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Posts Tagged ‘Günter Grass

 

 

They passed away: Uruguay writer Eduardo Galeano and Gunter Grass (Nobel prize for literature in 2009

Uruguayan writer and journalist Eduardo Galeano, author of “Las venas abiertas de América Latina”, among other masterpieces, died today, aged 74, in Montevideo, where he lived.

His best-known works are “Las venas abiertas de América Latina” (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) and “Memoria del fuego” (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 1982–86), which have both been translated into 20 languages and transcend orthodox genres, combining journalism, political analysis, and history.

The author himself has proclaimed his obsession as a writer saying, “I’m a writer obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia.”

 posted in July 23, 2013:

Most mornings it’s the same. At the breakfast table Uruguayan-born author, Eduardo Galeano, 72, and his wife, Helena Villagra, discuss their dreams from the night before.

“Mine are always stupid,” says Galeano. “Usually I don’t remember them and when I do, they are about silly things like missing planes and bureaucratic troubles. But my wife has these beautiful dreams.”

“There is a tradition that sees journalism as the dark side of literature, with book writing at its zenith,” he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais recently.

“I don’t agree. I think that all written work constitutes literature, even graffiti. I have been writing books for many years now, but I trained as a journalist, and the stamp is still on me. I am grateful to journalism for waking me up to the realities of the world.”

Those realities appear bleak.

“This world is not democratic at all,” he says. “The most powerful institutions, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the World Bank, belong to three or four countries. The others are watching. The world is organised by the war economy and the war culture.”

And yet there is nothing in either Galeano’s work or his demeanour that smacks of despair or even melancholy.

While in Spain during the youth uprisings of the indignados two years ago, he met some young protesters at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. Galeano took heart from the demonstrations.

“These were young people who believed in what they were doing,” he said. “It’s not easy to find that in political fields. I’m really grateful for them.”

One of them asked him how long he thought their struggle could continue. “Don’t worry,” Galeano replied. “It’s like making love. It’s infinite while it’s alive. It doesn’t matter if it lasts for one minute. Because in the moment it is happening, one minute can feel like more than one year.”

Galeano talks like this a lot – not in riddles but enigmatically and playfully, using time as his foil.

When I ask him whether he is optimistic about the state of the world, he says: “It depends on when you ask me during the day. From 8am until noon I am pessimistic. Then from 1pm until 4 I feel optimistic.” I met him in a hotel lobby in downtown Chicago at 5pm, sitting with a large glass of wine, looking quite happy.

His world view is not complicated – military and economic interests are destroying the world, amassing increasing power in the hands of the wealthy and crushing the poor.

Given the broad historical sweep of his work, examples from the 15th century and beyond are not uncommon.

He understands the present situation not as a new development, but a continuum on a planet permanently plagued by conquest and resistance. “History never really says goodbye,” he says. “History says, see you later.”

He is anything but simplistic.

A strident critic of Obama’s foreign policy who lived in exile from Uruguay for over a decade during the 70s and 80s, he nonetheless enjoyed the symbolic resonance of Obama’s election with few illusions.

“I was very happy when he was elected, because this is a country with a fresh tradition of racism.”

He tells the story of how the Pentagon in 1942 ordered that no black people’s blood be used for transfusions for whites. “In history that is nothing. 70 years is like a minute. So in such a country Obama’s victory was worth celebrating.”

All of these qualities – the enigmatic, the playful, the historical and the realist – blend in his latest book, Children of the Days, in which he crafts a historical vignette for each day of the year. (That’s exactly what Grass did for each year in the 20thcentury)

The aim is to reveal moments from the past while contextualising them in the present, weaving in and out of centuries to illustrate the continuities.

What he achieves is a kind of epigrammatic excavation, uprooting stories that have been mislaid or misappropriated, and presenting them in their full glory, horror or absurdity.

His entry for 1 July, for example, is entitled: One Terrorist Fewer. It reads simply.

“In the year 2008, the government of the United States decided to erase Nelson Mandela’s name from its list of dangerous terrorists. The most revered African in the world had featured on that sinister roll for 60 years.” He named 12 October Discovery, and starts with the line: “In 1492 the natives discovered they were Indians, they discovered they lived in America.”

Meanwhile 10 December is called Blessed War and is dedicated to Obama’s receipt of the Nobel prize, when Obama said there are “times when nations will find the use of force not only necessary, but morally justified.”

Galeano writes: “Four and a half centuries before, when the Nobel prize did not exist and evil resided in countries not with oil but with gold and silver, Spanish jurist Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda also defended war as ‘not only necessary but morally justified’.”

And so he flits from past to present and back again, making connections with a wry and scathing wit.

His desire is to refurbish what he calls the “human rainbow. It is much more beautiful than the rainbow in the sky,” he insists. “But our militarism, machismo, racism all blinds us to it. There are so many ways of becoming blind. We are blind to small things and small people.”

And the most likely route to becoming blind, he believes, is not losing our sight but our memory.

My great fear is that we are all suffering from amnesia. I wrote to recover the memory of the human rainbow, which is in danger of being mutilated.”

By way of example he cites Robert Carter III – of whom I had not heard – who was the only one of the US’s founding fathers to free his slaves. “For having committed this unforgivable sin he was condemned to historical oblivion.”

Who, I ask, is responsible for this forgetfulness? “It’s not a person,” he explains. “It’s a system of power that is always deciding in the name of humanity who deserves to be remembered and who deserves to be forgotten … We are much more than we are told. We are much more beautiful.”

Note 1: A post I published on Galeano.

https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/voices-of-the-time-in-very-short-stories-by-eduardo-galeano/

Andrew Bossone shared this link on FB

To quote Oscar Guardiola-Rivera: veins are still open

South Africa boycott: Re-applied on Israel. What Madona is doing there?

After Tel Aviv, Madona (54 years old) is set for touring 30 countries. She showed up in the Gulf Emirate of Abu Zabi, on the island of Yass. Sunday was the first of two shows. Most of the 25,000 spectators were shocked by the performance: Madona stomped on crucifixes, used religious symbols, with Hebrew background songs, and overdone it with foul sex words and suggestive gestures, surrounded with almost naked men dancers, and shouted at the audience: “Why are you not reacting, you sons of bitches…”

After Madonna began her world tour in Israel last week, campaigners urge cutting of cultural ties with apartheid Israel.

Some of the world’s biggest stars – from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers – are being accused of putting profit before principle in a growing backlash against artists performing in Israel.
 
JONATHAN OWEN posted on JUNE 3, 2012 under “Israel is new South Africa as boycott calls increase”
 
 
 
“Campaigners angry at human rights abuses against the Palestinian people – symbolised by Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians and allowing Israeli settlers to take over their land – are demanding a boycott of Israeli venues in a campaign that echoes the 1980s protests against South Africa and the infamous venue Sun City.

Last week, Madonna came under fire for her decision to perform in Israel to kick off her world tour last Thursday.

Omar Barghouti, of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said:

“By performing in Israel, Madonna has consciously and shamefully lent her name to fig-leaf Israel’s occupation and apartheid and showed her obliviousness to human rights…As we’ve learned from the South African struggle for freedom, entertaining Israeli apartheid should never be mislabeled as singing for peace”

Attempts by Madonna to deflect criticism by offering free tickets to local campaigners backfired, with a number rejecting the offer. Boycott from Within, an Israeli campaign group, accused the singer of “a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes”.

Acts such as alleged war crimes during Israel’s 2008 invasion of Gaza and the 2010 killing of peace activists by Israeli commandos on an aid ship are fuelling the return of an anti-apartheid campaign on a scale not seen in a generation.

Saeed Amireh, 21, a peace activist from Nilin in the West Bank, said: “We don’t have freedom of movement. They don’t want peace; they just want us to disappear. They are suppressing our very existence.”

Calls for a boycott are supported by hundreds of artists around the world, from the film director Ken Loach to former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and the author Alice Walker.

Artists such as Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello have cancelled shows after pressure from campaigners in recent years; Coldplay, U2 and Bruce Springsteen have declined invitations to play in Israel without supporting the boycott publicly.

Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rihanna and Leonard Cohen are among those to have ignored calls not to appear there.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz and Guns N’ Roses plan to play in Israel this year, prompting the campaign group Artists Against Apartheid to appeal:

“As was done in the case of South African apartheid, please join us now in the cultural boycott of Israel, and help stop entertaining apartheid.”

The campaign has rattled the music industry, prompting a group of US-Israel entertainment executives to set up the Creative Community for Peace last year in an effort to counter the cultural boycott.

It is also troubling senior Israeli politicians: a law passed by the Knesset last year means that people who call for a boycott could be sued in court. The Israeli government has also set up a committee to look at how to compensate Israeli promoters in the cases of “politically motivated cancellations”.

Controversy over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has provoked protests among actors, too. Emma Thompson is among more than 30 actors, directors and playwrights who condemned the Globe Theatre for including Israel’s national theatre company in its Shakespeare festival last week.

The Israeli embassy this weekend dismissed criticisms of Israel as “an anti-Israeli movement” and the Board of Deputies of British Jews claimed comparisons with apartheid-era South Africa were “a specious and desperate effort by a failing boycott campaign”.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres admitted earlier this year: “If Israel’s image gets worse, it will begin to suffer boycotts. There is already an artistic boycott against us and signs of an undeclared financial boycott are beginning to emerge.”

The Co-op announced a boycott of goods from West Bank settlements last month.

Notes: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/emma-thompson-and-gunter-grass-call-for-israeli-theatre-and-concert-boycott/

 

Emma Thompson and Günter Grass call for Israeli theatre and concert boycott

 reported on April 1, 2012 under “Oscar winner Emma Thompson calls for Israeli theater’s ban”:

The ‘Sense and Sensibility’ star, two-time Oscar winner, opposes inclusion of Habimah theater at festival, saying it must distance itself from ‘policies of exclusion practiced by the Israeli State’

Emma Thompson. China's national theater is ok, but Habimah is not kosher. (photo credit: CC Caroline Bonarde Ucci, Wikipedia)

Emma Thompson. (Photo credit: CC Caroline Bonarde Ucci, Wikipedia)

Recent Tony winner Mark Rylance and seven-time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh are among the other artists who signed a letter expressing “dismay and regret” that Tel Aviv’s Habimah theater will be participating in Globe to Globe, a six-week festival taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

“Habimah has a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory,” says the letter, published March 29 in England’s Guardian newspaper. The document notes that unlike other members of Israel’s theater community, Habimah did not participate in a boycott of a controversial cultural center that opened in Ariel, a West Bank settlement, in 2010.

The letter goes on: “By inviting Habimah, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law.  We have no problem”with Globe to Globe’s desire to include Hebrew in the festival, which will showcase the Bard’s 37 plays in 37 languages, but by inviting Habimah, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company. We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land.”

Other companies participating in the festival include the National Theatre of China, which will perform “Richard III” in Mandarin, and the Ashtar Theatre, a Palestinian company that will perform “Richard II” in Arabic.

Habimah is currently scheduled to perform “The Merchant of Venice” at the festival twice in late May.

Günter Grass launches poetry attack on Israel

Günter Grass: poem criticises Israel's 'claim to the right of first strike' against Iran. Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

Günter Grass.  Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

 On Wednesday 4 April 2012, German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass said that Israel is a threat to “already fragile world peace” in his poem “What Must Be Said

In the poem, published in German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Italy’s La Repubblica among others, Grass criticises what he describes as western hypocrisy over Israel’s own suspected nuclear programme amid speculation it might engage in military action against Iran to stop it building an atomic bomb.

The 84-year-old Grass said he had been prompted to put pen to paper by Berlin’s recent decision to sell Israel a submarine able to “send all-destroying warheads where the existence of a single nuclear bomb is unproven”.

Grass called for “unhindered and permanent control of Israel’s nuclear capability and Iran’s atomic facilities through an international body”.

Israel is widely believed to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons but has never admitted it, pursuing instead an official policy of “ambiguity” to deter potential attackers. (Actually, President Kennedy insisted on the US inspecting Israel nuclear facilities in 1961)

Israel has three Dolphin submarines from Germany  one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin) and two more are under construction, and the contract for a sixth submarine was signed last month (in return for Israel to reimburse to the Palestinian authority the taxes it has been withholding as permanent tactics to subjugate the Palestinians in the occupied territories).

Dolphin-class submarines can carry nuclear-tipped missiles, but there is no evidence Israel has armed them with such weapons.

Iran insists it only seeks nuclear power for energy and medical research.

Grass said he long kept silent on Israel’s own nuclear programme because his country committed “crimes that are without comparison”, but he has come to see that silence as a “burdensome lie and a coercion” whose disregard carries a punishment – “the verdict ‘antisemitism’ is commonly used”.

The left-leaning Grass established himself as a leading literary figure with The Tin Drum, published in 1959, and won the Nobel Prize in 1999. He urged fellow Germans to confront their painful Nazi history in the decades after the second world war.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is a staunch ally of Israel, and her spokesman reacted coolly to Grass’s remarks.

“There is artistic freedom in Germany, and there thankfully also is the freedom of the government not to have to comment on every artistic production,” Steffen Seibert said.

The head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee – lawmaker Ruprecht Polenz, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats – told the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that Grass was a great author “but he always has difficulties when he speak about politics and mostly gets it wrong”.

 


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