Monday, August 9, 2010

Often Art Succeeds Where All Else Fails

Once upon a time, alas by now a long time ago, when Gypsies or to be
correct the Roma people where still allowed to follow the nomadic lives
of their choice, there were those afraid of and maligning, rightly or
wrongly, strangers who entered their settled lives. But much stronger
than the prejudice against the Roma outsiders, were perceptions of
freedom and romanticism they inspired. Great writers depicted their
lives with love and longing: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dumas, Marquez, and on
and on. But as the last of their ancient treks were barred and they were
pushed more and more into subhuman poverty and isolation, with their
freedom they soon lost their romantic sheen, leaving nothing but
misconceptions, lack of empathy, and downright racial hatred. By
contrast I have never met a person who personally knows the Roma people,
and who hates them and/or still harbors these misconceptions.

To reverse the increasingly one-sided negative image of this ancient
ethnic minority, I feel art is starting to play a dominant role. Fashion
shows with beautiful Roma women showing off their colorful and fluid
attires, movie and documentary film makers are and have been entering
the day-to-day of their lives and art. More than fifteen years ago, I
started research on my novel Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies. A lot
of my material came from the Russian Gypsy writer Mateo Maximoff, for
the rest I prayed that God give me the power to do justice to their
harmonious and rich culture. When I started, Gypsies in Western Europe
lived mostly in harmony within the majority that surrounded them. Then I
merely wanted to reveal the reality behind the myth. Now that an
economic downturn has stirred up renewed and deadly persecutions, I hope
my novel will highlight the inhumanity of their persecutors. Once again
humans are persecuting and killing fellow humans, the very act that
originally decided Gypsies to keep moving into the sanctity of nature,
and thereby remain outsiders to the human killer fields.

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