Symbols too of beauty and power. A lump in my pocket. Symbols spoiled by greed and misery" JJ: Ulysses p30
"After which harrowing denouement sufficient to appal the stoutest he snapped the blade to and stowed the weapon in question away as before in his chamber of horrors, otherwise pocket" p584
But you are not here. You are in my thoughts, but you are not here. You are dead. You are in my thoughts, but I am not in yours. And I realize that this might be the most painful thing about my loss: once we were in each other’s thoughts, but now you only exist in my mind and I do not exist in yours.
I can’t accept that you are dead. I miss you so much and my mind constantly makes up these stories where you are alive and we do things together. I tell you what I see in this city, but you do not listen anymore. I keep walking and I do get lost some times, but not enough to disappear.
If you want to lose yourself, then do not go to an isolated hut in a dark forest. No, go to a place with a lot of people: a sweaty dance floor, a crowded bus, a busy street with Christmas shoppers. In that crowd I start to doubt where the smell comes from – is it me or the person next to me? Or whose stomach made that rumbling sound in the cinema?
Suddenly I get a glimpse of you among the millions of other people, but guess what? ... Yes, we have all seen that film. It wasn’t you.
I spend all ten hours of my train journey just looking out of the window. Actually I am not really looking, I imagine pictures. Pictures that I am working on or future pictures that I would like to make. And I think about people I know: I think about you and I imagine you and me together. We talk, we do things together. It’s all there in the landscape.
Sometimes you describe an image of you and me together. You say: I could be there next to you. We say: We could do this together and at the same time we imagine it. We see a picture of us travelling together or shopping together or making a film together. It may never happen, but the shared image works like glue. We are in the same picture and it makes our bond stronger.
Last night, in a bar, I overheard a conversation between two people. They talked about travelling. They talked about travelling on a train, the gentleness of the train’s motion, how the landscape passes by the window and how the thoughts wander freely. The man told the woman about the Trans-Mongolian line, from Moscow to Beijing. “It takes a week,” he said, “and I wouldn´t mind being on that train with you”. There was a small pause and then she said, with a very quiet voice, and I had to listen carefully: “and I would like to go with you.” At this moment, I imagined that they were both imagining a picture of them together on the train.
Later that day I went to the theatre. It was experimental theatre and the three actors recited different Kafka texts into empty air. They were speaking as if the others were not there. I am sure there was a perfectly sound artistic reason for this, but I found myself longing for the actors to speak to each other. I had this urge to speak to them, to start some sort of dialogue, but I was too shy to do that. It reminded me of Facebook, that place where we all speak into empty air, but rarely to each other.
A friend of mine has an exhibition right now where two voices are heard reading a text in the exhibition space. The text was written by this friend, and it represents the same voice, but with two slightly different perspectives. That is why he has asked two people to read this text, and I am one of the voices. Yesterday the other voice and I were part of a group who visited this exhibition again. The other voice and I were listening to our voices and joking about what kind of perspective this might have for us as a pair of voices – other voice “jobs” maybe, or maybe we should enter the world of the spoken word... Yes, we were joking, but what our friend had done to our voices also had a strong effect on me. He had created this intimate space that surprised me. A seductive space that I enjoyed being in. Normally I don’t like to listen to my own voice, but here I was seduced by it.
This morning in the bathroom I heard The XX on the radio through the door. What I like so much about The XX is the two voices of a man and a woman who sing together. The dynamic between their voices constantly changes. Sometimes there is a dialogue between them, sometimes they sing as if they are one. I can almost see their voices in front of me as a drawing: the lines are twisted, twirled, parallel, braided, woven. Moving towards each other, moving apart.
The people that I view as my friends are closer than ever here in Rome. I have the time to see through their eyes. One friend lent me a book to read on my journey – I read the book and I think about how my friend was reading the book before me. Sometimes a word or a sentence is underlined with a barely visible pencil. Another friend gave me a book related to the darkness studies I am working on. In the bathroom I notice some creases in the shower curtain and see them through the eyes of a friend who is in New York now. I took some pictures and mailed them. A friend in Rotterdam shared some links with me. And one friend living in London recommended a crime novel set in Rome, written by an Italian author. I found the book in a bookstore and now we are reading it at the same time.
I think about the phrase ‘A system of touch’. A psychoanalyst once told me about a theory of touch; this is how we survive mentally, through a feeling of being touched by other people. Not necessarily physically (though let’s not underestimate that), but mentally. I found this phrase as a headline for an article about a visual artist’s work, but the phrase is never explained in the text. I google it and come across braille – the writing and reading system used by the blind. Interestingly this originates from a touch-reading system called night-writing, used by soldiers during war. I also realise that ‘A system of touch’ is the name of a band from the eighties. But whether ‘A system of touch’ is a theory or a text by someone, I don’t know, maybe you can tell me? What I do know is that a system of touch makes a lot of sense to me.
We are friends and I do like to pass the day with you in serious and inconsequential chatter. I wouldn't mind washing up beside you, dusting beside you, reading the back half of the paper while you read the front. We are friends and I would miss you, do miss you and think of you very often