CREATING A LEGEND Karim Debbagh, D/Mar 2006, 45 min
A documentary about Paul Bowles, told from a Morrocan perspective
Paul encouraged the other artists a lot. No matter if they were writers or painters. For example he encouraged and supported Jacoubi and Hamri. All the stories of Mrabet, Jacoubi, Driss Cherrabi and Abslam Boulaich were tales. Because they were illiterate, they could only write their names. Not every tale was created by them. They heard these tales in the cafes, added more of their own fantasy and re-told them. Then Paul changed them again. Either he added or reduced. Paul would have been a liar, if he claimed that he hadn’t changed anything.
When Paul Bowles introduced me to a publisher, I showed him some of my stories. He suggested, Paul should translate one or two stories and give his opinion. We didn’t translate them from Moroccan Arabic like the others. We decided to use Spanish, because we both could speak it. So Spanish was our language for translation. I went from Arabic to Spanish, from Spanish to English. In this way we translated 6 or 7 stories. Then they were published in Harpers and Antheos. It was a new phenomenon in the whole Arabian world. The fact that story tellings from cafes were published into books. Of course this was more interesting for Western anthropologists than for us. Paul was the first person who created such a phenomenon. The other thing he did was to collect all sorts of original Moroccan music. (Mohamed Choukri: Writer, worked with Paul Bowles on several books)
Although Jane gave her everything, Cheriffa started black magic against her. Everyday she mixed some black magic ingredients into her food. At home they found various voodoo traces. One of her voodoo methods we can see here: This photo I kept with me. She took this photo of Jane and planned to destroy her with it. She really destroyed her: She took needles and pierced her face here. Look at the photo. You can see the holes. If you pierce holes like this, it will effect the person’s face. For example the eyes. In fact at the end Jane contracted an eye disease. She was a real witch. Cheriffa was very famous for her dangerous skills. (Mohamed Temsamany: Paul Bowles’ first driver in Tangier)
Paul asked me: “Can you write?“ I said: “I can neither write or read, but I can speak.“ He said: “I will give you a tape recorder. You can record and I’ll translate.“ I recorded 15 stories. After 15 days I recorded 200 stories. After 200 stories the tape was finished, so I put in a new tape. I started to work on the story „Love with Few Hairs“. After 15 days I finished this novella. (Mohamed Mrabet: Story Teller, lived with Paul Bowles)
Paul was a great man. I lived with him for more than 30 years. Life with Paul was good. He was like a treasure for me. But Moroccans did not realize this. The entire world came here to visit him. Now people think I’m a bad person. One of those people said: What ist his son of a bitch doing here? Why did he insult me? I’m only a servant.
Paul enjoyed having many visitors. But he disliked a lot of them. He liked intelligent visitors. But he specially loved young male visitors. But I was always interrupting. They were only allowed to stay for 20 minutes. Paul never said no if someone wanted to come over. I was always very strict to make sure Paul got his rest. Those 30 years I worked for him were not always easy. (Abdel Wahid Boulaich: Paul Bowles’ last driver and house keeper)