It seems that most humans are still very much excited to exchange thrills with each other (the best translation for the French “frisson”?). Is that enough to keep us going further, from image to image, or artwork to artwork? Could all cultural production stand at a standstill, just for a while? Maybe only then will we, as Cocteau pleaded for mirrors to do, finally have a chance for a little reflection?
The following short text – which characteristically seems to inspire no response – was written after my brain surgery and the loss of my mother, both of which are not mentioned in the text and totally irrelevant to it. To pay attention to this would be a reductionist way to avoid the content of the text. Life is not digestible, so why lie through writing and why lie to each other?
More to the point, tabula rasa was something I grew up with: I was born a Jew in post-war Europe. My non-existent grandparents had not survived the Shoah. Whether praising peace or culture, all speeches seemed greatly farcical. My father who had fought in a Communist Resistance unit in France (cf. “L’Affiche Rouge”) died around May 68. Most of those who remember that period recall a celebration of freedom, but for me it was also the shock of witnessing the unfurled violence of the status quo – comparable to the military apparatus displayed around any presidential debate in the US.
Fortunately, I was not alone in perceiving most of the pretense around me. I was reading A.S. Neill, Reich and Artaud, Daumal, Michaux, Debord. Later Beckett, Porchia, and U. G. Krishnamurti (not the famous one) verified my perception of the surrounding vacuum.
Can insights be transmitted? Probably another delusion like the one that, through some kind of social pressure, has me explain myself and alert others.
I distrust words, I would have preferred not to speak, and a movie like L’Amour à Mort/Love Unto Death by Alain Resnais would point in the right direction.
For those who won’t find that film easily, I have to resort to the text below.