On art, truth and brutality
Playwright Harold Pinter may be ill, old and frail of body, but the Nobel acceptance speech he delivered by video link Wednesday was an unflinching, ferocious and eloquent attack on U.S. foreign policy. The 75-year-old author, who was too ill to travel to Stockholm to accept the prize, gave his lecture from a wheelchair, in a voice that was hoarse but composed.
He began the speech with a discussion about his own creative process, pondering the mystery of how characters are born and saying that, while truth may be elusive, we must be faithful in its pursuit.
"Language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time. But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot."After a meditation on political language, the dramatist and poet launched into a powerfully detailed elucidation of U.S. war crimes, which he called "systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless...." Neither did his home country go unsinged by his oratory fire. In its slavish devotion to the U.S., Pinter said, Britain is "a bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead."
"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. ...We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'."