The Tree of Knowledge
Adriano Bulla, is a writer (poet, novelist and non-fiction writer). He is an alternative voice. Not just in themes, which mainly cover dreams, the spiritual, LGBT, deep psychology, but also in style and format as he mixes poetry and prose, music and art in his books. We have conducted an interview with him.
Where do you tap on for inspirations for your novels, poetry and prose?
In the mystical area between dreams and reality, between hallucination and the physical world… In a way, I don’t have a choice; inspiration just comes when it is meant to; I don’t set out to write something consciously… It’s just part of my life: I spend a long time, sometimes whole years in what I call a ‘receptive phase’ where I learn, I change and I develop; then, as if in a wave, when I am ready, I feel the inspiration coming. It’s only when there is magic in my life that I can actually write, when my individual experience, what I have seen, felt and observed finally makes sense on a wider, metaphysical level that I am compelled to write. When that happens, the words just come to me, as if brought by the sound of music…
How long did you take to write "The Tree of Knowledge"? What do you think is your strongest talent?
It only took me a few hours to write “The Tree of Knowledge”; on the whole though, I am a very slow writer – I mean, when I am actually writing, I am fairly fast, but I don’t write often, as I was saying.
My strongest talent? Maybe having a fully open mind; this means that I allow the words to lead me, rather than trying to force myself upon the words. Or maybe it’s my curiosity for new forms, new sounds, new styles. I could never stick to a format; it’s just not me. I like to experiment; to see how words can create new effects… The Human mind has infinite power; it’s just a matter of believing it: if you are not afraid to take a path that no one has taken before, you can express new realities, new ideas… In the end, what’s a talent? It’s just the luck of having been chosen as a channel by the Muse; we don’t really write, we are just scribes, tools in the hands of the Muse. So, my greatest talent is, well, the fact that the Muse has blessed me, and that’s something I can’t be thankful enough for.
In which alternative voice do you enjoy most in expressing your form of art?
I like to mix voices yet keep a sense of unity. Where does music end and poetry begin? Where does Poetry end and prose begin? Where do the visual arts become words? These ‘grey’ areas, which are the most colourful places of the mind if we just take the time to cast a light on them, rather than ignoring them, are where a whole world of sound, light, colours, words feelings and ideas can be found. That’s maybe why I mix realism and surrealism a lot in my writings; I mix dreams and hallucinations with harsh reality… But in the end, are we sure that there’s a clear distinction between the physical and the spiritual world or is it just a matter of perspective? So, if we widen our perspective and try to embrace as far as our mind allows us to, we can find unity where a limited point of view deceives us into thinking that there is division.
How does your novel translate the language of art into literature?
The Road to London is not actually a novel, in a way, as she (my novel is a lady and proud of it) is a bit prose, a bit poetry, a bit a series of paintings, and a bit a soundtrack; although the narrative is framed within the structure if a novel, there are many forms of art in her. If we talk about the visual arts, although the story has a continuous narrative, each chapter is like a painting; and each painting has its style, inspired by a work of literature (or more) and a painter; the novel parodies a lot of books, mainly drawing on the style of the writers, from Toni Morrison to Dickens to Virgil… Each chapter also has a colour or two, apart from the last chapter where all the colours come together (a chapter which is fully set in the ‘other world’ in the afterlife)… The first chapter is just white, then colours are added, each with a symbolic and emotional meaning; light is a central theme in the novel; in fact the exact middle word of the novel is “light”, as the source of life, the Ray of Light if you wish. The main scenes them use the syntax, the grammar of great painters; for example, there is a se scene, where the Boy (the unnamed protagonist) first meets sex, on his own, so to speak, and I thought the best painter to give a visual representation of the confusion we experience when we first discover our sexual nature would be Picasso, so, I broke the grammar; nouns with nouns, adjectives with adjectives, verbs with verbs, a bit like Picasso breaks down the language of painting into areas, or facets; in another scene, where I wanted to convey a peaceful epiphany, I took inspiration from Whistler; so, against a mainly dark blue backdrop, there are many little sparks, in the form of words related to light. The overall effect though would be, in my view, a Dali: the novel is surreal, things that are part of our normal experience appear warped by the Boy’s psychological perception (and of course by his dreams and many hallucinations…)
Which is your most embraced styles and format, considering music, books and poetry?
I regard myself as mainly a poet, but, well, they all play a part; I believe in the unity of the arts, all of them. Music is everywhere, there’s no writing without rhythm and harmony; at the same time, on the waves of the music, it is easy to see shapes and colours being brought to our consciousness (maybe it’s easier for me as I am synaesthetic, but I am sure everybody with a curious and ‘experimental’ mind has had similar experiences). They need to meet in harmony and work to give a unified effect; none exists without the other, the whole system only works as a whole.
Have you ever heard the sound of a painting? Or have you ever seen the light, the shapes or the colours of music? That’s where my imagination is alive, in the coexistence, in the interplay of different forms of art. In the end, if it is true (and it is) that we are witnessing a new Renaissance, a paradigm shift which will show all the facets of our reality as what they really are, just sides of the same experience and reality, I think the arts should go in this direction too… We need to meet if we want to become one, and I think this is the real role of the arts in the wonderful times we are starting to see ahead of us.
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