George V. Reilly

Harold Pinter on Art, Truth, & Politics

Harold Pinter’s speech on accepting the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, in­dif­fer­ent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.’

It’s a scin­til­lat­ing stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words ‘the American people’ provide a truly voluptuous cushion of re­as­sur­ance. You don’t need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suf­fo­cat­ing your in­tel­li­gence and your critical faculties but it’s very com­fort­able. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

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