Sunday, December 18, 2005

Au contraire ...

Niall Ferguson takes exception to Harold Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech.

2 comments:

  1. Quite good. Not as tart and snarky as a James Lileks column, but for the subject under discussion it will do, it will do.

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  2. Thanks for posting the link to Niall Ferguson's (expert) article. I winced when he parenthetically said: "(Melbourne's The Age was so moved by the lecture that it published the speech as the lead piece on its opinion page last Friday.)" Poetry & Poets in Rags of December 13th led in with a link to Harold Pinter's acceptance speech. Any Nobel literature acceptance speech, especially one by a writer who more than dabbles in poetry, is huge--not because I share the opinion. Let's cut these hairs carefully.

    While making Pinter's the first link of the week, I was thinking how he is coming off like the Olympic gold medalist, pawned off to the public, as an expert who can endorse what people should buy (although a George Foreman would be a good gift for me this year). Pinter on the Iraq situation is like Doug Flutie on breakfast cereal, except I ain't buying. What does it benefit him to speak so loudly on something he is no more an expert on than anyone in the world?

    After he was awarded the Nobel, there was talk that he received the literature prize over others at least as worthy, because of his politics. And don't we have Pinter talking more politics than literature in his acceptance speech? Thus the need for such columns by the likes of Ferguson, who has credentials and should take Pinter to school.

    One problem now, is that, with Ferguson countering Pinter's take on what's been making America tick, the conversation is shifted away from the Midde East where it belongs, and onto Viet Nam, even onto what's in the mind of Pinter versus the historians--a very counterproductive debate--except the issue gets raised, that many who protest the Iraq situation, seem to fall back on their experience in protesting the Viet Nam Conflict, as it were. So this tit for tat, Pinter for Ferguson, has plunked the discussion back decades. Yet, we have a real and urgent situation, and we should be focussed and dealing with it, not with how we have such experienced protesters leading the way against America in Iraq. It's not nearly the same thing. For instance, there never were elections going on while the Viet Nam protesters were being right.

    Enter Adonis. Possibly--the argument might go--if we were only to be interested in the literature, and not the politics, Adonis would have received the nod from the Nobel committee. Adonis these past two years, has been the odds-on favorite to win the Nobel prize for literature, and serious questions go up when he has not received it. I don't speak the language, so I cannot be an expert on his poetry, but if for the politics, my nod goes to Adonis over Pinter--urgently.

    Here is a sequence of articles that have come out this past two weeks that centers the discussion onto the Middle East, where it belongs, instead of onto America, and into the past where Pinter has led us:

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    Quote: "He has not composed any poem for the oppressed people of Palestine. When Mohammed al-Dura was shot behind a concrete barrel and died there, cradled in his father's arms, the entire world saw the scene, but Adonis showed no reaction. Isn't he an Arab? Or perhaps he has become French?" he [Iranian poet Seyyed Ali Salehi] told the Mehr News Agency on Friday.

    from Mehr News: Adonis never supported Palestinian cause: Iranian poet (Tehran, Dec 10)

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    Quote: In your remarkable experience, in your epic life, dear friend, we find what teaches us to overcome the fearsome and the tragic, and what pushes us to open our bosoms to the truth, and to our right to it, which is our right to life. [--Adonis]

    from Dove's Eye View: Adonis to Ghassan Tueni (Paris, Dec 12)

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    Quote: It was written to the paper's celebrated editor, Ghassan Tueni, whose outspoken son Gebran had been murdered the previous day by a car bomb. "We are witnessing the destruction of the soul and the spirit," wrote the poet, whose real name is Ali Ahmed Said. The people who killed Gebran want to create "a temple of fear."

    from David Ignatius: The Washington Post: Breaking The Assassins (Washington, Dec 14)

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