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Balkan is Revolutionary Place

By Erol Avdović – UNITED NATIONS (AA) – “Balkans have a terrible problem of social memory because they get so many revolutions – more than Italy for instance, and more than France. I can not help you,” Umberto Eco told AA in New York after his lecture on “Culture of memory” given at the UN on Monday afternoon. Eco was responding on AA reporter’s question, what he would like to advise to the people of his (Italian) neighborhood and Balkan writers in particular based on Winston Churchill’s saying: Tragedy of Balkan people was always that they “produce more history that they can consume.”

Umberto Eco and Erol Avdovic  at the United Nations, New York, 21 October 2013 (Courtesy photo of Cem Ozde/AA)

Umberto Eco and Erol Avdovic at the United Nations, New York, 21 October 2013 (Courtesy photo of Cem Ozde/AA)

Fan of Orhan Pamuk

“I was not hired as an adviser to Balkan people and I have newer reflected such an important problem,” a famous Italian writer and author of the no less world-famous book “The Name of the Rose”, Umberto Eco told AA with a laugh and a dose of sarcasm. He said he did not read and never heard of an award winning American-Bosnian writer who has gathered up many of the highest awards for literature in the West Aleksandar Hemon, who recently wrote intensively on that.

But Eco knows very many facts of Turkish Nobel prize winner in literature Orhan Pamuk, saying: “I am a good friend of him, yes.”

“I saw him a few moths ago, it was in Istanbul. We met and had debate together,” Eco told AA. Asked if he intended to go to Istanbul soon again, he simply responded, “No. I don’t know in the next – I have still 20 years to live until nice centennial,” he said.

Filtering web-sites

Talking at the UN, in his rather philosophical speech on “Culture of memory” Eco concluded that the most important knowledge and most important project of the future is how to learn not to forget our past, but with leaving room for deliberate obscurity. He picturesquely referred that “few people know how much time lapsed before the age of dinosaurs to the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Yet he has given no details on what part of human history people should be focused to erase as a part a “need to forget.” But, he said “the need to forget foes with the need to memorize.”

He also warned about the magnitude of social filtering of the specific information that we receive via the Internet in recent times.

Reading books prolongs your life

“Internet has increased our ability to filter,” said Eco. “Without such a filter we would have ignited into a social sickness,” he added, saying they don’t need to preserve everything when it comes to the information flood as a part of communication technology boom. Eco said “collective history” is one of those filters.

Umberto Eco also talked about how reading books is prolonging our life.

“Reading books not only enriches our memories but makes our life longer,” he said. Eco explained that by reading books and learning about others’ lives, from Mozart to Leo Tolstoy, people have a chance to fill the gaps in their lives when they become ordinary and empty without the important events.

At the UN – professor Eco, one of the leading European skeptics, also presented his project titled “Encyclo-media” – as a summation of historical memory, his personal reflections and editorial venture.

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