Mia Lukto
around writing frustration

by Manuela Pacella

Experimental text for Mia Lukto (“My Struggle” in Esperanto), an art/writing project conceived by James Oberhelm at the end of 2017. All contributions were supposed to be published in a book which never got into light. I consider it a sort of manifesto and a confession.

Xerocopy of a drawing found at Forte Prenestino in Rome in 2014.

before writing

Waking up. Late.
Coffee. Cigarette.
I can do it!
No I can’t.
Cooking. Eating.
I can do it!
No I can’t.

Sleeping. Cooking. Eating. Tiding up. Smoking. Sleeping. Cooking. Eating. Smoking. Sleeping. Feeling guilty.

“Sorry, I do not like you anymore”. And he goes away.
No, is happening again!!!
I was sleeping. Thanks God…

Waiting in the darkness. Alone. Some folks around. Chatting between them. Disco lights.
I am tired to wait.
I go away. As I left, I realized outside was getting sunny. People, in spared groups, just about to leave.
I was alone. I realized I believed to whom who told me to wait. But they forgot me, as usual.
I believe too much in words. I believe too much in humans. I believe too much in respect. But they believe in the fact I believe too much, so they are super relaxed and fine about forgetting me.
But the sensation, inside. The feeling of being lost, being abandoned. Is it possible that not everyone has it? Is it possible that not anyone got that sensation awaken even from just a little action from an almost unknown person? Well, I guess is possible. Otherwise I can’t explain. Otherwise I get only angry.
I go away, alone and I mix myself between them, the people of the nights, and the people of early mornings. Between the two there is a distance of at least 40 years. Between the two there is nothing in common for the exception of being in that place at the same time. The olders notice the youngers. The youngers are too fucked up to notice the olders. The olders notice the youngers are too fucked up to notice them but they do not judge them, they do not speak to them. The eyes speak more than any word. Those eyes are ashamed of them. I am between the two. Walking in the direction of the olders, leaving the youngers but not being in none of them. As always.
My mind just mumble. My eyes would like to wonder in the beautiful skylight but inside, in the belly, I feel wounded. Is an old wound that gets so easily fresh again. But I will never tell how fragile it is so I allow everybody to touch it.

This was true.
This was restaged in a dream.
This is what’s going on.
Because I do not have the courage, still, to cross the boundaries, my boundaries, those fucking safe boundaries to feel, be and being judged as a failure. I prefer to feel like this and to allow others to think about me like this. I do not cross totally; I can arrive until the border but then I prefer to go back in the place where I am not seen.
So I wish to write. I want to write. I am thrilled to write but I can’t.

I cook, I eat, I smoke, I sleep. I read. I read. I read. I read. I fantasize about impossible lovers, or past lovers. I think about my state of limerence. Was I always like this?
I read. I read. I read.
I got ideas. I got happy about these ideas. I put in practice these ideas. These ideas work!

I am sleeping, in the afternoon. No, I should get up and write! Ok, just other 5 minutes.
I have lost. I have lost a life. I was there only some months ago. This loss was something I have had nightmares about for so many months. Was waking me. Was panicking me. It happened.
Is the past. That life is the past. I should be happy.
But that nightmare, that became true, attack me at my neck. I can’t breath. I need to wake up. This nightmare can come back, even if it happened in reality already.
Is time for past to be past.
Is time to be ready to be forgotten, abandoned, disrespected. I can’t control anymore this.
So, is time I am the first who forgets.

Is time to write. Is time to wake up. Is time to be me. Is time to find out if it is true I am a failure.



Take notes.
Remember them.
Repeat them. No. Isn’t enough.
Handwrite entire sentences.
Isn’t this the way in which you say what you think?
Through the selection and the choice of the sequence of others’ writings and thoughts? Yes, he – my University professor in Contemporary Art History – said this. He said I must do this. That this is the only way.
He is right. In this way I do not take too much responsibility. I do not expose myself. I do not show myself totally naked. I show only a shoulder. And I love shoulders!

I am tired now. Why am I doing this? Am I crazy or what? What is the meaning of it? Is this of any sort of usefulness to others?

Why there is this fear and even fury against private? And in Italy… is even more weird.
Ah, right, the loving and the attachment of the comfort zone of the categories. If it is private isn’t at all a critique.
Blah…. Scemenze! If it is moving, it is for everybody as my experience isn’t too much different from others’ experiences (at least, Western human experiences, metropolitan citizens experiences). I can have more or less traumas, more or less experiences but we are all humans, no?

well, Traum in German is dreaming. Traumhaus=dreamhouse.
Could be easily the reason why I always had bad dreams while living in Austria.

and by emotional moving you can reach the hearts as well as the bodies and the minds of everybody, isn’t it? What do you think you are? What they think they are? Gods, Gurus…?

Grüß got!
Usually the easiest and most important thing to learn immediately in a new language is the way to say hello and goodbye.
In German wasn’t simply Guten Tag or Guten + Morgen, Abend, Nacht… Like in Italian?
Ah, right, I am not in Germany, I am in Austria! And I am not in the capital, I am in the second largest city of Austria (that for me is a kind of little town between mountains… this was probably the reason why I thought that moving here was like an eternal holiday. I always loved mountains but is true that I much more love just the green, that sort of Irish-Scottish green).

So I just have to say Grüß got entering in a shop? Apparently yes… But they use a lot also Servus, you know, we are close to Slovinia. Basically Servus is used in the ex territories of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. And Servus is from Latin so I should feel keen on it… and is used both as hello and goodbye, like Ciao.
But this Servus reveals the true origin of Ciao and is a bit scary for me. I do not want to be servo of anyone!

From English Wikipedia:
“The word derives from the Venetian phrase s-ciào vostro or s-ciào su literally meaning ‘I am your slave’. This greeting is analogous to the medieval Latin Servus which is still used colloquially in parts of Central/Eastern Europe. The expression was not a literal statement of fact, but rather a perfunctory promise of good will among friends (along the lines of ‘at your service’ in English). The Venetian word for “slave”, s-ciào or s-ciàvo, derives from Medieval Latin sclavus, deriving from the ethnic “Slavic”, since most of the slaves came from the Balkans”.

I prefer Grüß got. But, wait a minute… How many bells are in Graz? How many Christians holidays are in Austria? Is it possible they are more Catholic than Italians?
Cioè… I mean…
I have to say hello to God each fucking time I enter in a shop?

This will not last long. And it didn’t.

So if I couldn’t handle too much say hello to God how I could handle someone who acts like he has the truth in his hands?

Now I remember. Before discussing the thesis I have dreamt him – my Professor. We were in a public bus and he was dressed totally in white – like a guru – and he was telling me this scary thing: “I found out, Manuela, that you can’t discuss the thesis because seems you didn’t do the final high school exam – maturità in Italian, matura in German. You must repeat the entire year, do the matura and then you will discuss the University thesis”. Jesus Christ! Yes, is a common nightmare. I guess for those whom high school was an incredible pain in the arse.
He kind of ordered me, in his long white tunic. Sense of guilt. Catholic sense of guilt. I do not deserve the university degree. I am a language trouble maker.


In Psychology the neologism is read as a sign of schizophrenia. How to explain that sometime, in speaking following the incredible Geschwindigkeit of the thoughts, you just use a word because has the perfect sound of the rhythm of what you are saying? The reaction of the listener is also kind of nice. He understands perfectly but feels a bit strange because something was wrong but in reality, wasn’t so wrong, eddai su!

At child I really invented words. But then, even if my Italian teacher wasn’t so good and my actual lacunas are still because of that, I had to put myself in the right way.
Lately I understood the main rule: Knowing the rules is the only way to break them!


My mother is considered as a mite, introvert and equilibrate person but there were things which she can’t tolerate at all and on which she becomes very rigid and intransigent.
Literally her body friezes, seems a sculpture made out of marble.
There was something, once, that let her became a statua di marmo. It was my fault. Was really my fault?

In the first year of high school my Italian teacher, who taught also Latin and Greek was a very kind of burina. Her way of speaking was really bad, very dialectical, full of nasty words. In those time the Italian school system was that, before failing the year and so obliged to repeat it, you had the possibility to kind of postpone – rimandato – to one until maximum three subjects so basically you had to study during the summer and make an exam in those subjects before the school starts again.
She never liked me – the teacher – but I was also very bad, even if I do not remember much of that time than studying. I was bad mainly in Latin but she always complains a lot about my Italian writings. My essays were always full of strange corrections by her. Seems I was creating a furious reaction in her, even personal reaction. She really hated my way of writing. The real shame was that who was telling me this was someone who wasn’t even able to speak properly her language so I can assume that my mother got shocked also because of this.

I was rimandata in Italian. The reason was that I was much worse in Latin but the teacher thought was lighter to give me Italian. Lighter???? Is something, a part from my family, that nobody knows! Is a kind of tattoo on my soul. And the shame is even stronger because I always knew I was never good in grammar, and, yes, I was very twisted in the sentences. I am very twisted. I think you can clearly say it!

And, even more. To learn how to write clearly with proper introductions, developments and conclusions, was my ‘private’ English teacher, the wonderful Andrew. Is the hugest paradox of my life. It is the first time I say this. I am not even saying it, I am writing it!


An English teacher taught me the basic rules of how to write properly and clearly in my language.
And what about English… I think is easily guessable so I do not want to open another chapter of this story. Yes, I am just bad at languages, so?
But I can say I am better with English since I started to talk with not properly Cambridge speakers and since English became “broken”.

And what about my twisting, taking more than one road, opening brackets and brackets; what about personality through the file rouge of your mind or the passion of your emotions?
This was out of the question until the last dissertation I have written and discussed but when I understood I do not want to be a topo da biblioteca, I started to play again with language and, also, feeling that my way of writing was perceived very well by artists or non academics because it was enjoyable. No hidden meaning, no ruminations. Clear descriptions, yes, but also flying in the territory of poetry for a little while, even using quotations – but not because of the need to show how well prepared I am. Even, sometime, ironic. Why not?
But a terrible knowledge arrived, a terrible new rule. No Esperanto language came to save our cultures! English became THE language and even the smallest magazine had to take the decision to put the English translation before the original language, relegated at the end in a much smaller size, impossible to read. And for freelancer was even worse. Everything should be translated or you should write direct in English, if you are good in it!

Reading my texts translated was like witnessing a betrayal, a betrayal to my inner self, a betrayal to all the journey I have done to arrive to my final style, clear but still totally mine and a bit evocative.

The real shock was founding out that this ‘evocative’ part which is still not well seen in Italy, especially by academics, seems instead very well fuelled… in UK!!! E che cazzo! This awareness arrived and with it the impossibility to take part in something I really care of. The creative in the critical writing.
Refused more than once in some workshops and residencies for language reasons was like seeing again my mother freezing, able only to say: “Everything but this not, this is too much!”

In order in not perpetrating this betrayal I just gave up.
In Austria I was even unable to make conversations, so was easy to give up until I understood that my mind got frustrated, my learning German from English forced me so much in a black narrow that the Italian came out.

La frienda, lo watcho, germanica, lesbiana are all words I have heard at 18 years old from Neapolitan immigrants who were living in London since 30 years. They invented an Italian English. They found relief, mental relief in this.
And now, back in my country, back in the Italian, I am ready to mix up everything, twisting even more. The silence is broken. Not talking is violence.
I write, consciously, in a broken English, in my Broken English.
Even when I hear someone speaking a perfect Cambridge English I can even achieve orgasm (but probably this has more to do for having spent too many months as a teenager in the London of mid 90s) I admit that it is with great satisfaction that I see you accept all these terrible and different English-es. Your colonialist soul is allowing you to give up on this. Who is betraying who now?


after writing

Oxygen in the blood.