Universitatea „Lucian Blaga” din Sibiu, Centrul de Cercetări Filologice şi Interculturale “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, Center for Philological and Intercultural Research
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7 / 2014
Compassion as Remedy against Violence and Fanaticism: Thoughts on Borges and Oz
This paper aims at examining a simple yet fundamental question: what could trigger fanaticism? Some authors say its seed is “the feeling of definite superiority”; therefore, its scope includes both the lighter forms (uniformity and conformism) and the most (literally) explosive ones, such as the suicide attacks the media recounts. Irrespective of its intensity, the specific trait of the phenomenon is the fanatic’s desire to change you at all costs – he is “extremely generous”, a “great altruist”; most frequently, the fanatic seems more interested in you than you are yourself: “wants to save your soul, he wants to redeem you, he wants to liberate you from sin, from error, from smoking, from your faith or from your faithlessness, he wants to improve your eating habits, or to cure you of your drinking or voting habits”. From where, then, does the dislike before the fanatic emerge? Despite the “good intentions”, the repulsion lies in the pattern of the “forced conversion”, i.e. the fact that our freedom and will are trampled on in the name of “good”. A coercion of the other’s conscience in the name of the supreme conviction that we and we alone are right – and that the other must be persuaded by any means possible to accept it. The main bibliographic sources of this essay on fanaticism are drawn from the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Amos Oz – while not ignoring some contributions of fundamental poets like Yehuda Amichai.
Keywords: contemporary history, fanaticism, Gaza Strip, terrorism, literature and freedom, fiction and conscience, Jorge Luis Borges, Amos Oz
- Borges, Jorge Luis. A Universal History of Infamy, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni, Penguin Books, 1972, p. 103-105.
- Oz, Amos. How to Cure a Fanatic, translated in Romanian by Dana Ilin, Humanitas, Bucharest, 2007.
- Toroczkai, Ciprian Iulian. „Cred, Doamne, ajută necredinţei mele…”. Exerciţii teologice [“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief…”. Theological Exercises], Astra Museum, Sibiu, 2013, p. 271-273.