INTERVIEW: Fast confession - Vladimir Franz: Leaving politics was like climbing out of a a septic tank into a blooming meadow
About the new book, freedom and negative energy in politics.
First and foremost a composer, artist, university teacher, poet, playwright, and occasional journalist. One would say it's not possible to do all that. But the opposite is true. His new book basically looks back over the past. What was and maybe should not have been. A reflection of that time. Today, Vladimir Franz remains in his world, because only "here" can he work freely.
You recently launched your book "My Homeland". How long did it take to write?
The book began to emerge sometime in 2010. It is a selection of certain elements. For example, such columns were once written for a certain newspaper. It includes a full two years worth of them, I did not miss a week. Of course, it was a period, and now its nobody's business, right? But I tried to choose the ones that overreach, and that will put together more and more connections. They are like musical notes. Notes are a nice thing, but if there's only one note, it doesn't mean anything. When there are more of them, they form a whole. Writing is the same. Or it includes a fictional typification of genres, such as a rock-climbing book, a horror book. And then there are bigger issues about social and cultural illnesses.
The title of the book is clear. Do you consider "Czechia" your country?
First of all, I would say that the word is ugly. I do not like the name "Czechia". We have the word Bohemia, and that's nice.
So why is your book not called "Bohemia"?
Because "My Homeland" is something you carry inside yourself. It expresses the relationship of man to his country. Here I feel good, I'm at home here. Of course it may be in Mexico, Slovakia, or somewhere in the mountains where I am also at home. But I feel the connection of man to that country. For example, in the United States I do not feel that connection. I was there and there was nothing missing, but you know, it's as if nothing permeates through. But in Mexico one feels the blending. In Mexico, you don't feeling like you're in Antarctica.
Even today we find those among us who consider America to be some kind of liberation. Isn't our "America" here in the Czech Republic?
Because the Czechs know only what they see on television. They perceive a reporter standing in front of the White House, the environment of Los Angeles, or when it's raining, those at home in their living room suddenly usually find themselves in New York City. And that's all we know about America, in my opinion. We know nothing about the life of an Oregon laundry-maid, a Wisconsin teacher or a plumber in Ohio. And we should want to know. Because then we might be surprised.
If you could choose a country other than the Czech Republic, which one would it be? Where would your "second homeland" be?
I would definitely feel good somewhere in the south. I like the heat, I love the sun. I'm not the Nordic type. I wouldn't mind Spain. It must be said I am a European. That's what I realized in America. I believe I could also live in Mexico if it wasn't so dangerous.
You left the world of politics...
I never really properly entered it.
So let's say you stepped in...
Yes, you could say that.
What made you take a step back and stay in that world?
It is possible that at that time I was trying to achieve certain goals in art. I dealt with socially critical themes. I tried to name various serious phenomena, often in a light, joking way. So it was as if I was asking for it a little.
What do you mean?
In that book I return also to the year 2012, sometime in March, April. And there I make fun of a new law, the direct election of the president. And I wonder what it would be like if I ran too, and at the end of August it happened. That was a surprise. It was, of course, a fascinating experience. No doubt about it. One discovers what it means to be a human, what society is and how it all works. From a distance, everything looks different. When you're in it, and only at that moment, do you realize what can be changed and what will never budge. Unless an individual is surrounded by a team that shoots someone's head off the moment they walk through the door. It is a world where one's word doesn't really apply. Which is nothing for me because I'm a man who keeps deadlines and works according to them. Here that is not possible.
So you plan a lot?
When someone has a project or works for a theater, you have to. There are deadlines in this world. Whatever you say here, that's how it is, and it holds true.
Which is not very common in politics, it would seem...
Nope. When I fell out of it, I started to appreciate things that I hadn't even noticed before. Suddenly I felt like I had climbed out of a septic tank into a blooming meadow.
Were you relieved?
Indeed, because politics is work with negative energy. And I do not like that. It kills me. One has to be born for such work.
Well, yes. Václav Klaus was born for it. The current president was born for it. In my opinion, there are really people who were born for it and it is their life passion. But it destroys me.
What's the most important thing for you now?
It is the hour of truth this week, because the Shakespeare Celebrations are taking place, and on that occasion I put together the music. "All's Well That Ends Well" is the name of the play, so we'll see how it sounds. It is, as usual, in the open air, and these are different acoustic conditions. So I hope that the sound will be heard. I'll let myself be surprised. And another thing, part of the music was created for the TV series about the Dejvické Theater. And interestingly enough, everyone plays themselves.
Do you have a life motto?
It is important for me to expand my inner and outer freedom. But inner freedom has its boundaries and must be broadened cautiously. It is also necessary to realize that without inner freedom there is no outer freedom. Who doesn't have it inside, need not look for it. I do not have a motto as such. But what I don't like is when people voluntarily and deliberately harm others. My relationship to these kinds of people is the same as to ticks.
When and where did you get your first tattoo?
Jesus, I don't remember. That was a long time ago.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was the Radetzky March by Joseph Roth.
What do you most think about in your life?
Probably about nature.
What made you leave the political scene?
It's the negative energy. And the fact that one's word does not apply. It is not considered a vice.
Would you change something about your past?
No, I wouldn't.
Who is your inspiration in literary work?
Strangely enough, I have no inspiration in literary work...I look for inspiration everywhere, in other things.
What did you want to be as a little boy?
As a little kid, I wanted to be a builder of temples or a president.
What is the first thing you notice about women?
What they radiate.
Who is your biggest critic?
Though it doesn't look like it, I'm afraid it's me.
Would you vote for leaving the European Union?
Given that in I don't know how many years our self-sufficiency in food production about 90% down, it's as if we were at the North Pole voting naked about whether to leave.
What comes to mind when you hear the word Czechia?
Czechia is a hideous word. That's what I predominantly think about.
Opera or a rock concert?
Of course, opera.
What would you call a luxury in your life?
A luxury in my life? Time to spare.
How much have social networks engulfed you?
Fortunately, I resisted them for a very long time. And for a long time, I thought Facebook was a some kind of box. So when I discovered it, I did it for about two years. And unfortunately it has crimped and flattened. All people do is complain. It's probably because of the anonymity. If we were to say it to other people's faces, or write it, it would be a bit more difficult for them. I don't seek it out.
Luxury Prague, 27. 6. 2018