Thursday, December 15, 2005

Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture

I so much admire people who defy death through their courage and energy. One such person is certainly Harold Pinter, too ill to travel to Sweden to receive the Nobel prize for literature, but not too ill to speak eloquently on issues of direct concern to us all.

In case you have missed the lecture, here is the link to the text:

The part I like best is when he volunteers to be a speech-writer for Bush. What an irony and what a delivery (he used to be an actor as well, and it shows!).

"I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.
'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


One cannot live in Sweden without being drawn into serious discussions about feminist issues. As a dilligent student that I am, I started to document myself about these theories and found them relevant not only for women but for all the marginalized groups (and yes, I do agree with the post-modernist assumption that everything expresses a power relationship).

Listen to this: "if a group is kept out of something for long enough, it is overwhelmingly likely that activities of that sort will develop in a way unsuited to the excluded group." (Janet Radcliffe-Richards). Nothing can be truer than this, I think, and it does not refer only to the incompatibility between the current design of the work market with child-rearing; it is a great strategy to make the marginal group not only excluded, but un-necessary in the kind of positions that the dominant group reserved for itself.

And even a more radical position, I am not sure that I completely agree with it but it must be largely true: "virtually every quality that distinguishes men from women is affirmatively compensated in this society. Men's physiology defines most sports, their needs define auto and health insurance coverage, their socially-designed biographies define work place expectations and successful career patterns, their perspectives and concerns define quality in scholarship, their experiences and obsessions define merit, their objectification of life defines art, their military service defines citizenship, their presence defines family, their inability to get along with each other - their wars and rulerships - define history, their image defines god, and their genitals define sex." (Catherine MacKinnon).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Books: Cat's Eye

I am not sure how I feel about this bit from Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye: "Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened" (p. 240)

Would this mean that you are compelled, by understanding one's behavior, to be less critical about it, to accept it even if y0u don't agree with it? I thought that knowing something more about other people actually evens out the balance of power between you and them...

I also like this phrase: "The body is pure energy, solidified light".