Dreamed March 1971 by Georges Perec
A "Brechtian" musical comedy.
We are marines. We are shipping off to war. There is great confusion in the passageway. Nobody knows exactly which room to take.
We have set sail.
The liner, viewed from above: majestic. It's understood this war is going to be something terrible; it seems as though a bomb is going to fall right on the liner.
The liner is full of oblong compartments (not unlike coffins) arranged in long parallel rows, some of which have lids that clack shut (when the "coffin" is empty) while others stay stubbornly closed. It's like a Busby Berkeley ballet, or like the bank of mussels Alphonse Allais taught to play the castanets. Soon it's clear that these are crew cabins, then that it's the bread, which is sealed (vacuum-packed under a nylon sheath).
GREAT CAMPAIGN FOR THE LIBERATION OF BREAD
With a friend (H.M.) I'm performing a duet dance number, very Astaire-Kelly, while singing:
Don't shut away the breadWe persuade various trade associations, who are seen for just a moment in intensely colored close-ups in the film. Thus, a "mustachioed General Boulanger."
The bread must be free (ad. lib.)
My friend (or is it me?) takes a microphone that has dropped down from the sky and shouts:
"In a few seconds, under the direction of [stumbles through a comically overlong name], the Marine Orchestra will perform the Bread Liberation."Music. The musicians are far above us. We're on the quay and they're on the liner.
I find a friend (or it's still H.M.). He shows me his new wife (he used to have an enormous wife, like an Italian matriarch): a slender woman in a long coat.
I insist on going to their house, but he begins to embrace and caress his wife and soon I find myself caressing her too and, finally, naked on rop of her and, though she crossed her legs at first, planted strong and deep inside of her.
This is Dream No. 60 from Perec's La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams, translated from the French by Daniel Levin Becker. Perec's famous for word- and mind-games; his best known novel, A Void, omits the letter E--as the title, elliptically, typically, warns. So beyond the hazards of double translation (dream to page, French to English) note what is not said.
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