Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aphorisms III

Our new header aphorism is from Querelle of Brest by Jean Genet (of whom more below). Previous header aphorisms:

“Man cannot purge his body of its theme
As can the silkworm on a running thread
Spin a shroud to reconsider in.”

Rite of Spring: Djuna Barnes

“An opinion is a limit to understanding”.

Natalie Barnie

“I reserve the right to go off topic and talk about anything I damn well like”

Andy at Ciskzereda Musings

Jean Genet - Querelle of Brest

Jean Genet´s “Querelle of Brest” became famous in the gay world when the German director, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, made a film of the novel in the 1980s. The novel was first published in its original French in 1953, and in English in 1966. After seeing the film, I sought out the novel – I cannot say I understood it. It is a difficult novel that I am now rereading – even now I can only read two or three pages at a time.

But the following passage, in English translation, struck me as particularly poignant, although I cannot say I understand it all … just it is making me think …

“There exists, somewhere deep within us, a secret room with an armor-plated door. It contains, along with several poor caged dogs, other monsters of which the most alarming is the one that is to be found in the very middle of the room. This is the living reproach at the centre of our innermost being. Enclosed within a huge glass case, corresponding almost exactly to the shape of its body, this creature is mauve in colour and soft, almost gelatinous in substance. It would resemble a great fish, were it not for the very human sadness of its head. The keeper who watches over these monsters harbours the greatest contempt for this one, which, we know well, would find a degree of peace and comfort in the embrace of another of its own kind. But it has no like. The other monsters differ from it in a few minor details. It is lonely, unique, and yet it loves us. In hopeless, doggy devotion, it waits for a friendly look from us, one we shall never accord it.”

The creature in the middle of the room is murder. But why mauve, why a soft, gelatinous fish with a human head, why a glass case?

And has this anything to do with our leukaemia?

It is a beautiful piece of prose even in translation ...

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