Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Voyage to the end of the night

Part 5. “Voyage to the end of the night” By Ferdinand Celine

NoteFerdinand Celine volunteered in WWI, was seriously injured in the first year.  Many authors vouched that this book was the most truthful in describing wars , the soldiers, the military, and its calamities, with direct, ironic writing, and new words and vocabulary that obfuscated the military and brought the ire of many “patriotic” people in France

Here are a few collection of statements and opinions by Celine:

Bravery is suspicious in wartime as well as in peacetime. Is a maggot brave? Rosy, pale, and soft: Similar to mankind, the maggot.

The war has lasted over a month by now. We were so tired and miserable that we lost a little of the fear on the roads.

We have been tortured by the top officers and by the subordinates, a condition that removed the last shred of hesitation to continue surviving. All that I wanted was to sleep, anywhere, anytime…

It required many cruel situations for our brain to allow one thought to make a complete rotation, paying quick visits to the convoluted crevices in the brain.

I never ceased wondering if the officers lacked battlefield maps and cards, would they be that pressured to send hundreds to their deadly fate?

It was the end of a dry summer, and villages were burning. Little villages on little hills, which we couldn’t locate in daytime, were fantastic apparition at night, burning down all night-long. Within a month, all villages were torched to the ground, churches, barns, trees…

Civilians had a one-way exit from the region, and the heavy artillery used the exclusive opposite direction. Even the General had to sleep in the open air, and morale sank to its lowest level, and the army began executing those too tired soldiers in order to “elevate” the morale of the remaining hopeless souls…

We advanced north, while the cold followed in our steps.

We were supposed to be searching for the Germans, and as we stumbled on a few of them haphazardly, we made a long detour to side-step them, the further away from the Germans the more secure the search and reconnaissance mission…

Squad leader Bardamu (the author) was ordered by Captain Orlotan to search for the remaining German soldiers lost in the region. Orlotan was on cocaine and seemed indefatigable, sending troops to certain death. Orlotan collaborated with death under contract, and he could barely walk: He broke so many bones in horse riding contests. On his weak legs and walking stooped, Orlotan resembled the ghost of the rear part of his horse…

The best guide to finding our ways was the odor of shit, of every conceivable living organism…The only exit for the crazed cats, from the constant bombardment, was to run and get drowned in any poodle of water…

You are hit, and still you keep picking up old sandals found on the road. The sheep is badly wounded, and resumes grazing, more and more grazing until it dies.

I was not wise at all, but I finally learned to be practical and a coward: I radiated calmness, which impressed my superiors and sent me on reconnaissance missions, all by myself…These missions seemed welcomed vacations, a fictitious deliverance…

After the war ended, everyone wanted to display his uniform, including the nurses, except the neutral and spies: Two buttocks in the same pant. The ridicule of this mass massacre was dawning on everyone. It was hard feeling proud, returning from the front, and naturally engaging in more murders as a reaction of our deep shame…

The old General had two grown up girls, and unmarried. It was because of this recollection that he got this habit of growing older than normal and constantly grumbling.  The binoculars hanged to his neck as the cow bell. He couldn’t suffer to be bothered, like an old dog who can’t wait to crawl between the pillows inside his basket.

Nothing like Generals to love roses..

I wished to be made prisoner. But how to go about it? You have an enemy, from the farthest part, deep in Europe and who hate you for obscure reasons, and what could I say to him as introduction in the split-second before he fires on me? Like: “what job you practiced before the war? Are you married with children?…”

I entered a village. It was empty. I owned the entire village, its moon, and a humongous fear…

“Voyage to the End of the Night” Part 4

These are excerpts of statements of a collection of stories describing the war, the after the war, and delivering physical care to the poorer district in Paris…

“The French race doesn’t exist. We are a bunch of seedy people like me, flea-infected, in transit…who ended up on these shores, with nowhere else to resume the flight, a long trip, fleeing famine, cholera, tumors, cold…the defeated individuals, arriving from the 4 corners of the world…

We are the generations of great parents, hateful, docile, raped, stolen, and cuckoled…We are born faithful, soldiers for free, heroes in the eyes of everyone, and talking apes: We are the darling of King Misery.

We change nothing, neither socks, nor opinions, nor our masters… (It sounds like Celine was describing the Lebanese people…)

Love is infinity at the reach of dogs, and I’m not dignified enough for that luxury.

I needed over 20 years and participating in an ugly war before I learned that two distinct kinds of humanity exist: The poor and the rich. It took me that many years and many more miseries to start asking for the price of things and people, before I touch and keep things and people

We have this urge for making love as we scratch. It is harder to renounce on love than on life: We pass our time killing or adoring, and often time doing both concurrently.

We do our best to relay our sperms to the next generations of bipeds, frantically, at any price, as if it were extremely agreeable to sustain procreation. We are tacitly hoping that, eventually, in a distant future, mankind will get its revenge and reach a phase of living forever

And yet, all our love-making is tinged with shame, (and it is because of this feeling of shame attached to this activity that we keep at it…keep scratching all the way…)

Love is like drinking alcohol: The more drunk and impotent, and the greater is our feeling of power and cunning, and the stupider is our certainty for our divine rights over our partner…a feeling of power that hides our endemic lack of courage…

Poems of heroism possess the soul of those not on the front lines, and particularly, those making huge profit from wars…and this is done without any resistance

Lola (an American nurse from the east coast) had these steel blue eyes that looked you straight in the eyes.  Lola rambled on the side of optimism and the joy of living, as most privileged people do, invested with health, security, money, and a long life ahead of her. I had a thousand irrefutable reasons to have contrary emotions. To Lola, I was no longer in the vibrant and radiant mood…Lola harassed me in the matter of the soul. To me, the spirit was the vanity and pleasure of the healthy bodies and of those in want of getting out of the body during extreme sick periods… And it became my project to pay a visit to the USA and meet more of these healthy girls…

As long as the little people are paying the tab, out of their labor, sweat and miseries in order to advance the lot of the privilege class, what difference does it make if they pay in Marks, Francs or Dollars? What could the little people lose when the building of the owner burns down? Another owner will take over…(It is better the new owner does not speak the local language: The little people can enjoy these fleeting instances of feeling superior, making fun of the proprietor and ridiculing him out loud…)

Note 1: Ferdinand Celine worked 4 years on his manuscript at nights after a long harassing day as a physician.  The manuscript lacked all kinds of punctuation, 25 years earlier than Kerouac first manuscript “On the Road” and it was not like Celine didn’t know how to punctuate.

Note 2: If you like to read part 3 https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/voyage-to-the-end-of-the-night-by-ferdinand-celine-part-3/

At the Fair: Has anything changed?

Progress is visible in the Fair: In the stand of “Shooting of Nations“, the targets are jet fighters and “terrorists” wearing assorted headgear, variety of styles in long beards, and chest detonating jackets… Where the empty eggshells have gone?

Everything else is unchanged: Music for all, emanating from every corners, special stalls, mechanical cars, wooden horses…

Whatever it takes to cheat and delude the little people, that the living is paradise incarnate at the end of a hard slaving week…

Flags, glorious banners, soldiers on retirement, spiritually maimed, wrestlers without much muscles…

The fun is elevated to riding tiny electric cars that bump and derange whatever spared brain you still have, churning up sturdy stomach…No limit to crashing into the bewildered soft-hearted riding with a crazy driver…

As the band is readying to play, sing, or act…there is always a missing member…A posy is sent to locate him and fetch him back among the harmonious band.  One member is returned and two have already parted company, drunk as they possibly could be…

Mothers are completely exhausted and valiantly waiting for the firework to get going back home, before the mass wake up and start moving haphazardly as a mob, stepping on kids, crushing feet…

Mother would give up on this joyful day, if they can finally tuck in the over excited kids and call it a day.

The fair is the “waiting” per excellence for the steady heads, the arrogant who refuses to let go and join the communal fun, to mingle and be harassed by the little cheaters at the end of the week…

The fair is the constant crying of babies and kids, short on nickels and dimes, crushed between chairs, ordered to tame their excitements, to learn to sober down their desires to mount wooden horses, carousels, anything that turns and swing and flip-flop…

The fair is the ideal training ground to forging characters, to learn that fun cost money, and there are not enough saved to go berserk…

The fair is a fantastic opportunity for parents to initiate the rules to the kids of how to start reflecting, setting priorities on what games to select, among the hundreds of them, all equally great, and how to maximize the fun for the little money to spend…

The fair is great for learning the golden rule: “You want fun, you pay for it…” and the best methods to finally get it is administering frequent slaps and boxes…until the Pavlov reaction is mastered

The lights, fixed and gyrating, won’t go down until the little cheating businessmen have counted their dimes, checking and rechecking the day’s receipt of the funny kids…and the little helpers dozing on rickety chairs, on the floor, on a swing…waiting for the boss to part of some of his profit…

Note 1: Kids don’t need money to discover the pleasure of living.  All they need is to be out of home and be free to run and connect with other kids, free from any discrimination factors.  It is the parents who ruin the cheerfulness and joy of living for the kids, with their idiosyncratic principles, boring habits, faulty ideas on how to keep good entente with neighbors and community…

Note 2: Post inspired by a section of the French book “Voyage to the end of the night” by Louis Ferdinand Bardamu (Celine as pen name, the first name of his mother)

“Trip to the End of the Night” by Ferdinand Celine (Part 3)

This French book, published in the early 1930’s, is basically a collection of autobiographical stories of a freshly graduating physician in his mid thirties who established his “clinic” in a poor working neighborhood in the suburb of Paris.

Paying visit to patients after sundown and the medical tour lasting till dawn generate real life stories.

The followings are excerpts, not of the stories, but of the kind of statements that the living among miseries bring up in our mind and emotions.

We have no illusions: We know that the only story we care to communicate is the variety of our pains, aches and frustrations…We care less of what people tell us of their pains and frustrations…All that we do is transfer our aches…The irony is that our pains remain intact, whole, and never vanish…We are expert with grimaces, and with old age, making the face of pain becomes too heavy and complicated…

I am walking and got caught by a mass of people obstructing the street. They were standing in circles and big rosy pig grunting in pain in the middle. The masses were pretty happy and hysterically laughing: They had this golden urban opportunity to hurting the pig, twisting his ears, encouraging a little dog to mount the pig and bite it…And the pig was moaning, whining, and trying to flee from this crazy and hellish circle of insane people…The pig was tugging on the rope, urinating, and going nowhere…Nothing was working for the pig to feel freedom…The butcher was holding a large knife and making faces and wildly gesturing to make people laugh louder…The butcher has learned the best method to amuse the guests at the wedding of his daughter…

What of this famous author husband (Montaigne) who sent his wife a letter on the occasion of the death of her newborn: “Don’t worry dear woman…Things will work out in life, eventually…I just finished reading a letter that another famous author wrote to his wife on a similar occasion…Read this attached letter over and over, and disseminate the content to our friends and acquaintances… I feel pretty serene right now…”

Dr. Baryton stayed away from any physical health intervention. He used to tell me: “Science and life form a destructive mixture. Any question you formulate to the condition of your body is a sure gap that thickness will sneak in…Any beginning of worry, obsession… is ground to let sickness in…What is already known is way enough for me to handle…”

In my case, I longed for a severe flu, high enduring fever, anything that would force me to the quietude of a deep sleep…I have lost confidence of sleeping like normal people do…this state of indifference that neutralizes my worrying nature…to getting this stupid and divine tranquility of the living…

Misery for misery, I prefer the ones not displayed in newspapers…

What could we do if we refuse to go forward, leaded as we are with all the boredom we constantly carry in living…? Sticking to our regular habits is the least annoying to our eternal boredom

It is useless to comprehend what is it to come back to a life of miseries, and the waiting, until we observe all those little people hoping to get  the promised pension, before they pass away. Like those suffering from tuberculosis when there were no cure for it: They believe they will surely get well after they receive the pension, no doubt about it…Pension is a cure it all…There is no urgency to getting well before pension time: To do what? Get back to the harsh useless work?

There come a time we talk less and less about what we desired the most…and if we are nudged to talk, it is with great effort. We abridge the story of our desires and wants…We don’t care to insist on the right and wrong.  All that we need is a little food, plenty of heat, and sleeping as much as we can, on this long and rough road of nothingness.

We lack this desire to invent new stories…We keep the griefs of the departed people who had left a little sunshine in our heart in our childhood…

Come a time we feel that we got old all of a sudden: We no longer get excited or interested in people’s stories and their worries.  It doesn’t matter how hard we pretend, the world has already left us before we vanish in the great darkness...


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Stats

  • 1,482,193 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 811 other followers

%d bloggers like this: