16 May 2008

Deep Tropical Ciné-Musique

Filed under: Fiction, First Lines — ktismatics @ 12:41 pm

[A month ago I wrote an engagement of Days of Ciné-Musique, text by Patrick Mullins and artwork by Christian Pellet. Now, having just finished reading Deep Tropical Ciné-Musique, the prior, leaner work in the ongoing collaboration, I find myself wishing I could post some images of Christian’s compelling paintings, which play a more central role in this book. Arrayed in a portrait gallery of alienation, Christian’s ordinary, even familiar-looking figures appear formal, placid, almost classically statuesque, yet they are flattened and oddly distorted in Christian’s renderings: lopsided, smeared, effaced, decapitated — other. Here are some text grabs from Patrick’s prose-poetry, obliquely recounting the brief collaboration of the “outrageously educated and alarmingly gaudy” Lace Racy with a young unnamed protégé, beginning at the beginning…]

* * *

A non-verbalized metaphor of a dirndl — symbolizing the silent, pervasive presence of Lausanne/Ouchy, Switzerland, throughout this novella that does not take place in Lausanne, and is not about Lausanne — is occasionally in evidence.

* * *

The space could be rented indefinitely; and there was little danger of pressure from the garishly bejewelled and darkly encrusted enclaves not more than twenty miles away, to furnish it coarsely with classical allusions. Where there were people who liked to fund the arts, as long as “the arts” were preponderantly moribund, which kept them from having to know what art was. “Funding the arts” was a contrived term that gave many moneyed persons that they knew what art is. It followed quite logically that they liked their racy separate, pretentious, ugly and even painful a good bit of the time.

* * *

One of Lace Racy’s gifts was to talk so much that he seemed he was telling everybody everything. Most of what he had to say remained unspoken.

* * *

Youth: “I am like a god.”

Lace: “You are not a god, but may be like one in that they probably bleached their hair, too.”

* * *

Boy: “If we were famous, as we are — this would be a good place to go, because nobody would recognize us.” Lace had liked this and had copied it onto a napkin at the restaurant, and found it again in early May.

* * *

Later, Lace left some fairly rough answering machine messages at the Hamburg number, which would close off any possible chink the boy might try to find in getting the Office Spot back, which he wanted to take without earning. Lace also purged the Office of every item the boy had left, even a towel and a shirt he had given Lace. All this made Lace Racy suffer pangs of guilt, till he realized that these outwardly rough words had diagrammed the underlying discord that could surface frighteningly were they to try to undertake any discourse too soon. The discord was now fully exposed. This opened the possibility that he could serve, much as a pivot chord does in musical harmony, for the purpose of modulation out of a sad mode, a really sad, obscure one like Locrian, and into a happier key — although the advent of the public nature of A Major seemed a ridiculous hope, to be sure. The worst guilt Lace experienced stemmed from the fact that he was essentially telling the boy that, for now, he had failed his Course in Thought; that he could be said to have vandalized the Club.

* * *

Did he hate himself that much for making a disastrously inaccurate calculation of logic that had hurled him into a hideously dilettantish arty empiricism that reeked of odious opaque smells, both animal and holy. Oh, yes, it was certainly possible, no matter the struggle against it: There were far too many who had walked with heads held high, profundity exuding from every vain pore who had been known to wake up and find themselves having chosen to “circle the drain,” living on the crumbs of the innocuous, the pedestrian, the unspeakably art-alien.

“How infuriatingly weak I am,” said the proud and gifted Lace Racy aloud to himself in the New York Office.



  1. John, thanks so much as with the previous fine work. I sent Christian your email address and asked him to send you some of the paintings via attachments, but he think the archives of DTC-M have been lost. In the event, I have then requested that he send some from Day of Cine-Musique, which could still be posted if you like, and since you’ve written about them, it would be helpful, because there’s only so much talk about visual work to mean anything unless you see some of it.


    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 18 May 2008 @ 9:55 am

  2. That would be good. I think I’ll send him an email, which I still have from placing my order. I neglected to note the exceptional and bold use of color in Christian’s paintings. Based on what I wrote one might think he stays in the more somber and pallid realms of palette. Also the textures of clothing in particular are quite striking and emphatic. I also love the SHOES. As a side note, Sitemeter informs me that a few minutes ago someone from Moscow came specifically to look at this post.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 May 2008 @ 10:18 am

  3. http://www.flyvision.org/palpus/03/club-heidegger.html

    John, Christian found this fragment from the Doctors of Lausanne chapter, but put under the title of the last chapter ‘Club Heidegger’. I am linking to it, because while I find it interesting that you chose these particular fragments, I think this is the best writing in that first volume. I imagine that your psychologist persona attraced you to the bits from ‘Club Vaihiria’, because they tell you a lot about who I was in that period. That was a tortured moment when the young Hamburg elf was here.

    Christian found the paintings in another place, and so we should see them soon!


    Comment by patrick j. mullins — 21 May 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  4. This passage conveys the sense of alternate realities superimposed on each other, with “the figure of endless summer” traversing both as a kind of iconic character, someone who sees both worlds at once and who therefore becomes a separate and elegantly powerful being. And then he becomes party to situations that bring him into care and even nurturance, but also some levels of cruelty and self-doubt ensnare him which he must gradually resolve.

    I received an email from Christian today which includes images from Deep Tropical. He might also send me images from Days of, which will allow me to compile them in a separate post that points back to this one and the preceding discussion of the other book.


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 May 2008 @ 4:34 pm

  5. Very nice the way you make the segue from ‘Doctors of Lausanne’ (the linked passage which is wrongly titled) and ‘Club Vaihiria.’ I had not thought I had done that until you wrote this, but it’s convincing.

    Also extraordinary I didn’t know about this link till today, and it’s been there since 2000.


    Comment by patrick j. mullins — 21 May 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  6. “I had not thought I had done that until you wrote this, but it’s convincing.”

    So do you think it’s really been there all along, operating beneath even your conscious awareness, or is this an incident of the reader writing the text?


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 May 2008 @ 8:52 am

  7. Yes, and I think I surely knew it before now thatI think of it–obviously, I would have needed to make the transition. The matter as I now see it is that it’s a rough modulation from two completely different kinds of styles–the one pristine-in-the-world, the other a kind of being-in-the-world that is full of turmoil and always trying to reach back to the pristine one, but always failing (at least in that book; I find this again in other form and sustain it all the way through in ‘Day of Cine-Musique’, or rather, it only has a few craters in it, such as that David Thomsom-type writing for the review of ‘Woman Obsesses’, which is not so much bad writing as it is a kind of homage to a good film writer that I nevertheless would notindulge in at this point–still, the second book does not slip down into graceless cracks in the same sense as chapters I, III, and IV do,to my mind, in this first one.) As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m only proud still of the Doctors of Lausanne chapter, and like very much the way Christian’s Monagasque friend who lived down the street from me in 1999 (and may still), Pierre le Gal de Kerangal, ‘mounted’ a piece of it on his old website. Now THAT really felt ghostly seeing it yesterday after it had been there for 8 years without my knowing–I even like the quirk of his using the name of the last chapter as title for his nice enshrining of this fragment.

    So I don’t think you, as reader, were writing the text, but I do wish I had more readers like you. It does make me think I ought to be read more than I previously did.


    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 22 May 2008 @ 11:19 am

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