Thursday, 19 May 2011


In a life that is a palimpsest only fragments of past layers remain. These are the final days of her life. On the parchment there is only one thing now that is clearly visible: a shell of a self, a skeleton barely covered with flesh, supported by medical devices, still speaking and often failing to speak or parroting the speak of the former self. The face is a representation of the former face whose remnants are somewhere in the layers of the palimpsest. One has to peel the layers carefully to reveal the former gestures, the former voice, the gait, the smell of the gardenia that was once pinned on the dress one summer evening.

In the absence of written words, I turn to the objects for confirmation and reassurance. Will objects help in the palimpsest’s reconstruction? Will they fill the gaps, help create the fictional life of the person who is my mother and who is now dying? She is a version of my imagination. Childhood injuries, photograph scraps, scents, handwritten notes, fingerprints, words, hearsay are cemented by the weight of time. Like loose sediments they are gathered together and metamorphosed into my version of reality, my version of her who is my mother.

This is an old office stamp. It has her name on it – the initial is missing – I cut it out long time ago when in my youth I tried to appropriate the stamp for my own use (I never did). The stamp confirms. It produces an undeniable, if smudgy, mark of a surname. The typography is familiar. The typeface is most certainly Didot Classic – which found its way from the brain of French typecutter Firmin Didot in 1805 to the name stamp issued by the Public Electricity Company sometime in the late 1970s. The rubber is encrusted with layers of old ink. It is itself a palimpsest retaining and concealing its past marks. A wooden stamp with a bulbous handle, it retains the outline of a memory. It implies the hand that held it, the gesture, the pressure that had been exerted on paper. Maybe I can see a little the face that belonged to the hand. Maybe there is also a faint smell of when life was abundant.

In the face of death objects hold the hope of immortality.


  1. What a lovely thing to own...a treasure passed on from one generation to another. In this electronic age, what have we to pass on to our children?

    I can barely read the name on the stamp, though.

  2. You can barely read it because a) it's barely readable b) it's in Greek. It says Αποστολακου (Apostolakou). Thanks for dropping by.