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
January 24, 1954.
I do not say that women should know their place. But I do say that they should know their space.
Thinking is difficult enough in this cacophonous new epoch of ours, without the additional clamour of irritatingly high-pitched voices twittering about this-and-that, disrupting the rational genius within one’s mind and demanding more housekeeping money.
During breakfast at Maison L’Obscurier I require absolute silence between my 226ml of orange juice and the first Gauloise. This allows my genius to be thought-through properly, later to be assembled into brilliant ‘journal jottings’.
This morning, however, my concentration was disrupted by a barely audible, monotonous sneezing sound originating from beyond Mme L’Obscurier’s newspaper.
‘Are you unwell, my dear?’ I enquired, solicitously. ‘If so, perhaps you might withdraw to the guest wing until you are no longer infectious. I am presenting a most important lecture this week on the subject of “The Window As Simile” and I do not…’
I was rudely snipped-off by Mme L’Obscurier. She said she was very sorry she was sure to interrupt my ‘doodling’, that she had been humming a tune in her head and in her oblivious cheerfulness had forgotten I was there.
Insufferable! I demanded to know which ‘tune’ had inspired such chaos. ‘If you must know, it is Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. I cannot get it out of my head. It is sublime, and so … catchy’.
Catchy. Merde de Dieu, how many times have I explained to this woman the principles of Authorised Music in the House of To-Day? Yes, Jazz is the correct musical narrative for our New Architecture, but never before luncheon. And never in its uncorrected popular form.
If she must perform modern music at the breakfast-table, let it be Bartók’s Piano Concerto No 3. And let it be actually confined to her own head.
Mme L’Obscurier retorted - unnecessarily, in my view - that for someone who whined on all the time about Modernity, I really was actually something of a reactionary cock. This was too much.
‘Madame, no one admires Modernism more than I, L’Obscurier. Because of course I invented Modernism in the first place! I can therefore tell you with some authority that popular music has no value. It is like saying a tinker’s pot has the same worth as one of my small bronzes. Popular music, popular ANYTHING, blocks the evolution of the human spirit which yearns, as we know, to be arranged in parallel lines. I suggest …’
At this point Mme L’Obscurier made a counter-suggestion - that I sounded like a ‘stupid, quacking duck’. Furthermore, that I should stick that in my pipe, smoke it, and then shove it up my arse. Well! Bah!
It is as if an Iron Curtain has descended upon the breakfast table.
POST SCRIPTUM. I sail this morning in my yacht, The Paradox. In the afternoon I shall swim, and the ocean - as free from intellect as Mme L’Obscurier - will be powerless to stop me.