Nobel Price for Literature
December 10, 2002 9:21 PM   Subscribe


That really wasn't necessary, Civil, it's here because someone thought someone else would find it interesting, essentially filtering it from the other speeches given.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2002

and someone did. Thank you for the link, semmi. [this is good] :)

I'll have to read some of his work now.
posted by condour75 at 9:48 PM on December 10, 2002

Here is a real price winner named Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala)
She received a Nobel Peace Price in 1992 for simply standing up agains Armed Torturers and Rapists that got their support from US.

Carter is a poser (old war mob)

As a Hungarian born in the old regime I must say Kertesz is a little boring with the old Auschwitz story, there is plenty of people dying as of this hour, take for instance opressed people in Palestine or Iraq but no, we have to give the price to a jew (again)....
posted by bureaustyle at 12:18 AM on December 11, 2002

the old Auschwitz story ( ... ) take for instance opressed people in Palestine or Iraq but no, we have to give the price to a jew (again)....


*barfs again*

leaves thread, horrified and disgusted
posted by matteo at 1:58 AM on December 11, 2002

Great link semmi.

bureaustyle, what in tarnation are you talking about? Are you the Hungarian "born in the old regime" you refer to? Or is it Kertesz? I assume you meant Kertesz.

Also, it does not appear English is your formal language. What is your agenda if you have one? It is not clear with the articles you leave out of your prose or your usage of the most common of verbs ("there is plenty of people dying as of this hour") what your point is. Therefore I think you should hasten a rejoinder as to your "jew" comment.
posted by crasspastor at 3:00 AM on December 11, 2002

Bureaustyle’s response is an example of a pretty widespread point of view in Hungary today, one directly addressed by Kertesz’ work and his comments in yesterday’s international Herald Tribune portrait (unfortunately only available at NYTimes Premium service.) Auschwitz is “boring” because it points to a case in which Hungarians victimized their own citizens, Jews who, for the most part, identified as Hungarians first and Jews second. Since 1989, the Hungarian “nationalist” right wing has tried to present the Soviet occupation of Hungary as a Jewish “punishment” for the Holocaust, based on the fact that many of the post 1945 Communist leadership, such as the hateful Matyas Rakosi were (assimilated) Jewish Communists who spent the war in Moscow.

Since 1989, “nationalist” rhetoric throughout East Europe plays down the Jewish and Roma holocausts because such discussion competes with the description of those national histories as victims of Soviet oppression. One example is the recently opened Budapest Terror Haza (House of Terror) a “museum” which actively tries to equate the horrors of the WWII Holocaust with the post war Stalinist era, confusing the two as generalized “terror.”

When the Budapest City Council voted last month to award Kertesz an honorary Budapest citizenship the rightist opposition party representatives actually voted against the motion, which passed anyway. Kertesz himself was virtually ignored by the Hungarian literary establishment for the very reason that he wrote about the Holocaust - considered a Jewish niche topic - and therefore “boring”. Kertesz’ point is that Hungary has yet to actively acknowledge its role in the Holocaust.

Bureau style’s final remarks concerning Arab victims in the Middle East is a regular feature of anti-Semitic editorial style of Istvan Csurka, editor of the extreme Hungarian nationalist rag Magyar Forum. Using victims of Israeli or American aggression to derail discussion of the Jewish Holocaust in Europe is a common editorial tactic here in the right wing Hungarian press.

az valami, ugye, semmi?
posted by zaelic at 5:15 AM on December 11, 2002 [1 favorite]

Bureaustyle's comments are even more fascinating in light of the concerns raised in his user profile. Apparently, Auschwitz is boring and old, while the Westward expansion is fresh and timely.
posted by stonerose at 5:35 AM on December 11, 2002

Bureaustyle is boring and old
posted by Outlawyr at 5:52 AM on December 11, 2002

Prize prize prize prizzzzzzzzzze, dammit.

With a z.
posted by websavvy at 6:09 AM on December 11, 2002

I saw how an entire nation could be made to deny its ideals, and watched the early, cautious moves toward accommodation. I understood that hope is an instrument of evil...

This should be on an illuminated marquee in front of every government building in every nation. And printed on every ballot in every democracy. Somebody make it so.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:54 AM on December 11, 2002

Giving the Nobel Prize for Literature to Imre Kertesz is essentially the same as this article.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2002

Has somebody appropriated bureaustyle's account? He's posted several dork-ass comments today, including an animated Beavis gif. And I notice that his gender is listed as "Hung-arian Male". If this is your work, bureaustyle, what are you trying to get across: the size of your equipment, your racial biases, or both? Also: whoever you are, please go away.

Now for a more erudite word from my partner, not a MeFi'er, but a PhD in Slavic literature:

Kertesz and a small number of Holocaust writers (Jiri Weil, Primo Levy) dare to write about the holocaust in terms of the societies that allowed it, not in terms of easy to swallow heroes and sympathetic martyrs. It was not Nazi oppression and genocide that prompted the allied forces to fight, it was
military expansion. None of the genocides received much attention until long after we had knowledge of them. For this we are all culpable.

I agree that some Auschwitz stories that simplify the Holocaust can be boring and pedantic. But as Kertesz argues, good writing about the Holocaust is timely and relevant to any genocide. Examination of culpability is not a competition between victims.
posted by stonerose at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2002

Her book turned out to have a lot of misrepresentations and inaccuracies, (even outright lies), didn't it?

posted by gyc at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2002

I was skeptical about the link at first, too, Civil, but did you read the speech? It is a powerful speech, rich with insight into literature, politics, and the human condition. I am puzzled that--of all the possible descriptions available--someone could find this boring. The path to the future's tragedies is laid with the stones of indifference to the tragedies of the past.

Thanks, zaelic, for the brief, thoughtful history lesson.
posted by samuelad at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2002

Giving the Nobel Prize for Literature to Imre Kertesz is essentially the same as this article.

You've read his work, then?
posted by Slothrup at 11:01 AM on December 11, 2002

None of the genocides received much attention until long after we had knowledge of them. For this we are all culpable.

All right; I'm not sure what this "we all" means. It could be referring to the collective inhumanity of man, or to the general failure of nation-states to address humanitarian tragedies: views towards which I would tend to be sympathetic. I do know, however, that I share no culpability for the Holocaust, or for failing to pay sufficient attention to the repression of minority groups in fascist Europe in the 30s, and to intimate that I do trivializes the magnitude of the tragedy.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:01 AM on December 11, 2002

I've read more boring speeches, sure, but I didn't find this one as powerful as samuelad did. It may just be that I'm allergic to (what I perceive as) silly rhetorical questions:

Can one imagine greater freedom than that enjoyed by a writer in a relatively limited, rather tired, even decadent dictatorship?

Which writer today is not a writer of the Holocaust?
Uh... almost all of them?

But I have no way to evaluate this Nobel, and probably never will, since there are too many items on my reading list already. the fire, like Slothrup I'm curious to know if you've actually read his writings. And bureaustyle, I thank you for provoking zaelic's fascinating comment. Now please go away.
posted by languagehat at 11:25 AM on December 11, 2002

mr_roboto: I would agree with your comment. What I would think is relevant is what you and I and others do to stop the tragedies that currently happening in the world. It is by this that the future generations will judge us and our peers.

zaelic: Thank you for your words. Very interesting.
posted by Baesen at 11:33 AM on December 11, 2002

overly literal much, languagehat?
posted by goethean at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2002

That really wasn't necessary, Civil, it's here because someone thought someone else would find it interesting, essentially filtering it from the other speeches given.

Read like NewsFilter to me, but to each his own.

And yes, samuelad, I had a chance to read it. It was a decent speech, though I liked Jimmy's better. I have conflicting feelings about giving Peace Prizes to Holocaust survivors for a couple of reasons. There seems to be this culture of sympathy for the victims that excludes modern-day tragedies because they aren't as epoch-making, aren't as engrained in our cultural psyche like the holocaust is. A survivor does not a hero make. When I studied with Elie Wiesel I would have thoughts like, "there, but for the grace of fascism, goes some random nice guy who writes pretty well." And my sympathy would go also to the his students, like myself, trying to mold ourselves after this great man by taking a class. As if Elie Wiesel or Imre Kertesz went to college and took classes like "How to write like someone who's had a fucked up terrible thing happen to them, 101."

The holocaust is well known and documented. That doesn't mean we can't learn more about it, just that there are plenty of other, perhaps just as important tragedies going on right now that something like the Nobel Prize could help to illuminate and expose.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2002

goethean: Thanks for the condescension. As it happens, my reading skills are up to par, and I know what a rhetorical question is. I personally think these particular ones are silly. You may find them deep, fragrant, revelatory of the uttermost innards of the human psyche, worthy all by themselves of the Nobel prize. No point arguing about it.
posted by languagehat at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2002

civil: I just want to point out that I wasn't trying to be snarky with my question. My first reaction to a Nobel prize speech link was the same as yours, "Oh, no. Get ready for all the one-link Nobel speech posts." I suspect that in that case a critique of the nature of the post could be fairly done without having read the content.

Like Stan said, I personally think this passes muster.
posted by samuelad at 2:28 PM on December 11, 2002

Dear language: A rhetorical question is not fragrant, nor is the sea melancholy.
posted by four panels at 2:51 PM on December 11, 2002

thanks semmi--i can't wait to read him!

"there, but for the grace of fascism, goes some random nice guy who writes pretty well."
I think that's kinda the point in a way, Civil--how can we not see writers who survived the Holocaust that way? They really are random, but their very survival takes them out of the "random" category forever. I think Kertesz spoke about it well in his speech: But let us consider that in this difficult-to-follow life journey, in this "career" of mine, if I could so put it, there is something stirring, something absurd, something which cannot be pondered without one being touched by a belief in an otherworldly order, in providence, in metaphysical justice - in other words, without falling into the trap of self-deception, and thus running aground, going under, severing the deep and tortuous ties with the millions who perished and who never knew mercy. It is not so easy to be an exception. But if we were destined to be exceptions, we must make our peace with the absurd order of chance, which reigns over our lives with the whim of a death squad, exposing us to inhuman powers, monstrous tyrannies. (sorry about the length)
posted by amberglow at 3:02 PM on December 11, 2002

While Mahatma Gandhi remains a non-laureate of Nobel Peace Prize, I'm sorry, mr. Carter, but I can't take this award seriously. Gandhi deserves at least 10 awards in a row.
posted by nandop at 4:35 PM on December 11, 2002

nandop, your link explains well why Gandhi was never awarded a Peace Prize: prior to about 1960, the Peace Prize was awarded primarily to people and organizations responsible for organizing international treaties, brokering peace agreements, and providing humanitarian aid. Gandhi was a nationalist (though a believer in the viability of multi-ethnic, secular nations), and nationalism was looked at with some suspicion in the '30s and '40s. The struggle of an indigenous people against colonial repression was simply not recognized as the proper context for a Peace Prize in Gandhi's day.

The criteria for the award have changed significantly since Gandhi was alive, however, and under the current criteria, he would certainly be a laureate. He will never receive a the Peace Prize, though, because it is not awarded posthumously. The year he died, no prize was given, as the committee claimed that no "suitable living candidate" could be found.

It seems strange that you condemn the committee for actions (or, rather, inaction) taken over 50 years ago, particularly when their criteria have changed so much (Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Rigoberta Menchu, Desmond Tutu, and Aung San Suu Kyi are all recent recipients who qualify under the same criteria under which Gandhi would have qualified). The committee and selection process you find so lacking are things of the past--completely irrelevant to the contemporary meaning of the Nobel Peace Prize. When deciding whether to take the award seriously, you should consider its modern reality along with its past failures.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:36 PM on December 11, 2002

A dollop of the literary debate regarding Rigoberta Menchu. The older review to which this is a response is in the for-pay archive; and a fair synopsis of the Stoll thesis regarding interpretation of her story; and rebuttal. While clearly not a Fragments debacle, there do seem to be issues of interpretation regarding Menchu's credibility. Not in the sense of denying the tragedy of Guatemalan repression of indigenous peoples like the Maya, but in Menchu as the Everywoman of that struggle.
posted by dhartung at 9:00 PM on December 11, 2002

Who will bureaustyle turn to now? Surely this Stoll is a CIA stooge.
posted by shoos at 9:47 PM on December 11, 2002

mr_roboto: i don't see any reason to take a pretty dumb criteria (what's the greatness of it?) as something more important than the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. I won't waste my time condemning the Prize, I just can take it seriously because of that. To be contemporary, to be modern and to be honest is to recognize Gandhi as one of the greatest peacemakers in the world, perhaps the greatest, and to accept that Mandela, Tutu and Carter are his "children". It's just that the idea of a gallery of laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize, or ANY Peace Prize, without Gandhi, looks obviously like a big mistake to me.
posted by nandop at 3:36 PM on December 13, 2002

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