Let’s hope Angela Merkel gets the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous stand to accept hundreds of thousands of war refugees. This is political dynamite, she handled it as well as possible, as a teacher of the highest values. A rare case of a Western “leader” displaying courage and creativity.
Meanwhile the Nobel in literature was given to reality. Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist, born in Ukraine, a prose writer known for deeply researched works about female Russian soldiers in World War II and the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,” the Swedish Academy announced. (The other day the Nobel was implicitly given to history, 23 centuries old. If they recognize history, the Nobel folks may as well recognize reality.)
Ms. Alexievich,67, 14th woman to win the literature prize, is a rarity: her sparse work is mainly nonfiction.
Yes, in World War Two, short in skilled personnel, the USSR used women in combat. Some even commanded tanks. And it’s mostly with tanks, better tanks, but maybe at the cost of twenty million soldiers killed in combat, that the Soviet Union beat Nazi Germany. I remember reading an Italian non-fiction book. After hard fighting in Ukraine, the author was stunned to see a beautiful Russian blonde dead in her punctured tank (not her tank top, her T34 tank). Take that, fiction authors! Where is your reality?
What’s literature? “Litera”, original Latin for “letter” came to mean ‘document’ and ‘letter, epistle’. “Literatura” is ‘writing formed with letters, book learning’. Nothing there said it has to be fiction. However in French literary circles, ‘literature’ has come to mean ‘fiction’. I view fiction as, mostly, an inferior sort. It is to reality what pornography is to sex. And not even that.
Any fiction is inspired by reality: after all, reality is where minds come from. However, confusing fiction with reality can be a trap. The authors of fiction who are known made their work marketable (otherwise they would not be known). But marketing is not enticing with thinking: it entices with seduction. Marketing perverts thinking, it’s sugar for canned minds.
And a canned mind, is not a kind mind. Or, more exactly, a canned mind is as good as the can it is in. Beware of cans, especially of the mental type: after a while, they turn bad, and fester with live toxins.
In contrast, by evoking reality, one can dare to go where the market does not want to go, and where the market cannot go. Facts are facts, they are not made to be comfortable. Facts are, all too often, not something one wants to buy. Why? Because we have turned into a society which confuses market and civilization. We ask, we tolerate to have the “markets” of everything and guide us.
It was high time the Nobel literature committee recognize that being able to present reality, especially reality in all its harshness, is more important than presenting someone’s fiction as if it were reality (as novelists are wont to do with wanton abandonment!) In one case, sticking to reality, one tries to stick to what is, and in the other, confusing reality and fiction, one admittedly do away with reality, at the outset, and replace reality with what can be sold to the little minds of the shoppers, avid and standardized.
Humanity has to be educated. This is what literature is for. Literature is not just intellectual masturbation. Too much sugar for too long makes one sick, and it’s a modern disease (one aspect is called diabetes, and kills, ages and degenerates its victims). Sugar drinks ought to be rejected. Similarly all too easy, all too comfortable fiction. Bring forth reality, the maker of worlds.
Considering reality, in full, is uncomfortable.
What do people foresee if the West Antarctic Ice Shield (WAIS), the Wilkes Basin and the Aurora Basin all collapse at the same time? Sea level may augment as fast as one meter per year.
I speculate: that’s 30 times faster than the most recent peer-reviewed scientific papers by specialists.
I speculate, but in full cognizance of striking elements of reality, catastrophes such as the sudden flooding of the Black Sea region, or flooding of the Mediterranean Basin, or the collapse of the Hudson Bay ice shield, or the Younger Dryas’ sudden collapse of the Gulf Stream current, and so on.
What I foresee is a quick adaptation of most values, as Homo Sapiens will present the largest biomass which one could possibly exploit. How quaint today’s fiction will then seem!
Knowing the world feeds the imagination. Knowing only fiction literature is getting to know only the minds of the fashionable and marketable, and how they learned to seduce the commons. Yet, reality is not common. The wise needs more: reality in full.