Literature and Political Blindness

One of my favourite writers, Viktor Erofeyev, and one of the world’s most popular ones, Orhan Pamuk, whom I don’t particularly enjoy, received a literary award in Skopje yesterday.

Nothing special, one might think. Except that in today’s Macedonia, which has developed into a mono-cultural desert with less and less oases, an event like this is a real sensation. No wonder that the national theatre was filled to overload.

Wait, what? The national theatre, right? And this is where my story begins.

The location. In a country of this size and ruled the way it is, everything is political. Choosing the new national theatre, this abject depiction of cultural ignorance, as the scene of the award ceremony was a political act. I can’t possibly believe anyone would be naïve enough to think otherwise. It is in the nature of things that an event of this size and in this very location would be hijacked by the political “elite”. It was to be expected to have photos of senior politicians posing with books in their hands that would send shivers down their backs, should they ever read them. But we can safely assume that they never will. I wonder how Erofeyev and Pamuk felt in this papier mâché scenery. But of course nobody asked them, or even told them where they were.

Information on Macedonia may be scarce, but it is available nevertheless. Two writers of this weight could have influenced the setting, could have avoided closeness to a political class of questionable reputation. Why they didn’t, they only know. It probably comes with the full agenda of stardom. It is almost like they have become protagonists in Erofeyev’s latest novel, “The Akimuds”.

The actors. Like so often in Macedonia, the two writers, who should have been the main actors, were degraded to being supporting acts in a show of political provincialism. They became passive witnesses of the display of local power, personified in the massive presence of the aforementioned “elite” at the ceremony. I wonder how many of these people even knew or cared what the occasion was. See and be seen by those who count, re-affirm one’s position in the clientelist hacking order, that is what official cultural events have degenerated to.

Both writers are known as being critical towards political reflexes like the one à la mode in Macedonia. The presence of the political “elite” at this event could be interpreted as pure cynicism. But it is most likely the result of the kind of bliss emanated by those of little knowledge. Be it as it is, the absurdity of the scene remains.

The “scandal”. A province play without the village fool would be simply boring, wouldn’t it? Thank the muses this one didn’t have to do without. Without bothering about such details as facts, the media scene’s incumbent village fool asked Orhan Pamuk whether he was aware that he received the award from the likes of Lukashenko. This was news to me. I may not know much about Lukashenko, but I totally missed that he seems to run a publishing house. I might have to look into the matter… I was assured however that after busting the event, the actor did not set himself on fire. I am relieved.

The conclusion. You expect one? Really? Not from me, sorry.




Vision? Go write a book…

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