Fragment from the novel ‘The Center of the World’

‘It has happened to all of us, and not once, on a May or June evening, to find ourselves at sunset lying in bed with a book in our hands. The book takes us outside of time, in a present in which the mind takes refuge when it doesn’t find a foothold in the temporal present. Reading is the simplest and most direct contact with eternity, an eternity which is not at all infinite time, but non-time, beyond-time. If you put down the book for a second and turn off the light, if you confide yourself even for an instant to crepuscular rumors, to the murmur coming from the street, blended with the shadows around, you realize immediately that you are in the center of the world. For such an experience, you have to live in a big city and in a very populated area of it. On May and June evenings, when it’s not too hot outside, it’s full of children. But the scene could take place anywhere and anytime, on a street in Algeria, Argentina, France or China. The children yell, play, quarrel, whistle, you hear a “moron” or a “chicken head” or a “mom, mom” from time to time. These words are important, because they are basically the basis of mundane existence. Incarnated or not, present or not, the mother represents unconditional love towards the poor, miserable, oppressed individuals that we are. Everything that inspires us and sets in motion the adult gestures, the acts, the human facts, concerns either the “longing” and need for unconditional love – because that’s what a mother stands for – or the need to repair, to defeat, to surmount various accidents of fate, to survive the contact with “idiocy”. The idiot man and woman are the mediators of accidents. They are neither villains (they don’t intend to do harm), nor virulent and active stupid people (natural pests); the idiot does harm without wanting to and is stupid without wanting to. When we are in the soul of the world, we know that only mothers and accidents exist.

Even if the world was completely extinguished, if it disappeared without a trace, swallowed up by the darkness of a universe that creates and destroys relentlessly, this scene ensures its eternity; even if our human world will no longer exist in the memory of a single being, even if there was no consciousness to mentally reproduce it, to invoke it.

Melancholy is the same with love. The being’s separation between here and now, respectively there and then, is not a work of embodied life. Melancholy is the very expression of the assiduous, invincible need of the individual to merge with another being. It’s a need that no language, no doctrine, no ideology could invent. It is. It preexists any language, any doctrine. An ideology can only speculate what is already seeded inside the human being, what is already common cause and body with it. An ideology can pervert, can manipulate, but it cannot create human feelings, intimate experiences. We can be mistaken with regard to the soul, we can bury it in mystifications, but what makes us perceive or understand existence is genuine, it erupts from our depths. The belief in the existence of the soul is a vital need, it is consubstantial to human nature. The myths of the couple belong to this limited, conditioned, lonely being who is man. Even if they are the scaffold of certain illusions, they are vital illusions. In the end, everything is reduced to longing, to that hunger of the being to get out of the ring of fire, of the bubble of air, of the patch of ground, of the aquatic channel of solitude.

There is no solar love, you cannot banish pain from love, you can’t put it on the list of optional courses. Love is pure melancholy because it’s not just desire, it’s not just search for the self, but it is especially thirst for immortality, even if we are mortals, precisely because we are mortals. Love is our individual way of saying we want to be in life and in bodies. But we know very well that this can’t last forever, temporality crushes our being… it fills it with shadows. Stop running for a second, man! That’s why I’m writing a poem from the center of the world for you, from the optic nerve of solitude, from the womb of melancholy, to ask you to stop for a second in your mad rush to God knows where. Forget for a while about all those to whom the child within you would have yelled “moron!” at, on the street, at sunset, in a city from the thousands of cities in the world, in an age from the hundreds of ages when children played in the streets. Take a break. Take a deep breath. Be! Just be! Say “mother” and you will realize that the civil war taking place inside of you can reach a truce. The woman in you who says “moron” can shake hands with the man who says “mother”. There is nothing Freudian here, because it’s not about a certain mother in flesh and blood, but about the mother in the human being. Forgiveness is the work of this mother… it’s her breath. How can you love serenely when there is hunger? When there are children being tortured, women raped, women in love forced to defeat their desires, and by woman I mean heart? By taking refuge, by burying yourself in the bunker of a identity counterfeited through social contagion? By fleeing from yourself at the periphery of the being, in that obscure area where you can live peacefully the illusion of isolation? How can you reach that beyond suffering, lucid??? Hedonism is an infantile utopia… a utopia possible only before the first contact with reality.’

‘Nothing injected melancholy into my bloodstream, no experience and no crisis,’ Cosmin thought. It had been there for a long time… forever. He first felt it when he was around 10 years old, one summer evening, when the murmur of the street and the cries of the children blended with the shadows around. And tears gushed from his eyes because he loved all those children immensely, he loved all the creatures of the world without limits, and they would all disappear one day, they would suffer, they would be the victims of morons and the orphans of mothers.

‘… There is no individual, there is no I… they are mere fictions of the subject. I am those children who here and now, in Peru, in Russia, in China, in France, are running around in the street at sunset and yell and play and rejoice or quarrel. I am all those children. The universal mother – not a virgin – suffers inside of me for each of them, she worries for each of them, the universal man desires through me all possible caresses, the universal woman in me doesn’t cease to rebel and grumble between her teeth: “you morons!” Or the other way around… All these god-people are right, they are legitimate, they all have reasons, they all have expectations and what is tragic is that they all coexist in each of us, even when the voice and will of one of them is subordinated and silenced by the voice and will of the other.

This is a poem without a name. In the center of the world, we all have the same name: HUMAN or ANDROGYN. There are no proper names, but it’s all good. That’s what ensures our chance to immortality. Cats are eternal, one of my friends would say. Fir trees are eternal. And we, humans, could be eternal if we lived like cats or like fir trees. We are not mortal or immortal optionally. If you want to live like an immortal, you can. Neither Paul, nor Freud, nor Democritus will stand in your way. But immortals are no strangers to melancholy. Melancholy is their second nature. When you understand that there is nothing personal in what you feel, it gets quiet.’


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