Author Topic: THE EUROPEAN TRAVELER  (Read 2624 times)

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Offline RonPrice

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THE EUROPEAN TRAVELER
« on: July 20, 2014, 06:01:44 AM »
THE EUROPEAN TRAVELER

Part 1:

When Imre Kertesz was given the Nobel Prize in Literature he said in his lecture: “It is often said of me--some intend it as a compliment, others as a complaint --that I write about a single subject: the Holocaust.  I have no quarrel with that. Why shouldn't I accept, with certain qualifications, the place assigned to me on the shelves of libraries? Which writer today is not a writer of the Holocaust?  One does not have to choose the Holocaust as one's subject to detect the broken voice that has dominated modern European art for decades. 

I will go so far as to say that I know of no genuine work of art that does not reflect this break. It is as if, after a night of terrible dreams, one looked around the world, defeated, helpless.  I have never tried to see the complex of problems referred to as the Holocaust merely as the unsolvable conflict between Germans and Jews. I never believed that it was the latest chapter in the history of Jewish suffering, which followed logically from their earlier trials and tribulations. I never saw it as a one-time aberration, a large-scale pogrom, a precondition for the creation of Israel. What I discovered in Auschwitz is the human condition, the end point of a great adventure, where the European traveler arrived after his two-thousand-year-old moral and cultural history.”

Part 2:

Kertesz continued: “Now the only thing to reflect on is where we go from here. The problem of Auschwitz is not whether to draw a line under it, as it were; whether to preserve its memory or slip it into the appropriate pigeonhole of history; whether to erect a monument to the murdered millions, and if so, what kind. The real problem with Auschwitz is that it happened, and this cannot be altered, not with the best, or worst, will in the world.”

Reading Kertesz’ lecture as I did this evening for the first time, I could not help but reflect on the writings of Tacitus in the first century after the crucifixion of Christ. Tacitus wrote of the “human depravity of his times” and “the grotesque career of the human spirit.” These words could have been those of Kertesz writing, as Kertesz did, in the first century after the Return of Christ in the person of Baha’u’llah.  Kertesz gave no more cognizance to the new religion of the Baha’i Faith spreading in his time than did Tacitus to the new religion breaking out in the Empire in his day.  In fact Kertesz mentioned the Baha’i Faith not at all.

Part 3:

It could well be said of me, some intending their remark as a compliment and others as a complaint, that I too wrote about a single subject: the Baha’i Faith.  I would have no quarrel with that. Why shouldn't I accept, with certain qualifications, the place assigned to me on the shelves of libraries, if indeed my writing ever finds a place on said library shelves.  Which writer today is not a writer of the Baha’i Faith? One does not have to choose the Baha’i Faith as one's subject to detect the new voice that has entered modern European art in the last decades, the last century or more.  I will go so far as to say that I know of no genuine work of art that does not reflect this new voice, what Kertesz refers to as the break with the past and which Baha’u’llah refers to in a myriad of ways in His writings. I have never tried to see the complex of subjects, of themes, of issues that are raised implicitly and explicitly by the teachings of the Baha’i Faith merely as an interplay between modernity and tradition or a confluence between the many mysteries of life.

I never believed that the Baha’i Faith was just the latest chapter in the history of religion which followed logically from its earlier manifestations and forms.  I never saw this new Faith as just some single one-time event with its own large-scale pogrom, never saw it as merely a precondition, however important, for the creation of a unified world.

What I discovered in the Baha’i Faith was the core of the human condition, the beginning and end point of a great adventure, where the European traveler, for I was certainly one of these, arrived after his six-thousand-year-old moral and cultural history.  –Ron Price with thanks to Imre Kertész ,  Lecture for the Nobel Prize in Literature, December 7th 2002.
 
Part 4:

Some energetic mental acuteness,
receptive, generated by some stress,
some action of the brain. Strikes into
it unasked, a mood, within but beyond
time and space, free from the human lot
but inextricably tied to history’s traces.

Some invisible influence, like a wind
which blows in transitory gusts, like
the sun which goes out daily, declining
with an inevitability one accepts with
no surprize with mid-day’s sedation
and fading coals of inspiration. Yes…

…it comes like the leaves to a tree,
tbe flowers to a branch, the insects
to our garden, the lawnmowers
on Sunday when I’m sleeping
and I am captured in a close
corner of my brain where I must
exert an energy to record impulses
that have grabbed me and I travel
with them, with their impressions,
and mold and fashion them—all
part of the where I go from here.

Ron Price
31/1/'06 to 20/7/'14.
married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)