Sunday, 27 July 2008


Ah yes, I have been hiding again.

The preparation for my article has been a pure mental fight. Olga was kind enough to offer me her reading of the film, but it took me all this time to nail down my thesis, and be able to tailor my structure accordingly. When I was doing my A-levels and when I was an undergraduate, writing an essay was a relatively easy task. I never had trouble finding a thesis, and I always poured my heart into whatever topic I chose to discuss, rather than picking topics about which I was passionate beforehand. Perhaps now, writing an article is a professional task, something that I need to be careful with every gambit I take. I do find it hard to complete anything without going through multiple drafts and failures.

The good news is that Dance, Dance, Dance now only needs a coda. How? I don't know. In a way, every night, I look forward to opening my Finale and composing, for that is probably the only soothing activity with creative surprises and excitement (writing the article is creative, but it invites frustration more often than excitement).

Françoise Sagan's Toxique arrived this afternoon--a surprise, since I didn't expect it to be in my mailbox so early. It is probably the most beautiful book I have ever purchased. It looks like a notebook hand-drawn by Sagan, with typewritten text and amazing artwork in ink. Sagan had a car accident in 1957, and according to the introduction of the book, in order to alleviate her pain, she was injected morphine three times a day. By the end of the treatment, she was completely addicted to the drug and required detoxication.

In a way, Toxique testifies that confessional writing is one way to rationalise the body's pain and suffering during the course of drug-deprivation. The book completely echoes Jean Cocteau's Opium. However, in this case, instead of an obsessive-compulsive cling onto the human penis as multiple protrusions from the body of the user, Sagan caresses her body, especially her vagina with the deep strokes of her charcoal. In one of the pages, Sagan's naked body lies across the page, with her nipples erect and her vagina wet and exposed. She wrote, 'Lundi, j'ai passé Hier 13 Heures sans Ampoule.' In another one, across two pages, we see her lower body only, with the edge of the left page framing her vagina. She wrote:
If it weren't for this even more terrible threat to my legs, I'd be at the end of my rope. 'Just one more short one.' Goya will be disgusted to see me drinking mineral water. It's for my own good, I know, to take this cure whose purpose is to disgust me with alcohol. But iced white wine when the weather is hot and red wine when it's cold …?
Later on, Sagan, shows her torso and her lower body; but this time, her posture conceals her private. She wrote, 'Je crois que je ne suis plus Amoureuse de Personne.' For Cocteau, opium makes a woman amoureuse; it 'masculinises' women by turning them into sexual agents (of course, it is a male assumption that women are not supposed to be sexual agents). But then, the loss of sexual impetus does signify the beginning of withdrawal, a female body's declaration of her own independence from the mode of sexual crave induced by the drug. In fact, Sagan's body deteriorates, flattens, and eventually turns itself into a skull by the end of the book. The further she departs from morphine, the harder it is for her to enter love.

To a certain extent, opiate forever changes the sexual structure of a human being, and there is no turning-around from that. Weening oneself from the drug is to force the body to re-invent itself, to give birth again to a body that relies on deliberate oblivion to opium. Nevertheless, oblivion presumes the very existence of the drug and the physical memory of it. The consciousness the being arrests under its spell, has eternally entered the DNA of this body.

After all, is Bonjour tristesse a story about a girl weening herself from the intoxication of her youth, and her premature matricide is a perhaps way to perform the killing of the father that her body is too exhausted to carry out (the father, in turn, is part of the drug). And in this sense, does À bout de souffle operate in the exact same way; only this time, Belmondo, who has been intoxicated by all things made in USA, is part of the opiate-induced dream?

No comments: