Yes, the rumors are right; I’ll begin working on an illustrated biography of Nikola Tesla as early as January 2014. Tesla has always fascinated me, his brilliance, total disregard for accumulating wealth, obsessive dedication to work, eccentricities, celibacy, interest in eastern philosophies, gambling addiction and of course, his smoldering good looks.
Last year during my trip to Croatia I managed to squeeze in a short visit to Tesla’s birth place in Smiljan. This was something I had been planning for a while and looking forward to with much anticipation. As an incurable romantic that I am, I was expecting to see his childhood home intact, untouched, as if Teslas have just packed up and left. What I found was a state of the art interior, high in contrast to the building’s rustic exterior. There were no everyday object left around that could offer a glimpse into the life of the young inventor but high-tech gadgets, interactive displays and lots of neon. The closest I came to experiencing Smiljan through Tesla’s eyes was looking out the windows of the house, and even then, the first thing I laid my eyes on was the museum parking lot. The church right next to the house was locked up, as was the lovely barn with the straw roof.
What I enjoyed immensely was a demonstration of the wireless transmission of energy given to tourists at a small building addition nearby. I managed to wrestle away one of three available filaments from a child, justifying the selfish act by “I came here all the way from Canada just to see this thing light up in my hand”. The lights were switched off, the apparatus was turned on and the filament lit up. The child screamed in terror, I giggled like a schoolgirl, and then cried a bit.
This year in October I’ll be traveling to Belgrade, and hope to visit the Tesla museum. Having been born to a Serbian family in Croatia, Tesla has become the subject of an ongoing ownership debate between the Serbs and the Croats. Nothing new there, people of the Balkans love to claim ownership over anything that should in fact unite them, be it music, literature, land, or people. Tesla always regarded himself as Yugoslavian, and was proud of his Serbian heritage as well as the country he was born in, Croatia. If anything, he cared little about the ownership, and it is highly likely that he would have wanted his name to unify people.
It is like this: when traveling to Serbia you’ll land at the Nikola Tesla airport just outside of Belgrade; you will use dinar bills adorned with his portrait, and along your travels you will stumble upon many things Tesla. The same goes in Croatia. Nonetheless, it is highly unlikely that you will see the following Tesla quote displayed in plain sight at any of these locations: “Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them.” This quote pretty much sums up everything that he stood for, and everything he dedicated his life to – figuring out the nature of this tie, the great mystery of life force, cosmic energy, prana, whatever you wanna call it. This ownership debate would have Tesla turning in his grave were it not for the fact that his remains had been cremated.
To me, as a lover of birds and a sucker for goodness, Tesla will always remain an old man nursing an injured pigeon. My version of his biography will focus on his childhood, personal life, spirituality and friendships. I’ll leave all the science-related stuff up to the experts, which I am not.
I’ll keep you all posted about my trip to Belgrade. There should be some pictures to follow. Peace.