CEI Round Table: “Writing and surviving”
Prepared by Ana Geršak, member of the Vilenica Jury
Ten years ago, some forty years after the publishing of Barthes’s famous essay on the death of the author, Vilenica has, for the first time, asked itself the question of who is writing and dissected it in relation to culture, subject, authorship, and language. Ten years later, in the light of the omnipresent discourse about financial and other crises, it seems necessary to ask ourselves the question again – this time in relation to the subject of material reality: What does it mean to be and to work as an author at the beginning of the 21st century?
If we refute the primacy of Language, the central constituent part of literature, we will, in one way or another, find ourselves in the (positivist?) field of the primacy of the creative subject. It is not about restoring ideological/political or interpretative power, which was attributed to women writers – and even more so – to male writers until the previous century, but about questioning the material reality of the one writing. To put it differently: the too long ignored author-as-human with his or her very much tangible luggage is pushing his or her way into the foreground once again. In the new century, the authors are facing real existential problems that are no longer possible to overlook. The question of who is writing is not limited solely to a room of one’s own of the one writing, but also to the wider social context, marked by the devaluation of culture and art and subsequently the author’s status: writing has become almost a spare time activity and is not (anymore?) a full time occupation. Contrary to the outside perspective that often speaks in the name of the other without really listening to him or her, Vilenica wants to offer space for personal views on the following questions: What does it mean to be an author today and what constitutes his or her identity? Is it possible to be an author without publishing and without readers? Who “makes” the author? what is his or her position in the distribution of power and material goods brought about by the modernized book publishing chain, in which the authorial part is often most poorly financially remunerated, and in which the author is thus forced into having to constantly produce just in order to survive? Is the symbolic capital all that is left from the work of a writer, and is this enough? Despite all the attempts to formalize the process of writing, a text, in order to assume a form, needs a body that writes. The creative subject is capable of surviving many things; but not at any price.