Blesok no. 60, May-June, 2008
Reviews


Life as a Garbage Dump of Rejected Dreams (in five images)
(Tomislav Osmanli: "Characters from Meanwhile", Blesok, 2008)

Vesna Mojsova-Čepiševska



I IMAGE[1]The Balkans:

The Balkans as a cradle and paradigm at the same time, as a superior and unreachable pattern of all the wealth of the genuine human substance. The Balkans as a synonym of the time in which the humanity has not passed through destiliations, various boilings and cleansings yet, a place where the humanity has not determined yet, thus not negating itself in all other possibilities, but also as state of authenticity as opposed to the surrogate reality of the rest of the world. The Balkans as a place where all the possibilities are still open[2]. The Balkans in which… at that time, although still unrecognized, un-independent and un-sovereign, Macedonia continues to live idyllically and peacefully… The Balkans in which… unlike the crazy Europe… Macedonia goes on slowly, easily… [3] and where at the beginning of this new century Macedonia, as still unrecognized, has accepted the race of the crazy Europe. The Balkans of Tomislav Osmanli via his characters, human destinies of the time in between.

II IMAGE – Manaki:

We leave intentional and unintentional traces in the lives of others, G. Stefanovski says in his foreword to his play Чернодрински се враќа дома [Černodrinski Returns Home] (Скопје: Магазин 21, 1992). This play of his indeed follows buried traces, true and necessary, assumed and possible left by nobody else but his creative father, the father of the Macedonian play and theatre. Traces like these are recognized in the subjective images of the objective Balkans created by Osmanli himself on behalf of his creative father – Manaki, the eminent cameraman from Bitola and the Balkans. The text for the editing documentary “with fictional elements” has seriously confirmed this attempt as a success. Thus, through the mute images (more precisely through the voice of the author himself, via the instructions to the directors and stage setters in the printed form of the documentary), he manages to give and ironically transferred image of the Balkan history of the last century in most of the work of Milton Manaki (2008:7). Intertextuality does not imply anonymity, but a reaction of the current author to his poetic father (predecessor). Thus, via the category of creative correction, Osmanli as a follower brings to life the reading of the parent-text and manages to make us happy as readers, and even more as viewers with the news that Manaki is coming home.

III IMAGE: Film

In order to know the work that belongs to the past, as the one of Manaki brothers, it is not enough to only know the poetics and the code of their time, but also to know how to use the power of irony, which is used to reevaluate the issues and place them under the relativizing light. That is why everybody, both he as an author and we as readers so strongly need the memory as the only ontological compensation for something or someone very important in our lives. The machine that enables us a real movement through times, so strongly refreshing our memories, is the film. The film, as a medium of remembrance, is more and more related to the concept of existence[4]. Regardless of the fact whether this film is made in one's head, or it is woven on the spindle of gradma Despina, or ground by neighbour Paca's coffee grinder, or shown on the Bioscope camera with a factory number 300 of Manaki. In this context, the knitted material of Osmanli is a coded writing in which the meaning is blurred in a clearly visible knitting of the spun, ground and recorded. For if it was not for grandma Despina, there would not be Manaki, and if it was not for Manaki, we would still memorize grandma Despina only as simple spinner or to some extent as a good story teller who waits for her Cepenkov to hear her out. However, with him and his spinning of “live images” we also experience her as the first movie actress, the first movie star of the mute film in the Balkans. In the end, Osmanli too appears in the whole game to remind us, to refresh our memory. In all of this one also recognizes this male-female game about whose spinning is more important, the one of Manaki or grandma Despina's, for each of them writes, i.e. tells only histories. The exceptionality of the man is in his actions, and the woman's in her being; or, in other words, the value of the man is in what he does and the value of the woman in what she is[5]. That is why grandma Despina is a weaver, and Manaki makes a movie.



IV IMAGE – Violence:

A light motive of the three scripts of Tomislav Osmanli is the violence, behind which there is something completely different. In the basis of this violence there is the topic of manhood, i.e. the need to constantly prove it. This occurrence in the Macedonian culture matches the feeling of collective feeling of tragedy brought by a series of military, political, social, moral and other defeats, both those in the last century and the most recent ones. That is why Iko (45th scene of the TV film script called Стрмоглави [Precipitous]): He starts to break. Everybody is petrified. The inspector reaches for his gun. Iko hits him with his bat on the face. He remains lying on the ground. Iko turns over the table. Cards and money fall on all sides. He hits the casino owner and the boss (2008: 85).
    The stories seem to repeat, the images seem to copy, and that is why the fact that the viewer/reader brings the scene of the hanged participants in the Uriet from the beginning of 20th century next to the images of Bosnia from the end of the same century. The stories, both the one about the Manaki brothers and the one of the people from the big post-communist circus show, as well as the one about the people from the city garbage dump, Gavril – the inhabitant of the settlement that is to be torn down, and Matej – the communal service worker, Ruška – the army waste saleswoman, Dule “Globus” – the driver of a garbage truck, former, retired professor are “usual”, recognizable, everyday, and brutal at the same time. As a result of this violence, the characters from the time in between show a manhood in crisis. They stress the libido problems that automatically question the manhood situation in the bar or the garbage dump as areas that grow into frescoes of the contemporary life.

V IMAGE: Garbage Dump

The three scripts of Tomislav Osmanli are also read from the aspect of the dark drama of the pure. The need for pure is actually a strict ritual duty and it lasts as long as our whole physical mortal time, but does not end with the moment of our death [6]. This type of an obsession often goes together with the desire for order. Actually, in the further human development, the culture via its institutions works on imposing a pang of conscience about the impure itself. In all of this, Osmalni again subtly imposes the topic of the Balkan garbage dump as opposed to the European clean. The Balkans is everything that Europe wants to push down, and what it is inevitably attracted to at the same time. On one hand, the Balkans is a garbage dump and a container which has everything that should be moved out of the sight of the organized, enlightened, cultivated Europe; on the other hand, it is a kind of a prison Europe in which everything that is postponed into the area of the Other keeps on coming back.[7] The human survival is equal to filthiness. Stench spreads from the garbage dump, from its full containers, but the biggest stink comes from the homes themselves, from the balconies filled with unnecessary things and waste, especially the bedrooms. As far as the stink is concerned, says Icko, the failed clown and circus actor, it's all a matter of habit… You haven't noticed that those who keep on spraying themselves with perfume also stink. Sometimes the waste is better than a brand new шејче (2008: 165-166).
    Tomislav Osmanli stresses his great thesis, general and universal, inspired by the frustrating contemporariness, about the garbage dump as a metaphor of piles of memories, hopes, little loves, little destinies, small and big dreams (2008: 165) in his address on the occasion of the film project Ангели на отпадот [Angels on the Garbage Dump], when he says: Today is filled with the rejected signs of the past, with the waste of former values, it is a garbage dump of the values of the passed history. Thus, the world in which we live offers itself as an environmentally and philosophically sad image of a devastated landscape carrying the elongated images of all passed time. And if such a landscape has been given to us, then we who populate it look like wanderers who desperately pick search along this garbage dump that constantly covers us: it, the garbage dump that used to be a value, us, the shadows of some former people (2008: 95). That is why it is quite normal to also experience Manaki's camera as a garbage dump, and even Manaki himself. But, to return the value of this today, we should all strongly invest ourselves in its reworking, refreshing, to dedicate itself to the recycling of the former values of the passed history. That is why these scripts of Tomislav Osmanli are also read as recycled values.
    Maybe this reading of the three scripts of Tomislav Osmanli under the same title Ликови од меѓувреме [Characters In the Meantime] is but a small contribution to opposing the changed status that the literary science has had lately. The literary text in this case is an edited script about a mocking fictional and documentary cinema collage, a TV film script and a motion picture and a TV series script. At the time when we become more and more aware that the writing is second to the mass media (especially the commercials, spot, film) which take over its role, when the text is more and more pushed away by the image, this reading of Tomislav Osmanli's texts fights against the possible death of the literary science. Somebody can recognize, read a kind of a “debasing” of the expert reading of the literary works in it, but somebody will also see an attempt for a new position of the literature itself, in which the literary science is healed by the diseases of the contemporary social order. As a matter of fact, the topic that Tomislav Osmanli himself starts in these scripts, the topic of life understood as a garbage dump of rejected dreams (2008: 99) as one of the topics of abject art is also in this direction (Котеска, 2006: 233-240)!

Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska


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1. The term image in this text is used in a double meaning. Initially it means a stop-shot or a photograph and this meaning is behind the name that this image has, or more correctly, behind the title of the image: The Balkans, Manaki, Film, Violence, Garbage Dump. But this term also comes close to what an image, i.e. scene in a play or a script is. In this context, the developed text that follows each title, after each stop-shot means specifying, detailing, describing, but also developing of the shot. Thus, in this determinant, the dichotomy static – dynamics is also revealed via the dichotomy photograph – film.
2. See Ф. Мухиќ. „Балкански антрополошки апејрон на Сатанските стихови“ in Салман Ружди. Сатански стихови. – Скопје: Култура, 1990.
3. Томислав Османли. Ликови од меѓувреме. – Скопје: Блесок, 2008, 17.
4. Elizabeta Šeleva. “The Novel as a Philosophy of Remembering” in Blesok. – Skopje: January-February 2008, no. 58.
5. Quoted according to Јадранка Владова. „Живеење само една љубовна приказна и по смртта или: рецептот како љубовно писмо“ in Читање на светската литература. – Скопје: Македонска книга 2002, 2003, 242.

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6. Јасна Котеска. Санитарна енигма – Скопје: Темплум, 2006.
7. Е. Чуфер. in Маргина. – Скопје: year XII, no. 70 4/2005, 220.



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