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The diaries of L’Obscurier

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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

March 21, 1954.

Maison L’Obscurier has entered one of its familiar ‘post-war’ periods, in the wake of a most unfortunate domestic catastrophe.
The details, the process of the incident itself need not detain us now. It is enough to state that contributory elements included:

  • my favourite bow-tie;
  • a cup of hot chocolate;
  • my working ‘in the half-nude’ on the balcony before lunch (I am currently assembling my epoch-defining, mixed-media tone-poem Illuminations From The Black Pool; my spirit requires freedom, air and light from the waist down);
  • a negligent servant-lad who brought the hot chocolate but forgot to lock the door to the balcony on his return to the kitchen;
  • the unexpected arrival of Mme L’Obscurier upon the balcony, eager to show the view to…
  • the Duchesse du Maine: patroness of the arts, salonnière and latest object of Mme L’Obscurier’s fawning admiration.

I find the synthetic outrage of the ladies a little tiring, I must say. We are living in the middle of the twentieth century, the most enlightened and intellectually-liberated period in history. The sight of an auteur assembling a tone-poem, impeccably dressed from the waist up, should surely cause no turbulence or alarums to-day!

Thus yet again I find myself the victim of my own brutally honest Modernism. Of course the servant lad has been beaten and dismissed, but that is of no consequence and little consolation. Now my bow-tie has finally returned from the laundry, bringing with it a new existential problem to deal with. Although the chocolate stain appears to have been removed I can still sense its ghostly, nauseating presence, like a poorly-concealed medieval street. I sack the laundry-maid, to clear my mind.

Nom de Dieu de bordel & cetera - the oppressive banality of this world crushes my spirit from all sides. Despite the momentum of a new epoch that is upon us I feel that my eminence in guiding the world is constantly frustrated by public hostility or - worse - apathy. Yesterday, this time on a secured balcony and fully nude save for my polemicist’s ‘thinking beret’ I composed my Three Reminders For Those Who WishTo Live In The Modern Fashion. They are as follows:

  • The Plan is the generator.
  • The Plan holds the essence of sensation.
  • The Plan holds the sensation of essence.

I made a rough translation for my English editor, Evelyn, and had it despatched by overnight tele-gram.

Today I received the corrected manuscript from Evelyn. The nincompoop seems to understand English less well than I, L’Obscurier the polymath! My epigraph has returned as Three Reindeers For Those Who Wish To Leave The Modern Vagina, as follows:

  • The floor covering is my father.
  • The floor covering absorbs sensibility.
  • The floor covering is sensible of absorption.

It is rubbish. But clear, ordered and abstract. I think I prefer it.


A beautiful morning, the sky unmarred by cloud or other meteorological frippery. I shall swim until exhausted, then invent a new, abstract form of swimming..

Ian Martin is away

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