Hello you lovely people. It’s been a while. What’ve you been up to?
IS THIS A MASTERPIECE?
impersonality registers departure; mind
word, within fades; wisdom deflected
stars stuck widow;
red globe theory ambush; thing maybe
was the I, self-locked
plywood scenes explode; paperback
abdominal nervous comfort; female roast
I like beautiful things as you can see…
Going up the stairs to my living room, every guest meets this one eye to eye. Normally, I don’t even comment on it, I just stand back and take note; watch how people react to having it shoved into their face. Some say nothing at all and walk on by. Others’re quite shocked, if they say so or not. You can see the conflict negotiated in their facial muscles. Then there’re those who find it quite amusing or ask me something about it. Whatever the reaction, I get an insight into my visitor and a feeling for how to deal with them in future; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Everything you see here is for sale. For the right price you can walk off with anything that takes your fancy… That one’s nice, isn’t it? The Temptation of St Antoine. Watch your head. This used to be an old barn. Some of the beams are low.
I spent over ten years in and out of museums and galleries. Three weeks in Paris every summer, soaking up culture. Especially with my second wife, Marianne. Hélène, my third wife, was a blockhead. I don’t think she’s ever read a book in her entire life. She thinks she’s smart, but a person’s face’ll always tell you if they’re bright or not. And I don’t care how much of an effort she goes to with her make-up and her hair-do, when I look at her now, all I see is a face that looks like a pair of skidded knickers.
IS THIS A MASTERPIECE?
thing maybe was the I. amputating itself
Know what I love about art? What? You can’t talk about it and about progress in the same breath. Art cancels all thought of progress, of movement towards an absolute good. It shows us for what we are: constantly plagued by abdominal nervous the same old Question. Would you agree with me that the Image is subordinate to the Idea? A sign of the Sign, with Man (I mean you as well of course) of course desperately clutching to some semiotic turf or another for fear of slipping off into that unbearable place?
Take a look at this one. Have you ever seen a tackier, more peevish frame in your entire life? Picture’s a masterpiece, far as I’m concerned. But that frame? What an eyesore! At first I wanted to dump it and get a decent one, something ornate and gilded. And just as I was about to, I thought, hey no, don’t do that! Keep the original frame for its documentary value. Show it to some poncy fat-arsed historian, they ought to know a thing or two, might even take it off your hands for a pretty price and have it on show in a museum somewhere with people less cultured than me straining to hear what he has to say, to hear his story, vivid for the moment but which’ll recede soon to be usurped by its own unreality, soon to becousin our dreams. That, essentially, is the problem with language; it’s a lie with complete faith in itself. To speak is to lie and to want to be lied to. But I’m digressing. Point is: I kept the frame.
That one twist more, that one step further in the proclivities of your imagination, and the ugly is ugly no more. Just goes to show; there is no truth, but that we make it. String half a dozen people in front of a work of art, each will come to a different truth. What is art? Who decides what’s precious? Who, authorised to confer such an etiquette on an item; to brand the hide of the cow? Am I the masterpiece? Why am I not the masterpiece? There is no art. No science, at least no justifiable border between the two. There is only… imagination, desire and the quest; need, the willingness to construct that other world which is so much more beautiful, more reliable than the one we live in. What is truth? Truth is every single man… Anyhow, some first class Czech impressionistic paintings hanging in my bedroom. Show you later. Maybe.
The innocence, the joy, the fear of discovery. Too many had told her why she should not do-think-say-ask-try the things she did-thought-said-asked and tried.
Fuck you all.
Fuck all of you!!!
– Open it.
– What is it?
– Just open it.
He shook the box: light…
– No! Don’t open it until I’ve gone.
She grinned at him three days later.
– I made a blood sausage with it. Blood sausage with horse chestnuts. Delicious!
Yeah… nine months old, I was… Parents were both hairdressers. Worked from 7am till 9 in the evening. I was alone upstairs. And I needed to do a poo, but I didn’t like to do that in my nappy anymore. I was alone upstairs. In those days, you didn’t have gates to stop the babies from falling down the stairs or anything, your mum’d say Don’t go near those stairs or you’ll fall down and hurt yourself! And you either listened. Or you learned the hard way. I was alone upstairs with my biberon. And I needed to poo. I cried, how I cried, but no-one reacted even though I could hear my mother dressing hair downstairs in that voice she wore for customers. No time for me. I screamed. Howled? No reaction. So I shuffled over to the stairs, or crawled, I can’t remember. I got hold of my biberon. They were made of glass in them days. Picked it up. And with all the force I possessed, I slung it against the door, which it hit, before it smashed into a thousands pieces, making a terrific noise. Mum came dashing up the stairs. Burst into the room. She saw the shards of glass and the child on the floor in tears. That, she said, was your last biberon! Then she disappeared. Then she came back with something to brush it up with. You, Jean-Joseph, will never have another one! Downstairs she wore her honey voice once more.
Notice the first thing that bitch did? Go for the broken glass and leave the baby to its misery. I remember my rage. The strength of my rage, which I still have today, and the violence prowling within me from the very beginning.
When I was 18, it was time to do my military service. I had nothing against the army, so in I went. At the interview, I told them, Honestly, I said, I do want to come to the army, but, please, find something for me to do which doesn’t involve being bossed around, it does my head in. I can’t take it. I’ll be a cook, whatever. Just make sure I can be on my own with no-one lording it over me, otherwise I could end up killing him.
The dickhead who interviewed me, sergeant, captain, whatever, just laughed.
‘Who do you think you are?’ he bellowed. ‘You won’t be the first prick we’ll have brought to bow, and you certainly won’t be the last!’
You see, that’s where it starts: power, power, power, I sighed. I don’t think he quite knew what to make of my response. He was all red in the face. Me? I stayed nice and calm. And very, very polite.
‘You and your army, you think you’re capable of everything, but…’
Let him wait, let him already start to get himself all worked up all over again,
‘but… you’ll never be able to drive out what’s up here, by me,’ and I tapped my head. ‘So, ok,’
I let my fingertips touch to form a steeple. I looked him straight in the eye.
‘I’ll come to your army. I’ll follow your orders. The first who does me wrong, I’ll swallow it. The second, I’ll swallow it. I’ll be brought to bow, as you so nicely put it. But one day, one fine day, you will put a firearm into my hand. We’re in the army, after all… And once I have this firearm, I’m going to go out and kill every single one of you who has ever wronged me, and that, sergeant, will be your fault. Now, I’ve told you, haven’t I, so now I want that in writing, the fact that I told you that, for when the day comes.’
You could see the colour drain out of him like you were drinking him with a straw. He ordered me to the psychiatric department, where I was kept for five days. Did all manner of tests, they did. Then they came to the conclusion that I was a deeply honest person, but extremely dangerous, as I supported no authority over me whatsoever. That’s what’s written in my military record.
One of my favourite operas is Puccini’s La Bohème. Have you seen it? I’ve seen it on three separate occasions.
The first time I saw it, when it got to the part where the heroine is killed, I was so taken into the plot that I just keeled over and fainted. Bam!
The second time I went to see it, I thought I was better prepared. I thought I’d brace myself when it got to that part. But when it did finally get to that part of the plot, don’t ask me why, I just felt myself sliding off my chair; slowly, slowly, till I crumpled to the floor. Out again!
The next time I went to see La Bohème, I thought I would be immune. I knew what was coming, and I knew when, so I considered myself to be in complete control.
My auntie’s fanny, was I. They carried me out on a stretcher.
There will, alas, be no fourth or future encounter between myself and Mr Puccini, for I am everything but the ruthless man I am said to be…