4 Dada Suicides
Whether Arthur Caravan vanished into thin air, drowned in high seas or reinvented himself on land sometime after he was last officially seen in November 1918, we may never know. There was no witness, no corpse, no note. What at first seems like one of the cleanest getaways in all of literature is in fact one of the most perplexing escapes in twentieth-century art, for his ambiguous exit was preceded by a life of invented personae, double identities and successful disguises, some of which are still unfolding more than seventy years after he was last spied on the Mexican coast preparing to sail for Buenos Aires to meet his wife.
He had disappeared before, and had spoke to friends of doing so again. It was assumed that he would eventually resurface, bearing the passport of another country, camouflaged by the overcoat of a new profession, or speaking the language of a new girlfriend. He was a world tramp; he knew that if he carried the circus with him, no cage or trainer could tame him. And so he did. He was a tireless traverser of borders and a resister of orders—a mongrel of nations with a vexatious urge to disarm. He too experience in the most extreme doses and sought life in the most extreme conditions he could find. “I have twenty countries in my memory and I drag the colors of a hundred cities in my soul.” But his soul left no footprints. Only false scents. Dead ends.
For Cravan, suicide was an act. He once drew a full house by advertising his sincere intention to end his life before a paying public; he would replace the traditional carafe of water with a bottle of absinthe; “for the benefit of the ladies,” he would wear only a jockstrap and deliver his pre-suicide recit with his balls draped on the table. Suicide was a means of, not an end to, performance. Threatening to take his life, then chastising his audience for making a social event of death, was a signature Cravan technique.
He had a natural gift for transgressive, offensive behavior—the other side of which was sympathy and charisma—a fluid spell he could as easily cast on a crowd of spectators as on a policeman whose distrust he registered. He was most content if he went too far, if he incited such outrage that his fluidity was called upon. Mina Loy called his provocations “pantomimic atrocities on the spectator’s habitual expectations.” She explained his assaults as a his was of taking revenge against a world that demolishes its superiors. “He worked to maintain his reality by presenting an unreality of himself to the world—to occupy itself with–while he made his spiritual getaway.”
Determined not to serve in the armed services of any country, but to choose his own allies and enemies instead, he slid successfully past border patrols into Spain, where in 1916 he engaged in the famous boxing match with former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson. Cravan is surely the only boxer in the history of the sport to have praised Jack Johnson & Oscar Wilde as twin heroes. The three form an odd triumvirate. All were notorious non-conformists, all had schooled themselves in classics, and all were forced into exile for their habits. The Johnson/Cravan face-off was as much a collaboration as a contest; both knew they could draw a crowd. Johnson needed a fight, and Cravan needed a percentage of the gate in order to make his next port of call, New York.
By this time, Cravan had already retired his natural name and his natural identity, Fabian Lloyd, in favor of a para-self, an alter idem, a new biographical reality. The person who existed as Fabian Avenarius Lloyd from 1887 to about 1912 became a person of precarious biographical status thereafter. This was not simply a change of driver’s license, but a repersonification. If there was a suicide, it was not tropical, but tropological; and it was not Arthur Cravan’s, but Fabian Lloyd’s.
For the last decade of his known life, the period during which he was occasionally writing & boxing, Cravan expressed—in person and on the page—an obsession with his own body. He was interested in its history. He built its reputation. At the same time, he existentialised its future; he imagined self-erasure. He wanted his life to be both virtual and actual, to exist in conceptual as well as biological space. This required more than a fusing of life & art; it required tormenting & pleasuring his life as art. His abject lines expressed these ambitions, as did his passionate embrace of contradictions:
You must dream your life with great care
Instead of living it as merely an amusement
When he stepped into the ring, he invariably announced himself as the “Poet & Boxer: Arthur Cravan,” as if dividing himself in two. “Poet & Boxer” touched the right note; those were his co-existent and extreme souls. In his masculine comportment was a feminine negotiation of opposites, a willing of reluctant inner brides.
What soul disputes my body?
My fatal plurality!
Dadaism is the movement usually associated with Cravan’s name, but the movement he enjoyed most was physical. Dancing, fucking, boxing, walking, running, eating, swimming. He loved the taste and smell of the body’s first issues—urine, shit, spit, sweat—and regarded these fundamental utterances as proto-texts. “Je mangerais ma merde,” he proudly proclaimed.
He would praise athletes, homosexuals, prostitutes, thieves, madmen, et al. He would read his poems aloud balancing first on one foot, then the other, sometimes throwing a briefcase and other projectiles into the air along with verbal arrows he aimed at the audience. Long before the advent of performance art, his literary presentations were strenuous, even dangerous performances.
Genius is nothing more than an extraordinary manifestation of the body.
Even before he had reasons to be elusive, plotting Cravan’s co-ordinates was a navigational challenge. His parents were English, his language was French, his passport was Swiss. His last-known driver’s licensewas issued in Berlin, his last known address was Mexico City.
Glory is a scandal. Let me state once & for all: I do not wish to be civilized.
To place him relative to his contemporaries is to give him a home, to fix him a place, and to assimilate his identity into a curriculum. Is this to respect the freedom of this angel-criminal, or to trap him? Canon is the cage he escaped. That is why he is still at large.
Coming suddenly upon a spider spinning an absorbing web around the chrysalis of a butterfly this morning, I watched it.
These texts, are by-products of a combustible compound which did not completely succeed in eliminating all traces of itself. If Arthur Cravan had totally fulfilled his quest, he would have taken this residue with him, and left only the imprint of his gestures on our imagination. He put all his genius into his life; when life combusted, these remnants of talent were left.
…Leaving all bills behind,
I rolled about like an egg in the crazy greenness of the grass.
How my shirt intoxicated me! Just to feel its motion,
Not unlike that of a horse, at one with nature!
How I wanted to jig forwards! How I wanted to rush on!
And how good it was on the bridge, tossed about by music;
And how powerful is the sensation of the cold
When first one breathes!
Flying flags embroidered with my initials
And stamping my commercial power upon the waves.
I also own my first locomotive:
Puffing out steam like snorting horses;
Yet bending its will under expert hands,
It rushes by madly, rigid upon its eight wheels.
It pulls the long convoy on its adventurous trek,
Into green Canada, through virgin forests,
And across my bridges with their caravan or arches,
At daybreak, the familiar fields of wheat;
Or, imagining a town amidst starry night,
It whistles penetratingly through valleys,
Dreaming of the oasis: the station in the heaven of glass,
Amidst the thicket of rails it crosses by thousands,
Where, trailing its long white cloud, it rolls my thunder!
What soul disputes my body?
I hear music:
Will I be swept away?
I so adore dancing
And other physical foolishness
I feel it is plain
That had I been a young girl
I would have been utterly corrupted.
But, since I’ve already plunged myself
Into this illustrated review,
I can swear that I have never seen
Such enchanting photographs:
The lazy ocean cradles the funnels,
I see in the port, on the decks of steamships,
Among the indiscriminate merchandise,
Bodies polished like machines,
A thousand things from China,
Fashions and inventions;
Then, ready to cross town
In the tranquility of automobiles,
Poets and boxers.
This evening, how great my disgust
That, despite so much sadness,
Everything seems beautiful?
Money which is real,
Peace, vast enterprise,
Buses and graves;
Fields, sport, mistresses,
Even the inimitable life of hotels.
I would like to be in Vienna and Calcutta,
Catch every train and every boat,
Lay every woman and gorge myself on every dish.
Man of fashion, chemist, whore, drunk, musician,
laborer, painter, acrobat, actor, in them all;
Old man, child, crook, hooligan, angel & rake;
millionaire, bourgeois, cactus, giraffe, or crow;
Coward, hero, Negro, monkey, Don Juan, pimp,
lord, peasant, hunter, industrialist,
Flora & fauna:
I am all things, all men & all animals!
Assume a distinguished air,
Manage to leave behind perhaps
My fatal plurality!
And while the moon
Beyond the chestnut trees,
Harnesses her greyhounds,
And, as if in a kaleidoscope,
On my body’s
May my fingers,
Stuck to my delighted keys,
Imbibe fresh palpitations,
Beneath immortal movements
My braces thrill;
And, ideal pedestrian,
I get brazenly drunk
Even on bad smells.
A complete mixture
Of elephant & angel.
Reader, under the moon I serenade
Your future good fortune,
Armed with so much logic,
That, lacking sensual despite,
I can anticipate the stench of rut,
Cunt, pipe, water, Africa and funeral repose,
Behind lower blinds,
The calm of the brothel.
The bright stabling
Of the urinals.
I can no longer remain outside.
Here is your bed; be stupid & go to sleep.
But, the last tenet of all,
Who sadly scrapes his feet,
And, although stumbling with fatigue,
If on this earth I heard
The rumble of fresh trains
Let my souls revive themselves!
Dandy, drug-addict, gigolo, suicide-enthusiast — Jacques Rigaut was by no means the least intense of all those drawn to Dada in Paris during the opening years of the 1920s.
“Rigaut, a particularly disorganizing intellegence, proved to be a Dad among the Dadas, that is, he demoralized whatever came into contact with him, and he had not a little to do with the ruin of Dada; in short, he did wonders.“
As Rigaut himself remarked, “Suicide is a vocation.” He maintained throughout his short life a notable fascination, & recurrent theme in his writing, with mirrors. Describing himself as “the man on the other side of the mirror” describing the mirror as “the eye that looks at the eye that looks at the eye that looks…” Rigault also apparently experimented with painting or drawing on mirrors.
“Try if you can,” wrote Rigaut, “to arrest a man who travels with suicide in his buttonhole.”
Excerpts from Lord Patchogue
Look at me, my face; do you not detect a close resemblance, it is hardly surprising — I look like everybody. You will learn why later. Say it aloud then, or are you afraid now: that I resemble you, that I am your living image. You are standing before a mirror. Let me explain.
My story should begin with mirrors, or else by the impossible possessive—I wonder. Lord Patchogue, as said before, is my name. But athough this is the name to which I habitually answer, to tell the truth I am not totally convinced that it is mine.
The room, its four walls, is & are unbearable. I have to get out. I know no longer which streets to avoid. I suspect the soles of my shoes were not made for these pavements, my legs for these pants, not my patience for this waiting. Great feats, low deeds, acrobatics, records, the greatest difficulty of all is to breathe.
And even as I affirm, still I interrogate.
For the credulous, there is no difference between winning & losing. If there is nothing to be gained, what can there be to lose?
Lord Patchogue smiles: “I will soon hold the key in a single word.”
There is only one madman in the mental asylum and he is clearly the governor.
The greater my disinterest, the more authentic my interest.
I lay no special claims to indifference based on nonparticipation. I go red like anyone else. Red with heat, white with cold, I will slap you with my hand if you step on my feet. You will have no trouble catching me out in all sorts of emotional and physical transgressions.
But do not become involved in my adventures.
I cross my legs, I knick against the muscle behind my kneecap, my leg jerks in the air. Where do I come in? You will say that it was me who moved.
How do you see Lord Patchogue in all this? What was his portion, what was his role?
Lord Patchogue dashes to the mirror to assure himself that he is still there, not really he himself, but his nose, the nose that he saw only a few minutes ago. It is not so much his existence he doubts as that of each of his attributes, and if not of their existence then of their legitimacy.
When he makes love, he shouts his own name, as if to strike his adversary, like a second means of scattering his semen.
His laziness won out against his affectation. A few years ago you would have been able to catch out Lord Patchogue making defensive errors against taste, preferences, choice. Errors of taste.
He probably desires all that a man possesses, or at least enough to let him forget that he owns nothing. Just to want would suffice. But Lord Patchogue does not even want to want.
II. Episode in the Mirror at Oyster Bay
He is sitting in front of a table occupied with a game of patience.
Does he exist?
That’s it. Lord Patchogue raises his head, the universe revives.
In an enormous mirror on the wall opposite, Lord Patchogue catches a glimpse of his reflection: “I know you. I do not mistake you for an ostrich, nor a streetlamp, nor for a friend of young Charles. You are the reflection of Lord Patchogue, that is if you are not Lord Patchogue himself! Ah! Which of the two of us moved first? Who is imitating the other?”
Lord Patchogue stands up. He studies his full-length portrait in the mirror. Five senses are not sufficient for his chance companions; once more they shall miss the shaw; they are no more ready to perceive the presence of a mystery than they think of death.
Lord Patchogue as his reflection slowly advance towards each other. They consider each other in silence, they come to a halt, they bow.
A great dizziness seizes hold of Lord Patchogue. It was brief, easily done, and magical: forehead first, he suddenly springs forwards. He strikes the glass, which shatters, but there he is on the other side.
Everyone has stood up.
The marvelous is not rare, incredulity is stronger than miracles. Miracles have difficulty in recruiting witnesses amongst the small number of people prepared to subscribe to the supernatural. Lord Patchogue was the first to be unsure that he had crossed the threshold. None of those who crowded around him noticed the astonishing disappearance of their friend. They surrounded him as if he was still there, they recognized him, they can still hear his voice.
A certain malaise arose however. Why had not Lord Patchogue hurt himself more seriously? The single delicate diagonal cut on his forehead is not enough; one cannot traverse a mirror with impunity, it is not possible; everyone would have felt more reassured if they had been able to count numerous bloody injuries. Only one person has suspected the fatal nature of the thin red gash which disfigures Lord Patchogue’s forehead.
News of a miracle does not spread so easily; it know what has to be to done and assists itself with extraordinary manifestations. The next day, two workmen came to replace the mirror. By the time they had finished, Lord Patchogue had disappeared.
III. Behind the Mirror
The reverse is just as good as the right side: it is necessary to wait there.
How to stop him? I know everything he is going to tell me. That’s enough. I can predict his every move. Do not open your mouth, simpleton. I know what you will have to say tomorrow, I know you from the front, behind, north, south, hot, cold; that’s enough.
Do not open your mouth, my friend. To whom are you speaking, you are drunk, my ears are your ears, your tongue is my own, you are alone, madmen make me afraid.
“My friend’s swethearts…”
“…are my sweethearts.” I can complete all your sentences.
There is no way out on this side, an progress is impossible, the ladder of eyes stretches to infinity. The victim might well run off, but towards what dreams! In front of him, it would be enough to traverse the mirror in the opposite direction, but even the mirror offers less resistance to his efforts. The right side is just as good as the reverse.
Just like a photographer: “Smile, and I’ll do the rest.”
Don’t forget I cannot se myself, that my role is limited to being the one who looks in the mirror while at the same time I remain Patchogue as before. I have never felt so natural.
(Nothing has changed.)
IV. The Escape
The secret: life begins with anomaly, with an abnormal function. The wheel which turns, etc. The legs…
Once and for all, I am not telling you the story of my life, only a story which I remember.
Story of a Poor Young Man
One has made such a lot of love only because it is of greater utility than other things. The more necessary money becomes the more demanding, the more wonderful and agreeable it becomes, like love. One could just as easily argue the reverse. My poverty is easier to bear if I remember that there are people who are rich. Other people’s money helps me live, but not quite as you might imagine.
Thought is a task for the poor, a wretched revenge. When I am alone, I do not think. I think only when forced; the compulsion: the minor examination to prepare for, paternal obligations, the trade to which I submit myself, all salaried work leads me to thought, that is to say to making up my mind to kill myself, which is the same thing. There are few different way of thinking; to think is to reflect on death and arrive at a decision. — Otherwise, I sleep. Praise be to sleep! not only the magnificent mystery of each night but also to unpredictable torpor. My companions of sleep, it is in your company that I imagine a satisfactory existence. We will sleep behind the throb of motors, we will sleep with skis on our feet, we will sleep before the smoking cities, in the blood of ports, above the desert sky, we will sleep on the stomachs of our women, we will sleep int eh pursuit of knowledge, armed with our syllogisms—the seekers of sleep.
“I’m asleep.” You, in your office, angry or bored, you think of death. You have a good understanding of love! Just you wait until I am the richest man in the world and see who will be responsible for ignoble urges at my place! Ssshhh! The thinkers are grooming my cars! No who is laughing? Do you not appreciate the advantage of my millions; that they are a state of grace? I shall have the first exact balance at last; I know the price of things; every pleasure will be priced. Consult the menu. Love for sale. That should insure me against the passions! I can do without people’s consent, and I shall rub my hands if their agreement is replaced by sacrifice and against-my-wills.
A well-wisher, a man twenty years older than myself, has offered me a means of subsistence so that I need not give up the speculative life for which I have demonstrated such a natural disposition — he must be joking! — to classify index cards in a library and to edit an anthology of the lofty thoughts of some great general or monarch. There is no shortage of other ways of stealing. It is a shameful business earning money. How can a doctor avoid blushing when a patient places money on his desk? As soon as a gentlemen places himself in the position of accepting money from someone, he might as well wait until he is asked to lower his trousers. If one does not render service freely, how it is a service? why render it at all? Clearly, I have to turn to crime from a sense of delicacy.
Young man, mediocre, poor, 21 years old, clean hands, seeks wife, 24 cylinders, healthy, sex maniac or fluent in Anamese. Write Jacques Rigaut, 73 Boulevard du Montparnasse, Paris, 75006.
I shall be serious, as serious as pleasure. People don’t know what they’re talking about. There are no reasons for living, but there are no reasons for dying either. The only means which is granted to us to express our contempt for life is to accept it. Life is not worth the troubleof departing from it. One may, as an act of kindness, refuse it on behalf of another, but for oneself?
It’s very handy, suicide: so handy that I can’t stop thinking about it: I haven’t killed myself yet.
Suicide should be a vocation. The blood circulates and demands a justification for its interminable journey. There is an impatience in fingers which squeeze only the hollow of the hand. There is an itch for an activity which rebounds on itself if the wretch has neglected to learn how to choose an objective. Abstract desires. Impossible desires. This is where the line is drawn between suffering which has a name and a goal and that which is anonymous and self-induced.
There’s not much I have taken very seriously. One thing I never managed to bring myself to scoff at though: pleasure. If I were still capable of shame or self-respect, you can well imagine that I would not choose to impart such a pain as confidence. Another day I will explain to you why I never lie: one has nothing to hide from one’s others. But to return to pleasure, which promises to overtake you and, with two little notes of music, with you over to the idea of skin and many other things besides. As long as I cannot overcome my taste for pleasure, I well know that I shall be susceptible to the intoxication of suicide.
The first time I killed myself it was to annoy my mistress. My suicide then may be forgiven taking into consideration my extreme youth at the time.
The second time I killed myself it was from laziness. Poor, and having an anticipatory horror of work, one day I killed myself as I had lived—without conviction. They do not hold this death against me when they see how I am flourishing today.
The third time—I will spare you the details of my other suicides, provided that you agree to listen to this one: I had just gone to bed after an evening on which my boredom had been no more overwhelming than any other night. I took the decision and, at the same time, I clearly remember that I articulated the sole reason. Then, drat! I got up to go and look for the only weapon in the house, a little revolver that one of my grandfathers had bought and which was loaded with bullets from the same epoch. (You will see in a moment why I stress this detail.) Lying down naked on my bed, I was naked in the room. It was cold. I hurriedly buried myself under the blankets. I cocked the hammer, I could feel the cold steel in my mouth. At that moment I could probably feel my heart beating, just as I could feel it beating as I listened to the whistle of a shell before it exploded, as if in the presence of something irrevocable but still unconsummated. I pressed the trigger, the hammer clicked, but the shot didn’t fire. I then laid the weapon on a small table, probably laughing a little nervously. Then minutes later, I was asleep. It goes without saying that I did not for an instant consider a second shot. The important thing was not whether I died or not but that I had taken the decision to die.
A man who has been spared by dullness and boredom may perhaps find in suicide the accomplishment of a most selfless gesture, provided that he is not curious about death! I have absolutely no idea when and how I could have thought like this, which hardly troubles me in any case. But, all the same, it is the most absurd of acts, and a fantasy at the moment it shatters, and a lack of constraint beyond sleep, and the purest of compromises.
Excerpts from Euphorisms
One should not let the cat out of the bag before it has been skinned.
Sacrilege is acceptable only as a game.
Thought involves a little charlatanism.
(It is not natural to think: one must create a veritable stage-setting out of oneself and things, not to mention the inevitable artificial device of reasoning… Without these shams, thought is no more than naivete, banging on about the obvious, and, basically, stupidity.)
Intelligence involved deception as speech does lying.
Man is an onion, the noblest there is in nature, but a peeling onion — like any other.
A skin? You don’t know how right you are.
But, if you remove it, you’ll find another, and another… down to the void at the centre (that’s not all that large, either).
Let’s weep, let’s weep.
My crocodile brothers.
From my window: “the everyday horizon of roofs.”
My I-roofs. If I were me.
We say suspect to mean supposed.
That which is hypothetical is accused: Why not clear enough to be immediately obvious?
The object is that which is objected against me.
Ideas about death are ingenuous. Some believe we do not die. That is obviously too naive. Other believe that dying is nothing, that before, one lives, and afterwards one no longer gives it any thought. That is, no less obviously, too well thought out. It seems, should one wish to judge it coldly, that it is the latter who are right, because it is they who better express the available facts. But this is an illusion: facts here say nothing, if they ever say anything at all. Death. Death is ironic.
Nature is only another chimera.
My opinion of nature:
The feet try in vain to tempt the ground; it is a sated belly, refusing all superfluity.
Whiteness is filthy.
The unexpected is not all that so. Fortunately, it would otherwise go unrecognized and pass unnoticed. Tediously, it is for this very reason that it quickly becomes tedious.
I don’t know whether there are numbers. And you?
We are mistaken in not being on our guard (at all times if possible) against certain ill-effects of thought. I take it as understood that a pleasant event will take place only at the moment when I am giving it the least thought, and because I am giving it the least thought. The thought kills the event. Action, that is to say creation, constitutes the exact inverse of conscious thought. In that second I kill in myself something a thousand times better than my thought. Let’s think no more, dis-pense with thinking.
Believers are stupid because, if they were intelligent, they would already have the stupidity of hypocrisy.
The hypocrite, in effect, despite the prodigious resources he must on occasion display, winds up believing in the value of his simulation.
One then gets an inkling of the ontological consistency of the treacly mess in which believers splash about. It is probably upon this that they base their experience of the infinite. But they are to be found elsewhere than in the churches.
There are those who give no thought to believing and those who discover that they believe. The first are real believers, like savages or sorcerers. The others are Jesuits or intellectuals, all the cooks who prepare the dessert of certitude.
Knowing is always more or less pretending to know. It can be interesting, on occasion, to observe the ‘learned’, that useless and conceited species.
The reason why science so readily turn keen-witted and even free-thinking minds into imbeciles is that, despite everything, it is in part true.
Importance is unimportant.
The genius of the drunk. He reasons, he demonstrates his drunkenness. But reasonings and demonstrations are of no interest because they are false.
I am also the shadow which follows me and which I flee.
Shadow of a shadow, dancing on the ramshackle walls of chance, to the point of preceding me during those moments when the heat on my back dissolves me in the sight of that frenzied caricature which frightens me too much for me to laugh to my heart’s content.
It’s very simple. To succeed, sell the real or the unreal. Be a banker or a poet. A superficial difference.
The World and the Spirit, the Plenum and the Void, work and rest… Practices which are scarcely of any interest except to those who don’t have a living to make. For life — true or false — takes good care to water down the dialectical poison into the PHENOUMENON.
The contrary of this problem is the poem.
Poetry is an idea x.
Real intimacy (the only one) is body-to-body.
Thinking one’s thought through to the end, what else is that than running up against one’s mental limits and killing one’s thought by having it smash its skull against the bars of its cage? Thought leads to nothing other than to itself, and all roads lead to man: thought is a bourgeois pastime. A reflection which is, after all, perfectly bourgeois, as it is entirely frivolous. To understand, to despair, or to remain silent, is always an act of faith of a kind, a way of settling down, of resting on one’s despair or one’s silence.
Lighting up the night only makes it more obvious.
Getting oil out of the wall to grease the snail’s palm.
Living is a kind of hide-&-seek. In seeking out ideas, one reckons to have a pretext for not getting lost or, at all events, in the masked ball in which we are carried along, to find ones clothes again in the cloakroom.
It’s not the light that’s attracting me, but the darkness that’s driving me on.
They bang on about the obvious, want to cover it in thick layers so as to no longer see the obscure, and, after pages of equations, finally get down to formulating 0 = 0.
You wouldn’t be looking for me if you hadn’t already found me.
So it’s only a game of hide-&-seek?
Hunger justifies the middle classes.
Chance? Its creations are no more unsuccessful than those of the Other. Its intentions are every bit as unpredictable, its power infinite. It resembles him like a brother.
For God, to be only God is really a bit much.
As a matter of certainty there exists a mysticism of poodle-clippers.
There are only fools who believe that art is a serious matter.
The beautiful must be incongruous.
Perfect beauty calls for admiration: it is deadly boring. Imperfect beauty must be, as it were, welcomed, won over and, so to speak, wheedled. The rift of irony is that redeeming imperfection.
We confuse beautiful with big, slender with skinny: a beautiful pig, a skinny leg.
Beauty is an excess: not to be confused with perfection, which is only always an average.
Genius manifests crudity.
I do not know, I suspect. (That is not a motto, it’s an observation.)
It is easy to be original or pass for such.
The most insupportable hypocrisy—that of aesthetics.
The best jokes are uncalled-for.
Being able to laugh at one’s own laughter and to make fun of the serious way in which people amuse themselves.
Humor is scarcely more than a fairly revolting variety of commonplace comedy. It is a position, a situation, almost a brandname.
A literally perfect style should conceal itself so completely behind what it expresses that it goes unnoticed.
Words sleep. Their silence sends one to sleep.
Man is an animal that blathers.
I assess, without light-headedness, the extent of my humanity.
A man entirely awake of the ambiguity of all things and of words ought at least wind up fusing them entirely. Like the world, the word reflects from its thousand facets. The point is to place oneself at the centre of the dazzling spectacle, where the correspondnces themselves no longer have an MEANINGS (one no longer sense them, they no longer have meaning, they no longer orientate). One loses the facet. And the contradiction shines forth, at once logical and otological. Then, quite naturally, the thing coagulates into the sign and the word solidifies into matter, sonorous and tactile. The Kabbalists were not far from this result. Mallarme perhaps glimpsed it. And, before him, there was Nostradamus.
I have never understood the interest one could take in a description. In the century of the photo. Or even in another.
To denounce, once and for all, the mania for celebration.
True poetry is embarrassing.
Beloved and bland, images are the swedes of the poem.
Speech resembles its inventor, the breather of the word and author of a hoax: As soon as one wishes to forget oneself, one sense the language becoming constipated while, alas, all the time remaining every bit as filthy. No more relief. The words gasp their last and stink of oral morality.
How then, to express oneself, since that word itself adopts the scatosociological girpes and consecrates it as the standard model of delivery? How to avoid the caca-phony, since, we know from the experts, silence is still more fetidly eloquent than the voice?
There’s no obvious remedy. As soon as one opens one’s mouth to speak, it stinks of the social.
Lyricism: a venereal disease.
To shut poetry up in a poem is to prevent it penetrating into life. Let’s not write anything any more. To poet of tomorrow will be unaware of the very name of poetry.
A poet who is preoccupied with poetry is a shopkeeper.
If a drunk spins you a yarn about faked poem, listen to him with all your heart.
All the great endeavors — or, what comes to the same thing, every poetic endeavor — have been directed against language and thought.
As if there were lost time!
The literature of impotence is about to develop beyond measure.
When the house is blown up, there’s nothing to shut or open.
To watch. To take shelter if there’s a roof. But not to be so mistaken as to clap or hiss, and to believe in it. What fails is every bit as interesting as what succeeds.
BEWARE OF GAMBLING
“literally & in every sense”
1. Everything is equal.
2. Everything is thus perfectly good.
Only the gullible fool is surprised, only the simpleton finds fault.
We have no right to anything, because there is no right, either in nature, other than that of eat or be eaten, or in society, where certain appearances mask the same reality. And there’s nothing to be sad about this. On the contrary.
Happiness? Of course, of course. It’s with that they force people to make themselves unhappy. Me, I don’t give a fuck.
For the optimist everything’s fine: all those disorders, stupidities and trivialities are part of the harmony. What a pessimist!
For the pessimist, everything should be far better: he seems to believe we could conceive of the universe otherwise than absurd, and mankind otherwise than mediocre. What an optimist!
Myself, just now, I illustrate the illusion of all thought — which eats its heart out with well-being. Euphorisms.
Is there still time? There’s always time: time is always there, to take us out of ourselves.
The present is always the best, even when its rough.
Dear Universe: it is common knowledge that I am always cheerful and, for all that, very sociable–thanks to my consummate experience of ‘Pataphysics. But because, in those moments, I stick at it.
My greatest discovery has been my love of boredom and to get fun out of it.
I spent eleven years at school. And I realized there are no “sicknesses of the soul.” There are only words.
I shall carry my head underneath my arm.
Knowing that there is no future that is possible or desirable, I experience the solace one feels on going back to sleep when the alarmclock has sounded.
There are still those who believe that something will change.
One never changes anything but the flourishes, the frills.
We others, we have them on our backs.
Don’t believe, though, that a change of frills would be completely pointless: for those who need a drug or something-to-live-by, it’s still better than nothing.
Everyday they recite their “I”-lesson.
For us life is a fact, no less, and, above all, no more.
“Making one’s living”? By that THEY mean “earning (?) a living” all day long and keeping aside a couple of hours for dreaming about what might be. Longing for travel, painting the town red. For them it’s enough to remain voyeurs. Another way of holding on to their jobs.
Here we are in the century of information, that is to say the unformed.
Every kind of literature will be journalistic, with a science for ballast.
His tie was fashioned from an umbilical cord.
If homosexual practices had to “justify” themselves, it would doubtless be on grounds of disgust at that wet gut-rumbling heterosexual copulation.
The only serious inconvenience of solitude is when one has a parcel to mail.
Which is the most obscene flower?
The Ancients opted for the lily, with its donkey member.
I opt for the pine-flower.
To write erotic novels, to be read int he dark.
Vice is there, simple & tranquil.
Woman is not the female of man.
She represents a genus zoologically related to our own, but nevertheless dissimilar in its essence.
It is high time to think and act in consequence.
What we call feminine charm is the g-string of claptrap.
Above all never wear lily-of-the-valley in your flies; it brings too much good luck.
In knowing-not-what-they-do, THEY know all too perfectly well that they’re doing.
There are only two attitudes: to resign oneself or to rebel.
Both, if it comes to the crunch, demand the same liberty & lucidity.
Equal and ego.
Above all, equality.
IT’S ALL THE SAME TO ME.
(I measure myself against it, and reckon myself its equal).
The inferior man accepts being inferior because he believe himself superior.
I don’t believe in superiors (only delusions of such).
To be equal is more difficult.
Everything I do will be too much.
Chance and the poet are alike. If they are creative, it is playfully, and their game of chance is the only true game. Chance and the poet are almost as ham-fisted as God. I say almost because, all the same, ‘he’ fails to be a good loser: it demands, when the chips are down, that we find everything it does perfect.
To stake one’s life at every instant, on every word, on every thought (for one has to think). And with one’s eyes closed. It’s straightforward affectation anyhow: the dice are loaded.
Not to be complete.
Throw the house out of the windows. (Castillian proverb)