Milan Kundera:”A nation which loses awareness of its past gradually loses its self”

PR: What is so characteristic of your prose is the constant confrontation of the private and the public. But not in the sense that private stories take place against a political backdrop, nor that political events encroach on private lives. Rather, you continually show that political events are governed by the same laws as private happenings, so that your prose is a kind of psychoanalysis of politics.

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MK: The metaphysics of man is the same in the private sphere as in the public one. Take the other theme of the book, forgetting. This is the great private problem of man: death as the loss of the self. But what is this self? It is the sum of everything we remember. Thus what terrifies us about death is not the loss of the past. Forgetting is a form of death ever present within life. This is the problem of my heroine, in desperately trying to preserve the vanishing memories of her beloved dead husband. But forgetting is also the great problem of politics. When a big power wants to deprive a small country of its national consciousness it uses the method of organized forgetting . This is what is currently happening in Bohemia. Contemporary Czech literature, insofar as it has any value at all, has not been printed for 12 years; 200 Czech writers have been proscribed, including the dead Franz Kafka; 145 Czech historians have been dismissed from their posts, history has been rewritten, monuments demolished. A nation which loses awareness of its past gradually loses its self. And so the political situation has brutally illuminated the ordinary metaphysical problem of forgetting that we face all the time, every day, without paying any attention. Politics unmasks the metaphysics of private life, private life unmasks the metaphysics of politics.

Source : http://www.kundera.de/english/Info-Point/Interview_Roth/interview_roth.html

Nawal-El-Saadwi-“I am proud to say I have divorced three husbands”

Q: A lot of your work and ideas focus on intersecting forms of oppression—class, patriarchy, colonialism. How do you overcome those oppressive forces? How can you convince someone to cede authority or resources?

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Nawal-El-Saadwi-[Laughs.] Well, it’s very difficult. This is everyone’s struggle—whether against men in the family, or against capitalism. It’s power. I don’t think that people in power can be convinced by words or articles. They will never give it up by choice. Even a husband in the house, no—power has to be taken with power. Mubarak resigned because the people showed their power. If it had been only a few hundred protesters, he would never go, but because it was 20 million, the whole country, he had no choice. You can’t eradicate power with weakness. Knowledge and unity—these were power in the hands of the people.

Within a household, the individual woman must have power. It’s not easy—it means political rights, economic independence, knowledge. A lot of women are afraid of loneliness, so when they see a woman who can live alone, then they think, “Hmm, I can do that.” But you need an example, and that is why I am proud to say I have divorced three husbands.

Resource- https://www.thenation.com/article/interview-nawal-el-saadawi/

Stan Lee:”We really are trying to make comics as good as comic can be made”

WHITE: Well, you’re getting more competition all the time, of course. New companies keep coming into the superhero field all the time. There are the Tower people … and Harvey Comics … Those are the most flagrant imitators. How do you feel in general about the imitators?

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LEE: I wish they would peddle their papers elsewhere. The flattery kick — we’ve gotten over that years ago. We realize that we are rather popular now. We appreciate it. But the thing that bothers me … corny as it may sound … We really are trying to make comics as good as comic can be made. We’re trying to elevate the medium. We’re trying to make them as respectable as possible. We … our goal is that someday an intelligent adult would not be embarrassed to walk down the street with a comic magazine. I don’t know whether we can ever bring this off, but it’s something to shoot for. At any rate, we try to do this. Now when other companies come out, and they try to make their books seem like our book as if they’re all in the same class, the same milieu … and yet the quality is inferior, the art is inferior, the writing is inferior, the plotting is inferior. I feel this does nothing but hurt us. The adults who don’t read comics, but who … whose youngsters try to convince them that comics are really pretty good. You know, who may read ours and like them, say “Why don’t you read one? They’re really good.” And the people who are uninitiated but who have heard about comic and might want to pick up one of those imitations, look at them and say, “Aw, I knew it That fellow who told me comics are good is really an idiot. They’re as bad as they ever were.” In this way, I think we can be hurt by imitators.

Source : http://www.tcj.com/stan-lee-interviewed-by-ted-white-1968/

 

Zadie Smith: “I have to avoid all social media”

ELLE: You are a mother of two young children, and with not much help with childcare. Writing is a form of mental gymnastics, isn’t it? How do you do it? What are some of your preoccupations at the moment?

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Zadie Smith: Both my husband and I write whatever it is we write between 9am and 3pm, school hours. Sometimes till 5pm, if I can find an ex-student to take those extra two hours. But that kind of help comes and goes—I don’t rely on it, otherwise I’m overcome with frustration. It’s my belief that even the freest, most single and childless writers rarely do more than four hours of intense writing a day. I do the same, but I just have much less spare time to waste. If I lose a day to Googling etc., then it’s really a problem because I have no slack, no extra time. The other essential part of my job, reading, is what really suffers. We try and read the moment the kids go to bed, and resist the pull of Netflix, but it doesn’t always work. In order to write, I cut out a lot of things: reading the newspapers, for example. I listen to the radio, because you can do that while cleaning. And I have to avoid all social media and most daytime emailing. But I have also absolutely given up on the idea of peace and quiet as being necessary to writing. I just don’t allow myself to think about that. I don’t go to writers’ retreats, and I really can’t imagine any more what it would be like to write from 9am to 6pm each day, or on weekends or during the summer. I work in the time I have.

Source : http://elle.in/culture/man-booker-nominee-zadie-smith-elle-interview/

Orhan Pamuk:”I think that fiction teaches us something essential about life”

Interviewer  : A year ago, a very famous Dutch art critic came into my house and saw all my books and said, “What a waste of time to read all those novels.” For him literature is something that is really dead.

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Orhan Pamuk: I would say that his kind of understanding of reading literature, which implies that one could have done something more useful with one’s time, is very utilitarian. I think it is very premodern to look at books as objects that will educate you, or benefit you, or to consider reading as an intellectual investment you could somehow rely on in the future. With his statement, this art critic implies that, unfortunately, reading literature is a wrong investment. Right?

Interviewer: Yes.

Orhan Pamuk: Well, I think that fiction teaches us something essential about life. I have learned a lot about life from fiction — from Dostoyevsky, from Tolstoy. My understanding of major categories of life comes from fiction rather than the laws of psychology. But I will tell you something. For me, the urge to write and read fiction is not utilitarian. Instead it is like playing with toys. When I was a kid, I just wanted to play with my brother, or with this toy or that toy, without knowing why. The instinct to write fiction has that aspect, and the instinct to read fiction has that aspect.

Source : http://bidoun.org/articles/orhan-pamuk

Kazuo Ishiguro: “one of the things that’s interested me always is how we live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time”

Q: I suppose what you have been writing about all this time, in a way, is that question of our place in the world, our connection to each other, our connection with the world. That is perhaps the theme you explore the most, do you think?

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KI: Yes, I would say so, I mean I think … If I could put it a little bit more narrowly that that, I mean it’s probably … one of the things that’s interested me always is how we live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time, that we have a personal arena in which we have to try and find fulfilment and love. But that inevitably intersects with a larger world, where politics, or even dystopian universes, can prevail. So I think I’ve always been interested in that. We live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time and we can’t, you know, forget one or the other.

Margaret Atwood :”rights did not descend out of the sky

Q: This idea, especially when it comes to women’s rights, that, “Okay, well, things are moving forward. Women are better off than they used to be.” Do you think we’re rethinking whether that is always true right now?

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Margaret Atwood : Well, there’s no such thing as inevitable progress. And it always has been true and always will be true that rights did not descend out of the sky. Rights are things that people agree on, and they end up agreeing on them because people work to get them to agree. So they can always change their minds. They say, “Well, this has gone too far. We certainly can’t have high heels; let’s abolish them.” Or whatever it may be. And people are prone in times of crisis, turmoil, and social unrest … to limiting things. Because it makes them feel safer.

So there’s no inevitability about it. And you can’t have human rights for women unless you have human rights. Think of that. You cannot. Because unless you decide that women are some class of nonhuman beings and should have special treatment, then you have to have a general category of human rights, which includes women as human beings.

Source : https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/4/26/15435378/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-interview