Some will sell their dreams for small desires


“Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom.”
A. Schopenhauer

“The void exists for as long as you are not falling into it.”
Odysseas Elytis

“I don’t want you feeling dismal when it’s getting black
devoid of the darkness the years remain blank”
Sokratis Malamas, The letter


I was staying up late at a friend’s house. We were chatting away about photography and literature, while outside it was pouring with rain and Uragan fell from the stars.

“The Dead Man” by Jarmush was on TV. Neil Young’s distorted guitars sounded like thunders.

At some point the phone rang. We eyed it, as if an intruder had come in to disturb our anxiety. After five rings Bill made it to get up.

“It’s for you” he told me and I wondered how come the feds, the FBI agents, had tracked me down at this den.

When I took hold of the receiver, all I heard was a question:
“What do you do, when you feel you’re falling into the void?”

It took me some seconds to figure out who was talking. It was Nick, an internal migrant in Athens, who was working as a courier and was dreaming big of distant travels – a bit further than a 50cc motorbike could take you.

“What do you do, when you feel you’re falling into the void?”

Bill was looking at me looking back at him, with the receiver attached to my ear, speechless.
“Who is it?” he asked me.
“A friend. A friend who has fallen into the void.”
He sat up and said:
“The void exists for as long as you are not falling into it.”

It rules. When you’re falling into the void, then it’s no longer a void. It becomes something.


It was raining outside and the drenched couriers delivered letters and parcels to dry people. Many years later I would do my stint to this job and get a picture how toilsome street jobs are.

Back then I had a friend on the telephone who was dreaming big of distant travels with cargo ships and ocean liners while on my back another one was rolling a cigarette watching Johnny Depp dying.


I wrote all these lines while I was reading “Leviathan” by Paul Auster. Then I started reading one by McCarthy. Auster is lyrical even though when he writes about dismembered bodies. McCarthy is dry, just like the desert of Arizona.


It sucks mate, sucks big time. I work all day long for what? I buy nothing, not even a cheese pie, to save money, for what? To pay the rent and the electricity? For what?

I was listening to Nick staring out of the window. A tsunami from apartment buildings welled up underneath our feet to devour us. A town consisting of lost lives, so many lives in the lost city.

Prostitutes and pimps, couriers and taxi drivers, sick and tired store employees and shop owners with fake smiles and a baby whining while his mother shouts hysterically “Zip it! Zip it anyway!”

This isn’t exactly what I fantasized, said Nick.
None of us did, I told him.
Yes, but it didn’t work.
Dreams have this unfortunate knack, this bad habit; never coming true.

Bill snorted contemptuously at my poetic language and went to the bathroom. Nick went on.

I’m here with Catherine whom, granted, I love dearly, and her friends come here and the only topic of discussion is the CVs. Where did I send it, what kind of job it is and what they want, how will I get hired, and that’s all they talk about, about work exclusively and I want to shout in their faces:

Then, now. As I bring this night back to my mind, I enter its loop as if I relieve it, right now. I’ll keep on writing using present time. Let the God of Philologists forgive me; and if he doesn’t like it, he may drown himself in the churned waters of the sterilized sea.



I pull the receiver from my ear to avoid deafness, but then Nick falls into a whisper.

Do you remember what we used to say? he asks me.
About what?
How we want to live. Remember? A sack on our back, the guitar on our shoulders and travelling. No beans. Whatever may come, let it come. Do you remember?

Bill shuffles back from the bathroom and plunges into the couch.

I guess that’s the way it goes with all the people, I tell Nick.
With all?
With most of them. Almost all of them.
They make plans, dreams, arrange travels…
And then what?
Then they adapt themselves.

Nick gives a laugh, but his laughter has something that makes my skin crawl, like a presage of the death coming, just like Young’s guitar scratching noises when Depp gets into the boat.

Then suddenly, he comes to a halt. I can see him with my mind’s eye fixing his glance at the opposite wall. I jump into the opportunity to top up my glass. Bill gives me a reprehensive look.

What do you want to do? I ask Nick.
Now, this very moment, what do you want to do?
Be somewhere else.
Dunno. Somewhere else. Not here.
Leave then.
Go where?
Anywhere. What’s the matter?
And what am I supposed to do there?
Something better than what you do here, for sure.

Bill chips in, enigmatic as always:
You can’t escape yourself, no matter where you go.

You can’t, it’s true. He will always be there, looking back at you from the mirror, putting on your clothes, eating your food, getting tired out of your tiredness, but never learning from your mistakes.


I finished McCarthy’s book and I started another one by Auster “The music of chance”. I feel like I read Harlequin. Not because Auster is not a good author, not by any means. It’s just that McCarthy pushes you into the void with no frills added. With just a push, is like saying to you: We all live in the shit and there are no stars.
Like saying to you: There is no present, there is no present tense.


The conversation with Nick ended abruptly. At some point he just said: OK, I’m hanging up.

He understood that I could be of no help to get him out of his void. How could I? I was falling somewhere around there.

The movie was over and Bill had drifted off on the sofa. I got out on the balcony, this was my only way out, but fake as all the others.

Most of the windows were reflecting TV screen lights. Five million people watching TV to lull them to sleep and when they wake up, they’ll find themselves at a work they loath, to earn enough (or not) money to pay their bills.

Why do we live like that Nick? Why don’t we take our guitars and go out to see the world? Without money, without purpose. It can’t be worse than working as a courier.

Why do we keep on relentlessly living like this, even though our life is so dull?

Many years have passed since that night but I’ve found no answer. Nick can’t help me, he was killed with his bike a few years later. He didn’t travel, he was appointed to the municipal police and he got used to it.


In the books of Auster that I read, all of the central characters acquire somehow – and unexpectedly- a big amount of money. This fact changes their lives.
McCarthy’s protagonist bumps into a bag with millions from the Mexican drug dealers and this destroys his life, he is killed and takes down with him many of his friends and relatives.

For Auster, money is a way out, even though fake. For McCarthy, it is the root of the problem.


What do you do, when you feel you’re falling into the void? Nick had asked.

Perhaps I do know. You get used to it; and it’s no longer a void. You name it reality, life, realism, you call it what-else-could-I-do?

So you go on working as a courier, having no memory of the plans you made to go round the world.

You get used to it. It’s an acquired taste. Or perhaps you go off your plans.

Then you die and it’s too late. The chance is gone.


It’s Sunday evening, halfway through October, wrapping up this text. It was written in parts and fragments within two months, a few words at a time. I read through McCarthy’s “The Crossing” once again.

I already disagree with my earlier claims about getting used to. I can’t get used to it. Perhaps I’m a misfit, a genetic-social-psychological error. But I don’t mind.

Sorry world, I just can’t get used to your ugliness.

And as I listen to Malamas singing I don’t want you feeling dismal, the phone will ring and it will be Nick when it’s getting black, calling from hell (+666 code number), devoid of the darkness, and when he asks me what do you do, when you feel you’re falling into the void, the years remain blank, I will reply:

Make believe that you are flying Nick. You’re not falling, you’re flying.


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Translated by Alexandros Mantas