The Fading Image of Syria on a Syrian Mind

The Fading Image of Syria on a Syrian Mind
Sammy Zarka/ Turin/ Italy


Retreated and safe physically, yet in his mind is an endless ongoing conflict, and a phenomenon that is yet to be diagnosed.

The unique narrative of how he ended up in exile makes it anything but normal to move to a new city and see it as it is. Spaces, streets, monuments, sounds, and feelings of Turin are only perceived to him in comparison to the hologram he keeps of Damascus in his mind; a Damascus that one day was, that had been, and has ceased to exist. Not only is the image of home manipulated by the passage of time, but by the continuous images he encounters daily of piazzas becoming squares, minarets paralleling towers, and the Piedmontese Italian sounding like the sweet Damascene dialect, creating a place that doesn’t exist, and telling facts that never took place.

Nietzsche had a turning point in Turin, a revelation wherein the city he found his philosophy, only to realise soon that Paris was still the answer, no matter how similar the Antonelliana could be to the Eiffel, or the Po to the Seine. On the 3rd of January in 1889, the Piazza Carlo Alberto witnessed this dramatic scene: Nietzsche’s breakdown with the collapse of his values, and the letting go of his sanity.

Via Saluzzo: Awakened by the reflected sunlight from the windows of the building facing his, in a small mansard at the edge of the station where he chose to stay. Migrants often live next to stations thinking they could easily depart in case of a new exile.

Anxious, as he brushes through the slow streets struggling to find a place to have breakfast on that Sunday August morning.  Shy is his voice against the big cups of cappuccino and sweet hazelnut brioches. Familiar are the faces and similar are the voices, for San Salvario is not so far from the Yarmouk of Damascus, a very defined class and lifestyle.

Piazza Carlo Alberto: Away from the central station, the busy layers of movement in Corso Vittorio, and the high public occupation of space framed by the gentle archways, deep in human pedestrian scale via Carlo Alberto, the city scales down, the rhythm goes to a round. He becomes one with them, beyond warm neoclassical facades, there are courtyards, breathing under the sun, inviting shops and exhibitions, ancient cinemas and cafes overflowing amid the trees. The maze ends at the edge of the Piazza Carlo Alberto where you can read: “Nietzsche lived here in 1888”, where water runs through fountains ending the neoclassical symphony with the infinite loop that drove the moors in Spain to bring rivers up hills creating their long lost heaven, Damascus, at the other end of the Mediterranean. As he bends to quench his thirst, the lullaby pours into his brain where Jupiter in Damascus retreated to end of the overwhelming labyrinth of the long souq of Hamidiyah with an immortal introduction to the giant of the city.

سليمة هي أجساد من نزحوا في ظل الصراع، لكن هواجس أوطانهم تكاد لا تتوقف عن إعادة رسم واقعهم. في طيات رتابة التفاصيل اليومية عالم موازٍ يعبث بتوازن فراغات المنفى ليكون صورة وطنٍ غيرها الزمن، شوهها الصراع، و أعاد المنفى تصورها، حتى بات انسجامهم مع واقعهم الجديد رهناً لتلك العوالم.
تجريدٌ بصريٌ لحالة الصراع تلك، و مقاربتها مع صراعٍ من نوعٍ مشابه عاشه نيتشه في مدينة تورينو. حكاية التوازي، والانسجام، الاندماج، ثم الصراع، فالانهيار..
تجريدٌ آخر يرسم فضاءً لمدينتين عاشهما المنفي سماؤهما واحدة تجسد اقمارها حالات الانسجام و عدمه و إسقاطٌ للطريق اليومي الذي سلكه و يسلكه المنفي في أحد صباحات المدينتين



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