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February 14, 2009

You Cannot Step Twice Into the Same River

Filed under: books,film,Life,movies — baseball91 @ 8:12 AM

 

Heraclitus was a philosopher who preceded Socrates who wrote, “You cannot step twice into the same river. “

 

My favorite book was made into a movie.  Sophie’s Choice. My favorite movie is “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Both movies followed each other last night on the Turner Clasic Movie channel. 

 

“Fiddler on the Roof” captured the pain in relationship when traditions are rejected.  The realness of the spiritual conflict in life.  The silence that is doled out in dysfunction between family members.  And in a sense it reflects dysfunction between God and all humans.   I love the angst of the movie because it is oh so true.  Anger boiling over when things do not work out.  Refugees.  The music hits the right note, as do the lyrics.  And sadly the movie is so true to history that few viewers every know.  Pogroms. 

 

It was 1981. There was a baseball strike.  There was nothing to do in August.  I read Sophie’s Choice.  I was a lot like the main character, a young man but even then I seemed to recognize on every page…this Dr. Faust who wrote the book.  And his skill with the English language that I have never seen before or even seen since.  William Styron did not put out volumes of books in his life.  But he poured a knowledge and skill into this book that still leaves my mouth agape.  It was how he captured a period of human history.

 

Oh, how young a college grad was.  How little they knew.  About everything.  I was at that age then. Sophie’s Choice was a love story.  And how little men and women know.  About the affect of the past on the present. 

 

Her belief that this guy named Nathan saved her life, in her initial year as a refugee in Brooklyn after the war.  The secrets people carried.  And the lies.

 

William Styron tying a civil rights movement to the holocaust.  The lynchings.  The rare punishment that occurred post war to the Nazis.  The lack of justice on earth.    The punishment that so many people felt after the war, European people, to be kept alive post war. 

 

So many things that no one understands.  That time teaches.  The pain.  And the suffering watching loved ones with pain.  And the burden of invisible beauty of those who battled back. 

 

Self-image.  Living through it all.  The good times and the bad.  Sophie was a lot like a motorcycle girl.  A girl attracted to the excitement of the biker.   Girls who have sex and not love.  Self-image.  Guys who cannot accept love.  All guys had a degree of it.  A main character just wanting to have sex.  A maniac-depressive disorder, and which guy came home tonight.  Bi-polar. A world where the weak act strong and the strong are weak.  Possessive Nathan, there like a pimp.  Preying on Sophie.  William Styron writing about sex, and quoting d. h. lawrence’s description as descending to the dark gods.  What do young people know about love, except ideals?

 

Refugees.  A “what did you do during the war” curiosity about any Eastern European.  Feeling bad. 

 

Sophie, hating her father beyond all words.  Yet Sophie first talking about her parents.  How wonderful…how civilized.  How smart.  No child had a better father.  Or mother.  In the wicked world.  There is so much going on here in  the story.  The history of the Poland was all here that Americans never quite get.  That Hitler wanted to exterminate all Jews and all Poles. 

 

People lie out of fear.  Sophie lied about her father.  Her father’s alleged belief in human perfection, yet a guy who believed in anti-semitism.  So to be a Pole and anti-semitic was the ultimate irony in Sophie’s Choice.   

Such breathe of knowledge—of Natham, of Styron.   And Nathan as a liar too.  All of the vulnerabilities that come out.  Of both of them.  Nathan had been the kind of child everyone tries to take the credit for, until he was found to be bi-polar.  The appeal of these characters were, as with all people, in their vulnerabilities, and in the subtleness of the author.

 

Sophie explained her fear and the reason that she lied about her father.  All liars lie out of a fear that they might be left alone.  This week, A-Rod?  Because the world and its history and its businesses are cruel.  Goodness stands out.  We were all gonna get a chance to prove ourselves like never before in the last 50 years.  In 2009.  To our neighbors.

 

I was Dr. Faust.  I had been to Oswiecim, Poland.  I had seen Auschwitz.  That day in September 2001 there were hardly any people there walking around.  I failed to visualize that day the buildings filled with real people.  The stunning thing is to be in such a place and to see the same railroad tracks, the same roads, the same trees that had lived through all of this.  The shocking thing was to see the same world. 

 

There was a quote in the movie by a German character, describing German history, “We cannot afford to be kind to survive.”  People will do anything  ANYTHING to survive.  Sophie had.

 

Sophie’s choice was either her son or her daughter.  But only one child.  Sophie’s Choice was a story about the lessons of death. Of war.  Of tough time.  Of friendship.  Who will live and who will die in hard times.  And who has courage.  My mother’s book club chose to read this book in 2007.  And my mother never quite understood it all, or she at least missed the excitement that I had for the book.  She thought it was oh too depressing.

 

 “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Sophie’s Choice.  Traditions.  Choices.  Of what had been passed along.  About love. Fate.  And life was about proving your character. 

 

Sophie never really had a choice.  It was the times she was born into that challenged her.  The theme was about saving someone. 

 

Heraclitus was a philosopher who believed “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continuously flowing on.”

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1 Comment »

  1. Comment by baseball91 — October 30, 2012 @ 4:31 AM | Reply


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