sanaz sohrabi in تماس with marina miliou theocharaki

On waiting by Sanaz Sohrabi for the inaugural issue of Tamaas


“I confess I am hesitant to take this leap, fearing a fall into some endless unknown. Shadows of all sorts swirl rapidly about me, creating high walls whose lack of substance I am powerless to prove. Yet these same shadows seem to yield not the slightest hint about one episode of my life, so oddly moving as it was revealed to be: several times I have recounted a series of facts relating to some intimate circumstances of my life, strange enough to deserve attention.”   

(Breton, Andre. Mad Love , P. 37)


I remind myself of the envy that shadowed me while reading Breton’s Mad Love, not only he perfectly calculated chance, he also lived the ultimate encounters of the physical world and his personal desires. He could somehow wander around Paris and encounter a desirous spoon in a flee market and be satisfied, in love. Although later that control over objects, desires and the female presence lost its status of admiration and became a critique, yet that fantastical presence and the longing for control over my space, geographical location and desires remained in me.

And here, I, too, confess that am hesitant to take this leap, fearing a fall into some endless unknown. I passed the glass walls of the Khomeini Airport in Tehran, on a wednesday morning, and since then the glass walls whose lack of substance I am powerless to prove, have shadowed their faint gradation always in front  of me, as if the sun rays of that morning never ascended the horizon. Four years later, I find myself leaping into the cold Aegean waters, the amourous body accompanying me is not alien to me, although his corporal presence is like a new language, soon to be translated.

Here the water starts and the bodies end and their departure off the shore marks the ending of the first episode: Waiting.

Third person singular, would look, stare, direct his or her gaze to a point in the space. There is a chance of making an eye contact, maybe reviewing certain memories, recalling some events in no specific order, regardless of their degree of importance. One occupies the space while waiting as much as waiting occupies the body. Peperuality of waiting prevents its reversibility, and yet you ought to rewind, meaning that you are between yourself, and funny enough after yourself. That is the peculiarity of being in abeyance, it’s existence exceeds itself.  One would ask if waiting is violent, and one would ask if waiting is followed by forgetting. I do not know the answers, however I think both would lean toward, yes.  Waiting is an imposed self-austerity mode of being, a continuous production of imagery, desire, and all resting in a state of impotency. Waiting reposes on the back of your shoulder, unknowingly nourishing from your daily dirt and sweat. That blind spot on your back, outside your peripheral field of vision. One must bend back, stretch muscles, breathe heavily and broken, make temporal pink wrinkles, and once seen, the body should immediately crawl back to its normal posture. It is in this sense that waiting is also an state of immediacy, as your mercurial touch with waiting is disconnected. These words, after a night or two of wandering around this town, are the spoils of an abyss, a black hole waiting inside me, resting and growing as I return.

The reader pronounces the end of the second chapter: Returning.

I never imagined myself living in an area known as Midwest in the United States, famous for its flatness and endless corn fields. A friend of mine once told me that apparently Lincoln had written about being inspired by the infinite visions over the horizon in the Midwest, and that it had helped him clear his head and generate thoughts. I should be candid, the flatness of Midwest is anything but a thought machine for me, I do not dislike it per se but I find myself in such a solitude and in combat with a linear order of time, consisting of an always going ahead and a never looking back, which is against my spontaneous decision and thought making process. I left Tehran not knowing I will be moving into a self-imposed state of no-return, something not so dissimilar from a durational performance or a promise to myself taken  seriously, and now I find everything in the past. I found Tehran and Chicago similiar in some ways, spatial hostility, gentrification of neighborhoods and the jarring separation of the south and the north side, and yet I never empathized with Chicago. I did not pronounce its sky charming and viewed its reflective surfaces quite inimical for imagination.  

In the past four years, I have been asked two sets of questions the most: when was the last time I visited Tehran, from my Chicago community, and the other question mainly asked from my community in Tehran, and of course with a degree of curiosity, anger and somewhat love, that do I have any plans to go back, visit or return? Upon asking either of these, neither do I find myself capable of finding any answer, nor do I get any more comfortable with finding a blunt answer, it has only got more impossible. The truth is, I never left Tehran, and I have even returned to Tehran many times. What Jalal Toufic once wrote when on geographical coordination, leaving a city or “radical closure” as he phrased it, constantly echoes in my head:

He left (did he leave?) Beirut- a city where nothing[is] left. Not even leaving- to New York in 1984”? Even if I never go back to Beirut, my coordinates are conjointly the city in which I happen to reside and Beirut (Toufic, Forthcoming, 2009).

I once wrote on the top corner of a page in my journal, “Memory! what a strange thing you are!” but wasn’t Proust who said that?

Here the third chapter restarts: the point of (re)turn.

During a conference with a title of “Museum of modern art and the end of history”, Stuart Hall describes his draw to somehow reverse the title to “The end of museum of modern art and the beginning of history”, he talks about how one can learn a great deal simply by reversing of all the terms. –I think to myself, reversal of returning and leaving, wouldn’t become a cycle following it’s own shadow?– Further, Hall continues with stating his disinterest in endings and the importance of “turn” for him. “A turn is neither an ending nor a reversal” Hall writes and continues, “the process continues in the direction in which it was travelling before, but with a critical break, a deflection. After the turn, all of the terms of a paradigm are not destroyed; instead, the deflection shifts the paradigm in a direction which is different from that which one might have presupposed from the previous moment. It is not on ending, but a break.”  

One of the main groundings of our platform Tamaas, is this very notion of “turn” and a refusal to declare an ending. Desire to endings and erasures, residues of postmodern discourses, have never been more discredited for me than this moment. A state of urgency of the ultimate displacement, surmounting of human emergencies should only be inviting us to begin the history(ies). It was after writing “historicizing as much as possible” on another page of my journal and following the path of Benjamin “capturing the portrait of history in the most insignificant representations of reality, it’s scraps”  that I thought about a project of visibility.

The fourth chapter is تماس, Tamaas, επαφή: the juncture of waiting, (re)turning and turning.