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domingo, abril 12, 2009

Again, The Problem Of Reality

I'm fascinated and return again to mysterious objects. This time it's an entire city.

Italo Calvino tells us of this invisible city:
When you have forded the river, when you have crossed the mountain pass, you suddenly find before you the city of Moriana, its alabaster gates transparent in the sunlight, its coral columns supporting pediments encrusted with serpentine, its villas all of glass like aquariums where the shadows of dancing girls with silvery scales swim beneath the Medusa-shaped chandeliers. If this is not your first journey, you already know that cities like this have an obverse: you have only to walk a semi-circle and you will come into view of Moriana's hidden face, an expanse of rusting sheet metal, sack cloths, planks bristling with spikes, pipes black with soot, piles of tins, behind walls with fading signs, frames of staved-in straw chairs, ropes good only for hanging oneself from a rotten beam.

From one part to the other, the city seems to continue, in perspective, multiplying its repertory of images: but instead it has no thickness, it consists only of a face and an obverse, like a sheet of paper, with a figure on either side, which can neither be separated nor look at each other.
Alas, the city is a two dimensional solid, another escapee from the chasm between waking and dreaming.

This might remind you, as it does me, of Jorge Luis Borges' "The Disk," a story from The Book of Sand (El Libro de Arena)(1975), in which we find the "Disk of Odin":
"It is the disk of Odin," the old man said in a patient voice, as though he were speaking to a child. "It has but one side. There is not another thing on earh that has but one side. So long as I hold it in my hand I shall be king."

In the moments between sleep and wakefulness these objects seem tangible to me The city is flat, but it's a city. The disk glimmers. I know I'm dreaming, but I try to remember to hold onto the dream so that I will be able to examine it more fully when I am awake. But as I awake, as my sleep falls away, the fallacy arises, and the object I am clenching so tightly in my fist, disappears. What was it? I wonder, how could that be? What was that? But it's gone.

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