joi, 12 ianuarie 2012

The God of Small Things

Living doesn’t seem to require much thought or any cognitive effort, I thought. When reading the book I realized that all the time we see things, we imagine alternatives, we correlate different images, we see much more than we perceived. It was wonderful. 
As a psychologist, I try to keep in touch with myself and  see how the events affect me and in what way I change with every challenge or task, and still find myself unable to grasp the concepts that could help me better understand my life. Roy’s language and mastery of words has helped me find a new way into looking at things around me, and made me much more willing to use words in a synesthetic way, thus compelling more meaning than before. Somehow the language was inside me and I needed a push to bring it into use, a model of some sort, and that model came from a brilliantly written book.

The subject of the novel transcends culture, and speaks to the inner human nature of us all. Although the cultural background of the characters is different, because they live in India, the torment of trying to find a way to live life in the most meaningful way possible is universal. The story of love, of stereotypes and prejudices towards other people, the story of how we can make social barriers so tall that we cannot climb or overcome during a lifetime, is one that needs to be read over and over again until we are left with only the truth about human life. That is to see that we need love, that love is different throughout our life, that it evolves from one pure, almost demanded, love possessed by children, into an ideal that eludes everyone who happen to be in a society which dictates how love must be and who can live it.

That pure connection often thought of as true love might come in different shapes, one between two twin brother and sister, one between a single mother and her children, one between a divorced man and his ex-wife and daughter, and one between an old woman and a twisted notion of love. We can see the pursuit of love throughout the book, mainly through the pains which accompany the feeling of fear of losing it. Rahel, the main character, a view-point narrator, takes a journey back to the house where she discovered love and felt she lost it. It’s a detailed account of events in which grief takes many forms, starting with the grief of losing a loved someone, to the grief of losing a sense of love and trying to find it once more. Rahel and Estha, the twin dizygotic brother and sister, represent in a way a metaphor of trying to live a life only half-filled with love, because they need the presence of each other in order to feel complete. 

The great charm and mystery of the book was, for me, the ability to pin point certain raw aspects of relationships between humans, how we let our fears rule society, or how we can let our fear rule our life in a way that can only bring us sadness and pain. It is after all our decision about how we want to live our life.
One of the fragments that I enjoyed mostly from the novel is: “D’you know what happens when you hurt people? (…) When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”

I end my review with this brilliant conclusion:
It is after all so easy to shatter a story. To break a chain of thought. To ruin a fragment of dream being carried around carefully like a piece of porcelain.
To let it be, to travel with it,(…), is much the harder thing to do.

miercuri, 4 ianuarie 2012

Pleasured By Philip Hensher

To be able to describe moments in history is great. To be able to make others feel some tension from the collision between human history and a nation’s history is a gift. Hensher’s description of a brief moment in the life of Friedrich and of how he perceives the falling of the Berlin Wall represents a portrayal of mixture between small moments that culminate into a big event. 

Life is meant to be lived as a series of events, and sometimes the events come together and mix and mash into something much greater than the person. To try to think that you can be the piece of the puzzle that can change the game is an erroneous way of thinking. Friedrich and Mr. Picker want to do just that, with their plan to sell drugs in East Germany in order to show them what fun they are missing in a liberal society. It’s a mocked plan, and even Friedrich doesn’t abide by it, in fact he plans to take the money from Picker and go his way, but his nature, and the fact that he starts to like Picker as a person makes him act otherwise. He returns the money, confesses the whole scheme and in the end resumes a somewhat strong friendship with Picker.

The other characters Daphne and Marion represent two different things. Mario a socialist spy, that betrayed his father and fled to West Germany and organized a fraction to undermine the political state of Federal Germany, and Daphne a young student, in love, and with minimal political aspiration or beliefs behind her action. Although they manifest themselves against the structures of society, each seems to think that no political system could in fact do justice to the people. It is the people who must choose how to act. Not a pamphlet or political dissemination. Yet this is what they try to achieve by their vandalism of capitalist small businesses. 

At first the novel didn’t startled me with a great sense of something great happening, but by the end I was glad to be able to have read it.