“Have you noticed it?” – says Uncle Jaca, perched on his Bergère, his sanpaku eyes staring at me. It always bothers me, and he knows it. He immediately goes on:
“Probably not. It’s gone already…” he says, averting his weather-lined face. He chin-points at some place in the yard (where you can see nothing but a bunch of hibiscuses) and enigmatically insists: – “Have you noticed it?”.
A solemn silence falls over the radiant afternoon of the Yellow House. At the back of the shed where he lives, some marmosets hang from the Surinam cherry tree and watch us curiously.
I’ve already told you about Uncle Alli, good old Uncle Alligator, my mother’s brother, a confirmed bachelor, “the son of Time”, as he says. A time that we no longer remember… “and we don’t even miss it!” – I complete. I stop and shudder at my own conclusion. “We’ve been having memory issues”, I try to apologize for a presumed fault. My uncle doesn’t care. He throws himself onto his chaise. He’s exactly where he’s always been. He looks at me through clouded lenses that magnify his watery eyes. The man is tired of staring, we can notice immediately. Sometimes he closes his gray eyes and his eyelashes flutter like quivering antennas – “to perceive the substance of things”, he says, smiling.
“The past escapes from us”, he resumes provocatively. “How about the new encyclopedists, huh? eh?”, he juts out his prognathous chin as if he were punching the air. “Upheaval advances on Wikipedia, legions of idiots furiously rewrite it, edit the sayings according to the inks of that day. Busy Lilliputians, task workers without virtues or character. They vote with conviction, clerks devoted to a diffuse and uncharacteristic herd. They live in the flow, in the informational leak, without knots or harshness, without doubts or certainties, without destination or departure”.
Silence again. Suddenly he blurts out:
– “Have you noticed it? Probably not… It’s gone already…”, he resumes the motto once again. He takes a breath – “Newspapers are no longer the owners of their opinion, notes and news fade away on the kaleidoscopic screens, proclaiming a darned silence of gibberish. Damn jungle of parrots!”
We spend some time in silence, caressed by the autumn breeze.
– “Schizoarchy, nubilopathic. Latrarchy sanctioned under ephods and a canonical figure. Peirathocrats and other high-profile highwaymen. We have established a fractarchy. Dividing by zero – such is the diet of modernity!”, he pronounces grandiloquently. Uncle Alli starts rummaging through forgotten dictionaries and can’t seem to find the right words. Not at all satisfied, he says he guts the words, cuts them up, puts everything together and cooks them. “The semantic mixing up is the result of alchemy…”.
It seems that Uncle Alli is on the slopes of madness.
“Digital rhizome that spreads in the cloud. There lies the disgraceful condensation of the masses in social obnubilation rages. Here is the digital homunculus, the demonic fruit of the subversion of the sacred fire. Man disappears in the eyes of Man and behold! Superman appears among us, without memory or character, without past or future. An intransitive, transhuman man, nailed to the Cathedral, like a reviving Golem which is sufficient in itself, and that’s it! Hopes fulminated, promises buried in salt. Men will be banished from the polis and imprisoned in simulacra of reality, condemned to the never-ending repetition of pleasures, tragedies, voluptuousness, and vices of modernity…”. All is wrapped up in beautiful narratives, and I immediately have an insight on the meaning of that prose.
Uncle sees that I am afflicted. Truth be told, this is not so much for what he says, but for what he is revealing about himself. He tries to comfort me. He strokes his little mustache and says with a wry smile: “Everything is done for your own good. Calm down. Trust it”. And he recites a poem (I think of his own writing):
“Live in the setback and
listen to the silence
above, below, in-between
Keep your smile in your teeth,
the instant meanwhile.
honor the ones you loved
yesterday, before and always.
Like the sheets on the clothesline,
the sun in the yard,
in the waters of the sea, the salt”.