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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 26 | volume V | May-June, 2002



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 26May-June, 2002

In Search of an Archetype

My Hometown in Transition

p. 1
Aleš Debeljak

     In the vibration of the memory of my childhood spent on the streets of Ljubljana, I clearly hear the verses, “If you let me go a little higher, the houses of Trieste I will admire.” Of course, I flew a kite, too, but the kite in the poem by Oton Zhupancic, premier Slovenian children's poet, was not made merely of light paper and balsa wood. In a metaphorical sense it outlined the totality of my childhood horizon.
     We lived in a cluster of low socialist apartment blocks beside the river, drab faces of high-rises never quite catching their reflection on the surface of slow-flowing waters. I gazed through the gently swinging branches of the weeping willows along the Ljubljanica River, which today no longer exist, perhaps because Joseph Plecnik, the foremost architect of my country whose work defined much of the Slovenian capital city's downtown, intended them to stand as a visual illustration for bending washerwomen, an image of the irreversibly-lost past. When I gazed there and tried to imagine invisible worlds in which genuine dramatic adventures took place that would be worthy of my longings, never satisfied with the simple reality at hand, I really saw the Italian town of Trieste, with its large harbor and the sea's promise of infinity. It is not that as a child I had already but a limited conceptual framework that was according to the force of necessity shaped by the meager financial means of my parents and the political restrictions of “soft” communist Yugoslavia, the country in which we lived. Because of such restrictions, even a trip to nearby Trieste literally meant entering a different world. I don't have the limitations of this kind in mind, although I don't deny their force. I have in mind my acceptance of evaporating, having never completely disappeared, and ever-so-fragile memories that are anchored in childhood, permeated with primordial images, images of the past. Who would not want to understand them? It is the artistic vision that so often feeds on the lost paradise of childhood, because symbolic archetypes were formed in it that govern the perception of the present moment. I try to miss as few opportunities as possible where this can be seen at work: how the archetypes confront the present use of time and orientation of space. Such opportunities come to light in playing with and caring for children.
     I have three;

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