Two well deserved Nobel Laureates, Harold Pinter, a British playwright and political activist and Jaroslav Seifert, a Czechoslovakian poet and journalist, are intelligent men who share similar ideas. However they present these ideas in contrasting methods. Both of their speeches are passionate and equally driven in their attempt to portray their views and opinions. Throughout Seifert’s lecture he discusses the role of lyricism and pathos in Czech society and in the world in general. He believes that to function as a human being you must have a healthy equilibrium of the pathetic and lyrical state of mind. Seifert feels that there is a lack of pathos and lyricism in the world, and that they are being destroyed by want and greed. In Pinter’s lecture he provides a prime example of anti-lyricism and the want of a certain nation that destroys pathos. Seifert describes the lyrical state of mind “as one of several forces [contributing] to the return of wisdom to our civilization” (Seifert p.55). This conceptual way of thinking is the opposite of pathos: The lyrical attitude has no desire to convince others. It merely offers them an opportunity to partake of that which it feels and experiences itself. No more and no less. It does not even go so far as to take a stand. It lacks distance; it conjoins, after all, with the flow of life. And if it takes no stand, it is all the less capable of becoming involved in disputes (Seifert p. 50) This state of mind allows you to understand your own being, how you feel, how you think. The lyrical state of mind, which is rooted in identification with nature and the world around us, is also one of the possible sources of an inner change in man and thereby, too, one of the ways that can lead man out of his untenable position as a self designated ruler who places himself outside nature. The other state of mind, the pathetic, is described as "a dramatic state of tension, a purposeful,
energetic, and resolute will, - not for any material possessions or even consumer goods, of course, but rather for justice, for truth"(Seifert p.46). According to him there is a deprivation of pathos in the world, this is a horrible thing because pathos is an aggressive driving force propelling humans forward, it is essential in everyday life. This is because pathos creates change, although the pathetic appeal can be manipulative, it is the cornerstone of moving people to action. Seifert explains during his lecture that many arguments are able to persuade people logically, but the apathetic audience may not follow through on the call to action. An appeal to pathos touches a nerve in people and it compels them to not only listen but to also take action in the world. People feel their emotions building up inside themselves and act out according to how they feel. Seifert feels that pathos creates a difference and is our only hope in society to progress and for our culture to be complete. Pathos helps its audience, by providing a "sufficient spiritual and moral strength to overcome the problems that society is constantly having to confront"(Seifert, 47). Understanding pathos, which plays with our emotions of sympathy, fears and desires, will allow us to conquer any situation, and help others survive their setbacks. A Balance between the pathetic and lyrical state of minds is what creates the roundness and wholeness of a person. However these two counterparts are destroyed by desires and want. In Harold Pinter’s speech, he provides a perfect example of what Seifert was trying to prove will happen to the world if there is a lack of pathos and lyricism. Pinter’s lecture is highly political, especially in its clinical dissection of post-war U.S. foreign policy. Throughout Pinter’s speech, he discusses the constant battle that the United States of America is waging against every country that gets in its way of the prize. The prize it is so strongly striving for is power. The United States of America wants and desires this power and it will stop at nothing to gain and obtain it.
In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued - or beaten to death - the same thing - and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer (Pinter, p.4) This is the example that Pinter uses throughout his speech, the USA: destroyers of pathos and anti-lyricism. This power hungry country stops at nothing, it will destroy cities and villages, cause the death of thousands, just to reach its desires, to fulfill its impulses. It will not stop at what is right and just, it pushes past the rules and forgets about how their decisions and actions will affect the lives of others. They treat humans as animals, and the territory they are attempting to claim is simply just land to them, and they do not think of it as covered with villages and homes of thousands. These examples just prove that pathos and lyricism is clearly not on the radar for the American politicians and government. Stephen Dandeneau, a professor at the University of Dayton, explains Pinter’s Theory and backs him up on his views on the United States. “[Pinter] stresses the skillful manipulation of reality-defining language, which is broadcast via mass media and which overwhelms an ineffectual mass democratic citizenry” (Dandeneau, para. 2). The “reality-defining language” that Dandeneau speaks of, is what the politicians and the government are saying to evoke emotions in their people. They are telling them to support them, but in reality they are not doing what they said they would do. In some cases they are doing the complete opposite, but they are
using pathos to make people more agreeably tolerant to what they are doing. And what they are doing is creating a greater power, and obtaining all that they desire, be that oil, land or just total domination.
Author of the book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John H. Mearsheimer explains how the USA is a great power. ....[G]reat powers fear each other and always compete with each other for power. The overriding goal of each state is to maximize its share of world power, which means gaining power at the expense of other states. But great powers do not merely strive to be the strongest of all the great powers, although that is a welcome outcome. Their ultimate aim is to be the hegemon--that is, the only great power in the system (Mearsheimer, p.2) Great power politics are influenced by both security fears and by the ambitions of their leaders. They are influenced by the power available and a variety of limits to the application of that power. Moreover, the fears and ambitions of leaders - and the limits to power - are in fact heavily influenced by political systems and the levels of popular support that can be generated by different governments for different policies - and the moral sensibilities dominant in each nation. The USA’s ultimate aim is to become the hegemon, and in achieving this goal it has forgotten about pathos and lyricism, has left them in the dust. Both Seifert and Pinter agree that greed and envy only lead to destruction of lyricism and pathos. When whole societies become infected by their impulses of desire and want, they may achieve incredible things, but they lose the power to feel emotion, to care for others, they lose sight of what a real human being is, how they are supposed to act. Throughout Seifert’s lecture he generalizes pathos and lyricism and how the world is lacking of these two states of mind. Pinter discusses how the United States of America, is destroying pathos, and is anti-lyrical in
their goal to achieve as much power as possible. What it all comes back to, is that people in the world today must keep a healthy equilibrium of the pathetic and lyrical state of mind, they should remain connected to their inner being and the people around them. People today should not get lost in the forces of culture, who feed off desires and impulses.