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The diaries of L’Obscurier

The hugely influential artist, architect, sculptor, painter and social engineer revolutionised the way we think about the built environment and then drowned in the Mediterranean

Translated by Danvers Couchmere from the original haughty French

May 02, 1954. Extremely upsetting start to the day. I have repeatedly instructed our servants on the importance of right angles at breakfast - the L-shaped croissant, the rectilinear omelette - but it is as the English say ‘through both ears and out of the arse’.
Yes, my fried eggs are perfectly square in plan; alas the central yolks remain hideously globular. They are inedible, unseeable, intolerable. Servants = a burdensome calamity!

It is most infuriating for an artist and visionary to suffer the gibbering inconsequentialities of common-life. Again and again I despair of the Working-Class of To-Day. Foot-ball, the kinema, cacophonous popular music, crime ‘novels’, vulgar snack food & cetera. Is this the bright new world we dreamed of in those dark days of war? Did I suffer five years of painting, writing and theorising under the Vichy government for this?
The sooner a substantially newer epoch is begun the better. This so-called ‘new epoch’ is nothing of the kind, but rather a continuation of the old epoch with more vulgar furnishments and decoration.

  • The City of To-Day is a catastrophic, foul-smelling pancake.
  • The City of To-morrow will be vertically correct, and mentholated.
  • This will require a ‘New Horribilism’.

Hmm. Perhaps it should be ‘Brutal Newism’. This may look more impressive translated into English and then back into French … DAMN. I suddenly remember the 3,000 Working-Class Housing Users who were decanted into temporary accommodation in 1947, pending the design of my Humane Population-Camp! I wonder if they’re still there.

No matter. Working-Class Housing Users need not detain us. I do not require the approval or validation of bovine humanity. I require the approval or validation of my intellectual equals. To this end, I have lately been wearing a new ‘hat-for-thinking-in’. It is a gift from my friend Pesto, the Surrealist. At the front, a huge canti-levered plaster lobster with a humorous waxed moustache, smoking a pipe. Of course, it is not the head-wear one associates with L’Obscurier, the eminent rationalist. But to receive a gift from Pesto, who is even more famous than I …

The secret is to make no sudden movements as this causes the lobster’s claws to pitch forward into the face. I have already sustained several small lacerations. Never-the-less, it seems to work. Thoughts of quite exceptional brilliance petition my brain, assembling in an orderly way in the cerebellum, then proceeding through the pons and the medulla oblongata in logical sequence.

Yes, only the ‘Thinking Artist of To-Day’ strikes the correct balance between man and his environment, whether the landscape be external (built) or internal (found).

Man = a Psycho-Physiology. Yes! Ouch! Curse these lobster’s claws!

Post scriptum

Today I shall swim in the ocean, experimentally. I have an artistic endeavour in mind, an attempt to photo-graph ‘moments of possibility’ with a heavy camera. As this will involve orchestrated ‘splashing’ I have instructed the servants to ignore any commotion that might be mistaken for my ‘getting into difficulties’. First, a bottle of wine.

Ian Martin is away

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