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MAQUILLAGE
People live in peace and quiet, a gray and uniform life, safe and slumberous, proud of the happiness of the stuffed eagle and the resignation that nothing can ever be changed. The biggest rebels sit on the balcony, sip from their glass and watch the clouds to see when will someone release manna on their table so that they can have their dinner. And suddenly a revolution falls from the sky. It will blow peaceful serenity away, it will color grayness and will disturb the sleep of monotony. It will wake up the stuffed eagle and remind it that once it has flown over mountain peaks. But can you believe a revolution that falls from the sky?
”Maquillage” tells us how such a revolution is prepared, how it conquers all and leads to a future that might be fresher and brighter than today. The hope for something better is so strong that it makes you take part even in revolutions that fall from the sky.
In his book Emil Krastev attempts to describe the mechanisms of this type of change, who does it and how, and in the name of what. It has no barricades, shooting and bloodshed. No land attack missiles are being detonated and no buildings ever collapse. No children corpses roll on the streets. But you read how people stare in the mirror, it is as if they do nothing and yet you feel like bombs are falling all around you. The author achieves this by the means of the absurd and the grotesque. With his original voice he leads you along the paths of thought and it is hard to stop.
THE SHADOW
Hitting rock bottom has its good sides too, because anywhere you go from there will be better or at least less bad, just like all roads head south when you are at the North Pole, and north – when you are at the South Pole, so the poles with their minus seventy degrees of cold are the lowest you can go, and you feel like running down the streets and shouting “I’m happy!”, “I’m free!”, “I’m in love!”, “I’m rich!”, “I’m the boss!”, “I’m God!” – but just one look at how the pointer of the compass is spinning like crazy at the pole, forgetting the whereabouts of north and south or deciding that everywhere is north and south, and your heart unwinds – time to stop shouting on the street and get your knapsack packed since there is an infinite variety of directions from both poles and all you have to do is walk, walk, and you leave the glaciers behind and you enter apple, cherry, orange orchards, palms, hazel groves and sugar canes, roses and orchids and the minus seventy degree cold is just a memory on whose backdrop the sea and the sunset enthrall you even more and you feel like shouting – I am God, but another God this time! – but just when you are about to open your mouth, you see that the apple orchard and the palms are gone and you are crawling among rocks that have been here for generations without water or a grass leaf, and you apprehend that the countless directions have been no direction at all, and you feel like running down the street again and shouting with a frenzied grin – justice there is! – but you hit rock bottom, freezing in the cosmic chill and a black spark flickers in your head – wouldn’t you get warmer if you seized the compass by the neck so that the pointer would stop its crazy spin and show you only two directions instead, like any normal compass would do, with the hope that if you’re wrong again, you’d try again, but the black spark stammers with a black light – when you finally take the plunge you don’t want to see the compass pointer whirling out of its axis, so the only thing left for you to do is run along the street shouting – are there any break-proof compasses? – well, what could you possibly expect from a black spark…
FRAGMENTS
Exoticism is my weak spot, and don’t give me that faint smile, don’t judge a book by its cover, because when riding the elevator you pass along a peculiar door on the opposite side of the other entrances, a door steeped in cobwebs and grime. The elevator doesn’t stop there, but I saw it the first year after I got in and who knows why I imagined tides, palms and golden beaches, frivolous people laughing, things forbidden and unattainable, and I said – enough of this bullshit! – and every day I took the elevator to the top floor and then the stairs and the attic where my tiny office was. Smallish, more like a box, nobody comes up here, but there is a desk and a desk lamp, shelves for the folders and the files and on the opposite wall there is an administrative map of the country before World War I, who hanged it up here anyway? Sometimes when I take off my glasses to rest my eyes, I look at it and imagine myself traveling, seeing mysterious places and astounding things, and one day it occurred to me to stop the elevator with the emergency button and to open the murky door. Imagine the palms and beaches waiting for me there, the people walking along those beaches, imagine the girls! But, just my luck, the moment I was about to take the plunge, the power went off and I remained there for half a day until someone came to my rescue. Yes, I had time enough to realize the irrationality of my impulse; you go and lie low in your cubicle! But I continued to travel along the map when my eyes stopped seeing the words I was copying, and today my colleagues sent me off extending their thanks, and most importantly – they allowed me to come and help as a pensioner, none of the younger ones had expressed a willingness to creep like a rat under the roof tiles. I was happy, and as I have allowed myself a glass of wine, I somehow unwillingly pushed the emergency button while passing along the door with the cobwebs. And then I froze – what did I just do? – yet I touched the handle of the dusty door just to put my mind at ease that I’ve tried, probably closed anyway, but the hinges screeched and something pulled me into the partly lit corridor. I walked quite a lot, turned left and right, climbed stairs, went down a steep concrete, then stairs again, until I hit an obstacle of some sort and my heart missed a beat, was I to find myself on the beach, with the girls? I lit a match and saw another door, I opened it and where do you think I found myself? In the tiny office where I have spent the last 35 years of my life. Now I sit behind my desk and when I grow tired of copying, I take off my glasses, look at the administrative map going back before the war on the opposite wall, and I am happy. This is my home. Every now and then I ponder at the thought that had I entered that corridor thirty five years ago, it would have taken me to the palms and the giggles and then as if an electric current passes through my arms and legs, but, as I told you, exoticism is my weakness.