23 October 2015 “There was non-existence and there was memory of it”. The fourth day of the Conrad Festival
The festival has been going on for a few days, but there is no sign of fatigue in our guests or the participants. On the contrary!
Thursday turned out to be a very energetic day, especially in light of two fantastic meetings: first with Kamel Daoud, and later with Hanna Krall, Mariusz Szczygieł and Wojciech Tochman. The great interest of the participants – who once again filled the Pałac Pod Baranami – speaks to the great value of the discussions.
It was certainly worth it. Part of the pretext for the meeting was the book KRALL, recently written by the two reporters, but the festival evening was mainly an opportunity to once again experience the phenomenon of the author of To Outwit God. Hanna Krall herself wowed the participants with her sensitivity to the human histories she has heard in her life. Some of them were difficult, others a bit lighter, and the good mood continued throughout (also thanks to the personalities of Wojciech Tochman and Mariusz Szczygieł), accompanied by loud applause. All of the histories allowed us to better understand the meaning of being open to the stories hiding in other people and what the role of the reporter is, who preserves human memory despite the frequently occurring experience of lack and non-existence.
The conversation with Kamel Daoud, called “Looking from Algeria – responsibility and anger”, was focused mainly on the experiences of the author of The Meursault Investigation in his home country. His writing was shaped not only by the difficult political fate of Algeria, but above all his enormous sensitivity and imagination (visible during the meeting), as well as his deep roots in Western Culture. To the writer standing on the border between the Arab world, Europe and the United States, his multilingualism is a key to the literary way of building interpersonal understanding.
Earlier in the day, the “Traces of Judaism” conversation with Agata Bielik-Robson, Adam Lipszyc and Przemysław Tacik took place. The invited guests – philosophers who specialise in writers, thinkers and scholars of the Jewish tradition, talked about its particular place in Western culture – the specific way of “hiding” and companionship, far from the temptation of mastering other languages of thinking. Thus the category of “traces”, which expresses not only the impermanence and the “weakness” of Jewish topics, but also the enormity of the tradition of texts, from which only a fragment of the full picture can ever be extracted.