Blesok no. 26, May-June, 2002
Essaysm as we have less and less
on the book of theater essays Time of the moment by Trajče Kacarov, "Tri", Skopje, 2000
When I was a little boy, I was wondering about one strange habit of my father to note on paper various thoughts and sayings by numerous authors whose books he used to read. Those little pieces of paper were often in my way (they were dispersing around) when later, I was reading those books. My problem was that I didn’t see any sense in that habit. Later I realized that the well-known “belle” verbalism of my father is built exactly that way. Even later I found out that some 400 years ago some guy Montaigne invented this kind of practice – to write down his notes, and then to gather them in the separate books. That kind of activity practices my friend Kacarov, who, in opposite of my father (who actually remained oral essayist), Kacarov did published his essays in written form. The book, by my humble opinion, is quite badly done from a technical and visual view, and has a little difficult and complicated title, but contains a live essayism inside, less and less used in our environment, especially from those trend-setters or trend-makers at the social key-spots (cathedras, literary and public institutions, media, etc.).
What’s characteristic for the essayism of Kacarov? Brian MacHale, in his book “Postmodern prose” separates the literature writing in two variants of the writing itself: epistemological and ontological, and in that way he makes the distinction between the modern and postmodern. Texts with epistemological dominant are trying to comprehend the world and the phenomena, to categorize and to specificate them, while in the texts with ontological dominant the world and things are only expressed and narrated, and they become an ontos, a being. Here, in our literature, the last few years dominates the epistemological essayism. That essaysm is scientifically hyper-determined, hyper-quote oriented, hyper-objective, tight, neutral in the language and in the expression. Trajche Kacarov is out of that trend. He, completely at the margins, consistently and constantly, works on his ontological essayism whose characteristics would be the narrativisation (or better: narratification) of the essay, the subjective, strongly expressive and affective expression with numerous rhetorical figures and with emphasized irony. Here also exist a kind of a chiazmatic paradox. The contemporary tendencies in the science strive to break through its rigid scientism, knowing of its numerous inconsistencies, and they try to “ontologize” the science. But at the same time, as we said, exactly the scientism “pollutes” the essay with epistemology whose characteristics we did mention. That’s why the question (and the answer) of the question what’s contemporary and what isn’t in ours and in global essayism, or the question what’s marginal and what’s central, is quite gloomy now. Even besides considering the fact that the ontological essayism is closer to the original masters of essayism. (Yes, even this author of those lines “smuggles along” the trend of the epistemological essayism, because he’s a birth of the local dominant cathedras. For example – this author “always wondered” upon the thoughts that Kacarov underlined while he was reading some book borrowed by him, cause this author’s concept of essayism regards such notes as something completely useless).
So, the Kacarov’s essayism has those characteristics that determine the original essayism (essayism of the source), to which the mages of the contemporary literature (and not only literary) science openly incline again (U.Eco, C.Todorov, A.Hasan, A.Bonito-Oliva). Here are some of the characteristics of that particular kind of essayism:
As first, the thematisation of the every day’s issues, what means – of those small questions and inquiries that any ordinary day brings to us (on this exactly refers Kacarov with the title of his book). And as the essays of this book are quite specific; those are theater essays, and normally, in them – mainly – the problems and dilemmas of the theater are being located: the national strategy and the role of the theaters in it, the numerous other issues that concern the theater’s culture politics, then the dilemmas of the theater director’s stylistics, the attitude of the theater people (actors, directors, dramaturgy writers) towards their own profession, the relations of the power structures that has the power of decision (political parties, governmental clerks, theater managers) towards the specific needs of the theater itself, etc. Kacarov’s approach is anecdotal, so he does narrate and ontologize the essay, mostly using his own theater experience (where he, as a drama author, essentially belongs) but also using the other cultural workers from all profiles, that he knows, used to know, etc.
A trademark of his essayism (as it stands for whole of his creative work in general) is the irony, the levels and sediments of irony, of the bare humor, through the complicated rhetorical figures, hyperbolas, litotas, paradoxes, till the full burlesque. The irony is the weapon with which Kacarov expresses his strong, although most often – indirect or with point, attitude, his morality, his stand in front the negative tendencies and phenomena that every day’s life brings to us. The attitude and the opinion of Kacarov are always in opposition to the establishment, both when he defends the dignity of the theater from the compromising structures of the power political parties and their clerks and pawns, their theater managers) and also from the non-professional attacks of the various and different clans’ interests. Kacarov expresses his wide culture and erudition through the quoting, or through telling anecdotes from various times and from different places. He quotes functionally in exact favor of the thematic he analyses and in the support of the attitude he presents, manipulating quite skillfully with the techniques of the double codes, paradoxes, controversy, etc.
Actually picturesque, the Kacarov’s strategy in the essayism can be called as the strategy of the “deep plow”. Apart from the journalists, critics, columnists, etc., who most often stuck in one and single problem and they “scratch it” repeatedly, with ephemeral arguments, they accuse, mingle in the egoism and their personal vanities, the Kacarov’s essayism gives to the weed of life – out-space dimensions. With the quotes he gives and with the thought-bows, he stands and opposes to the worthless mediocrity of the cultural administration the endless values of the thought and spirit, and of the moral dignity. Faced with the eternity of the art deeds and everlasting human thoughts, the petty intrigues and weaknesses that every day’s life brings to us – look so easy and common to us, and so makes the author’s attitude even more visible. The Kacarov’s strategy isn’t weak-hearted. It doesn’t have an intention to accuse, or to annihilate. He never speaks personally, or by actual names. His intention isn’t to be a Judge, but a conscience, to bring out some arguments that will face a man with his weaknesses and imperfections, as it stands in this books motto: The people are imperfect and therefore aren’t saints. Starting with thought like this, the position of Trajche Kacarov is Jesus-like: He, although aware of all human imperfections (that’s why the irony in his style), tries to make the people better than they are.
Translated by: Petar Volnarovski