Once upon a time, there was a cafe in the middle of a dirty, unbearably warm and of exhaustingly slow tempo city, which though bore the name and the smell of flowers. She was the embodiment of failure, regarding setting dates and defining what the expectations from each date were. Though, that Sunday morning everything felt easy and soft. She walked slowly, borrowing from her city’s rhythm and she only realised that the meeting spot was a music-book store, when she saw D. fully devoted into her Sunday-morning-sunlight-bathing reading of her book, which was a gift to herself. They walked side by side for a while, interrupting silence with uncertain, awkward, violent for the tranquility of the morning words, till they entered the cafe of flowers and under the sound of Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” everything fell into place.
She was not aware of how much cinnamon can accompany a cappuccino neither of how much lexical and sentimental explosions can accompany someone’s narrative about his occupation with the object of his passion. D. could talk with the similar convenience about violently falling in love and aggressively salivating over working on her new theatrical-play piece. She, was facing D’s uncontrollable enthusiasm, expressed through the untamed swirling of her arms and the flicking of her curls, over their coffee cups, when all that was interrupted by a thick shadow of thought over D’s eyes. That was the kind of shadow which might seem as if restoring cynicism, but after scratching it, it is only disappointed idealism that can be found under. When D. realised how her narrative about love was mixed with her lust about theatre, she melancholically declared how she has been continuously accused for the multiplicity of her expressive patterns, as if role-playing has equipped her with techniques of wearing various masks even in her erotic life. Yet, D’s truth was that she was only trained to utilise all the forms her body and soul could take, in order for her sole need for love to be given voice. And that is something that D. could not fake.
Years passed by and she came back to the slow, dirty and warm city. She started falling for people with similar to D’s, enthusiasm for their choices and whose occupation centrally included mask-alternation and role-playing, simply because that was a field she could be still surprised by. But she could not detect which role of theirs was more representative of the voice she was desiring to listen to and the truth she was looking for. Although she has been stigmatised by D’s statement, about how acting is an alternative way of someone’s body to tell his truth by setting into use all its means, she could still not tell between tactful mannerism and overcharged sentimentality. And the difference between them two, is that in the first case all means are centred around the preservation of the actor’s (self)image, while in the second, all energy is invested in the creation of a common ground for mutual erotic strife.
The difference between those two types, may be allegorically seen into the Beatles’ decision to paraphrase Thomas Dekker’s poem, when modernising its content to shape the lyrics of their song. The poem initially says: “Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, Smiles awake you when you rise ; Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby, Rock them, rock them, lullaby. Care is heavy, therefore sleep you, You are care, and care must keep you ; Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby, Rock them, rock them, lullaby.” The Beatles sang instead: “Once there was a way to get back homeward, Once there was a way to get back home ; Sleep pretty darling do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby, Golden slumbers fill your eyes, Smiles awake you when you rise ; Sleep pretty darling do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby.”
If the semantic content is seen as an erotic lullaby, instead of a farewell that it was initially made for, then Beatles’ version may represent the tactful mannerism while Dekker’s, the overcharged sentimentality. That is because Dekker’s word-intensity embraces all parcels of time, blending together the losses of the past with the eagerness and impatience about the future, giving an active role to the gentleness of the lullaby and setting expectations on its tender touch. The version of the Beatles though, entail the detachment of the past in a mournfully melancholic manner and the implication of the treatment of the foregoing wounds through the singer’s determinant mastery, giving lullaby the status of an illusionary daze instead of that of placid affection.
She decided that although she could not get rid of the Beatles, since D. sentenced her, back in time, in lifetime devotion to their auditory poetry, she could at least work off every kind of self-image preservation of the ones surrounding her. And so she passed by the spot where the cafe of flowers used to rest its glory. It was now empty and dark, but she could still listen to Paul McCartney’s voice and the gentle weep of his guitar. She smiled and eventually felt the golden touch of the lullaby.
Devoted to D. whose words and movement are softer than any lullaby ever written.
Lensed by Elen Aivali,
Written and curated by Marianna Serveta.
Special thanks to Diana Kavallieri for the graphic designs of the blog.