Introduction: Paul Bowles Now And Then

Anabela Duarte

Fuzzy slow aaaaah! Aaaaaah! I remember being born [1]

The present book is the result of a successful international conference held in Lisbon in 2010 to celebrate Paul Bowles’s 100th birthday. The American Studies Research Group at the University of Lisbon Center for English Studies (ULICES), organized the meeting and gathered writers and speakers from all corners of the world to honour Bowles’s centennial. From the beginning, the organization aimed at bringing forth the diverse aspects of the author’s work, both in literature and music, and at the same time draw in an international team of experts, scholars, authors and artists who shared creative research.

We proudly present in the current volume twenty-five essays from the conference. From Europe to North Africa, North America and Japan, to a no man’s land or new maps of global cooperation and sovereignty, the writings propose new approaches to Bowles based on his multiple interests in the fields of literary and musical production. It is not so much an interdisciplinary line of thought and critical analysis we aim for as a non-disciplinary critical method, a world-body of connections always on the move to the next direction, an actual nomadic stance on artistic and creative potential analyzed from a variety of perspectives. We are accustomed to think about Bowles as a gentleman, a classic writer who lived an exotic life in far-off countries, a hip American artist connected with the Beat Generation (but of a more elegant line) and we can even grant him a place in the late modernism canon (trusting it will exist), alongside Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein and other modernist provocateurs.

However, it is hard to believe such a writer and composer is included in more radical branches of literature and thought, due to his insistence on fine writing and proper English, economy of means and design, complex and self-referential composition. Likewise, refinement and a declared self-imposed split between his public and private persona, seem to be the motus or general tone of his autobiography Without Stopping, ironically entitled Without Telling by William Burroughs (or “Untold Tales,” by Virgil Thomson) or less ironically so, Knowing when to Stop, by Ned Rorem.

Between Burroughs’s plea for truth and Rorem’s self-containment lies a space in which Bowles is lodged in a fluid substratum of his own. His retreat from public scrutiny by means of a publica(c)tion seems rather contradictory and amusing at first sight, but appearances, according to Zizek, should be treated carefully:

Appearance, the public face, is never a simple hypocrisy whose truth resides in the scandalous hidden details… appearances are all we have, so we should treat them with great care – it happens quite often that, as a consequence of destroying an appearance, one ruins the thing itself behind the appearance. It is often claimed today that privacy is disappearing, that even the most intimate secrets are open to public probing, from media investigations and state surveillance to public confessions. But our reality is the opposite one: what is effectively disappearing is the public space proper, with its own dignity. (Zizek 409)

Hence, Bowles’s awareness of this public space and his meticulous relationship with it is not so much a refusal to say it all as a means to preserve his interiority from a global hunger for exposure of personal details at the expenses of one’s work and the historical significance of it. What’s the use of telling about his sexual partners, illnesses, dangerous liaisons, why this, why that – who would care? Bowles maintains: “The day I find out what I’m all about I’ll stop writing – I’ll stop doing everything. Once you know what makes you tick, you don’t tick any more” (Caponi 149). So appearances are important especially for those artists who work secretly in thought and in writing, inconspicuously, in order not to ruin their inner being and creative power.

Finding the world hostile, the artist reacts with concealment and deception through fiction and makes fiction the very core of his being. In fact, Bowles uses it as a weapon:

I was aware that I had a grudge, and that the only way I could satisfy my grudge was by writing words, attacking in words. The way to attack, of course, is to seem not to be attacking. Get people’s confidence and then, surprise! Yank the rug out from under their feet. If they come back for more, then I’ve succeeded. (Caponi 95)

It would be difficult to find his notorious cool detachment here, or his charming pose of an exotic gentleman. Instead what we have is Bowles as a corrosive agent provoking the disruption of appearances in an ultimate state of emergency:

I don’t write “about horror” but there is a sort of metaphysical malaise in the world today, as if people sense that things are going to be bad. They could be expected to respond to any fictional situation which evoked the same amalgam of repulsion and terror that they already vaguely feel. (96)

According to the author, his writing adopts horror and other literary devices to create a fundamental doubt in readers and to shake their basic assumptions, an effective means for questioning the hegemonic discourse, provoking social awareness and latent emotional outbursts, including one’s own:

… I am writing about today …. If I stress the various facets of unhappiness, it is because I believe unhappiness should be studied very carefully; this is certainly no time for anyone to pretend to be unhappy, or to put his unhappiness away in the dark. (And anyone who is not unhappy now must be a monster, a saint or an idiot.) You must watch your universe as it cracks above your head. (Caponi 5)

For Bowles, rational search for knowledge within the Western system and conceptualization leads to human disintegration and predatory techniques (what in Deleuzian terms is perhaps meant by “State apparatus of capture”).

Surreptitiously, it reminds us of that famous motto of the “Les Incorruptibles”, known as “Refinement, Paradox and Aporia.” In his last interview to Le Monde, on August 19, 2004, Derrida provided an interpretation of “the incorruptibles”:

By means of metonymy, I call this approach [of “the incorruptibles”] an intransigent, even incorruptible, ethos of writing and thinking ... without concession even to philosophy, and not letting public opinion, the media, or the phantasm of an intimidating readership frighten or force us into simplifying or repressing. Hence the strict taste for refinement, paradox, and aporia. (Lawlor n. pag.)

Though the intellectual and philosophical purposes of the French thinkers (Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault) and Bowles’s are distinct,[2] isn’t it nevertheless a similar line of thought and writing that Bowles is producing within this new perspective, that is, precision of language and thought, freedom from gregarious institutions and a natural abhorrence of easy solutions and popular concessions? Granted this point, one can note that he was not alone in such an idiosyncratic artistic path. Charles Henri Ford, John Latouche, Ahmed Yacoubi, Brion Gyson, William Burroughs, Aaron Copland, just to mention a few, were his friends and collaborators and they all were polyvalent and rather peculiar artists.

In Without Stopping, Bowles’s controversial autobiography, one can have a taste of what it was like to live in the twenties and early thirties in New York and Paris, as Orwell would put it: “when dollars were plentiful and the exchange-value of the franc was low” (“Inside the Whale” ch. 1). Moreover, according to Eric Mottram, in Staticity and Terror, the memoir “provides a context of events for his career which shows clearly his centrality, bringing together American culture figures of the Lost Generation, Thirties radicals, Forties New Yorkers, the Beat Generation and the Movement writers of the Sixties” (32). Not to mention the musical counterpart of the literary scene and his connections with the bulk of avant-garde American music and theatre (long before he became the “author-who-also-writes-music”),[3] film, fashion, radio, dance, art criticism and radical magazines. All of these connections clearly reveal the core of his work in continuous dialogue with different arts and métiers.

How a Writer Sings

Bowles has been criticized for decadence, nihilism and anarchism. Of decadence he claims that in art and literature “nothing is decadent but incompetence and commercialism” (Caponi 4-5), which is to say that he represents the real thing, both the “genuine artists” and the “genuine scoundrels” (Orwell ch. 1), so to speak, who inhabit an age he himself entitled an “Age of Monsters” (Let it Come Down 175), following Gramsci’s proclamation that “now [from the first world war on] is the time of monsters” (276). And nihilism and anarchism go hand in hand, according to Eric Mottram, with Bowles’s detachment from the laws of magic and the laws of society “which generate the uneasy anarchism of his fictions, and that, too, is a firm American tradition” (32).

By contrast, when critics discuss Bowles’s music, they generate completely different kinds of comments. As Ned Rorem claims:

Paul Bowles’s music is nostalgic and witty, evoking the times and places of its conception …. Bowles communicates the incommunicable. But even at their most humane his tales steer clear of the “human,” the romantic, while his music can be downright sentimental. (Hibbard 227)

The classification of Bowles’s music as witty and nostalgic or charming can be understood in its cultural context as Nadine Hubbs argues, in the Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity:

… much of what we know of homosexual (including camp) culture from this era is in the form of humour, wit, or charm that serves to conceal and distance a speaker from (at least some) interlocutors or onlookers …” (116).

And apparently, Bowles himself considered his music as “entertainment” and with “charm.” However, by entertainment he meant music that engages the listener with the purity of sound and tone and not with the show biz. In our opinion he is half way between Pound’s theories on sound and performance and Rorem’s appreciation of his music. But that is not saying that his music and his literature are two different species, as Rorem claims (see Swan, 1995 and Pound, 1968).

However, the view of Bowles’s music and literature as two antinomic art forms is the standard critical approach that prevails in Bowlesian studies up to today, and Rorem’s position is paradigmatic in what concerns that exquisite relationship. Following the same line of inquiry, and significantly later, in 1995, for instances, Eli Gottlieb, in an article curiously entitled “On Hearing Bowles,” claims the same unequal quality and balance:

… The question – finally unanswerable – leads us quite naturally to his music, which has the advantage, over writing, of being far more “about” itself. In listening to his work, one is immediately struck by the freedom of the music. Where the prose is always necessarily harnessed to the low gear of narrative, the lightsome inventions of his compositions surprise. (Swan 33)

And finally he declares at the end of the article that “… it is increasingly clear [that fiction and music] have very little directly to do with each other.” However, Bowles himself claims that his fiction, and especially the novels were written with great freedom. Describing that process, he wrote, “I often have no idea what I’m going to write when I sit down. I never plan ahead of time …. Writing isn’t about an idea. It comes more from a kind of feeling” (Caponi 199). The exception was of course The Spider’s House, a work that “from the outset demanded a rigorous schedule” (x). The latter work was more like his composition of music, which required extreme concentration, technical knowledge and thus a less intuitive approach. Regarding this controversial point Bowles remarks: “It doesn’t require any technical knowledge to write in your own language. At any age. But it does require a certain amount of technical knowledge to do the same thing with music” (Night Waltz). So it seems that some acquired assumptions on the author’s work reflecting dualistic and/or antinomic conceptualization, needs to be challenged with broader perceptive and contextual analysis. Moreover, when asked if he did find any parallels between his work as a composer and his writings he replied:

Well, if you’re a composer, that’s going to determine something about the form in which you construct your prose. Especially novelistic construction. There’s definitely a connection in that it can affect your style. If you have an “inner ear,” then you hear everything you write; you hear it out loud, every sentence, every phrase. When I write I hear it as I’m working. I hear it as it should sound before I ever type it. (Caponi 110)

Thus, in our opinion the critic in “On Hearing Bowles” didn’t hear him justly.

As noted in earlier discussion, Mottram sees Bowles’s fiction also as dualistic, oscillating between stasis and terror. Stasis is the choice on which Bowles characters rely for security and non-violence, for a place of enclosure, a sheltering sky where a man does not risk dislocation from society. And terror is connected with underground forces and nature, an exposure to Nothing, to a humanity without pattern “and therefore lost” (11).

Rorem’s comments on Bowles’s music are also dualistic in a different but connected way. Clearly, all critics are striving to understand Bowles’s oeuvre from a symmetrical perspective, black and white, a striated space of thought that moves from one point to another, giving his literary and musical work intrinsic properties (themes, tradition, context, interiority from which his work derives), in detriment of more situational ones. Mottram, however, suggests a line of thought, which he doesn’t explore but that propels us to a further enquiry into a new Bowles effect. It is the sculpting of this effect that we search and follow in our book, that is, the conception of Bowles’s work as pure strategy, a non-coded body of invention. Mottram suggests this approach when he quotes Port Moresby, who in a flash of wisdom summarizes this pursuit of a more smooth way of life, a non-linear space of commitment and becoming:

He felt very close to himself, perhaps because in order to feel alive a man must first cease to think of himself as being on his way. There must be a full stop, all objectives forgotten .… The whole of life does not equal the sum of its parts. It equals any one of the parts; there is no sum. (10)

To feel alive, listening to one’s heartbeat and stop thinking in following a pre-determined direction is to let oneself free to pursue every direction and give time a new rhythm and speed. It is a creative space of oblivion where development happens at every point of a line and it happens by mutation and not evolution for every part of life is the playing of a differential and the differential never produces wholes (sums) but multiplicities (singularities). This differential and its multiple movement calls for a playfulness and enjoyment that is a fundamental part of Bowles’s musical and literary work and which critics never seem to acknowledge, preferring instead dualistic, decadent and nihilistic readings of Bowles or sharp contrasts with his so called “nostalgic and witty music.”[4] We want to play with Bowles and be played by him.

The crucial aim of this volume of essays is to present as many different readings of Bowles as possible, and especially those that challenge previous readings of the author (including those regarding the relationship between his music and literature), thereby following the stream of a minor literature/music which thinks each work anew without reverting to old categories and movements to justify its value and significance to a modern readership/listenership. In fact, we want Bowles’s work to inspire new modes of thought and consciousness each time it is re-produced, read, performed or criticized. But not studied, for study is a “dirty word” (Swan 10).

Why cannot Buddha go into the mountains without his barometer?

The present collection is divided in seven chapters, not because it obeys to a circumscribed number of thematic or disciplinary materials that would seem fit to put together under a general designation (although that happens too) but to open up the field of Bowles research to the problems of contemporary society. What’s the use of exploring Bowles’s work if not for the intensive struggle lying at the core of today’s wisdom, laziness and self-despair? It is a sort of “spiritual wickedness in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12, qtd. in Zizek xv) that he foresaw in The Sheltering Sky, a poetic report of the sign of the times after World War II and of one’s own too restless soul, which finds its perfect echo in current global sensibility. That is part of his fascination, his actuality and creative non-alignment, which keeps bringing new work from newcomers and from renowned scholars and artists all around the world. A renewal of Bowles’s readership is at stake and every chapter tries to address it by including not long but insightful essays, sharpness of tone and controversial ideas, like cult movies or twisted ballads. Accordingly, the book begins by introducing the man and the artist with first-hand testimonies of distinguished scholars who met him and were personally and critically sensible to both his allure and imagination.

Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, Bowles’s first biographer, speaks in “Paul Bowles as I Knew Him” of the man and of the artist with passion and at the same time with a critical eye which smacks of indiscretion: “I spent years trying to penetrate beyond that set piece Paul so liked to offer the world. I spent years attempting to decipher who Bowles really was.” Understandingly, we find it a most difficult task, especially when the subject of one’s curiosity openly claims that he doesn’t know (and doesn’t care) of what makes him tick for otherwise he probably wouldn’t tick anymore (Hibbard 148-49). One can easily apply the same thought to Lauçanno as well – if he did know what he was looking for, maybe the biographer himself would stop ticking and his fascination fade out. The article moves in this dialogic aporia and presents the wonderful adventures (and misfortunes) of a scholar who immersed himself in Bowles’s “world and life”: a private jungle of thought, fiction, music, cannabis, friends and manners. In short, Sawyer-Lauçanno offers an exciting portrait of “an extraordinary man.”

Regina Weinreich, teacher and film director, who co-taught a writer’s workshop with Paul Bowles in the 80s, in Tangier, gives us an oblique and witty report of the man behind the screen (not the curtain): “I Would Invite You to Supper but I Have Only one Egg.” She finds him “courteous, friendly, and charming,” although at the same time she acknowledges that his fiction “is imbued with something sinister,” which pulls us back to the mystery of the writer, a sort of an elegant Hitchcock with a crushing appetite for a good laugh and a macabre and criminal interest: “I don’t find murder, or the possibility of murder sad, do you? … All human beings are capable of it, given the right circumstances.” And he did create the right circumstances in Let it Come Down, when the protagonist killed his Moroccan acquaintance, Thami, out of the blue, or in Up Above the World, or in his countless intriguing short stories. Weinreich also highlights Jane Bowles and their peculiar marriage as well as Burroughs and the making of Naked Lunch. This reminds us of the astonishing fact that “there are numerous points of entry into the life and work” of the artist Bowles, due mainly to the wide variety of his production “that continues to circulate in contemporary culture.” Allen Hibbard, a teacher and writer who has written extensively on Bowles’s (short) fiction, is the author of these lines.

Hibbard proposes to reflect upon what Bowles means for today’s world, what is it that makes his work and his figure still so attractive to contemporary audiences. First of all, Bowles’s short stories and his literary work are the prime source of his fascination, and he explores some of Bowles’s favourite themes and the dramatic quality of his writings by underlining their disruptive force “beneath the smooth surface” of the text (something that Lauçanno and Weinreich felt from another angle). Bowles’s short stories are depicted and analysed in terms of centrality of place and setting, concept of journey, and a sort of nomadic flow that questions the “very nature of movement” of some of his characters and actions.[5] Another source of fascination is the life of the author itself, full of seduction and exotic places and without boring jobs – “what a tantalizing prospect for those of us haunted by a fantasy of ultimate freedom.” Addiction to travelling, however, provided materials for both his fiction and music. Last but not least, Hibbard underlines the importance of Bowles’s work to foster understanding of today’s conflicts between Islam and the Western world.

Gloompots and Agonizers

In the second section, “Ecologies of Fear and Violence – Resistance or Desistance?,” the idea is to connect Bowles’s production with the recent conceptual framework of “social ecology” based on violence and conflict and to figure out what kind of answers to this phenomena are still available or possible in order to face up to a general cynicism in practical action and thought – something that Bowles was aware of when claiming that “the cynicism and wisecracks ultimately function as endorsements of the present civilization”(Caponi 100). At the same time, we intend to explore artistic works in broader historical, cultural and political contexts.

Following this line of inquiry, The Spider’s House immediately comes to mind, a novel which the author himself considered a “political” work, for lack of a better term: “Thus, whether I liked it or not, when I had finished, I found that I had written a ‘political’ book which deplored the attitudes of both the French and the Moroccans” (x). And so for the first time Bowles is engaged with a political vision of his own – that whether he likes it or not was also the result of the “major political and social transformations” in Morocco, “which moved from colonialism to independence through various intense struggles in the postcolonial period” (Edwards 82). Propelled by this premise, Greg Bevan, in “The Perceptual is Political: Modes of Consciousness in The Spider’s House,” develops a stimulating argument around Bowles’s awareness and “dissent against colonialism and Western material culture in general,” already implicit in his fiction and “explicit in some of his essays,” despite rumours that sustain his imperialistic way of life. In fact, he seems to suggest that this “political book” of the author is a sort of a “Truth–Event”[6] with resistant contours and one which differs from an aestheticizing of a war that fosters a philosophy of desistance such as, for instance, the one performed by Burroughs in Tangier at the same time, under the same revolutionary circumstances. In a letter to Ginsberg and Kerouac, Burroughs claims: “There’s a war here I want to dig” (Letters 292). Moreover, in “Aestheticizing the Revolution: William Burroughs in Tangier,” Kurt Hemmer declares:

[that] the very means Burroughs uses to resist the European narrative impels him to desist from making a critical stand against certain imperialistic attitudes. As Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch, the resistance to imperialism in Tangier burst into his novel, but was met with the desistance of his narrative hipster persona. (103)

On the contrary, Bowles seems to consistently contextualizing the novel’s characters in a complex geopolitical order and American policies through two exploratory modes of consciousness, namely wisdom and knowledge. In Bevan’s words: “Cultural assertiveness and end-of-empire resignation, instrumental knowledge and fatalistic wisdom: as Koch might say, it is all here.”[7] No one (and nothing) rules forever.

A not altogether different position is presented by Clare Brandabur in her exciting article “Laughing with Thieves: Images of Paul Bowles in Tahar Ben Jelloun and Mohamed Choukri,” which points to the cultural dissonances lying at the bottom of the encounters between American writers of the “Interzone” and their Moroccan interlocutors, focusing on both colonialism and orientalism. Quoting Andrew Hussey in “Screening Tangier,” she claims that “the reality of the so-called ‘gay Tangier’ was, and no doubt still is, a predatory form of sex tourism rather than the real utopian liberating playground … wished for by Burroughs et al” (Owen and Hussey 2007). Therefore, instead of analysing Bowles’s viewpoint on Moroccans, a more popular issue, she consistently brings to the surface particular Moroccan writers’s responses to how they perceived Paul Bowles et al. From the exodus of starving families of the Rif, the economic, social and sexual assault on the natives is deeply resented and depicted in vivid literary pictures of not so magic realism. Already in 1939, in an essay entitled “Marrakech,” George Orwell watched a column of overworked Negro infantry soldiers (under French rule) marching and sweating, and he asks the most outrageous question with his usual nerve and perspicacity: “How much longer can we go on kidding these people? How long before they turn their guns in the other direction?”

The answer to this question came almost two decades later, in 1956, when Morocco finally gained its independence, and French colonialism came to an end. Then, under the auspices of the nationalist drive, some young Moroccan scholars have become critically engaged “with an examination of what had been written in and about their country by expatriate writers” and armed with postcolonial theory started to produce a critical speech on Bowles. We include in this chapter (and collection) an essay by one of those scholars, Younes Riyani, who focuses on The Spider’s House from a more radical perspective thus illuminating the general tone of much criticism on the work of expatriate writers – and especially Bowles – that is being produced from a Moroccan point of view.[8] It is interesting to compare this essay, “The Spider’s House: Paul Bowles and the Question of Moroccan Independence,” with Bevan’s, since both extensively use the same critical sources, namely Hans Bertens and Brian Edwards, to come to different conclusions. Riyani’s main thesis is, in his words, to “demystify Paul Bowles’s attitude towards the Istiqlal party and the question of Moroccan Independence ….” Thus, he attacks Bowles’s contradictory appetite for “backward” Morocco, and his beloved medieval Fez, in opposition to a more balanced struggle for evolution and progress.

A compelling text by Andrew Hussey gives us a contemporary vision of a sign of the present time, in that Hussey explores the complex relationships between East and West. Suggestively entitled “Tangier, Capital of Treason,” after Jean Genet: “Genet loved Tangier. He called it ‘the capital of treason,’ on the grounds that it was full of criminals, spies and homosexuals,” and only mentioning Bowles in passing, Hussey’s essay does however give an elaborate and complex report of a post-Bowles Moroccan era which reveals much of the centrality of Bowles’s work to the present inter-cultural scene. The essay, written in a compelling journalistic literary style, denounces the excesses of foreign presence in Tangier in the name of sexual liberation and reflects on the bombings in Madrid (in 2004) and their relationship to the city (“terrorism is violence as a game”), and to a broader socio-economic situation which is related to the so-called “Fourth World War,” which “is not a conflict between Islam and the West or the rich North and the globalized South, but a conflict between two different experiences of the world – those who can join in the modern world, and those who are left behind.” Baudrillard would say in America:

Long live the Fourth World, the world to which you can say, “Right, utopia has arrived. If you aren’t part of it, get lost!” the world that no longer has the right to surface, the disenfranchised, who have no voice and are condemned to oblivion, thrown out to go off and die their second-class deaths. (122)

However, even those who can join the modern world are not secure and often what they experience is the dread that lies behind the fragile curtain of material and “democratic” societies, as the need for security is the result of governmental political and military strategies and the merchandising system manipulation of that need, by creating common feelings of insecurity leading to consumption both of goods and protection. This modern need for security is also inevitably linked to war. In 1897, M.I.S. Bloch prophetically claimed: “This is the future: no combat, only famine; no killing, only the bankruptcy of nations and the collapse of any social system” (qtd. in Virilio 142).

That is something that Bowles foresaw when writing stories to provoke the outburst of the unfamiliar and emotional terror on his readers, hastening to declare: “Security is a false concept” (Caponi 91).

Taking up that premise, in “False Concepts: The Absence of Security and Intimacy in the Work of Paul Bowles,” Andrew Martino elaborates a close reading of the concept of security in the author’s fiction. He claims “without security, one runs the risk of tumbling into a state of anxiety that ultimately leads to madness and annihilation. In his fiction Bowles opens the path toward oblivion via an exposure to anxiety.” On one hand, he proceeds to analyse the elements (informants) that provide a false sense of security and intimacy in Bowles’s fiction, starting with the concept of family (the bond between father and son) and travelling in unknown lands (loss of passport/identity). On the other hand, he finds in form and sequential writing, the ideal “mechanism that seeks to provide a sense of security, not only for the author, but the reader as well.” Contrary to the Beats who promoted non-linear narratives and reading – Burroughs famously asserted, for instance, that one could begin reading Naked Lunch on any page – Bowles’s narrative strategy is to provide a solid ground from where content works like a line of flight.

Oh where’s your ear I want to whisper to you

Section Three, entitled “Music, Noise and Politics,” follows Paul Bowles’s multiple interests in the field of literary and musical production, thus considering him both as a writer and a composer by offering theoretical interpretative tools and meta-linguistic constructs to enable a more refined understanding of the author’s overall work, beyond the traditional fictional/textual focus. Gore Vidal in the introduction to Bowles’s Collected Stories 1939-1976, impressively suggests the importance of this line of enquiry where both music and literature work together in the possibility of producing unexpected results:

For the American Academic, Bowles is still odd man out; …. In fact, he supported himself for many years by writing incidental music for such Broadway plays as The Glass Menagerie. It is curious that at a time when a number of serious critics have expressed the hope that literature might one day take on the attributes of the “highest” of all the arts, music, Bowles has been composing music as well as prose. I am certain that the first critic able to deal both with his music and his writing will find that Bowles’s life work has been marvellous in a way not accessible to those of us who know only one or the other of the two art forms. (35)

Accordingly, we expect to offer our readership some insightful tools that foster a deeper accessibility to Bowles’s work. The chapter includes six essays, which deal only with music in connection with literature, politics, and cultural issues. It starts with a wonderful essay by Jennifer L. Campbell that focuses on the politics and cultural intricacies of inter-Americanism surrounding the making and the performance of Pastorela, a ballet, in 1941. Bowles wrote the music for the American Ballet Caravan, directed by Lincoln Kirstein, and the work is based on a traditional Mexican-Indian liturgical play. In Campbell’s words:

Although the work was meant to send a pro-Latin American message on behalf of the United States, Pastorela received mixed reactions, suggesting an unfortunate misalignment between the positive intentions of its creators and its reception by South American audiences.

Interestingly, we believe, the same sort of misalignment and negative reception was produced by a Charles Henri Ford opera, Denmark Vesey, in 1939, for which Bowles also wrote the music, based in African folk materials, which suggests a broader contextual design and significance of Campbell’s critical analysis.

The need for authenticity in searching for traditional music and patterns was typical of composers and Western musicology of this time and it reflects also Bowles’s concerns with the traditional Morocco he loved and for which he is so much blamed for appropriating. Melissa de Graaf, claims that in the Depression era, at the heart of American modernism, the “primitive and exotic seized the imaginations of artists, writers, and musicians on both sides of the Atlantic” (156). Likewise, this interest led composers to appropriate vernacular music and later to a Popular Front’s “musical style” less experimental than accessible to a wider public (see Graaf).

One consequence of this passionate affair was the great collection of Moroccan music he recorded in 1959, and that today is still available at the Library of Congress. However, this interest that extends itself greatly to Latin American music, as we are about to see, was not completely altruistic. According to Luis Mergal, “[it] paid off handsomely in his own oeuvre.” In “Paul Bowles and Latin American Music,” Luis Mergal, a Puerto-Rican scholar and pianist, draws a formidable picture of the Latin American musical scene, the very roots of Bowles’s interest in Latin rhythms and melodies, and even hints at the origins of the author’s turn from composing to literature. He consistently suggests that the “yearning for primordial myth” is what leads the artist to “traditional (“folk”) music in the first place” and finds Bowles’s music an extraordinary example of the “adaptation of folk idioms to art music.”

Carole Blankenship takes a different approach in “The Musical Styles of the Early Songs of Paul Bowles.” For someone who claimed not to like vocal music, Bowles did manage to produce a lot of it, namely operas, two cantatas, choral works, and songs. The early songs of Bowles are exquisite and Blankenship thoroughly examines them from an historical and analytical perspective which shows three distinct compositional styles: one experimental and atonal appearing only in a set of six songs (Six Chansons, 1932), that reflect the “Post-Modern harmonies” of the time, a second described as “analogous to the French mélodie,” which shows his taste for French music (Satie, Debussy, Ravel) and language (Cocteau, Linze) and a third one being the folk (American) style (Minstrel songs).

It is deeply rewarding to realize the incredible range of Bowles’s creativity and musical production, a truly singular work on its own but it is equally fascinating to examine how this production necessarily connects with his writings as previously mentioned. The two fields of artistic production are linked, even if they have separate “lives,” as argued on the following essay by Verena Mogl: “The Question of Music and Prose it’s a Tricky One to Answer – Paul Bowles Composer-Writer.” Mogl alleges “Bowles’s artistic work was always in one discipline, with the exception of the years 1946 to 1950,” because “the number of pieces of music he composed after 1950 is just as low as the number of literary texts he wrote before 1946.” Hence, she suggests that a “time of transition” before the shift from one art form to the other took place and claims that the author was not particularly interested in a specific art form per se and the particular skills each one required, but in the search “for the suitable means of expression.” She finds the reasons for this shift in the irrational and intuitive drive of art, which began with his conception of the poems as dream states and the practice of surrealist techniques such as the so-called écriture automatique that would give his lyrical texts “a hint of dreaminess and floating surreality.” She further claims that as Bowles looked for a comparable approach to music he felt gradually unsatisfied by too many rational/technical constraints that would inhibit his free situative musical style. Thus, “writing literature solved a lot of the problems he had not been able to solve while he was composing,” and enabled him to work without boundaries. The article proceeds with a fascinating comparative analysis of both modes of production, literature and music, in Bowles’s work.

Regarding the relationship between literature and music, and the work produced by authors from its double bind, it is worth stressing that Bowles’s work is unique from that perspective. Ned Rorem, his friend and also a writer and composer himself, submits a most eloquent picture of that uniqueness:

Composer-authors generally compartmentalize their two vocations, allotting parts of each year, if not each day, to each profession. But as authors their subject is inevitably music (as witness Berlioz, Schumman, Debussy, or today, Boulez, Thomson, Sessions), whereas Paul Bowles is a fiction-writing composer, the only significant one since Richard Wagner, and even Wagner’s fiction was at the service of his operas. (Hibbard 226)

It is also relevant to underline the importance of Ned Rorem as one of the first critics to pay attention to the comparative analysis between American literature and music. In fact, he is one of the few at his time (and even now) who knows both Bowles’s prose and music, and writes and publishes about it, whether we agree or not. He sees this as a symptom of American’s “exclusive engagement with specialists”, when writing about Frank O’Hara, for instance:

His apercus on what an American opera should be are so much more lucid and concerned than mine .… He was the first of the so-called New York Poets (with Schuyler, Koch, Ashbery) to vanish. I set to music all of them extensively, but their close relation to the sonic art is never, but never, mentioned by critics and biographers. In America the arts do not interconnect (x).

Likewise, amplifying the resonances of that relationship, “On Degenerescence and Realms of Suppression: Paul Bowles vis-à-vis Einojuhani Rautavaara,” by Zbigniew Bialas, proposes a provocative connection between Bowles’s distrust of the “Western apparatus of representation” and similar concerns in Einojuhani Rautavaara’s opera Thomas, 1985. Taking as a starting point Bowles’s numerous references in fiction and music criticism on “Western degenerescence” and the notion of voice/vocality as the ground element in representational theory, he develops a critical analysis of the “fabrication of ready-to-use exotic soundscapes,” focusing on the vocal and linguistic organization of musical works. In Rautavaara’s opera, thus, he discovers a more effective means for criticizing the hegemonic language (English) through auditory aesthetics and, in his own words, “less – obviously – literary forms” – something that according to Bialas is not achieved by Bowles in spite of his attempts to use sound in his fiction to subvert the “integrity of the cogito.” Moreover, he bypasses Bowles’s considerations of hearing as a secondary sense and brings sound aesthetics to the fore.

My own contribution to the volume, “Noise and Violence in Up Above the World, by Paul Bowles: Music as Torture in Modern Fiction,” is an inquiry into the aesthetics of noise and violence that ultimately lead to music used as torture (the recent War on Terror is an emergent example), in modern fiction, namely in the work of Bowles and his last novel, which he described as an “entertainment” in the manner of Graham Greene. In fact, my claim is that Bowles’s novel triggers dramatic implications the author never dreamed of and that what was supposed to be an exercise in the thriller genre turns out to be a novel, perhaps the first one that connects fiction with music as a weapon and as torture. The power of music in war was already well described by Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) when he remarked that it is “an art which is so near akin to the soldier’s that, in our modern Western World, it is regarded as the best preparation for a military training” (qtd. in Virilio 172).

My argument develops around the theoretical corpus of the seminal work of Jacques Attali, Noise, and the more recent research in the field of Music as Torture studies. It also underlines the use of noise as a potential field of inventiveness for future research in literary works and a way to foster understanding, or better, new layers of knowledge and research on the experience of sound and fear in different narratives.

The Future is Now

The title of the fourth section, “No Maps for These Territories: Bowles, Burroughs and Beyond,” springs from my sheer admiration for the work of William Gibson and the kind of high tech – cyberpunk philosophy that his books inscribe. Not that Bowles has anything to do with it, strictly speaking, for he was no high tech lover. However, cyberpunk is not just about high tech, but contemporary science fiction drawing on uncharted waters of entropic urban systems. From this point of view, we can find resonances within the works of “Bowles, Burroughs and Beyond,” with modernism and the “muckrackers,” for instance, who waged cultural campaigns against oppressive corporate monopolies or corrupt politicians. This is something akin to pursuits of cyberpunk characters who express their philosophy in the maxim “High tech, Low life.”

Thus, engaged with modernism but in a provocative way, Christopher Leslie proposes a reading of Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky as a critical statement on the modernist project itself, via (and against) Gertrude Stein. In “Aesthetic Tourists: The Sheltering Sky’s Critique of Modernism,” Leslie argues:

[that] while modernism did provide a mechanism for artists to take an outsider’s look at language and society, it was unable to assist real people in contexts radically different from the ones they were used to.

And he systematically provides a close reading of the main characters in the novel, Port and Kit, and biographical and autobiographical materials that support a planned and derisory attitude of Bowles towards the modernist sensibilities of the protagonists of the story. Modernist techniques, he notes, are not the best way of seeing the world, especially when the world “is an environment that does not lend itself to this methodology.” To “make it new,” then, is not enough, and the result is the annihilation of Port and the mad wandering of Kit, whose ultimate experience in the desert and survival does not enrich her but degrades her.

Relying on a dialogue between American literature and transatlantic and transnational ideas connected with modernism and modernity, Benjamin Heal’s essay, “American Existentialism and Surrealism in Paul Bowles’s ‘The Scorpion’ and ‘By the Water,’ Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs’s And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks”, provides an examination of the alienated self, folklore and the idea of “primitivism” in Bowles’s short stories, revealing its European artistic imaginary based on Existentialism and Surrealist techniques, and underlines the fact that “Burroughs and Kerouac were looking beyond America for their influences, at ideas that hadn’t hit America yet.” He traces Luis Buñuel, Jorge Luis Borges, André Breton and Sartre as possible sources of inspiration for Bowles in the particular making of Hippos. Although not following a comparative analysis between these literary works, he nevertheless underlines their importance in the post-war period “in presenting an American literature that has “lost innocence.”

The next essay, “The Importance of Place and Space in Paul Bowles’s Short Fiction,” begins with a suggestive quote from the author – “What You Do Is Nearer to What You Are than What You Think Is” – and focuses on two particular short stories, one being Too Far from Home (1993), a late novella by the author and another story “At Paso Rojo” (1948). Isabel Martins analyses how places and the perception of confined spaces “can be read as an effective means of conveying the characters’s inner nature,” their sense of guilt, displacement and basic violent compulsions. In these stories, Martins notes that the protagonists are not the usual victims of Westernized perceptions of the Other, like in many of Bowles’s writings, but, in fact, are the predators. Moreover, she suggests that place and space are structural elements that support the narrative structure and its exotic outlines, pointing also, like Ben Heal’s essay, to a loss of innocence.

Nuno Marques’s paper “Experiences of Death and Dissolution in Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky and Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels” reviews the sense of a psychological as well as a physical displacement and existential anguish as a mirror of the general malaise of the “civilized American of the post-war period.” Supporting his conviction of the centrality of Nature in both works, and the impossibility felt by Bowles and Kerouac characters for developing an unselfish relationship with it, Marques underlines their ultimate failure and their return to Western civilization. Face to face with their own selves, the confrontation with the natural forces of the desert and the mountain does not withstand the protagonists’s quest for an ultimate revelation, nor do their mystical ruminations, which lack a true communion with the “wilderness,” resulting in the characters’s alienation and growing distance from their surroundings.

Section Five contains just two essays, but in fact it has a deep resonance in our project, for the film You Are Not I, by Sara Driver, who participated in the conference, was based on Paul Bowles’s homonymous story, and was restored and digitalized with our conference in mind.[9] Thus it played an important part in the overall tone and aesthetic concept of the conference, being included in its main exhibition entitled “Pirates at Heart: Excavating Paul Bowles,” which featured the screening of the film at Cinemateca de Lisboa, followed by a discussion, and a whole section dedicated to it named “You Are Not I – A Film by Sara Driver,” which included the original press kit and film script, letters of Paul Bowles to the director, posters, promotional photographs and press kit for screens in other European venues.[10] I still remember with amusement the large number of e-mails exchanged with Francis Poole, poet and film librarian/archivist at the University of Delaware, and also Tim Murray, and the pressure I was putting on both (and myself) to have the film (and the other materials) ready for our presentation. In the end, with relief, one could finally claim, “we did it!” for we really had to overcome unspeakable obstacles.

The film has a truly unique story and has been a great success ever since, being presented at many international film festivals, reviewed by The New York Times in 2010 and also presented at the New York Film Festival in 2011 and at other scholarly events on Bowles. Hence, it is doubly fascinating to open the chapter with Poole’s extended essay[11] on the extraordinary discovery of the film and its connection with the No Wave scene of New York – a fact that becomes even more extraordinary since no one knew what was inside the mysterious film case which was covered with bug powder, reminding us of David Cronenberg’s film of William Burroughs’s novel Naked Lunch, as the canister ultimately contained a notable example of reality surpassing fiction as well as a remarkable first film. However, none of this would have happened if Bowles hadn’t written the story “You Are Not I,” and if the film director, Driver, hadn’t found it inspiring and connected with her own interests and sensibility, and perhaps more importantly with her own times.

The story, which results from the exchange of identities between two twin sisters (one mentally ill and another one allegedly mentally sane), points towards a reflection on the very concepts of madness and normalcy and to the making of a resistant text that resists, precisely, many common assumptions about cultural and linguistic behaviour. Likewise, Yoshiaki Koshikawa attaches considerable relevance to the story, claiming:

Among Bowles’s works, “You Are Not I” (1948) makes a critique of society that is relevant even today, despite the fact that the story was published more than sixty years ago. The story radically questions the basis for Western discourses about boundaries which differentiate between “sanity” and “insanity.”

>In his essay, “A Resistant Text: Paul Bowles’s ‘You Are Not I,’” Koshikawa claims that travel narrative is one of the major elements in Bowles’s short stories and proceeds to highlight “boundaries” as the operative model of his enquiry. Acknowledging that Bowles is a master of landscape, he suggests the replacement of the idea of “scenery” with the idea of “law” and “taboo” since assigning meaning to the landscape “is a product of the imagination of the travellers who cross “boundaries” and “borders” and not of the landscape itself. By examining boundaries that define “insanity,” the use of a specific “Power Apparatus” and of a distorted syntax he demonstrates the resistant mechanisms that “reveal the vulnerability of those seemingly distinct “boundaries” and expose the arbitrariness and relativity of law and taboo that are accepted as natural by people who live inside of the boundaries.”

Section Six addresses the mediation of cultures and the complexities of key concepts and patterns of behaviour, which dominate the East/West debate with two essays also. The sense of a modernity that fails to come to grips with a more realist image of the “Oriental” land and that, on another hand, threats to ruin ancient beliefs and origins in the name of progress is a dominant theme in Bowles’s work and connects it also to Lévi-Strauss’s ethnographical journey and anthropological concerns on Tristes Tropiques. Focusing on a controversial Bowles short story, “A Distant Episode,” the section starts with Bouchra Benlemlih’s “Towards an Absent Origin: The Edge of Anger in Paul Bowles’s ‘A Distant Episode,’” which proceeds to depict the elements in tune with Lévi-Strauss’s ethnographic mourning, regret and nostalgia that are “emblematized in the title of Tristes Tropiques.” Trapped in nostalgia for the past, Bowles’s protagonist, the Professor, remains a prisoner of the “atemporality of memory structures, and of symbolic systems,” failing to recognize the essential changes in time and history that pertains to every living social system. Like a typical Western traveler, the professor “assumes that the village will not have changed, that it is timeless, out of (Western) time,” failing to understand that “traditions are constantly changing” and becoming blind to the suggestive announcements of his tragic destiny. Hence, the Professor’s doomed ambivalence is both rooted in an intellectual refusal of modernity/absent origin and in an empirical estrangement from the native/real world, a “structure of feeling,” that according to Benlemlih finds resonance in both Bowles’s and Lévi-Strauss’s own “feelings of grief, as nature, land, raw materials and also people are transformed.”

From a more post-colonial perspective, Fernando Gomes, in the second and last essay of the section, explores the complexity of human and cultural relations between the Islamic and the Christian worlds in “The Time of Friendship,” a Bowles short story written in 1962. Based on a Bowles journey into the desert, the story draws on the impossibility of a middle-aged woman to return to her beloved second home in Taghit, because of the Algerian war. Thus, Fräulein Windling, the main protagonist of the fictional work, represents the typical Bowles travelerin search for a more authentic way of life in idyllic landscapes. Her exquisite relationship with Slimane, a young Arab, “imbued with eroticism,” is authentic; however it also shows that her particular demand for cultural purity and true experience is not based on a dynamic and impartial vision of the cultural forces at play. In fact, Gomes argues that she both lacks vision and will to understand the “other’s” traditions and progress, aiming at imposing her own “factors of cultural transformation” and not allowing learning them from others, namely their religion and concept of modernity.

I saw Dracula as though he’d rescued Jesus from the cross

The seventh and final section, “Momentum No Speed,” focuses on disparate elements of Bowles’s writing, social life and film which point to an alternative pace of time where people would write letters instead of e-mails, travel by ship and ground transportation instead of planes and high jets. Many Bowles works were written while travelling by ship, a form of travel he regarded as far more inspiring than the current modes of displacement. In that sense, his nomadic expatriate life in a sub-urban, geo-economic region, Morocco, a time-space of interdiction, can be seen as a plea for staticity against the modern belief that “stasis is death.”

The first essay, by Kostoula Kaloudi, discusses the role of the narrator Paul Bowles in the film The Sheltering Sky, and the dimensions that role takes in the ability to evoke “a real or imaginary past, on its relationship with magic, on the indirect reference to the personality of Jane Bowles in the film.” It doesn’t propose a critical analysis but a reflection on thoughts that the novel and the film inspire. Thus, finding herself also an alternative (s)pace for her own “analysis,” Kaloudi suggests the existence of a variety of mirrors in the film as a dreamlike sign of a dual reality and illusion that supports an autobiographical reading of the film and the very essence of the art of cinema “where the ghosts force us to go to them.” Believing the narrator Paul Bowles “is led to a “disclosure” by his featuring in the film,” she projects the author in a magical space-time where he can freely recall “his personal and literary memory.”

Calling equally on the exploratory potential of the mysterious and magical dynamics of Bowles’s belief in a secret passage between the natural and conscious world that “caused a short circuit in the brain,” is Maria Lima’s contribution “Gothic Short Circuits in Paul Bowles’s Short Fiction.” In this interstitial space of a “dark exotic mood” where beauty and terror reflect the state of complete isolation of Bowles’s characters, Lima draws a parallel between the author’s compulsive use of “effects of reduplications, mirroring and magical exchanges,” and American Gothic Fiction, notably Edgar Allan Poe’s mechanisms of psychic disintegration and perversity. Moreover, she actually “discovers” Bowles’s magical recipe for the processional metamorphosing of unfamiliar patterns of fear and terror and how he puts them at work to “reveal some of the disturbing secrets of the intercultural clashes” in his writings: a fictional universe where creation depends on destruction to exist.

Completing the final chapter of the Do You Bowles? volume, Krisztina Dankó examines the literary (and musical) friendship of Jane and Paul Bowles with Tennessee Williams, the influential American playwright. In addition, she shows a sort of Western version of a more personal “time of friendship” within Bowles’s literary and artistic circle of Bohemian friends that point to a magical space-time when people were easy to meet in spite of geographical distance and lack of financial resources. Thus, proceeding to highlight Williams’s several stays in Tangier, the making of the successful The Glass Menagerie, his close relationship with Jane Bowles and her work (“an acute admixture of humour and pathos”), their travelling companionship, lovers and dedications to Paul Bowles, Dankó attributes such a long friendship to Williams’s neurotic personality and need to be surrounded by sensitive people who were “all as frightened as I am … only about other matters.”

The distinguished contributors to this collection illustrate a multiplicity of approaches to Bowles’s work. They encourage us to draw stimulating and challenging configurations of knowledge and artistic interrogations of reality through his work, and beyond it to foster new avenues of research that situate Bowles’s in relation to the great questions of contemporary society.

Works Cited

Baudrillard, Jean. America. London: Verso, 2010.

Bowles, Paul. The Spider’s House. New York: Ecco Press, 2003.

Caponi, Gena Dagel. ed. Conversations with Paul Bowles. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993.

Duarte, Anabela, Do You Bowles? Paul Bowles Centennial. University of Lisbon, ULICES, Oct. 2010. Web. 15 May 2012.

Edwards, Brian T. Morocco Bound: Disorienting America’s Maghreb, from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2005.

Graaf, Melissa Jenny de. “Documenting Music in the New Deal: The New York Composers’s Forum Concerts, 1935-1940.” PhD Thesis. Massachusetts, Brandeis U, 2006.

Hemmer, Kurt. “Aestheticizing the Revolution: William Burroughs I Tangier,” in Bowles, Beats, Tangier. eds. Allen Hibbard and Barry Tharaud, Tangier/Denver: ICPS and CMI, 2010. (99-106)

Hibbard, Allen. Paul Bowles: A Study in Short Fiction. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Hubbs, Nadine. The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity. Berkeley: University of Califórnia Press, 2004.

Lawlor, Leonard. “The Incorruptibles.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Nov. 22, 2006. Web. Jan. 4, 2012.

Miller, Jeffrey, ed. In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.

Mottram, Eric. Paul Bowles: Staticity & Terror. London: Aloe Books, 1976.

Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles. Dir. Owsley Brown, 2002. DVD.

Orwell, George. “Inside the Whale (1940),” in Collected Essays, eBooks@Adelaide. ed. The University of Adelaide Library, 2007. Upd. Aug. 29, 2010. Web. 5 Fev. 2012.

––. “Marrakech (1939),” in Collected Essays, eBooks@Adelaide. ed. The University of Adelaide Library, 2007. Upd. Aug. 29, 2010. Web. 5 Fev. 2012.

Pound, Ezra. Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony. New York: Da Capo Press, 1968.

Rorem, Ned. Wings of Friendship: Selected Letters, 1944-2003. United States: Shoemaker Hoard, 2005.

Shaw, Devin Zane. “Inaesthetics and Truth: The Debate between Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière.” Filosofski Vestnick XXVII. 2 (2007): 183-199.

Swan, Claudia, ed. Paul Bowles Music. New York: EOS Music Inc., 1995

Vidal, Gore. Introduction. Collected Stories 1939-1976. By Paul Bowles. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow P, 1980. 1-5.

Virilio, Paul. Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology. Trans. Mark Polizzotti, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007.

Zizek, Slavoj. Living in the End Times. London: Verso, 2011.


[1] All subsequent titles are inspired by quotes from Paul Bowles’s oeuvre.

[2] Bowles didn’t know their work and probably wasn’t interested too. In a letter to Wayne Pound referring to a Jameson [Fredric] essay he clearly remarks: “As a layman, I find many of its references meaningless: texts by Althusser, Derrida, Adorno, Lefebvre, Debord, Lacan and Foucault mean nothing to me because I’m wholly ignorant of them …“ (Miller 525). However, connections between provocative tone and will, as evidence of one’s singularity, seem obvious.

[3] According to Ned Rorem: “In 1949, with the publication of his very successful Sheltering Sky at the age of forty, Paul Bowles became the author-who-also-writes-music, after having long been the composer-who-also-writes-words” (Hibbard 226).

[4] As we shall see, in a whole chapter dedicated to Bowles’s music production, “Music, Noise and Politics,” his musical spectrum is much more diverse than critics ever allowed it to be.

[5] Virilio suggests that the very nature of movement is speed and would be interesting to analyse Bowles’s stories from that perspective too.

[6] Speaking of Alain Badiou, Devin Zane Shaw claims “an event breaks with the state of the situation, and reconfigures the co-ordinates of the symbolic order” (184). At the same time “truths” are opposed to “opinions” so that the Truth-Event is the result of knew artistic and thought configurations of works of art. See “Inaesthetics and Truth: The Debate between Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière,” 2007.

[7] “It is all here,” wrote Stephen Koch in a 1979 review of Paul Bowles’s fiction, “ – the Casbah, the kif dens, the maze of slums, the hurt, lurking, imperialized Arab boys. Bowles has lived this murky Western dream, brought his formidable artistic intelligence to it”’ (qtd. in Hibbard, 242).

[8] For further reading on this topic see Brian Edwards’s Morocco Bound, 2005 and Greg Mullins’s Colonial Affairs, 2002.

[9] The special screening Francis Poole talks about in his essay came at a later stage when Sara Driver was informed about the film, and probably another copy was made.

[10] I was at Delaware University in November 2009, where I met Francis Poole and learned about the existence of Sara Driver’s film at the audio-film archives. I was researching Bowles’s filmography and videography for my PhD and conference program. We started immediately to discuss the possibility of its presentation in Lisbon, but first official authorizations were needed from the University and from the director, Sara Driver, who didn’t know a copy of her 1982 Bowles film still existed. In fact, by the end of May 2010 we were desperately looking for her: “Anabela ... I've been trying to contact either Sara Driver or Jim Jarmusch for two weeks. I called the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, Writers Guild, even his agent but no luck. I even tried a friend in the film business in New York. There are two other places I might try next Tuesday. We are off for the Memorial Day weekend. Preferably I would like to contact Sara first. We'll see. Have a great weekend. Francis” (personnal communication, 29 May 2010). As for our part, we did contact Cinemateca de Lisboa by e-mail explaining our interest in the screening of Driver’s film (on 19.02.2010) and asking for her contacts (on 29.05.2010) but received no answer (until finally, much later, when we had everything figured out), although I came to know they did contact her on May 3.

[11] The original “essay” was the result of our specific request for a text for the conference’s twenty-page exhibition catalogue, Pirates at Heart, in October 2010. The exhibition, entitled “Pirates at Heart: Excavating Paul Bowles,” in residence about two weeks, was co-produced by the University of Lisbon and the University of Delaware, represented by Tim Murray and Francis Poole.