WUHAN VIRUS AND LOVE STORIES
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890 – 1960) was a Russian poet and writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. He is world famous for his novel Doctor Zhivago, but Russians place most of his importance on poetry. Olga Ivinskaya, the poetry editor of “The New World” magazine, was Boris Pasterak’s lover. He told her, “My life, my angel, I love you." Olga Vsevolodovna Ivinskaya became the prototype of the female character lead in the novel Doctor Zhivago. By the time they met, she was 34 years old, and he was 56. For Pasternak, the most important thing was that she loved him not only as a famous poet but also because he was present in her life.
Pasternak’s love story asks us a question, “What is love?” The poem may be an art form, but the poem is also in the soul, along with Love, which has a romantic spirit, not related to age, status, or social strata. In the 20th century, American Free Verse poetry was made in an era of reason, but, in the 21st century, poetry has returned to regulation, re-establishing a new romantic period. Culture, of course, makes people, while people create civilizations. Poetry is a typical product of culture, so the higher the culture, the deeper the poetry is, and the more popular it is as well. But what about Love? Love, too, must produce an understanding to establish sympathy. Yet, Pasternak was a poet, and Olga was a poetry editor.
First of all, we should learn about people. People are formed by consciousness and unconsciousness, thoughts and emotions. And, then opinion filtered through the filter of the mind, is based upon beliefs stored in the subconscious, blended with emotions, making our separate reality. The mind filters are different for everyone because neurotransmitters, electrical impulses and DNA create different personalities. For example, if we examine Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings as distorted reality, or if faced with a difficult incident, a person will feel pitiful, scared or helpless … as nobody resembles anyone else. Still, the thinkers, over time, think that the reality (the world) we know is just an illusion. Reality is not an illusion, but our original version is an illusion. We perceive reality not as being itself but through what we want it to exist.
Before the 19th century, people lived according to emotions, with poetic lines of formal poetry written according to feelings. By the 20th century, science and technology had so developed that people leaned increasingly toward reason, including Free Verse poetry, such as the collection Leaves of Grass (Lá Cỏ) by Walt Whitman (1856). But, in the 21st century, people have begun to return to more poetic forms by changing accordingly, although these forms are no longer like the 19th century forms. Thus, human emotions have also been amended from time to time and over time as well.
An unexpected incident, COVID-19 emerged (apparently) in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China. Here, we are not talking about political issues but about social changes. People are facing difficulties – economic recession, rising unemployment – beyond their capabilities. Not only that, but the Wuhan virus also isolates people; no one
can be near anyone, even relatives. But, in the usual way, it seems that this is more than reasonable. The Wuhan virus tells us one thing: everything in the world is frivolous and has no meaning. The universe is composed of yin and yang. People are good and evil. The Wuhan virus tells us who we are amid this life, full of uncertainty and suffering. Each of us feels lonely, but, because of that, we are always yearning for human Love.
Life’s tears mirror
The more you love each other, the more you miss them
This folk verse is for those who love passionately, expressing their Love through the Love of each other. This brings us to a love story, different from that of Boris Pasternak.
If the love affair between Boris Pasternak and Olga Vinskaya happened in October 1946, a new affair has emerged in July 2020. She is an orthopedist, and he is an artist. The Wuhan Virus pushed her to find friends on Facebook, and she met him, both exchanging information to get to know one another. Unexpectedly, Love broke out. According to Jesper, "flashes of insight are moments when the mind is relaxed and does not think methodically or logically. This may explain why, when relaxing and letting the mind wander, the frontal lobe falls into the state of temporary sleep, making it easier for us to bring ideas from the subconscious into the conscious. New ideas will appear." That is the step of Love. But not everyone has taken this step. Oh, how miraculous it is.
She said that she divorced her ex-husband and found her new husband. She felt excited and wondered why a woman like her could be so happy online. She suddenly realized that, when she loved a man, she loved blindly; no one could change, or alter her Love for him. Before meeting him, she always told herself to protect herself from falling in Love, away from all forms of relationships. In the end, the romantic nature made them fall in Love.
Women are more romantic, and, when they have established their feelings for another, they say, “I love you” more often, and “men [attracted to women] can easily fall in love from afar,” according to Jonathan Bennett and David Bennett. In the history of literature, music and cinema, the themes are mostly about love. Outstanding of the Renaissance, such as the tragedy Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, and the love novels of the modern colonial era, such as Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez.
To conclude, please consider the quote at the end of the letter: “The first time I heard you say: I love you, it was like a burden that had been taken off my shoulder. I heard but was scared. I want to hear it many times until the end of my life with you. You have opened a new and exciting door for us, which you cannot wait to explore with me. When I felt your touch, my heart melted, and my soul burned, wishing you would hold me and kiss me. You have become my best friend and my lover.”
If so, then everything is okay. But she wanted her lover to be her husband. And he, with the mind of an artist, just wanted to have a love filled with emotions. But true Love must be unfinished Love. So he tried to love her and didn’t want her to love him. He confessed to her, only to help her overcome loneliness after her divorce, with a brief wave of Love, to find someone else so she could remarry. Was what he wanted was right, or did he hurt her one more time? It is as if no one was right, so full of suffering this life is.
Finally, that is a story about a broken Love. Who is she? He did not know. All the details of her life, which she told him, he could not test. But he still believed that she was a lover in his imagination. The evolution of a story makes sense. Of course, it was just one of those strange incidents which helped me write this true story, for a moment of solace. The Wuhan virus is so horrible. It deforms humans and warns us not to trust anyone, even the most sincere Love.
Translated from Vietnamese to English by Dr. William B. Noseworthy.
Dr. William B. Noseworthy, Assistant Professor of Asian History in the Department of History at McNeese State University, Louisiana.