PRIVILEGED

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“Boogieman”, “Beware of the boogieman” and “Don’t run away or the boogieman will get you”, are the earliest “pieces of advice” I can remember the cook and the gardener giving me as the night was falling. The creatures I found most disgusting in our house garden of the ‘1960s were the strange cockroach, the enormous beetle that appeared occasionally in our plot of strawberries, as well as the bats with their surprising trajectories between the pines and the withered palm tree. The imposed image of the boogieman did not impress me that much. In my childhood imagination, the boogieman was not a major creature – he was mainly dark, chaotic and without features. A creature without features is a creature with no personality even in the world of fear…

The first characters with personality that inhabited the images of my childhood and cleared away the chaos would nobly emerge from my grandpa’s tales at the Durrës beach. The magic of grandpa Loni would begin in the evening before sleeping in the veranda room, where we laid on hot nights. The sound of the waves would inject the shivers in me of a prelude to be followed by the most famous creations of the human imagination. As I asked him to tell me the next story, grandpa Loni would always give a chuckle first. It is widely known the premonition of the grandpa who has a story ready for his grandson, who loves to narrate and even create a little bit for his grandson.

Polyphemus, the Minotaur, Argus, the Gorgon Medusa or Scylla and Charybdis were truly frightful figures, as they were creations of an imagination that did not exclude any of their links with cosmic or earthly harshness. The blind forces of sky and earth would combine with the perversity and irrationality of human behavior, modeling in these mythological monsters the symphony of evil. The forces of good would be shaped in the figures of the most beloved heroes who filled in the other side of the medal, Hercules, Theseus, Perseus, Jason or Ulysses. As creations of an imagination which found harmony in each relation it had with the universe, those figures represented everything virtuous, beautiful and majestic that the world perceived by antiquity could project into the human subject.

The phenomenal universe was thus personified in a variegated world of ideal subjects, a world that functioned every time the border between reality and the figure would vanish. The cleavage of that border constituted the premise of creation, the aim of knowledge and the challenge against the “nothingness” which bears no features and no personality. The anger of Achilles, the trickery of Ulysses, the beauty of Helen and every event that put human traces into the eternalizing mechanisms of symbol and art, were the only believable and dignified magic for the child. Divine and human elements had to come together and become one in the imagination of the young boy who would face the light of day and the darkness of night. It was the true ritual of Initiation, it was the privileged height – built according to the laws of creation – where people and gods communicated without sinning. 

Only through art could one communicate with the divine principle. The reality was not art. Nor was the copy art: the copy implied the success of simulation in the face of what is real, an implication both ridiculous and insulting to art. The experience of photography had affirmed the immortal values of the visual arts and shown that even the art of photography was not “the copy.” The mythological images were not copies of reality. The figures of mythology were creations that evoked art and inspired art for centuries and millennia. Mythology was not an adobe ziggurat (Ziggurat – (Akkadian ziggurat) a massive construction built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley, having the form of terraced step pyramids.).

***

In the clear morning I looked at the line the horizon where the sky met the sea and I could hardly believe that that image was real. The majestic view penetrated every cell of my body along with my breathing and made me feel privileged. Close to my feet, ants moved around over the soil, inside and outside their conic panopticon (A building in a circular shape designed for the first time by Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century.) which resembled a perfect micro-Babel (This alludes to the Tower of Babel according to the “Book of Genesis” – the enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar by a community of the generations following the Great Flood; it is assumed that it was the most ancient Sumerian ziggurat. In Akkadian, “babilim” means “Gate of the God”.). I would level that fragile edifice with my foot, convinced that they were going to build it again in the same place or somewhere else.

continue..


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