SANS VISAGE ::
TRANSFORMATION OF THE FACE
The world changes. Transformation is constant and only transformation permits consistence. We change. We get old. No we don’t get old, how can you say that 100 years is old when the world exist since – when ? I look at myself in the mirror. It look in myself. I am so young… But I am not anymore alike I was years ago. Was this me, this young girl living happily with no knowledge of what love really is ? This young doctor taking care of patients without caring her own body, was this me ? Was this me, this passionate and ignorant politician ?
No we do not age. We transform ourselves. We live, we learn, and slowly – so slowly – develop a feeling of what human existence is about. And if we don’t transform, we’re dead.
This is somehow the theme of Paul Ardenne‘s latest fiction. Paul Ardenne ? Isn’t he an art historian, critic and curator ? Yes but – also a writer. He tried hard… abandoned often. But writing never surrenders. And Grasset finally published Sans visage, twenty years after he submitted them his first fiction, later published elsewhere.
Sans Visage ? A woman died, somewhere in south-west rural France. They took her face.
Who would possibly want to take my face, the narrator asks himself driving south ?
Marie-Saintes’ face did not transform. It remained relentlessly radiant. The radiant face of Marie-Saintes. Marie tried everything she could, to transform her face. Even to sit on top of a high speed train to get her face altered by the speed and the wind. Nothing helped. She became the subject of the most high-end scientific studies – imagine, if we could put the secret of Marie-Saintes in a jar !
But we could not. So in the end, someone stole the radiant face of Marie-Saintes.
The narrator drives back after the funerals, with no answer. Just the facts, and his thoughts.
And we close the book with this bitter-sweet feeling : our face is our life. The millions of painters, photographers, mirrors… who since centuries represent our human faces would agree. And so would also the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.
Our face is our life. Don’t frieze it ! Lack of transformation irremediably leads to catastrophe. From DROME 1 to DROME’s latest issue. Any thing after that ? Yes but… it’s a secret yet ! Just another transformation of the face indeed. Of the self…