“One fine morning,” I am once again in a concentration camp. It’s time to get up; the challenge is to find clothes (I am dressed in everyday attire, tweed jacket, English shoes).
In the camp, everything is for sale. I see rolls of large bills in circulation. The guardians give potions to the detainees.
Someone finds me a jacket. We line up to go down (we’re in a large dormitory on the second floor of a sort of repurposed barrack).
We hide for a moment in a hallway.
We walk in quadruple file. An officer lines us up with a long bamboo switch. He is kind at first, then suddenly he begins to insult us horribly.
In line for roll call. The officer is still shouting but not striking anyone. At one point, each of us (he and I) is holding an end of the switch; I am overcome with panic at the prospect of him hitting me.
The universe of the camp is unbroken: nothing can be done to affect it.
Later, I burst into tears while passing a tent where children with an incurable disease are being treated. Their only chance of survival is here. I wonder if this survival doesn’t consist in their being turned into pills, which reminds me of an anecdote about dieting cures that work because the dieters are told to ingest pills that actually contain a tapeworm.
There is some Georges Perec, excerpts from La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams translated by Daniel Levin Becker, over at NYRB. [via NYRB]