Remember…

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Another day is upon us.  Let us take a moment to remember what was, what is, and what might come.

Today we lost a woman of great strength and humaneness.  Yaffa Eliach has died.  She created “The Tower of Faces” in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“The Tower of Faces” is so profound.  Each time I have seen it, I am left speechless, filled with awe and deep respect for Yaffa Eliach’s tremendous efforts in creating the memorial.  The photographs speak wonders of the individuals, times gone by, a collective history, moments in living, lives lost due to hatred.

One cannot walk through the immense exhibit without it affecting them intensely.

Thank you.

Rest in Peace, Yaffa Eliach.

~~~~~

Today, I remember Kristallnacht.

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On November 9th and 10th, 1938, Kristallnacht (an intense series of attacks on Jews fostered by the Nazi party paramilitary) became known as the “Night of Broken Glass”. The glass storefronts of the Jewish-owned businesses were totally shattered, by both the paramilitary and by local citizens. The interior of Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin was destroyed, along with so many other structures.

At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.  Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.  Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone), and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.”

Remember…

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Sunday Scenes: November 6, 2016

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Yesterday morning turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day.  The sky was illuminated with clouds and blueness.  Contrary to the grey within the clouds, the sun was shining brightly, and within thirty minutes those grey clouds turned to perfectly white loveliness.

 

 

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To the left of the fence is the South Fork Trail, taken yesterday morning while walking.  There is no sign of life in the photo (other than nature’s beauty), but within one hour, there were marathon runners to the left of the fence, along the trail.  I didn’t take photographs of the runners.  I was there to strictly cheer them on.  Sometimes it is more important to watch than to photograph a scene.

It was quite the sight to see.  There was an abundance of color from the running outfits, and an abundance of feet.  Having run the L.A. Marathon in 1994, I appreciate the effort, training and dedication it takes to not only run, but finish, a marathon.

Here’s hoping your week is a good one!

 

 

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Review: Kaddish for an Unborn Child

Kaddish for an Unborn Child, by Imre Kertesz, was a difficult book, in the sense that the narrator was rambling, repetitiously, due to his stream of consciousness.

The novel opens with the word ‘No!’  It is an answer to a question asked him, the question being did he have a child.   He also answered his wife the same way, when she wanted a child.  From there the reader is led through the narrator’s bleak, dark and depressed outlook on life and living.

The narrator is a writer.  Within the ramblings the sentences run into each other, as his thoughts unfold on the pages.  He tries to illuminate all of his thoughts and feelings, often repeating what he has just stated.  This is due to the workings of his mind, and the fact he has an urgency to get it all out in the open.  This urgency is what keeps him alive, literally.  He has much to criticize regarding his life, including his childhood.

The narrator compares his abusive and restricted childhood to his existence in Auschwitz.  Rules and the oppressive environment almost seem normal to him, coming from his controlled adolescent upbringing.  Once liberated his perceptions regarding daily life continue in the same vein.  He encloses himself within the walls of isolation.

His routine continues to be a somewhat confined existence, as he transcends from being a Holocaust camp prisoner, to living for years sheltered from life in a rented room.  He compares his living arrangement to that of the camps, in the sense that he has been restricted and limited in space, and therefore in daily life.

Of course, much of his limitations have been self-induced repercussions and extensions of the Holocaust.  Once he marries, he ponders the issues of an apartment with his wife, and how he has never thought of spaciousness, furniture, this or that.  The rented room was self-contained, with all of the essentials provided.  His pen was his life’s companion.  He had need for nothing else.

I won’t delve into the story line any further.  It was enough to get through the novel in its entirety.  It was an emotionally, laborious read in many aspects, reinforcing the Holocaust and its mental and emotional effects and affects on those who survive, those who are generational survivors, and on those who are victims of a survivor’s bleak and dark mindset.  In this case, his wife was a victim of the narrator’s mindset and his demons.

Within the darkness, I found Kaddish for an Unborn Child to be an excellent resource on the philosophical and psychological aspects of humanity’s, Holocaust nightmare.

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Book Review: In the Image

In The Image, by Dara Horn is one of those books that evolves through the characters’ coming of age, journeying towards peace and acceptance, and sojourning towards spiritual identity. One young girl (Leora)l learns to accept the death of her best friend, through the slide images of her best friend’s grandfather. Leora learns to overcome her fear of loss and allows herself to fall in love.

“Accidents of fate are rarely fatal accidents, but once in a while they are.”

The grandfather (Bill Landsmann) learns to accept his own life, which is built frame by frame, upon his slides, through the images he has photographed during his travels. His life has been preserved on film slides. Landsmann has to learn to leave his past behind, including his childhood and his abusive father. He must learn to accept, and to let go, and not just assimilate within the fabrics of New York City. For him the images represent his life, concrete proof of his childhood in Europe, and proof he existed (We all want validation of our existence). Landsmann has to learn to move forward, in order to find the spiritual identity and peace he is searching for.

Bill’s frames are also subjects that entwine good and evil entwine within the pages, as Bill recalls incidents of his life through his slides.

Leora and Landsmann lean on each other, each one helping the other to overcome their fears, each one helping to free the other from their self-imposed emotional isolation.

I will not write any more on the story line, as you should read it for yourself.

The symbolism and undertones within In the Image are strong, and leave one amazed at the masterful writing and story line. The word visuals and images are clearly defined through Dara Horn’s words. The novel is brilliant and vibrant with imagery. Age is a state of mind, a number we define ourselves with, but one can be 70 and still be coming of age.

In the Image, by Dara Horn, touches on coming of age, for all age groups, as most of us are in a constant state of growth and coming of age, no matter what year or stage of life we are in.

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Review: The Post Office Girl

The Post Office Girl, by Stefan Zweig is a book that concerns a female postal clerk in a small town in Austria.

The pages depict the poverty in her small town in Austria, post World War I.  Zweig is extremely detailed in his word-imagery, and his descriptions exhale life lived on the edge of survival.  The country was in turmoil, and he shows how the main character, Christine Hoflehner, lives a rote life, burdened with monetary insufficiency, and an ill mother.  She feels life drags on from day to day.

It literally does, until a telegram arrives. She has been invited to take a trip to visit her aunt Clair and her uncle, who are vacationing in Switzerland. She packed a few meager belongings in a straw suitcase, and journeyed by train to see them, through a naive mindset.  That telegram changed the course of her life, and altered her personality. The reader sees her transformation, immediately.

Her aunt and uncle are vacationing in an ultra swanky hotel, one that caters to the elite. Christine was in awe, at first glance.  She feels inadequate, and feels as if she is being looked upon as one of the staff members.  Her aunt sees the perception, and gives her a few dresses, and some accessories to wear.  With her new apparel, she begins to gain a sense of worth.  She literally changes, dramatically, from introvert to quite the extrovert in her interactions and behavior.  She sees life through new eyes.

Unexpected events occur that lead her back home. Once there she feels cheated, defeated, and feels entitled to the life led while on vacation.  She feels out of place in a world healing from turmoil and political oppression.  She takes it upon herself to travel to Vienna for a weekend getaway, and visits her sister and brother-in-law, also living in poverty.

The story continues with her impressionable mindset, and her being persuaded to delve into areas she never would have thought of, on her own.  To tell you the occurrences would be to spoil the story.  I will just say that she is not the same Christine the reader views in the beginning.  The initial vacation caused her to perceive life and social mores differently. She becomes angry, and her anger sets her on a course of negative decisions.

Stefan Zweig is brilliant and masterful in his story telling, within the pages of The Post Office Girl.  He leaves no stone unturned in his assessment of human behavior and minute details.  The story is a stark study of human behavior and morals.  The book is a valuable work of literature, exploring social standards and their impact on individuals caught in the fray.

The Post Office Girl was published posthumously. The manuscript was found after Zweig’s death. It was not intentionally left for publication.

Much of the novel depicts the strife, poverty and burdens to survive in a bleak world.  The second half of it clearly demonstrates the debilitation of lifestyle that individuals went through.  Those on the fringe were left with less than the threads they originally had.

Stefan Zweig certainly was masterful in his depictions, emotional ones, as well as visual.  I tend to think that the story line is more relevant to his own life, which ended all too soon, by suicide.

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Review: Visible City

Visible City, by Tova Mirvis, is a predictable story in many aspects, but I still am glad that I read it. I found the almost “voyeur” aspect to be interesting, and the thoughts that are dreamed up while one person stares out of their window, with their own set of passions, desires and loyalties.

Nina is that person, and stare she does, at every given opportunity.  If it is during the night, she turns off the lights so as not to attract attention. What she sees happening in an apartment across the way, enhances her imagination, and her perception of what the individuals are like.  As the reader reads on, they realize that not everything is as it appears to be.  In fact, the couple who live in the apartment are not so different from Nina and her family, in the sense that their married life seems to be complacent. Nina desires more in life, yet doesn’t have the ambition to seek it.

The novel gives a wonderful overview of New York City, its brilliant architecture, some modern, some old and abandoned.  We are given snippets of the exteriors and interiors of the abandoned buildings, as some of the characters skulk through them out of a passionate desire to learn about them. We are also taken into the world of stained-glass art and all of its illuminations.  Through this examination, we are seen how the passions, desires and loyalties flare up from the deep-set goals that some of the characters hold.

Six individuals meet in various places where they normally go to spend some time away from their homes.  Some of them end up living on the edge, merging their connections into areas better left undone.

Passionate moments are strong within the pages, and by that I mean passionate in every sense, including one’s drives, dreams and life accomplishments.  What one views as important and a driving force is not necessarily so for another person.  In relationships each person should accept the other for their own interests and goals, whether the interests and goals are theirs, or not.  They should offer encouragement, and not discouragement.

The urban aspect is strongly illuminated. Mirvis’ word-images are depicted quite vividly. This reader could envision everything she painted with her prose.  All of my senses were filled as my own imagination took hold.

I enjoyed how each character was somewhat flawed, as we all are, in reality.  I enjoyed the city tour through their eyes, and enjoyed the human perspectives, and how we see people. We are not the sum of what others see in us, or think about us.  In fact, most of us are usually much different than how a stranger might view us.  This was quite true in Visible City.  What Nina saw, is not the actual person, but a person who she encapsulated from a distance, from a view out of a window.

The emotional aspect was a major underlying issue, as most of the characters found it difficult to relate to their family members on a deep level.  They also portrayed superficiality when in the presence of others, outside of their familial and friendship realm.  Even within those realms, feelings were not always touched upon.

I did not like all the characters, but that is okay. In reality, do we all like everyone we encounter?  I did like how life, seen through various city windows, was depicted, and how the characters were eventually connected.  Mirvis was masterful in her depictions and her prose.  I felt as if I was given a personal tour of various aspects of New York City and its urban character, from architectural exteriors to individual’s projections of themselves.  It almost felt as if I were looking out of a window into the lives of others. Maybe that was one of Tova Mirvis’ intentions.

This was my second reading of this novel.  I reread it for a book club.

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