Communication Front 2000 Book, "Crossing Points East-West"


Kayo Terzijski

The Earth is one, it is round and it is smallish. It is built of iron, chrome, silicon and magnesium, and its fine roasted crust is comparatively rich in carbon, very suitable for the emergence of life. The atmosphere contains a delicate mixture of inert nitrogen and hyperactive oxygen. Oxygen is willing to enter into chemical reaction with anything. Burn it, rust it or make it breathe. This fosters on our tiny ball processes that are inherently strange and bizarre, and this is why we call them by the strange and bizarre name Life.
We all live on the crunchy roasted crust of our tiny ball of a planet called Erthe, Airtha or Earth: we humans as well as all kinds of moulds, rodents, insects, yeasts, seals, the rinderpest virus and the strange creature of Loch Ness. A wild variety of species gathered on the shell of an egg.

Five and a half billion people are by now aware that they live on a tiny rotating globe. All these five and a half billion get dizzy rotating, or rather thinking about it. No one is fooling themselves any longer that they might escape this matter of fact. That's the way it is. There are no parts left. No exotic mysterious places are spared the overall rotation. The globe is unified and floats mercilessly through cosmic dust among debris from other, long-gone globes, silently whizzing through the dark sorrowful Space.

Thousands of years ago the Earth was flat, probably a bit like an upside down dinner plate. It stood on the backs of elephants, which in their turn stepped on the back of a whale. The whale probably also lay on something bigger yet, but nobody seems to know about that. The magnificent and brave Phoenicians cruised Their Sea - Mare Nostrum, which was the center of the entire world. There was no other world but this, full of islands with demigods and nymphs. The Phoenicians crisscrossed the tiny World, surrounded by the complete unknown, and spread their strange Phoenician signs. The world was unified and familiar. Everyone knew all the languages.
This is the first Globalization.

The world as one. A strange idea that has always dwelt in people's minds. Repeatedly it has faded away over the course of hundreds of years, just to explode again and perplex everyone. The Phoenicians became aware that the Gates of the World, the rocks of Gibraltar, are not the End, but rather a new Beginning. They headed south, further and further south, where they expected to see the edge of our flat Earth, to feel the hems of giant Ge's skirt, whose belly they cruised with their tiny nimble ships.
That is when the existential anxiety arose that the world is not limited to what we know. The idea of the one familiar and closed world was shattered. Oh, these Phoenicians. They went back to their mud and reed houses and told their wives that somewhere out there beyond the Hyperborean lands there are strange people with eyes blue like water, with hair like flax and legs as long as three steps. The idea of the one familiar and shared world collapsed.
Until recently, Humanity did not exist. Who came up with the notion of Humanity? No one in the Middle Ages has ever made the experience of Humanity. He had a perception of his parish, and perhaps of the neighboring two or three parishes. The humans created by Adam and his explant Eve were somewhere else. No citizen of Augsburg in the 12th century ever considered himself as belonging to something called Humanity - he would have felt rather strange if someone had lumped him together with Amazonian Indians and West Sahara Tuaregs.

Then in the 15th century - Renaissance has made its appearance - people want to have another go at reviving their idea of the one world in which everybody lives according to common laws and driven by common motives. An Italian from Genoa sails westwards to find a passage to India. Of course a crazy idea for which some have perished on the stake. His countryman Giordano Bruno was burnt, a quite unpleasant outcome of his scientific dispute with the Inquisition.
But Cristobal Colon, later called Christopher Columbus, was an exceptionally obstinate man and kept heading west. He reached a land we still call the West Indies - the Antilles. Perhaps he shouldn't have done it, or at least should have kept his discovery from the world after he had done it.
Poor Cristobal discovered America. And ever since then the world has lost all chances of being the good Old Comfortable Semi-Unfamiliar World, in which it is interesting to live, just like it is interesting to reach into the pockets of trousers you have not worn in a long time.

Magellan went full circle around our globe and dispersed all doubts about its spherical shape. This led to something unusual: People began to experience an odd feeling of infinity as it became clear that it is not possible to reach the End of the World. They also felt the first symptoms of claustrophobia. After all, the globe turned out to be small, and it was well within the reach of man to travel around it. Some brilliant lunatics like Leonardo began thinking up ways to leave the Globe.
In fact that may be the point at which people began to long persistently for roundish things - footballs, well-rounded female asses and breasts, big round sums.

The problems of the Globe have become the problems of Humanity. The two new notions of the Globe and Humanity have taken such a strong hold on people's imagination that by now there is not one problem that does not regard Humanity as a whole. Global warming, global pollution, global aging, global stupidity.
There are no private problems. They are not interesting.

When did globalization-as-we-know-it start? With the creation of the Internet perhaps, or with the first advertising of Coca Cola in the village of Dryanov lyk?

Here is a private problem: an actor from a provincial theatre in Southern Albania wishes to create his pure art and get his share of the audience's applause. But that same audience has the possibility to watch over thirty satellite channels and enthuse over Robbie de Niro and Al Pacino. The South-Albanian actor does not stand a chance of receiving the dose of applause he needs so badly. The mechanism of world monopolism over legends, myths and ideals has started ticking.

It is quite unlikely that the maker of traditional Bavarian wooden cuckoo clocks will be strong on the market. Japanese traditional Bavarian wooden cuckoo clocks are much better. Cuban cigars are made in the Czech Republic. The ultimate German car, the Volkswagen Beetle, is made in Brazil. In London the biggest banks are Arab. The blue jeans that symbolize the American West are made in East Turkey.
The best Bulgarian yogurt is produced by the French. We're faced with this scary sense of the World, wound to a Globe, extremely small and totally globalized. In Estonia Thais sell Australian beer to Serbo-Croats.

Who is against globalization? Those wretched mediocre creatures scared by the Wide White World who want to live in quiet secluded huts in Wisconsin or Kroushovitza - with no phone or fax? Perhaps this feeling of the oneness of the world scares the weak and unprepared? Who knows. In its informational, economic and cultural aspect globalization is an objectively necessary process that takes place like photosynthesis. Clearly and implacably. It is pointless to resist it, just like it is pointless to resist breathing, sex or scratching an itch. It is taking place constantly, imperceptibly and painlessly. You see, many Hollywood actors are followers of the Dalai Lama. The President of Peru is of Japanese origin. Dutch doctors leave work an hour earlier to go skiing in the Black Forest. And the weirdest one of all - a Bulgarian can go to Paris whenever he feels like it and have a coffee in some café at Pigalle.

The economic aspect of globalization was explained to me by a medium-scale manufacturer of furniture. He said: "There's no way to make something in Bulgaria if it can be made in China as well. It is really terrifying that there is China, too. If we make something for two dollars, they make it for two cents. They are many and eat rice. no chicken, no pork, just rice. And they are willing to work. A Chinese manufacturer offered to provide me with tables to be imported to Bulgaria. He asked me how many millions of tables per month I want."
Every fifth person in the world lives there, in China, and as they open up to the small round world the Chinese will indeed become every fifth person we see on the streets, who cooks our food or who helps our weak-sighted grandmothers cross the street. Together with India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, China makes one-third of humanity. China has nuclear weapons and the best computer specialists in the world. In China, the number of people per year who die in car crashes is higher than the population of Slovenia.

And here Bulgarians come thundering on!
Bulgaria is no more a prison for white niggers. We will no longer need letters of excuse for being Bulgarian and having accidentally, with or without a good reason, found themselves in the World. Goodbye, visas!
The Bulgarian will be able to roam, cruise, loaf around. The IT specialist will go to Liechtenstein to get the best dentures in the world, while the grocer will visit the Færoer islands to study old Viking rock inscriptions. The Bulgarian will no longer suffer from the torturous feeling that the world is unreachable, just made to tease him and make him feel inferior.
For the Bulgarian the world has suddenly grown wider and no longer extends from "Druzhba 2" to the motel at the turn-off to Ihtiman. [1] Now a Bulgarian who has traveled Somewhere can even return home. because he will no longer fear that once he's come home, there will be no going back out into the World.

The world has become big and round.

A gifted young surgeon who had operated a sufficient number of larynxes to fill a small telephone directory with the names of their owners went to San Francisco.
He had a green card. Again: a sort of letter of excuse for not being WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant). In San Francisco he became a sales assistant in a food and consumer goods store. When he came back he said that pasta sold very well over there. And kept on successfully operating larynxes.
He found himself in San Francisco again on an Otorhinolaryngology congress. As he was walking along the streets familiar to him, he ran into the owner of the store he had worked in. The happy owner slapped his shoulder and said: "Listen, boy, come back to me. Things are going very well, I'll give you a ten percent raise." The surgeon answered: "Thank you very much, but I must go back to Bulgaria." The owner shook his head, smiled and said: "Well, alright. then give my regards to Bulgaria and all of Africa."

The surgeon also told about how the streets of Chinatown awfully resemble Pirotska Street. [2] This had moved him right to tears.

When you see someone talking to himself on the street with a small device with antenna stuck to his ear, you never know if he isn't really speaking with the Seychelles Islands where his wife is having her two-week holiday. In fact he may as well be ordering fried chicken over the phone.
Communication is fantastically easy - connecting with Manhattan or Magadan is as easy as blowing your nose into a scented handkerchief. In fact it's easier. You can earn your money on the phone. You can lose your money on the phone. You can send a fax of the Grape Gathering in Arles by Van Gogh.  [3] You can email a Rostopovich concert to your friends in Brooklyn. Terrific.

What is disappearing with Globalization is the esoteric of the small closed human world. I want - do you understand me? - to live in my own world. My world.
The world is too large for people's imagination. Nobody would want to experience the feeling of being locked into a vanadium steel capsule one kilometer under the Arctic ice cap. Nobody can endure the idea of this terrible Excessiveness of the World. This small World is in fact too large for us to grasp.
Watching the news on TV we get the terribly false impression that there is one world which is small and is ours. In this world there are about two dozen newspersons who keep talking about a hundred Chechens, two or three hundred Palestinians, five hundred Serbs and a thousand Americans whose votes are being recounted manually so that they too will have a president. What saves the global person is the feeling that there are very few people in the world and we know them, and then there are some Others, but for us they don't Count. If someone is forced to realize how big this globe he lives on really is and how countless are those Others who are not He, he will go mad.

A widespread form of madness is the feeling that you own the entire world. Globally.

When I hear 'globalization' I often think of the ninety-year old woman from Izvor mahala who has never left her village except once in her life, when she went to the town of Kula. [4] She knew the world as well as anyone, and she also knew hundreds of herbs and balsamic plants. They say that some of them are lucky charms.

[This article was first published in Bulgarian in Sax magazine, January 2001, p. 8, Sofia, Web:]

Translated from Bulgarian by Zornitsa Dimova


[1] Druzhba 2 is a neighborhood on the outskirts of Sofia; Ihtiman is a small town about 70 kilometers south-east from Sofia, along the highway to Plovdiv - eds.

[2]Long and old shopping street in Sofia - eds.

[3] Vincent Van Gogh, The Red Vineyard (oil painting, 1888); it is Paul Gauguin's painting of the same vineyard which is known as Grape Harvest in Arles/Human Misery (also 1888) - eds.

[4]Kula is a small town in Northwest Bulgaria in the region of Montana; Izvor mahala is a tiny village that is part of the municipality of Kula - eds.

Tazi statiq na bylgarski / This text in Bulgarian
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