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Željka Čorak - Warps of abidance in small things
By LivingStone Magazine | Published  08/13/2009 | LivingStone Magazine , People , Culture And Arts | Unrated
Željka Čorak - Warps of abidance in small things
Text by Slobodan Prosperov Novak, originaly published in LivingStone Magazine, 2009

Željka Čorak


Željka Čorak radila je na velikim projektima stvaranja države, ali pravo umijeće iskazala je pričama o malim stvarima.

Ima nešto začudno u potrebi Željke Čorak da se u jednoj prilici bavi najkrupnijim mjestima Hrvatske, a da onda gotovo u istoj rečenici piše o jedva vidljivim predmetima iz svoga okruženja, predmetima koji joj pomažu da se bavi najvažnijom temom svoga stvaralaštva - umijećem pamćenja. Zbog želje da podigne spomenik ljudskom pamćenju dogodilo se da je ova autorica, premda je već stvorila monumentalna djela, više od svega majstor kratke forme.

U životnom i književnom projektu Željke Čorak rođene u Zagrebu 1943. nije lako odrediti rubne točke na kojima se senzibilnost njezinih eseja i važnost njezinih javnih gesta dodiruju čas sa znanošću, a onda s kulturnom pragmom, čas s likovnom kritikom, pa s poezijom i autobiografijom, a onda se opet križaju političke invektive s prijepisima vlastitih snova i maštarija. Nakon studija povijesti umjetnosti na zagrebačkom Filozofskom fakultetu autorica je radila u redakciji "Telegrama" kultnog kulturnog tjednika u kojemu je još krajem šezdesetih godina XX. stoljeća ostavila značajan trag svoje neobično široke erudicije. Uređivala je još i "Život umjetnosti" te časopis "Arhitekturu", napisala je disertaciju o važnom doprinosu Drage Iblera hrvatskoj arhitekturi između svjetskih ratova, njegovoj presudnoj ulozi u oblikovanju današnjeg urbanističkog krajolika glavnom hrvatskog grada. I uz sve to bavila se gotovo opsesivno zagrebačkom Katedralom kojoj je 1988. u zajednici s Anom Deanović posvetila grandioznu monografiju, a potom i pripomogla da se čitavoj zagrebačkoj biskupiji posveti zasebna izložba i monumentalni katalog.
Uz sve to, Željka Čorak ipak je svećenica malih stvari. Svoje najbolje tekstove sastavila je od krhotina, što je i naslov njezine najvažnije knjige objavljene u zagrebačkom Grafičkom zavodu Hrvatske 1991. Knjiga "Krhotine" dočekana je s kritičarskom aklamacijom i još je danas najvažnija prozna knjiga hrvatskog postmodernizma. Autorica je već 1970. u svom prvom rukopisu pod naslovom "Kaleidskop" poput eruditske posjetnice pružila javnosti na uvid svoje književne namjere i svoju fino ustrojenu kritičnost, ali joj je tek u drugoj knjizi, u "Lanjskim snijezima" iz 1979. do kraja pošlo za rukom stvoriti za svoj rukopis karakterističan, neobičan spoj vlastitih poetskih prijevoda, čudesnih otkrića i učenih komentara te stvoreno tkivo beletrizirati.

U epicentru politike

To da u znanosti i u književnosti, u prevodilaštvu i u likovnoj umjetnosti baš sve ima svoju priču, da je sve što postoji tek fragment ili odjek neke druge ili veće egzistencije i istine, središnje je mjesto u poetici ove autorice. U djelima Željke Čorak paradigme postmodernog vrlo su prepoznatljive pa su stanju duha bliske i autoričine političke intervencije kakvo je lucidno Pismo francuskom predsjedniku Mitterandu koje je 1993. objavljeno na francuskom jeziku, a takav je i čudesno privatan ali izuzetno točan opis vladalačkih uzurpacija u tekstu "Ptica moga jezika" koji je objavljen 1998. kada je autorica prestala biti savjetnica za kulturu predsjednika Tuđmana. Tako se uostalom i zova jedna kasnija knjiga koju je objavila u nakladi Matice Hrvatske. Uopće društveni angažman Željke Čorak u devedesetim godinama nije uključivao samo savjetničku funkciju u uredu hrvatskog predsjednika nego je ona još veći trag ostavila sukreirajući s bliskim ljudima kulturni projekt kakav se afirmirao oko Hrvatskog PEN kluba, naročito nakon Svjetskog kongresa u Dubrovniku 1993. Tu je ova lucidna kritičarka zbilje pronašla svoj prostor u slavnom razgovoru između Finkielkrauta i Conrada kojemu je bila svojevrsni lakmus, tu se otkrila njezina bliskost glavnoj temi toga skupa, njoj vrlo bliskom genius loci te što nas od malih stvari vodi bitnim i velikim gestama.
Prisjećam se te kongresne jeseni žestokog nastupa Željke Čorak u dalekoj španjolskoj Galiciji u Santiagu de Compostelli kada su već na prvoj točki ljuti protivnici hrvatske samostalnosti pokušali ukinuti službeni status netom održanog dubrovačkog kongresa PEN-a. Nismo ni zakoračili u dvoranu, a Željka Čorak već je bila za govornicom i nitko se više nakon nje nije usudio ništa reći protiv našeg dubrovačkog sna, sna o dubrovačkoj Hrvatskoj.

Krhotine diskontinuiteta

Iz krhotina vlastite biografije, ali i od artefakata koji je okružuju, od priča koje ti predmeti nude, Željka Čorak proizvodi nove i neobične strukture, nezavisnu književnu zbilju kojoj je evokativni ton u samom središtu. Takvi su predivni autoričini medaljoni poput onoga o izvorima Bunićeve manirističke minijature o ženi i ruži, otkriće koje je imalo najveći slavistički naboj, a tako su nastajale i najuzbudljivije stranice iz "Krhotina". Taj opsežni i poetski, znanstveno fingirani "Prilog poznavanju hrvatske provincije u XIX. stoljeću" čudesna je knjiga koja sva izlazi iz obiteljske škrinje i njezinog samo naoko efemernog a ustvari bajkovitog sadržaja. Željka Čorak je ispod glasa, ali u maniri znanstvene proze, u "Krhotinama" napisala jednu od najboljih ispovjednih knjiga hrvatske književnosti. Krhotine su književna potraga za ljepotom malih stvari.
U svojim se tekstovima Željka Čorak ne trudi opisanom svijetu ponuditi ni čvršća ni racionalna obrazloženja. Njoj je i kad upotrebljava diskurs znanosti jedino stalo da prikaže diskontinuitete u trajanju, ona kao da želi dokazati pravilo kontinuiranog diskontinuiteta, pravilo po kojem hrvatska provincija, ali i hrvatski identitet, jedino opstoje i po kojem se u svakoj molekuli ljudskog postojanja najtočnije ostvaruje autentični ritam narodnog duha.

Mračan prostor želje

Željka Čorak još je jedna autorica ženskog pisma kojemu je bliska najviše evokativnim tonom svojih proza, njihovom ispovjednošću i samorazornom iskrenošću. Nastao po strani od mentalitetnih podjela na muško i žensko, opus ove autorice još je jedan od spisateljskih projekata koji je htio intervenirati u stvarnost našeg doba tako što će svakom svojom strategijom dokazivati kraj velikih naracija i njihovu uzaludnost. Tako prva knjiga Željke Čorak "Kaleidoskop" nosi svoj naslov ne samo zbog bliskosti autoričine poetike toj začudnoj igrački nego baš zato što je autorica jednom, kao djevojčica, za vrijeme svog prvog posjeta Dubrovniku, odmah poslije Drugog svjetskog rata, dobila na dar kaleidoskop od sestre Tarcizije. „Jednog dana odvela me na tavan. Ta šetnja tavanom stvorila mi je jedan arhetip i mitsko mjesto: mračan prostor želje“. Nostalgični ton tekstova Željke Čorak najbolje se ostvaruje kad ona sažima davne događaje, najbolje se ostvaruje onoga trenutka kad je u djevojčici sazrio mračan prostor želje, kada je počela vježbati svoje pamćenje i iskušavati pamćenje stvari.

Sjećanja bez anegdota

Željka Čorak opčinjena je umijećem nasljeđivanja, umijećem za koje ona posjeduje posve neobičan talent, talent da u budućnost prenosi fragmente stvarnosti, da ih pretvara u prošlost i oživljava. Svijest da u tim detaljima koje ona tako oživljava nema nikakve priče ili anegdote iz literature Željke Čorak isključila je anegdote i banalnosti. Za njih u liturgiji malih stvari nema mjesta. To su uvjerljivi i točni zapisi o bićima koja prolaze svijetom i ostavljaju svoje tragove od kojih neki imaju sreću da budu dobro i javnog života. Intelektualna misija Željke Čorak je kao molitva koja ponavlja zapis nečujnih koraka tih nevidljivih bića koja naseljavaju ljudsko pamćenje.




Željka Čorak worked on large projects of state creation, but she expressed her ultimate art in her stories about small things.


There is something amazing in Željka Čorak's need to handle the most relevant issues in Croatia at one point, and then, almost in the same sentence, to write about barely visible objects from her environment, things that help her work on the most important theme of her opus – the art of remembering. On account of her desire to erect a monument to human remembrance, it so happened that this author, even though she already created some monumental works, is more than anything else a master of short form.

In the life and literary projects of Željka Čorak, born in Zagreb in 1943, it is not easy to determine the boundaries where the sensibility of her essays and importance of her public gestures now meet the science, now cultural pragma, now art critics, then poetry and autobiography, only to have the political invectives merge and mix with transcripts of her dreams and fantasies. Following her art history studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, she worked on the editorial staff of "Telegram", a cultural weekly of cult status, where she already at the end of the 60s left a prominent trace of her extraordinarily wide learning. She was the editor of “Život umjetnosti” ("Life of Art") as well as of the “Arhitektura” ("Architecture") magazine. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on all-important contribution of Drago Ibler to Croatian architecture between the two World Wars, of his crucial role in shaping the present-day urbane landscape of the Croatian capital. In addition to all of this, she also dealt, almost obsessively, with the Zagreb Cathedral, to which she, together with Ana Deanović, in 1988, dedicated a magnificent monograph, and then assisted in dedicating a separate exhibition and a monumental catalogue to the Diocese of Zagreb. This entire aside, Željka Čorak is still the priestess of small things. Her best texts are pieced together from fragments, which is also the title of her most important book published by Grafički zavod Hrvatske in 1991 and welcomed with critical acclamation, representing unto today the most important book of prose of Croatian Post-Modernism. Already in her first manuscript from 1970 entitled "Kaleidoscope", she offered to the public view her literary intentions and her finely structured criticism like a scholarly business card, but it is only in her second book – “Lanjski snjezi ("Last Year's Snows") – from 1979 that she fully succeeded to create for her writing so characteristic yet so unusual mélange of own poetic translations, magical discoveries and learned commentaries, and then fictionalize it all.

In the epicenter of politics

The fact that in science as in literature, in translation as in fine arts every little thing has its own story; the fact that everything that exists is but a fragment or an echo of some other or larger existence or truth holds a central place in this author's poetics. The paradigms of Post-Modernism are easily recognizable in the works of Željka Čorak and her political interventions too are very close to this state of mind; such as her lucid Letter to Mitterrand, President of France, published in 1993 in French, just as miraculously private but extraordinarily accurate description of dynastic usurpations in the text “Ptica mog jezika” ("The Bird of My Tongue") published in 1998 when the author was no longer the Cultural Advisor to President Tuđman. As it were, this is also the title of one later book that she published with Matica Hrvatska. Overall, social engagement of Željka Čorak in the 90's did not only include advisory role to the Croatian President's Office, but she left much wider trail by co-creating, with people close to her, a cultural project that got its affirmation with the Croatian Pen Club, especially after the World Congress in Dubrovnik in 1993. This lucid critic of reality found here her own space in the famous discourse between Finkelkraut and Conrad, in which she acted as sort of a litmus; here her propinquity to the main issue of the event became known, to the genius loci so close to her, leading us from the small things to important and big gestures. I recall Željka Čorak's fierce appearance at that congress autumn in the far Spanish Galicia, in Santiago de Compostela, when already in the first item the bitter opponents of Croatian independence tried to revoke the official status of the shortly-before held PEN Congress in Dubrovnik. We barely stepped into the conference room, and Željka Čorak was already at the pulpit and when she was through, nobody dared say a word against our Dubrovnik dream, our dream of Croatia conceived in Dubrovnik - ever again.

Fragments of discontinuity

Out of fragments of her own biography, but also from artifacts that surround her, from the stories offered by these objects, Željka Čorak produces new and unusual structures, independent literary reality with an evocative tone in the very heart of it. Such are the author’s wonderful medallions, like the one about the origins of Bunić's mannerist miniature about the woman and the rose, discovery that had the biggest Slavic charge, and this is how the most exciting pages from “Krhotine ("Fragments") came to be. This comprehensive and poetic, scientifically devised "contribution to understanding of the 19th c. Croatian province " is an amazing book emerging from the family chest and its only seemingly ephemeral, but in fact fairy-taled content. Željka Čorak wrote in "Fragments", quietly but in the manner of scientific prose, one of the best books of confession in Croatian literature. The Fragments represent a literary search for the beauty of small things. In her texts, Željka Čorak makes no effort to provide a sturdier or more rational explanation to the described world. Even when she uses the scientific discourse, she cares only to depict discontinuities in abidance; it seems as if she wishes to prove the rule of continual discontinuity, the rule by which the Croatian provincial, but also Croatian identity, survive and by which the authentic rhythm of the soul of the nation materializes in each and every molecule of human existence.

Dark expanse of desire

Željka Čorak is yet another author of feminine writing, to which she comes close mostly through the evocative tone of her prose, its confessionary and self-destructive truthfulness. This author's opus, keeping aloof from the divisions into male and female mentality, represents one more writing project that wishes to intervene into the reality of our day and age, by proving with each of its strategies the end of long narrations, as well as their uselessness. Hence, her first book "Kaleidoscope" carries this title not only due to closeness of author's poeticism to this wondrous toy, but also because the author herself, as a little girl during her first visit to Dubrovnik immediately after World War II, received a kaleidoscope as a gift from sister Tarcizija. „One day she took me to the attic. This walk in the attic created an archetype and a mythical place for me: a dark expanse of desire “. The nostalgic tone of Željka Čorak's texts is best accomplished when she recounts events from way back, it is best realized in the moment when the dark expanse of desire developed within the little girl, when she started to exercise her memory and test the memory of things.

Memories without anecdotes

Željka Čorak is mesmerized by the art of inheriting, the art for which she possesses quite a remarkable talent, a talent to remember and transfer fragments of reality into the future, to turn them into past and revive them. The awareness that in these details, which she thus revives, there are no stories or anecdotes from Željka Čorak's literature, excludes both anecdotes and triteness. There is no place for them in the celebration of small things. These are convincing and accurate records of beings that move through the world and leave their traces, and some of them are fortunate enough to be the good of the public life. Željka Čorak's intellectual mission is like a prayer repeating the record of silent steps of these invisible beings that populate the human memory.
 

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