM sleep, all could be conceived as a mixture between real events and a reference grid. The perception we have of the world, is obviously different from an individual to an other one. It is ethical. In an infinitely personal sense."
-«Do you really mean, incorrigible dreamer, that each night we face separates inner cathedrals, and they resemble our childhood ?»
-«They sum up facts we didn’t understand clearly, but deeply. And the more sociable we are, the faster we forget, in a wink, as waking up, the gigantic allusions of our own history, hidden in that depth of the very midnight.»
Back in the chlorine water I am also facing quite a different political phenomenon, less architectural in appearance, who touched lately the skins of the bodies of European citizen as an utterly non political gesture: tattoos. Tattoo are a curtain pulled in front of what nature gave to the bodies.
Hip girls and boys have to decorate their bodies with tattoo and piercing -it is a must as it was, for ancient farmers, a necessary tradition to decorate their housing and churches, their fields and carriages, their barns, orchards, balls of hay, and eastern flower crowns. The personal tattoo has arisen frankly twenty years ago to the rank of a personal and necessary «dazibao».________________________________________________
No tattoo on my skin. I only design the labels on pots of jam. Quince, mainly. Quince makes me feel home. I do not know why it gets me so much pleasure. Paint in watercolor the labels which I stick then on jars of jam, is an activity which makes me enjoy peacefully, royally and immensely.
To me the perfume of quinces lies, stays and breathes in the old Savoie of the sixties. Because if some farmers considered me deserving being perched by them at the top of the heap of hay on their cart, it was in Savoy, it was at the end of the fifties.
Fields of the sixties were embedded in me. I would have been deeply surprised to learn that all the rural activities of former days and immemorial techniques of farmers were on the eve of a complete and massive dismemberment. All I was learning was useless and fruitless, but for the stupid nostalgia I might taste from time to time in my later life. This nostalgia is a blazon, as beautiful as a triptych of Jérôme Bosch.
In Savoy, at he end of a narrow road. But also at the end of a long path, my Alsatian grandparents had decided to take a refuge from urban disorders, since 1941, first in order to escape war, crime and destructions.
One immense and antique chalet, the fountain which gurgles, hives and, in a spotless, brilliant kitchen, jars of jams. I discovered the place, where they decided to stay after the war (La Candie, Serrières en Chautagne), and we went regularly, every summer of my first years, in the late fifties.
The peasant adored my grand father, who had previously been an official veterinary official in Metz Germanic province. Their behavior, the way they jumped from their carriages, how they did avoid the rain as they harvested wheat, belong to that forgotten eternity of the six first years of one’s life. Saint Augustin observed, when he was a bishop of Hippone, that when they reach the age of six years, children forget practically everything of their previous life. Did Augustin make the reflection that these million moments could well remain engraved in a secret one internal law?
Quince jelly, later nothing but a dream. Then I was lucky enough as many patients guessed there was a hidden secret for me in that flavor: and you know what? Well they gave me pots and pots of quince jelly: and those recipes were Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Chechnian, and Uighur ! All countries divided by oil and gas wars, under the sunny blessing of a jam…
-«Did Father Cheney have quinces in his orchard? What is the best grocery store in New York State ?»______________________________________________
For alas I have just bought my ticket, and on March 15 I am supposed to land in NY…
My only artistic activity in life has been decorating labels for the glass jars in which some of my patients give me a gift of the famous quince jelly.
So, to repeat it as an hymn: the Roumanian, Bulgarian, the Chechnian, and the Uighur. When painters depict their researches in front of me, my brain remain silently wondering how such an activity can become essential to anyone.
Their quince jellies are more strongly flavored than the Alsatian grandmother recipes. How convenient for the adult whom I became ! (Orphan of my childish olfactive powers.) Sniffless I was, before geographic adventurers of my waiting room gave me my nose back, my memories back, the smile of grandma back, and even the tinkle of the fountain that stood in front of the wooden balconies of her Savoie refuge.
My grandmother would have been deeply shocked by the bodies of the swimmers, and their tattoos and piercings. But she did follow the mood of her times. When Elsass became French again in 1918, she scrupulously hid her first name, Wilhelmin, homage to Kayser Wilhelm, and we only knew her as Marcelle… Were she born in 1990 rather than in 1880, she would have scrupulously tattooed her body from toes to nose…
And she would have accepted, too, this strange tattoo on the landscape that motorways do noisily print. It would seem to me, despite the extreme ugliness of an aging body, as a similar insult to Mother Nature against nature, if I did ink my skin. Even if Nature doesn’t always behave as the mother one could dream of.________________________________________________
The painter Rothko has noticed, flying away across Europa (just before he, finally, left for America): the habit of housing decoration marks, separates clearly and magnifies what could be one of the main esthetic facts distinguishing industry workers from farmers.
Farmers used to decorate every part of their daily life, from clenches to forks, from barn walls to calendars, from floor to ceiling. Factory workers apparently forgot all about it, letting the pleasure of marking the territories of their so benevolent bosses…
-«Do present-day swimmers around me fancy themselves as farmers of their own body ?»
-«Would suit me. Good and evil of farmers traditions.»
-" You have always regretted not being the owner of fields and orchards… "
-«My belly a garden? My skin a frontier? My forehead a barrier. -» We’ll, nuncle, Japanese yakuza have put all the poetic of Bashô in the beauty of their tattoos; it implied centuries of progressive art."
-«But my attempt in a foreign langage, writing clumsily, mired by the difficulty to guess the real effect of the words I use, as the swimmers can ignore the effect their tattoos produce on people who wouldn’t share their certainty of the moral value of self inking.»________________________________________________
I feel a stranger when using English words. Clumsy. Anechoic and unable to guess how a real English speaker will receive them, as my Alsatian grandma was unable to realize how ridiculous her so Germanic accent was, when she spoke in front of people from the Old France, coming from the other side of the Vosges Mountains, where everyone is able to utter a perfect French… But some of the words I use, despite the bubbling feeling they give to the mouth, are warmly welcoming me.
CHAPTER FIVE: Orchard. Curtilage. Hawthorne. Stubbles.
For I am a grandson of barns and hay. Ancient paths I knew. Routes of the virtue. Geography tattooed on the brain: a virtue which pulls its authority from the bright beauty of landscapes.
-" Half-King, half devout: you miss Rothko."________________________________________________
-" Correct, dear. I tell you, half-Fool, half-philosopher: it is like a barn, that I do miss Rothko. You, Sirrah, have already understood that I miss Rothko the very way I miss old barns."
-" And I can tell you why, poor and superstitious brainplugged true-believer: since the day you read in his biography that, in each of his works, he did paint the one and only motto: the curtain of the Temple."
-" More, you silly true-slave of ever-damned knowledge: I miss barns as a temple, even if the middle of my town is one of the highest."
— «Didn't Rothko decorate the American dream? As you mystic farmer, would have done, to please the parish priest… In developed countries, museums are perpetual pilgrimage sites. And artists their priests.»
-«Shall I bring some watercolors to New York? Would it prevent my eyes not to see the immensity…»
-«Such an eye. Museums and temples are built to mean an Eye. A sight, an ear, a knowledge.»
-«The temple of Telesphorus, in Pergama, was perpetuating faith in dreams as to be sent by this god to people in order to warn them.»
-«Ha. You worthy predecessors… Hence, God’s decrees. While sleeping, they stayed in the Holy mass. Warnings for such emergencies as death and ruins. Obedience through fear.»
-«I perfectly remember having dreamt of our cathedral as if it had been my own barn, immense and vertiginous but familiar and seductive eye telling me its medieval wish of aristotelician wisdom as an eye patterned by the rivalry between forgotten thinkers».________________________________________________
-" You exhausted physician do not miss Rothko, but the friendly eye, that would securely watch your humble daily life."
-" Maléfice soothsayer ! In winter, specially, groves of trees, that did appear when flourishing like a blink of some goddess. And for instance, this very grove of trees, designed in the shape of an almond in the perspective of my favorite swimming-pool, haunts me as a dead eye."
-" And so you can quote in your dreams a permanent mix between yesterday’s events — the grove of trees — and signs of one’s first childhood — Godeity of your beloved mama…"
-" Mummy or… is that the dead eye? I owe the best of my cathedral’s knowledge to Mrs Augustine Merck. Survivor of Auschwitz with her three sisters, to have helped some American parachutists. Tortured in her seventeenth year and, twenty years later, my adored schoolteacher. She taught me a holy word in the elsatian langage she was allowed to know and to openly speak: vier ecke, the four corners. Four staircases lead to the summit of our cathedral. And the top of those four is called Vier ecke."________________________________________________
-" But you see that your dreams always refer yesterday to the «holy time», before the child was six… First childhood, before you discovered, instead of the giant and fundatorial supposed intelligent sight of benevolent parents…"
-«But they were benevolent !»
-" Didn’t you discover, now they had changed themselves into characters as little as yourself, didn’t you discover a hell ?"
-" You mean, no gods any longer ?"
-" That’s it. No eyes. Early teens, the years with no justice left."
— «Master Eckhardt, who was a prominent opinion leader when masons were erecting the cathedral vierecke, spoke and wrote exactly the same language as Augustine Merck. Would his sermon about the charity, the justice, the goodness and the wisdom had inspired the number of stairs? And the seven empty rooms that continue the upper part of the summit ?»
— «This vacuum appeared as you were six years old… just as you left a whole school year with your heroin, Augustine Merck: hadn’t it to be fed ?»
-«You speak only banalities. Everybody is aware that, at first, youth is a time for judgments.»
-«But dreams might be a empire of personal judgments. Very personal.»
-" What? You seriously see dreams as a temple for judgments? Not the Last Judgment I hope ?"
-" Soon rather the inner memory of the first judgments."
-«Those of you dear parental court?»
-«A court which the child observes !»
— «Would you assert it is as if the fact to recognize yourself in the gigantic size of your parents, allowed you sort of a genealogy of Morality ?»
-«The dreams, in fact, are not that one simple moment of binding of the memory. They contain a project of processing of the Reality. According to the personal novel of each. They propose what could be. If only the being, the subject, the subjectivant subject, had a total power on the Being all around and all inside himself.»
-" Here, my king, our ideas do converge, at least ! Contingency should be a necessity. That is what do precisely say the fact of dreams in itself? And especially when I wake up !"
-" What should be but isn’t, says your alarm-clock. What should have been, told you your own dreams. What your wish should set up in the world. As your beloved Communism has been ever an immediate victory against the money empire of the others, as soon as, leaving the spheres of its moral evidences, it has become a fascist country."
-«But still a little music tune, even in your own childish subconscious basis, and it is that familial debts should become a universal faith. Trotz Allerdem, was the proposal of Karl Liebknecht.»
-«Dreams predicate my analysis of a good and evil»
— «You will forget it as soon as awaken, to apply to the good and evil of your own society. As his richest pupil Alexander did probably wake up Aristotle from all his réflexions upon contingency… But you focused on early teen. And after? For aren’t we at the end… grown up wise people ?»
-«Later of course, after years of experiences, adults will accept to refill a dramatically empty moral world, with what can survive of their own faiths in their own principles, if they ever kept any.»
-«And would they have none, my lord, they could still accept to be submitted to money Empire, that is to say to a mirror of their perpetual anonymity!»
-" To exist only in regard to my bank account, this is a quite common law, throughout crowds who cannot look at me. In a blind crowd, or in a crowd I would feel as blind, only the nothingness concerns me. This is why smiling tramps who populate the edge of pavements in the tolerant countries, are so hated by the unneedies …"
Groves of trees, islands on the sea horizon, principles, even if irreligious, will organize themselves in dramas, scenes. The Author watches you: listen to the news. This is also, how strange, the tone in dreams. B minor.________________________________________________
-" Look Sirrah ! Meaning of life moves suddenly its gigantic arms ! And in such a strange sky ! Why?"
-" Blow, winds, when our lives change and it is usually for artistic bloody reasons. Cursed ocean, inky blood for Mylord bleed only words, and words have claws that rip his envelope of skin and the limits of his comfortable thoughts."
-" Spit, fire ! Spout, rain ! For we have opened a book, a dangerous one."
-" When my king enter a museum, an exhibition welcome his innocence. Suddenly, it seems as if an Author had an eye on him."
-«Waiting for an answer, I tax not you, artists, with unkindness. Menacing my peace with your erotic anger. To obtain your artistic target … see how I run, fearful, in the immense lobbies of museums.»
-" Come, nuncle, this cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen. The sky has suddenly changed. Obscurity. Tragedy. The eye of Isis is in the grave. Do we dream the dreams Egyptians artists built on sculptures, modern on happenings, Renaissance on paintings? Come, nuncle, fortunately we are waking up from dreams more easily than from the eternal death, aren’t we ?"
-«Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind… we begin, Fool, to feel songs as we approach the exit of halls and rooms of the Metropolitan Museum as we would feel strange songs if walking out of the Budapest immense museum, or the wonderful Kunsthalle of Karlsruhe, holy melody or bawdy rhythms take power on our minds, the dreamy ghosts of associated united artists grow and grow until their size if of gods. Misunderstanding our own dreams, we try to forgot the monsters Praxitele, Rembrandt and Hopper offer to our overwhelmed conscience, and, in the great nausea of an absurd headache, we realize how, before we met them, we had tried not to think further: Inhibition, neurosis, symptoms…»
-«You are incorrigible! Religious zealot! Churchy person! To you museums are a sort of an instantaneous Freudian cure, as are Eucharistic prayers of the Mass !»
My faith in psychoanalyse take roots not in miracles but in its effects on the migraines for my adolescence and youth. When I was 19 years old I begun to read Psychology books, and was even moved, upset by the little bit grotesque work of Groddek, Das Buch des Es.
I felt no true beliefs there, but encountered a true relief from my apocalyptic migraines.
It is crucial not to loose, as one is sinking in freudianism, faith in joy and life. Anyone could, as ancient Sadducees did (who say there is no coming back from the dead), just feel surrounded by the uninteresting radicality of punctured eyes.
For the very interesting loss of the fears which were, before their technical remove by some Freudian job or ring fight, the usual fruit of an efficient childish inhibition, also means a loss of the constant feeling, we used to comfortably enjoy before, of an unseen companion.
-" Why, thou wert better in thy grave… An Eye was in our tomb, secret judge of our acts and everlasting presence. Everlasting teddy bear."
-«This loss of inhibition, o my king, is a real loss, not a trumpeting victory.»
-" So has been the loss of the benevolent sight of this attentive teddy bear of our own childhood."
-«Personal angel? "
-" Noble philosopher, your company… And would that loss be the only fruit of the psychoanalysis, one could simply feel himself as in a blind and damning fucking indifferent world."
-" So far, is there nothing but a fantastic freedom when one really become himself, personal, thanks to a prudent use of the rather spinozistic enthusiasm of old Siegmund ?"
-" To think further, with no betrayal of personal history, is the only heroism left to our times, o sapient Sir."
-«One last word, o Great: why are you, after such a relief of your previous inhibition, so shy and asexual? Don’t I urge you, for years, to look for happiness and sex wherever you will find it, at every opportunity? Aren’t you surrounded by the very shapes of those belongings you so violently desire? Sloth ! Cheater! Hypocrite !»
It is prudent to keep listening, as enquiring about psychoanalytical topics, some sublime music, tuned loudly around you (even if around should appear to be the worst place where you should really not be… let’s imagine you suddenly discover that your surroundings have been built on a blood and crime ocean. Which is one of the best reasons to undertake your talking cure.)
The pleasure to get rid of symptoms is little, compared with the enjoyment given by the relief one feels, when vanishes, abruptly, an unknown inhibition. Fade away. And when that releases the thought, the reflection, the abstract power. Free, on the other side of the Great wall, far from the empire of the worst. The Empire of the main principles main clauses of the debuts of our soul.
Even if our principles are the wise result of a major and crucial training, ruled for childhood and even before our birth through the millions of blind and solitary years of our predecessors. No matter if the succession of fathers, throughout history of Man and species, should reveal as nothing but a nonsensical evolution since the first moldy spot. Such a noble mold.
A long term training that would have succeeded to the fading of light, transformed into matter. Here comes the sun. The sun tans my skin. My eyes look at the sun as if in a mirror. Even if I was nothing but a biological spot, rotten.
And finally, after millenia of so-called progress from sunlight to nuclear weapons, man industry adopts the immensely comic mood of the idea of progress itself — here come the trenches of First World War. Murder in itself. Crime as an industry.
So was it that more tragic, 14−18, than the previous wars? Are our deaths tragic or grotesque? Do we deserve to be painfully regretted, do we deserve the sorrow of any one? Or just an immense laugh. Mocking. Should we better choose an autistic reaction, which would help us to smile at the sights of all deaths. Without loosing the rigidity of our upper lip ?
In that order of ideas, what would I have done, against so-called progress, (let’s figure I could be old enough to have been already a psychic general practitioner in 1919 — and if, all of a sudden, Hitler-before-the-moustache had come, one evening, at my consulting place, asking eagerly and with a rough accent for a session of psychotherapy ?_______________________________________________
-Aye, beggar, Strasbourg is not Vienna, but was still called Strassburg in the beginning of 1918… And our streets look so romantic and Prussic… Ask yourself: would have I avoided the Second World War’s schizophrenic retaliation, by Hitler’s autism, of the 14−18 mass mutilation ?"________________________________________________
-«How could You have avoided the absurd hell of the lagers, followed by this morally lost theater of Europe, now, now after the camps.»
-«You are somehow manichean.»
-" Beg your pardon? What, now, after the blood of killed innocents has spread as an Ocean, we, the living, we, the billions of livings, are we really still alive? We the living, crucified by Hitler’s schizophrenic retina ?"________________________________________________
-" Let’s try it different… Strasbourg is no Wien, but you will agree that our avenues and streets seem, quite often, as if they had been designed by a Klimt or depicted by a Musil…"
-" Frankly, when one knows that this urban ambiance, far from the mystical gothic cathedral tower, became during Prussian era (1870−1918) the overwhelming expression of how misunderstanding the Power wanted to be perceived, there is no surprise left."
-" But, Sirrah, won’t you admit that, as in all acts, the war, (I mean: the mistake) came from the techniques. Strength, sovereignty and power became source of a misunderstood. As soon as the town became French again, in 1918, those Prussia architectures of a dreamed peace became the source of a war menace."
-" Power, sovereignties, my Lord, and in the same era, Adolf Hitler came to further dreams, nourished by Wagner, Brückner, and the agony and death of his only organ, the Mother. His mother died from her cancer, and he…"
-" What an atmosphere would have reigned, upon my supposed consulting place, had I worked just after the first Worl War ?"
-«I have quite a good idea, nuncle, for the oldest of my neighbors told me how, little by little, after the French victory of 1918, they felt more and more guilty as they saw the growth of an extreme Germanic patriotism. And German reproached to the elsatians, when they came victoriously back in 1939, not to be German enough, not to be good Germans, to be rather, as one of my patients told me he heard, „Beutel Deutscher“, hunted preys.»
-" So let me shortly try: Adolf arrives at my consulting place, would have I had the age of my grand father, born in 1875. He asks me for some help. Want to get rid for instance of a fear. I ask him why does he admire that much Jewish musicians. He is surprised to see I have guessed his secret. He confesses to me that he listen their records hours long at night. I ask him to quote conscientiously one dream…"
-«After one or two medical consultations with no meeting to his expectations, he would have shot me down.»
-" To guarantee an important silence upon his morbid lack of empathy."
-«Such a minor discovery would have moved the Fuhrer, my King ?»
-«I would have unfortunately laid bare the life and death of his brother Edmund. The Judaism of the physician who took care of his beloved mother.»
-" What could have he done, before his political career ?"
-«He would have injected terror in my soul, thanks to his special frightening glances.»
— «You're always so humble my lord ! Why, on the contrary his life wouldn’t have changed? Why wouldn’t have he discovered a more personal inspiration, for his drawings, than the desolated banality of his previous works? Wouldn’t have he been therefore warmly welcomed at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg? Wouldn’t have he met the glorious Allenbach, and Spindler, and Ringel d’Illzach, and von Seebach? Wouldn’t you mutual work have thrown in the dustbin of History his lethal attraction for his poor and far too young niece? Wouldn’t have Altorffer (the one of Yad Vashem memorial) introduced him to some brilliant half-Calvinist, half-Jewish beauty? And wouldn’t have he felt such a pleasure, as meeting the inhabitants of the Other Continent, that he could have been, suddenly, offered to innocent adventures of the Beeing ?»________________________________________________
-" What a chance, à luck, an immense happiness ! Europe would still be the fairy land it was between the two wars, with improvements !"
-" And, your majesty, James Joyce would have had appropriate treatment, for his alcoholic eosophageal varices, at the Swiss Border, and he would have written three more immense novels, instead of dying because of a nazi custom officer who suddenly remembered the name of Ulysse’s Joyce’s hero: Bloom."
-" Even a dog, needs a caress, and I thank you, dear part of my obsessions. The newly recovered faith in mankind of my patient would have led him to condemn firmly European colonialist behaviors and American racism, all this with the efficient help of his favorite propagandist Goebbels — and Europe would have become sort of a Brasilean paradise, with appropriate intellectual European answers to both Bossa Nova and Jazz… Farewell you dark ink ocean of sorrows and despair. Farewell the stinky European air of the after war taboos and lies. Thanks to onirocritical, no Haman the Agagit or Adolf to be scrupulously imitated by none autistic modern followers in Kampuchea, Middle East jails, Rwanda… No demographic explosion in a world emptied by the huge economical enterprise of its own feeding, last thing to be fought, last branch to be sawed, lone and cruelest golden goose of a lost world…"
-" Back on earth, now, Nuncle. For, of course an other situation would have happened…"
— Yes, whit of truth, as it did, when Hitler did for real convene a prominent München professor, to hear about his own diagnosis. I would have disappeared, so as to let the immense black bloody Ocean of despair pursue its inexorable stream, against freedom and against all individual search for self respect."
— «By the way, nuncle, is there no relation with the fact that, some ten years ago, your consultation place on Strabourg’s University campus had been under quite a different attack ?»
-" You mean what I named «the Chinese assault», I guess?
-" You told me Chinese students had heard of Professor Gerard Pommier’s arrival in the provincial University neighbor to your consultation place, didn’t you ?"
-" When he had decided, for reasons obscure to my soul, to teach in the Psychology Department, something strange happened: mostly brilliant Chinese students choose now, rather than the average commercial courses of Chinese focus, the Psychology department."_______________________________________________
-«This is how and why, nuncle, you quoted the unthinkable sentence, isn’t it ?»
-" It had been pronounced with a very elegant and high educated south Chinese accent: «The only occidental thoughts reaching the Tao Tê King level, are those of Mister Jacques Lacan. «»
-«So, nuncle,. if not efficient against the Germanic tragedy of the thirties, will psychoanalysis free China from despotism? Open its citizens to self enforcement and inner freedom, instead of dictatorial submission to their general notation and facial recognition ?»_________________________________________________
Beginning of March. I wish I could end the reading of «The Man without qualities «by Musil. Some six long days more before Manhattan, and he appeared.
Not Adolf who as you know is dead. But the hero of THE very book about last years of Austrian Empire. One of those three or four prominent novels one HAS to read, even if he has no longer pleasure reading novels.
But Moosbrugger. Rapist and serial psychotic appeared.
If not in my consultation room, at Chapter 18 of Robert Musil’s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, (The man without Qualities) «Zu dieser Zeit beschäftigte der Fall Moosbrugger die Öffentlichkeit.» Moorsbrugger is defined through the misunderstanding quiproquos, spreading all over the public opinion, as his crimes become notorious. Stuck to this utterly Viennese novel, Europe will not let me travel the Ocean on the 15 of March: with such an exhaustive book about Vienna as the capital of a crazy and decadent Empire, I will consider my next week Manhattanian discoveries under the light of Musil’s experience of fading lights and rigorous thoughts. Fast food will face Austrian traditions of Beuschl. Empire State Building will shiver under the irony Musil used against his own fading Empire and it’s impressive palaces…I feel, as a duty, the reading of Musil’s masterpiece. Due to my age. I feel the immense importance not to die in a possible air crash, before having changed myself through acquainting at least a slice of Musil’s inner world.
Having been changed from top to toe at 17 by Proust, at 45 by Antonio Lobo Antunes and at 50 by Joyce, how could I stand to face the following years dry from this immense opus ?
Let’s enter the Imperial kaiserlichen Hofburg today, as I remember the description my daughter gave the day before, back from the Paris American embassy. She portrayed, frightened, the seriousness and hierarchy she has discovered for the first time of her life. She was indeed, yesterday, when asking humbly for her visa, as Ulrich, (the man without Qualities) when he measures the power of the Austrian State only when he is due to enter the central court of the Hofburg.
15 March 2018, JFK Airport… As was frightened the immense crowd of visitors, more then thousand people waiting hours long, pregnant ladies, children and old people exhausted after their Atlantic jump. Queuing three or four hours long. In front of only five exhausted custom officers, who checked our finger prints.
A land at war.
Back to nine eleven. Not as forgetful as old Continent…
But to me, even queuing, time flew, as thouse hours gave me the opportunity to read further in the pages of The man without Qualities.
And as in this portrait of 1913 Vienna, where all begins with the streets traffic and the weather broadcast, the key to enter Vienna is immediately given through the unforgettable accident of a truck (and trucks are unforgettable in Atlantic Avenue) and the presence of an important love affair between Diotima and Arnheim.
My first discovery, as we escaped from JFK in our yellow taxi, was the immense beauty of American trucks. Why hasn’t this crossed the Atlantic ?
Had just the time to meet Tomi Ungerer in Paris yesterday, who showed me a portrait he made three years ago of his very good friend Sir Burton Pike, traductor of Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften.________________________________________________
My first dreams in Brooklyn have been of beautiful trucks and ruined suburbs — awakened by the unknown flute of an unknown bird. First, I thought it was an owl. Opening the curtains to discover I am unable to name the trees. Thereafter a meeting with all holy Egyptian animals was scheduled.________________________________________________
And in Manhattan, on my way to the Met, I met an immediate feeling of stairs and levels, the importance of being earnestly someone from the upper stairs, as in a instant cliché of mankind’s obsession for the level, for the possession of a level, whatever it could be, but a level at any price. What level what brain, what pleasures not in the target of individual satisfying hedonism but for collective arrangements, but for plans, for global purposes using the personal wish of a stair, as despicted in Vienna of The man without Qualities.
«Es war ein Schaudern, ein Überrieseltwerden von Bedeutsamkeit, ein Knistern wie das des Drücks in einem Stein, der im Scheitel des Weltgebäudes sitzt, ein Prickeln wie das Gefühl des Nichts, wenn mann auf einer weithin alles überragenden Bergspitze steht. Mit einem Wort, es war das Gefühl der Position…»
To feel one’s position.
Yesterday morning, Subway 1, the guy who slept under plastic bags. Heated. Position. Is line 1 less discomfortable then others ?
Homeless on the 1.
In a concentration camp I would have preferred, from an ethic point of view, the position of the victim. (But this, after the war… how would have I behaved during it, is a question I have frequently edressed to older friends, who saw the period.) Rather than the one of the highly decorated SS officer. But in a town with no decent health public and free organization, how would I behave ?
Despite feeling guilty I must confess I feel an immense relief at the idea of finding my way back home in Europe tomorrow. Hence not to be menaced by the New York Misery, coward in jungle-law, upstair contempt for lower crowd. Shame on me. Happy not to be him, the guy under the blue plastics in the subway. Under his efficient plastic bags, in the comfortable noise of the subway 1. To Bronx and back lower Manhattan.________________________________________________
-" Listen, Sirrah, Osiris would enter my consulting place. Would tell me something as could you help me get rid of a persistent death anguish ?"________________________________________________
-" I know, nuncle: You would ask him his official health services identification number. He would then be allowed to be cured, or healed. The European health system would immediately convoke him to existence. Free care would give him an immense certainty of existence. Especially in regard to his respectable elderliness. He would learn that your salary is independent from his means and degree of fortune. It could seem a secondary question for such an immensely powerful man as was Osiris, until the day Seth killed him, or after his sister Isis brought him back to life. To exist: nearly an antonym of to live."________________________________________________
-" Ha my Fool, take care of the death, I can do it for years, and Egyptians made this job for millenniums. It is nevertheless to take care constantly of something which is deprived of any duration !"
-" Beautiful paradox, as funny as the muleta brandished by the torero who, claiming to take care of absentees, of those who went out, would confide suddenly the talents of a manufacturer of community’s. Would you act so as a master, o king deprived of any kingdom but…? "
-" Around the moment of death, all keep silent, tighten elbows, the last one of the administrators knows it. "
-" Manhappened, Nuncle. Manhattaner disappeared. "
— «Yes…The reality of the Delaware past disappeared, but not those birds. As motorway in France have destroyed the heart and beauty of France itself, contempting the happy cradle. Why am I in Williamsburg surrounded by so many shops where people convent to enhance the aspect of their nails ?»
CHAPTER SIX: Terrific Marxist predictions and happy hour for Rhine mystical emptiness.
Skyscrapers built after the fourties lost their previous handy and wise craftsmen, and when the old and noble European ancestors had disappeared, as Indians had flown away, modernity began it’s sad dance behind the banality of blind and vertical glass skycrapers for busy clerks, pale insurers, smiling bankers. Worldwide suckers of the money that disappeared from previous edens all over the suddenly uninteresting planet. Silent war for vanities. Fake castles, erected with glass and mirrors in the middle of the increasing poverty of immense plains of Bronx and immense plains of East Brooklyn. Wasn’t it the pattern of Paris when Karl Marx passed by, in 1848? A terrible atmosphere of pre insurrectional jealousy reigns, the melody has flown away for machine gun noise of raps, when they are aggressively sung in the subway._______________________________________________
In the end I met a part of Ireland I was missing: the monument in memory of the million dead of Great Hunger — a tiny island of Irish stones, walls and plants, five minutes away from the 9/11 monument that perpetuates through waterfalls system, the fall of twin towers.________________________________________________
— «Nuncle !how strange a relief to feel oneself suddenly secured by the very stones of Irish Hunger ! Did all public queues drive you crazy ?»________________________________________________
-" During my first night in Brooklyn, Sterling Park, I had a dream, so simple and old. I dreamt of an owl, an omen for, as I reached the Metropolitan museum of New York, all Egyptian holy animals seemed really thoughtful to me."
-" More, nuncle, than the wealthy romans of late period ?"
Bronze portrait of a man. First century (Met.)
— «Yes, Fool, I swear: totem of animals seemed to me as if they were permanently elaborating universal ideas on our destiny. Animals definitely wiser than you, as they appeared to me in the very Metropolitan Museum light — and in Central part: blue-jays, cardinals, squirrels — freed from an apparently persistant and damned racist confrontation between suburbs and rich areas ..I had dreamt of an owl, of an immense, everburning pleasure, given to me through real love, the love of an owl, an Athenian owl, an Orphic omen.»
-" Nuncle, I told it previously as Egyptian tell it on this feeted bowl … where have you seen it ?"
-" This very surprising Egyptian hieroglyphic bowl of the Met whose meaning is: Clean… How clean to feel upstairs, far from the muddy crowd."
-" How classy, nuncle, especially if in the ancient skyscrapers not in the New and ugly ones. Those built in the periods of Beauty. Of Quince Jelly."________________________________________________
-" Fool, Listen: I would live upstairs and ridiculously organize the erection of the missing statues of New York. Equality of the poor and Brotherhood of all true believers. I would organize a real Medicare as at first did Bismarck in old Europe."
-" Praythhe, Nuncle ! Democracy would, like an Imiut, like the dead corpse of Osiris itself be waiting for a true resurrection… Would feel kibes in North American Democracy feet… Like an idiot, like a dead brain when there is no sense any longer, when god is dead, when all items of the museums would become senseless, when Osiris, Adonis and Christ are as dead as Fukushima and Chernobyl. Asemiotics. No feet any longer, to sustain brain, soul or wit."________________________________________________
-" Would have surprised you, fool of king Lear? Wit on feet would need shoes. If a man’s brain were in’s heels, were’t it not in danger of kibes ?"
-" Nuncle tell me your second dream."
-«Here came my dream. In my dream, skycrapers were in balance with human bodies. The dilemma of the expression. Have I something to express. Are building committed to express anything? To a large audience? But which one, if everyone disagree? To a single parish, then? Or just to friends as close as possible? And therefore, should I accept that all new buildings in New York since the seventies, have turned helplessly mute and secret ?»________________________________________________
-" Nuncle, The future of all sublimity keeps silent, in glass cloisters, upgraded on rooftops, at sight of the immense misery of Bronx and East New York suburbs where nothing smile any longer to the despised, to the wounded and voiceless."
-" But has sublimity something to do with growing despairs, all around what never happened to man in BankStreet? And will it be taken for granted, in the silence of a no longer existing sky?"________________________________________________
-" How pessimistic an old king are you ! It might be that real estate investments would increase and increase more valuably and wisely than my donkey´s fears. Henceforth, you should stop saying «Who are you» to anyone. But «How much aren’t you ?» No longer «How are you», but «How much are’nt you»."________________________________________________
-" Grant me a last chance, Fool. It might be also that my European dreams, to see an improvement in Manhattan esthetics, are idiotic — as my dear English teacher told me, in the eighties : In the end, you realize buildings are nothing but superstructures."________________________________________________
-" But, nuncle, Wernher, your English teacher, had lived too long maybe in your town. Where the central superstructure was the delicately carved tower of a Cathedral-Ziggurat dedicated to emptiness and to the wind.. You know that famous emptiness which gathered Averroes, Maimonides, and Thomas of Aquin ?"________________________________________________
-" Yes, Fool. An emptiness as in your brain, and a vacuum, that would have probably seemed different, in regard to and in comparison with the vertiginous abysses of the southern part of Manhattan Island, abysses erected around the Niagaric idea of banknotes and of the absence of any possible existential value of the Being itself."
-«Nuncle, the same take major decisions in your own city. For when some clumsy engeener decided, two years ago, to set windows on one of the four stairs climbing along the Cathedral tower, (probably the double one which is dedicated to truth and error) to diminish the exposure and erosion of sandstone, nobody said anything about it.»
-" To me it sounded strange, to see such a change in such a respectable building. Had I thought it was a belonging of the wind ?"________________________________________________
-«Buildings, nuncle, dreamt by you as if they might enter in comparison with bodies, are nothing but a subconscious confusion.»
-" I admit that human bodies have their sensitive and sexy belongings."
-" Yes, nuncle… Belongings, shapes…"________________________________________________
— «And, Fool, bosoms, desires…»
-" So, my king, shall we say Manforgotten, on a full-glass island, hiding its workers in brand new buildings, as pudic as screens."
-" Four stairs to the vierecke, Goodness, Justice, Wisdom, Truth — and the conatus, the desire, the lust, what give strength and the wish to run up stairs? Is there upstairs a divine equivalence to the downstairs lust ?"
-" Nuncle ! Your question an answer !"
-" I know you mock my confusion between desert of the Skelligs island and swimming pool with all archangelic bodies surrounding my gp diagnoses and obsessions for painful bodies and sorrowful minds…"
-" In beehives, monks generosity dances slowly in you, Lear, Orpheus, singing the confusion till you will take your lyre and sing and whisper your fear, your main inhibition: it was forbidden to Orpheus to look behind, at the risk of losing its Ishtar for ever…"
-" Ishtar for Eurydice? What a hank !"
-«Nuncle, give me a horn.»
-«What do you mean? A horn shofar of billy goat? A trumpet to bring down Jericho? To celebrate the end of the human sacrifices ?»
-" Here you are Nuncle, honking a big hunk of a strange unsolvable hank, weaving a lie, the intimate confusion between bodies and buildings."________________________________________________
-" Fool ! Anonymous walls are fulfilled with billions of intimacies, and are still waiting for a future change"
-«Why should you whisper all of a sudden, my Lord? Let’s consider inexpressiveness as a hide away for billions, waiting the final day of the final hip-hop rap.»
-«Under the sea, in their subway trains, voiceless beggars cannot scrutinize the riddle of extremely expensive skyscrapers…»
TO CONCLUDE: A yellow Submarine to conclude.
-«In their octopussy’s garden, in the New York underground’s, I have heard singing worthy children, wearing their hip dreams for the three values.»
-«Sirrah ! Let me guess two missing words… Liberty swoons, dancing a circle dance between her two friends, Gravity of your aging corpse and Grace of the celestial and joyful bodies, the flying and lustful swimmers in your water chapel»
-«Are you speaking of the second civilization, the one that flew away from my Egyptians powers? "
-" You mean the Chinese and their floating world ?"
-«What you call Occident, I mean those religions with a strange certainty for eternal resurrections, has it caught under its influence China and Japan ?»
-«I must confess, my Lord, that despite our efforts to destroy them, I have been told they had invaded China town, not that far from your Metropolitan Museum and…»
-«Do they connect love and eternity ?»
Ogata Kôrin ((1658−1716) auspicious realms of immortals ?
-«Well, nuncle, they certainly did try to represent the world they once loved as to give some everlasting powers to what they could fix of it but…»
-«Fine attempts, but just a joke, Sirrah: we aegyptians had reached the target four thousand years ago. Hadn’t we ?»
Head from a female Sphinx, dynasty 12, reign of Amunemhat 2,1876−1842,Brooklyn Museum.
-«Not a word could be said more clearly about the difference between the two worlds, the Chinese and the Egyptian, than the Brooklyn s museum female sphinx. Aware of the worst transsubtiative metempsychosis that might affect your life. To be metamorphosed in a shrink, nuncle, and to dive as a dreamt phantasy in an everlasting non existing life, from remote Skelligs to the cellar of some Chinatown over busy restaurant, hoping but for a vanishing world. »
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