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An exhibition of 26 portraits of writers, December 1-18, gallery Makina, Pula, Croatia. Intro by Olja Savičević Ivančević.


Olja Savičević Ivančević: A portrait of the writer as a savage detective

some people have a broad face that resembles a sunlit city square  
on which the mob can spit
and a forehead with a quote tattooed on it
they know the power of words
they watch you as you swallow god and your country without thinking and write it down in a thin green melancholy notepad

they will marry their novels and have little children’s stories with them
their poetry is always a revolt against actuality
our favorite writers used to be and still are better than themselves and us

the writers we love have come from foreign places and cities and villages, to tell us encouraging and terrible things in an exciting way
they are the best bastards of their countries, gentle sentinel, disgusted individuals, blind sorceresses, heroines wearing prescription glasses and high ranking politicians
our favorite writers always come alone, without a group or membership
they will certainly not receive any medals of honor from those in power for being snake oil salesmen and nation's barmaids
pests: they watch over the fate of the world, martyrs: their own thought torments and tortures them
everything they’ve done, they’ve done in style, to buy back time that will postpone the end of the world
they didn’t eat for days, or sleep, they ate unspeakable amounts of everything, got blind drunk and slept with everyone, they are a dionysius hiding an ascetic or vice versa
endlessly devoted to one love and several impossible or lucid ideas
they are insolent, our favorite men writers; insolent are our favorite women writers
they, the men, don't spare us; they, the women, are cruel and rude

they didn’t scheme

they, the men, are not likable; they, the women, are somewhat or fairly unpleasant
their organisms are full of electricity, it comes through in the text
they, the men, are visceral realists; they, the women, dislike magic realism;
they, the men, dislike folklore, except on the table
not even an ornament other than in stone
anything heraldic in general; they don't like kitsch, except sometimes

they, the women, don't like a lie, unless it's a good one; they, the men, are not afraid of the truth, they are the first who see it all; they, the women, are the first who say it all into the deaf ears of the night; they, the men, are not afraid of justice; they, the women, are never the state, but sometimes they are the land
they get up for something and type standing at their keyboards
they, the men, are in exile, or the exile is inside them and growing, they, the women, are in prison, but inside them is freedom and growing

our favorite writers, do those people even exist
the writer as an invisible city, the writer as a magician and mystic, as a boxer, bolano as muhammad ali, genet as the gallows, lispector the shiny razor of intelligence, rilke as a punk rocker
they, the men, laugh into our eyes, loud and hearty,
they, the women, say into our ear: you, reader, are a fool, you don’t know how to live

they say: what starts badly will end badly, it’s fine in the middle
they say: let it all happen to you, the horror and the beauty

they say that if you are generous and gifted, reader, step up
(you were born to experience this)

they say: I love you, woman reader, I love you because you are not mine
dance first, think later, that’s the natural order
our great writers are not snobs
they are modest and good-humored
to us great writers are not geeks
they are poets and craftsmen
our great writers are not bootlickers or the jealous kind
although some healthy malice can be found there, too

they don’t play short games with a short pen
they don’t play for corporations

they don’t pontificate
Words have taken their measure for the suit and the grave
great writers are small and naked and dying before our eyes
do those people even exist

our favorite women writers are less sweet, more provocative
our favorite women writers would not receive any marriage offers from the ministry, they say that sorrow is a luxury, privilege of the rich

our best writers are socialists
the petit bourgeois loves himself the most, the writer we love loves even the petit bourgeois or at least he pities him

we respect our favorite writers, their need to clarify, to squawk,
their habit of shutting up in the right place
we also adore the shameless passion for lining up letters into slippery lines of erotic rhythm, for feasting on words
we love the righteous delusions they use to bewitch us
and open fractures spurting fountains of antidotes: tears of the world and blood of the innocent

we love unhealthy literature
hurting and healing are miraculous processes, a good writer knows it
we love literature because it is a futile discipline, futile like love and like hope, like art anyway, like everything lovely and meaningful
our favorite writers are poets, here they come, rising against indifference and
nonsense, and nonsense is welling up and growing, the streets and the people are full of it already
writers are unarmed toothless, irony is a small consolation to them and on top of it
they are hauling fantasy, good thing they can still hold it together
still attack
the myth of the writer still shadows them, a narrative they cannot leave like a writers’ association

they are stepping out of Barthes’s blue pajamas, naked men and naked women, diving into the text and emerging into the picture
they watch you swallow god and your country without thinking and write it down in a thin green melancholy notepad

they know the power of words

they will marry their novels and have little children’s stories with them
their poetry is always a revolt against actuality

they often come from russia, but sometimes they come from the two americas and other parts,
and more and more often they leave Croatia
our dear writers and the current question of how to use them today
the one up to the task can catch them inside a bottle of black ink
can shake them, with great skill, out of a pencil’s heart

every portrait of a writer is a self portrait
all that you see in a book is you and the world
every man writer is half woman reader
every woman writer is completed in her man reader
that great woman writer rose up in her reader
in exceptional beauty
that great man writer got up for his reader
the writer who rises becomes a savage detective determined to find our lost ideas and ideals, and when he finds them, he brings them into the text and sets us free.