Thursday, January 15, 2015
Moments of Reprieve
Collection of Stories by Primo Levi. I have been thinking about the Periodic Table on and off. This one is similar...sketches of people drawn from his life. He sketches himself for you as he portrays the world around him. Grounded, humble...a life that has gone through so much injustice but the prose does not complain about it, it just shares his life with you. I am glad that I read this book. In the mad rush of things, such thoughtful prose, drawing all sorts of insights and perspective from a life that has seen the peaks and troughs is a valuable, peace lending thing.
In many ways, Primo Levi and Ernesto Guevara sound similar - their prose, thought process. One had the wanderlust, and the other a very open observant heart, but both have a humility, groundedness, an innocence, and belief in the goodness of people individually (even though as a group, people become fanatics and thoughtless), and hence, a prose which restores faith in humanity. Their books always a good idea when the world seems a dark place - the lightness of these spirits sure can lift one up.
After reading such accounts, I sometimes wonder if my generation or a previous one had to live in the world of wars where almost every house had somebody out on front fighting or if the world were changing significantly from day to day, month to month, such that there is nothing long term, I am not sure how we'll cope. It is not about the war, it is about behavior in face of an ever changing landscape. Our world is so stable (for most of the people), and life's aspirations so mediocre (for most of the world) - that there is no higher purpose left except to settle and aspire to little luxuries and little victories. A couple of generations ago, it seems people had much more to deal with and many more difficulties to surmount. There is no major issue in most people's lives these days, and then smaller things expand to take that place instead. Such degradation of the quality of lives lived! Even though the world becomes more stable, it is important to retain the perspective of what is worth fighting for and what is just mindplay since mind has no better problems to deal with.
Easier said than done I guess.
PS: Picked this one up in the library. Fast read. I tried to look for more P. Levi books during my vacation but couldn't find any. This one hence as soon as we returned. Again for this one, this is time taken out from 2666. It is almost a month since I started reading 2666 ..it still continues. I have reached the last book. Hope to finish it in January. (Didn't like book 4 - it is very saddening, very wrong, and unlike the first three - but am too deep in the book and quite curious to understand how it all ties up, so finish it I will)