Saturday, October 10, 2009

The history of a song

I think I was quite young when I read about CDs first. It was in the early 1980s. The legendary magazine of the Yugoslav youth back in those days was ITD, which published a short article and a picture of the future replacement for cassettes and vinyl records.

In 1986, when my cousin Nino returned from Melbourne where he had spent six months, he didn’t bring any CDs with him (he did bring some records which I devoured), but he brought photographs from all around the city, including photos taken in a mall. One of the stores that he photographed was a CD store. I saw walls with tiers of small square tiles with some discernable album covers on them.

Finally, in the summer of 1990, my cousin Ivona was dating a guy who was working on transoceanic ships, and he had just come back from South Africa, bringing her a CD player and about two dozen CDs. It was the first time I held them in my hands and played music from them. I can’t remember the selection he had brought her – knowing her taste there must have been Billie Holiday, the Beatles, and other jazz and rock classics. One CD was by a band I had never heard about before. The Crusaders. I still don’t know much about them. But one of their songs was and has remained my all-time favourite. It is ‘Soul Shadows’.

I was lying on the couch in my cousins’ living room, with big headphones on, listening to one CD after another. I knew most of the songs, but it was funny and cool to see how quickly and neatly songs could be shifted and traced on the digital display. So, it wasn’t too much about the music.

However, when I played ‘Soul Shadows’ I was overwhelmed. The first time I heard it I was sure it was a very familiar song (it could well have been for it was about ten years old then). I played it over and over again, never getting tired of it. It was one of the brightest moments that summer.

When Nino and I were driving to a new disco club in his ‘71 Mercedes, and when we glided over a slightly undulating road to Ploce (Croatia), the song was frequently playing. It wrapped those moments in a soulfully warm mist.

In September 1990 I went off to Nis (Serbia) to pay my dues to the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia – i.e. to do my year of military service. It was a bleak time. The life of a soldier wasn’t for me, the country was sinking into a disaster beyond repair, and the summer memories of only several months back seemed as romantic, nostalgic and comforting as ever. I would stand by the window in the barracks, watch the late autumn leaves, and sing inside my head --- ‘standing at the window as the fog rolls in, I swear I can hear far off music’. It was one of the few sources of good energy during that year.

When I left the military forces, and when the country went to hell, ‘Soul Shadows’ had remained a song that was a charger of positive atmosphere. I even introduced myself with it at the beginning of a few relationships I was in. Now I am trying to write a book of fiction, and I have already written the bit in which the main character is caught unawares by this song, and cries his heart out, which I never did. Although I could have.

It’s impossible to say which one’s favourite song of all time is, which the absolute number one is. Usually there are many. My number one is ‘Soul Shadows’ by the Crusaders. It’s not the best song I have ever heard, it’s not the only song which has accompanied me throughout different periods of my life, but for some reason (which is still obscure to me), it IS the song of my life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Imati i nemati (prvi dio): buka i bijes

Kad bih pravio grafikon svih onih segmenata koji okupiraju moje vrijeme i na koje mi odlazi energija, posao bi zauzeo veoma veliki prostor. Nije to stoga što na ostalim (čitaj: privatnim) poljima imam deficit ---- na žalost (ili na sreću), sve je krcato, sva ova polja se guraju da laktovima istisnu jedna druge, i u međuprostoru mi skoro ne ostaje ništa od one stereotipne sintagme "slobodno vrijeme". Posao mi je jako važan jer mi se čini da mi je povjerena poprilična odgovornost i jer još nisam naučio kako da se ne posvećujem onome što radim sa samo 10% ili 20% posto svojih kapaciteta.

Veliki nedostatak mog posla jeste što ga redovno donosim kući, što me prati kao sjenka koje ne mogu da se oslobodim i koja me stalno podsjeća na sebe. Sanjam o nekom poslu koji bi ostao iza vrata firme čim joj okrenem leđa. Međutim, moja firma je i na poslu i kod kuće. I to bih nekako podnio, samo da na poslu imam bolje uslove za rad. A šta mi to nedostaje na Fakultetu što imam kod kuće, pa sam spavaću sobu pretvorio u radnu (na zgražavanje jednog prijatelja iz inostranstva)? Spisak je poduži. Na jednom od vodecih mjesta je buka.

Na poslu mi nedostaje tišina. U stanu je takođe nemam uvijek - nekada se ispred zgrade cirkulari za šeganje drva oglase prije pijetlova, nekada djeca kao mali mafistofeli luduju do kasno u noć, nekada neko pogrešno pritisne dugme interfona ili se oglasi telefon. Ali najčešće je mirno. Na Fakultetu nikada nije mirno. Osim, možda, krajem jula, pred odlazak posljednjih bibliotekara i računovođa na kolektivni godišnji odmor. Svim ostalim danima je buka tako neobuzdana, sirova i u isto vrijeme nekako potmula zbog čudne akustičnosti fakultetskih hodnika, da prvo probudi a onda do u nedogled podgrijava glavobolju. I frustriranost i nemoć, i konačno njihove psihološke rezultante - ljutnju, bijes, urlanje.

Prošle nedjelje sam dežurao na ispitu sa jednom studentskom grupom, ali od buke na hodniku nismo tokom sat i po mogli imati mira. Izašao sam jednom ispred učionice i nenametljivo opomenuo studente (koje znam jer sam im predavao na prethodnim godinama), nadajući se čudu da će da shvate moju intervenciju i utišaju ton. Čudo je trajalo 17 sekundi. Sav narogušen i zapjenušan izašao sam opet vani i počeo da vičem na studente kako predstavljaju sramotu studentske populacije, i kako tokom godina školovanja ništa nisu naučili. Bio sam grub, glasan i neprijatan. Vjerovatno i nevaspitan. Ne znam da li mi je žao, samo znam da osjećam ogromnu potrebu da stavim do znanja koliko je atmosfera u kojoj naša akademska institucija radi neprihvatljiva, i ko doprinosi tome.

Primjera kao što je ovaj, na žalost, imam jako mnogo.

U srednjim i osnovnim školama je bučno samo tokom odmora.

U svim inostranim fakultetima na kojima sam bio vlada tišina. Ona nije luksuz, ona je samo prvi, materijalni preduslov za funkcionisanje obrazovne ustanove. Neophodnija je od stolica i klupa. Neophodnija od zidova. Ne košta ništa. Ali mi je nemamo.

Mnogo je pitanja koja mogu da postavim u vezi sa ovim problemom. Zašto studenti (a i profesori) nemaju dovoljno razvijenu svijest o prirodi mjesta na kom se nalaze i o neprilicnosti odnosno pogubnosti auditivnog zagađenja koje prouzrokuju? Zašto bibliotekari ne razmiju da neko ko je došao da konsultuje literaturu u njihovim prostorijama ne može to da radi uz glasne i lokalno intonirane izvještaje o pijačnim cijenama i subjektivnim političkim stavovima (da ne ulazimo u njihovu prirodu)? Zašto utišavanje tona traje 17 sekundi nakon opomene? Zašto nema ni trunka empatije ni razumijevanja za studente koji su na času ili ispitu? Zašto se ne porazgovara o načinima eliminisanja ovog primitivnog i onesposobljavajućeg, a u suštini bespotrebnog negativnog elementa? Da li smo uopšte svjesni da takav problem postoji?

Predajem i na Institutu za strane jezike u Podgorici, koji se nalazi na Ekonomskom fakultetu. Tamo je atmosfera sasvim drugačija. Dodaću još jedno pitanje prethodnom spisku - kako je moguće postići akademsku tišinu u toj instituciji, a na našem fakultetu nije? U Beranama, gdje vodim jedan kurs za studente engleskog jezika i književnosti, isto je kao i kod nas.

Ja ne znam odgovore na bilo koje od postavljenih pitanja. Najmanje znam odgovor na pitanje šta se može učiniti da upristojimo prostor u kom radimo i auditivno ga dekontaminiramo. A od životne mi je važnosti da ga saznam. Svaki predlog pozdravljam.