A Delicate Event

1
Carpathians. Photo by DDM

by Diana Damian Martin

Zgomot | sound that rattles the air | also, noise

 

I do not know how to speak about the point where geography iterates itself as narrative.

I have been trying to explain the point in the middle. You say: maybe it’s the Berlin Wall.

I say: that’s funny. My relationship to concrete is very different.

You say: then perhaps it’s the point where you feel like you’ve been walking for a long time, and you’d like to take a break here, right here, you’d like to look around and notice the change.

I say: or maybe, it’s the point where you start to feel like looking behind you, even when you switch direction. Something like, the point where you keep turning, and you can’t quite find it.

You say: or maybe, it’s the point at which the queue changes, when you lose agency – from the choice for waiting to the necessity of waiting.

There is a pause.

You know I am trying to stop you from talking about Russia.

I know you are trying to stop me from talking about Europe.

Something is lost at the point in which one narrative cracks the other open, and we can no longer recognise anything.

Something is said about the process of translation.

 

Gălăgie | discordant soundscapes | also, noise

 

In which nothing is explained.

 

Vacarm | rocks, crushed by the wind, denting the edges of the cliffs | also, noise

 

Three years ago, Channel 4 aired the documentary The Romanians Are Coming. In the first scene, a man walks around at the edge of his village. It’s a sunny day. A dirt road leads out towards a valley. There is trash on the grass in the corner. The man is wearing a cap on the side, sunglasses folded at the neck of his t-shirt. He speaks to camera: “That’s the difference between nations: USA is planning to go to Mars and gypsies from Romania ride horses.”

In the square, a group of people stands waiting. It begins to rain. For a while, no one moves. There is a sneeze. Perhaps at some point, the rain stops. There is a lot of shuffling. Someone lights a cigarette. Wet concrete arrives in a truck. Later, it cracks around their feet. It begins to rain again.

A couple of months ago, the same newspaper published an article about the burgeoning capitalism of Eastern European countries, of which Romania stood out from the crowd because of its “economic measures and communist-era educational excellence.”

A group of people waiting by the strip of land that divides river from sea. It’s a bright day, and the heat touches their skin. The contact between skin and wind rattles the soundscape; it sounds exactly like that between wind and sand: like a brief shuffle, or shift. There isn’t enough time for the group’s traces to remain in the sand: when they move, it’s with great speed, and wind and skin and sand and wind become lost in the small waves crashing on the beach.

A couple of days ago, several newspaper headlines concerned Constantin Reliu, who on his return to Romania, found that in his absence he had been declared dead.

A group of people stand atop a mountain. There is nothing spectacular to see from up here, only the movement of clouds obscuring the valleys; they are listening intently. Sometimes, the sound of sun burning the edges of cliffs can be audible. Sometimes, it’s other footsteps passing through the forest clearing nearby.

A couple of weeks ago, a newspaper publishing an article on literature about rural England post-Brexit quoted from one of the books, speaking of a fictional village in Devon presented as “poorer than Romania; a sodden mound of greyish render and scaly slate.”

A group of people are crowded in a shelter of a bus stop. This bus stop is no place in particular. You will notice some cracked glass, some old graffiti, a broken blue plastic seat, and an exposed metal frame where the rest of the seats have been. The group is huddled close, with plenty of space around them. They are leaning on the side of the bus stop. There is lots of exposed space. A light flickers close by. There is no timetable for the bus to speak of. They used to speak of this place differently when the trams still travelled here.

 

Tărăboi | disturbance | also, noise

 

We are having a conversation, and this feels like a delicate event. You tell me, this reminds you of something we share, and it feels like we’ve spent so much time together, elsewhere, before now, but we both know it’s a lie.

We are having a conversation, and we can’t seem to hear each other. I try and write words down, so we can read them later together, but nothing quite fits.

 

Tumult | tumult, but things fall through the cracks here | also, noise

 

The noise is not a space for morality, however. The noise is a space for the political.

This listening, it feels strange; out of place.

 

Diana Damian Martin is co-editor of Something Other. dianadamian.com

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