From the Sky, the Earth

**

Karel finds his place on the small plane directly above the wing, takes his book out and opens it, but in the end just places it on the empty seat beside him. It is early, he has hardly slept for the last few days, he leans back and shuts his eyes of changing colour. He can’t sleep. He looks out: clouds beneath. I wonder why Siniša objects to the word installation? He said so yesterday, the radio was on, it popped up there, they were not even paying attention, I just left it on and we started talking, Siniša was telling me a story but at this word he raised his head that he holds high up anyway, and said: what’s the use of this word, installation.

**

Now that I can’t sleep either I’m getting angry with myself for not bringing a box of matches. Karel I can’t understand, Siniša even less, I have no idea what is the use of installation. He was explaining how after a while the pictures started climbing off the walls of the exhibition room and stretched until they had as many dimensions as they needed. Four, because they didn’t want to live for ever.

**

There is no border you can pass without paying some fee.
Karel has been collecting struck-off matches ever since he first saw Siniša light somebody’s cigarette. They were standing in front of some building talking and smoking and when Tamara asked for a fire Siniša produced a box of matches from his pocket and struck one with his head turned towards the sky. He could hear that several lighters had overtaken him but stood there motionless, the little fire almost burning his fingers. Luckily Karel blew it out in time.

**

There is no border you can pass without paying some fee. It is not even the fee but the terror of having to conform to who knows what law. Installation: why does this very word trouble Siniša. And not, for instance, See you! Come to think of it, Servus is so much better. There was a time when I’d rather just mumble under my breath at parting, but then he would surprise me by saying, See you. He would say it calmly, kindly, while shutting the door after me with face held upwards. Even so, I couldn’t bring myself to say See you to him the next time.

**

Servus humilissimus, this is the title of the Istanbul exhibition. Karel didn’t want to swindle, there was not one match in the installation that somebody had lighted merely in order for the globe-like thing to take shape. The matches turned with their burnt-off ends outwards would stand for the continents; in contrast, oceans were burnt inwards.

Zsuzsa Selyem is regarded as one of the most original voices of mid-generation Hungarian experimental writing. She is a critic, novelist, poet, translator, and Associate Professor at the Department of Hungarian Literature at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, where she teaches critical theory and 20th-21st century Hungarian literature. To date, her work comprises one novel (translated into German and French), two volumes of short stories, and four volumes of criticism.

Erika Mihálycsa teaches 20th-century British fiction at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj. Her research is focused mainly on Joyce, Beckett and Flann O’Brien, and she is a prolific translator from English and German into Hungarian. Her translations of Hungarian literature into English have previously appeared in B O D Y and on Hungarian Literature OnlineShe is editor, together with Rainer J. Hanshe, of HYPERION magazine, issued by Contra Mundum Press.

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