Erik Satie, A Mammal's Notebook.
(as translated by Antony Melville)
(please select the links below, and continue to read with musical accompaniment)
1. Of Holothuria
Vulgarly known as "sea
cucumber." Holothuria generally
climbs on stones or pieces of rock.
Like the cat, this animal purrs; it also
spins a revolting kind of silk. The
action of light seems to upset it. I
observed an Holothuria in Saint-
Out in the morning. It is raining.
The sun is in the clouds.
Little purr. What a pretty rock!
It is nice to be alive.
Like a nightingale with
Back home in the evening. It is
The sun is not there any more.
As long as it never comes back.
Mocking little purr.
It was a really good rock. Nice
Don't make me laugh, bit of
foam: you are tickling me.
I haven't any tobacco.
Lucky I don't smoke.
I was on assignment in the late winter of 1912 to speak with the great Satie, a hero of mine, about his latest masterpiece. True I was aware of his eccentricities, so shaking off my umbrella, I stepped into his flat on the Rue de Siene without knowing at all what to expect. What follows is the brief but illuminating interview.
[The questions are primarily based on material from Satie's most recent publication Deux Preludes pour un chien (Two preludes for a Dog), for piano.]
RM: Would you say something about your early musical training and tastes? I was amused to read that, at one time, you had hoped to devote your life to playing the works of Debussy.
ES: In this, I was well in advance of him. Until I had found that like a picnic, they had all brought very cold veal. "You have a lovely white dress." "Listen, an areoplane."
"Oh no, it's a storm." He is French, after all.
RM: Would you comment on your statement in A Simple Question; and I quote, "In many places sweet and excellent silence has been replaced by bad music."?
ES: Well, which do you prefer: Music or Ham? In my coffee grounds...I often consult them,...for fun. I am very fond of coffee, especially if it's good.
RM: What do you think about the terms "meaning" and "symbolism" in connection with Two Preludes for a Dog?
ES: I am going to a billiards match. What a great match! Napoleon will be there. The billiards, Napoleon, I mean of course!...THE REAL ONE. Or at least a very good likeness...Get out now!...Off like a gun!...Come back in ten minutes...I shan't be here.