Saturday, April 01, 2006

ANDRE MALRAUX



(above Andre Malraux and his wife, between John and Jacq and under the serene gaze of The Mona Lisa in "Camelot")


Andre Malraux, who suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, led, arguably, the most colorful and controversial life of the twentieth century. While still in his twenties he was a temple-raider in Cambodia, an anti-colonial newspaper publisher in Saigon, and chronicler of the Guomindang uprising in China, (founded by Sun Yat-sen to oppose the Imperial Ching Dynasty, it’s leadership include strange bed fellows Chaing Kai Shek and Mao). Of his adventures in Southeast Asia he was later to say -“There is always a need for intoxication: China has opium, Islam has hashish, the West has woman.” Although I have not read them, his novels of this period have been called “highly informative and erotic” a good combination, no? The titles include “LA VOIE ROYALE” (1930), and “La Condition humaine” (1933).
After his adventure in the orient he traveled as an amateur archaeologist to Yemen and Syria, emerged as a noted art historian and dealer -“Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thought, which, in the coarse or centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved”and, not least, freedom fighter in the Spanish Civil War. . On the outbreak of the war he acted as a go-between in negotiations between French Statesman Leon Blum and the Spanish Republic's Prime Minister Manuel Azana to buy French aircraft for the struggle. Later he organized a volunteer squadron of French flyers to fight for the Republic. The unit had twenty aircraft and a dozen French volunteer pilots, including Malraux himself. Twice wounded in the defense of Madrid he later toured the U.S. to drum up support for the Republic.
During World War II he became a member of the French Résistance. Two times he was captured and escaped from the Nazis. It was during this time that he was befriended by Résistance leader Charles De Gaulle -an association that would shape the remainder of his life. After the war De Gaulle appointed Malraux as his minister of information (1945-46). He also served as minister of cultural affairs (1960-69). It was during this time that he traveled to “Camelot” and arranged with Jack and Jackie Kennedy an extensive touring and exhibition of The Mona Lisa in the U.S. of this he said -“There has been talk of the risks this painting took by leaving the Louvre. But the risks taken by the boys who landed one day in Normandy-to say nothing of those who had preceded them 25 years before-were much more certain.”
Malraux died in Paris in November of 1976, two years after touring a famine stricken Bangladesh; he was not without his detractors. Called dilettante and poseur by men not fit to carry his luggage, a mere listing of his friends and associates – Piccaso, Chagall, De Gaulle, Hemingway, Mao, John and Jackie Kennedy puts to lie their feeble slanders. As John Kennedy Toole wrote in Confederacy of Dunces -"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him”.

26 Comments:

Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

Durrati,

The middle of this week I was thinking that I must track down a copy of Confederacy Of Dunces to reread and then you mention it. Small odds, eh.

What is a temple-raider?

Marks-a-lot

11:39 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Marks,

Malraux was no saint, he was convicted in a french-colonial court for stealing artifacts from a Cambodian holy site. He got off with probation. He was less than 25 years old at the time...

11:43 AM  
Anonymous jackie_o said...

Very complicated character. I'd rather be remembered for 5 bad things and 20 good things than not be remembered at all.
Thanks for this post. I did some extra research on Malraux, and his life was really quite an adventure despite a few tics and grunts.
I always think of Howard Hughes, Mozart, Dr Samuel Johnson, David Sedaris, and the character, Nikolai Levin, who was named for Tolsty's younger brother, Dmitry, who had Tourettes.
I won't say having Tourettes has been anything but the reality of what it has been, which is a burden that makes one mistrustful of people, no matter how well meaning. For my children, I always told them they had an obligation to leave the world a better place than they found it. That was something a Jewish Aunt liked to say, and I love it to this day.
That was something nice about the clash of religions in my family. I feel I came away with a little piece of the truth.
When I look back on life, and the whole Tourettes experience, I figure, so many people are worse off in so many different ways. I feel pretty blessed. Sometimes being a little different, in the eyes of others, is a gift. You look at life as though you're sitting in an Omnimax theater as opposed to seeing things though binoculars. You have to look at life in that way. It becomes essential to be twice as good at everything just to pass as normal.
Thanks for allowing my to let loose with my long buried thoughts on this disease and my 1st person experience.

12:42 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Dear Jacq,

Malraux has been a candidate for a post since I started, but I only learned of his having tourettes this morning when I began writing. I chose him for today as a nod to you for alerting us to "brown girl's" comments because I knew of his meeting with the Kennedys (as well as his service in the Spain).It was just one of those odd coincidences like the one Marks-A-Lot mentions above. I love how the interaction with my visitors allows me to get outside myself and learn about new things, and how this new info impacts my own thinking.
As I look around the net for info on your list of those challenged by and triumphant over the the disorder, I found also the names Charles Darwin, Dan Akroyd and Jazz musician Michael Wolff the band leader on the old "Arsenio" and I bet there were many others that went undiagnosed. Seems like, as with other afflictions, this one is compensated for in other ways...

1:15 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Jacq,

"despite a few tics"... man I have to watch you like a hawk! I read it through literally the first time w/o catching the joke. You always threaten to slip one by! :)

1:24 PM  
Anonymous jackie_o said...

durrati,
I do appreciate the nod and the opportunity to talk about tourettes.

Damn! Busted again.

4:05 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Hey, ex-troops-
I'll catch up with comments tonite- I'm at my brother's watching the Toronto Maple Leafs in all their glorious craptitude after steak and greek salad and good beer.
Big welcome back to Sgt. Marks, who never answered my last reply comment at the General's.........
You're such a smart-a-s, jackie ;)

4:10 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

"I always told them they had an obligation to leave the world a better place than they found it."

Jackie, that is brilliant - exactly what I've been telling my two. So good to know that there are others doing the same, and I'm sure your children are doing exactly that. As I noted in a previous post, most of the folks who have to live with the Tourettes syndrome are well above average intelligence and you are the poster child...er.. Grand lady.. example. I love the humour that you find in adversity, and it stands as an example of how to live life to the fullest. I'm trying my darndest to do the same - hopefully I will succeed. I admire your resolve, your intellect, your humour...darn, I admire you.
Durrati, will you stop! Now I have yet another person to investigate. So little time, so many to check out. It's just not fair that you keep throwing out the challenge. Where were you 18 months ago, when I retired, needed a rest and took time off from the working world? Then I had the time to do all the research in the world! @#&* you Durrati for re-engaging my intellect! You're gonna burn in Tartarus for this - right next to my reserved spot.
Marks, Malreux was one of many modern high profile temple/tomb raiders. Interesting that now the countries that have been defrauded are actively searching, finding and litigating for the return of their historical treasures. Greece, Elgin Marbles otherwise known as the Parthenon Marbles are just one high profile case. Today, there are serious concerns about the rape of the Iraq museums and illegal disbursement of their ancient treasures to rich collectors around the world. What I find extraordinarily sad is that history has now become just one more money making opportunity for those who don't have the capacity to understand that history belongs to all the people, not just the chosen few with the money to buy it. Another incidence of greed run amok.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Goodness, I just went over to the General's site to lurk, and what the heck happened? I can't figure it out. Did the appocalypse happen and I slept through it?
Sigh, I think I'll watch a movie - the library's closed.

Canuk, how's things in Peterborough?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

whattheh - Perhaps it is the rapture?

Left behind, just us sinners, where do we go from here?

7:21 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

fellow resistance members-
My hockey team drives me crazy! I know, I know, the ladies don't care, and probably most of you 'Murricans don't either, but......
It's just too annoying and complex to bore you with here.
This is my catch-up thread.
jackie-o-
Still havent't gotten an e-mail to drop some thoughts to you. Some of it would run just over the edge of disability stuff I want to share publicly, but I can post here if you like. You can snag my e-mail at my blog if you want to.
JD-
The king of blogging extremes is still in the saddle- I'd join in in some way, but something in the last week has just burned the snark out of me. I don't know what to say about the whole conflict remaining b/t you and the General except that I know you know it just didn't get to me the way it did you and Durrati, and, ultimately, I guess I'm glad to be a part of this crew despite everything. I'm just pleased you're still here with us (as they say, keep your enemies close, and your psychotic friends closer ;)
Sgt. Marks-
As I said below, do you recall the name of that strange little town close to the Strait with the neat downtown? Had some fun times there. And I'd love to talk books with you- our partners on this site seem to have a thing for all the books I HAVEN'T ACTUALLY READ!

And if anyone tries to make me drink martinis, you'll see what a prone and in the gutter Canuk looks like in a pretty good hurry. Doesn't mean I'd turn them down, of course. :)- (how do you make a smiley that looks like someone unconscious?)

jackie_0
I developed a phrase a long time ago to help me stay on the trail of making my life count, and I've never forgotten it- What would the world be like if everyone was like me? Relationally, socially, politically, environmentally, etc. It helps me focus on who I want to become and keep being. Since I'm never going to have kids, I figure I should at least try and take care of myself, y'know?

I think that's it. Ignore my blog for a while as I rethink what I want to do with it.

7:57 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

whattheheh,

Sorry I vex you :)Alink for you, or whoever, the best bio I found of Malraux on the net.

here

7:58 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

sorry, here

7:59 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Jackie-O,

My pleasure Mme.

8:05 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Sgt. Marks-
We get their shit.

8:09 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

P.S.
Where is Fixit? Haven't seen him for a while around here. Miss him.

8:14 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Kid,

Seems Fixit is really pissed at me for not eating MzNick's shit. He thinks he's saving the world over there or somethin' and so had no time for us heretics...

8:17 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:21 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

You mean like that dentist on Seinfeld?
Hehehe. He seems so nice, though.

8:40 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

X), this is lookin' at dirty pictures...

8:41 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

He is nice...I'm sure he leaves the gas go alittle longer than he has to... he's a nice guy with good aims and I miss him too %(

8:43 PM  
Anonymous jackie_o said...

Well, He is trying to fix one hell of a mess.
WCFTM, If you're out there, forgive me. I couldn't resist. You are a good chap. Do stop by some time.

9:03 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

WCFTM,

What Jackie said...

9:31 AM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

Kid,

Not sure which town you are referring to and whether it is on the Olympic Peninsula, WA mainland or one of the many islands.

Port Angeles? Seqium? Port Townsend? OlyWA?

Have lived in Olympia for a number of years and visited Townsend several times but really don't remember Port Angeles or Sequim. Also could be Bellingham, Anacortes, etc.

I am a landlubber so have really not spent oodles of time in the various ports.

I did visit Cortes Island in the Northern Gulf Islands (beautiful BC) last summer whene my brother is now living. What a cool community. Hope to visit there many more times in the future.

Regards,

Marks-a-lot

10:08 AM  
Blogger WeCanFixThisMess said...

Hey Guys,

I've been out of town for a few days and away from a computer.

I've also been pretty upset about all this mess and have lost a lot of faith.

I tried to do what I could to stop a clusterfuck because I believed in what we were all doing at a site that I love. I thought I was being loyal to the people and the principles of the site. And now people I trusted are pissed at me while others are doing stuff that makes me incredibly sad. I just hate it.

I don't want to feel like the moral of all this is-- don't get involved. I started hanging out in these blogs to do just the opposite. It all just sucks right now.

So, I need time to get my head in a better place and I hope that makes sense to you guys.

9:47 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Fixit,

Just glad to hear from you. I don't want to devide your loyalties but if you feel like you can't drop in here and remain loyal to the General, well I would have a problem with that but that's just me. I hope you know you are no less welcome here with your big heart than at J.C.'s. Again, I am sorry to have put you in a bad position but I will not be told what to say or think. Please drop in when you can, all of us here love ya, man. There is some insight into all this in my very first post I believe if you care to dig back....

2:33 PM  

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