There is a kind of radical cool associated with otherness and suffering, as reflected in David Bowie's song about Jean Genet. But it is quite another thing for the sufferer. Similarly, amidst the art world's often trite theoretical flirtations with otherness and suffering, it was quite another thing listen to the presentation by Jean Mathee at Studio 2666 on Friday evening.
I didn't know that there was such a song, but having recently found a copy of a biography of Jean Genet on a bookshop sale counter the other day, it pricked my interest.
I first heard of Jean Genet from an Anglican monk, Brother Roger, of the Community of the Resurrection, who mentioned him in a paper he once read at a student conference, Pilgrims of the absolute. He also lent me some of Genet's plays to read, and I bought a few more. An interesting experience was going to see a film of The balcony. Word had apparently got around that it was set in a brothel, and the weekday matinee audince consisted mostly of dirty old men in raincoats, most of whom walked out before the end. It was almost as fascinating as the film itself to realise that there really were dirty old men in raincoats, and in Joburg too. It wasn't just a figment of the popular imagination, and they flocked to The balcony as to a convention.
I haven't got very far in reading the biography yet, but this reminded me to get back to it. And I'll watch out for the song.