Today I’ve cleaned the apartment. It’s spotless. Now I wish my sister were still here to see it. Just before she left we had a talking session in the bathroom. In our young days in Romania when we didn’t have much – but the little we had was top notch, and that includes a fantastic bathtub – when I would take a long bath, she would sit on a low stool and recite poetry to me – either from books – I still remember her Lermontov phase and frenzy – or by heart. She can easily recite some 100 verses.
Although I have no bathtub in my new apartment, yesterday we managed to entertain ourselves with something else. I explained to her something about my two Miele machines, which are the apples of my eyes – in another life I’m sure I’m a Miele engineer. Mana, my sister, listened patiently. She knows that I’ve had a fix for Miele more than 20 years now, so she also knows that there’s no way she can stop me once I get started on the benefits of having such things in the house. But as it is with technical things rather than poetry, contemplating engines brings about some other observations than poetical ones. Mana said: “who cleaned your mirror?” “– I did,” I said. “– Like that?” she said, pointing to some hardly visible smudges. “– But…,” I said. “– But me no buts”, she said. “– Either you do a proper job, or forget about it.” Next, I was surprised to see her, a 1970 vintage who measures no more than 155 cm, climbing on top of my sink like a cat to polish my mirror. While cleaning she said: “what we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence.” Her quoting Wittgenstein baffled me for a second. How could I defend myself, or rather my poor cleaning skills, in the face of such a statement? It was clear that she was going to accept no explanation as to why I obviously didn’t think about getting my mirror to reflect optimally.
I left her to her device – Wittgenstein for mirrors was too much even for me. As I grabbed the door-handle, however, I was reminded of myself 10 years ago, when I wrote my Master’s thesis. After the introduction I had a picture of Wittgenstein’s beautiful design of a door-handle in my text. I used it both as a metonymy for epigraphs and quotes that stand for whole or complete messages – as against hermetic thinking – and as a metaphor for opening (fragment) texts with. Texts opened by fragments.
I left the bathroom and my youth and childhood memories with the distinct feeling that we must be secretly related to Wittgenstein.
When my sister finished she said: “– A penny for your silence on silence.” I offered an idea: “ – It’s elegant,” I said, and I could tell that she was dying to know whether I was making a reference to silence or to Wittgenstein. But it was for her to guess. I went reflecting – on mirroring acts: hers, others, and mine.