Xenophobia manifests itself especially against civilizations and cultures that are weak because they lack economic resources, means of subsistence or land. So nomadic people are the first targets of this kind of aggression.
I vividly remember the stories my grandfather told me about the carnage of the First World War, which people tend to forget was one of the worst massacres in human history.
Doubts are like stains on a shirt. I like shirts with stains, because when I’m given a shirt that’s too clean, one that’s completely white, I immediately start having doubts.
An intellectual is going to have doubts, for example, about a fundamentalist religious doctrine that admits no doubt, about an imposed political system that allows no doubt, about a perfect aesthetic that has no room for doubt.
Fifty years after half a million gypsies were exterminated in the Second World War – thousands of them in Auschwitz – we’re again preparing the mass killing of this minority.
Literature is my life of course, but from an ontological point of view. From an existential point of view, I like being a teacher.
In a novel, my feelings and sense of outrage can find a broader means of expression which would be more symbolic and applicable to many European countries.
The most important basis of any novel is wanting to be someone else, and this means creating a character.
But democracy isn’t a state of perfection. It has to be improved, and that means constant vigilance.
It’s very useful when politicians have doubts because there are so many choices to be made in the world.
We all want to be someone else but without ceasing to be ourselves. I think it’s very important to defend this idea in real life too.
I don’t know whether these people are going to find themselves, but as they live their lives they have no choice but to face up to the image others have of them. They’re forced to look at themselves in a mirror, and they often manage to glimpse something of themselves.
But I don’t think I have any particular talent for prediction, because when you have three or four elements in hand, you don’t have to be a genius to reach certain conclusions.
Eco sees the intellectual as an organizer of culture, someone who can run a magazine or a museum. An administrator, in fact. I think this is a melancholy situation for an intellectual.
When you have a foreign invasion – in this case by the Indonesian army – writers, intellectuals, newspapers and magazines are the first targets of repression.
I don’t have any doubts either about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Perhaps some more should be added to the list, but I don’t have the slightest doubt about human rights.
I don’t want to promote my own image either. I don’t like going on television or mixing in literary circles.
People with lots of doubts sometimes find life more oppressive and exhausting than others, but they’re more energetic – they aren’t robots.