I have no such lofty ambitions but I want to write my own book of books, one that makes the writing of other books unnecessary for me and that can be left unfinished. I want to pour all my shit into one container. Everything I've thought and done and what I've learned from other writers and philosophers, and non writers and non philosophers, and everything I've ever felt sad about, and all the stupidity and ignorance and bigotry I've had to endure, all the idiots and the losers and the bastards I've put up with or tried to shaft but mostly failed, an index in fact of all my mistakes and bad choices, my failures and faltered attempts, all the disappointments, all my scars, all my wounds, yes. I will catalogue them.
I stole this line, from a story by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) called The Aleph, once before and used it as the title for an exhibition in 2002. But it will by necessity be a limited catalogue of endless things.
Once upon a time, in Germany, during the interbellum, when everything was still possible, including the impossible, there was a writer who liked to poke fun at the nazis, that was his way, his books were amongst the first they burned, who allegedly said that every book should begin in a railway station. Kurt Tucholsky (1890–1935) Even the worst railway station in the world is interesting, like the one in Best, a smallish town in the south of the nether land, where the station is little more than a dark and draughty tunnel underneath the town where most of the trains don't stop.
It must have been designed by an architect with a sense of irony. But perhaps the beginning could be here, in Best, in the worst railway station in the world.
I don't remember exactly when but I remember why I was there. It was in the middle of winter, a few years after returning, before I knew anything about the part of the nether land that lies south of the big rivers. No one who is not from there goes there, that I knew of. As a child I always regarded people from the south as aliens, even more so than Belgians, but they are from a different country so they can't help it.
The intercity trains rage through the tunnel, I mean station, as if to make their intention not to stop there very clear. Each one displaces an enormous amount of cold air as it does so and there is no getting away from it for the traveller from the north who is there for reasons best known to themselves, not even a waiting room, let alone some kind of kiosk from where a hot drink or snack could be purchased.