Philip Terry’s fantastic if p then q book Advanced Immorality is reviewed in a recent edition of Dead Ink.
In the autumn of 2013, la quenelle swept France. Authorities were aghast as teenagers saturated Facebook with quenelle photos; when a French West Bromwich striker performed the gesture in celebration, his contract was terminated. While many of its practitioners pleaded ignorance,the gesture’s true significance was obvious. Left hand perched on the right shoulder, right arm extended diagonally towards the ground – it was clearly the number seven, one of the most significant numbers in the work of Raymond Queneau.
This allusion to the ‘S+7 method’, a quintessential Oulipian device in which every noun in a text was replaced with the seventh noun after it in the dictionary, was too much for the conservative authorities, anxious, even after seventy years, to preserve the time-honoured union of form and content. François Hollande, a devotee of US formalist Mark Schorer, told a press conference: ‘The Oulipian character of the quenelle could not be denied.’ This was true: the very name quenelle dates back at least to Georges Bataille, who was the first of many of Queneau’s contemporaries to pun on the similarity between the poet’s name and the poached dumpling beloved of the Lyonnais. However, the politicians’ measures were too late: the Kraken had been unleashed. After years of Balzacian realism in French literature, the youth were clamouring for mathematical strictures and phonetic play.
PURCHASE ADVANCED IMMORALITY HERE