Alain Nadaud

Autobiographie semi-fictive

        Alain Nadaud was born in 1948 in Paris.


        In the boarding house of another age, where he was relegated very early, he read a lot of insipid books: scraps from publishers, mismatched volumes, cheap collections, nanars... [1] To make up for it as much as to deceive his boredom, in the solitude of the immense dormitory he spent every night inventing stories for himself. Instead of helping him to fall asleep, they ended up warming up his mind so much that he found himself, the bell ringing, eyes wide open in the white dawn. He then tried to transcribe them in large spiral notebooks bought from the public prosecutor's office: all of them were each time confiscated by the pawns.


        This may also be the reason for his mistrust of libraries: intimidated by their overwhelming walls of books, he only frequented them under duress, full of circumspection. With his pocket money, he preferred to build one to his own taste. At the beginning, it was mainly composed of Bob Morane bought one by one, in the Marabout junior collection; with a maniacal care, he made sure that the backs were well aligned on the small wooden shelf above his bed.


        As he emerged from the rigours of the boarding house, he wanted to imitate the heroes of Balzac's novels by leading the bohemian, idle and carefree life of the students. He entered the faculty of Nanterre, where he took courses in linguistics, French boxing and initiation to Latin. With implacable naivety, he had imagined that during his studies of letters he would be shown how to proceed to become a writer [2]. The strike at the university and the events of May 68 soon got the better of these false apprenticeships. Like his "comrades", he marched under red flags and banners, shouted incomprehensible slogans, threw paving stones into the pond at the same time as he was against the CRS. Succumbing to the revolutionary hysteria, he both loved and feared the pin-pon of the police sirens, the sudden ebbing of the crowd, the indignant clamour of the demonstrators, the crystalline song of the broken windows, the bitter and pervasive stench of tear gas.


        On the big evening, late in the evening, he tried his hand at the flute, but, apart from the fact that he was not very gifted, had little ear and little rhythm, he considered music to be too repetitive an exercise for his taste, and so he preferred to opt for another instrument: a portable typewriter, a Japy script typewriter. It hasn't left him since.


        Very early on, he had faith in certain episodes of mythology, such as the one that tells that Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give it to men - which, following Arthur Rimbaud, continues to be claimed by the abstruse poets of today. He worked as a carpenter, an archivist, a log-jumper, a warehouseman, a salesman, a labour inspector... After acquiring a Lafuma backpack, he travelled as far as his savings would allow, as much to see what the world and its inhabitants looked like as to dazzle himself and to make himself suffer a little in the face of hardship.


        He would have liked to reach the limits of the Earth, just to check if it was flat, contrary to what Philolaos of Crotone had once postulated [3]. At the market of Tidjikja, in the heart of the Mauritanian desert, he pretended not to notice the resigned gaze of the men with ankles encircled by iron rings linked together by chains. With his saddle broken, he fell flat on his back, unable to get up again, from the top of a large white camel galloping across the Niger desert. When he reached the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, he swung onto a plastic chair, sipping a warm orange Fanta at the exact and supposed location of the Earthly Paradise. At noon, he filled his shoes with sand as he tried to climb the enormous pile of raw brick, which is said to be the rubble of the Tower of Babel; from its summit he listened to the incomprehensible murmurs of the wind. After the rain, he walked around the site of Tello Barai and collected clay tablets and cuneiform-covered foundation cones, fragments of writing from the confines of history; he concluded that he had got his hands on the remains of the legendary Sakkya-Iptah library[4] when finally this writing only came to light on its own.

 

        In the suburbs of Baghdad, he was invited to a ziqr where, for the greater glory of God, men in a trance pass swords through their bodies and then force you to put your fingers into their wounds; while others, with the help of a brick, stick knives into their heads or chew smiling embers that consume their tongues. In medressas, he abandoned himself to the ecstatic throbbing of Sufi songs, where dervishes turn on themselves to the sound of huge skin drums. Corolla skirts on their canvas leggings, they endlessly chant the name of Allah; and so, little by little, they rise up to Heaven.


        On the borders of Iraq and Kurdistan, they hesitated at the threshold of the cave where, as soon as they enter, a snake is carved in the rock; a paradoxical cult is dedicated to Iblis, or Lucifer, which means "Gate of Light". The sect of the Yezidis worships Satan there, who is for them like the first martyr: did he not in fact prefer his own damnation rather than putting himself at the service of man and renouncing his exclusive love for God [5].


        He has walked the suffocating sanctuaries of Egypt, the tombs of Ur, Sumer and Akkad, the temples with colourful figurines, candy pink, pistachio green and lavender blue of South India: in the dark and greasy night, by the light of myriads of small oil lamps, one adores sleepy crocodiles or, in homage to the god Ganesh, elephants adorned with huge flower necklaces. In Calicut, he witnessed the beheading of animals by the worshippers of the goddess Kali with short sword blows. For a while he followed the erratic pilgrimage of saddhous with hair covered with cow dung, whose only clothing is a thin layer of ashes or some enigmatic painted signs on their skin; from their thin carob wood flutes they draw haunting and shrill sounds.


        In southern India, he saw men eating alive termites which, after the monsoon rains, come out of the ground in masses, blinded by the pale light of neon lights. In Sri Lanka, which at that time was still called Ceylon, in the shadow of the great reclining Buddha, he tried his hand at reading the emphatic texts of the Vedas and Upanisads in English, which is not very concise.


        In the Sri Aurobindo ashram near Pondicherry, a blonde with opulent breasts introduced him to the extravagant positions of the Kama Sutra; to the rhythm of the waves hitting the wall of the room, he tried his hand at the mystical couplings as practised by the sacred prostitutes whose abundant forms decorate the walls of the temple of Khajurâho ; it is by penetrating these placid and supple erotomaniacs, and on the condition of practising prolonged sperm retention, that the followers of tantrism kiss the lips of eternity. Having reached the end of his strength in Benares, beset by violent bouts of malaria, he wondered if it would not be better to disappear once and for all, to lie down beside the beggars on the pavement of the sloping alleys that lead to the Ganges; along its muddy banks burn the funeral pyres where the soul is forever freed from the wheel of existences.


        On the banks of the river Yaco, where the fearsome gods Anu and Bico are hiding invisibly, in the company of animist Yorubas he ate white bladders, spicy and slimy, stuffed with very strange hashish ; with his machete at his side on the grass, he kept an eye on the impenetrable dark blue foliage from which, to better stun and devour you, let themselves fall with all their weight on the nape of your neck of monstrous anacondas. From the shores of the Gulf of Guinea, at the wheel of his Land cruiser he crossed half of the African continent just to get as close as possible, despite the flood, to the ochre walls of Timbuktu. On the way, he explored some of the troglodyte tombs of the Dogon people, which are scattered all over the vertiginous cliffs of Bandiagara.


        Back in Paris, he then taught philosophy, of which he was unaware even of the first principles; he dreamt of the hips of Diotime de Mantinée, who praises the beauty of bodies and, through successive abstractions, invites us to rise to absolute Beauty. He questioned the theory of Pythagoras, who postulated that God is the perfect number and that to each number corresponds one of the attributes of the divinity. In order to find out for sure, with a torch in his hand, he was not afraid to enter one of the underground necropolises around Alexandria at night; inside a funerary urn, he discovered the archives of the sect known as the "Zero Worshippers", which the sudden revelation of this number, brought from India by the Arab conquerors, had tipped over into atheism.

He made the documents public in what was his first novel [6], which traces the formidable intellectual effort it took for humanity to invent a number that is the very absence of a number.


        In Jerusalem, at dawn he listened to the swirling call of the muezzin, followed by the chiming of the bells of the Orthodox quarter and the distant psalms of the Kabbalists who, swinging their heads back and forth, search for God's number in the numbered verses of the Torah. He held his breath when he read a short story by Jorge-Luis Borges in which he describes how, between the steps of the staircase leading down to the cellar, and thus as if between the lines of his own writings, he glimpsed the unbearable glow of the Aleph.


        For the writing of his second novel, he took the head of a cohort of Gallic legionnaires in charge of escorting book-filled wagons to Rome along what was left of the southern motorway as built by the Cyclops two thousand years before our era [7]. 7] Thus he became interested in the work of eighteenth-century physicists who, with the help of simple sets of mirrors, had managed to calculate the speed of light, which is the measure of time, and then in the hypothesis of Stephen Hawkins, who at one point feared that the universe, having reached its extreme point of elasticity in its expanding movement, might be led backwards, precipitating us from the present into the past, into prehistory and chaos. He questioned the astronomers who, in the clouds of cosmic dust where the trace of the explosion that created the universe is preserved, try to capture the facetious and surreptitious silhouette of God on the spot.


        On the blackboard of deserted amphitheatres, the calculations traced out on an elliptical chalkboard by mathematicians eager to discover the principle that governs the infinite and random succession of prime numbers have remained unreadable to him. His questions harassed the theologians, shamans, Zoroastrians, archaeologists of the Biblical School of Jerusalem... Guided by Sheikh Barakat's son, he twisted his ankles in the landslides that littered the foot of Mount Sinai; for a long time he sought the place where Moses, at the sight of the Golden Calf, broke the first tables of the Law and, as the Bible attests, the only ones in letters of fire to have been "written with the finger of God" [8]. He went back down to St Catherine's Monastery where, on the faith of a young Orthodox monk, he waited for the first rays of daylight to pass through the nave to give life to the figure of Christ Pantocrator ; to his disappointment, he could not help but feel at the arm's length the destructive shiver of the Byzantine iconoclasts who, under the reign of Constantine the Shittle, had shattered to the ground and trampled on the images of the Virgin and the saints [9].


        While in Moscow, in exchange for a few dollars, he managed to break into the Lubyanka, where his grandfather had been tortured at night; in the archive room of the ex-KGB, he consulted his grandfather's file, as well as the interrogation protocols that, under torture, had gradually led him to disguise his life as a genuine fiction. Alas, he was unable to find the novel he was supposed to have written before he was arrested[10]. 


        On the instructions of an engineer friend, he then tinkered with a portico traversed by a low-intensity electromagnetic field in order to fix on film the impalpable silhouette of the angels. Thanks to their incessant comings and goings from Heaven, he imagined he could trap them like flies in the web that the Internet weaves around the Earth. He preferred to kneel down in front of the naked body of a woman, surprised by the swaying of her hips, leaning with her elbow against one of the shelves of his library[11]; and he devoted this sort of cult to her, called love, although he would not have found any wings on her back.


        He explored the various places where hermits and prophets stayed, rock crevices where a spring flows, cliffs, porticoes, column capitals, collapsed crypts : the burning bush, from where God spoke to Moses, the pipal of Bodh Gaya, in the shadow of which the Buddha experienced Enlightenment, the lake of Tiberias where Jesus walked on the waters, the valley of the Gehenna, the forest of Broceliande, Chinguetti and Kairouan in various disguises, the dusty and confined flats of the Potala. He listened with an ear to the wind stirring the leaves in the branches of the oaks of Dodone, where the priests of yesteryear deciphered the oracles of Zeus. From one of the gates of Thebes, where Oedipus played the childish enigma that the Sphinx had asked him, he contemplated in the darkness the lights of the valley below.

      With his own hands he built a galley made of scale models and thin strips of wood to better accompany the Roman poet Sextus Publius Galba who crossed the Mediterranean and sought to identify the first one who dared to break the decree of the great assembly of the cities of Asia: on pain of death, had the latter not forbidden the name of Erostratus to be pronounced, who, in order to reach posterity, had just set fire to the temple of Artemis in Ephesus[12]?


        On the indications provided by certain authors of antiquity, he followed in the footsteps of Heracles, Ulysses, Theseus and Orpheus and explored the entrances by which they claimed to have come up from the Underworld: caverns with walls covered with lustrous limestone that had been mistaken for ice concretions, bubbling springs of sulphur, the lair of the Erynnias from which, on pain of falling asphyxiated, one must run away when the wind turns and brings down the mephitic vapours, ponds filled with pestilences, chasms where underground rivers rustle in the darkness [13]. In water warm to the ankles and chasing mosquitoes out of his face, he forced the grid that today seals the Sibyl's flooded lair. Without fearing its deadly poison, he quenched his thirst with water from the Styx. He slept under the Trojan walls in the dry bed of the Scamander, walked around the Dead Sea, collected heavy stones to raise a chörten and in his turn thanked the gods on the torrential bank of the Brahmaputra.


        He gave his last silver coins to gravediggers, who dig huge holes in the earth by day. He shared the hypnotic intoxication of the shamans, the hooting dances of the Micmac Indians in honour of the great Manitou. He reaped horions for having, in the company of the scoundrel of the ditches, thrown stones at the light-headed horsemen, braved the cannon from the top of the barricade erected at the entrance to the Saint-Antoine suburb, confused the troubles of the Fronde with those of May 68 [14]. At the behest of the Duke of Sennanges, he fired several shots to attract the attention of the boatman who was dozing on his pontoon on the other side of the river Puri. In a library, whose curved floor under the excessive weight of the books was in danger of collapsing at any moment, he turned with the flat of his hand the immense globe that the inconsolable Père Legrand had drawn with his pen [15].


        15] Following the bottom of a valley, he penetrated the buildings of philosophical systems with their now partly dilapidated architecture; he walked between the pillars and under the vaults of literary cathedrals, which, on the other hand, had remained intact. 16] He searched at length in the rubbish dump for concepts where, among the debris of the theological apparatus, utopias and obsolete political systems, he thought he could detect and bring to light the ineffable splendour of the Logos.


        Astonished by the boasting of Il Professore, a molecular biology researcher who claimed to have discovered the proof, he preferred to rely on the argument of Anselme of the Abbey of Bec, who demonstrated, and for a time was irrefutably believed to demonstrate, the existence of God [17]. Breathlessly, he climbed the steep path leading to the monastery of Philong Ta, lost at the bottom of the Himalayas. With his hair bristling at the sound of the strident trumpets, then lulled by the psalms and the tinkling of mystical bells, on the advice of an impassive lama he practised going back through the path of Sleep the course of his past lives, without even realising that he had already staged them in the novels he had published here and there [18].


        Tired of these peregrinations, Alain Nadaud finally retired to the shores of Carthage. Between the forest of Gammarth and the sea, he lived in the proximity of the rumbling of the ovens built by his companion Sadika, a glassblower. In vain he searched for clues of a hypothetical stay of Virgil in this ancient city. But didn't Aeneas spend half of Aeneid there to tell Queen Dido about the tricks of Ulysses and the incredible story of the wooden horse that caused the fall of Troy?  He found evidence that the illustrious poet had not died of sunstroke, as tradition claims, but had been poisoned by the Emperor Augustus, who prevented him from burning his manuscript in which he had made him a living god [19].


        In desperation, Alain Nadaud tries to detect in the air of time as well as in what remains of his memories the improbable form of the books he imagines he still has the task of copying.
 

 

Mars  2010  

                                                                    

[1]  Les Années mortes (Grasset)
[2]  La Plage des Demoiselles (Léo Scheer)
[3]  Voyage au pays des bords du gouffre (Denoël)
[4]  Désert physique (Denoël)
[5]  Lettre du Kurdistan in La Tache aveugle (EFR et Messidor)
[6]  Archéologie du zéro (Denoël)
[7]  L'Envers du temps (Denoël)
[8]  Le Livre des malédictions (Grasset)
[9]  L'Iconoclaste (Quai Voltaire)
[10]  La Fonte des glaces (Grasset)
[11]  L'Iconolâtre (Tarabuste) et La Peau des anges (Inédit)
[12]  La Mémoire d'Erostrate (Seuil)
[13]  Aux Portes des Enfers (Actes Sud)
[14]  Une aventure sentimentale (Verticales)
[15]  Le Vacillement du monde (Actes Sud)
[16]  Dans la vallée du monde des Idées (La Revue littéraire)
[17]  Si Dieu existe (Albin Michel)
[18]  Le Passage du col (Albin Michel)
[19]  Auguste fulminant (Grasset)

La tache aveugle, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
La tache
aveugle

Alain Nadaud

1980

Le maître du temps, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Le maître du temps
(en construction)

Alain Nadaud

1981

Archéologie du zéro, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
L'archéologie
du zéro

Alain Nadaud

1984

L'envers du temps, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
L'envers du temps

Alain Nadaud

1985

L'armoire de bibliothèque, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
L'armoire de bibliothèque
(en construction)

Alain Nadaud

1985

Voyage au pays des bords du gouffre, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Voyage au pays des bords du gouffre

Alain Nadaud

1986

Désert physique, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Désert
physique

Alain Nadaud

1987

L'iconoclaste, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
L'Iconoclaste

Alain Nadaud

1989

Ivre de livres, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Ivre de livres

Alain Nadaud

1989

Quai Voltaire, revue littéraire, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Quai Voltaire,
revue littéraire

Alain Nadaud

1991 - 1994

La mémoire d'Érostratem Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
La mémoire d'Érostrate

Alain Nadaud

1992

Malaise dans la littérature, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Malaise dans la littérature

Alain Nadaud

1993

Le livre des malédictions, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Le livre des malédictions

Alain Nadaud

1995

L'iconolâtre, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
L'Iconolâtre
(en construction)

Alain Nadaud

1995

Auguste fulminant, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Auguste fulminant

Alain Nadaud

1997

Petit catalogue des nations barbares, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Petit catalogue des nations barbares

Alain Nadaud

1999

Une aventure sentimentale, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Une aventure sentimentale

Alain Nadaud

1999

La fonte des glaces, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
La fonte
des glaces

Alain Nadaud

2000

Anneesmortes.jpg
Les années mortes
(autobiographie)

Alain Nadaud

2004

La plage des demoisells, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
La plage des demoiselles
(autobiographie)

Alain Nadaud

2010

Aux portes des enfers, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Aux portes des enfers

Alain Nadaud

2004

Le vacillement du monde, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Le vacillement du monde

Alain Nadaud

2006

Si Dieu existe, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Si Dieu existe

Alain Nadaud

2007

Le passage du col, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Le passage du col

Alain Nadaud

2009

D'écrire j'arrête, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
D'écrire 
j'arrête

Alain Nadaud

2010

Journal du non-écrire, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Journal du 
non-écrire

Alain Nadaud

2014

Dieu est une fiction, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
Dieu est une
fiction

Alain Nadaud

2014

L'herbier des mythes, Alain Nadaud, alainnadaud.com
L'herbier des mythes
(posthume)

Alain Nadaud

2017

Alain_Nadaud-Passage du col.jpg
Bibliographie

Alain Nadaud