11 July 2013 Ambiguity causes anxiety

‘I believe that there is no supersense, superior sense, absolutistic sense. I think that the only source of senses is the human being. Each of us has to create the sense of life for themselves. It may be the family, career or religion. In my case, it is literature. If it turned out that after my death there are people willing to read what I wrote, that would be great. But I don’t have such ambitions. I think about living now, not lasting after death,’ says Ignacy Karpowicz, the winner of Polityka’s Passport, to Agnieszka Sowińska in an interview for dwutygodnik.com. This year in June Wydawnictwo Literackie published Karpowicz’s latest novel Ości [Fishbones] on the complicated nature of interpersonal relations, which are full of games and judgements. Sometimes half-seriously, sometimes quite seriously.

‘In whose throat are these fishbones supposed to get stuck?’
‘The range of influence of literature such as ości is equal to zero. A text which asks rather than gives answers can’t be expected to generate high volumes. If you read opinions of non-professional readers of very different books, you would see that ambiguity causes anxiety. Since they’ve paid 40 zlotys, they want to know who did it, whether the vampire loves Bee and how this love goes on. So ości will be read mainly by those who perceive the world in more or less the same way as I do. It’s like talking to the convinced; this is also valuable, but doesn’t change the world,’ confesses Karpowicz.

‘In your books one sentence sometimes says more than thick volumes do. Are you so witty, or is it a result of hard work?' ‘Maybe I’ll put it like this: ‘I’m definitely a man of a horizontal, not vertical state. This means that every day I usually spend many hours in a state of strange half-sleep which is not quite conscious; it is a borderline condition between reality and sleep, although with a stronger swing towards horizontal reality. And this is the time when my sentences, their different versions and annotations to them are born. It often happens that I half-dream one sentence for many days, because this horizontal state continues, and when a new day comes, I begin where I ended the previous day. And then you have to get up and write it down. Or you have to correct something. So I don’t know how to answer your question – when I’m lying on sentences for weeks, is it hard work?’ describes the writer.

As you may remember, Ignacy Karpowicz – a writer and translator from English, Spanish and Amharic, a two-time finalist of the NIKE Award (Gesty [Gestures] in 2009 and Balladyny i romanse [Balladynas and Romances] in 2011), was a guest of the 3rd Conrad Festival.

Read the entire interview with Ignacy Karpowicz.