Da pacem Domine (Give peace, Lord)
The white sky of this early Sunday morning is illuminating the
playground, the building. The rasping sound of fine twigs further emblazing the space. The building, painted in the last season, resembles my Institute library, University hostel, houses near the Halil river of Dasht-e Lut desert, their doors and windows. The fallen leaves of the oak trees, blown down from the hills, their intricate net of veins and laminae are highlighted by the slanted light. And I realize I might never understand these structures, their origins, their details.
Before this dream, before entering in my room blurred in the twilight, before curling in my bed like an embryo — my head on a pillow, legs drawn up, hands folded in between — I was reading Dostoevsky. I was buying summer fruits in a market in Istanbul. I was heading north-west on a narrow village road. I was in an old congregation, isolated from the world, listening to Christ’s last words: "Consummatum est," "It is completed." Later, in the night, I was resolutely arranging the fruits on a porcelain plate in which white glints of the moonlight seemed eternal.
Like the manuscript’s first page, I am standing wordless in the open. Students, in the coruscated corridors, are discussing their autumn examination. Discovering the new sections, lists of repetitive questions, strange scripts, ancient symbols, and alphabets. It is extraordinary the way existing world replicates itself as in the mountains delicate vines intertwine together strand by strand, year after year, imitating the growth of inner helical structures. And yet our appearances, mine outside and
theirs in the building, do not seem like a confrontation with the same reality but a revelation of a fresh one. The subliminal and tenacious nature of truth seems unapproachable: its known aspects are studied, materialized in languages by philosophers – Greeks, Germans, Austrians, Englishmen. But we do not know who we are; what it means to be can not be expressed. In moonshine, when windows of my Institute flutter in the wind, on their walk along the riverside, they discuss eternity, being and time. Their invisibility, their unmistakable presence.
In the common area, girls are rehearsing a chorus piece. Music, an evening breeze beneath a marshland sky, draws an unknown ocean nearer and asks the listener to step inside.
When I entered the Aspendos Theatre, Turkey, in another time, a play was running in the dark depth of violin – I drifted with pedestrians and taxis. We were lead to the Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai, where an accident had happened. An eight-month pregnant woman had died. Died, péthane, gestorben, shibō shimashita, meghalt, mortuus est ... "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart." – Psalm 34. "On our earth we can only love with suffering and through suffering," the Russian writer’s words echoed from the surface of the cold mist. And the eyes of mass wandered while not certain of their wandering. Scanning impulsively movie posters, portraits of laughing and crying people, swaying barks of coconut trees, recurring thoughts of death hitting the rocks on the coastline. The woman had died, but I could not think of her, I could only think of that unborn child, the sleeping embryo with that folded little feet and palms, who could not see the world but had to confront the consequences of being in the world. Remorse emerged, thoughts emerged with a secret and inexpressible sorrow. I hated myself for being there, for seeing. With the guilt, anxieties, I followed the indifferent towers, towers without lights, without people, bars, boards in B minor, adagio bridges, concrete crescendos, fading sense of the seamless night. The receding silence left me on a barren shore with a wish to return to the memory of an apartment whose windows open towards a lit ground. I followed the faint music of mares’ steps, the rhythm of wheels, the war songs, the humming sounds of passing ships, the rustle of dark outside factories, the staves of transmission lines.
And I stand this morning to see the playground, the building. I see the tracks that return to my table and plates. Before this, before the separation of the knowns and the unknowns, I have often felt, I was allowed to live another time, to see the world, to write on few more pages on my diaries. In the building, inside the library, on pages of the philosophy books, the readers meet writings on the noteless nights. The nights in which a person can look inside more clearly than the outside. The nights that end at the noted balconies, doors that reclaim their certainty by the daylight.
In the bright rooms of the ground floor, paintings of the 17th-century Dutch master illuminate the details of little things – peaches, oranges, and their fresh leaves. Creating tiny fluttering moments free from the overwhelming things of the world. From the western wall side, scattered canvases, piled on the stairs, connect the centuries but in the gaps, a voiceless hush prevails. At the entrance, a notice board faces an interminable absence. And in the middle -- countless administrative papers that would cover the entire earth, advertisements of new plays of spring, sketches of animals in the wind, pictures of trees, drawings of running vehicles, gigantic machines. Numerous phrases, numbers, words reappearing, reemerging, returning, restating again ... The world repeats itself in different musical notes, different letters, different names, different continents.
A sparrow perches near the first-floor railing.
On the north-west road, sheep huddle together
along the trails of rice fields.
Outside a serene place, in a hillside,
an elderly Yiddish woman stands in the 19th-century weeds and old oak trees, and she sings –
"Shluf mayn kind in a gliklekhn shluf. Shulf, inter mayn lid. Di bist nokh tsi ying tsi erfiln dayn shtruf ...," Sleep my child, sleep happily. Sleep under my song. You are still too young to carry out your punishment ...,
while picking berries and flowers in an overgrown garden.
Two men are playing cards in a grayish sitting of a local café in one of the quintet of oil paintings from Cézanne’s final period. In the next room, eight musicians in their black coats are gathered — seated, leaned, standing — around a piano in a painting by Henri Fantin-Latour. Another day at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, 6:00 pm. Outside, the Seine river, its wavering water. The turning, tilting, shifting hue of pavement trees. The
glitter of buildings, ferries, restaurants.
While walking towards the metro, a sense arose and dissolved in me, fluttered like a passing wind, that the unknown of each painting is trying to come out in the light.
Months later, another dusk. Swift flow of traffic on the highway. Government residences of Bangalore, India, built in the 1950s. Return of paddlers and laborers in their tartan shirts. From my apartment, I see the falling night, its shimmering streets. I am also seen from the outside.
It is a silent place near the establishments like a museum wall that juts out in the vision and separates two different worlds – one busy, continually shifting, other in an oceanic stillness. I inherit the light, but it has been reshuffled to the other side. I sit in a wooden chair, and the wavering sheen from glasses projects my reflections, and reflection of projections multiplies like thoughts. I am surrounded by colleagues. I am one of the village peasants. I am among the people in the paintings of Millet, Courbet, Pissarro, Sisley. Like the portrait of a person constructed in different years, each projection differs slightly from the other. Like the piano keys, my projections cover the entire landscape. Approaching me now from many past centuries. They, like the tourists traipsing on the roads, look in separate directions while the evening deluges corner of the houses, edges of the underpass, outline of the bridges. They know one half of the earth. The other half is hidden and has to be imagined. There are difficulties in calculating the zero. There is a search for centers on all canvases. For geography, geometry, arithmetic, kinaesthetic senses. For the places where the earth blackens, the way the music flares, wriggling of the last moments, intense rain, mud, sun, and flies. Like Mesopotamian and Egyptian gods, they try to balance their actions. But scintillation of the chaos too, as they do, multiplies like emotions. It has been twenty centuries, but it is too early. They do not know the patterns in which the play develops; the way the dragon takes its turn. Sketches on which numbers become tracks do not trace the future. After countless decades, the meandering river is still imprévisible.
The stray dogs, rummaging near a tea shop, bark on the flaring cars. I look at the far-off winking lights, take a book on the life of Wagner. Centuries pass by. Nothing noticeable happens. Between the hours of wait and mute staring from the polished frames, only the dry, dark leaves fall from the autumnal branches. In the spring, a mechanic takes a bus at a little place on the map and meadows of low hills sway in the noon light. Everything else remains static in the flow of time. Only the emptiness retraces its way on the pages like an invisible rivulet that flows between ledges of the lines, and the unknown remains unpredictable. The numbness of countless clear evenings, in which they could not hear the gong, could only observe the nearby things, slanted by the summer’s sun, could read only the white and black of today and yesterday, fill the pages with indecipherable signs.
In the deep hieroglyphic forest of the musical notes, that was hidden like the background of a painting and not noticed till now, invisible like the time, a mass of people in thick greenery arrives. ( They can not be seen, but I hear their whisperings in the loud rustle of leaves.) There was no movement as if nothing had been displaced for ages. Consciously, delicately kept in a specific profile. But the movement starts as a series of irregular spurs, and in moments, it becomes rhythmic, just as here, their every step sounds like voices – recognizable, clear. Their hidden selves come out, in anxiety and fear, like yellow fumes of butterflies. And for few fleeting moments, on the muddy foot-path of an old European village, their crowd appear crying, howling, laughing uncontrollably and ungodly,
possessing the ancient urge to sense the presence of things on the opposite side – notions, concepts, the living, the future forms. At the foothill of new texts, their images disappear in the nautical twilight. The resolution of views suddenly defeated by the dark. The fluttering butterflies as if unable to escape the earth, the soldiers run madly in the meadows.
A tram filled with neon-like-light and people recedes in the direction of Montsouris. A sense arose in me that I can not discern these projections of remarkable lights and shadows – mine or theirs, when I sit alone in a room or when I walk among strangers – not clear enough before I die. One evening when I will die in a countryside, all my selves will see each other, they will sit in a circle near a huge bonfire.
Beyond the dogs, roads, vehicles, buildings — the rows of distant trees, their green wavering stilts. I try to listen to their faint song from my apartment. My entire experience does not occupy any space in which the world lives. Where I am in between two frames, two movements, two boundaries; others are in between infinite frames, movements, boundaries. There is a mismatch in our sights. It puts us behind the glasses. It makes the world hazy. Limited. After the glasses, in the shade and open, indifferent travelers slink on the seine of sett pavings as if stepping on the black and white piano keys. Where vanishing light is getting cold on the bodies of marble statues, where the moonlit breeze, in quiet, will clean the footprints, perfused in the crowd, they, after roaming in the day, stride hurriedly towards residences of the obsidian nights carrying folded pamphlets, tickets under their arms, the way explorers of yesterday retreat, but in the opposite direction, without the wind of words, without the hushed storm of foreign voices.