Maxime Coton (BEL): Simplicity is hard work

Maxime Coton is an author, musician and film maker. He stresses the ordinary; time being generous; repetitious practices in life being in themselves singular and unique moments. Between his two books of poetry several years passed. There was one more collection of short stories this year. Inbetween he decided to make movies and currently he writes a script for the theatre called “vivre virtuel”. The big gestures are not the characterizing bits in his works neither is he drawing the big picture. He extracts the ordinairy as the actually uncommon experience.

Actually, I have to admit that until now I do not understand why Maxime chose to meet me or why he would like to have a portrait published on CROWD – CReating Other Ways of Dissemination. His approach pronounces the ordinary, shows the stability in every days life, tries to not hack but to look deeper in a common life – may it be Belgium or Israel. It is everything else than “Other Ways of Disseminating”.

The first movie of his “Le geste ordinaire” accordingly deals with a working man’s life in our times. The movie begins and evolves – of course – very slowly showing scenes from work in a factory mixed up with scenes of a deserted house. The used close-ups and the delicate uttering of the words create intimacy, silent intimacy with the factory landscape and its actors. As a means the close-ups are very plausible since he draws inspiration from his very next and closest people in his own biography, as the movies source is his former life with his father and his work and lack of words.

The common is present

Maxime Coton stresses the regularities, the ordinary and the continuing. When I look at his poems I notice that they are all in present tense even though as it says “… it is through your hands / that I see, celebrate and form.” This poem obviously addresses his father whom the lyrical I mentions a few lines before the one cited above. In another poems it says “Simple I try to say to you / I try to say it simply / That the language which divides us / unites us on the side of the unsaid.” But wait, ok, biographically inspired, dealing with common life and in present tense, saying that there is something unspeakable?! Is that not in itself too obvious, too close? The heck with it, one could say.

Also I tend to neglect small and simple things. I always admired novelists being able to write sentences like “She woke up and got out of the bed.” If that happens in poetry it can either be a performative statement against an overburdened kind of opaque and so called poetical language or one would have to read it as a fragment that is a part of something else.

Unexcitedness plus

But neither is the case in Maximes works. It is the least stating as something could be. The present tense is the moment of recognition of the conditio humana everybody shares (even though you could say that this kind of experience is pretty much limited to white middle class people, but he also did a feature in the middle east). It is the moment when you can harmonize momentarily with someone without restrictions or without having to pronounce your satisfaction, without the need of having an opinion. It is to disable every connection to your self, that instance from which desire and excitement emerge. You still are but who you are – whoever you are.

Maxime is not concerned with recent changes or daily news – not with something “new”, he told me. I had the feeling that he by that defended himself against being experimental oder this “other” ways of CROWD. This is the red line in his work. His new piece now deals with virtuality in our lives but not from the recently quite common perspective of the real and the fictional merging into each other (augmented reality) making once unchangeable circumstances and sites now visible (the photoshop consciousness) but treats our bodies and our perception in contrast to the virtuel in its original sense, that is: The virtual specifies an imagined entity that is not always physical but still exerts its effects. The virtual is like a reality surrogate but still in itself a lived experience. Maxime would screen the great journey that can be a internet experience on bodies. They do not move much. It is a simple statement but in Maximes eyes it need to be made. And the uncommon is not so uncommon at all if treated in an extra space. It can be hard work to make the most simple but apt remark about the (bodily) experience of virtuality.

Maxime Coton (*1986) writes poetry and is a film maker. 2011 he received the prize of Poésyvelines as well as the Georges Locken prize awarded by the Academy for French Language and Literature. 2014 a collection of short stories called „L’imparfait des langues” (publisher arbre à paroles) was released. Maxime Coton received a scholarship from the French Community in Belgium. He lives in Brussels.

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