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October 2002

The stars are gone
Fuck you for existing in the first place

Leaving behind my two friends at a local restaurant on the north east corner of Broadway and 86th, I thought I'd take myself for a walk in Central Park. I left the two of them in a special kind of enraptured attachment, listening each with a single earphone to some Bollywood Mp3 I had downloaded to my handheld. I was feeling unsteady and didn't want anyone or anything following me, except perhaps, the past.

Shocked at my own unsettled state, I wished for that childhood bliss again: to be held again, rocked by a lullaby. I thought I'd sing myself a lullaby... rockaby baby, in a tree top, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock, when the bow breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby cradle and all... Tapping away on the icons on my palm pilot to find just the right tune to soften my friends' plastered smiles, I came across a photograph. That photograph was of us, the lot of us, and I could see the weight of such hopes for the future in the glimmer of our eyes, in the creases of the light, silken summer wear... There was such light, such conviction, such faith in the promise of that day. Clearly that promise would last a life time?

It was in seeing that photograph that evening that I finally understood the words Walter Benjamin spoke to me, measured as they were by the patient tap of his ash in a Paris café one afternoon before his untimely death. Looking over my shoulder at a tattered envelope of photographs by Antonione Sevrugvin, photographs of "an authentic culture" in nineteenth century Iran, Benjamin spoke to me about a certain residue of the fleeting moment. The residue that encrusts itself in the creases of clothes in old photographs. The residue of moments that make of us photographs of ourselves, returning the gaze as if in our own presence, but now from far, far away.

Sevrugvin's documentary photographs of Iranian culture, Sevrugvin thought, would capture a life that would be crushed by the force of modernity in Iran. Little did he know that it was the very intervention of the modern technology that deposited the past in the creases of that fleeting moment. That his very technology made that moment possible for a no less catastrophic future in remembrance.

That night at the restaurant, marked the anniversary of the New York tragedy, the day when my friend lost her partner in the world trade towers. And I couldn't but look at the photograph and think of the love and the hope I too had cherished that year and of the havoc that that love had wrought ... I couldn't contain myself for another moment, for there are some words that cannot be muttered silently... "fuck you and your untouchable face and fuck you for existing in the first place... "

For what do we have of that silver rimmed promise on my handheld, now? A shattered life, and thousands besides; another senseless war; a life struggling against odds for her own survival without pain; another siege on Ramallah; an unwanted child amidst our once carefree mass, and our collective financial futures on the line. Papa's iron hand has cast the dice of chance again. And the stars over Central Park have gone into hiding. So, who am I to tell you what the future holds -- to rob it of its magic, as it were-- when even the Torah and the prayers instruct us in remembrance?

The stars are gone and it would seem that their mythic powers have found investments somewhere on the web. For indeed, even the cast dice accompanied the sound of a clicking mouse. This month, rather than forcing the hand of the gods or mine, I suggest you bite the shell and take an online test. Go to Martin Seligman's site.You'll need to test yourself for your signature strengths and practice something approximating authentic happiness. Now go away... Madame Bayaz walks alone.

To contact Madame Bayaz write to: mme_bayaz@yahoo.com

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