Thursday, December 14, 2006

Orhan Pamuk's Nobel acceptance speech

Prior to this, about six years ago, I had tried to read a re-print of Erwin Schrodinger's Nobel Acceptance speech published in a magazine called Resonance, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences. It contained all his head-spinning equations with lengthy explanations. It really psyched me out and I used to wonder ‘How on earth can anyone tolerate Nobel speeches?’

As I write this, I have just finished reading Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Acceptance Speech and to keep it simple and honest, I am speechless. How beautifully has he weaved through descriptions of his personal and professional personalities; his present and past; his fears and joys and most importantly, himself and his dad!!!

The beauty of this speech is that it is a thanksgiving speech, a memorial speech, a ‘wish you were here’ kind of speech and a journey down memory lane kind of speech all rolled into one. And believe me; it takes enormous talent to do that!!

Orhan tries to trace the defining point of his life which set him on the course of writing and zeroes in on the handing over of a suitcase containing his dad’s notebooks as that defining moment. And yeah, Orhan’s dad redefines the dreamy-introspective-chillax attitude!!!! You rock, Orhan Senior!!!

I loved some of these lines, and its an honour to have it on my blog; so here goes

Selection I: I love this because it describes something I used to do as a kid after my father returned from any trip:

“I was already familiar with this small, black, leather suitcase, and its lock, and its rounded corners. My father would take it with him on short trips and sometimes use it to carry documents to work. I remembered that when I was a child, and my father came home from a trip, I would open this little suitcase and rummage through his things, savouring the scene of cologne and foreign countries. This suitcase was a familiar friend, a powerful reminder of my childhood, my past,”

Selection II: I love this for the way he defines writing:

“A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.”

Selection III: I love this because it breaks away from certain paradigms of ‘possession of literary skills’

“The writer's secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience.”

Selection IV: I love this for the DEADLY FUNDA factor:

“My confidence comes from the belief that all human beings resemble each other, that others carry wounds like mine – that they will therefore understand.”

Selection V: Why does Orhan Pamuk write? This is his reply,

“…….why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can't do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life's beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can't quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.”

Way to go man, and of course, congratulations on your Nobel!!!!!

1 comment:

Ashwini said...

was a good reading. good work in bringing this to everyone's notice.