To Be High
(A search for the highest place in Palestine)
After a pause, I continued walking. I passed by a bear, an elephant, a field of cicadas vibrating at 86 Hertz. The first gods were always gods, only gods, gods from the beginning to the end of their stories. The first humans were always humans, only humans, humans from the beginning to the end of their stories. Who was the first god to become human, who was the first human to become a god? Who was the first god to reach death, who was the first human to escape from it? A bear, an elephant, a field of cicadas. A cicada spends its first seventeen years of life underground; then it emerges. An elephant, Muhammed Ali in Kinshasa on the quadrilateral against the ropes being punched, sleeping elephant, defeated elephant; in the eighth round emerges, wins, rope-a-dope, everything seems to indicate that something will happen and the opposite happens. A hibernating bear, Bärengott, Zalmoxes, Dacian god who preached among his countrymen that neither he, nor his boon companions, nor any of their posterity would ever perish, but that they would all go to a place where they would live for aye in the enjoyment of every conceivable good, in simultaneity to his preaching, he ordered an underground chamber to be carved inside a cave where he stayed for three years. Inhabiting inside a cave. To breath the air inside the cave. Carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide. Sulfur dioxide. Ammonia. Methane. Inside a cave the color with which a candle shines is different. Fungus. Histoplasma capsulatum. Bat guano. Lava tunnels taking out gases from the crater. Spelotherapy. When Dacians and Thracians greatly regretted Zalmoxes loss and mourned over him as one dead, when the fourth year arrived, he emerged, thus verifying his word. Ritual death. Holy Sepulchre. Resurrection. Every pause in the being is death; all death is only a pause in the being. To hibernate. In History of animals, Aristotle writes that swallows do not migrate, hibernate, pause their being to continue being in spring; dragonflies that by birth suspend the pause in the migration of their dead ancestors, continuing the march of the dragonflyness. Individuals that by been singulars are higher than the universal. I kept on walking; the road shaped my body, my feet blistered, bled, became harder. I turned the repetition of my steps into the beads of an immaterial rosary, a mantra that allowed me to access the absolute. When on my way I had climbed a mountain, I felt that the summit attracted my body, tilting it slightly forward, when I had descended, the attraction of the summit tilted my body slightly backwards; when I had walked on ice I had to reduce the length of my stride; and when I had walked through the desert my gastrocnemius muscles swelled as I flexed my plants constantly to get them out of the sand. I realized that each environment implies a different embodiment, that each road determines a different way of walking, that each way of walking corresponds to a different way of thinking. I crossed a valley surrounded by rocky mountains covered by trees on their slopes, and the top of the farthest one, illuminated by a singular ray of sunlight filtered through the cloudy sky. Distance turns the world into a landscape. I felt in the center of the courtyard of the Great Mosque of Kairouan, in front of the Great Awakening Temple, in the Piazza del Duomo; I felt in rapture by the volume of the mountains; I continued walking, the clouds covered and uncovered the sun, filtered sun’s light changing the color of the landscape, I remembered the interior of the chapel that Barragán built for the Convent of the Capuchin illuminated by the light of a winter morning. Architecture that imitates landscape. I kept on walking. Valley. Slope. Forest. The distance between me and the world disappeared. The landscape became a territory. My body became present. I jumped a stream. I pulled a branch that blocked my way. I bent down to dodge a spider's web. I remembered bending my body to cross the tiny door of the chapel of the Nativity in Bethlehem, strive to enter in at the strait gate, I thought about Vitruvius counting the number of steps that a stair must have at the outside of a temple in order to enter with the right foot in it, I thought about the narrow and steep steps of the Mayan Pyramid of the Magician, to prevent raising the head during the ascent and turning the back to god during the descent. Architecture that outrages the body to make us aware of it. Anti-ergonomics. I kept on walking. Forest. Mountain. Summit. I had the experience of distance again; from above the world was not a landscape but a map. To be high To climb a tree, a ladder or a mountain. Rite of ascension. At the height, the body changes. The lack of oxygen forces our organism to work differently: to breath differently is to be differently: to be high. The heart beats faster, the systolic volume decreases, the non-essential functions of the body are suppressed. Dizziness. Euphoria. Hallucinations. Climbers who are about to reach the top of an eight-thousander must breathe 15 times to be able to walk a single step. To be high. A hilltop castle, a watchtower, a drone. Surveillance technologies. Height is a prosthesis that unveils what is hidden by closeness: to be high. At the top, the exterior transforms the interior. The interior transforms the exterior. The self and the other change. To be high; to walk in the heights; to inhabit the heights. What is your height? How high can you go in your everyday life? Is it on the roof of the house where you live where you go up to hang your clothes. Physical height. Religious height. Economical height. Social height. How high can you go in this city? In this country? Mount Gerizim. Mount Ebal. Stolen Mount Meron. The highest place of any place is the voice. A high-pitched voice. A soprano voice. A high-pitched soprano voice projected from the top of a mountain with the mouth directed towards the sky. A shout. A whistle. A frequency that elevates you without losing your feet of the ground. At night over calm water, the Gomero whistle has been listened at a distance of 17 kilometers. But not because it stops being audible to human ear it ceases to exist; the wave keeps traveling, thinning like a river when it reaches its spring. Brief spring. Wide mouth. Where does the voice come from? Does it come out of the mouth or into the mouth? A vibration in the space. Little Big Bang. It grows. Snowball. It becomes audible till gets in a human mouth. The universe is a word that expects to be said. I kept on walking, crossed a short plateau, a tuya, or butte. I descended. Halfway down I found an opening, a crack, a cave, and transforming my body into a cicada, an elephant, a bear, a Dacian god, I entered. A mountain is observed, contemplated, climbed, experienced; but at the end, you enter in it.
A search for the highest place in Palestina.
Written between July and September 2018 for the context of Qalandiya Biennial.