The End As Interlude

Episode 3: Interlude

By Jota Mombaça

“The End as Interlude” was originally planned as part of the cancelled “A Melancholic Melody / A Will To An End – A series of works by Ligia Lewis”. Instead of speaking on the stage of HAU2, the artist and theorist Jota Mombaça has written a text that we will publish in three episodes on HAU3000 until the end of the season. Based on world events in times of the Corona pandemic, Mombaça conceives a diffuse future, one in which borders, escape and freedom of thought play a central role.

to Ligia Lewis

And I’ll see you
And you’ll see me
And I’ll see you in the branches that blow
In the breeze

Jimmy Scott

There’s this song I can’t stop singing since you left. It’s hot-glued in my head. Every morning, when I wake up, I repeat to myself, “I’ll see you in the trees…” It’s my way of keeping the door open. I miss the connection we had, but almost ten years have passed, and none of you have ever shown up again. I sensed part of your movement that night. When Adama split, I knew I had lost her. Even if I could feel that part of her reaching for you, I knew her body was gone. I tried to reach her at the last minute, to convince her to wait, but there was nothing I could do. That massive, unbreakable wall we felt separating her from us was her conviction, her stupid self-righteousness.

I was pissed off at first. And maybe I am still a little bit angry about the way you both disappeared that night. Angry at myself too, for I was the first to retreat. But it was never meant for me to be alone. I fled for us. I wanted to build a safe space out of this mess – a place where we could live together without having to fear Frontex or any other European police force.

Of course, I was naive to think it could happen. There is no peace after you spend your whole life running, and the police are always the police. Even when they pass by, missing you, you can still feel a part of yourself being dragged by the violence of its mere presence in the world. So, you get used to paranoia, and it becomes hard for you to let it go. Especially when you’re a telepath, and it’s so easy to navigate other people’s intentions, to tune in this destructive desire that lies underneath sociality. Everyone’s so fucked up, and you’re no exception. We are no exception. When I think about everything we did as The Community, I can no longer be proud. I am just tired.

In the end, we lost, didn’t we? We lost each other, and we were everything we had. Frontex is still out there, and the borders are still fenced up and policed. Even more than before. It’s 2039 now. I don’t even know how I managed to stay alive all this time, all by myself. Unless this song I can’t stop singing is the reason. 

“I’ll see you in the trees…”

There is no peace after you spend your whole life running, and the police are always the police.

I wonder whether this is you, whispering, or this is me calling… None of this really matters, as long as there is a hypothesis of connection. It’s not just that I miss you. Of course, I miss both of you, and I don’t take that for granted. But more than that, I miss the promise of something else that the implosion of the research lab where Adama was held followed by Elsi’s sudden disappearance entails. I spent the first years after that investigating, studying, trying to reach any of you, hoping I would get a hint, a pulse, anything… Nothing came, but this verse, this damned verse of this damned song I have no name for… “I’ll see you...

in the trees…”

The only oneness we know is multiplicity.


We might be too far away to establish a direct connection, and, as far as our awareness goes, there is no other human around, so it’s impossible to emit a pulse. Telepathic communication has this limit, which is the attachment to Human forms of subjectivity. At least, that is what we have learned by practicing it from within the Human world, but now we seem to be entirely apart from it, as we have moved directly from Warsaw to a planet unknown.

Everything’s always moving here. There are rocks of many sizes, shapes, and colors, shifting places with each other, in a geological dance that responds to no rhythm, rather to a confusing, ever-changing set of rhythms that our sensors fail to grasp. The sand is abundant, and it also dances along with the rocks. The surface is rough, bumpy, with no visible vegetation or any other life form we can identify, yet there is this live soundscape we keep being attracted to. It’s as hard to move as it is to remain in a single place. The shifting geography of this planet allows for no settling intention. It’s impossible to crave a fence on this soil, for it would be immediately distorted and broken by constant variation, engulfed by its quicksands and spread all over by the planetary dance we are now able to witness.

We keep being dragged around, dancing along with indeterminacy. Since we transformed into raw energy to escape from Poland, we haven’t formed the same way as before. This is no longer Elsi’s body. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a single body at all, and it’s not just shapeshifting, for it seems to no longer fit in any unique shape. So we walk like jelly when we feel wet, and we fly like powder in the dry season. Anyway, we always leave traces, residues of ourselves that become residues of the planet, and just by doing that, by abandoning ourselves, we manage to stay alive here.

“Khalil?’” Elsi keeps calling in her sleep. She’s still here, somehow holding an improbable form of integrity, keeping the ground for this call... “Khalil?”... We are not completely aware of the extension of this signal. It’s not telepathy she’s using, so we don’t know how to map what’s going on, even if we’re part of it.

There are so much opacity swirling around the understanding of what we are right now.

I was something like an independent spy and border-breaker, connected with different movements at once.

We remember Adama, Khalil, The Community, and everyone and everything we have connected with in our life on Earth. Still, we have no memory of separation, only intense differentiation – we feel the same matter vibrating many life forms and forces at once. And we’re not separated from it. That’s what we are for now: a provisional, non-unitarian matter that knows how to be present but forgot the ways of becoming. Since this planet won’t let us stop changing, we can’t turn into a proper subject. The only oneness we know is multiplicity.

And Elsi, the sleeping consciousness of a once-human telepath and shapeshifter who keeps calling for Khalil.


After spending the first years near the border with Algeria, I decided to move to Mlila to join the fight against the fence.

It was 2033 then, and I was beginning to accept that there was nothing else I could do to find you. At that point, I had enough passability as a cisgender man to move across Morocco and “Melilla” without attracting transphobic attention, and the years working with The Community had taught me how to craft compelling documents for both Spanish and Moroccan nationalities. I was something like an independent spy and border-breaker, connected with different movements at once. I would use telepathy to confound operatives of the Spanish Guarda Nacional at the borders, allowing people to cross without having to jump the fence. I would also investigate different factions of power operating in the territory to understand to what extent they were involved in the predicament of those migrants and other wretches-of-the-earth communities of both national territories.

The work keeps me sane, even if I can no longer feel any form of belonging. Being a telepath, it’s tough to build intimacy with other humans, because even intimacy requires a certain level of mystery, and telepathy allows for no mystery unless you are relating to other telepaths. That’s why I work alone most of the time, and that’s also the reason I keep using my abilities to make the people I work with assume I have an appearance different to the one I have –  an old trick from the early years of transition.

If you were here, you’d say: “You have always been the hopeful one, what happened?”

Loneliness does not bother me as much as hopelessness. I never thought I’d say that, but that’s true right now. I’ve been doing the same work for more than 30 years, and the structures haven’t changed, but only increased its cruelty through tech innovation. More drones, more electrified wires, sound weapons, laser weapons, drug-induced interrogations, and several other forms of brutality against migrants being waged for the sake of European colonial stability. Not to mention everything that is happening worldwide, the many, many causes of people fleeing towards the Fortress. And nothing that I see or sense gives me the impression that this is a fight we stand any chance in.

If you were here, you’d say: “You have always been the hopeful one, what happened?” I’d say: “I lost you. That happened.”


We have no measurement for time here. Also, the planet seems to obey no ordered cycles. We noticed that it’s wrong to say dry or wet season as we do on Earth, for its duration responds to no logic. We have no track of the sun, but there are some heat sources across the planet, coming in and out of the soil. We then got the sensation that the soil was turning itself upside down, revealing its depths during the dance, but we quickly noticed that the ideas of depth and surface, interiority and exteriority, make no sense here. Everything is everything.

The dance provides nutrition. In the movement, we find what we need to stay alive, and we mix ourselves with it. As we spread all over, we change all at once. What is happening to us in this purple sand is also happening to us at the top of that giant, black rock that looks like tourmaline, as the distance doesn’t preclude the connectivity of the senses, and the flesh has no matrix. So when a cave made of strange, arenaceous golden rock meets us at a distance, the entire planet witnesses our re-encounter.

Adama used to call you “baby girl” since you met at the corner of the rue Papin in Paris on your way to the ball at la Gaîté Lyrique. You were wearing a beard and afraid of going outside wearing dresses, yet a kid. You called her “mother” when you sensed her reading you, and you felt more seen than exposed. Yes, we also remember that. We remember you, and here you are, “baby girl.” You’re lying within this mysteriously stable cave, sleeping in a bed made of the leaves of a tree that is nowhere to be seen.

It’s hard to understand because there’s nothing to understand. It’s just part of the dance.

I’ve used the same hideout since I moved to Mlila. It’s a house with a small garden right in the center, not far from the Paso Fronterizo del Barrio Chino. I planted an argan tree in the first week after I moved in. I was thinking about you and singing the song. It was so early in the morning; the sun was just a promise. That was six years ago. Now there are so many fruits in the branches.

“Oh, Elsi, where are you?’ 


“Khalil?”... We can almost hear her voice calling.

But it’s a projection, for her call isn’t sonic. It emits a different vibration, one we cannot tune in to since we already de-linked almost entirely from our previous life on Earth. Elsi is the only bridge, but every time she calls for Khalil, we learn more about her plan. From her sleep, she’s letting us know she can’t stay much longer.

It’s hard to understand because there’s nothing to understand. It’s just part of the dance. The planet already senses it, in preparation. There’s a tunnel being formed, and we feel it growing without being able to know where it goes. The sudden fear of separation infiltrates the dance. We know it’s about to happen, but we forgot when now is. The desire to capture that moment also infiltrates the dance. There is tension growing in the soil. The dance hardens. It’s the first time the planet witnesses violence.

It aches.

Elsi screams. Her body now turns into thin sand. She’s also leaving part of herself behind, as the planet demands. The cave she was sleeping in dematerializes slowly, spreading itself all over, while the bed of leaves sinks. It feels like the first seconds of an earthquake. The whole planet will inevitably vibrate along with the explosion. It’s the recreation of the thunder that brought us here.

Elsi is the thunder.

‘“t’s you, baby girl. The thunder is you.” We say it in a language we barely know. It still aches, but the dance will continue. The dance is our home now, and we are home to the dance.


The song isn’t letting me sleep today. It’s almost 4am, and soon the sun will rip the dark blue out of the sky. I am alone, as usual. The echoing of the song in my body makes me stare at the tree obsessively. Yet my eyes can’t grasp the moment you appear. You are suddenly there as if you have always been there. You fall from the branches, and you are naked, and I can’t even begin to articulate what I feel. I am paralyzed, and at the same time, I want to run and scream and jump in the water. Is that you?

“Elsi?’... ‘Do you hear me, Elsi?”

You open your eyes, asking me to read your lips. And then you say:

“I dreamt of birds migrating towards another planet.”


The End As Interlude, Episode 1: The Silent Earthquake
The End As Interlude, Episode 2: Energy Bending

Published on June 22, 2020 

[1] The song I quote here is in fact fruit of the collaboration by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. I decided to credit its interpreter, Jimmy Scott, for I believe that the act of singing a song in such a deep, beautiful way implies a certain form of authorship. The same principle has guided the use of the lyrics of São Jorge as the epigraph for the first text of this series. Although the song was composed by Paulo Pinheiro and Claudio da Conceição Azeredo, I decided to credit its interpreter, Alcione, who infuses the composition with a force that dislodges the exclusivity of authorship of its official authors.