Dantec, or why a baby screams louder than a grown man

Thursday, January 20, 2005

ok, so, I know I'm supposed to write about Dantec, after seeing him last night, doing some weird entrance on pseudo-third reich mania, complete with candles and screaming guy in rocky balboa hat. the auditorium in the national school of management is packed for this, the french rabble-rouser, the guy who says he's not anti-muslim but pro-catholic.

FYI, Maurice Dantec is a great and intelligent french writer, now living in self-imposed exile in Quebec. He has a remarkable way of retelling history in a new light, as if you were to discover the holy grail after 600 years hidden in Arab deserts.

god, I know I should write about this because so much of me is spilling into hatred filled goo, and if I could just sort the mania out something would come of it.

So, follow me, into the auditorium.

It's a rainy night, in Paris, the south bit, where I've never been before. Outside the door are a bunch of black coated revolutionary types, looking skulky and but almost invisible in their pack-rattishness. I can't distinguish one fucking revolutionary from another.

So we get in, and are ushered into what is essentially an auditorium of a school, replete with management student's graffiti, which consists of this:

1. analyse the situation
2. find the problem to solve
3. propose a strategy
4. create a program of action

are these crib notes for a management exam? Is Management really for idiots?

What's making the ambiance even wonkier are the mixture of people and music in the space. Nothing but weird teenage fascist types, italian mobsters, leftover management students, and arty literature types, hiding their bottles of wine. For fuck's sakes, buddy, drink it in the open. God knows we'd all like a draw.

These types of performances give me headaches. Because, in fact all these people here would like to be memorable for being part of movement that preaches to see the difference between truth and the lies the media and history has fed us. this type of self-righteous attitude is so scary it makes my socks itch.

So, we're waiting. It's already 30 minutes past the start time, and all I've seen is the measly little intellectuosoes and fascistas staring around, waiting for something to happen. My GOD, anarchy is dead!

The whole scene reminds me viciously of my old art theory class, where Dada Raspor and I were juvenile enough to think that drinking a quart of scotch before going to class was going to make us geniuses in contemporary art. which it did, not because of the scotch, but because we figured out that the fuckers here were shitting around and that contemporary art is now the domain of the twirp-meisters.

On going... Maurice Dantec is one of the leading forces in the Nouveau Reac, the Nouveau Reactionnaires. Wheee... I love those kind of names. I'm the nouveau couch potato, and you? Nouveau Parti Fascionista! Wow, let's all have a party with the Nouveau Racists, because we're all on the vanguard of the Nouveau! Let's have a collective nouveau pat on the back.

But, apparently he's written some good books. You know, he gets looped in with the Houellebecqs, guys who are too DANGEROUS to write in their mother countries. Funny, I don't see Houellebecq writing about Ireland and I don't see Dantec writing about Quebec. I just see them as freaks living out their french fantasy in a far away country, where taxes or drugs are practically free! Yo, that's how hard it is to find real rebels in France?

Back to the land of the nerds. So, we're going on 1 hour and still no sign of the Dude. Some Rocky Balboa guy comes creeping up and starts yelling at a guy about how there's not enough chairs on the stage. Jeezus, there's already 52! Are all of those guys going to speak? I better get some dinner.

But no sooner does this marvelous thought hit me that the fascist music starts its magical braying. Whoo, the apocalypse, I feel your pain! I start to get all excited, like I did to my Finnish ex-roommate's excellent art performance. Everybody thought he was fascist when really he was just obsessed with poking himself and eating apples.

So Rocky Balboa guy comes on the mike and starts talking about how he's happy we're here and how we have to "patient" for the next couple of minutes, because Dantec is coming in 10 minutes.

After he says that I start to count the wankers who are creeping on the stage. There's now maybe seven of them, all dressed in black except for some smiling blond bearded guy, wearing his workmen's blue shirt. you know that blue shirt. it's the same asshole shirt all those computer geeks decided was the new uniform. And, to drive the whole point through, he starts pointing at random people in the audience, and winking, smiling, and giving little gunshot hand gestures. yeah, buddy, we care how many of your loser friends showed up at this non-event.

Actually, if you look at the huddle of dingbats, what becomes clear is how much they ressemble an image from Watership down, where all the rabbits are quivering in their corner, and smiles are actually grimaces of terror. They're huddling out of some collective need to show courageness, and failing in their utter lack of comprehension that the show is NOT OF THEM, and thus they are rendered comic fools. but every drama needs its fools and damn if they're not ripe for the roles. Fucking rabbits, trix are for kids.

Just then, the lights dim down on the stage, leaving all of us in blazing fluorescent light while the dingbats continue sporting smiles, complicit smiles. Their smiling twitchy smiles in the dark. My god! No wonder the new world has no more truly revolutionary intellectuals left. The horror! The horror!

Finally, while I'm starting to die of boredom, some guy comes chipping off the edge bringing, you guessed it, MORE CHAIRS. And more anonymous fuckers, looking pretentious and well-read, keep creeping in to fill them. I'm so overwhelmed with a need to vomit that I almost chew the desk.

AND THEN.....Suddenly it happens. The lights dim down and the fascist music starts again. "The Pharaoh is coming! The Pharaoh is coming! But we're still in the tub."

THERE HE IS! He stalks in, looking like a version of Sam Elliot from Mask, but with sunglasses, asymmetric pyramid head, leather jacket and a joint. The sunglasses are the round! just like J. Lennon. This is some dudey damn look.

And he slips onto the stage while Rocky Balboa is screeching at everybody to get on their feet, and the sound is blaring some sort of Third Reich like anthem and the stage is illuminated with candles. Where are the books we're supposed to burn! I'm ready to burn them, all of them! Burn baby BURN!!!

He starts going on about how he has become the pariah, the unforgiven, for writing what can't be written. He is the anti-french establishment, he is the scourge of the intellectual french community, he is coming of the third-coming, after the squooze dirt of common sense, here he is! He's the PRO-CATHOLIC GUY!

That's essentially his discourse for the whole evening. Freedom of expression and the freedom to print the truth, what won't be said, that Islam's first victims are Muslims, that nobody has the right to abortion, and that the Holy Inquisition was a good thing. And, when challenged on all of these notions, he backs off by saying he's not ANTI-anything but PRO-Catholic.


The guy, first of all, is a new convert, and like all new converts, I will be quick to surmise, he is a fanatic. Catholicism has been ripe and excellent breeding ground for all the major movements in lit, all the way from Dylan Thomas to Benny Hill. I'm all for the bloody imagery in the Dream of the Rood, and vague satanism lurking in Jarvis Hills, save my soul from those who don't love the blasphemous. But, these new converts, they miss the whole point. It's not about being against anything. As Joyce will teach us, there's enough sin and guilt in Catholicism to keep one jiggling with mischief and terror for a lifetime. We don't need to be anti-anything when our GOD hates us so much already.

So Dantec rolls on, talking about how his new book is a new kind of science fiction. It's a science fiction that purports that we are in a new movement in science, a devolution, where science promotes a degeneration of the mind and human values. What the fuck! Does this guy read? Doesn't he know this is the oldest theme in science fiction! Time Machine, buddy, read it. It's puerile, but that's where you're coming from.

My favourite comment, though, and one that I do agree with, is when he talked about multi-culturalism in canada. he said, in France, because there is a dominant race, one can actually be racist. eg. frenchies against arabs. However, in canada, because there's multi-culturalism, there's also multi-racism. Essentially, the generally mixture of movements of hate evens itself out in this salad bowl. Pepper and mustard and honey, YUM!

But what I don't understand is all this whining about his publisher curbing his freedom of speech. First of all, if you want freedom of speech, you publish for FREE on the NET! The moment you expect to sell anything, expect to be prey to popular demand. Second of all, if you're prepared to say inflammatory comments, be prepared to stand by the all the shit that comes pouring down after. If you don't, we'll all see you for the hypocritical bastard hiding behind his wax-paper thin irony that you really are. If you want to say you're anti-Muslim, don't fucking run away. It's not a toy, you idiot. A writer must be courageous, otherwise he should just be a lawyer.

There was a baby in the audience. Everytime it screamed, it completely drowned out the voices of the speaker. Do you want to know why? it's because a baby senses the urgency of its need with none of the debilitating self-consciousness. it knows the horror and cannot shrink from screaming about the shit in its pants. FUCK, I wish I shit in my pants that night.

The night ended. In all fairness, Dantec on paper is a mighty thing. He is, to his own confession, a much better writer than a speaker. but, perhaps it's like that old journalism trick of calling somebody up at 6am. When you get them on the phone, before they've prepared an answer, they actually give you the shit truth.