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Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason
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BILL MOYERS: You do make us think though, what is it like to be the outsider? What is it like not to be chosen, not to be part of the elect? That's what you wanted to do, right?

ANNE PROVOOST: This outside perspective is very precious to me. I think it's very precious in literature and storytelling as a whole. Because I think very many authors do it. I-- they turn the thing around.

And they try to look at it from this very different perspective. But I also wanted to break through this-- is this English, this self evidence, you know, this assumption that if you're going to tell that story, you're going to see it from the side of the winners. I think every conflict, every story, becomes more interesting if you see it from the sides of the losers. And that's happened many times before. I'm not, you know, the first one doing that. But of course, I will talk to people all the time who will say, "This is my childhood story, you know. You're taking it away from me. Because I always thought of it as a very positive, gentle, optimistic story. And I never thought of the people who were left behind.

And I don't want to to think about them. Because it's very confrontational." But that of course, is what-- as an author, you want to do.

BILL MOYERS: It even ends with the rainbow, remember? I mean, the--

ANNE PROVOOST: Right.

BILL MOYERS: The flood recedes. There's Noah and his wife on the prow of the ark looking at a beautiful rainbow. That was the image that survived from my Sunday school days.

ANNE PROVOOST: Right.

BILL MOYERS: The rainbow ending the flood. And I have to confess that I didn't either, think about the losers.

BILL MOYERS: Did you write this story as a mother, a mother of three children? Because the children-- I've often thought-- the children who died in the great flood, you know, that they were neither righteous nor unrighteous. They were too young to be a identified as such. And yet, they perished by the tens of thousands, if you want to believe this story.

ANNE PROVOOST: In the story one of the main characters is a lame person. It's the mother of the "I" person. And she can only move her eyelids. That's the only way of communication she has. And I'm building this up as...I introduced this person first of all to distinguish the group of people of my main character, by the fact that she has reached this stop, this phase in humanity where they actually start to look after the disabled.

Because I think,before, you know, there have been times where you couldn't afford to look after somebody who was lame. You needed to leave her behind.

Because she had no function. She was not useful, quote unquote, anymore. Now, she's already on the next ethical step in human history, where she actually faces surprises with other people who come up to her and say, "What, you know, why do you look after her? She's useless, you know. She's just a waste of time and energy and money for help."

So for me, she was a very interesting character. Because she could show how many steps already this people had taken. But of course, she's the example for this whole problem of how do you define between who is right and who is good and who is bad? Because if you're lame, how can you sin? How can you do anything bad-- probably the-- then it would have to be bad in her thoughts. But how are you going to measure that? And would God ever do that? Would he decide that since you have have had bad thoughts, you need to drown?

So, I was, you know, I was happy with that character. She became extremely useful in showing the impossibility of making that decision. And together with that of course, come the children. Because they plan an important role in the book where you-- you know they're drowning. And- some of them...and describing them, they're wearing beautiful gowns because they were left by their parents.

And, you know, no parents will ever think, "I have a bad child, it deserves to drown." So, it's this whole conflict that is crucial. And it's what you want to do as an author is, you want to show this. You want to show that even though it's there, it's in the book, it's believed by some people to be a historic event, there's so many question marks that are given to us through the story and that we're chewing on.



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