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

Vladimir Nabokov: “Only talent interests me in paintings and books”

Playboy: In terms of modern art, critical opinion is divided about the sincerity or deceitfulness, simplicity or complexity of contemporary abstract painting. What is your own opinion?

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Nabokov: I do not see any essential difference between abstract and primitive art. Both are simple and sincere. Naturally, we should not generalize in these matters: It is the individual artist that counts. But if we accept for a moment the general notion of “modern art,” then we must admit that the trouble with it is that it is so commonplace, imitative and academic. Blurs and blotches have merely replaced the mass prettiness of a hundred years ago, pictures of Italian girls, handsome beggars, romantic ruins, and so forth. But just as among those corny oils there might occur the work of a true artist with a richer play of light and shade, with some original streak of violence or tenderness, so among the corn of primitive and abstract art one may come across a flash of great talent. Only talent interests me in paintings and books. Not general ideas, but the individual contribution.

Source :  http://reprints.longform.org/playboy-interview-vladimir-nabokov

Marc Norman: ” I like inventing people and putting them in settings”

Why do you write?

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Marc Norman:  As to why I write, I used to say it was because I was incapable of anything else, which of course is a description of a compulsion–something that has power over you, something whose reins you don’t hold. But lately, I explain it more along the lines or the “making” stuff I mentioned earlier.  I think I like to make worlds and populate them.  You’re sort of God, and you’re sort of a miniaturist at the same time.  You can make up a world and you can design the door knobs they use.  I used to make model airplanes–all of us did when we were kids.  Most of my friends threw them together, sloppy, with great globs of glue, and then blew them up with firecrackers.  I worked for hours, painstakingly, on mine, getting books of pictures of the airplane or ship or tank in question from the library and adding details, tiny bits of things, rivet heads, all to the purpose of realism, which is another way of saying, the illusion of reality.  And I suppose I’m still operating along those lines.  I like inventing people and putting them in settings so finely drawn that the viewer, for some short period of time, forgets he or she is yoking at an artifice and thinks it’s real.  That’s my performance.  That’s my, for lack of a better word, magic.

There was a big spike of interest in science-fiction around the turn of this century.  In that incarnation, the themes weren’t galactic battles and aliens–they were ghosts, spiritualism, seances.  Somebody asked Joseph Conrad why he didn’t write a book in that genre, since it was so popular with the public.  He replied, “Because it would imply that the quotidian was not miraculous.”  That’s always rung a bell with me.  I find the lives we lead here, in our flawed world, endlessly fascinating.

Source : http://www.elisbergindustries.com/blog/email-interview2

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/

Philip Roth:”Fluency can be a sign that nothing is happening”

INTERVIEWER

How much of a book is in your mind before you start?

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What matters most isn’t there at all. I don’t mean the solutions to problems, I mean the problems themselves. You’re looking, as you begin, for what’s going to resist you. You’re looking for trouble. Sometimes in the beginning uncertainty arises not because the writing is difficult, but because it isn’t difficult enough. Fluency can be a sign that nothing is happening; fluency can actually be my signal to stop, while being in the dark from sentence to sentence is what convinces me to go on.

Source : https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2957/philip-roth-the-art-of-fiction-no-84-philip-roth

Mae West: “sex with love is the greatest thing in life”

Q: Do you think sex is better with love?

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Mae West: Honey, sex with love is the greatest thing in life. But sex without love – that’s not so bad either. Sex is the best exercise for developing everything. It’s very good for the complexion and the circulation. I’ve always had the skin of a little girl. Go ahead touch it. [I touch her skin.] That’s all real. I didn’t ever have to lift anything.

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2007/sep/21/greatinterviews

Cormac McCarthy:”My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven”

Q: How does the notion of aging and death affect the work you do? Has it become more urgent?

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CM: Your future gets shorter and you recognize that. In recent years, I have had no desire to do anything but work and be with [son] John. I hear people talking about going on a vacation or something and I think, what is that about? I have no desire to go on a trip. My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.

Source : https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704576204574529703577274572