Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ubi Est Germania Urbis?

That used to be part of the everyday Salerno cliche in those days, when Christina found me one day idly sitting in a poorly heated reading room. Then the most urban of all Italian styles charged with the strongest espresso and all types of biscuit assortments in a feigned company. It makes me slightly concerned that I can well think my pasts five years back with the clarity of a morning hue. It's been almost five years since that blissful evening under the bridge almost swelling with the brook that sprang forth from the hills and mountains that used to hide me as a child. We no longer correspond... not with Christina or Fernando. The death of Oriana Fallaci suddenly reminded me of Cecilia, that friend betrayed so many times, in whimsies of manifold colours tantamount to those found in the ageing walls down that narrow alley where the Poetry Institute used to be, just a few meters away from the old Russian cinema. Whereby I all alone discovered Magnolia one day, the same theatre where I dreamt about taking Oscar, even though we did go to the movies once but in the larger theatre close to Salerno... One of those movies one shall never really forget, "Ar-Men".

In hindered dreams I would see myself today with him watching some old movie in the Russian theatre, something subtitled and stranged, one of those movies for subtitled imaginations. Five years that disappeared into the sea in Tel Aviv and sailed away with Odysseus into the night; even my home in Tel Aviv sailed away. So did the letters from that period except for a very few awrily written journal fragments. Like the one I wrote after I left home in the cold of that hotel room, not long before I met Oscar and only a couple of months before I locked my childhood in a quarantine room and took the next plane to Frankfurt without turning back to look at my father. Five years ago I used to listen to that song, at a time when I didn't own a computer or even a small stereo. If somebody would have told me that five years later I would be sitting in Jerusalem in the late summer writing this epiphany I would have never believed it, lest had I met Aviva earlier on. A man's toil and travail not unlike Abraham's. A saturday morning that wouldn't be a memento of darkness. From a cold hotel room to the burgeoise of Ashkenazi Jerusalem. One in which fear would seemly be a thing for another day, just like people drink pastis on Tuesdays and martini on Fridays. Those were days when I didn't think about death; because I was too young to philosophize with others, to think about beauty or death, about politics or metaphysics, about mortality or natality. Even after my arrival in Tel Aviv I thought still only about a couple of short poems no one knew. Too unconcerned with the humanity of God, with worldly pain.

I was simply an observer, like the invited country boy glimpsing the courts and the yellowing light of modernity. I wasn't a modern man in the sense that the questions didn't trouble so much as comfort did. It was unimportant to think existentially, and rather strayed on thinking beautifully, but at the time I didn't write, I didn't need it, it didn't murder me over and over through the daylight hours in wanderings of unread books. I didn't know love too well, even though I suspected he must have smelled to Fernando. And love in the masculine unlike in the German language, because before being an Ashkenazi burgeois I was a Greek. I wish nowadays I could make pictures of my room and my democratic bookshelves. I didn't know Hannah Arendt at the time, but I did know Heidegger and I loved him as a father, worshipped him as a God. It was the right thing to do for any Christian thinker, for anybody who sat at Giorgia's feet to devour each and every Greek word that would shed light on our tragedies, on our questions, on our cigarettes. I owe particularly most of my mind to her. As a mind I was born at age 15, firstly with Maria Jesus and then with Giorgia. As a person I am still experiencing my mother's birth pangs, not unlike Rhea. At age 22.

It no longer bothers me whether my father can answer my questions or not, it's no longer relevant. I've stared into the sun myself and it certainly burns like caustic waters sweeping your veins in the rush hours. I couldn't wait for those private hours, I chose my exile. From the language and the people, from the imagination and the mind, from the tiny houses and the schoolmates, except for Mario who I most fondly remember, and in four years I have to start looking for him in Madrid to follow that childhood promise. The only one I ever made. Perhaps Julia will make things collide, I don't know. I learnt to love my body and to fear death, to fear death more than the taxman, more than romantic defeat. I learnt to love the questions and to remain quite unhindered by progress. I learnt to forget about them all, reason for which I need to write, to write as I need water and air. I need to find the public eye and be drawn to the public world, to the agora. A need to walk up-straight.

I learnt to wait. It might happen one day. Exactly what, is a matter of discussion for a less blissful day.

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