I try to live like a swinger: Yann Kerninon | books | Hindustan Times
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I try to live like a swinger: Yann Kerninon

books Updated: Sep 09, 2011 11:22 IST

Sonakshi Babbar, Hindustan Times
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"I'm a bit tired, so don't mind if I'm slow.  I've given so many interviews, it's kind of narcissistic but good for the ego. We (writers) are more used to getting rejection letters from publishers so it's nice to be the center of attention," says dreamy-eyed French author Yann Kerninon.

Well, he does look pretty zapped, I think, making a mental note to not ask too many questions.

Coming from a country, which boasts of philosophers like Rousseau, and Sartre, Kerninon has come out with his latest book, An Attempt to Assassinate My Inner Bourgeoisie - which explores a brand of philosophy for everyone who has gone through an internal war of 'To fit or not to fit' in the bourgeoisie society.

In an age where most of us are sparring with our selves over our temptations to live the Rolls Royce lifestyle while doing charity, and battle the never-ending war between our bourgeoisie versus anti-bourgeoisie egos, his book is a probable solution to this, "There're two ways for a slave to kill his master: either to become master in turn or jump outside the master-slave logic. My attempt to kill the bourgeoisie within me takes recourse to the second method, this is also what Dada tried to do."

Intrigued by 204 pages of anti-bourgeoisie rant, I ask if he was able to assassinate his inner bourgeoisie and the answer is a vehement NO. Black and bold No.

"No, definitely no, because a part of the definition of a bourgeoisie is someone who is sure and has no doubt. Even if you're too sure about anti-bourgeoisie attitude, then you aren't ideologically thinking like a conservative bourgeoisie but your attitude is the same. You're still in the bourgeoisie versus anti-bourgeois dialectic- flip sides of the same coin."

As I frown at this, wondering what could be the solution, he offers the way out.

"The book is a jumping exercise which transcends the bourgeoisie -anti-bourgeoisie cycle. We need to become non-bourgeoisie - to never settle, and live like a swinger. Just like a swing has its ups and downs, the key is to live life. I try to live like a swinger and not do boring things."

A little offended by this insinuation that most of us our doing boring things (read earning money), I ask him to define 'boring things'.

He opens and shuts mouth, languorously searching for an answer in his head. By now I'm not surprised, as he mentioned offhandedly a little while ago that he likes to think and speak. Clearly a rarity these.

While I intently try to decide whether I like the checkered tie over checkered shirt ensemble, he emerges from the reverie and says, weighing over every word cautiously, "Hmm... the activities I choose are generally interesting but just like everybody's life isn't intense, earning money is boring and the interesting activities - reading writing, don't pay money. In France for every copy of this book sold, I get two Euros!" he laughs, "Philosophy doesn't sell!"

Looking steadily at the ashtray on the table, he opens up about his major influence - Dadaism movement in visual art he says, "We need to learn about art especially modern art, it's part of the way we get in touch with reality. According to Dadaism, it's not possible to keep on drawing nice flowers and naked ladies in fields when there is a war outside. We can't just make decorative entertainment to forget reality, because art is made to interfere with reality and therefore they look for different forms of performance art. Artistic creation of truth isn't only in painting sculpture but in playing tennis or educating your children."

Still turning over his explanation in mind, I wonder about the way he has used music to get across the message in an artistic way in his book.  The beginning of every chapter has a little suggestion for the reader 'music for this thought' - from Bridgite Fontaine to Iggy Pop. This brings out a new light into his eyes. Time flies as we turn into two excited metalheads talking about ideology of Rammstein, his own metal band, Cannibal penguin (which he admits is taken from Cannibal Corpse)."

After almost forty minutes, we reluctantly turn back to more serious issues, the philosophy behind the book. "Heidegger, Nietzsche, Dada have been my main influences. I would say that one of the questions of bourgeoisie is to control things - to put everything in small boxes and have full control over everything. But though we're powerful, at the same time we're deeply lacking in sense. Sometimes I say as a joke and also I say a washing machine, is useful, powerful but it will never give sense to your life. I'm dealing with the question of what makes sense. The problem is not of existence of bourgeoisie but when it dominates everything. "

At the culmination of my chat, I feel dizzy with awe for this man who is not just a philosopher, writer, magician, artist, but as it turns out also a musician, a metalhead at that.

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