Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why you never, ever…

…fuck with the writers.

Images are cool, and I enjoy them. And sound can add dimension or fury or a fine filigree to almost any narrative.

But in the war of ideas, it’s the words that matter. And across the great waters of the internets, the most formidable destroyers are lexicon-powered.

The rate of fire isn’t the issue: Steve Gilliard metes his prose out with the brutal economy of a man surgically working over a bunny with a bullwhip, and I swear James Wolcott has teams of Guatemalan stoop labor working in shifts to mine, Marquis-cut and polish whole new words to spec that he seats like a jeweler into his perfect paragraphs.

It’s the results that count.

Does the writer incise new memories into the free space in your skull, and do they do it in a way that makes your toes curl? Do they move the rhetorical ball down the field? Do they make you think – really think -- or do they just bark and bellow “feminazi” and “faggot’ to their own brain damaged Prayer Corner?

Do they get the job done?

And when you step out onto the field for an ideological rumble, who but a dolt would waddle up to a verbal blacksmith who specializes in hammering red-hot idiom into samurai swords, and poke at what he loves with a stick?

And who but the most hopeless of idiots would try to bite the nuts of a man that makes a living tatting nukes out of common, household language.

Like, for example, this guy

December 8, 2005
Playwright Takes a Prize and a Jab at U.S.

LONDON, Dec. 7 - The playwright Harold Pinter turned his Nobel Prize acceptance speech on Wednesday into a furious howl of outrage against American foreign policy, saying that the United States had not only lied to justify waging war against Iraq but had also "supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship" in the last 50 years.

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," Mr. Pinter said. "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

The playwright, known in recent years as much for his fiery anti-Americanism as for his spare prose style and haunting, elliptical plays like "The Caretaker" and "The Homecoming," was awarded the $1.3 million Nobel literature prize in October.

Dressed in black, bristling with controlled fury, Mr. Pinter began by explaining the almost unconscious process he uses to write his plays. They start with an image, a word, a phrase, he said; the characters soon become "people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort."

"So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction," he continued, "a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time."

But while drama represents "the search for truth," Mr. Pinter said, politics works against truth, surrounding citizens with "a vast tapestry of lies" spun by politicians eager to cling to power.

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. "Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love."

He returned to the theme of language as an obscurer of reality, saying that American leaders use it to anesthetize the public. "It's a scintillating stratagem," Mr. Pinter said. "Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance.

Pinter is a genuine flinger of thunderbolts, and a Nobel speech is as close to the apex of the highest tor on Olympus as a writer will ever get. And in that moment he chose to tell any potential downside consequences to go fuck themselves and used one of the most important moments in his life to focus on the most important issue of our time.

To which what can one say but, “Author! Author!”


Anonymous said...


The Guardian has the full script of Pinter's lecture, well worth a read if you've got a moment to spare.

Anonymous said...


1988dylan said...

bistroist has a good link. Do read the entire speech. Tis truthful and compelling. Let us not be self-loathing, but let us understand and admit our mistakes and change our ways before we destroy ourselves. The sad thing is, this stuff, as simple and truthful as it is, is beyond the comprehension of most Americans - due to a complicit MSM, the lack of education, and especially, the lack of historical knowledge.
Hillary pandering to the Flag loving "patriots" demonstrates just about where we are at, at this point.

isabelita said...

Thnaks to those who provided the link to Pinter's speech. I've always admired and appreciated his work, and now I have further reason to do so, to admire him as a human speaking out against this horror show of a government.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link.

If that we had one leader, at all, who could acknowledge this speech. I fear that we don't.

enigma4ever said...


Charles Perez said...

Pinter makes my best efforts seem like small, blunt, childrens tools compared to the words he wields like hammers, like a paleontologist's pick, like a surgeon's scalpel; depending on his needs. This speech made me both ashamed to consider myself a writer and proud to be sharing the same language he brandishes so effectively.

This was also a blinding glimpse at what is at once the truth and the blindingly obvious; to both of which Americans have become sadly oblivious. Perhaps the words will break through the wall of ignorance or politicians have built around themselves...



BitterHarvest said...

Hey, Drifty. Remember this:

This boycott will fail, but serves to limn yet again the true face of the Gorgons that rule the Republican Party these days.

You wrote that about the AFA boycott of Ford six months ago. D'OH! It succeeded! They got to Ford Motor Co.!

tech98 said...

Look forward now to reich-wingnut denunciations of the Nobel Prize committee as a hotbed of terrist-lovin' commie evildoers.
Most of them are for science, and you know what Rethugs think of reason.

Reality is dictated by authorities in Republikanland, be they corporate overlords or serpent-tongued televangelists, and the peons' only role is to conform and obey. Thinking, peer-review and examination of evidence is for commie terrists.

Neil Shakespeare said...

"The Speech of the Century". I'm sticking with that. And folks must be paying attention cuz I can't get on the video at the Nobel site due to "heavy traffic". Bravo, Pinter! I'll link you to the post on this over at my site. Let's see if we can get everybody to read this.

Tata said...

Hot damn! I love a good, vigorous truthtelling! Thank you for linking to this - I hadn't heard!

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