With books now strewn all over the floor (but most wall hanging art installed), I repair to my bedroom and collapse. Still one bookshelf to move into the downstairs office. It will have to come in through the office window from my neighbor’s terrace – the exercise will involve ropes and some athletic moves on someone else’s part than mine. Writing during a move: not an obvious exercise.
However, I’m not alone when I collapse onto my narrow bed. At least one of the characters tags along. For the time being, his presence manifests in a book called Entrées clownesques by Tristan Rémy, and its remarkable preface. I doubt the character would have read this book, and I’m certain he never read a preface in his life. Yet, some of the essence of it belongs to him; every time I pick up the book, that essence hovers in a half-formed dialog that ensues between him and another character. The exercise of translating this into the character’s notions – something like reducing chicken broth into stock.
The first part of the preface in Entrées clownesques gives an idea of the French obsession for rules and every regulatory practice imaginable. In this case, the passion being exercised concerned theaters in the nineteenth century. How many theaters allowed per town, which repertoire they were allowed or forbidden to show. How many performers allowed; whether they could speak lines or not. Where and when mimes, pantomimes and acrobats were allowed to display their talents. Etc.
Then: a novelty. An unexpected arrival on the French scene. One that didn’t fit in any of the carefully devised sub-sections. Straight from across the Channel, there appeared the Clown – derived from the buffoon, perhaps, but a different animal nonetheless. The first, one Bill Saunders, limited his spoken performance to the vowels a e i o and u. No records subsist of the actions he performed.
How any of this will translate into story, I don’t know. The book Entrées clownesques holds sway, and so does the return of this character. Meanwhile, in life outside stories and the writing of, lots to do requiring the much-appreciated presence of others.
From my window now, I can hear the church bell ringing the hours. Twice. If you were distracted the first time, you can count the strokes at the second ringing. It is now eight am.