Sunday, May 07, 2006

PETER HANDKE: A bite noire in French Kulture--article par Patrick Barriot et Eve Crépin

PETER HANDKE, a bite noire in the sclerotic entrails of French Kulture--article by Dr. Patrick Barriot et Eve Crépin [translated from the French by CM/P]

[Long ago written off as a sclerotic example of geezer theatre, a dinosaur’s hemorrhoid preserved in 17th Century French amber, the Comédie-Française has just oozed back into the Parisian public’s soddened attentions—as fitfully as the memory of a hashish dream–with its clownish managing director, M Bozonnet, pulling the play of one of our greatest living playwrights from its 2006-2007 program. The reason given for this censure is that Handke attended the funeral of the murdered president of Serbia/Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic. President Milosevic was dispatched in his cell at the Scheveningen detention unit of the ICTY, on 11 March 2006, by the protracted agonies of a death squad of black-clad, indecent anti-juridical maniacs and some Dutch iatrogenocidaires, doctors whose skills extended no further than their abilities to write prescriptions for toxic medicines then fake blood tests.

Now, it’s not that Handke’s SerBo-positivity and support for the President were generally unknown before he was booked into the C-F. And no one has suggested that Pinter’s work be messed with, even though the Nobel Laureate was as staunch a champion of Yugoslav sovereignty and the defense of the President as was Handke. But French culture, asphyxiated as it might have become from breathing only the fetid fumes from its own lower intestines, remains keenly aware of just how deeply implicated it is now in all US/UK/UN/Israeli crimes against the peace and against humanity, from the 911 cover-up to the wars in the Balkans/the ME/Central Asia & Central Africa: hence this fey and desperate attempt to distance itself from the truth of the historical record and the vile abuses of international justice.

We here at CM/P wish to express our gratitude to Eve Crépin and Dr Patrick Barriot—and no little embarrassment for having just recognized the latter as the same ‘croaker side kick’ to Maitre Vergès we were ignorant of only days ago when we published our translation of their enormously enlightening open letter to Carla ‘you gonna finish that Stoli?’ Del Ponte, for this rare reminder of just how badly France needs honest, professional help for its cultural inferiority complex.

But rest assured, the US, currently blowing lots of bilious smoke about how very au courant and politically trop-branché its own theatre has become—especially with all the London West End hand-me-downs in NYC and especially on Broadway (excuse me, while I try to control my mirth!)—yeah, rest assured, the Yanks will be right over to reconfigure all these French deprogramming snafus. Get Handke doing some writing for a sixth season of Six Feet Under. Or a six-picture deal with ViewMaster. Is Ovitz's old job with Eisner still open? Maybe some kind of new Penny Marshall plan will jump off. –mc]


Peter Handke Hit with a New Form of Ostracism:
Le Nouvel Obs-tracism.

by Patrick Barriot and Eve Crépin

The director of the Comédie-Française, Marcel Bozonnet, has pulled from his 2006-2007 program the Peter Handke play “Voyage au pays sonore ou l’Art of la question”. The play was to have been performed in the C-F’s Vieux-Colombier theatre at the beginning of 2007. This program change occurred directly after the publication of an article by Ruth Valentini in Le Nouvel Observateur of 6 April 2006 (1). Actually, it was not really so much an article as a little six-line bit of nastiness off on the left margin of page 102 under the rubric ‘sifflets’ (boos). Ruth Valentini ‘boos’ Peter Handke for having participated in the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic, Saturday 18 March, in Pozarevac. She insults the Austrian playwright by claiming, in tones reminiscent of Madame Del Ponte, the ICTY prosecutor, that he remains ‘faithful to the Butcher of the Balkans and his own revisionist position’, that he ‘approves of the massacre at Srebrenica and other crimes committed in the name of ethnic cleansing’ and that ‘with this homage to the dictator, the poet has dug a grave for his lost honor’. In this brief philippic, the journalist for Le Nouvel Observateur describes Handke at the funeral as ‘waving the Serbian flag, pushing to touch the casket in order to put a red rose on it.’ Yet at no time, and we can vouch for this because we were beside him on 18 March, did Peter Handke either waved a Serbian flag or put any kind of red rose on the coffin of the ex-president of Serbia. Peter Handke was in the crowd, and it was at the request of the family that he said a few words in the Serbian language. Was this Nouvel Observateur journalist in Pozarevac on Saturday 18 March? If she was, then she’s spinning this stuff from whole cloth. If she wasn’t, then she’s just recycling malicious rumors. In either case, her credibility as a journalist is dubious.

The director of the Comédie-Française, who ‘totally lost it’ on reading the Nouvel Observateur article, thus decided to punish Peter Handke for his presence at Slobodan Milosevic’s funeral. Marcel Bozonnet declared: “Going to the burial was a very strong gesture. I was struck dumb. I later read a translation of his remarks published in the German weekly Focus, which was enlightening. This along with everything else I had read before, really sent me up the wall”(2). We’d love to know just what Mr. Bozonnet means by these ‘enlightening remarks’, which sent him ‘up the wall’, and what exactly is hiding behind his ‘everything else I had read’. These are little innuendos aimed at gravely injuring Peter Handke’s reputation. When one acts as a combination investigator, prosecutor and judge in handing out punishment, it’s more effective to cite the testimony of witnesses who actually saw the facts., translations of unquestionable fidelity and charges that are somewhere this side of fantasyland. We challenge Mr Bozonnet to cite clearly and publicly the remarks to which he made reference (translated from Serbian to German, and then from German to French, by individuals of unquestioned objectivity and rigor). The accusations are serious and heavy enough in their consequences to demand this kind of exactness. We took note, word for word, and in Serbian, of the short statement made by Peter Handke on 18 March in Pozarevac. An impartial judge would have noticed that nothing in the remarks Peter Handke made should have caused a director of the Comédie-Française to go ‘up the wall’, unless he was predisposed to do so by some nartural quirk. For Mr. Bozonnet, ‘the presence of Peter Handke at the Milosevic funeral is an outrage to the victims’ and ‘there is in Handke’s position such a denial of History, of the facts, of international justice . . . as if, to him, nothing else exists’. We’re still floored by this rhetorical short con. Just what is his basis for these accusations of ‘denial of History, the facts and international justice’?

To recap, six lines of calumny in Le Nouvel Observateur were enough for the director of La Comédie-Française to drop the play of one of our greatest living playwrights. Let’s hope that Le Nouvel Observateur doesn’t write six such lines against Harold Pinter, whose declarations in favor of Slobodan Milosevic are without ambiguity: They might just pull his Nobel Prize! In ancient Greece orders of banishment were written on baked earth; today they are written in the pages of Le Nouvel Observateur. Today, in this the nation of Voltaire, no writer, no playwright, no historian, no editor of a weekly newspaper, has taken the defense of Peter Handke, so unjustly attacked. By some curious chance, the announcement of Handke’s ostracism, published on page one of the 28 April Le Monde, was flanked by a color ad for the book by Cesare Battisti, Ma Cavale (My Life on the Run), put out by Grasset with a preface by Bernard-Henri Levy and a postface by Fred Vargas. You’ll remember that Cesare Battisti was sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court for some bloody crimes that he didn’t have the courage to stand up for. In his preface, Bernard-Henri Levy figures that the charges against Battisti were weak and he defends the writer/criminal in the name of ‘the rule of law’. From the looks of it, Peter Handke doesn’t merit even the slightest support from French ‘intellectuals’. It’s true that some crimes are imprescriptible: he attended the burial of Slobodan Milosevic!

(1). Sifflets : Peter Handke in Pozarevac. by Ruth Valentini, Le Nouvel Observateur, week of 6 April 2006, page 102.
(2). Peter Handke censored for one too many voyages. by René Solis, Libération, Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 April 2006, page 37.
(3). Peter Handke is banned from the Comédie-Française. By Brigitte Salino, Le Monde, 28 April 2006, page 27.
(4). Ma Cavale (My Life on the Run) by Cesare Battisti, préface by Bernard-Henri Lévy, post-face by Fred Vargas, Grasset/Rivages, 378 pages.


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