This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
31, (Winter, 1984), pp. 33-48 Published by: The MIT Press
the hens on the roost. like a postal clerk in a bad mood due to bad digestion or wounded pride. I'll go further and say: the fact that Brahin is walking through Pigalle. screaming for everything it has lost by watering at other springs. first coiling. the thumbprint of beauty of another race. it doesn't pass through the male glands.conceals a sensuality that attacks like a snake. immature. Brahin is like a Sicilian boy. bad. etc. amid the houses. the magical gaze of a girl: the two eyes set close above the slightly hooked nose. Or rendered them vain by suggesting other ways of being in the sun. Oddly enough. The fact that Brahin is walking through the heart of Paris is thus the beginning of a story. which appears alien. dry. an Arab's French has that shrill sound. to learn French means to repeat a rustic condition -with thoughts of the city in a house crumbling in the sun. To sip that water as an unnatural act of baptism. like certain little shoots of tender winter saplings. Tallish. scourging. sterile. translation ? John Shepley . That vocal emission. the neighbors dressed in rags. between the walls. the destiny that combines sex and death: and since the peasant universe is petit-bourgeois. then coiling again on its desert road. broad hips. along the dry rivers. the fetid sheep. light.Rital and Raton PIER PAOLO PASOLINI translated by JOHN SHEPLEY He said: 'J'aifa'" In a country voice-rather shrill: for an Arab. The emission of this little vocal shoot comes from the head. but without that soft fecundating will that goes back more to the mother than to the father. to accept its taste like a nonexistent beast that at its contact comes into existence and cries. with narrow shoulders. The water of a river that you see after showing your passport. As though the presence of other destinies were a threat to our own. feeble.the voice of the mother. their shrewd old ideas. with a faintly repellent aura. Sensuality appears bitter and sharp-as in a barnyard animal-treacherous and aggressive. then straight. high in tone and weak. the dreamlike gestures at the end of the cultivated horizon. plaintive.
. asked for the telephone book. black. The dead man lay on his stomach. Above the eyes is a big circle. too-like a sort of fat rodent's. indeed enormous. bristling. it skims and almost covers the starry eyes. punctured his head. not greasy. over the forehead. etc. And the journey from Lyons and Paris. and left him bleeding on the red floor of the bar. dull.irregular and quivering. The journey from Batna ("On what mountain chain.34 OCTOBER I said his eyes are those of a girl. with his blond friend.like two pigeons flying together. or woven with the wings of southern birds.and dry. reluctant and inarticulate. came in and shot him. which he had put up to shield his face. most surely trimmed by Parisian scissors as it emerged. similar to the constriction of a sore throat.the wog's mouth is pretty ugly. or a still immature boy. shining circle is a thin white line and a small undeveloped circle. Really and truly a big circle. Next to that big. all lucid flesh: with his shrill voice that strikes the upper part of the palate like a current of cool and unhealthy air. * . the little blue eyes. or plain. or coast of Algeria?" I. That night a Corsican was murdered by some of his compatriots: he went into a bar. Let the blond friend . heavy. so as to leave as much space as possible for the big. until. looking as though it had been traced at that moment. etc. had a drink. That blond friend who has no racial prejudices . the ugly mouth . circle that starts from the thin white line and lunges like a beating wing over the hairline. over the eyebrows. ruffled. Almost as though a throttle were located at the top of the lungs. the two killers.also have a big blond wheel over his eye. they punctured his hands. not soft. Underneath. would have wondered) to Lyons. not light. not quivering. But a dirty one. Brahin was among those watching. and he seemedto be sleepingwith hisforeheadon his arm. to malnutrition rather than wind. with the customers crowded at the tables in the back room coming out to watch like crows. a big black circle . etc.crammed with wogs and wops exchanging illusions of nationality. this slumbermaking as him once again as defenseless a child. his fellow countrymen. not shining or smooth. but due to sun rather than snow.in the gratuitousness of the unwritten story . that fatuous author of a few years ago. like a frayed but living silk beret. the banlieue. And further underneath. went over to the phone. above the ear.
the huge quantity of leaflets and notices--poorly printed by local typesetters and soon yellowed and pulpy -piling up on desks. actions scarcely begun.present action . But action . Father M. But it seems to be. bruised.Rital and Raton 35 Maybe Brahin hasn't enough breath to finish the word: Fa'.'s action stubbornly overcomes the limitations of the means and their dreariness (for instance. southern Frenchmen. still almost in a state of guilt). whatever it may be. acts for all these amorphous children. In the "story that will never be written. In the same disorder as in the office. is in a position to grasp in their unimaginable entirety. flat. to his misfortune. that of the clergy.'s gray face. and shyness overcome through action. mild enthusiasm not devoid of self-irony. with its pointed nose and wide mouth (a mouth onto which the smile drains down from the eyes. to a calculated excess of patience. and on the rows of inextinguishable lights beyond the darkness of the Seine." his face would be minutely described (or better. "rendered"): anyway it's a face that primarily expresses agreeable astonishment. Nevertheless. chairs. itself too small and poor for so much action). to extract from chaos and from that infinite series of random acts that escape any conceivable statistics and which only a poet. Simultaneously: Father M. . is in his office in the Latin Quarter. or else to the need to discredit in the presence of third parties the legend of his own wickedness. backed up by a real power. after all. the will to action is what prevails on Father M. whom it seems impossible somehow or other to count. If it's not wind. has this air of being spent. even simply the organizational and intellectual kind. Or maybe it's some unrecognizable symptom of shyness.and everything open on the darkness of the Seine. past actions. it's an aspiration. which is to some extent the great task of madmen. and pitiful-it seems to fill time and space simply in order to fill them. or a sigh due to sensitivity-or maybe. and wobbling little tables in the office. bare. shelves.the allusion to other actions . More than a lack of breath. formed by an unimaginable number of concomitant actions. a silent h.the great task in the service of God. poor Parisians--who circulate by the thousands and thousands on the wide sidewalks of their boulevards. as the case may be. Its static and eternal breath flutters the thin overcoats of African students. or to the wish to disappear. and indeed one of the tasks of madmen. expiring in the painful reverence he has for himself. But it's the lack of breath of kids who grow up in cities of gangsterism. in front of stores full of those thin overcoats motionless in the light . leaving the eyes with little smile and much of that old shyness. it's the wind of existence. witnessed and vindicated as it is. Or rather. somewhat anxious politeness. exactly like a paranoiac's innocent system of acts. Father M. I don't know if the wind is blowing. forgotten actions. the gray expanse of the Latin Quarter opens outside: it has the same desperate air of suspended action. distressed.
A state school (if I must imagine it to set the stage. some in cruel short pants like the two drooping wings of a fledgling sparrow. can act: he is attached to his action. a day whose chance nature is set in a light that it would after all be crazy to call funereal (though it belongs to that past that we share with the dead).that's the way it has remained in my mind's eye . of whose face or arm all you can see is a kind of brief whitish streak.. escaping. some in the knickerbockers imposed on them by the Anglophile snobbery of . etc. he too is a robot of the evening on the Seine: he throws away his something along with all the others. a rainy Paris air of such intensity as to make the walls crack. the easygoing black students. And I can see him. that good-looking little Jewish boy.. was a little boy.: "You have given my name to something that escaped you. with his intense and bashful smile: the readiness and sugary sweetness of the Eastern smile that remains on the lips of many Jews. each with a destiny whose randomness and precariousness is multiplied by the infinite number of destinies of the others. Little M. well. with his rather pointed nose and wide." Still. the vulgar Italians. the full experience of the whole period of life in which one is a child -made still more adult and almost refined by the fact of being reached in Paris. especially when at thirteen years of age such readiness and sweetness are as yet scarcely veiled by the anxiety to adapt to the West. I'm thinking of a little white school . a little out of focus due to the sudden movement of someone in the picture.36 OCTOBER For as night falls in a Paris quarter it sets some tens of thousands of students in motion like robots: it gives meaning to something they have in their hearts. engaged in strolling like an army that a night breeze has been enough to disperse under the lights of the boulevards? There was once a time when Father M. besides covering them with a bluish patina. this something that's so . And the wind of existence now flutters the thin overcoats of little boys leaving school on that far-off day before the war. have entered like this into unison with all these children.white from the lime of Arab countries . who come at random from the four corners of the earth. since it is located in the quarter behind a famous caf6): there's a rainy air in the narrow alley between the overhanging houses. the tiny Vietnamese. How could Father M. God might say to Father M. like one of their own sufficiently familiar places. the hook-nosed Arabs. In the end. As in a photograph suffused with sepia. thin.in an old alley of that Paris that even Italians know fondly. still immature at the age of thirteen. so marvelous. Father M. Only when seen as an undifferentiated whole does this public act of "throwing something away" regain its vague sacred meaning: it's a genuine ritual and it keeps escaping. and it's strange how all of them together throw it away. the serious Parisians-always paired with a still more serious girl.they throw it away as though it were an ordinary thing. etc. wrapped in a scarf and melting with tenderness. sacred. The scene is the following. is there. a group of his contemporaries. in this way. but with the precocity of that age-which is the old age of childhood. timid lips.
A few years later. is the sign of supreme elegance. one little streak of old Ostia sunlight. I'd met him before.. Only one little streak of that yellow mop was golden. as in the mannerist painters. What ensued was a scene from an elegant French film.'s mother and all his relatives were taken by the Germans and deported to the concentration camps. In the meantime the wind disperses them throughout small pensions. and excluding him definitely. His sidekick and "blond counterpart" has disappeared. they exclude him." The consequences of the matter are well known. I'm thinking of an Italian boy glimpsed in the Prenestina shantytown. something by Renoir. he kept begging. with the wretched look of one who is rejected and is ready for any abdication of his own dignity.it enters into the dusty office of Father M. a shining glint. to the exclusion of anyone else. in trying to worm his way into this group of companions just coming out of school.Rital and Raton 37 their entrepreneur or paint-manufacturer fathers. . and his father succeeded in saving themselves by fleeing to the South of France. Contrasting sharply with that lobster pink was the yellow of his hair-blond. etc. alleys. The others turn their backs on him. for good. Finally the others reacted. near a big round public square. with a kind of dusty and sugary sheen about it. for the lowest sort of humility. which made the pink look pale in the middle areas and bright at the edges. "heard the call. He wore a jersey lobster pink in color. explicitly. And not only did he belong to Catholic groups.. M. He goes closer. he looked quite different. with a soft and scanty mop. brasseries. etc. and not neglecting to use the cruel phrases of a serial novel: that. with these little boys affecting to speak like grown-ups. In conceiving the latter. He was later able to go back to Paris with a father who was not a Jew. it flaps their scarves and the skirts of their thin overcoats. so long as he is accepted. but rushing past in a Fiat 1100 amid the painted shacks.. cafeterias.cursed by this wandering father of his . and boulevards.. he slips in among them. the gray of a driedup swamp. after all. where they died in the manner we heard about later. The one excluded is the little boy M. and there in the middle of the war . There are now thousands of students around him -they will shortly come into the meeting hall.on a day of fine weather with the sun beating down on terror and silence -M. has gathered by itself. M. but faded from the sun. who is unable to do anything about it but smile. who is smoking. but he acted in them as well. You can't be one of us because your father's a Jew. and he smiles to mask his persistence in staying there. his name was Palmiro. As for Brahin. said: "We're talking about God. he listens." He found his true father in the God of the Catholics. Maneuvering like a little bird approaching food. mud on mud. and with a catechumen's marvelous love. he's now at the foot of Pigalle. The fact is that one of them turned to him.
like a Hindu by poor human beings of another caste. In the presence of the sexual act. which is now the only vital thing about him (his body. He stares at the people inside the plate-glass window of a caf -like a lot of fish motionless inside a fish bowl. later. whether as vulgar as he is. if he's not continually obsessed by the thought of not being what he's expected to be. she could not allow herself to yield to such weaknesses. or as nowadays it's no longer permitted to be. and so on. and often painful performances. a long shot to that little stage at the end of one of the countless squares of Paris. Or-who knows?-maybe he liked it. deeply democratic and art nouveau. Merchandising herself had not been without its consequences. since sexual life was something she experienced as merchandise and not as herself. she placed herself in a state of mind in which. whom I know only visually. through Brahin's gaze from afar. and so his staring gaze is infinitely more significant. arbitrarily. He is alone with his gaze. hot." I say the because she is a character denoted and connoted in Brahin's life.. foreign immigrant workers in Paris. sometimes fierce. She had lost any conceivable idea of what sexual life was. obviously. these pleasurable weaknesses were a question of money. guilty.almost as though they were on a small stage lit by reflectors in a performance by the Living Theatre. attributed to men. For a writer's gaze has its rights. About her. But Brahin saw nothing of all this. as an impure writer. as a virgin. especially if that writer isn't afraid of being infected by literature. if he does not have the altogether bourgeois terror of seeming and being what the bourgeoisie wants and imagines him to be. she was prevented from feeling it. The leading character in their midst is "the blonde. but this constant. or as the Communist party wants and imagines him to be. at first she had been unable to feel it because. she had split herself by the fact of being one of the girls of Pigalle.38 OCTOBER Brahin is now alone. which in itself had left its mark on her whole existence. So. in its solitude. therefore. sometimes melancholy. My the is almost one of definition. nagging appearance and disappearance of the member. had imprinted on her face a changeless expression of nonexistence. reducing it to a sluggish theater of such monotonous. True. with its open-air oyster stands that seem sculpted in wrought iron. porters at Les Halles. As for pure and simple physical pleasure. appears crushed. Maybe he liked the seeming death of that body. I can write the following notes about the blonde whom I've merely seen. First of all. her professional deformation presented life to her in the guise of a male member emerging from and going back into its nest inside the dark trousers of taxi drivers. not having to show pleasure. etc. etc. his shoulders are narrower). provincial students. and not for a moment could she allow herself to yield for any other reason but money. with a grandiose anonymity inconceivable anywhere else but Paris-I can still allow myself to say many things. . and their immobility makes them seem more luminous . as a whore. his trousers hang limply over that mortal flesh that he too can be said to share with us.
should suddenly cease? And we were to find ourselves in the presence of the other--the one at whom we smile -with the need not to disguise ourselves through action. The kind of innocent cunning contained in the humor of the simpleton. is amended by a flash of cunning. a blessedness albeit tormented. Mountains of music . and at himself so as to appear to the world as insignificant. in profound peace."). . have on their consciences is too great for them to be able to devote themselves objectively. who had surely been to the Latin Quarter and to Pigalle: there is un regard watching him who is watching both a Father M. . That humorous smile is the smile ofJohn XXIII. the feeling of approval by one's new coreligionists. but to explain ourselves for what we are? Better not to think about it. Who has summoned that ghostly spirit? What calm! We're no longer the only ones to be concerned with Brahin! The burden that Father M..there were many . with the solemn face of a kindly Jew. and all action. with uncluttered . But what if this action. a certain security. and a Brahin. . smokes a sinner's cigarette. in the dormitory bunks or against the walls of the gas chamber). the feeling and overcoming of the precariousness of every human state ("I'm a poor priest . The solution of offering yourself again to life as a neophyte necessarily requires betrayal: you end up serving something other than what you had thought you were born to serve by being born and living the first years of your life. accomplishes undisturbed. They have thus chosen the role and career of eternal neophyte in order to be able to feel some pleasure at being in this world (while their brothers had only just died. (Others . The Jew followed the lengthy maneuvers of his ego to save itself--like a jellyfish in the sea that. . this smile comes to almost all those who were born before the war. with that horrendous smile toward the camera lens from under the protruding bones of their bare skulls. and with fatal precision its function in the depths-and became a Catholic.Rital and Raton 39 Father M.) To be a neophyte all one's life: hence Father M. the silent complicity directly requested of others in the name of common action. The music thus begins to play backwards. who so busily and innocently follow the path of that spirit. rapidly (almost unawares). I must say that now the expression of timidity and guilt remaining in the eyes. the smile having sunk almost wholly to the mouth. with that ironical smile that irresistibly expresses the pleasure of the condition in which one finds oneself. stinking and unbearable fossils. who smiles at the world so as to appease it.were to become Communists. and who during the war were adolescents. It is a shadow of that security and happiness that they didn't have at twenty. to the slow-motion camera. After the age of forty. and all those kindly priests like him. He chose as his father the God of his thirteen-year-old classmates.
with all the goodwill of an already grown boy to learn about real life and to serve it.a boy of eighteen heard himself called by the God of his enemies. under red neon signs that glow in patient defeat. silent . . to what is revolutionary. an approval not even based on the triumph of virility as a norm.40 OCTOBER minds. the course of his erection).on one of those afternoons that belong only to the past-while the meaning of the sunlight on the houses of one of those villages famous only for floods or military defeats belonged to the mothers. The few Arabs who will come to Father M. and he took refuge by obeying that call and becoming a catechumen among the Christian persecutors of his mother. as health.) Brahin goes with the blonde along a street so Parisian as to seem a dream. one small hotel after another. No one has ever given a name to this kind of happiness. Until they come to the one they were looking for. . . but directly on his feeling of sweet and confused adolescent desire (among non-Western peoples it is difficult for a man to emerge entirely from adolescence. the cousins who had been taken away heaven knows where -and history was in the hands of Catholics and Protestants in possession of all their age-old mystery of affirmation and victory. his ideal age is the moment when he becomes a man: a man determined to renounce all the responsibilities of men in exchange for the sweet right to pursue. . . father. and this is achieved through a childish expe- . It was exactly like coming into the world all over again. with his great mop of hair and beautiful lips. God's call was a summons to return among men. etc. . 50?C in the shade .and now he must serve it. rises upward without even giving you time to catch your breath . In a small village in the South of France . The old hag takes their documents at the desk in the clean little lobby-with its overhanging staircase that.. (Charles de Foucauld in Morocco .behind a glass door as in a post office. The neophyte has already carried out a revolution . Ever since he was a little boy-as we will see -an erection has been taken for granted as one of his public rights.when the landing in Normandy was still in the distant future. Unlike Europeans. . and especially in that peaceful southern village toward Franco's Spain-burst a nameless happiness.a Jewish boy of eighteen . it has had the approval of onlookers. and relatives. or at least not show it too much.'s meeting will be converts . the brothers and sisters. and Cassino a name known only to educated tourists .a scandalous and in some way disgraceful one . Brahin is not modest about his member. . a happiness so intense that it is almost necessary to conceal it. In the midst of the tragedy depicted everywhere. precipitously beckoning.
that smile will be. who accept the matter with an indifference owing to old experiences foreshadowing it. however. I repeat. or really believes. but even become his accomplice in that silent exchange of smiles. There's no reason why he should be Brahin. He could be a blond Belgian with a potbelly. a washstand behind a cheap cloth curtain with a pattern of small flowers. light and polished. etc. and these are no longer its problems. unconscious of course. She doesn't have to have seen him. "covered" by other smiles. the happiness of humility. In the case of someone "reborn" (reborn to the religion of nations that have been victorious for centuries). An object that takes off its clothes as though doing a duty. . But the world has stepped on the gas. has been suspended. but the convert will always feel a profound hatred. who goes forth into the world with nothing to boast but his mop of hair as in his dusty native village. smiling masks over the profound smile produced by presenting oneself to the world as reborn. reciprocated by other men. It's like the smile of a maniac at a girl who knows nothing about him except the fact that he's there: but he pretends to himself. This smile is not. etc. and who therefore remind him of his previous state -when he himself was excluded from true (!) humanity. is nothing but an object. There would be a bed with a red cover. It's painful to say so. action. the happiness of obedience. for the degenerate or the beggar: even if complicity is established by his initiative alone. But they do it all alone: the recipient of that smile pays little attention. on her part. Yet that smile is enough. Or else that smile is like the smile of beggars. his member cold and all skin and hair inside his brown trousers. The blonde. an act for which Brahin is quite ready. and only in his mind. with particular moments of that happiness that public opinion advises against showing in its pure and total state). Brahin in the hotel room with the blonde. And so he continues to smile. and by cooperation in action. with the black trousers of the underworld and the erection of a boy without father and mother. a window beyond the foot of the bed. an Arab grown pale in the weak sunlight of the banlieue. and above all by great bustle. the happiness of action . accepts their presence and demand with a vague generosity. that this girl can imagine the whole ceremony of his relations with her. The rules of the game keep her from having any curiosity about him.Rital and Raton 41 dient: by making it coincide with attitudes of similar happiness (or. toward those who are not yet converted. an ugly wooden wardrobe. The happiness of communion.. which simultaneously implores and demands connivance in the pity they consciously feel for their own misery. etc.these are lesser aspects of that Happiness. Any judgment of Brahin.even his gesture of strangling her and licking her blood and not only imagine it. or see him. better still. as far as the sexual act she is about to perform is concerned.
like a shivering due to some illness -or rather a curious air of distraction that draws his attention elsewhere. and strange nightingales sang on the slate roofs. perhaps of Corsican or Italian blood. A boy much younger than they was talking to an adult man. They had been just the sort of small boys-pure as doves. the eye sidelong. about to leave for the hunt. I am. as though performing other gestures. who must have once been a conventionally handsome boy. on that dry bed of dust. his character. unbuttons his pants. One might call it anxiety at committing the act on the part of a nice village boy the right of whose ardor has always been unchallenged . has a life of her own.. the pupil sharp and distraught at the white corner of the eyeball. able to report what the three boys at the table (made of light metal and wobbling) were talking about. made of aluminum. to proceed with calm . in Brahin as customer and acquaintance.if on the other hand every one of his gestures were not as though secretly slackened and diverted by abrupt and smothered pretexts that tend to make him do some "other thing. in a few minutes and for a few minutes." or at least to take his time.as though awaiting the moment when he will feel ready to do that "other thing" that will make the blonde. which she's about to perform. It was raining. Paris-born and bred. as perienced with many intellectual inverts-now in the grown-up. What the two of them were saying to each other no one will ever know. His eyes have become curdled in an expression somewhere between grief and rage. who seems always to turn away. possesses eyes.. now Father M. thinks. toward an action the way to which he's unable to find. and a capricious anxiety in the kid -who though by nostalgia was cruel. with his intentions. the blonde. He's as restless as a caged animal. What's eating Brahin. so that he is seen foreshortened. They looked like two hunters in the early morning. Simultaneously: there were three boys in a caf6 on the Rue de Varennes -which looked like a small red and black morgue. alive and judging. is an object. while a third polished the guns or saddled the horses. of cruel mother's flesh-who had banished little M. There's a kind of uncertainty in everything he does. his relations to the same world in which they both live-the blonde exists. But when it comes to that "other thing" that's in Brahin. from their . goes from the bed to the washstand and from the washstand to the bed. however. But could they be called three boys? Their Parisian upbringing had made them precociously mature.42 OCTOBER But what's eating Brahin? As far as the little act of coitus is concerned. this dead and unjudging object. I repeat. and an eager friendship-which the once handsome boy must have exseemed to bind the two. over the cheekbone with its equivocal tenderness? He takes off his shoes.
And indeed their magazine was called Clarte. Besides. and then. The others showed. and then with extreme elegance to remarks from serial novels: at the age of twenty they were practiced in a complicated and intellectual childhood and adolescence. On their faces. He. and under his shirt. Under the reflectors and flashbulbs of the photographers. already that of an old man. From infant wails they had immediately passed first to words. which with its progressive sequences literally prevents any sort of writing that is not classicistic (Celine's pages are models of almost rigid clarity compared to certain analogous English." They were furiously demanding liberalization. Vincent. people spoke. which was triangular with the wide base of the forehead. in that dreadful cold. black-rimmed eyes. The unhappiness and rage curdled in the depths of his expression were feminine.Rital and Raton 43 midst: three such small boys. Even inJean-Luc. Behind them. he may have worn a foulard). set in the transparent pallor of his face. indulged in moralism: and moralistic was the whitish radiance of his skin. tight-fitting clothes that go with the subtle rowdyism of student life in Paris (the black of his trousers may have been velvet. in accordance with tradition. A return to freedom. But of that French irrationalism that has been explained and catalogued by rationalism. not far away. the hungrier was the one with the more lower-class face .that of a taxi driver. an irrationalism that always ends up being presented in some elegant way. or Italian . the idea of freedom had the same characteristics. They had all been born around May of '45. or of the poor and too heavy nourishment of small student restaurants. had practically left them to starve. All this gave him a certain ambiguity. It was therefore an irrational dream. but what freedom? Freedom. for twenty. It is. which is to say a perfect liberalism. the rather shriveled adolescent. or near-starvation. which had made them cruel little gods until the sprouting of their first beards. Of the other two. His name was Jean-Luc. It was a meeting of "Italians. its traditions. thirty hours at a stretch. which grants it its centers. but also dressed in the black. there were signs of starvation. Only one of them may have been really rich. a meeting was being held in the hall of some Palais famous in the chronicles of history-in a glacial cold that had made three or four girls faint. German. in addition to the erotic kind-the signs of indigence. that's all. They spoke a perfect French. The other. too. too. or a postman. The third had two dark. And in fact he was the most obstinate in his rebellion against the obstinacy of the disappointing heroes of the French Communist party. Thus the sadism of the paras and Godard's pre-grammaticality are both provided for. moralistic the murkiness of his eyes. but of a later generation.of the intellectual and civic. even the CP had lived a perfect French experience. around his rather mottled neck. The indigence of the petite bourgeoisie.small and adolescent-looking. in short. Whether among adversaries or observers. its rights. along with the signs of precocious experience . from whatever side it sprouted. with no memories of the countryside. Not only in behavior but in language. The Jew's name was Marcel. The only really rich one was a Jew. elongated. like the hero of a silent film.
But they will speak it. For the moment neither Brahin nor Palmiro speak French. Judgment in liberal societies is always moral. but out of violence-when. with his big adult face. it's all over. And the Italians for the same reasons are called ritals.e. they can be expected to take up slang. mysterious friend be an Italian! Let him be Palmiro." by French racists. Brahin has scarcely mounted the blonde -with the baleful air of one who in some isn't doing it because he's paying for it. men become each other's slaves. the Arabs are called ratons. how do you overcome liberalism? the Jewish boy. Even our three rebels are so Frenchified that: (1) they themselves are basically the object of their revolt.44 OCTOBER ones). that Prenestino boy of Calabrian origin. Moralism is the alibi for the wolf who squelches the lamb. and must therefore go on with it. Then. and once they do they'll be completely Frenchified. "wops" (a reminder?). brings the blonde to life. repeats. In the new Communist societies judgment continues to be moralistic: this means they have not carried the revolution through to the end. within the sphere of Frenchification. (2) or else they revolt against others with their own arguments. It was a rainy day. 'J'aifa" are the only words we've heard uttered in French direct discourse Brahin (a hunger assuaged standing against the white walls of a small brasby serie opposite some shooting galleries). She pretends to be in a hurry. the Frenchification of the French is total. in Brahin's speech. twenty angry Where the judgment that one person gives of another is not political. and punitive thrusts of the loins. of course! Let Brahin's tough. philosophical. "wogs. i. And that to conceal her worry she pretends to more naturalness and calm than what is called for in fastening her . What's eating Brahin? What's he waiting for now? This uncertainty. with his mop of blond hair.not a barbarian: it's the brutality of emigration that will turn him into a barbarian. and Paris was a fatal topos. The Jew with the adult face knows that. But. One would say she's worried. How.. Unlike other nations. but moral. otherwise she'd be dead. but without the blind fury typical of such circumstances. I repeat.
"Thus the restoration of spoken language. Meanwhile he is seen more foreshortened still. but he would have to force himself to do it. turning round on itself. the mistress of this friend.. innocently incapable of going on its way. and above it the black pupil of the eye.. delivered up by his speech. with the high cheekbone. or take a breath of air at the window. and puts him and his whole history on view.in the present state of societyis a fact of audition. richly furnished study. among the thousands of young people who. first conceived in amused imitation of the picturesque. nor will they put themselves in a position to conceive any different vital experience. places him entirely. since the universality of a language . which his old banking family has put at his disposal ever since he was a boy: he must prepare for an exam (he is studying medicine). like an army disbanding to the sound of distant bombardments. . more curdled than ever with grief and rage. Vincent will go off somewhere with his girl friend. it begins to become a lucid act of information. who came with him from the provinces afterJean-Luc's mother. .. and each individual is the prisoner of his own speech: outside his class. as though it were first necessary for it to learn the circumthem .. has ended by expressing the whole content of social contradiction. For these three youths there will be no encounter with any language. good-natured.Rital and Raton 45 snaps or putting on her stockings. and which continues to move as though it had lost its sense of direction... throng the boulevards of the Latin Quarter on Saturday night. hisfirst word gives him away. Brahin seems to want to stretch himself. They may end up in an art movie house to see an old film they missed. Man is exposed. ". The diversityof speechthusfunctions as a Necessity. But it must be admitted that of all the means of description (since the aim of Literature so far has been chiefly that) the grasping of a real language is for the writer the most human literary act" (Roland Barthes). betrayed by a formal truth that eludes his selfish or altruistic lies. What is Brahin doing behind her back? He looks like a millipede a row of whose feet has been crushed. stances of social inequality by reproducing ". literature is no longer a boast or refuge. ways of speaking differ from group to group. . Marcel will go home to his beautiful. and by no means of diction: within a national norm such as French. Jean-Luc will go and visit his friend Pierre. * . She's almost nice.and that is why it producesa tragicsituation.. had killed herself on discovering that Pierre and her son were making love.
and already there'd been times when he was about to jump out the window. and in prison he met other Arabs. he. which smelled of saffron. furious as a bandit about to kill a traveler from another social class. lets itself be touched. He says he's sick. with whom he became friends. Brahin is in the middle of the room. Who cares if in prison there are no women. he gazes steadily.as though to set up a bond between them. as though chilled. and five or six youths and boys. That he can do as he likes. amid twisted store shutters and rubble strewn like garbage . stopping in front of the washstand. keeps putting on her clothes. His anxious cheekbone is seen foreshortened. called me over to them. his words put together as though for a popular song. and anyway he's already been in prison. The blonde is very busy putting on her clothes. Why does he say all this? As he speaks.through slow phases. upright. it's not so bad there. cracked and pitiful. which subsides a bit at the touch .or prepares to explode with more violence. as out of an old passion. and automatically looks around at the window behind him to see where it's coming from . and the wave of his full mop of hair.starts confessing something.in a state of blind and turgid rage. He looks at the blonde in dismay. leaving him free to let himself go. they grabbed me with their Muslim hands. so that the grief will have good reason to be transformed into rage. Gazing at the blonde. which smelled of dynamite that had just exploded. three or four non-Algerian Arabs. it's all the same. a lone gypsy who goes about the world.then he gazes at the blonde -and then again at the window. The window. at the foot of the bed. and touches it. in Algiers. uncommunicative as a serpent. because he doesn't care if he ends up in prison. with swift and continuous glances toward the windowlike an old man who as he speaks feels a cold draught from a crack. turning her back on him. with its shutters closed on the Rue du Loup Blanc. If it's a question of grief. they put me up against the demolished .46 OCTOBER Brahin no longer holds back. at the window . his face averted. or a faint and broken melody. and we provoke this someone else into insisting on being to blame. increasing in an almost voluptuous way. One by one. Brahin takes a few steps directly toward the window. and now too he'd like to jump . he was walking by himself one night through the streets of a remote suburb.I was ten years old. that he's crazy. his words can be "seen. he begins saying once more that he's like a madman. it's nevertheless replaced by that special feeling by which we blame our grief on someone else." He says: when he was a child.or would she like to jump? And meanwhile he approaches the window. And so Brahin seems to be prodding the blonde to make her insist on taking the blame for his grief. now of a pointless beauty. in European clothes and carrying a machine gun. Since the blonde. Something has curdled in his eyes that does not dissolve.
I held him tight. I took advantage of the silence of the curfew. As for myself. and went looking for those dead bodies that awaited me defenseless. with their partisans' trousers: they were going through France like murderers. cannot be reproduced: true. has no voice: perhaps it is translated quite literally from a dialect in which there is no need for ties. with the dead (but does he say it? or does he let it be imagined? what grammatical connection does he use to carry on such a discourse. if you can. and when you look into those holes your head starts to spin. a lump at the back of his throat. picks it up . Brahin moves toward the ashtray on the night table. half an hour. as though to ponder. He says that from that night on he got in the habit of doing the same thing himself. children in strength. were like those dead men. It was a time when there were many of them. in the tearful confusion of unknown tragedies. He was completely excluding them from himself. unthought. because they give on endless depths illuminated by a sun.an act that gave an exclusive and experimental pleasure to him alone-that he was unaware of them. I limit myself to placing the reader in the presence of a different vital experience. as with a dead body.like hunting or fishing. and not be carried away by your moralism. lets go of it. Brahin's speech. an hour after the last bursts of machine-gun fire had faded away. unconceived in French. taking advantage of the fact that he had a child's turban wound around his head and was wearing a long Arab shirt. dead youths in the streets of Algiers. or to breathe the lingering odor of saffron: perhaps to remember it forever. The Arabs I met in jail. like an exercise in penmanship it is all frontal and linear. He had been so intent on performing his act . together with Italians and Spaniards. One day I saw my little brother (saying this. a discourse that cannot be heard?). on which only the faintest traces of red and green embroidery were left. with his forehead resting on his arm): and then I did it. he quickly makes the graceful gesture of someone calmly sleeping. touches it. His voice cracked and trembling. obviously with the single-mindedness felt by children when they play. even if he's about to commit a murder or whatever. and the odor of saffron had stayed behind in the world. Try to imagine it. on the new journey they had undertaken by the will of Allah: they lay face down. They had gone away. the sun of Algiers and of another life: they are pure abysses of previous existence. in their military shirts and warriors' trousers. Even this voluptuous speech of Brahin's. poured forth on the girl to goad her into taking on herself the blame for his grief. They lay stretched out. as though better to concentrate. Of course. in Lyons. youths in appearance. but in the tremor between one word and another there are holes. and words can be aligned like so many things. you know. and there they all took advantage of the fact that I was a child. as an auditory fact. brought back to life exactly the same.Rital and Raton 47 wall of a French store as though they were going to shoot me.
Paris was filled with a profound odor. which had become intoxication and habit. It was the odor of the time. a schoolboy's large hand. but as though that hand. light as cardboard . The ashtray was a plastic one.. of the authority and inconceivable and brutal grandeur of reality--it was the odor of power. And yet you could feel that the world had need of change. A power all the more harsh the more truly it was based on freedom. which was not only that of the rain.48 OCTOBER again. . of great changes. were very far from his body. Outside. in another world full of dust.
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