My prediction for the 2012 Nobel Prize Recipient in Literature was a resounding dud. Kalamai! Apologies! Mo Yan, the Nobel recipient, has written several brilliant novels, RED SORGHUM, and THE GARLIC BALLADS, about life in repressive China, which I highly recommend. But I still iterate with conviction that Haruki Murakami is the writer who is leading us with unabashed inventiveness into the 21st century. He should have won.
Reading one of Murakami's novels (listed in previous blog) I am often apprehensive, not sure I will fully understand him. His words are booby-trapped. He abounds in non sequiturs and trilingual puns, and launches readers into science-fiction, futuristic theories, classical music, calculus and contemplation of modern man's abyssal void. His intelligence burns the fat off our brain and makes us really THINK. I am always exhilarated and inspired. Plus, his body of work is larger than Mo Yan's.
Some writers are ahead of their time. Perhaps this is the case with Murakami. Maybe the Nobel Selection Committee Members found their aging body chemistry couldn't tolerate his stimulation. No worries, his time will come! Meanwhile, I am posting William Faulkner's Nobel Acceptance Speech from 1949. Sixty-three years ago! He was another visionary/renegade who stood literature as we knew it on its head. His speech, now compared in its eloquence to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, is brilliant and prescient. A speech for us in 2012.
"Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this the [writer] writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself, which alone can make good writing, because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
"The writer must learn this again, leaving no room for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he relearns this he will write as though he stood among, and watched, the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny, inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this.
"I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The writer's duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The writer's voice is not merely the record of man, it must also be the pillar to help him endure and, thus, prevail."
Amen! And thank you, William Faulkner. May we all be inspired.