3 – The book, the journey

The book in which the manuscript was found is called Policy-Making in the European Union and it used to be one of the main textbooks for my studies. It is difficult to say whether this piece of information can prove helpful in any way. On the one hand, the fact that the manuscript was found in this book shows clearly that it was given to me during my student years. On the other hand, I am dealing with a textbook what was used throughout all three years of my bachelor degree, which covers quite a long period of time. In fact, if I were to trace all the people I had met during those years, it is doubtful that I will ever manage to also trace the origins of the manuscript.

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Going back to those years, it is not at all difficult to remember why I chose this specific field of study. Despite my interest in different languages, the prospect of a career in Brussels full of travelling and commuting to different cities fascinated me. Travelling was indeed one of the main reasons I followed this path. The question now is: why was I so fascinated by travelling in the first place?

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It is difficult to say why we love travelling so much. I do believe that, at the thought of a future journey, few people are really concerned with the destination – it is the act of actual travelling that enthralls us. When I am thinking of the word “travel”, specific images spring to my mind: those of being in a plane, ship or train. Only to a much smaller extent do I think of the destination of my journey, despite the new-age trend that you should always visualise your goal. This is why I strongly believe that the means of transport play an equally important role as the journey itself: it is the means that somehow eliminate time limits and the difference that exists between past, present and future. When flying among the clouds, thousands of kilometres from the earth’s surface, time is diffused in present space and both become one and the same: a plane cabin, a narrow carriage with a stranger sitting next to you, a luxurious cruise cabin aligned almost next to the ocean waves. How many memories resurface at that time?  How many plans for the future and expectations develop only to transform the present?

The journey’s duration is a romantic experience. Even if your destination is unknown, even if you’ve been there before or even when you’re dealing with just a homecoming, the process of the journey always has to do with a series of enchantments and transformations that take place within you and around you. The truth is, you rarely notice it at the time.

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Going back then, quite a few years ago, I was in a similar state, somewhere between dreaming and reality, in a plane heading to England –  London in specific. As is usually the case, up until the Channel, the sky was clear, transparent and shiny. However, while approaching the “island”, reaching over the southern part of England, I was welcomed by some sort of overcast darkness, grey matter all around, creating a dumping effect as if one were previously standing in a sunlit drawing room in a Victorian mansion when all of a sudden a heavy velvet curtain was drawn by hand that seemed familiar to you, which nonetheless, you failed to recognise. And then layers of dark clouds and underneath more layers, as if only this grey substance existed, until the aeroplane, lost in this smoky heaven, would emerge, all of a sudden, to clear air, and only then could you see, just a few metres away, those tiny semi-detached red brick houses, similar to the LEGO toys you used to play with when young, and only then could you also realise the depth of this grainy cloud that seemed to be devouring everything, finally leaving you to observe the earth so closely, a cloudy sky that resembled great flames of a nuclear destruction… Some time later, God knows when exactly, when the plane came out of this mess, I managed to see for the first time those tiny LEGO-houses, brownish red, assembled like toy soldiers, and it was only then that at last I was allowed to see all this greenery, endless fields of dark green beauty, so unfamiliar to us Mediterranean people.

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It seemed to me -and I realised that immediately- that this would be the kind of scenery I’d see from now on during my stay in this country, the same scenery that made me one day write the following lines, while looking out of my dorm window:

In the fog 

Where are the fields-fields to be seen?
Just over there two hunters know how to fire-fire and kill
A dead woman is dragged out of the well
All but drenched in blood and mud.

 (England, 18th November 1997)

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2 – Daedalian Times      

I’ve been looking for information about the manuscript’s content. Unfortunately, nothing was of much help even though I’ve begun doing some research. A simple Internet search shows that the word Kiteron does not seem to have any special meaning. There are some links that point to the mountain Cithaeron in Greece. There seems to be a legend, some sort of story surrounding this mountain – something I need to investigate further (though I doubt that the mountain Cithaeron has anything to do with the manuscript).

Nevertheless, I think I’ve managed to find a clue, even though I can’t really tell how valid it is.  The following lines are mentioned in the manuscript: “glimpses of the otherworldly beauty that looks like the paradise described by the French composer”. The first thing that crossed my mind was that whoever gave me this piece of paper, the manuscript, must have known that I am an avid listener of classical music. Secondly, by re-reading the text, I was drawn to a certain piece of music: Fauré’s Requiem. The association with the text was imminent: In his Requiem (which is a funeral mass), Fauré includes a passage called In Paradisum (In Paradise).  So here we have a French composer with a very direct reference (could it really be any more direct???)  to “paradise”.

Below you can find embedded a YouTube video of the aforementioned piece. I also provide the text which was originally supposed to be sung while the body of the deceased was transferred to the church during the funeral process.

“In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.”

[Translation:  “May the angels receive them in Paradise, at they coming may the martyrs receive thee and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem. There may the chorus of angels receive thee, and with Lazarus, once a beggar,may thou have eternal rest”.]

I really don’t know if this is indeed a first clue but I’m so determined to carry on with my research. However, in order to be fair to my readers, I feel this is the time to break the bad news. Last night, while I was looking for the manuscript in order to take a photo and email it to friends who might be able to help, I realised that it had been misplaced! To make matters worse, I think I might have thrown it away by mistake – it probably ended up in the black plastic bag last night, along with the rest of my old university notes that were deemed to be useless. How could I be so careless??? To say that I am frustrated would be an understatement. There are no words to describe how I feel. Anyway, the last thing I remember was placing the manuscript on top of the printer cover. It could be that I moved it to the pile of useless photocopied notes which ended up in the rubbish just before going to bed. I really hope I’ve managed to translate it as accurately as possible on the Word file that I’ve kept.

The above incident has made me more determined to find out what the mysterious manuscript means and how I got hold of it in the first place. Therefore, I have decided to maintain this blog in order to post updates on my research, some sort of memoir from my university years, the years before and the years after, a cluster of different lives, hence the title “Daedalian Times”. And I think it makes perfect sense if I start my chronicles by tracing the book in which I had found the manuscript. Luckily, it happens that this book is within easy reach right at this moment: a couple of shelves right above my laptop.

The Manuscript

Yesterday, while looking through some old boxes with notes from my university years, I discovered a crumpled up piece of paper, its sides torn and the bottom part missing completely. Somehow I managed to make out the letters that formed the words from the beginning to the end of the page, hoping that somehow I had succeeded in copying the text correctly. The original text was in Greek. Since the word formation and use is uncommon in the Greek language, I had to translate it for you while trying to keep it as close as possible to the original. Of course some things will not make any sense in English, as they do not make any sense in the original Greek. Here it goes anyway:

“Passing through forests full of brooks and ferns, splashing about in muddy ponds, crackling songs or sighs, The Kiteron remains well hidden from the eyes of the world. There are moments in this forest of endless solitude, glimpses of the otherworldly beauty that looks like the paradise described by the French composer, the instance when The Kiteron appears in the visible spheres, which nonetheless remain invisible to us. We call them that because they do not form the reality that the human eye can detect, and though it is surely some kind of reality, it still remains the sort of dimension which man cannot yet perceive. When can it be perceived then? Like every forest, so too does this paradise comprise some hidden clearings, where the trees become scarcer and, like magic, a patch of land appears all green, shining under the white rays of the sun, as swarms of insects fly all around it, every kind of moth imaginable and every kind of micro-organism, all palpate under the light in the same way a jellyfish palpates underwater – transparent as it is. Slowly and seductively, always in the appropriate rhythm, in some form of exotic dance, like two naked bodies which have been longing for each other for a while now, and even though they come closer, sometimes just a hair’s breadth away, they never get to touch each other. This feeling, just before bodily contact, which is doomed to an eternity destined not to be fulfilled, is the very heart and the pulse of The Kiteron that gives it the palpable dancing movement, and it is the same combination of desolation and sublime happiness (much like the state of nirvana) that make it produce these sounds without a beginning or an end, and only with a beginning and an end. It is said that man, even at clearings (which form the only place The Kiteron appears in the one dimension which might one day be perceived by our world), has not yet seen The Kiteron. And when he does, he will get this awkward feeling that no word or set of words can describe, even though ancient myths say it approximates the reaction of sea and sky if they were to come together one day, since The Kiteron is present before and after all of us and everywhere around us and in different dimensions; nevertheless it mainly enjoys passing through us, we often act as its favourite toy – a favourite gateway if you like, and it is also believed that this is how it pulls the strings, once in a while and in every while…”

I don’t know how to explain it but, reading the above text, I was left wondering whether this was indeed some kind of extract or a full text. And if the former is true, then where is the rest of it? When was this given to me and by whom? Why was it in the book where I had found it in the first place? Too many questions, I know, but by reading it, I really felt a sense of awe and contemplation. And one thing is for sure: I really need to know what this is all about. This is why I ask for your help. Any kind of assistance would be more than just useful…