Geometry of a Woman
Recognizing Patterns in Literature
Tomorrow I will publish the interview with Vladimir D. Jankovic, Serbian poet, writer and literary translator who is currently the vice-president of the Association of Literary Translators of Serbia (ALTS). As I decided to focus the interview on his Belgrade for the Informed collection (Beograd za upućene), here are my reflections on the opening story of the collection called “Geometry of a woman” (Geometrija žene).
In “Geometry of a woman,” Vladimir D. Jankovic talks about the two- and three-dimensional perception of human vision and says that “Only in the place of birth does a person wake up grumpy. […] The compulsion of exile is more bearable.” Later, he fuses all the women of Belgrade into “several identical frames” of “one female” as if loneliness represents what he calls “Belgradeization” in the spirit of “neglected wisdom.” In the end, the author mentions the “intelligently aggressive devotion to the native accent, and even to the native attitude” of women who move to Belgrade through the “Belgrade prism.”
This essay reminds me of Ananke, the primordial Greek goddess of necessity, compulsion and inevitability who, with Khronos, created the universe and the eternal passage of time. Time is a geometric property of space, and Einstein said that space and time are “inertial frames,” time being peppered with a physical phenomenon called “relativity.”
Relativity is the power of perspectives in the human kingdoms, more or less the way that newcomers can pretend to integrate rather than integrate due to their refusal to integrate, which is practically the reverse cultural phenomenon of “silent occupation.”
On the one hand, general relativity states that gravity is not a force, but “a curvature of space-time,” and it’s proven that the physical curvature of the female spine is one of the most attractive parts of the female body, besides being the “trick” Nature dotted us with as this curvature further allows us to support the weight of pregnancy.
On the other hand, in mathematics, prisms are three-dimensional solid objects with two identical sides and parallel polygonal bases. In the history of Belgrade, there were exactly three drinking fountains similar to Delijska Česma in Knez Mihailova street, but today only the last is preserved. This fountain is a very good example of a superimposed prisma in architectural style. Furthermore, in many cultures, in addition to the Italian, we find architectural depictions of the so-called “lactating fountains” (brest fountains), and from the sky view, the fountain may very well correspond to the hyperbolic view of a lactating fountain of a single breast … which is just another clue to the “relativity patterns,” as all women fear breast cancer…
For me, “Geometry of a woman” is an alternative way of educating the reader on more serious concepts of, say, scientific rather than literary nature; a way to call on more women to foster interest and pursue space biology and STEM. What do you think? What does “Geometry of a woman” speak to you?
This is a very unusual reflection on the text “Geometry of a Woman”. Inspiration has taken you so far that in your review we can read about the theory of curvature of space and time or about the lactation of the Delija fountain. I liked the mention of Ananke, and that led me to answer the question “how does the text seem to us”. I understood the observation of Belgrade women through a prism and the multiplication of their image as a “process of democratization”. That would mean: losing individuality by fitting women into several existing models that the Serbian and ex-Yugoslav capital offers. It is a process during which Belgrade women start to look like each other (against which Montenegrin women keep at least something authentic by keeping their recognizable accent). At the same time, this process of “becoming identical” would be a process of “Belgradeization” (or democratization). Looking through a prism, the author sees one / the same woman, or more simply: one woman. It can be a reflection of some distant model to which democratization (equalization) brings it closer. Every such woman from Belgrade, passed through the author’s prism, can be a distant Ananke.
Mares P. W.’s Reflection on the Response
“Čak i lepu ženu vi na beogradskoj ulici nećete moći da sagledate trodimenzionalno, kao privlačan organizam na asfaltu, pa ni dvodimenzionalno, kao što su to umeli oni srednjovekovni slikari čija smo imena zaboravili, a koji su delali u duhu prenebregnute mudrosti: kad nešto slikaš, slikaj ono što jeste, a ne onako kako izgleda.”
— Vladimir D. Janković, BEOGRAD ZA UPUĆENE, Geometrija žene
IN ENGLISH: “Even a beautiful woman on a Belgrade street will not be able to be seen three-dimensionally, as an attractive organism on the asphalt, or even two-dimensionally, as those medieval painters whose names we forgot, who worked in the spirit of neglected wisdom: when you paint something, paint what it is, not what it looks like. ”
I love nailing patterns as a game: Reposting Olivera Dragišić’s reflection, I recalled that Serbia is famous for the 14th-century icon of Bogorodica Trojeručica (Serbian: Богородица Тројеручица). The icon represents Theotokos (Virgin Mary) with the young Jesus in the position of hodegetria, and is covered with a curl. The “third” hand in the lower left corner is made in silver by Saint John Damascene, and on the back of it there is a painting of St Nicholas, known as Nicholas the Wonderworker.
Bulgaria, Serbia, and Russia are Slavic countries and share the Eastern Orthodox religion: while the original icon is being preserved in the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Hilandar (Greece), a copy is present in the monastery of Troyan, Bulgaria, and the most culturally significant piece of Russia from the 12ths century happens to be called “Our Lady of Vladimir.”
Now, I am curious: Was the author, Vladimir D. Janković, aware of that two-handed and three-handed correlation with the medieval paintings? What do you think?