Sunday 28 June 2009

Anne Frank's Diary - and its effect.

I'm re-reading this (in a German translation from the original Dutch) which I first read some 20 years ago when I was doing an intensive German language course in Cologne. I now find it almost unbearably poignant. So very painful in a way which I don't recall experiencing first time round, though I would certainly have found it profoundly moving, not so much in what she actually writes about from day to day, but in the light of our privileged hindsight knowledge of the ensuing fate of Anne and her family. I mention this because for some time I've become increasingly aware that with advancing age I'm becoming ever more sensitive to the sufferings of others depicted either in reality through newsreels, or otherwise represented and depicted. Even within the fictionality of the cinema, some of those films which I saw decades ago with little or no emotion on my part, I now find so harrowing that I've got to turn away or switch the damn thing off. A recent example is a video I've got of the film 'Straw Dogs' which in the early 70s I had to travel 30 miles to a nearby town to see because it had been banned by my local town council (as were also 'A Clockwork Orange', 'The Devils', 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' etc. They now get shown on prime-time TV!). But I found I had to fast-forward this 'Straw Dogs' video and look away for the rape scene, even though I knew what would happen - a practice I despise when I hear of others doing it. (It shows such disrepect for the film-makers, I would argue.) Similarly, I saw 'Sophie's Choice' at the cinema when it first appeared, of course. But a few years later I bought the video - and I've not even once played it. I just dare not subject myself to those harrowing emotions again that I remember so well. God only knows why I bought the video in the first place!
So the transformation within me, while not necessarily unhealthy, certainly gives reason to ponder. Is it part of my becoming more intolerant and reactionary as I get older? No, I'm NOT advocating banning others from experiencing what I've experienced just because I don't now approve of it for myself. Been at the wrong end of those thoughts too long not to realise the tyranny that leads to. But it's all food for thought. So back to dear Anne - I don't have to finish reading it, of course, but I feel that putting my emotions through the wringer for her cause might at least help to make me into a better person while I've still got the time.


  1. There is no crime in being sensitive. I can not read about or watch people suffering, fictional or otherwise. I know it happens to real people, and it is too hard for me to be constantly aware of. Give yourself permission not to relive suffering. You are betraying no one, and I'm sure anyone who has suffered would never wish it on others.

  2. Many thanks for those kind and understanding words, Wonderboy. It's at such times that I miss not having someone here with whom to talk things out. But your written response works admirably. Hugs.