English stuff

European literature should still be considered a family matter

Lecture given at University of Windhoek, Namibia, in 2005
I would like to say a few words about the reasons why “European literature should or should not still be considered as a family matter ”We do not necessarily have to answer this question by yes or no. At least not so quickly. And yet you probably guess that I got my opinion on what the answer is. But you probably do not guess that my opinion will rather be “yes” than "no". “Yes” european literature has been telling us the story of a continent , with its values, beliefs, delusions, for nearly a thousand years (if we do not go back to the Roman empire). Yes I do believe that the Europeans should keep on because it is leading us somewhere. And as a french writer, that somewhere is very definitely where I want to go .

First of all, some of you may think that in a world so keen to go global, being proud of remaining a local culture as the European culture is a shame, and a proof of dire conservatism.
I hope you wont mind if I try to prove the opposite .

Now I guess I have to explain what I mean by family matter. Some of you again will probably think that trying to define a family profile to which the European literatures should belong implies that our writers would feed an attitude of rejection towards the rest of the world. Some people consider that if you know and remember where you belong, if you feel comfortable with your culture, you tend to despise other cultures. I think one could stand the exact opposite ground.
An example, that is perhaps of interest here, is education.
Some people believe for instance that a child being raised in a family that shares strong values and rules, that has a deep feeling of his identity and who is proud of it, would feel a lesser curiosity, if not a definite hostility, towards other kids of other neighborhoods. But thecontrary is easy to observe. If a child lacks the basic attention and care, if he lacks a minimum number of references if he does not belong to any place, to any social group, to any stable family he often starts to become aggressive and restless because he tries to build up an originality, a personality, a self portrait without really knowing what he is like. This is important, this is the real question, this is what really matters. What are we like? How do we draw our own portrait ? The answer is that, to become someone of our own we must start by patterning our beliefs, our portrait by comparison after someone else’s.
I would like to stress this out : education has a synonym, which is definition and definition leads to culture. To educate is to give a child the ability to find a definition of himself or herself, a definition who makes him able to speak his own language. And that definition relies for the most part on the way a child interprets the story of his life. Itdepends on the way he compares the story of his life to his parents’ story. And to other related stories , as well, like for instance the saga of the legendary heroes of his nation. That is where and how literature will play its true part in one’s definition.Some european countries like Hungary or former Tchecoslovakia show us, more than others, the constant link that exists between poetry and patriotism. And it is easy to figure out that the emotional load contained in the stories and the figures we are raised with will determine the quality of the portrait we draw of ourselves through education and culture. We could easily compare the education of a child to the way the Global Positioning System is working. What a kid needs to find his definition is exactly what a traveller needs to find his way in the desert. I mean a set of satellites overhead which tell him where he is and where he goes. Satellites that have a permanent position, a clear, loud, meaningful signal coming from a reasonable distance. In the case of a kid, you may give these satellites any name you want : parents, grand parents, teachers. In the case of a people, of a culture, of a bunch of nations like the european nations , the satellites bare the names of the top writers and poets who, among others, but probably more than anyone, are writing the legend of the continent. Throughout the ages they have knitted a meaningful network of interpretations. They have built a family spirit around the same myths and tales and historical facts such as, for instance, and for what regards Europe , the Vikings invasion, the submission of nations by the Turkish, the fight between catholic and protestants, and of course, and overall, the perception of christianity.
Just think of the influence the roman period had on the Italian Renaissance, think of the way the Italian poets and philosophers have influenced french writers like Montaigne or La Bruyère. Think how much the romanticism in our french literature has been influenced by England and Germany . Think of how much Italy has inspired Molière’s early plays. Think of Goethe’s character, Young Werther, who has been a model and a great favourite everywhere in Europe. Think of Stendhal in Parma, Tourgueniev in France, Liszt in Central Europe, think of the influence of Oscar Wilde on the european literature, think of Thomas Mann in Venice. Think of Balzac who has been travelling through Poland and Russia where he has been welcomed as a real star in his time. Same for Alexandre Dumas, who has published an interesting voyage en Russie.
This enumeration illustrates that all the fellow artists and especially the writers in old Europe have shared for long the certitude of being a family . Actually much before the times where their countries signed treaties to regulate coal and iron trade.
One would probably object that the European family has been unable to preserve the peace on its continent in spite of its great number of remarkable writers. One would object as well that even when you know how to give your children or your people a definition of themselves through literature, you do not necessarily avoid tragedies and wars. That is right. But a tragedy and a war may still have a meaning. Look all the good literature that has been written out of tragedies and wars. Tragedy goes along quite well with family matters. This may sound cynical but it is not. We are talking of civilization here. Tragedy and war still belong to civilization.
But suddenly a terrible loss of civilization happened. It happened when the first mass killings occurred. Suddenly you did not share anything with your enemies. You had no meaning in common, no story, no dreams, not even humanity. You did not even share with them the sense of tragedy.
Why has our world reached that ultimate point several times in recent history ? Because of a lack of what i have come to call family links. Nation links. Literature links.For poets and novelists used to show us how to live together a little better. And if not better with a better sense of the meaning of all this. If we were not all meant to love our neighbours at least we would have for them human consideration, even as enemies.
I would like to focus on a period that I have studied for a while, and that period is the Italian Renaissance. it illustrates what I am talking about. As you probably know, the life in Milano, Roma and Florence at the time of Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello ,Michelangelo was a permanent tragedy. You would be hanged for sexual misbehaviour, wars were commonplace between cities, a lot of people died of plague and different other diseases. And yet something happened for much over a century, something that was a definite progress in the art of living together, of portraying life, of figuring out the meaning of it. Something that inspired Europe for five hundred years. What happened during the Italian Renaissance was a an attempt to rule out a complex social world by means of complexity . For once in history,instead of spreading their neurosis through exterior wars and conquest, cities and principalities would find a cure within their own world. And suddenly their world got connected to the essential which we may name Culture..
Around the fifteenth century the italian regions, the republic of Florence or small kingdoms such as Milan, Urbino, suddenly became shells of civilization . The conflicts, the struggles for power and wealth would often ease from the inside of the social shell . Thanks to a network of religious and civil laws. Thanks, as well, to a social contract that was improving its stability. The stability of it has been guaranteed sometimes for more than two or three decades in a row. Like in Florence, for instance.Twenty years of stability is very long for these troubled times. That stability was due to a general acceptance of the common rules and a strong desire to live together. And the fear of power of course. But there was something more. Something that is the incredible density of the popular stories, legends, tales which were circulating in the population.
Imagine a box . That box is the city of Florence. Inside the box, your freedom in limited, you cannot marry who you want, you cannot escape from religion, you cannot avoid poverty, you cannot say or publish anything you want. But at least you are part of a world which allows you to divide the space in the box. That ability brings a whole world of complexity, it brings sense and it is the essence of civilization. After a few generations, life in a community like Florence starts to become a work of art in itself. For instance if you cannot write and publish whatever you want, you start to formulate it a different way. Just to avoid annoying experiences, like, for instance, being thrown in jail or beheaded . You would invent humorous sayings, satiric tales with double meaning . That is the beginning of art in literature. After having sub-divided the inside of the social box during generations nearly every city of Italy was a world in itself. It is so true that you still can observe what I describe in Sienna or Parma . In Sienna for instance not only the city but its districts themselves have their own personality. Storytellers in Italy after a long while had so much events to observe and so many characters to portrait, that they have build a cathedral with words, myths and archetypes through the ages .

European literature has been feeding on it for centuries and have followed the same path until something happened.

What happened? Some kind of silent disaster.
Il would like to remind you a few steps that led us to it. Il would like to show you that the opening, the unfolding of the box has brought unexpected problems . When you open a carton box without care, sometimes you unfold it completely. You just flatten it. What you are left with is a flat piece of carton. No more box. No more space to divide, no meaning to capture, because everything that was in the box, or that could have been in the box is gone. No more reference satellite to tell you where you are. The cultural GPS is useless.How did it happen ?

Let me try to tell you.
During the Italian Renaissance Columbus discovered america and Marco Polo had reached China long before. After that, our brilliant civilization is supposed to have flooded the world with its outstanding merits. In fact, we have very often exported our incapacity to live together. In most cases we have sent overseas our unsolved problems, our untold problems.
Take the case of England. A country that has gotten lots of settlements throughout the world. Very active colonization indeed. We may explain this by economical reasons. We may recall the Viking past of England, which is made of conquest and all sorts of very straightforward appetites. But we also may remember that, in England,only the elder sons would inherit land and fortune, and the other siblings did not. Then they had to find some status of their own. Colonization appeared to be a solution to them. Amongst the first pilgrims to America, how many have practiced the values they brought with them, the ones they have been raised with ? Most of them betrayed those values after one or two generations. Most of them have replaced complexity with the basic simplicity of greed and violence. The social box had been too widely opened. They got it flattened. No more rules, no more memories, no more culture. Or at least much,much less.
Some writers remained faithful to the complexity of old Europe, I am referring to literary figures like Edith Wharton or Henry James , who could be considered as european writers. But let's face it, others have lowered the standards . We may mention Hemingway as a good example.
The miracle of the Italian Renaissance in which people have been endlessly trying to divide a limited social box in smaller cubes of meaning, the necessity to live together that would fill theaters, that would get people to read, paint, look for a better technique in art, to learn the virtues of satire, of diplomacy, of patience, all that has been progressively compromised, biased and sometimes lost when the people of Europe have massively escaped their problems through conquest and travel.
Jean Jacques Rousseau is the example of a man who has been unable to find a status in society and who has invited his readers to flee, to seek the secret of wisdom by sticking to the simplicity of mother nature. He has been unable to raise his own kids (that he left more or less in some kind of orphanage). But he gave advice around on proper education . And his opinion in most cases was that none of the old rules should longer apply. Which means none of the rules he has been unable to apply himself.
Voltaire like so many of the philosophers of his time has been also introducing relativity in all human matters. He has compared religions and civilizations . In many of his works, he has asked the same question: what is so great with christianity, what is so unique in Europe. He has paved the way for a new perception of the European culture, less centered on the continent. A perception that is legitimate. that would have been after all , if it had remained balanced enough.
Balanced between what and what ?
That is the question .

And the answer is a question again: was there a third way between a cultural box that is tightly closed, and a box that has gotten flat for having been opened without care?
I just tried to show the different layers of european literature piling, gathering in the same continental box, The legends knitted together. The continental minds obeying to the same logic, a logic of vicinity. Then came the industrial revolution which has opened an entirely new perspective. A perspective in which in the aspirations of other areas of the world would, suddenly, be envisioned. Nowadays anyone has the possibility to refer culturally to anything in the world, regardless of the human family he has been raised in. It certainly brought a new vision . But I am afraid a blurred vision. And I am not the only one to be afraid of it. A great number of european writes have been during the nineteenth century.
Look how much romanticism in literature has exploited the middle ages, the making of the cathedrals , the succession of tragedies in the history of Europe. Walter Scott, Victor Hugo, many other writers during the second half of the nineteenth century have revisited the legend of the european family . They probably felt already that the family was at risk because of the industrial revolution, because of the rising of a middle class, of new times that were coming. The same remark applies to Marcel Proust, who desperately tried to gather the spirit of old Europe before it is wiped out by the first world war. He described his own fascination for the old aristocracy. He linked the parisian nobilities to their ancestors. He traced back the slightest physical feature they might have in common. Doing that, he would try to preserve the memories of a lost world. And the world he was referring to, we know it today, is the one which that was about to disappear completely during the war.
Let me also remind you one of Proust favorite themes : the desperate effort to adopt the customs and values of old aristocratic Europe when you are not born in it. Proust had understood, like Alexis de Tocqueville long before him, that sooner or later, you would not gain your membership in a cultured society by really getting merits and talents, but by showing them off. Sooner or later the new precept was going to be: If you have no culture, just buy one. And if some refinements still are unreachable to you, blame the rules that you are unable to comply with, lower the standards, and you’ll be at it. Now talking of literature, there is little wonder that America has started to take over between the two wars. It has been then, for the United States, a matter of self esteem. Since a great proportion of new americans were former europeans, they had a revenge to take against their world of origin. Since the general feeling among them was that Europe had been unable to embrace modernity with its so called family spirit, America has started a new fashion in modernity : america’s family spirit has consisted in redefining everything from a planetary point of view. Not because it is necessarily the best you can adopt. Primarily, because it is the one they could afford
European literature then, right after the second war, has been considered by America as a series of “memories ot a lost world”. Little wonder again that the great post-Second war specialist of Marcel Proust was an American named Painter. He was more or less into cultural forensics .
If you listen to a young american reader, I mean an average reader, not a specialist who has been studying literature for years, he’ll come up with a few prejudices on european literature. And those prejudices are meaningful.
But first you’ll ask me : why, to make your point, do you listen to young americans , what dont you listen to a young reader from anywhere else ?
Because statistically you must admit that Americans have set the standards. Their perception of european literature and culture has become the main trend, if not the only one . You need an example ? Impressionism . If impressionism as a school of painting had not been promoted by the american taste, the american collectors, at the turn of the other century, it would probably be much less popular in the world of today.
But let us get back to their vision of European literature. Their average, common statement in the mid eighties, when I still was a young writer, when I discussed this with young american readers, was that the events, the feelings, the characters that we, european authors, describe in our novels are too small, too complex, and not entertaining enough. In addition they are too still. They dont move fast enough.
This, I think, needs a bit of explanation. They come up with the idea that the European world is too small and hence unable to draw attention on its narrow plots, on dramas that take place in some obscure village for instance.
The link between the size, the extent, the physical importance of what is described and the interest it deserves has been, throughout the years, considered as doubtless -sort of. At least by those who publish and those who sell. It means that a novel in which the reader travels from continent to continent is a better candidate to public recognition than the story of a child who is left on his own in a sicilian village. It means, also that, to reach good selling rates, you should better be exotic and epic in your inspiration. For instance you would imitate the Dane Karen Blixen, describe a world of wilderness and beauty in Africa rather than your narrow suburb of Copenhagen. In that case if you do comply with that rule you will be more welcomed, favored , translated, than if you write on a bicyle repair man who lives next door.
The second criticism that is made to european literature is its complexity. It means that a novel by Joanna Trollope, Michel Tournier, Gunther Grass or even myself after all , is supposed to be difficult to read . For it requests a level of attention, of imagination, that is too high for an average mind who gets back from the office at 5, and wants to be entertained .
I should say entertained and/or briefed on some subject. That is the third criticism most often applied to European literature: it is smart but not entertaining. If you try to object that entertainment is not the one and only thing you may wish to find under the cover of a book, one would answer ok, I got your point, I like entertainment but with a plus, entertainment that teaches you something. I like for instance historical crime novels, I have read the Da Vinci code, and wow! what a superbly documented thriller.
Lets examine each of these criticism in a row to try to find where the truth may be. And chances are we wont find the truth on Dan Brown's side.
The reproach on the narrowness of the world you find in the European literature it particularly injust. It means that to touch the heart of the largest crowds you must write something epic like War and peace for the least, something that is beyond the horizon of most of your readers, and something that is not within the reach of most novelists. Because, when you are born in a village in Azerbaidjan, even if you are the most clever novelist, even if you describe delicate feelings, in a story that involve twelve members of your obscure community, you’ll never make it. Today people are supposed to like everything that is big. Big budget, big show, big action. And, I should say, big market. We are going to see that money is what it is all about.
Second reproach, you are too complex, your european literature is not at the proper level to reach the average reader. Once again, replace the word reader by the word customer and you will get closer to the meaning of all this. The reason why the “European type “ of literature is said to be difficult may be formulated another way. It is, basically, more difficult to sell. To be easier to sell it should comply with the demand. And the demand is less and less oriented towards what seems to lie beyond its natural reach. If you compare the average reader in 1880 to the average reader a century later, the main difference is that the first one, often an autodicact, would tend to grasp what was a little too high for his level of comprehension, whereas the second would often browse through books that are to him a source of pleasure, that request no particular effort, and that are slightly under his skills.
Books that are not demanding, pleasure without effort that sounds exactly like entertainment.
And that is the third reproach made to european literature. Most of it, at least in the seventies, has been considered as insufficiently thrilling, it did not move fast enough , it was not entertaining enough.
But who has said that art should be entertaining ? Who has started up that sacred rule ? Those who apply marketing to literature. The marketing era in literature has started in the mid-seventies, strangely enough, exactly at the moment when America started to industrially export its literary hits . the new fashion became the page turner, the novel that mobilizes your attention, that floods your processor without leaving anything in your memory. Art is the contrary. The memory is mobilized and there is always extra computing power left on your processor to imagine, create, be original.
But after all, what is so wrong with entertainment ? Nothing. In Russia, Hungary, France , England, there has always been popular novelists who were trying to catch the masses attention. Novelists whose purpose was not to get people to think, but to forget what requests too much thinking. And it is right. It is legitimate. But, in another kingdom, in a parallel kingdom of literature, you would also find authors who tried to keep the people awake and preserve the intimacy they might have with themselves.
In Europe, these authors were the officiality of literature not very long ago. They were considered by the mass of the readers as the leading authors in most european countries, even though very few people were really reading their works. At least they had one reward, they would get recognition for their sense of duty. They were still showing us the way. Now, thanks to the triumph of international trade, and with the help of satellite channels, the most common inspiration, the easiest literature, the one that doesn't give a damn for wisdom is about to become the standard in practically every country on earth. And the other literature, if it still exists, becomes unable to attract the minimum attention . And its authors are less and less able to make a mere living out of it.
I want to stress that the situation I am describing has never been seen before in Europe and namely in France. The balance between entertaining books, top selling novels trendy non-fiction, and the other kind of literature, the one that reminds us who we are and where we are coming from, that balance is completely lost.
There are many reasons indeed. The first one is that among the youngest generation of authors, the dominant taste, the global taste , I mean the taste for anything global - we should say the american taste-, is taking over. Who would have the guts to practice a kind of literature which is not promised to success? If the top ten selling books of the year are filled with allusions to a certain lifestyle, I mean the Bridget Jones lifestyle for instance, which publishing company would not be tempted to orient its catalog to such a foreseeable success ?
Most of the time, a french publisher for instance does not even have to advise his authors to practice trendy writing. They do it naturally. But if he wants to force them to do so, he just stops paying the money they need to live. And they change their minds for a good check ,especially if they have kids to raise.
Why is the publishing company I am referring to so sure that if you get off-trend you will not be sold ? Because they have studied the market over and over again. The booksellers are the real masters of the game. The booksellers do not place bets anymore. They do not take chances. They want a foreseeable income, and they get it. It explains half of the success of Harry Potter. We might discuss the other half after my conclusion if you wish. But everything is getting so trendy, so scientific in the publishing business today, that if an author goes off-trend ( providing he can financially afford it once again) he will never be sold.
Unless the press draws the attention on him. But who, in the press , will be crazy enough to designate a candidate to fame that is, for instance, politically incorrect ? Same with art. Some writers now are considered as artistically incorrect. In fact, in most cases, what we have come to call the European Literature has to be artistically incorrect to remain literature.

I was about to forget to tell you one little thing that I experienced : I have been proposed, many times, by my own publishing company, to translate novels, and non- fiction from the english language, and I must say I have done it. Why did I do it ? Is that because I needed money? Not even that, I had just enough of it to keep writing my own novels. Except that my credit balance at my publisher's was in the dark red zone. So that from time to time they would give me a novel to translate, written by a guy who was fortunate enough to be born in California.
What is so wrong with that ? Nothing. Many european writers have been translating english or polish novels in their language to have a side income. The problem is what. What do they translate ? Mostly english or american novels. And more and more often, novels that illustrate an array of values that is totally different from the ones they believe in.
I know. Different does not mean inferior, no. Not necessarily. But very often i must say. Lets us stress the terrible loss of civilization that I mentioned a while ago, because it affects literature and fiction more than ever. The success of the crime novel in the western world says it all. The crime novel started in Europe as a pure entertainment and has become, thanks to international trade again, and thanks to America, the core, the alpha and omega of world literature. It devores all the other genres. And most of the time it exerts, culturally, philosophically, a negative influence on the way our world is going. Look how human values have shifted to the worst between Simenon and Brett Easton Ellis - the guy who wrote American Psycho. A novel in which a young trader methodically tortures and kills young ladies that he meets in Manhattan. IIn Simenon the victim is very often the only character of interest. And his hero, the detective Maigret, feels empathy for him or her. Now in the modern american crime novels the victim is just there to puzzle the reader . The interesting character is not even the detective. Its the murderer. Remember that before it became a series of successful movies, the silence of the lambs has been a novel by Thomas Harris. And just compare the inspiration of it to any of the books published in Europe a century before, you'll find out where evolution leads. Il wish Henry James could be back to read Brett Easton Ellis. He would tell us about the sense of evolution. It would tell us that when a nation awards 10 times, with 10 oscars the silence of the lambs in which the main character traps his victims to eat them, something is getting wrong in the civilization.
Forgive me, if to make my point easier to understand i draw here a caricature and I personalize this lecture a little. But as a french writer I have been sometimes finding myself in a very paradoxal position that will help you to get the general picture.
For instance one year I was writing a novel that took place in Saint Petersburg Russia. The story of an orphan, a violinist. But my publisher wanted me to translate some other novel before I start. Which I did. The problem is, while the world I was describing was full of hope and goodwill, in the book I was translating, everything was absolutely disgusting. It took place in Atlantic City, I remember, murders, tortures, greed, some guy would have an arm cut apart in a lavatory, with a hunting knife, by a gang, as a punishment for some unpaid gambling debt. It was really a very ugly piece of literature. Moreover, I remember that the girl who gave me this to translate was the daughter of a french academician. She was wearing a fancy expansive dress and Dior ear rings. Why had she bought that horrible book to sell it throughout Europe ? Because there were big bucks to make regardless of the compatibility of all this with our social world. I should add that, when the book came out, under its french cover, it showed up on the shelves right in the middle in the booksellers windows. My own novel did not.
The compatibility between different levels of culture I just mentioned is the problem . The literature that has no cultural box to fill , no space to subdivide, no tradition to refine, is spreading a vision of man which is far from innocent and far from harmless. For a society like the Australian one for instance, describing a world of permanent violence and ignorance has much less consequences than in our European Society . In Europe a century and a half ago, we still thought that the trend of progress would continue to divide the space in the box until everyone would get a clear conscience of the meaning of his life. Instead of what, the box has unfolded completely and now it is flat. The box is flat when Harry Potter is sold not hundred thousands , through continental Europe, but millions worldwide, including markets like argentina and Brazil which, lets admit it, are very far from Poudlard college. The box is flat when a californian writer collects a dozen of theories published after the war in France about the holy virgin and the descendants of Jesus, adds his own stuff and sells his fantasies to the people of China by millions. Yes i am referring to the Da Vinci Code. The people of China has been deprived, there, of some serious knowledge about the past of christianity. And the Europeans have the feeling that someone has been messing around with their history. But who cares if it makes big money*?
We care. We, european writers, care. Most of us do. Most of us do not resent the Da Vinci Code because it is successful, we resent the fact that international food replaces gourmet food, industrial Chardonnay decent wine. Someone who lives in Provence, south of France, will soon prefer to read a translation of Peter Mayle, rather than an author born provençal. Same for Tuscany in Italy.
But what the European writers resent the most is of course the negation of the influence of literature on the way the society goes. I have tried to describe Europe as a world of civilization, a world where people after nine centuries would prefer to write a satire rather than shooting their neighbours.
Bad news: the shooting mythology is definitely back. Our balanced European world, our family is terribly at risk because the precepts and the references that were founding our mutual patience are ignored and severely mocked.
The cultural Global Positioning System does not work any longer. The number of satellites is too large. Their signal is too weak. Some young Europeans are still able, even in a global world, to find a definition of themselves . And a good sense of morals. On the planet of knowledge, some readers are still able to find out where they are. But it is a minority. A majority has access to knowledge, but only a minority knows how to deal with it. In a world that is dominated by the blog philosophy, everyone tends to influence everyone, but who really does? Everyone wants to get a culture, but who understands what it means: culture consists in piling up things and notions, through time and experience. It is not like a couple of pills to swallow. It is not a bunch of collectible items to gather. The purpose of a continental literature is to build a monument from which the visitors may overlook the meaning of their lives and the past of their people. If you replace the monument with millions of mobile homes lined up on flatlands, the skyline is much less attractive . The meaning less obvious. If you tell the people that no one is more qualified than they are to tell their individual stories, I am not sure that civilization and literature will progress. In fact I am sure of the contrary. But here we are, poor european writers : the references to our next door family are out of fashion. The stories coming from our direct neighborhood sound corny to the New York Times . Because the New York Times instinctively acknowledges the emerging of a new market, of a new world, a world where everyone from Beijing to Windhoek, would want to raise his kids the Californian way.

Needless to say that if the top rated inspiration in world literature is thomas Harris' “Silence of the Lambs”, most european writers will have so little in common with it that they will try to wake up the family spirit. That is exactly my purpose. I have been doing that for years now. And I see encouraging foresigns of a change to come.

That is why I am not pessimistic. On the contrary. I think that Europe is about to recover from a long period of frantic entertainment in literature, thanks to the biggest revolution that is still to come : the replacement of fiction by illusion. The part of the fiction that belongs to enternainment and that has been invading literature, will soon shift to pure illusion through cinema and videogames. It will then confess its true nature which is to allow people to escape from reality, to get out of themselves, like in the drugs experience. It is the exact opposite of what literature traditionaly represents, that is a world of reconstruction.The eternal purpose of literature consists in changing one's vision on reality rather than helping one to escape from it.

The great incertitude is about what and who will win on the long run? Entertainment? illusion? Through what they call now immersion and even total immersion? (In which you loose control) Or the final winner will be art, which is that kind of altered state of intelligence where conscience keeps control and builds an experience ?

I bet on art and experience. And I am confident that Europe some day will do the same - thanks to its family spirit.