Black Flies

                                                                                                                                                    By Bernadett Báll

The gym is always the center of a relationship triangle between the “body, mind and soul” or so the slogan goes at a local American style “body resort”.  Everyday it teaches the lessons of a twenty-first century existence of rigorous self-control over the body.  This spreads and collects like a plague of black flies in a dense forest, in the summer.  The body is the epitome of the lie and control over the mind and soul as well, it tells the mind that the façade of a healthy appearance is the key to success or its opposite, the lock of failure. 


“The world condemns liars who do nothing but lie, even about the most trivial things, and it rewards poets, who lie only about the greatest things.”[1] The master tells Baudolino on the trick of history writing.  Plucked from a world of idleness and imagination Baudolino is taught that reality is nothing more then a chain of stories perfected through language and interveined into the blood by spectacular oratory. The lie becomes the truth and from it springs the eternal life of history, a linear spectrum of greats and geniuses in the calamity of existence.


Lie becomes the first tool in life learned as a child to avoid un-pleasantries and punishment.  The mathematical equation of the lie, the give and takes, all tallied up for a rewarding outcome, it is the first risk and its result the first triumph or failure of a child.  At the age of three cunning seemed to have little consequences which at the age of twenty-five is encrusted as an essence of personality by the relatives who witnessed such trickery.  In the business world good “tactics” become an asset, the body the tool to carry out the deal, a body which presumably has a conscience, a heart, a Soul?


Lying is also a talent like anything else, which has to be learned and perfected.  “The world is a playground of liars and joining is a requirement of a healthy existence.” This was one of mother’s famous lines: a lesson in life.  “Health” is a word interchanged between normal and perfection.  Health is an unnatural control over the body, a deceit of the body; once deceit is self-inflicted it becomes natural and later a norm to live by, such trivial lies for which praise is a natural outcome. 


When Grandma Leery died, childhood took a back seat to the tragic event. It was an open casket funeral and every memory of her would bare that mark to follow.  It was then that death became a fascination as a play between lie and truth.  The children are spared from further pain though a lie of belief in an afterlife which the informer never entirely believes.  It is to be taken as is with repose and without questioning its limitations.  


Unstopped organ, from earth you break
     To knock at the skies,
     And I can but shake
My fragile fetters, and with you rise


Everyday life is a game of cat and mouse; it is always preferred to be the cat or the fat cat, the big cat.  Cat the animal of independence, mystic and cunning, it fits well into the big city’s scenery of facades and buttresses, but this is only an act which the big cat takes on and believes to be the truth.  The gothic church architecture has always held a certain fascination especially the buttresses which function to hold up, to support the building from collapsing; the outer strength of the skeleton to keep safe the inner weakness of the soul encased in a jewel like box; awe its primary goal. 


It becomes easier to live with lies rather then truth, although lies are only lies because there is the opinion that there is a truth.  Truth has a time and space however; it is the norms of society’s expectations of right and wrong.  In the twenty-first century truth is a liability, its only place relegated to the science of philosophy.  Philosophy is that art which questions everything but never has any answers, and retains its existence on the idea that there is no definite answer. 


However, answers are easy to give, answers are everywhere in all forms from all points of view, but the toughest job is finding out what the question is because a  question always implies an answer already.  While the truth professes that there is no truth (non-existence) lie claims it’s the opposite of truth (existence).  Lie is the real truth, and truth the real lie.  So when it was time to tell the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” at the trial of a fraud investigation – the state versus The Loved Ones Corp. – the distinction between the two was irrelevant, a blurred line between interpretation and dogma. The truth was told. 


The Bem Rakpart at night is beautiful; it was eight in the evening on a warm spring day, when the spring jacket can blow in the breeze unbuttoned and free.  The rocked surfaces of some of the streets reflect back the light of the streetlamps creating a play of color.  The same rocks which in the day time are so inhospitable with a yellow surface and rickety noise when the past meets the present automobile.  Magic and mystery over take the street but never enough to induce fear only surges of energy.  Night instead of day gives energy to the city, in a place where the stars are no longer visible the city lights becomes the stars. 


Overtaken by the smell of lavender floating in the calm breeze, the perfection of that moment brings a touch of death, and thoughts of mortality.


you said Is
there anything which
is dead or alive more beautiful
than my body, to have in your fingers
(trembling ever so little)?
                            Looking into
your eyes Nothing, i said, except the
air of spring smelling of never and forever.


Headaches are often the result of stress and anxiety but this did not feel like the normal headache which a simple Advil might cure, more like a cascade of numbing pain.  Slowly waking a white painted room is revealed with a brown tinted glass ceiling.  The sun shines through the ceiling and the Cyprus trees dance to Haydn’s Lamentatione on the white walls.  The absence of triviality and the use of clean lines have a calming effect on the body.


A cat, a fat cat walks into the room, stops, looks back, and continues.  There is someone at the door and this is a messenger or rather the message. Without glasses the face is blurred and the sun shines into the eyes, the approach is slow and hesitant as though face to face with a wild animal.  The lips try to utter some words which are only slightly visible: coward?  The fall to the ground created such a blow that the railings of the bed shake; the fat cat dead on the ground.


on earth a candle is
extinguished      the city
with a song upon her
mouth having death in her eyes

and it is dawn
the world
goes forth to murder dreams...

The death is not followed by grief, anxiety or hysteria but a quiet somber sleep, from which the recollection of the event later is like a foggy dream.  The arms which always function to every command now are helpless and not just the arms, the whole body, but the mind is still working, thinking.  Don’t they know that control over the mind is more effective then the body?  This experience is taken with a calm recollection of a life without much regret but without much to be proud of either, in the larger context of what the world considers successful (wealth and status). 


Coward?  It could be.  The trial for which the fate of so many living people rested – money was offered for the truth/lie and exposed to the detriment of the so called victims – “Loved Ones Corp. had cheated out hundreds of people and their loved ones” the newspaper read.  So the “wrong” was helped, or the “right”?  It is all relative.  Every active/passive behavior has its own consequences.


The dead body is a weight on society, it should be the living body that is prized, rewarded and complimented.  Why be attached to the dead, the retainer of tradition, dogma, false hope?  The Loved Ones helped people die and was paid for it, like a prostitute that sells sex for pay, it sold death for money, the kind of death the clients preferred or dreamed of, which society couldn’t provide them. The bodies would be taken care of, the ordinary given heroic status or anything else they preferred. But the crime was greater then mere financial, some would call it murder but there was no interest to expose that, the dead were unwanted. It was the money.


It wasn’t simply a question of old fashion respect; it was a question of commodities, competition and memory.  The Loved Ones created a space where trust was the mantra of the whole society who belonged; it was a park for the dead and the living, a garden of exotic plants and flowers, with spring waters. 


This is the garden. Time shall surely reap
and on Death's blade lie many a flower curled,
in other lands where other songs be sung;
yet stand They here enraptured, as among
the slow deep trees perpetual of sleep
some silver-fingered fountain steals the world.


People came to spend time with their loved ones after they passed on; it was the creation of a new relationship rather then a severing of one.  The exercise of our bodies so rigorously uniformed in one direction is no match for the dead body which our society praises, remembers by and worships;  the church itself the coffin of the dead, the past, the acceptable. 


It is no one’s place to determine what is true and false but everyone has a take on it.  The Loved Ones thought the choice to live or die was an individual one; it helped people make that choice.  Coward? Maybe, because murder was not a choice, war never a hobby, military never permanent.  The fat cat?  That was a choice, role play, cinema, art, one of the loved ones.  Is this a service, or a crime; is it cowardice to live, or cowardice to die? 


The stars are visible through the glass ceiling and the light of the fool moon shines into the white room, the room smells like fresh sheets and suntan lotion.  The stars become brighter and descend from the sky to enwrap the bed in a burning dance.  And the plague of black flies in the dense forest continues to live and multiply in a world of right and wrongs, truth and lies, body and mind. 


i will wade out
       till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun into my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                 with closed eyes
to dash against the darkness
            in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
            Will I complete the mystery
            of my flesh
I will rise
       After a thousand years
     And set my teeth in the silver of the moon.


[1] Umberto Eco’s Baudolino, page 43.

[2] ee cummings music from Uncollected Poems (1991)

[3] ee cummings

[4] ee cummings sonnet IX from Tulips (1922)

[5] ee cummings poem IX from Chimneys (1923)

[6] ee cummings

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