Several days ago, I witnessed a scene in Belgrade which made me shudder: an old lady was eating directly from a garbage can in front of fast food stand, using a fork. Thus ends one of the more popular myths of Serbian nationalism, on the topic: “Why are we better than others?”. The answer is: “Because in the Middle ages, Serbs ate with forks, while others devoured the meat with their bare hands”. The logical addendum to this murderous lie, which ends up in the reality of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of destitute people like this old lady, is the SANU (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts) announcement about the Nobel Prize, which screams with disdain. Not even in this moment of glory could the academicians refrain from lying: they were allegedly informed directly by the Swedish Royal Academy, because they know the true address of the greatest writer – his spiritual home. Early in the morning, of course – the dramatic moment is crucial. It was peaceful and serene in the home of Serbian wisdom… This is, without a doubt, the worst barging of SANU, which, during the last thirty years, showed no trace of collective self-reflection, just, if I remember correctly, one single line, a sign of personal responsibility, which reached the public. What fork? Academicians barged with shovels… In the streets, we used to call it “twisting”: one would whistle of yell loudly, and guys who believed to be the most observed and important would unmistakably turn their heads in the direction of public recognition. In the years before the war, I witnessed great moments of twisting in Orebic, when groups of local youth and summer residents always managed to pull this trick off on Dragos Kalajic, as soon as he would appear on the street.

Let us leave aside the academicians, with shovels in their hands, a little sooty and sweaty, to figure out how to insult the Nobel Prize, which the laureate who was not meant to be already proclaimed unworthy of accepting. The loss of dignity in the case of these old men is basically only their personal responsibility, although they are largely responsible for the fate of that old lady with the fork. They plotted how to lie to her, they chose politicians who degraded this country to eating from the trash can, they themselves shamelessly grabbed crumbles falling from the table of power (where forks were not used), they blessed the wretched, who killed and died with the words of the academicians on their lips, they slapped war criminals on the shoulder, they received the news about the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic with discreet joy. Instead of critical generations, the bred those who would wait on them, around the world they organized only networks of servants and reliable exotic jerks. What are they going to do after such shame is basically clear: they will go on as if nothing happened. Only losers with principles drench themselves with gasoline.

Those responsible for this important day of severance and awakening in the far too long history of Serbian Nazi madness will, I hope, become known in history. In the first moment after the news were received, I confess that I though this was the end – the final line of misunderstanding between worlds had been created. In the second moment, I told the person who brought me the news – we are dealing with hackers, although at first I thought they were Serbian Nazi hackers. Come to think of it, if they had turned out to be Serbian Nazi hackers, all nationalists would be praising the trick, claiming that it shows how this global prize is unjust towards such a giant of thought – while some unimportant and unworthy women, like Jelinek and Miller, became laureates before him.

While I am trying to push through a shower of messages, in which everyone admires Serbian humor, courage, constructive madness and other things, I have to refrain myself from answering that the moment, whatever feeling of righteousness it brought, is actually infinitely sad, and that desperate people are only to appear in the following generations on the edge of abyss that swallowed their predecessors, and then threw them out into unhappiness, sickness, early death, exile. Twenty two years ago, after six months of waiting for the decision of the editors, the magazine which was called Vreme at the time (maybe it is being called the same today, but no one is answering), published my thoroughly abridged commentary, which criticized the scandalous mistakes  in general knowledge that the giant-writer revealed in his work; 15 years ago, I was expelled from the Association of Writers of Serbia (by Djordjije Vukovic, Alek Vukadinovic and Slobodan Rakitic), because I was critical of the giant-writer in my commentaries. In addition to that, I was not too happy when B92 decided it was the right moment to publish a book of interviews with Cosic: my critical commentary was at the time rejected even by some Yugo-London media portal. I mention this because I can only thank the creators of the golden made up news for reminding me that I have not been tired for the last thirty years, not in the least, and maybe – Inshallah – will not be forever.

Translated by Bojana Obradovic, 13.10.2011.

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Svetlana Slapšak, rođena u Beogradu 1948, gde je završila klasičnu gimnaziju i doktorirala na Odeljenju za antičke studije na Filozofskom fakultetu. Pasoš joj je bio oduzet 1968-73, 1975-76. i 1988-89. Zaposlena u Institutu za književnost i umetnost 1972-88. Predsednica Odbora za slobodu izražavanja UKS 1986-89, sastavila i izdala preko 50 peticija, među njima i za oslobađanje Adema Demaćija. Bila članica UJDI-ja. Preselila se u Ljubljanu 1991, gde je redovna profesorka za antropologiju antičkih svetova, studije roda i balkanologiju (2002-14), koordinatorka studijskih programa i dekanka na ISH (2004-14). Glavna urednica časopisa ProFemina od 1994. Umetnička direktorka Srpskog kulturnoga centra Danilo Kiš i direktorka Instituta za balkanske i sredozemne studije i kulturu u Ljubljani. Predložena, u grupi Hiljadu žena za mir, za Nobelovu nagradu za mir 2005. Napisala je i uredila preko 100 knjiga i zbornika, oko 500 studija, preko 3.000 eseja, nekoliko romana, libreto, putopise, drame; prevodi sa grčkog, novogrčkog, latinskog, francuskog, engleskog i slovenačkog. Neke od novijih knjiga: sa Jasenkom Kodrnja, Svenkom Savić, Kultura, žene, drugi (ur, 2011); Franc Kavčič in antika: pogled iz antropologije antičnih svetov (2011); Mikra theatrika (2011); sa Biljanom Kašić i Jelenom Petrović, Feminist critical interventions [thinking heritage, decolonising, crossings] (ur, 2013); Antička miturgija: žene (2013); Zelje in spolnost (2013); Leon i Leonina, roman (e-izdanje, 2014); Leteći pilav (2014); Kuhinja z razgledom (2015); sa Natašom Kandić, ur. Zbornik: Tranziciona pravda i pomirenje u postjugoslovenskim zemljama (2015); Ravnoteža, roman (2016); Preživeti i uživati: iz antropologije hrane. Eseji i recepti (2016); Kupusara. Ogledi iz istorijske antropologije hrane i seksualnosti (2016); Škola za delikatne ljubavnike, roman (2018); Muške ikone antičkog sveta (2018); Libreto za kamernu operu Julka i Janez, Opera SNG Ljubljana, premijerno izvedena 19.1.2017; Antična miturgija (2017); Muške ikone antičkog sveta (2018); sa Marinom Matešić, Rod i Balkan (2018); Mikra theatrika II: antropološki pogled na antično in sodobno gledališče (2018); Volna in telo: študija iz zgodovinske antropologije (2019); Moj mačkoljubivi život (2021); sa Aleksandrom Hemonom, Mladost (2021); Feminističke inscenacije (2021); Osvetnice, roman (2022); Grožnja in strah: razraščanje sovražnega govora kot orodja oblasti v Sloveniji (2022). Romani su objavljeni na slovenačkom i makedonskom. Dobitnica nagrada Miloš Crnjanski za knjigu eseja 1990, American PEN Award 1993, Helsinki Watch Award 2000, Helen Award, Montreal 2001, nagrade Mirko Kovač za knjigu eseja 2015, nagrade Mira ženskog odbora PEN-a Slovenije 2016, Vitalove nagrade Zlatni suncokret 2017.

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