Simona-Grazia Dima

 


 

 

 

(Romania)

 

 

Fusion Europe as a Spiritual Dwelling Place

 

 

This paper has been conceived as an essay reflecting a woman writer’s opinion concerning Europe viewed as a pluralistic and multicultural entity/space within which freedom of expression should contribute to the citizens’ emancipation (as far as the social level is concerned) and to the broadening of the field of consciousness (as far as the individual is concerned). It is important to specify that this inner freedom needs to be considered as a chance offered and not as a compulsory task. It encompasses any human being’s possibility to enjoy and exert his or her autonomous thought and deeds.

 

Today no one can live in enclaves, figuratively speaking, we all need communication and flexibility in terms of human relationship both lived and reflected in theory. For centuries Europe’s glory has consisted just in building bridges between civilizations, in shattering barriers and taboos. Thus Europe has been the most innovative and open-minded area of mankind. It has constantly been the avant-garde of humankind by promoting unbounded knowledge and experiment. Nowadays the whole planet is engaged in a general turmoil, a true explosion of exploring knowledge involving all continents. In these circumstances, how could Europe preserve its traditional status of being a universal spokesman, an outpost for intellectual investigation, a pioneer of human dignity?

 

As long as Europe had to convey something essential to the whole world, it was fervid and enthusiastic. Its effervescence meant an unceasing endeavor of self-shaping and self-adjusting by incorporating others’ experiences and gains. I think that only by being faithful to this attitude Europe will be able to continue to be a mark of the world’s progress.

 

As to me, I dream of a universal Europe speaking out for all humankind, a fusion Europe able to process new facts and standpoints, a hermeneutical Europe capable to interpret and explain the signs of time as well as the achievements of all nations. Europe has succeeded because it was expert in avoiding stiffening and ossification. I am constantly dreaming of a Europe philosophically belonging to the subject and not to the object, in the meaning Immanuel Kant gave this term: that human being should be the aim of evolution, and man should always prevail.

 

I am also dreaming of a Europe empowered in giving value to simple gestures by valuing not only their visible side, but also (and especially) the human “investment” behind them, i.e. their spiritual significance. I imagine a Europe mysteriously uniting past-present-future in an uninterrupted temporal flow of perpetual present time, that seminal time specific to religious perception – the liturgical time that saints of all religions have spoken of.

 

Society as a whole will never be happy and satisfied until all its members potentially exert their fundamental innate rights among which freedom of expression. Art, generally, and literature, especially, burst forth and are the expression of free mind. It has always been said that artists are children refusing to grow up while the common members of society form together a complex aggregate threatened by mental clichés, by prejudices of all kinds. Throughout the course of their lives people are menaced to get entangled in the web of mental preconceptions, and in a compulsory way they try to fit intellectual constructs that are wrong and noxious. Immediately one is born intoxication starts. One is taught to see life through discriminative rails: ethnic, social, sexual, specific to gender etc. Society still needs purification, and art, literature have always constituted purifying media for individuals and for wide social segments as well. The artist’s role is significant: he can preserve the freshness of his perception unaltered and his eyes clear and willing to see, he has convictions of his own, and also the courage to speak his mind (let us remember a painting by James Ensor, The Painter in the Crowd, depicting the face of a painter amid a crowd bearing masks).

 

One of the most persistent and harmful myths that society is imbued with is that prejudice considering woman’s role and essence as being of secondary importance and intellectual relevance. This a priori opinion, raised to the level of an authoritative value judgment or verdict, has pervaded all social layers from time immemorial, affecting even the highest level of humanity, namely religion. Instead of rendering each human being the justification and dignity of his or her condition, religion acted as a means of minimizing woman (and nature too). It is a very subtle discrimination: traditionally, women have been limited to a biological level as mothers, wives, mistresses, while a Biblical legend brought the reason: Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib, as an irrefutable argument for woman’s subsidiary condition. It is a hilarious legend, in my opinion, and archaeology has brought final proves in this respect. It is mess originating in pre-Hebrew Mesopotamian folklore texts circulating in the area, as Samuel Noah Kramer, the great Assyriologist, has shown, in a wonderful book entitled From the Tablets of Sumer. He clearly demonstrates that this confusion was created by language alone. Here is the Babel tower clearly at work! I see a warning in this: if language has made so much harm to mankind, it is the language too that has to restore justice. This linguistic mess has perpetrated in that for centuries intellectual discourse incessantly deals with this symbolism. It is a subtle intoxication, a priori stating that feminine creativity is condemned from the very beginning. Science has also undoubtedly established that all creation was initially feminine and man is the real mutant. This has been known a hundred years ago but socially this truth is ignored. Well, I really do think that the quality to be the first in the order of creation has no relevance. This is no feminist paper. I deeply believe that those men who have really contributed to the general progress of mankind deserve their fame. Moreover, I believe that any creative person transcends the sex or gender condition: a true artist (but also scientist, politician etc.) is not a man or a woman as far as creation is under debate. Thus, I do not plead for a feminist attitude or for woman’s supremacy but for the right to be treated with the same measuring unit, by using the same etalon.

 

Religious prejudice against women is very serious because it leaves room enough for the following thought: if woman, generally, is a second rate being, then her artistic and intellectual achievements are, consequently, secondary, subsidiary. Woman has been allowed to speak about specific issues (love, marriage, birth, sex), as if she were allowed to possess a tiny niche of her own and nothing more. Especially the freedom of speaking about sex unrestrictedly has been considered to be extremely audacious, a brave and daring step forward. Still, this so called liberation may conceal a malicious grimace against women who, once again, are allotted their niche stuffed with Body issues and that is all.

 

If we admit that, ideally speaking, mankind finds its true face in the works of art created by accomplished masters, I think an ideal Europe can be dreamt of, in which creative women could find enough room for their visions, images and thoughts; a world in which the hypothesis that a woman could be the equal of Shakespeare, Dante or Goethe should not shock or seem laughable or merely Utopian. Of course, this status should be gained by real value and not resulting as a result of negotiation, or automatically afforded, but it has to be virtually admitted, to be kept in mind as possible and never discarded as impossible or despicable.

 

I am confident that feminine creation can name the perennial topics of mankind, thus demonstrating that creativity is a divine gift, not necessarily male or female in its essence. For us, writers, word may be a stiletto or an instrument for tearing appearances and digging into them in order to reveal the hidden essence of things. This has always been the work of mystics throughout ages but it also may be the task of the nowadays artist as well. A woman engaging in this adventure of human spirit might prove that any human being, irrespective of his/her sex, can attain the supreme truths, instead of limiting himself/herself to several well known hypostases. It is this kind of approach that represents, in my opinion, genuine religion, that space from which nobody is excluded. The only thing needed is the ripe stage of one’s consciousness.

 

It is in this manner that on the stage of artistic creation there is plenty of room for everybody and humankind is constantly learning through the experience of all.

 

Thus, I come again to what I said in the beginning: it is important to value simple things, attitudes, gestures, such as loving one’s family, cooking for one’s kinsfolk – why not? The latter can be regarded as embodied forms of spirituality, as love is but active (activated) spirit while these sublime qualities of being wife, mother, love, may be also seen as philosophical guides on the steep path up the mountain of existence. Culture as a whole is a garland of gifts gathered from everywhere. If Europe could worship woman as a queen of creation, by a turn of thought, even literary criticism would be different, focusing itself upon women’s ideas to be found in their works and not on the female authors’ biographies, on the anecdotic side of their lives and on the males they were connected to in a way or other. Restoring spiritual relevance of European life would mean, among others, the restoration of critical vision, as critics play a first rate role in revisions and hierarchies of any kind, they give the tone, and in society are seen as examples worth to be followed. Unfortunately, although great progress has been made in this respect, biological or mere ideological reasons for praising or only estimating art creators are still well hidden within much of the nowadays critical stuff.

 

I dream of that moment when one could open one’s eyes and let see the world, without being subject to any constriction or pressure: see the world such as it is without be told what to see and understand.

 

As I am, primarily, a poet,  I shall end this essay with a poem dealing with the paradox of the poet’s existence in the world :

 

 

THE POET

 

Shrewdly, he writes when nobody can see him,

his delicate hands having carved an earthen stronghold out in the open.

Whenever he is asked by paper characters: “What are you reading?”

or “What works are you preparing?” he doesn’t answer –

on the ground that it’s unseemly to put such questions to a rock.

Lying down on sheets of paper, he looks forward to getting retired

into the sacred illiteracy of mountain, river, and dawn.

He also longs to be a wave caressing the gravel. Heading West

he sometimes grows bird wings, some other times, fish fins.

Later, when they discover him

he will have mellowed for a long time in his haunt

and a sophisticated talk with him

will bring about both an utter confusion

and the ultimate silence. Once they left him, pleased to have been able

to jot down piles of notes which then they carry away in their arms,

the raw critics will be mowed down by a glacier

in mid July and will lie buried in snow until the next spring.

Then they will go home, where nobody is waiting

for them any longer. And there they will notice that

undreamt-of blooms have sprung from the palms of their hands.

 

 

(Poem translated from the Romanian by the Author and Heathrow O’Hare)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Simona-Grazia Dima was born in Timisoara, in a family of writers. When 8 years old she won a prize for a theatrical sketch, Lica’s Mask, which was staged by the Puppet Theatre in Timisoara, as well on tours throughout Romania and abroad. She graduated as a national valedictorian from the University of Timisoara, the Faculty of Filology. As a student, she was the president of the literary circle of the Students’ University Centre in Timisoara. Simona-Grazia Dima is mainly a poet, but also an essayist, a literary critic and a translator. She is an active contributor to the leading Romanian literary magazines and the author of ten books of poetry :Ecuaţie liniştită (Serene Equation),1985, Dimineţile gândului (Mornings of Thought), 1989, Scara lui Iacob (Jacob’s Ladder), l995, Noaptea romană (Roman Night), 1997, Focul matematic (The Mathematical Fire), 1997, Confesor de tigri (A Tiger’s Confessor), 1998, Ultimul etrusc (The Last Etruscan), 2002, Călătorii apocrife (Apocryphal Journeys), 2002, Dreptul rănii de a rămâne deschisă (The Right of the Wound to Be Left Gaping), 2003, La ora fulgerului (When Lightnings Start Flaring) She has published two books of essays and literary criticis and has translated from English Arthur Osborne’s Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge (2003, title of the Romanian version: Sri Ramana Maharshi sau calea Cunoaşterii Supreme).

 

Simona-Grazia Dima is a member of the Romanian Writers’ Union and the secretary of the PEN Club-the Romanian Centre. She has been included in Romanian and foreign anthologies of poetry and received several prizes for her creation.

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