Friday, May 14, 2004

Gratitude, links and connections

To think I would have gone through life only occasionally having wondered how to pronounce a name with such minimal number of vowels, Krzysztof Kieslowski, without actually tasting the sapid offerings of a dazzling director. But then, lucky for me, there was this intriguing Polish Blogger.

On her blog one day, she had a beautiful picture-- in effusive red, of the lovely Irene Jacobs whose expressions brought back memories of an old lover and so the curious, nostalgic I rushed out to find the movie in a land where despite censorship and authoritarianism, almost anything can be found at a price. And so I finally succeeded.

I here by acknowledge my debt of gratitude: thank you! And triple cheers for her since she, in addition to providing enlightenment about the Polish Culture, also managed to direct my attention to this audacious and fascinating writer whose wit is as enchanting as it is wicked.

Corinna’s writing left me misty eyed and breathless after the first encounter. Too bad I can’t find any of her books here, but hey, once I have a passport, perhaps then I’ll get to buy one at the first bookstore I visit….wherever that might be. And we should thank our lucky stars for the gift of her life and talent.

Speaking of talent or more precisely the lack there of: I write with no illusions about being any good at it. Writing has become therapeutic for me, offering a chance to clarify attitudes and beliefs that leave me seething and brooding restlessly. I also enjoy connecting with others; although, I must admit I hardly ever agree with what I read.

Hell, I don’t even agree with what I think—at any subsequent moment that is, which is why I so adore Paris in May. Those beautiful Parisians—and make no mistakes, they are mostly attractive, charming and graceful—can be found either in a passionate embrace, kissing so oblivious to time, place, and propriety or are engaged in an animated bitter argument contra their own peeved hearts.

The day after I first arrived in Paris in mid-May some years ago, I went to the nearest park early in the morning for a walk and right in front of me was a woman—hair disheveled, make-up smeared, and in high heals--obviously wrangled about the merits of the previous nights’ sexual escapades. She was loudly bickering with her soul. And I, right behind her, arguing an entirely different matter against mine.

That is another thing so disturbing to me about life in Tehran these days. People hardly ever talk to themselves in public. I always get that odd, condescending look of an obvious mad man roaming “their” streets. And so, at home I get to revel in madness by reading and loudly quarrelling with various authors in their absence. I almost always find myself gravitating towards those whose spirits communicate what I find missing in my daily life.

I have thus linked to Ihath because I find her sarcasm refreshing. Her stories reflect a humor that is biting as well as self-deprecating. This latter quality is practically non-existent in Iran these days. Sure, there are false pieties of all shades and hues. Yet, self-deprecating sarcasm must best be viewed as a monster on the verge of extinction: my fellow citizens, in their quest for social respectability, have almost succeeded in quashing it to death.

Fred is an entirely different story. His columns always bring a smile to my face. He is a profoundly learned man, I think, without being bookish. But it is actually his natural intelligence and common sense that I find, while jarring at times, the most compelling. He is a wanderer--wandering being the quality we share--who intuitively understands (or his experiences might have taught him) that some of the more unique, exciting minds and intriguing personalities are not to be found in academia, or in any “respectable” circle.

Often, some of the most engaging men and women are those found around the mosquito infested riverbanks of Alabama, small towns of rural Mexico or in some bar or perhaps even a whorehouse in Thailand (to name but a few!) Their companionship, however, can become taxing and tedious which is why, I suspect, Fred actually writes and feels the need for other more cerebral, sophisticated friends.

The language Fred speaks I find absent in Iran. Here practically everyone is obsessed with the government, thinking little of our own responsibilities in mangling things into such an asinine shape. Perhaps one day, I’ll translate one or two of his pieces to gauge what kind of reactions they elicit. Although, I can surmise that they won’t translate easily or well.

What of Roger you may wonder—the man behind the Limited-inc? Well, his is quite a story that I will have to censor for content. Our paths crossed all too briefly, and left the both of us reeling. We fought bitterly and destructively over a woman once, and naturally of course, we both lost.

You see, we share an almost identical taste in women. We tend to go wobbly facing the brilliant, spirited, eloquent, neurotic ones. But I must admit, a few other qualities I have since added to the list given how civilizing and liberating they can be. Being violent and sadistic is now a must for the woman of my dreams. Is there such thing as a brilliant, neurotic dominatrix in the military? If you know any, then be a darling and pass on my email address.

I’ve digressed. It was some years ago and yet; we still manage to keep in touch across different continents, time zones and cultures. Obviously, to this day I maintain that he should have known better, being the older, wiser one. But hey, desperation knows no bound. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) He is one of the more unique thinkers I’ve encountered.

And all this brings me back to Kieslowski’s movie Red. It is an intricate, sophisticated movie about intimacy, chance, connection and much, much more. I suspect the need for bonds is one of the reasons you visit this site and I yours. The presence of others, their stories and their lives suffuses the colors that transform the potentially dreary tapestry of our existence into a more bewitching one. That is why I am so progressively more enraged by this war consuming everything around me.

The question for me is becoming a simple one. None of us will ever get a chance to meet the particular individual that was Nick Berg, and we are all less for the loss. He was not “something” to be used as a test of others’ hypocrisy. Nick was a living, breathing human being with desires, dreams and wants. We have now lost our chance to connect with him.

Neither would we now get the chance to find out what joy this little darling would have brought to our lives. I loath myself for not even knowing her name. What bright future could have awaited her? I wonder. Now this delicate being is only to be a delicacy for the worms.

The price is too high for me. I can’t bear the thought of any more severed connections. There is no sense of purpose and proportion anymore--if there ever was one. People are being incarcerated, brutalized, and killed for having a “wrong” name, or being in a “wrong” place and having the “wrong” religion and the “wrong” complexion. And it is going to get much, much worse.

And for what? Isn’t the ocean—the coveted warm waters—the Soviets and Americans fought so bitterly over still there? Whatever came of that war? Three million dead, countless disabled, refugees, Usama, and 911? Am I so wrong?

Our little angel, Nick Berg, and the countless others sharing their fate--they never stood a chance, did they? Their lives terminated before touching ours, and our lives today feel empty for want of theirs. How many more?

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