Monday, December 20, 2010

Letter to Yussuf Prince of Thebes

Dearest Yussuf,

It's been such a long time since I wrote you last, at least what you can call a real letter, and not just broken pieces of information in an erratic fix of the pen and the hand. You're so often in my thoughts, in my conversations with people, in a way I would like to transmit to every person I meet in the world what you've meant for me, what it means for me in terms of art and philosophy to have met you, I would like to find words, but those words are still not invented, or if they exist, their meaning is so big that it wouldn't be appropriate to use them. Whenever something remarkable happens in my life, it is only to you that I can write, because these things that I'm telling, the story I'm telling, is something charged for me with a meaning very different than the meaning attached to ordinary objects, it's this predicament in which you're often left, when you're unable to leave completely the sphere of art, you become just too conscious of beauty, you're soaked in the essence of things, you can't avoid the horrible time pressing against your chest like a knife. It's this guilt, this endless guilt, about being alive, you wake up one morning, you're confused, you wish nothing but death, this wish as a sentiment is the only thing that can free you from the chains of ordinary life, this death wish, that is your token of loyalty with the present, with the brutal present, always presence, present.

The encounter with human beings is for people like us the highest expression of one's own power, this is where real talent for art and thought is best casted off into the world, encounters are the most important thing, also the most fragile and the most dangerous. I met Jonathan last week, after a week of long conversations over the internet about the most varied topics that extended well into the night, there was something so discreet and so honest about him, something that again I can't put into words, some melancholy abandonment that weighed heavily upon the sentences and the dots, there was this sentiment of sharing an absence of something that we both knew, perhaps it was an abscence of love, that slowly built up and conjured into a sense of possibility, this language so intense and so dense yet colloquial, there's no adequate terminology to describe that, it's something very similar to religion, I'm reminded of Margarete Susman and the little essays about Bloch and the buchlein "Vom Sinn der Liebe". Because of the horrible and tormented ways into which my life has unfolded for the last five years, I had forgotten that this language was still possible, the only referents I had for such possibilities were you, my only confident, and Veronica, my friend who committed suicide a week before my birthday in 2009, another artist, one of the few persons I know who lived her life so completely inside art, who never left aesthetics, you see, Veronica reminds me so much of you and me, in that our understanding of beauty comes from a very real experience in life that is not at all contemplative; our understanding of beauty and love has to do with a lack of something, with the fact that we've experienced so little beauty in the world, we remember it with just too much strength, we know very well the ideal position and perfection of beauty because we're so far removed from it in many ways, we're simple spectators.

Because I had renounced this idea to the realm of writing alone, I was so scared the day when I met him, because now I'm clearly assured that I don't cope with reality very well, even though I have to cope with such ugly faces of reality, dealing with money, family, the cold blood of academic people, being a gay man in the search of sex and pleasure, etc and I cope relatively well but when it has to do with my inner world of beauty and sentiments, the slightest breach in the plot, the simplest word, the most innocent behaviour, holds the power to hurt my feelings infinitely and throw me into the darkest abyss of melancholy and seamless pain. You know, people often say I'm a very brave person, but the truth is, I live in incredible fear, I go through life and the world frightened to death everyday, every moment, perhaps that's the price you have to pay for certain courage, to live in fear. I didn't know what would await me ahead, and I was so very scared, and then I arrived to the Italian cafe where we had agreed to meet, I waited in the outside being almost sure that for some reason he wouldn't show up, I've gone through this endless times, especially when I was younger, I remember all the time I spent waiting for many a gentleman, the time I spent dressing up and thinking everything out to the most intrincate detail, the combination of the color, the hair, the bag, the book I'd carry in my bag, how I'd sit, what I'd say, and then suddenly I spent beautiful hours alone, imagining that something tragic had happened, that for some reason they were just unable to come. He texted me and I found out he was already inside this beautiful place, he was warmer and more beautiful than I had thought, there was this beautiful smile, and everything was so casual, like a little chanson, I felt so happy that I was completely unable to swallow my food because I didn't want to miss one single second of the conversation, and as you know, conversation, that's my only real talent, my only natural talent, everything else is just a product of the melancholy caused by not being able to engage in conversations with people as much as I would like to, every philosophical hint, every work of art observed, every poem jotted down, it is only a failed attempt at a conversation, that's why it must be put to paper, in a way, it must be killed. I didn't want to miss one single detail because somewhere in my soul I felt this was about to end already, that it would be my lot and parcel in life to live out of some very brief moments, like a curse.

But yet the night was so different, it was like being with you, there were so many hours, so many beautiful hours, one more beautiful than the hour that just passed, and yet another hour more, more beautiful than the whole world, and then more hours, more beautiful than Paris, more beautiful than Jerusalem, more beautiful than anything you had ever seen, we sipped martinis like nectar from powerful elixirs made by gods in faraway Oriental kingdoms, walking down the street at night amidst the jolts of the traffic and the loud noises of people; I remember at some point he went to the bathroom and I was left there alone, staring across the table, to his half empty glass, to his jacket, and to the shadows around him and I thought for myself with a smile, this is the most beautiful hour that ever existed; of course there were other beautiful hours in the past, beautiful nights that also came with horrible mornings when the delusion had passed and nothing was left, but it is my belief that every moment of beauty you experience in the world changes you qualitatively, it changes not only the future but also how you look at the past from that moment onwards, the details are not important, but there's an essential change in you. I thought, this is my glory and my victory, this is my conquista of the world, this is a moment like when I threw your party in Jerusalem, the moment in which I'm king and lord of the whole world, everything that is of importance is happening there in that moment. But the night still kept going, until the very end, there was nothing sexual about it, but there were lots of lips and hands, kisses in the forehead, the long embraces, things that look like love, the dancing, the jokes, the drinks, the soft touches, the irony, it is like being with somebody you've known for your whole life, the melancholy in common but also the sense of life, the risk, the madness, the vertigo, the fall... All together.

For other people, and perhaps also for him, it's just a night out, a night of drinks, a good "date", but for me it was like the confirmation of everything I've been and done, the aesthetic moment of life par excellence, the moment when Godot arrives, the real Godot, arriving unannounced. I really didn't want the night to end, I wanted that night to go on forever... When it ended, even though it had been so perfect and beautiful, I went home and cried the whole night, listening to Edith Piaf and wondering when will I have again a night like that, when will I conquer the world again only for myself? When will I look at the eyes of glory? You can't imagine my sadness after this carnival of emotions, it was not only the cafe but the party after that and the dancing, the lips, the hands, the embraces, the little fights, the tears, the strong emotions, very strong emotions from both actors, if it had been not something real but a theater play, you'd think it's Waiting for Godot, they're both waiting, so tired from life yet still so young, so full of life and love, so full of hope, the darkness of the night becomes confused with the shiniest morning you ever saw, like the summer in the beach of Tel Aviv, like Katherina and Ari at the Scottish bar sipping martinis by the bar, yet all surrounded by so much sadness and decadence, the endless drinking, the smiles confused with the pain from inside, the desire to be free and to be loved. It was so beautiful Katherina that I only remember small details, I don't even quite remember what he looks like and why I found him so beautiful but what's impressed a watermark in me is how I felt, how my eyes saw the world during those eternal hours that compress all of human history. It's been so many years since I felt anything like that, and he, well, it's a sad story, you know, he lives in Germany and is here only for a few weeks, and speaking of failed love, he had a relationship of five years with a Frenchman who just dumped him without any explanation, so clearly he's love handicapped and I think you and me know very well how much one suffers from unlove. So he definitely can't be mine, not geographically and not mentally, it's just a connection through the soul, very fragile but yet strong as diamonds... At the same time he pours his kindness to me in such a beautiful way, the letters and the calls, the conversations on how alive he feels around me, how contented, the plans for the future, what we would do if we'd go to London, or to Berlin, or which parties we would attend in Barcelona and in Tel Aviv, the meeting with my friend Katherina, the paintings she would make for him, the long nights of martinis or porto or whiskey with vermouth. And the kinder he is, the more I hurt, because I so much don't want to lose him, but even if so, what he doesn't know is that after that night, I'll never lose him, he's already in my skin. Everyday I'm more and more scared, scared from life, but if anything, if all this suffering, all these horrible days in Colombia, all the cocaine and all the pain and the silence and the loneliness, if all of it was the price I had to pay for that night, it was completely worth it and I'm willing to pay twice that price. It's all a fantasy, but yet how beautiful it is when you learn to dream again, something inside you is changed, love always makes you beautiful and good.

Time is a monster my dear, a horrible seven-legged monster, because yes, it's been so long since I last saw you, I don't even remember you physically so well, but I do remember my feelings for you, the uniqueness of this friendship that should last for a hundred years more and after that too, you know that you're so important for me, you're present in everything I do, even when I do nothing, or when I do evil things that hurt me. I definitely think we've grown into different persons but yet my dear, our friendship is the same, it's always going to be, because its roots are so strong, not like futile street talk, it's so completely rooted in beauty. We're different people indeed, I see it in my face, in my hands, in my philosophical style even, less radical than it used to be but as you can tell, more sophisticated, less German and less Jewish, more open to the world and to the rawest experience than to philosophical categories and boxes, closer to Andy Warhol than to Hegel. But this is a process, and we're going through it, trying to not miss one single day in it. You see, I saw myself as a philosopher back then in Jerusalem and not anymore, if anything, today I can tell you the only thing that interests me is conversations, everything else, the works of art (and not philosophical treatises) are simply witnesses to the failure in conversating with the world. It's always a matter of money because well it's not only that we're poor but we don't know how to live, we want to live so much and too much, everything at once and in one day, we never learn the lessons, that's why we can never save. But be assured that we'll meet again, I promised you I'd come back to Europe and I will, that day is everyday closer now, but I won't tell you much about it, just one day I'll be at your door with a bottle of something and everything will be like it always was.

I have to work a lot at the moment with some English classes, I'm so unfit for work and life, I hate every moment of it, but I need money to spend expensive nights out with Jonathan, therefore I have to do it, but not for long. My intellectual development is now very slow but steady, I read novels, very modern novels, learning about how people think life today, I read a lot about modern art, about commercial art, each day I feel I'm getting somewhere, but I find it very hard to write, except when I write him, you know me, I can only write from a real source of life, I don't understand abstract writing, that's just so stupid. You're right, remember Virginia Woolf saying "you can never have peace in life by avoiding life... you have to look at life in the face, always in the face" and I think this is exactly what Jetztzeit means after all. Men also like me a lot at the moment, maybe it's only because they detect that I can't like anyone back right now, my mind is in the search for something too big, not too big a love because that can kill, but too big a person to love a little, you know, there's this song that says... "the world is not enough, but it is such a perfect place to start", this is what happens to us, we demand from life more than what it can give and thus we suffer, but we must do it, there's no other way, there must be a radical instinct to life, otherwise it's just empty time. I loved so much the beatiful things you said about me and my gift for conversation, perhaps the most beautiful things ever said to me. About Coco Chanel, maybe another day I'll write you more, but you MUST read her biography, she reminds me of you so much, such a talented and strong lonely woman, so powerful and brilliant yet so weak and nervous and lonely, so hurt from love, full of life for parties and nights, so full of glamour, and one thing I understood: to be glamorous you need to be a lonely individual, there's no other way to stand out from the crowds, glamour is the most extreme form of sadness, always remember that. That's why Hollywood can never be glamorous, they're only rich.

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