Saturday 2 February 2008

The Mandalay Effect

We are slowly developing our own terminology on this site. I would like to now add a new term - The Mandalay Effect in recognition of Karl's curiously moving post. By this I mean a subtle awareness that somebody, as yet un-met will feature in one's future life. In most cases I would argue that this is a residual memory of the last life-run or else a Daemon-induced 'nudge in the ribs' that the opportunity to meet this person should not be missed this time. In my next book - due out in the summer - I cite many exampes of this effect. My favourite is the case of Leonhard Frank. Below is a sneak preview of this section taken from the new book -

This character was like no other for German novelist Leonhard Frank. His half written novel was enlivened by a new character that exemplified all that was wonderful in a young woman. The character he had decided to call Hanna was a hot-blooded beauty with a flawless olive and rose coloured complexion. In his creative fervour he made her both graceful and slender with a great love of life. Hanna’s character sparkled out of his imagination and placed herself within the narrative of his novel The Singers. The year was 1927 and life was good for an intellectual writer at the leading edge of the Expressionist movement. Frank used to spend his time frequenting the coffee houses of Weimer Berlin and discussing ideas and theories with his friends. However in 1929 something very strange was to happen to him – something that was to change his life.

He was sitting in his favourite haunt, the Romanisches Café when he recognised one of his fellow clients. A young woman was sitting nearby. She was alone but clearly waiting for somebody. This young woman was exactly as he had imagined Hanna to be. She had the same look, skin, and graceful movement that had haunted both his book and his imagination. Here was the literal woman of his dreams. However he was frozen with inactivity. What could he do? He could try and open a conversation but he feared that that would be wrong. He was 48 whereas this refugee from his subconscious was no more than twenty. To even speak to her would, in his opinion, probably bring about a courteous rebuff. His agony of forced inactivity was mercifully short. He watched as a young man rushed into the café and profusely apologised to the young woman. She smiled back at the interloper and the young couple, clearly in love, walked out of the café arm in arm.

The incident so haunted Frank that for the next few weeks he regularly visited the café hoping against hope that she would return. He still had no plan but something deep within him was demanding that if the opportunity should again arise again that he should speak to her. However it was not to be. She was never to return. Indeed political circumstances in Germany were to change so much that within three years Frank would find himself exiled from his homeland. As a Jew a country infected by Nazism was a very dangerous place for him. By 1933 the Nazi’s were burning his books and he decided that he had to leave.

After spending a short time in Switzerland he moved on to Paris where the Nazis were to catch up with him again. In 1940 he was confined to an internment camp. After several escapes and recapture he eventually managed to escape Europe and ended up in the United States. All through these years of adversity the image of ‘Hanna’ haunted him.

However he discovered America to be a fertile ground for his creativity. He had found work as a Hollywood scriptwriter. He lived in New York but found the oppressive summer heat too much for his central European sensibilities preferring to spend the summer months out in the countryside. In 1948 he found himself staying at a farm that took in paying guests. It was then that the impossible happened. Sitting outside the farm house in a pose identical to that he remembered from 1929 Berlin was his ‘Hanna’. He simply could not believe that he was to see her again in a place and a world so different from pre-war Berlin. What was he to do? He spent a day in an extended torment similar to that which he experienced in those few minutes in the Romanisches Café. Much to his relief the next day she was still at the farm. This time he approached her. He introduced himself and explained how he had first seen her in Berlin and how she resembled a character from one of his novels. He told her that the characters name was Hanna. She said that she was called Charlotte. On impulse he leaned forward to kiss her. Naturally surprised she pushed him away saying that she was happily married to the young man that she had been with all those years ago. However after avoiding him for three weeks she suddenly announced that she had fallen for him and that she would leave her husband which she subsequently did. Later they married. Leonhard, after a long hard struggle, had found his ‘Hanna’.

This is a 'taster' of the new book. I hope you found it of interest. I hope that just like Leonard found his 'Hanna' so Karl will find his 'Rachael' (by the way, wasn't the replicant that Dekkard fell in love with in Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (aka Bladerunner)?)


Karl Le Marcs said...

"The Mandalay Effect", I like it.
*Baggsies 50% on the rights*
Wonderful post Tony, I'm enormously intrigued with regards to Leonhard Frank and Hanna.
And it was funny to read your line about my dreams being potentially........
"a Daemon-induced 'nudge in the ribs'" as today I have an acute pain around one of my right ribs - with no recallable reason for having such.
Really looking forward to the new book - as you'd expect.

SM Kovalinsky said...

What a fascinating post; I, too, am anticipating the new book with immense eagerness. I have found with the people central in my life (my husband, certain Professors and mentors)that there were uncanny signs, dreams and clues along the way. Karl, I would expect Rachael to pop in quite soon; be prepared. Did you know that Tennessee Williams met one of his lovers by getting drunk at a party, stumbling and falling down a flight of back fire-escape stairs, and landing in the young man's arms?

Karl Le Marcs said...


Alas I have tried that technique MANY times !

Anthony Peake said...

Karl, I simply cannot believe that you would do such a thing!

Karl Le Marcs said...