Les préférences de J.R.

En consultant un numéro de la revue Littérature paru en avril 1922, dans lequel étaient publiées les réponses du noyau dur du mouvement Dada au questionnaire " Quelques préférences de", je m'aperçois (non sans effroi) qu'à la question "13 Age", J.R. a répondu : 29. Piqûre de rappel pour le lecteur novice : Jacques Rigaut mettra fin à ses jours à l'âge de 29 ans en 1929. L'éditorialiste (Breton ou Soupault) de la revue n'a pas tort, on ne voit pas de quel droit les détectives privés (ou biographes) continueraient à se passer de ces éléments... d'autant plus qu'aux questions "28 Divinité" et "29 Heure", J.R. répond Fatalitas et 10H... Quant à la réponse à la question 37, c'est encore une autre histoire...


Le goût des autres

The biography business.
by Louis Menand

At a time when instruments for recording and disseminating information about people’s intimate behavior are cheap and easy to use, and when newspapers and magazines and television programs and Web sites purvey that kind of information without restraint, and when even ordinary people apparently can’t do enough to tell the world everything about themselves, a defense of the professional biographer’s right to pry does not seem something that civilization stands in dire need of. Just in case, though, two such defenses have recently been published.

Meryle Secrest is a biographer who has nine lives so far, all of figures in the arts, including Kenneth Clark, Leonard Bernstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Rodgers, and Salvador Dali. Her memoir, “Shoot the Widow” (Knopf; $25.95), is candid about the commercial bones of the enterprise. She started out as a reporter for local papers, in Canada and England, a job calling for a continual sacrifice of literary refinement in the interests of filling the page and meeting the deadline, and she approaches biography in something of the same spirit. “Deciding on a subject is mostly a cold-blooded business of weighing the subject against potential markets, timeliness, the availability of material, and the likelihood of getting the story, the kinds of factors publishers have to worry about,” she explains. Many of her stories about getting the story involve figuring out ways to maximize her advances from publishers and to massage the relatives, friends, ex-friends, lovers, ex-lovers, work associates, lawyers, dealers, executors, and agents—the many “widows” whom, as her title suggests, only semi-facetiously, she would like to shoot—who obscure a clear view into the private world of famous people.

What those uncoöperative witnesses want—and what the famous people themselves want, too, when, as has sometimes been the case for Secrest, they are still alive and competent to make trouble—is what everybody wants in life: to control the narrative. Secrest is either touchingly ingenuous or carefully disingenuous about this central fact of the biographical transaction: in her account, she is repeatedly astonished by the efforts people make to gerrymander the story to suit their interests—although, she says, she has grown wiser. “The older I get the more sympathy I have for families who discover that some stranger has decided to write about their famous member without, as it were, so much as a by-your-leave,” she admits. “Prurience titillates, the more the better, leading to bigger sales and better royalties for the writer who is, not to put too fine a point on it, making money from others’ misfortunes.”

Still, her collisions with her subjects and the people around them seem never to have prevented her from deciding that her next project will somehow please everyone (and earn back a nice advance). Not all the reactions she had to cope with involved hurt feelings or wounded egos. In the course of her research on Richard Rodgers, she learned about a possible connection with organized crime, and interviewed a person she identifies as “an old Broadway hand” on the matter. “If you quote me, I won’t kill you but I’ll get you killed,” he explained. “I won’t do it myself but I’ve good connections. One day they will find you somewhere with your manuscript.”

On the other hand, what were her subjects and their families and heirs and attendants thinking when they agreed to submit to her attentions? Secrest is, basically, a tell-all biographer—not Kitty Kelley, as she insists, not someone who would look to make her subjects feel ridiculed or humiliated, but she is interested mainly in the private lives of public people. She says that Kenneth Clark, who was a very wealthy man, the heir to a fortune made in the cotton industry, surreptitiously underwrote the publisher’s advance in order to insure that Secrest would write his biography, and then seems to have imagined that he would be able to edit what she said about his wife’s alcoholism and his own affairs. He tried, but he was not entirely successful, and Secrest claims that his son Alan, a powerful right-wing political figure in Britain, made sure that the reviews of her book there were vicious. (As she points out, Alan Clark went on to publish his own best-selling tell-all diary.)

“It seems to me that to invite someone’s confidences and then betray that person is a kind of treachery,” Secrest says. But she is in business because people like to confide. They want their stories told, and they somehow persuade themselves that in the right sympathetic hands their most embarrassing moments will be redeemed, and readers will appreciate the challenge, the complexity, the sheer human variousness of what it is like to be them. This is not on the theory that “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” That theory is a canard; just ask Barry Bonds. It’s on the theory that, at the end of the day, one’s moral account will not only balance but be in the black. Probably most people believe this, deep down, about themselves. The unlucky get biographies.

The purpose of biography, Secrest says, is “not just to record but to reveal.” That’s what many people would say: that there’s no point in writing, or reading, the life of a famous person if it doesn’t uncover some previously unpublicized piece of personal information. This is because the premise of biographies is that the private can account for the public, that the subject’s accomplishments map onto his or her psychic history, and this premise is the justification for digging up the traumatic, the indefensible, and the shameful and getting it all into print. How centrally that kind of information figures in the biographical account depends on the tact and ingenuity of the biographer, but a biography that did not use events in its subject’s personal life to explain his or her renown is almost unimaginable. Still, the premise poses a few problems.

Article publié dans le magazine The New Yorker du 6 août 2007


Jacques Rigaut de retour à Paris?

S'il vous plaît m'excuser, mon vocabulaire français est limité. Mais j'essaie d'apprendre! J'espère que vous pouvez comprendre cette lettre.Nous avons écrit au Human Toyz et elles ont dit : contacter la Fleche D'Or "And you can contact Aurore and Alexis from neo pop art, they set up a lot of Parties in several clubs in Paris.
Dou vous pensez que vous pouvez nous aider, s'il vous plaît ?
Vénus Bogardus sera en tournée à Paris. Novembre sixième est l'anniversaire de la mort de Jacques Rigaut. Nous avons relâché notre premier vinyle 7" ce jour en 2006. C'était une collaboration avec Jean-Luc Bitton (Paris), le biographe de Rigaut, et Stanley Donwood (Radiohead). Peut-être, avec Jean-Luc et n'importe quels amis à Paris, nous pouvons organiser un parti/concert pour l'anniversaire de Rigaut? J'enverrai cet e-mail à Jean-Luc. J'inclurai son contact ici. Le premier septembre, nous relâchons notre nouveau 'Motorman' de CD -une collaboration avec David Ohle, un associé de William Burroughs (Naked Lunch etc). L'art est par Laurent Collobert (Cassius, Alex Gopher). Il est merveilleux. Peut-être il peut nous aider aussi ? Cette année, Vénus Bogardus a joué au Festival de Glastonbury. Vénus Bogardus était aussi dans 'The Wire' la revue et CD pendant mai.S'il vous plaît écouter Vénus Bogardus. Je vous ai envoyé un lien. Nous serions très heureux de jouer pour vous. Ce sera notre seul concert en France cette année. Merci pour votre attention. Avoir un bon jour.

James, Hannah, et Obaro

bonjour jean-luc! bonjour laurent! xx"

Vidéo by Tim Berry for Venus Bogardus' single Jacques Rigaut (2006)


Bring your flask

Quand J.R. débarque à New York en novembre 1923, la prohibition bat son plein. Il fréquente alors les fameux speakeasies, bars clandestins où l'on servait plus ou moins discrètement des boissons alcoolisées.


Bave et éternité

PARIS (AFP) - L'écrivain français d'origine roumaine Isidore Isou, fondateur du mouvement lettriste, est décédé samedi à Paris à l'âge de 82 ans, a-t-on appris mardi dans son entourage. Né le 29 janvier 1925 à Botosani (Roumanie), Isidore Isou Goldstein lance le mouvement littéraire lettriste à son arrivée à Paris en 1946. Dans la tradition des poètes futuristes et dadaïstes, il proclame la fin de la poésie des mots, au profit d'une poésie des lettres et des signes.

Contestataire radical, souvent d'une grande agressivité verbale, Isou théorise le mouvement dans "La dictature lettriste" (1946), "Introduction à une nouvelle poésie et à une nouvelle musique" (1946) et "Essai sur la définition et le bouleversement total de la prose et du roman" (1950).

Au delà de la poésie, le Lettrisme se veut un mouvement de novation global. Dans un "Traité d'économie nucléaire" (1949), Isou développe des théories sur le potentiel révolutionnaire de la jeunesse comme base de changement de l'économie et compte alors parmi ses proches l'écrivain Guy Debord, qui devait ensuite être l'un des fondateurs de l'internationale situationniste.

Isidore Isou est l'auteur de plusieurs dizaines d'ouvrages touchant de nombreux domaines du savoir --comme des traités de philosophie, de physique ou de mathématiques--, de pièces de théâtre et de films expérimentaux. Son "Initiation à la haute volupté", publiée en 1960, fut censurée jusqu'en 1977.

Son oeuvre, notamment des toiles et des textes lettristes, a notamment fait l'objet d'expositions en France, aux Etats-Unis, en Italie et en Allemagne.

Pour un dernier hommage à Isidore Isou et au lettrisme, rendez-vous vendredi 3 août au crématorium du cimetière du Père-Lachaise à partir de 9H30 AM.

The Bird