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Timisoara Bureau: The Discovery of Chirodea by Mark Sargent PDF E-mail
English Traveler Mark Sargent discovers Doru Chirodea, Timişoara genius.

Timişoara, 2012

 Special to the Corpse

 by Mark Sargent



“What silence requires is that I go on talking.”   John Cage


            We arrive in Timişoara (tee-mee-shwa-ra) in early afternoon, easily find the central plaza and plop down for a beer.  Through the international poetry world we have a contact person, Doru Chirodea, a Romanian poet who writes brilliantly in English and with whom I’ve communicated with for several years.  I’ve never met him.  I call him up and he says ask a taxi to lead you here.  The Dr. Brandes method of navigation!  A man at a hotel desk makes the arrangement and minutes later we pull up on a residential street lined with trees.  And there at a gate, shorn of all but shorts, is Doru.  He’s smoking and patting a large dog on the head.  At the back of a simple one-storey house flanked by gardens is Doru’s quarters, a salon, a bedroom and bathroom.  It’s hotter than hell.  We drop our shit and step out to a covered patio.  Doru is lean, just the robust side of emaciated, with a boney near hairless skull punctuated by a penetrating fearless look and a very present energy.  There is nothing vague about him, no matter how abstract he might get.  He smokes continually and has at his feet two 2.5 liters plastic bottles of SKOL, a discount beer from which he keeps a glass full.  When he runs out he leaves and returns minutes later with more.  Three walls of the patio are concrete painted white and the fourth a vine covered trellis. On the garden side of the trellis a sprinkler is aimed at the vines so that there is a continually dripping cooling effect.  For the next two days, save for a two hour pub crawl, this is where we are and Doru is streaming.  It appears he is trying to engage the world without any illusions (any, think about that) and to this end is attempting to say everything, especially anything that might be taboo.  Mostly he remains seated moving his hands in conjunction with his smoke, his beer and his head.  Sometimes he gets up and sits on the floor of the patio by his laptop.  He never eats.  The language itself approaches the manic, but physically he’s methodical, controlled, almost precise.  He speaks an American English having spent, on and off, 15 years in the States.  Every hour or two he rises and adjusts the sprinkler.  His extremely old parents occasionally wander through the scene.  It’s the fourth of July and Doru has a New Jersey radio station playing through his laptop, all sorts of bizarre takes on The Star Spangled Banner and other Americana provide a sonic undercurrent full of peculiar juxtapositions. The text was created from notes taken during spew, memory, Doru’s writings, found lines and improvisation with all of the above.

            Communication.  People keep talking about communicating something but they’re not intimate enough with themselves to have anything to communicate.  What is going through the mind of that insect?

            He wants your beer.

            The only one who does.  Here.  He slops a few drops on the table.  The fly immerses itself.  Warm beer, it’s not for everyone.  But I can transform it.  Takes a lemon wedge and dumps it in his beer.  Now it’s breakfast and a cocktail.  There, there’s Romania for you, warm beer with a chunk of lemon from North Africa floating in it.  Causing a bit of fizz.  You want to know what’s happening in Romania?  Nothing.  It’s already happened.  We’re finished.  We have a liberal democratic capitalist system now and our suffering has been redefined by the marketplace.  Now it’s pain with a price tag, it’s been fucking commoditized.  Do you enjoy your space on the display shelf?  And if you don’t have any money it means you’re deficient, or, yes, that lovely word, lazy.  Laaaaazzzeeeee, just saying it has a narcotic effect.  You want to take a nap or watch TV.  Doing nothing is the most valid response to this century.  I want to get to nothing, to the doing of it.  Almost a quarter of the Romanian population has left, those are the ambitious ones, the winners!  And what have they won?  The right to clean toilets in France.  To douche Mercedes with toothbrushes in Deutschland. You don’t know who to thank.  Democracy is about avoiding the consolidation of power in the hands of the few, but that’s what happens anyway.  Capitalism and Democracy are contradictory and neither of them work.  Everything’s for sale, it always was.  You can still buy a baby here, and a kidney. They should offer that as a two-fer.  What is my value?  Any attempt at identity is an imposture of authenticity and makes me fucking puke.  All the white lies about the pursuit of happiness, of caring of good of bloody love and such makes me puke. Jesus, I can’t remember what organ I should use to forget how to finger this one-way darkness shoved between the two of us, this sudden triangle unaware of geometry and lukewarm like a freshly dead bird.

            Doru’s father shuffles on to the patio.  Doru looks up with a twitch of annoyance that swiftly dissolves into warmth.  His father says a few things in Romanian and Doru stands up, Ah Ba, and takes him by the shoulder and they walk out to his father’s tomato patch.  My father wants to apologize for not entertaining you but he still has a Communist hangover.  Or is it dementia?  Dogs barking the American national anthem comes over the radio.  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Jesus Christ.  If the safety of your freedom is predicated on the torture of suspected terrorists, what is it worth?  They can value it.  Everything has a price.  It costs such and such thousands of dollars per prisoner, but if you want the discount price you can render them unto Romania where goons from the good ole days, not to mention the new goons, are hard at work.  We know how to make them wish they had never been born, comrade.  “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”  It was easy for Sartre to say that lazing about on the Left Bank.  Note; he remained free in Paris throughout the Nazi occupation, that’s how dangerous he was.  Danger, that has a different value, or we could say that the element of danger increases value, whether to suppress or exalt it.  Obama sends a fucking drone missile into the Yemeni mountains and blows up a wedding, a council of elders, a gang of bad guys.  The dead don’t count.  He’s projecting danger.  You fuck with us, or we even suspect you’re fucking with us, and you’re gonna fry.  The Real offers nothing that the Imaginary and the Symbolic do not already cover. Those people on the ground whom you never knew existed and who immediately pass into the void are not real to those who paid for that missile, they’re imaginary and symbolic.  And time swiftly turns everything for everyone into that.  You look at your wife of five years and what do you see?  The imaginary and the symbolic, everything you’ve constructed over the past years, you can’t possibly truly see her.  I’ve been married five times.  Where are the children?  The youngest lives two kilometers away.  Who could possibly stay with me?  Unless you believed in fate.  Where the fuck is Bogdan?

            Hank Williams sings ‘Hey Good Looking’.  Doru exhales smoke, grabs another lemon wedge and dumps it in his beer.  There, lunch.  Is there anywhere, such a thing as, a worthwhile study regarding a possible theoretical—either mathematically speaking or (let’s call it) philosophical—analogy (systemwise) between Gödel’s incompleteness and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle? Does it make any sense what I’m asking?   They are not exactly the same stuff.  The uncertainty principle has to do with freedom and free will which does not allow a deterministic world and the first one tells that a particular domain cannot be self sufficient.  Doru’s father shuffles back through.  He looks at us and chuckles.  I understand the two aren’t hewn from the same alabaster.  However, if one were to regard the questionable, dialectical, formal dichotomy: freedom/free will as incompatible with a deterministic world… um, as a domain…  then you could quasi-adduce that there is a degree of diminished…  a somewhat lesser self sufficiency involved.  Thus, Mr. G comes to the surface right near Mr. H’s head and likewise the other way around.  Nothing like a direct similarity between and amongst or within those marvels of thought.  But in spite of everything, I don’t view dissimilarity as apodictically and off the bat, incongruent with the relational, so far as the (manufacturing of) meaning is concerned, and where it has taken us, etc…  yet, I suspect the consequence of birth is none.

            Doru gets up with his bottles of beer, walks over by his laptop, sits on the floor and listens.  Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach” is humming away.  What has that got to do with fourth of July?  He did become a ‘naturalized’ American though.  Don’t you love that, naturalized.  Homogenized.  Pasteurized.  Deracinated, and planted again.      

            But what did he do on the eighth day? I'll tell you; on the eighth day and from then on, God did nothing. He just lazed around because there was nothing left to do; absolutely everything had already been done, by him.

God knows not he is a tool. 

God believes he is God. 

I know God is a tool because I know he didn't use any tools his first (and last) week on the job. Logically then, he himself must have been the tool. 

You can't hatch something of no consequence, say, an entire Universe, without tools. 

So, what a toolless guy does after a few days of work using no tools? Nothing, that's what he's doing. 

And to top it off he took the Sunday off, if I recall correctly. 

Anyway, even if he wanted to do something more, it would have been impossible squared because no one, not even God, can do any one thing, over and after, it had already been accomplished. 

What is done is done. 

You might try to do it again but then, you don't do it, you are redoing it. 

No true copy is identical to the original (not even with itself). 

It's like lusting to screw someone who has already been thoroughly screwed. You can't effect the same screwing anymore. 

You can try, but you'll just end up with another another mercy mercy fuck fuck. 

It turns out, unerring repetition cannot be achieved, by either man or God.

            And who would forgive Islam for anything?  Why should anyone?  Are you going to pretend fucking god is whispering in your ear while you gun down school girls exiting school, blow yourself up in Jerusalem, bugger the last inviolate ewe in your flock?  It’s all cultural.  Note that Muslim heaven is essentially a harem.  Whereas Swedish heaven is a sauna and a chilled bottle of vodka, everyone is blonde and just back from a holiday in Thailand, they’re fucking golden and eager to exchange bodily fluids.  Heaven is an imaginary screen keeping very real mosquitoes out.  But you have to concentrate on the screen and you can’t and they bite the shit out of you like the promise of collective action, that way of dividing the meager, moonrise over a toxic lake, the sons of fucking Abraham grubbing about in the desert for sleight-of-hand masters masquerading as tubercular poets sneezing flash drives containing the entire works of one Todor Carcinogenivic, master of that obscure form, the Transylvanian skewer.  The afterlife begins as soon as you stop paying attention and accepting anyone’s explanation for anything.  It’s fucking hot.  That’s not an explanation.  This beer is piss warm, neither is that.  Here, I just stick a piece of lemon in it and it’s nourishment.  In my reality, that’s what it is.

            That’s what it fucking is.  I could create a reality for you, if you like.  Time doesn’t run in reverse.  All these labels are pliable, we can’t define anything.  Hitler nightmares seeping through the atmosphere clinging to Tel Aviv, is that a foreign policy issue or just a high pressure zone?  Does everything sound like a weather report?  Or does the weather explain everything?  Endangered species, for instance.  What isn’t covered by that phrase, besides rocks?  Everything that lives, carrot to lion to mollusk, is endangered.  That is, if the certainty of demise is danger.  If inevitable extinguishment is danger.  If it isn’t, then nothing is dangerous and endangerment as a term has as much meaning as ‘the boogie man’.  That is, something to scare the naïve among us, and who doesn’t have to crawl out from under that blanket?  I’m going to move that damn sprinkler.  It’s forty fucking degrees and I’m simulating rainfall.  It’s the goddamn tropics without the beach.  There comes a point in a heat wave when the only possible activities are drinking and smoking.

            He moves the sprinkler, stands back to scrutinize, moves it slightly, stands back again.  Smokes.  Returns to the table.  Pours another beer.  His mother exits the house and sits next to him and smiles at us.  Doru gently strokes her shoulders with one hand and points at me with the other.  Anyhow, about you, I only know you now hear these words. It is very unlikely we two have ever met. You can't really meet someone.  Anyway I did try and I've met dogs unknown for no reason I met a guava left behind you alone I met a custom made man who didn't show up for the fitting I met a Quetzalquatl with the same name I met a Moldavian born in Bistriţa I met a labium unpaired by forgetfulness I met a catatonic faucet I met a night you cannot get over I met an atom divisible by milk cubed I met clothes taken off by mistake I met the only one denizen of China I met an underwearless insect I met two mothers who gave birth to the same child I met a claw without the crow I met the only loneliness that becomes you I met an unending bird I met the pointlessness forgotten between two chairs I met the looking-back God I met an alphabet with just one letter I met a fart of a kin in a limousine I met a morning with a zebra taste I met a poet not undead enough I met the happiness maker machine that got stuck I met someone baptized, you.  Drinks his beer off and pours another.  Where the fuck is Bogdan?  Lights a smoke, inhales.

            But I was going to tell you about Anna La and her dream states or the dream states that imagine her dreaming.  Awake it still occurs to you that somehow nondescript objects of rage are blatantly peeping at you doubleparked facedown beneath the busy desert from where Anna La screams as hard as she can: 

I had a plan... and a list... with ten points... not to be unhappy anymore, not to be stupid, not to want everything now, not to live in the past anymore, not to clean the imaculate surfaces of the room furnishings, not to trust the males who screw me very well, not to masturbate during the night (and in the daytime), not to forget in the morning to do those seventeen antifart sit-ups, not to be left with no money most of the time, not to think of Nistri... But I didn't make... it... an' so what? 

so what

all the attempts to hold your eyes' look void and still have failed

we do still own horrendous stocks of prometheus liver lookalikes,

so what

we couldn't tune the cybernetic halberd to the moving walls

we didn't even get a chance to hear the nippleseekers passing by,

it seems

we ended up with constipated Buddha ears

but just one mouth eager enough to seep some joy

from dipping everybody else's past in acid to relax,

it seems

all this reacts to gentle pattings on your back

as if it were a daily matter of awakening to sleep

a simple need to need some doctrine to attack

the beehive instinct of weaned fingers...

            His mother laughs, gets up and enters the house.  Doru stands up, grips the trellis and peers through as though they were prison bars.  “Good things happen to bad people, all the time.  Does that annoy?  As though existence was a court of law or a morality test or somehow the universe is going to balance itself out?  The universe multiplies and feeds upon itself.  More things are taken than given and in spite of all this the sum remains, less than zero. 

Turns back to us, smokes.  

As the great ol Sam used to say 

"there's nothing left to tell" 


but even he did get involved in some telling 

couldn't help himself


I’m gonna land on poɾtu sɐ̃tu in 5 minutes

I’ll meet god there

on the 5 mile beach


hope he didn’t trick me this time


I truly do


last meeting we planned

he never showed up                 


fuckin prick


but you know what


I’m just gonna stay here

in bloody Timişoara  

and write bullshit


he can wait for me 

under the burning sun

till he turns black


anyway most modhas

think he’s white


Doru smiles.

Ed. Note: This Timişoara Bureau is part of a longer piece by Sargent, titled Pride and Shame: Further Travels in the Balkans.


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