Pinter reminds us that political truth still requires a poet

Sir Harold

Nobel laureate Harold Pinter addressed the Swedish Academy yesterday. He began with a beautiful description of his own creative process, but very soon stepped up to the broader political pulpit which the prize so generously provides its honorees.

From the brief account in the NYTimes:

Dressed in black, bristling with controlled fury, Mr. Pinter began by explaining the almost unconscious process he uses to write his plays. They start with an image, a word, a phrase, he said; the characters soon become "people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort."

"So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction," he continued, "a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time."

But while drama represents "the search for truth," Mr. Pinter said, politics works against truth, surrounding citizens with "a vast tapestry of lies" spun by politicians eager to cling to power.

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. "Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love."

Earlier in his address [see the Guardian for the entire text, and it's definitely worth a read] Pinter reminded the world that American narcissism has been exercised at enormous cost, and that the world continues to pay for it today.
The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War.
And yet we persist in the myth that we are just a peace-loving, democratic folk continually abused by a world to which we generously offer our highest ideals and material support.

SIDEBAR: Barry and I will be seeing Pinter's first and most recent plays in a double bill at the Atlantic Theater next Tuesday. I could hardly wait for the day even before the artist's appearance on the screens in Stockholm; now I can't help thinking of the opportunity as a small event of world significance.

[image from CamdenNewJournal]

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Published on December 8, 2005 12:45 PM.

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