Wout Hoeboer: Frommage à Picabia
Entering the so-called cultural world, we are still engaged in the same struggle when I read, from the pen of Jacques Lothaire, speaking of the French Academy and the Institute :
I say once and fo all get rid of the senile element that we bother ourselves with so pointlessly. We must be modern. And for that, don’t swoon before the most stupid pseudo-modern lucubrations; but only fools will make the mistake: Péguy and his blue eyes when they said: ‘We shall never know all the
cowardice that the fear of not appearing sufficiently modern has been responsible for.’ But, in spit of Péguy’s words, we must be modern. For that, we don’t need to deny or scorn the work of past centuries; only the Futurists fell into this trap. But the works of Victor Hugo in 43 volumes are for us less interesting than Apollinaire’s Calligrammes or a Dada book.
What dominated then, our senile structures, is said in a perpetual struggle of academism against discoveries. The same academic plague still exists, and it must force a certain number of young discoveries te become more conventional as they grow older – or else, by not seeing our century, so different from the Judaeo-Christian civilisation, a century that is gradually being constructed. This is the only century that has any hold on me personally as I have the advantage of surveying it from 1909 (Futurism) to 1973. This is what leads me towards a certain indulgence in noting that there was no flaw in the first seekers, whose over-all freedoms are finally the only values of the century. Which means that Charles Péguy, compared with them, is simply a good Catholic, in spite of the doubtful publicity he has been given, especially by certain retarded persons who have become Heads of State. If only Péguy knew how he was used! If only he knew how much Catholicism is giving way, catching the last boat! He would certainly feel ashamed.
In this fine production of Ça Ira!, I invite you to read the notes, where Pansaers, Nicolas Bauduin, Paul van Ostayen are toegether. And further on, as I turn the pages, I read quotations from the dangerous Paul Colin, who made such mistakes, used by Jacques Lothaire:
Since the armistice, skilful politicians have skilfully cultivated the people’s anger, which was thus turned against the Germans, instead of against war.
Yes it should have been, but not by keeping a certain trust in any ideology.
Unlike the latter, it is again Paul Neuhuys who remains lucid, in his series ‘Few Poets’. This time he talks of Jean Cocteau, and dada, through Tristan Tzara, André Breton, Philippe Soupailt, Louis Aragon, Paul Éluard, Francis Picabia and Clément Pansaers. If Neuhuys was mistaken ‘in considering Jean Cocteau as peerless’, it doesn’t matter. Cocteau never understood the century, having produced too much modern stuff by using old, as in his films, his amazingly poor drawings of his superficial poems. But – in 1921 – it may have been possible to believe in him... a little.
Collection OU, 7, Ingatestone, Essex, 1977.