Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr

Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr

Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr

Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr

Excerpt

We have situated Genet's decision in its objective bearings. We know what it is in itself . We must now see what it is for him, that is, as a subjective moment of his conscious life. What does this will to be evil mean to Genet himself, what is its intentional structure? As soon as we begin to approach the problem, we discover an insurmountable contradiction.

"I decided to be what crime made of me." In this seemingly very simple statement there is "to decide." But there is also "to be." Now, the purpose of a decision is to effect a change in the world; a decision goes beyond what already is toward that which is not yet. To decide to be a teacher is to prepare for the necessary examinations; to decide to be a soldier is to enlist. But if I already am a professional soldier, I cannot decide to be one, for this decision will not effect the slightest change in reality. And if I persist in willing that which is, my will, gliding over the real without finding anything to take hold of, unable even to begin to be implemented, changes into a pure verbal determination. How could Genet will to be evil since he believes that he is already evil by nature and that he has no means of preventing his essence from being or of making it be. Yet the word "be" assumes in his writing an active, transitive value. In the sentence which I have quoted, to be is to throw oneself into one's being in order to coincide with it. The word suggests a compromise between the calm coinciding of an object with its essence and the storm-tossed development whereby a man fulfills himself. And I am aware that I can yield to the urge of a calling and become a sailor or a poet. In that case, it can be said, not without a certain impropriety, that I have become what I was, that is, that . . .

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