Σάββατο, Απριλίου 28, 2012

On loan

I am not sure that I exist, actually.
I am all the writers that I have read
All the people that I have met
All the women that I have loved;
All the cities I have visited.
— Jorge Luis Borges

He had his grandpa's eyes. His mother's long limbs. Whenever he concentrated hard on something he bit his lower lip, just like his father. He drove like a maniac, pedal to the metal, the way his uncle taught him to. At the age of nineteen he tattooed a chinese word—the meaning of which he never discovered—across his calf the same way his best mate had done. He only drunk single malt whisky, even though he could not really afford it, because he was told to do so by his high-school tutor. As an undergrad he wrote poems trying to be at times TS Elliot, Dante, Beaudelaire, Tranströmer, Auden—more often than not all of them at once. It was that same time that he learned how to kiss (exactly the way his girlfriend showed him to), have sex (ditto), break up, pretend, sit in silence (ditto, ditto, ditto). After his degree his hair quickly turned grey, as had his grandpa's. He wrote his (then ex) girlfriend a long letter, mailed without a stamp to ensure it would get lost, like his mother once did before leaving his father. He started drinking as had his father. He lived alone (within crowds), in a solitude that everyone said resembled his uncle's. He took a long trip to Latin America, hiking along the Andes, the same way his best mate once had—both coming back a month early. He refused to do anything but part-time jobs, because he remembered his high-school tutor talking of workaholic slaves. Half-drunk he tried to write the great contemporary novel mimicking Kafka, Ford, Joyce, McCarthy, and Faulkner all at the same time. He met a girl working the front desk at the publishing house that kept rejecting his drafts. He went out with her. He kissed and had sex with her, then broke up, pretended, and sat in silence—her last SMS said: you seem to do all things as if you were anyone but you. He decided to be himself and jumped sober off a bridge one night.

Τρίτη, Απριλίου 24, 2012

A string of fate

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.― Jorge Luis Borges

It is difficult to define it this state you're in, this disheartening something, granted, it is most difficult, almost impossible, but then again just try describing it, just draw an outline. Let's see, at times you are yourself―whoever that might be―, but most of the time you become your father and break up into tears for no apparent reason, you become your mother and drink non-stop throughout the day from a glass you hide behind the dishes on the kitchen counter, you become your lover and curse yourself in the mirror for all the things you do wrong; you become―in random alternations―a whole set of characters all pointing a finger at you: a teacher, a priest, a policeman, a bully, a best friend. But, when you revert back to being yourselfwhoever that might be―you scream at your father in the mirror for having never lived up to life, at your mother for immersing her caresses in alcohol, at your lover for expecting your love to be unflawed. It is then, after screaming your lungs out, that you leave the seclusion of your flat to immerse―mother would love this verb, so would your lover, but your father would be dead-terrified by it―in the seclusion of the odd crowd. You take the bus to town, plug in your earphones and listen to Janacek's sonatas―though you never really liked his music―, walk along the High street at a steady pace, rubbing shoulders with complete strangers, smelling what they smell, feeling cold if it's winter or hot if it's summer like they do, looking over your right shoulder before crossing the street, holding a paper-cup with tea, being a tourist in the land of human contact, a complete stranger amongst complete strangers, some of which will be teachers and priests and policemen and bullies and potential best friends, but none of which will be your father wiping his tears with his checkered handkerchief, or your mother fighting her hangover as she's putting you to bed, or your lover kissing you like there's no tomorrow in a bar and then slapping you across the face for not stopping her from doing so, and then going at it again and again, until there was really no tomorrow and you were to blame for that. Still you keep wandering, you keep listening to Janacek's sonatas, you keep rubbing shoulders with passers-by, you keep holding that cup of tea without taking a sip, you keep trying to make out from the crowd the teacher, the priest, the policeman, the bully, the potential best friend―to follow or avoid them, G*d knows. 
     Eventually you get tired of wandering around, of being yourself, of being anyone but yourself; you come to a halt in the middle of a swarm of people, the High street buzzing with what sounds to you as the high pitch of solitude, you come to a halt and feel your right shoulder where you've inked your lover's name, you feel the skin above your left brow a broken wineglass scared at the age of thirteen, you feel the cheeks your father put his hands to say goodnight and farewellweeping as always, you feel the inherited faint heartbeat in your chest and, before long, you become your father's father and send him to his room to cry himself to sleep, you become your mother's mother and ask her to share whatever wine's left, you become your lover's lover and push her against the wall and slap her across the face and kiss her and say your love is flawed but it's all you have and it's all hers, you become yourself and fight your urge to visit your father's grave, to call your mother on the phone, to get on the first flight and meet your lover, you fight your urges because more than two thousand miles stand between you and your father's grave, because you cannot stand your mother's drunken voice anymore, because your lover's probably never going to answer the damn door, and―point is―you would give anything to be able to sit on your father's gravestone and chat about tears and goodnights and farewells, to be able to call your mother and listen to her pronounce your name right, to be able to see your lover open the door and kiss you clumsily on the mouth, but there you are then, you're not your father or your father's father, nor your mother or your mother's mother, nor your lover or your lover's lover, nor of course are you a priest, a policeman, a bully, or anyone's best friend, all you do is sit on a random gravestone in a random cemetery and address your words to whoever, you keep repeating your mother's number to yourself as some sort of spell until you actually forget it altogether, you never stop booking tickets online to visit your lover only to cancel them with a heartache. That's life for you, a whole lot of daydreaming, a whole lot of idleness, a whole lot of waiting for things you know will not come, a whole lot of convincing yourself to be no one but yourself, and hardly anything more. Meanwhile an old lady that squeezed past turned to you to say: 
     "Have to keep moving, child. All moves forward you know."
     "I want to be all the things I'm not."
     "Good luck then", she said tapping you on the right shoulder.
    Truth is you did not hear a word the old lady said, you had become yourself's self, talking out loud amidst such silence you had to keep reminding yourself you weren't deaf or dead.

Τετάρτη, Απριλίου 18, 2012

You wouldn’t understand

"We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."—Goethe

What is your greatest fear? he asked looking himself in the mirror. What is it about it that paralyzes you? he kept insisting. Tell me, speak up you coward! he said while pushing his right index finger against his forehead, as if trying to punch a hole in it, or—come to think of it—as if trying to access some buried truth, some piece of invented reality stored in a neuron somewhere in his frontal lobe in the form of charged particles caught in unceasing Brownian motion, and while the finger would not punch the desired hole he kept coming back with the same questions, in a monotonous, loud voice which echoed off the walls of his small ground-floor one-bedroom flat, his back door opening up to a small yard laid with gravel, a house he had lived his whole adult life in, one he despised for rarely ever being visited by another human except myself—visits from the letting agent do not count—, not because he saw it as a sanctuary to which he withdrew following social intercourse, but rather as cause of his reluctance to engage in it in the first place, always having been either too afraid of using words to communicate, spoken words that is, or immersed so far in a world-of-words, written words that is, to even understand both how to handle and how to dispose of them, haunted by consonants and vowels in all respects, though—and I can vouch for it—this was not his greatest fear, but, whichever his paralyzing nightmare might have been, he refused to offer a straight answer, even when after a persistent hour-long self-interrogation he eventually started talking about swimming in deep black waters and hunchback whales surfacing, and—right when he started opening up, no matter how incoherent his narration had been—he drifted again into silence, only to start a few minutes later, without—mind you—being probed to do so, about this idea of him showing up at her apartment’s door—who’s she?—, knocking and waiting, and then knocking again and waiting some more, and her finally answering after what seemed to him, even in this dream of his, because this is exactly what it was, a dream—good or bad is hard to say—, to be a multi-hour-long wait, and she didn’t say anything, just stood there looking through him, as if he did not matter the least bit, as if his presence did not concern her at all—but, who’s she?—and he was completely numb and stood there pierced by her gaze, not knowing whether he should try uttering a word or not—apparently not—because they had exchanged so many, and in all sorts of formats, that he thought it was all up to touch and smell and the eyes to sort out now, and so he just stood there waiting for a hint of invitation, any hint, and, finally, when she closed the door the whole thing felt as if noone was knocking on it in the first place, a feeling that caused him to question his own existence—and these are his words that I’m using here—, to pinch the back of his palm, to start whispering words to test his speaking and hearing, but the funny thing is—again these are all his words—that he kept whispering her name, in part in hope that she still stood behind the closed door, eavesdroping, ready to open again and smile, or talk, or punch, or kiss, or hug, or shout at him, anything to confirm his existence, not to him, but to her—that’s all that mattered—, and in part using those four letters, two consonants and two vowels, as a spell of some sort, a spell to reinstate what was lost, though that last bit was never clarified because he then went mute again, and stayed that way, and once in a while jotted down on a piece of paper her address and the words you wouldn’t understand, you’re so blessed you don’t understand, and I wish you never come ‘round to it in his awful handwriting and held it in front of my face as if saying take it to her—but who was her?—and I would pretend not to understand, in part to force him to speak and in part to disentangle him from this disillusioned reality he had cast himself in, and, clearly upset, he would tear the paper into infinitely small pieces only to come back with a new one later on, constantly silent, until, after some time that same night, he walked up to me, looking pale and frail and detached from reality altogether, calling me by her four-letter name, and took me by the hand, and sat me down on the sofa, and—not letting go of my hand—started talking in a soft voice: he spoke of his fears, his dreams and his despairs, of his heartaches and his resolutions, all in the same soft voice that I never knew he had, going into great detail—the narration lasting until sunrise, interrupted only by him weeping a couple of times and then resuming—when, at the very end, he caressed my hair and said do you understand now? before leaving the flat he had lived his whole adult life in, never to return again.

Δευτέρα, Απριλίου 16, 2012

I wish there was a nowhere

If you stay we can figure out how long it takes. [...] Don’t say a word. [...] Boil a pot of water. Two cups will do. 
Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

He had lived in silence for God-knows-how-long, as if standing behind some unspoken promise he once gave her. He, more often than not, found himself daydreaming of the two of them, mostly sitting side-by-side on the odd bench by the river, not saying much, if anything at all, yet he felt as if—in these daydreams of his—all had been said in the most eloquent of ways, without the need for words, for consonants or vowels, not because they had ran out of things to say to each other—and how could they, having never spent enough time together, enough by their own sense of time and space and number of words—, nor because they could read each other's mind, but simply because—and that was something they would both admit to having been given the chance—that sense of being together seemed to be enough in itself. Daydreams aside, he'd lived in silence, he'd reminded himself on a daily basis how he was alone, alone as one can be—and that was it. Not that it was something that grows on you, something that becomes, slowly yet steadily, part of reality and eventually merges with your routine, discolors over time and renders itself transparent; in contrast it most resembled, this persistent sense of loneliness, a pain you live by but never quite learn how to cope with, or, for that matter, one you never tell your G.P. about. And then one day, the sense of solitude and the daydreaming present as always, he heard the front door flap make that noise that used to startle him in his sleep when he first moved here, the noise of an envelope being shoved through the hole, and although he had long lost interest for incoming mail as they invariably were bills, advertising flyers, or mis-addressed letters, he jumped—with all the difficulty that his unwilling body brought with in such an effort—out of bed and got the unforeseen intruder in hand, one that did not at all resemble a bill, a flyer, or a mis-addressed letter, rather one with a nice, unnervingly familiar handwriting on the outside, and a lavender-colored paper inside decorated with the same handwriting, which, however, became more broken up and undecipherable towards the end of the single, not very long paragraph that—in what appeared to be the transcription of an impulsive, single-string thought process—deployed on one side of the lavender-colored paper, and had hardly any punctuation marks. That one paragraph was the final blow. You see, he had lived his life in a 'self-avoiding walk'—a Physics' term where a given polymer can keep twisting and turning in 3D space unrestricted so long as it does not turn back on itself—always holding out for that portion of time he would call enough, alongside her, on that bench by the river, where not much, if anything at all, would be said, and it took nothing more than a single paragraph of her handwriting on a lavender-colored piece of paper to render his whole life-agenda... well, frankly, a mistake, for what was the purpose of it all if he was never to get the chance to walk into one of his many daydreams? Obviously, time and again, he had entertained—toyed would probably be a more fitting verb—the idea of her being engaged in a happy new life, completely detached from the long-lost shared reality—reality being a rather strong word, given the hundreds of letters and texts and emails they had exchanged and had stayed restricted to—, probably having turned what he perceived as a life-together-waiting-to-happen into a fondled yet stored-away memory, bound to be forgotten or changed or blurred by silence; one both of them imposed, mind you, though under different terms. Nonetheless, no matter how prepared, or unprepared, one can say he was that one paragraph was the final blow. I find it impossible to give you a summary of that one paragraph, let alone write out the exact words therein, but as he lay there, his eyes wide-open, no tears, no breath, hundreds of heart-beats per minute, and then none, I do recall those last few words: I wish there was a nowhere, one we could pin-point on a map, because that seems the only place us two are ever going to get a chance to spend enough time together—do forgive me though for not remembering if those were her words laid out on the lavender-colored paper or his, spelled out letter-by-letter; and then none. 

Σάββατο, Απριλίου 07, 2012

Somnium, cruor, nummus

Ὅταν μετὰ αἰῶνες οἱ σκαπάνες
σ´ἀρχαῖο τάφο βρίσκοντας τὰ ὀστά μου
δοῦνε πάνω τους νὰ φωσφορίζει τ´ ὄνομά σου
ἄραγε θὰ ξαφνιαστοῦν;
θὰ καταλάβουν;
Έκτωρ Κακναβάτος, In Perpetuum

Είδες παράξενο όνειρο, αν και δεν πιστεύεις στα όνειρα, δεν είναι άλλωστε τίποτα άλλο παρά απεικονίσεις νευρωνικών εκκενώσεων στο κοιμώμενο οπτικο σου νεύρο, σωστά; Από το διαμέρισμα από πάνω ακούγεται πιάνο να παίζει ένα βαλς. Θυμίζει Chopin. Είδες παράξενο όνειροήταν όντως πολύ παράξενο!ένιωθες ότι αν ξυπνήσεις δεν θα μπορείς να κινήσεις τα άκρα σου, ότι θα έχεις εκατόν πενήντα σφυγμούς και βάλε. Έκανες ντους, δεν ήσουν σπίτι σου, ούτε σπίτι της, χτύπησε το κουδούνι, ήταν σκοτάδι έξω, αλλά σίγουρα δεν ήταν βράδυ, ούτε όμως πολύ νωρίς το πρωί. Είναι απλά σκοτάδι, σκέφτηκες. Ο ήχος από το κουδούνι σε έβγαλε από το μπάνιο, φορούσες πάντως όλα τα ρούχα σου, εκείνα που προτιμάς όταν ταξιδεύεις: μπλε τζην, λευκό πουκάμισο κάτω από φαρδύ πουλόβερ, κασκόλ και καπαρντίνα. Δεν περίμενες κάποιον, αλλά ήθελες να χτυπήσει το κουδούνι. Δεν είχες κανονίσει ταξίδι, όμως έφευγες, ένιωθες εκείνο το πετάρισμα στο στομάχι που σε πιάνει πριν από κάθε αναχώρηση, οπότε ήθελες σαν τρελός να χτυπήσει το κουδούνι, κι ας μην περίμενες κανένα, κι ας μην είχες σκοπό να φύγεις ταξίδι, κάτι που η αμφίεσή σου αμφισβητούσε έτσι κι αλλιώς, ήθελες να είναι εκείνη, να σε βάλει στο τρένο και να σε πάει στο αεροδρόμιο, να σου τακτοποιήσει το γιακά της καπαρντίνας, να σε φιλήσει στα μάτια, να σε σπρώξει προς τον έλεγχο διαβατηρίων. Το κουδούνι χτύπησε μόνο μια φορά κι εσύ, για πρώτη φορά στα τριαντά τρία χρόνια σουαπό ένστικτο επιβίωσης ή από περιέργεια άραγε;—, κοίταξες από το ματάκι της πόρτας να δεις ποιός είναι. Είδες μια σκιά. Άκουσες ένα θόρυβο: μέταλλο που τρυπά το ξύλο. Ένιωσες θερμότητα δια της τριβής να ζεσταίνει το μέτωπό σου, ανάμεσα στα μάτια. Ζαλίστηκες, δε σε κρατούσαν τα πόδια σου, ήταν όμως μόνο ένα όνειρο, σωστά; Ξύπνησες. Και ήταν σκοτάδι, δεν ήταν βράδυ, ούτε πολύ πρωί όμως ήταν, είναι απλά σκοτάδι, σκέφτηκες. Δε μπορούσες να κινήσεις τα άκρα σου και είχες εκατόν πενήντα σφυγμούς, και βάλε. Ήσουν ντυμένος με τα ρούχα που προτιμάς όταν ταξιδεύεις: μπλε τζην, λευκό πουκάμισο κάτω από φαρδύ πουλόβερ, κασκόλ και καπαρντίνα. Τώρα όμως περιμένεις να χτυπήσει το κουδούνι κι ας μη μπορείς ν' ανοίξεις. Την περιμένεις. Να σου τακτοποιήσει το γιακά της καπαρντίνας, να σε φιλήσει στα μάτια, να σε σπρώξει προς την έξοδο. Αν είναι να έρθεις ποτέ σε μένα, έλα τώρα, λες, χωρίς όμως να χρησιμοποιείς λέξεις από φωνήεντα και σύμφωνα. Το πιάνο στο διαμέρισμα από πάνω παίζει ξανά και ξανά το ίδιο βαλς. Στην τσέπη σου έχεις ένα νόμισμα που σου είχε φέρει από το μόνο ταξίδι της στο Λονδίνο.

Κυριακή, Απριλίου 01, 2012


Η άστεγη κοπέλα, θα ήταν 35-40 (αν και σου είναι δύσκολο να πεις με σιγουριά), που είχε ξαπλώσει στο χαρτονένιο στρώμα της με φόντο εκείνο το κολάζ (που σου θύμισε Ρόθκο) της υπό ανακατασκευής βιτρίνας του βιβλιοπωλείου και έδειχνε να μη θέλει να τη φωτογραφίσεις (κάτι που ούτως ή άλλως ντρεπόσουν να κάνεις) διάβαζε με προσήλωση τη Μεταμόρφωση του Κάφκα· για αναγνωστική απόλαυση άραγε ή ως μύχια προσευχή;