כמה הערות מראיון של וולבק

הראיון שערכה ב-2010 Susannah Hunnewell ב"paris review" עם מישל וולבק הוא ראיון מאלף
הנה הקישור לראיון הארוך המלא

ריכזתי להלן כמה ציטוטים נבחרים מהראיון ובקצרה ציינתי מדוע הם כאלה

“How do you have the nerve to write some of the things you do?” I asked him. “Oh, it’s easy. I just pretend that I’m already dead.”
לכתוב כאילו אתה כבר מת ובלי לחשוב על התוצאות בעולם הזה

You are a fan of the nineteenth-century social reformers, especially Auguste Comte, the founder of Positivism.
Most people find Comte unreadable because he repeats himself to the point of madness. And medically speaking, he certainly wasn’t far from insanity. As far as I know, he is the only philosopher who tried to commit suicide. He threw himself into the Seine because of a broken heart. They pulled him out and he spent six months in a sanitorium. And this was the father of Positivism, which is considered to be the height of rationalism.

אוגוסט קומט כמטריאליסט עם חיי נפש סוערים – פילוסוף "צונן" שמנסה להתאבד – זה וולבק בתמצות (ועיינו בשתי המובאות האחרונות)


So what made you write your first novel, Whatever, about a computer programmer and his sexually frustrated friend?
I hadn’t seen any novel make the statement that entering the workforce was like entering the grave. That from then on, nothing happens and you have to pretend to be interested in your work. And, furthermore, that some people have a sex life and others don’t just because some are more attractive than others. I wanted to acknowledge that if people don’t have a sex life, it’s not for some moral reason, it’s just because they’re ugly. Once you’ve said it, it sounds obvious, but I wanted to say it.

You had trouble finding a publisher for Whatever. Why were editors
rejecting it?
I have no idea. But it didn’t look much like anything that was being published at the time. I think Le Clézio was considered a great writer, for example.
What do you think of Le Clézio, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2008?
I haven’t read him. I tried and I got bored. But as far as what was being published, there was a lot of art for art’s sake, people writing in the tradition of the nouveau roman. There was nothing about people with office jobs

חשיבות העבודה – והנורא שבחיי העבודה – ולכן חשיבות הכתיבה עליה. נגד הפטיש הצורני בכתיבה, "אמנות לשם אמנות".


Of course, it was the numerous sex scenes that got you a lot of attention in the media.
I’m not sure that there are such an unusual number of sex scenes in my novel.
I don’t think that’s what was shocking. What shocked people was that I
depicted sexual failure. I wrote about sexuality in a nonglorifying way. Most of all I described a basic reality: a person filled with sexual desire who can’t satisfy it. That’s what people don’t like to hear about. Sex is supposed to be positive. Showing frustrated sexual desire is obscene. But it’s also the truth. The real question is, Who is allowed to have sex? I don’t understand, for example, how teachers survive with all these alarming young girls. When women become sexual tourists, that is even more hidden, shameful, and taboo than when men do it. Just as, when a woman professor puts her hand on a student’s thigh, it’s even worse, even more unspeakable.

לא הסקס בספריי שערורייתי, אומר וולבק, אלא העובדה שאני מציג את המיניות כדבר מה מייסר, לא אופטימי ו"חיובי"


A constant refrain in your novels is that sex and money are the dominant values of this world.
It’s strange, I’m fifty years old and I still haven’t made up my mind whether sex is good or not. I have my doubts about money too. So it’s odd that I’m considered an ideological writer. It seems to me that I am mostly exposing my doubts. I do have certain convictions. For example, the fact that you can pay a girl, that I think is a good thing. Undeniably. An immense sign of progress.
You mean prostitutes?
Yes. I’m all for prostitution.
Because everybody wins. It doesn’t interest me personally, but I think it’s a good thing. A lot of British and Americans pay for it. They’re happy. The girls are happy. They make a lot of money.
How do you know that the girls are happy?
I talk to them. It’s very difficult because they don’t really speak English, but I talk to them.
What about the more commonly held idea that these women are victims who are forced into these circumstances?
It’s not true. Not in Thailand. It’s just stupid to have objections about it.

דעתו החיובית על מוסד הזנות

They say that you are on the right politically because in The Elementary Particlesyou seem to be against the liberalism of the sixties. What do you think of that interpretation?
What I think, fundamentally, is that you can’t do anything about major
societal changes. It may be regrettable that the family unit is disappearing. You could argue that it increases human suffering. But regrettable or not, there’s nothing we can do. That’s the difference between me and a reactionary. I don’t have any interest in turning back the clock because I don’t believe it can be done. You can only observe and describe. I’ve always liked Balzac’s very insulting statement that the only purpose of the novel is to show the disasters produced by the changing of values. He’s exaggerating in an amusing way. But that’s what I do: I show the disasters produced by the liberalization of values.

ההבדל בינו לבין הימין השמרני: הנסיגה מערכי המשפחה הרסנית, אבל הוא לא חושב שיש דרך חזרה.

You have written that you are “not only a religious atheist but a political one.” Can you elaborate?
I don’t believe much in the influence of politics on history. I think that the major factors are technological and sometimes, not often, religious. I don’t think politicians can really have a true historical importance, except when they provoke major catastrophes Napoleon-style, but that’s about it. I also don’t believe individual psychology has any effect on social movements. You will find this belief expressed in all my novels. I was speaking to someone this morning about Belgium, a country that doesn’t work at all. And nobody understands why, from a psychological standpoint, because Belgians themselves seem sympathetic and willing to make it all work. And yet it doesn’t. The country is going to disappear. So we have to believe that there are powerful sociological forces at work that cannot be explained in terms of individual psychology.

אחת הסיבות לגדולתו ולחולשתו הבו-זמניות של וולבק: הוא מאמין בסוציולוגיה ולא בפסיכולוגיה האישית.


Tell us about Pattaya, Thailand, where the sex tours take place.
I was completely fascinated by Pattaya, where the book’s ending takes place. Everyone goes there. The Anglo-Saxons go there. The Chinese go there. The Japanese go there. The Arabs go there, too. That was the strangest part. It was something I read in a guidebook that made me make the trip to Thailand. They said that in one hotel in Bangkok, the Thai prostitutes wore veils to please their Arab clients. I found that fascinating, that adaptability. There are lots of French Algerians from the projects who go to Pattaya for the whores. So the Thai girls speak French but with a ghetto accent. “Ouais, j’tassure! Ouais, ta mère!”
There are karaoke bars for the Japanese, restaurants for Russians with lots of vodka. And there’s a poignant side to it, too, something end-of-the-road about all these people, especially the old Anglo-Saxons. You sense they’ll never be able to leave. And there’s the dust, in the afternoon, when the go-go bars are still closed. There’s something very poignant about that moment when the girls start arriving on their scooters and you see the old Anglo-Saxon tourists start to come out like turtles walking in the dust. There is something very, very strange about that town.

לא רק סוציולוג. אלא גם זואולוג ביחס לבני אדם (הדימוי של "הצבים").


But what stops you from succumbing to what you have said is the greatest danger for you, which is sulking in a corner while repeating over and over that everything sucks?
For the moment my desire to be loved is enough to spur me to action. I want to be loved despite my faults. It isn’t exactly true that I’m a provocateur. A real provocateur is someone who says things he doesn’t think, just to shock. I try to say what I think. And when I sense that what I think is going to cause displeasure, I rush to say it with real enthusiasm. And deep down, I want to be loved despite that.

הוא לא אומר דברים שהוא אינו מאמין בהם כדי לעצבן ולמשוך תשומת לב, הוא אומר את מה שהוא חושב, יודע שזה מרגיז חלק מהאנשים ובכל זאת מייחל להיות נאהב.


What do you think is the appeal of your work, in spite of its brutality?
There are too many answers. The first is that it’s well written. Another is that you sense obscurely that it’s the truth. Then there’s a third one, which is my favorite: because it’s intense. There is a need for intensity. From time to time, you have to forsake harmony. You even have to forsake truth. You have to, when you need to, energetically embrace excessive things. Now I sound like Saint Paul.
What do you mean?
“Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” For me the sentence would be “Now abideth beauty, truth, and intensity; but the greatest of these is intensity.”

הערה מעניינת מאד על הקטגוריה של "האינטנסיביות" בספרות.


It may surprise you, but I am convinced that I am part of the great family of the Romantics.
You’re aware that may be surprising?
Yes, but society has evolved, a Romantic is not the same thing that it used to be. Not long ago, I read de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I am certain that if you took, on the one hand, an old-order Romantic and, on the other
hand, what de Tocqueville predicts will happen to literature with the development of democracy—taking the common man as its subject, having a strong interest in the future, using more realist vocabulary—you would get me.
What is your definition of a Romantic?
It’s someone who believes in unlimited happiness, which is eternal and possible right away. Belief in love. Also belief in the soul, which is strangely persistent in me, even though I never stop saying the opposite.
You believe in unlimited, eternal happiness?
Yes. And I’m not just saying that to be a provocateur.

הציטוט הזה וזה שאחריו הוא הליבה מבחינתי להבנת חשיבותו של וולבק. וולבק רואה את עצמו סופר "רומנטי" ו"רומנטי" הוא מי שלנגד עיניו עומדת האפשרות של "אושר נצחי", מי שתובע מהמציאות הרבה מאד, מי שלא מסתפק בבינוניותה.


In 1998, you published your now famous second novel, The Elementary Particles, about the tragic love lives of a brilliant scientist and his sexually frustrated half-brother. What led you to write it?
The real inspiration was the experiments of Alain Aspect in 1982. They demonstrated the EPR paradox: that when particles interact, their destinies become linked. When you act on one, the effect spreads instantly to the other, even if they are great distances apart. That really struck me, to think that if two things are connected once, they will be forever. It marks a fundamental philosophical shift. Ever since the disappearance of religious belief, the current reigning philosophy has been materialism, which says we are alone and reduces humanity to biology. Man as calculable as billiard balls and completely perishable. That worldview is undermined by the EPR paradox. So the novel was inspired by this idea of what could be the next metaphysical mutation. It has to be less depressing than materialism. Which, let’s face it, is pretty depressing.

והוא "רומנטי" במציאות שהאידאולוגיה המתוחכמת ביותר השלטת בה היא "מטריאליזם". הוא, ראשית, יודע שזו האידאולוגיה השלטת והוא, שנית, מסכים עם נכונותה (אם כי הוא תולה תקווה מסוימת בתיאוריות של מכניקת הקוונטים שמסמנות מוצא מסוים מהמטריאליזם הקיצוני) אך הוא, בו זמנית, חושב שזה "מדכא". שלוש העמדות הללו חשובות בהבנת מרכזיותו של וולבק.


  • אני מתנצל על היעדר הניקיון והאסתטיות בטקסט לעיל שנובע מהמעבר מאנגלית לעברית וחוזר חלילה
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  • אודי ד.  On נובמבר 17, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    באמת דברים יפים, תודה אריק.

  • ירמי פינקוס  On נובמבר 17, 2015 at 10:46 PM

    מעניין מאד! תודה על הפוקוס.

  • אריק גלסנר  On נובמבר 18, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    תודה רבה, אודי וירמי

  • אור  On נובמבר 25, 2015 at 11:52 AM

    מיקוד מוצלח ומעניין. אם יש לך זמן – אולי מדור שירכז ויסכם ביקורות וראיונות בצורה כזו?

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