Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some are smug and some are afraid

The words of Orhan Pamuk, Nobel laureate from Turkey (where East meets West, I suppose, although East meets West inside Nigeria too, through the religions) :

What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity's basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kin ...

Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world–and I can identify with them easily–succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities.

I also know that in the West–a world with which I can identify with the same ease–nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.

Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely)


  1. Hi! trying to become a member of your blog but something seems to be wrong. The google icons aren't responding.

  2. Thank you. SOrry that I was not responsive, I just didn't get the feedback in time.