During his stay in the two large Anglo-Saxon cultural environments, the author of this hybrid travelogue takes a keen interest in and describes current events – thus further conforming to the interpretive benchmark of modernism as conformity to “its time”, simulation and movement. in step with modernity. In fact, Armando Gnisci reformulates such “conformity” in a witty, peculiar way: “We cannot but be modern, I would say forever” (Creolization of Europe, Magor, Skopje, 2013: 165).
In order to experience in a real way the freshness and topicality of this, in our country, unfortunately, insufficiently (or, better said, not at all) actualized literary work of Gjuzel, to capture the richness and layering of his reflections, to correct at least a small part of the injustice inflicted on him by literary criticism – on this occasion we have singled out a few key and indicative passages, which, in our opinion, deserve to be placed in the focus of readers’ and analytical attention and – to remain noted as still valuable insights and clues about current processes, which permeate our modern day.
At the same time, our reading should begin with a necessary conclusion that, according to its size and spiritual “weight”, the book, however, is dominated by the second part, dedicated to the stay on the other continent, in America (i.e. the USA).
Part 2 – How many souls it takes to go to America
The recently deceased Argentine poet Juan Gelman says in one of his poems: “My father came to America with one hand in the back and the other in the front to hold his pants high. I came to Europe with one soul from behind and the other on the back… However, there is a difference: he went to stay, I came to return” (Juan Gelman, Holyunity, SPE, Struga, 2014: 90)
When he leaves for the same (albeit not south, but north) America, Gjuzel is 34 years old, a relatively young man – but already formed, well-educated and a curious intellectual and poet (let us not forget that, according to his univerisity education, he is an anglist and a long-term prolific translator from the English-speaking area). Gjuzel does not go there as a “tabula rasa” at all. First of all, he was invited as a guest in the Iowa Creative Writing Program, and in addition, he was prepared in advance, thanks to his rich reading from many fields of the humanities, and not only strictly from (English) philology.
This becomes evident at the very beginning of the book, where the author explicitly points out his “poetics of mobility”, movement, motility – emphasizing its therapeutic power, its latent and inviolable creative energy, its vital potential.
“The movement, as rarely as ever I felt, healed me and brought me back to the beginnings of life, a simple movement, as slowly as food moves in the intestines but still moving from place to place and in that was the miracle of life’s regeneration”, says Gjuzel on page 44, and a little before that, on page 30, he admits: “As soon as I would sense movement through space, this stupid chaos of things ceased to exist.”
Within the peculiar poetics of the open road (on the road poetics), which was otherwise recognizable and distingueshed as a separate movement in American literature and film from the mid-fifties, thanks to the cult beatnik prose “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, in Bogomil Gjuzel we notice the equalization of the road and the journey with the Poem itself, which is, not coincidentally, supported by an intertextual reminiscence of Walt Whitman (one of the poets that Gjuzel has in his series of translations). Excerpt on page 87, seemingly begins with a note about the writer’s trip with the famous Greyhound bus company.
“In short, Grayhound is truly an ‘incarnation of the American passion for the open road,’ as I read in the leaflet, and it inevitably reminds me of Whitman and his celebration of the open road. If there was still Whitman’s enthusiasm for the Union of American States from his ‘Leaves of Grass,’ the Grayhound Bus Company would declare itself an endless poem, as for Whitman was the Union itself in its day.”
It seems particularly interesting and indicative, especially given the intercultural studies developed today – to look at that place in the book (page 135), when the historical campaign and progress of the whole of European civilization – the author, who is currently arriving in the Pacific Ocean, re-interprets as a phenomenon of movement, that is, the permanent movement of the Border – to the West!
“The Pacific would not be symbolically just the westernmost point of my travels. It was also the border for that historical campaign of European civilization, which began in the 16th century. For some sociologists, this also meant a stop to the so-called inner orientation of Western man, which began to push the boundaries of civilization from the Renaissance and Puritanism, with the discovery of America and capitalism. (Walter Prescott Webb could explain to you the whole history of the West from the Middle Ages to the present day with that constant movement of the Frontier).
Finding himself in direct contact with nature, experiencing its climate, as well as the vast ambient image of America, the writer intuitively addresses the very interesting assumptions about the mutual conditionality between the “elementariness” of American nature and the anthropological “nature” and mentality of the American people.
It is well known that in collective imagology, as well as in a number of works of art, America is treated as a promised land, a mythical place for the realization of dreams, and even an earthly paradise. It is the fusion of such mythical notions of America that in Guzel provokes the opposite – ironically and critically sharp – perception of some, not so positive and acceptable and, in the superficial image of America, rather repressed elements of the mentality and lifestyle that prevail there. On page 244, Gjuzel writes: