Part of me wonders whether it is fair of me to post J-P Sertin’s private correspondence on the web.
(Just part of me.)
I will start by staying that I am, by nature, loath to apologise. I find the whole culture of regretfulness self-indulgent to the point of being sordid. My knees can’t stand being fallen upon. I did what I did because it seemed the right thing to do at that moment. One cannot stop the morning flower from unfolding to the warmth of the sun. Contrition is for the domesticated; those content to live under the thumb of others; those who willingly implicate themselves in endlessly evolving power games. We wild ones, on the other hand, work by other rules. Not for us the meek seeking of forgiveness! We did what we did, and refuse to waste any time feeling guilty about it.
Having said this, a brief explanation may yet be required. So here goes.
Somewhere around midnight last night, I took a hammer to one of your sculptures. That is to say, I destroyed a work of art belonging to you. What was once one large piece is now several smaller pieces.
You will have no doubt guessed which work it is I am referring to, for I have related, in previous correspondence, the queer effect that the work has had upon me. This effect is not one I can underestimate. This piece of art has disturbed my system. It has plagued my mind. It has discomforted my very soul. I have barely slept, for thought of it. What is it? Where did it come from? What is it saying? Why is it so bad? These questions, and others, have been worming their way, backwards and forwards, through the damp soil of my subconscious.
Something had to be done. The sculpture and I had reached an impasse. We had tried to understand each other – and failed. A more serious step was required.
I realised this late last night, after a glass of two of some rather glorious whisky I discovered in the bottom drawer of your mahogany desk (one of many hidden bottles I have hit upon during my evening rambles through Maison Riecke). You will say that it was the alcohol speaking: they always do! Well, that is simply nonsense. It was instead the alcohol facilitating my heart to speak. The whisky was but the mediator. It carved out a short-cut to my inner thoughts, and opened the way to necessary action.
And so it was I decided to take to your sculpture with a hammer. Some may call it destruction. They are ungenerous. I prefer to call it ‘renovation’. Or, better still, ‘re-creation’. It may look as though I have knocked chunks off the sculpture, in the manner of a bandit. It may seem as though my resolve and senses took a short holiday together, leaving my impulsiveness in charge. In actuality, I have done something rather wonderful. I have created a new work. Several new works, in fact; all of which are, aesthetically, much stronger than the original work. You may think you have lost something. But let me tell you: you have gained, Georgy, oh how you have gained.
This is not, then, an apology. I am not so gross. No, this is merely an explanation of what has passed. Something for the records. Something for future generations to take note of, should they so desire. I, Jean-Pierre Sertin, am now a sculptor. Yes, indeed.
In other news, I think I may know where your misplaced memoirs are. That is, I have a faint memory of having come across them sometime this morning, when trying to find my way back out your house. Why didn’t I pick them up whilst I had the chance? The truth is that I was in a rush. But I shall return forthwith this evening, and do the deed.
Yours in lightly wavering faith,
P.S. I’ve asked you this before, but you never answer me: how is America? What in Uncle Sam’s name are you getting up to over there?
P.P.S. Taxidermy is less fun than it sounds. So are taxidermists.