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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Blogger is dressing up the naked...

Can you be an once-a-year-for-one month writer?

Last year, while confronted with the phenomenon, I did respond on the spot.Now, reading Graham and Blogger's exalted recommendation of this Herculean attempt to "write a novel" in one month, I've just posted the following comment at Graham's blog.

Hi Graham,

I'm a writer of literary fiction and non-fiction. Following a book for young children, my second book was written during 3 years, my third in 15 yrs, my fourth in 11 yrs, my fifth in 9 yrs and I've been working on the sixth for the last three yrs and am still far away from its conclusion.

Writing literature is not an one month marathon but a life long one. It takes dedication, the feeling that you cannot sleep if you do not write, that writing is like breathing to you, skin of your skin.

Writing literature is not a typing contest. You write awake and in your dreams, and daily while seemingly involved in mundane activities. Writing is a long process of revelations for which you are just an organ through which they pass on to the insightful reader.

I heard about this McDonald fast-writing concept last year and had immediately expressed my non-admiration.

Above all I abhor the disrespectful use of the word Novel. Disrespectful to Literary Art, to literary writers, to Intelligence and Creativity.

When the information comes from Blogger,and under the "Knowledge" title - so strong a recommendation - it should have had at least room enough for another opinion, comments, discussions. It is not a technical issue. We are talking here Ethics, and this is a totally different realm.


The consumerism ethos has brought upon us only misfortune: wars, colonizational imperialism, terror. I fear the colonization of Humanity's last refuge.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Noffey Haneffesh (Once She Was A Child)

Noffey Haneffesh tells the universal story of childhood in times of upheaval, as conveyed by some of the most extraordinary international woman writers.

Done mostly on location, these intimate encounters mirror a rainbow of human existence shaped by injustice, turmoil and struggle, and still victorious: six year-old Russian Svetlana Vasilenko awaiting death while caught between the Powers dueling with nuclear bombs; the little Italian child Dacia Maraini starved in a Japanese concentration camp; twelve-year-old. Belgian Amelie Nothomb, reading by candlelight in a Bangladeshi lepers' house; five-year-old Leena Lander living in the Finnish prison for delinquent boys where her father worked as a supervisor, contemplating in fear and horror her sexually mangled doll found thrown in the forest; eight-year-old Palestinian Anissa Darwish torn by war from the Malkha village of her sweet childhood - all and each of the writers in this book map the way to survival and hope.

They ask us also to take a second look at our own life, and, well informed, to make sure the right decisions are taken in all that concerns this precious little world.

As a literary form, Noffey Haneffesh (ONCE SHE WAS A CHILD) is a hybrid: it owns the genes of literary fiction, with its attention to language, ambiguities and symbols, carved out by the author's mostly invisible questions, and editing; and it carries the genes of narrative nonfiction as those are real life stories of real, and most impressive persons, showing how gloriously they've survived Evil.

Glimpses from The Past, of childhood recollections, set, like pearls on a string, with the author's journal as the connecting thread or background. The reader is invited to absorb. At the end of the book s/he'll discover in a separate section, as an addendum, how far they've reached in The Present.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Herd Instinct vs, Jesus


While in theory we are all for the glorification of the individum, in practice the Western Contemporary Culture still labels people in context of groups, mostly the Bad (Them) and the Good (Us).


Stigmatic Memory.

or, as I have been asked
not long ago in Portugal, out of the blue:

"Is it true you've killed Jesus?"


The Use and Abuse of those manipulations
, or, as I'm still finding in the Right's Romanian media (and expressed also in more than one of the comments in previous, related, posts here:

"The Jews were punished by God to wander homeless and suffer forever because they've killed Jesus."

Is there any comfort in the knowledge that no person on earth I know of, in person or from hearsay, is free of those?


The crucification was one of the tools by which the Roman Empire ruled. Cruelty always comes hand in hand with Power.

The subordinates will always react in a myriad of ways, from total opposition to abuse.

Yet no one will say, for instance, that it was not Stalin who murdered the Russian Jewish writers one by one - but the anonymous or not that anonymous devout citizens who sent letters of slander against them, out of envy or plain anti-semitism, in full knowledge of the consequences.


Only when, if ever, Christianity will acknowledge with due respect the right of each human being to be different, not one of the herd alone, only then anti-semitism will be erased from our world.

Better still if all sects - secular or of religions - will reach such an elevated state.

Almost all it takes is for each of us to remember that one is meant to be the Messiah of one's unique life and existence, and undertake this sweet responsibility.

It's heartbreaking how far we are from this, how far from it we have allowed and are allowing religions and empires to drag us along.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Yesterday I spoke with the bride. Elfriede Jelinek.

In Hebrew, the recipient of a prize is its groom, or, as in Elfriede Jelinek's case - The Bride.


Tel-Aviv, 8 October 2004

Elfriede. Her voice sounded close, in both senses.

She said, in a rather melancholy tone, "You see, Corinna, I told that I want to retire from public life - and now the Nobel prize...

"It's not so sad."

She laughed softly.

The sleepy pond, the pine trees, the round swing chair which hang in the living room, the grand piano on which she played for me and sang "glucklick ist wer vergibt, was doch nich zu andern ist..." - all this I can see now before my eyes as if not eight years have passed since our meeting back then in Austria.


Vienna,August 26, 1996

Elfriede Jelinek suggested we meet at the Cafe Museum. Over the phone we gave each other identification marks. She said, "I'm tall and like every good Austrian woman, I have two blond braids bound on my head..."

I was staying with Eva, a retired journalist, through the recommendation of a mutual friend.

She's in her early fifties and keeps saying, "Everybody is already sick of hearing about the Holocaust."


In January 1996 I found, in London, a book by Elfriede Jelinek. A few months later, on Holocaust Memorial Day, I saw written in an Israeli newspaper, in an article on Anti-Semitism In The World Today, that she, or one of her parents, was Jewish; that there had been attacks on her and that she had been threatened by anti-Semites; that she had immigrated to Germany.

I wrote to her, "I see that you are living in Vienna. I hope that the story about the attacks is fantasy as well."

She wrote back, on the margins of a street poster's offprint illustrated with the picture of a violin - on which was written:

"Lieben Sie... Jelinek... oder Kunst und Kultur?" - "Are you fond of... Jelinek... or of Art and Culture?"

I was astonished. Surely this is slander. The cultural organizations and institutions in Austria passed it over in silence, did not react?


The large cafe
was fairly crowded and Elfriede worked it out with the waiter to take us into the inner room.

We sat there next to one of the dark old wooden tables, at first by the windows, but Elfriede, who writes in a very strong voice, talked almost in whispers, and we moved further inside, far from the noises of the road and the street.

Half an hour later, at exactly five o'clock, came the waiter and drew the wooden doors wide open.

"At five they open this room for customers," said Elfriede calmly.

In Vienna order is order.

She said, "It's too noisy here. We'll go to my house."


We took the underground
from there to hers and her mother's house on the edge of the town. Elfriede, who was before a trip to her partner in Munich, went to put the food she had bought for her mother in the modest refrigerator. She left me in a small living room which had only a grand piano, a transparent chair hanging like a swing, a desk, and panoramic windows facing a large natural garden and a pond - not one of those manufactured models, but real water and vegetation touching it and in it.

No buses, no cars. Just the sound of birds busy preparing dinner.

I went out to the pond, tears gathering in my eyes as I was thinking,

At such a place one can be only happy.


The dog clung to me
and because I was worried that her heavy breathing would cover Elfriede's voice in the recording, I pushed her away a few times before Elfriede said - Not right the first time! - said gently,

"Push her aside softly, because she falls. Her rear legs have nothing to hold on to, her tights are impaired from birth. She's a poor thing."


Elfriede has an
uncle in Denver, Colorado, in the United States, with whom she corresponds. His father, Albert Felsenburg, was a journalist, a colleague of Herzel's they were both writing for the Neue Freie Press, and then, as Elfriede read to me from her uncle's letter,

"Then the pogroms stormed Russia and dad said, 'Theo, I read and hear such horrible things about what the Cossacks do to the Jews. Go to Russia and see if it's true.'

Herzel went and saw that it was even worse and he founded the Zionist movement. My father was among the first members."


Albert Felsenburg
was sent to the Dachau concentration camp on the first day the Germans came to Austria. He was handed over by his Christian fellow workers at the newspaper.


She said, "
The story with Herzel is a legend in our family. I think it is a true story. So that we have a share in the founding of the Zionist movement - which led to the founding of the state of Israel."


Before the meeting
, corresponding from Israel, I told her about "Noffey Haneffesh" - Soul Landscapes - the book I was working on.

I had no clue then to where this book will lead me.

In Vienna, I listened.

It got dark. One tape after the other I kept changing.

She said, in a tiredly tranquil voice,

"It's been ages since I've last spoken that much."

In the corridor, on my way out, she showed me the signs in the door left from the times her father - torn by guilt, or by an erased memory - would cut in it, as the door was kept locked so he won't wander out and get lost.

Now as then in my ears rings Elfriede's melodious voice, singing that famous line from The Feldermouse operetta by Johan Straus. 'Those are happy who forget what can't be changed.'"

A very popular song. Everybody knows and whistles it. Every year on New Year's Eve this operetta is shown on television. Even children can sing it.

"This is Happy Happy Austria," she had said then.


I came back to Eva
. In an adjunct room she had a pair of terribly noisy parrots. She covered their cage, closed the double doors, and the echo of their shrill voiced remained with us as the smell of burnt food, sinking into the rich carpets and sofas.

While Eva, standing at the oven burners kept repeating:

"Everybody is already sick of hearing about the Holocaust. It was more than fifty years ago! It's boring!"


read it in Hungarian; in Farsi; in Russian; in Polish;