I have a cloud of sadness within me as I speak. It has to do with an absence, a non-event which, both as a product in itself and as the product’s fate, could easily stand – among similar testimonies – as symbolic of the mission of this gathering, and a number of others like it, at least in all societies which value the exertion of the mind and products of the imagination.
Before I state what that non-event is, I wish to emphasize very strongly that this is not meant as an indictment of this Book Fair of which I consider myself a part, having been with it – albeit marginally - from its very inception. That would be grossly misleading. My remarks represent a personal wish, generated by the nation’s current crisis of existence, and extend beyond this present location and time, even though they do take off from there. They are a continuation of a discourse on which I embarked years ago - and formed part of my BBC Reith Lecture series – CLIMATE OF FEAR.