" The cheetah no longer dances for Europe "was published in Temps-marranes in the autumn of 2013: we were shocked by a serious shipwreck of migrants near Lampedusa. And, like the prince's novel of the same name, it sounded like a fatal announcement.
Since then, tragedies have continued to occur. It is impossible to know how many of these candidates for exile have died. They come from Libya, from the eastern coasts of Africa, from the Middle East, seeking a better life, in this case the opposite of a sure death, of hunger, of slit throats, of hasty judgments. « It takes courage to forget everything " sings Juliette (1) in a, uh, heart-rending melody of exile. Courage is minimal among Europe's leaders as they argue over who will host ... as little as possible and ... as late as possible. Our holiday swim in the transparency of Mare Nostrum won't be the same.
But let us salute in passing the coastguards and sailors, fishermen, in fact all those who save lives as best they can...
Vor about thirty years ago, one of those funny stories was already floating around the world, sometimes feeding the "unsolved riddles" columns of the gazettes. It was called the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, stories of shipwrecks or unexplained disappearances.
Today it is less than a kilometre from an island in Sicily, a few strokes of the oars from Cap Bon, the northern tip of Tunisia, that is the geometrical location of the repeated shipwrecks, which occur after very long and trouble-free journeys, just a few metres from the long awaited shoreline.
Here's a curious fact. In the 1950s, the daring young men of Tunis, keen on exploits, used to row at night in the fishing boats of La Goulette to reach Sicily in the early summer morning and roll proudly on the beach of... Lampedusa.
I was a child and wondered if their stories were tartaric. They were true. No one was drowning. The name Lampedusa sounded like a happy late teens stampede...
Then, we discovered this name in a completely different light when in 1958, the book of Giuseppe Tomasi di LampedusaThis posthumous work taught us that the playful coast had also been the territory of a "prince", the Duke of Palma di Montechiaro. The novel, which clung to the author's family history and was set in the mid-nineteenth century, evoked in a reverse perspective what official history sees as the construction of modern Italy, against the backdrop of episodes of the Garibaldian revolution.
Shortly after another "prince", this one from Milan, Luchino Visconti, who had made a name for himself with his La Scala productions, took over the work and adapted it for the cinema. With in the radiance of their youth and that time in suspense that is called "beauty of the Devil", the sacred monsters Delon and Cardinale. Tancrède, played by Delon, heir and ward of his uncle Salina, doing the most beautiful honour to the figure of the family coat of arms, a dancing "leopard lion".
The ballroom scene, architected, choreographed and orchestrated by Luchino is one of the most sublime in the history of cinema and can only remain so over the years: Claudia and Alain in the overwhelming triumph of an eroticism whose intensity makes eternity.
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At Cannes the Palme d'Or was awarded to the film in 1963. I was seventeen years old and was about to enter the Sorbonne. The fathoms towards the Sicilian side of my elders, belonged to another world that we had to forget, otherwise we would sink into melancholy. For three years we had immigrated to France, and while I had always thought it was good to be a little Jewish girl who had been assimilated in the best schools, I was having an experience from which one does not come back unscathed: that of being perceived as a person so assimilated that no one could see the pain of his exile, and who secretly mourned his two grandmothers who had died on the side of the boats. I was discovering the internal danger of immigrants... invisible.
We had all known Claudia in Tunis and were proud of her success. Her brother Bruno had been a student in my high school. I was watching and dreaming in front of the ball of the aesthete Luchino where my ex-citizen who had become an outstanding star was dancing divinely, and I felt both united and lousy! They danced and danced in volutes, convolutions, twists, curves, and the movements of their steps drew virtual interlacing that made me think of the indissoluble alliance of the rings of the Borromeo brothers' coat of arms. And their gaze condensed these volutes into a mirror in the depths of their pupils as if everyone could see them.
The Cheetah has this in common with Research to show us that the end of the worlds is precisely at their peak. The time of the ball is that of the small inertia where the old world is stealthily there, like its nimble memory of that small residual quantum of explosive beauty of which can only be adorned that which no longer exists. The date of publication of the beginning of the Proustian work, 1913, is in itself the stigma of the loss of a time, of that time when...
And here we are at the beginning of this century, which does not stop being the end of the previous one, because it has not yet found how to treat, live and develop its innumerable emergences and occurrences, brings us back to the Cheetah. And once again the name Lampedusa takes on another meaning. This time we see small and large coffins lined up and tears streaming down, not for the housewife in her kitchen, but for everyone who, without really thinking, realizes that a little inner voice would start to speak for itself through the words of Primo Levi". If it's a man ». The authorities "do what they can", certainly, and we believe them. For example, in order to distinguish the newcomers from the Aboriginal population, the authorities give them "brightly coloured jogging suits"... the newspaper, the radio station, don't say whether the hoods have a yellow star, a green crescent, a red cross on them....
(Photo ©Arte Future)
The European institution is "debating" who should pay and how to protect "Europe's external borders", a phrase never before heard so much. Here and there an old phrase from an old left-wing prime minister is quoted: "we cannot take in all the misery in the world"... They are wandering around in the rocks "waiting"... to the point where the verb "to wait" has become intransitive.
To these adventurers who risked everything, no one thought to grant an ounce of admiration for their courage - who among us would risk everything? Has this courage even been considered to have professional value, because it is, in terms of modern management, a skill in itself? The Institution takes all the time it needs to organise its committees and does not seem to be rushing at its own pace. One perceives only harshness. A fortiori neither glory nor romance are allocated to the one who leaves by tearing himself away because at home "he is already dead". Could we at least hear this sentence that says as much as a heroic tale of a political opponent? It seems not.
Fortunately, the mention of the Christian origin of Europe, which had been the subject of so much debate, was not included in the texts, as this would have shaken all the mysteries!
Couldn't we "dare" to be naive or even ridiculous, and give priority to what's rumbling inside us... " If it's a man ». Below the Policy? Or, on the contrary, right in the middle of it? A few transpositions aside, humanity is, with the contemporary components, once again immersed in the tragedy of Antigone between essential fraternity and harshness of the City, between the general case and the exception, between the Human and the Societal.... Later their children will make novels of it, perhaps...
Lampedusa keeps the melancholic trace of the princes who illustrated it, Giuseppe's despair tied to Prince Luchino's ironic falbalas. The actors have changed, Lampedusa has moved to the side of desolation. No, the Cheetah no longer dances...
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Paule Pérez is Philosopher, Psychoanalyst, Publisher ©Funny times n° 23
(1) Juliette's song "Aller sans retour" (To go without return)