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Tesseract 2 & My Elusive Polish offices
Introduction to a novel, 2008
Failing to recall name, place, occupation, relations etc upon awakening
a stain of new geometry with new epistemological problems grew as mercury,
a privileged position to start asking questions
(An amoeba is nothing but a morphology, the particular morphology of not having a determined bodyshape, and of walking and eating by throwing out pseudopodia, constantly changing)
But here it seems we are walking like battleships through ontological layers
tearing them to fleshy pieces, or more likely not, as we pass,
layered much like danish pastry but most of them not immediately accessible
if not by stretching out as a ghost
and then the very boundaries between layers may facilitate such fast transportation
reducing friction to almost nothing
(If history is perpetually bifurcating, geometry might be too)
So that is why I have to invent such an elaborated character gallery
love's labor in a straitjacket
employ as help sciences dream geography, general methodology, pansexual phenomenology and poetic epistemology,
rejuvenate art and the death star
to reinvent friction and reinvent awakening-
MY ELUSIVE POLISH OFFICES
(dream January 2008)
For Anna & Johannes Bergmark
It all begins with this vague chorus, a happy pop song heard at a distance when falling asleep or waking up, a happy pop song with perhaps some weird discordant intervals and phrasings, a creepingly madly happy pop song. It appears to try to compel me to do things. Mostly I resist, not because of mental strength but simply because Iím busy anyway. It seems not to be in the lyrics. If I work hard to hear the words, they donít make sense. Itís not english or swedish, and it doesnít seem to be played backwards either, the sounds arenít right. It sounds more slavic, it could be russian, or polish, but it doesnít seem to have the right structure. It could be polish played backwards.
I have been looking into the geography of the places you seem to keep returning to in dreams, which very often produce an instant feeling of recognition and belonging together with a sense of dťjŗ vu, so that you know you have kept returning there even if there is no earlier accounts of the fact. Quite the opposite then is the type of places which only vague external evidence link you to, they bring about no memories and only the vaguest most uncanny sensations of recognition, it seems like you have been there a lot and had very good reasons to deny it completely, all too completely.
There is a particular file of bibliographical raw data that I keep leafing through on a regular basis to look for some references or just to get some casual suggestions or advanced chance ideas. Occasionally, in that file, a sheet of paper turns up, in my own handwriting, in polish. I know no polish. So I donít know what it says. I look up and hope the paper will not be there when I look down again, but itís not that easy. The sheet remains. It has no heading, appears to be a paper snatched by chance from a long report, a long abstract, or a long set of excerpts. And it remains there. I donít think it is the same sheet every time, probably not, but I canít know that. It has occurred to me I should show it to someone who knows polish (a lot of people do that, at least if they are from Poland), but I can never find the sheet again. Something came inbetween. It only disappears when your mind isnít set on it.
Vague inner voices keep scolding me. Haha, youíre not supposed to remember that! Itís all from your time in Poland of course! Itís all from the history of the polish office, which doesnít exist! No one is allowed to talk about the polish office. We thought that all had been finally arranged. Some erased years here, some erased years there.
I canít really tell whether these voices came out of that vague chorus, or if they were just the instant rhetoric shape of the banal conspiration fantasies triggered.
Obviously there are forgotten identities, forgotten periods in life. Thatís not very controversial, is it? Itís just difficult to prove. Itís kind of epistemologically paradoxical. I seem to remember, for example, my short life as a writer, my short life as a boyfriend, my short life as an american, but of course I canít list the ones I canít remember.
If I work really hard to imagine a polish office, it usually starts with something from a 60s or early 70s film, with the bright colors, sorrowless disorientation and compulsory clumsiness appropriate to it. But thatís just a clichť. There is some kind of popular image of a perpetual 70s going on in large parts of eastern Europe. Doubting this image, it turns out that this office is just the secret pathway to the real office, behind the coats in the cloakroom. The real office is in black and white, very strict. Young men in strict suits, smoking pipes; serious women who never look up. Rather silent, but the sound of running water can be discerned. Perhaps it is the potted plants singing. It doesnít seem to be a purely bureaucratic business going on, there are numerous references to production and there seems to be scientific and technological expertise around. Chemical-technical? Again the banal conspiration fantasies take over, and I am violently thrown out into the street.
Under assault by scolding voices again. No, itís not a pun about ďpolish orificesĒ. What would polish orifices be? According to some absurd racist jokes which were popular in the 60s, itís probably the armpits. I must ask some ethnologist if those polish jokes were translations of american polish jokes, or just superficially tidied jew jokes, or both. But the armpits are not orifices! And if another saying comes to mind, the classic swedish homophobic ďBšttre en rŲvare i Polen šn en polare i rŲvenĒ (Better a robber in Poland than a pal in the ass), this actually associates Poland to the anus only by contrast and not by identification. Yes it would seem that the notion of Poland would rest on polarity. Something about the polarity switch in the major branch of organisms we belong to, the deuterostomes, where the primeval mouth switched to anus and vice versa? So, have I managed to escape any difficult insights yet?
The polish branch was set up by emissaries from several nearby countries, including Sweden, repeatedly over the last decades but always only working for three years in succession before getting closed down and all traces wiped away. But after a while this business was getting rationalised, and all of the furniture and equipment was just stowed away inbetween. Papers were starting to vanish. Something had to be done. No, Iím just making this up, but perhaps this is one method of reconstructing the truth in the absence of others?
In fact, I always wanted to be the polish nation banner. The lower half of the body covered in blood, the upper half entirely blank.
And I did learn a few words in polish in secondary school, when I was in love with a polish girl, who knew almost no swedish. I wrote her long love letters in swedish anyway, I thought throwing in one or two polish words on each page might help keeping her interest up enough to glance through the whole letters. In school, I always offered her Donald Duck fruit drops. For her sake, I did hang out a lot with the polish gang in the school. But the others were all much more talkative. But no one ever tried to talk me out of this absurd courtship. At least not that I remember.
The polish words I sometimes got from someone else in the polish gang, but even more often from my little german-polish dictionary, small, cubic, bright red. One of my favorite books. Remarkably similar, in fact, to the worldís most comprehensive anthology of surrealist poetry, the german surrealist anthology Das surrealistische Gedicht. I tried and tried, but mysteriously failed for twenty years to order this book from the publishers. Probably I already had the width of surrealist poetry in the german-polish dictionary. But now that I recently succeeded in ordering the book, perhaps I killed that myth? So then I have to write this story to tie up the sack?
No, I got specific instructions that I had to write this story, and that it had to be in english, I think it was the only instruction from that vague chorus that I couldnít resist obeying.
Waking up entirely, the chorus is twisted into something recognisable. It is an Olivia Tremor Control song, suggesting ďWhere we are Ė in the blink of an eye, you get several meaningsĒ (ďA peculiar noise called Ďtrain directoríĒ). What? Hey! No! I didnít get any meaning out of this!
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