29 Jun 2018 - Bourlaschouwburg Timeau De Keyser


I could produce many other arguments against Communism on intellectual grounds. But wouldn’t it be more appropriate from the point of view of my own politics if I didn’t even write or think about this?

The artist who allows himself to be led astray into the terrain of these cerebral speculations is lost. Lately, we artists have allowed ourselves to be led around too sheepishly by philosophers and other scientists. We have proved incapable of being sufficiently different. An excessive respect for scientific truth has obscured our own truth. In our eagerness to understand reality, we forget that we are not here to understand reality, but only to express it. We – art – are the reality. Art is a fact and not commentary attached to fact. It is not our job to explain, elucidate, systemize, prove. We are the word that claims: this hurts me, this intrigues me, I like this, I hate that, I desire this, I don’t want that… Science will always remain an abstraction, but our voice is the voice of a man made of flesh and blood, this is the individual voice. Not an idea, but a personality is important to us. We do not become real in the realm of concepts, but in the realm of people. We are and must remain persons, our role depends on the living, human word not stopping sounding in a world that is becoming more and more abstract. I think, therefore, that literature has submitted itself far too much to professors in this century and that we artists will have to cause a scandal in order to destroy these relations. We will be forced to act arrogantly and brashly toward science to make our desire for an unhealthy flirtation with the formulas of scientific intelligence go away. We must oppose our own individual intelligence, our personal life, and our feelings as emphatically as possible to the truths of the laboratory.

Maybe it would be better, therefore, if I did not try to understand Marxism and allowed the phenomenon to permeate me only as much as it is in the air that I breathe.

Yet such an intellectual escape would mean that I am not capable of resisting it as a concrete person. I must, therefore, enter into that alien kingdom as a conqueror who proclaims his own right. Here I must say: I am not too interested in arguments and counterarguments, that two-step in which wise men lose themselves as easily as any old lay person. Having the straightforward emotions of a man, I look at your faces when you speak and I see how theory makes you grimace. I am not called to confirm the justice of your reasoning. I am concerned that your being right does not make you repulsive, hateful and impossible to swallow. My job is not to control ideas, but merely to confirm how an idea affects a person. An artist is he who says: This man speaks wisely, but he himself is a fool. Or: The purest morality issues from the lips of that man, but, beware, for he himself cannot keep up with his morality and turns into a swine.

This is valuable, I believe, insofar as an idea abstracted from man does not fully exist. There are no ideas like embodied ideas. There is no word that is not also flesh.


(Witold Gombrowicz, 1954)


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