the man

Gherasim Luca

This translation is dedicated in fraternity to Will Alexander

>From one temple to the other, the ebony blood of my virtual suicide drains
in virulent silence. As though I
had committed an actual suicide, the bullets criss-cross my brain day and
night, uprooting the ends of my
optical nerve, my acoustic, my tactile, these terminals, and dispersing
inside the skull an odor of detonated
gun powder, of clotted blood, of chaos. I haul on my shoulders this
suicide's cranium with a noteworthy
sort of grace, and lumber from one place to the next a malignant grin,
poisoning over a radius of numerous
kilometers the breath of all beings and things. Perused from the outside I
appear about to tumble like a
man who's been fired upon. It is my customary strut in which my uncertain
silhouette borrows something
from the vertigo of those about to be guillotined, of loose rats, of wounded
birds. Like a tightrope walker
propped up merely by a single umbrella I fasten myself to my own
disequilibrium. I know by rote these
routes without knowns, I can wend my way with eyes shut. My gesticulating
lacks the axiomatic ease of
the fish in water, the grace of the vulture or the tiger, they appear
wayward like anything you would
glimpse for the first time. I am forced to invent a new mode of ambulation,
of breathing, of being, because
in the world in which I move about there is neither water, nor earth,
neither air, nor fire, to warn me
beforehand if my means of locomotion should be swimming or flying, or
whether I should step forth with
two feet. Inventing the fifth element, the sixth, I am forced to revise my
compulsions, my customs, my
certitudes, because for instance to cut across from an aquatic life to a
terrestrial without first shifting the
determination of your breathing apparatus is equivalent to death.

The fourth dimension (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) the fifth element (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
the third sex (4, 5, 6, 7). I salute my
double, my triple. I peruse myself in the mirror and spy my face full of
eyes, of mouths, of ears, of ciphers.
Under the moon my body casts a shadow, a half-shadow, a ditch, a quiet lake,
an onion. I am indeed

I kiss the woman's mouth without her discerning whether she was poisoned,
chained inside a tower for a
thousand years, or whether she fell asleep with her head on the table.
Everything must be reinvented,
no-thing exists anymore in the whole world. Not even the things we can do
without, those things our
existence appears to depend on. Not even she, the lover, this supreme
certitude, her locks, her plasma we
disperse for her with such voluptuousness, our emotive apparatus which her
cryptic snicker unleashes
every afternoon at 4 o'clock, 4 o'clock, this would be enough, this
pre-established and dubious causality of
a 4 o'clock for us to suspect any ulterior embrace, any, but absolutely any
human initiative contains this
mitigating and mnemonic character of a 4 o'clock, even the fortuitous
encounters, the noteworthy
romances, even the suddenly striking crises of conscience.

I peruse the filthy blood of the man full of clocks, full of registers,
ready-made romances, full of fatal
complexes, full of limitations.

With a disgust I have learned to ignore, I propel myself among these
pre-staged personalities, among these
unending dependabilities, male and female humans, dogs, schools, mountains,
quotidian and faded
terrors and thrills. For a few thousand years now you put forth this
axiomatic humanoid of Oedipus,
propagate it like an obscurantist epidemic, the castration complex man, the
man of the natal trauma, upon
which you prop up your amorous encounters, your occupations, your neckties
and your purses, your
progress, your arts, your churches. I detest this natural son of Oedipus, I
disdain and abjure his
pre-established biology. And, if this is so because man is born, then all
that is left for me is to abjure birth,
abjure any axiom even if it boasts of the appearance of a certitude.
Upholding like a curse this quotidian
psychology-consequence of birth, we will never unearth the potential of
bursting into the world extrinsic of
the natal trauma. The man of Oedipus deserves his destiny. [...]

If the woman who entrances us doesn't invent herself before our eyes, if our
eyes don't abandon the
timeworn cliché of the image upon the retina, if they do not allow
themselves to be magnified, astonished,
surprised, and drawn into a region perpetually virgin, then all life appears
to me like an arbitrary fixation
upon some age of our childhood or of humanity, a mimicking of the lives of
others. Indeed, then life
becomes a theatrical routine where we interpret Romeo, Cain, Caesar, and
other macabre personages. With
these corpses we cross like coffins the distance that separates birth from
death, and it doesn't stun me that
the servile brain of humans could conceive a picture of life after death,
this simulacrum, this prefabrication,
this repulsive posturing of the pre-established and counter-revolution.

I breathe in the scent of my lover's locks as though we flared up into the
world for the first time. Anything
can occur in this world without a past, without points of reference, without
knowns. To breathe in the scent
of the lover's locks with forethought, incognizant and contemptible, to then
kiss her on the mouth, to shift
from the preliminaries to possession, from possession to a state of rest,
and then to a new state of arousal
seems to me the very prescription for the straightjacketing technique of
this congenital cliché which is the
human existence. If in executing this simple act: of breathing in the scent
of the lover's locks, we do not
gamble our life itself, we do not engage the destiny of the last atom of our
plasma and of the most distant
star, if in this modicum of a second in which we execute in their totality
our doubts, our riddles, our
disquiet, our most contradictory aspirations, then indeed love is, as the
pigs announce it, no more than a
digestive function to perpetuate the species. For me my lover's eyes are as
somber, as foggy, as vast, as any
star, and only in light-years should you measure the radium of the glances
she shoots me. It seems to me
almost as though the relationship of causality which connects the tides to
the moon phases is more curious
than this exchange of glances (of fulgurations) in which, like in a cosmic
bath, my destiny and the universe
resolve to collide as though in a tryst. Brushing with the tip of my finger
the lover's nipple, what occurs
then on the strata of stimulation is an actuality, but a partial actuality,
because anything could occur then
- this gesture will not simulate except on the level of the pictorial,
descriptive, the gestures of other
humans as well as my own - brushing then my lover's nipple I would be
stunned if it weren't abruptly
midnight, if her flesh weren't suddenly layered with lilies, or if the
bellman didn't bring me a letter
enclosed in a thousand envelopes. On these uncharted territories which the
lover, the chair, the drapes, the
mirrors, present us with, I blissfully abolish the eye that witnessed, the
lips that kissed, the brain that
reasoned, like match sticks that serve me, but only a single time.

Translated from the Romanian by Julian Semilian & Sanda Agalidi


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