Attacking the bourgeois values, but the greater the assault the more apparent that the author, in his own particular way, was part of the elite, canonized as cultural commodity himself, like Burroughs and Ginsberg, an icon, a spokesman for articulating sexual deviation, and a close encounter with the perverse; an audience of middle-class denizens wishing to explore their identity through sexual curiosity. The temptation of the perverse and forbidden in the same manner as football afficionados exploring the homo-erotic of the male body. So, there is a connection between the Penn State scandal and Jean Genet, the prisons of love being different but the same intrigue of the viewer, the “gaze” and rubbernecking curiosity. But, Jean Genet is redeemed by a sense of beauty and not perversion. Unlike the pervert, there is no separation of body and soul; just a gay flaneur of sorts out of Baudelaire, also a bit transfixed by the imcomprehensible crowd.
Extract from a Jean Genet interview with Nigel Williams. BBC2, 1985, not long before his death. His last and it cost the BBC $25,000 at the time. Genet’s health had been on a downslide; he was finishing Prisoner of Love,and ended the interview by stating “I am waiting for death.”
Jean Genet: I believe that my criminal record contains fourteen convictions for theft. Which amounts to saying that I was a bad thief, since I was always getting caught.
… But by escaping from the family I escaped from feelings I might have had for the family and from the feeling the family might have had for me. I am therefore completely – and I was from very early on – completely detached from all family feeling. That’s one of the virtues of the French Public Welfare system, which raises children quite well precisely by preventing them from becoming attached to a family. In my opinion, the family is probably the first criminal cell, and the most criminal of all.
NW: For you, love didn’t start with the family, but with a boy, I believe…
JG: No! Not with a boy, but with two hundred! What are you talking about?
NW: With two hundred?
JG: Well, one at a time…
NW: But didn’t you have a favourite, a special one?
JG: Oh! Favourites, special ones, you know, there were so many!
NW: Did you engage in a politics of homosexuality?
JG: But is there a homosexual politics? How could you think that while I was still a child – let’s say that I felt my first sexual attractions around the age of thirteen or fourteen – how could you think that at such an age I could have decided to make homosexuality a political issue?
NW: Yes, of course, I understand. But now, in our era, it’s a political question. Because you were one of the first to talk about it in…
JG: What are you talking about! What are you talking about! Listen, you had Oscar Wilde… If we think of England alone, you had Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, Byron, and so many others… What are you talking about!
NW: During the period of the Occupation, were you happy with the presence of the Germans in France?
JG: Thrilled! I was thrilled! I hated France so much – and still do – so much that I was utterly thrilled that the French army had been beaten. It was beaten by the Germans, it was beaten by Hitler. I was very happy.
NW: And how can one get closer to another human being?
JG: I prefer not to get closer.
NW: You prefer always to keep at a distance.
JG: Oh, yes.
NW: But why?
JG: What about you, do you prefer to keep at a distance?
NW: Not always, no.
JG: And why is that?
NW: Because I like the experience of being with someone, of being involved with someone.
JG: Well, I don’t!
…If they had been real revolutionaries, they wouldn’t have occupied a theatre, especially not the National Theatre. They would have occupied the law courts, the prisons, the radio. They would have acted as revolutionaries do, the way Lenin did. They didn’t do that. So what happened? That theatre is like this, right? It’s more or less round, a theatre in the Italian style. On the stage there were young people holding placards and giving speeches. These speeches came from the stage into the hall and then came back to the stage – there was a circular movement of revolutionary speeches that went for the stage to the hall, the hall to the stage, the stage to the hall, the hall to the stage… it went on and on and never went outside the theatre, you see? Exactly, or more or less, the way the revolutionaries in The Balcony never leave the brothel.
NW: Or for the real revolutionaries, like Lenin?
JG: I’d rather be on Lenin’s side, yes.
… and then there’s an outer margin where I am, where I am marginalized. And if I’m afraid of entering the norm? Of course I’m afraid of entering the norm, and if I’m raising my voice right now, it’s because I’m in the process of entering the norm, I’m entering English homes, and obviously I don’t like it very much. But I’m not angry at you who are the norm, I’m angry at myself because I agreed to come here. And I really don’t like it very much at all.
JG: There’s both a feeling of vanity.. and at the same time it’s very unpleasant. Of course, there is this double… this double imperative almost. Is the camera rolling?
NW: And what do you do with your days there?
JG: Ah! Yes… You want to bring up the problem of time? Well, when it comes to time, I’ll answer the way Saint Augustine did: “I’m waiting for death.” Read More:http://www.mikehoolboom.com/r2/artist.php?artist=302