Jean Genet --- "My heart or my sex" --- Our Lady of the Flowers (5)

(For an introduction, have a look at the first Genet post)

Divine thought Darling was at the movies and that Our Lady, who was a shop-lifter, was in a department store, but ...Wearing American shoes, a very soft hat, a gold chain on his wrist—in short, quite the pimp—Darling, toward evening, walked down the stairs from the garret, and... Came the inevitable soldier. Where does he come from? From the street, into the bar where Divine was sitting? When the revolving door turned, at each turn, like the mechanism of a Venetian belfry, it presented a sturdy archer, a supple page, an exemplar of High Faggotry, one of those pimps whose ancestors of the dens, when they pandered for Mademoiselle Adna, wore earrings, and between whose legs, when now they stroll along the boulevard, shrill whistles squirt and fizz.

Gabriel appeared. I also see him going down an almost vertical street, running, like the bewitched dog that went down to the village by the main street, and it is to be supposed that he collided with Divine as he came out of a neighborhood grocery where he had just bought a surprise package, just as the bell of the glass door rang twice. I should have liked to talk to you about encounters. I have a notion that the moment that provoked—or provokes—them is located outside time, that the shock spatters the surrounding time and space, but I may be wrong, for I want to talk about the encounters that I provoke and that I impose upon the lads in my book.

Perhaps some of these moments that are set down on paper are like populous streets on whose throng my gaze happens to fall: a sweetness, a tenderness, situates them outside the moment; I am charmed and—I can't tell why—that mob of people is balm to my eyes. I turn away; then I look again, but I no longer find either sweetness or tenderness. The street becomes dismal, like a morning of insomnia; my lucidity returns, restoring within me the poetry that the following poem had driven out: some handsome adolescent face, that I had barely caught a glimpse of, had lit up the crowd; then it disappeared. The meaning of Heaven is no longer strange to me. So, Divine met Gabriel. He passed in front of her, and he spread his back like a wall, a cliff. This wall was not very wide, but it unfurled such majesty upon the world, that is, such serene force, that it seemed to Divine to be made of bronze, the wall of darkness out of which flies a black eagle with outspread wings.

Gabriel was a soldier.

The army is the red blood that flows from the artilleryman's ears; it is the little light foot soldier of the snows crucified on skis, a spahi on his horse of cloud that has pulled up at the edge of Eternity; it is masked princes and brotherly murderers in the Foreign Legion; it is, in the Mariners of the Fleet, the flap that replaces the fly on the pants of the horny sailors lest, so they say, finding an excuse for everything, they be caught in the tackle during manoeuvres; lastly, it is the sailors themselves who charm the sirens as they twist about the masts like whores about pimps; as they wrap themselves in the sails, they toy with them like Spanish women with their fans, laughing aloud, or, with both hands in their pockets, balancing themselves upright on the bridge, they whistle the true waltz of the tars. 

“And the sirens fall for that?”
“They dream of that spot where the kinship between their bodies and those of the seamen ends. 'Where does the mystery start?' they ask each other. It is then that they sing.”

Gabriel was in the infantry and wore sky−blue cloth, cloth that was thick and fleecy. Later on, when we have seen more of him and there is less question about him, we shall describe him more fully. Divine, of course, calls him Archangel. And also “My Liqueur.” He lets himself be worshiped without batting an eyelash. He doesn't mind. Out of fear of Darling, especially out of fear of hurting him, Divine has not dared take the soldier to the garret. She meets him in the evening on the middle lane of the boulevard, where he tells her very sweetly the story of his life, for he knows nothing else. And Divine says, “It's not your life−story you're telling me, Archangel, but an underground passage of my own, which I was unaware of.” 

Divine also says, “I love you as if you were in my belly,” and also, “You're not my sweetheart, you're myself. My heart or my sex. A branch of me.”
And Gabriel, thrilled, though smiling with pride, replies, “Oh, you little hussy!”
His smile whipped up at the corner of his mouth a few delicate balls of white foam.
Meeting them one night, Milord the Prince with his fingers circled in the form of a ring like those of an abbe preaching, tosses off to Divine, as one tosses an eyelash, “Busy bee, go to!” and whisks away, having united them.
All along the way from Blanche to Pigalle, others bless them in like manner and consecrate their union.
Aging Divine sweats with anxiety. She is a poor woman who wonders, “Will he love me? Ah, to have discovered a new sweetheart! to worship him on my knees, and, in return, he forgives me, simply. Perhaps I can win his love by trickery.” I have heard it said that one wins the devotion of dogs by mixing a spoonful of their master's urine in their mash every day. Divine tries this. Every time she invites Archangel to dinner, she manages to put a little of her urine into his food. 

Winning his love. Slowly leading the artless one towards that love, as towards a forbidden city, a mysterious area, a black and white Timbuctoo, black and white and thrilling as the lover's face on whose cheek plays the shadow of the face of the other. Teaching Archangel, forcing him to learn, a dog's attachment. Finding the child inert, yet hot; then, by dint of caresses, feeling him get even hotter, swelling beneath my fingers, filling out, bounding like you know that. Divine being loved!
On the garret couch she writhes about, she curls like a shaving from a turning lathe. She twists her live white arms, rolls and unrolls them. They strangle shadows. She was bound to have Gabriel up sooner or later. As the curtains are drawn, he finds himself in a darkness the more massive for having been mildewed for years (as by a scent of chilled incense) by the subtle essence of the farts that had blossomed mere.
Divine was lying on the sofa in a pair of blue silk pajamas with white trimming. Her hair was in her eyes; she was shaved; her mouth was pure and her face sleek with shaving−lotion. Nevertheless, she looked as if she had just got up with a hangover.
“Sit down.”
With one hand, she pointed to a place near her, at the edge of the sofa, and held out the fingertips of the other.
“How's it going?” 

Gabriel was wearing his sky−blue uniform. His loosely buckled army belt was sagging at his belly.
The coarse wool and delicate blue made Divine feel horny. She will say later on, “His get−up got me hot.”
A fine and equally blue cloth would have excited her less than a heavy black one, for the latter is the cloth of the country clergy and of Ernestine, and heavy grey cloth is that of the children of the National Foundling Society. “Doesn't that wool itch you?”
“You're nuts. I've got a shirt on. Besides, I'm wearing underwear. The wool doesn't touch my skin.”
Amazing, isn't it, Divine, that with a sky−blue outfit he dares have such black eyes and hair?
“Look, there's some cherry brandy. Take as much as you like. Let me have a glass too.”
Gabriel smiles as he pours himself a glass of liqueur. He drinks. Again he is sitting at the edge of the sofa. A slight embarrassment between them.
“Say, it's close here. Mind if I take off my jacket?”
“Oh, take off whatever you like.”
He unbuckles his belt and takes off his jacket. The swish of the belt fills the garret with a roomful of sweaty soldiers back from manoeuvres. Divine, as I have said, is also wearing sky−blue, which is loosely draped about her body. She is blond, and under such straw her face looks a little wrinkled; as Mimosa says, it's rumpled (Mimosa says this maliciously, to hurt Divine), but Gabriel likes her face. Divine, who wants to know that he does, trembles like the flame of a candle as she says, “I'm getting old. I'll soon be thirty.” 

Gabriel has the unconscious delicacy not to flatter her by a lie that would say, “You don't look it.” He replies, “But that's the best age to be. You understand everything a lot better then.”
He adds, “That's the real age.”
Divine's eyes and teeth are gleaming and make those of the soldier gleam too. “Say, there's something wrong.”
He's smiling, but I feel he's embarrassed.
She is happy. Gabriel is now limp, all pale blue against her; two angels, tired of flying, who had perched on a telegraph pole and whom the wind has blown into the hollow of a ditch of nettles, are not more chaste.
One night, the Archangel turned faun. He held Divine against him, face to face, and his member, suddenly more potent, tried to enter from under. When he had found, he bent a little and entered. Gabriel had acquired such virtuosity that he was able, though remaining motionless himself, to make his tool quiver like a shying horse. He forced with his usual fury and felt his potency so intensely that—with his nose and throat—he whinnied with victory, so impetuously that Divine thought he was penetrating her with his whole centaur body. She swooned with love like a nymph in a tree. 

They played their games over and over. Divine's eyes became brilliant and her skin suppler. The Archangel took his role of fucker seriously. It made him sing the Marseillaise, for he was now proud of being a Frenchman and a Gallic cock, of which only males are proud. Then he died in the war. One evening he went to the boulevard to see Divine. “I got a furlough. I asked for it on account of you. Come on, let's go and eat. I've got some dough now.”
Divine raised her eyes to his face. “So you do love me, Archangel?”
Gabriel's shoulders twitched with annoyance.
“You deserve a smack in the puss,” he said, clenching his teeth. “You can't tell, I suppose?”
Divine closed her eyes. She smiled.
“Go away, Archangel,” she said in a hollow voice. “Go away. I have seen thee enough. Thou givest me too much joy, Archangel.”
She spoke as a somnambulist would speak, standing straight and rigid, with a set smile on her face.
“Go away, or I'll fall into your arms. Oh, Archangel!”
She murmured, “Oh, Archangel!”
Smiling gently, Gabriel walked off with long slow strides, for he was wearing boots. He died in the French campaign, and the German soldiers buried him where he fell, at the gate of a castle in Touraine. Divine came and sat on his grave, smoked a Craven there with Jimmy. We recognize her sitting there, with her legs crossed and a cigarette in her hand, level with her mouth. She is smiling, almost happy.


  1. nice images!
    belles images!


    they're works of Pierre et Gilles
    ce sont des Ĺ“uvres de Pierres et Gilles

    1. Hi Xersex, yes of course, Pierre et Gilles. We have done quite a lot of Pierre et Gilles, in fact, but they are not yet in the Gallery; I may try to do something about it today.

    2. By the way, the last picture, that's also quite interesting. That's Teddy of Paris.

    3. And the previous one, that's Theo Blaze, who's also French.

  2. Untitled-1.jpg by Emlen Etting (August 24, 1905 – July 20, 1993), a painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and member of Philadelphia’s elite Main Line Society.


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