My name is Parsiphal Gray and I am the new chief librarian of Ex Libris. At least, I think I am Parsiphal Gray. There are days when I am not sure whether I even exist. I could be the author of this novel or I could just be the puppet in the hands of a more skilled puppeteer. My dear writer, I am so confused. I am free, but my mind gropes in the dark of the unknown and touches the chains’ cold iron. Am I really enslaved? No, I am the author, but I reckon being enslaved by the darkest love I have ever felt in my life. It is this all consuming passion for writing, for waving stories in the tapestry of immortality.
But who is this man I see, rising like a ghost before me, laughing like a devil in my face? He looks familiar, yet I don’t know him, and in a sort I do know him.
Reader, have you read Charles Bukowski? If not, you should. Reading Charles Bukowski’s poetry is like talking to this strange man. Whenever he appears before me, I drink a boiled glass of bitter wine while the universe is laughing with guts of madding wind. His laugh…his demonic laugh…No, it is simply the laugh of disillusionment. He too is a simple man with big dreams.
The Stranger: I am sorry and I feel ashamed for having thought I could create the perfect work of art. There is no perfection in this world. I wanted myself a master, although unfortunately, please, look what has become of me. Here I am before you, the shadow of a master and the embodiment of a slave. Parsiphal Gray: Who are you? Who am I?
The Stranger (laughing): You haven’t realized it
Parsiphal Gray (with sadness in his voice): No.
The Stranger: You are my character, my vessel into which I poured my essence. But I am not the Raven of the Gods. I am just an ordinary crow who dreams of turning into an eagle.
Parsiphal Gray: Why are you talking like this?
The Stranger (is not listening to him): This time, I am not looking back. I am done with crows.
Parsiphal Gray (quoting Albert Einstein) : “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”
The Stranger: If there are no miracles, life is not worth living; and if everything is a miracle, what will be the beauty of a miracle, then? It would simply cease to exist. Who was the moron who found these two ways of life?
Parsiphal Gray: A most brilliant man…Albert Einstein.
The Stranger: He doesn’t seem so brilliant to me. I know people who are ten times brilliant than him. One of them is the village’s fool who every Sunday approached the church and begged for mercy. He knew that on that day only, the purses easily open. He waited on that day, like a lover waiting to embrace his sweetheart; and that day only was his sole comfort and solace. And do you know what he said when he died? He said that the beauty of life is like the tolls of a belfry. And he was right. All good things come in proportion and gradually, if everything were a miracle, then the bells wouldn’t have to toll, in order to let the people know that the sacred hour has come upon the earth. Everything would be sacred already, with the only difference that people wouldn’t know that. Sacred and miracles would cease to be recognized, and wouldn’t that be a shame?
Parsiphal Gray: Indeed.
(After a short pause of silence)
Parsiphal Gray: Why have you chosen me for a character?
The Stranger: I didn’t choose you. You were already there. I just had to knead you into shape, according to my tastes. You see, sometimes, a picture has to be adjusted in order to fit into the frame, or a frame has to be carved according to the picture’s dimension. It is either one or the other, but the picture and the frame always exist. They only change in time and space.
Parsiphal Gray: It means that I am one with Uriah Reed, and even with Lalage?
The Stranger: And even with myself.
Parsiphal Gray: But why have you chosen this name for me?
The Stranger: You don’t like it? I thought it suited you. Like a gray knight, wanting to achieve greatness, although the grim reality was not as colorful and chivalrous as you had thought, your name couldn’t have suited you better.
Parsiphal Gray: I don’t like my name.
The Stranger: Then change it.
Parsiphal Gray: I can’t. You are my author.
The Stranger: What if it is the other way around?
What if the creation creates the creator? Parsiphal Gray: I don’t understand.
The Stranger: Well, it’s simple. I wouldn’t be an author without a unique gallery of characters, but all characters are emanations of a single universal character. The moment I use this character and bring him to life, I invest him with a mind and soul of his own. Nevertheless, when he speaks and acts, he gives voice to my own ideological messages, thus, he creates me as an author by representing my ideology.
Parsiphal Gray: You speak so strange and yet I understand. But I don’t understand how I can understand what I don’t understand…
The Stranger (laughed again): This is the real meaning of life. A man doesn’t understand how he understands that he is not alone in this universe and that there is a God above, even though his mind cannot grasp the knowledge of the soul. This is my most beloved, Parsiphal Gray, God’s real vessel on earth, i.e. the knowledge of an unbreakable communion between God and man. Furthermore, the beauty of it all is that the communion between heaven and earth also refers to the communion between two loving souls whose breaths mingle into one spiritual sphere of both light and darkness. Light symbolizes the soul, whereas darkness is a metaphor for the corporeal, like a cape that covers the nakedness, and thus vulnerability of the soul.
Parsiphal Gray: I think I can understand now.
The Stranger: I knew you would.
Parsiphal Gray (with a little hesitation): Why are you so sad?
The Stranger: I must be sad so that I may one day know happiness. Unfortunately, my own work of art has to be imperfect, so that perfection may form at its core, just like a lily of the valley. If my dark complexion and mood make you think of a raven; then I must appear a crow, so that one day I may get the plumage of an eagle.
Parsiphal Gray: What is your name?
The Stranger: Just call me Za-ken, for I have lived many lives on earth, and just one in Heaven; and I have created many stories, and yet it was just one, never-ending and tantalizing that speaks about the truth of a man’s journey through the mists of time and space. And you are the representation of my Self, as well as the other way around. I am your strange other, and you are mine, and together we are writing this novel, and together we are God’s vessels of creative chiaroscuro. We are the dwellers of this realm of opposites, but nevertheless, a realm in which creation wouldn’t be perfect had not all these imperfections impressed themselves on the soul and body of mankind.