"I’ve always considered the expression ‘black humour’ to be pleonastic. Humour consists in coping with tragedy with all the derision we’re capable of ; it ranges from the faintest touch of irony to the mighty bursts of laughter that shake the picaresque character trapped in a desperate situation."
The position adopted by Mary Sue falls within that type of irony, based upon what is known nowadays as autofiction. The term autofiction, however, shouldn’t be understood here as it usually is when it deals with a more or less dubious kind of auto biographical fiction, but rather as what Eric Chevillard makes of it in the daily entries of his blog – L’Autofictif – namely a form of writing that keeps a distance that is both salutary and perverse. (Incidentally, this could be a totally satisfactory definition of art.) Thus,in the case of a cleverly constructed work of autofiction, the character is the link between the intimate and subjective experience and the emergence of the form aimed at intersubjectivity.
Alterity starts with oneself.
Mary Sue starts from her own conception of the world and creates as much confusion as possible to suppress the distance between
the artist and her character. (The character she has created gave her her nom d’artiste after all.)
Armed with a camera, she uses her own image that she distorts, playing with physiognomy and the possibilities that video offers, to give birth to a creature that we immediately associate with fictional realms (comics, mangas, cartoons, etc.) It is the drogman, the medium that ensures transfer from one register to another; the go-betweenthat’s always identifiable yet protean enough to develop as it pleases, and be responsible for the transition between the private space and the artefact.
The distance varies and is replayed every time. When it reaches its peak,the character itself becomes the object of the artist’s sarcasm,
the latter taking malicious pleasure in setting it in shocking situations. There stands the limit : beyond this manifest delight, the character becomes a transitional outlet; the punching bag that assumes the undisclosable. Still, no matter the artist’s detachment, one senses that the thread of a certain tenderness or a kind of complicity remains.
Through that medium, Mary Sue ironically plays with sex and death; namely, the basic conditions of life whose vicissitudes her character issubjected to, yet – we’re in fiction after all – they never affect her for very long and have no real obvious consequences on her as the video plays continuously.
Most of the tribulations she endures obviously arise within a festive context, which leaves one to suppose that if the simplest activities of domestic life can be source of humiliation, it’s within a context of obligatory rejoicing that the worst is revealed. Birthday parties, Christmas parties, carrousels, fun-fair attractions… Aparty is definitely the place or the special moment for disenchantment, and to be disillusioned one doesn’t wait for the hangover to settle. Conventional pleasure turns sour. The bittersweet is relevant these days. It perfectly suits the generations that follow revolutionary illusions. We no longer predict anything, nor do we thunder about anything; we simply show that we’re not fooled and that we are perfectly aware of the situation. We left the dismal practice of self-criticism behind and put ourselves into the salutary mode of self-derision. Self-derision is resolutely incompatible with a political stance. The sketch is here to blow myths to pieces, but at the same time it broadens the scope of sarcasm that allows one to laugh at all the clichés.
Thus,if Mary Sue’s work doesn’t denounce anything, everything in itcan suddenly turn into its opposite: the gentleness of rabbits can all of a sudden become a threat. Just see the kids run away when,lured by the childish fluffiness of the animals, their proximity only triggers a noisy wanking and copulating frenzy among them… (KenPark)
The image of the rabbit conveys the gentleness of childhood (the ‘cuddly rabbit’), the ever-prolific libido, and the call to order ; but Mary Sue in the part of Alice is no longer enthralled by the austere learned white rabbit and its recurring anxiety about the passing of time.
He sports the pink ears of Playboy bunnies. Yet, is she blasé ? Has she seen it all before ? Does she bear the rabbit’s improper behaviour out of sheer weariness and candour or is she insidiously willing ? She embodies both Mr Dodgson’s prepubescent little girl and the mistress of ceremony who rules a world of depravity with a sovereign indifference, the kind of satisfied indifference that sometimes veers on beatitude and puts us in the adult world right from the start; and this despite her fake little girl appearances and her obvious naivety.
The body grew up faster than the mind, as attests her stub bornness in wearing too tight panties. That ill-placed lust rests inside the gap that separates the body of the child and the lingering consciousness of the adult who refuses to acknowledge the passing of time. Mary Sue belongs to the great family of innocents whose candour is devastating, from Simplicius Simplicissimus to Bécassine to the good soldier Svejk ; their literal approach to the world remains unsinkable.
All those characters have one thing in common: they take things as they come and therefore reveal every depravity. Just like those aforementioned protecting figureheads, the character that Mary Sue embodies isn’t revolted ; to the tough complexity she encounters,
she merely opposes her good will.
Yet, what’s particular with her is that she hasn’t any known beholder ; everything that happens to her seems to come from off-screen. Eventually, what defines Mary Sue’s character the best is that she’s solitary. She has no partner to play the part of the predator or the accomplice ; no one’s around to play opposite her and no one serves as a foil to her. This is so true as her trials start with suicide, the solitary act par excellence, a recurring event that punctuates her adventures as they unfold, without any real consequences since her character is only abody-image (one of art’s privileges) that still reminds one that the psyche can take a lot, suffer a lot, and irreversibly remember. The creature Mary Sue is therefore not completely passive, nor is she totally fooled or naïve.
Her first appearances are pictures of suicide that establish right from the start the principles of a game and a complete freedom.
It’s the radical way out that makes her a character of her own, the resort that allows her to assert the full possession of herself, no matter the position she’s in ; a principle to distance herself out of hand, and even sometimes to have it off (Mary Goes Round).
That’show she conjures her passivity, how she retains her ability to reactand to decide, how she reserves her right to escape from the carrousel of stupidity at any time. Amidst all this though, not even faintest trace of transcendence is to be found, no metaphysical wayout, no belief that would bias the implacable perception of actual reality or divert the human head-on brutality.
Mary Sue reveals the inexorability of existence and the trials individuals endure without any other escape than self-destruction ; without any other resort than self-derision, sensual acceptance or suicide.