In recent weeks, the poet and American novelist Philip Schultz was in Italy for a brief round of introductions. Pulitzer Prize Winner in 2008 with the poetry collection Failure , Schultz has written a touching memoir entitled My dyslexia .
Born in 1945 in Rochester, New York, son of a poor family of Jews from Eastern Europe, for most dyslexic child, unaware of to have been made until the age of 58 years, this man from the look open and always a little ‘sore has become an established writer against all odds, confirming that in the land of opportunity to fight hard to success.
Philip Schultz is not even the last champion of political correctness (a former dyslexic who won the Pulitzer) but a soft response to the unbearable cult of force that attacks with increasingly intrusive – online and offline – our public and private life.
Dad was selling seals
without which the machines
could not sew
the pants better finished
of the Finger Lakes region of
upstate New York.
He liked to say
that he had tried to sell to God
a second Sunday
but Sunday no one
buys anything. When
the heart was giving
he sat on the bed
staring at his hands, unable
to understand why
they were so agitated.
The years of exploitation and dell’autosfruttamento in the workplace also mark the era of self-representation as winning against all evidence. The more life puts us on the ropes, the more we labor to want to prove otherwise. The problem is that we try to do it in public. The enthusiasm with which we try to hide our difficulties has something pathetic. We look like dogs dyspeptic who, having relieved him his stomach in the middle of a sidewalk, they begin to magnify their wares with the optimism of some old door to door salesmen.
To us coat of gold this commodity is not modesty by which a time losers, with a wonderful nobility, took away his misery at the sight of the executioners. The dell’autoesaltazione soft ignoble era (the eighties taught to barter loudness hypocritically) coincides with that of recrimination common: we share in secret the reasons of who prevails there, when you do not ride. Instead of feeling the need to combat social injustice, we believe the benefits entitled to enjoy it – for this we both infuriamo when things go wrong there.
As we arrived, to be unhappy, to covet the fruit that produces the unhappiness of others is a mystery easily solved, that the time taken from the care of the inner life prevents us from investigating enough. But when someone touches us so sincere, armed with his natural frailty, the luckiest collapse, recognizing human again, amazed at how salvation is so close, always a step before the inevitable false goal that our worst entices us to do reach at all costs. The poems and prose by Philip Schultz, at their best, play well this task.
To pay for my father’s funeral
I borrowed money from people
whom he already had money.
One called him a nobody.
No, I said, he was a failure.
No one remembers
the name of a nonentity, therefore,
are called void.
I failed not forget them.
Verses simple, measured, able to move to compassion discreetly, but also able to bring itself a part that escapes, a little puzzle whose solution is to be found elsewhere, probably in other ways, and better yet in other people, in chance to meet and clash with our fellow men that life provides us with inexhaustible generosity.
I have the impression that the first item which is led Philip Schultz is the remoteness, the consciousness to come from elsewhere Basterds, Eastern Europe immigrant who was the disease whose course had great Henry Roth, whose serene convalescence he made great Saul Bellow, whose full recovery extolled the all too conscious of Philip Roth readers – Schultz’s past is a participant in the huge waves of immigration that (overturning an election slogan kissed recently by luck, so to speak) made great America.
was giving heart
he stopped slamming doors
and screaming his every thought.
He stopped to give pats on the back,
to always make jokes,
and piss in the coffee cups
because it was late.
He stopped crying
in the toilet
when he believed that all
However, the distance, except for very rare cases, it is not enough by itself to make a writer. So the second master, or if you want the second voice that Philip Schultz guide, is a voice far too close: the voice of the street, of poverty, of that tragic frustration in such a particular way, but also comic so catastrophically, that simmering in deprived areas, the voice of those who have experienced something that anyone who grew up in the poor family of a rich country – a place with a little ‘luck you could improve your condition, but this never happens – knows perfectly what .
In the fifties of the twentieth century no resident Mary street imagined the possibility of change, and many of us did not feel even allowed to hope. We had inherited poverty of the affections, the very essence peasant soul. I belonged to a family and a community of peasant suffering, and submission of envy, fear and suspicion. Everyone kept grudges, looked at the others with suspicion, harbored an angry contempt for those who were a step lower in the scale indignity. My mind even despised herself, apologizing or always sought excuses for what I do not know, do or understand. The logic of immigrants and farmers, such as dyslexia, is a survival strategy.
Poverty as an emotional disorder, the vulnerability of which the economic disadvantage makes a gift to their children, in memory of Philip Schultz brings even the mind to “despise herself,” to seek “always excuses for what he could not do, execute or understand “.
We should go back to Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo to find, with the accuracy of these issues, the literature has hardly pursued with equal transportation, the explanation of why the obvious cultural limitations, the apparent intellectual limits, the greater propensity to commit a crime of those poor are the fault of those who are not poor. When don Milani utters the famous phrase “there is nothing more unfair deal equally between unequal” has just dipped the Gospel in the best waters of the literature of the nineteenth century – or perhaps, on the contrary, is the Jordan and not the Seine occasionally to flow in the city of Les Miserables , Jordan and not the Thames to flow into the city Oliver Twist .
Even now I can recognize from the look and attitudes of a person a quality that I can only define street, is evident in the way he refuses to look you straight in the face, how mask admiration and affection, by the boldness with no expectations and by ‘ audacity of those who do not believe in the common good. No form of education and success can delete this way of being, and even long-term treatment, or the acquisition of an elevated language or manners can conceal what stirs beneath the apparent calm of people like that. We all knew that street children, as it was terrible what was happening outside, it was nothing in comparison with what was happening at home. The rules of the road, even ruthless, were clear, and for that we were grateful.
The third item, the darkest and disturbing, with which Philip Schultz has had to seriously to sink their hands in their own identity, is the opponent. Dyslexia. Philip Schultz as a child was a dyslexic without any adults close to him knew it (parents, relatives, but also teachers, even doctors), without which no one should suspect a neurological disorder that had to do with the normal intelligence of those who suffered.
Dogs, by nature,
are not spiteful.
Do not bear grudges.
Punish them, exalt and torment
as if they were us. But even
we are not us. (No one has).
As well as poems by Philip Schultz face daily life without heroism, but with rich linguistic and therefore emotional sensitivity, after cognitive accounts, My Dyslexiatells the longest game of a child, and then a boy, against an opponent in seemingly invincible. It is a nameless enemy, because no one knows what it is, yet all are tempted to blame his victim, a child who inexplicably can neither read nor write. It is also an enemy without a body, because it is everywhere. There is no place where young Philip Schultz can escape without getting him this shadow and this damnation. And, as it happens when we are forced to pick a fight with an enemy that does not loosen a moment his hold on us, with the passage of time, that entity becomes our most devoted companion travel.
Even you may visit us suspect that he, and he alone, we understand really, not the classmates who mock us, not the teachers for whom we are a hassle, no relatives on whose embarrassment read the suspicion that we are not normal that we are dumber than normal. No parents, discovering in our eyes the fear that they may be ashamed because of us, and failing those same parents to exorcise that same our horror, they find themselves to try something that is not ashamed but desperate love, thus occurs between just as desperate shame.
All this Philip Schultz tells it without heroics and without bombast – all the space subtracted from the melodrama and spectacle of pain shows the regrowth of poetry there where it is natural to happen: on the back of life. In this way, My Dyslexia is a memoir, is a Bildungsroman, has even a small manual writing: “Without my dyslexia would never have become a poet and a writer.”
Obviously everyone has, or has had, his dyslexia. A touching each allotted a shadow, a poor legacy that leads us to hurt anything that we would do well to make mistakes right there where we want to avoid making mistakes. An evil demon deceives us to build our happiness enough to be stacked one on top of the brick of self honest with spirit and good will.
But the good will of the time is not enough. In some cases it is not even enough honesty. There is no handbook that will contain the mystery that we are. Blame bad luck is useless (if I’m trying to do everything right, why the result is half disaster?), Because that shadow, that enemy, that voice, that evil inheritance is our simple fate human beings .
Fighting to defeat the enemy is a crude way of looking at things, evokes war and election campaigns views, to limit bad Hollywood movie on boxing and on Wall Street is a guarantee of unhappiness, their own and others. Go through the pain without being sucked by his rhetoric is something else. Writers and poets are exploring the issue from a few thousand years. At the beginning of the book My Dyslexia is an epigraph of Miguel de Unamuno: “Pain is the essence of life and the root of personality, because only suffering you become people.”