【Review】| Writing about Complex Humanity, Traveling to a Bright Future
Time: November 21, Wednesday, 19:00-20:30
Venue: Yan Ji You
Theme: Deep, Dark and Human
作家：Jussi Valtonen（芬兰），Helena von Zweigbergk（瑞典），盛慧（中国），郑小驴（中国）
Writers: Jussi Valtonen (Finland), Helena von Zweigbergk (Sweden), Sheng Hui (China), Zheng Xiaolv (China)
Moderator: Xie Youshun (China)
The fourth event of The 3rd EU-China International Literary Festival was held on December 21 in Yan Ji You Bookstore, Guangzhou. In theme of “Deep, Dark and Human”, four writers from China, Finland and Sweden were invited to discuss character building and other aspects of the craft and dissect humanity in good and evil.
本场活动的嘉宾有芬兰作家、心理学家Jussi Valtonen，瑞典记者、作家、影评家Helena von Zweigbergk，中国作家、艺术评论家盛慧，及作家、文学杂志编辑郑小驴。主持人是作家、文学家谢有顺。
It’s our honor to invite Finnish author and psychologist Jussi Valtonen; Swedish journalist, author and film critic Helena von Zweigbergk; Chinese writer and art critic Sheng Hui; and Chinese writer and literary journal editor Zheng Xiaolv. The authors was in conversation with the moderator of tonight, Chinese author Xie Youshun.
Mr. Xie Youshun started the event with a marvelous speech about the relations between humanity and writing. He pointed out that – “Human, is the eternal topic in literature. Humanity is complicated. How to write about the complex humanity indicates the author’s ability to deal with reality. Also, the profoundness of soul and complexity of humanity determine the quality of literary works.” His idea led the discussion between authors.
Jussi from Finland agreed with this idea. He considered mankind as the fundamental topic in literature beyond countries. Ms. Helena from Sweden showed her thoughts in writing that she always paid attention to the real life and the understanding of interpersonal relationship. Mr. Sheng Hui from China mentioned that “humanity is a commonsense which is always ignored by people.” The depth of humanity reflected the depth of novels. Novelists had the ability of empathy, which was the core skill for them. Another Chinese author Mr. Zheng Xiaolv regarded writing as traditional Chinese landscape paintings. “It’s important to organize the whole structure, but what matters most is to spot a human in it, which plays a role as a crucial finishing point.” Thus, humanity was the eternal topic for writers.
In addition, Mr. Xie Youshun talked about the different perspectives in the works of humanity by Chinese and western writers: Chinese writers usually took the aspect of reality, history and reality while western writers affected by religions, focused more on transcendentalism and surrealism. In a way, different perspectives would bring about difference understandings. How both sides judged the views of each other was worth discussing here.
Ms. Helena highlighted the detail of real life in writing. “You can’t really see it because you’re used to it.” Mr. Jussi said that “although writers from different countries write from different perspectives on different genres, those are only the surface. What really matters is what you want to express.” Mr. Sheng Hui recommended a book named Delivering and Dallying by a Chinese author Liu Xiaofeng. Western culture emphasized rescue of souls while Chinese culture dallying and avoidance, affected by Taoism. For himself, as he is already in his forties, he would like to return to his mother culture. Mr. Zheng Xiaolv expressed his idea that humanity was too broad and we must narrowed it down to specific things.
Talking about the differences between literature and journalism, Mr. Xie Youshu said, “where journalism vanishes, literature exists. Literature unveils the hidden contradictions under reality, which is the unique value of literature.” Mr. Sheng Hui put forward his idea – “A good novel needs three sense: sense of pain, the intense contraction; sense of experience, your own life experience; and sense of beauty, the basic factor of novels.”
Back to the topic of tonight, authors returned to discuss the good and evil humanity. Mr. Zheng Xiaolv pointed out the flaws in common – too much writing on the bad side of humanity. Many authors just focused on the ugliness of humanity. We needed to change our stereotype. Actually struggling to live was the most profound humanity. Ms. Helena emphasized on crisis but she never gave up exploring humanity in crisis. She discovered in her work how the evils came into being in humans. “Darkness could coexist with life. It’s important to write about development. It’s change that’s interesting.”
Good and evil in humanity are not binary opposites. If they did, humans would be too plain. Writing should avoid shaping a pure good or evil character, but see through the internal humanity. The complexity of humanity guides the characters to the path out of our imagination. That’s why we should listen more to the voice of characters.
Attempting to capture and critique the human condition is an inherent part of writing, just as writing is and of itself a facet of the human condition. Creating complex, fallible, credible characters who – warts and all – can propel the narrative and at the same time tell us something about ourselves and the world we inhabit is a challenge for any writer.
Humanity is the foothold of literature and culture. A writer, as a person who loves and focuses on real life, gives further insights into humans and humanity. Attributed to their insights and observation, our knowledge of human beings is deeper and broader. Authenticity and complexity, good and evil, darkness and brightness, are always twined in an individual. That’s the eternal topic in literature. A single-sided topic can never describe the complex humanity. Therefore, every writer, even everyone should be brave enough to face the darkness and travel to a bright future, which is our best attitude to live in this world.
（张蔚雯 报道| 张蔚雯 翻译）
(Covered by Zhang Weiwen, translated by Zhang Weiwen)