Inferiority Complex On The Dâmboviţa Riverbanks

There existed in cultural Bucharest between the world wars a sort of upside-down provincialism that believed only in the City of Light: "What's new in Paris?" There was always something new to talk about, even if, in some cases, the "new" from Paris had been seen around here too. Some of the most important English writers are Irish, and some of the most appreciated North Americans come from ethnic minorities, so it is quite amazing how the inferiority complex persisted in the so-called cultural "peripheries". In science, one may say it is tolerable: technological advance, financial needs, markets… But why in art? Values are being assayed at international "exchanges", although things have changed a lot in this respect too: they are never created in "centers" alone. Artistic perfection has not always been on a par with the degree of civilization. Defeated economically and administratively, the South of the United States took a few literary revenges on the North. The same holds true of the South of Italy, or Austria versus Germany… It happened before, and it is still common practice for comparatively rich countries to make use of artistic imports from, say, Antarctica, as art is the expression of a certain level of antagonism, sensibility, and thought that may be substantial anywhere in the wide world. Likewise, an individual is gifted or not no matter where he was born. Thus, the peasant Constantin Brâncuşi must have had quite an "in-fashion" complex when he disembarked on the Seine riverbanks to revolutionize an art in which the French did not concede any competition. Or, in drama, Eugen Ionescu who, while still in Romania, had had the guts to say a resolute No! to obsolete forms, only to create later plays now strongly claimed by the French to be theirs. Or Elvira Popescu, following Yonnel, De Max and Maria Ventura, who had long been full associates of Comédie Française, to Paris, where her performances were so greatly appreciated that her name was permanently inscribed on the frontispiece of a theater. Only a truly inferior person must have complexes. An artist will always preserve his identity wherever he lives. To paraphrase one of our old chroniclers, "Bucharest provided its fair share of luminaries." To our great pride, others boast about them too.

by Liviu Dorneanu