For Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Mario Vargas Llosa, the printed word is on the verge of losing its authenticity and connection with culture because of the technological advancements that is happening.
Courtesy of the Spanish Embassy and Instituto Cervantes, Llosa, a Peruvian author, was recently in the country and gave lectures at the De La Salle University and at the University of Santo Tomas, where he was conferred with Doctor Honoris Causa and an Honorary Professorship, respectively.
According to Llosa, technological advancements come with a two-pronged dilemma in literature, being a source of amplified communication and information process, at the same time, the reason there is “confusion” because of the many mediums available.
Llosa also commented on the way digitalization has allowed people to prioritize less their privacy in order to post and share about themselves online. He described this development as worrisome.
“Technological revolution has been very important and has enlarged extraordinarily information and communication. The information that we now dispose about what is going on is so rich and so diverse and so confusing that sometimes it is very difficult to understand what is going on, because you have this very contradictory kind of information which, instead of opening your eyes, push you to total confusion about what is going on around us,” Llosa said.
He added: “I am very worried with this wall that is taking place between books and screens. I cannot justify this impression that these writers will start to write not for books but for screens. Literature, maybe culture, in general, will become much more superficial, much more frivolous and much more banal and that this can have a very negative effect not only in culture, but in politics, human rights and in freedom.”
Llosa said having the power to contribute ideas and concepts into real world setting, literature is what is often being suppressed in a dictatorship.
Llosa, who also ran for presidency during the 1990 elections but lost, said literature is a powerful tool in society that lets people to live an “ideal world” that has many possibilities and options for progress and change.
“Why do you think literature exists here? For people writing and reading novels, short stories and dramas, poems, probably the reason is we are looking for this parallel life; this other world, which is the world of literature, because we are not totally satisfied with the world as it is. If it is something different, something that can totally fulfill our dreams, our desires and our ambitions,” Llosa said.
“Why do you think all dictatorships tried to control literature and have systems of censorship established? Dictatorships are right to be very suspicious of this kind of activity because this activity develops dreamers in societies.”
Llosa called his presidential bid as a “push for very special circumstances” and that he found the experience “interesting but not very pleasant.”
“I have always been involved in the political debates but as a writer, as a journalist, this was very different from what I usually do, which is commenting and exercising criticism when I think is necessary. I never thought of myself as a politician,” he said.
Some of Llosa’s works include Conversation in the Cathedral (1969), The Storyteller (1987), Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1975) and the War of the End of the World (1981).
Image credits: Danielle Gabriel