The bat in the castle

13 March 2011

I’m going to Prague soon, so I’ve been doing some research. One thing I stumbled on was an entertaining review of Václav Havel‘s memoir of his time as President of the fledgling republic. Two quick extracts, one reflective, one largely metaphorical. The first is about the different between politics and drama, no matter how dramatic politics sometimes is:

As a playwright, he understood the theatrical nature of politics. All politicians must have “an elementary dramatic instinct”, he writes. But a major theme in this book is how often this desire for structure and order is thwarted by events, dear boy, events. Whereas drama gives meaning and structure to existence, “Politics is more of a strange, never-ending process with no clear turning points and no unambiguous and immediately recognisable outcomes.”

He found the Presidential Castle full of concealed wires and microphones when he arrived. But one theme cropped up again and again in his memos:

One repeated request appears to symbolise the continued presence of the former regime: “In the closet where the vacuum cleaner is kept, there also lives a bat. How to get rid of it?”

The bat and the vacuum cleaner. You could make it up, but it seems he didn’t have to.

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