miercuri, 11 iulie 2012

The Hours

Woolf’s Art is centrifugal. It moves continuously from centre to margins; it strives to expand its limits, to overcome its flaws, to surpass genre-boundaries. But also, Woolf’s Art is permanently longing for order, for a system of small hierarchies. Throughout her literary activity, Woolf struggled to find the necessary ‘tools’ by the means of which to express her own reality and vision, to express the centre of her creations. And from that centre derive and expand, like beams of light, the particularities of Woolf’s fiction.
Hence, in the heart of Woolf’s novels lies – despite the apparent fragmentariness and fracture – a solid shape, a well-structured backbone, which comprises recurrent themes, ideas, predilections that had dominated Woolf’s life and literary creations, elements from her life that contradicted and baffled her mind. She therefore transposed into her Art all humanity, all emotions, desires and conflicts that constitute her world, since behind the layers of Woolf’s novels lies her own life. All the feelings and ideas that transpire in her works are, most of the times, doubled by genuine moments of being.
On that account, in The Hours, Michael Cunningham had the intuition of the backbone behind Woolf’s novels. He extracted the structure and emphasized its components so as to stress the way in which all her novels communicate; to emphasize the caves built behind her fiction – caves, tunnels filled with meaning. From the outside, Woolf’s Art seems serene and peaceful, but deep down in its core, precisely like a volcano, ‘rests’ smouldering emotions, raw feelings, instincts.
In just a few hours, Cunningham’s novel tells the story of Virginia Woolf, Clarissa Vaughan and Laura Brown. A few hours that enclose the essence of their beings, a few hours that encompass all their lives. Cunningham brings Woolf into his territory; or he moves his territory closer to her. He shares Woolf’s literary creed of portraying Life in Art, Life in all its facets and colours; life and death (time), life and ugliness (mental disorder), life and attraction (love), life and loneliness (alienation), life and the way in which it structures Woolf’s fiction. 
Even Stephan Daldry, the director of The Hours (2002), beautifully emphasized the connection between the destinies of the three women, and as someone nicely put it when reviewing the film, Virginia is writing a book. Laura is reading the book. Clarissa is the book.

To sum up, Woolf invites us into her Art and, implicitly, into her life. She lays it down before us, leaving to our appreciation whether to embark on the journey or not. Michael Cunningham engaged in this quest without hesitation and his great revelation, his epiphany was:
Yes, Clarissa thinks, it's time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep – it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of the windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
Heaven only knows why we love it so."

sâmbătă, 7 iulie 2012

Se hace moldeadora de su alma...

As a young woman, now confident on my femininity and identity, I have a keen interest in feminism, particularly in the indigenous one since I find it closer to our experiences and national identity. 
And so I stopped at Ana Castillo because her literature and feminism are different. Most Chicana literature is about being different, hence oppressed. It is about injustice, sufferance, inbetweenness. It is the literature of the victims. However, Castillo's literature is refreshing and her feminism is milder and more balanced. It does not advocate for a world without men; it does not encourage feelings of hatred towards men. Instead, it proposes a multi-nucleus society by challenging the old dichotomy between the One (the male, the concrete, the centre of the social system) and the Other (the female, the unseen, the peripheral). Hence, through her feminism, Castillo does not aim to inhabit the nucleus of the One's world; nor that of white women. What it seeks to accomplish is to create a multi-centred society, with a nucleus for each ethnic group, freely and equally interrelating with each other. 

Therefore, Ana Castillo's novels fight against an all-encompassing, all-assimilating and egocentric United States of America, and what I've learnt from Castillo is that America is the land of its peoples. Hence, Castillo does not speak of the United States of America, but of Los Estados Unidos. Chicanas' Estados Unidos. One peopled by strong and beautiful women who believe that 'being different' is not a scarlet letter or a sin, but a symbol of pride, a gift.

For Ana Castillo Los Estados Unidos is a land of Xicanistas, a term coined by her to represent her (and her gente's) feminism when she felt that the mainstream movement failed to illustrate their experiences, their lives. Thus, Los Estados Unidos is a land in which Xicanistas fight back. They resist, revolt, inform and create. They live according to their needs and their desires. They dream, hope, love. They exist; and they do so under various selves. They are gradually or in the same time soldaderas, Gritonas, curandera, virgins, saints, mothers, lovers. They are everything they need and want to be.

I strongly believe that Ana Castillo's strength as a writer of novels comes not from her intricate, at times miraculous and humorous plots, but from her female characters and from the readers being able to identify with them. Castillo wrote for&about beautiful, strong, confident, unique, mysterious brown women. But above all, she wrote about herself and the various aspects of being different.

Hence, I believe Castillo's novel So Far from God should be read not as the story of a five member family (the sixth, Domingo, being more absent than present), but as the individual, the independent stories of Sofia's four-fated daughters, who are magnetized to the centre, drawn together towards Sofia, the all-encompassing self, the survivor. Her daughters are all facets of herself: Esperanza – Fe – Caridad – La Loca. Hope – faith – charity – saintliness.

The fact that only Fe (the one trying to live the American Dream) died properly shows that only this aspect has disappeared from little Sofi's intricate self. She no longer wants to achieve and live the Great White Way. With the other three daughters miraculously disappearing (Esperanza in a war zone, Caridad experiencing a miraculous and magnificent descend into earth, and La Loca's transcendental departure), we feel that one by one a shadow is cast on each of these aspects of Sofia's personality, though continuing to exist. All but her faith in the American Dream.

All in all, Castillo's world is the world of Xicanistas who finally have a room of their own and are now furnishing it with hope, strength, beauty and femininity.

Tonantzín Reborn (Mosaic Mural) by Colette Crutcher – detail

Coatlicue, the all-encompassing deity

vineri, 6 iulie 2012

sfirsitul a venit fara de veste

Sfirsitul a venit fara de veste... 

doar stii cu cita incapatinare ma opun normelor. stii cit de mult incerc sa fiu altfel, sa aduc o pata de culoare chiar si celor mai plictisitoare aspecte ale vietii. si sigur stii cit de frica imi e de ziua de miine; zi pe care de altfel o astept si cu mult entuziasm, pe linga teama. ce poate ca inca nu stii e ca sint situatii in care imi doresc sa opresc timpul in loc, dar sigur stii ca n-are cum sa-mi iasa niciodata.

am oroare de sfirsituri. fie ele de orice fel, iar acum, cind ma confrunt c-un alt capat de linie, simt un mare gol. cel mai tare ma intristez pentru ca trebuie sa ma bucur de persoane dragi prea putin timp. am invatat insa de multa vreme ca oamenii vin si pleaca, iar cineva care tocmai se pregatea sa iasa din viata mea mi-a spus ca ceea ce putem face ca sa ii tinem in inima mereu este sa aratam, prin diverse mijloace, cit am invatat de la ei. this is what i will do next. 

Am inteles, voi trage dunga peste nadejdea inutila. Fa la fel.