Blesok no. 59, March-April, 2008
Reviews


Masterfully, Venko!
(Venko Andonovski: Veštica (The Witch). – Skopje, "Kultura", 2006)

Kristina Nikolovska


This novel is not to be read. This novel is to be lived…

*    *    *

The testimony of the genocide of the so-called XVII century “witches” in Croatia is a potresna metonymy for even bigger inquisitions. These inquisitions still “travel” and “move” through times and space. This is when fiction is an ideal alibi for the existence of – reality. Thus witches are fiction – perfectly constructed alibi of reality of the morbid world of: prosecutors, investigators, persecutors, executioners, butchers, punishers, inquisitors (of life and passion). Respectfully disguised in: uniforms, roles, functions, positions… There is a logical inversion made: what is being trialed is fiction, purposefully constructed world, instead of one's own “dirty” reality. There is a social, institutional and public desecration and massacre of beautiful and wise – because of one's own impotence. This is another name for power, political games, quasi-ideological moralizing, spiritual travesty, intellectual prostitution, ideological homosexuality and hypocrisy. This erosion of morality leads to irrevocable sliding of axiologies and final disastrous earthquake of axiologies!
    This massive, acted hysteric exorcism – is pure artism or alleged exorcism of devils. This abused demonopathology – or obsession with the devil, as an eternal demonomanty through the centuries is only being travestied, re-masked, re-packed, re-advertised. Not only between sexes, but also among each sex of: good versus evil, beautiful versus ugly, free versus closed, love / hate, passion / impotence, freedom / frustration, etc.
    For all of this there “secret documentation”, records, laws, reports, were fiction is “desecrated” and abused as a pseudo-fact. But, in this world of documentation, archives, courts – one does not only search for the most important and most secret document possible. It is this document that one of the authors searches for.
    
Is there a more secret and more undecifred document than – man?
    
The search for it, as a precious secret testimony of centuries and universes is done – via the stories of this book.
    This is how the world of inquisition is opened. The horrifying testimonies of the genocide of so-called “witches” are most convincing in the shaky “horror documentariness”. “For it is blood that writes, not the ink”
[1], says the narrative voice. The morbid fact recording of torture devices with detailed descriptions of inquisition orgies are the place of horrible “three dots” where the “reader finished the story with his tears!” according to the narrator. Our “manuscript” of tears for these horrors is – a replica to the blood that “drips” from the massive tragedy.
    
However, the dangerous world of “invisible”, ”spiritual”, “personal” inquisitions also breaks open via the public ones. This “inner” inquisition or auto-inquisition also happens to us. Every day, invisibly, secretly – when it is us that are “the persecutors of the (imagined) witches” in us, as “authorized (self)executors” of the beautiful and free inside us. This is the Witch that we ourselves invisibly torch and put on the stake. “The inner” inquisition is conducted on behalf of the provincial “judiciary”, in the name of our local provincial, neighborhood inquisition, which is a shadow of the global, medieval or new century one.
    
This inquisition is a ruler of our self-made “life-long dungeons[2]. These “dungeaons”, according to the narrator, are most of today's marriages, as well as our professional, social and status roles. We are the architects, and the new “quasi-religion” is her majesty – acting. ”And fear is defeated by lie,” says the narrator.
    In the modern inquisitions there are also invisible “spiritual” instruments for (self)torture and torture of others.
    But for such a horror world of the book Veštica – the most gentle and most loving stories possible in this book are being born.

*    *    *

The novel is a home to several stories. There is no longer a single story and there is no longer one voice telling it. We no longer read it or finish it in only one way. This polyphonic reader's hermeneutics is a creative part of the creative process which is done publicly and collectively, in front of us.
    The stories are a “golden echo” to each other. The stories-echo, stories-shadows. The characters are also but shadows to each other. The plots are children-off springs of the ancestors. Dramas, tragedies are relatives that later recognize themselves. This all goes through the centuries, times, pre-spaces…
    This polyphonic, polysemic, “reading” of life is done via copying of stories, emotions, intimate lives. Via reading the “book-reality”. Thus, the stories grow – in lives, unlived until then. In this way, life becomes – more life. Since “souls are read” and not only the paper. We read “invisible” letters, we read “man-letter”, “girl-letter”, “woman-letter”, “face-letter”. Life is read, and stories and lived. In this way the shaky story of witches comes to life, in this way the medieval Johana and the contemporary “read haired” beauty also come alive, since they are no longer convicted to “paper life” only. And this happens when our life becomes more and more a “paper-life”, “monitor-life”, “shop window-life” – in the voyeur era!
    The stories are deciphered among themselves, not only for the needs of the higher purposes of the book, but also in the name of bigger demystifications of massive civilization phenomena, as in the example of the video-perversions of XXI century, which are revealed as off-springs of the pre-frustrations – medieval orgies, visually documented as early as XVII century.



*    *    *

The novel has a polyphonic structure. This is because of quite natural reasons rather than theoretical. Can a life be “read” without “reading at least one more throughout it? Can one experience the “other's” story if it does not become “one's own”? Or can “one's own” become “other's”? The three stories of the book flow into the same ocean, and the pre-stories and post-stories… And we imperceptibly and unconsciously adopt. This is how one adopts: stories, emotions, situations, ambiences, dialogues in the castle called Vešterka. Is there a more cult-like position than the sensual, emotional and intellectual openness: to the pre-story of the forbidden love of father Benjamin and Johana, to the fictional autobiography of the author, and to the recognizing of one's own story in “other's” stories. This is how the stories are “read” through each other. This is how they give meaning to each other and they “talk” to each other… Just as lives can comment each other. And in this way they give each other another meaning… But not with words. With life.
    The parallel stories are not separate and independent worlds, which we follow on several screens. Thus show affinity to each other. The three stories elegantly and graciously intertwine as thee river mouths of a golden river braid. But there is only one key proof of this intertwining. This specific “physical” contact or channel between them is – an object. The knife is the artifact or the “bridge” between the stories. It “moves” from one story – to another.
    But why should the people not be “bridges” through the centuries? The red haired (Internet) child is a possible shadow of the inquisition Johana, and they are a possible vision or a dream of the real girl. Just like the assistant, who is the possible echo of father Benjamin, and they are both maybe just an imagination of the author, who wished to become a character. The game of possibilities is endless, for there is a point in everybody's life. You enter this point after you ideally “train” and finally – achieve your own life role, the one that you have set for yourself, as a homework. But it is this role – professional, private, social, contextual – that you wish to escape! Just as the author of this novel wished to publicly escape his role in this nook! Imagine that maybe somewhere there is a virtual advertising board, where we can change our roles under a code name. Not as a perversion, but as a possible game – as a new life.
    This novel becomes such a possible, subtle advertising board for exchange of old “worn out” roles for new ones. A playground for adults! When the transfer can not take place freely and publicly. For there is also a punishment if you are not consistent to your own role and your own “dungeon”.
    The novel gives us a new idea for a new life. Via a sophisticated playground and wisdom ground. The novel is a new gate to your new life. The life in which you choose again.
    You even get to choose yourself… Or you eternally miss yourself…

*    *    *

The novel is a rebus. The sentences and replicas – dialogize through centuries, emotions travel through centuries and they resettle, while the stories sympathize for each other and they intertwine. Philosophemas and parabolas – talk and polemize through stories, times and characters. These wise spots or “lakes” of wisdom ”grow” from the quite subtle “spots” in the novel.
    Thus stories themselves make love to each other, this is how they get children. Try to motivate the stories to love and you will get – a new world, a new reality.
    
It becomes possible for the stories to fit into a mosaic, with us as its creators, And the novel-rebus is in a constant potential composition.
    This is not a metapolemic ambiance is built, where the types of writing also polemize to each other. Everything is in a deep, genuine reexamining process, towards oneself and towards the others. There is internal polemics and commenting, not only in narratology, theory of literature, philosophy, etc.
    There is a polyphony of authors. A multiplied narrative voice.
    
Where does the need of the author to become a character, the character to become real, the reader to turn into an implicit reader, and then into a new author, and the pre-author to get out of the book – and become a new reader come from?
    The need to change places – is of course not a trendsetting postmodern trend, but an essential need of focalization. To essentially “re-locate”, “re-address” is one of the ideals of this endeavor. To “enter” the state of the other, and him to enter ours. Only then can we try the “taste” of his discourse, but also the “taste” of his emotions, thoughts, views, and sense his breathing and heartbeat.
    Via a filigree of pluralism of styles there is a voluptuous polyphony of discourse. This is done via at least three types of discourse: narrative, essayistic and detection one.
    The narrative discourse
is made epochally shaky and touchy, “hosted” in the horrible medieval pre-story; from its “insides” the gentlest and warmest forbidden world of the father and the anathema – “the witch” grows. But just like that – a pure poetic “sky” fully “bursts” and “opens” above the novel… When the endless “poetry sky” opens above the novel – know that the most precious universe has opened! For it is the poetry that will dawn on you! This novel dawns with poetry! With poetry of love, a timeless poetry, where the loved ones seek for each other through the centuries. And just like that, you might recognize yourself, as already written or read, imagined once again, from your lost part, the one that we seek for in the centuries… I claim that you will feel the most loving addresses of centuries through the most loving possible love of Johana and Papa. The encounter of ideal roles, which transit through them – is fatally fierce, devastating…



And the expression of the endless love of Johana to Papa is the supreme apotheosis, the highest holiday of love! Her love joy, celebrated as a child is – a universal fresco painting! Inquisition is harmless for this love, for the wise head of Johana wonders: “Why do they burn their bodies, Papa, when the body is but a book on which passion is written, and the love is in the soul?”[3] And indeed, nobody has managed to burn the souls that love each other, nor the “thought of the soul”[4]. This is how the soul of dear Johana survives the klada, and as an amber, “moves” through the centuries – to burn again in the contemporary red haired student… For their love tune “smells” the same…
    It is said that beautiful is too unimaginable – and that it can not be described or told. But, the novel is a proof that the indescribably beautiful – can be described, for there is an extraordinary, even fatherly care about every atom of text, but there is also the most sensual… “cotton” of emotions. Thus, the indescribable love is described: “You sit, in an unprecedented warmth, (…)”[5]. Is there a “thicker” description than the “unprecedented warmth” that boils from the lovers, or the description of the hot, erotic scene when Papa tells Johana: “'Nobody can', says he, 'nobody can punish you like this, you unobedient child, foolish, you heated avance of mine, (…)'”[6]. These seemingly “small” but loving powerful metaphors, such as “avance of mine” – are a true “kingdom” of love rhethoric and diction of passion! True gems scattered around the novel! They glow at night, when it is dark, for passionate dialogues of lovers are held in a love trance, when Papa curiously and obediently asks: “'Who do you caress now, you cuddly creature?' and she says: 'The words, sounds, smells, sun, all the wealth around me', she said gently. 'So you are cheating on me', he said. 'You're such a fool, Papa', she said. 'You are in all of this: in each voice, in every bit of dust, in every grass, in every smell, you are penetrating into this landscape. I am caressing the landscape, you'”.[7]
    I know that on places like this you will finish the story in a handwriting of tears. For maybe we are also someone's imagined landscape, upon which some unknown soul feeds.
    These dialogues are led on a higher “sky”, where the author's love for the text openly culminates; for him it is a royal lover, who should be gently “fed” by his genius writer's juice! And the triumph of the emotion to literature – is a golden privilege for the author!
    This privilege is refining in a most supreme way, when quite spontaneously, a precious ocean of philosophical messages flows from one “source”. The next type of writing is an essayistic discourse, whose “honey” “embroiders” a “platinum” philosephemic mosaic. Thus, the honey-like diamond essayistic philosophemic pieces, axiologies, supreme pure ideologies, crystal essayisms start flowing through the medieval Johana unexpectedly! A special flavor, and even charm to this type of writing is given by the refreshment – the essayisms are dislocated – via typical locations, For example, the thickest philosophemic “waters” will flow quite unexpectedly, after passionate love was made just before. These unforgettable philosophemic “rains” or essayisms start to “drop” and “water” us when we hear that: “I shall tell you, so that you don't say that I haven't told you: death is a door. And love is a door. The same door, for even after death you're still in the same house, only in a different room. Therefore, don't cry for the dead: they are in the same house, only in a different room. And don't cry for the separated lovers: they are in the same house, in the same universe, as the dead and the living, only in different rooms. / And they shall find each other, even in centuries.”[8]
    Such an essayistic “rain” also flows from the thought: “Language is a graveyard of words that re-resurrect in the holly church of man: mouth. The dead speak through our mouths. We only lend them the voice.”[9], or via purely theoretical, narratological directions, such as: “Besides, the reader writes much more than the writer, while reading. Yes, reading between lines, on the white spaces he writes the more important text of the novel, the invisible writing of the reader's passion (…)”[10].
    There is a magical moment, when we understand that the essayistic rain is wisely sent to only “wash” and “rinse” the field that opens under us. It is “purified” as a spotlessly washed street, the precious floor under us, in the novel. As the “poetry sky” “opened” above us, it showed its “face” and the beautiful floor mosaic – of philosophic carpet. The carpet has precious “gems-philosophemas” which are already in our hands, and we only need to put them together in a bigger whole… Suddenly, we fell that every breath of the novel has been put on a gold plate and that someone in the background perfectly takes care of a higher planning of all possible inner plans… The book, the life… And this is done through a masterful elite creative eloquence, but also in a fascinating triumphant gift!
    
The ideal circulation of this poetic sky and this essayised carpet-mosaic is – the “blood” that circulates from the following type of writing – discourse of detection. Its “blood” is action, dynamics, tempo, events – perfectly recognized in the hyper-energetic “blood” of the red haired student Johana from our context, Here we have a polyphony of communication models of the writing: e-mail correspondence, SMS-messages, but also traditional writing, segments of the novel that is being written. These “pieces” of the novel are in permanent postponing, and therefore they have the dynamics of a crime novel. The discourse of detection is a world of love orders, letters that are made somewhere and should be discovered, parts pf the novel that are yet to be connected… A yearning of every person potentially in love. This is in a time where we always have several tasks: while we drive a car we talk on a mobile, or we work on a lap-top in a café, or while we listen, and we do not watch TV, we read and write…
    It is fully refreshing that in the middle of the action discourse, through the eyes of the contemporary university teaching assistant – unexpected warm, human sentences come out.



The cooperation of discourses is possible, full-blood and life-making. From a naked beauty an essay can “run”, or a quite human and love replica can “drop” from the priest's robe. It is warm, quite human for an emotion to come out of the uniform or robe, just as a philosophical river can flow from the naked beauty, opening to the ocean…
    The types of discourse are in mutual erotisation as well. The world of discourses is mutually “stimulated”. This stimulation is the juiciest “food” of the “juice” that is producing the dynamic in this book.
    But what is the point of the “mix” of discourses? It is of course not a bare experiment, but a sheer need for artistic authentication not only of discourses, but also the universes of thoughts, feelings, experiencing. All of this complex, composite system of love making of discourses is not an empty fashionable fornication or a parade of obvious brilliant abilities of the creator of this book. It is maybe the most acoustic possible dialogism among the entities and most sophisticated theories, which can also be understood through “ini centuries”. There is no curtain between them. It is a proof that if one author wished to “disperse” to several authors, he can conduct a polyphone, deepest intellectual and emotional conversation, inside his own home. And his home is the novel, which is probably the most compact in this decomposing process, for it is paradoxical that the novel, as much as it displays a need to be decomposed, a new, potential composition is made in the background… But it is not “hard” and final given thing, for it is completed throughout the centuries… And now we are only transit co-authors of the book, which is yet to be written…
    Imagine the “spice” to all of this… The gentlest children's images that we all remember through a “sfumato”: when the child goes for a holiday with his parents in a small “Zastava” and he sticks his little nose on the back car window. Or when Ante and Varošlija, together with Father – are drunk with the poison of printing lead in “Nova Makedonija”… Just imagine this yearning world… For a while now they have been – literature… even when they were life…

*    *    *

This is only part of the original procedures that this book inventively uses to dismiss the pre-clichés of narratology, but also with – l i f e o l o g y. One of this disputed clichés is that: “literature imitates the reality”. The author's ideal is opposite: fiction produces reality! It gives the reality a new, possible idea! That is what happens in the book. All the directions in the narrative voice are directed to the red haired girl. She follows the love directions via letters, via parts of the novel which is created in the meantime. This outdated way of communication has something that no electronic mail or telephone can provide. In the world in which we forgot what a letter is, what a novel is, there can no longer be a classical letter or a classical novel. Nor an imitation of a reality. Although I know that a hidden dream of each couple or potential lovers is this type of communication – via postponing. This is a novel of eternal postponing, it corresponds with your life. The pencil inside the novel, or the pages that are to be written, are just symbols of the tool that we need. To finish or rewrite our life. In the way that it is done by the authors or authors' voices in this book.
    In a marketing world, in a world where the (already spent) idea of life is aggressively advertised, in a world where it is dangerous to seriously follow the directions for an ideal look, the world of diets, laws, rules, tortures, inquisitions, media lynching. For the world desperately belong to labels, advertisements for a so-called “ideal” life. In the world of invisible studios, stages and local Hollywood-s is it healthy to wish for another (undirected) world, from which we might get a new idea of life.

*    *    *

So, “enter” the novel Veštica freely for a while. Live this novel.. Reading it. And then, pure and rehabilitated, “enter” your lives again…
    And we honestly live the novel Veštica, rather than only reading it – then a new, freshest possibility and idea is born – to stat reading our lives differently. Not later, as silent witnesses of our own lives, but as main characters. Just as the reader in this book rebels and wants to be an author. If the new fresh idea of your new life starts to come to life after the encounter with this grandiose book – the mission is fulfilled! Especially if after our newest life with the novel Veštica we get rid of at least one inquisition or prison. Do this, at the moment when the author wants to come out of the cover page world and come to you, you should go where he came from..

Maybe you will be a less secret document to yourself…
    
For maybe we are written somewhere, without knowing it. Maybe we are someone's dreamt story or character. Or we are a “letter” written somewhere. Maybe we are a novel or a “piece” of novel. Someone's unknown dream…
    
Maybe someone has already written our lives and given us a new idea to think.
    For we are only a possible metonymy of ourselves. For now we are only – what we think we are. And this is only – part of the possible us!
    
Just as the stories are but a smaller part of the bigger story, which is constantly re-desribed and re-created…
    And the novels grow from a world of darkness… They are the light.

*    *    *

I have the honor to publicly thank and salute the author of the book. This novel is the new beautiful face of the Macedonian culture! A face that the world will read from…

*    *    *

This novel is not read, it is lived… As any masterpiece.

    Masterfully, Venko!


Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska


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1. Paraphrase of a quotation from the book Veštica: “It is so because the writer writes the story in blood, and the reader finishes it with his tears!” (125).
2. “(…) life-long dungeon if they survive. What are most of the marriages today if not this life-long dungeon, a peace made between men and women, a pact for no attacks and peaceful raising of children? In this way, both sides benefit: fear is defeated by a the lie.”(112).

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3. Ibid., 310.
4. Ibid., 310.
5. Ibid., 302.
6. Ibid., 297.
7. Ibid., 291-292.
8. Ibid., 91.
9. Ibid., 58.
10. Ibid., 386.



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