I was discussing random things with my friends, Puti and Dimas, on last Saturday. We were sitting in a very nice lounge-resto, the latest hip place in town everyone seems to visit nowadays. It is weird, that inside those flashy surroundings, between a well designed restaurant, under that concrete mall structures, we could talk about many fascinating things; things that exist only in our wildest imagination and deepest thoughts.
It has been a long, long time, since I had encountered an honest good talk with someone. The idea of having good friends has always been characterized as difficult and pricey, especially nowadays. That night, we were talking about lot of interesting stuffs and topics.
In the middle of our illy coffee, hot chocolate, coke and cakes, a topic about creativity risen. As overrated as it may sounds, creativity still has its spot as an interesting, mysterious subject. (Well, at least for me.) And it was not until Puti said that a person’s creativity could depends on their freedom. Or something like that. Sorry, I kinda forgot the details.
Let’s say, if any person has a difficult environment, like if they have been kept or imprisoned in a certain boundaries and rules, chances are they are going to be a very creative person. More creative than, say, free people. ‘Free people’ that can do anything anywhere. People like us.
I could not help to think about my most favorite writer in the world, Pramoedya Ananta Toer. The name also came up in our discussion, of course. But it does not until several hours earlier, when I came into bed and ready to sleep, I started to wonder about him. About his miserable life, about his magnificent works, about his creativity. Pramoedya was imprisoned without trial in Pulau Buru (Buru Island) on 1965, due to his allegiance to Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian Communist Party).
Buru Island is no way a proper place for an artist, let alone a writer like Pramoedya. It was hell and a statement of anti-human. But weirdly, it was in this dreadful dungeon that Pramoedya gave birth to his masterpiece, the most beautiful Indonesian literature ever written: Quartet Pulau Buru (Buru Quartet). It was even more amazing that at Buru Island, Pramoedya was forbidden to write anything. The island is simply a ghetto, a place where a prisoner is nothing more than an animal. They treated their cons with no respect, embargoed them to create anything.
Ironically, Buru Island is a place where the tetralogy, the masterpiece, were born. They were not created with a typewriter or pencil and paper – the government were forbid him to write anything, remember? – instead, Pramoedya told the story to his friends, the fellow prisoners in Buru Island. The masterpiece was born from his mouth, verbally. It was simply amazing and unbelievable, for a forbidden writer to create his beloved stories simply by telling it.
The theory fits on every level. Pramoedya is a perfect example, about an artist that creates his best works when he has nothing at all. Pramoedya suffers like a dancer whose foot had been amputated, yet the government forgets that he, is a maestro nonetheless. They could ‘cut his hands’ but he still has his tongue.
We ended our conversations past midnight, and I started to think about Pramoedya four hours after that. I have my own notebook, a bunch of free time, an amazing environment, yet I used to feel that somehow I lack in creativity. It is so hard to be productive on your ‘creative way,’ even though you have everything in front of you. Pramoedya, however, is the exact opposite.
I have my feet, yet I cannot dance. Well, maybe I can, but I can not do good. Not yet.