Umberto Eco’s writing was based on playfulness and a constant search for knowledge.
Jens Liljestrand writes about an irreparable loss for the formation society and literature.
1327 arriving Franciscan William of Baskerville to a monastery in northern Italy where a serial killer is raging. Soon it becomes clear that the crimes are linked to a mysterious book of Aristotle of laughter and of humor sense, a book that is said to be in the monastery’s labyrinthine library but guarded by a blind librarian Jorge de Burgos.
the thrilling story leading up to a final showdown between two of the opposite poles of human culture. It is the reason the struggle against fundamentalism, transparency, the fight against the final drive, the liberating laughter struggle against stupidity and darkness.
As a graduate student in Lund, I was once an opponent in an essay on “Name of the Rose”, Umberto Ecos brilliant debut novel from 1980. Baskerville is a way to place Sherlock Holmes analytical sharpness of medieval Dick’s obvious, but who is really Jorge de Burgos? The paper had the answer: the monk was a caricature of the author Jorge Luis Borges , director of the National Library of Argentina and totally blind since 1955. Borges had, if I remember right, at any time been in favor of literary censorship – Eco wanted to slap him on the fingers by making him crazed reactionaries supervillain!
the story says something a writer whose life’s work was marked not only by the passion and the search for knowledge, but also of playfulness and espri. One lesson giant and philosopher who managed the legacy of humanism and the Enlightenment – he received his doctorate with a thesis on the Thomas Aquinas and became one of 1900s most influential semiotician – while living in the midst of the present, with an irreverent curiosity on popular culture and mass media society (academic generosity are, moreover, never cease to wish for more of a Sweden where Hans Rosling and Agnes Wold is still treated as medial sensations because they take its clear responsibility to shoulder the third task).
a shining example of how science can enrich the discourse outside the seminar room is Umberto Eco’s study of James Bond in 1966, one of his early masterpieces. In the essay, he breaks down the Ian Fleming spy stories and shows how they follow a simple schedule, with archetypal characters and a mechanical plot construction. It is, said Eco, not the racism and sexism of Bond makes Fleming reactionary, undemocratic, but his lack of nuances and distinctions, his simplification of the struggle between good and evil. Sample the following lines:
“Schematiseringen, the Manichean dichotomy, is always dogmatic, intolerant. … It is typical of fascism be unable to transition from mythology to reason, to want to govern with the help of myths and fetishes. “
I had the favor meet Umberto Eco as a freelance reporter for Sydsvenskan, the autumn of 2011. He would launch his sixth novel, “cemetery of Prague”, about the conspiracy behind the anti-Semitic pamphlet “Elders of Zion protocols”. Just as in the previous hit “Foucault’s pendulum” and several of his other novels fascinated Eco of swindlers, counterfeiting and the lies like tough rootlets running through the dark corners of human history.
He was a spirited, continental gentleman, neat and urbane, I remember with any professional equanimity he the photographer wishes stepped out hotellobbyns protective obscurity and wide smile stood posing in the middle of Stureplan. But I experienced him as a restless old school professor who picked up a cigarillo from his pouch and absently put between your teeth – not for to smoke, but just to have something to fiddle with after coffee was urdrucket.
Politically, he was obviously a fierce enemy of the Berlusconi regime bluffmakeri and clowning, he was European friend but worried by prejudice and racism started spread in Europe. He worried also about how the Internet allowing citizens to flee objective information and embed themselves in a bubble of comfortable handpicked Factoids – or outright lies.
It is often said in a person’s deathbed she died when the world had needed her most. Nevertheless, the worn formulation never felt so true that the morning after the announcement of Umberto Eco’s death at 84 years of age. It is not only an irreparable loss for the formation society and literature, but also a world whose brain is being sörplas up by demagogues and the charlatan long straw. Either they named Putin or Erdogan , Putin or Le Pen , Åkesson or Trump , we live right now in stupidity, populism and lies golden age.
in February 2016, it would be to disgrace Umberto Eco to say that reason has triumphed over darkness. Rather, we should say: Now we have to light all the torches, candles and torches we have.
Still, it is the apocalyptic final scene in the film version of “Name of the Rose” from 1986 that intrudes on. The monastery’s library burns up, priceless cultural treasures and sources of knowledge destroyed inexorably in flames. Jorge de Burgos chew in his poisoned book – blind, drooling, grotesque in their misery. But William of Baskerville go blithely around in the inferno, and browse among the books, as well as randomly picking out the volumes to be saved for posterity.
And when the monk – it is an irony of fate, surely appreciated by Eco, the Baskerville played by Bond Actor Sean Connery – step out into the light from the ruins of a lost heritage, he has his arms full of books. a blinding white grin splits into the sooty face.
he do not mourn the infinite values that have been lost. What would it serve? instead pleased he ate his contribution to civilization.
to accept their imperfection. To critically seek the truth. To never give up.
That’s what Eco taught us, and that is how we win. In the end.