The year is 2022. I read mostly texts authored by women and about women: Anne Boyer, Zora Neale Hurston, Joanna Russ. I write little, and do my best not to think about it too much. I seem to be suffering from information paralysis. The world is full of signs and they all point nowhere or I just suck at deciphering. The past two years appeared to bear the promise of a revolutionary tenderness, but now I’m not so sure. I saw an old friend the other day and well, you seemed so different, all grown up and sporting a particularly dangerous type of complacent. I could smell the money on your skin and it turned my stomach. I thought I’d better go and so I said: “Don’t let me keep you.” It took me days to recover from our encounter. But you weren’t the issue. It’s really okay between us still, but I faked a smile on the way out and it did me no good—it put the fear in motion that we’re all trapped performing. Here’s a thought that shouldn’t be there: Do activists dream of Céline? Daddy says: “only the bad ones”; mommy smiles.
When I dream, it often rains inside. It? Rain rains like grass greens. All the “it” does is betray my inability, all too human, to inhabit the event. Anyway, rain rains inside in my dreams, and I am forced to cooperate. Running around with buckets, I labour to contain the flood and keep the walls from falling down. “In most cases,” a website dedicated to the interpretation of dreams explains to me, “dreams about rain are a symbol of sadness and depression.” But I am not most cases. I do not mean to claim I couldn’t possibly be unhappy, only that sadness and depression are not the primary authors of my dreams. I imagine them coming in rather as editors do, in the final stages, their job here being to inspect and ensure the punctuation packs enough punch to finish me off. The one who actually writes the dream, I speculate, is another: not them but my anxiety (one grounded in reality) that rain might really find itself indoors one day, when the body of the house in which I live will have finally decided that it can take no more. My situation demands that I neglect this house, for I have neither the means nor the authority to care for it. This dwelling I call home belongs to someone else, another who controls us both and also our relationship. I am well aware he probably doesn’t sweat it, he most likely finds the situation to be a fair one—all my landlord sees of me are my smile and my pay-checks—but this is certainly not how I experience it. This I whose dreams are the wrong kind of wet awakes in lakes brought about by stressy hyperhidrosis. It ain’t pretty. I do appreciate the irony though, for rent, I am well aware, is high on that list of ways in which my generation likes to get fucked. Still, from time to time, I come out on top and my liquid nightmare turns into a land of opportunity. While engaged in the work of repairing the house, I begin to reconstruct it: sometimes I add a skylight, others a whole new wing. “Here,” I say, presenting the extension to my flatmates, “our living room.” Nothing among my people in this city screams comfort quite like a living room does, except perhaps the gift of a garden… Persuaded by the dream’s force against reality and seduced by my architectural capabilities, I let myself feel at home in my imaginary abode—one with parts one might describe as distant—and all I want is to keep dreaming.
Parenthesis: I find it interesting that near the dawn of the 20th century, these rooms we now dedicate to the act of living were reserved for the bodies of the dead. They were spaces not for leisure but for mourning. I am also amused by something which Deleuze once said, and which all this now brings to mind: “If I hadn’t been a philosopher and if I had been a woman, I would have wanted to be a wailer (pleureuse)…”  The business of outsourcing grief would strike me as cruel, if I wasn’t prepared to accept that mourning, like philosophy, is an art: its chant accompanies the soul beyond this world. To comment on the gendered aspect of it all would be too easy. Just listen to The Cure. Fast forward a few decades to the present, the influenza is back, and so is the good old war, only now there are few philosophers, few professional mourners and, in this city, even fewer “death rooms.” Perhaps it is because I sleep where mine would have been, that rain rains inside in my dreams: “rain and tears are the same” (— Aphrodite’s Child, 1968). Maybe it is sadness and depression that write the dream after all. The Cure’s new album, by the way, will be called Songs of a Lost World…
Time to stop dreaming. I open my eyes and the same old walls greet me in silence. But now it’s nearly spring and a flood seems less likely. In the summer, the house will be so inundated by light that we’ll almost forget about all the cold we’ve suffered: “Aren’t we so lucky to have windows!” we’ll say, suddenly grateful for the damaged roof over our heads. This, I think, is how they get you. A little sorbet weather and all the shit starts melting. But shit don’t smell like flowers, everybody knows this song…On Sundays, through the windows of a prison I hesitantly agree to call work, I watch young couples parade their love and offspring—often four-legged and much hairier than they are, yet still somehow a nearly-perfect reflection of their ego. If feeling generous, they pause so as to allow others to admire the results of a strict only-the-best-dogfood-for-my-son/daughter regime by petting. “Oh isn’t s/he so soft/so smart/a lovely creature.” Occasionally I let myself believe I, too, might find such simple happiness. All I need, I think, is barista coffee on tap and a lover who gets me, a lover who cooks, a lover willing to split rent with me. But what I really need is a society in which the individual does not have to pay for the air they breathe. What I, what the world needs is a touch of anarchy. A proper stasis. Standing beside me and by this window into the world of people who don’t have to work weekends, my colleague asks what kind of dog I am. I answer I’m the kind that bites the hand that feeds them. That’s the pooch, the bitch I am. To work hard with my head down, to keep silent when my body breaks, this is what my mother taught me—but for what? Bare bones won’t do it; I crave blood (and it better be the bosses’).
The front yard or, that other dream
*Listen to: Προσκύνημα – Νίκος Δημητράτος*
In the mid-1970s, after a lot of blood (the youth’s), Greece found its way back to democracy and my grandparents, now gone / then in their forties, acquired a television. Though I don’t know exactly the number of households in their vicinity that owned one at the time, I do know that my grandparents were among a lucky few. But that didn’t matter. Whenever possible, they (and others like them), would put their device out in their front yard—which, opening onto the streets, could accommodate a gathering of bodies that the small house could not—and invite neighbours to join them. Twenty-something years later, I’d take my first steps in that same yard. Today, I am thirty years old and this image—of people coming together to share in the promise that the television once was, and confusing the boundaries between private and common in the process—this image warms my heart. Was it love? I cannot say for sure, although I’m driven to believe that it was something like it. When I picture my grandparents, I imagine they partook in this ritual because, having been poor most of their lives, they had learned to look past riches for their one true wealth: to have and to hold one another. Whatever it was, now and for a growing number of people, its very thought appears to me to be the source of a kind of social discomfort. In today’s city, the good neighbour is not a friend. The good neighbour owns their own shit. The good neighbour owns their house. The good neighbour speaks the same language. No, the good neighbour does not speak. The good neighbour asks for nothing. The good neighbour leaves me alone. If they ever do have needs, the good neighbour uses WhatsApp. Who’s hell are we living in?
If I hadn’t been a writer and if I had been a man, I would have wanted to be an ambassador of sorts. Not for my country, not for any government, but for the simple reverie with which this thing which may or may not be love, I imagine, begins:
“What if everyone had a home?”
 Gilles Deleuze in L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, avec Claire Parnet. Directed by Pierre-André Boutang, 1966.
Lilly Markaki (also appearing as Lilly Marks) is a researcher, writer and radio (g)host living in London. Blending theory and prose, their work investigates materiality, time, desire, and practices of world-building. Among other things, they are currently a researcher and programme curator for DEMO, a digital platform dedicated to the aesthetic and political potentialities of the moving image, and a resident of movement.radio.