The Bucharest Of Recurrent Pathologies

top row: around Bishopric St., Capşa restaurant, Magheru Blvd., in Cismigiu gardens (see also Them in Gallery)
If we take an X-ray of the articles published by the major Romanian dailies, we get an overwhelming abundance of unsettling, grotesque events created by outbursts of untreated neuroses and psychoses; or, better put, outbursts of such conditions, without those experiencing them being aware of suffering.
One hundred years ago, Dr. Mina Minovici wrote desperately: “There is no other country in the world that has more lunatics walking the streets free than our capital city. All you have to do is take a stroll on Calea Victoriei, between Bishopric Street and the boulevard, and you will run into a multitude of weirdoes, one dragging a handkerchief on the ground, his coat unbuttoned and not wearing any hat, another walking with several sticks and little umbrellas in his hands and speaking incessantly; another one sits in the same chair from morning till dusk at the Capsa terrace, another in a seat of the Frascati coffee shop, others in the Bishopric garden, and still others in Cismigiu Park. “But, apart from those, there are countless violently insane people, who live with families and who are often left to walk the streets free, and every day we are threatened by one such madman or another in the street, in court, or at the theater.” (1) One hundred years later, Bucharest is still dominated by madmen. You can run into them in the capital city’s luxury avenue: Magheru Boulevard. They hang around in MoghiorosPark, where every day one can see “an obese insane man. His torso is naked. He stinks of alcohol and urine. A colossus of purple flesh, only wrapped in a table cloth – God alone knows where he got it. “He is always gulping some food, and he is permanently hungry. He drags behind himself a multitude of bags and sacks, so full of garbage that they almost burst. When he orders things at terraces and they refuse to serve him, he raises the table cloth he is dressed in and urges all the people who sit at tables: ‘Here you are, eat, esteemed ladies and gentlemen! Take it with cheese and tomatoes, so you won’t get sick!’” (2) If we take a quick comparative look, we see a horrendous social degradation in the past 100 years through the limited groups of the madmen. In 1898, the madmen were elegant enough to wear a handkerchief and drag it on the ground, or to go to Capsa or Frascati, which were exclusive restaurants; today we see a lot of people having collapsed in alcohol and feces, who exhibit their nudity without giving a damn. The problem is that madmen are not the only people to do this on a daily basis! They behave the way society models dictate. (3) NOTES 1. Mina Minovici, Un caz de nebunie morala in fata justitiei (A Case of Moral Insanity Brought to Justice), 1899.2. Bucuresti – un oras in care tot mai multi nebuni umbla in libertate (Bucharest – City with Increasing Number of Madmen Running Free), National newspaper, August 23, 2001. 3. “Communism has been the vastest chapter of social pathology in recorded history. (…) Collective alienation is a successful and lingering phenomenon. This is why, even now after 1989, we still live in a conflict-prone world. It does not matter whether it all starts out from a shoe, a soccer game, or the scandal of the bankrupt SAFI investment fund. The important thing is our proneness to conflict.” Miltiade Ionescu, O groaza de uitari (Immensity of Forgetfulness), Dilema magazine, November 30, 2000. The same proneness to “quarrels and fights” existed 400 years ago, when Romanians appeared to be “forever unhappy, no matter what happened.” (Michael Bocignoli of Ragusa, 1524). Translated by Monica Voiculescu

by Adrian Majuru (b. 1968)