Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Today (in progress)

"O al - ter Duft aus Mär - - chen-zeit" ("Oh old fragance from mythical times": from "Pierrot lunaire" of Schönberg)

"I: Austrian passport issued by the Interior Ministry. Sworn certificate of nationality. Brown eyes. Blond hair, born in Klagenfurt, followed by several dates and profession, crossed out and amended twice, addresses, crossed out thrice, above of which can be read, written in calligraphy: residence at Ungargasse 6, Vienna III.

Time: Today

Place: Vienna.

The temporal index had left me pensive for good while, for it is almost impossible for me to say "Today" even though the people often say or, better yet, are ought to say "today" everyday; but if anybody tells me what he endeavours to do today - let alone tomorrow-, I do not react absentmindedly askance, as if it is often thought, but rather attentively, out of pure perplexity, !so hopeless is my relationship with that so-called "today"!, for I can only pass through such "today" in terrible pangs of agony and in a haste and, in the middle of this agony, to write or simply tell what is unfolding throughout; it would be then necessary to destroy immediately what is being written about today, such as the true letters are destroyed, crumpled and ultimately unsent, because insofar as they are from today, they won't make it to their final destination in any other today.

Whoever has written a frighteningly supplicant letter in order to subsequently tear and throw it away, will know better than anyone what I mean here by "today". And, who hasn't heard about those nearly illegible bank notes: "Come if you want and are able to, please. At five o'clock, at Cafe Landmann". Or telegrams such as these: "Please call me immediately full stop even today", or: "Today it is impossible".

In this fashion of things, "Today" is a word that only suicidal people should be permitted to use, but for all the rest it doesn't have absolutely any sense, it only serves to designate any other day, precisely today they are aware that, once again, they will have to work eight hours or take a free day for themselves, they know that they will go this or that way, will buy some other thing, will read a morning or an evening paper, they will drink a cup of coffee, they will surely forget about something, will turn up for an appointment, will have to ring up somebody, a day, in the course of which, in brief, something will have to happen or, better said, not too many things will happen.

I, on the other hand, after I pronounce "today", I begin to breath at intervals, suddenly I am possessed by that arrythmia that had been already diagnosed in an electrocardiography, and if the line in the graph does not grant the supposition that the real cause was my "today" - always new and oppresive -, I can put forward the evidence to the syndrom, redactable in voluble medical codes, the proof of something that precedes the crisis of my agony, and predisposes me to it, in accordance to what the medical specialists have always said and thought. But I am afraid that it is "today" what so badly drives me into the agony, what is in excess extravagant and pathetic, and that "today" will always remain fixed in my mind as such a pathological agony, until the very last breath." -Ingeborg Bachmann, "Malina"

I always knew that there had to be something utterly misgiving with this whole talk about "Today"; at the expense of a negation, it's a disease, or at best, the guilty resignation to a capital punishment, but I wasn't entirely sure about this until I read it in a novel, though the novel is sited in a far-away city where a friend of mine happens to live, I could enter on my own, it was the same cycle of asffixiation by-product of this eternal entanglement with today, for under normal circumstances -and all circumstances in life are normal unless it's a case of love, the gesture of time is always Janus-faced, and contemplation is not tolerated, even in unsual cases of uncalled-for romance, starting into for too long is a common form of molestation. Living today, everyday, is tantamount to never ever sleeping, thus the clean surface of the present is always edgy, only interrupted by the absurdity of daydreaming, while yet bereft of sleep; ten long years and yet not one single rapture of the eyelid into the movement of the hours. Not for a single moment though, it occurred to me that I was dying, except for my behaviour, erratic, always signaling that I was ought to conquer the world down and above, even if it meant to give up on peace or temporary cease-fire, everything had to be won and then lost in one and the same day. The slightest breach in my sound protocol of belligerence would amount not only to negligence on my part but to failure, retreat and total defeat. And, since I adamantly refused to be consoled in any way, there were only so many ways in which the state of panic could be driven away - embalming of healthy living human beings, being one of them. Embalmed in a cavas I had myself chosen but for a more splendid occasion, like that of a technically possible victory. The past, even the most immediate whim, was never granted a moment of rest, being all too frightened by forgetfulness, so that it was ought to be carved out with scalpel, mummified, nullified, hence conserved intact, a thousand and one years before the time was ripe, abandoned, ownerless somewhere, exposed as the celebrated prize of a meticulous and carefully planned robbery. The morning I returned to the plaza, I had felt less ailing than usual, free of guilt, if anything only because because I was almost entirely deprived of sleep and not fully committed to the destruction of the hours that lay ahead, they seemed so vague and vacuous, almost soundless and continuous, another hopeless eternity, like a whole century of peace. There I sat, idly, reading Mrs. Dalloway, laughing with the belly button but without the gestures of the mouth, and I sat at the same table, in the same position, with the same scarf, but only a few hours earlier, in the solid but futile attempt to catch one simple glance of his, to feel again the warm finger accidentally falling upon my wrist; yet I manage to feel nothing, the well of the vision had dried, because once I've put it down in writing, it's all been completely forgotten, as if it had been a mass burial for my armies. Perhaps I'm not even chasing after the vision, but just making sure that it doesn't haunt me. It's so fragile, on a revel, at the bank of a river, melted into the air of other ages, already invisible. I no longer capture the essence, all the images are seizeable; all the trees at the same height, the order of the bricks and stone, the vendors in their tents, black doves, ponds of mud and rainfall, the Holiday mood in the pace of the streetwalkers, a timid drizzle stepping on my shoe, especially the slow speed of everything, there seems to be just too much time available now. There's still the weak hesitation of feigned visions, the terrifying sensuality of remembering at all. The way we live now, the way we live today.

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