I had been doing radio with anthropologist Serge Bouchard since 2010. It suddenly stopped on May 11, when my phone vibrated. I had just made myself a coffee, which I was drinking with Marie, my girlfriend.
The incoming call was from Serge’s neighbor and benevolent friend, Dominique. What I heard was first of all a silence. Similar to those we no longer dare on the radio, for fear of heights.
I understood that Serge was dead even before Dominique said these words: “Jean-Philippe… Serge, it’s over. “
A je ne sais quoi, almost nothing. Barely a sentence to chew on. Where we see that four words are enough to say the weight of the world while, often, endless speeches in the wood language do not manage to touch the reality to which they wish to approach.
« […] death is a void which suddenly widens in full continuation of being; the existing, suddenly rendered invisible as by the effect of a prodigious occultation, is damaged in the twinkling of an eye in the trap of non-being. “
By transcribing here the words of Vladimir Jankélévitch, I think back to Serge who liked to say about his favorite philosopher that he had dedicated a book – The death – of almost 500 pages on a subject of first importance of which, however, we do not know much, except that it is only a moment. The one where it all ends.
We spend our lives fearing it, hiding it, worse, talking about it without knowing the facts. But that is understandable. Between birth and death, you still have to take care, said Serge.
This week, I’m getting ready to go back to radio after several months of being off and, for the first time in ten years, without my woolly mammoth. In his song Your heritage, Benjamin Biolay wrote this line that lives in me: “We will have to do with, or rather without. I will have to deal with Serge’s death; or rather without his physical presence in the studio by my side.
But his heritage animates me. I think of this look on the world which made him sometimes put himself in the place of the grass, sometimes in the place of a new ugly shopping megacentre to die for or a restaurant soup littering a secondary road in Quebec, all for draw great reflections on humanity in need of humanity. Cultivate empathy to nourish humans. Talk about a damn beautiful legacy, you.
On the show It’s crazy, our last series of episodes was to be about creativity. We had prepared some nice, intractable questions. Go around our subjects, study them, track them down, and end up letting them slip away, for fear of having found the truth. With Serge, thinking was a combat sport. But a fight without winner or loser. Each time, the praise of the draw.
It was only this week that I resigned myself to closing the tabs that contained the preparation documents for these episodes on creativity. Since May 11, I was hoping to see Serge online in these documents to add an idea, a question, a mammoth joke. But hey, the denial phase is over.
“Art is given to us to keep us from dying of the truth,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in The will to power. One of the ingredients of Serge’s thought was that. The imaginary. The vital impetus of creation to feed its Camusian revolt against the absurd.
This momentum was also that of Bernard Arcand. It is commonplace to say how much they were friends. Monday, I had the privilege of spending a long time with the great Ulla Hoff, Bernard’s lover. She told me that the two found themselves in their fabulous mischief. “My Cartesian mind was often annoyed by the fact that they magnified reality so much. But it was first of all the eyes of two poets, ”Ulla confided to me. And to be against poetry is to close an eye to look at the world.
on the radio
you liked to use silences
but since may
I find you exaggerating, Serge
Sunday evening, when I open the microphone for my new program in studio 44 of the newly inaugurated Maison de Radio-Canada on rue Papineau, I will think of my mammoth who told me on the phone last April: “For the first episode of the show It’s crazy In the new building in September, I would like the management of Radio-Canada to roll out a red carpet for us in the lobby, to arrive in a brand new wheelchair pushed by you to music by Johnny Cash. By eating a May West. Do you think the management would accept my request, Jean-Philippe? “
That’s what I’m going to think about as I head to the studio. By eating a May West. Although I prefer the Jos Louis.