You never knew Jean Genet served a stint with Uncle Sam, did you? Well, just as some things are kept under wraps for various deceptive reasons and some appearances are meant to be intentionally deceiving, i.e the bogus name-tag with that implausible soubriquet, this authentic looking photo recently discovered jammed between the thin slit left between weathered floor boards in a safe house somewhere in Europe shows the great French writer staring at us from that infamous Middle West boot camp's PX photo booth. Observe, if you will, that famous full-of-meaning slanted glance he's throwing our way and the way his cig forms an artful ringlet that has just wafted up to the bottom of his trademark horn-rimmed glasses. As if all the above weren't enough to throw us off the track, he's also adorned his left hand with--of all things--a US high school class ring!*
Excuse my use of what might seem smacking of hyperbole, but from here to eternity, this is what I'd call the sublime art of subterfuge.
*It has yet to be ascertained as fact, but rumor has it that the phrase Tell Laura I Love Her is engraved on the ring in question.
A dream unfolding with scenes of whatcould be England or the US West Coast.
Three of us have stopped at a dipstick village where the fattest begins a kind of St. Vitus dance outside a knife-like Freudian slit of a shop—I’m suddenly insideunder numberless dangling shoelaces of every size, colorand description modifying a low ceiling defying description. Darkas an earthworm’s diggings. Fatso’s squirming on the sidewalk like Gregor Samsa in later larval stage sowe cannonball him to the nearest hospital. On the road we’re driving through utterly beautiful vistas—paramount visions of the Pacific Northwest circa 1950s? And thengunning it over a long stretch of water—flashingblue silver-white and a floating bridge just below the surface.Odd—the people are swimming on the bridge, craning their popped-up heads just above the water as we lop them off with brio, aplomb and pizazz.
Cut to hospital where we’re told our friend has apoplexy–no surprise—something we had garnered before—(how had we gathered this?) and as we say goodbye,I see he’s trying to use this contraption to feed himself—resembles a gangly pair of claws reminiscent of Hawking—but he’s too clumsy to manipulate it properly, and as I’m leavingI notice apricot pits lying surreptitiously in the folds of his sheets.
It continues until I’m suddenly alonein a train station wanting to buy a ticket to London.Now, an actor in the dream, not an audience.The station’s bloated like a jumbo can of gone-off solid-packed John West tuna. After browsing some faux bijoux at a newsstand surrounded by grotesque, mall-crazed Japanese tourists trotting round looking like sushi addicts who’ve just quit cold turkey, I go to a ticket stall where a woman primly coiffured à la Dorothy Lamour tells me London tickets are issued at such-and-such a location at such-and-such a time but she garbles the information like Garbo and she doesn’t say she’s the one who’ll be doing the selling when the time comes. When the time does come and the loudspeaker plays it to see just how Sammy runs, everyone runs to the stall like diarrhetic buffalos pummeling the riders of the purple sageinto pemmican—to the woman I’d spoken to before!We’re pushing and being pushed as if our lives depended on it, till a dapperrailroad official with a dainty cowlick stands up behind the ticket stalland asks us all to please step back on the platform and please lie downso as not to be seen by the woman! This annunciation strikes us dumb, but we drop flat on our stomachs while he tells us ad infinitum thatbuying tickets should be a matter of style—un élan vital—until I say “Sure, but shouldn’t style be as goose-pimpling as coprolagnia? This is just plain shit”—and walk away.
Then, shots of a man (is it me?) running away from Mr. X—(the offended official?) (Dr. Richard Kimble?)—each subsequent scene another chapter of the man’s life. At some stage in the middle, he senses it’s the railway official—always a presence behind him, always running scared, always looking back. But neitherthe man who’s doing the chasing nor the man being chased is seen—as if filming a cornucopian stream-of-consciousness interiormonologue from As I Lay Lying in Yoknapatawpha CountyBy Bill Clinton As Told To William Faulkner. Finally, the by now much older man comes to an ivy-choked country mansion where elegantly dressed people reeking of fin de siècle are loitering on the lawn conversing à la Henry James and playing sundry card games and he offers to be a dealer in one. He perches on a three-legged stool sans seat and a young woman sits primly on his lap. When she leaves, he starts speaking(so far, he has only gesticulated), saying he’s come as far as he’s fated to go and he’s going to stop. Still spraying saliva-larded syllables, he sits on the lawn, shuts his eyes and waits for the end. Like gadflies drawn to freshly catapulted cow pies,hordes of onlookers have now congregated round him and are commenting on this fact—some curiously, others ironically.
Now spreadeagled on his back, somewhat like the da Vinci drawing many have seen but few know the name of, the old man sputters to a stop—and now I see what he’s seeing: The blacknessdescends in folds like hot fudge over Mt. Fujiyamaand the faces and voices coagulate and slowly melt until a vatic sounding voice strangely reminiscentof Francis the Talking Mule brazenly announces the man’s life or the dream we’ve just witnessed is akin to an iconoclastic Marguerite Duras New Wave screenplay with the curioustitle: Hiroshimamon amour, the endof history, youhypocrite dreamer!—mon semblable,—mon frère!
NB: Dreamt in 2002, this sequence has since gone through a number of minor revisions but without major changes to its images.