“In hell, the most intense anguish is that nobody sees the faces of the others, only their backs, namely the joint solitude”, said a Holy Father. But, since the world we are living in is just an antechamber waiting room of hell, the anguish is just at the beginning and, at this stage, we call it pleasure.
By means of this book, George Banu is trying to decipher the attitude adopted by the one seen from the back, depicting a precise situation. That is why he resorts to painting and theatre. He needs a frame and the finite space of the stage in order to restrict the interest area. Fiction needs a surrounding wall in order to be captured. Otherwise you can miss it; it can pass by just like a moment of grace.
By reading this book, both the plastic art and the art of performance have always had an obstinate perspective on the incapacity of seeing the mirror of the soul, namely the face of humans. The viewer, as well as the spectator, is always left with the possibility of the reverse: the back of the humans, when it is not turned forever, is a mystery waiting to be revealed.
The instances of departure, separation, revolt or retreat from the world are photograms that mark the beginning of solitude. Once it is turned as a last page of a book, the story that can be read on a face gives rise to fantasy – sure gratification of the need to explain. Dumbness becomes the space that hides even the unspoken words. This is how oblivion begins.
Every line written by George Banu is a delight. Reading becomes a tasting which you want to prolong in order to feel all the nuances of pleasure. You would not have suspected that the theme “the back of humans” could reveal so many things. Likewise, when we find ourselves for the thousandth time in a place, we are surprised to discover that, in fact, we are walking on a royal path: fabulous people, lofty trees, clear sky and, at every turn, a miracle. George Banu has the gift of selecting apparently discreet facts, which he later elevates, revealing their true dimension.
Throughout the book, the theme seems to be given countless interpretations. One of them is the image of the artist turned towards focused on his work. “I can only picture Michelangelo from the back” said Flaubert. The easiest image to be imagined, even if we only do it in our mind, without the need of other plastic representation, is that of the writer bent over the manuscript. The painter, faced with his canvas, will not reveal his face to the onlooker – as he does in Vermeer’s painting – remaining indifferent even in front of his admirers. These images, describing the man who takes action, who creates, come in opposition to the image of the man whose only concern is being seen by the world. There is an undeclared conflict between work and biography which will amaze us only later in the book.
My advocacy of this book, which is at the same time an invitation to read it, could continue. I will only mention Giotto’s “The Last Supper”, where the characters standing with their backs turned have the role of hermetically closing the circle, of securing the secret. The circle is democratic, only the halo distinguishes Jesus from the rest. What is more, the circle is so protective that treason can only come from the interior. The author’s demonstration is impressive.
“The man with his back turned makes use of his right to have a secret which he does not want to disclose, not even partially, and this introversion explains the attraction he exerts” concluded George Banu, trying to express in a nutshell all the ideas scattered through this wonderful book.
Written by Valentin Nicolau
Translated by Oana Ludmila Popescu, MTTLC, 2nd year