Monday, November 16, 2015

The God of Small Things or Every Unhappy Family is Unhappy In Its Own Way

“Nothing mattered much. Nothing much mattered. And the less it mattered the less it mattered. It was never important enough. Because Worse Things had happened. In the country that she came from poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace Worse Things kept happening”  ― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

I beg you not to read this book! Please... Don't touch it, don't open, forget the name and the author. Don't read this book if you quit smoking - everything will go to Hell! Don't read this book if you are not a parent, you'll probably be afraid to have children. Don't read this book if you have children, you'll be ashamed  for the world you brought them in! Don't love this book if you love reading - you'll never open another book without worrying. Don't read this book if you don't like reading - you will start to hate it. 

This book will put off your pink glasses, tear your contact lenses, blind you, rip up your clothes, then your skin, then everything you've ever known, ever believed in. It will turn you into naked bleeding piece of meat, which will suffer pain from everything what happens around, near and far away from you, what has already happened and what will happen. It will leave only pain. Don't ever read this book!

But if you are not afraid, follow, Arundhati Roy will show us world of endless pain and torture. You will never be the same.

India is wonderful, magic country. Country of tea, cows, species and elephants, singing and dancing; country, wrapped in colorful silk sari, with big golden earrings, tinkling bracelets, rings on each finger; country with traditional bindi on the forehead; country, sparkling as diamond in the nose of eastern beauty.  Sentimental and romantic India...

But Arundhati Roy has another country: with revolutionary slogans, communist rallies, rains, fuming rivers, with women, who "have no Place Under The Sun", with holes in creation, such as History; holes, which are impossible to avoid. India in beige sharp-nosed shoes with bad comb-over... Cruel country, worshiping England, where some children are "Loved From The Beginning" and others are "Loved Less". And the whole family on this background. 

As I finished the book, first lines of "Anna Karenina" immediately came to my mind: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way".
On the first sight the plot of the novel is very simple, being many times by different people in different centuries. Even the attempt of the author to build plot on the retrospection doesn’t bring anything new. Basically, the narration doesn't have any geographical linking, the same happens to many people in other parts of the worlds, in spite of the elephants dying somewhere on the background. And here we see the family and two little souls, transforming after the Horror into Muteness and Void. From the very first pages author prepares us for the Horror as for the feast. From the beginning the Result is known and picture of events is being brought together as a puzzle. The chronology simply doesn't exist: from the past to the present and then again back to the past - the small time machine, helping us to travel in History. 

Probably the most horrifying part is the retrospective of twins' childhood. Childhood, where mother loves her children, sometimes more and sometimes less. On the example of two children Roy shows us the meeting of two worlds: childish world, full of fantasies and hunger of knowledge crashes with filthy, perverted, broken world of adults. And this meeting ends tragically. 

During the whole novel we sorely try to understand whose fault is this hell, which happens around protagonists. Is it their fault? Or just circumstances? Other people? Or all together? And do they deserve it?  "The God of Small Things" tells about fatal moments of weakness, strength of human prejudices and cruelty of those, who have power. Whatever, countries and rules differ, but people are the same and their passions are the same. 

In spite of this novel is usually considered as family saga, the main characters here are twins Rachel and Esta. They are strange children. Twins are different in many ways, but somehow still are the part of one creature, which doesn't recognize "me" and "he", only "us".  The common soul remains even when their roads are separated. Tragedy. Life torn apart. Game with own fate. Their life will be just repetition of their mother's. Ammu's fate. Failed life is the answer to the run from self. Broken fates like dried leaves among the pages of a book. Broken life, broken dreams, incest in the end - all roads lead to Hell. To the Heart of Darkness. 

This novel is smother, wistful. The darkness of hints gathers in corers and surrounds us. Cruel beauty of Roy's language spell-bounds and hurts. In beautiful, stylish, elegant way she writes about horrifying, dismal things. From the first lines her phrases hypnotize, you can't close your eyes, you can't stop. Once you enter, you have to walk till the end. Words seep under your skin. But they are beautiful.

This book is a long way to the scaffold. 

The invitation to the execution. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Sea is God of the Dead: Lindqvist's "Harbor" and Childhood Fears

“This wasn't the way he had expected his life to be. It worked, but that was about all. Happiness had got lost somewhere along the way.”  ― John Ajvide Lindqvist, Harbor

The Sea takes and never returns...

Obscure, attractive Sea, which will destroy you if only you break the agreement...

The Sea is dangerous, and those who don't think so are totally mistaken. That, who knows what  power is, cannot be safe.

Lindqvist's Sea is not that pretty stuff from romantic postcards. Lindqvist's Sea is cold, strict. It takes away.

The Sea comes to our homes, it poisons our water, it makes our mind change. It asks for sacrifices.

The Sea is not some unbelievable power.

The Sea is not Evil.

The Sea in the novel is angry God. And Gods, as we all know, are immortal.  

Anders' and Cecilia's normal life end in one ordinary winter morning, when during the walk to the lighthouse their six years old daughter Maja suddenly disappears. She disappeared as never existed. But she was there, and as a prove the horrible void in the souls of her parents. Anders tries to fill the void with alcohol, while the sea comes closer and closer. People disappear, but they return. They return and disturb others, they return and think this life still belongs to them. 

From my childhood I see the same dream: I'm standing on the seashore, and watching the sea. Suddenly the huge wave comes. I  try to run, but water is behind me, water is in front of me. Disturbed, I wake up with hardly beating heart and need hours to calm down. Sometimes I see this dream every night, sometimes once a months. Sometimes I think this nightmare will never return, but months pass and it comes back ... The Sea never leaves its victims.

It's hard to understand what is real and what is the part of Anders' ill fantasy in the novel. The only reality of people living on the peninsula is the Sea. Their dead rest in the depth of the sea and later come out, sea water is in their blood and this eternal circle makes them feel special. 

When I was small, I used to talk to the Sea. I thought we could become friends and then Sea won't take me. I talked to the waves, I walked to the sea even in the stormy weather. Then I tried to break up this strange relationship. But the Sea never lets you go. 

Anders becomes the prisoner of the sea, the prisoner of his fears, of his guilt. It's significant, that author used the archetype of the sea in his novel. Except that the sea is so close to Scandinavians, the sea, the water generally, is  the symbol of life, death and rebirth (here come all those dead, drown once in the sea and then coming back); the symbol of birth-death-resurrection. I doubt whether author tried to show the life cycle, making all those people rise from dead or he wanted to say something more, something deep, something important, which lays beyond the borders of our ordinary vision and understanding. If we discuss Lindkvist's archetype of the sea, as Jungian archetype, than we have to consider, that water symbolizes the unconscious. It may be the collective unconscious of inhabitants of the island, especially because the author mentions, that the same story has already repeated before. The sea, which gives life to people living  on Domaro, but the sea also takes their lives. On the other hand, the archetypes represents the unconscious of Anders, who feels himself guilty for Maja's disappearance.

Generally, the novel is quite difficult to understand completely because of  many frustrating elements. But it definitely touches the reader and wakes a bunch of emotions, which are hard to overall. Ajvide Lindqvist's nover "Harbor" is definitely worth to be read. And... 

...and beware of the sea, which makes dead come back...

 The sea is everywhere.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Четвертая ипостась: за занавесью фантасмагории

Четвертая ипостась: за занавесью фантасмагории

(Вечному Жиду посвящается)

Времени не было. И солнце клонилось к закату, длинная дорога была пустынна и лишь одинокий путник шагал по ней, поднимая с каждым шагом маленькие облака пыли человеческих надежд. Внезапно он почувствовал волну страха и отчаяния, идущую с запада и увидел реку, полную водоворортов человеческих страстей. И узрел он будущего человека, которого тянули ко дну камни грехов его предков. И услышал он крик женщины, родившей этого ребенка, и видел множество смельчаков, бросающихся в реку. Но всех их поглощала разъяренная пучина. И заметила плачущая мать незнакомца, их взгляды пересеклись и он прочел мольбу в ее глазах. Он росился в реку и исчез в пучине, как множество тех смельчаков. Шли минуты и поверхность реки стала спокойной, как зеркало, а из вод вышли двое – незнакомец с ребенком на руках.
И не было предела радости той женщины, и незнакомца приветствовали, как героя, и повели его в дивный сад, где  был устроен великий пир в его честь.  И срывал незнакомец гранаты с деревьев и пил их сладкий сок. И летали там дивные синие птицы небывалой красоты, которыми все любовались, но и ползали земные черви у людских ног, которых никто не замечал.  И юыл в том саду длинный стол, уставленный заморскими яствами. Время от времени прилетали вороны и клевали виноград, но люди, поглащенные питьем вина не обращали внимания.
В самый разгар пиршества в сад вошли трое в длинных черных мантиях с белыми воротниками и заговорили: «Этот человек есть зло. Мы пришли, чтобы забрать его. Ибо он надсмехался над словами нашими праведными и жег нашм книги. Теперь же мы даруем тело его огню, дабы душа его очистилась от грехов.»
Но люди не отпускали незнакомца, наперебой рассказывая о его храбром поступке. И заговорила женщина, мать спасенного: «Да, быть может он совершал эти ужасные поступки. Но своим подвигом он искупил вину, и раскаивается.»
«Я никогда ни в чем не раскаиваюсь,» -  ответил незнакомец.
«Тогда кто же ты?» - спросили люди - «и откуда ты идешь?»
Он взглянул на них и ответил: «У меня много прозвищ, но нет имени.
Ибо иду я с Востока, откуда приходит мудрость, где земля выжжена солнцем и бедуины ползают по равнине, как мухи по мертвой земле. Когда поднимается луна, они жгут свои костры и маленькие островки света видны повсюду. Ибо иду я из страны тех, кто заклинает Луну. И видел я грифонов, сторожащих золото и драконов с железной чешуей. Я исполнял желания Фавна и спорил с Морским Царем.
Ибо иду я с Юга, откуда приходят сокровища. Я бродил по пыльным дорогам, где когда-то ходили пилигримы.
Ибо иду я из Мекки, где хранится зеленая чадра, на которой вышиты руками ангелов серебрянные слова из Корана.
Ибо я тот, который превращал воду в вино, камни в хлеб и лечил слепых, но меня не распяли.
Ибо я тот, кто построил семь алтарей семи главным грехам и создал семь идолов не из серебра и золота, но из плоти и крови. Я украшал их рубинами и жемчугом и омывал их ступни жертвенной кровью.
Ибо я тот, кто дает напится умирающему от жажды, но насытившийся уходит от меня голодным.
Ибо я творю добро, если я нужен людям, но я само зло, когда вокруг слишком много пороков и вы впускаете тьму в ваши сердца. »
«Так все же кто же ты?» - снова спросили люди.
«Прочтите ответ в ваших сердцах,»- горько улыбнувшись незнакомнц пошел прочь, и никто не мог остановить его, ибо у его дороги нет конца, и даже камни расступаются перед ним и океан превращается в проторенную дорогу...


(photo by Mikko Lagerstedt)