Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Actually writing is a long process of growing up while the book is taking shape, consciously or sub-consciously, by the end of which starts to evolve the writing.
Of course this is how I myself see it. I?m not the USA President or the Israeli Prime Minister, so I?m free to express my views and insights.
If for a moment I thought that everybody thinks and sees the issues the way I see them, then there would be no reason left to write this post.
Some of us might be alchemists and turn gold out of everything. Still, look: lots of good literature has been written for ages, without tutoring programs and how-to books.
While lots of non-books appear now, aided by all kinds of programs and how-to books and conglomerates who relate to books as to plain merchandise, glorifying Quantity.
It is a given fact that bookstores, especially the large chains, are inundated by so many non-books that the shelf life of a new book, no matter how excellent, gets shorter and shorter - unless it joins the ranks of the "best sellers".
The goal is to get people writing?
Fine. Then why delude them that they're going to write a novel, why allure them with such profound goals as, You'll be able to mention it at parties, etc. - expressed with or without tongue in cheek.
I'm also goal oriented.
My goal is to build an airspace.
I'm just too busy with my own craft and cannot afford to give it more than thirty days. I don't know much about airspaces, but I would like to give it a try.
I'll join a program, sit at my bench and join together meticulously fifty thousands scrapes of wood and metal I've been collecting, two thousand a day, and by the end of the month I'll have something to allude to mysteriously at late-night parties.
To get people writing?
Fine, but then why not fifty words a day, one page, one paragraph?
What I abhor is this obsession with quantity.
Literature, even letter writing, is about quality, as all Art is. It gives expression to contemporary ideas and feelings, translating Life into Heritage.
Are non-books the modern Heritage?
This glorification of matter over essence is what I find offensive to Literature, to Creativity.
In person, I would like to live in a society that appreciates values over pretenses and cherishes Humanity's heritage.
It could be a much better and a more beautiful world to live in.
If it were for me.
No, I wouldn't like everybody to write like me.
But, you know what? In a sense it could have been a great relief to have another person, and one would be enough, write like me. Just think of all this heavy burden of carrying Israeli Humanity Heritage on my brittle shoulders.
Then, by God, I'll be able to join the said program, or just leave my unhappy country for thirty days on the beaches of sunny Greece... Thirty days will suffice.
Afterwards, maybe I'll feel encouraged to into the habit...
Monday, November 3, 2003
Following my comments over there, I know I have yet to unburden my heart.
So even if I am not able to write fifty thousand words in one month, as the rules of the game over there are, not even in Hebrew, l'll have to do with less, much less.
But in literature less is more.
Says initiator Chris Baty:
“…the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”
Why call it a novel?
Isn't literature about raising your expectations, about quality? About taking risks, yes, but never the risk of making do without quality.
I am a published writer. Frankly, this program insults Literature:
“Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.”
I know well that you can with less effort shake off your fears by having a friend hug you while you tremble terribly... Or even more often by hugging your fear and pain yourself, and let go.
I write slowly, edit and re-edit, asleep and awake. Since words count, one by one, there is no need to count them.
Better write an excellent book thirty years (as was the case with my fourth book), than rush. Words cannot be rushed, they come at their own seemingly capricious pace.
It does not mean that one cannot write a book in a very short period. It does happen but then not because one has set a marked goal of 2000 words a day. Only because the story has kept you awake.
For me literature and writing it are sacred ground. I feel that this venture is belittling my holly of holiest, turning writing into a technique, a most mundane one, profane.
NaNoWriMo informs us (aided by a teacher’s testimony), that it could be an excellent educational tool.
But how can it be so when the emphasis is on quantity, not on quality content, when it embraces the same superficiality the student has already internalized from long TV watching hours, cheap movies, (violent) action video games, and yes – the industry of commercial non-books?
Literature is suggestive; it leaves many empty lines between each word, where your imagination as a reader comes to wet its thirst and you grow daily.
If you have an important story to tell the world, if you cannot sleep well at night if you do not write it down, then you'll write it, come what.
But will you write that intensely when you come to it with the acquired habits of a monitor, will you be able to shed them off and listen to the story alone?
A non-invasive motivator is when a parent and/or a teacher reads a story, a few lines, or a full notebook you've written, and encourages you with enthusiasm, with no criticism whatsoever.
This was my father's and, later on, my teachers' attitude.
In school in Israel, at age thirteen and with no Hebrew, we were given each day some ten or twenty new words (picked from a story she's been reading us patiently) and invited to bring next day a story made up of those words.
The encouragement, enthusiasm and loving support she expressed when listening to us read them the following day, built our self-confidence.
We are living in The Age of Instant Gratification, which I abhor, as it enables redundancy and alienation from our creative forces. Those cannot ever be tamed into a calculated schedule. Let them loose and they'll flourish and enrich, spiritually, both writer and reader.
I sit at the computer and write until I feel suddenly that I'm exhausted. I write sitting or standing in buses, in lines, in the middle of the street. There is always a pen and a small notebook in my handbag, at my bedside - but I might be writing also on the back of a ticket or a on scrap of paper.
I do not care for the number of words, on the contrary, I always fear there are too many of them. Then why scribble?
Says Mr. Baty:
The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from your novel at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
Well, these are most important goals in life...
As a writer, and as a discerning reader, I care for the insightful truth, for the rare moments of inspired revelation.
Will you encounter them when you're intent on running, and in the wrong direction?
If the goal is Support, what support can one gain for a program that counts words and counts down time?
If the goal is incentive, a push to make you sit down and write – I beg to differ: Ours is not a broken car's engine in need to be pushed a bit to get started.
By Support I mean the building of self-confidence.
It won’t hurt though to have in adulthood an intelligent and compassionate friend.
Is such a friend a must in order for a writer to gain self-confidence?
Please remember Kafka was that much lacking in it that he asked his close friend, Max Brod, to destroy his unpublished manuscripts after his death, a will that, luckily, Brod disobeyed.
At the end of the day, or the thirty days spelled out in that program - you're back to square one - you, the pages and the void.
I see writing, creativity, as a great responsibility, a commitment. That we shoulder it individually is a great burden; on the other hand, look what it does to us: it gives voice to our unique existence, and in the most selfless form of expression.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
It unleashed the Future and had it run fast, leaping from the 19th century straight into the 20th.
All of a sudden so much mechanical noise - factory machinery, cars. airplanes. The artist and the poet, unable to fight those, unable to listen to the birds anymore, decide to join and herald the New Era, redefine the concept of Beauty and Truth.
A bunch of young Italian men, headed by F. T. Marinetti, declared war on the Past.
Went overhead and over the scale of ethics and values.
"Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice."
In the end, were they the ones who heralded fascism, or were they proponents, sensors of that submarine of war and destruction?
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Ok, but what do I think?
The problem is, I will know it only when I hear it with my own ears, so whispering won't do.
I'm ready! No one is here so what am I to be afraid of?
So, Corinna, you seem to imagine you're talking to the wall.
Oh, may I digress?
Of course, get it into your head, no one is listening.
So here is the digression:
Someone, (was it Bush? Bin Laden? Peres? Martin Luther King? Jesus? Moses.
No, not Moses, he saw the place only from the top of that mountain).
Anyway S/HE came to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem the Holiest, and asked the host, "What are all those people doing here?"
"They're praying. You may pray as well. Say your wish."
"God," said S/HE, "please grant the people much health."
A booming voice thundered: "Granted!"
"God, oh God, Please kindly grant the people riches and happiness."
"God allmighty, do grant the people peace and no more wars, please do!"
Then came the final answer:
"DON'T YOU SEE YOU'RE TALKING TO THE WALL?!"
So, who were you people been talking to before you retired to look into your refrigerators?
Oh, another digression. Hear this story: (Corinna! It's turning into a post this semi-comment).(So what. No one is listening, why not have some fun).
It's past midnight in Tel Aviv...
(Oh, forgot the story, you sidetracked me, C.)
Here in the dark, I'm whistling. If I lose hope...
Oh, now I remember:
A few years ago I was on a train heading from Hamburg to Amsterdam. Two young couples were with me in the cabin, sitting opposite each other and leading a lively happy conversation.
"What language are you speaking?"
"Oh," they tell me, "we talk Dutch and they talk German, but we understand each other perfectly well."
I remembered so well that such a conversation couldn't even have been imagined fifty something years ago.
I hold on to this memory and many similar others. Here in the darkness, if we lose hold of this ray of hope, evasive as it might seem nowadays, then what future am I entering?
There are two major issues:
1. What is the present reality?
Grim, for sure, we all agree.
2. Is it a constant?
Here the opinions and attitudes differ.
If I'll get to consider it a constant, as some "realists" claim, then there is no choice but live as the Stone Age people.
Whenever I talk to Anissah Darwish, the Palestinian poetess in Ramallah (and one of the participants in my book of conversations with international women writers on Childhood in times of upheaval, Once She Was a Child), she says,
"Yah Corinna, I wish you knew Arabic and understood my words."
"I can feel them."
And she says, "Yes, I know you can and do."
Monday, October 20, 2003
One chapter a day and the book will be ready to go to the
printer before December leaves us.
Yesterday I worked a bit in the garden. Half an hour a day
and the garden will look so beautiful before the rains overcome us.
Today I managed to do some ironing. One hour a week and the
ironing will be done with, and the wardrobe will be so tidy.
Tonight I had a full load in the washing machine. Two loads a week and...
Such a waste of time. One of my friends' grandmother used to say,
"I we didn't have to eat, we could all be rich."
Without all this chores I can be so time-rich.
Like it was at Yaddo. There even eating felt like a waste of time.
And the challenge is: Live as if you were at Yaddo.
A full translation of the tape was done in Israel.
The following is an excerpt.
Ni'am: Why have Israel come to this plot of land? Why haven't they taken a different plot for themselves, why haven't they conquered for themselves an empty plot?
There is an answer to that.
Ni'am: I promise you that if there had been an empty plot on the map and on it the Israelis had built a state, then I would have admired, and forgiven them. And then I would have worked and done anything. Why have they come to this plot of land?
There is an answer.
Ni'am: Tell me.
It's a joke.
Ni'am: I don't want a joke. I want an answer.
I will give you an answer as well. But first the joke.
Ni'am: All right.
Moses Our Teacher had a stammer --
Ni'am: Do you know why? Because he was the only one who God was talking to. It is a special thing that has never happened, only to him. God marked him with a sign to testify for that. In Arabic he is called Kareem Allah, Beloved of God.
OK. Here is what happened when God spoke to him:
He went up to God in the mountain and God told him, Take the people of Israel to Canada!
He went back down to the people, and the people were impatient, so he started saying, We should go to C-C-C-C-,
Atidaal: (in Hebrew) He stammered...
Yes. So the people said -- To Canaan? All right. We'll go to Canaan.
Atidaal: (laughs, and translates)
Ni'am: (laughs as well, and says with a regretful voice) Look what this
joke has done. (The three of us laugh).
Ni'am: I'm blaming the Palestinians as well, since they sold the land. And
it can happen to me in a hundred or two hundred years. In my opinion, I am protecting my legitimate rights, because it has to do with heritage. Look, you have in the Knesset a map of Israel from the Euphrate to the Nile!
Where did she take this from?!
Ni'am: What, you don't believe that Israel should stretch from the
Euphrate to the Nile? No? Are there many people in Israel who think like you?
Atidaal: There are many.
Ni'am: No, ask her.
Atidaal: No, I know that there are many members of the Knesset who think
Ni’am: Ask her.
I started writing the introduction she had dictated to me.
'Hello, this is Corinna. I am a writer --'
And then the same assistant called back:
"You forgot to tell us your family name!"
"I don't use one."
"No, you can't do it without a family name. How are people going to know you."
"If I give you a family name, I'll be totally anonymous."
"We have to introduce you. How can I introduce you without a family name?"
"You can say, 'Hasofferett. The writer Corinna'."
"Listen, it's a very important program, very prestigious."
Now I'm listening to this program and the editor-interviewer says, introducing her guest: "The wife of Minister such-and-such."
The guest says, "You can introduce me as the chairperson of The N. Institute."
When the assistant called me in the morning, she asked how much time I needed to prepare the item and I said, "Ten minutes," and she said, "Fine," and that someone named Edna will call to record me. And after about two minutes I get a call from a young woman who introduces herself as Edna and I say, "Hold on, can I get a little more time? It's only been two minutes," and she says, "No, first I have to tell you that you must introduce yourself with your full name, first name and family name, that's the rule, the instruction. From the editor."
They have a quiz on the show and someone guesses that the answer is a certain female writer, and that editor-presenter-interviewer says, "Yes. By the way, she's the wife of so-and-so who was just in the news."
And she says, "Why did I have to say that, such an insignificant detail."
But twice during the broadcast she introduces a woman as the-wife-of and if that's why she needs my name, to map ownership like you mark sheep in the flock, who the proprietor is...
Esther Eilam, the woman who founded the first hostel for battered women and a personal friend, phoned them upon my request, and heard the same 'spiel' from the assistant.
I ring Ariel Shemer and talk to a lawyer in his office without telling her which program I'm talking about, until I tell her the whole story and when I say, "for the item Male-Chauvinist of the Week," she bursts out laughing, "Male-Chauvinist of the Week, huh? It's The Others who are wrong..."
That week there was no male-chauvinist to be found in our midst. The Writers' Association held its biannual conference like in all the seventy-five years of its existence, in which the association’s monthly literary magazine has been edited only by men, and on the stage, like it said in the invitation, stood only male writers and lectured words of wisdom to an audience of mostly female writers.
An actor read from a poem by Mr. Tchernichovsky, after whom the Writer's House is named:
"A queen awaits her bridegroom -- "
and the well known poem by our one and only national poet Mr. Hayim Nachman Bialik:
"Take me under your wing and be a mother and sister to me..."
Two weeks after the radio incident, I approached one enlightened newspaper with an article on the professional discrimination of women writers.
The editor called to say that she would like to print it, but,
"You forgot to write your family name."
"I don't use one."
"There's no such thing. How are we going to introduce you."
"You can write, the writer Corinna."
"No, you must write a family name, we won't print it without it."
And they didn't print.
By December 1995 I rang up the Registry of Residents and asked them to send me a name-change form.
The form has a clause that asks you to give reasons.
The clerk looked at the form, read from it out loud, "'I am a writer, and this is the name I have made for myself,'" and gave me back the sheet: "You have to explain, to specify, that's not enough!"
I said, "Fine, if you don't accept it, I'll go to the High Court of Justice ."
Two weeks later I told Esther Eilam, I've solved the problem. I have a family name now, it's registered in the Registry of Residents."
"No way! What name?"
"Hasofferett. The Woman Writer."
Now when they ask me for a name I say, "The Writer Corinna".
And then they look at me, and say,
"O.K., but what's your f a m i l y name?"
Excerpt from Once She Was a Child.
Read it in Polish; in Hungarian;
Thursday, October 16, 2003
"Do you know what Women like best?"
(No. Tell me. And since I'm empty-headed, repeat, repeat, don?t give up).
"Do you know at all what Men like best?"
(No. And why should I care? What am I, a welfare officer?)
"Enlarge, Enlarge the Holly Name, more and more!"
(What is it, a Bible contest?)
It has reached the magnitude of Chinese torture, endless dripping, dirt, dirt. How to kick them out when they see and are not seen in person.
So many rules I've laid down, more than the rules of any Parliament wherever - yet these horrible creatures, they are transparent, come in with the air.
While those rules affected only my correspondents!
So I closed down both my e-mail addresses.
No mail came in.
The silence scared more than the previous noise of the trash trucks.
I reinstalled my e-mail addresses.
The trash smoothly returned.
My correspondents disappeared, assuming that the addresses are no more valid.
I called my server, "Barak".
The man says, "Nothing to be done."
Sent me a link to a "MailWasher".
The software blocked indeed the content and attachments, yet the subject line continued to show up.
The Enemy couldn't care less.
I wrote Barak:
"A server is like a hotel. I've rented a room. At a hotel the contract is clear: I am the only one who gets the key. No hotel allows strangers to intrude and invade my room, or throw heaps of trash whenever I open the door. The hotel shoulders this responsibility as a matter of fact."
The laconic answer was to the point indeed: "Nothing to be done."
In an interview at an North American newspaper, one of these criminals says: "What's the big deal, all it takes is one click on Delete. But thanks to my ad someone in need for a mortgage is saved!"
Really? I have to read carefully the Subject line of over one hundred e-mails, so as to pick out my mail, not to lose any.
Can you imagine a Post Office offering this kind of service: Go to the trash bin and look through the dirty paper to find your own mail.
It turns out that only 1 in 100.000 is tricked into the Lords of Trash bait.
The rest of us should altruistically suffer, for the benefit of this bunch of no-goods.
I'm learning, especially from some of Eric Olsen's posts, on BlogCritics, that large companies like Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, EarthLink, are suing the trash mailers, and winning in court.
Not enough. The problem is still with us, daily.
While we've been reduced to discussing the problem as we discuss Climate.
What happens to the money won in court? It should go to each one of us. And: apart from the monetary compensation, each court should decree this punishment on the guilty invaders:
Have them seated at a computer for twenty years, and click endlessly on Delete.
Behind a glass wall.
In a Zoo.
Let's raise our voice to demand worldwide Fully defined Laws, Comprehensive action.
We need laws to pronounce the servers as responsible toward their clients. Then and only then we'll see servers unite globally to fight trash mail everywhere.
Before the whole system collapses in dust.
Here is my suggestion:
Let's set a day as our Day of Protest, and on this day let's close down our e-mail boxes: no mail sent, no mail received. Worldwide.
One single day of complete Silence, to exemplify the danger, to express our Just Demand.
Let's make it the 31st of December.
As in the most appropriate Hebrew proverb: "Let the old year leave with it's Curses, Let the New Year arrive with it's Blessings."
Let the Law Makers, the Servers and the No-Goods come up with some Resolutions.
There is a lot to be done.
We can see this action as an experiment in Protest.
Do pass the call on.
so declares on Indymedia a person who goes by the name Truth Inthemedia.
I cannot but agree.
Yet the truth goes much further:
If it was not for Israel, if there were no Jews in the world, their (our, for whoever considers themselves part of humanity) Holocaust would have never happened.
If there were no Gypsies in the world, nor would their own Holocaust have happened.
Or those with mental or physical difficulties.
Imagine how wonderfully pure the world could have been, with the Nazis happily tilling their land.
But then, wait a minute, most Muslims don't mostly have blue eyes either.
Poor Nazis, they worked so hard and diligently on murdering whoever was different, and it only proved to be a Sisyphian job.
The truth and only the truth is that the Nazis gave up not because of the Allies' attacks.
Only out of desperate frustration.
They lost heart.
read it in Russian;
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
So said a Yiddish writer to my friend, the poet Karen Alkalay-Gut when she was still a child.
Do you wait to be anointed?
Like Saul, who went to search for the lost donkeys, and found kingdom?
A prophet anoints your head with pure olive oil and then smooth silky writing comes out in a never-ending luxurious flow.
But is it so?
Why had I known always, from the very moment I remember myself: I am a writer?
What came first, the writing that was flowing out of my pen as if of its own will or the praise from the teachers, from a father who wrote beautifully and compassionately.
I do not know the answer. But even if we allow only 50% to the empowering agent or even only to one person in our lives, yet an important one, then I think we do have a partial answer, if not the major one.
There are so many gifted people in this world, so many of them potential writers.
What happens to those who toil in utter darkness with no one to smile lovingly at them, or admire, or offer appreciation, in early childhood or in any latter stage in life?
How many of those unable to sleep at night become prey to illnesses and despair, their life wasted in a world that seems like desert to them?
The world loves books, offers them dutiful respect, yet it forgets that without the writer there wouldn't have been any books.
In this sense the writer is more important than the books.
A formidable writer once said in an interview:
Until the age of forty I was a writer who never wrote a single word on page, only in my head.
So, you are a writer even if you've never yet written a single word.
Now, are Prizes the anointment replacement?
In my experience and understanding prizes serve one function - the monetary one.
I believe that one can fulfill the gift of writing and the vocation only with honesty, only when guided by truth.
You do your best, the best you can, notwithstanding the spouse or neighbor's opinion/dictum.
The writer is his/her only jury, chaired by Old Good Truth and Honesty.
You are a writer even if you've never got a single prize (and so poorer) and in this you are in the good company of some of the most honestly important writers.
Aren't so many of the Nobel prize winners forgotten while the likes of Kafka, Yehuda Amihai, you name them, have never reached that podium? No, Prizes don't make you a writer as much as a Nobel Peace Prize doesn't turn you into the Eternal Peace Guardian - judging from our laureates at home here in the Middle East.
As in the last's cases, being a writer is not like becoming an adult, it's not like reaching a stage in life but rather a life long commitment.
My solution? I work at night and sleep during the day.
Monday, October 13, 2003
It turns out that some people in Dallas think The Selection was not right. There are kids in Dallas itself who should come first.
The relevant issue is not the amount of Time invested, neither is it the financial cost, or The Selection Criteria.
The real issue is moral.
Life is sacred.
A child, even one born to a poor family in a poor country, deserves a basic normal life.
The choice is not between one child or another but between one cause or another.
Is war a better cause?
Could some of the monies and energy invested in wars be more wisely used toward life saving goals and projects?
Instead of letting goverments and fanatics rule by division why not get together and demand the best for all humanity?
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
He had a desk in black oak with legs like the claws of a lion. I would sit under his desk, hug its leg, and dream. When I was four, five years old.
When I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I was imagining the bed was a boat. I had a swing in the garden and sitting on it I was imagining the swing was a boat.
He died when I was eight years old.
It was a shock.
I felt betrayed. Such treason! Why should he die, how could he do that. I didn't want to mention his name anymore..."
Saturday, October 4, 2003
Yom Kippur is the only day when this Sambbatyon, noisy river of cars and pollution, stops still as if enchanted.
The only day when all the roads are free for pedestrians and bicycles.
Everybody is on the street, walking, meeting friends and enemies, all the people who throughout the year hide in their apartments and cars come out of their confinement…
It's Fall, when you don't need any air conditioning.
Pleasantly cool, especially in the evening.
The youngsters don't go to sleep at all, as if to savor every minute, and so do most of the adults, except the ones who fast, a minority in my mostly secular neighborhood.
A community festival.
Now, with the Internet, we don't even miss the silenced radio.
No more the feeling of being cut from our lifeline in this insane climate.
Another Yom Kippur.
Thirty years ago I was writing in a friend's room, lent to me as he went to spent the day with his family.
There was some baffling traffic on the road. I didn't know yet that those were men rushing to their units.
Then all of a sudden I heard The Alarm.
Like in the 2nd WW.
As in 1967 for a short while.
I ran out and all the way to my home.
This is my recurring memory from that day...
Say. Yom Kippur, and all I see is myself running, feeling it takes forever and I might not ever reach home and family in time.
Thirty years to the day later, and still violence surprises us.
One can never get used to death and sorrow.
Today terror came to visit the northern city of Haiffa.
The Maxim restaurant, owned by an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Palestinian.
Of the 19 murdered, four are Arabs.
A whole family erased. Grandmother, father, wife, two kids.
A couple married only a week ago.
At least four children.
More than fifty people wounded, six of them in critical condition.
It's almost 03:00 am and the open radio gives voice to many...
to kill or not to kill Araffat
Hunt them down!
Build the wall!
The suicide bomber was a woman.
29 years old.
Said to come avenge the killing of her two brothers a few months ago.
Will the death of all these innocent children and parents bring her brothers back to life...
Will it prevent the death of more brothers and by chance some innocent children...
Friday, October 3, 2003
This is Shlomi speaking. I'm in your son's unit. You can call me at my parents' house, I'll be there later tonight. Call us, we have a message for you.
Call me, this is Shlomi. This is a second message. Call me.
Pressing on switches, mechanically, with efficiency borrowed from the world of actions. Light and soul focused on the telephone. Leafing through the diary, to find the father's home phone number.
"Yes, I know. I let Robin take care of it. They told her not to make a big stir. Alright, alright, I'll come to the lawyer's."
She punches the pillow like a face; he knew and didn't tell her and she hasn't been told all day. Quickly, she washes the tears off her face, to focus on the actions.
The telephone rings.
"Robin. I want to come to the meeting with the lawyer."
Why such force, as if pushing a foot in through an open door.
From the taxi the street seems full of noisy carefree people, whole families, rushing to get to the shops before closing time. Head leaning forward, like someone swimming with a child on her back, she answers the driver, who wants to know who he's got in his car, this job is always such a danger, who doesn't come into this car, drugs, criminals, whores, I could write a book. And this one, what's the matter with her. Running out of the taxi, disappearing into a stairwell. On drugs?
The lawyer Mr. Fields sees a woman with uncombed hair, burning blue eyes, a body carrying a sign, Mined Area. The woman slides her hand over the counter's polished wooden surface: A new office? Nice carpets.
Yes, after a long service. Know the system well. Still have fresh connections, can exchange informal opinions, leap over the hurdles of military bureaucracy. I can call a friend in the middle of the night, and ask for something. I would be answered. You don't know why he was arrested? We've just spoken to somebody from his unit. They picked him up at a demonstration, because he was wearing his army boots."
Yes, they picked him up at a demonstration because he left his army boots on, she says in the same voice with which she used to recount how when he was two years old he once spread cinnamon on the new upholstery when she was speaking on the phone for too long, and how she hugged him for his cleverness and innocence.
"Not a wise thing to do," the lawyer puts on a judicial robe.
Ah, if we always acted with wisdom, we wouldn't need lawyers.
Excerpt from Sodot (A Minyan of Lovers)
Sunday, April 20, 2003
As Befits Worthy Writing
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Thursday, that is yesterday, Tarta the Great (the renowned Tartakover is the recipient of last year's Israel Prize and the artist who designed, among others, the logo for Peace Now) - sent me his design for my upcoming, Once She Was A Child, book's cover. and at the same time, almost simultaneously, the last step in the pre-printing process was done with.
Never has this publisher suffered more than during those excruciating weeks, three weeks.
So, what is the moral:
Never accept a deal without a time schedule in writing.
Try to avoid the holiday season, even if it leaves you with just a few options.
Never accept inserting the photographs, if any, otherwise than by day one.
Consider only the artistic value, ignore the price and budget (easier said than done).
Make all the decisions prior to handling the material, free of pressure.
Ask for a detailed schedule backward from the last day to the first one.
Get a PR person (easier said than done).
Invest in fundraising time, rather than in Pr-ing the book yourself, which is time consuming and horrible.
Keep working on the following book daily, at least two hours and first thing in the morning, when the mind is clear and relaxed.
Find and never tire of searching for the best distributor.
Find and never tire of searching for the right person to work your Itinerary.
No matter what, never answer the phone when you're writing.
Before asking others to respect your time, respect it yourself.
Limit phone calls to three minutes at the optimum, the rest can be done by e-mail or fax.
Get out to a movie/play/concert once a week, even if it means skipping a few meals. It won't kill you. It
might even save you from overweight.
Organize a daily schedule and do your utmost to respect and follow it no matter what.
Take time to think ahead and re-evaluate decisions, daily.
Quite a long list. It will get longer probably, the more I'll think of it...
This is what Passover is all about:
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Mr. Peter Arnett. Not being an American and not having a TV anywhere in my apartment, I hear the name for the first time.
He says the Saddam Palace where he is situated might be a prime target.
I cannot understand why people stay in such places of danger, but then I consult my mirror.
Although Tel Aviv is not as dangerous as Saddam's Palace, an article in Haaretz quips: "It's said that the chances for Tel Aviv to be hit aspire to zero, yet it is a well known fact that not all aspirations get fulfilled...
It's Wednesday, March 19, 2003 7:30 a.m. in this part of the world.
I will recount here a personal history, long live the historian.
This is the only active deed I can accomplish on my own, here is my only sovereign domain.
I woke up in the late afternoon following a night of undisturbed writing, except Bush's declaration by 3:a.m. Israel time.
(Was it the right time? Was it indeed directed at Saddam? What if he was asleep by then?)
By 6:00 P.M. there was not a single copy of any newspaper in the stores and kiosks.
I went to buy those plastic sheets etc., now lying on the table in one of the rooms, out of sight.
My contribution to the war effort has cost me about $20.00. I don't mind as long it remains the only cost innocents will have to pay ever.
Everybody, my mother included, tells me that we are safe.
To-night I went to visit my 89 and a half yrs old mother. She prefers to stay in her own apartment, although it's situated right in the middle of the city, not far from some sensitive spots. Her idea of a human shield.
A mask? Well, maybe to-morrow she'll take care of this, No rush.
A man on TV says joyfully that although his wife wants to leave with the kids for the North, he had told her:"We'd lived together and we'll die together..."
On the radio a woman says that since the first Gulf War she's on medication, not functioning, that now everything is stronger revived.
Then a man calls to tell a similar story.
So all these silent shadows were living among us, unpublicized.
The weather, immediately following Bush's speech (well, a little earlier) got stormy. The street got covered in dust, the trees facing my windows tearing themselves in much unhappiness. It is still raining, quite a submissive rain by now.
But it was the Purim Carnival Holiday.
Hopefully those were the only mask kids will have to wear in the coming days.
What shall I do myself? Should I leave for the North and stay with my daughter and granddaughters?
Should I leave for Amsterdam to be with my other daughter?
Should I go with a friend to the Galilee?
So many options, the very act of thinking, considering, making a decision - makes me feel dizzy and paralyzed. I'm after all about to send a book to the printer in Jerusalem this week, I must stay around and do the proofs, consult with the jacket designer and so much more.
I look at my apartment. My guests say, it's so peaceful here.
Yet troughout my life I've known. It's only an illusion. To-morrow, next day or moment, a bomb might fall and leave me roofless. So goes life on Earth.
To-night, a few hours before the ultimatum to Saddam is over, I'm having another literary Salon in my living room. People were calling to say they're coming. Well, at least we'll savor a few moments of sanity.
I'm throwing here and there a few pebbles into this paralyzed lake holding its breath - blog blog...
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Corinna, How do you look at this Bush-Iraq war?
I wrote in Reply:
"Dear Marion, I've just finally finished translating into Hebrew, from English, a memoir written by a Holocaust survivor, an aunt of an Israeli musician who
is also a web designer, so it's kind of a barter arrangement, at his suggestion.
I would have done it anyway, but how heavy it was.
So, since you've asked How do I look at this Bush-Iraq war.
It's such a burden on my mind.
There is the personal scare and the complete disinformation.
I've come to think that the weapon industry is using us generation after generation.
Otherwise, how come all these countries are first fed arms by the Industry and then everybody is surprised that the same countries have become a
I don't trust the opposition either - the French and the Russian weapon industry was enabling Saddam's army and might.
I feel they are all manipulating us pro and contra so that instead of turning against the industry we turn against each other.
I wish the French and Russian protestors, all and everywhere will go for the weapon industry, which is at the bottom of it all.
Unless this stage is attained, how will the circle of wars ever get broken?
Meanwhile so much of my attention is taken by worry, as I do not know with all this dis-information, and hot hatred, how safe is the roof above my head,
or my very head...
And they're now talking about two months of fighting!
At least writing helps keep our sanity awake."
This said, I turned to the Internet and found, on Blogcritics, Peter's list of Losers and Winners in this round of weapon testing.
Since to my impression the list overlooked the above mentioned Industry, I rushed to help and added my comment. It is indeed set in short sentences, to make it easy on your eyes:
"One tiny loser was left out:
The Weapons Industry.
One insignificant winner has been dismissed:
The dead and the wounded, the destroyed and the displaced, the shocked and emotionally disabled for the rest of their tiny life, children, adults, elderly, soldiers, pro-war patriots and anti war patriots.
The internalized misconception that peace is an illusion, an impossible dream and War & Evil are and will forever remain embedded in the human nature.
Identify a potential enemy, feed him with your Industry's weaponry until the Golem Raises to the high status of Enemy, and then use all your might to destroy him in punishment so that the furnace of the Weapons Industry stays busy and so enables a multitude of Jobs resulting in a good livelihood."
The honorable Rev Hick was so generous as to read in my humble prose, A Poem. I swear it's not. Hopefully it's just lucid prose.
Yet in his own comment to my said "poem" Rev Hick is quoting a most verbally not quite benevolent quotation by somebody from a different era: John Stewart Mill.
John Stuart Mill, unlike us, was a British philosopher who lived not only ages ago (1806-1873) but in a quite (so it is claimed) different era.
His livelihood was enabled by a job under his father in the India Office.
I would like to ask Rev Hick for the date of his quotation. John Stuart Mill thinking has changed a bit over the years.
He had no childhood. His father taught him at home and kept him away from children his age.
As he himself has mentioned, his "emotional life was neglected" and in his early twenties he was given to "youthful fanaticism".
Later on he felt that "a constant habit of analysis had drained up the fountains of feeling within" him.
Further on, the guy establishes the Utilitarian theory, which he summarizes as the quest for happiness, yet not on the expense of other humans.
(as long as they are British).
As King Salomon is still saying, there comes the age of wisdom. It's traces we find in JS Mills's very last words/essay:
Essays on Religion, Chapter Three, On Theism.
I will tell you what he wrote there only after you'll read Rev Hick's quotation, that prompted me to go seek a bit further:
"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stuart Mill
And this is what wrote a much wiser John Stuart Mill in the last years of his life:
"... nor, even now, would it be even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete than the endeavor so to live that Christ would approve our life."
Saturday, February 1, 2003
Why does it hurt so much? Why does it feel so close home?
Indeed, one of the fallen cosmonauts is an Israeli.
Still, in Israel death is a frequent traveler. In many guises, not only by terror attacks and fighting. Car accidents have caused more deaths than all the wars together.
All over the world, or rather all over the Western countries, people of all ages get killed daily in car accidents in monstrous numbers, and the national flags keep flying high.
Is it only because we've grown used to the old ways of death to the extent that we fight them even less than we fight the weather?
It seems to me that we have come to accept death on Earth as part of our human flaw, as our Achilles' heel. That the flight into Space, the liberation from the chains of the Gravity Laws, symbolize the liberation from Death itself. Isn't Space itself ad infinitum?
Saturday, January 11, 2003
Not a word, not that much is said about the emotional reality here, under the gathering clouds.
The terror, the uncertainty, which bring to mind the way Jewish people have felt during the Holocaust in-between one "aktzia" to another, not knowing if they are going to survive another day.
A popular and quite morbid song nowadays here says "Who is the next in line (to die)?"
So, can one tell me please what is best, to die of an Iraqi plague ridden missile, or from a later still Iraqi or Iranian nuclear bomb?
Inwardly trembling we live from day to day, from one moment to the other, and so do our Palestinian cousins in this insane era when with all this explosion of information the most vital pieces of knowledge are still not in our possession.
When all over the world a complete change of values is ruling and the bad is good, the good is bad - a more scarry reality than the Orwellian one is ruling.
So, what is best? I cannot even answer as Frost, "Ice is good enough and will suffice".
This reality reminds me more than anything else of Poe's story, The Pit and the Pendulum, when to our last breath we remember that there the hero was saved, even if it was only at the last minute.
Yet in this insane reality there seems to be no last minute, only a maddening circle.
So, being that close to this infernal fire, I cannot debate, I can only point to how it feels here.