by Ştefan Bolea
translated by Oana Popovici
click aici pentru versiunea română
The Herg Benet Publishing House opens an exciting chapter in the post-post-December Romanian literature (so post-, that maybe we should stop referring to 1989 as being our zero historical year, and decide upon 2010 instead!). Taking pride in its avant-garde and nonconformist poetry publications as well as in its virtual cult novels, the publishing house that already celebrated its one-year anniversary, could have a brilliant future through the exhibition and unveiling of the traditional Romanian Untergrund that murmurs like a volcano under the heavy concrete. Can you hear the clatter? It’s the Earth’s call…
1. “And I looked around and there it was – a dirty-yellow horse and the rider’s name was: Death; and Hell was chasing him behind…”
The first knight: Cristina Morgothya Nemerovschi – Satanic Blood (note for the feminists: knights were multigender!)
“In the grey and endless nights I often put myself to comfort with the thought that this world is so filthy, shapeless and stupid that no matter how deep I may plunge into misery, no matter how much I would abate away the stringency and I would give in to my sweet heart, the black witch that is tearing my flesh, causing my organs to bleed and slowly, treacherously and concisely killing my neurons, whenever I will see my reflection in the water or into the mirror, I know I will always remain the most wonderful human being that ever existed on Earth.” What an intro! “Vanity – my favorite sin!” (a statement understood as a call for transforming vices into virtues) So much vanity! But could this idea be expressed otherwise? Definetly not! If we were to look upon this with an eagle eye, everything is an ecclesiastic vainness, everything is misery – whereas when we focus the attention towards our souls, our microcosmos is, as Culianu also suggests, infinitely wider than the macrocosmos. “I am a king within myself.” Everything we need is within ourselves and it is difficult (if not impossible!) to attack the solipsism. So by oscillating between an exaggerate feeling of inferiority and, correspondingly, an exaggerate trust within one’s own being, with an eye we see the misery and the vainness, while with the other we see how complete, unique and more than perfect we are (“Quit being perfect! Let’s evolve!”). Before being a project of destruction of our society, Satanic Blood is a love novel. A love that mingles with hate and eventually explodes like Nietzsche’s spirit in Torino.
2. “Come and see. And I looked and there it was, a black horse and its rider had a scale in his hand.”
The second knight: Răzvan T. Coloja – The Red Crop (a blast from Oradea!).
Palahniuk’s shadow wafts above us like a kite sent from Hell. Palahniuk endowed us with eloquentness, the same way Tyler speaks with our mouth. (And it is at this moment that I would like to present my regards to the young poet from Basarabia Ion Buzu, him and his readers know better why). Whoever did not fight after seeing Fight Club is a flop! If you walk around the Romanian rural area, especially around the historical Maramureş, carrying Coloja’s book in your pocket, don’t forget to take with you some matches and gas … „One day, after the Third World War will have finished and the survivors will have crawled their way out of the ruins, hunger and disease will keep them busy enough that whichever manifestation of religion will have lost its meaning. Two generations from now and their children’s children will assault whatever will be left of the churches, opening brothels and paramilitary centers of operation in pulpits. The charity box will be the place where the highest in rank will deposit their munition, and the robes with elaborate designs will be used as bandages for those wounded in battles.” From a dystopian perspective, we could ask ourselves how the post-religious man would look like. How does a hunter’s and gatherer’s society look like at the end of a historical period and of a civilization that lost its meaning? The West is dead, long live the postmodern East. Playing Mozart with a cobza and in an Eastern tonality, the robotic Sheherezada will speak foreign languages and will give us all quests that will be even more memorable than those given by the Delphi Oracle.
3. “And another horse appeared, red as fire, and its rider was assigned the mission to take away the peace from humanity, people to stab one another; and a big sword was given to him.”
The third knight: Lucian Mareş – The Evil’s Diary (The true Conan of the Romanian literature).
If someone could bestir a social riot (or even metaphysical one), like those from London or Athens (that are so much regretted by part of the unsatisfied, contra-cultural Romanian elite), a Saint Bartholomew’s Night (spiritual or not, just as with Cioran), then that someone is Mareş. You feel like breaking windows or pushing away with your body 100 obstacles, all for his novel. But what is of interest and not only in the case of Mareş, but of all the knights in general, is the way he plays with religion. They are not atheists, but antitheists. If Nietzsche is considered to be one of the most profound religious spirits in history, then the spiritualism of these authors (even expressed à rebours) confers them a deep and complex essence: They are the true insiders, not the ones whose belief emerges out of collusion, those who give their consent without understanding or those who are obedient for they fear punishment. And those who have a sheep mentality will shout “There comes the wolf!” without understanding that the prose writers are critical of an infamous shape of religion, without excluding the authentic devotion and a superior faith that is alimented by the elusory lack of faith. When you instantaneously kill, you lose all the relish. The fast crime is only efficient. No passion and no sublime feeling is invested in it. Strangling, drowning, impaling, slow torturing, flaying, mutilation, are all sublime ways of killing that manage to keep the beauty, the charm and the symbolic meaning of death. All the slow killing methods have a contemplating valence, and contemplation brings illumination. Slow killing resembles a prayer.”
4. “And I saw the moment when the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four beings thundering: Come and see. And I looked around and there it was, a white horse and its rider had an arch; and he was offered a chaplet and he started off as a winner wishing to gain victory.”
The fourth knight: Ştefan Bolea-Gothic.
I’ll be quick because I don’t want to “brush myself up”. I discovered that the poems, even if not real, in time, do acquire a certain value of truth. I often lively feel my own verse, sometimes as a victory, some other times as a punishment. Yesterday, as I was walking through the city, I realized that the first poem from Gothic expresses a real, undisputable truth:
“ in the vicinity of my tomb
lovers pass by
tourist ride bikes, elders walk their dogs
and young summer brings about fresh hay aromas
although I am buried alive.”
Sometimes death is truer than life (although life may be more frightening). Sometimes we must descend into hell to find awakening.
The three knights’ books are at the moment only available in Romanian and can be ordered here. Place them on the same book shelf where you keep your Bible.