Interview with albanian –american writer James Wm. Pandeli/
Interviewd by Raimonda Moisiu/
The Pandeli family come from Korça & Devolli (his grandparents) to USA in 1904, 1911,1917 and 1920 respectively. His father was born in Treni Devolli region, and came at 5 years on the day his mother was born in Philadelphia on 21 dec. 1920.
James Wm. Pandeli is a product of the Noli-Konitza generation in America. He graduated Univ. of Connecticut in 1966 in economics and California college of Law in 1975 with Jurist Doctor degree.
He published the book “Oh Albania, my poor Albania” in 1980, deciphering a part of Hesiod’s “genesis of the gods” c.700 b.c. (in Albanian language printing will take place 2 marche 2010 in Ferizaj, Kosova).
In this book you will enjoy learning about Cham, Geg, Lab & Tosk and the evolution of the Albanian people thanks in part to Hesiod -though he probably did not understand his own “genesis of the gods”. J. Pandeli was fortunate to analyze a new interpretation in Hesiod’s work as it applies to the pelasg-illyr-albanian people)- Oh Albania, my poor Albania:
The history of ” Mother Albania ” from the beginning of time, the beginning of the world .
It says: James Pandeli is a product of Noli -Konitza? What do we know about the linkage between you and them?
My four grandparents were of the Fan Noli generation, arriving in the usa in 1904, 1911, 1917, 1920. My parents were married in the era of Faik Konitza in America, 1940.One grandfather left Albania at 12 years old in 1904 only to return to marry in 1911 and begin his family in Philadelphia, USA. The other grand father left Albania in 1884, at 9 years old and worked in mines in Egypt, Boulgaria, Turkey, and finally Russia. I have the Czar Nicholas gold coin dated 1898, the date of his probable return to Albania. Sometime after 1915, having built a home in Korca and already having two children, he left albania again-this time to go to America.
What was your first book?
My first and only book was “Oh Albania, my poor Albania’. In older age it was more productive to do essays.
What year was that?
I didn’t realize you’d been publishing for that long.
How old were you when “Oh, Albania, my poor Albania”, was published?
36 years old
Writing what was inside of you rather than what you felt you should be writing?
A great desire to find the lost pelasg-illyr-albanian story. When very important analysis was made while reading “genisis of the gods” by Hesiod, 700 b.c., I realized what I had to do. Then I began exploring ideas about cham , geg, lab, tosk and ideas about the albanian identity from the time of pelasgians – and using dionysus (di-oun-sis) as a vehicle for the ideas. The unfolding analysis directed my writing. Rushit Ali Plaku of Konispol in 1972 encouraged the need to concentrate on the pelasg-illyrian past.
You have published your book,”Oh, Albania, my poor Albania”, in 1980, how did you managed to get it published?
I neither looked for nor trusted publishers or editors. For that matter university scholarship and doctorate research, in my thinking, could not be trusted to be presented on matters concerning the albanian story. This had to remain an albanian only, stricyly albanian project. I published the book myself and filed copyright paperwork, complying with copyright laws. I brought four copies to the albanian mission to the U.N. On april 1, 1980 where I met one named Todi Rizo who probably was the security.
It has been said, that if the book “Oh, Albania, my poor Albania”, by James Wm. Pandeli proves to be true one day, it will be the greatest albanian history book ever written? Is this book based on true historical facts?
I understand what constitutes historical facts! If you are referring to published sources you have to wonder what is presented as ‘fact’. From the analysis of others about the albanian story I have little confidence nor do I accept as a basis the findings of most scholars concerning pelasg-illyr-albanian history. From one point of view they could never have imagined the depth of our existence having themselves relatively recent “jumped down from the trees”. When dealing with pre- history much is based on the fragments of history. Along with pottery found, there is a reasoning process and explanations that are difficult to prove inaccurate. Actually, we have to thank enemies because their thinking, their reasonings, have become so outrageous in their confiscation attempts of albanians and albanian lands that they exposed themselves and the weakness in their arguments. And with regard to the pre- history, they remain in a vacuum – empty space. Believe it or not the greeks suffer from this. Understand this, if all facts fail, the albanian DNA has been present, generation after generation. No one can come up with the facts of pre- history but by the clever and honest use of fragments, ancient names, words, early man’ s perceptions to imagine a more likely version of the pre – history, a clearer picture of the evolving past. No other group has been able to match what appeared to be an impossibile task – recover the pelasg-illyr-albanian past. Yes, it was suggested to me that if this book proves true it will be the greatest albanian history book ever written. What emerges is a new source heretofore not imagined because one false source built on another false source had served to establish truth that was in effect truth manufactured – that is truth without any considerations for the perceptions of pre- historic man or his language or the various fragments in history. This process of truth manufctured evolved over centuries while illyr-albanians were caught in the whirlwind of conquest and turmoil, first by rome, then byzantium, then by the ottomans and then by the instabilies of developing nation- states and the influx of foreign ethnic groups over these hundreds of years. Commercial movies provide ‘interesting facts’. imagine Alexander the Great, calling out to his illyrian troops “ti kanas, kala”. A very interesting fact in history is the recording by Hesiod of the birth of Aphrodite. The more probable story of the birth of Aphrodite is the version that I expressed in my book. Albanians of today realize that balances have to be made in their thinking, but that does not mean they have to capitulate.
Where did this book begin? Did you set out a mission on researching on albanian history or were you inspired by something else?
I always enjoyed reading about the history of the albanian people. What was written by others as well as what was written by albanians. My inspiration came from an inquisitive intellect. I balanced what I knew about the albanian people and myself as an albanian-american . It was in 1979, in the library in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where I was reading Hesiod and making notes , when I asked myself “could it be that the ancients thought the beginning of the world took place by the Shkumbini river?”- when I asked myself “could it be that the ancients thought the beginning of the world took place by the Shkumbini river?”-
But how come you’re are able to produce a new interpretation in Hesiod’s work as it applies to the pelasg-illyr-albanian people?
Hesiod gave me this opportunity to be able to produce a new interpretation with his use of concepts chaos; ge (gaea); er; and tartar in his “beginning of the world” story. I played with ideas. Example, we see kaos and ge… So why not cham and geg? At first it may not seem plausible, but as other ideas were considered, what at first appeared as a catalyst, it became more substantive when different thoughts were analyzed. What was very important was to keep faith in our ancestors’ creativity and just continue going through this maze, this unraveling process. It was some years later that I started with essays to clarify in my own thinking what needed to be reviewed and then the implications and i realized just how right my ideas were. This then (the study of the albanian race) opened some interesting thoughts about some aspects of this thing we call DNA. My intellect could not rest.
We know now, if proof is required in one phrase “almost impossible”, How would you interpret Geg, Lab & Tosk and the evolution of the Albanian People, to the skeptic academicians/historians?
The ‘almost impossible’ phrase came from me. The least important thing now as the result of my work and years gone by, are the skeptics, those that feed only on confiscation of people’s, lands and identity. Those days are gone in truth – but still attempts may continue. They are feeding! Don’t dignify the term anti-albanian academicians/historians. Anyone is welcome with ideas, even if anti-albanian. But the time to just be dishonest is over. Historians with good ideas should be welcome. For example, imagine how much greeks can learn about their past if they took my work seriously. Even the western scholars in europe and america could benifit. That would prove that so much in history that they created was wrong. So where is the scholarship? The same is true with slavs. Imagine all they could learn about their heritage in the russian ‘alps’ or ‘plains’ before they became puppets for those interested in Balkan conquests – even puppets to themselves and their people and then live with that as a cultural heritage? What skeptics? Those that are very jealous of albanian people and have become obviously so. They only look to Russia, not for cultural heritage but to be able to continue their feeding frenzy and actions in the Balkans. If you think I’m joking just review the greek economic turmoil. They are now feeding on themselves. sad for the supposed birthplace of western civilization. This will be true soon about America. The concepts cham, geg, tosk and lab have evolved from the earliest time in the Balkans, most probably in stories that evolved around the Shkumbini river as just beginning stories of primitive people. We cannot imagine this primitive time but we can reflect using the various ideas mentioned, fragments, perceptions, language – words and names that survived, always evolving.
That wisdom must come from somewhere though…
The wisdom comes from my life experiences from very early age. I realized that I had to achieve the highest education possible no matter what the cost.
In your writings, is that what you’re relating it to?.
My intellect created the final product/productions. My perceptions have always been keen.
Where do you live?
How would you interpret the current global economic crisis? Is another fiction or a painful reality?
Oh, it is a reality, but created by very old, clever people that only other, very old, clever people can understand and best analyze – old in the sense ancient people.
What are your sentiments on Kosovo & Albania??
My sentiments are the same as the strategy of Mother Albania, – Nena Shqiperia! As always in history, she displays her strength through the intellect and patriotism of the albanians of the Balkan’s, and maybe a few outside the Balkan’s as well.
Do you consider yourself albanian-albanian?
I am an albanian-american of the pelasg-illyr-albanian faith, spiritually speaking. Think about this comment seriously when reviewing current events, and mans’ capacity and spiritual interpretations on this one common home, planet mother earth. Don’t think first to be offended, but rather to edify – think spiritually in this truth what man/woman has not yet imagined. This is the importance of the discovery of the pelasg-illyr- albanian past in a wider sense because they have existed tens of thousands of years before man reached beyond his capacity to undertake spiritual thought beyond an appreciation of mother earth.
You said the inspiration comes by your albanian origin. Are your writings, esseys heavily plotted or do they come from above, as it were? I get a sense that they do..
No. The inspiration does not come from “above”. that “above” comes from interpretations from other cultures, other people, other lesser capacities and abilities; people very much younger than pelasg-illyr-albanians. My work comes from the appreciation and respect of the ancestors – from their memory, their creativity and through their strength our survival.
Why do you write?
I think you can begin to sense why I write and now you might understand why I am able to sense so much of albanianism. I was very much in tune to albanian history and identity. If you cannot sense this, it is very much worth thinking about it when reading my work, my thoughts and discoveries now that they will be forever established in an albanian context as a source.
What are you writing now?
Now i am interested in writing about the american condition. A condition that I understand very well.
A massage for your albanian community?
Please remember the words of Muharrem Cerabregu: “Albanians are the living museum of the world’s culture”.
All I did was open the door to this understanding – in depth. The eagle has landed! Please also remember that I am always mindful of the sufferings of albanians in albania the last 50 years and also of the sufferings in Kosova and the rest of the Balkan’s. the younger generation has great potential and it is for us living in the free, industrial, productive west who have had opportunities to learn in depth, to share ourselves whenever possibile to help albanians reach that higher plateau. That too is our kismet, and our DNA!
The DNA is an important concept when understanding the ethnic propensity to achieve the impossible.
Thanks a lot! Be honored and proud being albanian, Mr.James Wm.Pandeli
Interviewed by Raimonda Moisiu
Hartford CT USA.