Friday, June 23, 2006

Handke's rhythm

Sign and Sight provides that rare thing, the actual words - in an English translation of an interview first published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung - of Peter Handke.

He talks about Serbia and the idea of Yugoslavia. And once again, he insists that his reason for writing about Serbia was to counter "a particular journalistic style". He wants us to "consider how I write, my view, my rhythm".

This has to be what marks the significance of Handke affair. Such a style has become so institutionalised, so embedded in the way we think, that Handke's words (above all pragmatic words) will not make too much sense; certainly not to the bomb-door liberals. They will not register his words about Srebrenica ("an eternal disgrace") because he adds that it was "blind and evil revenge for the murder of over a thousand Serbs around Srebrenica in the three years before". Murders, like so many others, that cannot enter the ritual of public recognition or condemnation. After all, the bomb-doors might lock.

There is much else to note. For example: "Serbia is the most lost country in Europe". The day before the interview was published, the truth of this was plain for all to see.

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