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Sweet Reader’s Prejudices/ Sladki bralski predsodki

Quite recently, a young poet sent me one of his poems, a poem which drew a lot of attention in his home country and was likewise noticed in Ljubljana’s artistic corridors. He wished to share it with me because, well – I’m not really sure why. Probably because people like to share their creations, expecting praise, agreement and approval, through which we consolidate the conviction that we are already good enough and that the gates to artistic paradise stand wide open. I’m cynical, of course, but at the same time, I know that such a position far too often corresponds to the truth. As we send each other our creations, as we exchange them amongst ourselves, we don’t expect criticism, we don’t fish for the truth, we don’t want much to change but for everyone to tell us how great we already are and how all we must do is continue. At the end, it is our personalities as well as our art that suffer. But that’s a different story altogether.

In the matter at hand, namely, it is important to know that I was compelled to attach a few negative notes to the acclaimed poem and its celebrated poet. I don’t know what his response to my evaluation was, since he hasn’t contacted me since, although I do hope, in any case, that my different voice didn’t depress him. I didn’t act out of arrogance – that wouldn’t have been very humanistic, it would have been rude – but acted, above all, out of sheer honesty. While I deal in literary criticism and therefore encounter all kinds of texts, grapple with all kinds of genres, styles, motifs and directions, I can’t pretend that some approaches and literary outlooks leave me without inconvenience or even repel me, reasons for which I can’t accept them. Certain literary substantive-formal solutions seem to me entirely deluded – not only authorially but also historically – and while I can aim my critical apparatus at the context or paradigm within which such solutions materialise, this doesn’t mean that I could grow fond of the material in question, not as a critic and certainly not as a private person. As a critic I can try, for the public good, to adopt theatres that are foreign to my own, that is, I alienate my own theatre in order to circumvent my own taste, to look at the object through less bloodshot eyes, and, lastly, to see something new. Each time I dive into this difficult task, I do so because I know that I’m not all-knowing and because, more than that, I know that I am driven by lesser passions and patterns that I can’t deceive, but which could very well deceive me. As a critic, it is beneficial to maintain an open head and heart. But personally, the problem presents itself in a completely different form: actually, it doesn’t present itself at all, as I allow myself far more stubbornness and favouritism, as my reader’s delight can be jolted exclusively by a good experience and never by gymnastics of the intellect and perspective.

The young and important poet, thus, sent me a poem that stems from a tradition that to me is a literary drawback, some sort of poetic hangover, a consequence of poetic overexertion. This is the poetry that is tied to Mallarméan modernism, where meaning is sound and sounds are meaning and in which the poet’s freedom, that is, linguistic freedom, repeatedly demonstrates itself through reminders of the irreconcilable and emphasis on the insignificant. At school they taught us that such poetry is important and pivotal, while I felt awful, as I far too rarely enjoyed such exercises and never truly understood why such poetry, forged under the principle of much-ado-about-nothing (substantial), should ever enrich my experience of living. All of it seems superfluous, to be honest. As reality is extremely difficult to attune to room volume, it seems entirely beside the point to amplify nothingness while hiding it underneath a guise of athletic expression. If anything, I wish that literature would strive for differentiation and that it would work on its freedom outside the comfort zone of intra-linguistic referentiality. Supposedly, there exists some world out there and, even if language is arbitrary, we can ordain it with enough respect so as not to pretend that in this world, there is nothing that matters or nothing that has any real effect.

You see, as a private person, I truly am stubborn. I expect literature to communicate more than just a desire to no longer deal with the world and lock itself up among its elegantly constructed matrices. Let literature say something, reflect something, know something, even if it does so hegelianistically, always too late, let it be Minerva’s owl, always on the prowl for all that which is important while most can’t be bothered or haven’t the time to go all the way. Yes, please, let literature remain beautiful, but not on account of it being self-sufficient. Because it isn’t – and how could it be, when not even cats are self-sufficient.

***

Pred kratkim mi je mladi pesnik, poslal svojo pesem, ki je v njegovi domovini požela veliko pozornosti, opazili pa so jo tudi v ljubljanskih pesniških kuloarjih. Z mano jo je želel deliti, ker – ne vem točno, zakaj. Verjetno zato, ker ljudje svoje izdelke pač delimo, pričakujoč pohvale in strinjanje in odobravanje, s čimer utrdimo prepričanje, da smo že dovolj dobri, in da so vrata v umetniški raj takorekoč na stežaj odprta. Cinična sem, seveda, toda hkrati vem, da takšno stališče utegne vse prevečkrat ustrezati resnici. Ko si takole pošiljamo izdelke, ko jih med seboj izmenjujemo, ne pričakujemo kritike, ne ribarimo za resnico, temveč bi prejkone radi, da se nič kaj dosti ne spremeni, da nam vsi povedo, kako smo že fajn in kako naj samo nadaljujemo. Nazadnje seveda trpita tako naša osebnost kot naša umetnost. Ampak to je že druga zgodba.
V pričujoči zadevi je namreč pomembno, da sem bila primorana hvaljeni pesmi in čislanemu pesniku natakniti nekaj negativnih referenc. Ne vem, kako se je na mojo oceno odzval, ker se odtlej ni več javil, vsekakor pa se nadejam, da ga drugačen glas ni povsem potrl. Nisem ravnala iz objestnosti – to bi bilo nehumanistično, torej nesramno – temveč predvsem zelo iskreno. Čeprav se ukvarjam z literarno kritiko in se zato srečujem z najrazličnejšimi besedili, se spopadam z najrazličnejšimi žanri, slogi, motiviko in naperjenostmi, se vseeno ne morem pretvarjati, da mi nekateri postopki ali literarne lege ne povzročajo preglavic ali se mi celo upirajo, zaradi česar nanje ne morem pristati. Nekatere literarne vsebinsko-formalne rešitve se mi zdijo povsem zablodele – ne samo avtorsko, ampak tudi historično – in čeprav lahko svoj kritiški aparat naravnam na kontekst ali paradigmo, znotraj katere tovrstne rešitve vznikajo, to vseeno ne pomeni, da bom zadevni material vzljubila, ne kot kritičarka, nikakor pa ne kot zasebnica. Kot kritičarka se za dobro javnosti lahko potrudim privzeti gledišča, ki so mojemu tuja, torej svoje gledišče potujim zato, da bi naredila ovinek okoli svojega okusa in na predmet pogledala z manj rdečimi očmi ter nazadnje videla kaj novega. V takšno težavno nalogo se vsakokrat podam zato, ker vem, da nisem vsevedna in da me povrhu poganjajo še nizke strasti in obrazci, ki jih ne morem pretentati, zato pa ti lahko pretentajo mene. Kot kritičarki se mi zdi dobro vzdrževati odprto glavo in srce. Zasebno pa je problem razstavljen povsem drugače: pravzaprav sploh ni razstavljen, saj si dovolim mnogo več trdobučnosti in favoriziranja, moje bralske užitke pa lahko pretrese izključno dobra izkušnja, nikakor pa gimnastika intelekta in perspektive.
Mladi in pomembni pesnik mi je potemtakem poslal pesem, ki izhaja iz tradicije, ki mi pomeni prejkone literarno slabost, predstavlja mi nekakšnega pesniškega mačka, posledico pesniške prekrokanosti. Gre za tip pesništva, vezan na mallarmejanski modernizem, po katerem pomeni zvenijo in zveni pomenijo in v katerem se vedno znova demonstrira pesniška, torej jezikovna svoboda, opomenjanje nezdružljivega in poudarjanje nepomenljivega . V šoli so nas učili, da je takšno pesništvo pomembno in prelomno, jaz pa sem se počutila slabo, ker sem v tovrstnih izvajanjih uživala poredko in nikoli nisem zares razumela, zakaj bi pesništvo, skovano po principu veliko-hrupa-za-nič (vsebine), obogatilo mojo življenjsko izkušnjo. Vse skupaj se mi zdi odveč, če sem poštena. Ker je resničnost izjemno težko priviti na sobno jakost, se mi zdi povsem nesmiselno amplificirati ničevosti, pospravljene pod krinko atletskega izrazja. Če kaj, si želim, da bi si literatura prizadevala razločevati in bi svobodo trenirala tudi zunaj območja lagodne znotrajjezikovne referencialnosti. Zunaj je menda nek svet in, četudi je jezik arbitraren, mu lahko odredimo toliko spoštovanja, da se ne sprenevedamo, da v tem svetu nič ne pomeni in nima nobenega pravega učinka.
Vidite, kot zasebnica sem zares trdobučna. Pričakujem, da bo literatura sporočala kaj več od tega, da se ji ne da več ukvarjati s svetom in bi se raje zaprla nekam med svoje elegantno nastavljene matrice. Naj literatura nekaj pove, naj nekaj odraža, naj nekaj ve, četudi hegeljansko venomer prepozno, naj bo Minervina sova, ki opreza za vsem pomembnim, ko se večini ljudi ne ljubi, ali pa za tek na dolge proge nimajo časa. Ja, naj bo literatura še vedno lepa, prosim, samo ne na račun tega, da je samozadostna. Ker ni – le kako bi bila, ko pa niso samozadostne niti mačke.

Ana Schnabl

Ana Schnabl ist eine aufstrebende Schriftstellerin, Kulturjournalistin und Kritikerin. Sie schreibt für mehrere slowenische Publikationen und Neue Medien - meist über Literatur, Leben und deren Schnittpunkte. Neben geistigen Tätigkeiten, ist sie viel mit Yoga, Schwimmen und Reiseplanungen, die nie umgesetzt werden, beschäftigt.

Ana Schnabl is an aspiring writer, cultural journalist and critic. She writes for several different Slovenian publications and new media, mostly about literature, life and the spaces where those two intersect. Besides cerebral activities, she is deeply engaged with yoga, swimming and planning travels she never realizes later.

Ana Schnabl ist eine aufstrebende Schriftstellerin, Kulturjournalistin und Kritikerin. Sie schreibt für mehrere slowenische Publikationen und Neue Medien - meist über Literatur, Leben und deren Schnittpunkte. Neben geistigen Tätigkeiten, ist sie viel mit Yoga, Schwimmen und Reiseplanungen, die nie umgesetzt werden, beschäftigt.

Ana Schnabl is an aspiring writer, cultural journalist and critic. She writes for several different Slovenian publications and new media, mostly about literature, life and the spaces where those two intersect. Besides cerebral activities, she is deeply engaged with yoga, swimming and planning travels she never realizes later.

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