Thursday 1 March 2012


Signs. I am trying to write a presentation of Devant mes Yeux | Before my Eyes to send to Gilles as soon as possible. I was browsing books at the Eslite bookstore and picked a novel at random :Before I got to Sleep. As soon as I read the first lines, I knew I had to read the rest: it was about memory. After a bad accident, a woman suffers a rare case of amnesia: every night, when she goes to sleep, she will forget everything and wake up the next day remembering nothing, not even her name. Last year, I read one of Banana Yoshimoto's earlier novel, Amrita, also about this woman who wakes up after an accident and tries to recollect facts and memories. 
The traffic accident I had at the same time as I was reading the book (coincidence?) also caused some traumas and a more acute awareness of time and the fragility of what we call 'reality'.
The desire to write this play became stronger after another accident I witnessed in Paris a few years ago, down on the street where I lived. I was making my way to the metro, following the same usual itinerary to the station when, from the distance, I saw a lorry, people standing next to it, as if petrified in time. On the ground next to the vehicle, a young girl was lying. She wore a long flower-patterned white and blue dress. She had shoulder length light brown curly hair. She must have been in her mid-twenties and a pool of blood was spreading beneath her. The silence that hovered over us was thick and peaceful. A black woman was holding her head between her hands with an expression of mute panic. A policewoman was already on the spot and asking people to move away. I saw the soul of the young girl slowly go up. The sight was violent yet serene. 

I started reading Before I go to Sleep as soon as hopped in the 41 bus which usually takes me home from the ZhongXiao/Dunhua area. I was the only passenger and chose to sit at the back of the bus.
After a few station, a young man came into the bus and sat just behind the driver.
As I looked at him, I couldn't help feeling a tinge of envy. Of his youth, his apparent nonchalance, how he carried himself, with ease and carefree attitude, his body, his long limbs, the fact that it didn't seem to matter for him. Didn't seem to matter. Why would it matter to me, even now?
And I thought of François. I was in primary school. François was perfection incarnate: handsome, blond and blue-eyed, always well dressed and well liked. He was a couple of years older than me. Everybody in his class seemed to have been gifted with similar traits. I envied them. The school would occasionally organise some shows or film screenings for the children. Once we all gathered in the school's inner courtyard to attend a pantomime of Sleeping Beauty, performed by the senior pupils. Gorgeous costumes (they looked gorgeous to me at that time) had been designed for the occasion and naturally, Tchaikovski's music was used as the soundtrack. It may have been Sleeping Beauty on stage, it was the Ugly Duckling inside of me. I was enchanted by what I saw and strongly wished I were one of them. The seniors carried themselves with grace and confidence. They belonged to another world. François was among them, albeit in the small role of the court pageboy.

A few years later, I was surprised to see him at the music school. He had been taking piano lessons. Of course he didn't recognise me. Did he even ever notice that younger Asian boy in the school playground? We were to have our first music exam. I had recently become the talk of the town. The little Vietnamese who after 3 months of lessons had already stepped on stage for his first concert. When he saw me, he smiled apologetically.
"Oh... I'm really no good with music, ha ha!"
"So he's not that perfect" I thought with a little hint of relief.


Before I go to Sleep is worth reading for the first half. The main idea is interesting but it ends in predictable grand guignol. I could tell what direction the story would follow half-way through the book. An entertaining read, nonetheless.
It's quite uncanny how, once I'm focused on a project, the universe conspires to give me tools and clues to feed it. Ideas are shaping up. I still haven't written a single word. I suppose I will let it out when it's ripe. Now I only have to let my life feed the play, keep my eyes, my ears open. I have flashes of how it will look like, but nothing I really grasp, yet. Tsuyoshi has agreed to collaborate on the project - hopefully we'll have a sufficient budget for it. I'm sure he will create a wonderful setting for the stage. With Bévinda and Jasmine as the two actresses, it's  a perfect team.

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