Who Am I? - Georgi Grozdev
Who Am I?
I ask myself this question when I am in Bulgaria and abroad. I’m asking myself now in China. Who are we Bulgarians? Who am I?
What to say at the meetings with Chinese readers? All of them, without exception, react to the word Bulgaria. In the Temple of Confucius out of polite curiosity they ask me how far this place is from Shanghai. Ten thousand kilometers, I reply. Other times they want more clarification where more specifically it is. In the European Union, – they like this answer, they know where that is – in western Europe. From here the Balkans seem like a vague and ghostly place, just as they do from Los Angeles. One time a Chinese writer was able to remember that Serbia is there and there was a Chinese embassy that the Americans bombed. They destroyed all the bridges over the Danube without any military reason, I add. It isolated the peninsula for quite some time.
Faced with the need to know who I am, I tried to answer the audience with something like this:
In this mixture of cultures and literatures we represent, by choice of our hosts, I will say a few words about the Bulgarian culture.
It is a Slavic culture. Through Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union the Cyrillic alphabet is the first Slavic alphabet to be accepted as equal in rights to the others.
The ancient Bulgarian state preserved the Slavic alphabet. So it was through Bulgarians that the Slavic writing spread to Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Croat and Serbian lands… The mentioning of Russia has immediate effect. Russia is a vast land, a lot is known about it.
Unwittingly, I continue on a literary note. In Los Angeles’ biggest bookstore the only foreign writers in English, because all the rest were American, were the Slavic writers Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy and Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. I pronounce the names in Russian. That also produces an immediate effect. Among the writers’ group, too.
It’s hard to explain at this moment who the first south-Slavic writer Marko Marulic from Split was. All Slavic writers of the new time follow the trail blazed by him two hundred years before the Bulgarian Paisiy Hilendarski.
What to say about myself? I don’t have any jewelry in the bank. My novels are rich in thoughts and images. Or are they? What about my thoughts about the world? Entropy, like a centrifuge, sucks us all in and breaks us into pieces. In my novel Entropy (from the trilogy Prey, The Unncessary and Entropy) you arrive at a place before you have even left for it. How come? Our souls reside in a far more relative world than Einstein’s. Even if the world came tumbling down, I’d like to see each and every word of my texts stand firm in place. No loose roof tiles. Come on!
Why do plot lines in so many novels continue to follow the archaic Euclidean dimension from point A to point B? Neither the points exist, nor the line between them is straight. How about that?!
Unintentionally, I enter the reverse depths of the great emptiness. My listeners forget about Bulgaria and who I am.
They are following the topics of contemplation in my works. The ancient Chinese authors realized that the most important thing about a culture and literature are the topics of contemplation they choose.
From antiquity to our days, for them these have been cosmological questions, their philosophical and moral projections reflected in so many different genres, arts and styles.
Every person’s behavior has cosmic consequence, I’ve always known that. Ever since I was little and looked at the stars above. Love between a man and a woman is not a mere rubbing of two urinal tracts, i.e. sex. It has universal consequence. The product is a new-born person. The one born after us or the one born before us, as the Chinese say.
Another unexpected and mysterious human mind suspended above the abyss.
Once we get to the mind then both writers and readers have entered the mysterious ocean of the Created World.. The mind is unreal, ancient Chinese claim. I believe this. The world is unreal, I repeat after them.
The dented fenders of my car every now and then remind me no perfect thought is literal.
Writers and readers, we are very much alike. The most important things we find out are through personal experience, not from books.