Starting in 1997 until his death in 2011, Vaclav Havel, the famous dissident, philosopher, playwright and Czech President, celebrated his birthday with the Vize 97 Prize ceremony, at which a world “liminal” thinker was awarded. The Vize 1997 laureates have included Umberto Eco, Zygmunt Bauman, Joseph Weizenbaum, and others. In 2008, the French (Bulgarian) psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva became the first woman to receive the award. I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a panel discussion with Kristeva.
Read about Vize 97 and the the Morning Debate with Julia Kristeva (from The Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation website):
“Since 1999, The Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 has awarded its international Prize to significant thinkers whose work exceeds the traditional framework of scientific knowledge, contributes to the understanding of science as an integral part of general culture and is concerned with unconventional ways of asking fundamental questions about cognition, being and human existence. By awarding its annual Prize, the Foundation enables the Czech public to meet the pioneers in interesting areas of contemporary scientific thought and to learn more about their work. The regular awarding of the Prize is therefore not limited to the actual ceremonial act of the presentation of the prize, but is also accompanied by other events, including informal meetings of students and professors during discussions with the laureate and invited guests. The Prize is awarded every year at a ceremony held on 5th October. The laureate receives a diploma and a commemorative artefact in the form of the crutch of Saint Vojtech rendered by the Czech artist Jirí Pliestik. Since 2004, the presentation ceremony for the VIZE 97 Prize has been held at the facilities of the Prague Crossroads.”
“A debate is always held in the morning, prior to the ceremony at which the laureate officially receives the VIZE 97 Prize. This was also the case this year. Ms Julia Kristeva, the anniversary tenth Prize winner, talked on the topic of “Polyphony – Meanings, Genders, Worlds”. Her opening address was followed by a lively discussion among viewers, the laureate, and the guests present at the debate, i.e. Josef Jarab, Iveta Jusová, Libuše Heczková, Miroslav Petrícek and Josef Fulka. One of the participants in the debate was President Václav Havel, who was a guest of honour, sitting in the first row among viewers. Members of the VIZE 97 Prize Board also took part in the event together with Mr Havel.”