Not all the books that I am transforming are telling enchanting stories (as the fairy tales here). And I cannot look at all of the stories in the neutral attitude that I had for the zoo tales.
One such difficult book is “Der Wind stirbt vor dem Dschungel” (The wind dies before the jungle) by Harry Thürk. It tells the story of the colonial wars and persecution of communists in Malaya in the 1950s. I opened the pages at a part where one of the heroines is threatened with cruel torture. As a child in the GDR I foremost recognized the story as another version of the fable from the good, upright communists. I knew this pattern well enough and discarded the novel. Today I see it as a tale of conflict and war that had to be told and that is now ready for alchemic transformation.
With mixed feelings I took to a copy of “10 days that shook the world” by journalist John Reed. He witnessed the October Revolution in Russia 1917 first hand and wrote his influential book about it. Yet, to me it has the aura of instrumentalized GDR literature. Which, of course, is not fair towards the American Reed, who already died in 1920.
The altered book manifests breakup and dissolution: Fixed structures are ripped open, walls fall down and there is a glimpse of hopeful gold beneath. Yet, the fragments are bound and it is totally open, what new texture will eventually evolve. Just as it was with the October Revolution in 1917 and as it still is with the revolutions and upheavals of today.
Another difficult story is “Der Brief aus Odessa” (The letter from Odessa), a tiny book by GDR children’s book author Anne Geelhaar. The story is placed at the end of the Second World War in a German village and basically tells about the fear of the approaching Russians, from the perspective of a little girl. Of course, the Russian soldiers turn out to be trustworthy good men. I was interested in the pattern of fear, which is not restricted to this particular story. I wanted to show it as a pattern that is nothing but a pattern among others.