Thursday, November 24, 2011

The sap hunter

Actor Melvil Poupaud's book "What is My naMe", published this year in France, is a collage of memories, including of Serge Daney.
Between 1986 and 1992, I had the chance to know Serge Daney. He was for me like a godfather, attentive and benevolent, who taught to me, with cinema as primary material.
Together, we had invented an imaginary character, who became a kind of guide in our relationship. S.D. had decided to trace back this "Swine", chasing him around the world. He kept me informed of the progress of his secret investigation with the postcards that he sent to me regularly.
Over time, the "story of the Swine" and my story with Serge Daney became one, with only one character in my mind, between Mr. Arkadin and Jeminy Cricket.
Melvil Poupaud, Quel est Mon noM ?, Edtitions Stock,  2011.
Daney had something for postcards:
Something I should have said, by the way, at the beginning: for me, the absolute image is the postcard, it's not cinema. I have a love of postcards that has never slackened. I've sent tons to everybody throughout my whole life. The postcard is my true relationship to the image, there, it's the postcard. For deeper reasons, more deeply buried, than cinema: which is to say that I already found that cinema was very basic, very popular. Postcards are even lower. They're on their stalls and everyone sends them and writes on the back. And you can write postcards in very coded language, you can write poems, you can write love stuff. All you need to do is write it in a way that even those who read it won't understand it. So it was the maximum possible elitism, possible singularity, and the maximum "let's do with the normal material people use. We're not using great culture." There, that's a digression on postcards. 
Serge Daney, Journey of a Cine-son.
Here are some of these postcards.

 Rascal! 
They almost forced me to pay YOUR phone bill for upstairs! 
You did well to go. Everybody ended up freaked out after one week. 
I owe you (at least) one meal.
Signed :  The Swine (1)
(1) resuscitated. 

I know - from a reliable source - that the Swine and his son have abandoned the family kitchen and are on their way to Malta. Despite the heat (in Syracuse, people are dropping like flies, and the flies themselves feel rather down), I'm tracking them. Already, today, I found the proof (see opposite) that the Swine exists since Antiquity! I'll tell you more later. Not a word to Lauzon!
The sap hunter (ex. S.D.) 

I traced back the Swine in the Dominican Republic. He has an unfortunate tendency to take himself for Christ. He told me how he has suffered from our mocking remarks but he's still pleased that, despite your minimal spelling, you got your baccalaureate. He salutes, respectfully, the steadfast Poupette.
And me, I'm in Paris.
* SD 
Dear Melvil,
After smashing my personal record (1) for the 11 meter sluggish breaststroke, I took a lovely little train to Vevey, going from lake to lake, and gliding to my last festival before returning to Paris after the summer break. I stayed in an old Ruizian hotel, the Three Crown Hotel. Barely arrived, I asked: "where's the sailor? - What sailor, Sir?" mumbled a fat man at the reception desk. I saw his confusion and started to explore the hotel, stamping hazardously on some old indebted billionaire ladies. "Stupor!" is what I shouted in the corridors, a fork in my hand, sure of myself. And on the second day, I spotted a sailor's collar fleeing in the corridors. "Where do you think you're going, shitty sailor" I shouted harshly while clinching a thin vicious-looking boy.   Harried, he barely struggled, looking mean, and replied, in Italian: "Che vuoi?" It was him all right, the horrible Swine of Taormina... (to be continued)
(1) of slowness. 
Continued,
"- Lead me to your father, I told him while stabbing him with a fork, I have a message from Melvil P...." I spare you the details, the end was horrible. Swine-father ended up employed to look after the wharf's toilets. He was hiding. He called for our forgiveness for having despised us in Taormina and refused to serve us another portion. He admitted he had fled to Malta, to no avail. He promised me he'll go see - as a form of punishment - all of Raoul Ruiz's films.
"- Too late! I told him while I pushed him in the frozen lake. Your adventures were merely a pretext to amuse Melvil Poupaud and I'm afraid he's too old now to enjoy them. Sink, Swine, and stay at the bottom of the lake. On that note (see opposite), a storm broke. Terrible, is it not?
Serge.

3 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. Do you have any more of Daney's personal postcards - sent or received - to share?

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  2. I don't have any others. There must be loads out there. Do we really want to see them?

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  3. A good question. I was curious to see if there are any more 'topographical' images, i.e. looking down on the world from above. I wondered if such elevated points of view might inform the perspective of his criticism (thinking here of his affection for maps) but I suppose these are enough. Thanks again!

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