Saturday, July 5, 2008

life of an émigré.

Emigration is hard. You are forced to live abroad, for political reasons. When that happens, people (friends, acquaintances, and relatives) think of the pain of nostalgia. But what is worse, is the pain of being alienated. When what was once intimate to you becomes foreign.

And when the emigration stretches on (as in the case of my Afghan friend Krima), a new `loyalty´ develops to the adopted land.

That´s when the break occurs.

Accordingly, the adult years is richer and more important for life. But the memory, language and all the understructure of creativity are formed very early.

For a lawyer or a doctor emigrant, an émigré's artistry won't be a problem then. But for an artist, leaving the place to which his soul, imagination, impressions, and obsessions, are bound could mean suicide. It takes a genius to turn the disadvantage of this situation to benefits.

Stravinsky was an émigré. He spent 27 years in Russia; 29 years in France and the French Switzerland; and 32 years in America. Incidentally, the most Russian among his creative works (Le Sacre du printemps, Les Noces ... to name a few) were composed during his stay in France. But when he died in 1971, his wife complied with his last wish and rejected the Soviet government´s proposal to bury him in Russia.

Stravinsky, like any other émigré, bore within him a wound. Wound of displacement which led to a poverty of heart. A sort of heartlessness captured in his music.

Surely Stravinsky´s artistic growth would have taken a different path if he had been able to stay where he was born. But he left and lived abroad. And having understood that no country could replace Russia, he found that his only homeland was in music by all musicians. Stravinsky was at home there..... in his music. He walked and lingered in each room, felt every corner, held every piece, and cherished every moment he spent there.

I am no Stravinsky. But music is truly my home.

I can tell lots of stories of this kind, especially because there are so many emigrants here. But some things we can only leave unsaid.

4 comments:

mel said...

in my case, i'm discovering a lot about myself when i migrated. i found out that in times like this, i could either be myself's best friend or best enemy. that the battle takes place in the heart and in the mind.

Droomvla said...

very true. ;)

maricel said...

Even a plant, if transfered to another pot, suffers severe trauma. Unless the gardener lovingly takes care of it, the plant will wilt and its growth will be stunted...

lina said...

The emigrants of today are now more fortunate. At least the pain an emigre endures is now cushioned by information technology which has really made the world.
So i sing... THERES A TIME FOR JOY, A TIME FOR TEARS. ITS A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. ITS A SMALL WORLD AFTER. ITS A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. ITS A SMALL SMALL WORLD!