Sunday, 23 September 2007

The first glance back

Memoirs are usually written by people who go through rustling bundles of sepia-toned images and yellow, stained pages of the mind... before that treasure chest terminally decays together with the valued, fading relics it kept for so many years.

Then there are people with memories that, after a while, start to feel like acquired collections of someone else’s surreal celluloid strips, film cells seen at some point in the past and now rapidly fading - a decay hastened by their very absurdity clashing with the rational mind’s immune reactions. After going through a major change in life, that mind, instead of blocking them out, just mellows all those irrationalities and all that absurdity into a bundle of seemingly second-hand, indirect experiences.

The world that surrounded me for the first nineteen years of my life, shaped by one of the most infamous totalitarian regime of daily kafkaesque assault on rational thought, has been changing radically since 1990 - but also, only partially. There have been volumes written about such societies, countless hours filled with documentaries on the vast political, economical and of course, ideological forces at work...

The following recollections though, from the Romanian pre- and post-Revolutionary years, are street-level snapshots with often surprising similarities between the old and the new country. They come together not as a grand portal into the past and quasi-present, but a small window for just one head at a time to peer through it.

These then are my film cells, my cut-up, fading film strips... projected for the first time in a continuous passing through the personal treasure chest of relics, done just when I am about to truly begin to believe that these are just somebody else’s visions seen in a cinema I haven’t been to, made by a cinematographer who never existed.

Having left that country eleven years ago, returning there regularly to this day, I can still meet and converse with many ghosts, ghosts cosily nesting in the altered, recently became ultra-material(istic) world of the Carpathian mountains.

This is about both the past when those ghosts still possessed powerful bodies in my weathered homeland, making Europe seem just some distant mirage, and the present when that world, still silently and slowly being kneaded by these ghosts, has gone through hasty re-decorating for its welcome party into a suddenly so reachable and tangible Europe...

It is also about the surprising and worrying parallels that one sees between that, thought to be defunct, world and the present day experiences in a historical democracy, the latter paradoxically resorting to exponentially increasing amounts of control in an attempt to saveguard its values...

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