Jan 17, 2009

Cascabelles et Mississippi

Bavardage. Elles gaspillent leur souffle, ne voient pas que de parler ainsi les rapproche toujours un peu plus vite de la mort au moment même où elles ont l’impression d’en être le plus éloignées. Une parole qui s’éparpille, qui n’est soudainement plus rien, un simple hochet qui finit par résonner comme une cascabelle dans l’esprit.

Ici, la neige a disparu depuis longtemps, mais le froid persiste en demi-teinte. Bien sûr, il ne fait plus -5° mais la terre ici a encore besoin d’un peu de gel. Eliot l’a bien dit : « April is the cruelest month of the year, breeding lilacs out of the dead ground… », avec la voix rauque et traînante. La pluie a tout balayé, mais n’a apporté même pas un semblant de ‘chaleur’. Cet après-midi, le soleil est là, avec du vent, et tout le jardin est constellé de gouttes d’eau. Je n’ai jamais ressenti un tel besoin de printemps, si fort et si précoce. J’ai peur que le Prunus ne refleurisse pas, et j’ai peur que le printemps n’arrive pas assez vite. J’ai envie de crier que je me sens vidée, incapable de continuer, que j’ai besoin d’un nouveau souffle, et vite. Encore le désir de partir, pour tout laisser de côté. En écoutant Cabrel, l'envie d'aller faire un tour vers la cabane du pêcheur.

En attendant l’équinoxe, on tente un hiatus avec l’écriture.

We’re reading Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, and I can’t help seeing a reflection of one’s soul in it. The tale of the slow, insidious shattering of a family after the mother’s agony and death, As I Lay Dying is told in a strictly polyphonic manner, and the seemingly obvious reality of the Mississippi county is eventually caught in a spiral of questions as each character’s subjectivity, sometimes going as far as solipsism, emerges and asks to be considered as an authority.
The departure of one member of the family is enough to unravel the other characters’ frantic thoughts as the mother was probably the only thing holding them together. In this respect, the departure of the mother implies the appearance of family secrets that give at least a partial explanation to the latent tensions. Jewel was his mother’s favorite – her ‘gem’ – but all along, he is thought to be the most uncaring, insensitive child: the jewel’s beauty, conceived in adultery, is coupled with a violence that the young man will never be able to shove aside completely; but he does prove the gossiping neighbors wrong when he is the one, at the end, who rescues the mother’s casket from the barn fire. Dewey Dell, after dealing with her mother’s death, has to deal with another life that she did not want to see appear: the result of her relation with Lafe, a relation she tries to keep secret but which she suspects Darl has already guessed the existence of. Darl, her older brother, probably knows many things, as is indicated by his having the most sections in the book, though he is rarely present as something more than a silhouette. He is the one that has the most acute eye for details, the most prone to speak a poetic faulknerian language, even though he is no more educated than the others. He is the one we are led to trust as the most reliable narrator, and he is the one who will become crazy in the end.
One of the striking features in this novel is the discrepancy between the uncouthness of most characters and their ability to put into words – even if it’s nothing more than some confused gibberish – the sensations they get from watching the landscape, or witnessing the situation. This discrepancy is coupled with another one between the characters’ poetic capacities and their complete inability to communicate among each other – excepting, to some extent, the communication ‘without the words’ between the three siblings Dewey Dell, Darl and Vardaman, who almost become ‘twins’ in the way they express themselves when possessed by the identification with their dead mother. When most characters have to exchange information, their words are stripped down to the barest minimum, leaving almost skeletons of words that mirror, in a Shakespearian reminiscence, the influence of a barren, overpowering landscape on the characters that are mere prisoners of the wider drama of the elements.
But of course, there is no need for suspension of belief, or any novelist trick like that – what Faulkner aims to show here, among other goals, is that even though people seem to be unable to use the normal, everyday language to communicate and, more importantly, express themselves, that does not mean they are not able to ‘enjoy’ a wide spectrum of sensations and/or feelings that they can word into their own language (which does not necessarily pass through words).
All this to say that the novel almost vibrates with a kind of desperate energy, desperate to grasp the true essence of humanity, one that would go beyond any philosophical systematization, one that would prove that fiction is a perfectly relevant way to consider what it means to be human, ‘too human,’ would have said Nietzsche.


gmc said...


Le faune de marbre est
Monnaie de singe pour moustiques
Dans le bruit et la fureur
Des étendards dans la poussière
Tandis que j'agonise

Une idylle dans le désert est
Sanctuaire pour lumière de l'auguste
Le pylône du père de la paix
L'invaincu devient gambit du cavalier
Si je t'oublie Jérusalem

Hadrien MacBland said...

;-) pour le premier paragraphe !

Et un peu (beaucoup, je complexe) d'admiration pour ton anglais.