28 August 2006

Speaking of Prizes: Pinter on "Art, Truth & Politics"

Harold Pinter. Photo: © Martin Rosenbaum

I recall reading about the Nobel Lecture Harold Pinter delivered upon receiving the 2005 Prize for Literature but I had never actually read it. Pinter's title is "Art, Truth & Politics" and it seems appropriate to note it here. He issues a scathing public indictment of our - very bipartisan - American foreign policy in the post-WWII era. The intervening period has done nothing to diminish the relevance of Pinter's views. If you think this is perhaps an overstatement consider this Prisoner of War Game; I came across it while exploring the NobelPrize.org site. It aims to establish whether the persons playing has sufficient grasp of the Geneva Conventions to be placed in charge of a POW camp. Is there anyone in the upper reaches of the Bush administration who might pass this test?

I am sure that my many conservative (& liberal!) readers will object that Pinter is trying to establish some sort of unjustified "moral equivalence" between the massive political crimes of the USSR and the actions of the United States. I would urge such readers not to be simple-minded. Read his lecture as though it is possible to hold more than one thought in mind at the same time. Yes, the USSR was a totalitarian regime that systematically committed vast political atrocities. That is one thought. In addition, during the same period, and since that time, the United States has engaged in many policies that also were misguided and criminal (before you object think only "The Bombing of Cambodia"). That is a different thought, one completely consistent with the first. Thanks.

PS: If you are interested in some of Pinter's political essays, speeches, poems and plays from recent years you might try Death, etc (2005) which, like his collected plays, is published by Grove Press. One might consider these writings "impolitic," but one should, I think, consider them seriously nonetheless.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. An absurdist poet is going to give the US government foreign policy advice. What's next, the director of homeland security, a jazz pianist?

28 August, 2006 20:02  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Well, perhaps the advice Pinter would give might've prevented the abysmal mess BushCo have created? And as for homeland security, I seem to recall a slight "natural" mishap a year ago this time where maybe a jazz pianist would've done a better job!

29 August, 2006 03:37  

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