Istanbul, Turkey December 2000
Then I wake the second time. But this time I wake right in the middle of a moment of terror and thrill. If you are a traveler then you understand—those first five seconds of time when you wake and you know you’re not home, but you don’t yet know where you are. This is what I now call the land between borders. On one side of the border is fear. My room is dark. Well, not really dark, more like semi-dark. But then turning in my bed toward the other side of the room I sight the Mediterranean moon, and she is just shy of full and her shine reflects off the Aegean, and she glows in my room. In my semi-comatose dreamy state, this is my first hint that I am no longer home—again. I am estranged and ecstatic. I must be in another passage. But where am I? There are no commas or periods or question marks to guide my way. For that matter there are no words especially. Have you ever noticed how much we depend upon paragraphs? Indentations to light our paths? Words to show the way in the middle of the night? I must be in that moment before language. “Before language there is the fire that bites but doesn’t kill, the evil that, like all pain, separates us, the dehiscence that opens in us closed organs, making us seem strange to ourselves.” (Cixous, Stigmata)
I am before time, and I do not know the boundaries. Up to now I could make sense of this chronological madness by opening my eyes and seeing her body. I touch her body. She’s in the wakeful places with me. Even if today becomes another troubled day in paradise at least I know this landscape. But here in my second waking I am alone and I am falling.
I have been taught all my life that there is one, and only one border, but now in my waking I think I am realizing that this one border is multiple and teeming and out of control. At least. One border in this wakefulness—sheer terror. The other border… No, that’s not the right word. Just because there is multiplicity rather than oneness does not mean that borders are distinct in essence. Postmodern thought is not the Messiah on this one. We are choking and gagging on this word “other.” Everyone, everywhere is now using this word other. Other has lost its otherness. I’m sorry Emmanuel but your other has become the same. How can one border be other? Wouldn’t that make the other border the “same”? Or both borders other? What side of the human being is other? The backside? Front side? Profile? Which side of the lover is other? Ask Picasso about his lovers. What part of the lover’s body is other? All. None. In my embrace of you I must make you Other, no, not quite right—I must make you wholly other, but when I do, I lose you.
On one side of this border I am the author—my own author—for once and finally. I am the one who is etching on my own body and mind by throwing myself into this passage from Father to no-Father, from son to orphan, from certainty to doubt. I’m with Thomas—I want to see some evidence. Habeas Corpus. It seems that my whole life has been the desperate need to fall into the embrace of the Father and escape the Father simultaneously. Irony of all ironies for me I am in headlong flight from my incessant desire for a Father. Searching demands absconding not only the objects of our desires but our desires themselves.
But it will not be safe if I cut myself loose from the Father who protects and authorizes. But then again who in his right mind would leave Jerusalem-hearth to make way to a Babylon-ostracism? Who would actually choose this journey in reverse? Is this the turn and entrance into the land of Aicha—a turning point lifting the veil—an opening—caesura—leaving Jerusalem to make my way to Babylon? I have heard that there is a Talmud there in Babylon—they tell me that it is quite beautiful. What sacrilege—a Talmud in Babylon. A Babylonian Talmud? I hear tell of a wounded Messiah in Babylon. A Messiah with fatal wounds? In decadent Babylon? What heresy. Messiah would never be in Babylon.
But I must go, I must make these journeys—Je me rends. She calls me to Babylon because I recognize her—from my dreams, from my desires. From somewhere before. “Look for me,” says the hidden thing. But she is forbidden and treacherous. They say. But they have buried her. Behold all the veils the aficionados throw over her. Desire is hers to blame; she is the casus culpa. From the beginning. So the men say… Ah, how much easier to cast my desires out and place them inside her. She is the fault…
I hear the hiss of that arrow in the night. Is that you, Artemis?
Well then this second border… That doesn’t sound right either. Too dualist. Two borders dueling to mount the other. Surely one will die then. One loses the sea. OK, how about this? How about lover? Lover border? Border lover. Not other which makes the border so dichotomous allowing one border to call another border “other.” But lovers of borders. Always bordering on love. But this is shunned in philosophy. Not allowed in theology. Just give us one border, and let us call it the other or let us call it the same, and let us be done. ελωι ελωι λεμα σαβαχθανι. It is finished.
Then here is my confession: I am in love with Poly. I love Poly. Many Poly’s in fact. Polychromatic. Polychronos. Polyphony. Polyglossia. Polyandrous. Maybe for the first time in my life my departure from Religiosus Scientiae, this Religiosus Certum will be a Religiosus Poetica—Religiosus Erotica?—offering and embracing hospitality, mystery, vulnerable love–that which I dare not speak its name—not for the other—but the stranger—throwing my arms around the naked stranger—strangers embracing strangers as two flickering flames in the darkness casting shadows anyone can see.