Border of a World

Translated by Tatjana Radmilo

I was born in Mostar, on the border of the Mediterranean, perfectly unaware of the fact and of the concept of the Mediterranean space at all. At the same time, I was spending every summer on nearby Island of Korčula, home of my grandfather. That road to the mouth of the Neretva River, then through Neum and Pelješac Peninsula to Korčula represented the only known, and self-evident world at that. And then there was war, my country and city fell apart, Mostar was heavily destroyed, many people were killed, many more banished or left of their own will, and I was observing all this break up, for a couple of initial months, from Korčula. Shortly, my growing up was marked by destruction of self-evident world, exile, nationalism, and, naturally, the Mediterranean — all topics that I have been obsessively following since then until now.

That is why I studied history, started to work at the faculty, appear in media, write books and travelogues. I was trying to understand the world around me and reasons for all the horrors that happened.

People from the border of any world usually understand much better the world on the periphery of which they live, simply because they think about it intensively. They feel longing for that world, in this case, primarily for the sea. It is not an accident that the Mediterranean Breviary: A Cultural Landscape, one of the greatest books about the Mediterranean world and definitely, the most translated one from this region, was written by an author from Mostar — Predrag Matvejević. He noticed how Neretva dragged with it the Mediterranean world, its climate, plants and seagulls, all the way to the northern entrance to Mostar, with only one difference — pines and immortelle do not smell so intensively in Mostar because they lack salt. Vladimir Pištalo also wrote about the place where the Mediterranean world ends, and an artist from Mostar, Vladimir Mićković recorded a conceptual album Riva degli Schiavoni, named after main Venetian waterfront and inspired by the book of Matvejević.

Miljenko Smoje once compared the Mediterranean to “a beautiful, sunny day in summer”. I would add to this image the sound of crickets, without which these days are impossible to imagine. However, the Mediterranean is so much more. It is a “long term world”, according to the formula bequeathed to us by a great French historian Braudel. Venice, the Ottoman Empire, North African pirates, Cyprus and classical antiquity — all of them are the Mediterranean. Divided cities are also the Mediterranean. Jerusalem, Beirut, Nicosia, Mostar. Cyprus, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a world of trade, sailing, caravan routes and blending, but also a world of wars, hate and destruction. Actually, the Mediterranean is a world of border and blueness. The entire Dalmatia was nothing else but a border for centuries, resulting in fragmentation of this narrow space, excessive localism and the concept of permeable borders.

Fascism, antifascism, civil wars and ethnic cleansing also belong to the Mediterranean. Horrible concept of so-called population transfers damaged mental state of many people and cities forever. Thessaloniki, Izmir, Istanbul. In the Mediterranean, in Spain, people fought for an idea which created preconditions for fascist invasion of Europe, but also the Interbrigades. Yugoslav and Albanian partisans were the only ones who liberated their countries from fascism all by themselves, the difference being that Yugoslav historiography kept silent about the civil war at the same time, in the name of future, but the war revisited this region in the nineties of the last century, this time without the partisans. It was war between people who came to Dalmatia’s hinterland at the same time.

In addition to all of those mentioned, the Mediterranean is a space of contemplation, escapism and peace. I’ve never understood, though I’ve often thought about it, how it is possible that in such a magical belt people are driven to do anything else, except enjoy themselves and get together. And let alone hate and expel their neighbours from the cities. Every time I think about it, I look for loners in the past, who avoided banishment because they looked lovingly at summer swallows flying over old roofs, for example in Zadar, and were left all alone, in front of empty houses after everything passed.

The experiment of socialist modernism that we had, which is at its most evident in Split and all developed within Split 3 Project, but also all along the coast, from Trogir to Dubrovnik, through Neum, a typical child of that period, will be reached never again. It sounds sad, but it is true. It is difficult to imagine the state building apartments for the community, homes of culture in all, even the smallest of places, sports grounds form free use of citizens, all on the basis of serious concept and work of top of the class architects.

The Mediterranean is also a cheerful design that we were left with, but which remained and adapted itself. San Remo and Split Festival, Dubrovnik Summer Festival and Klapa Festival in Omiš. Populist spectacle in Berlusconi-Kerum style, self-destruction and crushed industry. Joking, but deadly mutiny of TBF music and escapist sadness of Zoster. The Mediterranean is made of existentialist writers and sad poets. Just like Winter Vacation in Summer by Vladan Desnica and Avantguard resistance of the Feral Tribune paper from Split. This is a space of collective stadium deliriums, sadly of prisoner camps, world that refuses to look at itself in the mirror and turn back. Country of patriarchy and conservative religious communities, land of defeat of modernism and tourism as monoculture, that eats at it, but is impossible to live without after all. Country of partisans’ torn down monuments, but extraordinarily vital. Sunny land in which the biggest number of refugees returned, in the area from Mostar through Čapljina to Stolac.

The Mediterranean is a morning Muslim prayer, reaching us at sultry summer dawn, catholic church tower bell, that imitates minaret and the restored orthodox church rising above Mostar again, as green capricious Neretva flows towards its mouth to collide with Pelješac there, building a pile of sand for children to happily play in. This is a land of pebbles and football madness.

Therefore, when somebody asks me what the Mediterranean actually is, I tell them that it is one move of Baka Slišković, his goal from corner, boyish smile through thick beard and light run in front of the full stadium. Run towards the sun that disappears in the sea, as if in the first film of Lordan Zafranović, Sunday, about how to pass the time in boring Split on Sunday.

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   Na rubu jednog svijeta

Rodio sam se u Mostaru, na granici Mediterana, savršeno nesvjestan te činjenice i uopće ideje mediteranskog prostora, provodeći istovremeno svako ljeto na obližnjoj didinoj Korčuli. Ta magistrala do ušća Neretve pa preko Neuma i Pelješca do Korčule predstavljala je jedini poznati, k tome samorazumljivi svijet. A onda se dogodio rat, država i grad su se rasuli, Mostar je prošao temeljito razaranje, mnogi ljudi su poginuli, još više njih je protjerano ili su svojevoljno otišli, a sav taj rasap sam nakon prvih par mjeseci rata pratio na Korčuli. Ukratko, odrastanje su mi obilježili razaranje samorazumljivog svijeta, egzil i nacionalizam te, naravno Mediteran, što su sve teme koje su me nastavile opsesivno pratiti od tada, do danas.

Odatle i studij povijesti, rad na fakultetu, mediji, knjige i putopisi. Pokušavao sam razumjeti svijet koji me okruživao i razloge zbog kojih se taj užas dogodio.

Ljudi s granice nekog svijeta obično puno bolje razumiju svijet na čijoj periferiji žive, iz prostog razloga što intenzivno misle o njemu. I osjećaju čežnju prema tom svijetu, u ovom slučaju ponajprije prema moru. Nije uostalom slučajno što je ‘Mediteranski brevijar’, jednu od najvećih knjiga o sredozemnom svijetu i svakako najprevođeniju knjigu s ovih prostora napisao Mostarac Predrag Matvejević. Uočavajući kako je Neretva točno do sjevernog izlaza iz Mostara dovukla mediteranski svijet, njegovu klimu, biljke i galebove, s tom razlikom što borovi i smilje u Mostaru ne mirišu toliko intenzivno, jer im fali soli. O tome gdje završava mediteranski svijet pisao je i Vladimir Pištalo, a mostarski umjetnik Vladimir Mićković je snimio konceptualni album ‘Riva degli Schiavoni’, nazvan po glavnoj mletačkoj rivi i inspiriran Matvejevićevom knjigom.

Mediteran jeste jedan ‘lipi, litnji sunčani dan’, kako je Miljenko Smoje svojevremeno rekao za Dalmaciju. Dodao bih toj slici i zvuk cvrčaka bez kojih su ti dani nezamislivi. Međutim, Mediteran je i puno više. Svijet je to ‘dugog trajanja’, što je formula koju nam je veliki francuski povjesničar Braudel ostavio zauvijek. Mediteran su i Venecija i Osmansko Carstvo i sjevernoafrički gusari i Cipar i antika. To su i podijeljeni gradovi. Jeruzalem, Bejrut, Nikozija, Mostar. Cipar, Libanon i Bosna i Hercegovina. To je svijet trgovine, plovidbe, karavanskih puteva i prožimanja, ali i ratova, mržnje i razaranja. Mediteran je zapravo svijet granice i plavetnila. Čitava Dalmacija uostalom i nije bila ništa drugo, nego granica stoljećima. Iz čega se razvila fragmentiranost tog uskog prostora, kampanilizam, ali i ideja o tome da su granice propusne.

Mediteran su i fašizam, antifašizam, građanski ratovi i etnička čišćenja. Užasna ideja tzv. humane razmjene stanovništva zauvijek je psihički oštetila mnoge ljude i gradove. Solun, Izmir, Istanbul. Na Mediteranu se ratovalo za jednu ideju u Španjolskoj, u kojoj su stvoreni preduvjeti za pohod fašista na Europu, ali i interbrigade. Jugoslavenski i albanski partizani su jedini sami oslobodili svoje zemlje od fašizma, s tom razlikom što je jugoslavenska historiografija u ime budućnosti prešućivala da je bila riječ i o građanskom ratu, koji se vratio devedesetih, ovaj put bez partizana. Tada su ratovali ljudi koji su zajedno došli u zaleđe Dalmacije.

Mediteran je, međutim uz sve navedeno i prostor kontemplacije, eskapizma i mira. Nikad nisam razumio, a često sam o tome mislio, kako je moguće da u jednom tako čarobnom pojasu ljudi imaju poriv za ičim drugim, osim za uživanjem i druženjem. A kamo li za mržnjom i protjerivanjem susjeda iz grada. I svaki put kad o tome razmišljam, tražim osamljenike u prošlosti koji su izbjegli progonu jer su zaljubljeno gledali ljetni let lastavica po starim krovovima, npr. u Zadru te ostali sami pred praznom kućom, nakon što je sve prošlo.

Eksperiment socijalističkog modernizma koji smo imali, a najvidljiviji je u Splitu i svemu onome što je nastalo u sklopu projekta Splita 3, no i diljem obale, od Trogira, do Dubrovnika pa preko Neuma koji je dijete tog perioda, nećemo više dosegnuti nikada. Zvuči tužno, ali je tako. Teško mi je i zamisliti više mogućnost da država sama gradi stanove za društvo, domove kulture po svim pa i najmanjim mjestima i sportska igrališta koja će se koristiti besplatno, a sve to s ozbiljnom idejom i radom vrhunskih arhitekata.

Mediteran je i taj veseli dizajn koji nam je nakon svega ostao i prilagodio se. I San Remo i Splitski festival, Dubrovačke ljetne igre i Festival klapa u Omišu. I berluskonijevsko-kerumovski populistički spektakl i autodestrukcija i industrija koja je krahirala. I zajebantska, a ubojita pobuna muzike TBF-a i eskapistička tuga Zostera. Mediteran su i egzistencijalistički pisci i tužni pjesnici. I ‘Zimsko ljetovanje’ Vladana Desnice, kao i avangardni otpor splitskog Feral Tribune-a. Prostor je to i kolektivnih stadionskih delirija, nažalost i logora, svijeta koji se odbija pogledati u zrcalo i osvrnuti unazad. Zemlja patrijarhata i konzervativizma religijskih zajednica, zemlja poraza modernizma i monokulture turizma koji je izjeda, a bez kojega nema života nakon svega. Zemlja srušenih partizanskih spomenika, ali neobično vitalna. Zemlja sunca u koju se vratilo najviše izbjeglica, na potezu od Mostara, preko Čapljine do Stoca.

Mediteran je jutarnja muslimanska molitva koja dopire kroz sparnu ljetnu zoru, zvonik katoličke crkve koji imitira minaret i pravoslavna crkva koja se obnovljena iznova uzdiže iznad Mostara, dok Neretva hirovita i zelena teče prema ušću da se tamo sudari s Pelješcom, nanoseći hrpu pijeska za dječje radosti. Zemlja je ovo oblutaka i zaluđenosti nogometom.

Stoga, kad me mimo svega ovoga upitaju što je Mediteran zapravo, ja kažem da je to jedan potez Bake Sliškovića, njegov gol iz kornera, dječački osmijeh kroz gustu bradu i lagani trk ispred punih tribina. Trk prema suncu koje nestaje u moru, kao na prvom filmu Lordana Zafranovića, ‘Nedjelja’, o tome kako ubiti vrijeme u dosadi nedjeljnoga Splita.


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