Serail Collector : I’m Blonde

In the world we live in, a woman is merely an object.
An object of perfection, stuck in a youth without love handles, without wrinkles, yet without acne pimples either.
Object of desire with properly calibrated measurements to fill that huge gap men bear in their hearts.
That kind of women, of perfect women, Sultan Shariar used to marry one of them a day. Then he had her beheaded for breakfast, the morning following their wedding night.
That man, you see, had once found his wife in courteous company, and he had had her executed without any further ado, so as to teach her some manners.
But his unfaithful wife’s head did not suffice to fill that huge gap he felt in his heart. His wife had been a woman, his wife had been untrue, so every woman was his untrue wife , and he beheaded her each dawn after the other.
Now ladies and gentlemen let me tell you a secret :
the woman does not exist.
Disappointing, isn’t it ?
There’s only women, who are nothing but… human beings, Like you and me. More or less. Get the picture ?
Let’s get back to our Sultan : one day, the sad man married Sheherazade. On her wedding night, she asked for her sister Dinarzade to join her in the nuptial suite. I know what you’re thinking of… two women in the sultan’s bedroom. And one of them started to tell a story.. at dawn the story was not yet finished and Sultan Shariar let her live one more night, so that Sheherazade could complete , and another night, and another, and another. Sultan Shariar had not married the woman he believed, he had married a story- teller instead and during 1001 nights Sheherazade fed him with the flesh of the tongue. And Schariar eventually conceded that his beheaded first wife would have deserved better than the taciturn and brutal husband he used to be, long ago.

Astrid Lindgren Never Violence Jamais la violence

Never Violence !

My dear friends !
The first thing I must do is to thank you, and I do so with all my heart. The German Publishers’ Peace Prize radiates such a glittering aura, and having been awarded it feels like such an honour that actually holding it in my hands makes me weak at the knees. But here I am, on the very spot where, over the years, so many wise men and women have held forth and expressed their hopes for the future of mankind and the lasting peace that we all long for.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said in a better way than I am capable of? To speak about peace is to speak about something that doesn’t exist. Genuine peace is nowhere to be found on this earth, and has probably never existed except as a goal that we are evidently unable to achieve.

For as long as we humans have lived on this planet, we have been indulging in violence and war, and the fragile peace that sometimes exists is constantly under threat.

At this very moment, the whole world is in fear of a new war that will destroy us all. In the face of that threat, it is true to say that more people than ever before are working for peace and disarmament. That could be seen as a hope. But it is so difficult to be hopeful. Politicians gather in their hordes for summit meetings, and talk so animatedly in favour of disarmament; but only the disarmament they want other nations to undertake. Your country must disarm, not mine! Nobody wants to be the first to start disarming, nobody dares to start, because everybody is so afraid and has so little faith in the aspirations for peace of others.

And while one disarmament conference follows another, the reality is that rearmament is proceeding apace on a scale never before seen in the history of the world. It’s not surprising that we’re all afraid, whether we live in the east or the west, in the north or the south; whether we live in a country that is a great power, or in a small neutral country.

We know that a new major war would affect the whole of humanity, and it makes little difference if, at the end of it, I lie dead in a pile of ruins that is neutral or non-neutral.

After all these millenia of constant war, is it not time for us to ask ourselves if there is some inherent fault in the human condition that continually drives us to violence? Are we doomed to perish as a result of our aggression? We all desire peace. So is there any possibility at all of our changing fundamentally, before it’s too late? Of our learning to distance ourselves from violence? Of our trying quite simply to become a new kind of human beings? But how could we go about that, and where should we start?

I believe that we should start from the bottom. With the children. You have awarded your peace prize to a writer of children’s books, and that means you can’t expect from me any wide-ranging political visions or proposals for the solution of international problems. I want to talk about the children. My worries about them, and my hopes for them. The children of today will eventually take over the running of our world, if there is anything left of it. They are the ones who will make decisions concerning war and peace and the kind of society they want to have – if they want a society in which violence continues to grow, or if they prefer one in which people live in peace and brotherhood. Is there any hope at all that they will be able to create a more peaceful world than the one we have lumbered ourselves with? And why have we failed so badly, despite all the goodwill that exists?

I recall how shocked I was when it dawned on me at an early age that the people governing the fate of our countries and the world at large were by no means gods with superior capabilities and divine perspicacity. They were human beings, with the same human weaknesses as I had. But they had power, and at any given moment could make the most momentous decisions on the basis of whatever whim inspired them at the time. If things turned out badly, war could break out on the basis of a single person’s lust for power or desire for revenge or vanity or greed or – and this seemed to be the most common reason – an excessive belief in violence as the most effective remedy in all situations. Similarly, a single good and sensible person could sometimes avert catastrophe simply by being good and sensible, and refraining from violence.

There could only be one possible conclusion to draw: the fate of the world was decided by individual people. So why were they not all good and sensible? Why were there so many who wanted nothing but violence and power? Was evil congenital in some people?

I couldn’t believe that, and I still don’t think it is the case. Intelligence and intellectual powers are congenital, but children are not born with a seed that automatically sprouts to develop into good or evil. What decides if a child is going to become a warm, open, trusting person with a propensity for communal feelings or a callous, destructive lone wolf is up to those who bring the child into the world and teach it the meaning of love – or fail to bring home to it what love entails. “Überall lernt man nur von dem, den man liebt,” said Goethe, and so it must be true. One only learns from the people one loves. A child that is surrounded by love and loves its parents learns from them a loving attitude towards the whole of its environment, and retains that attitude for the whole of its life. Which has to be a good thing, even if he or she never becomes one of the few who decide the fate of the world. But if that child, contrary to expectation, does become one of those who decide the fate of the world, we can all be grateful if his or her nature tends to love rather than violence. The character of even our future statesmen and politicians is formed before they have reached their fifth birthday – it’s a dreadful thought, but it’s true.

If we look back as far as is possible and consider how children have been treated and brought up down the ages, is it not the case that far too often the norm has been to break their will, physically or mentally, by means of some form of violence? How many children have received their first lessons in violence “von denen die man liebt”, from those they love, from their own parents? And then passed on the lessons learnt from generation to generation? “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” we were urged by the Old Testament. A lot of mothers and fathers have followed that teaching ever since. They have frequently wielded the rod and called it love. There are so many really “spoiled children” in this world of ours today, so many dictators, tyrants, oppressors, torturers – what sort of a childhood did they have? That is something that really ought to be researched. I believe that behind most of them is a tyrannical father or some other figure responsible for their upbringing, wielding a rod or a whip.

Children’s literature has no shortage of depictions of rancorous childhoods featuring domestic tyrants who have beaten their children into a state of obedience and submission, and more or less ruined their lives. But happily they were not the only kind. Thankfully there have always been parents who have brought up their children in an atmosphere of love without violence. But it is probably true to say that it is only in the twentieth century that parents in general have begun to regard their children as their equals, and given them the right to let their personalities develop freely in a family characterized by democracy, without oppression and without violence.

How can one avoid feeling despondent on hearing the current outcry advocating a return to old authoritarian methods? The clamour is coming from various places throughout the world at the moment. People are demanding “a more rigorous approach” and “tighter reins”, and believe this will help to eradicate the youthful vices that are blamed on too much freedom and too little strictness in their upbringing. This is in fact an attempt to drive out the Devil with the aid of Beelzebub, and in the long run can only lead to more violence, and greater and more dangerous gaps between the generations. The “more rigorous approach” being demanded might possibly have a superficial effect that its advocates could interpret as an improvement. Until they are eventually forced to accept that violence gives birth to more violence – as it has always done.

Many parents will no doubt be worried by these new trends, and may start to wonder if they have done wrong, if an anti-authoritarian upbringing is reprehensible. But it is only reprehensible if it is misunderstood. An anti-authoritarian upbringing does not mean that children should be left to drift along and do whatever they please. It does not mean that they should grow up without a set of norms – nor do they want to. Both children and adults need a set of norms as a framework within which to conduct themselves, and children learn more from the example of their parents than from anything else. Of course children should respect their parents, but make no mistake about it: adults should also have respect for their children, and not misuse the natural advantages they have over them. What one would like to see in all parents and all children is mutual loving respect.

I should like to tell all those clamouring for a more rigorous approach and tighter reins what an old lady once told me. She was a young mother in the days when people still believed in the idea of “Spare the rod and spoil the child” – or rather, she didn’t really believe in it, but one day when her little boy did something naughty, she decided he had to have a good hiding, the first one of his life. She told him to go out and find a suitably supple stick or rod for her to use. The little boy was away for a long time. He eventually came back in tears and announced: “I can’t find a rod, but here’s a stone you can throw at me.” At which point his mother also burst into tears, because it had suddenly dawned on her how her little boy must have regarded what was about to happen. He must have thought: “My mum wants to hurt me, and she can do that just as well by throwing a stone at me.”

She threw her arms round him, and they spent some time crying together. Then she placed the stone on a shelf in the kitchen, and it stayed there as a permanent reminder of the promise she had made to herself at that moment: never violence!

However, if we bring up our children without violence and on a loose rein, will we produce a new kind of human being who will live in a state of eternal peace? Only authors of books for children could be simple enough to believe such a thing! I know full well that would be a Utopia. And of course, there are so many more things in our poor, ailing world that must also be changed if we are going to achieve peace. But at this point in time, even though no war is currently raging, there is so incredibly much cruelty and violence and oppression going on in the world; and our children are most certainly not blind to it. They see and hear and read about it every day, and will no doubt end up by believing that violence is the natural state of affairs. Is not the least we can do to show by example in our own homes that there is another way of living our lives? Perhaps it would be a good idea for us all to have a little stone on a shelf in our kitchens as a permanent reminder for ourselves and our children: never violence!

Despite everything, that might eventually become a small contribution to world peace.

Cordoliani Café Europa

Sérail Matin 15/02/18

Hier, j’ai rencontré les invité.e.s du Sérail d’Avignon.
Le Petit Personnel également, mais même si les visages, les noms et finalement les personnes changent, le Petit Personnel du Sérail forme la communauté inavouée de ce qui demeure.
Le petit groupe d’invité.e.s trié.e.s sur le volet, lui, n’apparait qu’une seule fois et à présent que notre Sérail a de solides fondations, massives et centrales, la condition des choristes qui interprètent ces rôles se calque sur celle de leur personnage. Après avoir été accueilli.e.s, fêté.e.s, gâté.e.s, soûlé.e.s au champagne de lumière, choqué.e.s, enchanté.e.s, et drogué.e.s les invité.e.s sont escamoté.e.s pour un long moment, avant de réapparaître dans le chaos des révélations des dernières scènes, jetlagué.e.s, détroussé.e.s, effaré.e.s, débraillé.e.s et vulnérables.
Pendant que, dans le studio de danse, Victor répétait cet entre deux avec le Petit Personnel, je suis entrée dans l’absence des invité.e.s, cet espace-temps invisible du public, par une porte dérobée. DJ’ai rejoins les choristes qui attendaient dans le foyer, un étage plus bas, qu’on veuillent bien s’intéresser à leur sort à nouveau. Comme leur personnage. La salle est neuve, propre, spacieuse, lumineuse. On y est bien assis autour d’une grande table, à côté du ronron discret d’un distributeur de junkfood flambant neuf. Maintenant il faut penser qu’on va y passer l’éternité pour que ça devienne l’enfer. Les hasards de cette drôle de journée en studio, alors que nous dû être sur le plateau, les avaient amené.e.s à assister à la scène où Selim Pacha dévoile son passé. Des phrases de pure violence, d’inextinguible douleur, de colère insatiable. Je me suis prise à rêver tout haut, que depuis ce foyer, les invité.e.s y assistaient. Par écran interposé, écrans de surveillances, écrans des retours qui permettent de voir ce qui se passe sur scène du point de vu du spectateur, depuis les loges, depuis les coulisses.
J’ai raconté les invité.e.s, riches et blasé.e.s, très cultivé.e.s, très informé.e.s de ce qui se raconte sur Sélim, sur Konstanze, sur le Sérail. Comment ils croient venir chercher une chose — un divertissement de luxe, une soirée d’exception, des sensations …— et comment on leur donne ce qu’ils attendent et puis comment on les enlèvent à leurs propres attentes, qui sont les barreaux bien solides de nos prisons intimes.
Chaque histoire, dans les jours comptés des reprises, est un haricot magique. Elle se jette d’un geste précis et ferme, percute et pousse. Le Temps n’est pas l’étalon qui convient au Bonheur : la brieveté ne peut rien contre la rencontre. Je ne leur ai pas dit, mais j’ai passé une heure de délice dans ce foyer tout lisse à inventer à la couleur de leurs sourires, de leurs moues pensives, de leurs yeux écarquillés, leur(s) histoire(s). Et j’ai compris que ce que nous aimons tant dans nos retrouvailles au Sérail, ce que nous attendons, c’est l’enlèvement. Les racines puissantes des haricots magiques poussent les murs du temps. Nous nous rencontrons, à chaque fois.

La Commune Pontévédrine

La Commune Pontévédrine : la ceinture d’amitié

Je n’ai pas eu le temps de me présenter plus tôt. Je m’appelle Jovan Janko Rasim Panto Rados. Initialement, je suis à moitié allemand par ma mère et à moitié Albanais, par le football de mon père. Mais l’année dernière, j’ai enfin été naturalisé pontévédrin. C’est un choix de cœur, vous comprenez ? Sur un plan économique, c’est injustifiable, risible même : je suis bien placé pour vous le dire, j’étais business consultant à la City.
Mais il se passe quelque chose de spécial là-bas.
Pendant longtemps, je n’ai pas compris pourquoi certaines personnes voulaient à tout prix être enterrée ici ou là. Intellectuellement, je comprenais, je ne suis pas idiot, en dépit d’une ascendance difficile… Mais ça restait très…sentimental, très abstrait. Pendant longtemps j’ai été comme ça : un être humain égaré sur la terre, de passage, comme si on m’attendait sur la lune.
Mais un jour, j’ai été invité à la grande parade du solstice d’été au Pontévédro. J’ai dû retirer mes chaussures, mon costume de monsieur pressé… J’ai enfilé le costume traditionnel. Les pantalons larges et légers, la sur-robe et la ceinture brodée, longue comme la lumière du 21 juin. C’est la ceinture d’amitié, on dit qu’il faut la nouer autour de cent arbres qu’elle brûle avant de se laisser porter par un homme. On dit qu’elle est brodée d’un cheveu de la fée de l’île de Youkali. On dit que mises bout à bout les ceintures pontévédrines sont la mesure de la circonférence de la terre. Mais c’est faux bien sûr. En vérité, nos ceintures relient le Pontévédro à la lune. Tout le monde sait ça.
Une nuit du solstice d’été où Rados-le-Bleu dormait dans barque au milieu du lac de Skhodar, sa ceinture trempait dans l’eau… sans le vouloir, il a pêché la lune. Elle s’est laissée prendre par la beauté du soleil qui était brodé sur sa ceinture. La lune était toute confuse : le bleu du lac, le bleu du nom de Rados et le soleil en pleine nuit qui brillait dans l’eau. Et en moins de temps qu’une étoile filante, elle était éprise. Mais Rados-le-Bleu, l’aimait comme elle était, libre et changeante dans le ciel du Pontévédro, au-dessus du lac de Shkodar. Alors il l’a laissé aller, mais depuis, chaque ceinture pontévédrine réalise une portion de la route céleste qui les séparent.

Le costume traditionnel, c’est un costume de paysan, mais voilà que j’étais beau comme un prince. Pour la première fois de ma vie, j’ai senti le soleil sur mon visage. Et puis la voix a appelé à la fête…