Just Kids Question #17A - Funny Face and Faust

by Patti Smith

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Just Kids Question #17A - Funny Face and Faust

Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:54 am

The next 3 questions (which I will post simultaneously) will deal with the relationship between Patti and Robert. I am asking these questions now & all at once because we have already begun delving into this with yesterday’s question. And this will give you a chance to see what all of the questions are relating to their relationship and consider them separately because they focus on different angles.

We’ll start with a question that harks back to The Master and MargaritaFaust.



From Pg. 57:


We (Patti and Robert) were a curious mix of Funny Face and Faust.

Comment on this pronouncement. Before you answer, take into account the following from pgs. 187-88:

His dual nature troubled me, mostly because I feared it troubled him. When we first met, his work reflected a belief in God as universal love. Somehow he got off track. His Catholic preoccupation with good and evil reasserted itself, as if he had to choose one over the other. He had broken from the Church, now it was breaking within him. His trip magnified his fear that he had aligned himself irrevocably with darker forces, his Faustian pact…..

“You know you don’t have to be evil to be different,” I said. “You are different. Artists are their own breed.”……

He went off and I went back to my side. I caught sight of him through my window as he hurried past the YMCA. The artist and hustler was also the good son and altar boy. I believed he would once again embrace the knowledge that there is no pure evil, nor pure good, only purity.


You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Just Kids Question #17A - Funny Face and Faust

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:26 am

Well, I don’t know anything more about Funny Face than what I just read in the IMDB link, but there sure are strong parallels – Patti, the Greenwich Village book store clerk suddenly on stage. And Robert, sadly believing he’s sold his soul. Patti sure conveys a strong sense of naivety (remember how shocked the theatre crowd was that she had never shot up and wasn’t a lesbian?), in stark contrast to Robert. I got the impression that Robert at that time did believe that he was going to burn in hell - the Catholic upbringing still playing a heavy role in his conscience – and so saw himself as evil. Certainly an interesting contradiction when you put the two together like that, but I don’t see this as much more than a literary comparison. I.e., I don’t think that contradiction played into their relationship too much because neither one judged the other negatively for their differences.

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Re: Just Kids Question #17A - Funny Face and Faust

Unread postby Liz » Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:00 pm

I tend to agree with Patti on this. And they were a "curious" pair, as I'm still trying to figure them out.

Robert is a bit of a Faust in his relentless pursuit of his art, and his feeling that he would go to hell. I don't see Robert as having seduced Patti, though, like Faust seduced the young girl. I does appear that he seduced others in his life, though.

Patti was definitely Funny Face, in terms of her job, ending up on stage, an amateur philosopher (I see poetry as a form of philosophy), her bohemian persona. She even dressed like her at times.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Just Kids Question #17A - Funny Face and Faust

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:02 pm

I can't say that I've studied Faust at all. I get the idea of selling one's soul to transform one's life with the terrible penalty of having to pay eternally for all you were granted. But I have seen Funny Face and I guess it's another story about transformation, a light and funny version.

I don't know that I see Patti as "Funny Face" though. She wasn't innocent in that way except at the very beginning, and then both Patti and Robert were innocent.

I am wondering if Patti meant that sometimes the two of them were living through Faust and sometimes the two of them were living Funny Face. Dark and light.

As someone who experienced Catholicism up close, I can strongly attest to Robert's anxiety that he could be evil. To be good felt safe but oh so limiting. Sooner or later it occurred to the thinking child that striking out on one's own was absolutely necessary but it also meant rejecting faith and in turn, rejecting god. What kid finds that idea attractive? It was a very black/white, either/or, good/bad world.

To give yourself permission to explore and do things not completely accepted is something that has to be worked at again and again, and there are lots of people who never free themselves.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


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