Reading is my type of meditation. Books talk to me, they whisper, they attract me.
My journey on Earth is “littered” by particular books. It is funny how sometimes I stumble upon a book which addresses a particular issue or difficult thought that I am struggling with at that moment. Sometimes it is just pure curiosity and fun.
Reading means introspection. It means being alone with yourself, sitting still and breathing. It is an invitation, a very generous and personal invitation, from the author for us to indulge into his intimacy.
From now on, from time to time, I will write about my encounters and self discoveries through reading. I am not going to produce semiotic or literary analysis, I am going to tell you the story of me reading that book. What did it make me think? What did I learn? How did the immersion into that new reality open a window? Sometimes books don’t have that soothing effect on me. Sometimes they are disturbing. And this is where I ask why. Will write about that too.
The book which inspired me to write this series is an autobiography by Volker Schlöndorff, German film director, called : Licht, Schatten und Bewegung, (Light, Shadow and Movement).
One of the most acclaimed films of Schlöndorff is Die Blechtrommel ( The Tin Drum) after the 1959 novel by Günter Grass.Trailer
In the book, Schlöndorff talks about the entire process of creating this movie, and not only. It was interesting for me to be accompanied by his voice while “visiting” the filming sets, taking part at the meetings with the author, feeling the pains in the ass of the creative process. I like the moment when he found and met the little protagonist, who was in reality ill.
While reading I was transported back in time, during my university years in Constanța, Romania.
The author was talking about a book that influenced him as a young man and it remained in his being along the years, Der Mann ohne Eingenschaften (The Man Without Qualities) by Rober Musil. A “fat” book that I was munching on in the evenings after having finished all homework, my jobs around the house, the old lady was in bed resuming her daily discussions with Ceaușescu, the Romanian communist leader. I never could find out why did she choose him. I can only presume that his actions made a deep impact on her life. I know that her husband died many years before and she never recovered from that lose. Sometimes she would have such animated discussions with her husband’s photo that I could not sleep. She would be calling him Ceaușescu. Her reality was as surreal as mine.Her mind was living in a different dimension, the time when she was not alone, when her husband and children were there. When she had an identity.
The Man without Qualities was me. My reality at that point in time was diluted and abnormal or far away from the expected path.
This gave me the chance to be everything, anything.
I was this man without identity, I was the crazy lady in the other room, I was the neighbor, I was the one on the ground floor -another lonely woman in her late 60 waiting peacefully for the holidays and for her children to came home, the woman who tried to match me up with a marine guy (Constanța is a port and they have a Marine Academy there). I was the whole little communist block, the whole town. I was Romania.
The Blechtrommel came later on. I actually started to read this book on a rock, close to the sea while I was waiting.What was I waiting for? I was waiting for the time to pass. It was the end of my first university semester and I was preparing to go to China, to Shanghai. My first contract was signed.
It was a sunny, late spring-early summer kind of a day. I might have passed already the exams or it was the period of examination when there are no lectures. On that day I had to go to the agency for a photo session. Photos for my look- book which means raw, no make up photos.
The breeze of the Black Sea was mild and kind. The sun was up. I found a comfortable place among the rocks, big trusty rocks. I sat down and opened the book.
Die Blechtrommel is the story of Oskar Matzerath and his vision on life.
This is a child who refuses to grow up, that is, refuses to loose his ingenuity, his childhood, in a world gone crazy. He has the ability to scream in such a way that the glass shatters apart. He also has a drum. In the most disturbing moments he is beating the drum, the rhythm, his rhythm. His ingenuity does not exclude love-he had three lovers! He doesn’t grow physically but he finds the way to express his growing passion! Everything happens at the beginning of the II WW.
Does his way of coping with the world sound familiar to you now? Did it sound familiar for me at that time? Oh yes, it so very much did. This blog is the story of me coping with the reality. Art is a way of coping by expressing. Literature, Music, Dance, Theater, Movie- are ways of expression that help us live day by day. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry.
His decision to not grow up made such an incision in my being that I will never forget.That was the moment when I understood that a decision, a personal decision may become reality. Nobody can change that. Once you aline with it there is not one difficulty too strong to stop you. This is the story of my life in a compressed version. Oskar is a naughty, stubborn little man. And I like him.
When I went to the agency later that day, they were angry because my face got red from reading in the sun. The photos would not be perfect. I could’t care less.
When I went to Shanghai later that year, I kept on biting the drum, I kept on writing.
Tam-tam taram! Tam-tam taram!
Can you hear that! ?