Letter to Ophelia


Sylvia Borissova

Dear Ophelia,

You don’t know me but I know how you feel and want to hug and hush your fears and isolation with a dream.

It’s been long since we led the life we now call normal.

It’s been long since we didn’t need to question the matter of others’ living presence and gaining the mystery of the world in all the movements through physical space…

There was a house on the outskirts of the city and at the same time in another world. The house overlooked the fields, the distant hills, and the azure. In it, someone organized movie nights with philosophical talks. We gathered in a hall full of sofas, armchairs, and mattresses, and one of the walls served as a projection screen.

Some people came formally dressed and sat in their chairs, others in tracksuits, lying down and covering themselves to watch the film comfortably.

The film began: it was in a neo-realist style a la Antonioni and the frame poetically covered a field with thousands of poppies, thorns blooming in bright yellow and purple and a tall grass dancing in the light breeze. As I watched, I wondered who was organizing our film-shows and meetings. I asked aloud. Everyone started whispering and wondering. Some left offended because they didn’t know who was gathering us and for what purpose; others remained, but had already become distracted and talked about other things. When there were a few left, I turned to the man behind me because of a vague memory; he had wrapped himself in a blanket, obviously feeling at home. I looked into his eyes: one of them had a sclera, transparent and dark like the water of a night sea. I asked him if he was Emmanuel (*literally in Hebrew—‘God with us’). He replied: I am Emmanuel, yes.

The last people left, only I watched the movie till the end and then went outside. I saw two female colleagues talking to each other and decided to join them to go home together, but they were absorbed in their conversation and walked on the dirt road. Then I saw the same field of poppies, colourful thorns, tall grass, and wind from the film projected on the backs of their light shirts. I was left alone and looked around: the same landscape I saw projected was all around. There was a puddle to my left, and my first thought when I was alone was to take off my sandals and take a bath. Although it was on a dirt road, the water was crystal clear. When I stood up, I felt a strong physical presence and with my peripheral vision I could see my own shadow rising from the puddle, standing next to me and holding my hand. We watched the sunset together—the sun was darker than usual and the clouds were slowly turning into poppies. I saw myself and my shadow from behind, as I had seen my two colleagues before; I was a transparent presence that reflected the whole world. And I knew that even though everyone had left, the Lord of the house was at home.

Sincerely yours,


Drawing of her dream by Sylvia Borissova

Sylvia Borissova is Associate Professor of Aesthetics, PhD, Head of Culture, Asthetics, Values Department at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Her dissertation is titled Limits of the Aesthetic Consciousness (2011, Sofia University). Her second monograph, Aesthetics of Silence and Taciturnity (2019) reflects her lasting interest in negative aesthetics.

She works in aesthetics, axiology, philosophy of art, philosophy of mind, philosophy of aesthetic perception, philosophy of education, philosophical and cultural anthropology, and aesthetics of body. She is also a translator of humanitarian literature and fiction and elaborates applied-aesthetic art projects (festivals, happenings, visual arts, poetry, etc.) as a curator and artist.

Borissova is a visiting lecturer in the Sofia University with specialised courses on modern and contemporary aesthetics, as well in the Bulgarian National Sports Academy, where she carries out seminars on philosophy of sports, ethics and aesthetics. In the last years, she is a mentor of young people from European countries committed to human rights defence, tolerance and multicultural understanding causes in Bulgaria.

Featured photograph by Tereza Stehlikova