As I carried on with sorting the papers of the late Lord of Saxy-Beaulieu, my distant relative from the Isles, I found a few sheets with writings addressed to one woman who is only named by the initial letter R. It seems the Baron kept these sheets as copies of letters to her. Or was he writing an epistolary novel? I have no idea –nor do any of our other relatives– who that lady might be, who appears to be a songstress by whom he found himself enthralled past his young years, as a middle-aged man, when it had become obvious to his relatives that he would remain a bachelor. It is a secret the Lord of Saxy-Beaulieu took with him in the grave. The lady does not appear to have requited his sentiments in any discernable way.
Given the interest my readership has shown for the writings of the late Lord, I took the decision to publish his love letters to R.
To my great dismay and confusion, I missed the two concerts you have just given in France, where I am currently residing. I have discovered your music only this year – and I am about your age. Such beauty blows my mind. As a young man I used to listen to people such as …, how could … pass me by unnoticed at that time is beyond my understanding. Listening to your music has been a shock, and as I learned you would be this year in France on a special tour, I said to myself I must go and hear you sing, even though it had been many years since I last went to such a jollification.
It was May. You were to sing in P. However I had no idea how I would come back from the infamous Parc de la V. after the concert, having no car and guessing there would be no more trains at that hour (not even taxis, due to the place). So I decided I would go to S. in August instead. And I went to S. Coming straight from a sojourn in the South of France, the weather was a shock, and then I heard about the heaps of mud on the spot, severe irregularities in the shuttle bus schedules, and a few other things that discouraged me. It was a lack of faith, I own, a lack of courage, it’s as if I were stuck to my slippers at this juncture of my life. Please do come back soon. I shall be there. Prepared, equipped, mentally-trained. I was taken by surprise this time. Give me another chance. (Aug. 16)
Yes, such beauty, such unendurable beauty (to hear it is like looking at the sun), blew my mind, made me feel sad for the life I live, and I can even say, broke my heart. But I think it’s going to be all right because I have bought a ticket for Dec. 20, L. (Aug. 24)
Sorry to obtrude once again, but as I made a blunder I should think I ought to apologize, oughtn’t I? So please let me apologize, and then you’ll hear from me no more (except my anonymous applause, in a few months) — unless, of course, I make another blunder in the present process of apologizing, in which case I would have to apologize for the new blunder, at the risk of blundering again and of having to apologize again, in such a way that it would keep going on from blunders to apologies, from blundering apologies to apologizing blunders, until the end of time.
The blunder was to remind a woman of her age, and I’ll be hanged if I ever forgive myself for being such a bear. That’s it. If you find in this apology any blunder likely to have escaped my ursine exertions, please not to hesitate and call my attention upon it. Best wishes.
“Lost Kine. You’re lost little cow, you’re lost, tell me moo are you.” (Aug. 27)
Is it so certain that I should call my writing you obtrusive? Am I to justify myself for praising one who has made herself conspicuous in the arts? or rather is it not the most matter-of-fact thing in the world that a conspicuous artist receives the praise she deserves, and how can I help it if I feel that my praise of you should be a little longer than one word or two? But then, will you say, why don’t I make it public? I intended it to be public, ’tis you kept it private, for whatever reason, all possible reasons being cogent indeed.
Before I listened to your music — pray remember it blew my mind — I would say the genre is slightly at odds with the kind of art I intended at a past-the-prime juncture of my life to deal with. I fear the prim audience I envision would object, did it exist in any real world, that I were going to the dogs if I started dabbling in that genre. However, as a point for you against such audience –were this needed, which is not–, I don’t see just now what be noble or highbrow in arts subsidized by bureaucrats. But such considerations are quite remote from my present purpose, which is to tell you I must apologize for the blunders made while intending to praise, and laud, and extol, and incense you. I will apologize, to be sure, if you allow me. And, since it has been private thus far, by your own will, not mine, ’tis your own will I shall follow. (Aug. 30)
the cruelty of lust and the fragility of love (Thomas Hardy)
‘Tis broken-hearted that I write you that I like you very much. “Love” I cannot write, because I read in a novel (a French one: yellow literature) that you only love once in your life (so be sure you don’t let your love pass by), and I had my share of it a few years ago with a married woman who who would smile at me but could not face the consequences. But was it love after all? How can I tell? So many occurrences were there before.
On second thoughts, love may still come to me, I believe. (Alas, a philosopher would say, grimly, if it’s on second thoughts, then one will have it second-hand!)
I like you very much for I think we have many things in common. I, too, bloody love gin. I love the one gin which you have laid upon my way, catching me with it. As you are not likely, so conspicuous are you, to open the contrivance and free me again, I shall be carrying the gin with me, or at me, in this world, not a little hindered but not a little proud. And the sharp teeth of the trap are bloody indeed — glossy from my flesh and blood. ‘Tis the heartbreakingliness o’t, and how I happen to make an awkward figure in this world.
Break my heart it did (and one leg no better), the bloody gin. I talked of the music, warped fiddles and fuzzy dulcimers, but I haven’t of the images yet, have I? Yet images there were. Have you any idea what I allude to? which images my missive is about? or are you shy and perplexed a living stone of precious womanliness enough to have difficulties in finding out my meaning? Mind-blowing images of sprightly softness and fairylike tenderness, in an iridescent aura of lustrous warmheartedness: does it help?
One scheme would be the following. Your beaming at life — My writing to you — Your beaming at me (as part of life).
Another. Let me hate beauty or else let beauty be my doom, so commonplace and dull is the world.
Break my heart you did (or at the very least the ice of it, which is no less wonderful) with your Wessex native garden fairies also — I’m sure it is you had the idea — and with your long lost friend the coastline too. It occurs to me that we were friends long ago, so much long ago that we have quite forgotten it, or even — if this is too bold, pray accept my apologies — that, maybe in the shape of emerald and ruby lovebirds, we were lovers in a previous life. (Sep. 21)
The images give me pictorial knowledge of some of the places which Thomas Hardy describes in his stories. I imagine the yellow dale in which you are frolicking so playfully to be a Wessex† heathland and the yellow blooms, heather. And there is the coastline, of which the novelist also speaks in A Pair of Blue Eyes and The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved.
As I said (the first thing I said) I didn’t see your concert in S…, but I discovered that place, and found there the bow-windows I have always so much liked in pictures, never seeing one for real before, and I from now on will be dreaming that I be dreaming on a window seat looking at the Brittany coastline and saying to myself: ‘At the horizon is standing she’; and that I cross the sea some time and come stealthily by night, concealed by the moving shadows of trees, to a glimmering oriel behind which you be sitting in a multicoloured light, each and every small-paned lattice being of a different colour, and I: ‘Here’s the Shrine.’ (Sep. 29)
†There are the Wessex, or West Saxons, the Essex, or East Saxons, the Sussex, or South Saxons, and finally there are the Nossex.
I confess that yes I’m of the Isles, where I saw many bow-windows, and as far as I remember I didn’t give a dee about bow-windows or any other kinds of windows then, so when I said ‘bow-windows I have always so much liked in pictures, never seeing one for real before,’ yes it’s nothing but stuff. The saddest thing is that I was certainly believing it the moment I wrote it down, so eager was I to give the narrative of my life some dramatic intensity with such words as always and never before. So the passage in fact should read as follows: Bow-windows I have always so much liked since I first found I liked them six months ago, never seeing one for real before during these last six months. I don’t want to be a low trickster in your eyes, dear R.; I envision bigger and higher and grander tricks as regards you. (Sep. 30)
When the press critics were calling you the likes of so and so, you had already made history. I wonder if it is the embitterment that such criticism must not have failed to provoke that drove you, under a different name, in a decidedly different road, a road on which some cursory listening makes me feel you were not as lucky as before.
The alleged reasons I read why the press critics have not paid due credit to your music at the time, namely that you would have been off the fashion of the day, strikes me as ex post facto rationalizing. Straightforward remarks on the nincompoop way of classifying artists, though received with collected miens, might nevertheless have been resented by the trash among journalists.
These might have instilled gnawing doubt in your minds, misleading you into labyrinthine experiments in evincing originality, with your losing spontaneity in a embittered attempt to assert genuineness demonstratively.
After the maze, you needed the desert for purification ceremonies, and you found it in Colorado or Arizona, and you needed practising roots music, meaning thereby to find yourselves again.†
It may not be unusual that after reaching a high peak at an early stage a depressed period ensues, after which however a pristine pure creativity rises again at a more mature time, as accomplished genius. (Oct. 5)
†I certainly find pleasure in these more recent images, insofar as they highlight your physical advantages, and I do appreciate the music, but the decadent overtone reminiscent of stuffy Blue Velvet makes me long for a Wessex heathland caressed by marine breeze.
My failure to conquer you has been heavy on my mind, and I have come back to my nonconformism (talking of my denomination, not of an attitude or outlook, sorry) because I have found that it has all been FLESH in the guise of fuzzy fiddles and lemon-yellow heathlands, and TEMPTATION in the guise of SHE. (I adjure you to take it off: Only the naked truth is worth one’s attention!) So (I have no real choice, have I) the virtuous ways of my fathers shall be mine.
Besides, I feel I was too severe in my previous missive. Although the name itself is one of the biggest failures in the history of music, because one of the most irrelevant on all accounts — I don’t blame you for trying the tricks of an egghead, on the contrary the experiment was grand, and it confirms my opinion regarding some people and their obnoxious awkwardness — despite the name, I say, there are gorgeous and delightful songs. So you will find, I am sure, in another twenty years hence, that you have also been the primary source of inspiration for crooners and femmes fatales that were to come, or poets and spiritual guides. (Nov. 13)
My last missile was silly, don’t you think? How can one expect to conquer by writing? One thing I learnt in French novels (yellow literature) is that it is the goofiest thing in the world – for had the writing any effect at all, the writer would not be there to take advantage of it. Let’s imagine he concludes a long, passionate missive with the words “And won’t you fall into my arms,” then even if the lady were inclined to comply she would, perhaps, fall in one person near at hands’ arms, but certainly not in the writer’s, a goofy miles away. It was so silly and awkward and — did I believe my writing could have any effect, which, luckily for my plans, I do not — such a boon for free riders. (Free riders. I know a girl, her lover wanted her no more, so she would go out with the creepiest nerd in the place as a vengeance: a vengeance against the whole world, you would swear, it gave everybody the chills. She was very much hurt, I think. I also know another guy, a real cool badass, all the girls wanted to be his sweethearts, true, and they all went out with his friends, who had all the good time. He became very misanthropic. Once, he spoke angrily to one of these so-called friends about the girl he was in love with, poor fellow, and who was the plaything of the friend (so-called), he told him he was grieved, and the latter scorned him: “Why, you only make her laugh!”)
As to my calling people “eggheads”… I am an egghead myself. I have been planning for years an anthropology work called Wonder Dropouts: The Theory of the Leisure Underclass. It’s supposed to be about young pop bands that become known all over the world and then retire early in obscure private life, thenceforth having, presumably (as I heard of some), to toil like anybody else. But maybe I’m mistaken and the guys work because they want to keep doing something, not because they have to, as they could deservedly make a living from their worldwide achievements. The field work for my research is still embryonic, in fact. (Nov. 21)
Once again, I told things as they are not. Two things.
First, as regards the badass in the story, he was not in love with the girl. He was only annoyed that the girls would date the other boys instead of him, notwithstanding the fact that he was, thought he, the objective “rouser” in the group. In other words he was grieved not so much in his heart as in his pride. He thought the girls were fond of him, and as far as I can judge many of them were, but he disliked the idea of dating a girl without being fond of her too (this was, admittedly, a major flaw in his badassness) and thus he was bound to be unequal to their expectations, and the other boys took advantage of the situation as much as they could. He was angry because such developments would tend to belittle him compared to the others, as inferior in experience, according to the old law (instinctual) “one conquest more” (as a prize) or in their case (they were all in their teens) “one conquest at last.” He was in jeopardy to fall into the nerds category, which he feared very much. Had he loved one of those girls, I think he may have found his peace of mind. I’ve been told he actually loved someone, but he couldn’t manage it either. — This is, to the best of my knowledge, the true story of the badass from the time I was acquainted with him.
The second distorsion of truth concerns my anthropology project. I have not been thinking of it “for years,” only for a couple of weeks. You remember the bow windows, do you… I can’t tell why I said so (except that it would be a way to define myself as a failed egghead), especially considering that it could make you think I had tried to break the ice having this project in mind, i.e. in order primarily to use you as a source of information, whereas I never considered such a topic before I began to think, and feel, about you. (Nov. 23)
I wish I had sent the present missile sooner, in case you were anxious to receive a feedback from me, but certain technical obstacles made it impossible to send it through the usual channel earlier.
I was at …, L., on the night of Dec. 20, and I really enjoyed myself.
At first, two or three days before, I experienced sharp angst, so I decided to take the underground in the morning in order to reconnoitre the place. The neighbourhood, inconspicuous and just a little derelict, seemed okay; there were touches in it that I found reminiscent of stuff familiar to me and that made me optimistic. I said to myself: “I can feel at home here,’’ or “I feel at home.’’ A peculiar thought, by the way. Before this reconnaissance I had not been sure yet I would show up at all (because of the angst).
Back in B., I kept secluded in my room until 6:20pm. I could not eat anything. I tried to read but it did no good. I could do nothing but wait. I had tried a little walking but the wind, same as in S. (ominous sign!), was chilly. At 6:30pm I took the underground anew, following like an automaton the same way as previously earlier in the day. At K. station, noticing a few easy-going youngsters, and one easy-going white-haired glasses-wearing elderly, taking the same direction as I, I felt comforted; from some of these people at least I felt sure I would not meet with rampant hostility.
Once inside the venue I thought with some satisfaction: “I am malking it.’’ After the warming up by …, I found myself a place not too far from the stage on the right-hand side (looking at the stage). I had had a couple of drinks and had already gone twice to the toilets. It was the stress accumulated during the last hours, you see. When you showed up on the stage I soon felt, much to my dismay, the need to go to the toilets again. I knew it would be a fatal retreat because I would not dare scramble my way through the crowd to find as good a location again. So I started to undulate a little at the sound of music, and I realized it did me good, the pressure on the bladder became less acute. Maybe I could stand it through the whole performance this way! It worked, I soon forgot the inconvenience completely, I did not feel it anymore, and I was banging my head and having a great time. It was necessary to get rid of all restraint, otherwise I would have have to retreat. It turned out to feel so good I did not think of my inconvenience until I was back in my room in B. (and that is quite an amazing thing per se).
I could have banged my head much more wildly, and a couple of limbs too, was it not for the immobility of my immediate neighbours, who were more demure. They must have more control on their bladders. I don’t think they had such a great time as I, though (some had and it was nice taking a glance at them once in a while), but I hope I didn’t make a fool of myself; for a moment I thought afterwards that you might feel contempt for me if you knew I had banged my head, that you might consider banging one’s head right for the others but not for me, as if you said to some confidante: “Of course the public has to bang their heads, to feedback the stage, but think of this ass making a fool of himself in that way: I’ll never forgive him for lowering my consideration.’’ So uncertain is men’s mind on heart affairs… At least you know the circumstances.
In overcoming natural restraint, I found the recollection of the badass useful, because he would be quite at ease in such situations. Once we both went to a party where the lioness of the block, Carine, was also present, with her boyfriend, a boy older than the others. The badass hated the boyfriend, who dared date girls not intended for him, as he said, considering he was taking advantage of his age superiority. At this party the badass had a nice surprise, because the boyfriend, in spite of his vantage situation as the favourite and intimate of the lioness (or because of it, who knows?), among (even if not quite openly) hostile boys behaved with much unease, whereas the badass and a few others were all spiritedness, so much so that this turn of events infuriated the lioness, but wait, she was incensed against none other than her boyfriend, and a rumour soon delighted the whole party that she was abusing the poor fellow behind his back, raging that he had “a stick in the ass.’’ That’s how she broke with this one (and this time I do not exaggerate the story in the least). We’ve never heard of the boy anymore. (He didn’t take his life, don’t worry, he had just fallen in the deepest insignificance conceivable, worse than death itself, one might say.)
Apart from that, the badass was a guy with ideas, but his were always strange. Once he asked me to buy a bass guitar to play in a band he wanted to start, and that was fine with me, but in his idea the band would be called So You Think You Like It, and no one could make him change his mind on that point. He also said the band would launch a new artistic movement in the world, which he called “socktrade.’’ He tried to explain me why it had to be such a stupid name as that, but his reasons were so confused, or elaborate, that I can’t remember them, if they meant anything at all. However, he ended the whole business saying success would only benefit free riders, that free riders had the upper hand in the world. With such views as these I guess he must have been doing sweet Fanny Adams of his life.
Sorry for the digression. A word on the performance. Although the sound seemed a little fuzzy-magmatic to me compared to studio sound, and the different instruments not always much distinguishable, when I was, let’s call it dancing, I thought I was high, I thought I was flying (and I had taken only a few light drinks). So you may like to try something in the future: By expanding the length of passages like the finale in …, you could make more people fly, couldn’t you? As far as I’m concerned you would only need to repeat the same lines again and again. Perhaps it can’t be the same on record, time is different there.
I was delighted to see you in flesh and bones, but at such distance, however short I tried to make it, I could not appreciate your numerous charms in as much detail as on pictures. Pictures from Dec. 19, for instance, reveal lovely intricate knee bones, and this is what I call fine beaming.
I am just coming back from my stay in L. Except for the concert, this time I did not enjoy the stay as much as previous ones, because it was vacation time and people that work all their lives were then free for a while to do things (serious things, I mean). I found them everywhere I went. Why should they have vacations at all, by the way, since it is hopeless they enjoyed it decently? One has to train for one’s leisure, one has to be used to it, and they are so obviously not, this office fellowship, ‘tis a pity.
Then, also, everything closed for a few days, so it wasn’t a good idea to stay that long.
Ending on such a topic as common people (in England most of these common people have to be English, I fear, but this is merely a chance circumstance; there were a good deal of tourists too) is rather bad form, sorry, but I really wanted to let you know the reason I didn’t write sooner after the concert, and that is because of my being in L. still. As I said, I wish I had written sooner. Hopefully you didn’t get too nervous in the meanwhile and had a merry Christmas. (Dec. 26)
Have you ever felt like living among jerks, dear R.? The answer seems obvious to me. After pondering it a long time, in no way will I read “love gin” otherwise than meaning “You are all jerks.”†
Besides, what’s the relevance of such a quote as “Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are”? Quoting this rather vacuous piece of wisdom is indeed meaningful: It says that people have been judging you and that you have been suffering from it. However, you should not advance thus unmasked, it’s blunting your blade. I want to see them at your feet and pay for what they’ve done to you, whatever it be. So, for the sake of me, please hide that dagger.
Order and you shall be obeyed.
I wish you a happy new year. (I was prevented by my not being home to send these wishes as soon as I wanted: all apologies for that.) (Jan. 5)
†A jerk is the kind of person who will say you are “still” pretty and think he has paid a nice little compliment. Well, before you fling me out of the window, I have this to say: You have never been so pretty as you are now. (As the philosopher says, what doesn’t kill you makes you sexier.)
It appears that the “love gin” is going to be a bone of contention between us, especially since you will throw me no other bone. I can’t understand it, so many are the reasons you ought to drop that nonsense. I know I ought not to talk to you like that, but then won’t you admit I’ve been open-hearted?
I know I’ve had your ear, because recently you told journalists things that reminded me of what I had written you, so I thought you wouldn’t feel as if I was trying to impose things on you. The reasons are so many, let me state only two more. Everybody knows (I love when people say “everybody this and that,’’ knowing they only talk of themselves) everybody knows the Greek poet has said: “No songs can please nor yet live long that are written by those who drink water’’; but one is not supposed to congratulate oneself, even in indirect ways, are they? Then you say “by the sea,’’ and somewhere also “in a garden’’: yet the poets who sing the pleasures of being by the sea, in a garden, didn’t drink water, presumably, but somehow they felt it would be odd to acknowledge both kinds of pleasure, Natura and Bacchus, in the same breath. (Jan. 26)
I realize you won’t marry me and that makes me melancholy and sad. (Jan. 31)
To the Consumers’ Association of Ireland
Dear Sir or Madam,
Supportive of consumer rights, I would like to call your attention to the topic of subliminal advertising, on which I have made some research.
The following case studies from my blog [Index] deal with very recent paper advertisements, many of them advertising multinationals’ brands and designed for international marketing.
The subliminal techniques involved are akin to mental manipulation and likely to be detrimental to the consumer’s choice. What is to be done to prevent consumers from being subjected to such deceptive manipulation? (March 29, 2015)
Dear Flor, [Although I signed my full name Florent Boucharel, she calls me Flor because my email is flor.boucharel[@]gmail.com]
Thank you for your email. We would recommend that you contact the government body, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as they have the power to investigate companies. They can be contacted on 014 4025500 or http://www.consumerhelp.ie
Thank you for your reply. I don’t think the law forbids embedding the word SEX in advertisement photographs, which, as far as I have been able to ascertain since my attention was called to the practice, is the case in almost every paper advertisement these days. Since the law says nothing, a government investigation is out of the question. I believe this is what they will tell me. I was seeing more a campaign of opinion, and that’s why I reached out to your organization, in case you would find the matter relevant to consumer rights. (March 30)
& later (having no further news from Caroline)
In spite of your reply, I feel my mail has not received due consideration, especially since my blog statistics tells me you haven’t even thrown a cursory glance on one or two of the cases I have provided.
You know, I am sure, of those people who hold positions of responsibility and, when contacted about attendant matters, ask: “Why are you talking to me? Do we know each other?” (April 1)
To International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT)
Dear Sir or Madam,
Supportive of consumer rights and the important missions of consumers’ organizations, I would like to ask what your position is on the topic of subliminal advertising, on which I have made some research.
The following case studies deal with recently published advertisements (March 2015), many of them advertising multinationals’ brands and designed for global marketing. (April 4, 2015)
Hello, is anybody in? Here’s the taxpayer who pays you!
For the sake of accuracy, your name ought to be ICRNT: International Consumer Research and No Testes.
Horror movie The Exorcist, about a Catholic priest fighting the Devil in the good old ways, uses subliminal techniques. Hence the many faints, nauseas, mental collapses necessitating psychiatric intervention among theater patrons when the film was released. Yet horror movies had been played on the screens for decades and none had had such impact on the viewers, because those films did not manipulate unconscious mind structures with subliminal techniques. As an example, the soundtrack for The Exorcist was embedded with the sound of humming bees at subliminal level, in order to trigger panic. It was an experiment in mind manipulation. (For more details on the subliminal elements in The Exorcist, read Media Sexploitation, 1976, by Wilson Bryan Key. See also this blog’s Index for my series on Subliminals in published advertising.)
In Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology (1994) by Helmuth Nyborg, I find a paradox. It seems to me that a male androtype-1 should not choose an estrotype-1 as a spouse, since the latter will have, as Nyborg describes it, “higher libido” and the androtype-1 is not particularly well endowed in this respect. Hence, he should make a more “sex-stereotypic choice” with respect to finding a spouse, that is, he should depart from what Physicology predicts (that he will not be sex-stereotypical). What I mean by “should” is what he would do if he knew Physicology a bit. This is the paradox. The only solution to it, as far as I can see, would be that Physicology predicts that androtypes-1 do not object to their spouses’ promiscuity, nor to bringing up children sired by other men. A rather odd prediction in terms of evolutionary genetics.
Also, I would like to stress that our current “managerial elite” is recruited on personality criteria amongst which extroversion is perhaps the most important in the organization recruiters’ eyes. Which means the hormotype index of the American/European managerial elite is not likely to be 1 or 2 (maybe not even 3), nor it is this likely to be otherwise in the near future, whereas Nyborg claims that loner, intellectual androtypes are called to make up the elite.
To Hollaback! (In their own wods, ‘Hollaback! is a global, people-powered movement to end harassment. We work together to ensure equal access to public spaces.’)
Having seen on Internet a video of yours in which a young woman is filmed by a hidden camera walking in Manhattan, it reminds me of a news report on the same topic and with the same technique I saw a few years ago on French TV, and of my own situation even though I’m a man.
I live in Paris where I do quite a lot of walking, not seldom by myself. My experience is that some people feel free to abuse verbally, in a sneaky way, lone persons in the street whose outward appearance they happen not to like.
I have conjectured that many people, walking alone in the street, resort to listening to music or to calling someone on their mobile phone in order primarily to prevent their being abused in such a way, or at least to escape noticing it.
Some vulgarized notions of psychology likely will evoke a paranoid state of mind. The very idea of paranoia, however, may well contribute to the spreading of sneaky verbal abuse. (As a matter of fact, the person abused may even be abused by being called a ‘paranoiac’ by his or her surreptitious abuser.) (April 2015)
No answer. (My point, as the reader understands, is that harassment in the street is not limited to female victims. In my experience, verbal abuse not seldom comes from women.)
El Mallarmé «profeta» ha introducido intelectualismo en la poesía, y la poesía ha muerto casi. Todo ésto, las abstractas reflexiones o elucubraciones sobre el lenguaje y qué sé yo, es demasiado árido, y no muy riguroso tampoco como razonamiento y los filósofos lo hacen mejor.
There was in the past of Christian Europe a mighty enemy in the East: the Ottoman Empire. A mighty colossus, it nearly obliterated Christianity on several occasions, as when its armies besieged Vienna, twice. At the head of such powerful armies, numerous as the waves of the ocean, were the dreaded Janissaries, a slave brotherhood of Albanian origin. They were the gate-keepers of the Bab-i Ali. O what convulsions in the misty mountains of Albania, when this people too vindicated its freedom!
This video [Te Rrapi ne Mashkullore, sung by Irini Qirjako, with images from some (Albanian?) motion picture] shows scenes of the Albanian national struggle, here culminating with the assassination of a Turkish Basha or Bimbashi. The lyrics talk of a Bimbashi several times, as a portent of awesome and dreadful forces.
There is that taylor in my neighborhood, M..kan, an Armenian. I brought him a pair of trousers not long ago. He told me that with such fabric these trousers would last me ten more years. Now they have a big hole in the bottom. You can’t trust Armenians…
M..kan is the Devil. For one there’s his accent. It took me some time to understand at last what he says when he’s greeting me. He says “Ça va, mon ami ?” (Howdy, my friend?) and I was hearing something like “Ça va, Mehmet Ali ?” (Howdy, Mehmet Ali?) I thought he was mocking me in his nasty Armenian ways… He’s a stutterer. He says “Merci, mon-mon ami” (Thanks, my-my friend) and I hear “Merci, Mehmet Ali“, like he’s mocking me. Like the devil he is…
One day I needed to have my trousers enlarged at the waist. He said, “Okay but think about a diet, Mehmet Ali!” And he laughed. He’s the Devil…
Russian émigrés were all with Hitler, especially after Operation Barbarossa and the onslaught against USSR. They had brought the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Germany, they had brought them to the USA, even to Manchuria and Japan. There’s even a book which claims they are the true inspiration of Hitler and the Nazi party. Grand-dukes and grand-duchesses were with Hitler. The heir to the Russian throne was with Hitler (and he was spied upon by the Gestapo at the same time). All the former White army was with Hitler and joined the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS on the Eastern front. The popes were with Hitler. Czarists, Solidarists, Fascists were with Hitler. Georgians and Tatars were with Hitler and they fought the Résistance in Corrèze where my grandparents were living their humble lives (my grandfather was once taken hostage). Caucasian Muslims were with Hitler, and Stalin made them pay the price after the war.
I spent years collecting thousands of names of people involved on the side of Nazism and Fascism, from every country: Cossack White Army officers, Albanian gurus of mystic tariqas, French anarchists, Australian aborigines (true!), Afro-Americans, Indian nationalists, Indonesian nationalists, Khmer nationalists, Pu Yi the last emperor of China, Turkish Turanians, British aristocracy, the then King of Sweden and his son the present King of Sweden, Knut Hamsun, the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser of Egypt, the Shah of Iran and the future Ayatollah Khomeini, etc. etc. A long list. I spent years on it, I don’t know what to do with that work.
De hecho yo no había escuchado la canción Aviateur, cantada por Véronique Jannot, hace desde muchos años. Me la propuso YouTube, al escuchar yo otra cosa. Entonces me volvieron memorias de mi niñez. No son memorias de mi casa porque mis padres no miraban programas de televisión populares, con canciones y tales cosas. Pero, de vacaciones, nos quedamos con mis hermanos en la casa de abuelos o a veces de tíos, en el campo. Gente más popular y no tan educada como mis padres, y ellos miraban esos programas populares, y nosotros con ellos. Y me gustaba, de niño. Después, de adolescente, ya no me gustaba el campo. Me aburría, no podía hacerme amigos con los jóvenes, aunque me enamoré de una morena, cuyos padres tenían un comercio de bicicletas. Era una tontería. Le declaré mi amor y, como ella no cayó en mis brazos al oírlo no más, lo abandoné todo. Una tontería, pero era bonita la hija del vendedor de bicicletas… De adolescente, las vacaciones en el campo eran malas. De niño era otra cosa. Gente sencilla, televisión popular, una Francia que tal vez aún ya no existe.
Véronique Jannot and I are of the same breed, de pelo y ojos castaños. But her very artist name (if it’s not her real name) is a joke, because it alludes to Jeannot Lapin*. I want to make clear that this sort of popular culture has something very shallow about it, which makes it unbearable to refined minds. Only the exhaustion of a working life can create a need for that kind of shallow entertainment.
*D’après internet, Jannot est son vrai nom. Elle aurait dû choisir un nom de scène plus glamour : Véronique Davies, Véronique Crawford-Jones, Veronica Lamborghini…
Pearl of the Mediterranean
Where will I find you now?
The lemon trees
What fills my eyes with tears?
O the sea at Mersin!
Fragrances like attar of rose…
jarabe de rosa beberé
almíbar de rosa saciará mi sed ardiente
miles de mirtos para tenderle arropes suaves
Encantadora es la rosa en el jardín de luna
Canta, bello ruiseñor, por la rosa que te llena de dulzura
In France the name Fatma was used as a common name to designate a North-African girl (as there are many migrants from North Africa in France). For example: “Did you see that fatma?” Then it designated any girl, whatever her background, for example: “Did you see that fatma?” And then it came to be abbreviated as “fat,” (prononcer « fatt ») for example: “Will there be fats at that party?” (Il y aura des fatts à cette soirée ?) At least that was so in my teens.
I distinctly remember occurrences when the word was used by my friends and myself (by the way we were all white, middle-class teenagers). For instance, during a summer vacation in Spain we used to call Spanish girls “fats” among us. And there’s a joke. While we were in Spain, near Valencia, there were several days of feria with bulls, “toros.” Several toros were involved and they had a leader, so to speak. One day, one of our group, talking about this leading bull, called him “le taureau mère,” as we talk of a “vaisseau mère” (mother-ship) in a fleet of ships. But “mother-bull” was really ridiculous, so we laughed and someone said: “You mean ‘le taureau fatt’ (the fatma-bull)!”
But we didn’t say fatma to girls, they would have beaten us up.
3 Poems to O.
You didn’t tell me you’d take my heart away.
You didn’t tell me you’d always be in my dreams, at the cost of a life. But what is a life worth comparing with such dreams?
You didn’t tell me that, because of my memories of you, I’d be like a madman always by my thoughts. But what worth is soundness of mind compared to such lunacy?
You didn’t tell me my memories of you would be more real to me than reality. But what is reality worth, you tell me, in the shadow of one memory like these?
You didn’t tell me there would be no more seasons but the summer of your smile.
You didn’t tell me there would be a never-ending day from the day on when you said: One plus one makes one. Did you say so, by the way, or is it my imagination?
You didn’t tell me you’d break my heart in two so that one plus nothing makes a funny two: a crazy man.
You didn’t tell me one is not just one but also the one and only, so this one can’t be counted like any other one because in a way this one is a bit too much – especially being away.
You didn’t tell me I’d have to know the effect of spending some time by your side and then (as a punishment for what crime?) I’d have to know the effect of spending my whole life and perhaps even an eternity without you.
You didn’t tell me it wasn’t just two people in a given place at a given time, but two people one of whom would be forever out of space and time.
You didn’t tell me that was just a serious game so that not only would I lose my bid but also I would lose my mind.
You didn’t tell me I was to be there with you for a few days and then you wouldn’t be by my side until the end of time. Yet that’s not too high a price because there can be no such thing as too high a price for what I’m talking about.
You didn’t tell me you’d make a fool of me and I would be glad. Had you told me, I wouldn’t have believed you, for I was a fool. Born to be a fool: that’s what you should have told me.
You didn’t tell me…
Yes but it’s only a dream.
–Yes but this is only a life.
Yes but what’s more precious than life?
–Yes but it’s made precious from dreams.
If I could see your eyes
Then you would see
The moonlight on the sea
(Your eyes the moon
My tears the see)