Victor Yudaev 2013
“I’ve fallen in love or I imagine I have; went to a party and lost my head. Bought a horse which I don’t need at all.” Leo Tolstoy.
Introduction. Hi! In the beginning everything is fine. People are not anxious to begin unless the beginning is not a beginning at all, but a fearful repetition of the known and happily-forgotten. I feel very confident, I think. The die has been cast, anyway. Thereâ€™s nothing to do but to take our places in the carrousel of surfaces that resurfaces here, in this introduction. This introduction will do the impossible: making the old into the new. Recycling language is a petty job, and it doesnâ€™t even pay the bills or anything. One can hardly make a case here, or a moral appeal; this is just to remind you readers that this is almost as charitable and noble, almost as wallowing in pointlessness and endlessness, almost as fickle, as real recycling. But we digress, and should not lose the cycle. We almost fell out of the carrousel, while the surface remains out of sight. What a terribly difficult trade I have! To introduce means to lead into a certain space, to make attentive to the space in which things come into play. I have dreamt of the
perfect introduction at times – of its skin. The dreamt introduction has been given a very serious design and a very brainy font. Somehow, the words themselves remain hazy, and only snatches are legible of what my dreamt ‘I’ has written. But it’s so vain to think and dream and even write (oh, shame!) of this allyou bet my dreamt self was not vain at all, but very modest and with only one thing on his mind. But we’re off the mark again. These boring snatches of writing from the dream will be regurgitated and recycled along with the main batch. What else did I see? I dreamt of a world in which the stakes matter, in which something is at stake, in which the word ‘I’ was at stake. I was carrying all these possibilities and ideas under my arm in the sand and I remember a very dry feeling in my mouth. We were proud, though. We put the left-behind on a stake, to dry in the hot dry desert wind. We wanted everybody to see the ruthlessness of those who feel drawn to the way of most resistance. Everything must be play, we said, and as we looked into each other’s eyes I saw that we were stern and made of resistant material. Play, I shouted, play, not games! 5
Games are for the silly and the retarded. We cannot presuppose unambiguous progress, I boomed while beaming hard into the sun, we cannot even hope for anything with one meaning. Nevertheless, everything must come into play. There can neither be a before nor after, neither outside nor inside the play. It is not a trajectory with a course. There is no beginning or grand, shiny goal that all players aspire to reach. Our discovering the play was just another move in it. The highest, I shouted (Maybe I had overestimated my dreamt modesty a little, dear reader, but that does no longer matter, how could it possibly matter? How can modesty ever provide the perfect introduction, after all?) â€“ the highest, I shouted, is to be involved and immersed in your moves in your own way, and to be made free therein. A boisterous mood had come upon all and the noise at the gathering grew louder. I continued. The play is useless, ruthless, but generous. It doesnâ€™t care about you, but you can care about the play. If you stop caring and being attentive to the playing field, the play will play with you. Playing is always work in 6
progress. You can shift some of its rules and build a shelter of regularity, orientation and measurement, but others are very old and too strong to move around. Once I found a rule that I could measure myself by, I took it with me. It was much heavier than the stuff under my arm, it was a Sisyphean rule. It’s the only responsibility I know and will ever know that has the power of binding a man for a lifetime. It was the only thing that was bigger than me. After all, ‘I’ was at stake here. And here one finds oneself in the end of this dead-end cycle, recycling words, making the old into the new. You are always too late before you know it, as everything starts sounding familiar and dead the moment you make it come to the surface. Words are sleepwalking, dusty corpses leading a recycled half-life. But the same rule acquires different meanings as it gets recycled many times. To dance this cycle of rules and options for movement or praxis, to dance, to dance again! It was in this total climax of what can only be described as the frenzy surrounding the perfect rule for an introduction that I realized that I had not been dreaming. I woke up from 7
the illusion of sleep to find my rule gone and the beginning still nowhere in sight. But I’m telling you this in vain, because you know better than to trust an ‘introductor’ that wears his trade only as a cloak, a feint, foul play. One from the book, you could say. (1) -Listen, I have never even asked your name -Skip it. -Why? -Because our names won’t bring us any closer. [pause]
[Three persons sit at the table. We can see only one face and back of others. They look the same. They dress the same, have the same tone of voice. Their bodies act the same, they even might be the same person, playing the same game. But something is different. There are other secrets. Secrets change the game. A game they play in order to keep the game in tact with a dissonance of their capacities. One person stands up put his cloak on, and, walking away, covers his head with its hood.}
-Where is he going? -He will be back. He goes away in order to stay. In order to stay he has to leave. [Darkness. Smells of sounds. Sounds are placed on each other to form a suspended sandwich, the size of an enormous room. Music on top of conversations. Grand, casual mixed with gossip and then laughter, one noise on top of another. Dim light from an old-fashioned lampshade reveals a minimal interior. Nothing special- but nothing can be taken away. Not one piece. The room extends to two floors. It can be seen on the ground plan, without any planning. The first floor is occupied by a few tables and chairs. They occupy only a small phase in the long history of their design. Too recent to be classic. There is a bar that occupies fifteen square meters, and is, in turn, a place to be occupied. There is a stage with a piano, amplifiers and microphones. They are there is something has to be said, and it has to be heard. The remaining two persons sit at one table, the place is empty. A few empty bottles are placed on top of the table, one of them maybe half full. They drink from transparent glasses 9
with short pauses in between each gulp. The second floor is built just below the ceiling. Only a multitude of shoes walking back and forth is visible from the side. Another person appears form the back. He goes directly to the table. He looks like the rest of the lot. He sits down, without taking his coat off. His face is unsharp, blurry, but his eyes are radiant. He takes one glass and downs it at once. The rest nod in approval. He takes off the hood of his coat. -Why did it take so long? We are almost getting bored and weâ€™re ready to get drunk. [Three of them look at each other and nod in approval] -I was on a trip. -Really? Where did you go? -Not that far, but I discovered a whole lot! I will tell you all about it. But first tell me what bored you. -First we will get another drink. [All of them nod each to other in approval]. -I told the story that was so interesting that we keep forgetting where it started and where was it going. Every step in the story was more 10
interesting than the previous one, and much more promising than the next... -I suggest that I tells the story himself! -What I tried to tell: I travel a lot and drift through many things, but there is no one who wants to hear about it. They say, ‘Why don’t you tell yourself?’ And I do. But I keep forgetting the stories. Wait, this is not the right narrative. I keep on forgetting things. Every day, step by step, I forget and unlearn. But I do learn something new, the ‘new’ that never occurs to me. As far as I can recall, at least. There’s too much void up there. I can speak to people who are dead, but once were alive in times I have never lived in. They have a lot to say about the times I live in. (Not much happened in between.) When I tell myself this over and over again, there is nobody to object and say: “That is just a game of your mind!” People who imagined things that happened die while sleeping. They are his-stories, because forgotten, not stored in some collective consciousness because we don’t have one. I am an individual and as an individual I resemble individuals that were unfree some time ago but, thank God, that is over now. I 11
am free and that is my history. Real or unreal, happened or imagined, a scene construed from bits and pieces of scents and colors. -There’s lots of things you don’t know. All kinds of strange things … mostly they happened before we were born: that makes them seem to me so much more real.(22) -Now I am ready to tell my story. [He stands, goes around the table, shakes hands with each of them and nods in approval. He takes his coat off and drapes it around the back of the chair. Sits at the chair. Pours drink in all glasses. He drinks a little.] -It was one of these days that follow days when things go wrong. I woke up before I had fallen asleep. I was drifting for a while. At a certain moment I didn’t know for how long I had been drifting. I was tired, but somehow I didn’t realize. I lost time and orientation. I moved from place to place, and doors always closed after me. And all I had were pockets full of empty signs: of memories, guesses and hints about what might have happened (and what if something would have). Receipts, pieces of paper damaged by numbers and words as my hands are. 12
[He shows his hands.] -Distorted pieces of conversations, deformed places, blurry captures, passing so quickly that it seemed as if I were falling. And then it stopped. Quickly, drastically, instantaneously. I stood with my back to the front of a building. The glass door had just shut after me. The thunderous sound of it woke me up. Confusion, I looked around: the light just broke through the night. Without shame or glory. Maybe an unimportant detail, but an attempt to attribute an animistic indifference to nature, I had to use my hand to shield my eyes. I turned my head to three oâ€™clock and back to twelve, then to nine and back again. The next few hours I spent looking for an answer to a question I didnâ€™t know or, at least, the slightest thing to give me any idea. Doubt froze me. Doubt about my next move. I browsed through my pockets. Coat first, outer and inner, then the rear pockets of my jeans, then the front ones, then the rear ones again. Then I double-checked them all. It took a while before I found some folded pieces of paper in the pocket of my shirt and read them.
-What? What did it say? -The place works till the last visitor. I was the last one. And the place will close with or without me. It is over. -What? -The place works till the last visitor. I was the last one. And the place will close with or without me. It is over. -I mean, what the hell? They threw you out again. I told you to stick to other peopleâ€™s front or back. Then you can never be the last one. The only one. -What did you do next? -I was confused. It had gone over the limit, again. The last door was closed and it was time to think. Maybe it was time to settle down, because I felt like a stranger down there. Down. I could find my way home but it felt too much like surrender. What if I would never know what is out there? [He points to his head.] -If I would have left then, next time I would have had to start everything all over again.
-But everything will be different. It won’t be same journey next time. It won’t be the same ride. -Indeed, but that I wanted to experience myself. I trust you but I don’t want to borrow it, I want to own it. To go there, to grab it and to bring it home. -Home... Every time you mark your home, whether it be a house, a town, country, there is also a danger there: that at certain point you will have no home. Every time it will be another new page. New, blank. It is not that man has abandoned his primordial home, but that this ‘home’ has abandoned him, thrown him out, made him a stranger […] it is not only we who leave home, but there is something in the nature of home as such that radically rejects us, that prevents us from ‘dwelling’ there […] we can never be ‘at home’ at home, so that the problem of dwelling becomes that of finding a way to live this alienation without simply fleeing from it(2) [Image of bees in hives. A voice-over says the following:]
-A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by all of these conditions occurring simultaneously: Presence of capped brood in abandoned colonies. Bees normally will not abandon a hive until the capped brood have all hatched. Presence of food stores, both honey and bee pollen:
i. which are not immediately robbed by other bees ii. which when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed. iii.Presence of the queen bee. If the queen is not present, the hive died because it was queenless, which is not considered CCD. Precursor symptoms that may arise before the final colony collapse are: i.Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present. ii.Workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees. iii.The colony members are reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement.
[Back to the enormous room] -What? -What? -Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, and were known by various names (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease). I read this in the morning paper. (3) -They are not lost, they are just very very busy. -A vicious circle! I feel the same with drinking. [points at the drink on the table] [a brief pause] -Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt you. What I wanted to say is that we need another drink to proceed. [He fills all glasses. They drink. Three of them nod in approval for him to continue the story.] -It was hard to think with light on. Things became visible and problems appeared as shad-
ows disappear in the night. And then there was not so much to see anymore, there was not enough to see for everybody. Nothing to look at. Nothing looked at you. It was better to stay invisible until there would be something worth looking at. I closed my eyes. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it is easy to run across something in the darkness of the night, then to be blinded by the light. -The night is not the same as the day: all things are different; the things of the night cannot be explained in the day; they do not exist then(24). -Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has existence and is present.(4) -But we exist. We cannot cease to exist just because. I is here. I was there. Can you see it or not, feel it or not. That is why I always tell you to stick to others. Stick to their front, stick to their back! [He shouts in excitement. Grabs the bottle and takes a sip. The rest nod to him in approval.] -And now it is your turn to finish. -So I stood there with my eyes shut. I tried to think but instead I observed. Myself. I observed myself smelling. A strong, sharp smell
of lost innocence, lost maturity and decay. Renaissance and decadence, benzene and cigarettes, a smell you are somehow proud of and that you try to forget… -After drifting you need some rest. Do you smell like freedom or taste like it? -Have you ever tasted freedom? It smells like nothing. Like in a song: ‘freedom is just another word for having nothing to lose’. And bums, the homeless, vagrants.... Good for nothing! They have all freedom of the world. They are rebels in a society where everybody is busy, competing who is most busy. The winner is busy supervising: ‘are you busy enough’? [Laughs] -And then: ‘No? Are you at least busy with it?’ -But let’s get back to the story. Will you continue? -I will. But let’s first have another drink as I’m losing my line. [They drink, smile and nod to each other in approval.] -So... I was standing there alone with closed eyes, smelling myself. In my head, memories
were dancing backwards. Odd and awkward. Hangover. Over and again. I opened my eyes. I felt the urge to speak to someone, to not be alone. I looked around. I was standing at a crossroad. -Does it mean that you can look not only left and right but also back and forth? -Certainly. I looked to the right, then I looked to the left, I turned and looked back, I turned again and looked ahead. Something was wrong. I looked to the right, then I looked to the left, I turned and looked back, then I turned and looked ahead of me again. The feeling became even stronger. Next time I turned first to the left, I turned around and looked back, then I turned further and looked right and only then did I look ahead. And I got it! -But what, what was wrong? Tell us that first, unless you want us drink in vain. -Nobody should drink in vain. -Nobody should drink in vain. -Youâ€™re right. The thing I discovered was that the view on my left was completely identical to that on my right, and that view, in turn, was identical to that in front of me, which was identical to the view behind me, and that 20
one to the one on my right! -What?! -What?! - The view on my left was completely identical to that on my right, and that view, in turn, was identical to that in front of me, which was identical to the view behind me, and that one to the one on my right! -I mean, what was the place like? Where was it? -It looked like it could be anywhere. It looked like traces of coffee left at the bottom of a cup. Furthermore, it just anticipated what happened next. [He smiles, takes a bottle and pours in all glasses; they down their drinks at once and nod in approval to the storyteller.] -The thirst you feel in your bodies right now was ten times worse in my mind at the time. Remember, I had to find my way home, but I didnâ€™t know where to go. Like I said, all directions looked the same. -But what if I would simply follow the sun? The place should be somewhere under it. It would show the path, even if the horizon is constantly shifting.
-One day we will be able to step on it and look further. That moment will be our past, our story. -I wanted to speak to somebody, anybody. But the streets were empty. I wanted to ask someone if all of this was real. I wanted to touch somebody, to ask somebody to pinch me. I got scared. What if I got stuck in between? If it would already be too far to go back from where I had started, and I was still nowhere near to where I wanted to be. I noticed that my body started to shake. I ran to the closest building to lean against it because it was falling. I had the idea that it was too late to find my way back home, which led me to the idea to just on the ground to wait and see what would happen. And if nothing would, then what? -If you wanted to do so then you gave up too early, that was your mistake. If youâ€™re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, donâ€™t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is a 22
gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is. (5) And on your journey, you are never late. You can go to any place, but you should always pick the least attractive. You will be looking for something new, authentic, something that will accommodate your ideals and expectations... -That will accommodate the mess! -Exactly! Accommodate the mess you are still prone to make. Just next to it, not on top or underneath it. You and I, we are always late. The moment we discover the new it becomes recycled. It can still shine, but it is not gold anymore. You are caught in a perpetual moment in which novelty is already on sale. Maybe the next place, the next time, the next try. -Forget about time. It means nothing. It has a function but not a meaning. It is a function of 23
movement. Think about it, and you will see that people who are most obsessed with time don’t move at all. They fluctuate like a clock’s pendulum. Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right… -It is clear. Shall we continue? -We shall. Imagine this: people in the early stages of evolution had not very much to do; they made pots all day while observing nature. They had so much time that they could watch the sun all day long. They did it day after day until they got utterly bored. Then, in order to amuse themselves, they started to trace sunlight on the ground. But it’s hard to carry the ground with you, if you want to amuse somebody else, a partner. That led to the invention of watches. But the joke went too far when this stage of evolution had come to an end. Today men don’t get the joke anymore. What’s more, they take it too seriously, and turn it against themselves. Life is function for a time and has to fit in the face of a watch: what has happened before and what is going to happen after. Life is suppressed, broken to pieces that are easy to chew. Chewing days through news. Chew it for an hour and it takes a day. And that makes for long, 24
long days. So long that in the end of the day we don’t remember how it started. -Once we are free from time we are free from a production of ourselves. We will have time to talk about the times. A watch contains twelve numbers. It has split the day in two, before and after twelve. No past, no future, instead there is before and after. Just before and after. Memory is short. It is enough to know that is it better now than it was before, and it could be even better, or even worse. The problem is that our plans are big, but there is no planning. Therefore there are low expectations, long checks and no cash. Or perhaps we’d rather speculate about the future. It will be good if I and I are doing things right. Take care for the future is to destroy hope and love in the world(6). The future is either unwritten, or it writes itself. Are you surprised? That’s how it goes. Unless you let somebody take care for it for you. -I see the time as a pattern. A repetition of events, some happened before us, but most will happen after we’re gone. The concept of the past in this pattern is a maneuver to make people guilty for the times they have 25
never lived in. To prevent them from writing poetry, hence to prevent them from writing a future. The pattern is a hiccup, stuck in repetition. Do you think a thing can be good or bad just because it resembles something from the past? -No. -Certainly not. -Am I a human being just because I resemble other human beings? -No. -Absolutely not! -What if we start from here and now, being aware but not being imprisoned in the past? Go there as if we would go to anthropological museum or a flea market or our grandparentsâ€™ attic. Without any intentions to find justification or an excuse for oneâ€™s existence. Instead, we would look for something that has once helped humans through very hard times. Something that has the capacity to change things or to be a change itself, capacities that can be reactivated, that can be at hand for things to come. The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who convinced of this: that not even the dead will be 26
safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious(7). -Can we live without bad history, and what will be left for our good history? -How can we be sure that the story that is being told to us is true? We must protect ourselves against false stories. -How can you tell the difference between one silly story and another silly story?(8) -Nicely pinned down! -If we all agree upon it, shall I finish the story? -We do. -Certainly! -Shall we first have a drink? -We shall! [He pours the drink in all glasses. They drink at once and nod to I in approval] -So I leaned against the wall. I looked at the streets. There was nobody to help me. I realized that I had to do everything by myself. I turned around. The turn I made turned out as an awkward, indecisive movement from one leg to another. First came my body. The head followed, till it met its reflection in the window of a door in front of me. It was exactly how I imagined I would look like. I came closer and closer to it, so close that my face in the 27
reflection became as big as my eyes could see (except my ears). And then I shrank. I shrank like my memory does. What will be left behind is just a memory of a reflection of the self. A blurry negative. My transparent body could contain the whole city reflected in its reflection. If only I will accept that it doesnâ€™t belong to me anymore. But will I? -Do you want to? Should you? Is it all about the city then? -Certainly it is. About the city that buildings hide. Without buildings it is naked. It has the grace of a mature woman, the shame of a young girl who first appears in front of her lover. It is shy and ashamed about how its body looks different without clothing. The clothes of history, its morphology conceal it, stuck in breaks and ruptures. It wears brick, concrete, lots of glass. And it trades itself for shopping malls. We donâ€™t belong to the city. We are the city. I and the other I. Looking through it and looking for it. For somebody and something. For a surprise, something unknown, a thrill. Every day and for every day. I stroll, I kiss, I fall, I hug the sky. We are invisible for most people but the city knows we exist. We know the city, the city knows us, by our names, by 28
our moves, by the traces we leave behind. We are present as spray paint from a can is on human skin, visible in its seams: only from time to time. -Men have dreamt of the cities. Men have dreamed of liberating machines. But there are no machines of freedom, by definition... I think that it can never be inherent in the structure of things to guarantee the exercise of freedom. The guarantee of freedom is freedom(9) -Indeed! That is why it is not about buildings, it is about the common being that is the city. We aspire to being the city we belong to. Carrying out the idea of a city by fragments. Less a physical container â€” an assemblage of structures and routes, of functions and their interrelations- than the space constituted by and constitutive of the drama of self consciousness and mutual recognition. The locus of a potential reciprocity and community, crucial spatial stake of any project of radical social transformation.(10) -The city starts where we end. It extends and transcends to us. It is a circle and it should be. Not a labyrinth from the straight line. Weâ€™re wandering in it, all included in it. Like a bev29
erage is included in the price of a plane ticket. But we are lost as you were, somewhere in between. In a continuous flight within a frame. -So who we are? What do we do? Who are we becoming? -Well, somewhere sometime before, nature was turned into a place in between. In a garden or a picture on the wall. Men were able to read the scars of time in mountains. Their picks would touch the sky. Beneath it were valleys full of wine. And up and down, in and through. Once upon a time it became real. What ancestors dreamt of: reaching up and landing down. -Within buildings, dreaming takes too much time. Unpaid time. Don’t dream. Now towers kiss the sky. Scapes ejaculated from the pavement. We’re mostly looking at. Ground, shiny shoes, step by step, to our workplaces and back, step by step. Towards progress, towards a maximally productive nature. Shining shoes show shyness. The sun, forever intact, collides with inspiration for a break , aspiring for the ‘new’. Landscapes trace the line, starting from where? Going somewhere, at any rate. If you want some kind of proof,
just suck the blood from electric veins that drops shadows of guilt; That guilt is mine. -Are you ok? Donâ€™t drift away; we still need you until we finish this bottle. [He takes a bottle and pours into all glasses. He looks around. One by one, they nod in approval and drink at once]. -Well, if you want my opinion you have just to ask. -Please. -We would like to hear what you think. -It is all coming back to the planning without a plan. Designing without constructing. If design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of the bourgeois models of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities â€“ until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then design must disappear. We can live without architecture.(11) -First we have to stop to live for architecture. Architecture must be regarded as a neutral 31
system, available for undifferentiated use, and not as an instrumentality for the organization of society; as a free, equipped area in which it may be possible to perform spontaneous actions of experimentation in individual or collective dwelling(12) -Are you not robbed of the hope or a future revolution?(13) -Would everything be vain because the suffering is eternal and the revolutions donâ€™t survive their victory? But the success of a revolution only lies in itself, precisely in the vibration, the embraces and the openings that it gave to human beings at the time of their happenings and that makes up a monument which is constantly evolving, like those tumuli to which new visitor brings a stone.(14) -We all agree. Donâ€™t we? [Looks around] -But we would like to hear what happened next on your drift. Will you be so kind as to let us know? -Indeed I will. I turned around. It didnâ€™t bring any change. I turned around again. It sounds silly now but at that moment it was all I could do. No change. The same picture of the city 32
inhabited by buildings, cities in cities, and made for the sake of cities. -What did you expect? Nothing could change if you were just turning around in the same spot! -But what can you do if the city doesn’t turn around you – you turn around the city. My next move moved the building a little as they started to overlap with each other. Then I saw one person coming in my direction. I did a few steps in his direction too. He wore a cloak. He was coming towards me slowly but very steadily. His eyes were moving all over my body. I felt naked and sensed every touch of his sight. Fear? No, his sight was tender, it could not hurt. When the person came as close as one meter, he said “Hi”, and walked away. His image gradually blurred, and the next moment he disappeared. The whole landscape became blurry, and the horizon of my expectation shifted. It felt like I were just standing still and the whole city started to move. It was moved by people wearing kimonos with hoods, all of them blinded… -What do you mean, ‘blinded’? How can the whole city be moved by blind people? 33
-Well, it depends on the city. It is known that small societies were sometimes ruled by a blind leader. And there would be such respect and admiration for the leader that people would blind themselves and their children, even those who were already blind. -What nonsense! What kind of society was it? -It was known as... -Stop! They werenâ€™t blind. They were blinded. They carried a construction on their shoulders. The construction had a mirror in front of them. So all they could see was themselves in a landscape of the past. [I raises his hand, his index finger pointing in the air.] -Stop! Stop! Stop! Do you mean that every step was a step further into the past, a moment just before the future? -Yes. And as these people went along they saw themselves stepping into the past. -Please proceed. -After we have another drink. [They drink and nod to each other in approval.]
-They carried buildings, or rather, enormous pictures of buildings, one after another, all the way to the horizon. The images overlapped and continually changed, one into another. The humans were also depicted on them. They were frozen in a frame that was carried by others. -Sometimes I wonder what is going on in your head. [He grabs the head of the storyteller and turns it 180 degrees. He severs a piece the size and shape of a pizza slice.] [There are two lines of aircraft chairs. Only two seats are occupied. Two people, one sitting at the illuminator window, the other sitting next to him. They have the same look on their faces but look in different directions. In the window, there is a mirror instead of normal glass. They are having a meal and a chat. Instead of looking at each other they look in the mirror.] -What is your name? -It doesnâ€™t matter. -Why? -Because you were named after me. 35
[pause] -Where are you going? -To the same place as you, but without any reason. The journey itself is what interests me. The destination in itself doesn’t mean much. It is a not even a place, it is a moment, an intersection of two journeys. You take flights, one after the other after the other. -But what kind of journey is this, if you stay in your seat all the time? The only journey you take is a journey from one seat to another. Nothing is changing, not the landscape, not the people. Faces might change, but people do not. They are the same people all over the place. -The same as you. It is just a flight. It goes up. It goes down. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you earn some extra hours, but it is still just a flight. But food, the food changes. And how the food presents itself. Food is a knot that brings two flights together but separates them at the same time. -What do you mean, ‘presents itself’? Food is presented. -That depends on the kind of food, as much as where you are flying and when you were
born. But for now there are too much variables in the equation and too many unknown constants. What if I start with an example and after we will see what is missing. Will it satisfy your curiosity? -It will satisfy it completely. -Take away. It sounds like ‘go away’. It is presented as a sign for a movement. Movement over a special moment. Moment that suppose to stop movement just before next movement starts. Instead of it you get flow without beginning nor end. If you don’t bother others and instead bother your furniture, you will have a special offer. The quality of what you eat is at your own risk, as you are the only one you can complain to. Take it easy, take it with you. Get rid of yourself. Take it away in a plastic bag, serve it on a plastic dish and don’t forget your plastic fork. [He makes a movement around his table, pointing at his food as proof]. -Here on the plane things are different. You get ‘take away’ without getting away, even without a single move, and you can still complain to the stewards. I follow plane after plane, and the meals are following me. 37
I have to do nothing except getting paid. -So you are getting paid for nothing, arenâ€™t you? -I am getting paid for being good at doing nothing. And that is not the same. Plus, I have to taste all this food, which is not always nice. If it is not I have to complain. You see, in a society obsessed with professionalism and specializations what you have to do is to invent your own rules, your own roles and play the game as good as you can. There is always a turn. There is always a decision to make. And this decision is between I and I. Once you realize that I press upon you, that not just your role but even the game itself is alien to you, you look for a way to steal it from yourself, game but you donâ€™t necessarily get away with it. You slightly change the directions, substitute the rules. Adjust. Invent a new vocabulary for what you have to say. Play the game, but play for real. Youâ€™re a body. You resonate, Resonating for and by others. Shake. Shake. Shake! [He takes a plastic cup from his table and another from the table next to him, and bangs them together, making sounds.]
-But what if doesn’t work? -Then you can still complain. -But what if that doesn’t work either? -You can complain about that too. -Can I ask what do you do for a living? -Absolutely! In order to live - I drift. As an aircraft body suspended in space, able to go through time. I suspend my own body in space and time and use it as a tool to cut distances in a pieces, suitable for a consumption. I still don’t know what my body is capable of but this helps me to see things clear. -What do you see then? -Look at this. [He points at a plastic box from the meal] -Take this butter, for example [He points at the butter] -This dish. [He points at the dish] -This salad. [He points at the salad] -This apple.
[He points at the apple] -And this block of chocolate folded in paper there, look at that too. That is how the world is folded together. Countries in landscapes, cities in countries, humans in cities, organs in humans, et cetera. Everything is a part of a whole. And there is only one whole, one ultimate concern we share... -Either the sky is blue or my children are hungry. -Exactly. And once you accept this, you are free, free to do what you have to. The only thing you have to find is the right people in the right place. -â€ŚAt the right time. -No. The time can wait. -What is this place and who are these people to you? May I ask? -Go on. -What is this place and who are these people to you? -They are a group of people who have never met. They have almost nothing in common, but they have much more to share. Because of themselves and for themselves. And exactly that is what never allows them to meet.
They know of each other’s existence by simply having constructed the same world. It is the same one they left behind in order to stay. They’re building down, constructing backwards. They dig the holes, expanding to a whole new relational spaces without relations, invisible on maps and radars. Non-spaces, nowhere, temporary spaces of constant recuperation. Open landscape of possibilities. Spaces of exchanging identities and values where people enter into exchange roles. Spaces where politics are of the same importance as, say, vegetables. These is no maps for such territories, they can be penetrated by the several alterations and displacements that make up forms of political subjection and artistic invention. These are breathing rooms with loose boundaries, enclosing spectacles within a form of visibility, bodies within an estimation of their capacity, and possibilities within the machine that makes the ‘state of things’ seem evident, unquestionable.(15) The question is not how to act and change the world at once, but how not to act yet to make an impact on what is going to happen. And it is not laziness that kills ambitions; it is simply a lack of air... 41
-Can I be honest with you? -You have to ask early but go ahead -I think what kills ambitions is arrogance. Arrogance about somebody’s ignorance. And it takes place when one takes a position not far from where we are now. Speaking in the name of what? -What? -Exactly! In the name of what? Speaking animals are animals who try to communicate through the forest of signs, from a distance. They communicate on the subject of ‘what’. The fragmentation of ‘what’ and the continuous reconstitution of the ‘what’ through the reality of the sign. That is a moment where the poetic work of translation is born. And that is the first condition of any apprenticeship. Emancipation then means the awareness and the enactment of that equal power of translation and counter translation.(16) -Please continue -Once I walked my dog through a place that I leave only by plain and with a specific plan. I was walking for an hour or so, when I saw a person slowly crawling over the horizon. He moved really slowly, as it seemed that he moved his legs without moving his body. 42
The next moment he was right next to me. He smiled, looked straight in my eyes said “Hi”, and walked away. As I watched him disappearing in the dark, I saw a situation that was practically the same on both sides of the street. -What was it then? -On one side, people were selling their bodies; on the other people were selling art. Economically both parties were justified, they were earning money. They wore almost the same, but both had their own territory, like my dog. I felt as I had to choose a side. And for me, the simple move across the street means something different. -Whatdoes it mean then? -The choice I felt I had to make would be of ethical or aesthetic nature. Ethics is, directly or indirectly, a philosophy of the state, and it has its own aesthetic dimension. But the state exists In a perpetual ‘yesterday’. I am interested in today, and if is a shiny day, then maybe even in tomorrow. An important question is: how to make one’s lifetime more specific, how to distinguish ‘I’ from the crowd of its predecessors, as well as his like numbers.
-Art is a recoilless weapon, and its development is determined not by the individuality of the artist, but by the dynamics and the logic of the material itself, by the previous fate of the means that each time demand (or suggest) a qualitatively new aesthetic solution. Possessing its own genealogy, dynamics, logic, and future, art is not synonymous with, but at best parallel to history; and the manner by which it exists is by continually creating a new aesthetic reality. That is why it is often found “ahead of progress”, ahead of history, whose main instrument is - should we not, once more, improve upon Marx - precisely the cliché. On the whole, every new aesthetic reality makes man’s ethical reality more precise. For aesthetics is the mother of ethics; The categories of “good” and “bad” are, first and foremost, aesthetic ones, at least etymologically preceding the categories of “good” and “evil”. If in ethics not “all is permitted”, it is precisely because not “all is permitted” in aesthetics, because the number of colours in the spectrum is limited. The tender babe who cries and rejects the stranger or who, on the contrary, reaches out to him, does so instinctive44
ly, making an aesthetic choice, not a moral one. Aesthetic choice is a highly individual matter, and aesthetic experience is always a private one. Every new aesthetic reality makes oneâ€™s experience even more private; and this kind of privacy, assuming at times the guise of literary (or some other) taste, can in itself turn out to be, if not as guarantee, then a form of defence against enslavement. For a man with taste, particularly literary taste, is less susceptible to the refrains and the rhythmical incantations peculiar to any version of political demagogy. The point is not so much that virtue does not constitute a guarantee for producing a masterpiece, as that evil, especially political evil, is always a bad stylist. The more substantial an individualâ€™s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer - though not necessarily the happier - he is.(17) -Can I assume that you went with aesthetics? -No, I went home. [He is disturbed by noise from the speakers. It lasts for a couple of minutes before the voice of the pilot is heard.]
-Good afternoon, here is your captain I. I hope you are having a good flight and enjoying your food. The weather is fine. We are flying over the ocean now, you can hear the richness of its sound. We expect to descend on time. I hope you don’t mind. Bye. -Do you know what? -What is beauty? -It is when a thing can be compared to the sound of an ocean. [More noise from speakers. After a few minutes, the voice of the pilot is heard again.] -Thank you for flying with us. [Person walks through lines of chairs. He sits next to the two other characters and bends over the chair]
-It is I, your captain. Do you know how high we are? -It is a literary high. -What do you mean, “a literary high”? -It’s a Kafka high. You feel like a bug(18)I can’t, and I don’t feel like landing right now. It is not time yet. There is something special about this flight I want to figure out. I want to share something with you, but please don’t try to 46
share something with me in return. I have no air for it. Not yet. I conceived of an idea- let me walk you through it. It’s an idea for the story about the character who awakes at five in the morning in front of a bar with his glass half empty. He’s trying to find out what happened last night. He is sure that if he will do so, it will lead him home. He is going through the street that he knows from some time before, but in fact he has never been there. He puts himself in a number of situations, and by going through situation after situation, meeting person after person, he almost manages to reconstruct the scene of the night before. But any reconstruction of ‘yesterday’ is new by the time of the following day. And staging yesterday today brings back the confusion. Just before he reaches the end, he gets lost and finds himself lying in front of a bar again the day after, and he has to repeat his trip again. I decided to go to the beach, for a walk. There is a strange thing about beaches.Some kind of code or rule that says that you have to concentrate on a really small piece of land. There must be a reason for it; bodies close to each 47
other, so close that you become a one body in a slow dance. Resonating, somehow, mimicking the movement of the sea. I walked on, expecting that I would meet less people the further Iâ€™d go. And then, finally, BAH! â€“ it was completely empty. I could do whatever I wanted; I could use the whole universe as my small playground, as a space my imagination could fill by its need and its possibilities. I could leave marks on it, leave traces of my existence without fear of being judged and the shame that comes with being one human amongst others. I could put my folding chair in the sand, write and read, alone without being lonely. Then something strange happened. Picture this: you look over the beach and the only finite thing you see is the horizon. You canâ€™t reach it, but you can project an image of yourself there. The rest is infinite as far as you can see, infinite. There you are, one to one with the infinite matters mocking your finiteness. The very next moment, the beach was transformed into a deserted landscape. Suddenly I saw that there was something else than my projection on the horizon. There were escalators there, constantly bringing people down 48
to the desert. A production line feeding sand with a human flesh. From where? Why? Where was I? Humans were descending from different escalators to gather around a strange place, something that looked like a camp from afar. I lacked desire to go all the way there, but was overtaken by such an abundant curiosity that I went anyway. Maybe I could pass by quickly without being noticed, I thought, and at least find a place to land. I started walking, trying to look at the ground, my shoes and the sand, trying to avoid eye contact. I was equipped and prepared. What I really needed was a right moment. I had a notebook to write in (an international A4), a voice recorder to record what cannot be recorded, a camera to document those things I cannot record or write about, and a strange beam of industrial foam. I found it on my way; it had no function, not yet, perhaps that is why I was attracted to it. I brought a folding chair, fruit and drinks; everything I needed for a nice picnic on the beach. The first thing I saw as I approached the camp were really small humans, digging a huge hole. An enormous hole in the sand! The 49
hole was bigger than they were. They disappeared there in order to appear with handfuls of sand. I came closer, making sound on purpose to try and demonstrate to the small fellows that I am friendly minded, as not to scare them or make them aggressive. When one small fellow saw me, he ran to the others. Maybe because he was ashamed of what he was doing, or maybe it is illegal within their social structure, I donâ€™t know. But what a hole! I never saw such a deep hole; it seemed to me that they tried to dig a tunnel to the other side of the earth. It might be that they wanted to escape. An incredible complex of holes connected to form a tunnel! If they were trying to escape, they wanted it very badly. I walked on to their camp. It was light blue, as if they had tried to make it look like it came from the sky, or as camouflage against it. A lot of people were gathered there. It looked like they gathered there for sightings. From where I was standing it seemed that they were staring at nothing. I was unsure if I would go further or turn back. I could no longer pass through without being noticed. When people are looking at nothing and somebody or something appears at the scene, that person 50
or thing immediately becomes the center of everybody’s attention. Fear or curiosity? I chose both. I went further, fearing that my camouflage was out-seasoned; its color pallet was too bright for this place and season. Everything changes over time. I moved on through the crowd, which seemed to pay no attention to me. In the end I might not have looked so alien to them. I calmed down and even imagined that I would, in the end, find a place with no-one around. A lot of theories prove that humans strive to be in a crowd just like insects whirling around a light bulb, except that there is no centre of attention other than the crowd itself. Cause and effect; two in one. The more you go away from the crowd, the less dense the crowd will be. The moment I raised my head, my eyes met that of a person in a cloak with a dark hair. He said “Hi” and walked away. Density. Now I was in a place of high crowd density and I wanted to be in a place where it would be much lower. It was possible, I just had to make sure that no matter how far I would go, I would always have my back turned towards the crowd. High density - low density. [He holds out a finger and moves it 51
from left to right.] Nicely thought through. High density – low density [he makes the sweeping move with his finger again]. Here, the density is low [he holds his finger on the right of him]. I wanted to be there [he moves his finger far more to the right], where the density is zero. There is not even a concept of density. If you ask somebody, they will be surprised: ‘Density? What? What are you on about?’ The best thing is to try and think this through yourself: it will be impossible to ask anybody. Because there is no density at all. No density. No people. No concept of the density of people, because there are no people, therefore there is no density. I would call such a place a paradise, but that place is already occupied, and the density is quite high. I might even have smiled. My back was turned to the blue camp and the crowd all the time. I was escaping, getting off the radar. Off the density. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this strange society. I felt insecure walking there with all my equipment, especially the strange piece of foam I had found and already had quite an affection for it. Maybe because it didn’t try to pester me all the time, whining: ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ In fact, it didn’t 52
say a thing, it didn’t impose anything, it didn’t ask for an attention or anything else, it simply didn’t do anything. It was a silent thing in itself, waiting for the moment when I would no longer expect anything from it, when it would take me by surprise. Though I had some worries about the mysterious nature of this object, I didn’t know what kind of value would be attached to it in this society. It is possible that it is sacred, or prohibited, or just a piece of rubbish, which would respectively make me a vandal to them, a criminal or a vagrant. This, of course, completely depends on their hierarchy. If I would not fit in their system it might cause some miscommunication. Do you know what I know? Imagine this: I was caught. Taken to a room like the ones you see in movies. Cops. They went through all my pockets. Since I was a child, I am used to putting things in my pockets. That is how you discover the world through creating a world on a small scale in your pocket. They looked through my pockets, put the contents on the table, glanced at each other, looked straight into my eyes and asked: ‘What 53
is this?’ Gosh, I thought, can’t they be slightly clearer and more generous with their information? They should have asked me: ‘What the fuck is this?’, at least I would have known if they were angry or not. But ‘What is this?’ Didn’t they know this as well as I did? I experience a lot of this for the first time now, since most of what I did at the time I did unconsciously; I followed my instinct. There are a lot of aspects to this situation, obviously. I didn’t know for sure if these people were really cops. Maybe this society didn’t have any. If they were cops, which was the good cop and which the bad? If they were not, then who were they? And so on. This kind of miscommunication is a big issue all around. ‘Do you know what I know? Don’t you know what I know, do you know what I don’t know, don’t you know what I don’t know?’ It is something to think about: awareness. ‘Are you aware that I am aware?’ A picture of myself. A picture of myself standing in the middle of the desert with all my equipment and my piece of foam. Too epic, but still a documentation of what happened. ‘How did he get there?’, ‘What’s that piece of rubbish that he’s holding in his hands?’ 54
And a flag, yes I needed a flag for a finish. What kind of flag? I donâ€™t know. The light blue camp had a flag. It showed in an idealized way how pieces of chocolate and different fruits were plunging into luscious ice cream. It caused a choir of voices in my head. Some belong to me, but whose are the rest? I will get rid of them one day. What should my flag be like? What color or combination of colors should it be? Hardly anything can compete with ice cream, except maybe a combination of ice creams. Perhaps Cezanneâ€™s pears, that would make a great flag. Picture me in the middle of the desert, equipped with a notebook, folding chair, camera, fruits and drinks, holding a flag that proudly depicts a scene of pears against the table, beautifully painted by Cezanne. The document would be of a great importance. But if you want to document yourself in the state of documenting, observing your behavior and flexibility in different situations, then one day you might need another person documenting a person documenting you documenting. Because the person documenting you might also change his or her behavior in different situations. And that is when the density goes 55
up again. Pictures! Because pictures are what I have. And words. Pictures and words are what I have. Pictures come first, then come words. An email goes with a picture first, then I follow with words. No, thatâ€™s not it... first the email leaves with a picture, then it comes back with a reply, then I come with words, to spread the word! An email with a picture travels first. It hooks. It turns back, hooking is turning back. It hooks me and I come with it, bringing words. First I have to collect words and pictures, so I am in a desert. Surrounded by sand. A lot of sand around. I am de-sanding and descending. Desert, de-sand. Descent. I merely collect samples that can be either important or nothing. This samples are abandoned signs of a success or failure. Or rather evidences of a process. While mass flow is directed towards the center, there is no attention to the frame. My collection is not a collection of mere objects; it is collection of processes, becoming a minority. Minority as a universal figure, or becoming everybody/everything. The power of minorities is not measured by their capacity to enter and make themselves felt within 56
the majority system, nor even to reverse the necessarily tautological criterion of the majority, but to render audible the force of the non-denumerable sets, however small they may be, against the denumerable sets, even if they are infinite, reversed or changed, even they if imply new axioms or, beyond that, a new axiomatic. Parameters that cut out everything from any shared middle, off the balance point.(19) Minor objects are, therefore, naked objects. They are revealed by what it reveals of our most secret self, a self that is forbidden by the state. As an object of disinterested pleasure, a body encoded with a story, or as a witness to a strangeness impossible to assimilate[...] leaving the sphere of utility and value to become hieroglyphs carrying their history on their body, or mute disaffected objects carrying the splendor of what no longer bears any project or will.(20) I put them in pockets. I like them, usually without any reason. Do you know what? They know. You never know. That day I failed to reach the point of nondensity; I didnâ€™t even get close to low density. As I got closer to it I saw a point of extremely 57
high density on the horizon. It was much bigger than the camp, and images of holes, balls, kites, fellows messing around, all these repeated thousands of times, rushed past in my head. I didnâ€™t go there all the way. I stepped off the grid, away from the millions of footprints going in that direction. I unfolded my chair, lit a cigarette and looked around. And here I was, between two points of densities, off the map. Everything appeared to be so clear. The sea was so beautiful and tender, so still that it calmed me down. A wave folding into and unfolding from the depths created beautiful breaks. If there is a perfection it should be compared to the sound of the sea. It is the sound of a poem designed by the silent sea and inner poem of a silent stranger. I got folded into multitude of dreams, hopes and aspirations, as we all trip on the same beach. Sometimes in groups of two of three, sometime on your own. Apart we are together. We continue to communicate through discontinuous communication. We drift from A to B, sometimes we have a reason, sometimes not except of reason of going itself. Some of us stop and turn back, sometime too early sometime too late. Some go too fast and too big. 58
For a moment. Priced and stuffed everybody will be there, not just for a five minutes but forever. Sweating under spotlights, there is no longer any temple of the sun. Is it enough. Enough is merely enough. Child, Sister, think how sweet to go out there and live together! To love at leisure, love and die in that land that resembles you! For me, damp suns in disturbed skies share mysterious charms with your treacherous eyes as they shine through tears.(21) [Back to the enormous room. The same three persons sit at the table. It is rather crowded, even the light has to try hard to pry a way in] -Do you want to play? -What game? -A game that we always tend to play seriously, but then it is not amusing anymore. -May I ask few questions about it first? -Feel free to do so. -Why do we always play the role of ‘I’? -A lot of great minds have an ‘I’ in their name. But listen, relax and give the play a chance to strut out its stuff — relax, stop wondering what it’s all ‘about’ — like many strange and familiar things, life included, this play isn’t ‘about’ 59
something, it simply is. Don’t try to enjoy it, let it try to enjoy you. Don’t try to understand it. Let it try to understand you.(22) -That makes sense. But why do we always play in the bars? For me, there is nothing special about these places, nothing I could say about them that is of any interest. Usually there are two floors, but you never go further than the first. Only once or twice you might. Once or twice. Just to know how far you can go. Then you might go as far as the front door. Too big for a person, but too narrow for a couple. And always, always the problem of who may enter first. Ladies first, of course, but sometimes there are no ladies. I hardly remember, but there is nothing special about the facade, at least nothing I can think of. Bricks on bricks, and no sign. You’re welcome inside but you can stay outside as well. Well, Well, Well. Before they invented perfume you could smoke inside. Smoke and speak in groups of two or three. Some people are taking drugs, but in smaller groups. Music will play all night. But then most come in the morning, a few after work; then there are, indeed, the ones who are used to staying all day long.
-It is not because of the place that they come here. They go here because they can’t go anywhere else. It is a place to talk and a lookout post. That’s fine for now. -So who are these I’s in the game? Are we going to play ourselves? -We are already ourselves, in the story we are writing. -Are all of us just part of a story? -We are (part of a story) and we merely are. Look around, what do you see? -I see the crowd. If I look to the right, I see exactly the same image as I would see on the left. It is hard to prove, since it is impossible to look in both directions at the same time. -Much more in-between. Legends become alive here, in this bar. Or they have never even died, they exist in stories that people continue to tell to each other in order to live and to remain free. [Picture: white noise. Voices.] -What are you talking about? I cannot hear you! -Why are you screaming? Do you want me to scream too? -Not yet, let’s wait for silence first. 61
-Do you want something to drink? -Repeat please [The next moment a group of people appears wearing hoods, carrying a strange metal construction with a mirror attached, that allows them to see everything except themselves. Part by part they deconstruct the crowd, the whole scene into a few images. They carry all of them away. He stands in a front of a bar. Confused and tired. He browses through his pockets. After a while he finds a piece of paper, and reads out loud: -â€?Hi.â€?
Postface Who was I that thought it was another one by itself divided or multiplied produces one this time, this plays, this one. You are not me, nor I you all ways. - Robert Creeley.
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21. C. Baudelaire, L’Invitation Au Voyage/Invitation to the Voyage: A Poem from the Flowers of Evil, Bulfinch Pr, 1997. 22. R.S. Kennedy, Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E. E. Cummings, Liveright Publishing, 1994. 23. T. Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms, Vintage, 1994 24. E. Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, Scribner, 2012