A Traveler at the Gates

The dictatorship of borders and monsters with birds’ hearts.

A Traveler at the Gates

In sum, we are an army of dreamers, and therefore invincible.

Subcomandante Marcos


Traveling is the experience of awakening. It can be intense, inspiring, and beautiful, and it suggests the way as the metaphor of renovation and changes. There is something unnatural in the very nature of statics, for humans emerge and bloom only when searching for something. Is it at all possible to be aware of the expanse of the world without cognizing the Other in an invigorating adventure on the road? No matter how wonderful a Place might be, it is always a hegemon because it leaves its prints, influences, or formats. To stay behind is to interrupt a metamorphosis. The horizon is there to strive to it, and to overcome it.

Odysseys through cultures and cities, meeting strangers and woods, nipples of mountains and oceans— should there be a right to all of it? It seems so. However, sometimes there is barbed wire between a human, and some other shores, the fence the very idea of which is an abuse and a verdict. Be it local migration politics or the Shengen Agreement, legions of people who had a misfortune to be born in a wrong place at a wrong time are intentionally subjected to offensive quarantines. This is how the Animal Farm is established.

There is the soviet noun, “the Abroad,” that fully describes this humiliating geocultural void characterizing people and territories rejected by the civilization’s hubs out of squeamishness. The Abroad means mythical horizons outside of the allowed perimeter, a forbidden land, and a shameful notion right out of prisoners’ argot, a desperately hopeless watershed of “here” and “there.” The Abroad suggests your absence there. It does not exist outside of your isolation. Organza has replaced iron as the material for the curtain, and it serves now as a mosquito net for humans.

Is it really a wonder that a king triumphs, Moslem women are doused with acid and a Russian skinhead slashes a Tajik? Is it possible to overcome barbarity by isolating it from the variety of the world at large, and experience? Is the migration politics of the Western kingdom really a form of the Oriental dictatorships’ escalation? The liberalism is prepared to send democratization armies to “third world” countries but it denies their citizens their right to test and experience the offered values as facts and experiences by themselves. What does the theory of liberalization mean to those who were born in chains, and cages? The Declaration of Human Rights is the populism manifesto desacralized by those who wrote and signed it. Those shadows by the locked gates are of occasional “monsters” that have to smolder desperately under the pressure of two dictatorships, their inner Scylla, their regressive government’s actions, and their outside Charybdis that sees dangerous ringworm in you. The fear gives birth to ghetto.

Why should one hail the democratic convoy if those who had sent it on its way see one as a half-human near-animal? Can those 15 or 90 allowed days of a yearly visit be explained to the generations far removed from the cold war era who believe that the planet belongs to the biological species and not any state in particular? Is it not humiliating to look for “a more substantial cause” for traveling than a wish to take a walk in a remote park? Why a vise stamp is different from a David’s star on a camp uniform? Even if you have resources, you cannot go immediately to Naples, Stockholm, New York, or Tokyo. So why do not we put this situation on a par with the one when some people are allowed to use sidewalks, and others are not? What does remain there of the human brotherhood idea in the world where everything happens on an intersection of Orwell and Huxley when some people are alphas, and others are betas, and there is the language that allows to assuage this fascizoid hierarchy?

Therefore, there are more questions than answers. In the meantime, occasional “monsters” at the gate are filled with dreams. Their singing hearts feel close to the identity of birds. There will be a time when cages crumble, and the space of their bars will be filled with air pumped in with the will to saddle the horizon.