By Eliot Weinberger
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Additional resources for Works on Paper, 1980-1986
Every mind has this memory-as child, as adult, as observer. But to imagine Kampuchea is to see (or to be) that child falling through the air, falling not toward the familiar outstretched hands, but onto the point of a bayonet. The perversion of the routine gesture is a commonplace of political history: the prince is handed the goblet of wine, and the wine is poisoned. (Today one starts one's car and the car blo~s up, one opens a letter and the letter blows up. ) But what is particularly Kampuchean was the elaborate variety, the multiplications of this perversion of the everyday.
WHEN I ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING, YOU MUST DO IT RIGHT AWA Y WITHOUT PROTESTING. 8. DON'T MAKE PRETEXTS ABOUT KAMPUCHEA KROM IN ORDER TO HIDE YOUR JAW OF TRAITOR. Kampuchea 83 9. IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW ALL THE ABOVE RULES, YOU WILL GET MANY MANY LASHES OF ELECTRIC WIRE. 10. IF YOU DISOBEY ANY POINT OF MY REGULATIONS YOU WILL GET EITHER TEN LASHES OR FIVE SHOCKS OF ELECTRICAL DISCHARGE. and the rare portrait of Pol Pot, transmitted by satellite from Peking in 1977: a middle-aged man with a pear-shaped head, a crewcut, eyes that stare into the camera, mouth a printed smudge-a face one wouldn't recognize on the street, the face of a police composite.
Home consisted of his mutually isolated parents, an insane grandmother who wandered the house with a knife in her hand, and an increasingly disturbed Dickie, who alternated suicidal depressions with wild nights cruising the speakeasies. His concerns were poetry and Communism.