NOBLESSE OBLIGE - L'ESPRIT EN LAVANDE
I lie under lavender drops today, at the foot of the mountain, rather than on top of it. It’s spa time. It rains water drops outside. In my mind I add their weight to the oily ones. Some mixture. A tiny Norwegian gives me a massage. Gently. I’m used to the Romanian way of giving massages at spas. There, the hands are not only very big and heavy, but if you ask the masseuse to jump on you, she or he will never think it odd. It’s always a done deal. The Norwegian tells me to empty my mind – but how can I? It’s clear to me that she doesn’t know much about physics. I feel like telling her to press her body hard against mine, as that would do it. I imagine concretizing the lack of weight by conjuring up sharp images. Swords, to be more precise. One such image befalls me in the form of a question: why is the work of Michel Zévaco (1860-1918) not very known here? His popular cloak and dagger novels, the series Les Pardaillan, used to make my day in early youth. The one called Pardaillan et Fausta (the 5th volume) was a favorite. Fausta forced Pardaillan into total submission after she gave him a major headache with her intricate plotting to reconstruct Charlemagne's empire. Of course, as it goes in such novels, the man prevails. Pardaillan outsmarted her and he gave her a headache in return – a marvelous one at that. But she was good at handling heads, both his and hers. It’s not often that women are portrayed as both clever and beautiful in such novels. Even Zévaco couldn’t get away with it. He didn’t call his protagonist Angelica. We all get the picture. Fausta did get prime time in the 3rd volume, but she had to pay for it. The title of that volume is Fausta Vaincue. In Romanian that translates to Fausta Invinsa.
So, I’m thinking of Fausta, who made Pardaillan’s body tremble. I begin to feel the effects of such thinking. Under the weight of my protagonists’ desires, my massage beings to work. The Norwegian asks: "does it work?" - "What works?" I ask in return, still thinking of Fausta who felt obliged to take upon herself the burden of answering all the questions. I delegate the task to my body: "the body feels good," I answer on its behalf. She’s happy with that. Odd, I think – didn’t she just ask me to do something about the mind – empty it, let kenosis exercise its right to counter acts of perfect submissions? Why doesn’t she want to know about that?
Sartre, in his autobiography, Les Mots, claims that his imagination is constantly suspended between the famous tragedian Corneille and knight errant Pardaillan. Oh la la ! Noblesse oblige, n’est pas? Mais quois? L’amour ou la mort?