Portrait photo en café

Our hero was sitting at the table in the café, alright! Quite absorbed by the spectacle of what surrounded him – although there was little in the matter of extravagance, just the little nothings that make up the ordinary. There were only walls, guests, beer glasses. He realized that there was a glass in front of him, and that his hand was placed right next to it, on the table. Bubbles in the beer. He lifted his eyes: people! presences! He beamed: it was the beatific smile of the scholar on the cusp of a discovery, the effect of the total novelty. (…) He considered the space separating the solitary drinkers – there were few of them. Some were saturated by intentions, others reserved. One only had to listen from below. (…) the people who were talking, the friendly conversations, (…) all this trickling from mouth to ear, going back and forth more or less quickly, the procession of hands around words, bodies that were leaning, and above all, the peddling of looks across the room. Without really hearing them – doubtlessly thanks to this momentaneous deafness -, he could grasp all the allusions to the conversations as so many postscripts.

And then his eye fell upon the electric lightbulb that was quivering above the counter. It looked exceedingly beautiful to him, this rotund lightbulb at the end of the woven electric cable. He saw it hang, as never a lightbulb had hung. (…) Later, much later, he was found affirming that the sky was dark: he was on the sidewalk, walking.

(extract from Une Scrupuleuse aventure, éditions Papyrus, Paris, 1980)

Jean-Philippe Domecq

English version: Anna Robinigg 2019

About the author

Jean-Philippe Domecq is the author of two series of novels, “Les Ruses de la vie” and “La Vis et le Sablier » (Métaphysique Fiction), among which Cette Rue (Prix du roman de la Société des Gens des Lettres 2007) and Le Jour où le ciel s’en va (Prix Tortoni 2011). He is also an essayist, author of Robespierre, derniers temps (Prix du Salon du Livre in 1984), and of a Comédie de la Critique on contemporary art (new edition in 2015) and on the reception of literature (Qui a peur de la littérature ?, new edition in 2002, Prix international de la Critique du Pen-Club). Among his most recent titles are : Le Livre des jouissances, Qu’est-ce que la Métaphysique Fiction?, La Monnaie du temps. For an overview of the more than 40 works published so far, see:

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