a perfect medium
For the fifth time, we have the pleasure of meeting at a literary celebration in Krakow. For the fifth time, thousands of literature lovers from all over Poland will have a chance to meet Poland’s and world's most interesting writers in person. Our festival proves a huge demand for cultural events of the highest standard. It also proves that literature is alive and up-to-date.
Each autumn, we choose a different context for reading literary works. This year, we are examining the relation of media and literature. Of course, we do not only consider the surface meaning of this term. It is not only about the presence of literature in the media, although we are doing our best to increase that as much as possible. Literature itself is a perfect medium because it is intermediary between the world and people, between different worlds, as well as between people from different worlds. It shows us that art does not consist in capturing reality directly, but is a filter which is used by each of us differently to let the most important things in. Literature is a continuously and repeatedly undertaken attempt at building a world we would like to live in for at least a while.
This year, this structure is especially refined. We will talk to one of world’s most media-oriented philosopher, Peter Sloterdijk, about the hardships of life in the age of globalization. A guru of world media studies, W.J.T. Mitchell, will tell us why we cannot read literature in a naive way. The Quay brothers, the apologists for an impenetrable substantial quality of the word and the image, will present their latest film. A sure Nobel Prize nominee-to-be, Cees Noteboom, will tell us about his adventures with various literary genres. “The most beautiful woman of world literature”, as Kiran Desai is referred to, will confide in us on her life torn between cultures. Anne Applebaum will tell us what happened between the East and West in Europe and what the consequences of drawing the “iron curtain” over the Old Continent were. Marci Shore will show us whether history has told us anything here in Poland. Claudio Magris will tell us how to live in a multicultural Europe. We will try to prove, with help from Maks Ernst and his faithful followers, a thesis that realism means hardly anything without surrealism. And finally, we will dare to claim that the gap between world culture and Polish culture is a myth spread by malcontents.
Throughout an entire week, from the 21st till the 27th of October, in Krakow, we will ask questions about what fascinates us all so much in the vague, though irremovable, zone of “in between”. Between literature and reality, between participants of differing culture circles, between words and images, between a comic book and a bulky novel, between life and art, between Poland and the world. Over 100 artists, meetings held all day long, younger and older children moved by the simple fact that literature makes us think and appreciate life. This is the simplest message of the Conrad Festival, to which you all are most welcome.
Michał Paweł Markowski