One is a CROWD – Thomas Antonic

Literature as a European Mothertongue: 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 around 100 authors travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them three questions based on text production, reception and mediation. In case you always wanted to know how a literary activist in Vienna looks like, meet Thomas Antonic!

“To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a finalsignified, to close the writing” ( Roland Barthes) – Do you see yourself as an author and do you agree with this? 

Who is Roland Barthes? If he is an author he is contradicting himself by making such a statement and at the same time putting his name underneath his text, If he is not an author then why are you taking this quote and mention his name after it? In my opinion Barthes is outdated, a theorist from the 1960s. I am an author in the sense of the word in the Spanish baroque, in which the author is someone, an impresario, who moves something, who is getting things on the move. In Spanish the word “autor” has two meanings. “Autor (de un acto)” is a writer. “Autor (de un algo creativo)” is a creator. He or she is like god. I see myself as an author in the latter sense. I am the god of the texts that I am writing.

Have you ever participated in collaborative author/reader projects? And if so, what do you find interesting about it? 

I constantly participate in collaborative author projects. I prefer this kind of writing to the activity of solely composing and marking coherent words on paper, because writing in a group bears the excitement of a jam session. It is like improvising and creating spontaneous output, and that is the direction that literature should embark: The original impulse of the mind, the first wild draft, the great exciting nude body of reality.

Which literary event did fascinate you most and why? (Please give a link to the website) 

Recently the most fascinating literary event in Vienna was the opening ceremony of the Erich Fried Days (dedicated to the famous Austrian poet Erich Fried) at the Academy Theatre in Vienna, where Nobel Prize in Literature laureate V. S. Naipaul and the well-known Austrian writer Christoph Ransmayr were supposed to talk on stage for one and a half hours about “facts and fiction” in their works. Naipaul must have had a stroke recently. The moderator asked him questions (in English), after which Naipaul without exception asked his intimate, who was sitting next to him, what the moderator just said. Naipaul’s companion repeated the question (in English), and then the writer gave long replies with long breaks in between, that did not have to do anything with the question and hardly made any sense. 15 minutes passed until the moderator addressed his first question to Ransmayr: “How did you choose the subject for your first novel?” Ransmayr replied that he finds it inadequate that they put a Nobel Prize laureate on stage and another, lesser-known writer. So he prefers to take on the role of the listener, because for a writer it is very important to listen. After that Ransmayr said almost nothing for the rest of the evening. The whole event was incredibly grotesque and an example par excellence of how absurd the whole literary scene is. Ransmayr received at least 2000 euro honorarium (it is known that he never appears for less), and the organizer of the festival additionally paid him his flight from Ireland, where he resides, from public fonds, for sitting 90 minutes and say nothing on a stage in front of two or three hundred people who paid money to see this show. While the other one, who probably received even more money, said only useless gibberish. The absurdity of this event was very fascinating.

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