Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Writing god, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Died This Week

Some time ago at age 15, I dreamt of the gulag and the prisoners. I could almost see the haunting faces of the Brothers Karamazov, I feverishly followed each episode of Anna Karenina's life like how one would to a movie star today. I would ponder in awe with War and Peace. I was 15, and I was in the Age of Reason with Jean Paul Sartre.

I loved the feel of these thick hardbounds like they were everything that mattered to me.

Now, these characters, these authors are just blocks of hazy pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle haphazardly strewn in my mind. Yet they still make sense, in a way.

Today, I've read that Solzhenitsyn (whose name I even misspelled in my previous post) is dead.

This is how one must feel when he receives news from back home about someone who just died. Someone he barely remembers and even forgot that that someone ever existed. The bad news of death does not sink in at once. There is that detached feeling of trying to place the name back in his life. Once it finds its spot, the life you lived when you were with that name comes rushing back to you.

I was young once. Mesmerized, and fascinated by the world the words of Solzhenitsyn described to me. I was young and innocent. Solzhenitsyn was with me. Now, he's dead.

Is it his death that I am mourning? Or is it my long lost youth?

Here's that post that, to my utter horror, I just discovered I misspelled his name and "misnamed" one of his works:

Why I Wanted to be a Writer

I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school. My fascination with the written word grew as I became a voracious reader, thanks to my mom who worked for a university, she can borrow an endless supply of reading materials for me.

I had an early start in reading. I clearly remember that as soon as I learned to read, everyday after school, I proceed to a neighbor’s barber shop to scan the pages of Bulletin Today for the funny pages. While I got hold of copies of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queens’ Ellery Queen series, Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, The Hardy Boys Series, and back copies of the Readers’ Digest, I got really hooked up on comic books. I was so into reading them that I can be considered a “komiks” addict. Everyday for months, I would gobble up pages of comics from the pinoy serials to DC and Marvel comics copies. If today’s neighborhood arcade games are threatening to destroy the education of some students, “komiks” almost destroyed mine.

I don’t know how my mom did it but she succeeded in getting my interest to reading textbooks one year ahead of my grade level. From being a “komiks” addict who was almost expelled due to absences, I became a bookworm. As a result, I guess, I graduated grade school with honors and was offered three high school academic scholarships.

In high school, my mom supplied me with stacks of back copies of The National Geographic (some are still in black and white photos), I was also swamped with Current Executive’s Digest. I read them all with gusto, but I liked the pocket books’ fiction better: I read most of Frederick Forsythe’s, Robert Ludlum’s, and John Le Carre’s novels, among others. My writing gods were Rudyad Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, O’Henry, and several other short story writers whose names I completely forgot. I was brought into the “Age of Reason” by Jean Paul Sartre and by Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina; War and Peace); Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Alexander Solshenitshin (Inner Circle, Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment—I forgot who wrote which but I can still remember the melancholy the worlds of these novels’ characters brought me.)

On my way to Luzon to study in U.P. Diliman on a scholarship, I was reading Abraham Maslow’s (I forgot the title) book about “man being intrinsically self-transcending.”

Now I'm here, pursuing my lifetime wish of becoming a writer. Unfortunately, this essay answers a requirement that asks for 500 words only—otherwise, this could have sprung an endless stream of nostalgic words reminiscent of that beautiful, pure, and vigorous existence of youth. Talk about a life... long faded into a hazy beautiful dream.

I believe my finally shifting to a full time writing career would restore and link me back to that lost chapter of my life.