Along the Enchanted Way
By William Blacker
Apparently, in 1997, planes bound for Romania departed from the great media and financial centres of the western world carrying a sinister cargo: slick advertising executives hell bent on selling Romania’s dirt poor yet blissfully happy peasants all sorts of evil goods (such as – God forbid – shampoo) that they ‘neither needed nor wanted.’
Just a few months after their arrival, two country boys – who had hardly ever left their home village of Breb, in Maramures, northwestern Romania – set off for the nearest town to try their luck. They had been seduced by the sinister, slick advertising they had seen on their newly acquired television, which disgracefully and with wanton abandon showed them that there was in fact more to human existence than grinding out a living as a subsistence farmer.
Tragically, the boys died not long afterwards.
Despite not knowing how to swim, one hot afternoon they had joined their new work mates at a lake. Underestimating its depth they jumped in. Both drowned.
The story of the two boys (like every other vignette in this book: and there are many) is told in William Blacker’s startling matter-of-fact style, one of the many reasons that the pages rattle along and why – despite its reactionary politics – it is such a good read.
Yet Blacker is wrong to look to modern society as the cause of the two boys’ deaths (‘the modern world had made short work of them,’ he writes). To Blacker, the slick advertising executives – and the televisions that carried the images they created – were guilty for having seduced the boys with enticing images of modern life. If only they had been left alone in their blissful rural ignorance they would still be alive today.