четверг, июля 20, 2006

The Importance of Looking at the Sky at Night

I haven't been walking around at night. Plus, in New York City it is practically impossible to see stars, or at least it is impossible to see a decent number of stars. It is possible to see the Moon, but moonlight is virtually unnoticeable except in Full Moon nights, when the city lights dwindle a little bit.

All this together can lead people to bitterness, pessimism, despair. It is sad to live under a blurry window into the outer world. One can never see clearly what lies beyond and, not seeing this clearly, how can someone aspire to infinity?

***

Cassio once told me about a trip he took to the area around his college, the summer after having graduated. "First of all, being there again, in a lazy summer day when the whole campus was empty, gave my entire day a sense of irreality. Then, in the evening, when it was time to drive back to New York, we took the wrong direction on the road and ended up going North instead of South for about half an hour, driving through an almost totally deserted parkway. The ride back on the same road was even stranger, it felt for the first hour or so that all other cars had vanished from sight. Suddenly, a white flare shone from the side, so bright it filled the whole car with a silvery tone, only to vanish the next second, and then return again. It was the Moon, a gigantic, Full Moon, shining through the tallest trees by the road. Lena looked so mysterious under that light. Those long, unending minutes when the rays of silver light cut through the car window were one of the most mysterious, and because of that most beautiful and poetic, moments of my life. It is easy to understand why the Moon is so often related to madness, to unquenchable passions, after being exposed to its inexorable glow for so long."

понедельник, июля 03, 2006

Postcards (II)

One morning, however, all these endlessly repetitive and imprisoning nights of self-indulgence reached an end: the foreigner woke up and realized the enormity of his experience. All he had done, his desultory innuendoes to girls and fatuous jokes with newly-made acquaintances, amounted to a heap of dross that he could not brook for another minute. His still inchoate self-respect began to stir and lumber about in his soul, as if it were preparing to depart from the fell where it had been hiding for so long, hiding from both the inoportune tyro and the overwhelming pseudo-self that took over the exile's spirit upon every sunset.

The stranger looked at himself in the mirror, tamped his unshaved face, and felt it was time to withdraw his razor blade from the desuetude that victimized it. Curiously chary of cutting himself while shaving his beard, at first he parried the movement of the blade even before it touched his skin.
Its sharp end turned into a grin, the metal blade stared at him with flip impatience. The foreigner realized it was fruitless to rail against the arrant sharpness of the blade. Removing the foliage that hid his face was the fundamental reason for the blade to exist, although he did not know yet what his own fundamental reason to exist was. His self-respect could assert, however, that removing his facial hair was the first action of a truly free spirit.

суббота, июля 01, 2006

Postcards (I)

An expatriate often sees the reality surrounding him as a sodden landscape. Just as the present becomes a mere trifle, a deviation in the route leading the past to the mysterious future, the space in which the foreigner exists is not a true physical space, but rather a mixture of the various worlds that inhabit his memory, brewed together inside his mind. He knows, however, that, no matter how suppliant his eyes may look as he repines for his homeland, wending his way through streets where the dulcet sound of foreign tongues is an anodyne for his overweening spleen, he will never slake the anxiety of a froward tyro who, from the depths of his mind, insists on adumbrating the yearned-for return to the homeland. And so, in order to survive outside the ingenious idylls of this fledgling imagination, the exile must abjure his inner, everlasting tyro, whose energy has not yet been sapped by the endless maundering through unknown streets and villages and the mental welter at the end of a day spent in a stygian boarding house in winter.

As the foreigner quaffs a pint of beer, recumbent at a godforsaken tavern, he knows he will rue the simpers he inveigled from natty girls throughout his journey, as he recounted with insouciance his disadventures abroad. The glib approach he took to his condition would often cause these girls to feel salacious, and occasionally he too found their physiognomies to be piquant. Nonetheless, their gossamer sensuality, achieved after hours of preening in front of a mirror, would soon become as sere as the barren landscape the foreigner saw outside the window. He suddenly quailed at their provocations: pluck vanished from his labile spirit. He realized he was incapable of cozening his soul, no matter how much he vaunted his own stoicism. The gamboling at bars and parties having toadies as his companions did not help him reach the pith of his problem. Instead, the din of endless toasts and bad music only caused him to become more distrait, unable to hear his conscience averring that his behavior was quite feckless.