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.

milankunderaINSIDE

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

Toni Morrison: “when you get a bad leader a whole lot of people are embarrassed”

Is America in danger with Trump as President?

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Toni Morrison: Yes.  It’s a kind of corruption; and corrupt without embarrassment.  Normally when you get a bad leader a whole lot of people are embarrassed.  Some people are embarrassed about Donald Trump, but not enough.  He lies every minute; everything he says.  He is so ignorant, so vile, so shallow, so self-centred, egocentric, vengeful.  Donald Trump is an old man, he’s 72, and he should stop being president.  When I read Bob Woodward’s book Fear I said: “O God, it’s worse than I thought.”  And I thought bad things.

Source : http://www.alainelkanninterviews.com/toni-morrison/

 

 

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?

Edinburgh International Book Festival

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

 

 

 

 

 

Yehuda Amichai :if you meet the devil, take him with you into the synagogue

INTERVIEWER

What is the relationship between your politics and your poetry?

Yehuda Amichai

AMICHAI

First of all, whoever reads my poetry could never arrive at fundamentalist, absolutist thinking. If someone is attracted to my poetry, he or she is attracted to all of the metaphoric background that I throw up against violence. Dealing with political realities is part of what we need to do to survive as normal human beings. You have to acknowledge political realties as they are. There’s an old Jewish saying: if you meet the devil, take him with you into the synagogue. Try to take the evil of politics into yourself, to influence it imaginatively—to give it human shape. This is my attitude toward politics. I’ve often said that all poetry is political. This is because real poems deal with a human response to reality and politics is part of reality, history in the making. Even if a poet writes about sitting in a glass house drinking tea it reflects politics.