Friday, June 19, 2009

from the age of genius


I don't normally read the New Yorker with pen in hand, but last week's issue contained a piece by David Grossman entitled "The Age of Genius" on Bruno Schulz, a Polish Jewish writer who was shot by an S.S. officer in the streets of the Drohobycz ghetto in 1942, that required note taking. Some of Grossman's passages describing Schulz's writing are so poignant and profound I'm determined to read both writers. Last week our dear neighbor's and friends were harshly yanked from their idyllic dreams of summer with the news their ten year old daughter has an advanced brain tumor. We are all standing vigil in love and prayer as we approach surgery next Tuesday. It doesn't take such circumstances for the excerpts below to ring loud and ring true. In fact, I hope it doesn't.

"Reading his works made me realize that, in our day-to-day routines, we feel our lives most when they are running out: as we age, as we lose our physical abilities, our health, and, of course, family members and friends who are important to us. Then we pause for a moment, sink into ourselves, and feel: here was something, and now it is gone. It will not return. And it may be that we understand it, truly and deeply, only when it is lost."

"The Age of Genius was for Schultz an age driven by the faith that life could be created over and over again through the power of the imagination and passion and love, the faith that despair had not yet overruled any of these forces, that we had not yet been eaten away by our own cynicism and nihilism. The Age of Genius was for Schultz a period of perfect childhood, feral and filled with light, which even if it lasted for only a brief moment in a person's life would be missed for the rest of his years."

"In "See Under: Love," I struggled to bring to life, if only for a few pages, the Age of Genius, as Schulz had suggested it in his writings. I wrote about an age in which every person is an artist, and each human life is unique and treasured. An age in which we adults feel unbearable pain over our fossilized childhoods, and a sudden urge to dissolve the crust that has congealed around us. An age in which everyone understands that killing a person destroys a singular work of art, which can never be replicated."

1 comment:

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

Oh Allison, I'm so sorry. Let me know how the surgery turns out (and who you read first.)
England?