Who expects making the greatest discovery of her life in a thrift store?
But I have – in Berkeley’s Goodwill. Dizzy from horrible news at home, I tromped along the aisles. I perused clothes and curios in search of that feeling you get from the gym, happy-clappy church and (thank god!) retail therapy. You know what I mean. Ever the bookworm, I crawled about the book section. And there I found it: A well-used copy of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Inside glittered a treasure! Next to Proust’s captivating story were notes from the inimitable romantic Afrikaans Zen erotic guru, Eros Minnaar.
Do you remember the rapture and positivity he instilled in us? Do you remember the numerous stories of couples, young and old, that (re)connected? The relationships mended? The deep connection we all shared? How for a while everything was how we always imagined it would be?
He was wise, yet humble; incisive, yet tender. And now it is six years later and sometimes everything still feels the same. With all the killings, corruption, politically correct landmine navigation, poor education, drought, farm murders, payback politics, Orwellian nightmare-state construction, heroes with feet of clay, victims without vision, unemployment, and suffering in Mzansi, I understand why the reader needs reminding.
Who was Eros Minnaar? In this article I open his well-used copy of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece and allow Eros to speak with us. His metamorphosis from victim to creator emerges from journal entries, haikus, self-interviews mirroring Vladimir Nabokov’s Strong Opinions, and fictitious conversations with Marcel Proust. The alternatief.co.za team encourages readers to share any similar discoveries. Owing to the at times sensuous nature of this curated interview, we encourage the reader to read it outside work hours with a box of tissues at hand.
Eros, what is your story?
Marcel, I’ve always wanted to help people. Yes, I was a horny teen, and a pugnacious student. But my driving forces have always been and remain: neighbourly love, belief in human dignity, and trusting the long, slow dance of intimacy and the good life.
Upon graduation I found Mzansi was rather inhospitable towards a young white bookworm with a PhD in post-structural ethics. Thus, I stayed on at Stellenbosch University as an overqualified factotum. In my free time I wrote. Kanollie (Jade Scheherazade Yassim) and I were overjoyed about the Big Essay Competition. They invited me to Paris to read my work. Unfortunately Kanollie couldn’t accompany me. (“I wait in my heart,” I wrote on the last post card she received.)
Paris was mesmerising: the art, the cheese, the streets! My talk, “Light of my life, fire of my loins: Pain, beauty and political activism” resonated with the audience. But here life flung me a cruel irony. Back in Mzansi, armed robbers broke into our home and raped and murdered my wife. I retuned immediately, but didn’t stay long in Mzansi thereafter.
I was devastated. I went through the looking glass and wandered in a dark labyrinth. All along the winding passages I went until at last I emerged in the East. I crossed my legs and sat quietly in the Himalayas.
After Tibet I left for California to broaden my spiritual horizons and deepen my practice. Here the principles and practices of the Slow Sex movement impressed me. Then it happened: my big dream. In Big Sur, Scheherazade, Jeremiah, Martin Versfeld, Vladimir Nabokov, George Elliot and Jorge Luis Borges called out and challenged me: “Eros Minnaar, your heart is a dark beehive rich with honey. Share it. Don’t rob your battered country of your gifts!”
Following his “awakening” Eros embarked on a “great trek” back to Mzansi. The pieces came together. His work pushed boundaries, and then surpassed all reasonable expectations. The first Kinky Love Insight Transcendence Centre opened in Towerkop. Clients came from all over – and kept coming. The subscribers and practices grew. Kinky Love Insight Transcendence Centres opened in the places of love: Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Potchefstroom, and Johannesburg. His books and web talks sold like ice cream on a torrid afternoon at the beach. All in all, he was Mzansi’s darling. – CvN
Kanollie my tongue
Flutters like a shiny moth
After your moist smile.
Speak, Memory, public libraries, a smile from a stranger.
Do you converse with your wife?
I chat with Kanollie (Sunflower of my Life, Pale Blaze of my Loins) first thing each day. Nightly I hug myself. I caress my scapula – the wings with which I cannot fly. Like she did. Then we coo again like lovebirds on honeymoon.
WRITING PROMPT: DECONSTRUCT DREAMING
Reality caves into fantasy easily: The bookworm who dreams of being a knight errant; the president who sees a great dictator in the mirror; men who treat women and children as toys; the human with an invisible friend that whispers to her or him how to live and where to plant bombs; the clit-titillating guru with a message of love and intimacy in this, our age of iron.
MARCEL ASKS, I ANSWER
What is your favourite virtue? Empathy
What qualities do you value in a man? Incisiveness, tenderness and humour.
What qualities do you value in a woman? Self-respect and the courage to break your own heart.
What is your signature characteristic? Laughing at myself.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends? Their care and tolerance.
What is your biggest flaw? I have little time for apathy and comfortable people who complain, but do nothing about it.
What is your favourite occupation? Reading near water.
What is your idea of happiness? Sharing a secret with one’s lover.
What do you think is the deepest pit of despair? A loveless existence like Frankenstein’s.
If not yourself, who would you be? Wolraad Woltemade.
Where would you like to live? Northeast Bali of South Java.
What is your favourite colour and flower? Yellow and sunflowers.
What is your favourite bird? African Grey parrot.
Who are your favourite prose writers? Cervantes, Coetzee, Nabokov.
Which poets do you adore? Milosz, Breytenbach, Dickenson.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction? Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Who is your favourite artist and composer? Matisse and Schubert.
Who are your heroes in real life? South African news consumers.
Who are your heroines in real life? Pema Chödrön and Aung San Suu Kyi.
What characters in history do you most dislike? Ozymandias and his modern-day carbon copies (Hitler, Stalin, Mugabe, and the many heirs to the throne).
Who is your heroine in world history? Cleopatra.
What is your favourite food and drink? Freshly baked bread with butter and honeyed rooibos tea.
What are your favourite names? Jade, Thandi and Petrus.
What do you despise most? When I get lost in storylines of victimhood.
Which military event do you admire most? Star Wars.
Which reform do you admire most? Mzansi’s constitution.
Which natural talent would you like to be gifted with? I am grateful for what I have, but I wouldn’t mind the ability to play a musical instrument.
How do you wish to die? Sitting in the garden, smiling.
What is your present state of mind? Flowing.
For what fault have you most toleration? Ignorance of the ephemeral nature of desire.
What is your motto? Sweep in front of your own door to keep the entire street clean.
*Erin Luisa Borjesson was a journalist. She was restless, fearless. Her work struggled against apathy and abuses of power. We praise and commemorate her burning convictions: “Our one-party state functions on self-enrichment, eye-for-an-eye payback and segregated hate ver. 2.0. It seeks to strategically purge consciousness through censorship, normalising crime, engaging in politically correct witch hunts, and foisting consumer culture on us. The state smothers the open conversation and murders prophets preaching love, wisdom, intimacy, and human dignity. In the same way that Pecker-Eye-One-Eye murdered Two-Eyes in the land of the blind so as to be the big chief, the big man with his Nkandla and his Kremlin. This makes perfect sense for a dictator and his cronies. But for the voting subjects – the erstwhile citizens – it is as an elegiac journey though the twisting paths of a strange, cruel labyrinth.” Erin exposed the political assassination of Eros Minnaar. A storm ensued. She was honoured as the Mzansi Zeitgeist Journalist of the Year. Erin disappeared after the awards.