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My trip to Hawaii


Teaching semiotics in San Francisco
Tomas Venclova Poet
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Mane netgi tada klausinėjo lietuvių emigrantai: O jūs nebijote, kad jus užmuš? Į tai aš atsakinėjau, žinoma, truputį galbūt ir buvo poza šiokia tokia, bravada: kad visi mes anksčiau ar vėliau mirsime, tai dar klausimas kas geriau, ar mirti nuo vėžio, ar nuo kepenų cirozės, ar mirti, taip sakant, kovos lauke? Bet nieko man neatsitiko ir... išvykau iš Vašingtono, tarp kitko, traukiniu, ne automobiliu, ne lėktuvu, kaip dauguma Amerikoj padarytų, bet traukiniu į San Francisko, kur mane buvo pakvietęs Česlovas Milošas, Česlovas Milošas dėstyti semiotiką. Na, ir aš vieną semestrą tą semiotiką ten dėsčiau. Lotmano semiotiką, kuri ten nebuvo beveik jokios politikos, nieko pavojingo, bet kadangi aš neskaitant dėstymo dar kalbėjau daug Žmogaus teisių klausimais įvairiausiose auditorijose, tai jau buvo, tarybiniu požiūriu, nusikaltimas.

I was even then being asked by Lithuanian émigrés, 'Aren't you afraid that they'll kill you?' And I would reply, 'Of course, perhaps a bit,' and I put on a pose, bravado, that we're all going to die sooner or later, so the better question was: which was better, to die from cancer or cirrhosis of the liver or to die, so to speak, on the field of battle? But nothing happened to me and I left Washington – by the way, by train and not by car, not by plane, as most would have done in America, but by train – to go to San Francisco where Czesław Miłosz... Czesław Miłosz had invited me to lecture on semiotics. Well, and I did lecture on semiotics there for one semester, [Yury] Lotman's semiotics, which had almost nothing to do with politics, nothing dangerous, but since I, apart from lecturing, had also spoken about human rights in various forums, that was, from a Soviet point of view, a crime.

Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: San Francisco, USA, Czesław Miłosz, Yury Lotman

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012