What most strikes me about the work of poet and journalist RYSZARD KAPUŚCIŃSKI (1932-2007) is the personal nature of his writing. Born in Pinsk, now Belarus, he ventured into the world, wholly unprepared, after asking the newspaper that he worked for to send him abroad. They sent him to India, China and Japan. He later traveled all over the world including Iran and Africa. His book, Shah of Shah’s (on the fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran), was the first of his works that I read. It impressed me not only because of my early interest in Iran which blossomed the summer my Uncle adopted my Iranian cousin, but also for the fact that throughout his travels he was never afraid to write about being afraid. He wrote about fear, boredom, insecurity, sadness, and confusion. In laying bare his own vulnerabilities he allows his reader to feel that the world and its mysteries are no more accessible to any other person than they are to ourselves. Speaking to this he has said, “Without memory we cannot live, for it is what elevates man above beasts, determines the contours of the human soul; and yet it is at the same time so unreliable, elusive, treacherous. It is precisely what makes man so unsure of himself. We do not know, and stretching beyond that “we do not know” is the vast realm of ignorance; in other words — of nonexistence.”
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.
READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).