Dreamed February 1972 by Georges Perec
At Jean Duvignaud's request, I set up a mailing list for people he wants to send offprint publications to.
P. and I are going away for the weekend to a fancy hotel, maybe the Ritz. We've booked rwo large apartments (or suites). We've brought so many bags (suitcases and hatboxes) that the busboys have to make two trips to bring everything up in the elevator.
In the elevator. It's a huge elevator, as big as a bedroom. We are preemptively happy, almost smug, about our luxurious weekend.
In P.'s room. A huge room, some of which is taken up by a bar. A reception is going full steam there. A small child is shoveling huge spoonfuls of chili con carne into his mouth.
I go down to the restaurant. P. is sitting ar another table, looking very pretty. J.L. is sitting not far from me. At one point, he leads me to a corner of the room and begins talking to me about an imminent landing in Cuba. I interrupt: he's talking too much. The room is full of spies.
This is when an old woman, a witch, stands up, points at me, and shouts something like:
"We will be saved but he must die!"At first I'm frightened, as though this threat is going to be realized on the spot, but then I comfort myself, convinced that it's an abstract threat, a metaphysical certainty not yet defined in time. However, I have been hoisted onto a sort of pedestal and people have begun worshipping me, which is to say licking my feet. I have barely become accustomed to this ritual when I realize they're actually trying to assassinate me by knocking me from the top of my pedestal. I end up falling, but I manage to hang on to the bumps on the wall (which is still dangerously slick) and I land uninjured on the floor. From way up high, people are bombarding me with enormous boulders, but none hits me.
I have fled into the high grass; I have met up with a horde and we have wandered for several years, several centuries, following animal tracks (maybe I knew how to find the passage about animals in the book?).
After long centuries of wandering, we come back to the regions we fled. On the steppe, a city has been built. It is called Texas. We see firearms for the first time...
Texas is a new city, made of wooden houses. Mostly saloons. The town hall, where a meeting is about to be held, is in a back room berween two saloons. This arrangement is rather surprising at first, but you realize quickly that it's actually quite clever.
This is Dream No. 105 from Perec's La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams, translated from the French by Daniel Levin Becker. Perec's famous for word- and mind-games; his best known novel, A Void, omits the letter E--as the title, elliptically, typically, warns. So beyond the hazards of double translation (dream to page, French to English) note what is not said. The cultists are quite New Testament--"We will be saved but he must die!", (tongue!)washing his feet, casting the first stone (and second, third, fourth...) But Perec never directly says they set him up as a Christlike sacrifice, or mentions the Wandering Jew he apparently becomes--or the Holocaust, in which his mother vanished. Deadpan.
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