The Nobel Prize: humanism that does not convince | Free lyrics

This article is part of the series Phantasmagorias of the past: humanism.

I am an admirer of the most recent Nobel Prize for Literature, the French Annie Ernaux. She has, yes, her political sins – she has been accused of anti-Semitism and being against Israel – but there is no winner who has not been singled out by her own. Ernaux’s choice recognizes, once again, that in the face of the progressive loss of a shared vision of the world, individuals impose themselves in their singularity and need to elaborate the meanings of their vital itinerary. Certainly, this has been the mark of literary modernity, especially of the genre of the novel. But what seemed typical of large contemporary cities is an intrinsic part of the existence of those who for reasons of migration, race, gender, sexuality or any other circumstance come into contradiction with the hegemonic order.

However, the Nobel Prize for Literature continues in an incomprehensible geographical and linguistic self-absorption. The greatest of his mistakes has not been to reward writers of questionable virtues or with whom we have ideological differences, but to despise languages ​​as important in literature as Castilian, not to mention the few women who have deserved the honor.

To the extent that institutions like this become blind and deaf to the literary variety throughout the world, their respectability and international ascendancy diminish, in the midst of the unbridled relativization of aesthetic legitimacy criteria, questioned for their colonialist nature. If the intention of the Nobel prizes has been to grant recognition to people who have made great contributions to humanity, apparently such contributions are concentrated in the northern hemisphere, with the possible exception of the controversial award granted to champions, real or assumptions of world peace. In the scientific field it could be understood, given the very high economic demands and the sophisticated facilities that this type of knowledge requires, but in the literary field it is absurd to ignore so many authors of undoubted value.

The humanism promoted since the Nobel Prizes considers the individual genius, even in fields marked by teamwork such as the scientific, the summit from which a species in need of its most outstanding intelligences benefits. In the specific case of literature, I would have nothing to object to the great verbal talent, which undoubtedly exists, although it is not appreciated as in other times, be awarded. The point is that in this case, unlike science, it is not at all justifiable to ignore large areas of the planet; such carelessness casts aside the reverberation of the new in the world, recalling the Indian thinker Homi Bhabha in The culture place.

In the separation between a part of humanity involved in the fourth scientific-technical revolution and that which barely survives, literature and all expressive practices (and politics, but this is another topic) establish the geography of the thinkable and the horizon of possible in a richly interconnected age.

The award to Annie Ernaux is right, regardless of the many French winners in the past, because this writer encrypts in the narration of personal experiences the force of social life in its full historical dimension. The call of the force of life feeds the literature of the interstices, the one that, according to Bhabha, expresses the power of the people who migrate; of the woman who aborts, is a victim of sexual slavery or dies a victim of murder; of hunger, misfortune and state and semi-state violence; of non-traditional families and of identities in question.

The literature of affections, of adventure and of the splendor of continuing to stand also expresses an alternative gaze that aspires to a universality built on our common human condition: we are born helpless and naked in the face of historical contingency, and to give meaning to existence. the “right to write” is essential, following the ideas of Bhabha in a text with this name. It is, in other words, the right to narrate one’s own story.

All humanism contains a trap, as it is proposed as a regulation of behavior and ethics based on a vision of the human as a field of fulfillment and not of lack and vulnerability, as Bhabha proposes. Nobel laureate humanism falls short in its consideration of the plural existence of the species. More than aspiring to a reform of this literary prize, it would be worth asking if at this point the global good can be conceived as it was a hundred years ago or if it is necessary to ask about it.

The Nobel Prize supports a notion of humanity that is drawn by Yuvan Noah Harari in Homo God. Brief history of tomorrow: a sector of the planet’s population that moves like a fish in water within the most sophisticated knowledge and expressions, to the point of overcoming the evils of poverty and disease. Far be it from me to challenge these aspirations, in the style of anti-intellectualism promoted by the most anti-liberal right and left; I only test its limits in a regressive time, tempted by the authoritarian solution and radicalized confrontation for ideological and cultural reasons.

Finally, the relationship between the most coveted literary award and the dynamics of the transnational publishing market is confirmed, oriented towards the three or four most powerful languages ​​and little interested in the realities outside the central countries in the style of France, Great Britain, Germany or the United States. The economic muscle of the Nobel Prize should be used for much broader objectives and consistent with the present. The alleged humanist universality that inspires the Swedish Academy is not such and gives reason to post and decolonial thinking, which points out the hypocrisy behind the cosmopolitan virtue protests of Western Europe that the Nobel Prize represents.

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The Nobel Prize: humanism that does not convince | Free lyrics