Pinter’e2’80’99s Nobel (2)

The more authority a person has, the greater the impact of his or her passing by. Young singers tossed into huge fame take a while to realize the consequences of their every act; Bill Gates took a long time before he woke up to his money and began to commit some of it to good causes.

The greater the fame, the larger the footprint.

Again, excerpts from Pinter’e2’80’99s Nobel speech follow. Listen not only to the man’e2’80’99s outrage, the howl of his shame and the agony of his excoriated conscience, but listen to the words, the sheer power of his words:

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days ‘e2’80’93 conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead?
. . .

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading ‘e2’80’93 as a last resort ‘e2’80’93 all other justifications having failed to justify themselves ‘e2’80’93 as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.
. . .

When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror ‘e2’80’93 for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.

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  1. Anonymous on December 12, 2005 at 5:32 pm

    Well if one didn’t already have an acid stomach this would cinch it!But bless the man and you for the courage to keep saying what needs to be said!

    I’m a blog or so behind, but have a rather non invasive suggestion that has worked for me (of the mysterious and occassional-more constant of late-acid stomach).

    Under the homeopathic ideal of at first do no harm, or isn’t that the Hippocratic oath…

    try plant enzymes at meal times and acidophilus.

    Be sure to buy good quality and if swallowing a gel cap is not your cup of tea, these can easily be opened and sprinkled on food or drink (not hot as enzymes and acidophilus are easily done in by heat).

    These two naturally occuring substances go a long way to improving digestion, which of course is at least half the battle.

    My best,


  2. -> Ray on December 12, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    I agree with your assertion that the greater the fame, the greater the footprint; I disagree with equating that to authority. Singers, computer gurus, writers have every right to express their opinions, and I find (for some bizarre reason) that I am interested in hearing what they have to say. Nevertheless, it does not sway my opinion to hear that a celebrity disagrees with me any more than it bolsters my opinion when they agree. I’ll paraphrase Harlan Ellison, who suggested that everyone is entitled to their own INFORMED opinions. If authority is measured by the effect the speakers have, then we must acknowledge that they may well sway the opinions of people unwilling to think for themselves, to inform themselves and draw their own conclusions. This is a shame. By all means, public figures may use the pulpit granted to them by their celebrity, but they should remember that fame by itself does not confer authority. Their opinions are of no more value than my own, or your own, or that of any reasonable person in the marketplace of ideas.

  3. Anonymous on December 13, 2005 at 2:06 am

    and the president’s approval ratings go up. I am beginning to think that no one hears and no one cares. And what happens when the masses listen (and believe) one who is not informed and is not reasonable? Am I one of a few who has a true heartache over what has been done in ‘our name’ in other lands as well as our own to innocents?

  4. -> Ray. on December 13, 2005 at 4:15 pm

    Would you advocate stifling the voices of the uninformed and unreasonable? You sound surprisingly reactionary. The analogy to a “marketplace” of ideas is apt, because we may place different values upon various opinions based on whatever criteria we choose. I would value the opinion of an uninformed person much lower than that of someone who is an ackowledged expert on the same topic. I would not, however, deny anyone their right to speak, regardless of how stupid their ideas may be. (It can often be helpful to hear from the uninformed, so that we may better categorize the speaker for future reference.)

  5. Anonymous on December 13, 2005 at 5:17 pm

    I wonder, though…if our invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein’s government was an act of “state terrorism”–what, exactly, could Hussein’s actions be called? I certainly agree that the reasons given out for our invasion were incorrect, perhaps even deliberate lies; I also know that it is more than time for us to get out of there. It does frustrate me, though, that in the condemnation of our own government for its invasion, people seem to have forgotten that the man we were after is a mass murderer of the first degree.

    There are those who still criticize our government for not acting sooner in WWII–for allowing millions of people to die in Europe because it did not affect us. And yet, in Iraq, thousands had died at Saddam Hussein’s order, and we acted, and we are called wrong. Which is it? Why do murdered Iraqis count for less than murdered Jews or Catholics or gays? Why should we not halt the actions of the Iraqi dictator just as we halted the actions of the German dictator?

  6. Melissa on December 13, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    In response to the last anonymous comment: Saddam Hussein, while he was killing thousands of people, was our ally. He served our government’s purpose because he was willing to go to war with Iran with our help.
    As for the time it took to enter WWII, maybe it wasn’t whether or not Hitler’s actions had an effect, but whether or not we were, as a nation, ideologically opposed to the National Socialists. There were signs at beaches in the U.S. that read: “Gentiles Only,” African Americans were lynched,the military was not desegrated until 1948, and it was against the law in Washington, DC for blacks and whites to attend school or eat in restaurants together.
    Like the man said, move the mirror just a millimeter.

  7. Anonymous on December 14, 2005 at 12:32 am

    Ah…but you didn’t answer my question. Why were we right to fight Hitler, but wrong to fight Hussein?

  8. Anonymous on December 14, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    I am not a historian, but wasnt Hitler rapidly spreading his form of hate? Saddam was pretty well contained inside his borders–not that killing by either is ok by any means, but we have forgotten many many dictators who kill their own people–Saddam was not the first or last, and because these souls had/have no oil, the U.S. will decide not to go to war. See the movie Syriana (or read the book)–its all about money.

  9. Anonymous on December 14, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    Hitler was a true threat to other countries while Saddam spread his hate within his borders. Killing by either was not right, but mass killing goes on every month of every year and the U.S. seldom finds it necessary to go to war with these hell-characters. Only with oil and an oil barron as president did the U.S. decide it important to declare war on a third world country and smash it back to the stone age. No oil = no war.

  10. Anonymous on December 14, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    So, as long as he stayed within his own borders, we shouldn’t have interfered. Got it. Oops, wait, what about when he did not stay inside his own borders?

    And so because others have been ignored, one oughtn’t to do right this time around? Oh yes, we’ve made hideous mistakes in the past, so let’s just keep on making them. Sorry–that doesn’t hold a drop.

  11. Melissa on December 14, 2005 at 11:11 pm

    The United States was not wrong to remove Saddam Hussein from power. We were wrong to have manipulated the government of Iraq to place in power a dictator who served our purposes, and we are foolish to think that our leaders’e2’80’99 motives in ousting that dictator were based upon anything but self-interest. We legitimized his power with our support, and gave him the weapons with which he murdered his own citizens; we are accessories to his crimes. Our leaders were never outraged by his oppressive, murderous proclivities until he stopped behaving like a good puppet. Even then, the outrage was to bolster the support of the public for war. Still, we view ourselves on the side of right. Still, we believe that we live in a free and democratic nation.
    We are supposed to have a representative government. In exchange for that representation, we allow the government to levy taxes for the defense and upkeep of our nation. When our elected leaders obtain our permission to go to war by lying to us about the threat to our sovereignty, they usurp power that is rightfully ours. In the case of our invasion of Iraq, they played upon our fears for our safety and appealed to our basest instincts. I don’e2’80’99t understand how anyone can believe that Saddam Hussein on trial justifies the despicable breech of the people’e2’80’99s trust that has led to the deaths of thousands of people both Iraqi and American.

  12. Anonymous on December 14, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    Well said Melissa. As to the anonymous who obviously agrees with bush, how do we explain to the 10,000s who died by ‘our hand’ that to die that way is better than to die by Saddam’s? there is no way a true, honest person can support bush’s war in Iraq. We–as the U.S. will never win and we are only making more enemies by being there. Saddam was never a threat to the U.S., and certainly not a terrorist. But we can certainly know that we are making future terrorist by the 1,000s!!

  13. Anonymous on December 16, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    I believe the original thread of this post, the suggestion that the power of Harold Pinter’e2’80’99s words deserves attention, was somehow lost. I would not, as one commenter did, call Harold Pinter a writer; he is an artist. Not all writers are artists, and not all artists are famous. In my opinion, artists are people who search for truth amidst the subjective reality we are taught to accept as life. They are the people strong enough to face that truth, talented enough to imbue its expression with the aforementioned power, and unflinching in the face of the madness that often accompanies the knowing. They reveal to us who we are, and in so doing restore to us our potential to evolve. We are a society in sore need of more artists and of people willing to confer upon them the respect and authority they deserve.

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