I’ve recently discovered how much I enjoy writing, and how important it is in life. And I’m talking about the real kind, not the “academic” thing I’ve been doing for the past three years. Real writing inspires, excites and stimulates. Blogging and journaling have helped me realize the beauties and thrills of life by sharing my experiences and reflecting on what makes everything so exciting. While my writing is far from world-changing, I realize the power that words possess. This thought had been in the back of my mind for awhile, but this past week drove the point home. When you think about it, it’s the careful selection of words that creates fear, loathing and sadness, or inspiration, compassion and joy. Properly applied, words (sung, spoken, or written) are the force that lead to action.
This revelation is a result of visiting Pablo Neruda’s three houses last week. Four decades after his death, he remains a prominent figure in Chilean culture due to his literary works and the activism he used with it. I still know very little about him, but after touring his homes, I’ve wanted to learn more, and will eventually get to a bookstore to buy some of his works.
Neruda was a fascinating person. Even outside of his work as a poet, he accumulated eccentric collections to the point of hoarding, filling three houses with seemingly random, but beautiful items, from pipes to seashells (including a narwhal tooth), butterflies to ships’ bow figureheads (if there’s a word for this, please let me know). My favorite collection, however, consisted of sets of photographs all over the walls of Neruda with figures such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Diego Rivera and even President Salvador Allende. Regardless of your political beliefs, having the president of your country hang out at your house to talk about politics is pretty impressive. It also drives home the point of the influence writing can have in the direction of a society, because, while I certainly don’t know for sure, I feel that Allende and Neruda would not have met had the poet not been so prolific.
Words are ultimately what have brought to this point in life. Books, songs, websites and conversations have stirred something within me and keep pushing me to do something more. Hopefully I can use this same force to challenge people as I have been, and to motivate them to the same level that I feel. I may be far from a Neruda, Marquez or any of the million other novelists and poets out there, but hopefully I can impact a small population in much the same way these big names have impacted me and so many other people.
Since I couldn’t take pictures inside the museums, here are their photo galleries:
http://www.fundacionneruda.org/es/isla-negra/imagenes.html – Pictures of Isla Negra
http://www.fundacionneruda.org/es/la-chascona/imagenes.html – Pictures of La Chascona
http://www.fundacionneruda.org/es/la-sebastiana/imagenes.html – Pictures of La Sebastiana
While I’m talking about Neruda, an excerpt from a poem of his to tie everything together, from part one of Memorial de Isla Negra: La Poesia:
Y yo, mínimo ser,
ebrio del gran vacío
a semejanza, a imagen
me sentí parte pura
rodé con las estrellas,
mi corazón se desató en el viento.
And my own mediocre translation:
And I, a mere mortal,
impassioned by the vast, starry
in the image and likeness
of the mystery,
I felt purely part
of the abyss,
surrounded by the stars,
my heart let loose with the wind