April 6, 2012

I’m in a sort of dark, smoky Irish pub, having dinner with some of my high school friends. One of them has a curious, green punk crest, built on top of an array of tall, thin, white sticks. Before starting to eat, I receive a phone call, and I have to go to a formal dinner organized by my advisor, where he convened all sorts of famous scientists working in my field.

The table is long and linear, scientists have known each other for a long time and exchange jokes, but I don’t know anybody. After some time, my advisor and other friends of him take to the dining hall a very old man, hairless, blind, without lips, whose abundant skin covers eyes and teeth. They say he is a very famous, old and respected scientist. They start talking about him, about his story and his deeds. They say that a devastating cancer has given his head that shape, and that he fought in some global wars in the past. One of the commensals, with his bare hands, removes a strip of skin from the old man’s hairless head, and contemplates his living brain, full of admiration. Then he clumsily closes the old man’s head, detaches it from the rest of the body, and passes it to the commensals nearby. When the head comes to my place, I feel that it is as fragile, as soft and as moist as a lychee. In my hands, the head falls into pieces: it contains all sorts of little organs that one would not expect in a cranium (e.g. a little, dark liver). I’m really worried for the old man’s life, but I can’t do anything better than clumsily reassemble the pieces and pass the head to the next commensal.

Then, I receive another phone call, and I leave the dining hall for a nearby smaller room full of hotel staff. I’m not able to call back using my cell phone, and the staff suggests me to use a special phone of them, which appears very old and exceedingly complicated. I thus remove the SIM card from my phone and give it to them. For the whole duration of the dinner, they try to make their clumsy device work, in vain. I’m furious: I’m losing all the good dishes that are being served at the dinner. At some point all the staff in my room goes away, and just one girl remains. I ask her about my SIM card, and she says they left it in a trash can. She gives it to me: it has the shape of a long, wrinkled, white sheet.

I return to the dining hall. The dinner is over, and all scientists are leaving. A waiter tells me that he has set apart a portion of every dish for me: I’m happy and I start eating, alone. When I’m done, I try to find a way to leave the empty hotel. I find myself in a bare architecture built with white concrete. Sometimes graffiti appear on the walls. The environment seems as abandoned and as impersonal as a peripheral railway station. I see people sitting on the floor and leaning on the walls: I think that they are at the margins of society. This white environment is organized into a sequential set of not necessarily closed “chambers”, or separated environments. I tell myself that these are autonomous “folds of reality”. Each of them is populated by strange, nonsensical human characters that seem taken from a novel by Lewis Carrol. Such characters have no personality, just attributes, which are combined and used in illogical ways that I can’t remember right now. Some of them are black. They look like guardians of their piece of reality, and they try to lure me to stay in their “fold”. But their deceptions are not hard to avoid, and I manage to progress through the chambers.

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