Literature Binds Our Divided World
Nobel Prize Winner in Literature
Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Laureate in Literature, talks about important roles literature plays in today’s divided world and shares his thoughts about the path we should follow in uncertainty we live in.
The following are excerpts from our interview.
For me, literature is very much about human feelings, and sharing human feelings, hopefully across the barriers and the walls that we have created. But it's not just about understanding people who seem to have very different values from us, I think it helps us to understand ourselves as well, in our own camp.
I think the Nobel Prize is a truly international prize, and it emphasizes what human beings do together to try and push civilization and knowledge onwards. I think it symbolizes, for most people, the idea of people striving together to do something good, rather than dividing into factions, and bitterly fighting each other, and arguing with each other, for resources.
So, for this reason, it means an enormous amount to me, that I can join the scientists, and the economists, and the doctors to symbolize this thing in the world, particularly at this moment. This is a very tense moment, I think, in the current situation in the world.
Q: What do we think about the world?
I think a lot of people identify why they are being left behind with this internationalization, this globalization.
It’s right that somebody should say that many people have been left behind in society but trouble comes when, in order to control the electorate and get the political support, the easiest thing to do is to choose a group that is a scapegoat, usually a minority group in a society or people who are trying to get into the society. This is a technique that was used in the 1930s by the Fascists, we have to be very careful of this.
I think literature is important to try and maintain standards and truth. We have always had fake news, the Twentieth Century was full of political propaganda. It was the great era of government control, political propaganda but now we seem to have a different kind of fake news and we are not so sophisticated about how to resist it. I think we became, as a society we became very alert about government propaganda or political propaganda, of the sort that for say, Hitler or Stalin had put out and now we are very resistant to it, but we are not so resistant to this new kind of fake news. And one of the things perhaps we have to be careful about is that we stopped caring about what is true or false. It is not just that we are afraid to contradict a very powerful person who tells one version of the truth, I think there is an idea going around that that doesn't matter, what matters is what emotions come out of that statement. So, if you feel that some incident that was supposed to have happened yesterday expresses my anger or my sentimentality about something, then let's pretend that it happened.
I think it is important for all of us as a society to become as aware and alert about the manipulation of truth and news as people had to do in generations before in the era of government propaganda when we had the Second World War, Fascism and Communism and we have to become sophisticated about to understand how fake news works now.