Saturday, April 09, 2011

Czeslaw Milosz Centennial (1911-2011)

We are in the centennial commemoration of the political figure, literary writer and poet, Czeslaw Milosz. Here is a wonderful article by Seamus Heaney on Milosz from The British Guardian newspaper.

I have posted before on Milosz here and here.

It is one of those delicious and profound ironies of human clarity and complexity that Milosz, a former Communist, who still clung to the sentiments of Socialism, would become appalled at the slothful dress of American youth in the 1960s, and their disdain for decorum or respect for tradition and elders. Milosz was a person who supported revolution in extreme moments in early to mid-20th Century Eastern Europe, but he maintained a respect for institutions and societal order, as well as human kindness and eccentricities. He saw himself as part of a continuum, which is a different sort of romantic notion than the American romantic notion that is often "I am unique! I am new! I am different from all that comes before!" In other words, Milosz's European sensibility was repulsed by an American exceptionalism applied to radical political thought and action.

Heaney starts to write in his essay about Milosz at Berkeley starting in 1960, but never completes the thought he knows and should have conveyed.

Let's hope that as we glide through this centennial year of Milosz, we recall his sensibility that led him in different directions and modes of thinking and perspective.


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