Pastiche of Jean Cocteau1

   We would like to say a word to you We quite admit for the necessity of future Illiads the insult of the flight of the wind to the Caryatid.2 But notwithstanding Ingres and Degas - who remain sublime - Le Mot does not believe that it would be imprudent to remove from the heels of the Discobolus3 the charitable delight of the hot water bottle. Le Mot has always recognized that beneath every balaclava helmet is our Phidias.4 But the danger is that in going to seek him out one encounters in his place Abel Faivre,5 or what would be worse still Marinetti.6

1. This pastiche was written in one of Proust's notebooks c. 1915 in the rather florid and pretentious style of Cocteau in Le Mot. Le Mot was a satirical periodical published between 1914 and 1915 to which Cocteau contributed. It proposed that the war would inspire a rebirth in French art, freed from the evil influence of Germany.

2. "Illiades futures" refer to the present and future wars. "L'apostrophe [...] à la Cariatides" is almost certainly an illusion to "Prière sur l'Acropole" by Ernest Renan. "L'apostrophe du vol au vent à la Cariatides" recalls the obscure language of Le Mot. "Vol au vent" has a double meaning as a cookery term but also a play on words as an aviation term which may relate to Cocteau.

3. Discobolus was a bronze statue by the classical Greek sculptor Myron of a discus thrower of which survives a Roman copy in marble.

4. Phidias was a classical Greek sculptor, known for his marble statues in the Parthenon.

5. Abel Faivre was a humorous caricaturist.

6. Filippo Marinetti was an Italian artist of the Futurist school which in its manifesto glorified war and machines and called for the destruction of museums and libraries.

A possible paraphrase of this passage could be:
Le Mot freely admits that artists are always obliged to pay homage to classical art, and sometimes imitate it to depict present and future wars. But even if such imitation of the ancients can give birth to the sublime art of Ingres or Degas, during the present circumstances it must not be allowed to forget the harsh realities of war. One could, by imagining the soldier as a classical statue, forget the harshness of life at the Front that he faces unceasingly. By dint of wishing to present an aesthetic vision of war we end up with the "art" of caricatures or worse still that of the Futurists. We must remember classical art but we must not fall into the aestheticism of good taste.

Bulletin d'informations proustiennes no 12, 1981, p73 - 85, Proust pasticheur de Cocteau: Présentation d'un pastiche inédit, Emily Eells.

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