Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Are we intruders? A new description of Alzheimer disease

The book “Odette Toulemonde” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt contains 8 novellas; they are excellent. I will focus on “The intruder”. 

This novella was a practical eye opener for understanding what Alzheimer disease means.  Recent memory goes first and retrograde to when you were born.  Odile sees her face in the mirror and thinks that an old woman intruder is harassing her and switching and moving around her belongings.  She calls the police and finds no intruder. 

Odile confuses her son for her husband; she thinks that her son’s wife is her long dead husband’s mistress.  Odile is rewriting the introduction of her thesis that she published so many years ago.  Her son, wife, and two grandsons are relieved as Odile returns to the period before her wedding. Soon her son will cuddle his old mother as a newborn lady.

What is that? We are as old as our memory permits it, and as young as it fails? It is a shame that people with Alzheimer cannot write their diaries; we would have great recalling of early childhood emotions and feelings. 

I propose that professional psychologists should study these patients and record what they say as they retrograde in their memory.  We could have excellent descriptions of how children feel and react to adults’ behavior.

Eventually, we die alone: People around us are intruders.  An old dying person saying: “I think I don’t know anything (of life and the universe)” could be related to our dwindling memory capacity:  We can remember what a child knew. 

The worst part is that the rich varieties of colors and sounds that babies are endowed to see and hear, and that grown ups censure at an early stage in order to survive, are lacking to die in wonder and amazement..

Note: You may read the review of another novella in the French book “Odette Toulemonde” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt : https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/it-is-a-beautiful-rainy-day/

It is a beautiful rainy day; (July 9, 2009)

The book “Odette Toulemonde” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt contains 8 novellas; they are excellent but I will focus on two of them. 

“It is a beautiful rainy day” is a great novella for character description. Helene is the type of women used to appreciate symmetry in people and in nature.  She dwells on the details of imperfections, such as changing her dresses when noticing any tiny spot, permanently tidying her room, feeling horrified in any asynchronisation in group dancing, and offbeat notes in musical tunes.  She used to cry when receiving returned books with pages marked on the corners.  Most of her potential friends lost her confidence because of imperfect details that did not match her subjective perfection. 

In adolescence Helene realized that nature is as bad as men:  One of her tits was slightly different in form; one of her feet was slightly longer than the other.  Even her height was shocking: it stabilized at 171 cm instead of 170 or 175.

            Helene accumulated many boyfriends; the relationships never lasted more than a couple of days because she seeks idealistic perfection:  She focused on imperfections and she could easily differentiate asymmetric aspects. The two required necessary exigencies, of idealism and lucidity in men, could never be assemble in any one individual.

            By the age of 30, Helene was a cynical and disillusioned woman.  Intelligence in others did not impress her: she mastered several language and she was a lawyer.  Her body was attractive and agile. 

Antoine, a lawyer, fell in love with Helene.  Helene permitted this plain-looking Antoine to press on his initiatives, simply because he was a foot taller than her.  Helene tolerated Antoine for longer than she had the habit of retaining lovers: Antoine was an “agreeable” fellow, though he was a fake slim guy when undressed; he prolonged foreplay so that he won’t have to repeat intercourse; his foreign languages were poor and he was pretty naive.  Helene kept silent as Antoine expressed the intention of including her in his future plans.

            Antoine took Helene to the North Sea instead of the sunny Mediterranean Sea she was used to spend her vacations.  On the first morning, a thunderstorm broke out and it poured rain. Helene was terribly upset.  Antoine retorted: “This is a beautiful rainy day” and explained how they would enjoy this day with new shades of colors that the sky, trees, and nature would take; how they would dry their clothes by the fireplace while taking hot teas; how they will had the opportunity to make love several times, to have lengthy conversation. 

Antoine’s happiness sounded abstract to Helene but she decided to go along.  Optimist Antoine saw the lovely and charming aspects in the streets, the stores, the waitresses, and the food.  Helene was disgusted with everything and could not agree with Antoine happiness.  Helene confined that she never looked at the seas or the waves but was content of enjoying the sun.  Antoine was amused with Helene’s negative comments thinking that she was being purposely funny and ironic and he laughed a lot that day.

            They finally got married. Helene had a boy and a girl but she knew that nothing inside her has changed; she was basically the same Helene with one alteration: Helene refrained from expressing her opinions and learned to keep silent. 

“Agreeable” and happy Antoine allowed Helene to see opposite perspectives and a comfortable joyful family life.  Antoine had to die.  Helene walled her life and then decided to travel the globe; she could not enjoy traveling as Antoine did.  (There is an ending but I prefer the reader to invent an ending and then compare it with the original)

The other novella that I like to review is “The intruder”.  This novella was a practical eye opener for understanding what Alzheimer disease means.  Recent memory goes first and retrograde to when you were born.  Odile sees her face in the mirror and thinks that an old woman intruder is harassing her and switching and moving around her belongings.  She calls the police and finds no intruder. 

Odile confuses her son for her husband; she thinks that her son’s wife is her long dead husband’s mistress.  Odile is rewriting the introduction of her thesis that she published so many years ago.  Her son, wife, and two grandsons are relieved as Odile returns to the period before her wedding. Soon her son will cuddle his old mother as a newborn lady.

            (What is that? We are as old as our memory permits it, and as young as it fails! It is a shame that people with Alzheimer cannot write their diaries; we would have great recalling of early childhood emotions and feelings.  I propose that professional psychologists should study these patients and record what they say as they retrograde in their memory.  We could have excellent descriptions of how children feels and react to adults’ behavior)

“The Gospel according to Pilate” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Written on May 9, 2007

“The Gospel according to Pilat” is a novel of three parts:

The first part is an attempt of describing the life of Jesus as a human who received his vocation and then spreading the message very reluctantly, especially for performing miracles, without joy as if against his will.  Yechou3a (Jesus) saved Pilate’s wife Claudia from bleeding and she did her utmost to save Jesus’ life.

Jesus decided that he had to die and didn’t do anything to change the process though he could have easily go free; he didn’t answer Herode’s questions or satisfied his wishes for a single miracle and looked lame and wretched and not the messenger of a God.

Pilate whipped him to diffuse the anger of the crowd who wanted blood but Jesus didn’t respond accordingly and didn’t complain or cried or shouted or showed that he didn’t deserve the punishment.

The crowd even selected the murderer Barabas to be freed instead of Jesus and Pilate realized that Jesus was indeed pretty ugly compared to Barabas.

The second part is the main one which is a series of letters that Ponce Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea and appointed by Rome with the help of his well established wife Claudia Procula, had written to his brother Titus in Rome describing in details his investigative processes undertaken to recover the corps of Jesus (Yechou3a) that was missing from the grave.

Pilate and Caife, the head of the Jewish Sanhedrin, had interest in recovering the corps because the rumors were spreading that the Son of God had resurrected and was appearing to people in the flesh.  Caife could be in serious trouble because the Jews would harass the traditional priestly structure and stop following the Jewish strict laws. As for Pilat the reason was because the Jews might end up revolting against the Romans if united under an imaginary belief that their promised Messiah has been murdered by the Romans.

After several cuts in his investigations Pilate came to a conclusion that it was Herode, the King of Galilee, who snatched the corps in order to start a Jewish uprising and be elected King to all of Palestine. Pilat came to this idea because Herode had been in communication with Yechou3a and allowed him to spread his message in Galilee for three years hoping that Jesus’ followers might serve his political schemes to dominion.

The other indices were that Jesus appeared to people in locations belonging to Herode’s properties and the messages were identical such as: “Rejoice, Christ is alive; spread the Good News”.  Pilate’s suspicions were well founded because the first person to claim having seen Jesus alive was Salome, the 16 year-old daughter of Herodiade, wife of King Herode, and who asked for the head of Yuhanan the Plunger who baptized everyone who cared in the Jordan River and announced the arrival of the Messiah.

After Salome, Jesus appeared to two pelerines of Emmaus who had followed him for a few weeks when he was preaching the message and Miriam of Magdalena.  They all were telling their testimonials among crowds in Jerusalem

Apparently, Herode was shocked that the corps has resurrected and that the rumors were gaining force and was convinced that he killed the real Messiah and would thus suffer eternal damnation; he went unconscious, as he did when the head of Yuhanan the Plunger (John the Baptist) was brought to him on a silver platter three years ago.

Caife was always one step ahead of Pilate in the investigation after the corps was first declared missing and he was conducting his searches without informing Pilate.  Caife went to the grave and then to Yoseph d’Arimathie, the rich cultivator who undertook to carry the corps and bury it, and to Nicodemos, the doctor in Jewish laws, both of them suspects of hiding the corps.

Pilate also located where the disciples were hiding and he realized that they were too scared of being persecuted. The disciples sounded upset and humiliated of being cheated out of their works and families and following a mere mortal.

Pilate ordered the disciples out of Jerusalem and they were happy for their freedom. Only Yohanan, the 18 year-old son of Zebedee, who was from a rich family of Jerusalem and a relative of Caife was not afraid and stayed in Jerusalem and tried hard to be everywhere where Jesus might appear; he was completely convinced that the angel Gabriel has saved Jesus as many believed this explanation.

Herodiade had asked Pilat to consider the theory that a double (sosie) might be playing the role of the resurrected Jesus; Pilate thus interrogated the young Yohanan and discovered that he was not a suspect.

The rational Roman Pilate reasoned that Jesus did not actually die and they failed in their searches because they were after a corpse and not an ailing but living individual.  Pilate asked his Roman physician about this eventuality and the physician responded that five hours is not sufficient for one to die of asphyxia, especially that no bones were broken nor the ankle tendon nor any muscles were severed to accelerate the process.  The physician demonstrated that the Romans invented crucifixion because the victim is left to die slowly for several days.

Pilate set about locating a sick and most probably dying Jesus who was being cured and cared for. He investigated further on with Youssef d’Arimathie who was the prime suspect for forcing the premature descent of Jesus from the cross and the drugging of the Jewish guards on the grave on orders from Caife.

Claudia quit her palace toward Galilee and joined the masses on foot converging toward Nazareth because the rumors were that Jesus will appear to his disciples in Galilee.

The Roman physician after reviewing the facts proposed that Jesus most probably died and Pilate could not refute his wife’s confirmation that she was one of the four women who were around the dead corps of Jesus when it was lowered from the cross.

Pilate joined the masses on foot and changed his views from logic and rationality because of the faith of his beloved wife but could not bring himself to believe in the resurrection of Jesus: he was confident that once the last of the disciples died then the testimonials will end and this movement would stop to exist, especially because nothing was put on paper and the disciples could not read or write or communicate with the right people who can aid in propagating the message of peace and love among all the people on earth.

The third part is basically an explanation of the author’s reasons for describing Jesus characters differently than accepted by tradition.


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