Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 15:11

Harold Pinter

There can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.

Harold Pinter (10 October 193024 December 2008) was a British playwright, actor and theatre director. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005.

SourcedEdit

When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.
When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections.
I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us — the dignity of man.
  • Sandinistas are a democratically elected government which originally led a popular revolution to overthrow a dictatorship based on slavery...
    US foreign policy could be best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I'll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. It can hardly be said to be a complicated foreign policy. What is interesting about it is that it is so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do. I find the ignorance in this country, Britain, and certainly the US, really quite deep. It is not only the Republican Party and government in the US which are responsible for this state of affairs, but I see the Democrats as only differing by degrees. While they say "no more military aid to the Contras"… they are still referring to an innate and deeply embedded assumption that they are talking about a Marxist-Leninist totalitarian dictatorship; gangsters, thugs, instructed from Moscow.
    • Quoted in an interview, conducted by Andrew Graham-Yooll, South Magazine (May 1988)
  • I suggest that US foreign policy can still be defined as "kiss my ass or I'll kick your head in." But of course it doesn't put it like that. It talks of "low intensity conflict..."
    What all this adds up to is a disease at the very centre of language, so that language becomes a permanent masquerade, a tapestry of lies.
    • "Oh, Superman", broadcast for Opinion, Channel 4, 31 May 1990; Various Voices: Prose, Poetry, Politics 1948-2005, rev. ed. (1998; London: Faber and Faber, 2005) 198-99.
  • Praise the Lord for all good things.
    We blew their balls into shards of dust,
    Into shards of fucking dust.
    We did it.
    Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.
    • From "American Football" (1991), quoted on 329 of Michael Billington's official authorized biography, Harold Pinter, rev. ed. of The Life and Work of Harold Pinter (1996; Faber and Faber, 2007).
  • In Cuba I have always understood harsh treatment of dissenting voices as stemming from a "siege situation" imposed upon it from outside. And I believe that to a certain extent that is true.
  • I believe his arrest and detention by the international criminal tribunal is unconstitutional, and goes against Yugoslav and international law. They have no right to try him.
  • The atrocity in New York was predictable and inevitable. It was an act of retaliation against constant and systematic manifestations of state terrorism on the part of the United States over many years, in all parts of the world.
    I believe that it will do this not only to take control of Iraqi oil, but also because the American administration is now a blood-thirsty wild animal.
  • The U.S. is really beyond reason now. It is beyond our imagining to know what they are going to do next and what they are prepared to do. There is only one comparison: Nazi Germany... Nazi Germany wanted total domination of Europe and they nearly did it. The U.S. wants total domination of the world and is about to consolidate that...
    Blair sees himself as a representative of moral rectitude. He is actually a mass murderer. But we forget that — we are as much victims of delusions as Americans are.
  • The government of the US has no moral authority to elect itself as the judge over human rights in Cuba, where there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959, and where despite the economic blockade, there are levels of health, education and culture that are internationally recognised.
  • I tend to believe that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth.
    • Pinter on Pinter in The Observer (1980)
  • I saw Len Hutton in his prime,
    Another time, another time.
    • Poem A Cricket Poem, quoted in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2009, p. 1604

Writing for the Theatre (1962)Edit

Speech made by Harold Pinter to the National Student Drama Festival, in Bristol in 1962.
Rpt. as "Introduction: Writing for the Theatre", on 9–16 of Complete Works: One (New York: Grove Press [Black Cat Ed.], 1977). ISBN 0802140882. Rpt. by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. in 1994. ISBN 0802150969. ISBN 9780802150967. Also rpt. as "Writing for the Theatre" on 20–26 of Various Voices: Prose, Poetry, Politics: 1948—2005, rev. ed. (1998; London: Faber and Faber, 2005). ISBN 0571230091. ISBN 9780571230099. (Ellipses in the version published in Various Voices omit quotation listed first below, which is featured on the home page of Pinter's official Website, HaroldPinter.org, and also quoted in his 2005 Nobel Lecture [see next sec.]. Beginning with quoting these words that he says he wrote "in 1958", he adds the following qualification: "I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?")
  • There can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false. (11)
  • So often, below the word spoken, is the thing known and unspoken. My characters tell me so much and no more, with reference to their experience, their aspirations, their motives, their history. Between my lack of biographical data about them and the ambiguity of what they say lies a territory which is not only worthy of exploration but which it is compulsory to explore. (13)
  • The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place. When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness. (14)
  • We have heard many times that tired, grimy phrase: 'Failure of communication...' and this phrase has been fixed to my work quite consistently. I believe the contrary. I think that we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rear-guard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. Communication is too alarming. To enter into someone else's life is too frightening. To disclose the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility. (15)
  • Each play was, for me, 'a different kind of failure.' And that fact, I suppose, sent me on to write the next one. (15)

Art, Truth & Politics (2005)Edit

Nobel lecture (7 December 2005)
  • There never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.
  • It's a strange moment, the moment of creating characters who up to that moment have had no existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be an unstoppable avalanche. The author's position is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by his characters. They resist him, they are not easy to live with.
  • A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection — unless you lie — in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.
  • The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading — as a last resort — all other justifications having failed to justify themselves — as liberation.
  • When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror — for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.
    I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
    If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us — the dignity of man.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
  • HaroldPinter.org – The Official Website for the International Playwright Harold Pinter (much of Pinter's work available here for free viewing online.)