The writer withdraws and writes an essay on festivals in the Low Countries. The purpose of the essay is for it to be as hilarious and poignant as A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on radically naked writers and the effect of recounted traumas. She discusses identity and comfort and seriously questions whether catharsis can lead to action and change. The essay ends with a long reflection on the word ‘disarming’.
The writer withdraws and writes a moralistic short story on raiding backstage fridges.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on neo-liberalism, those left behind and the representation of these voices in artistic expression.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay discussing class migration and migration and sometimes even comparing them.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on the lack of freedom of people with exemplary functions.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on the connection between fake news and the distrust of fiction. In this essay the writer analyses journalistic expressions based on the poetry of Aristotle and his definition of tragedy.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay considering the question of whether Édouard Louis is a character played by Eddy Belleguelle. In this essay there are repeated mentions of ‘social fiction’. There’s a good chance of Judith Butler being cited, but in any case the essay opens with a quote from RuPaul: ‘We’re born naked and the rest is drag.’
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on coupons as a form of payment. Broadly speaking.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on the absurdity of writing essays.
The writer withdraws and writes a poem where sadness is a succulent crab dumpling.
The writer withdraws and writes instructions on how to make hotel bedrooms cosy. The writer discusses aromatherapy in general and the combination of mandarin and cedar wood oil in particular.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on the atmosphere in a train full of unhappy commuters and exhausted party-goers.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on the influence of time pressure on the use of stylistic devices.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay where she tries to explain the need for thought experiments to an uncontacted tribe in Brazil.
The writer withdraws and writes an essay on the distinction between the lyrical I and the writer. She concludes that if Édouard Louis in radically naked in a literary sense, she is wearing a bathrobe produced by underpaid women in Bangladesh. And a Russian fur hat. And around 39 masks. In a literary sense, of course.
At a round table in a Chinese restaurant. On the table a Lazy Susan covered in food. To my right a man wearing a badge on his jacket printed with the words ‘art sex music’. I rotate the steamer filled with crab dumplings towards me. I think of my student days, of a party in a studio where I first heard Discipline by Throbbing Gristle and how back then I thought it would be perfect if someone combined it with Stop it by Pylon. That remix could be a potential anthem of mine, I thought. I order a pot of green tea. That anthem wouldn’t suit me now.
The man wearing the badge asks me about Caribbean writers. I bet him that he won’t actually find them in the Caribbean, but spread all over the world, particularly in European and North American cities, I suppose. Follow the former coloniser home and there you’ll find them. They might be tired, I thought, their language might be broken; you’ll recognise them from the amazement (or the estrangement) in their eyes and the island under their arm. You might come off as a little strange to them. They’ll take a photo of your badge when you leave the table for a moment. I don’t say any of this out loud. I only share my guess at their location and challenge him to order the chicken feet. He laughs but doesn’t order them. I sarcastically express my disappointment at this, but my disappointment is only partly ironic. I think about the banana in a poem by Jack Underwood whose performance I am about to miss as I am performing elsewhere. The title of the poem I’m thinking of is The Spooks.
‘I want to inject blood into the banana
then put it smartly in a bowl I want
someone to idly choose it peel it then taste
the strange rust a quarter way down
and spit it out see blood in the lemony mulch
(a sort of red spit with the tiny black seeds)’
At the table we talk about the current dabbling in the occult by young people in the West. I can picture it now. Shimmering crystals energised by moonlight. Sexy glowing bunches of sage photographed from above, in attractive, pricey bowls. Sublimely illuminated bathwater filled with rosebuds. Shiny lumps of Himalayan pink salt, displayed with a focus on organic materials (canvas, wood, marble. Recipes for attracting romantic love written in calligraphy. Sandalwood powder in little golden dishes. Fairytale, sultry-looking young women, lounging on beds in expensive garments. (In this case a bed can also be a mattress on the floor covered in luxurious bedding, an abundance of cushions and somewhere on the wall a dream catcher and/or some nostalgic macramé. There is also an abundance of plants, at least one of them being a Monstera Deliciosa). I do not share these images. I once read that sandalwood is a parasitic tree that grows into other trees with its roots. I don’t share this either. I am the youngest person in the group and I feel old. Nor do I mention this. I wonder if the others also feel old.
‘I want them to check their mouth for a source a cut
and by now the person they are with will be confused
(blood on the lip in the footwell
at the gum-edges) and say are you ok?
I want them to reply there’s blood then without
even meaning to without a logical tracing
of thought look back to the banana and see
blood in the banana, feel the raw shock
of something possibly unthought of’
I wonder if anyone at this table has fallen silent because of how we are using our chopsticks to eat. Is anyone wondering about this? I think of beheaded cockerels and blood. This I do share (it fits well with the occult theme). I think of a family member who smoked cigarettes and looked for lottery numbers in the ash. I don’t share this. One of the writers present tells us how he found out that an ex partner of his was a practitioner of witchcraft. To my left is a woman who sees tarot cards as a tool for starting conversations. She is reading a book about tarot cards and Jung. She is talking about archetypes, so she has my attention. She tells me that for the last few weeks she’s had a hearing aid allowing her to hear out of her right ear for the first time. If I’d been sitting to her right a few weeks ago she wouldn’t have been able to hear me, she’d have had to keep turning her left ear towards me and she would have had to keep asking me to repeat what I was saying. Wasn’t it overwhelming to hear so much more? It was indeed. She now tries to tune the device with her phone so she can hear the conversations without picking up too much of the background noise of the restaurant. She had been told that because of her age the time her brain needed to process all this new information was limited. She succeeded in turning up the volume, but it was still far below the recommended settings. We said our goodbyes after dinner, but I kept thinking about her, about her finger on the screen of her phone, the way she moved it down and looked at it. I imagine a control panel and get started on a list of all the things I would like to mute.
I want them to get to the idea that
someone put the blood in the banana
an idea drinking heat from the skin but held
unable to understand to fit the reasons
I want this to happen.
And sometimes it is a busy Mexican restaurant. Or the monologue of a tired man that will prove the authenticity of the Mexican restaurant. The salsas are made fresh every day. Our employees have been to Mexico to learn how to make tortillas from a Mexican woman who knows everything about tortillas. The tired man points to a mound of yellow dough sitting in the kitchen. The yellow mound is evidence. The warm tortillas that have just been placed on the table have been prepared in the proper (that is to say exceptionally Mexican) way. What you should also know is that the tortillas have no unusual additives and above all are made from very ancient, very Mexican varieties of corn. Sometimes your sadness is a monologue about authentic tortillas in an autumnal European city.
Sometimes your sadness is the sight of a guy in a tight chef’s uniform next to the tortilla dough in the too cramped, too hot kitchen, making perfectly circular tortillas that will shortly be mindlessly chomped and scoffed down by other people during conversations. Sometimes sadness is the way that the guy in the kitchen rotates his wrists as he cooks tortillas. Sometimes sadness is wear caused by repetition. The guy in the tight chef’s uniform also did this yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, and probably again tomorrow, but with a bit of luck the day after that he might get a day off. Sometimes sadness is a quiet in between repetitions.
Sometimes sadness comes from your right: a toddler crouched under the table next to you in a busy Mexican restaurant shits his nappy whilst his parents above the table nonchalantly spoon guacamole with the tortillas made by the sweating guy in the tight chef’s uniform. Sometimes sadness is nonchalance. Sometimes sadness is like suppressing the smell that escaped from the nappy of the toddler under the table and hangs just above your soup.
Sometimes sadness is the cold, pink cocktail on a long table in a busy Mexican restaurant with the smell of toddler shit to your right. The well-intentioned salt crystals on the rim of the glass into which the cocktail has been poured look good, but they make the contents of the glass no less vile. Sometimes sadness is these well-intentioned salt crystals or the disgusted faces of everyone who tries and turns down the cocktail.
Then sadness is the wet paving stones in a city that you know your way around. Or it is in the library glistening in the drizzle where you once felt at home, where once you stared out of the window and wondered if you would witness the moment when the city would be finished (now you know that cities are never finished. Sometimes sadness just like wisdom comes with age).
Then sadness is a junkie that you first saw a decade ago playing air guitar in a shopping street, now tired and shabby in the drizzle.
Sometimes sadness is a word that comes to you when you close your eyes, a word that slips into your soul letter by letter. Dripping. Fluid. When you open your eyes the word is still there. The word is made of molten sugar. The word is syrupy and hardens as you look at it. Sometimes sadness is hardened caramel or how you can make a hard sweet weapon using heat and sugar.
Sometimes sadness is a building that has been built where another building once stood and where someone lived for twenty years without once shedding a tear.
You can also give sadness a name that begins with H.
 from: Happiness by Jack Underwood
Why does Édouard Louis make no distinction between the lyrical I and the writer?
Can it be said that Édouard Louis is radically naked in a literary sense?
What does the popularity of Édouard Louis say about neo-liberalism?
What is the cost of the radical naked poetry of Édouard Louis cost?
Does Édouard Louis distrust fiction? (And if so: why?)
Can we speak of fiction if Édouard Louis is the narrator of Eddy Bellegueule’s story?
Is Édouard Louis a character played by Eddy Bellegueule?
What has climbing the social ladder brought Édouard Louis?
What has climbing the social ladder cost Édouard Louis?
Does the way in which Édouard Louis uses autobiography make him less vulnerable or more vulnerable?
Does Édouard Louis distinguish between artwork and the individual?
Is literature an art form for Édouard Louis?
Is Édouard Louis a spokesman?
What is Édouard Louis’ stance on Macron?
Would Édouard Louis spit on neo-liberalism if neo-liberalism were a person?
(What would neo-liberalism look like if it were a person?)
How serious is Édouard Louis’ charge?
Édouard Louis wants literature to be firmly rooted in the present and the reality of now. Which of his contemporaries share this view?
How does Édouard Louis sleep at night?
What does Édouard Louis tell us about the lack of and accumulation of different forms of capital?
Does Édouard Louis consider producing fiction in this day and age a form of decadence?
Where does Édouard Louis get his sartorial inspiration?
What is Édouard Louis saying with his sartorial choices?
How does Édouard Louis see himself now in relation to the bourgeoisie?
What are the differences between the language that Édouard Louis uses in his work and the language that he uses to discuss his work?
Is Édouard Louis read by the people he describes?
Suppose we could create an overview of the demographic of his readers. What would this overview tell us?
Is Pierre Bourdieu a liferaft for Édouard Louis?
How would Édouard Louis have written his story if he had never been exposed to the work of Pierre Bourdieu?
What does Édouard Louis tell us about the transfer of suffering?
Is it possible to derive hope from the work of Édouard Louis?
Is Édouard Louis a writer, a politician, an activist, all of the above or something else?
What do Pierre Bourdieu and Édouard Louis tell us about exceptions that prove the rule?
What does the popularity of Pierre Bourdieu amongst academics from a migrant background tell us?
What does the popularity of Pierre Bourdieu tell us about the critique of his work as deterministic?
What similarities can I find between myself and Édouard Louis?
What differences can I find between myself and Édouard Louis?
Is Édouard Louis an island?
Is Édouard Louis a mirror?
With Édouard Louis as a mirror, what can we say about the reproduction of pain in a Dutch context?
Is Édouard Louis an inclusive projection screen?
Is Édouard Louis a self portrait of Eddy Bellegueule as Pierre Bourdieu?
Has Édouard Louis forgiven his father?
Has Eddy Bellegueule forgiven his father?
Is Édouard Louis shedding a tear over Lana del Rey’s song Venice Bitch at this very moment?