The Ogre by Michel Tournier

If you keep on knocking long enough at the same door it always opens in the end. Or else there is a chink in another door nearby that you hadn’t noticed; and that’s even better.

Distorted, diamond-shaped epidermic grids

I’ve always been shocked by the frivolous way people agonise about what’s going to happen to them after they die and don’t give a damn about what happened to them before they were born. The heretofore is just as important as the hereafter, especially as it probably holds the key to it.

‘monster’ comes from ‘monstrare’, ‘to show’. A monster is something which is shown, pointed at, exhibited at fairs,a d so on. And the more monstrous a creature is, the more it is to be exhibited.

I had known for a long time that one of the most frequent forms of sexual fiasco is ejaculatio precox, the sexual act insufficiently held back and deferred. Her accusation has wide implications: it tries to place me on the brink of impotence, and what’s more revels the great misunderstanding of the human couple, the enormous frustration of woman, always being fertilised and never fulfilled. She says, ‘You don’t give a damn about my pleasure!’ And I can’t help but admit it. When I engulfed and annexed her with all my body, the last thing I thought about was what might be going on behind those closed lids, inside that little Hebrew shepherd’s head. ‘You satiated your hunger with raw flesh then you go back to your coachwork.’ It was true. And it is also true that a man eating bread doesn’t bother about whether the loaf is satisfied or not. ‘You reduce me to the level of a steak.’

Maybe…if one meekly accepts the ‘virility code’ of women have evolved to protect their weaknesses. But, to begin with, there’s nothing degrading about likening love to eating. Many religions make a similar comparison – first and foremost Christianity, with the Eucharist. What really needs taking to pieces is the exclusively feminine notion of virility which measures it in terms of sexual power, the latter consisting simply in postponing the sexual act as long as possible. This makes it a matter of abnegation, so that the term ‘potency’ ought to be taken in the Aristotelian sense of ‘potential’; the very opposite of the act itself. Sexual potency thus becomes the converse and in a sense the negation of the sexual act. It is the promise of the act, a promise never kept, the act indefinitely veiled, held back, suspended. Woman is power or potency, man is act. Ans do man is naturally impotent, naturally out of step with woman’s slow vegetative ripening…unless he meekly submits to her rule and her rhythm and slaves away hammer and tongs to strike a spark of  joy out of the dilatory flesh presented to him.

No, the Fall consists in the breaking into three of the original Adam, letting fall woman and child from Man, and thus creating 3 unfortunates: the child, the eternal orphan; woman, solitary and afraid and always in search of a protector; and man, light and alert, but like a king stripped of all his attributes and made to work at degrading tasks. (With the assumption that in the Beginning, the first human was hermaphrodite, and was with child.) Marriage’s sole object is to turn the clock back and restore the original Adam. But is that ridiculous solution the only one?

Nestor: There is probably nothing more moving in a man’s life than the accidental discovery of his own perversion. Cadent euphoria>>cadent: the way in which a person’s voice gets higher or lower as they speak, especially the fall of their voice at the end of a sentence. Also means: a short section of music that ends a longer section.

Happiness? That entails comfort, organisation, a constructed stability altogether foreign to me. To have troubles is to feel the scaffolding which is happiness shaken by the blows of fate.

Benign inversion consists in reestalishing the meaning of the values that malign inversion had previously overturned. Satan, master of the world, aided by his cohorts of rules, judges, prelates, generals and policemen hold up a mirror to the face of God. As a result, right becomes left, left becomes right, good is called evil and evil is called good. Among the signs that show the Devil’s domination over cities are the innumerable avenues, streets and squares named after soldiers, i.e. professional killers – all of whom of course died in their beds, for a touch of the grotesque is the invariable signature of the Prince of Darkness. e.g. Purity is the malign inversion of innocence. Innocence is the love of being, smiling acceptance of both celestial and earthly sustenance, ignorance of the infernal antithesis between purity and impurity.  Saturn has turned this spontaneous and as it were native saintliness into a caricature which which resembles him and is the converse of its original. Purity is the horror of life, hatred of man, morbid passion for the void. Alchemically pure body has undergone barbaric treatment in order to arrive at that state, which is absolutely against nature. A man hag-ridden by the demon of purity sows ruin and death around him. Religious purification, political purges, preservation of racial purity – there are numerous variations on this atrocious theme, but all issue with monotonous regularity in countless crimes whose favourite instrument is fire, symbol of purity and symbol of hell.

Whereas we amphibians, always at odds with things, accustomed to the makeshift and the appropriate, we know from birth how to face up to all the treacheries in our environment.

Tiffanges on the camera and photography: when I range about the streets in my old Hotchkiss, I’m never quite happy unless the camera-case slung around my neck is properly wedged between my legs. I enjoy being equipped like that with a huge leather-clad sex whose Cyclopean eye opens like lightning when I command it to look, and closes again inexorable on what it has seen. It is a marvellous organ, seer and remembrancer, a timless hawk that swoops on its prey to steal from it and bring it back to its master that which is profoundest in it and most deceptive – appearance! I am intoxicated by the constant availability of this fine compact object, so mysteriously hollow, swinging on its strap like the censer of all beauties of the earth. The unused film with which it is secretly lined is an immense blind retina, which will see and be dazzled only once, but will never forget.

Sorcery makes use of the half-amorous, half-murderous possession of the photographed by the photographer…It consists in raising the real object to a new power – the imaginary power. A photographic image, which is indisputably an emanation of reality, is at the same time consubstantial with my fantasies, and on a level with my imaginary universe. Photography promotes reality to the plane of dream; it metamorphoses a real object into its own myth.

All that passes is raised to the dignity of expression; all that happens is raised to the dignity of meaning. Everything is either symbol or parable. – Paul Claudel

Condensation is full of intriguing mysteries, he said. Because it is life. But there’s something about purity just the same. Purity equals nothingness, and we find it irresistibly attractive because we are sons of nothingness.

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