Goltijin They tried to merge into the tree-trunks. Even before I got there I knew my visit to the banks of the Jordan, to the Palestinian bases, could never be clearly expressed. How far away I was from the Palestinians. A gust of wind blew the canvas, the zinc and the corrugated iron all away, and I saw the misery plain. This is clearly a novel written in the late 80s in a manner that can only ever find superficial analogue in those of the 40s.
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The back cover blurb calls it "a controversial account of the last decades of his life that translates his experience with the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Black Panthers into a meditation on power, territoriality, and the nature of the outsider. Genet had an extremely incisive intellect. If I were to divide his bks up into 3 types, "Prisoner of Love" wd stand alone as the 3rd.
The novels, the plays, this. Take this passage: "My whole life was made up of unimportant trifles blown up into acts of daring. When I saw that my life was a sort of intaglio or relief in reverse, its hollows became as terrible as abysses. In the process known as damascening the patterns are engraved on a steel plate and inlaid with gold.
In me there is no gold. Being abandoned and left to be brought up as an orphan was a birth that was different from but not any worse than most. Childhood among the peasants whose cows I tended was much the same as any other childhood.
My youth as a thief and prostitute was like that of all who steal or prostitute themselves, either in fact or in dream. My visible life was nothing but carefully masked pretenses.
Prisons I found rather motherly - more so than the dangerous streets of Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. The few months I spent in the United States with the Black Panthers are another example of how my life and my books have been misinterpreted.
The Panthers saw me as a rebel - unless there was a parallel between us that none of us suspected. Once these thoughts were admitted, others followed. If Genet is a "sham" then what is this seemingly soul-baring passage?
A Cretan saying "All Cretans are liars"?! To me, even being able to write the above passage is an act of great heroism. Then again, for him to be so free of conventional expectations of how to live as to find prisons "rather motherly" shows an extraordinary strength of character. Just their free food programs alone are too important to me. But who am I to say? Have I?
Radical change might result in radical destabilization - wch can mean even more misery than most people already have. But even the word "radical" is suspect here. Does it mean back to roots? Or does it mean dramatically changing? If Genet was a sham as a person, he was no sham as a writer!!
Perhaps being a "sham" in the sense he presents it is exactly what makes him so astoundingly great. The paragraph that introduces the above quoted passage begins: "A chicken, boat, bird, dart or aeroplane such as schoolboys make out of bits of paper - if you unfold them carefully they become a page from a newspaper or a blank sheet of paper again. Very, very few. It seems to me that most people just leave their lives "a blank sheet".
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Prisoner of Love
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