Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Isaac Bashevis Singer

“From where do you write?”

What’s your angle?

Loyalty is varied. The deepest and truest loyalty is to be discovered.

And discovered through genuine writing. And the first step is to answer: “From where do you write?”

Agnes Desarthe tried to exorcise her childhood state of mind in “How I learned to read“.

Agnes wanted to know, 40 years later, how she would have behaved if her parents insisted on her staying in an all girl primary school. For an unknown reason, Agnes was quickly transferred to a school predominantly of male kids.

First, in context.

The parents of Agnes are Jewish. Her father was born in Libya and studied in Algeria to become a physician, and lived in France. Her mother is from Germany.

The father is comfortable living amid an extended family and surrounded by noisy kids. He always lamented that the Arabic words had no adequate french counterpart, like the recurring word Leil (Night) in Arabic songs that offers varied connotation that the French language lacks.

The mother’s family members have been drastically reduced and her mother world is of silence and untold secrets.

Agnes was reluctant to read assigned books at schools on the ground that they are meant to impress on her the notion of France “territory, Land, culture…”. Her father brought her detective US and English novels that were translated into French, and Agnes read the “Serie Noire” (Black series)

Agnes tried to summarize he childhood state of mind in a boys school as follows:

1. Learning to read meant to learn about boys

2. Knowing guys is to become a prey

3. Being a prey in school courtyard is to be prey in occupied France (by the German Nazi troops in WWII)

4. Being a girl is like being a Jew

5. Being pursued by guys is like feeling tracked down by Naziz…

Agnes didn’t feel at home reading books until she stumbled on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Shosha” “Yentl”

Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote about the Jewish life in the Polish ghettos, talking about dibbouks, golems, Lilith, gehenne, arranged marriage, girls dressing like boys in order to pursue their education in Yeshiva… and his books were first written in Yiddish, translated into English and translated from English into French, and it is in the last translation that Agnes read the books.

“From where do you write?”

From genders differences? Class differences?

Archaic slow life-style or tasting and grabbing newer opportunities offered by modern life-styles?

“From where do you write?”

The origin of your mother, father, grand parents?

From the living in your hometown or experiencing the life in a foreign land?

From relating to the rituals, customs and traditions or seeking to understand the structure of modern developed societies in which you “exiled” yourself?

From translating the social life-style in your homeland or acquiring the knowledge of the rights and responsibilities in political systems that extended wide human rights and freedom of expressions?

There are billion of people who never left their hometown.

Do you think such a person will ever feel the urge to write anything? What can he says? Regurgitating in the description of the daily rituals and customs of the town where many are more placed to know and comprehend the traditions?

How such a person can enrich the language and create new emotions and perception?

Even people living in developed nations and enjoying many opportunities to exit the “comfort” of their hometown, do you think that they will ever feel the urge to write, even if they have access to TV and internet connections?

The authors who managed to enrich any language are those who traveled abroad and interacted with different customs and cultures.

They are the multilingual authors who suffered in translating their culture and emotions into a host and adoptive language.

Can we substitute two painful identities with a third more painful? Are painful identities more real, viable and enduring than comfortable identities that shortcut reflection and obstruct any zeal to search for the truth, of your right of doing your due diligence in discovering yourself?

A terror replace another terror, though never kicking it out of our system, more likely amplifying the former terror. This fear that renders people mute.

There is this amorphous mass, a mixture of dichotomies (such as learning to read and refusing to read, practicing the rituals of your heritage and opposing the viability of these rituals for an harmonious development of mankind, the need to preserve innocence and countering with actions that keep you ignorant…)

Time alone is not enough to let the oil float atop this volume of stagnant water.

There is this occasional urge to agitate the content, sort of feeling apprehensive that, if our world vision has settled, we are doomed to a slow death and apathy.

If I can settle on an answer to “from where do I write”, does this automatically translate to being able to answer “from where do I read?”

The void is this state after a treatment we went through (psychoanalysis, dis-intoxication, weight loss…). You feel that you are not the same, but you didn’t change that much. You feel that the symptoms have been displaced and you have no ideas what are the newer symptoms to discover.

Is reading a job? Is writing a job that should be mentioned in CV? Can I circumvent this deception of not being able to claim talent in any job?

Reading is a sort of the solvent in the process of untangling this confused mass of memory and emotions.

Reading is an infraction: Allowing another brain to challenge and enter your brain. This assimilation of reading to a predator is not easy to confront.

If your writing is not transmitting the emotions and feelings of your own culture, more likely than not the reader will not appreciate the genuine nature of your books.

And it is very hard to be write in an adoptive language and pulling up this feat of reaching a wide audience.

Writing is being in a permanent state of Nostalgia: pondering on open wounds, responding to queries such as “How my life unfolded, why am I living, what opportunities did I miss, did I change and how?”

Writing gives us the illusion of reaching closure on particular issues, and this process of research turns out to leave a wide exit in the circles that we intended to entirely close and get relief.

Woo to the authors who feel they got closure: He might as well stop writing.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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