In the 6th century AD, the Emperor of Rome made a final recommendation to his protégé Arturus, who would become Arthur Pendragon: “Only one thing really works in this wobbly world and that is magic. Everything else is not worth a rabbit fart.” Is that a historical truth? In any case it is in Kaamelott,French “camelote” is cheap quality that many hold with me for the best television series of all time.
It’s so funny that in the umpteenth vision we still ask for more. We know what’s going to happen, what they’re going to say, we’re waiting for the new Perceval bullshit, and knowing what’s going to happen makes the episodes even more exciting. The film from the series is bizarre, very different, disconcerting. I felt cheated because it was not in the same vein as the famous series. This first part on the big screen can disappoint the first vision. But from the second one, you get a taste of it and you ask for more. Patience! The rest will come.
In the meantime, I play the different episodes of the TV series a hundred more times. With a marked preference for book VI, a prequel. Arthur’s childhood, or rather his adolescence in Rome, where he likes like a fish in the water. And the different sequences with the emperor. No doubt, Alexandre Astier is a great player. Heir to a dynasty of actors, he honors his lineage. But this line he puts in the mouth of Pierre Mondy does not really fit with the director’s ideas. It fits better with mine.
Hard as nails
Magic! The big word is out. I’m fond of it, I admit, but magic scares a lot of people. Strong minds like Astier don’t give a shit. But the man or woman on the street can believe it hard. A wind of panic blows on the most gullible. What if all this were only spells and spells? Work of the devil?
First of all, the so-called devil is the god of former religion. That’s the universal rule. One nail drives away the other. In the time of the Romans all the gods had the right to be counted. But since the diktat of the one god, one must choose one’s side. This story of one God comes from confusion. Those who created us, educated us, formed us are not gods in the modern sense. They are mortal. The one god is an impossible myth. It has been confused with the Source, impersonal, universal, eternal. The Source is in each of us, human or divine; living, dead, or invisible.
Second, magic is neither white nor black. Its colour comes from the way it is used. They are called sorcerers or magi, bewitchers or disenchanters, spellers or exorcists, shamans or brujos, bewitchers or enchanters. So many mistakes. Most magicians don’t wear labels. They can intervene in an area that is controlled only by the donations received.
Listen to your belly
Every time I am asked to act in an unknown field, I listen… to my belly! If it remains calm, relaxed, confident, I accept the mission. And I go into something unknown. Often borderline. Believing without believing is my lifeline. I landed a dead man, as my benefactor used to say. He told me how he intervened to free a soul riddled with guilt, who could not leave the place of his sin.
He listened to what the deceased had to say, he blessed her by saying “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven“. By his own admission, the hardest thing was not to laugh when saying this illustrious phrase. It is not Jesus who wants. Let us keep it simple. Humility my shield.
I was asked to perform an exorcism. I accepted. I am neither a priest nor a specialist in demonology. I listened to my belly: it garbled. Not great. I listened to my voice: now I was talking elvish with the future exorcised! Yes, I attest that she needed it.
So I listened to my heart before I beat the crap out of a big, fast-moving piece of shit that blew out the window. That was closed! It didn’t stop the thing from going through at lightning speed.
When I heard it here and there, it seemed to me that Alexandre Astier is hardly a friend of these people and their practices, which he considers generally bogus. Certainly there is no lack of false-asses in this area as in all others. Exploiting public credulity is much easier than performing miracles. In the Kaamelott series, Emperor Pierre Mondy gives his protégé Arturus a precious stone with great magical powers. Which doesn’t surprise me from Astier. It’s not like him. It is expected that this stone will be the occasion of new gags well not at all. She acts like Excalibur, in high magic, without any caricature. And that surprises me.
The series is mostly pretext for gags (excellent) and does not shy away from any buffoonery, vulgarity, pirouette, exaggeration etc. Anachronisms have become its trademark. It is in the straight line of Asterix, but it goes even further. Astier never hid his admiration for the creators of the little Gaul, the giants René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo — who the ancients still call the three-point brothers.
Yet Astier is not Goscinny. The time is no longer the same. The farce in the former always has its counterpoint. Astier speaks to a more adult, more informed audience. He distorts to inform. He jesters to teach. He’s as much an educator as a comedian — which makes him even nicer. His work on Kaamelott is of a depth and completeness that has always left me stunned.
When you look at the series, you don’t necessarily see the huge amount of work. That’s the hidden part of the iceberg. However much of its success comes from Astier’s perfectionism. If his humour, indisputable, escapes no one, his culture and intelligence fascinate me even more. But let’s talk about magic.
The magic of the conjurer is only the art of illusion. It’s based on the need for wonder that makes every adult a child — the child he was and never completely forgets. But the one we live at every moment as long as we are careful, the one we will live life-size in our dreams of Flying Wolves, this magic has nothing to do with it.
“Are you so sure?” I will be objected. Those who follow me on the steep paths of high magic, perhaps they obey the same childlike fascination? Don’t they follow the taste of the marvels? Their penchant for the wonderful? Their attraction for the fantastic, the inexplicable, the incredible?
What should I say? I’ve been used to high magic since childhood. My elders are twins. Tongouzes say that the child who comes after twins is always a shaman. I don’t feel shaman even though I have the talents. I was not born magical by chance, I became it by vital necessity. When I was a baby, I had to resist the fucking pressure these two jokers were putting on me. With their silent complicity, they read into each other as in a book.
I had to learn to protect myself very quickly. Feel the signs, decode the attitudes, learn the transmission of thought and other stuff like that. We had to anticipate the blows. Frustrated in my desire for exchange, reduced to the rank of victim, isolated in a hostile sibling, at best indifferent, I reported my thirst for absolute on my great friends, then on my girlfriends. Not many teenagers felt as alone as I could be.
Finally I owe them what I am. Everything else is forgotten. Thank you. Then I must admit I’ve never been alone. My twin is inside. He’s my double. I am the sign of Gemini.