by Christos Hadjipapas
I’ll tell you all about her, the TV presenter, but first let me introduce myself: I am a clairvoyant, a master at penetrating other people’s personalities, at detecting their secrets, sometimes even their motives, and without the slightest self-interest, without remuneration. My sole recompense is achieving my goal, confirming my diagnosis, proving myself a good psychoanalyst though I have no official proof of such. I take my bows in front of myself alone, I don’t do what I do for third persons, I don’t tolerate tittle-tattle. Or anybody’s cheers. I am simply fanatical about the truth, though I’m not the least bit interested in platitudes of any kind. I leave that sort of thing to the usual rabble-rousers, demagogues, bank robbers, professional politicians, self-important priests, scientists and refrigerator technicians. My task is not to freeze things but rather to unfreeze them. Release the odours. I’m fanatical about succeeding in my mission, even if it puts my professional career at risk or endangers my standing in the community, even if it means I’ll be accused of scheming, in pursuit of their so-called harmony. Nor do I resort to underhanded tricks, as they do with our money and our fates. The truth is that I am fascinated by all things strange. The things that ordinary people can’t see, even if they’re plain as day, even when they’re penetrating us through and through, like those microplastics polluting the world’s oceans1. At the same time, in a different vein, take the seductive metamorphosis of an obscure TV presenter whom the channel had more or less hidden away. She entered our lives like a benevolent ray of light.
Well, then, Adriani suddenly makes her appearance in a breakfast programme, presenting the daily news and current affairs with a well-known, well-regarded journalist a few years younger than herself. During their debut and over the next few days I found it difficult to watch them: ill-matched, uncoordinated, the journalist’s self-confidence constantly undermined by his partner. I sometimes laughed at the thought that they had matched a horse with an ox. She could not keep pace with him, it almost seemed as though she was taking a back seat, assigning to him some of her futile screen-time. As though she was hiding, seeking a few seconds respite from the lens. As for him, he was trying to encourage her, to give her wings. To boost her a little, doubtless aware of her hidden possibilities. At some point he called her by the more affectionate “Andria” instead of Andriana. Once he even addressed her as “my Andria”. Only the “darling” was wanting. Gradually she gained in confidence. She began to assert herself, to wear less make up, which relieved her of that one-dimensional mask and made her sweeter, her face glowing and attractive. She progressed in leaps and bounds, day by day. Her lips were slightly enlarged, and their colour coordinated attractively with her clothes. She did her homework, getting the better of her colleague now and then, sometimes actually pulling rank on him, for she belonged to the permanent staff whereas he was merely a temporary collaborator. The horse and the ox had been replaced by a pair of racehorses that shot like tracers to their mark. Her nostrils flared imperceptibly, and obviously not from racing but from lust. Here was a picture of passion, which only a detective like myself could read. Everyone else was blind to the transformation, and to the illegal act I had discovered.
The programme took off. Thanks to them, the channel earned the highest viewing figures of the morning zone. It surpassed even the state channel’s most popular programme which was presented by an exceptionally beautiful journalist who, with her marvelous breasts and her sweet-talking, presented a variety of subjects relating to human behavior: juvenile delinquency, child pornography, bullying at school, sexual harassment, sexual impotency, how many times per week we have sex, medical topics, miracles as part of our daily life, an icon of the Virgin that shed tears, and so forth.
Another thing, which not a single viewer had noticed, was the fleeting touch of their hands low on the table, caught in that crucial instant when the camera lens made a blunder, equivalent to a printer’s typo, and showed her alone on screen, her face somewhat flushed, and their fingers interlinking over the middle of the table, attracted towards each other even more definitively than in Michelangelo’s painting “Creation”, where the Creator, seemingly with static electricity in his fingertips, transmits energy to Adam. Though certain degenerate art critics have read something more meaningful into the attraction between the two males. The demon of errors, of the lens in this particular instance, I had noted before but, like any common mortal, I had not given it the necessary attention. What could be more reasonable, or natural, than that the journalist should transmit to her his acuity, the vitality of his gestures, his verbal virility, and that she, with grateful acceptance, should channel her serotonin-sweetness not only to him, his face and movements, but to the entire screen. And, of course, to the viewers. Her eyes shone, she had become beautiful, even desirable. She had replaced the bad taste little cross that hung around her neck with a rampant lion, obviously her star sign. Or his. She had even loosened a button of her blouse, which no longer obscured the lines of her burning bosom. And this bodily manifestation of emotion communicated itself to the viewers who, without realizing it, were permeated by a kind of sensual pleasure, inexplicably. Not that it bothered them, since they were unaware of it, they simply experienced a vicarious, reflected, erotic euphoria, without understanding whence it came or if it actually existed. They simply felt happy, for no reason. As though someone had spiked their tea with an elixir of well-being and relaxation. A drop of sweat from her dewy pudenda when she was in the seventh heaven of pure delight. It passed through no one’s mind that “dewy” so closely resembled the dialect word “sappy”, that is to say, full of sap. Nor that the ancient Greek for “dewy” had invaded their screens from edge to edge, undetected, and from thence to their own inadmissible fantasies.
I was about to hire a detective to follow them, so as to satisfy my curiosity at last and prove my theory of “production love”, when the unexpected happened, like some diabolical breaking of a leg, to spare me the expense and put me out of my agony. As the programme was ending and the two journalists leaving the set, by mistake the camera lens followed them and caught on screen the young man caressing her shapely behind.
That poor bastard of a camera operator lost his job and rightly so, if you ask me. They didn’t even tell him why, that he had tarnished the programme, betraying the steady brightening of her cheeks, driven its popularity to the depths and the boat of erotic utopia onto the rocks.
If it had been up to me, I would have handled the matter more discreetly and the programme would have continued to flourish until today. Because people do fall in love and give themselves up to desire, even unknowingly, when it is instilled in small, secret doses by way of optical and hormonal fibres, dispensed drop by drop, clandestinely. Even drought-stricken bodies no longer seeking erotic love. Even those bodies which had withered up in revenge, like bitter fruits of disappointment. And amongst them, until recently, the body of yours truly, which had wasted years of youth and life in pointless protest.
Which is why in my opinion that man should have been condemned to unending lovelessness. Like the Scythian women whom Aphrodite punished for their disrespect with the atrophying of their genital organs.
Not more than a week had passed, however, and the diabolically sinister ringing of the telephone alerted me. At once I knew. I heard the spiteful voice of the detective whom I had idiotically neglected to employ this time around. “Dear Master, you failed entirely to infiltrate the personalities of the three leading characters. The camera operator, my dear sir, had seen the ground crumbling beneath his feet, the erotic ground I mean! He saw his love withering before his eyes, it was squeezing him like a noose about his neck, and that is why he acted with such disrespect towards the goddess. He had nothing more to lose.”
Translated by Susan Papas
1. From the dissolution of discarded plastics, which end up in the seas and oceans, eventually creating the so-called microplastics, which as non-identifiable pollutants are eaten by fish and other aquatic creatures, ending up in their tissues and thereafter in the fish mezze of humans and the humans themselves. With disastrous consequences.