Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize For Literature.  I think it’s a good choice, but I especially liked this bit from the BBC:

The author once had a great friendship with Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, about whom he wrote his doctoral thesis in 1971. But their relationship turned into one of literature’s greatest feuds after Vargas Llosa punched Garcia Marquez at a theatre in Mexico City in 1976, leaving him with a black eye. The pair have never disclosed the reason for their dispute, although witnesses have suggested they fell out over a conversation between Garcia Marquez and Vargas Llosa’s wife. In the intervening years, the authors fell out politically, too, with the Peruvian publicly criticising Garcia Marquez’s friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Relations appeared to thaw in 2007, however, when Vargas Llosa provided the foreword to the 40th anniversary edition of Garcia Marquez’s classic work, A Hundred Years of Solitude. After the Nobel announcement on Thursday, Garcia Marquez – himself a Nobel laureate – tweeted: “Cuentas iguales” (“Now we’re even”).

By the way, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tweets are here:

Midrashic Impulses: Some thoughts on Levinas

Monica over at Dreaming Without Memory in Strangled Sleep has an audio link to a talk she recently gave at UCLA entitled “Literature, the Holocaust, and the Midrashic Impulse.”  She hits on a number of interesting tacks one may take when trying to engage the problem of representation and the Holocaust (which has interesting connections with testimony, witnessing and trauma), and focuses on various examples of what she calls the “midrashic impulse.”  An extensional logic (at work in a variety of different mediums, not just sheer textualism) that may or may not directly engage the Holocaust per se, but is a working through trauma without recourse to representation.  Interesting stuff, indeed.   And you should definately go check it out.

As Robert Antelme –himself a survivor of Dachau–wrote in The Human Race:

No sooner would we begin to tell our story than we would be choking over it, and then, even to us, what we had to tell would start to seem unimaginable (3).

Such is the aporetics of testimony: how do we testify to the unrepresentable, unimaginable etc?  Monica appeals to and glosses over Levinas’ notion of discourse as well as his critique/understanding of the role of aesthetics in ethical life, and focuses on the work of Doctorow and the painter Samuel Bak, but I wonder if we pay attention to Levinas himself we may also catch a glimpse of the midrashic impulse.  Continue reading

Phenomenology and Literature

The Romanian Society for Phenomenology and Humanities has recently published Studia Phaenomenologica vol. VIII/2008, “Phenomenology and Literature.” From Delia Popa’s introduction:

Is there a relationship between phenomenology and literature? The question is a legitimate and problematic one, if we take into account both that which properly pertains to the literary sphere and that which pertains to phenomenology, as well as the complexity of attempts to define the practices associated to either. Without engaging into the intricacies of literary theory and meta-phenomenological research, one needs merely to mention Husserlian phenomenology’s claims to scientific rigour and the importance of poetic inspiration within literature to grasp the distance that separates them. Because of this, their dialogue is condemned to remain a frail bridge, joining two mountains which conceal from each other the volcanic spark of their vitality. Continue reading