Georgi Gospodinov, bulgarian cosmonaut, cosmopilot tells us what literature can. Not where

While I was writing the book [The Physics of Sorrow] and wondered where this sadness was draining from, it had flooded all over Europe and, in a sense, all over the world. As a writer, I know that the long accumulated sorrow, the concealed sorrow is a dangerous thing ready to explode. That is why it should be freed, narrated, tamed through the story. It should be danced out, if you like. And this is one of literature’s capabilities.

Yes, people dancing out sorrow in literature, can you imagine it in NZ Aa [Aotearoa]?

I can in Aus[tralia], not here. And yet without it, the sorrow concealed accumulates and is concealed. It explodes.

How does it explode? Are there people crying on the streets or just onto the screens of their cellphones?

O, no, of course if not danced out in literature the explosion of the accumulated sorrow, which is mountainous today, can only be violent. It digs a hole for itself as deep as the mountains are high and throws children down into the pit.

We used to say it went all the way to China but that’s a two-way street.

The immigrants who come here, they take the happiness that would have been ours in a fairer world.

Now I would like to say a few words about what literature is still capable of in a world like ours today.

It is capable of doing simple things. Like saving a life for example. You tell the stories and thus you postpone the end. We know this best by Scheherazade–stories in exchange for life (simple deal). When the victim tells a story she inhabits another, protected zone.

If my last post had been a how-to book this is what it would’ve said about cinema. It seems to have everything to do with rushing forward but in fact it is How To Hesitate.

Perhaps this will be the title if I give that long post called “a note on cinematic time” another life. This is just something I’m playing with, an idea.

This is the special guarantee of literature. This is the strength of the weak one who narrates.

I must have known this instinctively as a child because I always chose to read books narrated in the first person. I knew the simple rule that the hero wouldn’t die as long as he or she keeps telling the story. I tell a story, therefore I am. Narro, ergo sum.

What else can literature do? … these quoted bits are from here.

It seems to me we slowly begin to understand that the world cannot be explained only through the first pages of the newspapers, the political statements or markets, banks, etc. Because we are not made of economics and politics. We are made also of sorrow and hesitation, of such fragile and inexplicable, sometimes irrational things.

It is as I was saying:

A critical mass of hate and insecurity has accumulated worldwide, a madness, if you wish, that is easily multiplied and intensified by the new fast media. We are getting harshly radicalized in our opinions and words. This internal jihadism hidden in each of us is one of the most dangerous conditions today. Now the great battle goes on not just over geographic territories but over the territory of the human. There are limits of human nature that shouldn’t be overstepped. Because historically, the human kind comes before ideologies, before states. And the migrants today are part of a great migration of sorrows. And this migration of sorrow is something we should think over and try to narrate.

Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for sharing a few minutes together in one of the sentences of this world.

Thank you for the feeling.

Published June 12, 2107
© 2016 Fondation Jan Michalski