In the morning I get a call from the philosopher. He’s in trouble, so he sais. I take my bike and cycle through the city. My ears still used to the calm canal get over tensed by the alarms and sirens and horns. After conquering the city noise, I end up in the oasis where he lives. Whether I can help him out with the editing of his new book? The deadline is tomorrow. For the next three hours, I put references in footnotes. Meanwhile, he is writing a new article about the Urban Empire. He looks like Gandalph the Grey, but with sex-appeal.
He sais: “Your hair is beautiful, but you’ve got dandruff. You should use nizoral shampoo.”
He sais: “Please take a chair if you come watch my screen. You look like this kind of person that easily gets a backache.”
I don’t show I’m insulted.
After three hours, my hands feel lame, my wrists ache, my eyes have a double vision and my head zooms, but all the references to Foucault and Agamben and Aristotle are down at the pages.
He sais: “Let’s go for a walk in the cemetery.”
I ask: “Do you know someone there?”
He sais: “That is a good question.”
I guess this is one of the biggest compliments one might get from a philosopher.
We walk through the ruined graves. The trees have grown through the gravestones. The bushes are overwhelming the crosses. Some graves have lost their sidewalls so you could easily hide a new body in it. Here and there a family tomb with recent additions. And also an underground corridor with lots of plaques. A pain in the ass of the city government who would have liked to put a subway here. Hundred meter further the highway is snoring. The basilica is located next to the busiest crossing in the city.
He sais: “Ain’t it beautiful? The obelisks. The monuments. The statues. All these lamenting women, petrified on the graves. And look here, the thinker of Rodin.”
We look at the bronze mass of muscles, pretending he’s having a hard time carrying his head. He’s looking down on a magnificent tomb.
I say: “This girl was 18 years old when she died. Maybe she commited suicide.”
He sais: “Or she died of TBC.”
His daughter entered the office this morning. In pajamas. She’s got re-sits. She’s studying psychology. She didn’t seem very fond of me being there. She reminded me of myself as a teenager, coming down for breakfast on Sunday morning, finding the table full of friends of my brother, me feeling ashamed because he hadn’t warned me and I didn’t wash my hair.
The philosopher sais: “It’s a pity the weather is that bad. I had imagined we would sit together at the swimming pond, talking, discussing, drinking. Maybe smoking the plants I’ve got in my garden. Honouring Dionysus.”
And he sais: “I’ve got so many notes, scribbled down on loose ends. About the origin of erotica. Maybe we can write something about that together?”
I ask: “How was your time in Turkey? Is she released, your friend?”
He sais: “No. I wouldn’t have thought so anyway.”
She’s in prison for a year now. She is a human right’s activist. The Turkish government didn’t like that. He went to the trial in Istanbul.
I wonder whether I’m scared, and if so, why. He’s teaching at three universities. His wife’s got the same name as I have. His daughters grew up in the same safe harbour as I did.
“Writing together. Yes, I’d love to.” I say.
On my way home, my bike falls down to pieces. Because of the bad roads in this city, the screws thrilled out. I have to walk all the way home, on high heals, wearing my heavy laptop, up the mountain.