Noted French philosopher, Roger Saint-Douche, who died last week aged eighty-four, was, according to the four people who claim to understand what he was talking about, one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. He is perhaps best known for posing the question: "Why should we be restricted to reading books in the traditional manner, when radical approaches can reveal hitherto unsuspected meanings in the text?" Saint-Douche later conceded that one possible answer is that books tend to make a lot more sense when read in the usual front-to-back, left-to-right fashion, with the significant exception of the philosopher's own works, which can only be understood when read backwards through a kitchen sieve under a full moon while wearing a lady's frilly undergarment.
Son of a wealthy Breton trowel-monger, Saint-Douche was a studious child, skilled in languages (by age five he was fluent in French, Canadian-French, and comedy-accent French), and with several keen interests, including philosophy, literature, and manual self-stimulation. He fought the Germans at Rouen in 1940, and again at Paris in 1976, when the vacationing von Richter family attempted to maneuver their Mercedes into a parking space outside the Sorbonne Saint-Douche had clearly declared his intention to occupy. By all accounts Saint-Douche was a generous friend, a sparkling conversationalist, and a bit of a dud in the sack.
Professionally, Saint-Douche's big break came in the late 1950s, when he published his book Language and Culture in the Post-Imperial Era, later filmed as Young Love in Monte Carlo. The book was immediately hailed as a major piece of philosophy and Saint-Douche was embraced by the Parisian intelligentsia, particularly those disillusioned with Sartre, whose habit of talking with his mouth full was really quite disgusting.
Saint-Douche continued to expand on his theories throughout the sixties and seventies, attaining fame on the other side of the Channel when the Beatles included his likeness on the front cover of their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album (Saint-Douche's distinctive cauliflower ears can be seen protruding from somewhere near Edgar Allan Poe's crotch). His thought was popular with the counter-culture set, particularly the ideas set down in his 1968 book Notes Towards a New Grammatology , which had really cool cover art by the guy who did some of Pink Floyd's albums.
The philosopher's dotage was spent in quiet seclusion, dividing his time between refining his thought and maintaining his fleet of classic American convertibles. He died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by family and friends. Roger Saint-Douche's final words were not recorded, but a witness at his death reported that they were "something or other in French".