john berger – “les petites chaises”

Do you think that flying round repeatedly in a circle, as happens on a certain kind of roundabout, do you think this might have a temporary effect – for purely physiological reasons – on the brain?

It can induce a sense of giddiness…

I mean more. Could character temporarily be changed by it?

Please explain, said Monsieur Hennequin, what you have in mind.

At these fairs there is a special kind of roundabout, a combination of a roundabout and a series of swings. The seats are suspended and when they turn –

A centrifugal force comes into play, said Monsieur Hennequin, and they are thrown outwards. I have seen the kind of which you are speaking. We call them les petites chaises.

Good. Now you can control – up to a point – how you swing outwards and in what direction. It’s all a question of how far you lean back, how high you push your feet up, how you swing with your shoulders and how you pull with your arms on the chains either side. It’s not very different from what every girl learns on an ordinary swing.

I know, said Madame Hennequin.

The game which most of the riders play as soon as the roundabout starts to turn, is to try to swing themselves near enough to whoever is behind or in front of them so as to join hands with them and then to swing together, as a pair, holding on to each other’s chains. It’s quite difficult to do this, often only their fingertips touch –

The seats are spaced in such a way, interrupted Monsieur Hennequin, to ensure that they never come into contact. Otherwise it could be dangerous.

Exactly. But everyone who rides on this kind of roundabout is transformed. As soon as it begins to turn and they begin to gain height as they swing out, their faces and expressions are changed. They leave the earth behind them, they throw back their heads and their feet go up towards the sky. I doubt whether they even hear the music which is playing. Each tries to take hold of the arm trailing in front of him, they cry out in delight as they gather speed, and the faster they go, the freer they play, as they rise and fall, separate and converge. The pairs who succeed in holding on to one another fly straighter and higher than the rest. I have watched this many times and nobody escapes the transformation. The shy become bold. The awkward become graceful. Then when it stops most of them revert to their old selves. As soon as their feet touch the ground, their expressions again become suspicious or closed or resigned. And when they walk away from the roundabout, it is almost impossible to believe that they are the same beings, men and women, who a moment ago were so free and abandoned in the air.

~ from G by John Berger (1972)

‘look, it’s a [ ]!!’

‘look, it’s a [ ]!!’

[ ] are to be eaten, to be chewed with molars as if one does not have incisors. [ ] should be popped into the mouth, to bounce off the palate and land between ready mincers. [ ] ought to be chewed like cashews, until all there is, is a messy mushy pulp that’s easy to swallow. [ ] are not a fruit. there are no [ ] trees or shrubs. [ ] do not grow like creepers, scaling walls and throttling other species in a race for the sun.

one can cook [ ] although it has not been established whether or not [ ] are raw or ready. [ ] might not even be plant life for this too has not been established. [ ] might after-all be a hibernating species of some animal too timid to uncurl in our hands. wait, do [ ] fit into ones palm? are [ ] not bigger in size?

[ ] might be better for building things like cars and homes and scooters. [ ] might even be better suited to pulling boogers from hairy nostrils. [ ] are to be examined by a highly skilled childless task force made up, in equal parts, of scientists, soldiers, sunday school teachers and salmon farmers. [ ] might after all be bombs and it would make better sense to have them detonate in the hands of these lunatics. no?

but [ ] are to be eaten i am sure.

——- ———- ———-

what [ ] are you talking about?

[ ] are orange/blue, this is the first clue. in a quite suburb, north of carmarthenshire, [ ] have been reported to be quite the nuisance. residents are in disagreement as to how it is that [ ] are causing the reported nuisance. some home owners claim to hear [ ] wailing clear and true into the night, others claim [ ] run amok in the streets, up turning bins and smashing in store fronts, some seniors have even reported [ ] claims of sexual harassment from [ ], especially when they try to cross the road close to busy intersections.

the mayoral spokesperson for the district of bin has issued a statement that all allegations made against [ ] will be treated with the highest priority. The municipality remains confused however by how it is that [ ] could execute half the crimes laid against [ ].

‘it is known that [ ] have not the legs, mouths or arms to throw things, scream or grope the elderly. that littler still is understood of [ ] makes these cases harder to prosecute. are [ ] not a single body? are [ ] more like us the more we know them or less so?’

[ ] are to be left in the bogs, of this i am sure.