Thursday, December 18, 2008

Passing Thoughts Evoked by a Croatian Music Video (of Petar Graso)

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Years ago, I was living in Italy and quite homesick. I had a very vivid dream in which crossing a street took me across the ocean. Walking down the aisle in my local convenience store, people spoke to me in strange tongues. In the dream, I was back home. But even at home I was an alien. The dream had a despairing quality. As an adult, I look back on the sad young man that I was, still remembering the dimensions of that world. It gives me a serenity as I look to the future, knowing that the ice over the lake of my tomorrow will one day melt.

This video by Petar Graso has the same quality of boundary transcendence as my dream from years ago. The major difference is that my memories were of my home town, of walking off a beer buzz with good friends and having neither plans nor destination. The Graso video is loaded with flickering cultural icons, interspersed with pictures of the singer in a white suit.

Many Croats have relatives in America. My grandparents came over in 1907. They buried an infant son at sea on the way over. Had he lived he would be over a hundred years old. It is hard to imagine them scrambling to maintain their footing in the new world while still numb with grief.

There is a certain distortion in the perceptions of relatives overseas. Huge cities fade into the background like a parenthetical note while small towns with family loom large. It is interesting in watching the procession of American images in this video. It's kind of like visiting the South Street Sea Port and paying a sidewalk artist twenty dollars to paint your portrait. Sometimes, there is a remarkable likeness. Other times the resemblance is fleeting, and sometimes the flicker of a passing mood dominates the portrait like the shadow of a cloud drifting overhead. What is most interesting is the glimpse of how one is seen by a stranger.

It is in that spirit that I most enjoy this video. It is America viewed from across the ocean. It is like looking at the earth from space.

I heard this song well before I ever watched the video. Each song I listen to has a procession of imagery. This song always involved images of a family reunion in my mind, of replacing still photographs with depth and sound It evoked images of steak on the grill, spilled drinks and loud laughter. It is infrequently that I watch this clip. I do not want to trade my private imagery for fragments of collective memory.

As a child standing at the sea shore, I always wondered if someone across the ocean was looking back at me and what the person spoke and thought. There are some film clips that remind me of those thoughts years ago. The images in this video are like shards of sunlight scattered across the oceans that separate and join continents. It is for me a piece of nostalgia, a whiff of homesickness for places in which I have never been . Sphere: Related Content

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