excerpts from An Interview with Marguerite Duras

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But you know … young people … I know hippies, kids well. My son is a sort of kid too. There is an almost irrepressible repulsion against knowledge and culture. They don’t read anything. This is something fundamental, something entirely new. Faye is a man who reads. He wants to destroy knowledge, but from within knowledge. But I would like to destroy it in order to replace it with a void. The complete absence of man. …

 

This is what young people are doing, you know. On the international level they are creating a vacuum. …

 

They have to go through a passive stage. That’s what I think. They’re in this stage now. …

 

… they don’t get anything. They excel at not doing anything. Getting to that point is fantastic. Do you know how not to do anything at all? I don’t. This is what we lack most … They create a void, and all this … this recourse to drugs, I think is a … It’s not at all an alibi, it’s a means. I’m certain of that. … They’re creating a vacuum, but we can’t yet see what is going to replace what was destroyed in them – it’s much too early for that. …

 

… even if they’re not politically aware, they nonetheless represent a political force.

 

… they represent a question, a question that weighs as heavily as a mountain: What now?

 

But if this state of affairs gets worse, it will be a terrible thing. If it gets worse, it’s the end of the world … If all the young people in the world start doing nothing … the world is in danger. So much the better. So much the better. …

 

It’s like a strike. …

 

… is it a revolution that has made up the revolution? Do you believe in revolutions ordered up from Yalta? And in like manner: is it poetry that made poetry? I don’t believe so. I think that all of Europe is a prey to false revolutions. Revolutions against people’s will. So then, what will make revolution? …

 

No, it’s not rejection; it’s a waiting period. Like someone taking his time. Before committing himself to act. That’s the way I see it … it is very hard to pass from one state to another. Abruptly. It is even abnormal, unhealthy. If you like, the changeover by the popular democracies from 1940 to 1945 was a brutal one, one not freely consented to and … It is necessary to wait … You don’t do something unless you undo what’s gone before. …

 

There’s a gap between hope and despair, if you will. Where it’s both together. A gap that can’t be described yet. I think it escapes description. It is what I call the void, the zero point. Perhaps the word ‘void’ is going too far … the zero point. The neutral point. Where sensitivity regroups, if you will, and rediscovers itself … Anyway: it is said that there are more and more disturbed people. Madmen: mental institutions everywhere are full of them. This to me is profoundly reassuring. It clearly proves that the world is intolerable and that people feel it to be so. It merely proves that people’s sensitivity is increasing. And intelligence … Do you see? I think that we must turn ourselves around. We must reason backwards now about many things. Everybody is a neurotic, of course, because everybody is well aware that the world is intolerable. More and more so. And a place where we can’t even breathe. …

 

But it’s a hope I’m expressing. I hope that there will be more and more madmen: I make this statement with pleasure, with satisfaction. Personally. It proves that the solution is near. The premises of a solution. Because I know that we are very, very far away. But here we touch on the problem of freedom. This very moment. We’re on the very edge of it. …

 

– from an interview originally published in Cahiers du Cinéma, November 1969. Reprinted in English translation in Destroy, She Said, published by Grove Press, 1986.

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