Helmke Sartorius von Bach | Jul 1, 2020 | 0
‘INVITE’ – Such a nice ‘olde worlde’ word!
‘Invite’ conjures up a life of a charming ‘old worldliness’ of gracious living, of style and of a certain grandeur which seems to have receded slowly into oblivion and is no longer much in use by a younger generation.
Nowadays you just drop in as friends, whether invited or not, and it’s no longer considered to be rude or awkward. It seems everybody accepts your dropping in as quite normal behaviour and you are eagerly welcomed to join in the fun!
With cellular communication, it has become even easier. You just make that short call: “Hey, I’m standing in front of your gate. Open up!
In earlier days, it was so absolutely necessary to await an invitation, verbally or by a written note, and in no circumstances would you be welcomed further than the doorstep unless the master of the house granted you entry and then only to the reception room!
We, on the southern tip of Africa, by necessity very soon discarded such formalities as distances, security and lonely societal contact, especially on the platteland, forced a changed way of living. Nevertheless, in formal circles and quasi officialdom the practise of introduction and invitation continued to sour the lives of less educated ordinary ‘settlers’.
A quick visit, with or without invite, is no longer deemed an intrusion. How pleasant to receive a visitor, whether expected or by having just ‘dropped by’. Especially in our busy lives and usual hectic circumstances, we mostly welcome a forced breather, to break one’s attention for a few minutes and enjoy some (pleasant) interruption in the busy-ness. Such an interlude is certain to focus mindfulness elsewhere and allow the senses to shift. People accept you as you are.
Even informal entertaining has lost most of its hurly-burly of getting ready and everything in order before the guests arrive. Nowadays it is more a case of pitching up, grabbing a drink and then slowly gyrating between small groups. The host may not even know you are there, or at least, not initially.
The other side of the coin is also true in that one lives so expectantly that you are seldom at ease and gingerly expose yourself as the bane of those around you.
Whichever is the better, is for each to decide for him/herself.
A visit also has another downside as in a visit to the doctor or dentist, a visit because of bad news, a visit from an unwanted or estranged relative or circumstance. In case of the latter, it should lead to clear thinking and conduct to avoid mistrust and confrontation. Calmness and a level head should prevail to work to an acceptable solution.
Working for a solution is, in fact, the reality for any situation in life: be it for such a simple occasion as described above or an unsustainable demand as the death of an offender, as vividly portrayed in the 1956 tragicomedy/drama; “Der Besuch der alten Dame” (“The Visit by an Old Lady”) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
In this ‘Visit’, an enormously wealthy woman returns in grand style, after 50 years, without invite to her impecunious and decaying childhood village, offering a dreadful bargain of millions of dollars to the impoverished villagers to kill her erstwhile lover in exchange!
During this ‘Visit’, some of the multiple human characteristics come into play, such as dignity and generosity on the part of the proud and seemingly benevolent old lady. But it is soon revealed as extravagance which turns to uncontrolled selfishness, dishonesty, an unforgiving demand and ultimately, revenge, and death.
The exchange between the old lady and the villagers starts with friendly expectancy, loyalty, respectfulness, reverence, even submissiveness, carried by a hefty dose of illusion, based on self-denial, shirking responsibility, and eventually the community anger of the villagers.
Delving ever deeper into the psyche of both protagonists and antagonist, Dürrenmatt skillfully lays bare the chauvinism, deceit, irresponsibility, denial, fear and horror of the offender in contradistinction to the unreliability, ignorance, ineptitude, self-perseverance, clumsiness and fallibility of the villagers.
All of these, and many similar traits like these, are inherent in us humans and constantly need a ‘visit’, or an ambiguous re-visitation within ourselves, to be examined, evaluated and reproved in our innermost. The only question is: Do you wait for the invite (from the old lady) or do you start the introspection yourself?