The past has begun

Statue of the Holy Crown of Hungary in front of the Dunakeszi railway station
The borders of our world are not in the distance, on the horizon or in the depths: they glimmer at the immedite vicinity, at the obscure edges of our intimate spaces. Somebody on a morning finds a wriggling sea star on the damp carpet of the living room, or a statuette of a god with an obstinate look in the eye, bird- and turtle-shaped mechanisms that sometimes hum and a red lamp is gleaming on the place of their eyes, or a book printed with unknown letters that include irised illustrations representing jungle temples and tigers. These things arrived to our shores only by mistakes, and then we enwrap them with some kind of substitutive meanings originating in our own experiences, on the basis of false similarities. We are guarded by the protective arm of the careful and perfidious god of the grammar that conceals from us the face of the monsters. (Michal Ajvaz: Druhé město (The other town), Brno 2005)

As the objects of the obscure, irrational and surreal “other town” hiding behind the usual and everyday Prague which sometimes penetrate by chance into our world and thus open the eyes of Michal Ajvaz to the existence of that one, are not what they appear to be, the sand container in Petřín is in the reality the lighting-window of the dome of an underground pagan cathedral, and the last door of the basement toilet of the Slavia café opens on an immense jungle cut across by a powerful river, in which the members of a tiger-adoring sect are massacring their own heretics; so the Hungarian crown standing in front of the railway station of Dunakeszi and slowly dribbling on the four Stonehenge dolmens supporting it like the clocks of Dalí, thus dissolving and invalidating the time, is not identical with the Hungarian crown that we have seen in the previous two posts, although it bears a striking resemblance to it. For the one we have seen in Iran and Austria, is the insignia of the Hungarian kings since the 12th century which, with its components coming from different countries, with the beautiful enamel images from 11th-century Limoges and 12th-century Byzantium, with the portrait of the Byzantine emperor Michael Dukas inserted on the place of a former icon of the Virgin Mary, with the cross standing obliquely but proudly on its top, and with its history full of vicissitudes is a true portrait of the thousand years old Hungarian statehood. The crown modeled in Dunakeszi, however, is a several thousand or ten thousands year old jewel of Hun or Sumerian origin – anyway, the both are the same –, a magic model of the cosmos, an energy center, sum of an infinite knowledge coming from outside the Earth or from the collective unconscious of mankind, the tabernacle of the religion of the highest order that has ever existed or that can be conceived. At least this is what the members of this esoteric Hungarian sect, unfortunately growing in number, preach of it.

Statue of the Holy Crown of Hungary in front of the Dunakeszi railway station
The priests and believers of this religion are among us, like the night high priest of the faith of Dargúz in Ajvaz’s novel who in the daytime is the waiter of the restaurant of Pohořelec. They are stubborn Calvinists holding in contempt all kind of Popist idolatry, but uttering with the utmost respect the name of the Holy Crown. Catholics taking Communion every day, but propagating the Gospel of the Holy Crown every week in the Tuesday prayer meeting with the devote support of the parish priest. Department leaders of the Hungarian National Library who open the halls of the library to the mission of this cult. Architects – a most important order of knighthood of this religion – of whom you hope statically reliable houses and you receive the pattern design of the lines of force of the Holy Crown embracing the universe. Goldsmiths, sculptors and applied artists who on the one hand guarantee with their name for the authenticity of the myth of origin of this cult object, and on the other hand fill with works of art inspired by the myth the cultural centers, public squares, institutions and publications. Their presence is more perceptible in the countryside where I live than in the city where – as Ajvaz puts – the arm of the careful and perfidious god of the grammar conceals from us their network and their communities, on whose regular gatherings the wandering prophets of this faith József Molnár V., Gábor Papp, Lajos Szántai and their disciples steadily provide with spiritual food the believers of this mistery religion.

Statue of the Holy Crown of Hungary in front of the Dunakeszi railway station
The crown in Dunakeszi refers to this still hiding world not only with its typical stylistic marks – its stiff, idol-like elaboration, its rustic dolmens and the burial hill heaped up under them –, but also with the fact that it visualizes an important article of faith of this cult: that the angle of inclination of the cross on the top of the crown is exactly identical with the angle of obliquity of the axis of the Earth. The sculptor, in order to emphasize this dogma, slipped the crown on the dolmens so that now everything is oblique on it, except for the only really oblique element, the cross, which thus stands erect perfectly vertically towards the sky, parallel with the axis of the Earth, looking exactly on the North Star like a small magic antenna.

Kacsintós Shakespeare / ravasz Sekszpir Viliam, Cseh Tamás - Bereményi Géza számának illusztrációja.....In order to make realistic
the implausible hunch on your back,
you must simply bend the back of the world
on the model of your hunch.

Tamás Cseh - Géza Bereményi:
Song about the Wily William Shakespeare

Still hiding world, I say. Because if the book of Michal Ajvaz mapped how an “other world” imperceptibly fills in the cavities of the usual everyday reality, another Czech author, Karel Čapek has described in his War with the salamanders what happens when the situation becomes unstable, and that other, dark and surreal world breaks with a great force into ours.

Statue of the Holy Crown of Hungary in front of the Dunakeszi railway station
May God save us of such eventuality.

9 comentarios:

Julia dijo...

Cuando puedas, ¿podrías traducirnos el resto de la canción sobre Shakespeare? (al inglés es suficiente)

Studiolum dijo...

Sí, lo haré con gusto en un próximo post.

Dime, ¿se puede entender de qué se trata en este post? Mientras lo traducía del húngaro, me parecía que este esoterismo provincial, anacrónico y megalómano, esta creencia pertinaz en una historia alternativa y luminosa oltre todo límite es tan legado a este pequeño y fracasado país esteuropeo que parecerá sencillamente increíble para quien tuve la fortuna de no haber nacido por aquí.

Julia dijo...

Bueno, en realidad iba a comentar que apreciaba el tono irónico que usabas aquí, pero me perdía muchas alusiones y por eso creía no llegar a entender cabalmente lo que decías. Después me dio algo de vergüenza y por eso borré todo eso...

Will dijo...

Thanks for posting about this novel!

I'm also wondering about your gorgeous archive sidebar. Could you perhaps tell me how to do something similar for my own site? I would love a widget like this.

Will @ A Journey Round My Skull

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks to you for your comment! I already wanted to write you to congratulate with your great blog (with a special thanks for having taken its title from my revered compatriot!) I was also happy to see that we shared the love for the writings of Ajvaz.

Well, the archive sidebar is no widget, it has been manually constructed by me with pre-fabricated 3×3 thumbnails and html image map codes. Have a look at the source, and if it is not clear, I will prepare a detailed documentation for you.

Will dijo...

Thanks for your kind words. I will soon post a review of The Other City written by the bookseller and blogger Stephen Sparks. The book just came out in the US. Hopefully more books by Ajvaz will make it into English.

I managed to add a 9-image square using the code from your image map. Awesome. I have wanted to do something like this for a long time!

Anónimo dijo...

Y por si fuera poco, esta corona es la razon de muchas otras ideologias y conflictos aqui en Dunakeszi y en toda Hungria, y lo digo porque tengo ya 3 anos viviendo aqui, a 15 min a pie de la casa.


Studiolum dijo...

Muchas gracias por el comentario y por el afirmación. ¿Podrías escribir más en detalle de estos conflictos? Y ¿cómo ocurrió que siendo —pienso— español vives justo en Dunakeszi?

Anónimo dijo...

Hola, pues respecto a los conflictos, Hungria a mi opinion, es un pais cuya ideologia politica esta muy inclinada hacia la derecha, la discriminacion hacia la gente de otros paises y lenguas a veces se hace notar demasiado. Si vives aqui te daras cuenta que buena parte de la poblacion no es muy amigable y en algunos casos fisicamente hostil, lo digo por vivencia propia, pero si vamos mas a dentro buena parte de la poblacion en Hungria "suena" con regresar a la epoca de "oro" o de "gloria" cuando el pais no habia sufrido es castigo del tratado de Trianon, en el cual como sabran, el pais perdio mas de la mitad de su territorio,(vaya no los culpo, Mexico tambien perdio casi la mitad tambien) mas no es excusa para ser agresivo, la santa corona Hungara, tiene un significado "fuerte" en la mente de la poblacion, es por eso que ese pequena plaza es el punto de reunion de los seguidores del partido politico Jobbik, donde los militantes de la guardia Hungara o "Magyar Garda" hacen honores a dicho monumento en dias festivos, ahora que va a ser 15 de Marzo, es muy posible que se les vea ahi. En lo personal he conocido todo tipo de gente, en todos lados se cuecen habas. Por lo pronto aqui seguire por un largo tiempo, con o sin agresiones o disgustos, aunque creo que a los hungaros, no se les va a pasar el "trauma de Trianon" por un largo tiempo, la agresion mas pequena que algun visitante puede pasar es que te llamen gitano, ah!, porque eso si, para muchos si no eres Hungaro, eres gitano y curioso...., ni siquiera soy de piel morena, a estas alturas solo me hacen reir con tanta tonteria, lo unico es que eso si, cuidense de los policias que son bastante inutiles y de los controladores en los transportes publicos, les encanta abusar de los turistas y extranjeros residentes que desconocen el idioma. Efectivamente vivo en Dunakeszi.

Saludos y espero no haberles espantado, si puedo ayudarles o proporcionarles alguna informacion extra solo pregunten.
P.D. este mensaje fue escrito en un teclado extranjero, uds. disculpen las faltas de ortografia.