My livelihood depends on fiction. To this end I have published a book arguing for the importance of literature in life. I have posted personal blogs that combine internal reflection with cultural commentary. In short, I see the absolute importance of narrative in life and work. Yet, I also realize that stories can get in the way of understanding life.
Is it possible to fail aesthetically but succeed ethically? I thought of this question as I read Mario Vargas Llosa’s recent The Dream of the Celt, published in 2010, the year he won the Nobel Prize for literature, and now available in English.
I got a new lesson on the force of narrative during the blackout that affected much of the mid-west and east coast in early July. It was the third time our own neighborhood had experienced an extended power outage in four years. This time, however, the temperatures soared to the 100F mark for eight powerless days.
Literature seems to be everywhere in Cartagena and not just because Gabriel García Márquez still has a house there.
The President’s sudden conversion to the cause of gay marriage has brought the topic again to public consciousness. However welcome this may be, what is strange is how confining the conversation still is about this subject. In the public domain, at least, identity seems to possess a thick, unchanging essence.
We too find ourselves in a modernidad tardía. That is what my audience reported to me at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota where I had come to present a series of seminars on Greek culture through the support of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
Many travelers still seek solitude among the tourists, the luxury to communicate personally with the ruins. They long to leave their minds on idle, while they enter the vista before them, undisturbed by the other souls striving for the same illusion. I often feel this contradiction of being alone with others when I travel.
Nothing illustrates better the anti-democratic politics of austerity in Europe today than the fact that the prime ministers of both Italy and Greece have been appointed by Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, the Federal Minister of Finance, and Mario Draghi, the President of the European Central Bank.
“Imagine a world without art.” This could easily have been the message greeting visitors to the Wikipedia site on January 18, 2012, when it went silent in protest against legislation proposed in Congress (Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA). For Wikipedia and Google the issue is “free information” in the “open” Internet.
What can we learn from eighteen eighteen-year-olds about friendship? Here are some ethnographic notes I made from a freshman seminar I taught this past fall.
Gregory Jusdanis teaches Modern Greek literature and culture at The Ohio State University. He is the author of The Poetics of Cavafy: Eroticism, Textuality, History (1987), Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature (1991), The Necessary Nation (2001), and Fiction Agonistes: In Defense of Literature (2010). His book, A Tremendous Thing. Friendship from the Iliad to the Internet, was published in 2014.