the short story project


Iftach Alony On:

Titanium by Dror Burstein

At first glance, the titles appear to be innocent, as if they all derive from chemistry lessons – a sensory perception or form, but the reader subsequently discovers that Dror Burstein relies on the foundations of the periodic table of elements like a master of the Chinese game GO – a game with simple rules but tremendous moves’ possibilities that has to do with strategy and philosophy (10 in the power of 761, as opposed to chess which is 10 in the power of 120, for instance).  Burstein takes elements of the periodic table and posits them as a kind of impossible question, maneuvering the reader from chemistry to alchemy, as deceptive as a master player of GO – the reader doesn’t know whether events take place in the real world or if they are part of a character’s illusions. The basic, seemingly innocent, elements of the periodic table function as trivial forces for Dror Burstein and he uses them to point to a riddle and to indicate that there are other forces at play; these come from strange lands, a realm belonging not quite to the imagination or to madness or nightmares. They compile a parallel table of elements of sorts, creating a new, richer, reality, one which expands the limits of possibility. Like a game of GO, the story opens with a toss of stones (Burstein’s elements) onto a clean slate, a deceptive strategy of building a story while moving from the formal world that is anchored in chemistry into the world of alchemy, without arousing protest. The same way a master GO player places his stones on the board and causes the opponent to move without the latter sensing that he is being manipulated, so Burstein guides the reader through the text, expanding the boundaries of words. “Writing means forgetting,” wrote Pessoa “literature is the most agreeable way to ignore life.”