Marta Pombo Sallés
By Tetiana Aleksina and
I like this little book for its originality, complexity, elaborate language and openness to multiple interpretations and levels of reading comprehension according to each type of reader. At times it even becomes so shockingly absurd that you inevitably laugh. I see it as a wonderful intent to tell a story from different perspectives, trying to avoid common cliches. In this respect, I think the narrative matches its title, Mooreeffoc, a word used by Charles Dickens, which means “coffee-room” if you read it once you are inside that place, that is, “viewed from the inside through a glass door.”
Interestingly enough, it turns out that when a Catalan speaker like me hears this word in English the following association becomes inevitable: mooree with morir (to die) and ffoc with foc (fire), that is, to die with fire. But another and, in this case, better word association comes to my mind: moor with mur (wall, a word that comes from Latin murus, which originates the word moor in English), ee with i (and) plus ffoc with foc (fire), which would be: wall and fire or also moor and fire.
I believe the second-word association would somehow connect with Mooreeffoc. This little book tells us a story of how two characters in a coffee-room are to finally get together. We could envision a symbolic wall (hurdle or barrier) or a moor (unstable ground) to be surpassed by the two characters, and also fire, the risk to take this chance. However, this is just my personal association. Mooreeffoc essentially means looking at something from a different angle, which is what this original story offers to the reader.
The two characters, Bastet and Sekhmet carry the names of two Egyptian goddesses. While Bastet is the goddess of the home, once a fierce lioness and now depicted as a cat (http://www.ancient.eu/Bastet/), Sekhmet is a warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing, protector of the pharaohs, depicted as a lioness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sekhmet)
These names intentionally confuse the reader of Mooreeffoc because when you start reading the book (part 1, Bastet's perspective) it seems the two characters would be a man and a woman, wanting to flirt or start a love relationship in a coffee-room. As the story evolves and we read Sekhmet's account (part 2) the confusion and uncertainty grow. Two characters carrying names of Egyptian goddesses? Are we dealing with ambivalence here meaning that this relationship would be man-woman but also extended to lesbian love? The cat and the fierce lioness? Is this the authors' intention in the book? And who is the third character, 'the' he with the black panther tattoo? According to Calibrator's account (part 3 of the book) this he is “pliable” and functions as a “trap that Bastet and Sekhmet must inevitably fall prey to.” I wonder with so much Egyptian mythology used in this narrative, could this he be the Egyptian god Ra?
As we have seen Mooreeffoc is a three-part story told from three different perspectives: Bastet's, Sekhmet's and Calibrator's. The latter appears as a kind of god or entity above the other two, a puppeteer above the puppets, apparently, someone in the process of making Bastet and Sekhmet get together. If so, we are dealing with a distant mediator among the puppeteers, more powerful gods over traditional gods? That look more like scientists in a lab experimenting with rats like their puppets Bastet and Sekhmet. I also wonder at the possibility of being this whole book an allegory of how the human race might evolve, where Bastet and Sekhmet would be common human beings behaving like gods but showing their animal instincts. Calibrator and the other puppeteers would be scientists servicing factic powers that manipulate common citizens?
But why is the puppeteer of the third part of Mooreeffoc called Calibrator? Calibrators are equipment used to adjust an instrument accuracy, in this case, adjusting Bastet and Sekhmet's relationship. And the adjustment methods are indeed quite original in this story. Could this be a metaphor of what science might do to humans?
According to Calibrator's account, a button is pushed to create a cloud of cinnamon and anise, which seems to be the best combination to make Bastet and Sekhmet act and react the way their puppeteers- Calibrator among them - want them to. Then there is the use of the “pliable he”, the Wadjet symbol (again, another Egyptian goddess, the Eye of Ra) flickering on the coffee's surface, the froth of Amenti (again Egyptian mythology) and the Raudive box.
In the end, Calibrator says:
“How they [Bastet, Sekhmet and possibly others in a similar situation] use this reinstated freedom is not our business. We do not care about mortals [those Egyptian gods are now being called mortals]. We care about something else. We look at the two caged beasts and smile.”
Here I wonder: why are they caged beasts? Is this again a metaphor of what science could do to human beings, promising a higher degree of our always limited freedom?
As I said before, I personally think the whole book and also its end, getting Bastet and Sekhmet together, is open to many possible interpretations, points of view and levels of reading comprehension. That is why I have enjoyed reading it. Its plot is full of imagination and I love its great sense of humour through rather shocking and absurd situations when reading things like: “Well, first I need assurances. Is your pussy willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement?” “Perhaps I could flee and join the Witness Protection Program.”
Finally, I have just interpreted this book that comes to me as a riddle, that is, not being sure of having really understood the authors' message.