Hilarion Manero from an old manuscript found on the banks of the River Panke (...)
It was in Argentina where he fell into our world. He lay there in our cradle, soft and white. His eyelids clung to his brows allowing him to see everything, always. Soothsayers and prophets gathered for his birth. They came from Harlem, Peking, Paris, and from deepest reddest Wedding to praise his auspicious advent. They promised to guide him to greater things than he could ever have expected. They guided him along paths inaccessible to us here. For us, dear reader, Hilarion Manero's presence first reappears from his nonage in the Year of Irrationality, 1977.
David Bowie, James Brown and two men by the name of Rembrandt and Jan van Eyck accompany him every step of the way. He makes it possible for us to love these dark sailors. If Hilarion is a fan he blows tumultuous and tempestuous through his life. Above and below, fore and aft. No flags are waved, shelter shunned. Since that year only the incandescent fruits of his labours flourish.
As he arrived in New York he lay as performance. Terrifying is his power as poet, fear is for others, he howls. Terror is something others must now accept. His loves do not wilt, not for a second. Only when moments in time become shorter, when time tugs and strains itself, then and only then can he receive that for which there is not enough space. Grand and white and silver, replete, rests the moon across from him. It must wait, the moon. Brave and shy he stands before the abyss of possibility and steps with eyes open toward the rugged mound of the cumulative past. All this just to remind himself that moonlight brings out the best in him. The maquillage beamed.
It was 1977, Hilarion was standing in the rain in his brown leather jacket on the corner of Bleeker/MacDougal when he met Fred Neil, a dolphin loving rocker. The depth of their gaze as they caught eyes made the starkly incomplete nature of their lives clear to them. Insufficiently disappointed? Neither Fred nor Hilarion see the preconditions of this disappointment. Being high is creatively understood to be a game and source of ripe experience but it proves to be The Road to Hell. After that meeting they both drift in and out of this intoxicant limbo. They both learn what it is to be high, without the tinsel. Whatever! Shame is for others; for they both know the opposite of cynicism. If indeed that meeting on Bleeker/MacDougal was what started it all we will never know. It was to be the opposite of cynicism which was then cast into the new moulds their beings were to emerge from. Nothing will ever be the same for Fred and Hilarion after this meeting. Whilst for the cynic everything always remains the same, for Hilarion everything is not equally as interesting, everything is not possible, everything is not immediately present nor is everything equally as essential. Painting is the art with which superficial essences can be grafted away. The surface is notaltogether gone however, because colour, exempli gratia, is brushed onto canvas. The canvas has simply become denser. Painting is canvas and paint and oil and...Hilarion. Absent are merely opposed colours, the material and, of course, possibility. The world needs worlds to understand this. Hilarion understood it and moved on.
Bored of moustaches and testicles in tight jeans he jumped on a raft, navigating the currents he boldly traversed the globe. At the bottom of the world he asks an old Taoist to explain what this ‘wanna-fly-higher’ and ‘striving-to-strive’ business is all about. This is what people do, all the time, and Hilarion was puzzled. Why if they call themselves cool, are they so ridden with anguish and self-importantly serious? The little man explained that fads are the building material man uses to compensate for his inadequacies. “If one does not know how to paint a woman’s lips, he then builds a skyscraper so others can look up to him and see his face in the clouds.” This explanation troubled Hilarion and he carried on his journey on the raft. Hilarion spends the following years learning. On solitary islands and among trees, he vegetates.
On the back of a dragonfly and between the cracks on a leather-bound chair, he leads a flurry of personalities and harlequins along behind him. One of the female harlequins had a club foot and told him that she was once painted by a Spaniard. A master of his trade, this José, she says. She wore a red jumper (sansculottes) in the painting and posed with her walking stick cheekily slung over her left shoulder. At the time, she had laughed out loud as it must have appeared to the voyeur as if she was making fun of her disability. She makes it clear that this was not the case. She was in fact truly happy. Without the club-foot she would never have become a subject, she mused. Hilarion had been ambivalent to art all his life. Art, he once remarked, is what happens when we are not silent. He must have always been an artist, he was never silent.
As Hilarion turned 40, he found himself meandering through a flea market on the Seine in snide and snobbish has-been Paris. There he met a street sweeper from Prague who claimed he was actually a writer. Hilarion knew that dreams are not the same thing as writing but he wanted to listen to this man. Yet as Hilarion asked him for the source of his material or for the subject of his writing, the man did not answer. Instead, the man took Hilarion’s arm, leapt onto the railings of the esplanade and began to dance. A simple foxtrot, then a jive, followed by a 30 second handstand. He then leaped with much aplomb onto Hilarion’s head. All the while singing, to the tune of the Marseillaise, “From hands to head, I have turned, as you can see, from the hands to the feet, albeit on a head, sometimes the feet on which you stand are merely on the head of another”. He then whistled for a half an hour and leapt off the railing, plunging out of sight.
After many years of wandering, the empty plateaus Hilarion had endured in the past now flourished. He began to smile. He still coughed a little. He was still in good condition though. While making this diagnosis he happened to have just left the German-Polish border behind him and was invited tojoin a friendly captain on a barge stealing through the Spreewald. The captain wished to punt his way to Spandau, a small horrid industrial village by Berlin. Hilarion took the opportunity by the balls and delighted in the thought of the journey that lay ahead. He had been told that once Germans had placed their work to one side they were exceedingly social animals. It appeared to be true.
The bargeman was the soundtrack to his journey. He told him about things that had happened and the extraordinary things that would happen in that part of the world. He told him that he had once worked in tourism, but then the tourism board became aware of his penchant for Schnapps and dive bars and he was let go. Now he pilots freight through all manner of regions. All his tales carried a note of lament. “The kindergartens are all closed so nobody is having children anymore. People don’t know how to work with their hands so they don’t know the meaning of job satisfaction anymore. State subsidised, they are subsumed into a fiction and with the real realised they slide into organised boredom. As they arrived at Cottbuser Tor the man at the helm began to repeat himself. He once again opined about piloting freight and spoke of the regions he travelled through. That was the reason he only delivered his freight in Germany. At that moment, beneath Cottbuss Bridge, Hilarion grabbed the same knapsack which had been presented to him by an Argentinean marine officer on the eastern Falklands, and dived into the divinely sobering waters of the Teltow Canal. He swam for his life, and moved so swiftly through the water that it could not breach his satchel. He is a strong swimmer. In Santa Barbara, he attended a crash course in speed swimming for sea creatures. Because of this he escaped the Brandenburg barbarians in no time. With seven sea miles, not to mention a few kilos weight, lost behind him, Hilarion reached the city district which gave its name to the Anglophone marriage ceremony, he reached Wedding. (...)
Lars Dreiucker, Berlin 2012