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Beauty, Intensity, Asymmetry

Par François Chaignaud
Publié par Clifford Armion le 16/02/2012
"((Beauty, Intensity, Asymmetry)) are born in my mouth like three goddesses ripe for veneration - far more than ((Identity, Gender, or Transgression)), and utterly different from them. But this Beauty, of which we know only that some wish to buy but never to sell it, much less allow it to disappear or cause it to flee - nor to be the man or woman who no longer possesses anything but memories of it - is she a prescriptive goddess?"

François Chaignaud, né à Rennes, est diplômé du Conservatoire National de Région de Rennes en danse classique et contemporaine et du Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris. Il est interprète auprès de Boris Charmatz, Alain Buffard, Gilles Jobin, Tiago Guedes, Emmanuelle Huynh, Aydin teker, Mille plateaux Associés et Alice Chauchat. Par ailleurs historien, il publie en 2009 L'Affaire Berger-Levrault - le féminisme à l'épreuve (1897-1905) aux Presses Universitaires de Rennes.

Beauty, Intensity, Asymmetry are born in my mouth like three goddesses ripe for veneration - far more than Identity, Gender, or Transgression, and utterly different from them. But this Beauty, of which we know only that some wish to buy but never to sell it, much less allow it to disappear or cause it to flee - nor to be the man or woman who no longer possesses anything but memories of it - is she a prescriptive goddess? An authoritarian agency, or vagueness hovering in convenient imprecision? Goddess Beauty to be worshiped or adjective Beauty to be claimed with pride? .....

"Beauty is not only where you think it is" ... a crucial and necessary ditty if we are to approach this pleasantness of appearance in terms of a history of the gaze rather than a form of property: to learn to see as beautiful what one thought to be, if not ugly, then at least impossible.

The unthinkable is beautiful. & Impracticable and Unlivable.

One does not possess beauty - it is not a gift of said goddess - blonde Venus who would gratify faithful mothers with sublime snub-nosed children as a store rewards its customers for their purchases - one creates it, one traffics in it, one fabricates it, one transforms it, one stimulates it, one generates it, one dumps it, one tampers with it, one fritters it away.

No one is incapable of beauty, because no one is devoid of it.

Obviously: Beauty is neither a svelte body, nor a young face, nor firm hips.

Beauty could be a sly, made-up goddess with sparkling rhinestones

Encouraging

- in the body of the one who traffics in it - confections, intrigues, disagreement, schemes, divorces, marriages, misunderstandings and unnatural juxtapositions, contrary to good taste and even to the evidence of radical appearance

- and in the eye of the beholder (as well as in his overheated body) - a volcanic and audacious gaze, insubordinate to the canons of the other goddess, the Adversary, sometimes confusingly called Beauty too but more justly named Authority. Beauty might be the seed of indiscipline that sows suave disorder in sex, appearance, gender, age, color, matter, size, status, and destiny. The most disorderly might be the most beautiful.

Accordingly, I venerated (with difficulty, excitement, ingratitude, and uncertainty) the goddess of bad taste (of absurd, aberrant, irritating, toxic taste), of excess and liberty, deity of rejected, proud bodies, of the seductive abandoned, the left-behind beribboned with the slumber of defiance, disguised in pawn-shop rags, boys in skirts and boys in adolescence, bald girls, patients with lips made scarlet by industrial dye, stewardesses dripping with some imprudently dizzying, disgusting fragrance, adolescent girls negotiating their future draped with hairnets, marginals perched atop their savings - sandals, vertiginous treasure - Vietnamese women with toenails decorated and mutilated a hundred times over, whores calling attention to their psoriasis with a powder glistening in the light, fat nudists - lard floating in a fog of spray - fruit sellers preceded by a cloud - devoted areopagus - of flies, a drug dealer whistling for his boy, subject to his cruelty.

A sect without obligations, without limits, without Inquisition, without heaven or hell, without a Church, without baptism. A mystery cult, as in ancient Eleusis, a cult of finery and bottomless pits of vanity.

As a child, I dreamt of becoming a great couturier for the elderly. Ever since, I have associated beauty with weakness, with being under siege, with defeat (by age, disease, or the cruelty of the world). Beauty is that which frequents death and resists it.

François Chaignaud
Translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
 

Cette ressource a été publiée dans le cadre de la troisième saison du festival "Walls and Bridges" qui s'est déroulée du 19 au 28 octobre 2011 à New York.

 

Pour citer cette ressource :

François Chaignaud, "Beauty, Intensity, Asymmetry", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), février 2012. Consulté le 20/09/2020. URL: http://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/entretiens-et-textes-inedits/beauty-intensity-asymmetry

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