/, Essays, Blesok no. 126 - 127/THE MAGIC OF STORYTELLING


Urošević is thought of as an author “who can see the invisible in the deep guts of the visible world” (Jacques Gaucheron). His “all-seeing eye” (Vele Smilevski) has the power to reveal the miracle of life around him in every instance of life, even if it is the most banal, prosaic commonplace thing, the ability to sense the mysterious form of the Uncommon, Unknown and the “wondrous New”. “The sense for the miraculous” that Urošević certainly possesses is born from the art of walking through the labyrinths of the city (Skopje, especially the Old Bazaar which he had at one time described as an “obscure labyrinth of dilapidated walls and shadows”), in the style of the old Surrealist for whom “every walk is an initiation journey, a mystical quest for the Holy Grail” (V. Urošević). The legacy of surrealist poetics is also discernible in the short stories dominated by the belief in the accidental. Here are a few examples: in the short story “Signs”, the main character is obsessed with coming accidentally across the name of the small seaside town Omish that turns into a secret sign, a password that deludes all his senses – bringing along with it the scent of the sea and the yearning to be someplace else. Contrary to this artificial experience, we have the “real” experience of the narrator in the short story “Shelters”: he, at one time, enters completely by accident an unusual space beneath the Skopje Fortress where there is a parallel life going on, a veritable „underground“, invisible to the everyday life above. However, any later attempt to intentionally return there is doomed to failure. „But I was certain that I felt, sticking my hands on the damp cold surface of the door, how a secret underground tremor was passing through it” – he proclaims in the finale of the story.

In Urošević’s short stories, “the outside world, that is within the grasp of the mechanism of scientific thought and the procedures of the exact sciences, only serves as a ambiental setting, a starting point from which that other world develops and comes to the fore, the world of the imaginary, fantastic, ungraspable, yet that which is highly intuitive and sensed. Potentially there are thousands of other worlds, different that the ones we know and see, the ones that we are used to, this is what Urošević is persistently telling us with his prose”. 10 Urošević enjoys in creating imaginary, alternative worlds (or amazing creatures, such as the ones in in “Watching the House”, for example), but only for the purpose of showing that they are complementary with the world of the real. On the other hand, our author manages to take an abstract term such as time and transform it into a tangible phenomenon subject to artistic interventions and modifications. Yet, once again he intentionally “defamiliarizes” space in order to be able to enter into other worlds, using this as a possibility to transport his heroes to invisible spaces with his craftily constructed time machine, just in the same way as space can serve as a platform for their imaginary travel through time.

This is what Urošević tells us about this “mechanism of time”: “ ‘Playing with time’ is a convention of the fantasy prose genre. Going back, stopping and making leaps through time are, by all means, a staple of fantasy prose as one of the methods for distorting reality. That is one thing. (…) My efforts to revive time through sensory experience is quite another thing. It is not the same. Certainly, my personal sense of time is that all the time periods that we have lived or, maybe more broadly put, that have been experienced by a territory or a city are present there at every moment, one only has to find ways and instances to revive them, to bring them back. This is why I talk in The Paris Stories about the ‘places of passage’. For me, those are the places where you can, so to say, enter into another time, leave the present and revive some of the past periods. Without that possibility, we would just be dreadfully ephemeral creatures on this earth, mere tumbleweed susceptible to the vagaries of the present. It would be terrible to live just in the present moment, without any memory of the past, without means to revive those other times”.11 The parallel with Borges and his concept of the existence of an endless sequence of times is more than obvious!

In the stories written by Urošević, the recurring fantastic time is manifested in a dual fashion: in the literal sense, as deviation from linear chronological (Newtonian) time (”Daughter of the Antiquarian”) and in the metaphorical sense, as the repetition of the drama of existence (“Incident on the Summer Holiday”). At the same time, it’s as if the characters are residing and existing in some kind of anti-space and anti-time.

„I had felt caught in the trap of time, unable to save myself any longer, to escape from that time that doubled and repeated itself, dragging us all along into its games. I knew that the lock of the mechanism was closing, that all the possible exits have in fact been calculated a long time ago. “
(“Daughter of the Antiquarian”)

„He pulled the chain up and took out his pocket watch. He stopped in his tracks surprised: the glass was broken and the arrows were non-existent. There was only a round white surface, surrounded by meaningless digits. He stood there for a second gazing at the watch, outside of time (…); a fuzzy memory was waking up inside of him. “

(“Incident on the Summer Holiday”)

In both cases (rather more explicitly in the latter) we are dealing with a subjective, mental experiencing of time à la Proust that determines the sequence of events and actions in the stories. The author’s intention in this regard goes to great lengths that in his attempt to depict the monotony and repetitiveness of the existence of each individual creature. He comes to the alarming insight that human existences are so similar one with each other, that one existence can continue in another at any time, just in a different setting and costume, yet too often with fatal consequences. This is due to the fact that “we have all started from the same place and have the same goal, even though we have to achieve it following different paths. The length of the years changes a man, because he is hostage to time and this fact muddles his perception of things” – says the translation of an intriguing manuscript written in Arabic letters on a parchment, for which the narrator claims to be a quote from an ancient book of alchemy (“The Kitab-An Manuscript”).

10 Владимир Јанковски, „Тајните мисии на Влада Урошевиќ“, поговор во: В. Урошевиќ, Тајна мисија, Скопје, Магор, 2013, стр. 264.
11 В. Јанковски, Огледало на загатката (разговори со В. Урошевиќ), оп.цит., стр. 42.

AuthorLidija Kapuševska-Drakulevska
2019-08-06T12:38:18+00:00 July 31st, 2019|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 126 - 127|0 Comments