Sunday, September 6, 2009

The raindrop that killed the summer

Someone sent me this picture as an attachment many years ago and I kept it. It stirred within me a feeling of melancholy, and longing, of some lost memory that was curiously rekindled. The little boy looks down on the beach; he does not want to leave, not just yet. But summer is over. The woman struddles along, she looks away, she knows the future, she's seen it happen before. There is no one around, just the two of them. And the sky, and the sand, both of which fade into grey. Perhaps there is an autumn storm on its way to the beach. Maybe the mother quickens her step to make sure they arrive under a dry roof soon. And yet I cannot help but thinking like the little boy. If ever was possible to stay a little longer. If ever was for that first raindrop of autumn not to kill the summer right off.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The air was crisp. It was winter, but not like any other winter I had ever witnessed. It was the winter of ghosts. They came into the houses of the small town by the river's edge, they sat at the dinner tables, they looked gloomy and rarely uttered a word; but sometimes they did, and people would share with them the little that they had, hoping that by dawn the ghosts would leave never to return. 
Then in the village came the dream doctor of Macedonia, weary of time, the years he lived, the roads he had travelled. He sat alone in a table in the only restaurant, by the church, under the starry sky, in the crisp winter air. He ordered dinner. The ghosts gathered around him and he spoke with them for hours, and days. The doctor's voice was as low and the ghosts'. Less than a whisper. Lighter than light. And then night came once more, and nothing was the same again.

The Mission Diaries 1

The task that befell the High Office was to assemble a mission to conduct a methodical search for the lost island. It was a decision that many in the High Office dreaded. So when the paper with the order arrived - by official post so that the regular excuses for endless delay would not hold the slightest water - dread gave way to exasperation. A committee was put together hastily, leaves were cancelled, lights were switched on for working deep into the hours of night, and they threw themselves into the Archives in search of potential members for such a mission. They studied the tales of Jason and the Argonauts, the Odyssey, the Aineiad; and took notes of a thorough list of skills that a team ought to combine; unmatched mastery in the martial arts, superhuman navigational instinct, indomitable courage, unparalleled engineering genius, and most importantly, formidable psychic powers that could bend space-time at will. The Committee went through the phone book and called a few numbers. In the following days a long line of applicants appeared outside the High Office’s office building, a twisting snake of eagerly-awaiting hopefuls. Centuries later, when word of the island’s whereabouts and the fate of the mission finally reached our world, it became clear that the selection process was erratic, not to put it in any finer words. It was said that among the crew a certain fellow, a borrowed soul from a novel not yet written, a conjurer of dreams, was destined to lead the mission through the most treacherous of waters, and that it was thanks to him that the mission did not lose its way completely, that it managed to circumnavigate the Sea of Emotions and the Spheres of Galactic Apprehension and then ride on the spiral Nebulas of Ignorance, and then…Oh, but their story never ends. And in so far as that dreamer fellow is concerned, the Archives speak mostly of his infamous talent; to enter minds like a worm enters a fruit, to burrow all the way to their nucleus, to see things that no mind could ever see by itself. His name was Cyrus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The nomadic texts

It began as a simple translation. The civil servants who still resided idly at the Archives, not having anything better to do with their time, spending their working hours doing no work at all, decided to practice their language skills. They chose a text at random. (No one knows what the initial text was). At first, the text was translated in a language that one of them had a very sketchy, knowledge of. In fact, he had knowledge only of its existence, not of the language itself. Luckily, in the Archives, there was a grammar book written by a dead scholar, a singular world expert in that forgotten language, and the servants used it as a guide. A peculiar characteristic of that language was that verbs migrated. Perhaps because the people who originally spoke that language were migrants too, lost souls wandering the vastness of grassy steppes. Their spoken words travelled up and down their sentences, as if the horizon was nowhere, changing their meaning, as one would have to do if one lived inside an immutable medium. For example, if one intended to say “tomorrow I will meet you at the battlefield,” but changed his mind half way while uttering the sentence, he could simply transpose the verb, and the sentence could read any odd perturbation such as, “the battle is for tomorrow but I will not be there”, or “tomorrow is a fine day to battle”, or “meet me tomorrow and we shall see what happens”, etc.

At first, the civil servants found their game an amusing one. The initial text was made to mean increasingly different things, verbs jumped sentences as if by their own will, and every time they translated back and forth, the text – or should we now set texts – became alive, like a swarm, like a superorganism, a like a nest of nomadic ants seeking a place to entomb their colony. Several days later, the merriness of the civil servants that was to be heard by passers-by, as they played their language game and laughed at the ever more meaningless results, ceased. No one paid attention at the beginning, assuming that the servants had become bored at long last, and had fled the Archives, for there was no reason for them to be there in the first place, the whole Civil Service having been defunct since the island’s disappearance. When they were found, years later, or eons, or tomorrow in the battle, they met.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Etherwave Proxima Q

The technology is rather simple, I am told. A square wooden box, big enough for an average sized human to crouch within, painted blue or green on the outside. It is important that water is somehow present, perhaps a glass of water placed nearby; although the word “water”, written in any language, or even insinuated, would also suffice. One does not have to enter the box. It is however imperative to imagine oneself inside: eyes closed, relaxed, without worries or concerns, as if about to depart on a long and pleasant journey. The box is to be placed in an open space, a field of grass or, preferably, a desert. One does not have to be near it. In fact, the most famous virtuosos of Etherwave Proxima Q usually sit hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of miles away from their instruments. Sounds are produced spontaneously by the instrument. Players do not produce sounds and cannot make the instrument produce sounds either. They can only modulate, shape and hopefully re-compose the haphazardly-produced sounds into music. Trained players can force sounds into the natural scale by simply thinking about it. And can control pitch by breathing deep, or shallow, increasing or decreasing respectively. Weather permitting (storms are better than windless days, and hurricane season better still), one can tune the instrument into a full-blown orchestra. Recent reports suggest that sunspot activity may affect tonality and polyphonic spectrum. But it is too early for conclusions. The psychic overhead of monitoring the sun’s chaotic patterns while at the same time imagining sounds is too burdensome and one has yet to come with a full-scale piece of solar etherwave worthy of public performance.