In Jean Genet's Old Abandoned Cell and Sitting at His Grave Where the World Ends (2008)

PhotoCollage: Our Lady of the Flowers' old cell would haunt the dreams of the most sane among us. There is a disconnect between the horrid reality and the romance of both the poetry and plays that you can only fathom by coming here and taking the time to let it soak in. Bad boys gone insane are always in the news. Thieves and murderers. But take a good long look at where they come from and the real horrifying thing is a reflection where we see ourselves. I would have been driven mad myself in such a place. I think Genet was some of that as well. Such madness where the walls cave in. Most of his arrests were for stealing bread. What is mad. The twelve-year-old (Genet's age) who rips off a loaf of a baker's bread or a social structure where there is no bread. What is it ...

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PhotoCollage: Our Lady of the Flowers' old cell would haunt the dreams of the most sane among us. There is a disconnect between the horrid reality and the romance of both the poetry and plays that you can only fathom by coming here and taking the time to let it soak in. Bad boys gone insane are always in the news. Thieves and murderers. But take a good long look at where they come from and the real horrifying thing is a reflection where we see ourselves. I would have been driven mad myself in such a place. I think Genet was some of that as well. Such madness where the walls cave in. Most of his arrests were for stealing bread. What is mad. The twelve-year-old (Genet's age) who rips off a loaf of a baker's bread or a social structure where there is no bread. What is it about such a place as this where people are expendable. I know this: it's about a strangulating loneliness, a starvation of the mind, and I wonder if that really ever changes. How do our institutions fail us. People do try. But how do we address loneliness. Genet wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Often on his arms, his belly, his legs. His wall. His Marquis. His House of Flowers. Such ladies who had gone crazy here. De Sade creating a fetish of a place that did not exist. Genet wrote of love and lovers. The Other Boys -- thieves and murderers -- who lived in this place. But when you come here if you look closely and you do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the peeling horror of what was life here you will note that Genet was quite alone. This is where he lived and this is a single cell for a single person. There was no love and there were no lovers. Murderous or otherwise. There were no flowers in this hall of reformation. Genet is buried at the northern tip of Africa and his grave overlooks three-hundred miles out over an empty sea and what you will come away with from this place, too, is the enormity of it all. I am as I write this sitting beside that grave and the wind is only passing through us criminals all.

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