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 28, 1954.
The epoch now upon us has created an upper stratum of human intelligence - thinkers, designers, planners, artists, engineering magnates, experimenters in social realism (exempli gratia Britain’s so-called ‘kitchen sink architects’), Modern sexualists, writers-of-the-moment & cetera & cetera.
I hesitate to call us übermenschen. Of the 500 or so truly influential figures in the world to-day, two are certainly women; also, the term übermenschen still provokes a negative connotation in certain salons. Very well then, we are pedagogues. We broadcast our seeds of cultural revolution in the ill-furrowed fields of human endeavour.
Alas, these fields remain full of human clods and are ravaged by the opportunistic starlings of the press, who gobble up the seed and make ugly ‘cawing’ noises.
Only last week there appeared a ‘profile’ of M. Picasso in Modern Iconoclast. The author impertinently accused my fellow-genius of infidelity, arrogance and ‘splodged paint-work’.
My occasional smoking-companion M. Sartre was similarly traduced recently by Hep & Pep magazine, which described him as ‘a pompous, squinting, miserabilist Maoist bore’.
Now I too must endure public ridicule in the gossip rags. A preposterous piece in Maestro, ‘Arts Periodical for the Cultured Man of To-Day’ not only prints some unflattering photo-graphs but, further, describes me as a ‘behavioural fascist’.
A fine reward indeed, for my long years of resistance to the Nazi Occupation of France. My fellow resistors know how resolutely I opposed the Vichy Government, using the most powerful weapon at my disposal - a profound disdain for its taste in music and architecture.
Let us examine this possibly-libellous charge of ‘behavioural fascism’. It is nonsense. Mme. L’Obscurier and I often entertain at home in circumstances of the most floweringly informal. Of course guests are required to shower and then change into sterilised linen djellabas and pantalons. We are not barbarians, I think!
Guests are then shown by the ante-chamber-maid into an ante-chamber. We call this, without affectation, as we speak mostly French, our bavardoiserie, or chatting room. Here chatting may be properly conducted. The bavardoiserie is a windowless 226 x 226 x 226 cell with experimental ‘air-conditioning’. It is a machine for chatting in. It encourages conversation to be concise and to the point.
All guests are issued with the following:
- A detailed map of the house.
- Clear, sequential, unequivocal directions for using the bathroom.
Does this sound as if I do not care? Hardly! Let us hear no more talk of this coldly intelligent man, this icy L’Obscurier and his heart-in-winter. My heart, like any other, is neatly accommodated within a perfectly proportioned scaffolding of ribs, part of the human body’s mathematically correct structure.
Deep diving today. My oxygen-helium tanks hold enough enhanced air for approximately 37.5 minutes. I shall work on my new alphabet idea. Suppose that instead of a 26-letter alphabet we were to employ a 26 x 26 x 26 alphabet - what a spiritualising abstraction! I shall not budge until the problem is solved. Oxygen-helium? Or L’Obscurier? Who shall be vanquished?
Ian Martin is away