Radovan Brenkus answers the questions of a chief editor of a Literary weekly.
1. Where are Slovakia, Europe, the world heading for? Pros and cons of today’s world movement. What’s there in a dangerous profusion, what’s a precious modicum in the world?
As we know, Europe is currently heading towards unification and Slovakia at the crossroads decided to keep pace. Gradual disappearing of the boundaries – not only territorial but the cultural as well – belongs to the most significant palpable positives of the global movement. Everyone can enjoy their abolition having first-hand experience of free travel. At the same time globalisation brings lots of historically notorious disadvantages, above all it leads to increasingly abysmal gap between the elite and the productive majority. Isn’t it a case of modern version of Roman Empire that will eventually disintegrate? I do not dare indicate what final end is the world coming to. Towards extinction? If we pondered in limits of a dialectical fact that everything that comes into being must cease existing, we would not make anything on this planet. As to less distant future, it is possible that after renaissance of the capitalism we will arrive at robotic society. Actually, the companies are forced to deploy new technological processes into their production so that they participate in a production of a surplus value embodied by working force by shortening socially inevitable time needed for a development of a product. It’s the surplus value that takes part in their financial profit that is only seemingly created by artificial increase of prices or avoiding the law of demand and offer. Accumulation of capital itself will paradoxically necessitate working force to be edged out by robots. The consequences of money extinction that at the beginning will barely keep its original function as a barter value will for sure surpass the most daring ideas of Marxist utopians about future socio-economical formation. As the answers to the most simplest questions are the most difficult ones, I rather switch to what’s in dangerous profusion. Besides egoism, violence and other human maladies perhaps of a major quantity there’s a hypocritical craftiness by principle „the end justifies the means". With pretending naivety it contrives to annihilate lives without others being able to recognise it. In contrast to many apparent ailments of humanity it’s a case of a peculiar invisible epidemic whose seriousness we simulate not to realise. No matter my answer to what is a precious modicum will sound a cliche, yet I must point out that what’s woefully missing is love: real, sincere, selfless.
2. What does Slovakia need most to be a content and happy home for all its citizens?
No country will be content and happy home for all its citizens. I do not know, therefore, if it makes sense to name suggestions that could help a country. And also, any solution for Slovakia won’t yield ideal state. Despite that there is a way out for the country. One cannot give up in real politics, if administration has not to come to a halt. In our conditions I can see a solution in investments in applied research under strict conditions that the research will secure innovative technologies in production that will enable to supply products resistant to the competition. Not only the scientists that make applied research as a basic one would cease to plow their own furrow but globally all society would benefit from such economical consequences – from the weakest class (by increasing social securities, let’s say) through middle class (for example by solving yet unsolved housing problem) to a non-productive sector. Of course, increased profit for a privileged group, if we like it or not, would be a natural accompanying sign of this solution for Slovakia. I know, all in all I am not saying anything new (this idea was anchored in numerous governmental programmes), but it is not enough to confine ourselves to resolutions. No wonder Brussels is criticising us for low investments into research and education. Even now it exerts concrete initiatives as to make us seize this not only economical chance. Are we so naive and inadequate that we are not capable to do anything in our own right in this respect? The desire must be finally transformed into real political actions, otherwise we will be left suspended in vacuum.
3. Name and assess briefly the most noticeable personalities of today’s Slovakian cultural-social, literal, artistic, religious, scientific, sports and political life...
I do not regard personalities as idols. On the contrary, in good faith that whoever can be a personality, I critically carry away from them only those observations that correspond to my understanding of the context. This is why I restrict myself to giving names of persons that appealed to me in a way. The last man of present Slovakian prose is Rudolf Jašík and I hope he will live to see his successors. As a prose writer he belongs to exceptional phenomenon for his strong social feeling; empathy in his work attained surprising and shocking dimensions. Although I have experienced what Miroslav Válek and Ján Stacho achieved in poetry, after all it was Pavol Suržin as a poet comprehending the man’s view of the unknown that showed me a world’s vision with no comparison in Slovak poetry. Jozef Króner clearly belongs to movie personalities par excellence whose acting performances alongside those of Paľo Bielik do not need any comment. Similarly I do not need comment on Peter Dvorský, world-class opera singer. In the music hardly anyone conveyed to me Bach’s fugues in such an unforgettable way as Ivan Sokol did. As to the science, I highly regard the personality of Július Krempaský, a doyen of Slovak physics, an author of one of the most significant popular scientific publication Metamorphosis of the Universe. I can see his prime importance in establishing synergetics – interdisciplinary science between philosophy and natural (human) sciences by means of which noticeable results were attained. I mention at least a mathematical formulation of Oparin’s theory about origin of the life and Darwin’s law of natural selection which is a special case of evolutionary equations describing non-darwinian types of evolution, too. Although Krempaský like Newton once in his declining years sank into mysticism of Pythagorean kind, this fact does not derogate his personality from its original importance. Egon Bondy, a Czech philosopher, to whom Slovakia can sort of claim its right, has influenced our world view for at least one hundred years ahead. Other philosophers won’t be able to ignore basic maxims he reached in the field of cognition. If I have omitted somebody I apologise. I even dared to mention personalities that are not among us any more. From point of view of present-day age of characters, celebrities and little stars I would find myself at unease to name people that would be worth mentioning. If, let’s say, I don’t take into account Alexander Dubček, in political life there is no such a person that would specially appeal to me. Sport, except individuals that practise it exclusively for their health, represents a business with all backstage intrigues. Apart from a positive matter when they represent their country. As many world representatives of the Church seem to me a feeble touch compared to such a strong charisma of already deceased John Paul II, I likewise do not know about anybody from current Slovakian religious life who could be a real example for our society. Equally the 14th Dalai Lama, a winner of Nobel Peace Prize that he undoubtedly deserved, is a personality for me. With that, however, I have departed a great deal from our representatives.
4. The Slovak Republic has completed its 15 years of a rather often rhapsodic life. It has got over ailments of its growth, however, it is threatened by chronic ailments of a political, legal, social and cultural character. What would you wish yourself, your next of kin and the citizens in years ahead?
May everyone in this country find a warmth of their home, spare time that would allow the citizens to dedicate their time to hobbies satisfying not only spiritual needs. I wish we were able to stop in this busy time at little details that are magical because they will not repeat. If they fill us up, happiness will come. And a feeling of a background is a love, too, because we’re here primarily for others. Let’s not fear to approach one another because we need each other. May disappear our futile roaming around ourselves. I wish my readers not to get bored by me; my close friends a lot of creative inspirations bringing a joy and my enemies as little bile as possible to find their stoic peace. There’s nothing I would wish myself. At least publicly not. Perhaps when I was useful to somebody may I continue doing so.