Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Argentinean "Intellectuals" Against Vargas Llosa

What I find confusing is the use of the word "intellectuals" in this piece of news:

 Intellectuals close to President Cristina Kirchner launched a campaign Tuesday to stop Mario Vargas Llosa from opening the Spanish-speaking world's largest cultural fair because of his disparaging remarks about Argentine politics. . . Peru's Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel prize for literature, has been invited to inaugurate in mid-April the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires, which UNESCO expects to be attended by more than one million people. The intellectuals are angered over Vargas Llosa's statements on Argentine politics and personal attacks against Kirchner. In a recent interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the writer, who is an outspoken proponent of free markets and liberal democracy, described Kirchner as "a total disaster." "Argentina is going through the worst form of Peronism, populism and anarchy. I fear that it is an incurable country," he told the newspaper.
Since when do the "intellectuals" ally themselves with politicians who are in power in order to hound a writer for expressing his views? Vargas Llosa does, in fact, have a tendency to espouse unintelligent political beliefs. In this, he is no different from many other writers who make fools of themselves by becoming mouthpieces of barbaric regimes. (Juan Goytisolo immediately comes to mind.) 

Still, no true intellectual would even think of defending some dime-a-dozen politico at the expense of one of the greatest writers of the XXth century. Historically, nothing could be more insignificant than the antics of the Kirchner couple. Vargas Llosa's contribution to the artistic legacy of humanity will remain long after everybody forgets who the Kirchners were. Argentinean "intellectuals" just made themselves look very stupid here.

10 comments:

Spanish prof said...

"Since when do the "intellectuals" ally themselves with politicians who are in power in order to hound a writer for expressing his views?"

In Latin America, since always. Of course it's nuanced, but you have examples since at least the XIX century. In the XXth century, see Mexico and the uneasy relationship of intellectuals with PRI, the "affair" Padilla and those attacking writers for being against/for Fidel Castro, etc.

That being said, what the Argentinean "intellectuals" are doing is pathetic, and in many cases is just personal envy at how good Vargas Llosa can write. And Vargas Llosa opinion about the Kirchner is equally Manichean.

Clarissa said...

You are absolutely right in everything you say. Is it because people are afraid? I see the same tendency in our Russian-speaking countries where artists have this tradition of sticking their tongues so far up the politicians' asses that it's scary.

Jonathan said...

Even the president of Argentina has had to ask her supporters to withdraw the letter of protest against Vargas Llosa. It was in international embarrassment. HIs neoliberalism makes him very unpopular with Latin American intellectuals to the left of him (almost all of them), but asking that he not appear at the Book Fair was pretty ridiculous.

Clarissa said...

I think Spanish prof is right and they are just jealous. I'm also jealous of many of my colleagues' success, but at least I try not to exhibit my envy in such a public fashion that it would make me look ridiculous.

Spanish prof said...

I am not surprised by Horacio Gonzalez. He is a pedantic clown, and his essays are incomprehensible. I could have expected it from Feinmann, although after reading "Timote", I had a newly found respect from him.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the lettered city!
Ol.

Eduardo Montes-Bradley said...

We have created a group and a community paged in Facebook called "Bienvenido Vargas Llosa a Buenos Aires". We kindly invite you to subscribe and show support.

Mike@ said...

It's an interesting exercise to compare the language in the letter by those "intellectuals", to the language used by the Argentinian military dictatorship in 1978 when they prohibited one of Vargas Llosa's masterpieces (La Tia Julia Y El Escribidor). Essentially is the same. Check it out here (sorry, in Spanish only).

For the lefties entrenched in power here, there is good censorship and bad censorship, and also of course good and bad dictatorships.

Clarissa said...

Thank you for a great link!

"For the lefties entrenched in power here, there is good censorship and bad censorship, and also of course good and bad dictatorships."

-Not only for the lefties and not only there. :-)

Mike@ said...

Agreed... "For totalitarians entrenched in power everywhere ..." sounds better.