The one with the Homeland

Memory believes before knowing remembers.
Faulkner

Belonging is an animal thing. Even a beast that lacks discourse of reason has its own corner of solitude, its own emptiness, its dark tranquility. Less than a cage, for inside a cage there’s yet too much shadow, too much night and sorrow for a creature to own it. Thence a living being is to find itself a scrap of the ground where its den lays and even there it is supposed to curl up, clinging to its own body, craving its own warmth, listening to its own murmuring hunger.

Such is the lonely Umwelt of every living thing. We all live in bubbles, each bubble is a sum of particular, individual modes of perception of the external world. And yes, our bubbles sometimes interfere – and such is at once the joy and the tragedy of our kind.

***

When a Mongolian nomad feels lost and anxious in a modern city of Ulaanbaatar where he is forced to live by the changing structure of society, he is ever longing for the steppe of his kin. For the place of a man is where his folks lay. You don’t need to know it, suffice that the spirits of your long-gone grandparents dwell in those grounds, it is where your heart shall be longing. For when you are alone and astray, depressed, devoid of hope, the spirits of your Heimat will enforce you and fill your heart with strength.

***

Thus I come back to my homeland. To these lingering streets that run for more than ten years. These parks and lonely alleys, shelters for love, these enchanted altars of our first kisses. It all deserves more than one chant, a novel, one day, for I know that my Combray, my Macondo, my downtown muse can only find a rightful poet in me – a legitimate son, a Bellerophontes to slay the chimeras of retro-hallucination, to forecast the unspelled, to unshadow the past, to preserve the forgotten, sublime and epic.

One day, though not yet, the muse will sing.

The one with Writing

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. The ancient alchemy of words has been a major influence on all that I am today. I remember that before I was even able to write down my own name, the very first letter I could scribble, at the age of four, was “Z”. So it all started from the end, just like the great Homeric poem.

My mother used to read to me the Odyssey. Thus the journey of Ulysses became to me the very essence of humanity. There were many other stories I cannot recall. Yet somehow the epic struggle of the king on exile, betrayed and forlorn by gods, longing for home, torn between doubt and hope, alone and astray, thrown towards the unknown by the hand of destiny, will forever remain engraved in my heart as the most precisely defined notion of human condition.

I might have possibly started writing – or at least telling stories – long before being capable of reading. Which would make perfect sense for the humanity is supposed to have traversed the same road. Soon there came the very first attempts to create my own tales. As a child who has not yet experienced what life is, I could only adapt and merge the existing matter without knowing that this was exactly the procedure performed by Homer and all who came after him.

Writing became a challenge, a question demanding answers, a riddle to be solved, a Rubik’s cube of infinite choices, a pursuit of most audacious dreams, or a naive second-guess.

With words came phrases, with phrases came periods and with periods – chapters. From doubts and disdains emerged the irony, and the joy of merging words with childish admiration for the surrounding world gave birth to metaphors. One does quickly learn that things are for us to be named – without which we could not but indicate them with our fingers. And there comes the understanding that things are to be compared. Hence, speaking of a long and risky journey, one speaks in fact of life in its very essence; speaking of heroes and gods, one speaks of our deepest desires; speaking of a lion, one speaks of courage; speaking of Ariadne, one speaks of finding hope in the dark, but at the same time – of a trustful and admiring beauty abandoned by her lover.

At some point the question of style appeared to be the clue. Yet, though the thread of Ariadne would fain show the way, there is still obscurity among the endless combinations of the maze. I found out very soon that I am capable of imitating any writer I like. I am a chameleon, a doppelganger, I can be what I please. I started to copy the ones whom I admired, like a painter who creates indistinguishable replicas of his masters’ works. I could make Nietzsche sound like a copy next to my fake epigrams I wrote on the faith of his unique style. I intend no boasting – this ridiculous ability was not chosen by me. Besides, I soon understood, that the search of my own voice is yet to be undertaken. For one cannot be but oneself – and being someone else defies being.

For a long time have I struggled in search of a subject matter. I came to a conclusion that everything had already been written long before I was born. It is true, in fact, but one should not worry much about it. Every artist who achieved something original had to face the same fact. Creating beautiful things is not about making them emerge from nothingness – that would be God’s preoccupation. Whereas the artist creates beautiful things out of existing matter that is given to him by anything he perceives: from the most admirable works of his predecessors to their most repulsive deeds, from the most tender kiss of a lover to the most violent hatred that one can experience from others, from the sweetest ecstasy of love to the bitterest deception of life.

Writing is a lonely craft. You don’t learn it at your regular classes. You don’t ask for advice from your beloved masters, who, by the way, are supposed to be dead by the time you enter your literary path, provided that you have any taste at all. Writing grows in you, it feeds on you, it devours you, it hollows its way out of your bewildered soul to spread around the world in a generous rain of golden words.

It is not that it leaves you any choice: a parasite more than a gift.

Besides, one has no thoughts that come from oneself. What you speak, what you write, is always a result of what language imposed you: the syntax usually defines the trajectory of your reasoning, the existing collocations influence the picture you display, the synonyms leave you a restraint choice of terms to apply, the convention designs the way you paint. Your task is to make a perfect use of this imperfect material. To stay free in the confines of necessity. There are rare moments of conscious reflection in which you consider what you are doing. These moments are almost always vain and unproductive, but they are inevitable. Then there are those in which you simply cannot help but write and when you do that, submissive to the inner voice that speaks on your behalf, you find that these very binds that compel you, are to you the most sublime pledge of your liberty.