7 October 2009 The second Conrad Festival supplement in Tygodnik Powszechny

The second Conrad Festival supplement to Tygodnik Powszechny, CONRAD 02, specially prepared for the 1st Joseph Conrad International Literature Festival due to begin on 2nd November 2009 in Krakow is now available.
In this issue, prof. Michał Paweł Markowski, Anna Marchewka, Agnieszka Maciejowska and Grzegorz Jankowicz write about the approaching literary festival.

Prof. Michał Paweł Markowski, the Conrad Festival Artistic Director, on literature and friendship: “Life in its purest form reveals itself at two moments, from which language is banished: depression and mystical elation. Departure from life inevitably leads us in the direction of language, that is – existence. Literature hands us language thanks to which we can form alliances against nonsense. Literature in a broad sense, in fact, the broadest sense possible, is a linguistic expression of our existence, it is a story lending shape to life.”

Sometimes this shape can be very (politically) clear. Grzegorz Jankowicz on literature and politics: “The opposition between politics and literature outlined by Auden is based on axiological foundations. Literature mirroring democracy is bad because it is imperfect. Society organised after a literary fashion is also bad because it is subject to strict regulations. However, these two spheres are not completely detached. The distance between them is – so to speak – assigned, which means that both writers and politicians should widen it in order to protect democracy from tyranny on the one hand and to defend literature from nondescriptness and political fortuitousness on the other.”

One of the Festival’s discussions will focus on speculative fiction. Anna Marchewka writes about science fiction and fantasy: “The excursions to alternative worlds are not escapes, however. On the contrary – it is exactly in this way that Kościów brings down to earth not only his characters (who, e.g. in Świat nura experience a shamanic flight or perish in a virtual computer-generated world in Przeproś [Apologise]) but also his readers. Kościów’s masterly assembled stories admonish those lost in thought, pointing at matter.”

One of the Festival’s guests will be Etgar Keret. His portrait is drawn by Agnieszka Maciejowska: “Keret clearly thinks in images; he says himself that the point of departure for each of his stories is an image. But this image is in motion like a film and is short like a music video. It would not be difficult to distil such a tiny scene from almost all of his stories – an image around which the author’s imagination starts to revolve in wider and wider circles. Here a boy is standing in front of his teacher in a park path, a passenger catches a stewardess’ fancy, two students are drinking beer in a pub, computer keyboard types the same letter twice… Banal everydayness… and then, suddenly, it makes us touch something that goes beyond, something we by no means see everyday, something we don’t feel and don’t think about. But now we begin to.”