Category Archives: destruction

What the jeune-de-banlieue wants

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 21.53.30He desires, writes Dalrymple,

a good time.

Bakunin’s aphorism about the destructive urge being a constructive one

would have been nearer the mark if he had mentioned that it was, above all, a highly enjoyable one.

Destruction

is fun; but to destroy in the name of a supposed cause, that is bliss. Impunity helps, of course.

Insofar as the jeune-de-banlieue

has a discernible if unexpressed demand, it is for extraterritorial status. He wants to be left alone. He does not want the State to interfere in his affairs — theft, drug-dealing, the abuse of women — in any way.

What do we care about a fucking piano?

A still from footage taken in Phnom Penh after its fall in April 1975. A grand piano also features in Dalrymple's Monrovia Mon Amour, in the chapter describing a visit to the Centennial Hall. Dalrymple writes: 'Lying on the ground…was a Steinway grand piano (the only one in the country…), its legs sawn off. The body of the piano, still gleaming black and in perfect condition, was in direct contact with the floor, while the three sawn legs were strewn about….A long-contemplated but long-frustrated revenge upon a whole alien civilization…. simmering rage and envy….Michel took photos of the stricken instrument….How long…before some post-modernist composer has a pianist not play the instrument but, in front of the audience, saw off its legs, to the craven applause of critics afraid to be thought stupid or reactionary?….We felt we had secured something of a scoop….We returned to the Olympic Hotel….There we found two…British photographers….I described to them…the destruction of the piano….’What do we care about a fucking piano?’ one of them said….I despaired then of my own country.'

A still from footage shot in Phnom Penh, April 1975. A piano also features in Dalrymple’s Monrovia Mon Amour, in a passage about a visit to the Centennial Hall. Dalrymple writes: ‘Lying on the ground was a Steinway grand piano (the only one in the country), its legs sawn off. The body of the piano, still gleaming black and in perfect condition, was in direct contact with the floor, while the three sawn legs were strewn about. A long-contemplated but long-frustrated revenge upon a whole alien civilisation… Simmering rage and envy. Michel took photos of the stricken instrument. How long before some post-modernist composer has a pianist not play the instrument but, in front of the audience, saw off its legs, to the craven applause of critics afraid to be thought stupid or reactionary? We felt we had secured something of a scoop. We returned to the Olympic Hotel. There we found two British photographers. I described to them…the destruction of the piano….’What do we care about a fucking piano?’ one of them said. I despaired then of my own country.’

Centennial Hall

Postcards from Alès

Dalrymple mourns the medieval city of Alès (formerly Alais), 25 miles from his home

Dalrymple mourns the old Gard city of Alès (formerly Alais), 25 miles from his home

The medieval city of Alais has been destroyed, Dalrymple points out. Mass housing 'of hideous inhumanity' has been substituted, 'on the orders of the communist city council'

The Marxist desecrators: Dalrymple explains that mediæval Alais is gone forever, demolished by the communist local authorities, which substituted inhumane Ceauşescu-style mass housing