About Le Graque

I’ve decided to start a new blog, since the old one had started to bore me. I suppose it’s also a replacement for my journal, though not entirely; I still use the old one when I don’t have access to my computer. Not sure why I decided to do it. For one thing I can type more quickly than I can write with a pen. For another it’s a way of creating the illusion that I’m actually writing to someone, which is a pleasant idea.

I’ve actually changed my URL a couple of times, hence the ‘wandering’ of the title. Originally I used the Spanish version of my name, El Graco, but when I first migrated I changed it to Italian, Il Graco, which I’ve now changed to French. No particular reason. It sounds just as good in each language, and in any case The Gracchus is an international sort of being.

El Graco was born during a conversation with a friend while sitting in the old Cafe Nero in Durham, England; we were talking about something or other, when a couple with a baby-stroller sat down nearby. I noticed that the brand of the stroller was named Graco, which I thought was interesting: it seemed somehow so inappropriate, so incongruous, for a company that made baby products. “Graco” conjured up images of some mysterious mythological creature, murmured about by grave, bearded sages in solemn voices in the secret recesses of ancient synagogues; or of some fearsome being haunting the fevered, superstitious imaginations of medieval Spain or Biblical Palestine; quietly alluded to, perhaps, in Revelations or some other obscure, sinister apocalyptic gospel. My fancy evolved a creature, half-man, perhaps, and half-bird; vast dark wings shabby and dusty from constant wandering, clad in an equally shabby and dusty traveling cloak, shoulders hunched, weary, solitary. I realize this looks rather like an idiosyncratic portrait of some fallen angel, like something Milton dreamed up but exiled from his vision of paradise lost; but he didn’t really seem sinister to me. That he was exiled, both from the insipid court of Milton’s Christ, who I agree with Harold Bloom seems more like a commander of an armoured division, a sort of heavenly Patton, than the mild Jesus of the gospels, as well as from the nihilistic, subterranean conclave of demons who fell with Lucifer, suggested that the Graco was something of a loner, an anti-ideologue; someone who disliked both the vacuous militancy of ideological righteousness and the senseless bile of resentful reaction. And in any case, not all bird-like creatures are forbidding or frightening—there is of course also Papageno, whom I associate with Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: as Papageno says, “Ich, ein böser Geist? Ich bin der beste Geist von der Welt!” So perhaps the Graco is misunderstood. Anyway, the contrast with the fat, playful font emblazoned on the stroller amused me—perhaps he became a sort of protector of innocents, or something—and the Graco has been a sort of alter ego ever since. At first, as I mentioned, he took on a sort of Spanish identity, also because it sounded like El Greco, who, despite being, as his name implies, Greek, is nevertheless very cool, and anyway he spent a lot of time in Spain; and also one of his portraits looks rather like me. Perhaps it’s appropriate that his name, in Spanish, simply points to his identity as something Other, rather than being a proper name.

El Greco\'s portrait of El Graco

Ok, so the likeness isn’t perfect, but it’s rather good all the same. Anyway, that’s the story of Le Graque. The picture above was taken in Paris (one can just make out the Metro station) last year, during one of the lengthy transportation strikes. One train in 10, roughly, still operated, and in the interval I took to taking creative pictures with a miniature mirror.


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