L’Homme Qui Voyait à Travers Les Visages

I was dreaming since long time ago meeting Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. You know that feeling. If you haven’t felt it with an author, you had definitely felt it with your favorite band, or something else you have dreamed for a long time to see, hear, touch etc. 

Well, I have learned about him comming to Bucharest two days prior to his arrival. I was extatic. I only wanted to be there, to see him, to listen to him. As my favorite author, I kinda love all his writings. It is normal I guess when you like someone’s style. I got myself a ticket and finally had the oportunity to meet him at a Humanitas fiction book launch.

During the event, he spoke in French, having a translator next to him that was the link between him and us. I found that, beside a great writer, he is also a great man. He is funny, kind, smart, ironic. I liked that he wasn’t like the other authors whose launching I assisted. He did not talk only about the book, but about life itself. He talked about religion, who is also one of the main subjects he adopts in his books. He relates to him as to a believer agnostic. He said that he can divide people into four categories. The first one is the atheist who sais: “I know God doesn’t exist”. The second one is the believer agnostic who sais: “I don’t know if God exists, but I believe the answer is yes”. The third one is the non believer agnostic who sais: “I don’t know if God exists, but I believe the answear is no”. And last, but not least, there are the ones called fanatics, who say: “I know God exists”. He talked about his night spent in the desert, the one that made the book Night of fire to argument the above and to tell us when he started believing that God exists. And that it was an experience that changed his life, according to him.  

“Night of fire”
Book cover

He talked about him being a philosopher, and how that impacted his writing. He wanted to write philosophy that people could read and understand. And this is how he started. Writing about facts of life, about sickness, death, war, peace and reach subjects that, even if they are hard to accept, they exist and we need to be aware of them. I can see that he doesn’t want to be only a writer, but to touch our hearts too.

He said that he started writing this book, “The man who could see beyond the faces”, as a response to the attacks in the Charleroi airport where his parents should have landed, and that he stood for two hours in his plain without being able to contact them to find out if they were all right. 

“The man who could see beyond the faces”
Book cover

What impressed me deeply in his speach at the book launch was when he said that every person finds in a book what he is looking for. If a person wants love and sunshine, she or he will find love and sunshine. If a person wants war, crimes, violence, then that it’s what is going to find. And I think this is so true that it almost scares me. This rule can be extended in my opinion to more than books. One can find what is looking for in anything: books read, bands listened, friends chosen, shows viewed etc. It is true that the friends that you choose reflect who you are. In the end, we try to suround ourselves with people and things that make us feel comfortable. And what could be better than things that define us?

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt autograph
24th of October 2018

 © picnicontheshelf, November 7, 2018

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