Saturday, July 4, 2015

Brave New World


 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a satire about a society in which people are labeled and classified into groups or castes. They are conditioned to behave a certain way since they are born. Anybody who dares to think original thoughts or to crave solitude is considered dangerous and weird. These people are treated like misfits and are deported to a distant island.
  In Brave New World everybody is supposed to be happy, but this happiness is not true happiness. It is loveless and synthetic. It is based on the consumption of goods. Human beings are deprived of love and compassion, and those who dare to do something differently are treated with contempt and sent away.
  People are  encouraged to consume a drug called “Soma” to feel good and “happy” all the time.  In this male dominated society sexual promiscuity is the norm. Yet the sexual act is meaningless.
   Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Word is the description of a conformist society in which art and science are considered threats to their stability and their so-called “freedom”. They have to be muzzled to satisfy the interests of the status quo. Literature, for example, is of no interest to people because they fear that it will make them feel sad, so they shy away from it just as they reject anything that is thought-provoking. Literature carries the risk of awakening the possibility of dealing with original thoughts.
 Even though the individuals in Brave New World believe they are free they are all expected to behave in predictable ways.  Anything that is considered unconventional or that strays from standard patterns of behavior is treated with distrust, and so the root of the irony is that this world is neither brave nor new.
 Interestingly, George Orwell expressed his concerns about banned books in his popular novel 1984.  Aldous Huxley, on the other hand, portrayed a society in which there was no need to censor books anymore because people did not care about literature altogether: since a very early age they were conditioned to believe that literature  was boring, depressing or a threat to their stability.
 Soon after the publication of 1984, Huxley wrote a letter to George Orwell. I will share a fragment of this letter:
“My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and those ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.
“The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude or by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World.  The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.”


Friday, June 26, 2015

Grazia Deledda


"The world is suddenly fuller, the reader's own capacity for astonishment miraculously replenished. A writer of the emotional power of Grazia Deledda is overdue for literary resurrection. It is hard not to feel, when reading her, that... her readers are getting close to some pure ore of human emotion."~ Todd Gitlin, Chicago Tribune

 Even though Grazia Deledda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, the critics underestimated her works and labeled her as a “provincial housewife”.
   She published her first short story  when she was fifteen years old. Her brother advised her to quit writing because he feared that it would  tarnish her reputation. Her mother  was embarrassed.
   Later in life Grazia Deledda’s stories dealt with themes that people believed a woman should not write about. For this reason, they doubted her morality. Grazia Deledda took criticism in stride; the social discouragement did not quench her impassioned creative spirit. She continued writing seven days a week for one or two hours throughout her life. She was also a sedulous reader and protected her reading and writing routine with determination.
    Grazia Deledda was born and raised in Sardinia. Her native language was Sardinian, but she wrote in Italian. I recently read two of her books: “Reeds in the Wind” and “Cosima”. 
 I believe a good fiction writer understands the human soul deeply. Grazia Deledda had the power to do this well. In “Reeds in the Wind” she explored inner struggles and emotional journeys while narrating an engaging story. Her main characters either succumbed to a temptation or they were forced to transgress due to circumstances that were out of their control.  Grazia Deledda’s compassion for them shines through her insights and through the ways she dives into their intimate thoughts and emotions. She places her characters in grueling moral snares and enables them to find resilience.
 Grazia Deledda reveals that those who are judged the most have the most sensitive souls. She wrote about love, jealousy, forgiveness, hope, social ostracism, social conventions, prejudices and human resilience.  
 She also showed how prejudices and superstitions shaped people’s views and beliefs. We learn about the religious festivals held in mountain encampments and the lore of "the dark beings who populate the Sardinian night, the fairies who live in rocks and caves and the sprites with seven red caps who bother sleep."
 Her descriptions of Sardinia are vivid. Reading her two books was like taking a trip to this idyllic island.
   
   Cosima is an autobiography and was published posthumously. It was interesting to perceive that the themes of Cosima and “Reeds in the Wind” are related. I hope that more of her works will be translated into the English Language.
 I will share some extracts from Cosima:
“Her notebooks attracted her more than toys, and the classroom blackboard with those white marks made by the teacher had for her the charm of a window open onto the dark blue of a starry night.”
“Life follows its inexorable course like a river: there are calm times and turbid times, and there is no protection from it. In vain one tries to dam it, even to lay oneself across the current to keep others from being swept away by it. Mysterious, fateful forces propel one toward good and evil; nature itself, which seems perfect, is controlled by the violence of inevitable fate.”
 “And it came to her for no other reason than that she saw the evening star shine above the mountains no less and no more marvelous than the ladybug and the wild grasses that perfumed her walk. She decided to expect nothing that might come from outside herself, from the world agitated by men—but to expect everything from herself, from the mystery of her inner life.”
“Since she had begun writing poems and short stories everyone began to look at her with a certain suspicious amazement, if not to openly make fun of her and predict a dire future for her.”




Friday, June 12, 2015

Anything but Superior Medicine


 My short story "Anything but Superior Medicine" has been published in the Spring 2015 edition of  the Medical Literary Messenger. You can read it here.
  The Medical Literary Messenger aims to promote humanism and the healing arts through prose, poetry and photography. This journal is associated with Virginia Commonwealth University.
   


"Health is based on happiness from hugging and clowning around to finding joy in family and friends, satisfaction in work and ecstasy in nature and the arts."~ Patch Adams

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Gift to Life... and a goodbye note




 Eternity

Amidst life's clamor
I cannot imagine the silence
that will one day surround me.
I will not hear the footfalls above me
nor feel the rain weeping on my grave.
I will not be able to thank a grandson
for bringing me flowers
or wipe away a granddaughter's tears
as she kisses the stone face
on which my name is engraved.

But within earshot of my lover
I fervently hope
that my whispers will meet his
through the roots and tendrils
of porous earth
and we will gurgle and murmur
like two underground streams
which know nothing of endings.

 Ute Carson's poem "Eternity" was published by The Voices Project in December 2013 and it was also selected among the Ten Special Commendations of the 12th International Poetry Competition, firstwriter.com in January 2014.)
  Ute Carson recently published "My Gift to Life", a collection of 23 poems . Afterglow, which I published in Southern Pacific Review three years ago, is also included in this compilation.
   The poems in "My Gift to Life" are about love, family, and reflections on life and death.  They are an invitation to cherish the moments of our fragile existence, and they remind us that love can be more powerful than pain, suffering and even death.
      It will be a nice gift to consider for Mother's Day. The proceeds from the sales of the book will go to the Institute of Culture in Constance, Romania.
             The painting I used in this post is by Marc Chagall.
          This month I selected PTSD by Michael P. McManus. Michael is a war veteran and an award-winning poet. His works have appeared in different literary journals including The Dublin Quarterly, Atlanta Review and Burnside Review. He is the recipient of an Artist fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts.
   I also want to announce that I am no longer the poetry editor of Southern Pacific Review. I thank all the poets who trusted me with their work for the last four and a half years.  Keep reading and writing poetry. The world needs it more than ever.
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Home


 "A modern astronomical view says that everything in the universe is moving uniformly away from everything else in all directions into space, so there is no center point in the cosmos at all. We live with no fixed reference point. From one perspective, this understanding produces the desolate feeling that there is no home. But from another perspective, this realization shows us directly that every point is home. We are free; we do not need to fix on a single center for refuge, for safety. This is love, this is happiness, where our refuge is unbounded, and we are always at home."
 Sharon Salzberg (From her book "Loving-kindness")