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Bangkok Post Outlook - Moon, home and politics article

Moon, home and politics

Prabhassorn Sevikul discusses writing, journeying and objectivity

By: ANCHALEE KONGRUT
Published: 1/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Outlook

In Lunar Eclipse, the moon is cast as a sublime object, a sort of halfway paradise where the proverbial rabbit dwells happily. And yet author Prabhassorn Sevikul deliberately chose the rather sombre title for this short story he penned about eight years ago.

At one level, the story reads like a homecoming piece. The protagonist finds the return to his birthplace not unlike a walk down memory lane - but with the realisation of the harsh reality that life is always in constant flux, and that change is not necessarily for the better. His acquaintances have all gone their separate ways; no one stays in the same place any more, with the exception of the oarsman.

And Moon - a girl who was presumably the main character's childhood crush - died in a senseless accident and never had a chance to leave the town either.

Despite the lullabies and folk songs rejoicing in the beauty of the moon in the story, Prabhassorn says he intended here to portray "the dark side of the human heart.

"Most of the characters have made a journey, mostly for the sake of running away from something. But no matter how far one has tried [to run away], one has to come back sooner or later.

"Perhaps, we never go as far way as we think we have," he mused.

Prabhassorn's philosophical views on "journey" are in retrospect ironic, considering how the man himself has spent the past few decades globe-trotting. As a career diplomat with Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs until his retirement last year, Prabhassorn has been posted in as wide a range of countries (and cultures) as Germany, Laos, Turkey, New Zealand and Chile.

Moreover, like the main character in Lunar Eclipse, Prabhassorn is now on another journey that brings him back to the home front. In his retirement years, Prabhassorn can devote himself full time to writing. From his home in Thon Buri's Bang Khae area, he runs a website (http://www.psevikul.com) that showcases his work and serves as a forum for aspiring writers to have "online tutoring" from the veteran writer himself.

Prabhassorn also plans to launch a campaign to promote reading among the young generation. Over the next few months, his publisher will organise an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his best-selling book Wela Nai Kuad Kaew (Time in a Bottle), a moving account of two teenage friends who suffer family breakdowns in the midst of political turmoil that culminates in the tragic student massacre of October 6, 1976.

Fans who wish to see the sequel of Prabhassorn's Time in a Bottle - say, a literary rendition of the confrontations between the yellow- and red-shirt camps that have been plaguing the country - might, however, have to wait for an indefinite period.

"I will not write any story that is related to the current political situation - what has happened is shrouded in the mist and you cannot see things clearly," he explained.

For Prabhassorn, there is a significant difference between the current political divisiveness and past uprisings in the '70s or even the Black May protest of 1992, regardless of the comparable scale of the violence.

"For both events [the 1970s and 1992 incidents], the views and sentiments of the Thai public are more or less consensual. The majority of media reports in both cases also point more or less in the same direction. The whole society sees the same picture, the same 'truth'. But for the present, you cannot write anything if you don't know the truth," said the writer known for his penchant for fact-checking and extensive research. (While working on a novel titled Sheik, he was reported to have spent a year and a half ploughing through reports on the Middle East and the rise of fascism after World War I, all to make sure that the historical backdrop remained as accurate as possible.)

"Unfortunately, what has happened and how we look at it are not necessarily the same thing."

Few would be in a better position to record the recent politically sensitive events with as much balance and sensitivity as Prabhassorn, however. Upon being prodded, the writer gives a half-baked compromise, warning that to wait for his book on the subject would be a long wait indeed.

"Perhaps I may write about it when more facts are known. Now we only see the tip of the iceberg.

"But then again, with the current global warming, we may be able to see the truth sooner since the 'iceberg' keeps melting," he quips.

On a personal note, as someone who has read and cried profusely over Wela Nai Kuad Kaew (not to mention always requesting Jim Croce's Time in a Bottle while frequenting the bars in my student years), this reporter hopes the wait for that book by Prabhassorn won't be too long. Nor the wait for the unveiling of the political truth.

Bangkok Post วันจันทร์ที่ 1 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2552




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