[News] Playwright Pinter uses Nobel prize ceremony to denounce US

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 8 15:39:50 EST 2005


"You have to hand it to America. It has exercised 
a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide 
while masquerading as a force for universal good. 
It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

"I put to you that the United States is without 
doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. 
"Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it 
may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman 
it is out on its own, and its most salable commodity is self-love."

"It's a scintillating stratagem," Pinter said. 
"Language is actually employed to keep thought at 
bay. The words 'the American people' provide a 
truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You 
don't need to think. Just lie back on the 
cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your 
intelligence and your critical faculties, but it's very comfortable."


Art, truth and politics

In his video-taped Nobel acceptance speech, 
Harold Pinter excoriated a 'brutal, scornful and 
ruthless' United States. This is the full text of his address

Thursday December 8, 2005

Harold Pinter delivering his Nobel lecture via video to the Swe

Harold Pinter delivering his Nobel lecture via 
video to the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/EPA


In 1958 I wrote the following:

'There are no hard distinctions between what is 
real and what is unreal, nor between what is true 
and what is false. A thing is not necessarily 
either true or false; it can be both true and false.'

I believe that these assertions still make sense 
and do still apply to the exploration of reality 
through art. So as a writer I stand by them but 
as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?

Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never 
quite find it but the search for it is 
compulsive. The search is clearly what drives
the endeavour. The search is your task. More 
often than not you stumble upon the truth in the 
dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an 
image or a shape which seems to correspond to the 
truth, often without realising that you have done 
so. But the real truth is that there never is any 
such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic 
art. There are many. These truths challenge each 
other, recoil from each other, reflect each 
other, ignore each other, tease each other, are 
blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have 
the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips 
through your fingers and is lost.

I have often been asked how my plays come about. 
I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, 
except to say that this is what happened. That is 
what they said. That is what they did.

Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a 
word or an image. The given word is often shortly 
followed by the image. I shall give two examples 
of two lines which came right out of the blue 
into my head, followed by an image, followed by me.

The plays are The Homecoming and Old Times. The 
first line of The Homecoming is 'What have you 
done with the scissors?' The first line of Old Times is 'Dark.'

In each case I had no further information.

In the first case someone was obviously looking 
for a pair of scissors and was demanding their 
whereabouts of someone else he suspected had 
probably stolen them. But I somehow knew that the 
person addressed didn't give a damn about the 
scissors or about the questioner either, for that matter.

'Dark' I took to be a description of someone's 
hair, the hair of a woman, and was the answer to 
a question. In each case I found myself compelled 
to pursue the matter. This happened visually, a 
very slow fade, through shadow into light.

I always start a play by calling the characters A, B and C.

In the play that became The Homecoming I saw a 
man enter a stark room and ask his question of a 
younger man sitting on an ugly sofa reading a 
racing paper. I somehow suspected that A was a 
father and that B was his son, but I had no 
proof. This was however confirmed a short time 
later when B (later to become Lenny) says to A 
(later to become Max), 'Dad, do you mind if I 
change the subject? I want to ask you something. 
The dinner we had before, what was the name of 
it? What do you call it? Why don't you buy a dog? 
You're a dog cook. Honest. You think you're 
cooking for a lot of dogs.' So since B calls A 
'Dad' it seemed to me reasonable to assume that 
they were father and son. A was also clearly the 
cook and his cooking did not seem to be held in 
high regard. Did this mean that there was no 
mother? I didn't know. But, as I told myself at 
the time, our beginnings never know our ends.

'Dark.' A large window. Evening sky. A man, A 
(later to become Deeley), and a woman, B (later 
to become Kate), sitting with drinks. 'Fat or 
thin?' the man asks. Who are they talking about? 
But I then see, standing at the window, a woman, 
C (later to become Anna), in another condition of 
light, her back to them, her hair dark.

It's a strange moment, the moment of creating 
characters who up to that moment have had no 
existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, 
even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be 
an unstoppable avalanche. The author's position 
is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by 
the characters. The characters resist him, they 
are not easy to live with, they are impossible to 
define. You certainly can't dictate to them. To a 
certain extent you play a never-ending game with 
them, cat and mouse, blind man's buff, hide and 
seek. But finally you find that you have people 
of flesh and blood on your hands, people with 
will and an individual sensibility of their own, 
made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort.

So language in art remains a highly ambiguous 
transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen 
pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time.

But as I have said, the search for the truth can 
never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be 
postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.

Political theatre presents an entirely different 
set of problems. Sermonising has to be avoided at 
all cost. Objectivity is essential. The 
characters must be allowed to breathe their own 
air. The author cannot confine and constrict them 
to satisfy his own taste or disposition or 
prejudice. He must be prepared to approach them 
from a variety of angles, from a full and 
uninhibited range of perspectives, take them by 
surprise, perhaps, occasionally, but nevertheless 
give them the freedom to go which way they will. 
This does not always work. And political satire, 
of course, adheres to none of these precepts, in 
fact does precisely the opposite, which is its proper function.

In my play The Birthday Party I think I allow a 
whole range of options to operate in a dense 
forest of possibility before finally focussing on an act of subjugation.

Mountain Language pretends to no such range of 
operation. It remains brutal, short and ugly. But 
the soldiers in the play do get some fun out of 
it. One sometimes forgets that torturers become 
easily bored. They need a bit of a laugh to keep 
their spirits up. This has been confirmed of 
course by the events at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad. 
Mountain Language lasts only 20 minutes, but it 
could go on for hour after hour, on and on and 
on, the same pattern repeated over and over again, on and on, hour after hour.

Ashes to Ashes, on the other hand, seems to me to 
be taking place under water. A drowning woman, 
her hand reaching up through the waves, dropping 
down out of sight, reaching for others, but 
finding nobody there, either above or under the 
water, finding only shadows, reflections, 
floating; the woman a lost figure in a drowning 
landscape, a woman unable to escape the doom that 
seemed to belong only to others.

But as they died, she must die too.

Political language, as used by politicians, does 
not venture into any of this territory since the 
majority of politicians, on the evidence 
available to us, are interested not in truth but 
in power and in the maintenance of that power. To 
maintain that power it is essential that people 
remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance 
of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. 
What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.

As every single person here knows, the 
justification for the invasion of Iraq was that 
Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body 
of weapons of mass destruction, some of which 
could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about 
appalling devastation. We were assured that was 
true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had 
a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared 
responsibility for the atrocity in New York of 
September 11th 2001. We were assured that this 
was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq 
threatened the security of the world. We were 
assured it was true. It was not true.

The truth is something entirely different. The 
truth is to do with how the United States 
understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it.

But before I come back to the present I would 
like to look at the recent past, by which I mean 
United States foreign policy since the end of the 
Second World War. I believe it is obligatory upon 
us to subject this period to at least some kind 
of even limited scrutiny, which is all that time will allow here.

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union 
and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war 
period: the systematic brutality, the widespread 
atrocities, the ruthless suppression of 
independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in 
the same period have only been superficially 
recorded, let alone documented, let alone 
acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at 
all. I believe this must be addressed and that 
the truth has considerable bearing on where the 
world stands now. Although constrained, to a 
certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet 
Union, the United States' actions throughout the 
world made it clear that it had concluded it had 
carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in 
fact been America's favoured method. In the main, 
it has preferred what it has described as 'low 
intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means 
that thousands of people die but slower than if 
you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It 
means that you infect the heart of the country, 
that you establish a malignant growth and watch 
the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been 
subdued - or beaten to death - the same thing - 
and your own friends, the military and the great 
corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go 
before the camera and say that democracy has 
prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign 
policy in the years to which I refer.

The tragedy of Nicaragua was a highly significant 
case. I choose to offer it here as a potent 
example of America's view of its role in the world, both then and now.

I was present at a meeting at the US embassy in London in the late 1980s.

The United States Congress was about to decide 
whether to give more money to the Contras in 
their campaign against the state of Nicaragua. I 
was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf 
of Nicaragua but the most important member of 
this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The 
leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then 
number two to the ambassador, later ambassador 
himself). Father Metcalf said: 'Sir, I am in 
charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My 
parishioners built a school, a health centre, a 
cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few 
months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. 
They destroyed everything: the school, the health 
centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses 
and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most 
brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please 
demand that the US government withdraw its 
support from this shocking terrorist activity.'

Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a 
rational, responsible and highly sophisticated 
man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic 
circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with 
some gravity. 'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you 
something. In war, innocent people always 
suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.

Innocent people, indeed, always suffer.

Finally somebody said: 'But in this case 
"innocent people" were the victims of a gruesome 
atrocity subsidised by your government, one among 
many. If Congress allows the Contras more money 
further atrocities of this kind will take place. 
Is this not the case? Is your government not 
therefore guilty of supporting acts of murder and 
destruction upon the citizens of a sovereign state?'

Seitz was imperturbable. 'I don't agree that the 
facts as presented support your assertions,' he said.

As we were leaving the Embassy a US aide told me 
that he enjoyed my plays. I did not reply.

I should remind you that at the time President 
Reagan made the following statement: 'The Contras 
are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.'

The United States supported the brutal Somoza 
dictatorship in Nicaragua for over 40 years. The 
Nicaraguan people, led by the Sandinistas, 
overthrew this regime in 1979, a breathtaking popular revolution.

The Sandinistas weren't perfect. They possessed 
their fair share of arrogance and their political 
philosophy contained a number of contradictory 
elements. But they were intelligent, rational and 
civilised. They set out to establish a stable, 
decent, pluralistic society. The death penalty 
was abolished. Hundreds of thousands of 
poverty-stricken peasants were brought back from 
the dead. Over 100,000 families were given title 
to land. Two thousand schools were built. A quite 
remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy 
in the country to less than one seventh. Free 
education was established and a free health 
service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third. Polio was eradicated.

The United States denounced these achievements as 
Marxist/Leninist subversion. In the view of the 
US government, a dangerous example was being set. 
If Nicaragua was allowed to establish basic norms 
of social and economic justice, if it was allowed 
to raise the standards of health care and 
education and achieve social unity and national 
self respect, neighbouring countries would ask 
the same questions and do the same things. There 
was of course at the time fierce resistance to the status quo in El Salvador.

I spoke earlier about 'a tapestry of lies' which 
surrounds us. President Reagan commonly described 
Nicaragua as a 'totalitarian dungeon'. This was 
taken generally by the media, and certainly by 
the British government, as accurate and fair 
comment. But there was in fact no record of death 
squads under the Sandinista government. There was 
no record of torture. There was no record of 
systematic or official military brutality. No 
priests were ever murdered in Nicaragua. There 
were in fact three priests in the government, two 
Jesuits and a Maryknoll missionary. The 
totalitarian dungeons were actually next door, in 
El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States had 
brought down the democratically elected 
government of Guatemala in 1954 and it is 
estimated that over 200,000 people had been 
victims of successive military dictatorships.

Six of the most distinguished Jesuits in the 
world were viciously murdered at the Central 
American University in San Salvador in 1989 by a 
battalion of the Alcatl regiment trained at Fort 
Benning, Georgia, USA. That extremely brave man 
Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying 
mass. It is estimated that 75,000 people died. 
Why were they killed? They were killed because 
they believed a better life was possible and 
should be achieved. That belief immediately 
qualified them as communists. They died because 
they dared to question the status quo, the 
endless plateau of poverty, disease, degradation 
and oppression, which had been their birthright.

The United States finally brought down the 
Sandinista government. It took some years and 
considerable resistance but relentless economic 
persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined 
the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were 
exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The 
casinos moved back into the country. Free health 
and free education were over. Big business 
returned with a vengeance. 'Democracy' had prevailed.

But this 'policy' was by no means restricted to 
Central America. It was conducted throughout the 
world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

The United States supported and in many cases 
engendered every right wing military dictatorship 
in the world after the end of the Second World 
War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, 
Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, 
Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. 
The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile 
in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place 
throughout these countries. Did they take place? 
And are they in all cases attributable to US 
foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take 
place and they are attributable to American 
foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even 
while it was happening it wasn't happening. It 
didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes 
of the United States have been systematic, 
constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few 
people have actually talked about them. You have 
to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite 
clinical manipulation of power worldwide while 
masquerading as a force for universal good. It's 
a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without 
doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, 
indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but 
it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out 
on its own and its most saleable commodity is 
self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American 
presidents on television say the words, 'the 
American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to 
the American people it is time to pray and to 
defend the rights of the American people and I 
ask the American people to trust their president 
in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is 
actually employed to keep thought at bay. The 
words 'the American people' provide a truly 
voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need 
to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The 
cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and 
your critical faculties but it's very 
comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 
40 million people living below the poverty line 
and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the 
vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low 
intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point 
in being reticent or even devious. It puts its 
cards on the table without fear or favour. It 
quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United 
Nations, international law or critical dissent, 
which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It 
also has its own bleating little lamb tagging 
behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did 
we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do 
they refer to a term very rarely employed these 
days - conscience? A conscience to do not only 
with our own acts but to do with our shared 
responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this 
dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people 
detained without charge for over three years, 
with no legal representation or due process, 
technically detained forever. This totally 
illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance 
of the Geneva Convention. It is not only 
tolerated but hardly thought about by what's 
called the 'international community'. This 
criminal outrage is being committed by a country, 
which declares itself to be 'the leader of the 
free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of 
Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about 
them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on 
page six. They have been consigned to a no man's 
land from which indeed they may never return. At 
present many are on hunger strike, being 
force-fed, including British residents. No 
niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No 
sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up 
your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. 
This is torture. What has the British Foreign 
Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the 
British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. 
Why not? Because the United States has said: to 
criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay 
constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with 
us or against us. So Blair shuts up.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of 
blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute 
contempt for the concept of international law. 
The invasion was an arbitrary military action 
inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross 
manipulation of the media and therefore of the 
public; an act intended to consolidate American 
military and economic control of the Middle East 
masquerading - as a last resort - all other 
justifications having failed to justify 
themselves - as liberation. A formidable 
assertion of military force responsible for the 
death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted 
uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, 
misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people 
and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you 
qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a 
war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than 
enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is 
just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the 
International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush 
has been clever. He has not ratified the 
International Criminal Court of Justice. 
Therefore if any American soldier or for that 
matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush 
has warned that he will send in the marines. But 
Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is 
therefore available for prosecution. We can let 
the Court have his address if they're interested. 
It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.

Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush 
and Blair place death well away on the back 
burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by 
American bombs and missiles before the Iraq 
insurgency began. These people are of no moment. 
Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They 
are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do 
body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph 
published on the front page of British newspapers 
of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi 
boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few 
days later there was a story and photograph, on 
an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with 
no arms. His family had been blown up by a 
missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get 
my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. 
Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, 
nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor 
the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It 
dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.

The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. 
They are transported to their graves in the dark. 
Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The 
mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of 
their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both 
rot, in different kinds of graves.

Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda, 'I'm Explaining a Few Things':

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate.

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives.

Treacherous
generals:
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain:
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.

And you will ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land.

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets! *

Let me make it quite clear that in quoting from 
Neruda's poem I am in no way comparing Republican 
Spain to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. I quote Neruda 
because nowhere in contemporary poetry have I 
read such a powerful visceral description of the bombing of civilians.

I have said earlier that the United States is now 
totally frank about putting its cards on the 
table. That is the case. Its official declared 
policy is now defined as 'full spectrum 
dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 
'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, 
sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military 
installations throughout the world in 132 
countries, with the honourable exception of 
Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they 
got there but they are there all right.

The United States possesses 8,000 active and 
operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on 
hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 
minutes warning. It is developing new systems of 
nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The 
British, ever cooperative, are intending to 
replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, 
I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? 
You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What 
we do know is that this infantile insanity - the 
possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons 
- is at the heart of present American political 
philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the 
United States is on a permanent military footing 
and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the 
United States itself are demonstrably sickened, 
shamed and angered by their government's actions, 
but as things stand they are not a coherent 
political force - yet. But the anxiety, 
uncertainty and fear which we can see growing 
daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish.

I know that President Bush has many extremely 
competent speech writers but I would like to 
volunteer for the job myself. I propose the 
following short address which he can make on 
television to the nation. I see him grave, hair 
carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, 
often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, 
curiously attractive, a man's man.

'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God 
is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad 
God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have 
one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. 
We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in 
freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am 
the democratically elected leader of a 
freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate 
society. We give compassionate electrocution and 
compassionate lethal injection. We are a great 
nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a 
barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I 
possess moral authority. You see this fist? This 
is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost 
naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. 
The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. 
But it is true to say that you are open to all 
the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out 
on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, 
no protection - unless you lie - in which case of 
course you have constructed your own protection 
and, it could be argued, become a politician.

I have referred to death quite a few times this 
evening. I shall now quote a poem of my own called 'Death'.

Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?

Who was the dead body?

Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?

Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?

Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?

What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?

Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body

When we look into a mirror we think the image 
that confronts us is accurate. But move a 
millimetre and the image changes. We are actually 
looking at a never-ending range of reflections. 
But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror - 
for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.

I believe that despite the enormous odds which 
exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce 
intellectual determination, as citizens, to 
define the real truth of our lives and our 
societies is a crucial obligation which devolves 
upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

If such a determination is not embodied in our 
political vision we have no hope of restoring 
what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.

* Extract from "I'm Explaining a Few Things" 
translated by Nathaniel Tarn, from Pablo Neruda: 
Selected Poems, published by Jonathan Cape, 
London 1970. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited.

© The Nobel Foundation 2005


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