Ana Blandiana – Doctor Honoris Causa – Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca – End of Speech

In his famous speech, titled ‘Poor world’ and given in 1978 at Harvard University, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – the person who managed to trigger not only the end of Communism as a system but also the end of Communism as illusion – talked about the decline of courage in the West. I quote: ‘a decline sensible particularly within the ruling elite and preponderantly within their inner world.

Even if an aberrant occurrence some weeks ago in Italy, (when the Roman statues were hidden behind wooden screens so as not to offend the eyes of the Iranian president) seems to justify [Solzhenitsyn] I do not share the great writer’s pessimism. On the contrary, I believe that evil will lead to good and the crisis of conscience that is gripping Europe today will function as a regenerating factor because I am convinced that Malraux’s intuition referred to the need of exiting the exclusiveness of material interest to discover our spiritual and cultural values (religion being one of these).

We would rediscover therefore a definition always connected to the need to truthfully believe in something: belief which encompasses trust in one another, manifested not only in easy and indifferent likes given from the top of the finger on the keyboard but through a return to direct, unmediated, human relations, where the so unfashionable and ridiculed notion of ‘soul’ can recover its content and style.

I read somewhere that in the Chinese language, the word ‘crisis’ is denoted through the means of two signs: danger and opportunity. In our case, the danger no longer needs to be demonstrated; opportunity can be us obligating ourselves to meditate on our own cultural definition and on our own historic consciousness.

Against this uncertain and heavy background of restlessness, we (and here I mean us, Romania) have the obligation not only to follow our destiny but to understand it. We are located on a line where the map of Europe has been many times bent and where it is always threatened to tear. Our duty is not only to do everything so that doesn’t happen but also to stubbornly remain on the Western part of a possible tear.

Because it’s not only us who need Europe (as critical as we might be of it) but it is Europe also needing us, as little as it might be aware of it. Aware that the experience of suffering that we have lived through – us in the East – a ‘human authenticity’ has been conserved (with all the good and the bad that such a collocation might be carrying), and which through integration, we are bringing as dowry to the common European patrimony.

Because suffering is a patrimony: a patrimony which was able to generate culture in all epochs. And if, as Lovinescu said: ‘Culture is the finality of all societies’ our chance, Europe’s chance, is to defend our culture in order to be saved through it.

Resistance through culture, efficient yesterday in the absence of freedom, is even more necessary today, in the overdose of freedom, when it is becoming not only a means to save the poets but the purpose itself of saving civilisation. Let us not forget: The Poets are not the creators of the world. Had it been created by Poets, the world would have looked completely different.