ELECTIVE AFFINITIES

A TRANSCRIPT

 

By Nicolau Tarrés and Tatsuo Watanabe

—Someone must have done that.
—You mean a work based on a transcript of a conversation? Sure. Artists do it all the time.
—They talk amongst themselves, you mean?
—Yeah. I mean, they see the conversation as a medium, or as a genre. It’s a way of making art.
—Having a conversation.
—Yes, having a conversation, which you then transcribe. So it’s really the transcript that is the work.
—Why haven’t I heard of that?
—There’s so much you haven’t heard of. You’re just not very aware of what goes on in the art world.
—I don’t understand the art world, I realize.
—What about it?
—I don’t know . . .
—The kinds of lives those people live?
—What makes them . . .
—Vibrate?
—What?
—Who asked me that?
—Someone asked you that?
—‘What makes you vibrate?’
—Did someone ask you that?
—That guy, remember? The guy from your program. With the mustache. ‘What makes you vibrate?’ He asked me that at that party.
—Oh my God, that guy! That guy is so strange!
—Who is he?
—He’s such an impostor!
—What’s his name?
—Oh my God, I don’t remember.
—We were at that party and he asked me, ‘What makes you vibrate?’
—What a dick!
—So what about the art world?
—Oh, I just don’t understand what gives meaning to those people’s lives.
—Making art and being recognized for what they do, right?
—Is that it?
—I mean, that’s a pretty worthy goal.
—Sure. But I don’t have that goal.
—No, you want other things.
—I want other things.
—Like repeating everything I say.
—Like repeating everything you say. But I don’t understand people who . . .
—Who want different things than you do?
—Yeah.
—And what is it that you want exactly?
—I don’t know. To have vibrant experiences.
—To ‘vibrate’?
—Yeah!
—But that may be the same thing they want!
—Yeah, that makes sense. Still, why do I understand some people and not others?
—Why do you relate to certain experiences and not to others?
—To certain desires. Why do you become friends with certain people and not with others?
—Well . . .
—Why do you like someone?
—I don’t know. Do you have to know? I mean, what kind of explanation do you want? What could be the answer to that question?
—It’s just a mystery, isn’t it? Doesn’t it intrigue you?
—Does it intrigue me?
—Like, why do I want to spend time with Anna but not with Marta?
—Well that’s no mystery! I don’t know, you have similar tastes, and you care about the same things.
—Affinities?
—Affinities, yeah. But at the same time one likes to spend time with people who are very different from one, right? I don’t know. This whole thing . . .
—What are the ‘elective affinities’?
—I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to know. It’s Goethe, right?
—Yeah. What did he mean by that?
—He might have meant something like this.
—Like what?
—Like what we’re talking about.
—What are you doing?
—What do you mean?
—With your phone. Are you recording this?
—I’m taking a picture.
—You’re taking a picture?
—Yes, a picture.
—Of what?
—Of the glass.
—Oh. Did I ever tell you about this girl? She was a student of Emily Apter’s. Like the way I was Avital’s student, this girl . . .
—Was Emily Apter’s student. She was ‘Emily’s student.’
—Right. One day I suddenly had the feeling she was copying me by becoming Emily’s student. Like it happened after I became Avital’s student.
—So she was like, ‘I have to become someone’s student.’
—As a way to get me to notice her.
—Interesting.
—No, that’s probably not true. I’m just inventing that. It’s totally not true.
—I see.
—But she and I had coffee one time, and it was so unpleasant. Why did we do that?
—To talk about your teachers, probably.
—No doubt. But for some reason I brought Glas, the book by Derrida.
—You mean Glass.
—No, I mean Glas.
Glas?
—Yes, Glas. As in ‘tongue.’
—Does ‘glas’ mean ‘tongue’?
—Yes, I think so.
—So it doesn’t mean ‘glass.’
—No, it doesn’t.
—Is that why you thought of it, because I said I was taking a picture of the glass?
—Why did I think that? People you like, people you don’t like.
­—No, we were already past that.
—Oh, God. Why am I talking about this?
—Keep going. You got together and lent her Glas?
—Yeah, we got together at Panne et Cioccolato.
—Do you even own Glas? I haven’t seen it. Did you get rid of it? Wait, she never returned it!
—Exactly. She never returned it.
—Wow!
—What became of her?
—I don’t know. I later saw her at a lecture. You know what lecture I saw her at? The one we went to. Badiou’s lecture.
—Oh, yeah.
—We saw Badiou. Do you remember?
—I do. It was amazing.
—I felt as though I’d understood him. What was it about?
—The lecture? Theater. Theater and philosophy.
—That’s interesting.
—So what was she doing there? She must have already graduated by then.
—I think she’d graduated and was coming back.
—As ‘Emily’s student.’
—Right.
—Was she in a graduate program somewhere?
—I don’t know.
—What was her name?
—I don’t know.
—You don’t know her name? But you got together with her for coffee!
—I don’t remember her name.
—Weird. So she has your copy of Glas. . .
—And something else. There was something else. There were two books.
—Are you sure it isn’t Glas, which is actually two books?
—Two books?
Glas is two books.
—I don’t think so.
—It is. It’s in two columns.
—Yes, but it’s one book.
—One column is on Hegel. The other one is . . .
—On Genet. It’s on Hegel and Genet.
—Really? Genet?
—I’m pretty sure. I wish I could check.
—But she has your copy!
—Why would Derrida write about Genet?
—I don’t know.
—Who would ever want to read that book?
—Well, you owned it, didn’t you?
—Yes, but I don’t think I ever actually read it.
­—This reminds me of something.
—What is it?
—Remember the party Anna and Richard threw for us before we left?
—Yes.
—Anna had a pile of books. I think she’d bought them. They were in the living room. One of them was by a woman, someone who’d moved to the middle of nowhere with her husband who was some kind of academic.
—Oh, yeah, I think I remember that. But I thought the husband was a librarian.
—It doesn’t matter. Her bio said they lived in Alabama or something and that they had a dog named Jean Genet.
—Right.
—I pointed that out to Dana who was sitting next to me and she made a face, saying she didn’t like her.
—Because she’d named her dog Jean Genet?
—Well, yeah. Because it's so pretentious.
—Yeah, it's awful.
—But for some reason I was thinking about that recently, and I thought I would have named the dog Jean Genet Ramsey.
—Jean Genet Ramsey?
—It’s an amazing name, isn’t it?
—It combines two gay icons.
—Exactly.
—That is amazing. But not for a dog. It should be the name of a character. Jean Genet Ramsey.
—And who would he be? A guy who is in prison and dresses like one of those girls from Toddlers and Tiaras?
Toddlers and Tiaras . . . That’s such a fucked-up show! Have you ever even seen it?

—Didn't we see a clip?
—Yes, a twenty-second clip.
—I can’t believe that shit is legal.
—Toddlers in beauty pageants?
—It’s so weird. So fucked-up.
—I don’t know who . . .
—And they film that?
—Well . . .
—And they have that for dogs too, you know.
—Pageants? Yes.
—Maybe that’s why you thought of naming a dog that?
—Maybe.

­—Hmmm.

—Uhh, I think I just saw a face in that box.
—Which one?
—The one on top of that chair.
—Hmmm. Like those two holes would be the eyes? I guess so.
—So it doesn’t look like we're going to Monrovia after all.
—No, it looks like we’re staying here. I’m definitely in no condition to drive.

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