DREADFUL FOLKTALES FROM THE LAND OF NOSFERATU
Bram Stocker and his “Dracula” made perfectly clear the fact that Transylvania is the host of the vampires. Later on, the cinema established the origins of Nosferatu the vampire and there was no returning path from this. Since Transylvania is included in Romania, one can assume that this land is full of bloody tales, but you know, the actual land of Nosferatu grew different beings… Ghouls, werewolves, mutants, various anthropomorphic inventions or simply human beings possessing a rich imagination, all these creatures do not need blood, they rather haunt people for their souls. The Romanian folklore is captivating, especially when it comes to the less documented side of it, the stories told by the common people around the rural parts of the country, their mind-sets and the way we perceive them today. “Dreadful Folktales from the Land of Nosferatu” is a handbook I wrote based on such stories and is illustrated with black ink drawings by Romanian graphic artist Costin Chioreanu. The works he made for this series freeze certain moments in various tales that were heard from the mouths of some close friends of the authors, who happen to recollect some magical happenings encountered by their elders. “Dreadful Folktales… ” was released in June 2017, at BarBarista in Bergen and was part of the eponymous exhibition.
Here is a text about this little book, written by the fellows of Din Întunerec zine: http://dinintunerec.com/2017/07/22/dreadful-folktales-land-nosferatu/
And another one in Romanian: https://bookreportro.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/istorii-horror-povestite-la-un-pahar-sau-mai-multe/
FROM THE DREAM TO THE GRAVE
“From the Dream to the Grave” is a small illustrated series of short stories that I published in October 2013. It was the first time when my scrabbles got printed. There were about 30 or 40 copies of this edition, and most of them were randomly spread during a trip to Bergen. There are five short stories in this series: “The Village”, “The School”, “The Jail”, “The Madhouse” and “The Grave”.
The main character in these stories is you, me or each living being that seeks the same key in order to open a certain library in this Universe. This character was in permanent search of his vision. Maybe he is still searching. Or perhaps he is dead. The fact is that the society conveyed that he can buy everything, including visions and dreams. He did not believe, so he became the black sheep of the flock. But he remained in touch with priests, leaders or heroes. In his world, death is not so bad. The single bad thing is the fact that people are afraid of death actually and they do not want to accept their ephemeral condition. This is why we do not want to see our inner selves. This is why the idols will not disappear. And this is why we need to end our destinies. We are the idols of the idols and we still want more idols. There is nothing dramatic in my words. Everyone knows these things. And you know for sure that our philosophy will vanish if we stop telling stories. You also know that our natural realm will fade away just because here, on this planet, there are people who say “I am really bored!” How could that be?
In the beginning, the character’s journey was meant to be a refuge act, but then he found out that the refuge is just an illusion, the same as his life. There is no such thing as a refuge because people are never alone. And if the earth wants to swallow them, they should not worry, just wait and see what happens. He met a lot of people on his road and all of them worshiped the illusion of life, never the life itself. The refugee’s road is the liar’s bridge. Liars will only walk bridges without crossing them and reaching any destination.
THE COMPLETE INFINITE
My mate Ovidiu Toma from Metalfan decided one day to ask me a couple of things and among many others, he remembered the times when I wrote “The Complete Infinite” and made me express my view on this weird journal after five years from its release. The feature is available only in Romanian: http://www.metalfan.ro/interviuri/gina-sandulescu-diverse-taramuri-dincolo-de-sine-6001.html
Before the release, a writer from an international magazine, Heathen Harvest publishing amazing content, interviewed Costin and they reached the topic of “The Complete Infinite” illustrations: https://heathenharvest.org/2012/08/21/beyond-the-river-of-darkness-grows-the-light-of-love-an-interview-with-costin-chioreanu/
First thoughts after “The Complete Infinite” release
My first printed work, “The Complete Infinite” was released during the Dark Bombastic Evening 4 Festival at the Alba Iulia Fortress, in August, 2012. The event was really amazing, just like the previous edition, when the same place was the scene for the same festival, making the first step in a tradition. I sold some books during this lunch, but this is less important than the certainty that my story reached some great people’s hands from various corners of the world. I would not have imagined that I can sign something for some of my favourite musicians out there.
At the art gallery where the release took place, I felt like I was trapped in a cave with windows. It’s strange, why would someone need windows in the underground?! Perhaps the hidden worlds must be watched as well, like everything. Anyhow, the gallery space was placed above the ground, but the coldness made me feel the opposite. Maybe it was the darkness settled on the bricks, while the electricity was part of the backstage games.
Among those windows took place emotional explosions which blocked my senses for some moments. Besides the positive reactions regarding the story, there were other stunning feelings revealed in the atmosphere which surrounded everyone there. The source of this ambiance was the art exhibition of my beloved artist – “There Are No Shadows On Our Maps” – and the music which released a mind-killer storm.
The responses given by some dear friends and by strangers were downright precious. There was a single negative reaction, though. A man who bought the book returned madly and threw it down on the table. I guess he felt as a victim of irony, or the substratum which I used against Christianity destroyed his interest. Anyhow, during the previous edition of the festival he made known his absurdity by getting all the attention of people with his “manners”. Beyond all these things, I show my great respect to the organizers, musicians, magicians and all the sincere people out there.
The following words are part of a short text which I discovered by mistake via a French blog related to literature, describing “The Complete Infinite”.
«Live numéroté à la main (limité à 100 copies). Je l´ai acheté en Roumanie et le livre inclut une version anglaise et une roumaine. Que dire si ce n´est que The Complete Infinite est le livre le plus étrange que j´ai pu lire jusqu´ici ? Une vision tourmenté, chaotique de l´existence humaine, parsemée de cauchemars, rêves, altération du réel et de l´imaginaire. Au fond, le livre livre aussi une critique de notre société actuelle. Nous vivons une époque bien plus sombre et chaotique qu´on le pense. Un jour un homme a dit “La vie n’est pas belle, sous son fond de teint, y’a des cicatrices” et cela résume bien la chose. Ce livre est une quête spirituelle de soi même à la recherche de réponses et même s´il s´avère compliqué à lire (en anglais qui plus est…), The Complete Infinite dresse des paysages et des scènes intéressantes et inspirantes.»
And here is the first and most important review of “The Complete Infinite”, written by Doru Atomei (Kogaionon Magazine).
«”The Complete Infinite”, the prose debut of Gina Săndulescu, is a complex dark story, with surrealist touches, a pretext for introducing some reflections and conclusions into the text about human condition, life and death, love and grudge, struggle and total despair. Visually, the text makes me think of Tim Burton’s movies. It is not an easy read, like those summertime books, and I am sure that it does not reveal all its meanings from the very beginning, because this text is suitable for a serious study after a first reading… Especially the first part which seems to be more focused on ideas and details of all kinds and this requires a special attention, I dare to say a maximum one, in order to enter into its specific atmosphere… The main character dies… Then he travels to a different universe, stylized by the mark of nightmares, meeting many other episodic characters and having short dialogues with them, he follows a ghost that seems to be in love with. I find very touching the moment when he gives his soul to the ghost, his soul – a deformed creature, and the conclusion which was written for not getting to the destination was thrilling as well: “It hurts too much but I will never say it to you again.” The main character/narrator and the ghost are the red wire of the action… Otherwise, I think the minus of this text is that the other characters are not enough developed, as well as the interaction with them. However, the thing which supports the text, and at the same time impresses the reader, is the strength and sincerity of introspection. The words “I am not an empty man, I am too much for this place” still blow in my mind. How much is dissociation and how much splitting is in these lines, this is something that only Gina knows best.
The second part, which continues stylistically in the same peculiar narrative way, opens the space to Cosmos (although the reader can sense a pressing feeling, not an open space), and describes some scenes of rituals with pagan accents, or gives the idea of an end of the world. There are revelations and spiritual reaches, but they are expressed with some kind of retention and too weighted, though, somewhere one can feel the presence of their healing scent… Throughout the reading I was thinking that so much darkness could have its end only in a burst of light, one single spark was not enough, and yet, although visually speaking, it is in this way (The Moon and Sun come together in order to light a Universe dominated further by chaos and disorder), I find that this does not “solve” the story, that does not end it, and the characters remain somewhere lost in the air…
If I have to see this story with an objective eye, it seems the ideas have been held, or they rather came out from an imaginary Niflheim, trying to combine the imagined Midgard and Asgard in these two parts of this book, eventually weaving a tree of (non-) existence that rises out of nowhere and goes nowhere… Seen from a warmer and romantic point of view, everything seems to come out of that strange gloomy darkness, sometimes in a lascivious way, sometimes oppressive, which tends to move to forgotten or denied existing thrills… I do not know if we can say that this route finally reaches love, because for each of us, love can represent something different… But it is about that “something” which comes from a troubled, tumultuous and tortured purgatory and now it seems to be high, or rather detached from all the initial fears and frustrations that are anchored hopelessly in the character’s soul, the vibrations of his own existence and development are now beaming in peace and harmony…
The text captures the reader’s attention through its naked honesty, and the courage to ask questions and assume answers… The black and white images, outlined by Costin, resonate perfectly with the travel insights, which are more or less initiated of our subconscious, but they are fascinating through the words combination, which is dark and strange, but also with substrate and alluring.
“The clouds represent a virtual illusion for a desolated world. People enjoy the sun and honey. Their god and words are drowned in honey. They found out what it was supposed to find out. They want to be great and bright. But they also mourn for mercy when they apply honey on their body and sit in front of the sun and they just become the victims of flies.” (The Complete Infinite)»
“The Complete Infinite” is the title of the first book I wrote, a tale recollecting a simple surreal journey from one point to another. When I wrote the first words, I did not imagine that they will be published, I did not care about anything else actually, besides the darkest graveyard in my mind. I spat so much hate on that road, although I was drowned by oceans of love. Then I confessed my pantheistic beliefs to a certain you and I also wanted to share some little details from my profane dreams. This tale represent the end of an age.