Art Variables and Life Variables in La Belle noiseuseTony McKibbin February 2007 The Moral of the Auteur Theory Issue 42 Issue 42 At one stage in Jacques Rivette’s La Belle noiseuse (1991), artist Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) insists as he paints that it is not about him but about the painting, about what the painting demands. We could say that, in Rivette’s study of the problematic pursuit of wellbeing, the painter may have little control over the drive of the painting, but he does have control over the variables in his life. Should he, however, sacrifice these variables to produce a work of art, or does he accept a degree of mediocrity to protect the wellbeing of himself and those around him? Then again, is his final decision to brick up the painting that will come out of this struggle a way of protecting the life and the art? Here we have a famous and seemingly great painter who hasn’t had an exhibition for almost 25 years, and the only book about him was published back in the mid-1970s. He has not painted for a couple of months and, by the looks of things, most of his recent works have been self-portraits. But there is the suggestion that Frenhofer found his deepest purpose in working with a model, and most especially his partner as his main model. Out of this discovery came a dynamism that caught him in a double bind. The work demanded he paint the woman he loved, but, at the same time, his search demanded he destroy something in that woman, that he should reveal an aspect so true, so shameful, or shameless, that the relationship might not survive it. Perhaps even the model might not survive. This attempt took place some ten years previously. So Frenhofer backed away and, ever since, he has been painting without much sense of purpose, while, at the same time, living an extremely pleasant life in a large house with a beautiful garden in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France. It is into this world that a talented young painter, Nicolas (David Bursytein), and partner Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart) come, invited to visit Frenhofer on the say-so of the latter’s long-term agent. The young painter knows how brilliant Frenhofer is, but maybe thinks he has lost his touch. Can Frenhofer rediscover his touch and how might it happen? One evening, Frenhofer, his agent and Nicolas sit around and talk in Frenhofer’s studio, and Nicolas agrees to the idea that the painter should paint Marianne. Is there an aspect to Marianne that fits with the sort of chaos Frenhofer previously searched out in his own partner, but backed away from, and is it ethical that Frenhofer paint another woman after coming so close to destroying his own partner? And what about Marianne? Is it not surprising that she turns on Nicolas, believing he has basically pimped her? These are, we could say, the ‘life-variables’, the ethical issues Rivette’s film raises around the notion of painting itself. But, at the same time, there are the ‘art variables’ Frenhofer discusses when suggesting it is ultimately about what the painting demands. In one scene, where we see Frenhofer frantically effacing his partner’s face from a painting and replacing it with Marianne’s body, we notice an æsthetic ethic at work, a need to get as close to the feeling demanded by the work as possible. Such a position, of course, has no truck with ‘life-variables’ and echoes Susan Sontag’s claims in her essay, “The Pornographic Imagination”, concerning the modern artist: It’s well known that when people venture into the far reaches of consciousness, they do so at the peril of their sanity, that is, of their humanity. But the “human scale” or humanistic standard proper to ordinary life and conduct seems misplaced when applied to art. If within the last century art conceived as an autonomous activity has come to be invested with an unprecedented stature – the nearest thing to a sacramental human activity acknowledged by secular society – it is because one of the tasks art has assumed is making forays into and taking up positions on the frontiers of consciousness (often very dangerous to the artist as a person) and reporting back what’s there […] The exemplary modern artist is a broker in madness. (1) The question we might ask, though, in relation to La Belle noiseuse is whether the art is entitled to be a broker in others’ madness as well. The title comes from the Québécois for a nutty woman, and there is the suggestion here that the artist can turn his model nuts or, at the very least, reveal the madness that lurks within her. Does he have that right? Within the artwork, of course, he does; the artwork has its own logic that little respects the boundaries of the self. Indeed, its purpose may be to destroy the very notion of self for something larger, ineffable. At one stage, as Frenhofer starts to sketch, with Marianne nude and stretched out crucifixion-like on a bench, she insists, “I’m entitled to know why I’m naked in front of you.” But this ethical concern is turned inside out when Frenhofer states: “You want to know everything at once, before things happen. You don’t know until after.” When Marianne wonders whether she is just replacing his partner, Frenhofer says, “It’s you and not you. It’s more than you. More than you can imagine.” However, does anyone have that right to excavate another even if he or she has the right to excavate themself? It is this that makes Rivette’s film not just a great work about an artist – in the vein of Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh (1991) and Victor Erice’s El Sol del membrillo (The Quince Tree Sun, 1992) – but also of the artist as ethical being. When we look at Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraits or the artist Antonio López in The Quince Tree Sun, we know the relationship is not an ethical one, strictly speaking, because in the former instance the artist paints himself and in the latter a quince tree. In La Belle noiseuse, we have certainly the artist as a racked figure trying to produce a masterpiece he believes is within him, but, at the same, we have a painter who realises that the great work which is within him also needs another. As he says, discussing working first with various women before working with his partner, Liz (Jane Birkin), he found his subject working with models, and more especially found it working with Liz. But as we realise when he works with Marianne, this is not a straightforward relationship between object (model) and subject (artist), but an act of inter-subjectivity, and it is here where the ethical dimension comes into play. Now, it seems there hasn’t been this ethical dimension to Marianne’s relationship with Nicolas – or, rather, that the ethical dimension has been purely based on ‘life-variables’ and not ‘art-variables’. Nicolas may say to Frenhofer’s partner, when the two of them are alone, that he met Marianne three years previously, just as she was about to throw herself under a Métro train, and they haven’t been apart since, but there is no sense that he has worked her chaos into his own work. At one stage, he talks about working not from life but from photographs (as if wary of too direct a relationship with another), and thus we realize his relationship with Marianne is very much based on the ethics of life and not of art. Does he want to protect her rather than risk revealing and ‘curing’ her, and is it not much more the latter that fascinates Frenhofer? Not that his interest is in psychologically aiding Marianne towards a cure for her former, and perhaps still present, suicidal impulses, but Frenhofer’s exploration of being through art certainly resembles psychoanalytic sessions. In a number of scenes, we see Marianne revealing herself as though on a psychoanalyst’s couch. In one moment, we see how, as Marianne curls up into a ball and offers up details of her past, Frenhofer moves around the room trying to observe her from all angles, as though he’s discovered a huge insight through the way she positions her body. It’s like a combination of painting and therapy, except that the artist – as a creative being – has absolutely no interest in the cure, only in the revelation of the chaos. From the painter’s – or especially the painting’s – point of view, there should be no concern for whether the model afterwards lives a wonderfully happy existence or kills herself. It is not, in the moment of creation, the artist’s purpose to worry about such things. And yet, we sense Rivette is here fascinated by life variables as readily as art ones, a point illustrated through Rivette’s own crisis of conscience in relation to life and art. Back in 1970, Rivette made Out 1: Noli me tangere and included scenes where Jean-Pierre Léaud (who plays Colin) obviously looked unstable on screen; Léaud had perhaps revealed too much of himself. When the film was shown years later, Rivette decided to remove certain scenes from the re-release, as if protecting the actor from the revelations Rivette worked towards. What we can see at work here is the pertinence of the issue as Rivette, working from an Honoré de Balzac text, and utilising his own preoccupations, shapes a film that examines the art versus life ethic by working clearly from its combination: from Balzac and his own being. Within the progression of the artwork, we must keep pushing towards the revelation, but out with the artwork we may decide that another ethic comes into play. It is almost as though Rivette set himself the task of exploring modernist consciousness, à la Sontag, and, at the same, time wanted to contain that consciousness within a wider set of social variables. It is even this insistence to play one against the other that gives the film its airiness, with Rivette frequently cutting from the claustrophobic studio to the possibilities in the life world. Whether that be showing scenes early on where Frenhofer, Liz, Marianne, Nicolas and the agent eat dinner in the evening, or scenes of Frenhofer drinking herbal tea at night, or Liz and Nicholas talking on the balcony in the brilliant sunshine, Rivette seems at pains to suggest a wider world than the purely æsthetic. Or perhaps, better still, he wants to show that the world itself can be æsthetic, that there is a twofold aspect he’s searching out here, a twofold aspect Heidegger talks about in an essay on art: the truth aspect and the beauty aspect of art. Heidegger: The essence of art would be this: the truth of being setting itself to work. But until now art presumably has had to do with the beautiful and beauty, and not with truth. (2) Now, the truth aspect lies very loosely in Frenhofer’s determination to unravel the psyche of his model and reveal her through her bodily posture, through an external configuration that reveals the internal contradictions and pain. But there is also the beautiful, the beauty present in the way Rivette tracks through Frenhofer’s beautiful house in the early stages of the film, or the beauty of the garden party at the film’s conclusion. We will have to decide for ourselves how much bad faith or good faith is involved in that bricked-up painting, how much we believe Frenhofer has sacrificed in protecting himself, and to some degree his partner, and most especially Marianne, in bricking up the painting we see him working on for much of the film. We may end up taking a position resembling Nicolas’, when the young man accuses him of being an æsthetic liar: “I’ll always admire you, but feel sorry for you, too. I don’t want to end like you. In a pretence.” But Nicolas doesn’t have our knowledge of the bricked-up painting; he only sees the replacement painting. Would he have been any the more sympathetic if he had known, or would he insist that an artwork, once created, also needs to be shown? We may suspect, though, that Rivette wants to find a position between truth and beauty that fits neatly with a more general idea of wellbeing. That is, one must pursue enough truth to evolve one’s wellbeing, but also live with enough beauty to protect it. In his book, The Savage God, Al Alvaraz believes modern art’s state is that of depression: But since the discovery or rediscovery of the self as the arena of the arts was also concerned with the collapse of the whole framework of values by which experience was traditionally ordered and judged – religion, politics, national cultural tradition and, finally, religion itself – it follows that the new permanent condition of the arts was depression. (3) If Alvarez is correct in assuming the modernist condition of the arts was depression, then is Rivette here proposing a ‘healthy’ late modernist position that says we don’t ignore the depressive, but we must find ways to contain it? This is Rivette’s perspectivism at work, a Nietzschean notion central to the wellbeing illustrated in Michel Foucault’s technology of self, and the thinkers Foucault focuses on in discussing this pursuit of self-harmonisation. It is there, for example, when, Foucault, utilising Plato’s Alcibiades, says: You have to worry about your soul – that is the principal activity of caring for yourself. The care of the self is the care of the activity and not the care of the soul as substance. Foucault goes on to explain what allows for this activity of the soul to work: “To take care of one-self consists of knowing oneself. Knowing oneself becomes the object of the quest of concern for oneself.” (4) This knowing oneself needn’t result in solipsism, but the sort of self-caring that leads to the epimeleia heautou, the ability to see the world beyond one’s immediate interests. In this sense, Rivette’s film simultaneously manages to be Modernist and Ancient. It respects the need to work through an æsthetic project no matter the damage done to the self in the process of creation. At the same time, it also realises the importance of a wellbeing that ripples far beyond the immediate self. If the æsthetic object is to some degree impersonal – impersonal in the sense that Frenhofer describes the work being not about him but about the painting – by the same token there is also the impersonality beyond the painting – impersonal in the sense that Frenhofer must distance himself from his ego to protect others. This could lead to Nicolas’ a disdainful opinion, but, at the same time, does it not allow Frenhofer a more assured sense of self? Does he not pull off a rare and impressive achievement of producing the artwork his being demands, the art variable that works through the many complicated demands of the nervous system and, at the same time, the life variable that demands he brick up a painting and protect the feelings of those involved? This is a reversal of the Faustian deal where an artist receives acclaim for a work that isn’t really his but instead comes from a pact with the devil, and where in return for selling his soul he receives ample social recognition. Now, of course, Nicolas may believe Frenhofer acts in appalling bad faith by settling for a mediocre work when he could have produced a revelation of being, but as Frenhofer gently insists that he admires Nicolas no matter what he says, we may wonder whether Nicolas is finally the more disreputable character. For, if any one in the film has sold his soul to the devil, it is surely Nicolas, taking into account John Orr’s idea in Film West that Marianne “is effectively pimped by her boyfriend” (5). What the Faustian deal generally illustrates is the life variable relevant only to the degree to which it can enhance the ego, and the art variable is only enhanced to the degree it can result in a major work. In each instance, there is a winnowing that would seem the antithesis of the epimeleia heautou, where the self is but an aspect of accumulated wellbeing. Is not Rivette’s search here really for a means of producing profound art that does not tamper simultaneously with the wellbeing of the world, or do we have to take as given – recalling Sontag and Alvaraz’s comments – that wellbeing is inevitably going now to be contrary to the making of great art? We can see there are several things going on in Rivette’s film. First, there is the modernist idea of creating works that demand suffering. Second, there is the notion that artworks aren’t created in isolation but ricochet in all directions as they impact on others either in the artwork’s making or in its reception. Third, there is the problem of how artists deal with this mutually incompatible situation. The first resolution in relation to the problem lies in the belief that artworks aren’t created for the purposes of suffering but, if anything, to resolve issues of suffering. Frenhofer, in this instance, sees a problem in life that he sets out to work towards resolving in art. This problem in life is simultaneously impersonal and personal. It is impersonal in the sense that he works from a story of a crazy courtesan who was obviously unstable, and sees in others an aspect of this character. Presumably, he saw it in his wife, and sees it again in young Marianne. By combining the impersonal historical tale with the immediate, present Marianne, can he move towards understanding an aspect of a certain kind of craziness? And, in searching out this aspect of craziness, does he not need to enter into the artwork to the detriment of human warmth and decency? As Frenhofer forces Marianne into deeply uncomfortable poses, and as he listens to Marianne slowly unravelling her thoughts, we can see him perhaps letting go of a certain decency for the purposes of an æsthetic revelation. This is the epistemological element: a single-minded desire to make sense of a problem to the detriment of social and human nuances. It is certainly not just art for art’s sake, but the artwork pushing through its own epistemological agenda. At the same time, Rivette’s film stresses the importance of the social and human elements. After all, what is the point of resolving problems within the art world if you leave the problem intact in the life world, or even exacerbate the problems in the life world? If Frenhofer moved towards resolving aspects of the problem in relation to Marianne, then reveals the very same problems to the world thereafter, he has resolved the problem only to create a bigger one: he has exposed Marianne beyond the personal revelation and generated a public revelation. Thus, we may accept that central to Marianne’s being is a suicidal, perhaps self-loathing perspective. This is presumably the perspective that led her three years previously to almost taking her own life. She has been with Nicolas ever since, as if unable to live with her own being alone. If this is so, then what she presumably seeks from Frenhofer is a revelation of being greater than the desire to take her own life. What she would want is perhaps for an artist to reveal a side of herself that she cannot readily confront, but that an artist can ‘unconceal’. But, then, if the artist in his revelation moves towards a public revealing of the ‘unconcealement’, any resolution would run to the detriment of wellbeing. Of course, it could be argued that Marianne, and to some degree Frenhofer, could sacrifice themselves to the truth of the artwork. In Frenhofer’s creative observation and Marianne’s confessions, they create an awful space of mutual self-revelation that would leave both of them semi-destroyed but the artwork significant. However, while this would be consistent with a modernist notion of epistemological self-destruction, where curiosity may well kill the cat if we take into account Sontag’s ideas on the frontiers of consciousness, it would not be consistent with the epimeleia heautou as Foucault defines it. Here, for example, Socrates “accosts passersby and says to them: you concern yourself with your wealth, your reputation, and with honors, but you don’t worry about your virtue and your soul” (6). How can Frenhofer take care of his soul and still produce meaningful art? Maybe he tries, as we have suggested, to work from self-portraits. But though the latter allow him to retain an ethical position (he will do no more than damage himself), nevertheless he has also made it clear that he really found his subject in the model, and most especially when emotionally attached to that very model (namely his partner). No, he must create in the modernist context of danger, and also create within the ethical state of the ancients. How to resolve this impossible dilemma? Frenhofer hits upon the idea of the bricked-up painting. But is this not a problem in itself? Imagine if all the great art works were hidden away because of the problems they caused, if artists insisted that their work go unpublished, un-shown or recanted until long after their deaths. There is, of course, a long tradition of this, whether that be through political or theological necessity, critical and public indifference, or æsthetic tentativeness. In the first instance, we have as examples Gottfried Leibniz and Galileo Galilei. As Bertrand Russell says in his History of Western Philosophy, there are two systems of philosophy that may be regarded as representing Leibniz: one, which he proclaimed, was optimistic, orthodox, fantastic and shallow; the other, which has been slowly unearthed from his manuscripts by fairly recent editors. (7) Leibniz knew which philosophy he could get away with in the society in which he lived, whereas Galileo retreated from a certain theoretical position after the inquisition forced him to deny that the earth revolves around the sun. Another form of public silence is the quiet of a Van Gogh (where public indifference leads to an artist’s relevance to be posthumous) or the tentativeness of a Franz Kafka (where of course he wanted his work destroyed after he died). In Van Gogh, there was perhaps this sense of an artist whose work would never seemed finished – or finessed – enough for the public, but with Kafka we get the sense of an artist who could never trust the notion of completion. So, there is a history of great work containing a social silence. Why shouldn’t Frenhofer work as readily in a tradition of æsthetic silence as æsthetic sound, especially if within that work there is, on the one hand, a psychic depth revealed and, on the other, no immediate necessity for a public to comprehend this particular psychic depth? If Frenhofer has reached deep inside his own, Marianne and his partner’s beings, then that should be a depth greater than the immediate social milieu in which they’re living. And the three people who are living – who really need the painting now – have all seen the painting. Anybody else who wants to see it can wait. And if it hasn’t reached the depths – the ability to transcend its immediate epoch – then when it’s finally presented for view it can just be another irrelevant attempt at revealing man’s soul. We can even suggest this is æsthetic ethics, but even more perhaps an æsthetic modesty. Yet, it is a multi-faceted modesty; it has no truck with solipsistic creativity because the film, and the diegesis within the film, addresses the problem in a performative manner. John Orr in his article on Rivette in Film West may see the problematic as one of film in relation to art, but we might be inclined to recognise a more troublesome exploration. Orr believes the face is traditionally the centre of human expression for the portrait painter, it is here a tradition perversely annihilated. There is a touch of auto-critique in this for, unlike [Carl Theodor] Dreyer or [Robert] Bresson, the face has never been Rivette’s strong point. Orr adds: [Rivette] plays to his real strength, which would have gladdened the heart of André Bazin – the eye-level, deep focus medium shot. But in doing so, Rivette plays on the ontology of the film image itself. How can film ‘do’ painting, the moving image represent the still portrait? The answer is that it does not? (8) If for Orr the problem lies in the impossibility of film doing art, as he points up the ontological difference between the two mediums, and especially Rivette’s antithetical approach to the portrait, more relevant seems the ethical, rather than ontological, approach to the medium – or, rather, an ontology that incorporates the ethical. After all, Rivette shares similarities with Frenhofer: the need to work with others and, more significant, with specific actors. When he says in the press kit for Histoire de Marie et Julien (2003) that central to making films is that “it’s most often connected to my desire to work (or work again) with one or several actors”, we can see similarities with Frenhofer’s realisation that vital to his work is working with models. Obviously in such an approach lies a responsibility we touched upon when saying after Out 1 was re-shown, Rivette removed a scene where Jean-Pierre Léaud was clearly breaking down on screen. This isn’t so much the discrepancy between one medium and the other that fascinates Rivette, but the ethical match between the two. We could say, ethically, that a non-figurative avant-garde experimentalism resembles the still-life, and the self-casting film – Je, tu, il, elle (Chantal Akerman, 1974), Les Nuits fauves (Savage Nights, Cyril Collard, 1992), Post-coïtum animal triste (Brigitte Roüan, 1997) – the self-portrait. We could then add the film with actors, generally – and especially the way Rivette wants to work with actors – is the type of film with the same ethical demands as working with models. When the director wants to work as readily from an actor’s being as from the technique of the performance, does that create a certain sense of responsibility that keys into the epimelia heautou, into a caring of oneself in relation to the world? Orr’s take on the film isn’t at all wrong, but it feels like the idle question next to the urgent question – or, perhaps more fairly, the formal question next to the ethical question. The formal question asks: How can film replicate the æsthetic of portraiture and in which ways does it differ? The ethical question, however, asks: How far can one go into revelation, when that revelation does not just incorporate one’s own being but also incorporates the beings used to illustrate the æsthetic object? This is an issue especially relevant to what we’ll call a “cinema of revelation”, a type of cinema prevalent in France for more than thirty years, and that functions a little like an inversion, though also an extension, of Gilles Deleuze’s notion of a cinema of bodies. (9) This is a cinema of bodies that incorporates Philippe Garrel, Jacques Doillon and Chantal Akerman, filmmakers who to varying degrees incorporated the mind into their cinema of bodies. Thus, Garrel’s Berceau de cristal (1976) and La Naissance de l’amour (1993), say, or Doillon’s La Femme qui pleure (1979), insist on a cinema of revelation where the actor does not just act, but has to be – has to reveal being. It’s like a thespian variation of Michelangelo Antonioni’s demand for a new form of narrative. Antonioni wondered what would happen to a film like Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves, Vittorio de Sica, 1948) without the bicycle: “it is important to see what there is in the spirit an heart of this man whose bicycle has been stolen, how he has adapted, what has stayed with him out of all his past experiences” (10). In the cinema of revelation, however, the filmmaker removes many aspects of narrative to leave the performance ‘naked’. Thus unclothed, through a lack of action-oriented gestures, the gestures become much more the actor’s own. What happens is that we then have a quizzicality towards the performer much more than to either an action-oriented performance or an interior psychological performance. As Jack Nicholson once said of Antonioni, “He doesn’t make dramatic constructions, he makes configurations.” (11) But out of this unmotivated performance maybe a director will seek, and find, an aspect of the performer that was unknown to the performer him or herself. Bernado Bertolucci’s comments on Ultimo Tango a Parigi (Last Tango in Paris, 1972) come to mind: “the idea I’ve always had about cinema: it is not the actors who have to conform and fit the script, but it is the characters who must conform to the actors” (12). There is also Marlon Brando’s comment that Bertolucci had violated his inner self. Such an approach clearly raises ethical issues. Must one always be willing to resist the æsthetic evolvement for an ethical decency? Now, if we just think in terms of general codes of morality, we might want to resist this violation. That, however, would be a blanket morality that insists actors are professional and they should be treated as such; that narrative has a form and thus should be respected; and that an actor’s job is to give flesh to the conventions of the narrative. But the epimeliea heautou, as we’re utilising it, neither demands the violation of the codes nor their ready acceptance. It’s an ethics of variables that Michel Foucault offers in The Care of the Self: The term epimeleia designates not just a preoccupation but a whole set of occupations; it is epimeleia that is employed in speaking of the activities of the master of a household, the tasks of the ruler who looks after his subjects, the care that must be given to a sick of wounded patient, or the honors that must be paid to the gods or to the dead. (13) Here, then, we’re talking about a filmmaker (or an artist) who is neither pre-occupied with himself, nor insistently conventional, but whose very work consists, at least in part, in working through his own care of self in relation to the care of others. Such an approach can allow art to progress, but perhaps on less dangerous terms than those proposed by Sontag and others, and also helps us avoid the petrifaction of moral form that Martin Amis seems to so admire when he insists, questioning the non-fiction novel, that art requires moral certitude. When critiquing the non-fiction novels of Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Amis reckons “what is missing, though, is moral imagination. Moral artistry. The facts cannot be arranged to give them moral point. There can be no art without moral point.” (14) La Belle noiseuse suggests, though, that a moral point is of far less importance than an ongoing ethical search. This is an ethics of æsthetics, a look at the variables involved in creation. It finds a way of creating meaningful art without risking the beings that help create it. Rivette, as Heidegger would say, shows “the truth of beings setting itself to work”. Endnotes Susan Sontag, A Susan Sontag Reader (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982), pp. 212-3. Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 162. Al Alvarez, The Savage God (London: Bloomsbury, 2002), p. 236. Michel Foucault, translated by Robert J. Hurley, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (London: Penguin, 2000), p. 230-1. John Orr, Film West, no. 38, p. 44-5. Foucault, p. 93. Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (London: Unwin University Books, 1969), p. 563. Orr, pp. 44-5. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time Image (London: The Athlone Press, 1989), pp. 189-224. Deleuze, pp. 284-5. David Downing, Jack Nicholson (London: Comet, 1984), p. 123. Charles Higham, Marlon Brando (London: Grafton, 1987), p. 348. Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley, History of Sexuality Vol. 3: The Care of the Self (London: Penguin, 1990), p. 50. Martin Amis, The Moronic Inferno (London: Penguin, 1987), p. 39.