Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

David Lang – This Was Written by Hand


David Lang – This Was Written by Hand

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

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Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry

Only Doubt Endures: Death in Rome, Wolfgang Koeppen


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French publisher’s cover for Death in Rome, Wolfgang Koeppen

Only Doubt Endures Peter Filkins; Published: January 29, 1995 New York Times

Death in Rome,  Wolfgang Koeppen. Translated by Michael Hofmann. 202 pp. New York: Penguin Books, first published in 1954

Wolfgang Koeppen’s 1954 novel, “Death in Rome,”  (is) the third in a set of novels, including “Pigeons in the Grass” and “The Hothouse,” that brought Koeppen to critical fame in postwar Germany, and is also the last novel he published, even though he (wrote) several travel books since. Such silence would kill many a career, and though Koeppen’s star has never completely faded from German letters, clearly his work has never found the international audience enjoyed by Gunter Grass and Heinrich Boll.

For in echoing Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” in the book’s title, he undercuts the modernist notion that art can transcend decadence and decay. The last sentence in “Death in Rome” is in fact a purposeful pastiche of the famous ending of the Mann story, just as the two works share the themes of death, music, sex and the chaos that lurks beneath life’s artifice. However, for all of his reluctance to transcend, much less forgive, the force of history, Koeppen is no less the conscious artist …

Wolfgang Koeppen’s principal characters function as mythic caricatures bled into being by the backdrop of history. There is Gottlieb Judejahn, a former SS general and still unrepentant Nazi murderer who now trains soldiers for an Arab state. He has agreed to a reunion in Rome with his sister’s family, which is headed by her husband, Friedrich Wilhelm Pfaffrath, a former Nazi bureaucrat turned upstanding German politician. Judejahn’s son, Adolf, is also in town, having betrayed his father’s whole life by studying to be a priest. And Pfaffrath’s son Siegfried has set out on a questionable path as a composer; his work is having its debut in Rome.

Part of the reason rests in the nature of Koeppen’s vision. His voice, cold, defiant and relentless in its fury at the deadly amnesia he saw emerge from Germany’s ruins after World War II, neither transforms nor imbues the world around him, but rather indicts it. Page by page, “Death in Rome” serves warrant not only on Germany’s past but also on its present and future. The result is not a pleasant read, but that is very much Mr. Koeppen’s point.

These four circle and mirror one another like themes in a musical score, their natures representing what Michael Hofmann sees as “the four quarters of the riven German soul: murder, bureaucracy, theology and music.” Judejahn, the murderer, and Siegfried, the musician, strike the most prominent notes, because the struggle for the soul of Koeppen’s novel is between them. Siegfried is the only one to speak in the first person, and it is he who wishes to compose “a new message for the few who were capable of hearing it,” thus making him seem a stand-in for the writer. Judejahn kills again, however, and even Siegfried feels that “my being here is futile, my speaking to these people is futile . . . my music is futile.” The reader closes “Death in Rome” not knowing whether he has just witnessed a murder or the creation of a masterpiece. The answer is: both.

“The unbeliever’s doubt in his unbelief is at least as terrible as the doubt of the believer,” Siegfried tells Adolf in response to Adolf’s assertion that “if I thought as you do, I would kill myself.” This is the high wire that Wolfgang Koeppen walks … Doubt, however, is the final victor in “Death in Rome,” and the silence that befell Wolfgang Koeppen’s career seems the principal, most tragic result.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Book Review, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

It struck me this morning


It struck me this morning, even above my art, which is so central to me, what matters most is to be fully a human being, to be authentic and self honest. That, surely, is the hightest achievement any person can hope to achieve, reach.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

I should like


I should like, as I do from time to time, thank those who recently have adopted to follow the blog, and extent those thanks to all who presently follow and come to visit it.

I appreciate you all.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

What would father say


If father knew I am doing art
What would he say
What would he think
What would he make of it

Art comes from my mother
Genes
Natural
Built in
Effortless
Water to fish

But he hated her
With a passion
A vehemenousness

But I’m his son
His eldest child
He wanted me to be a scholar
Like him

What would he make of my style
Of art
He, who didn’t even like music
And lived solely in a mental
Plane, one far above that of 
Normal human beings
He lived where the Greeks lived
Aristotle, Sophocles, Plato
David Hum, Adam Smith
John Stuart Mills.

But I live there too
My art is conceptual
If he learned that
Would it make a difference

Yes I too live in this realm
His

I have my Blackwell Companions to Philosophy
Their Companion to Metaphysics beside me as write
At home my Companion to Cognitive Science,
Ethics, The Philosophy of Religion and all
I cannot do without

I ponder on the nature of existence
Of identity
But I don’t write of these matters
Instead they go into my art

But if father knew
What would he say?

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 23 November, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

winterThieves – The Human You


winterThieves – The Human You

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Cookie Ashton “I’m particularly interested in engaging the viewer as a participant interpreting and interacting with the artwork,” from the artist’s profile


Cookie Ashton
Homebound                                                                                                                  Cookie Ashton
Painting © the artist

“I work mostly with mixed media on panel. This painting is inspired by home interiors with a view of the ocean.”

From the description of the work.

I had the pleasure of meeting Cookie and her husband, Ric, at The Other Arts Fair, Brooklyn Expo, Brooklyn, New York 9-12 November, 2017. I am glad to have a medium where I can honour her and her work.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Victoria Young Jamieson’s work …”captures a truly original approach with regards to natural landscape art” From the artist’s profile


Vitoria Young Johnson
Dusk Settled V                                                                                            Victoria Young Jamieson                        Painting © the artist

” ‘I close my eyes and I can see the morning sun. In the same hemisphere but a different atmosphere. The shades of blue that normally fill my eyes have been replaced with the fire and heat of American desert air. Reds and yellows and oranges I have seen before but never known. The exposure to the thick air allows me to be engulfed with the desert dust. Not dissimilar from the dust that settles on my window sill at home, except this has ignited itself to burn to become a free moving orange earth that settles on every surface and every crevice.

‘Exposure to the landscape has allowed me to know the colours and let them come naturally. My southern introduction to the new fire element has allowed me to experiment with new materials and new processes of thinking about colour. I close my eyes and paint from memory. I see the bright lights and fluorescent pigments that dot the American landscape. Deep reds and pinks and oranges reflect of the sunburnt sand.

‘I am influenced by what I see. I was previously daunted by these same pinks and reds, but as the desert dust settles around me, I understand them now.’ Lulu Farley”

From the description of the work

What a pleasure meeting Vitoria at The Other Arts Fair Brookly Expo Brooklyn New York 9-12 November. I am glad to be able to express my appreciation of her as an artist and as a person.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 December, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

John Berry “Who are we really?” from the Artist’s profile


What if I am wrong John BerryWhat if I am wrong?                                                                                                          John Berry
Painting © the artist

“This piece was created using multi media. acrylic, with enamel and then oil paint. I also used oil pastels.”

I had the pleasure of meeting John at The Other Arts Fair, Brooklyn Expo, Brooklyn, New York 9-12 November, 2017 and should like to express my appreciation of him as an artist and as a person.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

 

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Richard Leach Late is Also


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l

Late is Also                                                                                                                                            RichardLeach
Collage  ©2014-2017

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 25 November, 2017

 

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

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