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Sunday, February 27, 2005

I'm going to a Fortune-teller


Most of the time I have no problem telling the future.

You're saying, "That's not such a difficult trick. No difference here between Past, Present and Future. Our Time is linear, following a straight line, like the cardiogram of a person unilaterally disconnected from the world.

The second law of thermodynamics claims Time is irreversible?
You're making Time laugh, baby. Turning back could be achieved only when you're moving.
Telling the future in our world is really a child's trick."

I'm going to the fortune teller, and tell her straight away:
"Listen, usually I have no problem foreseeing the future. Suddenly - I'm in the dark. I see nothing."

She's gathering her skirts around her, mixes her cards, swallows her coffee, divines the residue at the bottom of her cup,
and faints.

I wipe her face with my dainty muslin handkerchief (the laundresses is for sure raising an eyebrow) and softly say,
"Maritza, don't put up a show. What is it you're seeing?"
Answers she, "Corinna, sweet lady, Nothing. Pit endless darkness, I swear."

Now I'm real scared. "You too?!"
I push the megaphone into her face and scream, "What is it you're seeing?"
Says she, scared and crying, "I see nothing, I swear by the black angel of terror and vengeance, I see nothing."

I plead with her, "Maritza, please do give me one glimpse of future. I'm not a lady, I'm the baby you've breastfed from day one. What is it I'm asking in this desert? Just one drop of future, sweet and pure.
Tell me what is it you're seeing."

Says she,
"I see a silent movie. The Future is watching, asleep, quietly waiting for a Rabin on a white horse to wake her up with a loving kiss."

read it in Hebrew;

Monday, February 21, 2005

Human Anguish in a Manly World / Ma'ariv, September 3, 2004

"I was thinking: So many books, so many women writers, Who are they?" asks Corinna in her words on the back cover of Noffey Haneffesh ("Intimate Landscapes").

Noffey Haneffesh (Once She Was A Child), written as in answer to this question, is a collection of intimate conversations with women writers, linked by the author's journal and responses as she follows their tales with her own.

"Women Writers". Is there an unifying element to help us define "Female Writing"? Had Corinna meant to describe here an entity of "Female Experience"?

The writers whose life story fragments are disclosed to us are so different, almost all over. In "Once She Was A Child" you'll find Barbara Frishmuth from Austria; Amelie Nothomb - A Belgian born and raised up in several Asian countries; Leila Sebbar - born in Alger to an Algerian father and a French mother; the Israeli Karen Alkalay-Gut, the Dutch Marion Bloom, Leena Lander in Finland, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Amina Said and Michelle Grangaud in France and Hanne Marie Svendson in Denmark. They mostly relay the story of their childhood, yet do talk also about their youth and adult life.

Those are memories' glimpses of women who on the surface seem to have nothing in common - and yet they share so many similar facets.

The most prominent one is Absence - an experience of emptiness, of want. Many times this experience appears linked to a father's disappearance: Barbara Frishmuth's father was killed in the 2nd World War - she remembers nothing of him; Svetlana Vasilenko's father (Russia) never married her mother - he comes and goes, leaving behind him a trail made of big holes.

Sometimes the origin of the spatial emptiness is different, as in the death of a child, Dacia Maraini's (Italy) - whose death is mentioned in passing, in just one sentence, almost unsaid.

Many things are left unsaid. They are absent from the book's pages, yet exist in-between the lines, in the space the writing itself opens - paralleling life's story.

In total apposition appear and reappear in the book experiences of brutal intrusions and invasions. Such is the breaking into Anisa Darwish's house at Ramallah 2002 and the doubled helplessness she feels while facing the Israeli governing powers as well as while facing her Israeli friends, to whom she cannot describe her lot in their language - the language of occupation; or the helplessness expressed in the story of the penetration into Karen Alkalay Gut's body, doubled by the inability to talk about rape in a Men's World and in a language whose meanings and borders are defined by a male's worldview.

Other themes, such as the relation to one's name or to one's native place, resurge throughout the book, linking the diverse stories - as if hinting to us in Corinna's name: These are the matters which being female build.

All throughout the stories the book links strongly to the Israeli existence. Two major Israeli narratives correspond with each other: One is the Holocaust, which keeps popping up in the first part of the book - the voyage to Europe and the conversations with European writers. Yet in the second part of the book, that of writers from the Arab world, where the Holocaust seemingly disappears entirely, the Holocaust is present in it's denial and oblivion. When this denial becomes outspoken (in the Egyptian Niam El Baz's narrative), Corinna, via her travel journal, brings us back in time, to her childhood in Romania of the 2nd World War.
As if she meant to say: It really happened.

But maybe she wants to create a link to that other Israeli narrative - our relations with the Palestinians, the "Peace" and, mainly, the war. When the memories from Romania emerge - military governing, soldiers entering home at midnight to search for her fugitive father, the home confiscation , the wire barbed camp of imprisoned refugees in Cyprus - there echo pictures as if taken from Anisa Darwish's story of her life in Ramallah. There is no explicit statement on the relation between the two narratives, but the way they engage and disengage opens to the reader a new vista enabling re-consideration of the various links between them.

Slowly the book has invaded me. So much strength it contains. Women's strength to confront traditions, religion, Man's World Laws - and yet, so much pain and anguish. Female anguish and human one as well. Not always I am able to discern between the two, between what might constitute a human experience and what is unique to women's life in a world run according to Men's Laws.

This pain cuts through especially when it surfaces repeatedly in attempts to find happy memories. It's just then, when it steals its way through the back door, stubbornly re-affirming its presence in the lives of those women, it is then that it presents itself, eternal, compelling with the utmost power.

Hagar Kotef-Sekund
The Literary Supplement, Maariv 3.9.04

read it in Hungarian...

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Duet: Sharon and Abu Mazen

(Standing at the two corners of the stage, while tearing one by one petals of red carnations):

"I'm very tired to-day, what with all this hand-shaking, and more handshaking - to the last photographer and cameraperson. My hand has grown soft and delicate from being that unused.

"Now, does he really mean it, or is it again another game, to gain time for another not-surprising surprise?

"Am I going to get killed, Rabin style?"

"What's the name of that Egyptian who started all this commotion. Hah, Saadat. Yes. They shot him. That was not a nice thing to do.
Well, he was skinny.

The very irony: they did not want Rabin and got their own Sharon forced to perform his job - same Sharon who prior to the assasination was so heated and heating. Now the whole world can see that the guy was just upset for not being invited to the regal Nobel Prize dinner."

"Ha-Ha, laughs who laughs last: and who was Not invited to the sumptuous Sharem summit dinner?
little peres.
I left him in Tel-Aviv with his Nobel diploma."

(turning to each other, hands outstreched):

"Shall We Dance?"

read it in Farsi;

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Twice Ariel Sharon

Each Meeting Was More Fantastic than the other...
a long title for a short story, with no moral

Israel not being a kingdom it's not rare to meet some of its knights.
Yet for an Israeli humble writer to meet Sharon would be rarest than meeting the royalty in UK.
For where could she meet him?
At a rally against the invasion (we're talking Lebanon)?
No chance.

But even much earlier, here's what happened:

How I Met Ariel Sharon, #1

On the evening preceding the 1973 Yom Kippur Eve, some relatives from South America came to tour Israel.
Remember, a few days earlier Dayan, then Minister of Defense had declared, "Never before was Israel's situation safer!"
(Another reason why we feel so safe and trustful).

On the night preceding the 1973 Yom Kippur Eve - a time when the weather is still unbearably hot - we came to pay our respects to our wealthy relatives, dressed in our best attire, which in my case consisted of a long dress with a great decollete.

There we were, at the palatial Hilton Tel-Aviv, waiting for the elevator. And very soon indeed the click and ring and light flashes signaled it's arrival,the doors opened, and out comes, who if not Ariel Sharon.
He was already quite large and hence impossible to ignore.
I looked at his face to read what it says and indeed it spoke, actually his eyes alone, not to me but straight to the depths of my decollete.

How I Met Ariel Sharon, # 2

A few years later - cannot recall if it was before or after Sabra and Shatila, The Lebanon War - the exact date was not put on record among the multitude of dates assaulting us daily.
We were invited to a colleague's son Bar Mitzvah.
As an event, a Bar Mitzvah, when a son reaches the age of thirteen, is second only to a wedding in its importance.
If it's a colleague's son celebration, you better attend it if you fear for your life.

But what if
this colleague happens to be a member of the central committee of your party?
Indeed, he might be only one of some two thousands, but still, these people are the ones who choose the leaders.
If you fear for your political life, you better attend it. So the word spread out: Arik Sharon is amongst us.
I went to the buffet, put a few things on my plate, and turned to go back to our table.

Rest assured I was still young and beautiful and so was my decollete.
I turned from the buffet with my plastic plate in my hand, and who do I see heading straight to the crowded buffet if not, again, the same Ariel Sharon (almost, yet much greater in stature).
I looked straight at his face and again his eager eyes spoke eloquently.

He was staring straight into my hands, at the borekas on my plastic plate.

Being vain I don't want even to contemplate the burning question:
What If I were to go up on that elevator at Hilton in the same dress, yet with a plate-full of food in my hands?
And why, after so many men have peered into my decollete and so many others have eyed the food on my plates, why do I still remember that one above all?

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

Friday, February 4, 2005

Naive Questions, God-knows-why

I've been wondering lately:

Is the Titan planet in the same state Planet Earth was some one hundred and forty bilion years ago?

Is Titan The New World we'll turn our face to from now on, some of us in terror, some in hope?

Is it going to become - like The New World who beat no bush while hastening to tour with its army in our neighborhood - the criminals' deportation location, the place to transfer over there stubborn nations, or leaders who've lost favor, who've done one wrong too much, who've committed crimes against humanity?

Shall we dare send over there world hugging-to-suffocate industrialists?

Or is there a danger lurking in the invisible future- that ages later they'll lash back to punish us here?

Should we set out for a seven-years exodus, escorted by angels and getting there - proceed to build a strong wall of defense?

Even there?

How should we act so to avoid transferring or, even better, avoid keeping here even one single Trojan virus?

read it in Farsi;in Russian;