Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa on Monday lashed out against today’s fast-paced information society, saying it limits peoples’ depth of thinking and is a major problem for culture.
The Peruvian author blamed the entertainment industry for creating what he calls a culture of “banalization, frivolization and superficiality.”
Vargas Llosa is in Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize in literature, which will be presented to him by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony on Friday.
“I think the audiovisual revolution, which is fantastic from a technological point of view, has introduced the idea that the main goal of culture is entertainment,” he said.
“Of course culture is also entertainment, but if it is only entertainment, the result is the disappearance of long-range vision and deep preoccupation for basic questions,” he said. “I think it is a major, major problem.”
The author, who switched to liberalism after flirting with communism in his youth, also welcomed the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波).
“To me it is magnificent that they have awarded a Chinese fighter, who is a champion of democracy in his country,” Vargas Llosa said, adding that many people seem to forget that, despite its advancements, “China is still a dictatorship.”
Regarding his own award he was self-deprecating, wondering whether it was “some kind of universal misunderstanding.”
Vargas Llosa said he had no natural talent for writing, but had been inspired by French 19th century novelist Gustave Flaubert.
“The lesson of Flaubert is that if you don’t have an actual literary talent, you can build ... talent through discipline, perseverance, stubbornness and self-criticism,” he said.
In related news, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee said China and 18 other countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, had declined to attend Friday’s ceremony honoring Liu.
China was infuriated when the committee decided to give the prestigious prize to Liu, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion after co-authoring an appeal calling for reforms to China’s one-party political system.
The committee said yesterday that 44 embassies would be represented at the ceremony in Oslo City Hall.