Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Helsinki looks like, meet Teemu Manninen!
“To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing” ( Roland Barthes) – Do you see yourself as an author and do you agree with this?
By now, this line of questioning is already fifty years old, and though it served a strategic purpose in its own context, it doesn’t really help us now that the situation we find ourselves in has changed so drastically. Barthes reads today like ad copy, like a handbook of cross-media marketing rather than anything with a revolutionary impact. The whole idea of the death of an author has been exploded by vampiric zombie authors, multiple-identity schizophrenic ghost authors, and the convoluted doctrines of intellectual rights litigators and copyleft lobbyist who roam the wastelands of digital archives and obsolescent formats. Nothing he wrote prepared us for this: that the actual challenge would be to assert, in the face of an ever-more textual simulation of society, the reality of an author’s body, the flesh and bone value of a life lived in a community of men and women with identities based on history, on the money in our pockets and the work our hands have done, on the color of our skin and the lust we have for each other’s form.
Reading is writing is reading is writing … – why, and if, how?
I am going to answer this in my own way, and not the way I think the question was intended to be answered. Every good writer is first a good reader. There’s nothing at all complicated about this. They are the same thing, in essence: facets of a literary life.
What is your favorite literary spot in …? (literary venue, bar, meeting spot etc.)
I don’t like “literary spots”. I’d much rather stay away from them, as they reek of despair and dead corpses. The only concession I make are the graves of authors, philosophers and saints. Then again, if a library can be called a “literary spot” then I could perhaps be allowed to suggest that the National Library in Helsinki has, at least in the past, offered itself as a refuge of sorts to people like myself, who wish to remain anonymous as they lose themselves between the stacks.
Would you please take a selfie to the topic “literary activism”. It would be great if there are places or venues of your city in the background.
I’m very sorry, but I absolutely refuse to take selfies.
Photo by Leena Lahti