Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Now let's talk about "Pierre et Papier"...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Not waiting for the question) It was Philippe who drew up the parchments. He explains everything in this book. Everything is explained there and I cannot understand why people keep asking about this text. I myself have already explained in detail the context in which the Priory of Sion was founded. Just read my books and articles – I am most certainly NOT going to constantly repeat myself!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Jean-Luc, you've certainly had a lot to say about the subject – several books, special editions of magazines, articles and so on - that's why a synthesis would be useful for our web surfers...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Silence) OK, go ahead! I'm listening!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: The forty pages or so of "Pierre et Papier" are rather vague. Philippe de Chérisey repeats himself and is sometimes quite obscure. He also makes some extraordinary errors considering that he himself forged the parchments. The publishers Pégase had to mention several times in footnotes that de Chérisey got the two parchments confused in his explanations. OK, so he makes the same mistake each time, but surely he could have read the text through after he’d written it? Did he write it all at one sitting? You get the impression that it's all just a rough draft, and yet he asked you to publish it. You would have thought that he would have given you a finished product!
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Philippe was a poet, and a Surrealist poet to boot! He had a keen sense of farce and satire. What do you expect? In this document he expresses himself just like he expresses himself in his other writings, by allusion, shifts of meaning, implications. He always liked to play to the gallery, to be a sort of illusionist. That was how he was working here too.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: His style is very close to that of the novel "Livre à vendre", which he co-authored with Roland Dubillard and which was published by Jean-Claude Simoën in 1977. The only difference is really the kind of writing? That was a novel, this is an essay!
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (In a peremptory tone) No, absolutely not! I repeat: he liked to play around with words and ideas. Philippe was a Surrealist poet – his whole life was based on word-play, on humour. That was his trade!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: So if we understand you correctly, we shouldn't really look to the second part of "Pierre et Papier" – the bit devoted to the explanation of the text "Bergère, pas de tentation..." – for an interpretation of anything? It's just a Surrealist text and is meant to be taken as such... Isn't that rather strange for someone whose stated aim was to "finally show how this little farce was actually put together" (as you say on page 78)?
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (In a conciliatory tone) OK, I'll give you some explanations... Philippe de Chérisey was a great sentimentalist. Few know about the tragedy that occurred on a certain road near Rennes-les-Bains. It was there that he lost his loved one in a road accident... For him, the tearful poet, the phrase in the encipherment of the Small Parchment, "A DAGOBERT II ROI ET A SION EST CE TRESOR ET IL EST LA MORT", is not a reference to gold, to documents of enormous important to humanity, to a Christ-like revelation or whatever! No, it's Philippe de Chérisey paying homage to his loved one, who is "LA MORT(e)" ("there dead"). Should we regard the LA as an article (la = the) or as an adverb (là = there)? Well, it was certainly intended as an adverb, but it's not a reference to a sacred treasure, or to the cave of Ali Baba, it's a reference to a loved one lost forever.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: But he also undertook researches with Pierre Plantard and yourself at Serbaïrou in Rennes-les-Bains.
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Yes, but his treasure, the treasure he's talking about, was his fiancée! He has said so elsewhere.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Yes indeed! "My dear Roseline, who died on 6 August 1967, the feast of the Transfiguration, while leaving the zero meridian by car." (p. 108). The heart of de Chérisey's explanations relates to the "Large Parchment". Many passages are vague and...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Interrupting) But there's nothing to be understood – Philippe was wearing his Surrealist hat when he wrote that. None of the passages that you’re quoting need to be deciphered – they lead nowhere. Philippe was simply amusing himself by laying a few red herrings, by saying something and then saying just the opposite...
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: OK, that's as may be! But de Chérisey writes: "For as long as the inquisitive are able to get their hands on this old issue of the Bulletin I shall remain only a semi-successful hoaxer (sic), in other words the inheritor of a hoax that was put together some 60 years ago" (p.100). So unless he is successful in persuading the reader that the Tisseyre document, which appeared in the Bulletin of SESA (Societé d’Etudes Scientifiques de l’Aude) in 1905, never actually existed, his explanation is simply worthless! He is counting on the article disappearing at the hands of the "researchers" after the publication of "Pierre et Papier"! So he obviously wanted to get his book into print very quickly. Let's recall that he drafted the document in 1970.
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Ignoring the implied question) Look, I'm going to tell you something... The Tisseyre document is an invention. Or, more precisely, Tisseyre invented a so-called summary, which was written in 1905, and which he published in the Bulletin of SESA. Thanks to this article he is able to give credence to the existence of the tombstone at this period in the cemetery of Rennes-le-Château and to cover up a trafficking in relics and archaeological finds which he had launched with Bérenger Saunière. Obviously they could not be accused of stealing a stone that had been catalogued in 1905...!!!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: ... That's a rather strange explanation, especially since the Tisseyre document was published in "L'Or de Rennes", along with the reference to SESA, in 1967, in other words THREE years before "Pierre et Papier" was drafted. The researchers would have had plenty of time to check it out... As for the trafficking, Tisseyre mentions several people in the article who would obviously not be able to respond to this false allegation!!! But why mention and explain this extract when it would have been sufficient just to say that in 1970 de Chérisey had all he needed to create these parchments...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Continuing his theme) It's a real scoop! I should add that "Pierre et Papier" was annotated by Philippe de Chérisey but that, for publishing reasons, the editor Pierre Jarnac of Editions Pégase did not reproduce the annotations.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: That's a shame – they might have shed some light on the document!
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Yes, I told the editor as much but, to make the document more legible, he left the annotations out. (Editor's Note: Jean-Luc Chaumeil confirmed these statements during two telephone calls in September and October 2006)
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: One problem with de Chérisey's sources was raised by the discovery of the original text of the "Small Parchment", the famous Codex Bezae. Why doesn't he mention this unique source?
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Ah, that takes us to the very heart of the Plantard-Chérisey system! I'm not going to go over again what I've already written on your (internet) forums, but certain people obviously just don't want to understand... It gets annoying in the end. Pierre Plantard knew about the book by Fulcran Vigouroux and decided to "arrange" for the paternity of the parchments as it were to be attributed to Philippe. Citing Dom Cabrol was a red herring, a blind. It was the same with the magazine "CIRCUIT", another blind that appeared in several different versions. I'll give you another example... In an interview that Philippe granted me in 1973 he explained the origin of the Codex: "..I took the ancient uncial text at the Bibliothèque Nationale from the work of Dom Cabrol, Christian Archaeology, Shelf C25". I went there in person and what did I find in the shelf next to the one you mentioned? On shelf B was the Fulcran Vigouroux. That's a good example of the sort of traps and red herrings that those two specialised in. They would give a vague indication of something, but only the really curious inquirer would ever get onto the right track!!! In the light of that example I can state that Pierre Plantard was aware of the Fulcran Vigouroux manuscript! And anyone who’s not prepared to admit that are leading themselves astray...
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Let's talk about how this quartet worked. What were relations like between them? Who made the decisions?
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Pierre Plantard pulled the strings and presided over everything. He often gave us only partial and often differing information. That created tensions. Often I found that I didn't have all the information I needed to follow up a line of enquiry and that Philippe and Gérard had received different information! That was how Plantard worked. The unspoken word, the allusion – it was a way of setting people against one another. It also sprang from a desire to keep us all under his thumb!