Youssef Rakha: You Will Still Hear the Scream

Reading “Correction” in Cairo

Thomas Bernhard by Michael Horowitz, 1976. Source: revistacaliban.net

“If one disregards the money that goes with them,” says the narrator in Wittgenstein’s Nephew, a more or less real-life avatar of the writer Thomas Bernhard, “there is nothing in the world more intolerable than award ceremonies.” Berhard goes on to describe his experience with literary awards and how they “do nothing to enhance one’s standing”—also the subject of a dedicated little book of his, My Prizes: An Accounting—revealing the depth of his contempt for the institution, for Vienna’s “literary coffee houses”, which have a “deadly effect on the writer”, and for the compromises and dishonesties required by the writerly life:

I let them piss on me in all these city halls and assembly rooms, for to award someone a prize is no different from pissing on him. And to receive a prize is no different from allowing oneself to be pissed on, because one is being paid for it. I have always felt that being awarded a prize was not an honor but the greatest indignity imaginable. For a prize is always awarded by incompetents who want to piss on the recipient. And they have a perfect right to do so, because he is base and despicable enough to receive it.

For a Third World writer inevitably enraged by the tastes, biases and ulterior, including politically correct motives of Third World award juries, the effect is one of liberation. So even in grand old Austria this happens! It is also one of recognition. Here, dead since 1989, is someone who not only knew the truth but wasn’t afraid to say it, going so far as to integrate it into the fabric of his art.

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*4*ТНЄ ТЯΙВЄ //Saudamini Deo//العشيرة

Saudamini Deo


**Since 2011 тнє ѕυℓтαη’ѕ ѕєαℓ has brought together writers, translators, artists/photographers and others who now belong in a new kind of tribe. In this series they speak of themselves from where they are geographically and psychologically, so that visitors can meet them face to face // منذ ٢٠١١ وقد جمع ختم السلطان مؤلفين، كتابا كانوا أو مترجمين أو مصورين أو سوى ذلك، باتوا عشيرة من نوع جديد. في هذه السلسلة يتكلمون عن أنفسهم من حيث هم جغرافيا وسايكولوجيا، ليتعرف رواد المدونة عليهم وجها لوجه //

𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 Crip Studies

Yet these poetry editors, who of all people should understand irony, now reject the role of authorial intention in creating meaning in favor of a naive view of language, whereby a word itself, regardless of how it is being used, has the magical power to inflict harm.

Their new reading is both literarily and linguistically illiterate. The meaning of language arises in a particular context and with reference to authorial intention, implicit or explicit. In the victim universe, however, dare to use a forbidden word, no matter how bracketed by irony, and the mob now has the power to declare you a witch or heretic, with shunning to follow. Nuance and ambiguity are prohibited. Authors are reduced to choosing from the official list of approved words and avoiding taboo items. Only the victims and the gatekeepers of victim culture, whose ideological purity is beyond reproach, are allowed irony. “Crip studies” is a recent sprout in the fertile fields of victim studies, referring not to the sociology of gangs, but rather to the allegedly artificial construction of disability. Its practitioners may use “cripple;” uncertified white male poets may not.

— from “The Death of the Author and the End of Empathy” by Heather Mac Donald on quillette.com

2018

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