Zone, the Forbidden City

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Zone, the Forbidden City

When I start to think about the Balkans, I freeze. I get tangled and wrapped up in myself. A fear hides in me, that does not want to be found out, so it puts me into a static state of still agony, leaving even more of the bitter taste that prevents me from expressing myself clearly. The easiest thing to do would be to present a pattern. Narration may only be concrete and that opens up a dangerous field, as it transects the patterns that make us ponder. Something within me resists, the question is buried too deep to embrace or even to reach from my quiet corner. I shall therefore try to summon up a few thoughts that dare go where one should not. This is why I shall try to reach those spaces the long way around, perhaps even from the other side, trying not to lose the theme about which I had set out to write.
My Balkan experience does not wish to speak about a place in which perhaps the negative image of Europe is mirrored. Only by ourselves can we answer questions that surpass us. And what does answering mean anyway. How do we put it?
In Andrej Tarkovsky’s movie The Stalker, the zone is a complex system of deadly traps that come alive when people are near. The Zone then – a metaphor of the forbidden city, where you find yourself lost in the infinity of space no longer defined by rules of the old cosmos. Safe spots may become dead ends suddenly. We can observe and monotonously control them from a safe distance, or we can become immersed in the uncertainty of incomprehensible experience. This experience has matured particularly with the irony and humour of Yugoslav rock music, but this is not the place to discuss that. The experience is unique, bordering on oddity at times or it may even be pathetic when expressed superficially. The story of the Balkans is also the story of human fate, which, as Dostoyevsky puts it, does not feed on the truth that two and two make four, but rather on its own will, unable to evade or renounce suffering, destruction and chaos. It is, in a way, a meteorite that fell from the skies and dug deep into the core of the planet. Having crashed among us, it is a reminder that life is not an ant hive, as human free will does not allow such a hive to be. Even when all seems lost, freedom seems to depend on the will that is not self-will but a relationship to the Other, which, again, must not become a hostage of this will, lest it draw the situation to itself. And here we stumble upon a Faustian contract, which serves as an icon of apology (and being of irrational origin, a very dangerous one!). One must agree that in all situations there exists an »irrational surplus, which is the need to survive«. And yet – a trap is hidden within, which beyond the borders of egoism is capable of leading to stigmatisation and negative connotations as self is projected onto the other, bringing us to the pathological.

2018-08-21T17:23:12+00:00 November 27th, 2006|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 51|0 Comments