Tribal Patients and Ghosts

Setting: the mental institution in Bardovci, close to Skopje. Our inmate has become aware of the power that lies in social networks. 

Scene: Night. Our patient breaks into a dark office room, where ten computer work places are properly covered, so the ubiquitous Skopje dust won’t destroy them. While our inmate uncovers one of them and boots the computer, the screen on which we see this scene unravel splits and in the right half appears the director of the psychiatric hospital, talking on the phone:

“Yes, of course we are computerized. We just received this donation from this ‘American Association of Christian Psychiatrists’. Yeah, I didn’t know such thing existed, either… Weird, eh? Americans… Have in mind they’re new. Ok, we can talk about compensation. My staff? They don’t need computers. The few who know how to work them, have their own. And the inmates are crazy anyway, haha! So, what’s your offer?”

The director fades out and we see our inmate creating a blog and writing a first entry. It is a story about how construction workers accidentally find the grave of Alexander the Great. He deviously smiles as he sets the location at a fictitious border crossing between Macedonia and Greece. With the work being done, our patient retires to his room, which he shares with three other inmates.

Within a day, Macedonian and Greek media go havoc. A ferocious debate erupts all over televisions and newspapers, whereby Macedonia’s most popular archaeologist threatens to lay down all his functions if this project is not passed on to him immediately.

An insert shows our inmate having a deep look into a mirror and smiling pensively. Slowly, his face turns into the face of the archaeologist, then into that of Alexander and back. He trots back to his room, where it is time to take his medication.

In the meanwhile, Greece is starting a diplomatic offensive, trying to prove that the site is actually on the Greek side and thus they would have the exclusive right to exploit it. To this end, they revive an old border dispute with Yugoslavia, which was never settled and which actually goes back to territorial claims from the time of the Second Balkan War. Maps are shown all over the media, the Macedonian side is very busy trying to find counter-arguments, archives are being searched, just to find out that probably all documentation about the dispute has been taken to Belgrade and disappeared.

The situation threatens to escalate. The Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a travel warning, appealing to its citizens not to travel to Greece for security reasons. TV stations show empty border crossings. The rhetoric is heating up.

Our inmate decides that it may be time to come out of the closet of his mental institution and denounce the whole story as a hoax, as a product of his otherwise under-employed imagination. The makes the necessary calls, send e-mails around, but only one not very popular TV station picks up the story and reports in half a sentence.

Close to despair, our inmate decides to play the media by their rules and to fight fire with fire i.e. to produce another hoax. “In a world of madness, only the madman is lucid”, he thinks, not being able to remember who had said this before him, but being fully aware of talking in quotes. Because he cannot travel due to lack of money and visa, and not because he is locked in a mental institution, he decides to act by proxy. He calls a cousin in the US and convinces him to take on the identity of a Macedonian historian and to arrange an urgent meeting with a clairvoyant in Florida. There, the cousin/historian makes the clairvoyant invoke the ghost of Alexander the Great. Alexander’s ghost gives out a message of love and peace, explains that he never conquered for the sakes of glory, but to bring civilisation onto far away lands. He of course also shows interest in the language of his heirs.

The media interest is enormous, the reactions from all sides are positive. Peace is about to break out between the two countries. But then, the church reacts, banishing our inmate from its community for having desecrated national symbols. Of course, nothing happens to our patient, as he is already a patient in a psychiatric hospital.

After a moment of almost peace, the national archaeologist is reinstated in all his functions and the tribal wars can continue. The rest is silence.


Vision? Not an artifact…

  1. Biljana said:

    I was going to say :now where are the quote marks on “the rest is silence”? But just in time I remember that Shakespeare’s existence too has been disputed and still a matter of debate..
    And then there is the other tribe from the east who found Shakespeare’s bulgarian origins..and were nominated by the House of Commons for the Nobel Prize in History (should it ever be introduced)…
    Yes, as Ilija Spirov says..those were Hamlet’s last words, but I digress
    Off to a nunnery I go..or maybe the mental hospital, who knows 🙂

    Brilliant post!!!!!

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