Sunday, November 2, 2014

Le Fait Divers by Roger Grenier

The public that feasts on crimes needs its stories to have a beginning, a middle and an end. It needs a small novel, more exciting than fiction because it’s true. Reality rarely unfolds with such pleasing logic. It’s usually impossible to know exactly when the slowly unfolding drama began, and just as impossible to make any sense of what the victims and protagonists had to say. The confusion isn’t due to the facts but something like a layer of concrete covering every motive, every attitude. Never has the Shakespeaean-Faulkneran cliche  about the ‘tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury’ been more apropos. This doesn’t prevent reporters from inventing fine, well-crafted accounts that respond to the five basic Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why.

Which is exactly what Freud did with Oedipus’s crime. He simplified an awfully confusing story (hard to make heads or tails of any of it), giving it his own structure.

Where does the crime story begin? In what confusing past does it take does it take root? How do you untangle so many contradictions when your assignment is to deliver a story that’s all wrapped up and obeys the basic rules of causation?

The fantasized act that someone else dared to commit is transformed by paper and the printer’s ink into a notorious,sublimated, and ritualized deed – if only through the rudimentary act of some unknown reporter assigned to cover the police stations. What a trampoline for the imagination! Therein lies the paradox. Committed by a person devoid of imagination,it stimulate ours. The fait divers in its entirety is indeed ‘the land of the poets.”

1 comment:

  1. “Moving along to that abominable and voluptuous act of reading the newspaper. . . No sooner have we broken the fragile band that wraps Le Figaro, and that alone separates us from all the miseries of the world, and hastily glance at the first sensational paragraphs of which the wretchedness of so many human beings ‘forms an element’ (those sensational paragraphs, containing what we shall later recount to those who have not yet read the papers), than we feel a delightful sense of being in contact with that life with which, when we awoke, it seemed so useless to renew our acquaintance.”-Proust