This is the story of Sati
”Sati … Who is she? A mother-of-pearl body immolated on a cruel pyre while life still offers itself to her young gaze? Is this condemnation fair? That little pile of ash, swept by the wind? Condemned to follow the soul of a deceased? And then nothing? Forgetting? All in white woven? Or is it this word which burns the lips? Veracity. All of those truths that we condemn to evanescence. The truth of our beings. Our thirsts, our follies, immense or ridiculous, our more or less senseless reveries, our fallen hopes. All the ingenuity of our stifled, tired, surrounded minds … the desire to create, to grow with the help of each idea, each sensation, each desire and each aspiration … As many ashes that we scatter in our sad lives, so many pyres that we light when we give up. Sati is all of that. This desire to create absolute beauty as much as that of tasting the simple enjoyment of all those little stolen dreams of an instant. Whoever accepts to seize her hand knows that she is daring, rebellion, fierce beauty, in every breath, in every word, in every note … Nothing should be abandoned for the benefit of the day, the mechanics of everyday life, the cold routine. Let yourself be tormented by ideas, carried by dreams and dare to take the plunge, to pretend to create …
Sati is this goddess that our vows of invention have recreated to offer you to flirt with the twilight line, this strange between two worlds, an elsewhere where the essential is redefined and where thought forgets all barriers. Words, notes and images mingle here in a ballet that we wanted to free from any coda of genres. Sati is our allegory of free inspiration, of creativity in essence, a blue demon ruling the senses, a spirit eager for renewal, for beauty as much as for melancholy. She is our thirst for infinity. Because when we cross the line, there is no longer a finality to seek, quite the contrary. Only movement makes sense.”
I contemplate her, sitting in front of me, immersed in the study of these Vedas of which I know nothing. I will probably never get tired of this moment stolen from time. Stolen from her life. To what extent she is unaware of my presence at this moment. I’m only a shadow for her, spoiling the light of her lamp. I feel like an intruder. Even when she suddenly deigns to raise her eyes and ask me, with a smile, ink, blotter or pen. That smile… so enigmatic. I’m nothing but a chimera. Do I only have the right to contemplate her like this? To watch her thin white hands greedily go through these works ? To admire her passively in this curious quest that she is leading towards a secret that I cannot offer her? These pages, this aged ink, this language, which seems to offer her so much happiness and adorns her with that glow that makes her so desirable, I know nothing about it. And yet, how much at this moment I would like to be her master in order to be able to be part of her universe? Her gaze, so dark, only lights up for this strange world that is beyond my reach. How much I would like to be the sole object of her adoration. Sitting in front of me, so close and yet so inaccessible, she offers herself to my eyes like a marvellous apparition. I am crazy about her, she who ignores me at this moment. I am crazy about her, she who breathes pure magic. But what do I know about her? If not her name? Her name that resounds like the echo of a myth ? That name that resounds like a cruel fate. In silence, I look at her, read and write. To breathe. To exist. And draw a strange line between worlds.
Her passion is more absolute than mine and my own universe suddenly appears far too pale to claim to deserve her. I am only a pencyl stroke, when she is inspiration. In my madness, I dream of inventing for her many extraordinary worlds, worlds without laws, but my thoughts are never but drops of poison in my blood. Hers, I feel them more absolutes. In what past and future do they plunge? I would like her to let me contemplate her dreams, her inventions, her wishes and her frailties. I am only a fool, because I believe I see them flowing from her like a river made of gold. And I reach out my hand, vainly trying to grasp them. She is simply beautiful, sitting in this moment facing me, immersed in the shadow of her books. And I’m a madman who goes too far. The threat that hangs over us does not seem to trouble her at all. And I can only dream. Dreaming of saving her, she who doesn’t want to be saved. To dream that she saves me, the useless one.
Time is short, I know. But it seems that I am the only one who suffers. For her, twelve days or twelve years, it doesn’t matter. So, I drink every second of this moment, like a thirsty person, who counts the moments that still separate him from nothingness. I drink every second that Sati’s simple vision bewitches me, wondering why she chose me.
Could I have imagined it ? When I was still on this plane, on the plane taking me to this unlikely destination? But what was I then? One of those western tourists, tired of the daily purr, looking for a mystical postcard experience? Tour operators are so generous in their offers. And India, a cliché with shimmering colours. All I needed was this touch of exoticism to compose the perfect false consolation of a tasteless life. Could I have imagined it? As I tried, as best I could, to split the phenomenal crowd of the Kumbha Mela, to get closer to the banks, pretend to live as close as possible to the hashtagued ceremonyon all sides and bring back the proof of my Sunday conversion to the mysteries of another culture on my socialmedias? Beneath this sky full of black clouds and split by the golden shards of a sun constantly fighting to recall its omnipotence, in the heart of this crowd composed of countless brightly coloured saris, Sadhu Naga Baba dancing naked, and all these uniform faces turned towards deities and demons whose meaning just didn’t make sense in my daily life made of numerical values and down-to-earth considerations… Feet immersed in this water as sacred as it is poisonous, in all this magnificent mud… She suddenly found herself there, in front of me… And nothing had predicted it to me. And my life, tidy, framed, stinking of pride, at once soft and imperious, waiting for my return in twelve days, ordering me to be nothing more but a happy tourist, like millions of others, hadn’t prepared me for it. I, the foreigner, my mind swollen with false pretensions, suddenly felt shaken. And the perfect photograph I had come to take, like millions of others, no longer made any sense.
The ballet of fantastic colours that poured like a wave of fever into these sacred waters suddenly became monochrome and silent. She was draped only in a simple pale blue silk, without the slightest ornament, but nothing could rival the radiance of her face. Yet there was nothing, nothing extraordinary in this apparition. No flash of lightning struck me, she had not sprung from the waters of the Gange, and no circle of light composed a mystical aura around her. She simply stood there before me, her face slit with an enigmatic smile. But the impressive and compact mass of the « others » suddenly no longer existed for me. Why did she turned to me? Why did she look at me with such black eyes in which I would now just like to drown? And why, in a gesture of childlike simplicity, did she drag me along in her wake, as if it were self-evident? I couldn’t say. The simple touch of her hand in mine moved me… I followed her. I could no longer turn away from her. As she passed by, Sadhu Naga Baba, Shiva’s warriors, whose bodies were covered in ashes, moved aside. I didn’t try to understand it. Nor did I bother about their strange looks. I was too fascinated by this stranger who took me with her in a infinitely graceful movement of blue silks
Sati speaks :
He was my opium. In his arms made of ashes, I had the power to scatter in the air and dance with the wind. I was free. He was my source of pure water as much as my poison, whose every drop instilled in my veins propelled me to a wonderful and undefined elsewhere. He was my dream, made god. And he had offered me the most beautiful of colors to adorn my heart, madly in love. But I was torn from his arms. I was struck with anathema. I was adorned in white, symbol of my condemnation and solitude. And even my name has been crossed out of the seal of oblivion. The flames of the pyre of despair licked my body, but it did not become ashes. And I dared to steal Time’s keys. My youth has evaporated, and it seems to me that I have lived many lives, but my body strangely does not suffer the weight of years. Refusing to beg the blackness of the original purity to come and embrace me and carry me towards deliverance, no doubt I have defied the laws of this world. To suffer still and to measure every second, all the beauty of what I lost. To live again a mad hope of ultimate ecstasy.
From this world, I now collect offerings. On them, my whole existence depends. But they are the words on which I feed, songs and visions. I drink ideas, emotions, passions. I seek in the pages of the past and in those of the future, in the creations, in the inventions, in all the beauties of this world that are offered to me, to find this vital essence from which I have been emptied. Among all these beings that populate the world, among all these souls swept away in what is already a frightful frenetic race, could it be that I find the precious one who will be able to revive all the bliss that Shiva’s divine trance had infused me with ? But, nothing I discover can ever equal this lost splendour. And so often the world appears to me only as a landscape of ruins, an interlacing of abstractions that are quick to strangle my mind, or a simple nothingness without hope of light.
Then, this soul, this soul full of doubts, as brittle like glass, which at this moment is sitting in front of me and devours me with its gaze without ever disturbing my silence… must I decide to really contemplate it ? He who moved me when I discovered him on the banks of the sacred river… Should I try to reveal him? Or do I need, weary of hope, to finally give back to time the keys that I have stolen from him? Would I be nothing but madness from now on?
Twelve twilights and twelve auroras…
I don’t understand it immediately. As these smoky acers rise up all around me to surround me, depriving me of air and blurring my vision… I don’t understand that these thoughts made of black opium that suddenly appear under my retinas are mine, mine alone. Or rather, I simply refuse to recognise them. I had buried them too far away, hoping to dissolve them forever. They are nothing but pain that needed to be covered with a veil of modesty. I had chosen this escape, yes, and I don’t want to go back. But they are suddenly so cruelly clear. I could grab them in my hand, turn them over and over again, like objects made of marble. Smooth, cold, soulless, I rediscover in this instant everything I had wrapped up in my disappointed hopes, my soot-stained dreams, my debased appetites and extinguished desires. The components of all the insanity of this life that still awaits my return. In twelve days’ time. Like a final cutlass intended to slice cleanly through my ultimate rebellious desires as one condemns a foolishness deemed too dangerous.
The smoke that rises around me is not white. It is blue. A blue that doesn’t exist on Earth. Nor that of the sky. Nor that of the ocean. And the fine and graceful creature of whose charms I can no longer shake off, suddenly turns into a devastating power, of a beauty far superior to its simple carnal envelope, and which launches itself into the assault on my memory kills, like a vengeful breath plunging into all the emptiness of my universe. And I feel it entering me, exploring every stratum of my being. I feel it searching in me, unrolling every thread of the fabric that structures my life. Breaking the marble. Forcing the locks. Crossing the barriers. Tearing the silences. And I can’t defend myself from it. Because I just don’t want it to leave. At any cost. I’m too fascinated. As well as petrified. At the idea that she might discover nothing, absolutely nothing. That all the emptiness of my being is only made even more radiant and that her gaze, so beautiful, so black, doesn’t cover itself with the veil of pure disappointment. And that she doesn’t end up abandoning me on the threshold of a discovery that I would simply be incapable of making.
Twelve twilights and twelve auroras… it was my clear horizon, my limit to the escape, which had to be as beautiful as it was fake. But now, I don’t know anymore. For there is suddenly no more more dawn, no more twilight. I am suspended on the curve of time. And slowly, it drives me towards it, leads me on a line between two worlds. She takes me to where her reign is, her own. And offers me to contemplate a landscape that I should have only dreamed of, and which is no longer mortal. A land that should only have been a mirage and that suddenly breaks into a blazing horizon. She offers me what I had given up looking for, too despondent, defeated by life. And everything becomes limpid. As on the first day and the last. For a brief moment, I see her smiling at me. Through the veil of this strange Soma that she bathed me with. And this enigmatic smile finally takes on its full meaning. I can at last pick it up like a delicate feather fallen from some celestial manna. And to tell myself that I have gone mad and I aspire to be mad a hundred times more.
Both are speaking :
I wanted to escape the illusion of the world. The infinite cycle of creation and destruction. My fervour was kept secret, but I moved it he/she leaned over me and granted me his/her grace. In his arms suddenly made of blue ashes, in his divine dance, he/she carried me away.. Snakes wrapped themselves around my arms, flames encircled us on all sides, flowers were placed in my hair, and through his/her body it seemed to me that I could contemplate the whole universe. I felt myself becoming ashes in my turn, liberated from my envelope, from my matter. Everything was, and nothing was anymore. Black and white had disappeared, this palette so clear and simple that composes this world that men think they hold at arm’s length… The unbridled race of life and the fear of death. Good and evil in constant opposition. Happiness and unhappiness, like the two unique poles delimiting our horizon of possibilities… All of this suddenly made no sense…
I don’t want to be torn away from this beatitude any more. I don’t want to be taken back into my carnal enveloppe to be condemned to to die at the stake of men. To die in order to be reborn more humbly. To be reborn in the oblivion of what I have discovered and for which I now feel an unquenchable thirst. I ask once again to suspend time…
I have always been bathed in emptiness. Every day I live only the beginning of my own death. And no night offers me hope for anything other than the irrational fear of tomorrow. So, like every insignificant being who populates this world, I set myself in motion, to fill with these calculated and supposedly useful gestures the small curve of time that is given to me. According to the law that governs my birth. Experiencing measured passions, for women, children, friends, realising only what must be realised, nourishing myself with my own illusions and a few too rare pastel colours, advancing towards a so-called inevitable destiny, an expression that seems to me too pretentious for such a short horizon as mine, drowned in this continuous flow of births and deaths. The world is indifference and resigned silence.
Yet I have not always been this defeated being. I have not always had this vision.
But I do remember the guardian of this world and I remember his laughter most of all. An icy laugh, which destroys the most fervent aspirations. This mocking and sovereign laugh, addressed to those who dare to ask about the meaning of their existence, those who aspire to discover another road and who claim to be unique. The laughter of the Demon of Ignorance. The one who attacks genius, creation, invention. Who stifles the thirst for knowledge and the search for marvellous nuances in a universe that is destined to remain monochrome. I remember the day it burst into my eardrums, still young and eager to listen. Since then, it has always held me firmly in its palm, keeping me slumped in my blandness, envelopping my being. And he squeezes his fingers, hoping to succeed in totally suffocating me. He commands my life and demands my return. On the threshold of these twelve days.
But his embrace has loosened. I can feel it. She has robbed him of his superb strength.
In this strange space, which is not one. In that moment, when time means nothing… I contemplate Sati’s graceful body, coiled up in my arms. With my eyes, I caress this mother-of-pearl skin, which seems to shine with a strange bluish glow, making it almost diaphanous. But she is no longer body. She is poison. The poison destined to my world is made of emptyness. I want to drink this poison to the very last drop. I want her to drink me, to hold me back, to illuminate me. She is not longer flesh in my arms. She is essence. She is inspiration. She is the one I should never have stopped looking for.
It’s a warm, moist breeze that wakes me up. A scent of vase and faded flowers. I slowly open my eyes. It takes me a while to regain my senses. I am lying on the ground and I am aching all over. How long have I been able to sleep ? I don’t even remember falling asleep. Slowly, I get up again. My body is trembing and for an instant, my vision fills with stars. Then at last I become fully aware of what is before me. What strikes me first is this colour. This sky nimbled with red. A violent twilight reflected harshly in the waters of the Ganges. Then comes this feeling of loneliness. All around me is a vast desolate expanse, emptied of all presence. I don’t understand it. The saris, the priests, the warriors of Shiva, where are they ? All this phenomenal human mass, what has become of it? All of them have disappeared, as if they had been swallowed up by the sacred waters or absorbed by the earth. There is nothing left, no trace of life. How is this possible? For how long ? Hours? Days? What happened to me? Suddenly a bolt of lightning pierced my head. I lower my eyes to my arms. To find them empty. Then I straighten up, ignoring my body’s complaints, and run in all directions, my heart beating wildly, shouting her name. At every corner, at every diversion, behind every wall, I think I see a blue silk gracefully flying away in a light step. I chase it… By the riverside, I am sure I will catch up with her… but my hands close in on emptiness. These are only mirages. And only the echo of my voice answers my pleas.
Bewildered, I start wandering in this unreal landscape. Not knowing where to direct my steps. The horizon becomes purple and there are only shadows around me. Then I discover that strange glows have lit up to tint the banks of the Ganges with gold. Moved by a strange presentiment, I follow one of them, until I discover its source. Sitting by a fire, I find an old woman in a vaulted position, wrapped in a black sari. She seems lost in some meditation, as I catch a glimpse of her dry lips silently chanting. As I approach, she does not deign to raise her head, but holds out a small mirror to me with a knotted hand. I don’t try to understand. The moment I grasp it, a glow as bright as a ray of sunlight escapes from it and a breath of almost unbearable heat comes and burns my chest. Then I look into it. And what it reveals to me fills me with horror. A ballet of glowing embers swirling in the air and tongues of flames slowly licking a white sari. And under the crumbling veils, a mother-of-pearl skin, only for a moment still immaculate,
She doesn’t scream. She is silent. The fire is stirring, becomes devouring, ferocious. But through the infernal glow, through the monstrous column of smoke that now rises, I can still see her eyes. Her eyes, staring at me… Her eyes that look at me with a look that is not deadly. Impotent, mad with despair, I can only look at Sati, slowly consuming herself on a pyre that I can’t reach. To see her, turning to white ashes, swept away by the wind. Then a laugh rises behind me, a cold, mocking laugh. A laugh that twists my eardrums. That of the old woman, who has been sitting by the fire all this time. And pain takes hold of me. And it scrapes my soul. I feel her hand come to take hold of me and squeeze, squeeze to choke me. Then it gets dark. It envelops me completely. And My consciousness bursts out.
When I wake up, I am alone. The dawn is grey, my body covered in ashes and my reason extinguished.
That’s how I move forward. As the black needle makes its way through my veins. Their laughter collides with my locked door. I can’t hear them any more. Everything here makes more sense than a dream with mescaline injections. This invented postcard, a dream of Soma bought around the corner… No. Everything here is as real as the air around me. Invisible, yet vital. And I have to swallow this air to continue to exist. Like her, I am now consumed. My mind breaks up, catches fire. Soon it will be ashes. It will fly away and mix with the fine particles that make up my oxygen. Soon it will dissolve in the air. Then I will be able to breathe myself and finally understand myself. To see myself inside. Contemplating the universe that makes up my whole being. And then I will hear her laughing. Only her. Her sweet laughter that will slide down the walls and come to gently envelop me. I could embrace her again, lose myself in her sweet perfume, gorge myself on her. To revive her in this ecstatic trance.
There is no poison as violent as this desire. There is no pain duller than this desire.
She was there, on the edge of the world and she seemed to be waiting for me. Like a lover waiting for her soul mate by the riverside. With my heart beating like a stone, I discovered her like this. But she was always there. I knew it in the moment. As soon as her hand touched mine. Was there really a party going on all around us? We were alone… I was alone. But I liked to invent it that day, in the heart of this immense crowd, in this Kumbah Mela from another world, where the Deva and Asura form this strange alliance for twelve divine days. The twelve human years of journey endured. I liked to draw her at this strange hour, when black and white merge and the landmarks disappear, contrasting with the reality of my world. This is how she appeared to me the most beautiful, emerging from the compact mass of beings, all swathed in blue, in all her blinding simplicity. As naked as a cup filled with milk. Of this Amrita. Divine essence of immortality pouring onto the canvas of my disenchantment. That’s how I like to redraw it every day since I came back from this strange journey. But an eternity seems to have passed. Has she even existed?
I stopped trying to convince them. My Indian journey was just a joke to them. The perfect postcard with a special option. A pseudo-mystical Soma experience. I can still hear them laughing. Vile laughter that is only a stain on my soul. I don’t want their coarse fingers to rest on the delicate blue silk that covers my mind. I have closed my door to them. I have closed the door to the whole world. To its perversion. I am now alone here. I grope in the darkness, but it doesn’t matter. Shadow of myself maybe, but who cares? I might try to die, yes. The pain is pure and sharp enough to cut my veins and carry me away in a stream of red colour. I could live too, in the astonished contemplation of my memory, blessing the moment when I was given a taste of the indefinable beauty. You may well call me a coward, to choose neither.
Here, I retrace the elsewhere. This strange road. That’s all that still matters to me. I redraw this line, on the floor of my flat, on a thousand coloured sheets, on a computer screen or on the celestial vault that unfolds above my head, filled with too many follies. I redraw, with the chalk of my memories, my desires and my inventions, the imaginary line between dusk and dawn. I recompose this fantastic oration that lasted twelve days and twelve nights. Little by little, reality loses its substance. I know that. Little by little I sink into abstraction. And I see her dancing feet reappear, walking towards me, I see her hand open in a gesture that is adressed to me alone…. And I am only feverish at the idea of grasping this hand, at the idea that she takes me away again. That she will carry me away forever. Away from laughter, away from the pyre, away from everything.
Of course I’m just crazy now. The question is, how much longer can I succeed in lying to the world so that it will leave me in peace here? So that it will leave me in the company of Sati? I write, from dawn to dusk. And at night, I dream of the words that will come out of me. There is no ear to hear them. No eyes to read them. But at every moment, I feel her breath reborn, her glow illuminating me. I feel her presence filling the space around me. Then I can write her beauty, bring back to life the wonderful feeling she arouses in me, what she is in essence. Do you understand what Sati is? She is the demon of my blues. The absinthe of my poetry. The lover of my words. The landscape of my paintings. Sati is the madness of creation that once won my mind and despairs me. She is my muse incarnate. My ode dedicated to beauty. My eulogy and my hymn to joy. Without her, I am nothing. In her I am everything. In her hand, she takes what I am, the crumbs of my existence, to the most splendid elsewhere.
He speaks: I’m crazy, they say. But my madness is none other than to dream of drinking my lost truth from the cup of her delicate hands. I am foolish, says my people. Yes, but now I hold between my fingers impossibilities as pure as feathers. And I contemplate them, in their magnificent blue glow. And my happiness is then more than just happiness, it is this nameless and limitless source-sentiment. I am confused, wandering, yes, and everyone looks at me in amazement. For I abstain from reality and slide towards worlds that did not exist and that are created in the moment. I am on the inaccessible line to them where it has taken me. Sati is that line. She is what consumes me, devours me, burns me, and despairs me as much as that which inspires me, bewitches me and makes me alive. She is this unique poison that I drink. I am crazy, yes. Because you have to be mad to thirst for this violent venom, which is also nectar, and which I can no longer eat.. Mad to be able only to go further…
Sati speaks :
In his arms made of ashes I had the power to scatter in the air and dance with the wind. I was free. He was my source of pure water as much as my poison, whose every drop instilled in my veins propelled me to a wonderful and undefined elsewhere. He was my dream, made god. And he had offered me the most beautiful colour to adorn my heart, madly in love. He was the vision of a world, embraced with a single glance. I was born from his hands. He adorned me in blue and in one breath he scattered me in the air.
Sati’s beauty delights me at every moment and then slips away from my gaze. Like the world that I flee and rejoin again and again. Contemplating beauty, I can only see more acutely the full extent of ugliness. The bliss of a moment also offers me all the depth of nothingness. And the greater my thirst, the more emptiness calls me and the more solitude reigns. The more I reject this world and the more it explodes before my eyes in all its sublime and terrifying reality.
Since then, my eardrums have been resonating with music. My eyes are a window open to contemplation. And my veins are paths of intertwined words. Each stroke of pencil, brushs, charcoal gives me meaning. I am the verb that binds the dreamed words waiting to be written. I am the dark or luminous tone of each wild note. Passion forms my flesh, I am words, lines and notes. I am breath that inspires, and I die only in renunciation and silence.
Sati is this line that I am constantly creating and that offers me to contemplate everything. It is my desire to create an absolute and my own pyre. Between dusk and dawn. Between dream and reality. This line that I refuse to leave now that I have discovered it. Because here I gather a little of this divine blue colour, that of eternal wonder, of eternal thirst, and I can’t go back. I can no longer ignore it. It is my breath, my beginning, my dream, my creation, and my end. She is the divine muse that inspires me.
Without her/him, in no world could I exist