Concentrated Nonsense (cinema edition)


Postcards from the Cinema, Serge Daney
September 30, 2007, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Philippine Chronicle

(Pages 50-51, Postcards from the Cinema, by Serge Daney)

Serge Toubiana: What sort of alliances or friendships did that motivate you to have during your school days?

Serge Daney: Those are effectively the right words: “alliance”, “friendship”. I never imagined that I could have any other sort of relationship with people other than one based on friendship. Friendship– the idea, or categorical imperative, of friendship– covered everything, including sex. But it’s stronger than me: even when in Harrar, the city of Rimbaud, I meet little Abddullahi, a 15-yeara old boy, who is as clever as a monkey, I consider him to be a friend as well, that is to say, an equal. Otherwise, it’s simply prostitution. But again, when I see another boy, in Manila, a young prostitute named Dany with a tattoo on his right buttock, put his clothes back on and put my money in his underwear, I feel a sense of equality, of empathy which paves the way. I’m capable of criminal indifference, but not sneering cynicism.

I remember my first day at school– elementary school because I didn’t go to nursery school– and the way that I became friends with another boy my age named Michel. It was already the question of the day: Who’s to be a friend? Who’s to be an enemy? A child’s wisdom is extraordinary. He knows that he’s not going to be one of the loudmouths that dominate the playground, that he doesn’t want to mess with those guys, and that he has to ignore the bullies in order to have sublime friendships. Definitely a defensive attitude.

Michel and I went every year to La Foire du Trone. It was a true event. We rode the bumper cars and our pleasure mainly consisted of not being bumped into! I was thinking about this period and I thought that perhaps I was completely in love only once in my life, and it was with Michel: we were about 7 or 8 years old. I would go play at his house on rue Keller, and would play the most miserable games without toys, just codes that we made up. I never again had that feeling of time stopping, of a remaining abundance: there’s just one person there who fulfills all possible roles and horizons. As they in the cantata: Ich habe genung, which means I have enough.

That was the absolute alliance, absolute security, due to the fact that we were two, united like the two halves of an hourglass. Obviously there was always this of genug in my later alliances, even and especially with Cahiers du cinĂ©ma, with some nevertheless very mitigated results. There is always this child’s gaze at his peers on the playground: who will I be a friend with this year?


(This is the second in an ongoing series of posts that will chronicle, as objectively as possible, curious references to Filipinos or the Philippines in internationally produced art or writing. The reason for doing this, I am of yet unaware. But there is an impulse. They are filed under the category Philippine Chronicle.)

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