Translation of: LA AGONÍA DEL BUFÓN, Esfera, 10. Okt. 1914
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OF LIFE PASSING
THE AGONY OF THE CLOWN
BETWEEN the heavy welter and tiring war telegrams that we publish daily, I find the news that in one of the battles that have taken place in the vicinity of San Quentin, has died Max Linder, popular jester, famous actor. I hope the next day to see the news rectified, as so heartless, but newspapers have not retracted, to talk about this unique man that brings together in one art the abilities all the mimicking of comedian, clown, acrobat and poet. I still have hope that this telegram is the claim of a new motion picture, in which Max Linder has made a slapstick of his own death. But if the news is confirmed, this event would be one of the greatest disasters of the war, because Max Linder was a glorious manufacturer and exporter of joy.
The cannon can destroy towns and villages, which are to be reconstituted, can devastate planted fields, that next year will give more prosperous harvest, it can demolish a factory of ceramics, of sugar or of baking soda, because there will arise sooner or later another new factory and workers will return to give glazes to the cooked land, to crystallize the beet juice or to quintessence sodium, but who in the world is supposed to know the chemical formula that produces the joy? What architect can raise a factory that produces it, or what engineer can say what the retorts, filters, and machines that have to collect and transform their components are?
And Max Linder was that: a mysterious alambique, where joy was distilled, a joy good-natured and disagreeable among infantile and sullen, that was kicking the taste and contentment to our kids and to our little women and ourselves, brainy men, forced us to unwrinkle the frown and many times already surrendered to his art, with shrieks of laughter, and in our age! when life overwhelms and whips us, making people laugh is one of the greatest works of mercy!
Renowned cinematographer artist, who is said
to have died in the war
Sarcasm of war! The Forges of Vulcan, where cuirasses and helmets are forged, and swords and spears are tempered, are no longer in the underground where Velázquez painted them. They have been accommodated in the elegant offices of foreign ministries. There come, demanding armaments, all the selfishness of each nation; the insatiable greed of capitalism, the pride of imperialism, the ambitions of militarism, the intransigence of the believers, the concerns of political sides in need of flattering popular stupidities ... All call war! Meanwhile, the poor actor, comic or clown, juggler or acrobat, gambler or tamer of beasts, attentive to his art, dedicated solely to invent and test new chicanery, going from town to town, from village to village, making people laugh, getting excited with moving them. Joy, who is the younger sister of madness and the older sister of virtue, is his inseparable companion. The poor actor, it never occurs to him, that to laugh, to be good, to become happy, it is necessary to forge weapons and declare war on sister nations. He does not have selfishness or greed, or ambition, or intransigence, or arrogance, or disturb your sleep over concerns that the longing for a gratitude, that the people, after laughing, rejoicing, joy, thanks to him, the healthiest in life, is to haggle. For as the old juggler, the job of the actor and the jester is a shameful and contemptible job.
And suddenly, in the bend of a road, in the shelter of an inn or a sale, he stops and tells him to be a soldier, you should take a gun and go to war. Imagine what burst of joy enters with him in the barracks! It is the clown that worked in the town square! Is the comedian who built his altar in the days of the fair! Acrobat is the one we saw in the city! Is Max Linder, the famous, who invents and executes antics in cinematograph films and made cackle to the whole small fry world! And he demands that doughboy, seeing the sorrowful soul caged like a bird, sing, recite, dance, do tricks, and then, in weary marches, it is necessary to encourage the boys, make them laugh, that they amuse and distract them. And finally, in the trenches, when the cannon thunders, when one considers how the enemy here can aim their rifles whose bullets bounce off nearby land, where everyone thinks parents and the bride, the jester must remember only his craft. The officer, a good psychologist, has made cinema his best assistant, and to each crash, the officer shouts:
— Guys, calm, serenity! ... and you, fool, tell us something. Make us laugh. Imagine what European movie theatres are losing!
The minstrel meets his craft. That is trenches of brave, because in combat are the men laughing. Death is approaching fearful. He himself is horrified warning that rush of joy amid the desolation of the battle.
The officer, enraged, seeing the value of his soldiers, keeps repeating:
— Jester, sing ... Jester, recite ... Jester, make us laugh!
The death has heard, has known him joy maker comes to him in fierce caress with a bullet. The Jester, accustomed to feign death, to feel it makes his final pirouette and falls heavily, and everyone laughs!
— Jester, again! —Shout everyone. —Jester, sing!
The dead comedian is forgotten a little. Other injured throwing bullets go to the bottom of the trench. So, how many jugglers and comedians, comedians or clowns or film acrobats have fallen from the ranks of the fighters! Not worried more than art, to invent and test new chicanery to make people laugh and to war with a vicious sarcasm leads to the afterlife where art and wit are useless! DIONISIO PÉREZ (Esfera, Oct. 10, 1914)
Max Linder in two scenes of his most famous films