One Does Not Kill a Man Who Sings…
by Jean Loup Pivin
The expanding city runs over the hills, squeezing together its red and green roofs. The moon shines in a sunny sky. The deep blue color, pure and powdery, puts the black nights to sleep. An impotence - an impossibility to seduce - flows through your veins. Hirsute images by the thousands rain down into your crazed eye. The hustle and bustle of journeys transport an immobile human being tortured by his own memory, by his own experience. The hotel doors open onto streets in which trampling feet are prohibited ; only a car allows you to really get away by means of the impersonal basement garage. From behind the car windows, faces have darkened, are glimpsed in a flash as the speeding car passes, the faces of those whose feet your own have vainly tried to mingle with. Speeding back even more quickly so as not be cornered by an intoxicated look greedy for the few goods carried by your flesh - which you fear will be hurt, raped, discarded.
The anguish of remaining naked, without anything, in a country that you have no desire to get to know, as long as you are incessantly forced to deny : to deny that you are White when you are only White, to deny that you are Black when you are only Black, to deny that you are rich with a wealth that you did not realize existed in such flagrant, unjust, ridiculous insolence. It is forbidden to be innocent here ; you are guilty of being born, and no appeal is possible : you are forced to share a conscience that is unknown to you. Hate without the slightest laughter of madness ; a cold, sad, suicidal hate that recovers nothing, accomplishes nothing, discovers nothing. In the final reckoning, an urban hate.
Laughter is dead in this fratricidal country full of morality and clean consciences. Fratricidal murder awaits anyone who wishes to believe in a mankind made up of differences. In fact, the murdering is not fratricidal ; you are killed like an insect, a viper, even the devil himself : they have never been brothers and never will be. The American nightmare in an Africa where no one feels at home, unless it is at a home that deprives someone else of what he does not really want in the first place. A car, a house, a job—but of what use are they ? And why live ? - unless it is to experience this sinister state of peace that no one today believes will last, and when no society anywhere has anything left to offer.
Better days obey no nostalgia for a lost past - a past lost forever. The true destiny of a people is probably to be a people no longer. One speaks of individualism, but it is pure solitude that permeates each spirit, each link in the chain of every action. The decomposition is accompanied by an unheard-of, unimaginable recomposition. Images from elsewhere are no longer projected ; all that exist are imprisonments - in musical, sensorial, sexual or spiritual particularities.
I do not want to believe in the facts of a history reconstructed by scientific proof. My religions prohibit me from believing in evolution : man does not descend from the ape ; he was born as he is now, period. I do not want to look, listen. My spirit takes a turn for the worse because of my desire to understand and my lassitude of having to understand. Laughter is not scientific. And yet science liberated man, created the universal ; it abolished racial differences, united mankind by virtue of the pure materialism of the body and the brain ; only science allows the universal to exist ; only science can construct the universal. Art and love take care of the rest. The philosopher must become a sage once again.
But science also claims mastery over the spirit. By invading art and love, it has given reason a power that reason should not be permitted to possess. Scientific humanity has wrung the necks of inspiration and love. Politicians have always taken over the discourse of reason to demonstrate and explain, indeed invest all that is human with the virtues of reason. Intellectuals have convinced us that they can describe and comprehend human reality by means of science. Science has never fabricated reality ; it has only observed it. All is well between zero and infinity, but not all is well in the soul.
The desert blows heat into the city. Two black clouds drift by and seem to forecast rain. Everything becomes futile. Even the stones laid over the concrete façades. Eyes fall upon faces which continue to be attracted by the ground, the soil. My Latin ways of thinking continue to grow enfeebled and make me suffer. I even stop desiring to communicate, so suddenly does everything now seem vain. I have never in fact wished to say anything to the others around me, simply to feel myself vibrating with my own sounds, with my own thoughts, which I had believed were well-ordered. I do not know how to sing. That would perhaps have been better : One does not kill a man who sings. But why should I believe this supposed truism ? - it, too, is false, has been proven false by all sorts of simple stories. But I would still like to believe that one does not kill a man who sings.
by Jean Loup Pivin
(published in the magazine Revue Noire RN11, South Africa, December 1993)