I’m excited about a new feature of this blog – guest posts. Something I learnt from blogging writer friends like Michael Solender and Sheldon Compton who had me along for the ride at their exquisite fun fairs. I didn’t want to call them “guest posts” though. What to do? I began to browse around for images as I’m used to when I am clueless…when I came upon this photo of an Italian “Gastarbeiter” () family in Germany in 1962, I had found my concept.
Lightshades. The word gastarbeiter, it turned out, has entered English like other German words, drily defined by the Oxford as “a person with temporary permission to work in another country, especially in Germany“. This definition suppresses most of the historical relevance of the word. gastarbeiter is German for ‘guest worker’ and originally refers to the migrant workers who had moved to Germany mainly in the 1960s and the 1970s seeking work as part of a nationwide programme to attract skilled, cheap, foreign labor. There are deep, ugly, gnarled roots: the history of forced labor during the dark years 1933-1945 and elsewhere before and after that. If ‘Gastarbeiter’ is the light, ‘Forced Labor‘ is the shadow.
Paradoxical. I enjoy ambivalence and ambiguity. I believe in the power of paradox and the connectedness of everything with everything else. Even with penguins.
Writing is remembering. I had always thought that in order to properly and appropriately describe the world in all its glory and ugliness, I would have to recreate it through my writing. Like the great novelists had done it. You know, Tolstoy. Only a couple of days ago, as I was watching a young woman and her man cross the street and followed them with my eyes thinking about what I saw in writing words, I suddenly realized that there was no need to recreate the world because it existed in everyone already: every reader and every writer, every person. All I needed to do was to help people remember what they already knew deep down in the deepest depth of their hearts and minds. Writing as a suggestion to really remember. Writing to remember. Writing is remembering. Not writing is forgetting. Let’s not forget.
Next. Our first gastarbeiter will be my dear friend and poet pal Darryl Price. If anyone knows how to make powerful suggestions using poetry, it’s Darryl. I hope you’ll be back for more this Friday to read about his own version of Paradise Lost.