Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conversations With Myself

Yes, it's true, I often feel as though I'm conversing with myself out here in cyberworld until I get a wonderful repsonse out of the blue as I did from P. J. Grath at http://www.dogearsbooks.net/ It's so gratifying to realize that one has made a connection and that feeling, coupled with my thoughts on listening to Nelson Mandela's musings in his latest book, aptly titled Conversations With Myself, has brought me to mulling over this idea of being heard and understood by another person.

No matter how much we may love someone there are always times where words and intentions are misconstrued, feelings are hurt and the sooner fixed the better. But imagine if you possibly can what it must have been like for Mandela, confined as a political prisoner for nearly thirty years, feared by his captors for the damage (to them) that his powerful words could do, yet scorned as a man who expected too much - fair and equal treatment while detained.

Imagine the anguish of trying to communicate with your family, hearing of your wife's imprisonment through a grapevine, of your mother's death from an emissary, or of your first born son's demise in an automobile accident through a smuggled in newspaper. Imagine knowing that each word of anguish you put to paper will be read by strangers, blacked out, reworded, redacted, until it barely makes any sense IF it ever reaches its intended audience.

Mandela, writing in secret from Robben Island - the prison off the coast of Cape Town that I hope to visit in the Fall - came to the slow realization and acceptance of the fact that over the years of his incarceration he was becoming the symbol for the anti-apartheid movement and though he gracefully accepted that mantle, he railed and angrily chafed at the smaller indignities that came with never knowing if he was being heard, by family or friends in the outside world.

I thought I would enjoy listening to this book as the reader, John Kani, has that delightful, lilting voice reminiscent of Mandela's own. The initial format is a bit confusing but one adjusts after a disc or two. Mr. Mandela's thoughts on his mission to end apartheid, his words of love through letters to his family, and interview transcripts can seem disjointed, but they are arranged chronologically so if you listen, do stay with it. This book is one of many tributes to the unbelievable resilience of the human spirit.

A new book showed up yesterday from Library Journal so I'll be incommunicado for a few days while I try to determine, dear readers, whether or not you would enjoy a debut novel by Carolyn Cooke.


P. J. Grath said...

Sally, I came back for another visit this morning, and what a surprise to find my own name on your latest post! Maybe I should note that while Dog Ears Books is the name of my bookstore and website, Books in Northport is the name of my main blog. I am so pleased that we have found each other, and now that I see you're planning a visit to Capetown I wonder if you have read Paul Theroux's DARK STAR SAFARI. I read it recently and recommend it.

See you later!

Sallyb said...

Oh, thank you P. J. In fact, yes, I listened to it in my car not long ago. Right now I'm in the middle of Charlayne Hunter-Gault's New News Out of Africa.
I'll be happy to link to your other blog.