Sunday, 29 November 2015

I have a high threshold for pain, a low threshold for lies, an allergic reaction to bullshit and smugness. In the past ten days or so I have been reading Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, in small pieces, the way you read certain books, setting it aside and knowing it's there when next you're ready for that degree of voice. When you need to refresh your preconceptions. Souvent mais peu à la fois. Little but often. When you need to slice through everything.

Words can convey the worst, the least imaginable reality; or cover it up. Voices from Chernobyl cover nothing, or if they feel they might be about to, they check and revise. This is essential speech from the pit of the earth. Earth is where I keep my stuff, said a poster in the Cork climate change march this afternoon, save it.

Chernobyl is beyond saving. But nothing is beyond learning. Or beyond saying. The Swedes knew what they were doing when they gave Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel prize for literature. If literature only knew too.

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