November 22nd, 2007 17:08 EST
Chase von, Interviews Bazhe Author of Damages!!!
Interview on behalf of the Student Operated Press with...
Bazhe, Incredible Poet, Artist and Author of the world-acclaimed book, Damages..."
Chase von: Bazhe, I am so blown away by your book. Being someone who is (quote and unquote) "straight," I have to tell you, that I never would have imagined going in that I would be unable to stop turning the pages. I reached a point early in life, not to label people or to consider anyone who isn`t trying to impose whatever their beliefs might be on my life, as an enemy. I`m a live-and-let-live kind of guy but that took some living to reach that point. I know that there are many people who don`t conform to the norm and to me; they are simply people who are written about throughout the history of the world. Many times, I might add. I don`t profess to know everything, which is why although I have my lines which no one should cross or they face the consequences, as all people do. I am always open to learning new things. But, I have to tell you, though that your autobiography is the most unabashed and honest "don`t-care-if-you-like-me-or-not" book I have ever read. And in that honesty, things that I myself don`t personally see me wanting in my own life per say, still made me feel a respect for you, because of your blatant truth and honest delivery. I was also touched by how much you cared for your mother and not to make that seem less than, because it is certainly not and also one of the most important parts of your story. I will definitely ask you about that to be sure. But what I want to know first is why you wrote this book to begin with? Was it to capture your love for your mother in print for all time, as well as describe your own life?
Bazhe: Dear Chase von, I am glad that you invited me for this interview. The fact that you love my book makes me very happy. I do love your writings as well. Your words are like beautiful colors. Thanks for introducing them to me.
Well, I`ll start talking about my book "Damages" by saying this, it doesn`t matter what one`s race or sexual orientation is to identify with many of the things that have happened to me. I had a strange and very unusual first 24 years of life. However, anyone can find things that are identical to my upbringing. Especially in our dealings with parents, that is, in so many ways, universal. But besides the unique and crazy experiences of my young adult life, "Damages" is about my mother who adopted me. People say you have only one mother but I had two. Telling what happened is a very important part of my story because one mother continues to stay in my heart, while one mother is completely out of it.
"Damages" is also about my dealing with the political turmoil of the Balkans between the Muslims and the Christians and that makes it very timely for all of us. And now to answer your question directly. I wrote this book to tell the truth about a human who endures everything to get to the truth. You are right, "Damages" is, as you`ve said, a don`t-care-if-you-like-me-or-not book. I needed to tell the truth in this work and educate those who search for independence and freedom from suppressive families and societies.
Here is the short synopsis: "Damages" is a saga of a young man caught in the political crossfire of a country torn apart by Communism, Christian nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism. It is one man`s fight to find his true identity and freedom, as he awakens to his own sexuality in an oppressive society and comes to realize that he can no longer consider his own home a safe haven. Thus, he eventually flees to America where he builds a new life in the land of freedom.
Chase von: You are, in my opinion, not only a prodigy but also a warrior. I can think of few people who would have lived to tell, had they been in your situation. And, I am not talking about a single event. You went through literally years of violent abuse, being ostracized and being an outcast. And perhaps, although they didn`t think so at the time, all because of your parents, and in particular, your father. Your ability to write, and I told you this before, is on the level of the masters. You remind me, on occasions, of the incredibly gifted writer, Anne Rice. And English is not even your first language. You speak how many languages? And how did you master the English language to the point you can write works comparable to the likes I`ve mentioned just now... Anne Rice?
Bazhe: I am very touched by your comparison of me with such a big American writer as Anne Rice, so thank you. I speak seven languages. I did not speak English when I came here in the beginning, but instantly I began to learn it. I have a weakness for languages. I also consider English one of the most beautiful languages of all. Conrad and Nabokov wrote in English as a second language as well. These two are some of my super idols and it is natural for me to relate to them, as I, too, am an immigrant.
I also learned English by reading my favorite American writers and by talking to anyone, regardless if I would make mistakes or not. I would make people laugh and I didn`t mind. I didn`t mind even their put- downs when I would make mistakes since I had a secret. And that secret was that, while they were ridiculing me, I was gaining knowledge. That was all that mattered to me. My motto is to win the war; and, losing battles is not important. So, I won it and learned English.
Chase von: I don`t want to give your book away too much. But there was a part in your book that took me completely by surprise. Well, many parts, really, that knocked me senseless. I was first blown away, however, when you were someone who didn`t want to finish your greasy meat. I only mention this because I want to know whether you feel (and I know you can elaborate eloquently) whether homosexuality is something people learn or are born being?
Bazhe: The sexual orientation is in us when we are an embryo, that is for sure. I knew I was gay ever since I was born. It is not something one learns. An individual can suppress it because of the prejudice of their family or the society, but it is there, one is born with it. I am so glad that young people here don`t seem to care about it. I am also so happy they are getting more free and liberated and that is priceless. That is the main motive of my book "Damages." Freedom and liberation are so universal, so essential and most important for all of us.
Chase von: Who are some of the writers you yourself admire?
Bazhe: Mostly I love the classic writers. I love Proust, Faulkner, Capote, M"rquez, Nabokov, Voltaire, Pasolini, Balzac, Salinger, Baldwin, Williams, Conrad, Selby and Vidal because of their exquisite style of writing. Their writings are real art. From the poets I adore the love poetry of Rimbaud and Plath and the bold poetry of Neruda and Lorca. I consider Kushner, Waller and Ondaatje as exceptional modern writers. I find them fresh and innovative. But no one is like Orwell. He is truly my number one.
Chase von: I know they are making a movie of your life story, when can we expect to see it?
Bazhe: Soon, I hope. I am working and talking often to an important movie connection who is assisting me in finishing the film script for my book. It will be a collaboration, which I prefer. It will also enable me to learn a new area of writing and I am very excited about this. And, I will invite you, for sure, as my special guest for the film`s premiere.
Chase von: Thank you and I have to tell you, Bazhe, I am, as I said, a live-and-let-live kind of person. But I wasn`t always that way and not because of me per say, but because of what society wanted me to think. Because of that, I used to look at people who lived alternative life styles sideways. You know, I am blatantly honest-- perhaps to a fault. But having read your book, I see things a bit differently now. Do you think if more people read your work, it would lessen the hostilities we both know exist?
Bazhe: I love your honesty. I admire that in anyone and, let me be frank, what is there to hate? Families and societies are, by default, oppressive and hateful. They are the most oppressive and hateful circles of humanity. Big brother wants that so he can control you, your family and your friends. Freeing yourself from this oppressiveness and hate will help you to be true humans, not just another creature in your circle of clones. All people who hate and are oppressive are crooks, hypocrites and criminals. Being hateful and oppressing yourself turns you into being a religious fanatic, homophobe, racist and/or nationalist " which, all together, makes you just like a nazi, a fascist. And we all should know what fascist do and have done throughout recorded human history.
My book "Damages" describes this. It makes anyone rethink his or her oppressiveness and hate. Hopefully, it makes you understand different people, races and cultures; and, it makes one grow free from being a hateful and oppressive human being, into kind and understanding people.
Chase von: People tend to think, or a lot of them, that people who are attracted to the same sex are inferior or shallow;r misguided or sick; wrong or well, you name it. I was, however, struck again, as I was struck many times throughout your book, by how, if I removed the fact that you were speaking of another man, and replaced that character with a woman, that it mirrored the feelings that I have had for women in my life. In your mind, is love genderless? And if so, what about the natural order of things as in: Only men and women together can produce children for future generations?
Bazhe: I strongly recommend for anyone to put on the opposite sex role for one day. Then one would learn a lot " truly a lot. It is a very useful thing to do. It is especially helpful for the straight folks out there. I was into that role out of my need to survive and escape the tough situation and I never regretted it. It was a precious lesson. It was amazing being, I mean acting, 24/7 for 6 months, as a woman. On top of it, being in the arms of a very good-looking man and in the exotic city of Istanbul didn`t hurt at all either. LOL My female readers love that part. Women are less intimidated by what I did and they also understand easier my purpose for doing it. Many tell me they envied me. LOL I have told women I wouldn`t mind giving them Genghis for some romance.
The question of reproduction is also easy. I know many who reproduce and they are gay or lesbian " not counting the closeted ones. Trust me, we won`t run out of babies even if 99% of the population is homosexual. LOL The real problem is that we are running out of parents. That is the tragedy. We should really open our eyes and see what humans have done as parents. They have produced and keep producing many orphans and abandoned children. Very sad; and, this mess affects me very much because I am an orphan. I wrote about this a great deal in "Damages."
Chase von: Now to the question I really wanted to ask you. Your love for your adoptive mother pours from the pages of your book! And how you took care of her and people will have to read that themselves, made me think of you not as a man, but as an Angel! I am curious out of concern mind you, that you are content that you did what had to be done. My other question is this... Are you OK knowing you did what I can`t imagine any one I know doing so carefully or lovingly or do you, who did what so few of us have had to do, still wonder if you could have provided better care in her last days? Because I certainly don`t think anyone who reads your book, would think that possible!
Bazhe: Thank you for your respect for what I did. I had to care for my true mother, my adopter, immaculately. It was my physical and emotional duty. She was my savior! Just imagine what kind of life I would have had without parents? Many sane orphans and adoptees fortunately feel this way. We see and respect these women like my mother as if they are saints! Unfortunately, many true children don`t provide such care for their real parents. Sometimes, they can`t and we should understand those circumstances. But many times they can, yet they just throw the parents in the terrible nursing homes! I did not and I am glad I went back to Europe and I took care of her until the end. And I did it with all my love and respect for her dignity.
She told me when she was dying, if I could have bared 100 children, I would have traded all of them, just to have you. Those words gave me the feeling of being the most happiest and accomplished as a son. It was the best thing I did and in the process, I learned a lot about life, very precious knowledge! This knowledge of life, I will be writing in my next book "coming soon.
Chase von: How important is family to you, and what is your take on the state of our current world?
Bazhe: Family and friends are most important. Since I came here, I have been involved with one partner only, in a stable and long time relationship. He is an American guy, very smart and reliable. Also, he is one handsome scientist. Scientists and artist are tough yet powerful combinations I think. I was lucky. But I work on building my continuing relationship. Being alone here, I needed a family more than you can imagine.
Building long time and steady relationships is hard work. Hard work is the recipe to building a stable relationship. It is not to just throw in the towel easily as some of my fellow Americans would say. I took that proverb seriously and did it. Besides I am a very loyal creature to anyone who respects me "which is just natural to be.
Chase von: What would you say, if you were standing in front of a microphone that could be heard by every child on the planet and regardless of what language it was they spoke, they would understand you? What positive advice would you give the children, if that were possible?
Bazhe: Cherish your parents. Respect anyone. And to those who are unfortunate, the orphans, I would say: It is hard to be in your shoes, but you must fight to survive "and never give up. Never!
Let our readers know how they can find out more about you and more importantly, where they can get your book! I can tell all reading this, if you are straight gay or breathing, you will still love this book, because it is packed with so many things that life is about. But you will have to read it to understand why I feel that way. Bazhe:
Thank you Chase, I am flattered. And I truly enjoyed your book, "Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak" as well! My book can be found on most online and offline stores. Like on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Independent bookstores. Just provide to the booksellers this info: Damages by Bazhe, ISBN: 0-595-29714-5 /, also it`s available as an ebook. Also, you can order it by calling a toll free number: 1-877-823-9235. Or you can get Damages directly from me as an autograph copy from my web site: www.Bazhe.com Chase von:
I want to thank you Bazhe, busy as you are, for finding the time to do this! I am wishing you continued future success and on behalf of myself and The Student Operated Press, thank you so much for sharing and giving us some of your time! Bazhe:
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by you and The Student Operated Press "wonderful organization. Thank you very much, keep up the good work, and stay well.