mardi, mars 22, 2005

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

by Douglas Adams (excerpt)
Chapter 20

"Tell me the story," said Fenchurch firmly. "You arrived at the station."
"I was about twenty minutes early. I'd got the time of the train wrong. I suppose it is equally possible," he added after a moment's reflection, "that British Rail had got the time of the train wrong. Hadn't occurred to me before."
"Get on with it." Fenchurch laughed.
"So I bought a newspaper, to do the crossword, and went to the buffet to get a cup of coffee."
"You do the crossword?"
"Which one?"
"The Guardian usually."
"I think it tries to be too cute. I prefer The Times. Did you solve it?"
"The crossword in the Guardian."
"I haven't had a chance to look at it yet," said Arthur, "I'm still trying to buy the coffee."
"All right then. Buy the coffee."
"I'm buying it. I am also," said Arthur, "buying some biscuits."
"What sort?"
"Rich Tea."
"Good Choice."
"I like them. Laden with all these new possessions, I go and sit at a table. And don't ask me what the table was like because this was some time ago and I can't remember. It was probably round."
"All right."
"So let me give you the layout. Me sitting at the table. On my left, the newspaper. On my right, the cup of coffee. In the middle of the table, the packet of biscuits."
"I see it perfectly."
"What you don't see," said Arthur, "because I haven't mentioned him yet, is the guy sitting at the table already. He is sitting there opposite me."
"What's he look like?"
"Perfectly ordinary. Briefcase. Business suit. He didn't look," said Arthur, "as if he was about to do anything weird."
"Ah. I know the type. What did he do?"
"He did this. He leaned across the table, picked up the packet of biscuits, tore it open, took one out, and..."
"Ate it."
"He ate it."
Fenchurch looked at him in astonishment. "What on earth did you do?"
"Well, in the circumstances I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do. I was compelled," said Arthur, "to ignore it."
"What? Why?"
"Well, it's not the sort of thing you're trained for is it? I searched my soul, and discovered that there was nothing anywhere in my upbringing, experience or even primal instincts to tell me how to react to someone who has quite simply, calmly, sitting right there in front of me, stolen one of my biscuits."
"Well, you could..." Fenchurch thought about it. "I must say I'm not sure what I would have done either. So what happened?"
"I stared furiously at the crossword," said Arthur. "Couldn't do a single clue, took a sip of coffee, it was too hot to drink, so there was nothing for it. I braced myself. I took a biscuit, trying very hard not to notice," he added, "that the packet was already mysteriously open..."
"But you're fighting back, taking a tough line."
"After my fashion, yes. I ate a biscuit. I ate it very deliberately and visibly, so that he would have no doubt as to what it was I was doing. When I eat a biscuit," Arthur said, "it stays eaten."
"So what did he do?"
"Took another one. Honestly," insisted Arthur, "this is exactly what happened. He took another biscuit, he ate it. Clear as daylight. Certain as we are sitting on the ground."
Fenchurch stirred uncomfortably.
"And the problem was," said Arthur, "that having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject a second time around. What do you say? "Excuse me...I couldn't help noticing, er..." Doesn't work. No, I ignored it with, if anything, even more vigor than previously."
"My man..."
"Stared at the crossword, again, still couldn't budge a bit of it, so showing some of the spirit that Henry V did on St. Crispin's Day..."
"I went into the breach again. I took," said Arthur, "another biscuit. And for an instant our eyes met."
"Like this?"
"Yes, well, no, not quite like that. But they met. Just for an instant. And we both looked away. But I am here to tell you," said Arthur, "that there was a little electricity in the air. There was a little tension building up over the table. At about this time."
"I can imagine."
"We went through the whole packet like this. Him, me, him, me..."
"The whole packet?"
"Well it was only eight biscuits but it seemed like a lifetime of biscuits we were getting through at this point. Gladiators could hardly have had a tougher time."
"Gladiators," said Fenchurch, "would have had to do it in the sun. More physically gruelling."
"There is that. So. When the empty packet was lying between us the man at last got up, having done his worst, and left. I heaved a sigh of relief, of course. As it happened, my train was announced a moment or two later, so I finished my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper..."
"Were my biscuits."
"What?" said Fenchurch. "What?"
"No!" She gasped and tossed herself back on the grass laughing.
She sat up again.
"You complete nitwit," she hooted, "you almost completely and utterly foolish person."

Huile sur bois, 30x40cm

dimanche, mars 20, 2005

Über die Erziehung

Peter Karvas, Unvollendete für Kinderstimme, extrait

Es gibt da ein Gesetz, ein eisernes, man soll den Vater niemals bei der Arbeit stören. Dieses Gesetz gilt immer, vorbehaltlos und unwiderruflich - bis auf gewisse Ausnahmen, an die Millionen Aussnahmen...
Zum beispiel, wenn sich sacht die Glastür öffnet - und der Herr Sohn schuldbewusst auf der Schwelle steht. Er ist sich der Schwere seines Vergehens bewusst, aber er kann nicht anders, er kann nicht widerstehen. Den Zeigefinger mit dem rosigen Nagel an der Unterlippe, überlegt er, wie er am besten beginnen kann, die langen Wimpern sind gesenkt wie von einer Sündenlast. Endlich rafft er sich auf, holt tief Luft und beginnt ziemlich leise, nur so laut, um das Klappern der Schreibmaschine zu übertönen: "Papi ..."Ich seufze ungeduldig, schaue absichtlich konzentriert zur Decke, aber das ändert an der Sache nichts. Schliesslich wende ich mich dem Nachkommen zu. Wie er dort voller Ungeduld in der Tür steht, ist er das verkörperte schlechte Gewissen: das wird kein gutes Ende nehmen, aber er kann nicht anders, nein, er kann nicht widerstehen."Wie oft soll ich dir noch sagen ...!" beginne ich mit gehobener Stimme und gleichsam routinemässig."Ja", sagt er gewitzt, "aber diesmal ist es wichtig. Wirklich! Ehrenwort, es ist wichtig!"
Das Ehrenwort eines so grossen Jungen ist eine ernste Sache. Trotzdem stelle ich mich kühl, soweit das geht (aber überzeugend is das nicht), und frage ihn wie jemand, den die Antwort überhaupt nicht interessiert: " Nun, worum geht's?" Schnell!"
Der Sohn blinzelt aufgeregt, fasst Mut, macht hinter sich die Tür zu und kommt zum Schreibtisch. Er sieht mich mit seinen schwarzen, lebhaften Augen an und sagt unerwartet: "Papi, erzieh mich ein bisschen!"

Huile sur plastique, 55x40, souvenir du japon

vendredi, mars 18, 2005

Mr. Jones

by Truman Capote

During the winter of 1945 I lived for several months in a rooming house in Brooklyn. It was not a shabby place, but a pleasantly furnished, elderly brownstone kept hospital-neat by its owners, two maiden sisters.
Mr. Jones lived in the room next to mine. My room was the smallest in the house, his the largest, a nice big sunshiny room, which was just as well, for Mr. Jones never left it: all his needs, meals, shopping, laundry, were attended to by the middle-aged landladies. Also, he was not without visitors; on the average, a half-dozen various persons, man and women, young, old, in-between, visited his room each day, from early morning until late in the evening. He was not a drug dealer or a fortuneteller; no, they came just to talk to him and apparently they made him small gifts of money for his conversation and advice. If not, he had no obvious means of support.
I never had a conversation with Mr. Jones himself, a circumstance I've often since regretted. He was a handsome man, about forty. Slender, black-haired, and with a distinctive face: a pale, lean face, high cheekbones, and with a birthmark on his left cheek, a small scarlet defect shaped like a star. He wore gold-rimmed glasses with pitch-black lenses: he was blind, and crippled, too - according to the sisters, the use of his legs had been denied him by a childhood accident, and he could not move without crutches. He was always dressed in a crisplypressed dark grey or blue three-piece suit and a subdued tie - as though about to set off for a Wall Street office. However, as I've said, he never left the premises. Simply sat in his cheerful room in a comfortable chair and received visitors. I had no option of why they came to see him, these rather ordinary-looking folk, or what they talked about, and I was far too concerned with my own affairs to much wonder over it. When I did, I imagined that his friends had found in him an intelligent, kindly man, a good listener in whom to confide and consult with over their troubles: a cross between a priest and a therapist.
Mr. Jones had a telephone. He was the only tenant with a private line. It rang constantly, often after midnight and as early as six in the morning.
I moved to Manhattan. Several months later I returned to the house to collect a box of books I had stored there. While the landladies offered me tea and cakes in their lace-curtained "parlor", I inquired of Mr. Jones.
The women lowered their eyes. Clearing her throat, one said: "It's in the hand of the police."
The other offered: "We've reported him as missing person."
The first added: "Last month, twenty-six days ago, my sister carried up Mr. Jones's breakfast, as usual. He wasn't there. All his belongings were there. But he was gone.
""It's odd-"
"-how a man totally blind, a helpless crippled-"
Ten years pass.

Now it is a zero-cold December afternoon, and I am in Moscow. I am riding in a subway car. There are only a few other passengers. One of them is a man sitting opposite to me, a man wearing boots, a thick long coat and a Russian-style fur cap. He has bright eyes, blue as a peacock's. After a doubtful instant, I simply stared, for even without the black glasses, there was no mistaking that lean distinctive face, those high cheekbones with the single scarlet star-shaped birthmark.
I was just about to cross the aisle and speak to him when the train pulled into a station, and Mr. Jones, on a pair of fine sturdy legs, stood up and strode out of the car. Swiftly, the train door closed behind him.

Huile sur bois, 30 x 40

jeudi, mars 17, 2005

Moderato piangere

Pascal Quignard, Vie secrète, extrait.

Les fleuves s'enfoncent perpétuellement dans la mer. Ma vie dans le silence. Tout âge est aspiré dans son passé comme la fumée dans le ciel.En juin 1993 M. et moi vivions à Atrani. Ce port minuscule est situé le long de la côe amalfitaine, sous Ravello. C'est à peine si l'on peut dire que c'est un port. A peine une anse.Il fallait monter cent cinquante-sept marches sur le flanc de la falaise. On entrait dans un ancien oratoire édifié par l'ordre de Malte et doté de deux terrasses en angle qui donnaient sur la mer. On ne voyait que la mer. On ne percevait partout que la mer blanche, mouvante, vivante, froide du printemps.Tout droit, en face, de l'autre coté du golfe, dans l'aube, parfois, de très rares fois, on apercevait la pointe de Paestum et les colonnes de ses temples qui cherchaient à s'élever, sur la ligne fictive de l'horizon, dans la brume et dans l'inconsistance.En 1993 M. était silencieuse.M. était plus romaine que les Romains (elle était née à Carthage). Elle était très belle. L'italien qu'elle parlait était magnifique. Mais M. allait avoir trente-trois ans et je me souviens qu'elle était devenue silencieuse.Il y a dans toute passion un point de rassasiement qui est effroyable.Quand on arrive à ce point, on sait soudain qu'impuissant à augmenter la fièvre de ce qu'on est en train de vivre, ou même incapable de la perpétuer, elle va mourir. On pleure à l'avance, brusquement, à part soi, dans un coin de rue, en hâte, pris par la crainte de se porter malheur à soi-même, mais aussi par prophylaxie, dans l'espoir de dérouter ou de retarder le destin.

Huile sur bois, 30 x 40