Adam Zagajewski: "Our time hates greatness"

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When he was four months old, the borders of his country changed due to the emergence of communism and his family became a refugee. 78 years later, the Polish poet and essayist carries the memory of those years of self-destruction but defends the freedom of a poetry made by blow of epiphanes, his right to recreate in the beauty path of truth

The Polish poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski, in Barcelona.

Adam Z. (as signed) lives happier in the fall without considering the existential question of what kind of individual he is. It happens to him in his Parisian uproar: at the slow pace in which the trees languish, the poet collected written and published books to justify his trade before the French immigration authorities and prove that he was not a thug. It counts inA slight exaggeration(Cliff). That lasted 17 years and many others have been back in Krakow, in whose university he had studied Philosopher and Psychologist and that today is his city of sentimental welcome, an idea that has nothing to do with the concept of homeland or Heimat. Zagajewski (1945, Lvov, today Ukraine, then Poland)I learned to live banished from four months, when the Potsdam agreements massively displaced the citizens of Eastern Europe due to issues of ethnic hygiene. Was the poetry, the incessant search for beauty, your exercise to survive? I don't like to label poetry. My poetry are moments of epiphane. One needs that slight exaggeration that is art, but also moments of total sobriety to notice the misery of the world: find a balance between the beautiful and the evil. The Princess of Asturias Award for Letters 2017 came to Barcelona to speak at CaixaForum about the need to rescue classical knowledge to escape from the nothingness that emboba us:Between Mick Jagger and Toms de Aquino.

Is poetry necessarily a question about the state of things?
My idea of ​​poetry has to do not only with the social but with all kinds of vital issues, such as life and death. But what he writes is shorthand?
No, it's my illegible handwriting.
Ah … it seems. Knows? My grandfather forced his children to learn three things: German, swimming and stenography. Returning to your question, poetry cannot be a prisoner of definitions. It has no rules or functions, it is free. Only in a totalitarian context like that of my youth, the poet feels obliged to become aware of the situation, because silence will be fulfilled.
Poetry is an extra value in a fainted society, he says. How is today?
I miss some seriousness and interest, s. The social reformists of the 19th century, such as Ruskin or Marx, were convinced that if one day the working class had time, it would run to libraries to be cultured. It never happened. Today people work seven hours five days a week, there is an abundance of public libraries, and it still does not happen. I love going to the library and the only thing I find are students reading by obligation.
Some finish high school in love with the Philosopher, perhaps because they have never known fundamental questions before?
In Poland, the Philosophy has also been banished from the curricula. This reminds me of a historical fact: when in France the Latin and Greek were suppressed from schools in 1911, you know what happened? Surrealism arose. Abandoned the classical structures, the fantasy of freedom appeared.
And this live running that afflicts us, is it that we need more spirituality and classic knowledge?
Yes, but let's not confuse spiritualism with sectarianism, I get the last names that hang on to spirituality. What we need is to live more deeply and art connects us with a free and open spirituality. The contact with the masterpieces of art, meeting Rembrandt, Mozart, Velzquez …, changes you, the taste for excellence spreads to you. But the present moment hates greatness, the only greatness it recognizes are celebrities.
Are we aware of the privileged historical moment we live in Europe?
We should start to be, because this comes to an end, with the emergence of populisms, climatic catstrofes, etc. Our generation has been the luckiest, the last 70 years in Europe have been the most privileged in history. But fascism is returning, slowly. I see clear signs, such as those nationalist manifestations or the fact that anyone can say monstrous things about others, as happens in the 30s.
Despite this, some European peoples feel oppressed. You who lived under the communist yoke, it does not sound like a joke that the Catalans are considered oppressed?
Yes, it sounds like a joke; They will only be oppressed if they cross the line.
Adam, how many times in your life have you had to emigrate?
The first time I was four months old; the borders changed and our city became part of the Soviet Union. My family was forced to leave: one of many ethnic cleansings. But when I left Poland I did it for a woman, nobody forced me. My poetry was silenced, but I published in a small liberal Catholic publishing house, and I made a living translating and editing, and with a stipend that my father awarded me for my anti-communist activity.
The drama of emigration is happening, men and women packing, kneeling in rigid suitcases … We Europeans have lost our memory?
Yes, especially in countries like Poland, where migrants are said to bring diseases, so as to scare the population and make them reject them. Forgetting that we were the most numerous migrants, for so many years, and branches accepted everywhere.
After the resistance he derived his poetry towards existentialism. Where is he today? Is she pure search for beauty, even from a deeply human point of view?
My poetry has many perspectives, but for any poet one of the views is always his own life. I am 74 years old, objectively I am not young, but I strongly refuse to define myself old and talk about the end of life, because I have a lot to do. And about my writing, it's spontaneous; follow the days, its epiphany moments, the life that surrounds me from a humanistic point of view, s.
When poetry desperately pursues beauty, does it become a survival exercise?
I believe that beauty is not the purpose of poetry, but a happy consequence. The purpose is the truth, the reflection of human life. I distrust the search for beauty for beauty, the aestheticism that ignores suffering. Life is a tension between the evil and the beautiful; Beauty saves us from evil, but it is not enough, because it does not destroy it.
Is art a slight but necessary exaggeration?
Not everyone agrees with this, but I think we need this slight exaggeration that is art, although at the same time we have to have moments of total sobriety. We cannot live constantly fed by beauty, because if you approach how you have done the refugee drama, misery, you cannot do it from that mood, you need to be realistic and sober. And living permanently in a realistic way is too sad, unbearable. We need art as a supplement for the soul.

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. (tagsToTranslate) culture / paper sphere (t) Books (t) literature (t) poetry (t) Poland


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