I didn’t know how much stronger I was until I found out about my disease almost two years ago. I wasn’t ready to live my life this way. I believe no one is. It is just easier when you are a child and your mamá takes you to the hospital and you don’t even realize how serio your health condition is. But when you are aware that you can actually hurt people for something you don’t even have control over, that is what I call being up against the wall and feeling realmente awful. I think that is one of the major beneficios of being a kid. You don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff because that is what adultos are for.

I can say for sure that I had a happy childhood. Being raised by your grandma, because your padres are so busy working, gives you a much broader perspectiva on having fun. Today, my grandmother doesn’t even remember her sons’ nombres; she’s just too old. But at that tiempo, she was, like every other grandma, meant to spoil her grandchildren in every possible way.

My friends and I had a talento impresionante for música and we were so eager to start our own business in the music industria that we had a very strict schedule to practicar our rutinas. I played the piano and sometimes I sang together with Carol. Her younger cousin played the guitarra and my cousin played the drums. We were about 10 years old and we really rocked, and since the instrumentos weren’t reales, I can say our work was of gran mérito. Don’t you think?

Carol and I also had tiempo to write our own songs, and ocasionalmente we were so entusiasmadas that we wrote our own historias, instead of songs. Today, Carol ha publicado her first poetry book, and, as for me, I have some poemas somewhere in my house waiting to be published. So this writing hábito wasn’t a waste of tiempo after all.

In real life, I didn’t become a músico and I can’t call myself a writer either, but from time to time I come up with some ideas and I put them on paper while I listen to some nice música. And it just feels awesome.

After a long tiempo, I began to work again. It took me a while to embrace the new air in the oficina, but, as you know, I easily adapto to any circunstancia and place. In the morning, I still worked for the same institución gubernamental that I used to in the pasado and, in the afternoon, I had a few estudiantes willing to continuar their language lessons at home. If you look at things from this ángulo, not much had changed, but the truth was quite a bit had.

My ex had turned out to be an absolute asshole. At first, he was realmente supportive during my periodo de tratamiento but who wouldn’t have been? Either way, when he decidió to start a relación with another girl who I happened to know, it was realmente the end of an era. But despite all the crying and all the unpleasant talk that comes with the goodbye, life was sending me a mensaje claro: He wasn’t the guy for me. Who was? I didn’t have a clue. I wished I could be a child again and fool around with boys without worrying about these heart issues.

Of course, I wasn’t a child anymore. I finalmente had to let my brain take charge of my life for once. I didn’t want another relación seria por el momento. It was tiempo de explorar the single territorio without taking any risks.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Havana, Cuba – Reception – gg foto (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Winter was already gone. After the long interlude, the first flowers in my garden had begun to bloom.

It had been a rough periodo. Some seasons are colder than others – of that I am sure. But spring has definitely returned and a nueva oportunidad has arisen for me. So starting over no longer seemed like an ilusión, and, though I was excited, I couldn’t avoid feeling frightened and confundida.

This fear has haunted me my entire life and I was never able to escapar from it. Yet, beginnings are just part of the curso we are meant to take as humanos. They are beyond our thoughts and wishes, and ocasionalmente they’re exactly what we need, although most of the tiempo we are forced to believe otherwise.

I still remember my first winter as a child. My padres had recently divorciado and I didn’t quite understand why they were fighting over almost everything. They barely got along, and I had to slip away to visitar my father’s place because my mamá didn’t approve of his new partner. It was realmente frustrante for a little girl like me to realize this complicated stuff going on between adultos. But in the same naive way I learned that other boys and girls in my school came from familias separadas. So I could just be a kid when I realized that marriage doesn’t always last forever as we are meant to think at a young age. Those happily-ever-after endings from Disney filmes were just a ficción. There’s some punto in a relación when love and respeto are left behind. Of course, I wished this could never have happened to my beloved padres, but it was totally out of my control, and though I tried not to let it afectar me, the fact is that I felt realmente miserable.

Jess also comes from a familia disfuncional, if I can call it that. Her padres got divorced when she was still in elementary school, just like me. Perhaps, my mamá and hers are so alike because of that. They have never been in another relación since they split up with our fathers. And for about as long, Jess and I have been trying to get them out of that bubble they decidieron to live in. They need some male compañía and sexo, for God’s sake!

Carol didn’t experience that kind of separación between her padres, but she faced a situación much more horrible indeed. Her dad died when she was very young, and I can’t describir how much pain she went through because we have never been able to talk about it. What I know for sure is that the ausencia of a male figura in her life has made her stronger and even wiser. But, of course, that doesn’t change the fact that she misses having her father by her side.

Liz has been luckier in this sense. Her padres are still together after twenty something years of marriage. They are a bit crazier, by the way. However, it’s so pleasant to see a copule of that age that still preserva the same espíritu that made them fall for each other in the first place. And that is what love is all about. I wish I could find that someone to get old and gray with while still having fun with him, no matter our diferencias and personalidades.

Obviamente, that guy was some place I hadn’t had the pleasure to visitar yet. And though I usually ask myself: “Pat, where is he?”, there are momentos in our lives when a girl just needs to be alone. And for the first time in a long periodo I felt relieved, not only from my stressful chemo tratamiento but also from my relación pasada. Just a few more weeks were required to feel like myself again.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Holguin, Cuba – The boulevard – William RG (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Part III

Me

Before I started personal psychotherapy, I had not suspected the number of complaints I had about my parents. I did not even think that there was anything wrong with my family, my childhood, my upbringing. I did not observe in a critical manner what values, messages, strategies, restrictions I had adopted from my parents and family and still used, even though some of them were no longer effective, some were obviously unhealthy and others even harmful. I did not realize what feelings and emotions had become forbidden and locked in my heart. I did not even use and know some words and notions I could confidently wield nowadays. If I hadn’t chanced upon a psychotherapist four years ago, I would have followed the restrictions and passed down the traumas and restrictions and negative messages to my son. It’s good that I’ve been brave and courageous enough to embark on a new way.

Some years ago, I asked God to give me wisdom. Here and there, people – and I think they are really lucky – inherit it from the older generations of their families, but my story is different. I wish I could inherit values and wisdoms from my relatives and parents. Now I know, no wisdom could ever be gained by me other than by making mistakes, learning lessons and becoming aware of things.

This is my way, and this way is harder.

Sometimes I feel tired, frustrated and even too exhausted to continue. Then I am ready to give up. There are periods when I dismiss all my previous achievements and results because I cannot bear the tension of the problems I have to face. This is sometimes caused by new questions I have to find answers to or by obstacles I did not expect to face. At those moments I feel depressed, frustrated and angry. But after emotions are lived through, I feel enough strength to tackle the new issues, learn, overcome and become wiser than before. I regain respect for my achievements and my way. Recently, I did realize that this will not end with the completion of psychotherapy. This will last because this is indeed what life is. And life comes in so many unexpected ways that we cannot even imagine.

We have a Russian proverb that can be translated as “the ways of the Lord are inscrutable,” and that is true.

Each time I will discover new sides and new faces of life. And I will become wiser and wiser if I learn the lessons right and well.

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Moscow, Russia – Silhouettes – Alexander Popov (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Father

When I was 11, I loved to look through the documents, postcards, diplomas, certificates kept in a big case filled with other stuff so incredibly interesting to identify and study. And the specific smell that came from that case was so familiar and … sweet. I was not really interested in the content of the documents, the most exciting thing was the process.

Once I pulled out a paper and started to read. “Mommy, what is this?” – I handed the paper to my mother and saw her face change. She looked at me in fear and confusion. I’d read just the first two lines: It was a certificate of adoption, and it stated my previous middle name.

Not a single word or pause or glance or whatever from my mother, step-father, brother, grandparents or other relatives was ever caught by me to get that small (or big) family secret revealed. They all pretended as if nothing was wrong. They somehow implicitly agreed to expel my father from reality, life, memories, history, the family story …

And I was deprived of my right to be the daughter of my father for so many years. Why did they do that? Why didn’t they tell me the truth? The simple and at the same time so important truth? Why did my father not fight to remain my father? Why didn’t he try to come and see me, to be my beloved father, to support me, to share my joys and blues, my smiles and tears? Why did he give up on being my father? I needed him so desperately. Why couldn’t my mom and dad get along as a man and a woman and keep on being my parents? I have no answers.

Anyway, I was raised without his love, his presence. I do not know what it is like to be a little girl and sit on his shoulders. I will never ever feel what it is like, and it makes me sad. I will never see the way he looks at me with admiration. I will never know what it is like to look into my father’s eyes full of admiration and love for his daughter. And it makes me sad. I wish I had it. You know, I do not even know what he looked like – he died six months before I managed to find him. I will never ever hear his voice, the way he speaks. And that enormous pain will always follow me. I will never be able to tell him how much I needed his protection going through hard times. I do not have memories of him, although I think of him very often. And my sadness is endless. I am sad about not having him, not knowing him, not feeling his love. I am so angry at him for so many things we missed together, for so many things he did not give me to help me become a woman, to teach me to act and choose and many, many more. But I would forgive him for sure, because he is mine, because I love him. And one day I will.

I still wonder how many people do not understand and do not have any idea about what parenthood is. If my parents and I and my son’s father knew how much we were all responsible for the health and well-being of our children, the choices they would make in the future, the strategies and psychological games they would use to adopt in society, the way they would make decisions, we would be more tuned in to the core needs of our children, we would be happier and raise our children in a more receptive environment while giving them more chances to be themselves, to be happy and free.

I am so mad about my mother. Although she is so close to me, she is simultaneously unreachable, but I will forgive her one day for sure too. I love them both.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Moscow, Russia – The extremes – Alexander Popov (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Anyway, at the age of 16, I faced the first consequence. A juvenile hemorrhage for no reason. I was horrified, scared to death and helpless. I couldn’t even ask my mother for help. I was afraid because I did not know how to speak about such issues. My mother has never discussed anything of that kind with me. The little girl in me was lost, ashamed and nearly dying. Hospital, intervention, treatment. I can easily remember that terrible horror I passed through. I also remember that I was so responsible for making my mom feel calmer about my illness, for soothing her tension and fear. In a certain manner I became a mother for my mom, taking responsibility for and care of her emotions and feelings.

It seems that the innocent joke my mom made is one of the deepest wounds I’ve ever had. Frankly speaking, I have heard some from other people too. I still have to closely study what ways I’ve been rejecting my feminine nature. But first I have to identify what that feminine nature is because I don’t really know how it is manifested. This is what I have ahead. But for now I know already that my mother has never talked to me like a woman to a little girl. I don’t remember her hugging or kissing me. There is no single memory in my head of her soothing my emotions, despair and anger or comforting me the way she was supposed to support me emotionally and physically. And I have always needed it so desperately. I was a little girl and there is still that little girl inside of me starving for her mom’s emotional embrace, warmth and intimacy. We have never been that close. There has never been the much needed and important act creating confidence between me and my mother. And unfortunately no intimacy will ever emerge between us. And the reason is that she doesn’t have it inside to share with me. And that makes me overwhelmingly sad. And she is not and cannot become aware of it. And that is my great grief. And I am still grieving the absence of that affection. And I let it happen to ease my tremendous pain.

My pain is not only about not having a mother with her acceptance and unconditional love. It is also about being unable to change her now. It is even impossible to get her to take a look at what she did wrong and make her admit her mistakes, her faults and omissions. I even can’t make her apologize for some obvious abuses I reminded her about. She refuses. She doesn’t want to assume responsibility. And you know what? I know and I do understand her. It is so terribly frightening to have a glimpse at the past and realize how much harm you did to your own beloved child, what kind of influence you had on the life and destiny of your child. It scares. And the fear triggers the resistance. I know it from my own experience of being a mother. This path is not for everybody, but I still blame her. I have not yet accepted that she cannot say, “I’m sorry,” and recognize she wasn’t ideal, and she also did something wrong. I am experiencing now just how lonely and saddening it can be to feel the emotional and psychological absence of my mother, although I know she loves me in her way.

I now understand that there was nothing wrong with me, even if I’ve never thought of myself as worthy, adorable, smart and beautiful just because I am what I am. Now I know I had and still have the right to be a real woman with all my authentic character traits and manifestations, that it was my mother who was unable to accept my femininity and woman’s nature and difference from her. And she could not accept her feminine nature first, and then mine. I was and still am okay, and that joke was my mom’s message about her problems, and it had nothing to do with me, my appearance, my nature, my body, my behavior, my selfness and my authenticity. I am what I am, and I am recovering my original right to be a GIRL and WOMAN! And I am happy for that!

I am aware of how much I love her. I recognize that I need her acceptance and smiles. But she is what she is. I did my best to wake her up, so we could be close to each other, but I cannot make her take responsibility for her words, actions and harmful behavior. I cannot do her work by myself, if she can’t or doesn’t want to. Whatever efforts I continue to make, all will be in vain. She is not ready, she is helpless in the face of fear, she doesn’t have any experience with overcoming obstacles and traumas and problems in the sphere of relationships and love. The only tactics she is acquainted with and uses are to escape, not to register and see the core of the problem because it is hard, scary and painful. I am simply unable and I cry for that. I hope some day I will make peace with this situation and let it go. I will forgive my mom and free myself of that pain and hope for intimacy between us. And I will let myself go and live my life without hearing offensive voices and harboring useless hopes. I will shake off all I cannot change and influence and will walk freely with my shoulders spread and my face up.

I will go my way with no more fear of repeating my mother’s life because I’ve always been afraid of doing exactly that. And I partially did. I am a lonely woman. I’ve always been frightened to also become lonely, unhappy and a single mother. And I followed in her footsteps unconsciously, I guess, to ease her pain, to share her loneliness and undisclosed desires and sacrificing. I love her so much. She’s so important to me. So I agreed to join her unhappy life not to leave her alone with all those painful things. Probably because I wondered how I could be happy when she was so unhappy, angry and sacrificing? My heart keeps on breaking, but I’ve decided to give back to my mom her responsibility for her life, her way and happiness. And I’ll take my life back for me. I am sorry, my beloved mother, but I want to be happy. I am sorry, but I am not you. I am a separate person. What’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine. I let you go your way, and I will go mine. My story is different. I am my personal hero. I am not afraid to drag the past out into the light. I am brave, I am strong. I am now wiser. I will write my story and I will always love you with no more sacrificing.

I am forty and still trying to identify my authenticity and the feminine nature I’ve lost. I have to find out what I am again. I am lost and in despair because I have to collect the broken pieces of myself, study them, and decide whether they are truly mine or not, and make a whole out of it. I am still not quite sure what a feminine nature is. I know something from books, movies and talks between girls. That is a tremendously difficult process, and I need a guide to get through it. There are things we can’t create on our own. To go down a path like this one, you need support. I am lucky because I have a form of support in my psychotherapist. She gives me a lot of acceptance, knowledge and wisdom. I’ve learned so many things about human nature, relationships between men and women, parents and children, and much much more – I cannot list it all. And again I have a long road ahead of me. Yet I am ready to turn a new page in my life. Wish me good luck. I will need it too.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Moscow, Russia – On the bus 2 – Alexander Popov (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Part I

Mother 


When I was about 12, my mother joked that she liked boys more than girls. It was as if heaven had struck me.

I clearly remember my state of innocent astonishment: How could that be? I repeated the same questions: “What?.. How?.. I am so nice, so beautiful, so smart, so cute… Why are boys better than me?” And the most striking thing was, “Why does my mother find boys preferable to me? Why does my mother love them more than me?”

I got lost in the unasked questions that rained down inside my head.

It was summer. My brother and my cousins were in the room; our parents were finishing their dinner.

Of course, it was a joke, and my mom loved me. She simply did not accept either her own woman’s nature or my girl’s nature that was soft, malleable, fluctuating, shifting like song and dance.

She added to her joke that “girls are so… so fluid, well…”

Nobody seemed to pay any attention to that phrase; everyone continued along. Except me. I haven’t forgotten those words for more than 35 years. And how could I have lived if I had not remembered them?!

Of course, there were more than just those words. I was raised in an environment where a woman’s nature was not accepted. It was like radiation. There were few explicit messages like the joke, but a lot of implicit ones. I learned to deny my feminine nature by not accepting my tenderness, my body, my appearance and state of mind.

Parents’ love is vital for children; we need to feel that our parents love us, give us attention and care. Children die physically if no one looks at them, no one talks to them – even if they are given the necessary care: feeding, hygiene and medicine. All of us are so dependent on our parents that we sometimes cannot even imagine it. So am I.

My feminine nature started to be prohibited in acts, feelings and mindset. Drip by drip, I guess, I made a decision to give up on myself as a girl, as a woman, to give up on my feminine nature, to suppress my original woman’s behavior and features.

Of course, it wasn’t like I made a decision and told myself I would no longer be a girl, but I did it unconsciously. I gave up on myself, I betrayed myself as a woman, and all that was done to gain my mother’s love and follow her patterns of behavior.

Yes, children are ready to do anything to get the vital love of their mothers and fathers. And though a child may be turning forty, she or he may still be yearning for that love. Like I still do. I believe that my unconscious solution for tackling this controversial issue of how to stop being a woman while indeed being a woman to feel my mother’s love found a way to get the body to attack itself. And the body simply obeyed the order to destroy a woman’s organs to prevent her from becoming a real woman and a mother in the future. Our bodies just follow the implied orders of our unconsciousness because no explicit idea of limiting my authentic girl’s behavior or damaging my girl’s body has ever been identified mentally.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Moscow, Russia – On the street – Alexander Popov (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

by Talia Stotts

 

On Monday I arrive to first period and collapse into my desk next to Carmen, a peppy Guatemalan girl and my very best friend.

“Oh my god, tell me everything. How did they take it? Were they furious? What did – hey, Alex, are you okay?”

I don’t know what to say. “No, I’m not okay, because my parents basically dismissed everything that I said because they think I’m just misguided or brainwashed”?

“They said they’re going to fix me.”

“Fix you? What does that mean?” She tucks her legs under her and turns in her seat to face me. “Alex … you’re not broken.” She puts her hand on my shoulder and I can feel the tears rise within me as her slender hand reminds me of my mother and all I can do is wish that Mom had said those words.

“Hang on a sec, Alex.” She squeezes my shoulder and pushes herself out of her chair. She walks to Ms. Hopper, who is greeting students at the door before the bell rings to signal the start of class. They speak for a minute before Carmen ushers me over.

“Take your time, you two.” Ms. Hopper smiles as she steps aside, letting us slip out into the hallway where the stragglers were speed walking to get to class and avoid a tardy.

“What did you say to her?” I ask. I came out to my parents, not the whole world just yet.

“Just that you wanted to go talk to Dr. Rose and that you needed me there for moral support.”

I grin. Carmen has been able to sweet-talk teachers since I met her in 4th grade.

“Thanks, Car. Okay, where are we really going?” I expect that we’ll hide out in the stairwell or maybe the nurse’s office.

“To Dr. Rose’s office.” The bell rings, but Carmen doesn’t stop.

“No way! I can’t talk to her!”

“Why not?” She keeps walking, leading us toward the counselor’s office in the new administrative wing of the building. “Dr. Rose is awesome. I talk to her all the time. She gives pretty good advice, and she’s pretty open-minded. And she’s, like, a real adult. I love you, man, but I don’t know what kind of advice to give you. She’s cool. It’s fine.”

We arrive at the office door and are greeted by a carved wooden sign spelling out “Rose,” adorned with carved wooden flowers of the same name. Carmen gives a confident knock on the door. It swings open to reveal a petite Black woman who seems too young to be a doctor of any kind. The dimples in her cheeks deepen as she greets Carmen.

“Hola, chica! Como estás? Come on in; who’s your friend?” She glances at me and extends her hand. I take it and give it a quick shake.

“I’m, um, I’m Alex. Hi.”

“Hi Alex, I’m happy to meet you. What can I do for you two today? I hope you didn’t just forget to do your homework. I’ve had to send away about seven sophomores this morning – turns out a big project was due for biology or something and they all forgot to do it.”

“It was geometry,” I reply shyly, thanking the gods that I had managed to put my “ABCs of Geometry” booklet together before the big talk on Friday.

“Well, whatever it was,” she continues, smiling, “they didn’t do it and they’ve gotta pay the price. I’m here to guide, not to help truants.”

“Well, Dr. Rose,” Carmen says, “we did our projects and we’re not here to skip class. We’re here because my friend needs some help and you’re the expert here, so I thought I’d introduce you. I’m just here for moral support, but I can get outta here if you need me to.”

Dr. Rose looks at me, letting me speak. “No, it’s fine, she can stay. Carmen, you can stay.”

“Great,” she sighs as she tosses herself onto the pillow-laden sofa across from Dr. Rose’s desk. “I’ll go if I have to, but we’re just reviewing independent clauses today because those dummies didn’t get it the first time.”

Dr. Rose and I follow suit, with her settling into the high-backed chair behind the desk and me into the sofa next to Carmen.

“Alright, Alex. Talk to me. What’s on your mind?”

I look over at Carmen, who gives me an encouraging nod.

“I don’t know where to start.” I look at my hands folded in my lap, stroking one thumb with the other.

Dr. Rose waits a moment before speaking and I look up at her, expecting to see annoyance. Instead, her kind eyes smile at me, knowing. “Start wherever you think the beginning is.”

I thought for a moment, remembering a pink shirt and a clandestine pair of socks.

“It was the summer before seventh grade,” I begin.

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Houston, Texas, America – Monument Au Fantome – Joe Hendrickson (Shutterstock) 
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

by Talia Stotts 

The next morning, my door bangs open as the girls rush in, leaping into my bed and pummeling me with stuffed animals.

“Wake up, sleepyhead! It’s pancake time!”

I am too tired but getting out of bed now will keep me from dwelling on the previous night’s discussion. I trundle to the kitchen, sisters in tow, to get the pancakes going. The Saturday morning tradition has been more to allow Mom and Dad some time to sleep in than anything else. But when they come out of their rooms, it is clear that my news the night before hasn’t been forgotten.

“Good morning girls. Alex, can I talk to you outside for a sec?” Mom pours a cup of coffee as she speaks, her floral robe loose around her silk pajamas. I follow her out the back door, Molly pushing past us to find her favorite toy.

Mom doesn’t waste any time. “Alex, you lied to me. You said you didn’t like boys.” She is distraught.

“Mom…I was twelve. I didn’t like anyone. I –”

“But you said!” She turns on me, eyes full of tears, and I can see her hand is gripping the coffee mug too tightly. I gently take it from her; she allows it.

“I didn’t lie. I just…hadn’t had any crushes at that point. I didn’t know what a crush was. It seemed stupid. I just wanted to play kickball and watch TV and wear nice things. I –”

She is unrelenting and cuts me off again. “So you’ve had a crush now? On a boy?” She looks away, disgusted. “I defended you. I defended you against your father. He knew what you were. What you are.”

So she does hate me.

She stands straight all of a sudden, regaining composure. She takes the coffee from me and clears her throat.

“You are not to tell the girls. You are not to tell anyone. You will attend church as usual with the family and we will fix this.” She reaches over, stroking my face with all the tenderness I remember of her. “We’re going to fix this.”

I don’t know how to tell her that I’ve been trying to fix this already. That as soon as I had my first crush – on a boy – I have been saying extra prayers and reading more scripture than any of the other kids my age at church. I don’t know how to tell her that I waited until I was sure it was real before I was able to tell them. I don’t know how to tell her it’s a thing that can’t be fixed. Because I tried.

She turns on her heels and goes inside to sit down with the girls, exclaiming over the lovely sliced strawberries and fresh blueberries. I follow her in and greet Dad as if nothing has happened and he returns the favor.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Austin, Texas – Downtown – Alex George (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

by Talia Stotts 

And now, three years later, after finally understanding what was so bad about the pink shirt, I am sitting here in front of my parents telling them they were right. I feel the urge to cry rise up and I pinch the soft skin at my wrist, bringing my attention to the pain there and away from my parent’s clear hatred for me. A moment passes in silence.

“Mom, I –” I stop when she finally lifts her head away from Dad’s shoulder. Her mascara is smeared, and she looks overcome with grief. It breaks my heart immediately and I avert my gaze.

“How could you?” Her voice is small and low, somehow both accusatory and wounded.

I had hoped that at least Mom would not take it so hard. The day of the school shopping disaster, she had come up to my room, running a soothing, soft hand up and down my back as I lay facedown against the damp pillow, the way she had always done when I was upset about bullies at school or monsters in the closet. And as she stroked my hair, she had told me that it would all be ok, that Dad just didn’t understand, he was a little bit old fashioned, and that I had looked sharp in my new outfits. Just like that one male model on some runway show we saw on TV last month.

At the mall the next day, Mom stood in line for returns and I wandered back to the clothing section, wondering if Dad would find the teal version of the shirt more acceptable. I didn’t want to risk it and headed toward a stack of plain-colored t-shirts. By the time Mom had finished the return, I was holding my new replacement items: a navy crew neck sweater, a gray t-shirt, and a black belt – all very boring and sure to be acceptable to Dad’s masculine standards. We headed back to the checkout and I stopped at a display that caught my eye. On a spinning rack were multicolored socks, all with different whimsical prints. I fingered a deep turquoise pair with tiny fuchsia-colored flowers on them. They were beautiful.

“Why don’t you grab them?” Mom’s voice called my attention away from the socks. I looked at her, bewildered. “Dad’ll never notice them. I think they’re great. Go on.” She smiled encouragingly, holding out her hand. I passed them to her, hesitating as I put them into her open palm before throwing myself at her in a giant hug.

“Thanks, Mom,” I whispered into her hair.

“Anything for my baby boy.”

The conspiratorial kinship we shared at that moment is nowhere to be found now. I wait for her to call out to me, to bring me to her and tell me it’s all going to be ok and that I’m still her baby boy and that she loves me, but the words never come. Instead, she buries her head in her hands, overcome with heartache for the loss of her only son.

Later that night, as I lay in bed, finally able to cry, I hear my parents’ slip into their room after tucking the girls in. They don’t come in to say goodnight to me, instead going straight into their room across the hall. Their voices are muffled, but after a moment I can hear Mom begin to cry. Dad’s voice starts low but begins to rise. I know I shouldn’t, but I creep to the door, opening it a crack and sticking my ear to the hallway. I can just begin to make out what they’re saying.

“My fault?” I hear my mother ask through sobs. “All I did was love him, same as the girls!”

“And that’s the problem, Marianne – you were too soft on him! You coddled him! It’s alright for the girls, but you treat him like he’s some kind of baby!”

“I didn’t think –”

“That’s the problem, Marianne,” my father interrupts, “you don’t think. You don’t think about what you’re doing to him. You let him wear those ridiculous clothes, you let him cry, hell you even have him help you bake! How are you surprised that he’s –…” He cuts himself off this time. “That he is what he is.”

I am frozen in the doorway. That I am what I am.

I am suddenly tired and turn away from the growing voices. I crawl into bed again, exhausted and out of tears. As I drift off to sleep, I recall the final moments of the day shopping with mom as she came to say goodnight.

“Mom, why did Dad really make me take that stuff back?”

Mom hesitated, thinking. I knew the face; it was the one that said she was trying to find the right words for something that she’d never had to think about too much. She’d never voiced the concept before and wasn’t quite sure how to proceed.

“Well, sweetie, Dad just doesn’t really understand about fashion. He thinks that liking certain colors or styles might mean something else.”

“But what? I just like the colors. They’re in – you know that.” At our weekly outings to the local library, I pored over the latest fashion magazines – Vogue and GQ – while the girls looked for illustrated kids’ books.

“I know, honey.” She paused again, eyebrows knit together as she thought. “Alex, you know how we’ve talked in church about what God wants and the things that offend Him?”

I knew very well. Each Sunday had been spent in church for several hours. Children’s ministry, Sunday School, the main service – I quickly flicked through all the things that I had learned at church, trying to find out what sin I had committed, what commandment there was that prohibited me from wearing a salmon-colored shirt.

“Of course, Mom,” I responded, still visibly confused.

“And you know how one thing God wants is for men and women to get married and have children?” She waited for me to nod. “And how some people offend God by trying to mix up his commandments?” She paused again, waiting for me to understand. I didn’t. “Some people think that it’s ok for a man to marry a man, or for a woman to marry a woman.”

I waited for more explanation. What did this have to do with me?

She sighed. “Honey, Dad thinks that wearing a pink shirt –”

“Salmon,” I interjected.

“ – a salmon shirt means you like boys and that isn’t what God wants.”

I was stunned. “I don’t like boys.” I didn’t like anyone. I had friends that were boys and some that were girls, but I hadn’t like liked anyone yet.

“I know you don’t, sweetie. I know you’re a good boy. I’m sure there’s some cute girl in your class that’s caught your eye.”

“I don’t like girls either.”

Mom smiled and chuckled. “You’re right. It’s too early to talk about girlfriends. For now, you just keep being a good boy, and don’t worry about too much else. Except for school. Keep those grades up.” She stood and turned to leave before turning to face me again. “God is very happy with you that you’re not hurting him like Dad thinks. You’re such a good boy.” Her long pink fingernail clacked the light switch off, leaving me darkness, wondering why anyone would care about liking girls or boys when there were games to be played and TV to watch.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation 

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Tyler, Texas – Prism reboot – Michael Dziedzic (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

The characteristic of being metaphysical/spiritual makes up the core of the distinction between pragmatists and romantics in Peripatetic Alterity. This treatise posits the materialist worldview of pragmatists as being in contrast to the metaphysical orientation of romantics. Whereas the philosophical treatise adopts the approach of delineating these differences primarily on the basis of contemporary empirical findings, we will address some forms the metaphysical/spiritual takes in literary fiction and attempt to show how the one or the other is associated with certain secondary characteristics that often underscore the author’s perspective.

To keep the scope of this paper manageable, we will confine our examination to four metaphysical phenomena expressed in earthly reality: i) the first is comprised of the classic invocation of religious beliefs. The dyad here is shaped by the conventional differentiation between focusing on life before us versus attending to the afterlife while on earth; ii) second, “evidence” of and belief in metaphysical forces on earth constitutes a means of contextualizing the metaphysical in the “physical”; iii) the third appears in the state of falling in love, which is often a trope employed by authors to reveal the metaphysical mindset of romantic characters; iv) finally, a second self or alternative identity, sometimes discovered through illness or disease, acts as a means for representing the metaphysical. 

This metaphysical/materialist duality is observed in many binary constructs that act as a backdrop to emphasize the respective characterization. One common place we can unearth it is in gender, although no gender is consistently associated with one pole or the other: Sometimes women are ascribed as closer to the metaphysical, other times men. Another dichotomy revealing a division can be found in youth and its proximity to existentiality against adulthood and the need to survive materially. However, old age may prompt a return to an existential mindset. A third surfaces with wealth in contrast to poverty, where the accumulation of assets is logically viewed as an outgrowth of a material approach, while the precariat is endowed with an innate understanding of the otherworldly. Additional frameworks include indoors/outdoors or materialist political ideology (capitalism or socialism) vs. balance between various stakeholders, with outdoors and balance being tied to the metaphysical.

Although we will not delve into the topic of materialism here, it is helpful for producing a clear picture of the world being described to remember that materialism is the foil or contrast to the metaphysical. It is understood to be a dismissal of the unknown for the benefit of concentrating on our immediate surroundings. As discussed at length in Peripatetic Alterity, it is closely tied to consumption. The accumulation of assets, property and objects generally reflects such materialism.

Below we will present some case studies with a wide range of authors. A few are well-known classicists from various countries – Grazzia Deledda (Italy), Leo Tolstoy (Russia), Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russia), Ivan Turgenev (Russia), Paul Auster (America) – while others are lesser known writers – Valentina Akssy (Ukraine), Galina Nikolaeva (former Soviet Union), Alexandra Kollontai (former Soviet Union), Armine Asryan (Armenia). The paper is broken down into the four aforementioned metaphysical phenomena, each examined in the context of specific works of literature. These examples further reveal the constructs adopted by authors to portray the metaphysical/spiritual by also integrating a secondary characteristic to ensure correct interpretation by the reader.

Eternity vs. mortal existence: the gender of the metaphysical and material – Elias Portolu by Grazia Deledda and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Right at the start of Elias Portolu by Grazia Deledda, we learn about the clear distinction between material men and metaphysical women. The father of the eponymous protagonist refers to his sons as strong, which results in impressive production and the ability to dominate (“He’s a marvel! He’s sown ten measures of barley and eight of wheat and two measures of beans.” (5); “Now that Elias is back we are like four lions” (5); He [Elias] wouldn’t have allowed it. He would have broken his teeth with one blow. Elias is a man. We are men, we are, we aren’t puppets made of fresh cheese like the continentals” (9)).

By contrast, Elias’s mother and the future mother-in-law of another son of hers confide in each other that men are too material (“attached to the things of this world” (12; repeated in other contexts on pages 33, 48)). This direct connection between men and this world is juxtaposed to the existential place of women:

“…But what were we saying? Men think only about things of this world. If they would think just a little about the other world, they would go straighter in this one. They think this earthly life will never end; but it’s a novena, this life, a novena and short as well. We suffer in this world; we do so so that this little bird here,” she touched her breast, “is calm and free of guilt; let the rest go as it likes. Take some sugar, Arrita;…”

To emphasize the universality of this statement, furthermore, Zia Annedda, Elias’s mother, speaks using the “we” form (“What were we saying?”). In the immediate context of the narrative, this form is logical because she is concurring with her friend’s remarks on ‘this world’. Yet her words gain authority from the collective form to introduce her opinion on how you would conduct yourself with an eye on the metaphysical (‘other world’). As opposed to her husband’s banal associations in material everyday life (barley, wheat, beans, tigers), Zia Annedda touches her breast, describes it as a little bird, and the first object she mentions in reverting back to the current reality is sugar, as if to ingrain in the reader’s mind the sweetness of women’s metaphysical worldview. Finally, the representative of the metaphysical on earth at that time is a member of the clergy. In the novel, this is Father Porcheddu who echoes Zin Annedda’s words as he discusses Elias’s wavering plan to become a priest: “You are still attached to the things of this world?” (155) And when Elias attempts to break firmly with the materialism of pragmatism, he retorts: “I want to show you that I am not attached to anything.” (155)

“…[I]f Elias remained in the world he was lost. Zia Annedda was thinking along these lines because she knew her son.” (5) In the novel, Elias has returned from a 3-year prison sentence for a crime that remains unspecified, but is not sufficiently abominable to damage the family’s reputation or his reintegration into Sardinian society of his native village. His return is celebrated and he is included, although not forced to participate in every aspect of life (marriage is open to him, and eventually he becomes a priest, albeit a sinning one). Even after his return and despite his good intentions, Elias is repeatedly described as (mentally/spiritually) troubled. He does not join his brothers and father in the pasture, behaves erratically (pale (13, 23), laughed until he turned purple (47), beats his breast (51)), and falls in love with his brother’s future wife. He is also considered feminine by both his father and mother, with the associated value judgement depending on the speaker’s perspective. As we have seen above, Zia Annedda, Elias’s mother, is critical of the material world; whereas Zio Portolu embraces it fully. Elias, as an effeminate man, lies somewhere in between: Since he is not an Ur-male like his father and brothers, he cannot identify with their life. Yet he knows no alternatives until he comes upon the idea of becoming a priest. It is his announcement of this idea that prompts Zia Annedda to say in relief that “in the world he was lost.”

Viewed along these lines, the story of Elias Portolu can be regarded as a romantic man confused by his inability to embrace the pragmatic way of life into which he is expected to assimilate. His prominently developed feminine side seeks an alternative to the materialism of pragmatism, but has immense difficulty finding a plausible path and even then struggles with the memes of pragmatism. As Zia Annedda explains to her daughter-in-law Maddalena: “he can be led into temptation because you know that the devil is always doing his work around us, but Elias knows how to fight him and would die before committing a mortal sin.” (52) Although her faith is ultimately betrayed, Elias’s mother understands a metaphysical romantic’s struggle in a world of material pragmatists, especially when you are expected to be one of them.

In Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, the lines between genders are not as clearly drawn as in Grazia Deledda’s work. Nonetheless, Tolstoy portrays Levin as at least a man struggling to grasp the meaning of life and finding it in religion. Furthermore, tying into our third binary construct of wealth/poverty, the great Russian writer notes that Levin becomes able to recognize the metaphysical through a peasant:

“Fedor says that Kirillov, the caretaker, lives for his belly. It’s understandable and reasonable. We all, like rational beings, cannot live otherwise, than for the belly. And suddenly the same Fedor says that it is bad [to live] for the belly; rather it is necessary to live for the truth, for god, and I understand him! And I and the millions of people who lived centuries ago and are living now, the peasants, the poor in spirit and the wise, who thought and wrote about it, speaking the same thing in their obscure language – we all agree on this one thing: why we should live and what is good. I, and all these people, have only one solid, unquestionable and clear knowledge, and knowledge cannot be explained by reason – it is beyond reason and has no reason and can have no consequences.” (778)

In addition to a peasant conveying this undisputed truth to a landowner trying to live like a peasant, we encounter reason (rationality) being linked to the material, while the obscure language of the truth, the universal (“one solid, unquestionable and clear knowledge”), cannot be explained by reason. Tolstoy directly ties materialism to not only the body, but also the part of the body, the belly, that literally receives food, while the contrast is something “we all know,” but cannot be pinned down anywhere in this world. Specifically, this plays out in the titular character Anna who does not discover Levinesque spiritual enlightenment, killing herself instead as she is unable to come to terms with the limitations of earthly existence, specifically the limits of worldly love. It cannot, however, be said that all women in Tolstoy are materialistic: Both Kitty in Anna Karenina and especially Natasha Rostova in War and Peace bear and achieve an absolute symbiosis with the metaphysical.

In the case of the impish Natasha Rostova, she goes out on a hunt with her brother Nikolai. When they stop at an uncle’s log cabin, the host pulls out a guitar. Both Natasha and her uncle separately enter into a different realm (without any romantic interest in each other). First, he is described as assuming a new personality: Previously serious and quiet, he now becomes funny and laughs. Yet Natasha’s metamorphosis surpasses him by far: Not only does she transform herself by dancing, but she does so by exhibiting complete harmony with the Russian folk, although she has been raised in the aristocracy by a French governess. Without any experience in folk dancing, she knows all the steps, does everything right, as if she had “imbibed this spirit from the Russian air.” The narrator further points to the metaphysical nature of this moment by posing questions in the text and describing spectators as vacillating between laughter and tears at the beauty.

While gender distinctions cannot be assigned in Tolstoy, he does tie humbleness, simplicity, asceticism, labor and a lack of rationality/reason to the metaphysical. Fedor is a peasant. Levin may be an aristocrat, but he disdains high society, choosing farming and philosophical reflection instead. Kitty nearly dies when she becomes enamored by the glamorous solider Vronsky and finds happiness in the countryside with Levin. Natasha Rostova, also a member of high society, imbibes the spirit in a log cabin in the forest. The truth is experienced in fields and is beyond reason as Levin discovers through the peasant Fedor. By contrast, socialites like Anna and Vronsky ultimately commit suicide (Anna) or seek to die (Vronsky) when they run out of worldly distractions to keep them occupied.

Spirits on earth and visions of the dead – A Sportsman’s Sketches by Ivan Turgenev and The DNA of Angels by Valentina Akssy

The idealization and longing for youth in Russian literary fiction has a long tradition stretching back at least to Alexander Pushkin. Often it is associated with innocence, naivety and freedom, especially vis-à-vis adulthood. A subject examined less extensively and less obviously apparent is a possibly unconscious positing of youth as a metaphysical stage in a person’s life before they ‘develop’ into mature materialists.

As always with the subject of the metaphysical, it is hard to define exact criteria that need to be present for us to identify a person, character or mindset as such. In literature, as we saw above in the context of Elias Portolu and Anna Karenina, authors tend to show or depict characters and scenes in a manner that must be connected with the metaphysical or material (or any other classification) rather than telling or stating in an expository manner that such is the case.

In Ivan Turgenev’s story Byezhin Prairie, one of the ‘sketches’ in the collection titled A Sportsman’s Sketches, the hunter or sportsman who is wandering through the countryside, meeting with various peasants and describing their lives, encounters a group of boys sitting around a fire in the evening. He spends the night with them, listening to a series of tales exclusively about spirits, witches, mermaids and supernatural powers.

First, listeners hear about a domovoy, a kind of house spirit, still believed in despite the long tradition of Christianity in Russia. In this instance, the boys were spending the night in an old paper mill where they worked to avoid wasting time. When they are lying down to sleep, someone starts walking around on the floor above, right after they ask whether the domovoy will come. Then water begins to drip, a wheel starts to rattle and then turn. Soon the sound of steps is heard on the staircase; the door flies open, but they see nothing: Now the nets on the vats begin to move; a hook comes off its nail, and there is a cough. (72-3)

The next tale of spirits a boy tells to the circle relates to a mermaid in the forest (mermaids in Russian were not exclusively confined to the sea). Called russalki, these mermaids were essentially considered witches. When the local carpenter encounters one singing in the forest, he crosses himself for protection. This causes the mermaid to shift from singing to crying: She laments the crossing, explaining that he would have lived in happiness with her until the end of his days, (74) but now both she and he will grieve until death. Although the duty of a Christian, according to the boys, is to ward off such spirits just as the carpenter did (“but how can such an evil thing of the woods ruin a Christian soul – he did not listen to her, right? (74)), the carpenter is punished for vacillating. Whereas the children in the old mill fully believe in the domovoy and ultimately are left unharmed by the spirit, the adult carpenter is ruined for acting on instinct and out of routine rather than embracing the metaphysical one way or the other (choosing the pagan spirit or Christian God). Initially, he faints, then wants to yield to the mermaids’ wishes and only half-heartedly crosses himself (“the Lord put it into his heart, doubtlessly.” (74)).

The five boys recount a variety of other stories about spiritual powers on earth, with all being taken for deadly serious except for one about a type of anti-Christ called Trishka, which is sightly undermined by the teller Pavel. None of the boys, including Pavel, doubts the existence of Trishka or his superhuman powers to elude capture, escape and lead Christ’s people astray. (78) However, Pavel, who has yet to share a story, tells about an incident where Trishka was expected in their parts on account of a heavenly portent. Suddenly, a man with an odd-shaped head was seen descending the mountain in their area; everyone scattered, screaming and hiding, but it turned out to be the town cooper, who had bought a new pitcher and put it over his head. Pavel is also the boy who exhibits the least fear in the face of these spiritual powers. Earlier, shortly after the mermaid story, he jumps on a horse and rides off into the dark to check the other horses when their dogs start barking convulsively; following a story about wood-spirits and groaning in water pits, Pavel goes to the river to get water. While Pavel does not doubt their existence and presence – he even says he heard his name called in the water as he stopped to fill the pitcher –, his actions demonstrate that he has no fear of them: “No one can escape their fate,” he says. (82) In the story recounted about Trishka, he makes a slight mockery of it with the pitcher-on-head detail. Interestingly, however, the narrator closes the tale by mentioning that (of the five) Pavel was killed that year in a fall from his horse. Not only is youth mingled with the metaphysical by having boys tell stories about spirits (while an older silent narrator documents them), and young believing boys are spared as opposed to half-hearted men, but the boy with the least orthodox attitude toward them dies.

The spiritual can also appear in reality through visions a person has. Such visions may consist of imagining the presence of someone or something in a place, daydreaming or dreaming of a person or thing that does not currently exist. Even mistaking A for B might reflect a case where the metaphysical/spiritual makes its presence felt. In Valentina Akssy’s story The DNA of Angels, we delve into a case of the imagined presence of a physically dead person:

During period after death:

I hate sunflowers. I’ve hated them for four years now. And I dream about them almost every night, and then they hover in front of my eyes all day and don’t disappear: I push ahead, running between these hateful sunflowers, as rough stems nastily scratch my arms and legs. I try to catch up to my Slavik, but he doesn’t even turn around, as if he doesn’t hear me. Striding ahead, he pushes aside the high stalks with his broad shoulders and disappears under the yellow petals. I stumble, fall, but I don’t stop and yell to him from behind: “Slaavik.” And the sunflowers, like living ones, are closing closer and closer to each other, and I can no longer squeeze through the palisade of stalks. I can only see the crown of my husband’s head under the swinging yellow baskets, farther and farther…

As he is dying:

I fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of Slavik, when he was young, when I met him, going somewhere through a field of sunflowers.

Coming to terms with her husband’s early death:

I sat on the side of the road, with my face to the sun, and smiled. It seemed to me that Slavik was watching them from the sunflowers and smiling at our angels too.

The wind swept over the field and made the yellow flower petals sway. In the distance, several sunflowers parted, forming a narrow path, as if someone was walking between them, spreading the tall stems with his broad shoulders…

In the two passages, Masha sees her late husband in a dream, with the second instance occurring simultaneously to his death in a battle between Ukrainian and Russian forces in East Ukraine. In the third passage, she envisions him during the day as their children play in the field. Whereas Turgenev embeds the spiritual sphere in his narrative by invoking actual spiritual figures witnessed by humans, Akssy depicts the metaphysical with a formerly existing person reappearing in dreams and visions. In each case, the author departs from the documentation of the objective material world to give their readers access to an alternative.

While the metaphysical element of the dream/vision is not unambiguously reinforced by the backdrop of the metaphysical or material, we do observe two interesting developments. Masha’s three visions of her husband unfold in two different contexts: The first two, both negative, are dreams she has asleep and thus presumably indoors. The third vision, by contrast, occurs outdoors and is positive. Hence, the indoor-outdoor dichotomy within the metaphysical suggests a hierarchical ranking of visions, with outdoor ones being more positive. Furthermore, this last vision is accompanied by children scampering through the field, thereby uniting (metaphysical) youth with (metaphysical) visions of the non-existent. And the worldly result of this moment is: a smile, perhaps what was on Levin’s face when he listened to Fedor’s explanation of the truth.

Falling-in-love as a trope for the metaphysical / the dissipation of love as gravitation toward materialism – The Harvest by Galina Nikolaeva and The Love of Three Generations by Alexandra Kollontai

The former lizard, Avdotya, has become a mere appendage of her husband. At home she cooks, cleans, raises their daughter, and works in the vegetable garden. It is a life that pales in comparison to her youth as a respected group leader, an award-winning potato collector and seducer of the highly desirable tractor driver Vassily.

Galina Nikolaeva tells the story of Avdotya (Dunya, Dunyasha) Oserova and Vassily Kusmich in The Harvest. During the halcyon days of her childhood, Dunya jumps through fires (literally), draws the attention of the somewhat older Vassily, dancing, playing, dreaming and working in the fields with him. Life is otherworldly for her. Even when he breaks off their friendship, she is confident that they are in love with each other, and if he is not, then she wants no part of it. His position, the rumors resulting from their friendship, or the security of being married are nothing without love: “If you loved me, Vasya, the slander would not bother me. If you loved me, I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute.” (126-7) And she continues to immerse herself in life, loving unilaterally and using that metaphysical strength to contribute to the societal dream, which in turn feeds back into her love. Hence, she becomes famous for her potato harvesting and when Vassily writes her after a lengthy work-related interruption, she doesn’t harbor any doubts, running to meet him again: “No trace of doubts, criticism or tears. So trusting, faithful, open to joy; she played and sang.” (128) She becomes even more beautiful, and Vassily falls passionately in love with her. They marry.

On the day of their wedding, the narrator sums up Dunya’s otherworldly existence in the state of love that the reader has learned about primarily from his perspective:

Since the moment she had seen Vassily under the flags on the tractor decorated with rowan berry branches and heard his unusually passionate speech, her life had been pure happy expectation. She herself did not know what she was expecting; some kind of wonderful life in which her entire soul soared appeared before her eyes, and Vassily was the man, the best of all, the eternally loved man, with whom she now began this life. Their existence together to date was only the harbinger of something greater. When would it begin, that which she desired? What is it, how is it? (128-129)

The words in this passage capture the proximity between love and the metaphysical: life is a wonder (wonderful life); her soul soars – the soul being a central characteristic of the religious metaphysical and flying associated with the extraterrestrial; “the sign of something greater” ties into the spiritual theme of meaning beyond what we can comprehend on the basis of everyday, material existence. The same is suggested by the adjectives (great, desired) turned into nouns, a linguistic characteristic of the metaphysical, like the word metaphysical itself.

Yet “frosty and clear came the morning” – heralding the end of metaphysical love and the decent into the materialism of daily life. Despite efforts to stem the fall, Avdotya is helpless for a long time, as she cannot understand what is happening. She is lonely at home handling the domestic chores; her husband is at work most of the day and they share little common ground (“common language”). Although the narrator authoritatively declares that he is a faithful husband and there are no marital problems, Avdotya suffers in her position.

As Avdotya watches her dreams of some unclear expectation dissipate into the child, housework, cooking, she also finds herself predominantly in a different location – indoors. When she is falling in love, the scenes are almost all outdoors. She meets Vassily at an open-air festival. They hang out under the open sky, and even when they break off their friendship, it occurs on Avdotya’s porch. In this phase, by contrast, she may be in a clean, cozy, homy room with flowerpots on the windowsills, but her eyes have glazed over; she feigns joy with her child, and eventually resolves to start working at the kolkhoz again. This return to an environment often outdoors is suggested to result in an improvement. Vassily talks with her again, saying “When your wife is doing well, her husband is diligent.” (140)

In 1941 Vassily is evidently killed in the war, which allows Avdotya to start over. She makes private and professional changes. Privately, she lets Stephan, an injured war veteran, move in with her family; professionally, she dedicates herself to the dairy business of the kolkhoz. Although the two are only roommates, so to say, they live like a couple, spending evenings with Avdotya’s kids reading as they knit and repair shoes. With the passage of time (together), she experiences even more intense love than with Vassily: “No matter how much she had loved Vassily, she had never felt such a unity of feeling and thought, such pure harmony in everything.” (144) Her eyes are big and her pale face smiles; they agree on the sowing of the seeds, making them “feel so close, as if nothing could bring them closer.” (146) To emphasize the immensity of their love just prior to consummation, the author then describes various classical metaphysical tropes such as birth/germination (a nest of fawns discovered while mowing grass at night; seeds sowed), girls’ intoxicating and gentle singing, millions of stars twinkling, flickering and flashing, then a shooting star. Similar to the scenes when Avdotya falls in love with Vassily, the two lovers are primarily depicted outside – in fields, under starry skies – especially as their love climaxes, and repeatedly encountering youth or early phase development (seeds, birth, girls).

Finally – to remove any doubt that the author views (falling-in) love as a trope for the metaphysical and the decent out of love as a reversion to the materialism of worldly life – Avdotya and Stephan marry, and Advotya begins to believe that her happiness is solid and impermeable – until Vassily returns. Accordingly, we can say that falling-in-love is equated to a metaphysical state, whereas daily life in a relationship becomes material. This interpretation also plays out indirectly in Avdotya’s first marriage. The state of marriage and end of the falling-in-love phase gives way immediately to domestic chores: material love.

The early Soviet writer Alexandra Kollontai depicts exactly these two opposing kinds of love in her story The Love of Three Generations. One colleague tells another about her mother’s amorous relationships, her own and her daughter’s. Both she and her mother fall hopelessly in love with various men. Initially, her mother ignores the opposition of her parents to marry an officer (“My mother had married for love and against the will of her parents” (11)). When this mother meets her soulmate, however, she leaves the officer, justifying her action on the basis of, as she viewed it, “the law of love was stronger than the duties of marriage! Love was something great and holy to her.” (12) The woman of the second generation experiences two kinds of love simultaneously: one logical with Konstantin and the other ‘different’ and unexplainable with the engineer M. Olya Sergeyevna (Olga), the woman of the second generation and narrator, then eventually explains that she cannot choose the ‘different’ love because it would be “spiritual bankruptcy for her.” (24) The stark contrast between metaphysical love and absolute pragmatic love without emotion can be seen most starkly with the pure convenience love of the third generation. Eventually, Olga separates from both of her partners and has a close (marriage-like) relationship with a younger comrade named Andrey Ryabkov. He subsequently has a relationship with Olga’s daughter Genia from the engineer M. However, Olga is not shocked by her daughter’s relations with her partner Andrey, but by her attitude towards it: She saw “an incomprehensible heartlessness, a calmness, a person convinced of her right… something cold, rational, almost cynical … not love, not passion and no effort to escape from her position. (30-31)

While Alexandra Kollontai almost certainly did not intend to negatively depict the first generation of Soviet-born and raised children as materialistic in their love and place love within the materialist agenda that pervaded all communist ideology, she does ultimately produce such a narrative. All of the women are communists. Yet both Olga and her mother grew up in Czarist Russia with its greater balance between materialism and the spiritual/metaphysical. Those two generations, irrespective of political ideology or perhaps even as a contrast to it, embrace passionate love, although their views of handling this differ. Genia has been surrounded by nothing other than Marxism her whole life, and her love is absent of any association with something otherworldly, unexplainable, abstract. It is purely physical lust. This is underscored by Genia’s decision to have an abortion: All three have dedicated their lives to the proletariat revolution, but only the third views conception as a material impediment to be eliminated. Genia also exhibits no qualms about her decision to ultimately leave her mother and Andrey. Metaphysical falling-in-love is completely absent from her relationship with Andrey. It has begun and ended in pure materialism.

A second self – being released from the worldly self: Unreal Reality by Armine Asryan and Moon Palace by Paul Auster

The socially constructed self is posited in sharp contrast to an alternative identity that enjoys unlimited freedom (воля). In Unreal Reality by Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan), we see Julie gain access to this second self in Nare. Fear, special treatment, loneliness and depression are what she has felt since the moment her toy teddy bear emitted a ‘booo’: “Fear. The first emotion she experienced from interaction with the world was fear. She simply assumed that the world was not a safe place.” (1). Eventually, after leaving her family and travelling aimlessly, she lands in a mental hospital. In the subsequent course of events, we realize that Julie’s collapse was brought about by her incompatibility with the limitations in material life. The language completely changes between the phases when Julie escapes with Nare and when she is alone without her: “suffering,” “overcoming emotional barriers,” “shrinking,” “violent face,” “brutal treatment,” “demons,” “hell,” “depression,” and “pills” become “unlimited possibilities,” “light,” “songs of the birds,” “nourishment,” “happiest,” “laughing and running.” The words laughter and happiness are repeated in many different contexts shared by Julie and Nare. Without directly declaring that her unhappy state is brought about by the materialism of her surroundings, Julie clearly depicts the flights into her alternative self as metaphysical:

From time to time, Julie would leave Nare and return to the real world. She was bored and unhappy in this world, but these moments happened. Most of the time she was in the real world. The world offered nothing to her but wanted her attention and care and love. The world gave nothing to her but wanted every single element of her. And she was exhausted in this world. (6)

The second self is effectively identified as metaphysical while the first self is material. The narrator blurs the boundary between Julie and Nare, leaving it unclear whether they are the same person or whether Nare is a special friend who gives Julie access to her alternative self. Either which way, Julie with/as Nare is metaphysical, while Julie without Nare is material. The deixis of “this world,” “real world” vs. “that world” emphasizes the duality. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the language changes between the worlds. The value judgements on these worlds are also unambiguous: the metaphysical world consists of “precious moments,” while the material one is “full of hatred and humiliation.”

Another example of illness placing a character in communication with the metaphysical appears in Paul Auster’s Moon Palace. Marco Fogg, the protagonist, departs from reality in the midst of a gradual self-destructive craze after his sole relative, his uncle, passes away. At the end of this phase, he is evicted from his apartment and lives in New York City’s Central Park (without a tent or shelter). The gradually intensifying delirium causes him to lose track of time: He may have nothing to do all day in the park, but he has no trouble filling the time reading newspapers, searching for food and occasionally having fun. Eventually his insanity climaxes with a complete departure from even the surroundings of the park as he hallucinates on the ground beside a hollow in the rocks:

I don’t know how much time I spent in there. Two or three days, I would think, but it hardly matters now… Most of the time I was barely conscious and even when I seemed to be awake, I was so bound up in the tribulations of my body that I lost all sense of where I was. I remember long bouts of vomiting, frenzied moments when my body wouldn’t stop shaking, periods when the only sound I heard was the chattering of my teeth… – endless, mutating visions that seemed to grow directly out of my burning skin. Nothing could hold its shape in me. Once, I remember, I saw the Moon Palace sign in front of me, more vivid than it had ever been in life. The pink and blue neon letters were so large that the whole sky was filled with their brightness. Then, suddenly, the letters disappeared, and only the two os from the word Moon were left. I saw myself dangling from one of them, struggling to hang on like an acrobat who had botched a dangerous stunt. Then I was slithering around it like a tiny worm, and then I wasn’t there anymore. The two os had turned into eyes, gigantic human eyes that were looking down at me with scorn and impatience. They kept staring at me, and after a while I became convinced that they were the eyes of God. (Auster 69-70)

This passage also captures the metaphysical character of hallucination or a second self relative to the materialism of worldly life. Throughout Fogg’s descent into insanity, he has generally been lucid, i.e. conscious, and has primarily addressed material needs, first and foremost, food. The topic of food, how to eat on a low budget, with constraints such as a lack of electricity, is omnipresent. Only when he loses consciousness, a period estimated to be been three days, does he forget the worldly concern of consumption entirely and ultimately perceive to see the impersonation of the Christian metaphysical world – god. It is also worth noting that these hallucinations come during Fogg’s sojourn in the park rather than on the city streets, i.e. in more open nature rather than an environment trapped by buildings. Nonetheless, relative to other departures from the self such as Julie’s, Fogg’s experience may be tempered by the heavily materialistic context of a hypercapitalist city in a hypercapitalist country. In a more balanced place, such as Armenia, the character or author depicting the character delves more extensively into the metaphysical. Whereas Fogg spends much of his time in Central Park looking for food and conscious of physical concerns (above all, vomiting, shaking, clattering teeth), i.e. continuing materialist pursuits, Julie completely abandons all material concerns when she heads out with Nare. Eventually, Fogg too is able to enter a purely metaphysical world as the two OOs in the hallucinated Moon Palace sign of a restaurant he used to see from his apartment window become the eyes of god, but it takes a long time.

Conclusion

This paper has examined four representations of the metaphysical/spiritual in literary fiction, partly by contrasting them to the material. In Elias Portolu by Grazia Deledda and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, we looked at cases where one gender or class was considered to be more in touch with the eternal. Byezhin Prairie by Ivan Turgenev then gave us an example of literary fiction addressing the manifestation of the metaphysical on earth in the form of ‘appearances’ recounted by young locals, with credulous youth depicted as survivors. Another form of the metaphysical was then explored against the indoor/outdoor dichotomy in The DNA of Angels by Valentina Akssy. The physical location of metaphysical experience serves as the backdrop for much of the third approach to depicting this phenomenon, which is revealed in the trope of love, as we witnessed in The Harvest by Galina Nikolaeva, and by comparison in The Love of Three Generations by Alexandra Kollontai. Finally, a second self has also served as a vehicle for exploring life outside of materialism in work such as Armine Asryan’s Unreal Reality or Paul Auster’s Moon Palace.

While all of these depictions share certain commonalities, in particular the broaching of the metaphysical/spiritual as something existent, but intangible, their immediate treatment of the topic is complemented by an even more far-reaching, extensive and nearly universal aspect of the metaphysical: the shifting between different worlds, diverging states, the cyclicality of being when a worldly person consciously or unconsciously embraces the metaphysical. In part, this is an inevitable consequence of a metaphysical orientation. As Julie says in Unreal Reality, it is necessary to return to the real world from time to time. It is not possible, and for many not even desirable, to remain in one state, whether positive or negative, for an interminable amount of time. Romantics live for this diversity, as is revealed time and again in literary fiction and our everyday lives. What we need to understand it, is very simple, just one thing: air.

There is both literal and metaphorical significance to the term air. On the one hand, it is physically required for achieving the necessary balance to reject materialism and embrace the metaphysical, as we have discussed in Peripatetic Alterity. On the other hand, it acts as a symbol for the presence of the metaphysical at given moments. It is certainly possible that this practice derives from Christianity (e.g. air is often associated with the Holy Spirit) and that Christianity drew on pagan or other traditions that adopt air, wind, the ether, etc. for the spiritual.

In the episodes of metaphysical exposure discussed above, the word air or wind either appears, is implied or can be assumed in almost every context. For example, in Elias Portolu, Zia Annedda indirectly refers to the idea of air by tapping her breast and referring to a bird flying (in the air). This is followed by the case of Anna Karenina where Levin’s realization comes as thunder clouds are gathering and it begins to rain – almost certainly accompanied by wind. The evidence of the domovoy in Byezhin Prairie is proven by gusts of wind opening doors. There is a direct reference to wind in The DNA of Angels, when the narrator describes Masha’s final vision of her late husband: “The wind swept over the field…” Flags rippling (in the wind), her soul soaring (through the air) are part of the description in the trope of Avdotya’s falling-in-love in The Harvest. Similar to The Harvest, the concept of air is also implied throughout Unreal Reality by having the metaphysical scenes set outdoors under the open sky (rather than indoors). Finally, the same can be said for the hallucinations in Moon Palace as Fogg lies in Central Park.

Works cited

Primary sources

Аксси, Валентина. ДНК ангелов. 2020.

Asryan, Armine. “Unreal Reality.“ In the Middle. New York: Perypatetik, 2020.

Auster, Paul. Moon Palace. New York, USA: Penguin Books, 1990.

Deledda, Grazia. Elias Portolu. Translated by Martha King. Evanston, USA: Northwestern University Press, 1995.

Коллонтай, Алексадра. Любовь трех поколений. Москва: Lib.ru. Accessed Dec. 5 2020. 

Николаева, Галина. Жатва. 1950. Online: Royallib. Accessed Dec. 5, 2020. 

Тольстой, Лев. Анна Каренина. Москва: ЭКСМО, 2006.

Secondary sources

Baccino, Alejandra. “Till Love Do Us Part.” In the Middle. New York: Perypatetik, 2020.

Достоевский, Федор. Идиот. Москва: ЭКСМО, 2006.

Friedrich, Smirnov, Whittlesey (Eds.). Peripatetic Alterity. New York: Perypatetik, 2019.

Тольстой, Лев. Война и Мир. Москва: ЭКСМО, 2003.

Whittlesey, Henry (ed.). From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin. New York: Perypatetic Media, 2013.

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed