Yesterday I went to a concert with The Stamic String Quartet. Ever since I’ve met the Czech ambassador, Zdenek Lycka, when I first expressed an adamant wish to attend concerts of this kind organized by the embassy, he has most graciously and consistently invited me to all of them. With some people, I like to say that there is ‘something’ there. With Zdenek, it’s about remembrance of things past. Not that either of us is stuck in any kind of time, but there is a certain energy that takes place when we talk about culture, both timeless and time bound. Our countries of origin are both known for a certain cultural belatedness in relation to most of the Western world, so what we like about our encounters is that when we show a genuine interest in Schubert and Schopenhauer we don’t feel odd, or like talking to people twice our age simply because they are the only ones who get it. In other words, we talk about completely useless and irrelevant things most of the time. That includes relationships with men, women, and books. We also do politics, mind you, but it is more the kind that was formulated and devised by Machiavelli.

The beauty of such moments, when the past meets the present but in a Greek sort of way, when things to come are predicted randomly through our equally random consideration of some artistic expression, is most precious. Zdenek, who is a polyglot, writes poetry, and draws, told me at another point in time that his drawings never come out right. I asked him why. He said that it was because he can only do completely photographic representations. He said that although he always tries to capture some essential quality in a model, it is not often that it happens. Where I’m concerned, he told me that he would be interested in capturing my energy, but that he wasn’t sure that he dared. Now, knowing that he wasn’t just flattering me – people with a sense of belatedness know better than that – I decided for myself that he is a very perceptive and clever man.

At the concert yesterday, held at the Black Diamond in the Danish Royal Library, there was energy. Connections were made across the sounds of music led by the strings that almost ripped your heart out, slashing it to fragments, the ambassador’s gaze, and a dancing devil. The intriguing medieval Codex Gigas was on display outside the concert hall. At the reception, people were raising their glasses to the figure in the 90 cm Big Book. This silent music that the glasses added to the still vibrating tones of Dvorak, Smetana, Martinu, Nielsen, and Haydn made me think of the reasons why I left Romania 20 years ago. I was happy. Especially since my sister has now also left Romania. For the arts. Sophocles came to my mind: “It is the dead not the living, who make the longest demands. We die forever.”

Your excellency, a very fine ambassador of the country and the arts, many thanks for another splendid night.


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