Readers of Scene4 have come to know Yugoslavian writer Mika Oklop’s blend of highly personal memoir, social critique, and political protest. In the piece that follows, we hear him in his role as public thinker. Oklop’s thinking on important matters was followed by many who first came to him through his ground-breaking novels, who then stayed with him also for his intrepid commitment to humanistic values.
In this elegant piece, Oklop takes us along on his journey outside time and place as we “know” them, to a dimension of pure
consciousness. From that vantage point, beyond national boundaries and history’s relentless traumas, he can see that what’s at work is essentially benevolent. That
“cosmic knowledge” is what releases us from what poet Theodore Roethke called “the dreary dance of opposites,” connecting our innermost selves to what
empowers us most. Oklop’s reminder that we can, and must, turn darkness into light ourselves rings both a note of confidence in our abilities, and a mandate in unsettling
The year Oklop names, 2007, is the year he died too early. This piece is surely among the last things he wrote for publication, if not the
last. So he ended his life with the injunction: “the truth must be repeated… in a thousand forms.” I imagine that Mika, who repeated the truth insistently as long
as he could, would be gratified if, in the New Year, we keep going where he left off.
Oakland, California, 2017
Milan “Mika” OklopdÅ¾iÄ‡
Ever since I was a boy I have been in the habit of disappearing now and then, to restore myself by immersion in other worlds. My friends would
look for me and after a time write me off as missing. When I finally returned, it always amused me to hear what so-called scientists had to say of my “absence,” or
twilight states. Though I did nothing but what was second nature to me and what sooner or later most people will be able to do, those strange beings regarded me as a kind of freak;
some thought me possessed; others endowed me with miraculous powers.
So now, once again, I vanished for a time. The present had lost its charm for me after two or three months of war, and I slipped away to
breathe different air. I left the plane on which we live and went to live on another plane. I spent some time in remote regions of the past, raced through nations and epochs
without finding contentment, observed the usual crucifixions, intrigues, and movements of progress on earth, and then withdrew for a while into the cosmic.
When I returned, it was 2007. I was disappointed to find the nations still battling one another with the same mindless obstinacy. A few
frontiers had shifted; a few choice sites of older, higher cultures had been painstakingly destroyed; but, all in all, little had changed in the outward aspect of the earth. That
is why I am not, as many of my friends and enemy suppose, a pacifist. I no longer believe that world peace can be brought about in rational ways… I believe in cosmic
knowledge. This is the knowledge that, starting from the innermost point, we can at all times transcend all pairs of opposites, transforming white into black, evil into good, night
What I am saying is self-evident. But just as every soldier shot to death is the eternal repetition of an error, so the truth must be repeated
forever and ever in a thousand forms.
Cover photo - Care of the Oklop Estate