Pierre Bettencourt (1917 – 2006) is a merry prankster, an eccentric of French letters. If the history of the French fantastique in the 20th century has gone somewhat underground, if many of its practitioners are forgotten today, Bettencourt is even more obscure, a lifelong outsider artist despite coming from a prominent family: his younger brother André Bettencourt was the head of L’Oréal and held a senate seat for 44 years (that’s three presidents), while André’s wife Liliane was involved in one of the biggest tax evasion and campaign financing scandals in recent French history. Bettencourt was also a painter, known for his layered pieces featuring such mixed media as butterfly wings, stone, eggshells, and pine needles. [cont. reading]
Sample lines translated by Gauvin:
11. My wife and I have a way of sleeping together that might seem a bit bizarre: neither face to face nor back to back, but with the soles of our feet pressed together.
14. I just lost my head. Little by little, my neck stretched out like an hourglass, and then tied off all by itself, without any gush of blood.
22. No one has the right to cut their nails here: except priests.
29. I have pills for dreaming.
34. The spiders around here mean no harm. You fall asleep in a lawn chair and wake up trussed hand and foot.
58. A very elegant thing to do in these parts is dressing half in flesh, half in bones.
The so-called Gumbertus Bible is some piece of work. The late 12th-century manuscript stands almost 70 cm tall (bigger than a toddler) and contains 394 parchment leaves, which is over 150 animal skins. The “Giant Bible” (an official term in book culture) contains beautiful, delicate even, illumination, as this image of the earth’s creation shows. So many cows and so much gold: the object must have cost a small fortune to acquire.
Erlangen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS 1 (12th century).
And suddenly, in a week where things were looking pretty grim for the men of Australia, Chief of Army David Morrison arose to kick some derrière.
I would like to see this played in public at regular intervals, perhaps with a “Men of Australia” introduction. Repeat offenders will have Lt Gen Morrison come around to your house and yell at you until you spontaneously combust.
Rapists and sexual abusers and bullies and sexists: Lt Gen Morrison is going to SMASH YOU (with words and sternness).
“If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is accepted, but I doubt it. […] If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage, and take a stand against it.”
Okay, this is actually brilliant. Bravo, Lt Gen Morrison.