le fils des étoiles (son of the stars)


An artist ought to regulate his life.

Here is the exact time-table of my daily life:
 Get up: at 7:18 a.m.; inspired: from 10:23 to 11:47.  I lunch at 12:11 pm. and leave the table at 12:14.

A healthy turn on the horse to the end of my grounds: from 1:19 to 2:53.  More inspiration: from 3:12 to 4:07. Various occupations (fencing, reflections, napping, visits, contemplation, dexterity, swimming, etc.…): from 4:21 to 6:47.
     Dinner is served at 7:16 and ends at 7:20.  Then, symphonic readings (out loud): from 8:09 to 9:59.
 Going to bed to takes place regularly at 10:37. Once a week I awake with a start at 3:19 a.m. (Tuesdays)

I eat only white foods: eggs, sugar, minced bones; the fat from dead animals; veal, salt, coconuts, chicken cooked in white water, the mould from fruit, rice, turnips, camphor sausages, pâtes, cheese (white), cotton salad and certain fishes (without the skin).
I boil my wine, which I drink cold with fuchsia juice. I have a good appetite, but I never talk while eating, for fear of choking to death.
 I breathe with care (a little at a time). I dance very rarely.  While walking I hold my sides and stare fixedly straight ahead.
Having a very serious expression, if I laugh it is without meaning to. I apologize afterwards, affably.

I sleep with only one eye closed; my sleep is deep.  My bed is round, with a hole to put my head through.  Hourly a servant takes my temperature and gives me another.
For a long time have subscribed to a fashion magazine.  I wear a white cap, white socks, and a white vest.
 My doctor has always told me to smoke.  To this advice he adds,

 “Smoke, my friend: if it weren’t for that, another would be smoking in your place.”

Erik Satie, fromMemoirs of an Amnesiac“, 1912 (pic: the apartment block in Arceuil-Cachan where Satie lived (1897-1925)

We live and breathe our old friend Erik in readiness for our latest homage to him, The Velvet Gentleman, which opens at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival on friday 15th June 2012. If I were to count an historical ‘name’ amongst my heroes it would surely be his. Satie, the French composer, was a maverick individual with an obsessive penchant for white handkerchiefs, stiff collars and late night absinthe. Naturally melancholic, he kept the gloom bay with a witty, surreal and sardonic humour but was known to hate the light of the sun (“If my legs were long enough I would give him a kick in the eye” he was heard to say). Instead he preferred night-time, walking miles across Paris each night with a hammer in his pocket for protection. He produced an extraordinary musical catalogue, including his more famous 3 Gymnopédies (orchestrated and popularised by his friend Debussy), 6 Gnossiènnes and 5 Nocturnes, many of which may seem familiar to an unknowing ear. Also he produced mischievous writings with illustrations in a characteristic calligraphy which gesture towards the Medieval.

The appeal of this elusive man, his life and his work, has not diminished in the 20 years since we first produced our Stan’s Cafe music-theatre show Memoirs of an Amnesiac(1992). In-fact, rediscovering the materials only enriches my admiration and affection for him. I read an account of the ‘discovery’ of his lonely Arcueil apartment whilst on the overnight flight from Singapore to Adelaide and I’m so upset that I’m blubbing like a child: Perhaps because I think of him as that inspirational friend; perhaps because I see myself in his story.

Here is a link to the wonderful 1924 film Entr’acte by Rene Clair, created as interval entertainment for the ‘Instantaneous Ballet’ Relâche (written by Francis Picabia, music by Erik Satie). From this it’s not hard to see why Satie was adopted as the ‘father of minimalist music’. He and Picabia feature at the beginning of the film, priming a cannon that will set the world alight.


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