Friday, September 24, 2010

More about our recent discussions…

A picture of our friend Orhan Pamuk, and herewith a few thoughts about his speech…

I find that I keep returning to Cindy's statements that Pamuk is controversial and that she detected some defensiveness in his speech. It occurred to me this morning that the parenthetical text we were looking at yesterday was perhaps inserted after the speech was written. That is, perhaps while Pamuk was delivering his lecture, he had the thought expressed in parentheses, and this was inserted into the printed version that circulated on the Internet. Let's look at that passage again:

The angel of inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on others) favors the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer feels most lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams, and the value of his writing--when he thinks his story is only his story--it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal to him stories, images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to build.

Notice an apparent contradiction here: the angel "favors the hopeful and the confident," but it is when the writer "feels most lonely...most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams, and the value of his writing" that the angel will bless him or her with inspiration.

It seems to me that Pamuk--and perhaps this is his particular gift--is recording his thoughts and musings as they form, leading us to where he is led. I am sure there is editing, but in the hands of someone so skillful, thinking is a highly trained horse, taking him--and us--to new places without faltering, falling, or getting lost. To someone like this, a thought formed in an instant--for example, when giving a public lecture--has a place in the whole scheme of exploration, revelation, and conclusion.

What is the significance, though? Is he simply saying the equivalent of "Gee, I'm a lucky dog to get regular visits from the angel" or "Tough luck to those who are rarely visited"--or is it something else? Even though the words are few and quite ordinary, I think he might be commenting on his place in the literary world in relation to that of others--and on the fact that to some degree, it is outside his control, an occurrence for which he should be neither praised nor envied.

The parenthetical text might be the result, as I said earlier, of some editing done after the speech was delivered; or it could reflect his making a point that is important to himself but less so to others. By the use of parentheses, he therefore both reveals and conceals.

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