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Writer today in southeast of Europe – Writer
Writer today in southeast of Europe

When talking about our peninsula, which in addition to a geographical notion has long ago started to be considered as a political notion, one has to keep in mind the period after the overthrow of communism, which is the period after ’90-s.

In the spectrum of the Balkan post-communist literature three categories of writers are delineated from the social point of view:

1.Balkan artists during communist regime who have continued and still continue their biological existence in the new epoch.

2.The artists who started writing and creating after ’90-s.

3.The artists who wrote clandestinely in the past. But it is worth saying that the number of dissident writers or those who kept writing “drawer” literature were very few or rare in number.

The writers of the first category tried in vain to wear their muses in new outfits. The newly clad muse looked like a carnival. These writers kept playing with the argument of the cultural and natural identity. They evoked the collective sentiments cultivated by dictatorship which used to protect the cultural identity of people by promoting the monologue and cultural isolation in the course of an ideological research in history. Nevertheless these writers forgot or failed on purpose to remember the fact that this long and everlasting monologue which had promoted historical and cultural values had harmed to death the contemporary values, which means that it has estranged even more the real aspect of the present day cultural identity. A handful of these writers continued using the horizon of expectations created by communism, to keep outlining the country as a closed structure, as a cave which protects them against the outside world, instead of a place you can interact with.

It has to be highlighted that only a small number of the writers of social realism managed to get converted like Saint Paul in the Bible.

The generation of artists who started their artistic activity abroad and beyond the experience of socialist realism were those favored by destiny to be born ”late ”. This group is made up of very charismatic and important characters, especially concerning the efforts for integration and international recognition.

However, I am of the opinion that it is difficult to talk about Balkan writers in terms of historical, literary or aesthetic notion, because in spite of their emancipating role, they remain an integral part of a place plunged into conflicts.

Balkan still remains an idolatric place. The squares of our cities continue to host numerous monuments of nationalist heroes. We have proclaimed as our heroes, the headsmen of the neighbouring people, and the neighbouring people has proclaimed as its own heroes, the historic or contemporary headsmen or executioner of our people. And that’s the whole issue.

But even when Balkan people created heroes of international fame and recognition, it happened that each and every country tried to claim these heroes as its own and unique.

So being between this reality and the will to be at the same time universal and local, it occurs that Balkan writers might fall victims of an empirism that I would like to explain further through an anecdote:

A friend of mine, a jesuit priest, who travels through Albania and Montenegro and who has got a profound interest in the culture of this inter-boundary region told me how one day he had visited a peasant living close to the border with Montenegro and there he was invited to stay for dinner. He had noticed the landlady cooking a sort of sausage with various sauces. He had not understood why the young lady did cut off the two edges of the sausage and had asked an explanation from her. The young lady had had no other answer to give but to say that she had learned that from her mother. One of the following days he had visited the young lady’s mother and asked her to cook some sausage. He had noticed that the second lady just like her daughter had cut off the two edges of the sausage. The priest asked her why she cut the sausage in that way. The second lady answered that she had seen her mother doing the same thing. The second lady’s mother and the grandmother of the first lady was very old and lived on the other side of the border. So the priest, one day paid a visit to the old lady on the other side of the border. He asked her to cook the same sort of sausage and noticed that she didn’t cut the extremes off. Then surprised, he had asked her why she hadn’t cut the extremes and the grandmother laughing had answered: I haven’t cut off the extremes of the sausage since the day my husband brought home a bigger frying pan.

I would like to continue my speech with a quotation taken from an essay entitled ”What is contemporary?” written by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben:

“… to be contemporary is, first and foremost, a question of courage, because it means being able not only to firmly fix your gaze on the darkness of the epoch, but also to perceive in this darkness a light that, while directed toward us, infinitely distances itself from us.”

We all know that if you place a group of people in a dark room and then you ask them whether they saw anything or not, they will answer in unison “Nothing! We saw nothing! But it may happen that someone from that group would answer: “Yes I perceived something. I perceived the darkness.”

In my opinion this is the status of the contemporary writer. He is someone who gazes at the darkness of its own epoch and lives without the least hope of being able to enlighten it one day. The contemporary writer hopes simply to be a star in the sky, albeit being the potential sun; it’s incapable of shining like the sun. He simply is himself. He is incapable of creating hegemonies. He cannot be overpowering. The instant he becomes overpowering, he is ranked by the side of the classic writers.

The present day writers are like stars which we know exist even in a cloudy sky and cannot be perceived by us.

We have all witnessed how an author captivates us entirely for a certain time, and then he is followed by one author after the other till they all drag each other into our minds. On the other hand it is worth saying that in the process of being completely attracted to a powerful personality we cease being open-minded.

When we start comparing one author to another and observe that he might lack some qualities in comparison to the other or that his qualities bear no comparison to those of the others, at that point we have started to be critical. And it is the empowering of our critical attitude which protects us from being completely captivated by any artistic personality.

However, the effect of the best artists in such an epoch we are living might fade away in some people because what an artist does is not ultimately what he intends to do but only what people are capable of reading in him.

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