Orhan Pamuk: The Fear of Being Left Outside, What Literature Needs to Address

Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist

Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist ~ photo courtesy of Mr. Pamuk

“What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kin … Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world–and I can identify with them easily–succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West–a world with which I can identify with the same ease–nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.”

—Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely), 2006


Some thoughts for today for us as writers, artists, and bloggers and simply as humans being. How do you feel about this statement? Is it fair?
… and thus we begin a new week …


18 thoughts on “Orhan Pamuk: The Fear of Being Left Outside, What Literature Needs to Address

  1. Reminds me of Joseph Campbell’s observation that artists are the new shamans of this age…exploring the basic human emotions and psychological predicaments through myth portrayed in story, song, illustration, etc. and leading us toward better understanding (and hopefully compassion!).


  2. What struck me most in my v.enjoyable time spent reading your this-week’s poems is this: “when we trafficked in dreams”. A la, the gates open and my own memories flood back in. That time of youth and discovery, before paths are set, families begun, definition by job– are so poignantly alive in our memories. would that we all were novelists! Thanks!


  3. Well I can’t argue against his point but that is what literature, though obviously not all but the better, has been doing all along, writing about our basic emotions, fear being among them, though fear actually covers most everythging when you get right down to it.>KB


  4. Wow…here’s someone else I want to read. I’m listening to a course from “The Teaching Company” called “A Day’s Read.” Three professors discuss 12 short reads that are so packed with meaningful lessons about living. One of my greater frustrations is that there is not enough time to read everything I want to read. See how you’ve added to it!


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