Border crossings. Illegal and clandestine transportation of the self to another realm….”Crimes of which a people are ashamed constitute its real history. The same is true of man.” (Jean Genet)
Its an image of the collapsing moment, liberated from the strictures of convention, free from its forced suspension of belonging and on the path of becoming. Its a state between borders, the eternal diaspora as revolution rages on the streets below; states which implode systems of understanding and accepted convention based on a threatening place in this world, one where licking the spit off the sidewalk is like paint stripping on a brand new soul.
The “no man’s land” is that borders and frontiers pose an almost universal, existential challenge, devoid of cultural trappings. It is a place according to Genet, where the human personality expresses itself most comprehensively, whether in equilibrium or contradiction with self; a space where elan and moxie can fully flower and everyone approaching a frontier becomes both a confessor of secrets and creator of new secrets, where memories are redeemed and solitude more intense and social. The intensity of the frontier spirit, dragged to it screaming and kicking by the force of destiny; the price of Kafka’s crimes of impatience and the ransom to avoid to normalized and appropriated.
Can the borders of identity itself be overcome? Yet the potential of such freedom seems to require elements more profound, something provided by the metaphor of a powerful mirror, for not only does the mirror show that the other is identical in its illusion of self, but that true freedom comes when we assume the other to ourselves, the identity within the identity, Genet’s play within the play. Identity, guided by desire and tempered by experience can explain the attraction to the porous nature of the human border. An addiction to the rays of light, brief fragments that penetrate and permeate a personal and portable darkness.
When he writes about border disputes, he is not formulating an appeal for peace talks but exploring how borders allow one to define himself against something else—because “a border is where human personality expresses itself most fully.” He goes on to say that “it might be a good thing to extend border areas indefinitely—without, of course, destroying the centers, since it’s they that make the borders possible” . Borders define the center, one’s self-conception. While Said may find in this statement a call to action, it seems as though Genet is instead interested in
how conflict produces meaning, an aesthetic rather than pragmatic point of view….The search for this particular kind of ecstasy is evident in all of Genet’s work….
On a personal scale betrayal takes the form of homosexuality and petty thievery; on a social scale it looks like anti-bourgeois sentiment and cross-class relations; on a national or global scale, illegal border crossing and treason. Thus it could conceivably be said that the desire for betrayal was the drive behind everything that Genet ever wrote, and that Prisoner of Love is the culmination on a grand scale of Genet’s destructive compulsion. This would logically preclude Genet from any political activity in earnest; from constant betrayal comes an emphasis on solitude, and solitude is Genet’s prize possession. ( Hala Herbly)
Donald Kuspit:Today one cannot help wondering what exactly the status of art is—if it has any status apart from the status its commodification and mass reproduction confer upon it–especially since they seem to mock its presumably high status by popularizing it in the mass culture. Everything in it is subject to the common denominator consciousness of ideologizing publicity. Clearly mass reproduction and corporate capitalism work in strange, miraculous, dialectically slick ways, indicating their absolute power over consciousness. They have the magical power to create souvenirs of an experience we never had and no longer need as long as we have the spectacle. The spectacle is wish fulfillment at its most ironically consummate. Capitalism understands the deep human need to believe and trust, and brilliantly manipulates it by giving us faith in a make-believe aesthetic world populated by commodities—appearances of a reality that never existed—signaling there is nothing left to believe in and trust. Read More:http://www.percontra.net/19kuspit2.htm
Here at the end of his life Genet writes like an aesthetic sage advising a political cause even as he lays out his own spiritual legacy to literature:
When a man invents an image he wants to propagate, that he may even want to substitute for himself, he starts by experimenting, making mistakes, sketching out freaks and other non-viable monsters that he has to tear up unless they disintegrate of their own accords. But the operative image is the one that’s left after the person dies… Socrates, Christ, Saladin, Saint-Just and so on. They succeeded in projecting an image around themselves and into the future. Read More:http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/internetnation/s%27eclipser