The tyranny of closeness

The experience of exile in a virtual world

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  • Published 20200726
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-50-4
  • Extent: 304pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

I REMEMBER ENTERING Krakow for the first time, in 1995. I’d arrived at the train station via Paris, Berlin, Prague and Budapest – cities where I’d stayed for various periods, looking for a place to live and write. Back then, you couldn’t drop into a destination from space via Google Earth, swivelling a camera to explore streets. There was no Tripadvisor or Airbnb. All I had were a few descriptive paragraphs in a battered edition of Lonely Planet’s Eastern Europe on a Shoestring, printed in black and white on Bible-­thin paper.

There’s a massive, generic shopping mall now where the grey communist-­era bus station stood. When I arrived, the buses had started their early morning departures, spewing black exhaust fumes. Scruffy kiosks sold hot dogs, hamburgers or exchanged money. I’d walked to an old building, with a sign reading Bar Mleczny. The interior looked like a soup kitchen, with Poles at small tables eating in deep silence. I’d ordered barszcz, taken a seat, spooned the purple liquid into my mouth, the flavour sweet and peppery.

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About the author

Mat Schulz

Mat Schulz is a writer based in Krakow, Poland, and the artistic director of Unsound, an international festival of electronic and experimental music. He...

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