The Kazakh Steppe – On a Metaphysical Plane, or The Why-Am-I-Me Question

Sometimes in Kazakhstan you open your eyes in the early morning and before you are even completely awake you are on your horse, flying through the frost-glittering steppe.

The horse and you breathe shreds of vapor. You bend low towards the horse’s hot neck, your face burning in the cold, the numbing wind whipping and whistling round you. You gain speed till the horse’s hooves seem no longer to touch the ground and the steppe blurs into trails of light whisking past you as you fly towards the emerging sun like a rebellious beam which has reversed its course, so in love with life that you challenge it just to have the chance to see it triumph.

Then you notice the red sun glowing on your horse’s heaving, steaming chestnut flanks and you realize you have stopped, and that the steppe is so quiet that the sun, or the sky, or the earth aglow with both, seem alive and you know you are in the presence of a great spirit. And suddenly you ask yourself: Why am I me: men nege myne men?

It’s as if I have always existed in potential and could have been born at any other time, in any other place, but was injected by design into that specific apartment in Kokshetau, March 8 Street, 2 December, 1983, between 8 and 9 in the morning.

Humanity is on the brink of discovering alien life, revealing the secrets of the Mariana Trench and of Lake Vostok, finding a cure against mortality, and even creating machines as complex as the human brain. Sometime, perhaps in a not so distant future, after science evolves to inhabit both the world of individual flesh and abstract thinking and the world of the mind, we will begin to understand subjective consciousness.

But my me is not the mind and I doubt it can ever be “understood,” even if I live for ever. What’s it like being me? In Coetzee’s Youth, the protagonist, the protean agonist, admires a line by Brodsky: “Dark as the inside of a needle.” Being me is like being the inside of a ballpoint pen tip – from the outside, the pen has a fully realized existence in the outside world; but from the inside, it might as well not exist.



You Don’t Have To Be a Bat To Understand

Imagine black, that guiding image of a missing source, so radiant with secrets, so eloquent with promises of glowing life, that naturally you spread your delicate membranous wings, let go your upside-down perch, and dive, probing the darkness with enormous ears: the echoes of your calls sent into solid nothingness return to tell of teeming life and an entire world crescendos into splendor.

A wave of sound meets a wave of water to create a rippling depth where shapes not unlike us move near the surface and can be carried to a branch where, upside down, wings folded under regions which never bounce back even the strongest calls, the universe coheres, life is complete, and we can close our eyes to dive into a private black, where movements flash under the surface of a missing world, wing beats half ourselves, half someone not unlike us, and where, from deep within a rippling heart, a wave of sound meets a different wave and dreams crescendo into one reality.

About the Author
I have been published in Israeli literary magazines, like the IAWE arc (issue 22) and The Ilanot Review (a Bar Ilan Journal), as well as nonisraeli journals, like Contrary Magazine.