jeudi 20 octobre 2016

112 APOCALYPSES (n°73)

Bronzeville (South Loop, Chicago) au sortir de la bouche de métro plan large s’ouvrant sur un terrain vague énorme jalonné de tonneaux métalliques en flammes où s’agglutinent par grappes des clochards d’origine exclusivement africaine (le paradis des nègres ?). Au fond du terrain, éclairé par des milliards de bougies, le mur en brique d’une ancienne aciérie et un bruit d’eau jetée par milliers de mètres cubes sur de l’acier en fusion.
Et revoici la souillon haute de dix ans… la nymphomane en herbe qui me plaque violemment sur le dos dans un parterre de roches et de rejets de minerais concassés sur un terrain vague en bordure des fonderies entre Charleville et Sedan, leurs cheminées crachent à plein régime au point d’obscurcir irrémédiablement le ciel comme cela fut fait en plein jour un après-midi de crucifixion – ses jambes cadenassant mon bassin, ses mains me clouant les bras dans la poussière à la verticale du tronc, immobile, impuissant, les dents jaunes de la pauvreté insoluble elle me mord rageusement au niveau du cou avant de m’hurler et maintenant je vais te niquer !

mercredi 19 octobre 2016

An Introduction for

The Sound and the Fury

The Southern Review

8 (N.S., 1972) 705-10.


I wrote this book and learned to read. I had learned a little about writing from Soldiers' Pay – how to approach language, words: not with seriousness so much, as an essayist does, but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite; even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions. But when I finished The Sound and the Fury I discovered that there is actually something to which the shabby term Art not only can, but must, be applied. I discovered then that I had gone through all that I had ever read, from Henry James through Henty to newspaper murders, without making any distinction or digesting any of it, as a moth or a goat might. After The Sound and The Fury and without heeding to open another book and in a series of delayed repercussions like summer thunder, I discovered the Flauberts and Dostoievskys and Conrads whose books I had read ten years ago. With The Sound and the Fury I learned to read and quit reading, since I have read nothing since.

Nor do I seem to have learned anything since. While writing Sanctuary, the next novel to The Sound and the Fury, that part of me which learned as I wrote, which perhaps is the very force which drives a writer to the travail of invention and the drudgery of putting seventy- five or a hundred thousand words on paper, was absent because I was still reading by repercussion the books which I had swallowed whole ten years and more ago. I learned only from the writing of Sanctuary that there was something missing; something which The Sound and the Fury gave me and Sanctuary did not. When I began As I Lay Dying I had discovered what it was and knew that it would be also missing in this case because this would be a deliberate book. I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word, I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall. Before I began I said, I am going to write a book by which, at a pinch, I can stand or fall if I never touch ink again. So when I finished it the cold satisfaction was there, as I had expected, but as I had also expected the other quality which The Sound and the Fury had given me was absent that emotion definite and physical and yet nebulous to describe: that ecstasy, that eager and joyous faith and anticipation of surprise which the yet unmarred sheet beneath my hand held inviolate and unfailing waiting for release. It was not there in As I Lay Dying. I said, It is because I knew too much about this book before I began to write it. I said, More than likely I shall never again have to know this much about a book before I begin to write it, and next time it will return. I waited almost two years, then I began Light in August, knowing no more about it than a young woman, pregnant, walking along a strange country road. I thought, I will recapture it now, since I know no more about this book than I did about The Sound and the Fury when I sat down before the first blank page.

It did not return. The written pages grew in number. The story was going pretty well: I would sit down to it each morning without reluctance yet still without that anticipation and that joy which alone ever made writing pleasure to me. The book was almost finished before I acquiesced to the fact that it would not recur, since I was now aware before each word was written down just what the people would do, since now I was deliberately choosing among possibilities and probabilities of behavior and weighing and measuring each choice by the scale of the Jameses and Conrads and Balzacs. I knew that I had read too much, that I had reached that stage which all young writers must pass through, in which he believes that he has learned too much about his trade. I received a copy of the  printed book and I found that I didn't even want to see what kind of jacket Smith had put on it. I seemed to have a vision of it and the other ones subsequent to The Sound and The Fury ranked in order upon a shelf while I looked at the titled backs of them with a flagging attention which was almost distaste, and upon which each succeeding title registered less and less, until at last Attention itself seemed to say, Thank God I shall never need to open any one of them again. I believed that I knew then why I had not recaptured that first ecstasy, and that I should never again recapture it; that whatever tree novels I should write in the future would be written without reluctance, but also without anticipation or joy: that in The Sound and The Fury I had already put perhaps the only thing in literature which would ever move me very much: Caddy climbing the pear tree to look in the window at her grandmother's funeral while Quentin and Jason and Benjy and the negroes looked up at the muddy seat of her drawers.

This is the only one of the seven novels which I wrote without any accompanying feeling of drive or effort, or any following feeling of exhaustion or relief or distaste. When I began it I had no plan at all. I wasn't even writing a book. I was thinking of books, publication, only in the reverse, in saying to myself, I wont have to worry about publishers liking or not liking this at all. Four years before I had written Soldiers' Pay. It didn't take long to write and it got published quickly and made me about five hundred dollars. I said, Writing novels is easy. You don’t make much doing it, but it is easy. I wrote Mosquitoes. It wasn't quite so easy to write and it didn't get published quite as quickly and it made me about four hundred dollars. I said, Apparently there is more to writing novels, being a novelist, than I thought. I wrote Sartoris. It took much longer, and the publisher refused it at once. But I continued to shop it about for three years with a stubborn and fading hope, perhaps to justify the time which I had spent writing it. This hope died slowly, though it didn't hurt at all. One day I seemed to shut a door between me and all publishers' addresses and book lists. I said to myself, Now I can write. Now I can make myself a vase like that which the old Roman kept at his bedside and wore the rim slowly away with kissing it. So I, who had never had a sister and was fated to lose my daughter in infancy, set out to make myself a beautiful and tragic little girl.

vendredi 14 octobre 2016




(a manifesto of sorts)

Si la littérature est le silence des significations, c'est en vérité la prison dont tous les occupants veulent s'évader.

Georges Bataille

What are the forms of representing the world that today parade before us? The cynical or frivolous precipitation of the spectacular, the triviality of trash-TV or the obscene tautologies of TV docudrama into which the real subsides without a trace. Now, and without any doubt more than ever, the derealizing flux of media images runs away with our powers of discernment, our conscience, our lives, and of course our writing. It forces us to surrender to what can only be called, in a strict sense, the fabulous and seductive grasp of spectacle. It bars us from a simplified representation of the real. It educates us in the dazed distrust of what is there in front of our eyes -- those eyes that have been overfed with icons. But despite our embittered submission to the charm of these icons, despite our willing servitude to the spectacle, we know very well that it is all false, that it is nothing but a theater of shadows that exhausts our sense of the real in its emptiness, and teaches us nothing, nothing but a mythology custom-made for a new breed of savages.
But the world is far more complex, far more chaotic, far more confusing, far more inaccessible than the false images we are offered daily. And the experiences that create the world for us are far more complex, chaotic, confused and confusing than THEY think. By THEY, I mean those who falsify OUR WORLD for us. OUR WORLD -- the one we as writers deal with everyday -- is a static-filled screen, a fuzzy image agitated by emotions a hundred times more voluptuous, but also a hundred times more painful than those THEY are trying to make us feel. Even the quickest move on the remote control cannot relieve us of the vertiginous bombardment of information to which the world subjects us. Its space is infinitely more profound, more decentered, more polymorphous. And the time which we spend in its flow never aligns itself according to the monochrome scenarios that supposedly symbolizes its passage.
How to react? How to reply? How to write today the world in which we live and write? How are we to symbolize differently and more truly (I did not say, more realistically, but more truly) our experience of the world? It will most certainly not be in the mode of an easy, facile, positive literature written in an industrial high-tech prose, it will not be a literature which has sold out to the Spectacle whose rich territory it wants to enter by any means, by compromise or by prostitution, but especially through simplistic cynicism, or with an ostentatious kitsch. This pseudo-literature, which is becoming more and more drab, more and more banal and predictable, more and more insignificant, functions beyond the pale of our anguish and desire.
When literature ceases to understand the world and accepts the crisis of representation in which it functions, it becomes mere entertainment, it becomes part of the Spectacle.
What is the antidote to this unreflexive and lazy precipitation of what still pretends to be literature? It is the kind of writing that resists the recuperation of itself into distorted or false figures and images. The kind of literature we need now is the kind that will systematically erode and dissipate the setting of the Spectacle, frustrate the expectation of its positive beginning, middle, and end, and cheap resolution. This kind of writing will be at the same time frugal and denuded, but rhetorically complex, so that it can seize the world in a new way. This kind of writing must create a space of resistance to the alienated devotion to images -- to the refining and undermining of the world by images. This kind of writing should be like an ironic free tense within the opacity of the Spectacle.
Anyone who persists in doing literature without acceding to the fact that doing literature can only be an intra-worldly diversion, a career path, a subjective confession, anyone who does not assent to the idea that literature can have no possible social impact, is today urgently confronted with the lacerating questions? What end does it serve? What good is it? What meaning, in the world and for the world, can the pursuit of this activity have? An activity that society has definitely marginalized, an activity reduced to a sort of deliciously and pleasantly outmoded form of survival, an activity performed beyond the bounds of serious self-reflection.
When literature becomes a surplus of culture, a supplement of culture, it can no longer call itself literature. When fiction becomes a product which can be bought in supermarkets next to the tomatoes, then it no longer deserves to be called literature, or even to be created.
But now one must ask, is it possible for fiction, for the serious writers of fiction (I assume there are still a few writers among us who think of themselves as serious writers) -- is it possible for these writers to escape the generalized recuperation that is taking place in the marketplace of books? Is it possible for fiction to survive the kind of reduction, the kind of banalization that mass media imposes on contemporary culture? Is it possible for fiction to escape the way publicity and advertising ingest and digest culture? Is it possible for fiction to survive the hypnosis of marketing, the sweet boredom of consensus, the cellophane wrapping of thinking, the commercialization of desire? In other words, can fiction escape conformity and banality and yet play a role in our society, have a place in our society? And finally, are there still people out there willing to turn their backs on the SPECTACLE and find time to write and read works of fiction? These are urgent questions that demand immediate answers. 

Copyright © 1996 Raymond Federman

mercredi 7 septembre 2016


Un cauchemar cathartique sur la différence sexuelle. Intrusion d’une présence masculine dans un dialogue féminin, à la manière métaphysique d’un viol. Quelque chose de mythologique aussi, appartenant aux anciens récits cosmogoniques du nord de l’Europe comme une ligne de basse insensible. Chasses célestes. Héros païens grands coureurs des grands bois assassins dans une Amérique protestante rupestre peuplée de bûcherons et de pythies hyperboréennes. Importance de l’Impersonnel dans ce texte : la nature en nous et autour de nous. Pure radiation. Pure douleur du néant éprouvé à distance. Et les meubles également se sont mis à crier. Je pense à Gaïa fécondée par les giclures de sang qui ont suivi la castration d’Ouranos par leur propre fils (auquel elle avait pris soin de fournir la serpe), et à la naissance qui en suivit des Erinyes, des nymphes, d’Aphrodite en personne. A Gaïa et à toutes les putains aux lèvres noires collées contre la face incroyablement pâle d’un ciel d’hivers du milieu des années soixante-dix quelque part au fin fond du Maine. A Clytemnestre et à Cléopâtre. Je pense aussi aux fantômes hystériques de Freud et toutes leurs araignées.  Les voix, comme les points de vue, entrées en concrétion, forment des blocs narratifs hétérogènes dévalant à leur propre rythme les pentes affolées de la psyché le long des vallées de la paranoïa. Défaite des ressorts de la narrativité bien comprise face à l’effroi de l’insensé s'amplifiant de page en page, à mesure que ses souvenirs s'effacent. Je pense aux démons de la féminité s’attaquant à défaire tous les fils du récit. A la Bovary de Flaubert et à l’Agamemnon d’Eschyle. Je pense aux derniers flashs d'une conscience reflétés sur un bord de rivière et à toutes les ombres impersonnelles de la forêt, à la mort dans ses œuvres, et au principe d'entropie.

jeudi 19 mai 2016

112 APOCALYPSES (n°90)

Seuls au milieu des vestiges de Delphes au plus bas des températures de février avec, dans le demi-cercle du visible s’ouvrant à nous depuis ce flanc de montagne, tout le silence requis pour entendre le murmure quasi-imperceptible de la terre abandonnée à elle-même et sentir alors, au contact des pierres renversées, tous les tressaillements magnétiques capables de s’emparer de l’utérus des anciennes Pythies pour leur faire cracher la parole des dieux arrachées au sous-sol et, avec elle, toutes les forces en concrétions de l’inconscient universel aux sources de l’hystérie.

jeudi 21 janvier 2016

FIN – des hommes poussent des caddys remplis de sacs aux couleurs d’un supermarché discount à travers les faubourgs les plus reculés d’une ville du Nord de la France – je les suis entouré d’un bataillon d’enfants crasseux vers leurs bidonvilles – les femmes les attendent avec la récolte de leurs mendicités et les accueillent de leurs cris tel un regroupement de goélands autour du cadavre d’un phoque échoué sur la grève – c’est un chant obsédant et sans âge – la traduction mélancolique d’une vieille douleur – des chiens attachés aux essieux de leurs caravanes tirent comme des damnés sur leurs chaînes et s’étranglent et aboient au milieu d’un tas de détritus et d’objets de récupération – nous franchissons les portes invisibles du royaume de Cham – c’est un bidonville – j’ai la vision très précise des villes de demain – un pressentiment de pauvreté exponentielle qui finira par modeler la surface de la Terre à son image – insalubre –

– à quinze ans je migre dans une ville nouvelle de la proche banlieue lyonnaise et me retrouve exilé parmi les exilés de trois continents à vivre au milieu d’un agencement de raffineries et d’oléoducs baigné par les relents nauséabonds du pétrole – mes nouveaux camarades d’école m’accueillent avec des histoires morbides – une femme de la cité d’à côté s’est fait trancher la tête – on l’a retrouvée dans la poubelle d’un parking – une autre a été brûlée vive sur un lit de pneus

– je sors d’une bouche de métro compressé par la foule – pris dans son mouvement j’avance au rythme de Paris – je porte avec mon corps incroyablement lourd un sommeil fantomatique par-dessus l’asphalte – je suis fatigué, mais j’avance à grande vitesse – je ne suis pas la source de mes propres mouvements – une autre force me pousse pareil au vertige attirant les corps vers l’idée du suicide – je la sens – irrépressible – m’emporter – impression que mes muscles s’effondrent –

– j’ai ce désir de réussir à m’élever par-delà les toits et contempler – œil panoptique sans paupière perchée aussi haut qu’un trou formé dans la couche d’ozone Paris définitivement spleenifiée – ses avenues – ses ruelles – sa somme incompressible de paradis artificiels et d’enfer en action – et ce mouvement qui porte les corps – indissoluble – comme pour m’en soustraire, mais je suis pris dedans – tout ici ressemble à ceci : la mort sans pleurs et un vieux crime piaulant dans la boue de la rue – 

– je sors d’une bouche de métro et lève les yeux vers ce qui reste perceptible du ciel coincé entre les sommets de buildings immenses – ce n’est plus Paris qui m’encercle – saturant l’horizon – mais l’ombre de Chicago – vertige ahurissant – tout vacille autour de moi tel un bataillon d’insectes animé d’une énergie diffuse qui semble s’exhaler des bâtiments eux-mêmes et s’engouffrer telle une vague énorme au milieu des avenues pour m’emporter sur son passage – vol lugubre d’Erinyes au-dessus du centre-ville et passage de métros aériens – quelque chose comme un excès de force – une tendance vers l’inhumain – 

– sur mon bureau d’écolier un crâne déniché dans une fosse commune fait de l’ensemble de ma chambre le décor parfait pour l’exécution d’une vanité – impossible de me projeter mentalement en-deçà de mes quinze ans – 

– je longe la rivière Chicago – contemplant les buildings qui la bordent parés d’une lumière aveuglante – tout est très lumineux – comme sur le point de disparaître après un grand flash atomique – les piétons marchent incroyablement vite – je pense aux bouddhistes tantriques et leurs histoires de bonzes capables de traverser l’espace à la vitesse de la lumière et leurs dons d’ubiquité – expérience que je fis en troisième personne du singulier un après-midi de beuverie à Rouen – 

– souvenir d’un Dublin rempli de jeunes filles portant shorts en jean, bottes de pêcheurs et serre-têtes customisés de bites fluorescentes à la recherche d’un très probable coït – elles se sont mêlées aux hommes qui poussent leurs caddys et parlent aux enfants qui les suivent – les femmes les accueillent de leurs cris tel un regroupement de goélands autour du cadavre d’un phoque échoué sur la grève – 

– me voici couché sur une barque au large du lac Michigan – on me conduit au royaume des morts – 
– je jette un dernier coup d’œil vers la rive – la barque tangue poupe face à la barrière des buildings cerclés d’une paupière de sable jaune et qui bouge à leurs pieds – bruit de la ville qui s’amenuise au loin – je suis fatigué – on me conduit vers la vision très précise d’un paysage lunaire à la confluence de ce que j’imagine être les County Joyce et Mayo (West Ireland) – la roche à fleur de terre et deux lacs offrent au réel no man’s land des solitudes essentielles son absence de visage – pas une trace de civilisation n’entache le tableau – 

– les monts cambriens trônent au loin – par-delà la cime des buildings de Chicago chapeautés d’éther – clapotement vague de l’eau le long de la barque et bruit de plusieurs rivières en confluence – sur l’eau des lacs d’altitude brille le chrome stratosphérique des Olympe et des Walhalla – miroirs de l’ailleurs balayés du souffle apaisant des morts – 

 – je m’enfonce dans la tourbe jusqu’aux chevilles le crâne de mes quinze ans déniché dans une fosse commune entre les mains – des boules de feu s’abattent sur Paris – New York se réveille sous les cendres – 

– les jeunes filles aux serre-têtes customisés de bites fluorescentes, les hommes qui poussent leurs caddys et les enfants qui les suivent portent mon corps enveloppé dans un drap – les femmes accueillent ma dépouille de leurs cris – c’est un chant obsédant et sans âge – je contemple la scène de haut tandis que l’ensemble du cortège franchit les portes invisibles du royaume de Cham – c’est un bidonville – les chiens tirent comme des damnés sur leurs chaînes et s’étranglent et aboient au milieu d’un tas de détritus et d’objets de récupération au milieu desquels on jette mon corps – une même lumière irréelle me poursuit – vague reflet évanouissant du chrome stratosphérique sur la surface de portes de voitures dépolies, de jantes aluminium et de boîtes de conserve – les femmes me soulèvent et déposent ma dépouille sur un lit de pneus déposés dans la boue – des voiliers descendent la rivière Chicago – ils ont l’allure de mouettes ivres – puis disparaissent derrière le pont de Michigan Avenue avant d’avoir atteint le lac – les femmes chantent – les bacchantes de Dublin dansent autour de mon lit – les enfants rient – les hommes préparent le feu –

Extrait de NOCTURAMA