It is a narrow, not too deep passageway leading to the royal palace gardens.  They can’t be seen from outside, not even from the dark, dank entrance, where a bookstore displays new releases; Lady Di, Monaco’s divorcee princesses, androgynous sports heroes.  The place resembles those Venetian canals, which slice through, seem to burrow through a building whose top floor tilts over them, for an instant seeming to halt at a dead end, since someone standing there often notices a wall at first, until to his right or left, often in the half-shade, he discovers the corridor leading to a deeper, wider path extending the city in a direction he could not foresee.

A royal detour is what I call that entrance disconnected from the street, pressed beneath the building, whose that end is familiar and evokes nothing in me; that three-story palace with its round metal roofs, gardens, balconies raised onto double columns, and the whole thing distantly reminiscent of an Italian style, which after reaching all the way here with the Medici queens, had become heavy, saturated, bloated, turned perhaps more ceremonial, more formal like the strict etiquette and decadent rubensian ritual of the old aristocracy, but having lost the softness of its lines, that delicate play in stillness lending a rock soul and movement, where light acts its part in the composition.

The detour’s darkness, its one single step a few fingers’ width above street level, then a few steps away, the descending staircase with its metal railing appearing in the light of the building’s inner courtyard, create an internal space, which has not only character, an imprint, as they say, that is impressive, but also an appealing atmosphere, proceeding perhaps from the truncation of the usual road heading to the palace, though not just because of that, since its usage would have very soon exhausted the appeal aroused by its location.  It is as though the atmosphere is constructed with a deviation, which is a hesitation between crooked and curved, a kind of error, as though what is there were subjected to a small, a trivial wreck, in its turn dispersing around itself shuddering waves of wreckage, devastation, just like Vivaldi’s concertos, where if parallel themes do not immediately repeat, the movement vanishes obscured into nothingness.

Divergence and mutation, from the same root,[1] alter, transform a so-called given form, a revelation, a beingness, that simple fact that there is something, a something, but because divergence and mutation exist, they too belong to that being, and exist precisely as non-being.  How could truth be if it weren’t the lie infusing, sometimes traversing it, or the emptiness lending volume to the full.  I am embellishing the deviation, of course; just as our body needs sitting and walking – the palace gardens and their uncomfortable benches – so thought operates through divergence in order to lean, to recline, to stroll, to develop or in order to sprawl its form on the soil.

Our mind often wanders through straight and curved geographic lines, those that architect suspended masses at the pace of logic and dimension, in other words, with a kind of sudden restraint of imagination’s zeal.  The detour recalls a modest path extant perhaps prior to the building’s construction, one steps have tread for centuries and the construction has not succeeded in erasing, has conformed to itself, or else perhaps it is a path opened by chance after its construction, a thing displacing mass’ logical totality.  Whatever its history, it seems to belong to another level, to another kingdom, I’d say, just as the circuitous labyrinths leading to an ants’ nest betray the existence of an underground we seldom notice, a space beneath us, which in contrast makes ours a superstratum perhaps, where bodies invented by desires that cleave us suddenly surge, between delirium and ejaculation.

The detour is perhaps what razes beingness’ straightness by lending it agility, route and substratum, creating a place, yes, the detour creates a place, maybe through aberrance, maybe twisted, where the irregular and imperfect, the absent and absence are revealed, celebrated, though in their own way.  A place, a crossing place, of course, from where I seem to detach a secret every time I pass, and all the oblique, peripheral, fleeting spaces seem to actualize, those very ones constituting our daily hours, and besides, existence is none other than, perhaps, a practice of time, inventing a network of relationships in the multitude of places, faces, circumstances.

If it extends for too long, the detour becomes a labyrinth, a tangentiality heading from one place to another, from a starting point to an endpoint, but in such a way that the progression becomes complicated, tangled, unravels, coils, recoils, then slowly, as though digging through time, it opens onto a space, though in an entirely indirect way, like a desire that does not find its object, avoids it or evades it, then folds, hides, cloaks itself in labyrinths.  But I am not sure it’s possible to emerge from the labyrinth without Ariadne, except by flying like Icharus and of course, also by dissolving in mid air or by disintegrating in a pit.  It is between those two extreme points that the tangent extends, that art of complexity, which is at the same time the shortest road to the abyss.  And the abyss is what we cannot dig, what we cannot subject to experience, and that is why the abyss is unexperienced, no?  The knower knows, they say.

Circumventing, bordering, wandering, retreating, lazing, sprinting, negotiating, yielding, bargaining so as not to yield, mistaking, stalling, playing, rambling, amusing oneself, never meeting the one we will definitely meet, whom we have perhaps already met internally and whom we avoid, exercises of evasion with the faceless tyrant, means of alleviating life’s cruelty or means of finding a plane of reconciliation with it, tricks of dependence, postponement, entrapment to organize time and its constraints.

Trickery, treachery, duplicity, fallacy?  Love?

These are the definite marks of our being here, as definitive as our adventurous and exhausting search for an elsewhere, leaving from a place and reaching a place unexpectedly, drawing in space an unexpected, incidental trace, just as finding in words singular relationships that supersede composition and grammatical rules, in other words, reaching a rare, baffling, conceptual perspective, which fundamentally alters the structure of what we see.

A discourse on detour, as a superior ethics for art.

It is a call to wander, to move away, to get lost, to become foreign, not by some mediation, not in order to return by supernatural means, to find the starting point, from where I disconnected, left, but rather in order to deepen the severance, the decline, the desire, the imposition to rest nowhere.

When it is not possible to say something directly, such as in moments of being pursued (a little everywhere and every day) resorting to guidance, feedback, euphemism, insinuation, alternating circumlocutions (circumlocutions!) such as words that cut and pass other words, the intermediaries being their disguise, on the crest of a wave forming through foam, there under the Academy’s bridge.  For this reason perhaps, the detour often resembles an unshaded passage, and never a magnificent gate, it leaves its impression on those grand entrances, introductions, promising a lovely house, a beautiful book and in the end materializing as resplendent and unforeseen huts.  Metaphor has the benefit, perhaps the only one, of taking us from one to the other.  It is bisexual like the symbol.

Digression…digression, life?  Literature?  In other words, everything is skewed, following from the grand law of phenomena, existence.  De-luv-iation. De-lev-iate.  Whatever deviates becomes.  The straight line is deviation’s one subordinate form, no more, no less.  Literature is a major deviation from life, perhaps a mutation, who knows, after a deluge…  Even poems invoking the invisible, the proclamation of names (beginning with Adam), operate through divergence, to reach abbreviation by simpler means.  Only, the divergence ceases to exist as it/self…

In art, truth is slanted, because what makes it true is in the opening that extends toward another, brings it to light and puts it to work.  In contrast to reality, speech is not true in itself, in se as they say, but instead as the possibility of comparison, thus not comparative.  For that reason perhaps every revelation has an intersticial quality, which it annuls of course.  And every revelation is language’s mystique, which elevates the divergence, transforms it into necessity.

Lazarus emerges from death, reawakens, diverges from there toward phenomenon.  It is wrong to think that he relives, in other words, he lives again, once more, or that he lives above.  This divergence does not extend toward a spatial or temporal above, so much as to a dwelling which turns death into the only locus where any revelation finds its veracity.  Lazarus, come outside, says the Rabbi, that is, to the entrance of the revelation of death.  Come outside…diverge from your home, you who think the word the home of existence.

The accent has a tilt, just as the accent on a vowel intensifies its strength, as though giving it greater resonance in the deviation from vertical to horizontal.

Deviation’s truth operates like a musical variance; Diabelli’s 33 variations or Bach’s Goldberg variations that obscure the cellular world, with small but essential divergences and turn the original conditional, then essential again.  What is called a main theme is the proximate form of an original, which becomes circumscribed in order to be eliminated.  The deviation enhances the movement, as well as the movement’s beauty.

Met-hodos; with the road, beyond the road, what collides with an obstacle, turns the road feasible, what leads to the abyss (aporia), to the undiggable, and of course also…to the navel, to the hollow.  But the road toward the light is pointed, says the poet, in other words, divergent, heading up, or heading down, heading toward the beautiful or the repulsive, which it is to find a path between these two in order to render this existence bearable and inhabitable.  Methodios was also a bishop, Olympian, don’t forget he has written about self-overcoming (one of Yeznig’s[2] sources) and about resurrection.  Here are other divergences leading to that essential.  The royal road to existence, oh Parmenides, where your stallions dash, were and were not in-between and surpass your ontology with image and poetry.

I deviate sometimes or often, it deviates, my life, from its foundations, adopts unwillingly or perhaps willingly the side way, what detaches from the main road, circulates on sidewalks, turns in front of shops, display windows, collides with the cheap woman on the corner, who undoes the belt around her waist, then with the redheaded and brawny transvestite standing next to her or further off, androgynous maybe hermaphrodite, who has raised his small, sparkling purse close to his eye (he whispers, you wanna come, a good time, a star of hope, you wanna come?) and he watches you as an extraterrestrial being, who has fallen into this empire of the city’s fragmentary huts, as though searching for his kidnapped child, the one who has gone, gone away from him, gotten lost in the labyrinth or been molested; everything is a spool whose thread unravels, gradually elongates, the newspapers announce a few deaths, a few burnt homes, numerous murders, at the speed of an ad runs the stock market’s digits, the space shuttle’s flights, heads of soldiers, commanders, thick-necked mafia characters, explosions of bombs not on battlefields, but rather in street fights, the dead one enters the coffin, enters the road of resurrection, which is our dwelling’s observation point, and what is it we want from life if not the possibility of being resurrected, each time, after every love, every lovemaking, every encounter, to recommence again, what we want from life is divergence toward an intoxicating ascent, a deification, here, only here, in a body, now, and without higher supervision, how to avoid the drifting that the city permits you, me?

And to continue the detour you’ve started, retell not Vartan’s[3] but rather the great writer’s legend.  So, he comes out of his house every night fatefully dressed like a Norma, a Durandot, a laser sharp shave, moustache, foam, cologne, makeup, lace, mascara, oils, rouge, feathers, fur, 12cm high shoes, like the aforementioned whore or more accurately, as a first-class consort (or the prostitute of books), slows down on the sidewalk, in quest for that other one who will come, yes, sir, will definite come, he looks for him, grazes the glances of passersby, flaunting the bouncing of his breasts with the swaying of an ass, he plunges into the crowd, sneaks in, tolerates the pinching and petting, enjoys the squeezing, this touching of bodies, the sideways taps, the pressing, the scraping, the beating, the affectionate profanities murmured in his ear, which tomorrow, hand moving, one eye on the mirror, he will write one by one, in the coming novel, story, poem, already convinced that writing is not reflection on paper, writing is the divergence of body, meaning, information, the transformation of male into female and vice versa, castration, feminization, masculinization, like Bangkok’s swaying ladyboy in the lavatory (come on, boy, a French kiss?  French kiss, Thai massage, Armenian pigsty) or the Louvre’s lustful Hermaphrodite half doubled over itself, where the Japanese or Abaranian[4] tourist bends over, bends over its stone pillow, as though about to snap, remove, chew with his mouth, attentively!, blor and gagala[5] (isn’t the whole flavor in the divergence from the name, of course, right? the flavor!), I’ll eat you up!, I’ll eat you up, part Dracula, part cannibal, and so perhaps writing is seizing; transmutating the primary, the native, the pussy, the intimate, superseding, shifting, amputating, scrutinizing, carving, scissoring the flesh, the skin, fitting an improved second pair of breasts, a second navel, a second ass, body according to soul, – the art: aesthetic surgery; an operation that preserves the body’s genes alone – if you don’t diverge, how can you become a sinner, in other words, holy, like that detour that passes between the thighs toward a second union, a crossing through ecstasy, pain, agony!, agony, the thing of letters that is the cross from Abaran.[6]  It is best that you now return the writer to the boudoir, drunk with the street’s Naregian[7] stagnation, make him remove his mask, his gloves, make him rinse his sperm-scented mouth, and as the sacrifice of a sublime immolation, place him in front of the sacred lectern for a spiritual fucking.  This is art?  The toilet seat resting in a museum, that internal degeneration, emotive vomit reaching all the way to the highest mountains of Lori? [8]  Sublimatsya, friend, sublimation.

Finally… you can continue endlessly, wander from your phantasms to reality, from your frequentations on to a metamorphosis, because…(oh, this conserved krapar[9])…on the way to the Procession or the mountain of Ascension, the divergence has no end.

An excerpt of time, perhaps an instant is the detour, an untainted moment when totality is segmented, broken, like when I mentally isolate a place from its surroundings, a lived image from my overall life, in other words, when meaning has not yet developed, as though it waits there, on the horizon, which I don’t see, though like an intention, I know it’s there, and that is why lingering there seems like a game, an attempt, something like primary school (primary education, preparatory training the ancients used to say), whence meaning flows.

In the crowd, like a precise and crucial blow, which renders its homogeneous surface alive, lending it the possibility, the new expanse of intonation, it signifies it, the detour is like that crack (the sign of love, desire, variance), around which meaning, like a superstratic protrusion, constellates.

A sign, that detour, whose narrow gap I cut, its piss-stinking walls, which I sometimes brush against, I leave the dingy ceiling behind, after reflecting on its deepness, having almost reached its depth, a kind of membrane, on the metal door forever open and recalling an old, perhaps very old mystical ritual that has lost its meaning, a ritual of passing, beyond which I am not I, I am a you.

I place my hand on the railing’s pleasant chill, my foot remains on the top step, my body immobilized for a second in a slightly unbalanced rhythm, like welcoming a guest I resist the wind’s persistent current, which having overcome the land like an interoceanic, feverish wave surges over here, kisses from the sea, from Italy, from the mouths of Luigi and Daniela, oh Daniela who continues to walk with ice cream cone in hand from the courtyard toward Zatere’s marina, past the wooden spokes, naked under her summer dress, elated like a St. Sebastian with his arrows, her gaze on Salute’s dome, as though it’d like to appear to the distant, twinkling Orion, her hand on the ferry’s railing, where like a poetic stroke our palms joined each other for a moment.

For a moment I want to enjoy the sweetness of an unfleeting instant, to feast on the double pleasure affected by a security as well as a danger, because I don’t know who waits for me a little further on, just as in Venetian legends, which treacherous or masked face, sword, surprise duel, suddenly charging, quick as the blow of a vengeful or inspirational god, and moreover the most anticipated unexpected, found beyond the gardens, the palaces, on the roadside, in an indefinite place.

May 2000

[1] In Armenian, the words are “sheghum” and “keghum” respectively.

[2] Yeznik Koghbatsi is a fifth-century Armenian writer.

[3] Vartan Mamigonian is a fifth-century Armenian national hero.  He is still celebrated for having led the Armenians against the Persians in the Battle of Avarayr (451 A.D.), which ensued as a consequence of the Armenians’ repudiation of Zoroastrianism as an imposed religion.  Although the Armenian army lost the battle, the event marked and is still hailed as a symbolic triumph of the Armenians’ Christian faith.

[4] Abaran is a town in Armenia.

[5] Blor and gagala both mean testicle.

[6] This is an allusion to Naregatsi’s (see footnote below) work, Aparanits khachin patmutiune (History of the cross of Aparan).

[7] Krikor Naregatsi (951 – 1003) was an Armenian monk most famed for his mystical poetic work, Book of Lamentations.

[8] Lori is a mountainous region in Armenia.

[9] Krapar is Classical Armenian.  The text here is referring to the word “vasnzi,” the krapar equivalent of “because.”

Show Comments Hide Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.