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Literary Idol of The Month: May


David Sedaris (Born: Binghamton, New York, 26 Desember 1956)

Ada alasan tertentu mengapa kali ini saya menobatkan penulis yang masih hidup sebagai Literary Idol of The Month bulan Mei. Guru saya, Yusi Avianto Pareanom, menyebut Sedaris sebagai "pria tulang lunak paling lucu yang kutahu". Ini benar. Dengan gaya mengolok-olok diri sendiri (dan orang-orang terdekat), Sedaris berhasil menampilkan gaya kepenulisan yang berbeda.

Ketika kebanyakan penulis tampil dengan teks bergelora dan selalu berhasrat memuat pesan-pesan moral yang seolah menentukan keseluruhan nasib bangsa, Sedaris melepaskan diri dari beban-beban sedemikian. Ia asyik saja mengomentari dunia yang ia lihat, dengar, dan rasakan, tanpa harus jadi pura-pura luhur atau agung; sebuah sindrom yang banyak diidap para penulis yang merasa pekerjaannya suci seperti nabi :)

Ya, dalam beberapa poin, saya menyukai Sedaris dan humor miris yang sering diluncurkannya. Kosakatanya kaya, perumpamaannya jenaka, dan ia punya pendekatan sendiri terhadap bahasa. Ibarat bahasa adalah lilin mainan, Sedaris bisa membuatnya jadi bentuk-bentuk unik yang tidak biasa.

Tetapi, saya menolak menyebut Sedaris sebagai pengarang.

Sejauh yang saya tahu, Sedaris lebih banyak berkisah seperti di buku harian. Faktanya, Sedaris pertama kali dikenal publik lewat bukunya SantaLand Diaries (1992), dan di tahun 1993 ia memberitahu New York Times bahwa ia sedang menulis novel tentang  "a man who keeps a diary and whom Mr. Sedaris described as 'not me, but a lot like me."

Saya lebih suka menyebut Sedaris sebagai penulis cum pengamat kehidupan yang luar biasa. Hidup ini, dengan segala kejadian trivial dan orang-orang yang terlibat di dalamnya, adalah sebuah akuarium besar dan Sedaris bisa mengamatinya dengan ketertarikan yang alamiah. Plus, ia bisa menuliskan hasil pengamatannya itu menjadi esai-esai yang cerdas.

Namun, kepengarangan bukan sekadar pengamatan. Seorang pengarang mereproduksi dunia yang dihidupinya ke dalam sebuah cerita baru. Fiksi disebut fiksi karena tidak nyata, tetapi bagaimana pun ia berdasar pada pengamatan di dunia nyata. Dan keliru besar jika orang bilang fiksi itu tak berguna. Mengapa, misalnya, kita suci banyak memuat kisah-kisah para nabi dan orang-orang di sekelilingnya? Mengapa tidak berisi penjelasan ilmiah dan petuah belaka?

Sebab, cerita membuat orang lebih rileks dalam menyimak dan pesan yang ingin disampaikan pun akan lebih menempel di kepala. Coba bilang pada anak kecil "jangan durhaka pada ibumu", lima menit kemudian dia akan pergi main bola dan lupa sama sekali pada apa yang dia dengar. Tetapi, kisahkanlah cerita Malin Kundang padanya dan sampai tua ia akan ingat bahwa durhaka pada ibu bisa membuatnya tiba-tiba jadi batu.

Nah, agar lebih dapat memahami seperti apa gaya self-depreciated mocking Sedaris, di bawah ini saya tuliskan ulang salah satu esai dia dalam buku "Me Talk Pretty One Day" (New York: BackBay, 2000)


"Big Boy" (p. 91-93)

It was easter Sunday in Chicago, and my sister Amy and I were attending an afternoon dinner at the home of our friend John. The weather was nice, and he'd set up a table in the backyard so that we might sit in the sun. Everyone had taken their places, when I excused myself to visit the bathroom, and there, in the toilet, was the absolute biggest turd I have ever seen in my life--no toilet paper or anything, just this long and coiled specimen, as thick as a burrito.

I flushed the toilet, and the big turd trembled. It shifted position, but that was it. This thing wasn't going anywhere. I thought briefly of leaving it behind for someone else to take care of, but it was too late for that. Too late, because before getting up from the table, I'd stupidly told everyone where I was going. "I'll be back in a minute," I'd said. "I'm just going to run to the bathroom." My whereabouts were public knowledge. I should have said I was going to make a phone call. I'd planned to urinate and maybe run a little water over my face, but now I had this to deal with.

The tank refilled, and I made a silent promise. The deal was that if this thing would go away, I'd repay the world by performing some unexpected act of kindness. I flushed the toilet a second time, and the big turd spun a lazy circle. "Go on," I whispered. "Scoot! Shoo!" I turned away, ready to perform my good deed, but when I looked back down, there it was, bobbing to the surface in a fresh pool of water.

Just then someone knocked on the door, and I started to panic.

"Just a minute."

At an early age my mother sat me down and explained that everyone has bowel movements. "Everyone," she'd said. "Even the president and his wife." She'd mentioned our neighbors, the priest, and several of the actors we saw each week on television. I'd gotten the overall picture, but natural or not, there was no way I was going to take responsibility on this one.

"Just a minute."

I seriously considered lifting this turd out of the toilet and tossing it out the window. It honestly crossed my mind, but John lived on the ground floor and a dozen people were seated at a picnic table ten feet away. They'd see the window open and notice something dropping to the ground. And these were people who would surely gather round and investigate. Then there I'd be with my unspeakably filthy hands, trying to explain that it wasn't mine. But why bother throwing it out the window if it wasn't mine? No one would have believed me except the person who had left in the first place, and chances were pretty slim that the freak in question would suddenly step forward and own up to it. I was trapped.

"I'll be out in a second!"

I scrambled for a plunger and used the handle to break the turd into manageable pieces, all the while thinking that it wasn't fair, that this was technically not my job. Another flush and it still didn't go down. Come on, pal. Let's move it. While waiting for the tank to refill, I thought maybe I should wash my hair. It wasn't dirty, but I needed some excuse to cover the amount of time I was spending in the bathroom. Quick, I thought. Do something. By now the other guests probably thinking I was the type of person who uses dinner parties as an opportunity to defecate and catch up on my reading.

"Here I come. I'm just washing up."

One more flush and it was all over. The thing was gone and out of my life. I opened the door, to find my friend Janet, who said, "Well, it's about time." And I was left thinking that the person who'd abandoned the huge turd had no problem with it, so why did I? Why the big deal? Had it been left there to teach me a lesson? Had a lesson been learned? Did it have anything to do with Easter? I resolved to put it all behind me, and then I stepped outside to begin examining the suspects.

5 comments:

  1. Kalau aku pikir, setiap tulisan pasti ada pesan moral, sekonyol apa pun tulisannya. Seperti etimologi moral dari Latin, mores, atau hukum perilaku. Penulis, secara sadar, atau pun tidak, pasti membawa jejaknya ke dalam tulisan. Kalau di Arab abad pertengahan ada Abu Nawas, yang juga konyol, bahkan gila. Tapi, karena ia juga seorang ulama, maka kekonyolannya itu mengandung dakwah. Kalau orang yang konyol masih kanak-kanak, moral kanak-kanak yang dibawa. Jadi moral tidak bisa dilepaskan dalam sebuah tulisan.

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  2. Tetapi bukan tujuan utama, dan tidak perlu didengung-dengungkan sebagai platform.

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  3. oke, aku hanya mencoba melihat tulisan sebagai keseluruhan, yaitu hasil budi manusia.

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  4. Trims Din, udah bersedia nulis ulang tuh esai. Juga sudah mengingatkan pada 'si tulang lunak terlucu' itu. Aku lupa sama sekali sebelum ini.

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  5. Sama-sama ya. Btw blog kamu disainnya keren deh.. *jempol*

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