In 1996 I was in Prague for my birthday. I was 28 then. Smoother and about two kilos lighter than today. 48 kilos to be more precise. I was also stupider, both according to myself and others. This, now that I think of it some more, and unlike my weight and flesh, has actually remained a constant. As I had just moved in with a man I didn’t really know, most people thought I was either really stupid or really crazy. “Well, do you at least know how old he is?” they asked. “No, I don’t,” I said. “But why is that so important?” I asked in turn. I thought I knew just what I needed to know. Nothing more, and nothing less. I was not wrong. But then, how can you be, when the man’s idea of seducing you is by telling you that it really doesn’t matter what you are, who you’re with, and what you plan to do, as long as he gets to be with you 5 minutes a day - if you, so please, allow it. Well, I decided that a man like that deserved more than 5 minutes. Now, I never asked him why only 5 minutes would have cut it – I knew what I knew – and he never asked me why I wanted to hang out in old Jewish cemeteries on my birthday. But Kafka was the love of my life at that point, and that was all anybody needed to know. I wanted to go to Prague for the words. I wanted to see if I could experience sensuality through the interconnectedness of vibrations. I did. For, paying attention to what we do, say, and think is what energy is.

So, here we were, in Prague, shooting pictures, playing Jewish in the relevant quarters, stuffing ourselves with gefilte fish, and reading Kafka and Hölderlin in full foliage. Prior to this event, I tried to explain to all those who couldn’t understand how, after being presented with the possibility to move in, and was given the key to the apartment after one encounter that didn’t include sex, I did it the day after, and then ran off to Prague to indulge my literary tastes. But there was, however, one line, which I vividly remember shut the astonished female spectatorship up. Now I wonder why all the other things I said didn’t make such an impact, especially since nobody understood the profundity of it. I said: “I want him because he never sees me, or thinks of me as merely a fuckable subject.” And that in spite of my part, which, if I submit for a moment to the patriarchal idiom and order, I would have to say was not the part of playing the nun. When I then asked my female friends insistently, “do you know what that means?” I could tell that although their answer was “sure we do,” they sure as hell didn’t. On my 41st anniversary, I don’t raise my glass to the one who actually taught me what language does to us, women, culturally – oppress us for the most part – (he knows what he knows) – but to all those women who say, “sure,” when they’re not. May you all be fortunate enough to live with men who know better than ‘that’ – who trust your intelligence enough to know that if you do certain things, you do them for a reason!

Here’s what mine wrote in the Prague album he made for me:

“A book of photographs, arranged to pleasantly simulate a coherent narrative concerning an elopement-like pilgrimage to Prague, that venerable city of golden roofs, baroque tastes, and shrines to Jewish intellectualism, pride, and good merchant sense – introducing first the principals and differentiating them from their fellows: B., a man of little consequence and much pretence; the great K., a deceased Jewish doctor; and lastly, C., a dark lady of several aspects some of which are displayed within, for your viewing delight…”


Mekone said…
When you will write all of this in a book? Is beautiful what you say about your feelings!!!!!
James said…
Professor Elias,

I just ran across your lovely FRAG/MENTS web site. Your writing is such a treat and, on this slightly dreary fall day in Washington, D.C., all those pictures of you in Scandanavia and Lapland towering over head stones in cemeteries struck me as inspiring images of divinity. A conqueror of mortality -- or at least mortals. A conqueror who likes Bach and Leonard Cohen. The minor fall, the major lift. Verily, you must be a goddess!

Thank you for your wonderful site!


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