for Gioacchino Turù
No-Nose Man is a perfectly normal man, except he doesn’t have a nose. I don’t mean in the Russian sense, as in Gogol’s story, I mean it literally. No-Nose Man has a sort of nose, but it’s smashed against the rest of his face, as though he’d put a rubber band around his head for a joke but left it there too long, and his nose simply stayed that way, as if he’d applied photographic fixer.
No-Nose Man’s nose is a nose bent in upon itself, an extremely shy nose that wants to return into the face from which it sprung, but it never manages to go anywhere. No-Nose Man has a dog, and the dog definitely has a nose. No-Nose Man’s probably retired. He takes his dog out on a leash, takes him outside to do his business. I don’t know if he picks up after the dog, which is what interests me most whenever I see someone take a dog for a walk, because that’s the part concerns me too. The dog, and various canine-oriented stuff about breed, animal psychology, their similarity to human beings, their resemblance to me or their owners, doesn’t concern me, or only vaguely. All I care about is whether the dog’s owner picks up the dog’s shit. If I find out that he does pick up the shit, then the matter no longer concerns me. If he doesn’t pick up the shit, or pretends he’s got a phone call or some other phony excuse at the crucial moment, then I turn around. I don’t say anything, but I stare at the person and let him figure out what I’m thinking on his own.
With No-Nose Man, I attempt this mental process—we do this with a lot of things, every event comes with its own mental process attached, one that keeps us from thinking about the thing itself, or makes us think about it only in reflection—as I was saying, with No-Nose Man I try to do my usual. That is, I watch to see whether he picks up his dog’s shit, but with him I’m unable to do the same thing I usually do. It’s probably his lack of a nose that makes my thought-process less fluid; his non-nose and his murderous look.
I never think about what happened to his nose, I mean, what really happened. I’d rather think of some funny story, like the rubber band he might’ve stuck there for a joke. I’d rather think about the dog. I try to concentrate on the shit, I really try, but No-Nose Man disarms me. Maybe it’s his non-nose. I think about him, and everything slides and seems relatively unimportant, even the shit.