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Death certificate from l'autre monde


The figure of Isidore Ducasse has always been imbued with a mysterious and enigmatic aura. There is little information about his life, there are no manuscripts of his works left and the reasons for his death are uncertain.

Some reports state that he died of tuberculosis (La Jeneusse, volume I) others conjecture about a possible suicide, but the truth is that there is no consensus on the matter. His death certificate does not help solve this enigma either; it is limited to reporting the place and time of death.

Pichon Riviére, an Argentine psychiatrist born in Switzerland, who carried out one of the most profound investigations on the life and work of Ducasse, states that:

The hypothesis that I will try to demonstrate in my book in preparation on the subject is that the Comte de Lautréamont committed suicide, taking this word only in the psychological sense, that is, in the sense that it was a desired death. (1992, p.34)

If one of the passages from the first "Canto of Maldoror", his best-known work, is taken into account, the theory proposed by Pichón Riviére does not seem far-fetched at all:

You will not see me, in my last hour (I write this on my deathbed), surrounded by priests. I want to die, rocked by the waves of the stormy sea, or standing on the mountain... not with my eyes upward: I know that my annihilation will be complete. On the other hand, I can't expect any grace. Who opens the door to my mortuary chamber? He had said no one should come in. Whoever you are, stay away; But if you think you perceive any sign of pain or fear in my hyena face (I use this comparison even though the hyena is more beautiful than me, and more pleasant to look at), don't be fooled: let it come closer. […] May the wind, whose pitiful whistles sadden humanity, since the wind and humanity have existed, moments before the last agony, transport me on the bones of its wings through the world, impatient for my death.

In this passage you can see a clear defiant attitude towards death as well as an express desire to approach it. This provocative posture, in constant dialogue with despair and death, and which has earned him the title of "cursed poet" is noticeable throughout his work.

Pablo Neruda writes a very interesting verse in his poem "Lautréamont Reconquistado" in which he offers us an Isidore Ducasse who has left behind “the paths of evil” to reconcile with himself, to the point that when death comes to look for him, he does not fear it:

Then death, the death of Paris fell like a cloth,
like a horrendous vampire, like umbrella wings,
and the bleeding hero rejected her believing
which was his own image, his previous creature,
the frightening image of his first dreams.
"I'm not here, I'm gone, Maldoror no longer exists."
"I am the joy of the future spring",
He said, and it was not the shadow that his hands created,
It was not the whistle of the soap opera in the fog,
nor the spider nourished by its dark greatness,
It was just the death of Paris coming
to ask about the indomitable Uruguayan,
for the fierce child who wanted to return,
that I wanted to smile towards Montevideo,
It was just death coming to get him.


The work proposed in this edition of tribute to the Count of Lautréamont, works with this close relationship between author and death. The proposal consists of working with his handwriting, learning it and imitating it, and then using it to rewrite his death certificate.

Handwriting has a close relationship with the body and mind: "when we write a thought, our brain converts the words - which are symbols - into movements of the fingers and hands" (Doidge N., 2007). The exercise, then, of imitating someone else's handwriting involves entering into the other's thought process and transferring it to one's own body. In this case, furthermore, it is the handwriting of a writer, with all the symbolism that this implies.

This action of rewriting his death certificate with his own handwriting is in itself a paradoxical and victorious gesture: 150 years after his death, the figure of the Count of Lautréamont is reincarnated in his manuscript to challenge us by conquering, once again, his own death.             

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