Ljubisha Georgievski, Macedonia
WE REASON THROUGH OUR FEELINGS AND WE FEEL CUNNING
When looking back, can you clearly see the importance of the Macedonian and Bulgarian book for you?
I like hunting much more than museum-going. Despite the widespread prejudice towards the unknown, which lurks in the future, I believe it actually lurks in the past and it’s much scarier there, because we think we control our past, while in fact it controls us. Superciliously at that. On the other hand, the future is the space to try our hope. And faith. Turning back to the past in order to restore our irretrievably lost hope is only a pathetic, and sometimes even ridiculous consolation: there, we have something to be slaves to! And slavery is sweet for people, except for those we call crazy and keep locked away to protect our own illusions from their paranoia, schizophrenia and mania. The third kind of people write books. In maiorem gloriam nationis! They love their people and expect their love in return! The cycle of love. Give to be given. You write, therefore you love your people. It is less significant how you write. We are like chickens. The ox works all day long, sleeps at night and dreams of the manger. The hen lays one egg and proudly clucks all day long as if it has recreated the world. It wants both millet and freedom! Books? They recycle waste. Give me a real, high-quality, stinking waste with big fat worms in it, like the ones who sucked out Ophelia’s eyes, and I will give you a stirring performance in exchange.
Which books have given you the most, and from which books have you been able to take more than you believed it possible?
Give and take with books? Yes. I don’t think I have ever given something. I have taken a lot. As a matter of fact, books today are a recycling of the already recycled recycle of waste.
What is the destiny of fine letters now and what could this destiny be in the near and the more distant future?
I am afraid we are still slaves to “functions” and “functionality” of literature. It is still the maidservant. Socialist-realism? Why not! Because. Whoever reads Sholokhov today?! That’s why. And l’art pour l’art still has a hollow sound to it. And lame, too. Many still write in order to become the “conscience of the nation”, tribunes for its pride, etc. I write because I feel like it. Or because of grief. If I have a toothache, I go to the dentist. If I have a soul-ache, I treat it with writing…I also perform.
The cultural crisis of today has its causes and its signs, but it also has a remedy that is basically universal. Perhaps the purely Macedonian specifics of this remedy remain out of focus?
Crisis? What’s that? Life itself is a crisis, and crisis is a sign we are not dead. Ever since humankind became aware of its own existence, it speaks of a crisis and still goes on…After communism, when the hens were fed generously to lay red eggs and cluck for class struggle and the proletariat, now we are experiencing a subsistence crisis. Many talented writers will again die of hunger and cold. Many untalented will shout in their name and swim in honey and butter.
Today, here (in Bulgaria) just as in Macedonia, even though less so there, you can hear cries to the sky. Our culture is collapsing and consequently our nation is disappearing! Of course! If I can’t, don’t know how, don’t care to write, of course, the culture and the nation will disappear. What is the point of having them without my genius?! Today Bulgaria has over 1500 registered writers!! Macedonia has them, too, in a comparatively large number. Don’t get upset with me, my fellow-writers! But are all really writers and are there so many geniuses in Europe? In Macedonia? The ministry of culture finances at the most 200 books annually. You can do the math yourselves and compare.
There are many secrets to a book and the author’s mastership tends to be among the most mysterious. Have you reached a conscious explanation for yourself of everything you have created – as creative art, besides a pure will, is also the product of the artist’s instincts, of the artist’s enigmatic and mysterious self that he deciphers only partially in his text to the reader?
Real creative work infers one definite “I didn’t mean to”. Everything else lies in suffering, but not because of other people’s or common reasons, but because of personal ones. Personal. I suffer, therefore I am. If a teardrop possesses a secret and enough salt, it will carve a path on the rock forever. Unfortunately, art resembles more and more, what Miroslav Krleza would call, an organ in a burned-down church!
What has been the major source of hope and belief for you through the years?
What is your vision of Macedonia at the end of 21st century? What does Time mean to you?
I can’t focus on Macedonia separately from the rest of the world, and when I picture the world, I can hardly see Macedonia. When I manage to see her, I want to cry on account of the burden of its past: blood and tears, tears and blood. I once saw my great-great-great-great-great grandfather. He was starving to death, but also freezing. His one leg was bitten off by wolves, the blood frozen. He looked at me in hope: he was looking into the future! I wept like a small child, despite the confused looks of the passers-by! Unless we, on the Balkans, urgently grow wiser, our number will shrink to the size of a mathematical dot. Time? It is a punishment for our original sin. Only the crazy are spared this punishment. That’s why they are happy. Time doesn’t use them to grind the flour of vanity.
What is the weight of values created over the last 100 years and what is the burden that these years have placed on us?
The twentieth century comprises 5000 massacres. People and reasoning massacred each other and still do. Each other! Mercilessly. But if we judge by our terribly frivolous behavior and insolent egocentricity, the twentieth century is no burden to us?! Unless we start walking on two legs, we’ll end up in nothingness.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the destiny of the Balkans and mankind? And why?
The Balkans face a crucial decision: Powder keg or melting-pot. Will this be our last chance to again make the wrong choice? This is the question of my next book, entitled “Balkans United”.
Is there a peculiarity of your character that you freely joke about in public? And does it happen frequently?
Vanity is like the beard: you shave it every day, only for it to grow back on the next.
What would you choose – if you had to choose today – between a bag of gold and an eternal book? And what would have your choice been thirty years ago?
It depends who I am at the moment.
The hypocrite immediately says, “the book”.
The cynic, “the gold!”
The strong, “both”. And in addition he would beat up whoever asks that.
The sage, “Neither. I am the one who gives.”
The dummy, “I would take the gold, to pay someone smart to write me a book, so I can become famous with it.”
The pragmatic, “I’ll take the gold and buy many books.”
The vain, “I will take the book and brag about how much it cost me.”
And so on and so on.
One thing is for sure, however. No one has seen the benefit of one book. Except the material benefit. Otherwise, a single book is the most efficient way of growing stupid.
Do you think that in these times when the path to the reader is difficult and uncertain, new names could emerge? Could the experience with your own public recognition be useful today? How did you gain recognition, was it easy?
Recognition is like a shadow: if you run and chase after it, it runs too and you can never catch it. If you are indifferent to it, it follows you! Like a loyal dog! But in order to have a shadow, first you must stand in the sun. Let the young write only if it is a matter of life or death! The rest is a lie.
Would you disclose your own anthology or collection of names of masters of the prose whom you hold in highest esteem – names from Macedonia and the world, including Balkan literature?
Every day I like different authors. I have nothing to do with loyalty. I don’t believe in loyalty to aesthetic values: they are subject to change, as are emotions themselves; constant emotions are the greatest insensitivity.
The same questions were answered by some of Bulgaria’s greatest writers, the so-called living classics, who participated in another book series “The White Series – an Autographed Book” in April 1999. You have been able to read their answers – what is your comment?
Not all are honest. But everyone has the right to deceive themselves.
Is there a refuge from the monologism and masochism of the Balkan people? What is it?
The wise learn.
Which authors – Macedonian, Balkan and world – would be essential for an imagined anthology of chauvinism?
There are many. The distance between the talented and the amateurs will give you a clue.
What cultural and literary complexes can you discern in Macedonians and their neighboring Balkan people? To what extent is that the result of the fact that the Balkan people missed the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Great Geographical Discoveries? How long will we continue to live as if we were alone in the wold, as if nobody else existed but us?
Self-reference is characteristic of the frustrated, and is itself deeply frustrating. The Balkan paradox is: everywhere and always defeat, destruction, failure and downfall are the parents of contemplation except on the Balkans. We reason with our feelings and we feel cunning.
How do you assess the role of Balkani, the private publishing house, for the Balkan literary and cultural cooperation, especially the role of the Balkan Library Series? Such a comprehensive series of all Balkan authors has not been published in Bulgaria since 1878. What hatred, prejudice and ideological taboos, what loss of time…
Highly. Unfortunately, these projects still require courage! The Balkans still produce “wild” people capable beyond the material!
What do you think the Balkan people cannot divide?
What bigger opportunities do you see in this initiative and what new partners and participants, besides your highly respected involvement?
I am inside, and from the inside I can’t see far.