The colours of transition
Şerban Anghelescu
 

or any field research, to present this period fragmentarily, with colours, tones or accents of the passage that appear or disappear.

Firstly, Romanians that went into the streets experienced the unbelievable feeling of freedom and of power, believing that they could become writers of history and not slaves. Endless television transmissions gave the possibility to participate in provisional parliamentary debates, which provided full transparency of the political act. However simultaneously with the appearance of trust, suspicion is created. The assassinating snipers that are called terrorists are in the collective memory exotic beings with multiple identities, masters of subterranean areas which are thought to be spread all over Bucharest. Below the visible surface exists a hidden reality. Nothing is anymore what it seemed to be. The Romanian citizen becomes hermeneutic in the market, in the media, in the family; he sees hidden meanings everywhere. He won?t let himself being manipulated. He knows that everybody conspires against him. Nothing is pure, nothing is clear. We are lied to and sold out, says the man in the street when he faces surprises. He invents hidden enemies, just as the communists, obsessed with conspiracies did. It is just that now the enemy, the foreign agent, the capitalist or the informant cannot be punished.

The forms of protest vary from the threat with suicide through hunger strikes to playful demonstrations. He protests playing, singing, yelling, saying a prayer, drawing and marching. Piaţa Universităţii has become a sacred place, isolated, of those that are pure and free. It has become an island of solidarity in a hostile world, a place for confession and of spontaneous speech. The intensity of those days had something of a religious eruption of free politics, of initiation and salvation in opposition with rational practices.

Communism spoke of social homogeneity, the indestructible unity of people around the communist party without ever taking it further than this so-called ritual language. An extraordinary communion of freedom and victory established itself in the days following the Revolution followed immediately by deterioration and foreseeable ruptures in a free society which reflects differences. Political ruptures frequently oppose different generations in a family. Social fragmentation disturbs those used to uniform values. The ritual show of power in the communist times did not permit even the shadow of a conflict. The perfectly directed unique will constructed history through unanimous applauses. The suddenly opened possibility of competition between different political groups paralyzed those not used to the notion of option. The result is that many believe in all forms of power; those political leaders fighting as animals in a zoo for a bone are actually all aligned against the people no matter their doctrine. In a world dominated by show, extreme poverty and wealth, instead of being discrete, are being shown in broad daylight.

Opinion polls show that Romanians only have trust in two solid institutions: the church and the army. Despite the continuous and well-known human degradation existing in military life, this institution impresses because of its apparent equality and discipline, while the rest of society shows signs of anarchy and wounded mobility. The time and space of cult acts do not listen to the rhythm of the social changes. The same goes for the exact number of days and nights spent in the army, which forces the body into an exact and cadenced rhythm. They provide fixed and steady points in a chaotic society.

Orthodoxy, even fundamentalism, gains ground. Filocalia appears again. In religious printing houses theological studies and patristic works are printed. In busses or trams, people make the sign of cross every time they pass a church or monastery. They say frequently ?God help me? and they repopulate the churches. Charismatic priests are in the centre of much listened to intellectual groups. A known painter oversees evening meetings of Christian reflection. Well-known monks are assaulted by the crowd. Holy remains attract pilgrims that look for healing and celestial protection. A Cathedral of National Salvation is in projection. It is supposed to stand up against the monster that is called the House of the People.

The billboards all across the city promise initiations in Greek and oriental mysteries, the supreme knowledge of metaphysical secrets and physical equilibration through yoga. A guru, now arrested, places the foundations of ashrams in Ferentari, an area of Bucharest with a bad reputation, and convinces his followers to drink their urine for therapeutic purposes, to meditate on the ruins of Dacians2, and to practice tantric sexuality. Mysterious Dacian writings find their so-called deciphers. Isis, Osiris, Zamolxe, Graal have a threatening place in people?s mind.

The science-fiction literature feeds into people?s desire for fantasies. Sorceresses that are self proclaimed princesses and queens of white witchcraft, cure impotence, heal alcoholism and assure the success in exams and business. Books with recipes for success and happiness welcome you in bookshops. They propose fast and sure methods to become slim, to improve sexual performance and success in communication. One can apparently learn anything as long as you use easy and fast, at hand relational strategies.

Pedestrians move quickly on skates or skateboards, eating in fast food restaurants standing or eating snacks made in small pastry shops that have appeared almost overnight.

You can rely on matrimonial agencies to find your partner. Specialized agency ?Bon Mariage? prepares weddings into the smallest details, while other companies supply you with complete funeral services. Entrepreneurs in funeral furniture make mortality a flourishing business. Dead or alive certain institutions are taking and guiding you comfortably, rapidly, without any mistake and any pain.

TV commercials promise perfect protection of the dry but happy body. Menstrual blood and babies? urine are absorbed better and better. It is sufficient to stick a plaster on your bare foot or a belt around your waist to become a fit person, or to obtain wonderful buttocks and covet breasts. A pierced and tattooed body reminds of tribal practices, but this analogy remains superficial as long as we do not know what is actually encrypted on our body, as the so-called ?savages? did know.

The herbs and the flowers, the roots and the seeds used in teas and macerated or transformed into powders show the increased trust in the

2 Dacians are inhabitants of the antique province of Dacia, conquered by the Romans in 106 A.C. It is said that they are the ancestors of nowadays Romanians.

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