#61 In love with books – Dawn Garisch

April 20, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

Art and the Truth

It was not until (man) had learnt something about the facts of climate and the seasons … that he could know how to use these to his own advantage and avoid being destroyed by them. But there were not only external facts he had to know. There were internal facts, facts of his own impulses and conflicting desires, and it was here that the poet was the pioneer  … often, by not realising the nature and strength of their own desires, men have been wrecked by them.

I am a doctor by default, passively following my sister into medicine because my family decided that it was the best thing for me to do. I do not regret this. It is a real job, where there is plenty of opportunity to make interventions that help others. It is also a privilege, in that you are invited into the lives of strangers, and get to hear their stories. Medicine has also allowed me an economic freedom that many people do not have. I have worked part-time for twenty-five years, giving me the space to bring up my kids and to pursue my passion.

My first love was always the written word – books opened their arms to me, offering me shelter, a haven, a place to discover a new way of thinking and being. At a young age I read books that my parents tried to hide from me, like The Old Man and The Sea, and stumbled upon authors at the library, like Krishnamurti, and realised that not everyone construed the world the way my parents did.

Later I read Nexus and understood that to be a good writer one has to be able to write from the position of the anti-hero. On reading the Martha Quest novels I woke up to my own body through Doris Lessing’s powerful writing.

I wanted to be close to books, to the smell of libraries, with their rows of closed stories waiting with folded arms for me to reach out and take a volume, and open it, and thereby open myself.

If I had had the courage of my passion, I might have become a librarian, or a copywriter, when I left school. I am so pleased that life had other plans for me. Through doing medicine I have had to work hard with this split between art and science. I have had to heal myself. Becoming a doctor prepared me to write this book.

Extract from forthcoming non-fiction work: Words and Flesh, Travels in the Eloquent Body, about art, science and the truth, publisher: Modjaji Books.

Milner, Marion. An Experiment in Leisure. Virago Press Ltd. 1986. Pp 133–4.

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