family values I

    An old drinking buddy of mine had come home from a two-week binge with a rose tattooed on his arm. Around the blossom was written, Fuck ’em all/ and sleep till noon. His wife made him have it surgically removed, but she hated the scar even more. Every time he touched it, he grinned. Some years later she tried to remove the grin with a wine bottle, but she only knocked out a couple of teeth, which made the grin even more like a sneer. The part that I don’t understand, though, is that they are still married. He is still grinning and she is still hating it.
    I didn’t have any tattoos or any marriages, but…
    ―James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss, Vintage, 1988, p. 100


    Le nombre de gens ici qui pensent seuls, qui chantent seuls, qui mangent et parlent seuls dans les rues est effarant. Pourtant ils ne s’additionnent pas. Au contraire, ils se soustraient les uns aux autres, et leur ressemblance est incertaine.
    Mais une certaine solitude ne ressemble à aucune autre. Celle de l’homme qui prépare publiquement son repas, sur un mur, sur le capot d’une voiture, le long d’une grille, seul. On voit ça partout ici, c’est la scène au monde la plus triste, plus triste que la misère, plus triste que celui qui mendie est l’homme qui mange seul en public. Rien de plus contradictoire avec les lois humaines ou bestiales, car les bêtes se font toujours l’honneur de partager ou de se disputer la nourriture. Celui qui mange seul est mort (mais pas celui qui boit, pourquoi?).
    ―Jean Baudrillard, L’Amérique, chapitre New York, Éditions Grasset et Fasquelle, 1986, p. 21
    The number of people here who think alone, who sing alone, who eat and speak alone in the streets, is bewildering. However, they do not add up. On the contrary, they subtract themselves ones from the others, and their resemblance is uncertain.
    But a certain solitude resembles no other. That of a man who prepares his meal in public, on top of a wall, on the hood of a car, along a grating, alone. It can be seen everywhere here, it is the saddest spectacle in the world, sadder than destitution, sadder than a beggar is the man who eats alone in public. Nothing is more contradictory to the laws of man or beast, for animals always do each other the honor of sharing or disputing each other’s food. He who eats alone is dead (but not he who drinks, why?).
    ―translated by MZ

The American situation accounts for the imperatives captured in the French visitor’s perspective. The laws of man or beast that postulate the honor of sharing or disputing each other’s food, extend in equal force to the imperative to fuck ’em all and sleep till noon. We are faced with the choice between domestic accommodation and solitary ambulation. Either alternative promises new scars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *