TWH: To Make the Voice of the Criminal Audible


My latest article at The Wild Hunt, “To Make the Voice of the Criminal Audible,” is now up:

Jean Genet’s text “The Criminal Child,” previously unavailable in English, was translated and published in December 2015. An anonymous commentary on the text, included as an afterward within the same pamphlet, reads “The Criminal Child” as an intricately coded set of instructions for magical initiation and ordeal.

“The Criminal Child” was originally written in 1948 as a speech to be read on a radio show in order to address reforms to France’s youth prisons that had been proposed at the time. It was rejected and never read on the air. When Genet published the censored text the following year, he wrote in his introduction, “I would have liked to make the voice of the criminal audible. Not his plaint; rather his song of glory.”


6 responses to “TWH: To Make the Voice of the Criminal Audible

  • aediculaantinoi

    Excellent piece! And thank you for mentioning the EA! 😉

  • lornasmithers

    It’s an interesting piece. Genet’s ideas remind me of the notion of imprisonment as initiation in some of the Welsh myths – such as Gwair and Taliesin in Caer Sidi.

    I’ve linked their insights to Blanqui’s imprisonment in The Fort De Taureau, where he wrote his mystical treatise ‘Eternity by the Stars.’

    Also, Nicolas Mann’s book ‘The Dark God’ was about discovering the dark god during his imprisonment in Turkey.

    I’m wondering whether it’s the solitude or ordeal or both that bring about the transformation?

    Of course imprisonment is a horrible reality that seldom few people go into with mystical intent or come out of as mystics… still it’s reality and it’s a miracle some people have survived it and are offering their testimonies and hope for survival for others.

    • Heathen Chinese

      Thanks! I didn’t know about the Welsh myths, and I’ve been told about Blanqui’s “Eternity by the Stars” before, but haven’t read it yet: he discussed the concept of eternal recurrence well before Nietzsche did, if I recall correctly (and possibly introduced Nietzsche to the idea?).

      I agree that incarceration is a horrible, non-mystical experience for most prisoners. I think Genet is also looking at imprisonment as one channel within the broader delta of criminality/outlawry, which is also not as wonderful an experience in reality as it is in romance, but certainly has liminal, transgressive and initiatory aspects as well.

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