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A story of four islands

A story of four islands

This is a story of four islands. It should have been a novel. And it should have been written by Gugi. There are different islands, but there is only one story and one Gugi.

The first is the island of Lastovo. It was in the days when the Yugoslav army camped there and watched young women. Only domestic tourists were allowed, but that was already a high standard for the life some led. I do not know if Gugi was ever physically on Lastovo, but he was there with me and with soldiers. Well, he was not even with the soldiers; he was against them. Not so much against them but against the Yugoslav army. Well, I’m not sure if he was against the army at all, as would become clearer later, but with those who did not want to go to the army in the 80s, when he was already a respected psychiatrist who diagnosed all kinds of mental disorders in men who did not feel like going to the army for a year, nonsense.

It must be made clear that at that time, men were men, and women were women. Such an old-fashioned and sexist culture prevented women from joining the army and forced young men to toil for a year in various camps throughout Yugoslavia. It was a matter of social pride that men returned to their villages after a year in the army. Yes, the villages, especially the Albanian ones, expelled those who were sent back early from the army. If that was a serious army, I would agree. I would agree now, not then when I just did not want to go and when I did not know about the nonsense of this army. Am I repeating myself?

That it was nonsense became clear only later, in June 1991, when that same, apparently one of the strongest armies was defeated in a 10-day war against Slovenia. You probably do not even know what Slovenia is and where it is located on the globe. And there is a reason for that because it is smaller than an average Indian village, which you don’t know for the same reason, although Slovenia is much greener than even the villages in the south of India. We know this because we have traveled almost all of India, later indeed, but who cares!

“We”, that is me and Darinka, who already in the second paragraph of this story, appeared as a woman swimming naked in front of dozens of excited soldiers in Lastovo, realizing too late that she could not escape their looks and cheers. (Nudism at that time was a trend and now is nonexistent. ) The fact that we later fought together with them against the fire that threatened the town of Lastovo on the island of Lastovo is not really crucial to this story, but I think it should not be forgotten.

It may be that this was really the only military battle I experienced in my life, on the island of Lastovo in front of the town of Lastovo, wrapped in the smoke of the wood fire (and cigarettes, because everyone smoked then except me – but that is already another story for another story). It was the last battle because, at that time, I was already Gugi’s patient because of my mental disorder.

The saying, “I know that you know that I know…” turned into: “I do not know that you do not know that I do not know…” in my relationship with Gugi.

I did not know Gugi before I met him as a doctor. A psychiatrist friend of mine suggested him, and Gugi took me in. Like so many others, but that was unknown to me at the time. I had just finished my studies in philosophy and comparative literature and was enthusiastic about Lacan’s school of psychoanalysis. Slavoj Žižek, who was already a star in my somewhat younger generation and was never accepted as an enfant terrible at the College of Ljubljana, was then in controversy with official psychiatry, so I did not share Gugi’s views on psychic phenomena. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. Later, when I began to detect totalitarian overtones in Slavoj’s writings, Gugi became a good friend of his. This says nothing about who is or was right but rather about a certain nostalgia for then-already defunct Yugoslavia, which I do not share.

Back to Poljanski nasip in Ljubljana, where I had at least 20 or 30 sessions with Gugi over a year or two. As a trained theoretical psychoanalyst, versatile in Freud and Lacan, disdainful of Jung (funny that I now appreciate Jung better than Freud), I knew that even if you feel healthy, in reality, you are not. In each of us, there are several personalities begging for different kinds of mental disorders, which also means that mental disorders are completely normal. Today, more than 40 years later, as a student of evolutionary biology and a fairly well-informed neuroscientist, I know that I was right, at least on this point. In all other aspects I was not right, while Gugi was most likely right.

So, in reality, I was not bluffing, and Gugi did not know that I did not know that he did not know that I was sane. I knew better about theater and art at that time, and I applied that knowledge when I was appointed to an army committee that decided the fate of soldiers-to-be. That was in 1985, and I had stopped going to the Gugi at least a year before. There was a file, and that was my plan. I had a strong desire to go to the army in front of this committee, which was housed in a building where the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is today.

It is called Mladika, a strange Slovenian word that alludes to youth. Young I was, and so is Slovenian foreign policy and practice. Everything was prepared for my post. As I left the room, I acted out a familiar crime scene. “By the way”, I was almost out of the room, and the door was open, “I don’t think it matters for your decision, but maybe I should disclose my psychiatric file to you”, I muttered. Suddenly all eyes were on me. It was working.

Not quite yet, because a week or two later, I was summoned again. They stared at me with a single question, “Do you think you can handle the Army post?” referring to my file. How was I supposed to know? “You are experts, you should know! If you believe it, then let’s try”. Just before, while I was waiting outside the room, Franjo screamed and threw chairs against the wall. I thought this guy must be really disturbed, not me. Franjo Frančič, a poet, I did not know at that time.

On December 10, 2025, we met with Franjo in Belgrade in the First Proletarian Brigade in the same barrack beds, side by side. And on December 31, we were discharged from the army together and took the last flight to Ljubljana. I knew that the airport was called Surčin, and we took a bus to Surčin, realizing too late that we arrived in a village, while the airport was about 3 km away, with muddy fields and no roads in between. In army clothes and with my complete army file and G.W.Hegel’s book Sein und Zeit (in Serbian) in my hand, which was soiled with mud up to my knees, we crossed the airport fence through a big hole, washed our boots in a workers’ toilet, got on the plane as the only passengers and came home in the last hours of 1985.

That was the last time I saw Franjo, a very nice guy, reasonably crazy, as befits a serious poet. A month ago, I noticed on Facebook that he was looking for a person to take care of his dog for a few weeks. I would have taken him if we did not already have two cats. But more about the cats later.

So ends the first island of Lastovo and Gugi’s crucial role in my success, as I was in the army for only 11 days. Later we became friends, but as it is between doctor and patient, they were not to become friends. So the only solution for us was “not to know that you do not know that I do not know”.

This is a story of four islands. Lastovo was one of them. The one Gugi did not know, but we did. As so often happens in an ever-evolving environment, four so easily multiplies into hundreds. We started sailing, and all the Yugoslav and later Croatian islands became our summer home. It is as if the islands told us the truth about ourselves: We do not have split personalities but multiplied ones. Thousands of islands cannot be reduced to one, not even to four. Something larger emerges something that transcends each one of them. Physically, one can be on only one particular island at any given moment but on all of them at the same time.

Ravna Sika is not even an island. It is “sika,” meaning something larger than a rock and smaller than an island. Gugi was already a legend that did not only many like me but also Franci from going to prison for betraying army secrets that started the war in Slovenia. To be honest, he was even more of a legend for other reasons. If he was an island, he was anything but a loner. I see him as a giant star, a massive center of gravity filled not so much with matter as with energy. This is nonsensical because matter is energy, and energy is matter.

As we know, a giant star evolves into a red giant, then a white dwarf, then a supernova, and finally a black hole. Am I talking about cosmology or life? Since I follow Mandelbrot and recognize fractals all around us, it is not hard to see that a star was born in the Big Bang with the fate of a black hole.

It would be completely wrong to see Gugi as a star that saves lives. He would contradict. He has helped many to do their best to save their own lives. He was able to do this because he was not a doctor in the Western sense of the word. He practiced Western psychotherapy and lived in Slovenia; how could one do otherwise? But as an amateur student of philosophy, he was in conflict, a productive conflict with himself. He probably would not agree, but he became less reductive.

He was a captain of a boat of his family. Although every summer only a reduced family visited us on Ravna Sika, Sika was not one of his four Islands. It was one of mine, but his appearance made it much larger. He was the embodiment of a philosopher, not me, who at this time was re-entering philosophy after more than 20 years of escape. He sat with a cigar, motionless except for the movement of a glass of wine, eating an octopus that Darinka had prepared and moving his lips and cheeks as he talked. Brains do not move when they are in motion, so I will leave them aside for the moment. Or not, as I unwittingly became a philosopher of biology and neuroscience in conjunction with memetics. I should have been immobile, not him! But that was only one of the paradoxes that Ravna Sika produced.

Before returning to the mind, I would like to mention that Ravna Sika became a 15-minute city even before the intellectual elite of the globalists, the global communists, invented the 15-minute cities because you could literally swim around Ravna Sika in 15 minutes. And at least for that day, there was no reason to go anywhere else. Supernova was there, and I, who collided with her. The child does not know what 1 tone is, so he lifts it effortlessly.
An even more important paradox of Ravna Sika was that, at that time, I was already leaving Lacan while Gugi was re-entering psychoanalysis. He became a friend of Slavoj Žižek, which exonerated him from being a fan of Lacan but solidified his friendship with Freud. This is proof that science has no history because it has no progress. (About five years ago, I wrote an article with the same title but with weaker argumentation than this one.) No one is better off with this change. We are different for the reason we argue. There is no other reason to be alive than to be different, as my mentor, Prof. David Haig, applied Derrida to the field of evolutionary biology, “a difference that makes a difference”."
Let us assume that the difference that makes a difference explains why this text is not written in Slovenian. To be different from others (incomparably, more people speak English than Slovenian), but to be different from myself. And to follow the rule, “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. Simple is not enough. What does it mean to master a particular language? As Daniel Dennett “proves”," memes exist outside of language. Language is only a vehicle (in the words of Richard Dawkins) for memes. But as a token, it must be mastered if it is to present strategic memes. So why not? Why not conform? Why knowingly agree not only with Gugi but also with his wife Karin, his daughter Lana, her boyfriend Liam (both MD students, now already psychiatrists), and my wife Darinka? What gives the philosopher the right to challenge the experts in psychiatry, biology, quantum mechanics, and complexity theory?

Kar nas pripelje do kornatske postojanke. Kornata niti z najhitrejšim gliserjem ni mogoče obvoziti v petnajstih minutah, kar ni le v posmeh Ravni Siki, ampak tudi v disonanci z morebiti najslavnejšim prebivalcem Kornata, Titom. Ne, ne gre za izrek, Tito je mrtev, naj živi Tito! Čeprav gre tudi za to, saj ta zločinec s cigaro po smrti celo še bolj kot prej predstavlja pozitiven mit ne le za tiste, ki objokujejo razpad Jugoslavije ampak predvsem tudi mlajše, rojene po razpadu in mnogo po Titovi smrti. A o tem kasneje. (Gugijevo fascinacijo, kako je bilo v psihiatriji bolje pred razpadom Jugoslavije toleriram, a ne razumem).

Tito je Marinov oče, ki pri svojih skoraj že devetdesetih letih skače po kornatskih skalah kot gazela. Spodobilo bi se, da bi ga primerjali s kornatsko ovco, ampak ker so šakali pobili vse kornatske ovce, je primerjava s podobno neobstoječo gazelo enakovredna. Primerjati kornatskega Tita z Maršalom Titom pa bi bila za kornatskega še večja žalitev.

Tito je živa antiteza zdaj že pokojnega Gugija. Brez šol a poskočen. V resnici je antiteza zgolj v tej minorni fizični značilnosti. Pa mogoče še v tem, da Tito pije toplo vino s toplo vodo. Tu pa začenjajo razlike že bledeti, tako v količinah vina kot v gibkosti duha. Kar je dokaz, da lahko duh ostane gibčen tudi če si šolan, kot je bil Gugi. Mogoče mu je gibkost zagotavljalo dejstvo, da je bil po lastnih besedah preveč zaposlen, da bi se lotil doktorata. Ali preveč len, tudi po njegovih besedah. Ni nujno, da je lenoba mati modrosti, kar dokazuje Tito.

Trikrat nas je Gugijeva družina obiskala na Kornatu, zadnjič pred dvema letoma. Vsakič je Gugijevo telo bolj nazorno kazalo odpor do boja z entropijo (drugi zakon termodinamike) in s tem dokazovalo smiselnost Schrödingerjevega  preprostega zapisa “What is Life?”. Duh je bil zadnje leto že počasnejši, a še vedno proti-entropičen. Lani smo se časovno križali, tako da nisva bila deležna družinskega obiska iz sosednjega Ugljana. Pa tudi če bi ga, Gugi ni bil več kapitan čolna, ni več zapuščal predvidljivosti in nerazlikovanosti kopnega.

Ne bo zgolj hobotnica, ki jo bo tudi letos pripravila Darinka, za naju, za prijatelje, tista, ki bo ohranjala spomin na Gugija. (Gugi sploh ni cenil hobotnice, kar sva izvedela šele kasneje.)

To je črtica o štirih otokih. Kot obstajajo trije fizični stebri, steber modrosti, moči in lepote, četrti pa govori s svojo odsotnostjo, tako je tudi četrti otok te črtice tak, da se njegovega imena ne da izgovoriti. Izgovorita ga lahko le dva tako, da si izmenjujeta zloge. Ker niti tale iPad niti katerakoli druga še tako inteligentna mašina ne bo nikoli sposobna izmenjati z mano teh zlogov, bo ime ostalo nezapisano. Umetna inteligenca (AI) je razumevanje (comprehension) brez kompetenc (competence), če že ničkolikič nadgradim Dennetta iz njegove knjige from Bacteria to Bach and Back. Ime bi si lahko izmenjala z Gugijem, pa ga ne bova, ker za izmenjavo ni dovolj le memska osnova (comprehension) ampak tudi nehendikepirano telo. Zdaj, na tem četrtem otoku, to staro modrost razumem dosti bolj osebno in neposredno.

Seveda pa še vedno obstaja možnost, malo verjetna, pa vseeno, ravno zato tako privlačna, da obstaja možnost izmenjave zlogov na povsem memskem nivoju. Verjetno je prav iskanje takega izhoda eden od razlogov, da sem štirideset let po diplomi vpisal doktorat. Ne zaradi Gugijeve ne-realizirane ne-želje, ampak zaradi dokazovanja nečesa, čemur mnogi pripisujejo tako malo možnost. Pri tem ne mislim na doktorat sam. Ta je oziroma bo, če bo do njega prišlo, nepomemben in nezaznan v sedimentih zgodovinskega spomina. Tema doktorata, ontologija in fenomenologija memov, odpira možnost kartografije tega četrtega otoka.

Zato tudi ta črtica o Gugijevih štirih otokih, o nikoli napisanem romanu.

In kje so obljubljene mačke? Če pištola visi na steni prizorišča drame in ta do konca ne ustreli, gre za dramsko napako. Ali res? Ali pa morebiti v skladu s sodobnim Netflix poslovnim modelom kliče po novi seriji in novih epizodah?

In zakaj dva jezika? Zakaj ne štirje?

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