My time to start living is running out.
The night stood at stand-still. Somehow I couldn´t be relieved from nostalgia, from urgency and from anxiety; as if I were in the obligation to tend to my sorrow so gracefully, in that celebrative undertone, offering the fragments of one´s life at whirlwind without consequences. There were some moments of reckless unfastening of my body from my life. I remember the images haphazardly, in tiny bits: I sat by myself on the sidewalk watching the frantic crowds of drinkers and trying to gather some attention toward me perhaps with the sole intention of seeking after bodily pleasures that of course were nowhere to be found. Perhaps I tried to join some group or another… Next to that gas station where so many unhappy nights of recent years have been spent; I´ve watched the solidness of the morning to settle in with the unhappiness of transience… Freddy and Giovanni, those were their names, my loyal yet treacherous partners in the often rehearsed act of the gas station… A certain morning I was so inebriated that I fell down the stairway and severely injured my arm; the gas station… that term can only sound intoxicating for the translator of a book about concentration camps; going to the station seemed to relieve me from so many of my duties with life and myself. At the price of little money the magic elixirs were served, that clouded the memory permanently and turned the sad anguish of escapism into a victorious act of conquista. I walked back home and perhaps the morning was already awakening but it was still cold, the sidewalks deserted and only a few drunkards to be seen around. The music no longer played or the efforts at joy and gayness, the air loomed vacuously over the sterile inorganic pedestrians. I wonder if we ever get tired of the same streets night after night, of the same assaults against the knowledge of life, of the same case-scenarios imposed upon our earmarked personae by the circumstances of idleness and the debauchery of instincts. So different it was to see the early morning in Jerusalem as my mind had dissipated the effects of alcohol and the loneliness of the stone-building was too overbearing: I needed to get up and make some coffee for myself and make sure that I was still sufficiently alive and ill-spirited to smoke and breathe the fresh buckets of air that the morning so gratuitously offered me. Even from such a low storey I had the impression that I could see the whole city extending far into the Dead Sea overlapping the entire Judean desert with the scattered Arab houses and the young soldiers with happy horny faces loaded with guns that surpassed them in height and in weight. From the tiny window I could imagine how beautiful Michael, my Russian friend from olden times, had been in younger years when he were less pretentious about his own persona and a lot more innocent about life as not to be too much concerned about the direction of the waves in his Baltic red hair as it navigated the roads superimposed on Gaza´s sand only in order to assault the geography and the memory at the same time.
I could remember the plain morning sights of all the churches: The Scottish stone-church and myself inside imagining a pleasantly luxurious Saturday brunch in the old and ill-nerved company of James Burton, driving his blue car with diplomatic plates from the Red Cross building in one of those hidden East Jerusalem neighborhoods, that for us Jews, were only changelings that one had heard about in a Nordic folktale inundated with dragons and fairies and noblemen – nothing that resembled our own yellowing dormant reality. But I shall return to James later, now this was the topic of churches and the churches I could spot from my morning watch leaning against the wall in between the bed and the desk as captive birds hovered on the lamps and were frightened away more by the scorching sight of so many unread books rather than by my human presence. There was also a morning view from the Austrian Hospice – what seemed to me like the most beautiful and most haunting place in the whole of Jerusalem; I had always dreamt about being loved by someone inside those mysterious rooms and no matter how hard I tried, it was never possible. Once I attended a certain extravagant night flooded by Austrian UN soldiers that were stationed somewhere in Lebanon I think and as one of them approached me or maybe it was me who approached him, in order to light a cigarette – this might have been only a pretext to develop any sort of physical closeness. I imagined how he would seduce me with the flattery of words of war and how I would spend the night in that fanciful Romantic castle full of old books and flags and perdition. But I guess I was loved there on three different nights: Once another British diplomat whose name I absolutely can´t recall summoned me there, I think we had coffee or wine, it must have been the Jewish Sabbath which in East Jerusalem was only another transitory day for the usual businesses of cosmopolitism. I think his name was David and sometime later he moved to the embassy in Tel Aviv. He was living in Jaffa I think and we met as I sat idly in a café trying to write a letter to Katherina and then we went along together over the tiny street that joints the streets Allenby and Dizengoff as if tying up a circus with a zoo – so much everything and nothing in common. We went to a bar where he invited me for a beer or two and there we met this Australian couple, friends of him, who I am sure, were also diplomats. There was the Church of all Nations which is the first church I visited during the agitation caused by my disrupted faith and my search for something more entertaining and solidly enamoring than the total lack of sensuality displayed by American Orthodox rabbis – A Sontagism in place: There´s no sensuality in NYC but only sexuality, either food or sex. I might have unlocked the gate that leads to the Chimera, on that day. I remember having read in the newspaper that besides the Church of the Nations there would be a place called, The Café of all Nations that thrived on Saturdays with music and drinks and intellectual discussion. You can´t even imagine what I found: Something even more miser than what one would expect in those remote Colombian villages isolated by rivers and warfare from any contact with the history of mankind. There was little else than a tent and some very old groceries… I think I bought a Coca Cola or some orange soda before fleeing from such miserable sight. I always thought how beautiful it could have been to live there or somewhere near… In between Jerusalem and Jericho, not far from the wonders of Emmaus or in the other hand, in between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, with the beautiful and tormented body of James Burton as a partner in crime. I think the Church of all Nations was always my favorite places in the whole of Jerusalem. There were other churches in my recollection but they are not so important now. Once I saw James again not long ago in a picture taken by Claudia Henzler of a Franciscan procession in St. Savior’s church in which at once appeared my beloved friend Ivan, now an Orthodox Jew, beautiful but skinny Vladdo and the aforementioned James. The photos were part of an album that Claudia gave me for one of my birthdays, that same birthday which was a total failure, half the people wouldn´t even show up and then they came and ate and left without even sharing in the expenses so that Levy had to cover the bill… It could have been the most perfect night, sitting on a tent in a balcony behind the Sultan´s pool overlooking both East and West of Jerusalem just behind the entrance to Mt. Zion with all the abbeys and the yeshivas to be reached both with the eye and with the feet with so little effort. It was my worst birthday I think, but probably wasn´t as bad as this selfsame year is going to be, so far away from the homes I built as bridges in between, with the people I met through those beautiful years in the most golden city of all. The faithful and the godless city… that is what Jerusalem is like. Every morning as I awoke from my light slumber, I was able to see all this only with glimpsing a little into the garbage containers and the burnt hay beneath my window at the entrance of my building. I could also take pleasure in hanging the laundry in Andrea´s balcony and looking into King George Street as the sun shone much stronger there and I could see the city exploding with the jolts of the cars and the screams of people and the haste of the Sabbath; but exploding is too strong a word for those of us who have lived in Jerusalem, a place where hearts explode both metaphysically and physically at the blink of a zealous eye spotting the wrong geography of life at a lethal moment.
But this morning was different: It was completely empty. I came home, possibly tried to masturbate and was unable to because of the unusual excess of alcohol in my vessels and then fell into a thick sleep from which I was aroused only in order to puke on myself from drunkenness. Yet I do not regret the night… It was cold and busy, so quiet but yet very disturbing, a bundle of unrelated elements blended in together with as much lovelessness and abandonment as the entire world can offer for free and as a gift. I was released from this owl imprisonment to which I´ve indicted myself, living under rags and coming out only at night in order to profit from the different of schedule that most other people have; this is the price of quiet – lifelessness around, the sterility of silence, the total absence from our objects of love and despise. Weeks go by and I don´t change my clothes or mean to change my life from the inside to the outside; I am willing to let the inside collapse at any price. I am contented only by the illusion that I have about owning my past and that it is so grandiose that it alone should suffice to emancipate me from this cold and lavish poverty. But all those pasts are shared, they were shared with many people for whom at this point I should be nothing but a peg loose in the air, something completely forgotten. I think the only people who truly remember me are Katherina, Ivan and Sandra. I´m beginning to enjoy this dearth of companion, yet the most disappointing part about one´s own person was to see the puke and to remember only vaguely the situation. It´s funny how right at the point when my life has reached the very bottom of the pit and when I refuse to have much entanglement with people, when my plans for the year collapsed under my feet, it is precisely now that I begin to feel very much alive and contented with my lot, I am able to write almost on a daily basis and have devoted myself full-time to the pursuit of my works. Now as I lay in the gutter, wallowing with the pigs, I begin to think that I write nicely and that it is important that I do it by any means. I am really learning a lot, gaining some kind of faith but I´m completely ignorant how it is that I am supposed to actually do it. Under normal circumstances I should only sleep and await the good Lord to take me mercifully under his wings into the flight of eternity. I think now about Fridirik, because for some reason I do find him quite beautiful and full of sense, very close to my planet of “Bitterbösen Sarcasm” and happy Kierkegaardian ironies full of contempt for the world and yet so full of pleasantries about it all. I think his disappointments with life are manifold and too numerous to be counted or even borne at all by one sole person. He insists that we should an hamburger after sex or watch The Lion King; even though I am aggressively opposed to the content of either plan of action, I feel exhilarated at the prospect of such possibility since it is clear that my experience of life and love for the last few years has been limited to unaccomplished sexual encounters, long nights of painful and execrating inebriation in lieu of contentment for the world, total alienation from material and spiritual pleasures and frequent series of exiles, one followed shortly thereafter by the other losing a bit of the belongings that attested to my immediate past, time after time, until I were come to the present situation in which I possess absolutely nothing to remind me of my own immediate past other than one book. There are no letters, no old books, no plates, no ties, to shirts or worn out boots, nothing, not even an empty suitcase where to fold my sorrows in and send them off elsewhere, not even that. “Mann ohne Eigenschaften”. The only thing that seems to loom around is the irremediable prospect of perfidious poverty soon turned into physical hunger and permanent day slumber mixed with nightly vigil. I wonder what it is going to be like being alive again and far away from this imprisonment without bail. I wonder whether I am going to be able to write at all after this, how will I reconstitute my world? Today precisely when reading Borges I was thinking for myself that it wouldn´t be altogether inappropriate as an spiritual move to rest for a bit on the certainties of the mother tongue, but that is completely delusional for me, it is absolutely uncanny and even pathological. As far back as I can remember, I completely lack the love necessary to call this orphan place a fatherland and I am even more certain to stand the test of never setting foot again upon this tainted land. In the other hand, when I was leaving Jerusalem I do remember looking back and telling to myself that I would ever so soon come back – what as yet I didn´t fulfill; the prospects for the geography of this so-called mother tongue are a lot more miser, the truth of the matter is that there´s nothing I wish more now than to be never see it again, to lose myself in an ocean of foreignness of words and things. But I am well aware that this might change as I will get older, that in the case I manage to live enough to call myself old. I might need to restore to this motherly gift as an emergency. I heard someone saying that Frida Kahlo was so national (“Mexican”) that it is only on that account that she was actually so universal; this badly scares me because I have no national iconography of my own person at all – everything is disrupted, unassembled fragments, clippings from the most varied layers of geographical memory, a bundle of ills. This is badly unsurprising when said but yet one´s own aspirations might become utterly frustrated at facing the selfsame prospect of equating originality and relevance with universality. I think however it was Kierkegaard who criticized this universality badly, framing it as something immediately juxtaposed to the infinite/eternal. I have always to go back and read Saint Paul. A lot less of Arendt in my writing now; it has become so internalized that it is the spirit and not the memory who recollects all thoughts about it whenever they arise. I hope I will be still able to find the copies that Eveline sent me from Berlin with her books, because otherwise I am completely doomed and will have to appeal to the powers that be for enough inspiration and even at that, inspiration alone never suffices for a Work, to become worthy of its name. “Einsetzen”. That´s the key to the dungeon where one shall refuse to lock himself up but also will refuse to leave its premises; there´s some sentimentality at work here. “Ni corta ni presta el hacha”. Another whole night spent at “work”, time to sleep before the tropical sun will assault me. However I was too tired to translate or to do any serious study, a consequence of carefree drinking. I hope to finish the Ark this week, even in the next few days, how delusional this is? I don´t know. I was sure this was work of two days and that´s it, but then this time I am really translating and syntactically interpreting: Not cheating and producing a good translation on the background of a bad one, then it must be worth the effort. I have to go and face the puke from last morning.