By Nnedinso Ogaziechi
Here comes a book on, about, for, and with the universality and allure of ecclesiastic and human dimensions and varied semantic and syntactic import – LOVE. At once, the word has a pull that defies any finite verbal description over the ages since man walked the face of the earth.
Angelbert Chikere, the author of the book describes it as “A Poetic Narrative of Love”. He is a writer-philosopher, a cartoonist, a painter, craftsman and everything in between. He describes himself as a “Creative Inspirator with ideas, words, paper, ink, colour and pencil”. So, the book, ‘This Paradox, This Love’, a sixty nine page book concluded coincidentally on the global symbolic day of the social and religious celebration of love, February 14th – St. Valentines day of 2014 with a conclusive appreciation on April 1st with another global import as All fools day comes off strong with all the symbolism associated with love and loving. Are there fools when it comes to love?
Angelbert takes us on a journey…
The book comes with a symbolic female colour – pink, often associated with femininity and the social sense of vulnerability that comes with it. Symbolically too, we have an artistic impression of two birds in flight obviously flying into the somewhat mysterious but alluring depth of Sunset…setting a deeply romantic ambience.
Historically, Love has been associated with cupid and arrows owing to the fascinating Greek mythology about love. However, the author, a Nigerian might have considered another symbolism with an African flavour – love-birds historically a very small African and Madagascan parrot with mainly green plumage typically a red or black face noted for the affectionate behaviour of mated birds. The book cover sets the tone for the content of the book which is purely about and for love and lovers.
Both the cover collage and graphically illustrative Inner drawings in progressively degenerative forms were illustrated by the author himself;
- THE MAKING: A graphic illustration of a half-drawn heart on a plain paper.
- MADE: A full heart shape
- BREAKING: A half-broken heart
- BROKEN: A fully broken heart
- SHATTERED: Broken fragments of a brick.
The book starts off in a monologist form in what obviously is a man’s voice ruminating over when love can be given a form. Is it at the mental conceptual level or when it is expressed to the targeted recipient of the love affection? At the opening of the monologue we get a sense of the use of images and metaphors rooted in African themes and social norms. The voice compares his expression of love with the precision of breaking a palm kernel creating a picture of an effort to crack a hard shell with the carefulness not to harm or destroy the valued content.
The voice typically gives us a sense of victory in his declaration of love intent by aligning himself with the social concept of male conquest in romantic relationships as he says, “…sweet miles of fulfilment…flood me
…a sense of conquest
…an elation of victory
…a pride of mission executed
…a mission accomplished.
The voice is effusively narrating the joy of genuine expressions of a love he had finally expressed and found a recipient reciprocal in affection. He however still struggles to fully empty his heart to his beloved. Again, he still recognises the incompleteness in his expressions of love and metaphorically likens it to the remnants of a chewing-stick in the mouth, again an African contextual piece of metaphor.
His inability for full expressive behaviour sees him blaming himself. Amidst the inexpressiveness, a little vacuum is left, and self-blame seemingly consumes him in the absence of the love interest. He struggles with memories shared and unshared. Again, there is a reference to the allegory of dry harmattan leaves as akin to the inner break he feels in regret for unshared communication.
The negative power of silence rears its head as the sword in relationships – jealousy. Assumptions and reality play the usual tricks and a distance is built in by a badly managed communication system. Facts and Assumptions collide as ever in relationships as we can hear the monologist trying to explain that admiration does not mean an act of infidelity in itself but the partner, possibly based on social interpretations of men as perpetual hunters put the sword of Damocles in what they both shared. The voice tries to convince his love interest about the destructive import of jealousy – the bane of most romantic relationships. The attempt at communicating sincerity to the love interest seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The monologist himself reaches for his ego bank to reinstate his pride by reminding the love interest of the options he had and the choices he made. His explanations seem not to have had the desired impact as the lady walks out on him. He is left with mere memories of their good times together.
The lady love interest leaves leaving the voice in lamentations and regrets of past inactions and miscommunications but now he can only revel in memories of what could have been.
The broken relationship seemingly left unattended to finally disintegrates like a broken china – sorely and irreparably. The voice of pain is heard as the monologist continues in regret of what would have been. There are reminisces and longing thoughts of what was and what ought to have been. He is only left to deal with her absence and tries to live with the suspended disbelief that she is truly gone. The voice of one who truly is in love is heard regretfully mourning actions not taken but yet has to live with the stark reality of a lost love. At this point, the lover can only revel in memories shared while the love interest goes into the Sunset of time probably to wake to the moonlit road of a new relationship.
GENERAL PERSPECTIVE ON “THIS PARADOX THIS LOVE”.
In writing this ‘Poetic Narrative of Love’, Angelbert reaches for both his philosophical and creative intellect. Writers and musicians across all ages have all written and sang about love – that multi- dimensional emotional experience that stretches from the biologically filial, the religious to the erotically romantic. Romantic Love is an inexhaustible topic to unbundle as no living being has been able to unbundle how and why people – total strangers fall in love, the expectations of the lover and loved are often shrouded in the mystery of the human differences, circumstances and wants.
The author apologised for views that might appear subjective and things he might miss in the narrative here as heard from an obvious male figure. The idea of the paradox of love as a pleasurable but painful experience has been given breath in this book in a way that any reader goes away with a deep introspection about the love nuances we take for granted but which invariably are the core of most romantic relationships.
There is often a human conflict about love and its expression and the value. This obviously influences the way relationships grow, is sustained or killed by those involved. In the book for instance, the monologist battles with the idea of expression, the need for humility from the Alfa male. He sees his expressions as a conquest but ultimately fails to treasure the product of his valour.
However, the author gives no voice to the love interest and one is confused about what her decisions might have been. Well, given the end of the story which states that “So it was, that love took a break…,” could it be a pointer that there will be a resumption in the story after the break? Only the author can answer that question. The book seemingly gives the ultimate power to the man yet exposes his innate foibles of a feeling of success when not much effort has been put in.
The segmentation of the book into stages is very symptomatic of most romantic relationships but they do not define all the processes. One assumes that the author seemingly created the characters and scenario as a medium to project the known and unknown plots that influence most romantic alliances. The man naturally is the hunter but does not often go with the ferocious deadly targets of mere hunters as there is a pool of affection not total kill and enjoy of the average hunter.
The decisions for the romantic hunt and its processes flawed as they may be have chances of eternal bliss or broken hearts depending on the dramatis personae involved. The voice here summons courage and bares his mind and luckily gets a reciprocal reaction from his love interest. He revels in the joy of requited affection until the expression of jealousy by the lady throws spanner in the works. Somehow flawed communication prevents the relationship from blossoming and the ‘conquering’ man is left heart broken as the relationship fizzles out.
The author seemingly leaves out the lady’s own reaction to the shared affection. Does jealousy truly ruin relationships that easily? Again, the lack of proper communication in relationships is highlighted by the author as the waterloo of relationships.
The author displayed an incredible creative use and control of language with his graphic use and reference to natural romantic symbols like Sunsets, Moonlight, Stars, Rain, Day break, Light, pathways etc. His vivid reference to their individual impact on emotions and their value to romantic experience of the Voice is commendable.
However, the use of mainly African items in certain circumstances could be of a positive and negative impact. The positives would be that none Africans might begin to discover such or it could create some temporary confusion that the book is solely targeted at Africans which could be hilarious because the idea of modern open romantic display of love is assumed to be none African even though historical facts counter that.
The author draws in all the verbal and none verbal communication styles to vividly paint a mental picture of a heart in love but one does not get the requisite expressive moments. But the mental creations align with what should be.
The monologist behaved true to the male figure narrative in real life of trivializing concerns of the female partner by boasting of his own admirers that he ignores instead of communicating precisely his points and giving reassurances.
The relationship breaks down in ways that the scale of blame is shared equally in the book. However, in real life, it’s not always that black and white. Most relationships fail for a multitude of reasons and the attitude of the partners are not always in black and white.
In general, the book qualifies as a true narrative of love and its flawed processes and no one solution to its foibles. The poetic rendition is in absolute sync with the powerful love rhyme in any language under the Sun. The universality of feelings, of the passion, of the varied emotions, of attitudinal similarities and differences are well captured.
The book even though written by an African would resonate with any race and gender given that romantic relationship seemingly has a universality to its expressions. Any reader can find him or herself in most stages of the book at one stage of life or the other. The emotions of love are universal and there are no manuals with any universal application.
Angelbert merely tried to bring home to readers the innate human flaws that tugs at every heart. The delusional convictions that there are perfect relationships or perfect persons is what he tried to let readers realise. Communication, humility and patience he seems to say might just be key to very mutually beneficial and lasting relationships.
The poetic style of the narrative fits the plot in ways that boredom in reading does not rear its distracting head in a monologue. The language is very colourful and creatively woven in an exaggerated sense and style thereby appealing to all emotional antennas of readers. The book ultimately achieved its purpose and in a rare marriage of words and graphics, the reader closes the book with a mental picture of the monologist and probably a personal experience somewhere and sometimes in the past.
The perfect marriage of language, imagery, metaphors and very graphic drawings at the start of each romantic phase vividly illustrates the author’s brilliance and the ability to combine his many talents in one single book in a genre that is so universal in its appeal.
Philosophically, the human specie defies any finite description and it is even worse when romance is thrown into the mix. As a poet, he deploys all the creative manipulation of the marriage between semantics and syntax. His mastery of the nuances of nature and man’s exploitation of seasons and objects marks him out as very intuitively observant and detailed.
The reader however is somehow left confused about the understated sense of fiction and the first person singular narrative style. While fiction can be powerful, non-fiction has a gripping believability that soaks out ambiguities.
‘This Paradox This Love’ as a poetic narrative pulls at the heartstrings of every reader in ways that drives home the mystery of romantic love, the anxieties, the satisfaction, the heart aches , the confusion which are too often inextricably linked with romantic affairs, the memories, the loss and the peace and turmoil are often not easily separable.
However, there are exceptions to the rule as there are no two same situations and circumstances. The author fails to give the woman a voice and a lot is unsaid about the man’s own behaviour. Jealousy might not have been the soul reason for the disenchantment ascribed to the partner, but we look forward to some clarity probably when next the author wants to create another narrative that points to the unspoken paradoxes humans deal with in that emotion called LOVE.
pixs courtesy Google.