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Column | The wars by Jean-Yves Jouannais

In Paris, seven in the evening of the 13th of December, at the Centre Pompidou –which these days welcomes, by the way, a formidable retrospective of the Catalan

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Column | The wars by Jean-Yves Jouannais

In Paris, seven in the evening of the 13th of December, at the Centre Pompidou –which these days welcomes, by the way, a formidable retrospective of the Catalan Isaki Lacuesta–, the followers of Jean-Yves Jouannais, will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the conference that is giving on a monthly basis around their infinite Encyclopedia of the Wars.

His lectures have always been speeches staged: a kind of endless performance in which, session after session, Jouannais –always with the armband military of his grandfather and the pocket watch of his great grandfather, a gunner killed in the battle of the Somme– teatraliza the process of writing its giant Encyclopedia, which covers everything from The Iliad to the present day and that, by its own nature of project endless, going way continue forever, what appeared to him calms him. And is that in Jouannais, who wrote Artists without works (Cliff), there has always been a bartlebyana tendency to “prefer not to do it.” Maybe that's why it has never displeased that his Encyclopedia is endless, because at the end of accounts –recently described it as “a project very courageous, but at the same time the mark of a great cowardice”– she leaves him in possession of the draft of a novel that you will not have to publish, and for which, therefore, will not have to imagine it never forms definite.

In any case, the fact that Jouannais loves to get rid of writing novels has not prevented to finish edit in France a fast paced book which is a collage Aresbet –style David Markson or David Shields– of quotations out of contexts of war, which he has titled MOAB (Mother of All the Battles) and that he presents it as an epic in 22 songs, as the narration of a battle imaginary that would gather all the wars of the world and that his way to the meets: it is a compendium of quotations built as if it were a story parallel to that of the infinite performance of his lectures at the Pompidou; a set of appointments of all time, home to Sophocles, Churchill, Capitaine Danrit, Pynchon, Julius Caesar, Mao Zedong, Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jules Roy, Virgil, Peter Townsend, Livy, Jünger, Ernst von Salomon...

The thread of the ten years of the implementation of its radical immersion in the war, Jouannais clarified the other day in Liberation for the project of his Encyclopedia was the decisive reading of Sebald, specifically About the natural history of destruction, essay on the death of six hundred thousand German civilians in allied bombing raids of the so-called second world war. And step also clarified that it was not a passion for war which led him to the Encyclopedia, but the literature from time immemorial has produced the war.

In reality, everything seems to want to tell us that this great battle of battles which describes MOAB –unique and monumental– intended to put legs up the question with more frequent and absurd of our days: do We re-enter the war?

As if once we had managed to get out of it!

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