Saturday, December 27, 2008

And Now The CIA

Two days ago, I was angry at the Pope. Now it is the turn of the CIA...

It has been revealed that the CIA has been using other methods than "just torture" to gain intelligence information in Afghanistan. So far so good: if torture is "let go" in favor of more humane means of obtaining information in the fight against terrorism, I am all for it... However, should I really be all for it when I learn that the new "will-make-them-talk" weapon/method is the little blue pill? That is to say, Viagra!

The CIA has been distributing the miracle "virility" pill to elderly Afghan tribe leaders whose manhood (and therefore authority) was at stake, in an effort to win them to their side. The effects of the blue pill have been thoroughly described and the side effects (heart attack amongst others) explained. It is said that the elders' health was even examined before the pill was actually prescribed (Prescribed by who? The CIA has doctors on call in Kabul?). The elders came back a few days later, happy and smiling, asked for more pills and gave information in exchange.
Now obviously they will not give inaccurate information because there could happen a sudden "shortage" of the miraculous pill...

So why am I appalled?

As a woman, I feel that once again the true victims are other women. Women were victims of the Taliban, deprived of the right to an education, to work for those who were educated at the time the Taliban took over Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, women truly became invisible. They were forced to wear the burqa from head to toe. It even had a threaded "barbed wire" in front of their face. Women were reduced to being the sexual slaves of one man, 4 to a man to be precise. Some were "sold out" by their parents, especially the young ones to the older men. They were exposed to the ire of jealous older women in the harem and to constant "legal rape" -at best if they were of age and not consenting- or "legal pedophilia" -at worst if they were under the age of 18... Notwithstanding that the Taliban's definition of "legal age" was probably 12: if you have seen the movie "Osama" (no relation to the terrorist), you know what I mean. If you have not, then it's time to rent it and do not forget the box of Kleenex.

The current "new" Afghan constitution defines the legal age to marry (and have sex) as 18. But is the new constitution retroactive? Are all the little girls sacrificed to the Taliban's dogmas now free to go back to their parental abode or to live on their own if they so desire? Or are they still metaphorically and in truth jailed, forever married to Viagra-sex crazed old Afghan tribe leaders?

As a woman, my heart weeps for all these other women who have endured enough wars (since 1979 with the Soviet invasioon, remember?), enough wounds, enough losses and who now have to endure endless nights of erectile fixation by aging, loveless, and imposed upon husbands?

Of course the CIA does not seem to care that women will be, -once again, once more-, the first victims of the eternal fight against terrorism... Must be a "male" thing!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Pope: Homosexuality and Selfishness

Could someone tell the Pope to wake up and smell the coffee???

Is it because he is "The" Pope that he is uttering such garbage as he did on Monday December 22 about homosexuality?

Saying homosexuality is as much a threat to the human race as climate change is one more proof of the lack of compassion of conservative Roman Catholics. Jesus Christ surrounded himself with whores, tax collectors, and many other sinners and said "Love the sinner not the sin". Jesus Christ, in the New Testament, came to transcend the Law edicted in the Old Testament. In as much as homosexuality is condemned in the Old Testament with all the ferocity one can expect from Yahve, the God of Abraham, Izaak and Yaacov, not a word is mentioned against (or for) it in the New Testament, a book whose strongest tenet is "forgiveness".

Maybe the Pope has another secret version in those very deep Vatican caves ?

What is a threat to human race is the position of the Catholic Church on sexuality, to the point that the previous Pope even forbid the use of condoms in countries plagued by Aids, poverty and a rabbit-like population expansion. "Go forth and multiply" indeed! Or rather make sure you multiply and pay your due to the Roman Catholic Church: while you will be living in the slums of Rio or Mexico, or starving in Africa, or dying in the streets, our hierarchy will be living in the gilded rooms of Vatican, pray in the Sixtine Chapel (whose ceiling was decorated by this guy, you know, Michelangelo, the gay artist...but hush! no one should mention he was gay), and gorge on scrumptious food.

The Pope and his guard of eunuchs should stop looking at other people's mistakes and contemplate their own selfishness, their own lies, their own crimes: how many centuries of pedophilia does it take a pope to officially acknowledge the Roman Catholic Church HAS a problem with sexuality?

I strongly suggest the reading of Ute Ranke-Heineman's book: Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven to learn more about the subject. An eye-opener, to say the least.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Genocide Still Waiting For Its Name

The title looked promising... but heck no! It was just an eye-catcher...

It was a lukewarm, timid apology by Turkish intellectuals whose conscience might be tormented but whose guts are still not up to articulate and pronounce the word "genocide". Does it mean that Turkish intellectuals have joined the Western intellectual world at large, those for whom comfort is too priceless to lose their privileges? Or is it just one more proof that there is really not yet democracy / freedom of speech and opinion in Turkey and that calling a spade by its name, or as is the case here, a genocide a genocide, too risky?

I guess Solzhenitsyn is having a blast and laughing at us and them even more than when he fustigated us in his famous speech.Anyone still wants Turkey in the EU?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Europeans...

It is after all the title of one of Henry James' novels (one of my favorite books by this author). They also made a rather intimate movie out of the book. But tonight I wonder what would James do (or think or even more write) if he had had access to the same piece of news I read over the last couple of days.

What, indeed, can we think when politicians (European technocrats) spend their time, the taxpayers' money (who finances their comfortable tax-free salaries), and their credibility squabbling over the right diameter of a tomato, the perfect shape of a cucumber or the curbature of a banana? Don't they have more important subjects to discuss? Isn't there a global economical meltdown out there? Aren't there countries in which people are starving, lacking water, dying of AIDS, of war? What, in the name of SANITY, makes it THAT IMPORTANT and RELEVANT to the average fruit and vegetable buyer what shape is a cherry, what size is a peach, what diameter is a cauliflower?Are they bowing to the pressure of an agro-industrial complex? Are these the demands of a new agricultural lobby?

I can hear sentences such as "My tomato is better than your tomato" ring in my ears and brain. I do not know whether I should laugh because the absurdity of such a sentence sounds very much like Mr. and Mrs. Martin's dialogue in Ionesco's La Cantatrice Chauve at the best, or like a Louis de Funes' retort, or straight out of a foreign language method (as in "My tailor is rich" kind of sentence) at the worst; or if I should cry that highly educated gentlemen and women, most of them (if not all of them) elected to their highly remunerated positions, can within one decade dictate the shape, weight and general appearance of fruits and vegetables and then change it.

Why are they even allowed to regulate Nature?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thoughts Since I Cannot Speak

In bed for 4 days now with fever, strep throat and penicillin, the only thing left for me to do is to read and think.

The first thought that hit me while reading the accumulated Washington Post: why should the federal government bail out the auto industry? Apart from the humanistic reasons of trying to keep workers their jobs, that is. I say, let the oil industry bail them out: oil and car industries have gone hand in hand over the last few decades and especially in the last 8 years to ensure that no so much money was dedicated to "greening" the U.S. car industry: if a car becomes fuel efficient, then the oil industry loses money, right?

If the car industry bail out is a must to save the economy, then let's accompany it with a few pre-requisites. Not only with quotas of fuel-efficient cars to be built from now on till forever, but also with money for research on global warming consequences and moreover, on green solutions that would guarantee US independence from foreign oil, and from oil altogether. And not only that, but the Federal Government should become part owner of the bailed-out industry. This is not socialism, this is ensuring that the money used for the bail out does not fall into the wrong pockets: for who is truly bailing out anyone here, but the tax payer? You, me, and millions of others not so lucky pilgrims, whose lost-job packages will not include millions if our jobs do disappear.

Add a special tax on any car that run less than 20 miles a gallon in town... These are the cars that should be more expensive to buy (remember a few years back when anyone seemed to buy Hummers: the aid for farmers ended up benefiting the local yuppies who "needed" one for the day when their very long driveway would be under 3 feet of snow... The last time it happened in DC was in 2003!).

Add a special tax on homes over a certain number of square feet: McMansions are not only symbols of bad taste, they are also a waste of energy and can never be made fuel efficient.

The second thought that hit me (and hit me hard too!) was the potential "Return of the Clintons". Why would Hilary (and her inescapable husband) be a better Secretary of State than, say, John Kerry? Apart from the fact that the deal reeks of conflict of interest (Bill Clinton's job since his presidency involves dealing with many countries, some of them have their hands very dirty when it comes to human rights), why bring to the White House cabinet personalities who certainly do not incarnate "Change" or "Hope"?

Come on, Obama: do not shoot yourself in the foot before the inauguration!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Le Figaro

I am not the only one concerned by Rahm Emanuel 's position as Obama's Chief of Staff. This article forwarded to me by a friend, was published in the Figaro today and goes along the lines of my blog.

Rahm Emanuel apologized for the very anti-Arab comments made by his dad (who remains an Israeli citizen). The paternal comments were made on November 6: hopefully his apology is sincere and Rahm Emanuel will be able to cut the "symbolic umbilical cord" linking him to his dad. Lacan would say that he needs to get rid of the "Nom du père".

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy But Concerned

Of course I am happy that Barack Obama is our new President. Of course I am proud too. But I am also concerned.

Of course choosing Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff is a smart move in as much as he is a dedicated Democrat and has a long resume to prove it. If Sarah Palin is a pitbull with lipstick, Rahm Emanuel can be as much a bully, and angry, and ferocious, a true warrior.

And that is where I am concerned.

To the risk of offending many, I cannot help asking myself whether he will truly and genuinely serve his country, -the United States-, to the best of his ability and God knows he is able!. What if he lets his extreme positions against the Arab countries, Irak, Iran and the Middle East in general take over his loyalty? Should he let himself be dominated by his family's connections to Israel and therefore oppose and influence negatively Barack Obama? Should not one so close to the Presidency have one's heart only set towards one goal?

The question can be asked differently: did Eisenhower let his feelings for his German family rule his heart over World War 2?

The question therefore becomes a philosophical one: can one share one's loyalty between two countries?

I guess that only John Lennon had the answer. Listen to 'Imagine No country, nothing to die for"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tom Toles, The Washington Post, November 5 2008

In the steps of what he drew after Obama's Primary Victory in June 2008 and of what he drew after Rosa Park's death. Sober yet meaningful.

And check also this link:

It contains the most sober but best animated cartoon post Obama's Election.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Meaningful Sentence

I read this sentence twice in the last 48 hours and I wish I knew who wrote it so that i could acknowledge the source.

In any case, it is too beautiful a sentence to not share it, so there it goes:

"Rosa sat so that Martin could walk; Martin walked so that Obama could run; Obama ran so that our children can fly."

Bless your heart, whoever wrote this Truth!

Yes We Can!

Yes We Will!

We will because Yes, We Can"!

The Blue Waves

Manassas Park. Obama's Last Rally, Monday, November 3, 2008.

The Sign As a Shout

Obama Rally in Manassas, Monday, November 3, 2008: the rally began with a moment of meditation for some, prayer for others, in remembrance of Obama's grandmother who had passed away the night before and who would not see her grandson elected President.

The Meaning of Obama's Last Rally: Reading Between The Lines

Manassas Park is a tiny dot on the US map, a tiny dot abutted to another city, also called Manassas. Manassas Park means nothing to someone living outside the US but “Manassas” means so much to the American collective psyche.

Its contemporary outlook of never-ending shopping malls, large highways and new mansionized neighborhoods tells a tale of American wealth, of the somewhat extravagant way of life of those who shop till they drop, of the last 40 years of monetarist policy’s slogan: “the bigger the better”.
Manassas Park lies northeast of Manassas “proper”. If taken back in time, the traveler would not be assaulted by the artificial neon lights of commercial adventures but stumble onto battlefields that saw two main military Southern victories of the Civil War (the Union called these battles the “Bull Run Battles”, from the name of the local rivulet).

When Barack Obama chose Virginia to wrap-up his presidential campaign and deliver his last pre-election speech, it was the deliberate, calculated and yet sensitive act of someone who not only knows but also understands History.

Although it seceded later than the 7 original Confederate States, Virginia was the State at the heart of the Confederacy, with Richmond its most permanent capital from 1861 to 1865 (Montgomery, Alabama was the first brief one and Danville, Virginia became its brief last one after the fall of Richmond). Virginia has known many battles during the Civil War; its soil has swallowed the blood of soldiers from both sides. Virginia is also the birthplace of many a “Founding Father”, whose estates have become pilgrimage destination trips to this day: Mount Vernon (George Washington’s); Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s) and all the James River plantations (to name a few). The shadows of the American Revolution’s Great Men still haunt their grounds, their personal contradictions with regards to “all men are created equal” ( American Declaration of Independence, 1776), the burden they carried to their grave by lack of courage more than lack of conviction.

Put into such a perspective, Obama’s decision to hold his last speech in Manassas (even if only Manassas “Park”), Virginia, can be perceived as the race to win a traditionally Republican State leaning towards becoming a Swing State. But it is not only that. Beyond the fact that he himself is not the descendant of slaves, he chose a State in which the Confederate flag is still frequently and proudly displayed, at a location close to where the Northern armies (the Yankees, the abolitionists) lost two battles and thousands of brothers gave their life and their blood for opposite causes. Thus he reminded us of the absurdity of war, of civil war particularly, of the necessity of brotherhood beyond the barrier of color and history. Because he could have chosen any other “traditionally Republican leaning to becoming swing State” but he did not. He chose Virginia.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


It is one of these beautiful autumn Saturdays, temperature around 67 F, the sun is shining and the colors of the Indian Summer are magnificently displaying their charms... 

 I am stuck again cleaning up after the renovation works, or rather moving the mess from the make-up storage room that the living room and the dining room had become to the newly renovated family room... where these boxes will probably await a "better" day: like a grey rainy weekend day, one that is so gloomy that I will only want to stay inside and hibernate like a bear... But then again because of S.A.D., I will be so depressed that the boxes will remain untouched and in an Oblomov kind of a way, I will procrastinate until the Spring and then again will want to go outside and forget about the boxes until the next rainy day. A vicious circle if there is any.

I am not even mentioning my bedroom, also the victim of a storage room metamorphosis, with piles and bags and boxes accumulated, furniture to move back to their proper allocated spot. 

I have dreams of empty spaces, plane surfaces with nothing on them, cupboards and closets with doors that hide away the accumulation of books, objects and past lives... Like a cat, I have nine lives and already lived a few...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Mevlevi Sufi Whirling Dervishes

Amazing evening at the National Cathedral tonight: Faruk Celebi Efendi, the twenty-second great- grandson of Rumi (Who does not feel a chill along one's spine at the idea that they are meeting or seeing or hearing or all of the above the actual descendant of an actual confirmed mystic such as Rumi? Do we even think that prophets have descendants?), Rumi's poetry declaimed out loud in Farsi and in English, and the Mevlevi Sufi Whirling Dervishes' Sema Ceremony.

It was soothing in the way only Sufi music and Rumi's words can bring internal peace to someone, with such a simple sentence as "Open your chest like a window and let the spirit in". Soothing in the way the sound of the reed calms the anxieties of the day (the panic attack of the 9th hour, 3:00pm, when I realized all I still have to do before Friday, or before Saturday and even before next Tuesday, before I can breathe out, exhale, stop holding it all together)...
The whirling dervishes spread out like beautiful white flying doves, bringing with their trance, the offering of peace. They became a living image of the Spirit, their arms His wings, their bent heads the image of the Beloved's Suffering. I was mesmerized.

I will research more their traditions: there were so many convergences between Eastern Orthodoxy and Sufism, it was surreal. They bow in the way we bow, they kiss the hands of their spiritual leader in the way we do, they cross their arms before the whirling just like we do in Church before Communion and for the same reason: unity with God; their chant for the repose of the Souls sound exactly like an Eastern Orthodox panekhida and they come from this place called Konia which happened to be named Ikonia in the Byzantium Empire (as in: icon, the image of God). 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beyond DSK's sexual affairs...

Whatever DSK's reputation or his life style (only those who have not sinned can throw the first stone, remember?), I am more than intrigued at the fact that the whistle-blower may have had unavowed motives.
Indeed, if one considers the fact that DSK is Jewish and that A. Shakour Shaalan is Egyptian but also represents other Arab countries within the IMF, one can wonder whether this is not a premeditated campaign to get rid of DSK in the never ending enmity opposing Jews to Arabs.

Would by any chance Arab and/or Muslim countries be weary that the cash flow would stop flowing to their countries because DSK is heading the IMF?One will never know...

Monday, October 20, 2008


Bill Maher's documentary about religions and religious people was very disappointing. I expected a deeper approach and not this simplistic Borat-like version. To tell the truth, it was so repetitive that i almost fell asleep!

It is so easy to take as targets people who are less educated, whose educational ignorance accompanies a simple and sincere faith. Such is the first group of truck-drivers he teases in their little roadside trailer-chapel in North Carolina. Now when it comes to a US Senator who is bold enough to tell him (and therefore us, electors who brought him where he now sits!) that ""one does not need to take an IQ test to become a US Senator", there is indeed value in underlining the crass ignorance (because in the long term it is more expensive than education) or even worse the state of intellectual denial that one adheres to in the name of religion. Another example is the ex-gay Reverend.... Sad! Very sad! And scary too.

The only "worthy" opponent was the Vatican astronomer. Interestingly, the more "fanatical" branches of Christianity in this documentary were the Protestant ones, whilst the more "open-minded" were the Catholics. Maher did not interview any Christian Eastern Orthodox (maybe he does not know about us?). In any case, this brings to mind the fact that for some Protestant sects, the Catholics are nothing but Satan's sons... You see, the catholic Church has long decided to repent for what it did to Galileo and now admits that the world was only metaphorically created in 7 days...while the Protestant "low" churches (Baptists and other funny evangelical denominations that only exist in the United States) as opposed to "high" churches (Lutherans, Anglicans Episcopalians, apologies if I forget anyone) still stick to the book, to the letter of the book that is, not to its spirit!

Friday, October 17, 2008

De l'Art du Dialogue

Parmi les livres que j’ai lus récemment, il en est quatre qui m’ont surprise par leur traitement à la fois similaire et différent du dialogue.

Le tout dernier livre d’Amélie Nothomb, (la reine du dialogue, s’il en est!), Le fait du prince, décontenance le lecteur dès la première page. En effet, le premier chapitre est un dialogue, entamé dès la phrase d’accroche, elle-même une répartie, la toute première de ce livre qui abonde à ce point en échanges plus ou moins spirituels, qu’on se croirait au mieux au théâtre…au pire spectateur d’un match de tennis ou de ping-pong. Entendez-moi bien: je suis un aficionado d’Amélie Nothomb que j’ai eue le plaisir d’entendre et de rencontrer à San Francisco en mai 2006; mais alors que je m’apprête à déguster son cru annuel avec une anticipation à peine contenue, je dois avouer que cette année je suis restée sur ma faim. Le dialogue en soi ne m’a pas gênée et l’échange originel sert de point de départ original à une histoire qui mérite une fin moins bâclée, moins rapidement bouclée, et plus dans la lignée un peu surréaliste du reste de l’ouvrage. Ma moisson de citations « nothombiennes » se limite à la phrase retenue par l’éditeur pour la quatrième de couverture: « Il y a un instant, entre la quinzième et la seizième gorgée de champagne, où tout homme est un aristocrate. » D’ailleurs tout l’intérêt du livre repose sur l’analyse minutieuse que le narrateur fait du champagne: de la cave à champagne, véritable piscine scientifique sur ordinateur, à sa description « Le champagne est si froid que les bulles ont durci (…). On a l’impression de boire de la poussière de diamants », le lecteur finit par se demander si le but caché de l’auteure n’est pas de le rendre dépendant du champagne bien qu’elle fasse dire au narrateur qu’ «on ne peut pas être alcoolique en ne buvant que du champagne ».

Simonetta Greggio est Italienne, mais écrit en français. Son livre La douceur des hommes, est un dialogue dans lequel la narratrice, Constance, écoute plus qu’elle ne parle. Constance recueille les dernières confidences de Fosca, une autre adepte du champagne, vieille dame excentrique dont la vie a tourné autour de cette douceur des hommes qui est le titre de ce roman intimiste. Voyage dans le temps et l’espace et dialogue vont de pair dans ce livre: des multiples vies de Fosca à la vie monotone que Constance connaît jusqu’à sa rencontre avec Fosca, le lecteur traverse les époques (guerres mondiales) et les lieux (Paris, Italie, nouvelles « niches » touristiques), recueillant cette fois une moisson digne de ce nom de mots d’esprit et de vérités bien dites, comme celle-ci qui m’a fait sourire et m’exclamer: « Les Français sont comme ça! Ils vendraient père et mère pour un bon mot. Ils confondent intelligence et méchanceté, aussi… En même temps, l’art de la conversation, cette courtoisie de l’esprit français, est inéluctablement en train de disparaître ». Or Fosca est italienne, tout comme l’auteur du livre et s’il est une chose que revendiquent les Italiens, c’est bien l’art de « la bella figura » (le bon mot, la belle figure de style, de rhétorique) comme l’a si bien démontré Beppe Severgnini, auteur de Ciao America et La Bella Figura.

Tout le monde a maintenant entendu parler du Prix des Libraires 2007, L’élégance du hérisson, de Muriel Barbéry. Le Prix des Libraires 2008 rend hommage cette fois encore à une auteure, Delphine de Vigan, pour son quatrième livre, No et moi. Il y a nombre de similitudes entre ces deux livres. L’un et l’autre ont une narratrice adolescente et surdouée : Paloma chez Muriel Barbéry et Lou chez Delphine de Vigan (Le lecteur se pose d’ailleurs la question de savoir si cette Lou est liée de près ou de loin à l’auteure dans la mesure où l’un de ses premiers livres fut publié sous le nom de plume de Lou Delvig). Mais si Lou est narratrice principale d’un dialogue émouvant entre elle et No (Nolwenn, la jeune SDF : l’abréviation du prénom breton en une négation absolue évoque la devise punk « NO Future »), Paloma n’est que l’une des deux narratrices du très beau livre de Muriel Barbéry, l’autre étant plus âgée (54 ans), mais tout aussi surdouée, « plus lettrée que tous ces riches suffisants », bien que simple concierge. Le dialogue entre Paloma et Renée est mené sur le terrain de la polyphonie. L’une comme l’autre mène une riche vie intérieure et les écrits de Paloma, apparaissant sous une autre graphie que le roman général, tout comme les réflexions intérieures de Renée, font écho aux réflexions intérieures de Lou. Cependant, Renée dialogue aussi avec son défunt mari, avec son chat, avec Manuela et éventuellement avec Kakuro. Elle nomme toutes les personnes qui illuminent ainsi sa vie « mes camélias ». Lou développe lentement l’art du dialogue avec autrui, toute traumatisée qu’elle est de sa propre histoire familiale, de la souffrance née du non-dit dans sa famille, et de sa prise de conscience de sa différence intellectuelle. Si Lou s’ouvre au dialogue, si elle surmonte sa peur, c’est grâce à No, la jeune SDF elle-même mise à l’écart du dialogue maternel et familial par des circonstances encore plus dramatiques que celles de Lou.

No et Renée mènent leur participation effective au dialogue de ces deux romans jusqu’à une fin insupportable d’émotion et de tristesse. Je crois bien ne jamais autant avoir pleuré à la lecture d’un livre que lors des 20 dernières pages de L’élégance du hérisson, ni ne m’être tant remise en cause à la lecture d’un autre qu’avec les perspectives nouvelles que m’a offert No et Moi.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Writing must be an act devoid of will.'' Henry Miller

Comme il a raison, Miller ! Cette seule petite phrase au milieu des centaines de pages de Sexus, ce fut mon épiphanie. Qu’écrire me soit une passion, que tout me pousse à écrire, à des heures indues et n’importe où, que je sente, que j’entende en moi ces milliers de mots, de phrases, d’idées, n’est pas une maladie, mais l’expression de ma volonté subconsciente, prête à exploser si je ne lui donne pas bientôt libre cours, si je n’accorde pas à cette machine qu’est mon cerveau, le temps minimal de liberté créative qu’il réclame en sourdine depuis des années, et depuis quelques mois, presque un an, comme un grondement souterrain, le ronflement que personne n’entend sauf la terre lorsqu’elle sait que le volcan va enfin se réveiller. C’est comme un reflux de mon être intime et profond, enfoui, dompté, non domestiqué, non oublié mais tu, et qui réclame son dû, sa part de vie.

Vocation rejetée, reniée, en souffrance, au bord de l’état d’urgence. Si écrire est ma vocation, alors je veux entrer en écriture, me soumettre aux exigences de la discipline.

Ce qui m’a retenue jusqu’à maintenant, ce sont toutes les velléités qui font la vie quotidienne : travail, et surtout famille. Je ne peux m’abstenir du premier pour les besoins de la seconde, mais comment faire comprendre à ma famille qu’écrire m’est respirer et que m’abstenir d’écrire m’est une torture mentale et physique. Comme je le disais hier encore à quelqu’un qui me comprend un peu plus chaque fois que nous nous voyons, en anglais, parce qu’il est américain : « The state of matrimony does not agree with creativity ».

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Very Good New York Times Article

June 17, 2008
For Blacks in France, Obama’s Rise Is Reason to Rejoice, and to Hope

PARIS — When Youssoupha, a black rapper here, was asked the other day what was on his mind, a grin spread across his face. “Barack Obama,” he said. “Obama tells us everything is possible.”

A new black consciousness is emerging in France, lately hastened by, of all things, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States. An article in Le Monde a few days ago described how Mr. Obama is “stirring up high hopes” among blacks here. Even seeing the word “noir” (“black”) in a French newspaper was an occasion for surprise until recently.

Meanwhile, this past weekend, 60 cars were burned and some 50 young people scuffled with police and firemen, injuring several of them, in a poor minority suburb of Vitry-le-François, in the Marne region of northeast France.

Americans, who have debated race relations since the dawn of the Republic, may find it hard to grasp the degree to which race, like religion, remains a taboo topic in France. While Mr. Obama talks about running a campaign transcending race, an increasing number of French blacks are pushing for, in effect, the reverse.

Having always thought it was more racially enlightened than strife-torn America, France finds itself facing the prospect that it has actually fallen behind on that score. Incidents like the ones over the weekend bring to mind the rioting that exploded across France three years ago. Since it abolished slavery 160 years ago, the country has officially declared itself to be colorblind — but seeing Mr. Obama, a new generation of French blacks is arguing that it’s high time here for precisely the sort of frank discussions that in America have preceded the nomination of a major black candidate.

This black consciousness is reflected not just in daily conversation, but also in a dawning culture of books and music by young French blacks like Youssoupha, a cheerful, toothy 28-year-old, who was sent here from Congo by his parents to get an education at 10, raised by an aunt who worked in a school cafeteria in a poor suburb, and told by guidance counselors that he shouldn’t be too ambitious. Instead, he earned a master’s degree from the Sorbonne.

Then, like many well-educated blacks in this country, he hit a brick wall. “I found myself working in fast-food places with people who had the equivalent of a 15-year-old’s level of education,” he recalled.

So he turned to rap, out of frustration as much as anything, finding inspiration in “négritude,” an ideology of black pride conceived in Paris during the 1920s and 30s by Aimé Césaire, the French poet and politician from Martinique, and Léopold Sédar Senghor, the poet who became Senegal’s first president. Its philosophy, as Sartre once put it, was a kind of “antiracist racism,” a celebration of shared black heritage.

Négritude and Césaire are back. When Césaire died in April, at 94, his funeral in Fort-de-France, Martinique, was broadcast live on French television. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his rival Ségolène Royal both attended. Just three years ago, Mr. Sarkozy, as head of a center-right party and not yet president, supported a law (repealed after much protest) that compelled French schools to teach the “positive” aspects of colonialism. The next year, Césaire refused to meet with him. Now here was Mr. Sarkozy flying to the former French colony (today one of the country’s overseas departments, meaning he could troll for votes) to pay tribute to the poet laureate of négritude.

That said, as a country France definitely sends out mixed messages. “Négritude is a concept they just don’t want to hear about,” Youssoupha raps in “Render Unto Césaire” on his latest album, “À Chaque Frère” (“To Each Brother”). A regular short feature on French public television, “Citoyens Visibles,” hosted by a young actress, Hafsia Herzi, celebrates French artists with foreign origins.

At the same time, it’s against the rules for the government to conduct official surveys according to race. Consequently, nobody even knows for certain how many black citizens there are. Estimates vary between 3 million and 5 million out of a population of more than 61 million.
“Can you imagine if French officials said, ‘Well, we’re not sure, the population of France may be 65 million, or maybe it’s 30 million’?” declared a somewhat exasperated Patrick Lozès, founder of Cran, a black organization devised not long ago partly to gather statistics the government won’t.

When he sat down to talk the other morning, the first two words out of his mouth were Barack Obama. “The idea behind not categorizing people by race is obviously good; we want to believe in the republican ideal,” he said. “But in reality we’re blind in France, not colorblind but information blind, and just saying people are equal doesn’t make them equal.”
He ticked off some obvious numbers: one black member representing continental France in the National Assembly among 555 members; no continental French senators out of some 300; only a handful of mayors out of some 36,000, and none from the poor Paris suburbs.

To this may be added Cran’s findings that the percentage of blacks in France who hold university degrees is 55, compared with 37 percent for the general population. But the number of blacks who get stuck in the working class is 45 percent, compared with 34 percent for the national average.

“There’s total hypocrisy here,” Léonora Miano said. She’s a black author, 37, originally from Cameroon, whose recent novel “Tels des Astres Éteints” (“Like Extinguished Stars”) is about race relations as seen through the eyes of three black immigrants.

“For me it was really strange when I arrived 17 years ago to find people here never used the word race,” Ms. Miano said over coffee one afternoon at Café Beaubourg. Outside, African immigrants hawked sunglasses to tourists. “French universalism, the whole French republican ideal, proposes that if you embrace French values, the French language, French culture, then race doesn’t exist and it won’t matter if you’re black. But of course it does. So we need to have a conversation, and slowly it is coming: not a conversation about guilt or history, but about now.”
“The Black Condition: An Essay on a French Minority” by Pap N’Diaye, a 42-year-old historian at the School for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences, is another much-talked-about new book here. “We are witnessing a renaissance of the négritude movement,” Mr. N’Diaye declared the other day.

The surge in popularity of Mr. Obama among French blacks partly stems from the hope that his rise “will highlight our lack of diversity and put pressure on French politicians who say they favor him to open politics up more to minorities,” Mr. N’Diaye said. “We in France are, in terms of race, where we were in terms of gender 40 years ago.”

He laid out some history: French decolonization during the 1960s pretty much pushed the original négritude movement to the back burner, at the same time that it inspired a wave of immigrants from the Caribbean to come here and fill low-ranking civil service jobs. From sub-Saharan Africa, another wave of laborers gravitated to private industry. The two populations didn’t communicate much.

But their children, raised here, have grown up together. “Mutually discovered discrimination,” as Mr. N’Diaye put it, has forged a bond out of which négritude is being revived.
The watershed event was the rioting in poor French suburbs three years ago. Among its cultural consequences: Aimé Césaire “started to be rediscovered by young people who found in his work things germane to the current situation,” Mr. N’Diaye said.

Youssoupha is one of those people. He was nursing a Coke recently at Top Kafé, a Lubavitch Tex-Mex restaurant in Créteil, just outside Paris, where he lives. Nearby, two waiters in yarmulkes sat watching Rafael Nadal play tennis on television beneath dusty framed pictures of Las Vegas and Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. A clutch of Arab teenagers smoked outside. In modest neighborhoods like this, France can look remarkably harmonious.

“Césaire is in my lyrics, and I was upset when people misinterpreted what I wrote as anti-white because négritude is the affirmation of our common black roots,” Youssoupha said.

Ms. Miano, the novelist, made a similar point. “There is no such thing as a black ‘community’ in France — yet — partly because we have such different histories,” she said. “An immigrant woman from Mali and another from Cameroon view the world in completely different ways. You also shouldn’t think there isn’t racism among blacks in France, between West Indians and Africans. There is. But ultimately we’re all black in the face of discrimination.”

Then she smiled: “Too bad I forgot to wear my Obama T-shirt.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


He made it! Thus History is made too: I am trying hard to juggle my memory and find another Western / First World country in which there would have been a non-White person running for presidency, but I can't find any.

Hopefully, this will be proof to some embittered, anti-American, inhabitants of old Europe that the American dream is still alive and that this nation, like every other nation, can produce its worst and its best in the same decade.

I can't resist but to share two of Tom Toles' Washington Post cartoons. I did put MLK's speech on this blog a couple of months ago. Tom Toles' cartoon is MLK's dream answer come true...
Sometimes words are less powerful than drawings.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


When writers tackle sex in their writings, it instantly becomes a hot (no pun intended) conversation topic amongst the mere mortals that we are!

The reader is either enthralled…or enraged. It is almost as if books about sex (novels, poems, or essays) have the ultimate capacity to raise our adrenalin level!

Now, what the reader is often prone to forget, is that a sex book has to be put in context: in which year was it written? Are the events and scenes related older than the writing date or contemporary? Is the author mainly a trash writer or is he an accomplished novelist, someone who can also write about different subjects? Are the lexical fields used by the author understandable or does the reader need a dictionary (in case of extreme slang and/or obscenity)? What is the point of the book? Is there a hidden message? Is it an accurate depiction of a society at a given time?

Let’s consider some famous and/or infamous American and French examples. Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, for instance is a genuine masterpiece: it brings together a comedy of manners about the Jewish American Experience and the psychoanalysis of the turbulent male adolescent mind. For all mothers out there, this would be the best gift you could buy for your sons: who knows, they might even start to like reading!

Another scandalous and talented writer is Henry Miller. Sexus relates the author’s life in the 1920s (and not, like a lot of readers wrongly assume, in the 1960s!). Of course there are pages full of very graphic details of his many sexual encounters. But out of 506 pages, it may be only 40% of it, the other 60% being dedicated to the making of a writer. The joy I felt from reading this book when I was 18 is nothing compared to the epiphany of reading it a second time in my 40s and finally understanding what a simple sentence such as: “To write (…) must be an act devoid of will” really means. To all struggling or acclaimed artists, be them writers, painters, musicians, you name it, this sentence rings so true. To dismiss Miller’s oeuvre or to consider it solely as “pornographic” is regrettable. If one does so, then what about the French Michel Houellebecq or his female counterpart Catherine Millet? Les particules élémentaires, Extension du domaine de la lutte, Plateforme, et La possibilité d’une île (to be easily renamed as « La possibilité du Nul » as far as I am concerned) by Houellebecq or the even more graphic La vie sexuelle de Catherine M. by ArtPress Editor Catherine Millet cannot pretend to more than what they are: realistic, mechanical graphic descriptions of sexual orgies. There is no philosophical message here: even if Houellebecq likes to pose as a modern Pic de la Mirandole, he is in truth a libidinous middle-aged “man”, unable to raise it if not for the use of extremely obscene language… At least Catherine Millet does not pretend to a higher status than that of sexual explorer! We are far from Miller’s beautifully written pages, or from Roth’s insanely comical sentences.

Houellebecq and Millet depict their truth as to the state of the (or their) French world (s) and sex. About a year ago I managed to find an American writer, Walter Mosley, whose latest book was intriguingly similar to that of both Millet and Houellebecq. Set in New York in our 21st century, Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel is one man’s response to his girlfriend’s infidelity. What is truly unsettling in this book is that its parallel sexual universe could well be a vision of what lies ahead for the generations to come. The sex games mentioned remind the reader of both The Satyricon and The Decameron. What redeems Mosley is not only his reputation as a masterful writer: he has indeed written many other books, not at all on the same subject, but also the fact that his choice of lexical field elevates him above the likes of Houellebecq.

Visionaries are prophets indeed, but the essayist and investigative Washington Post writer Laura Sessions Stepp is stating the hard facts for us soon-to-be middle-aged parents. Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, her essay on the subject, could be almost considered as the answer to Sexus and the prelude to Killing Johnny Fry. Not any more a male-based fantasy à la Houellebecq or à la Mosley, not a biographical account à la Miller, but an essay about the new female-in-action, a copycat of centuries of male chauvinism reversed!

How pale seems Lady Chatterley’s Lover!

Friday, April 4, 2008

40 years ago today...

Martin Luther King Jr. died 40 years ago today...on April 4, 1968.

40 years later, although progress has been made and segregation officially shunned, we are still confronting the same problems: a war is on that looks more and more like the Vietnam War (that was ongoing in 1968) and poverty is still knocking at the door of Blacks and now also Latinos.
Segregation is based on the color of the dollar: either you have some, or you don't...
Time to hear the 'I have a dream" speech again: they can kill the dreamer, but not the dream.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cherry Blossom Festival 2008: The Hidden Face

One million persons on the Mall, Saturday March 29, 2008 for the Kite Festival and the opening of the Cherry Blossom Festival...The line was long for the Women's restrooms!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Inspiring Speech

Reading Barack Obama's Speech brought back memories of other famous American speeches and of course in particular Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do your country" and Martin Luther's King's "I Have A Dream".

His speech contains elements of both famed predecessors and here lies the difference: he truly represents the sum of both worlds, white and black, the ideal to attend, "E pluribus unum": "Out of many, one nation".

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ames sensibles s'abstenir, Partie 2

Ma précédente critique s’en prenait aux nombreux anglicismes qu’arbore la littérature contemporaine française. Titres d’abord, car c’est ce qui accroche le client/lecteur, mais aussi mots disséminés ça et là dans les phrases, au hasard des connaissances que l’auteur a de la langue de Shakespeare (ou de Steinbeck d’ailleurs !) ou victime de pressions extérieures que je ne nommerai pas.

Cette deuxième partie interpelle une autre branche de la littérature française contemporaine, que je nommerai « littérature de la déprime ». Ai-je inconsciemment choisi des livres porteurs de sentiment angoissant parce que c’était le mois de novembre, avec ce qu’il comprend de grisaille et de pluies à Paris, ou parce que les grèves des transports et leurs justifications mesquines minaient mon optimisme habituel ? Je laisse le soin aux différentes écoles de psychanalyse d’en juger…

Deux livres ont retenu mon attention : Le bar des habitudes, de Franz Bartelt et A conserver au frais, d’Isabelle Sojfer. Ils ont en commun d’être des recueils de nouvelles, un genre que j’aime beaucoup mais qui jusque là est resté plutôt négligé par la littérature française, avec l’exception notable de Philippe Delerm (La première gorgée de bière…).

Au-delà du genre, ces deux auteurs partagent aussi un style très pessimiste, cynique, qui a personnellement déprimé l’optimiste que je suis. De « Mauvais rêve » à « Dans le train », en passant par « Un parcours sans fautes », « Tueur en série », « Lili, « Testament d’un homme trop aimé », « Un voisin redoutable » et je ne les cite pas toutes, les nouvelles de Franz Bartelt décrivent des univers parallèles (Dans le train, Mauvais rêve) ou des personnages dont la mesquinerie, la méchanceté et les préjugés (Un voisin redoutable..) ne donnent pas envie de les connaître. Comme on dit en anglais, c’est le genre de lecture qui nous fait ensuite « count our blessings » parce que je suis convaincue qu’il s’est certainement inspiré de la réalité, mais je suis heureuse que ce ne soit pas ma réalité !

Quant à Isabelle Sojfer, elle apporte une certaine nouveauté puisque toutes ses nouvelles sauf deux, sont en fait des réécritures cyniques de contes de fée célèbres, et même de la pièce « King Lear » de Shakespeare (Il y a des auteurs qui ne doutent vraiment pas d’eux-mêmes !). J’avais déjà lu des adaptations politiquement correctes du Chaperon Rouge, des Trois Petits Cochons, de Blanche-Neige, etc., dans le nouveau style « bien pensant » et « chaleureux fraternel » des années 90, ce qui m’avait fait m’interroger sur la valeur initiatique de ce nouveau genre (car, comme l’écrivait Bruno Bettelheim dans Psychanalyse des Contes de Fées, il est bon pour les enfants de transcender leurs peurs, et c’est à cela que servaient nos contes de fées traditionnels). Le cru « Sojfer », si je peux m’exprimer ainsi, va tout à fait à l’inverse du politiquement correct niais et s’affirme dans la violence, dans le cynisme, et si l’impertinence fait sourire, il faut quand même qu’elle soit accompagnée du talent. « Le roi Lear » peut rester chez lui, Shakespeare n’a rien à craindre, ce n’est pas encore demain qu’il perdra sa place de barde universel au firmament des poètes ! A remarquer d’ailleurs, que les deux historiettes les mieux réussies, surtout au niveau de l’idée, sont « Le don » (rien à voir avec Nabokov) et celle qui a donné son titre au livre, « A conserver au frais ». La première évoque le livre d’Elsa Triolet, Roses à crédit, par la frénésie de consommation du jeune couple qui finit par vendre, membre par membre, organe par organe, la grand-mère de leurs enfants contre espèces sonnantes et trébuchantes…mais que reste-t-il lorsqu’elle a tout donné ? La deuxième consiste en un monologue existentiel intérieur, celui d’un yaourt, justement « à conserver au frais » et ses péripéties, de l’étagère du supermarché à celle du réfrigérateur de son consommateur éventuel. Le yaourt devient le détenu qui compte ses jours dans le couloir des condamnés à mort !

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thoughts on a snowy day

I meant to add these thoughts a couple of weeks back once they occured to me, but I have been too busy with the mundane to allow myself some writing time...

With the American primaries taking over the news, I have been especially following the Democrats. What, with a woman running and an African-American man running, both with their chances, it is a double first in American politics! Even though I cannot vote, not being a US citizen yet, I am still deeply interested in these elections.

If I could vote, I would cast my ballot for Obama. Now, some may ask, why not for Hillary? She is a woman, you are a woman too, can't you stand for your own kind? Can't you help make a woman get the most powerful job in the world? Well, if Obama was not running, I'd say: "Sure, I'll support Hillary" but Obama is running...

Amongst the many reasons, I'd support Obama, is the fact that his hands are not as dirty as Hillary's. One cannot help thinking of Whitewater, of the White House aide who committed suicide...Then one takes notice of how Bill, the former president, has been helping her run her campaign, and how distateful his attacks have been, how angry and red he looked... So one could not help thinking that she was relying too much on her husband's fame and charisma, which does not give out an image of a strong woman. Again, when she shared a few tears, exposing her so-called vulnerability and emotion, it was hard not to think that she was being manipulative: anything to win, even the female soft touch?!

Finally, what blew me was this article I read in the Washington Post after Super Tuesday. Some woman was being interviewed and she said that she would not "turn the world over to my 46 year old son-in-law" and therefore would certainly not vote for a 46 year old candidate. The lady being interviewed was 67...I felt angry and humiliated. This, to me, is another proof that, being born in 1962, I feel, just like Obama, that I am still looking forward, to the future, and therefore am more akin to the generation coming after me, than attuned to a 67 years old probably wealthily retired baby boomer. Then I thought: "Wait a minute! How old was Kennedy when he ran? How old was Clinton himself?" This lady obviously has some serious memory problems...Alzheimer? If she thinks so badly of a 46 year old candidate, what can she think of a 20 year old geek CEO? Do we have to wait until arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer have set in, to run the world? What about Reagan, the best example of senility in power? Lady, why don't you go and manage the local nursing home, be with your peers, and let us provide for your Medicaid!

Monday, January 28, 2008

More on the Sangria Front

An addendum to my most recent rant: The Washington Post mentioned that Kir Royal was also outlawed in Virginia on the same grounds as sangria: because it is a mix of wine and liquor!
See the article:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Two Rants

A couple of things made my temper flare in the last few days:

- I went to see the movie Atonement based on the superb book by Ian McEwan, and loved the movie as much as I loved the book. Indeed it is so rare to find a faithful cinematographical adaptation of a literary oeuvre and for a long time only the BBC was able to produce anything of quality...Think Pride and Prejudice with the elegantly divine Colin Firth! So you can just imagine how floored I was when I found out that the French distributor translated the title to a sugary-weepy-not-at-all-in-context-with-Ian McEwan's style "Reviens-moi". I almost threw up! These are the words that Knightley says twice in the movie to McEvoy, but in no way does it represent or do justice to the very essence of the book. Forgive them, Father, for they obviously do not know what they are doing, and certainly cannot understand English!

- To be fair, or rather balanced, I had to find something that the Americans, in turn, would do to make me cringe. Now, of course, the US is a big country and with 50 states, diversity prevails. So when one State acts stupidly, it does not mean that the entire nation follows suit...Ah! The advantages of federalism over "the unique and indivisible Republic"! (But that is another story altogether.) Anyway, as I was driving to work this morning, listening to the Jack Diamond Morning Show on 107.3, this came up: Sangria is ILLEGAL in Virginia! That is to say, any bartender who is serving sangria risks up to one year in jail! Yes, you read it well, it is not one month or one day, but one year -12 months- in jail...The legal basis for this extremely cruel penalty is the following: in Virginia, one is not allowed to mix wine or beer with brandy, or wine or beer with any other hard liquor. As for the logical aspect of it, I relished the image of new sangria recipes: mixing Argentinian red wine with French red wine and calling it the "Falkland Sangria" just to annoy the Brits, or mixing Tequila and Bourbon and calling it the 'New Frontier" just to tickle some people's points of view on immigration to this country...Because if you cannot mix wine and hard liquor, nothing prevents you to mix wine with wine or liquor with liquor. How do you think they invented Martinis in the Big Apple? But I am keeping the best for the end... If the law is enforced as it has been, because a restaurant had to close for a few days, all the Irish-Americans living in the Commonwealth of Virginia will have to move elsewhere: indeed, how will they be able to drink their beer and their shot of whisky together? No siree, you cannot mix, and it means, as a responsible bartender, I cannot serve you the two drinks would be mixing!

But I am cheating, am I not? This story made me laugh more than the translation faux pas!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ames sensibles s'abstenir, Partie 1

Une fois n’est pas coutume, cette revue littéraire sera en français d’abord parce que les livres que je vais évoquer dans cette colonne sont des ouvrages français récents. Leur intitulé ne le laisse pourtant pas supposer et le lecteur est en droit de se demander pourquoi les auteurs ont-ils absolument tenu à leur donner un titre en langue anglaise.

Nous avons ainsi Hell de Lolita Pille, Teen Spirit de Virginie Despentes, le tout récent Prix Goncourt 2007, Alabama Song de Gilles Leroy, et des exemples plus anciens comme Not To Be de Christine Angot, American Vertigo de BHL et Windows on the World de Frédéric Beigbeder.

En ce qui concerne les deux derniers, je ne m’étendrai ni sur leur pédante rivalité, ni sur leurs prétentions philosophico politiques qui rappellent plus les salons des Précieuses Ridicules que les amphithéâtres fréquentés par un Michel Serres ou un Pierre-André Taguieff. BHL est loin d’être Tocqueville même s’il en a fort envie ! Je peux, à la rigueur, me flageller et admettre que Windows on the World se veut un hommage au restaurant du même nom, à son personnel, et aux clients que le hasard fit s’y trouver pour disparaître le 11 septembre 2001 lors de l’attaque contre le World Trade Center…Quel dommage que l’auteur ait, -une fois de plus est une fois de trop dans le cas de Beigbeder -, utilisé cette plateforme littéraire pour contempler son propre nombril lors de petits déjeuners qu’il prenait à la Tour Montparnasse en fantasmant sur les dernières minutes des victimes du 11 septembre !

Alabama Song est en partie excusable par le sujet même, donner voix à Zelda Fitzgerald, le femme de Scott Fitzgerald, auteur de The Great Gatsby, dont le destin tragique s’achèvera six pieds sous terre dans le cimetière de Rockville, celui-là même en haut de Rockville Pike…

Il n’en est pas de même de Lolita Pille et Virginie Despentes. Se laissent-elles manipuler par le jeu des « tendances » qui domine même le langage ? Ont-elle succombé à la pression de leurs éditeurs, eux-mêmes plus à l’écoute du chiffre de vente que de la qualité littéraire d’une œuvre ? Lolita Pille, dont l’autre livre s’appelle Bubble Gum, accumule les anglicismes dès la page d’accroche de Hell : « Je suis un pur produit de la Think Pink generation », écrit-elle, sans se demander si l’étiquette recouvre seulement les jeunes femmes, nouvelles cibles des études de marché, ou quelque chose de plus grave, comme la recherche sur le cancer du sein, par exemple. Il est bien beau de vouloir étendre son savoir, encore faut-il bien le posséder…La sur utilisation, à mauvais escient, de la langue anglaise et de termes qui ont une connotation culturelle précise dans le monde anglo-saxon, ne va de pair, dans ce premier livre de Lolita Pille, qu’avec la sur consommation de drogue dure de ces personnages, (J’ai laissé tomber très rapidement le compte des lignes de cocaïne, et du nombre de fois qu’est conjuguée l’expression « se taper une ligne »). Personnages dont la superficialité, accrocheuse et provocante dès les premières phrases (que je ne vous révèlerai pas), se veut une réécriture contemporaine du très beau, bien que scandaleux en son temps, livre de Choderlos de Laclos, Les liaisons dangereuses. La narratrice, Hell, tente de regrouper en une seule personne Cécile (comme la jeune fille séduite par Valmont, elle tombe enceinte et, XXIème siècle oblige, avorte au lieu de faire une fausse couche), la Présidente de Tourvel et la Marquise de Merteuil. Si Hell excelle quelque part, c’est à se montrer au-delà des attentes qu’aurait pu entretenir Choderlos de Laclos pour sa Marquise, mais en moins raffinée. Quant à Valmont, sous les traits d’Andrea di Sanseverini, il paraît bien pâle. Son personnage est peu et mal développé ; il est vrai que l’auteur est une adolescente dont l’expérience de la vie, si elle est un tant soit peu proche de ce qu’elle écrit, n’est qu’une série de sorties mondaines sans autre but qu’ orgies de sexe et de drogue. Rimbaud écrit « On n’est pas sérieux quand on a dix-sept ans » ; Lolita Pille l’a pris au pied de la lettre. A cela s’ajoutent les escapades pseudo philosophiques qui sentent la classe de terminale et le malaise adolescent, mais un malaise qui date…car recourir aux chansons de Ferré, c’est ce qui se faisait au début des années 80 et encore ! Les emprunts à Baudelaire ne sont pas tous officiellement reconnus : Harmonie du Soir est bien mentionné en fin de livre, mais L’Invitation au Voyage a été oubliée alors qu’au chapitre 11, Andrea raconte : « Ma vie n’est que luxe, calme et volupté », un refrain célèbre que les amateurs du plus grand dandy de la poésie française reconnaîtront…

Teen Spirit de Virginie Despentes est d’un autre acabit : titre anglais certes, mais des personnages hauts en couleurs, même si ce ne sont plus celles du XVIème arrondissement. Le registre de langue, fleuri, rappelle Céline. L’auteur n’en est pas à sa première œuvre et on sent de suite la maturité de celle qui a vécu. Virginie Despentes dérange car elle nous renvoie toutes nos illusions sur la vie et l’amour, n’hésite pas à confesser qu’elle s’est prostituée aux débuts du minitel, et jette un regard proche du désespoir et de l’anarchie sur nos mesquineries quotidiennes. On peut ne pas agréer avec Virginie Despentes et mépriser son style, il n’en demeure pas moins qu’elle est l’image d’un féminisme nouveau, qui s’exprime haut et fort dans son essai King Kong Théorie. Le traitement littéraire de son personnage principal et narrateur, Bruno, est soutenu par les figures de style qu’il pense et prononce, mais cela ne le rend pas forcément sympathique. L’adolescente Nancy nous semble plus authentique que Hell, jusque dans ses comportements extrêmes alliés à un grand besoin de tendresse et d’amour. A la lecture de Teen Spirit, on reprend presque espoir…

Si ces deux livres ont un point en commun, c’est leur côté « littérature de camelote », pour laquelle les faiseurs de tendance utilisent le terme anglais de « littérature trash ». Or, le « trash », qu’est-ce que c’est réellement ? Des ordures, un objet sans aucune valeur, donc de la camelote, dont on peut disposer, c’est-à-dire jeter à la poubelle (« trash can »), au pire, une insulte, surtout s’il est apposé après « white », comme dans « white trash ». Certains prétendent que ce type de littérature n’est que la digne héritière de précurseurs comme Rabelais, Sade, Apollinaire ou Bataille, tout simplement parce que les champs lexicaux du sexe et du corps s’y expriment souvent vulgairement. Pour d’autres encore « trash » est synonyme de « réalité ». Ce qu’il y a de sûr, c’est que le lecteur de Hell peut se sentir souillé au fil des pages d’un tel livre…

© Sarah Diligenti Pickup December 2007