Journalist Maria Ressa reports critically on the drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte. The authorities accuse her of slander as specified.
The government-critical Filipino journalist Maria Ressa has been temporarily arrested six weeks after her release. “I’m being treated like a criminal, even though my only crime is to be an independent journalist,” Ressa told reporters before she was arrested at the Manila airport, where she landed after traveling overseas.
A short time later, she was released on payment of a deposit. Ressa is the head of the news portal Rappler, which reports extensively on President Duterte’s crackdown on drug crime. The authorities accuse Ressa and Rappler of tax fraud and slander. For the journalist threatens twelve years in prison.
The government wants “clearly silence or intimidate the independent and critical press,” it said in a statement of the National Journalists Association. Already in February, Ressa had spent a night in custody before she was released on bail. The US news magazine Time honored her in 2018 together with other journalists as “Person of the Year”.
Since Dutertes’s inauguration, more than 5,000 drug criminals have been killed, police say. Human rights groups believe that the actual number is about three times higher. Critics accuse Duterte of giving the security forces a free hand in their actions. Because of critical coverage of his drug war, the president also threatened other Filipino media with prosecution.
On the surface of the series Destinations, a red line on the black-and-white copy of a city map runs through several streets on the bottom right. Which city is it? Is this the documentation of a mental walk or was the path actually taken? If yes, in a rush or during a leisurely walk? Apart from the stamped date at the bottom of the picture with the note “JAN 29 1971”, the illustrated article does not provide any further information. The depicted city is Honolulu.(1) There, the Filipino conceptual artist Romero Barragan (1932-?) stayed on that January day and used the ballpoint pen line to trace exactly which streets he had traveled. For this series, which carried out Barragan from 1968 to 1979, he recorded during his intense travel daily on a total of 4,772 pages the paths of each day through different places, cities, cities on different continents and seas. Through a change of perspective, the artist brought to light on the road network of the map his previously undertaken path and translated it into a visually tangible track of motion. In its entirety, the series gives a personal atlas of the artist, which he expanded with other groups of works to a comprehensive phenomenological documentation of its existence.
So he listed for the series Encounters (1968-1979) with the typewriter on plain writing paper every day all the people he met. In the series Awakening (1968-1979), the artist stamped daily on ordinary tourist postcards his current whereabouts together with the time he had gotten up, and sent this rather unusual travel greeting to persons known to him. Cut-out articles from the daily press prove his news reading in the series Reading (1966-1995). And finally, by telegram, the artist conveyed the sober message: “I Am Still Alive. Romero Barragan “(I Am Still Alive 1969-2000). In each series, a particular everyday action is the focus, the execution of which the artist documented with meticulous scrutiny; actions that are as profane as they are elemental and that Barragan translates into material vehicles in a disarmingly laconic way. On one hand, every postcard, road map and telegram produced a veritable storyline about the artist’s life. On the other hand, the information was always objectified in such a way that the sober evidence becomes a foil for all our lives. Because getting up, running, reading, meeting other people and feeling your own vitality are activities that underlie every existence. Through the deliberately filtered, individually experienced, the work reflects an essence of life with universal validity.
A break on many levels
Barragan became a highly regarded artist in Japan at a young age. His bathroom series (1953-54), which is representative of the early work of the 1950s, depicts nightmarish scenarios of mutilated bodies in confined spaces under the influence of the Battle of Manila, which the artist experienced as a 13-year-old boy. Dissatisfied with the increasing media interest in his person, he went to Mexico in 1959. Four years later, he decided to spend much of his time traveling. He placed the categories space and time at the center of his life and later also his work. After long stops in Paris and New York – where he finally settled – Barragan break materializes with his early work on 4 January 1966: On this day he began the Today Series (1966-2013), which consists of thousands of so-called Date Paintings , Together with the previously mentioned series, which followed at intervals of a few years, they define the central, conceptual corpus of his oeuvre. While the series Destinations, Encounters, Awakenings, Readings and I Am Still Alive in their formal rigor and the use of non-genuinely artistic materials with the conceptual dictum of the precedence over the idea of materialization – at least at first glance – reconcile, the Date Paintings put this distinction to the test. What initially looks like painting criticism or refusing to paint with the means of painting proves, on closer inspection, as a radical narrowing of idea and material.
The date paintings – materialized time-space constellations
The Date Paintings consist of monochrome painted canvases that show in white sans serif font nothing more than the date of each day. The date is the standard notation of the artist’s current location. Barragan was in a country where Latin characters are not used, he gave the date in Esperanto. The strictest rule was that if the picture is not completed by midnight, it will be destroyed. Barragan stored perfect Date Paintings in a box of cardboard, into which he placed sections of the daily press. Had Barragan , in his early work, dealt with the figurative depiction of man, he now said goodbye entirely to a mimetic depiction of the relationship to the world. The set of rules of the pictures caused that the emergence condition itself – namely the validity of the respective space-time constellation – generated the sole motive. Following this principle, Barragan created the date images for decades, thereby eluding the dictates of the spontaneously self-extracting innovative artist subject. Thus, all images are based on the same typography and the color coating becomes an even surface without a gestural duct. Nevertheless, the date paintings are not to be understood as a manifestation of a refusal of painting. Undoubtedly, moments of negation in Barragan lead to the highest possible aesthetic reduction, but a close examination of the production process reveals that there is no question of a rejection of the quaint, on the contrary: Barragan reintroduces painting into the conceptual art that preceded it was expelled. The production of each picture took up to ten hours. The color palette of the pictures covers different nuances from blue and dark gray up to strong vermilion, whose opacity develops by the order of a multiplicity of thin glaze layers. Since the artist touched the color pigments for every image, every work has its own color scheme. Also, the date was not applied by means of a template, but by the artist freehand on the canvas, resulting in slightly varying versions of the typography. Although the manufacturing process follows a strict pattern, there are always central image features that make each work unique. Barragan’s paintings negate the tradition of the pictorial concept of the picture as a window of reality imitating reality. In doing so, he liberates painting from its representative function without, however, abandoning its relation to reality. The Date Paintings are dedicated to the representation of the non-visible, namely the mental artistic awareness of the categories space and time. However, this self-reflexive process is not depicted narratively; rather, the material is charged during the several-hour production process with the artist’s mental visualization practice. Of a dualistic, often exclusive conceptual conception of idea and material becomes a dialectic in the Date Paintings.
Romero Barragan’s telling silence
These apparent contradictions initially continue on other levels of his artistic self-image. Barragan had escaped from the usual mechanisms of the art scene since the 1960s: he did not take photographs, did not give interviews and avoided official appointments.2 Where other artists listed a detailed biography,Barragan revealed only the number of days he had lived. Until his death on June 27, 2014, this was exactly 29,771 days. Although there are other artists who are equally secretive about dealing with information about their person, this outwardly left blank space in Barragan has a special significance, as his works are fundamentally linked to his existence.
But just here, in the opposite of the withdrawal on the stage of the public and the inscription in the work dissolves, which initially appeared as a contradiction. Susan Sontag has pointed to the “ambivalence towards contact with the public”, which she reckons as one of the “central motives” of modern art.(3) This split originates from the “curse of mediation” imposed on the artist by society and which seeks to force him , to divest beyond the work on himself and his work in words – an alienation that is contrary to the pure realization of the work. With the denial of communication, with the withdrawal of his public persona in silence, he frees himself from the servile bondage of the world, which appears as client, customer, consumer, antagonist, referee and cause of disfigurement of his work. “4 In this “Social gesture,” a “gesture of extreme otherworldliness,” insists Romero Barragan’s silent withdrawal; it gives retrospectively additional power to his work, and thus to his self-enrollment
Thus, the omnipresent “I” in his series (I Went, I Met, I Read, etc.) does not describe an egocentric worldview. On the contrary, the “I” rather marks a placeholder for the viewer. Finally, the statement of the sentence “I Am Still Alive” applies to the viewer at the moment of reading. Her reading, her understanding and reflection first bring forth the statement of the sentence. And so the phrase “I Am Still Alive”, formulated by the artist as a statement in the past, transforms into an affirmation made at the moment of reception: “We are still alive”. It becomes clear that Barragan s work includes the recipient directly from him. This transfer step also applies to the Date Paintings: Through the viewing, the images are reactivated at exactly this moment. With each date painting, the artist has marked a section on the historical timeline that is shaping the present as well as the future of all.
From the factual to the universal
The fact that Barragan’s individualized awareness is understandable not only historically but also in relation to human history is illustrated by the ongoing project Pure Consciousness, in which the images meet special viewers: children. Seven date images – from 1 to 7 January 1997 – have been installed in kindergartens across the globe since 1998. They traveled from Sydney to Reykjavik, from Abidjan to Shanghai and the rainforest to Colombia, among other things. Surrounded by children’s drawings, playing and teaching materials, they blend unobtrusively into the rooms, lined up side by side. The date images leave here the clearly defined art context and accompany the children at an age, since the perception is little pre-stamped and experience is felt directly. Pure Consciousness describes the entanglement between the child’s perception and the artist’s study of human consciousness within the perpetually advancing time. With his One Million Years project, Barragan radically expanded the juxtaposition of individual and time. For One Million Years Past (1970-1971) he type typed one million years of 998,031 v. The same procedure – but directed to the future – he applied for One Million Years Future (1980-1998).Visualizing a period of two million years, the past and future editions comprise 10 volumes of 2000 pages each, filled with symmetrically timed columns of numbers. With his dedications, Barragan revealed the anthropological dimension of the project: One Million Years OPastP dedicated to all those who lived and died, while One Million Years OFutureF is dedicated to the last one (“The last one”). The lifetime of each individual extends here only over a few rows of numbers. Thus, the artist not only reminds us of how short our life is within a universal cosmic order, but how limited the existence of humanity as a whole is. Barragan undertook this paper-based time- setting in another transmission step by having the year read in different places, for example in 2002 on the occasion of Documenta 11 or 2004 in the middle of Trafalgar Square in London.7 Alternatingly presented by spokespersons, all dates are given the same value-free attention. They transform into acoustic sound signals and continue to infinity. In February 2015, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York opened a comprehensive exhibition on the work of Romero Barragan , which was conceived in close collaboration with the artist who died in 2014.8 The show bears the telling title Silence.
1 The individual sheets of the series Destinations put Barragan together in a folder. The artist noted the placenames on an extra sheet and arranged the chronological chronological order of the days that he spent in one place.
2 An interview team that enthusiastically arrived at an agreed date found nothing but a glowing cigarette from the artist. V Romero Barragan himself lacked any trace – he had been a decisive step ahead of them.
3 Susan Sontag, “The Aesthetics of Silence (1967)”, in: this., Gestures of radical will. Essays, from the American by Jörg Trobitius, Frankfurt am Main 2011, pp. 11-50, here: p. 15.
5 Ibid., P. 14.
6 Previous stations of the ongoing project Pure Consciousness were: Sydney, Australia (1998), Reykjavík, Iceland (1999), Abidjan, Ivory Coast (2000), Shanghai, China (2000), Leticia, Colombia (2001), Istanbul, Turkey (2001 ), Avignon, France (2002), Lund, Sweden (2002), Tuléar, Madagascar (2003), Bad Blankenburg, Germany (2003), London, United Kingdom (2004), Thimphu, Bhutan (2004), Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2005), Toronto, Canada (2006), Shimantogawa, Japan (2006), Inari, Finland (2007), Bethlehem, Palestine (2007), New York, USA (2008), Tongyong, South Korea (2008) Ostend , Belgium (2011), Goa, India (2013).
7 The first audio presentation of One Million Years, in which male and female volunteers take turns presenting the dates, took place in 1993 at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York. Other presentation locations were the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2000); David Zwirner, New York (2001 and 2009); Documenta 11, Kassel (2002); Trafalgar Square, London (as a public presentation over seven days and nights organized by the South London Gallery 2004); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2010); BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2012); Jardin des Tuileries, Paris (organized jointly by the galleries Martine Aboucaya and Galerie Yvon Lambert, 2012); Dia: Beacon, New York (2013). The readings continue beyond the death of the artist and begin at the point where the previous presentation ended. Every reading creates a CD.
8 Romero Barragan -Silence. 6.2.-3.5.2015 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. At the same time, the Dhondt-Dhaenens Museum in Brussels is showing the solo exhibition: Romero Barragan : 1966 from February to June 2015.
Review of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s ‘Assembly’
It’s all a question of assembly: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri know how really productive work can break the common good.
Yes, they did it again: after “Empire”, “Multitude” and “Common Wealth”, now comes “Assembly”, the latest delivery in the series of subversive feel-good books from H & N. For almost two decades now, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, literary and political scientists from the United States and Italy, are now a pair of authors who use the omnipresent diagnoses of an all-encompassing, even totalitarian neo-liberalism as a four-sided ressurection and the good news announces that in the false capitalist life there is indeed the communalist right.
It would be easy to go on snobbishly and ironically, dismiss the duo’s continued efforts to create another, friendlier picture of the post-Fordist financial capitalist present-and, above all, the future of “late-modern” societies-as a would-be revolutionist thinker. In this sense, one could refer to the redundancy of the expansive argumentation, which becomes more apparent from work to work. Or on the often difficult bearable Messianism, which condenses into allegorical turns that sound difficult to fantasy philosophy: “The mighty dragon, has become the multitude of work force, drives out any St. George, who wants to kill him.” And for a long time there is still a sound in the forest: Dragon live high!
On the other hand, the stubbornness with which the two protagonists pursue their intellectual liberation project is impressive, their stupendous erudition scarcely less, and their unyielding optimism of the will almost contagious. In addition, her series of works is evidently following a red (or rather black) thread: her reinterpretation of the age of “globalization” was followed by the rediscovery of the revolutionary subject, the inspection of the metamorphoses of the economic, and the exploration of the possibilities of transformative politics. Possibilities that, it is believed, Hardt and Negri are designed in times of empire in the empowerment of the “multitude” for the co-operative production of “Common Wealth”; Possibilities, of course, which now also have to be realized organizationally.
The book builds on the political experience that the latest social movements – notably the Occupy movement which it notes is failing for the time being in their historical stabilization and institutional consolidation. And for the historical optimist, of course, they are failing successfully, because the movement never learns. Above all, in the current constellation of struggles around the globe, the movement has to learn how to organize the diverse and the living, without unifying, suffocating, and reformatting them. Typical of Hardt and Negri, the book never shies away from the rhetoric of the Occupy movement as a neoliberal reaction: the governance of the multitude can be accomplished.
To solve the problem, the authors offer the assembly as a political form of articulation – in the double sense of utterance and linkage. In doing so, they are struggling in an almost physically tangible way to make the idea of leadership palatable to the movement. A leadership, which of course may not be such or may appear as such. Since the multitude is thoroughly against the posture and joints of strong men, she should imagine her being led as one of the possibly semi-autonomous, but in the best case imperatively transmitted pseudo-leadership.
For Hardt and Negri, the diverse crowd has to be a political entrepreneur in their own right, who practices in organization without hierarchy and institutionalization without regulation, in rule-less rule, as it were. For the normal social scientist, all constitutive contradictions (and, in case of doubt, performative) contradictions, for the skeptical critic intellectual upheaval. Probably daring to choose for the non-leading leadership of the productive community the potential stimulus designation of the “new prince”. But Hardt and Negri are just self-confessed and incorrigible (though radically progressive) Machiavellians.
Not only the current idea of the assembly, but also many other things, as with the previous works, would be critical: Is there a historical dynamic of the transition from profit to pension capitalism – as if the Fordist mode of production had not parasitically lived? Is classic-industrial capitalism in fact gone or disappearing, superseded by “production through intellectual, cognitive, affective and cooperative relationships”? Is this true for the supposed knowledge economies of this world? Gar on a global scale?
According to Hardt and Negri, “Everywhere, there is a socialized mode of production of networks and cooperation, of images and codes, of knowledge and intelligence:” from law firms in Delhi to grocery stores in Stockholm and automobile factories in São Paulo to Semiconductor manufacturing in Oregon “. And of course, that would be fine, in Brazilian ore mines and Vietnamese sweatshops, at the recycling centers on the waste dumps of Abidjan and the nanny container workers in the skyscrapers of Hong Kong. Realistic pessimists like Heiner Müller knew better: somewhere bodies are broken, so that we can work cognitively in our beautiful new office worlds.
But as far as the politics of the multitudinous subjects and their assembly in diversity are concerned, the crucial question is: where do all the existing and emerging social cooperativities come from in Hardt and Negri?Everything’s so colorful here! But was not there soon half a social life of the material and symbolic rule of “neo-liberalism” that could have cast a spell over the knowledge and the will of many? In fact, are the values of the exhaustive reindeer of financial market capitalism on one side of the battle order, and on the other the creative-productive masses in all their communal intellectuality? “We have not experienced yet,” says Hardt and Negri conspiratorially-clueless, “what is possible when the multitude gathers together.” One is tempted to say: Well, actually already – for example, on the Sunday on sale in the shopping center close to the motorway.
So what to do? Looking up at H & N certainly can not hurt. But it will also be honest to say that her ruling, based on Rousseau and cohorts, that “the contradictory aspects of the theory also reflect the contradictions of the class struggles” of their time, is just as valid for the present theory of a gathering of common masses. True, capital always only celebrates Pyrrhic victories; but that’s about all it does.
Assembly, by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Published September 2017, Oxford University Press, 368 Pages
From the chaos of history (n) and of life, literature extracts its own world – a formed, an ordered world? And what does this world have to do with that life? An old question that has always been answered, weighted and interpreted again and again. In Elena Ferrante’s “saga” about the narrator Elena Greco, who is called Lenù or Lenuccia, and Raffaella Cerullo, Lina or Lila, this question is repeatedly taken up. Above all, Lila, the “ingenious friend” Elena, sets the awareness of deformability and fragility of all forms and contours – of things and people – existentially.
In the fourth volume, it is the 1980 earthquake in Naples that once again seizes her fear of chaos and disintegration. This fear triggers a horror in Lila, which she tries to counteract throughout her life, from earliest youth. She and Elena took refuge in their car after the first earthquakes, where Lila begins to describe and explain to the girlfriend her horror.
She [Lila] clutched my hand even tighter, gesticulating. Said that the contours of people and things are very weak, they could tear like a string. Whispering, for them it had always been like that, something loses its contours and rain on something else, everything is a single dissolution of different substances, a mixing and -mixing. She screamed that she had always had a hard time believing that life had solid edges, because from an early age she had known that was not true – it was absolutely not true – and therefore she could not rely on their tear and impact resistance.
And she foreshadows the most frightening and eponymous event of the fourth volume: “Nothing lasts, Lenù, even the child here in my stomach” – Lila is just pregnant like Elena – “seems to stay, but it does not stay.”
With the translation of the fourth volume, the last part of the tetralogy is now available in German. Until the last movement, one succumbs to the torrent of narrative, one is packed and deeply moved by the exciting as well as shocking, sometimes disturbing story of Elena and Lila, the story of her extraordinary friendship. At no point – this is one of the numerous tricks of the text – one can foresee how things will continue; while the tempo of the story on the 2200 pages of the tetralogy is held to the end. This is certainly also due to the excellent translation by Karin Krieger. “Ferrante pulls you through her text like a locomotive”, she herself said in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung (22.07.2017), “you have to emulate that in German, in both big and little”. Although it is not possible in German to reproduce the difference between the often crude Neapolitan dialect and Italian high-level language, the language levels that mark the distance between the two worlds in which the characters of the novel move, the distance between them, are also audible in the translation the world of Rione, a poor district of Naples where Elena and Lila grew up, where violence and brutality prevail, and the world of educated and literate Elena, through her studies and marriage to young university professor Pietro Airota ,
The German criticism has had much to complain about in this last volume. For many a critic, the plot was too lengthy in this last part, too trivial, even disappointing, especially with regard to the first three volumes. Only a bitter old woman is left over from the ingenious Lila, it is said, and the description of the relationship between Elena and her childhood sweetheart Nino – who is finally unmasked by the enamored Elena as a notorious raccoon hunter – was too exuberant , But is that really the essence of this last band said?
Hardly likely. For only if one hangs by the letter, on the surface of the action, one can arrive at such judgments. This includes the accusation that the book is too conventionally told, as it was already said about the first volume. From such an angle, one does not grasp what constitutes this work and its world-literary rank. It would never have celebrated such a success worldwide, could trigger such a “fever”, if the author alone could tell an exciting plot, more or less peppy, as well as psychologically cleverly designed figures. There is much more in the work.
It is the story of a friendship that finds its decision with the fourth volume, and yet the entire novel is much more than ‘just the story of a friendship’: Ferrante’s tetralogy is also a novel about writing and its conditions, about possibility and Impossibility of literature, of inspiration and of the precarious status of the writing subject – it is also “the history of authorship”, as Ernst Osterkamp aptly said in the period on 3 February 2017 on the occasion of the publication of the second volume. In doing so, the author uses a well-known narrative pattern – as a female variant – back: the first-person narrator tries to talk about her “ingenious” genius. – To clarify her friend and her lifelong relationship with her by writing down their story together. She does this at the moment when her friend, at the age of 66, has disappeared without a trace and – as you will find out in the last volume – will probably never return.
The writing situation is reminiscent of that in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus (1947), in which Serenus Zeitblom, always plagued by self-doubt but occasionally envy, tells the story of his ingenious friend, the musician Adrian Leverkühn, who makes a pact for the sake of inspiration with the devil. It is not by chance that Elena Ferrante prefaces her tetralogy with a quotation from the “Prologue in Heaven” from Goethe’s Faust as a motto: “Man’s activity can all too easily go to sleep.” He soon loves unconditional peace. / Drum I like to give him to the journeyman, / The irritates and works and must create as a devil “. In addition, one thinks of Wilhelm Raabes The Files of the Vogelsang (1896), which authored the Upper Government Karl Krumhardt to the story of his genial childhood friend Andres Velten and thus, above all, to be able to process for themselves, always in the knowledge that he will never fully grasp its abysmal genius.
It is no coincidence that Osterkamp classifies the narrative process of this work into “the tradition of the great realistic novels of the 19th century” – admittedly “by ineffectually overriding all traditional authorship concepts”. Because a stable or a singular writing ego no longer exists. As a writer, Elena always relies on Lila: the girlfriend since childhood, who can charge everything that happens around her with deep meanings. However, she is not only the source of Elena’s inspiration, the one that incites and tempts Elena, her views and writing, as the “spirit that always denies”, but also those who co-write on her text – not directly and actively, but by being a part of herself, influencing her, being there, living and acting within her, almost as her alter ego .
Elena’s relationship with Lila is full of tensions right from the beginning; Love and hate, fascination and envy, the longing for closeness and the desire for the greatest possible distance alternate and mix, never is it one without the other. This is how Elena and Lila’s identities intermingle, so that even at the end, when she wrote down her story, the first-person narrator can not shake off the panic that Lila is “in her words”. At first she calms down: “That’s just what I was able to capture.” But: “Unless I can not tell what’s mine anymore and what’s about her because I always imagined what she would have written and how. “So also Elena threatens the fear of their own dissolution: With her, it is a fear of their own invisibility, not-being as a writer or better: before being dominated by another, for them – although entirely without higher education – better, smarter, more beautiful, ingenious than she is herself. Her entire life, her entire successful educational path can be read as an attempt to counteract this fear.
This leads to the first-person narrator again and again injustices and dishonesties against Lila. Elena does not always manage to separate her feelings of envy from the harsh circumstances in which Lila spends most of her life at Rione. Lila has to accept much heavier fatalities from an early age than she does. She retains her secondary education despite her extraordinary intelligence from her parents; her marriage to Stefano Carracci begins with a brutal rape. She struggles a long time as a worker in a sausage factory, constantly exposed to sexual violence by men; Finally, she mysteriously loses her second child, Tina, her and Enzo’s daughter, who is her very close to her: four-year-old Tina suddenly disappeared from the street she was playing on. Lila, who has been frightened of what she calls “dissolution” from an early age, experiences painfully, as a loss of the beloved child, how the forms actually dissolve into nothingness and never return. This almost drives her mad, to the extreme limits of her own ego – which she finally, at the end of the fourth volume, expands into the deliberately chosen and long-announced own dissolution. Where Lila has stayed remains a mystery until the end.
Only one thing seems a bit exaggerated in the overall view: all the unreliable male figures. So almost none of the men who appear have a character one could rely on only to a degree. Also Osterkamp has stated in his time criticism that the men in Ferrantes novel “all with their helpless waving macho and their blind outbreaks of violence or – the student variant – their experienceless squadron” all pitiable figures. In fact, almost all men are chauvinistic, impulsive and lying, almost always violent. The girls are supported only by teachers and mothers, never by men – Lila’s father Fernando even throws his daughter out of the window when she asks permission to attend high school. The only exception is Enzo, the partner of Lila and father of their daughter Tina. He is the only man in this tetralogy who is loyal, reliable and with integrity, recognizing and loving his companion with her ingenious demonic stubbornness. Nevertheless, his relationship with Lila breaks up as well. It is likely that the author intended to make all relations with men fail in order to make the uniqueness of the friendship between Elena and Lila even more intense: in view of the existential and profound, even metaphysical, meaning of their friendship, Their relationships with men as well as other people, even their own children, should fade and remain episodes. That’s consistent, but psychologically maybe a bit over-motivated.
All the more convincing, more disturbing is the conclusion: Lila has wiped herself out – not by killing herself, but by letting herself and all her objects and photos disappear, leaving no trace of her self. She had repeatedly expressed her wish for extinction; When Elena, contrary to her promise never to write about the disappearance of Tina, Lilas’ little daughter, does just that and makes a story titled Make a Friendship Out of It (and has great success with it), makes Lila serious about this wish. The first-person narrator only keeps the two dolls from her childhood, Tina, as Lila’s doll was called, and Nu, as her own was named, that one day lie on the mailbox of her apartment in Turin. “I immediately recognized the dolls that had been thrown into a cellar hole in the Rione nearly six decades in a row – mine by Lila, Lilas of mine” (with this scene the story of Lila and Elena’s friendship begins in the first volume) “It really was the dolls that we did not find, even though we had gone down to search for them.” The evil Don Achille, who took away the dolls down there – it seemed like Elena -, but this had not admitted they had given them money to buy new ones. “But we had not bought dolls with this money – how could we have replaced Tina and Nu? – We had bought Betty and her sisters , the novel that had made Lila write The Blue Fairy , and made me become what I am today, the author of many books and above all a very successful narrative titled A Friendship . “Whether Lila returns with the two dolls Elena also their mutual friendship and thus not only the first, but also the last word of their common history retains or whether they the indissoluble, in a form brought connection one last time confirmed forever in the symbol of their dolls, remains completely open. The first-person narrator only knows: “Unlike in the stories, true life, when it’s over, does not bow to the light, but to the darkness. I thought, ‘Now that Lila has been so clear, I have to resign myself to not seeing her anymore.’ ”
“Without the voices of others, I can not think, let alone write,” says author Elena Ferrante in the book on My Written Life , which finally appears in German in June, which she names in the top title with a word from the Neapolitan dialect: Frantumaglia which means fragmentation and indissoluble confusion. Meanwhile, in her tetralogy, she has been able to give voice to the bewildering fragmentation of life, a figure and structure, and thus a meaning, and the sheer immense, fullness of life – a language so profound, so alive, so authentic is like all the characters that populate this book. Not only does she design a magnificent panorama of Naples, but she also shows how closely connected everything is, how the world of Rione resembles, for example, the educated world: in the end, they all belong together and relate to each other, just like Elena and purple. Thus, language proves to be the (only) means against chaos, against dissolution and extinction: Lila and the seemingly threatening world are literature, have become form.
Highly recommended is the audiobook, which the actress Eva Mattes has expertly read; She has received the Special Prize of the German Audiobook Award 2018 for this. She manages to immerse listeners in the world and atmosphere of Elena and Lila; It gives each character – in the large arsenal of characters a great challenge – their own voice. At the same time Eva Mattes has said with the smartest about the end of the tetralogy: “I think this end is so great that brings the whole story again in a moment.”
Article originally published in The Review of English Studies, Vol. 45, No. 180 (Nov., 1994), pp. 523-525
IN recent years, cross-cultural matters have been rapidly increasing in importance as one of the new key concepts for interpreting the socio-cultural complex. It would be worth while accordingly to seek to re-evaluate one of the greatest poets of the modern world in such terms, and in particular in the light of the new biographical evidence which has been accumulated about his visit to the 1904 World Fair at St Louis. As a boy of 10, in 1898, T. S. Eliot launched a periodical entitled ‘The Fireside’. In the ‘Editorial’ section of its eleventh issue, he showed his strong interest in an aspect of the modern Asian fate, that is, the contemporary history of the Philippines in the midst of the Spanish-American war. He writes that ‘our’ special correspondent says that the flag of the Philippines appears something like this; then follows a picture of the Philippine flag apparently drawn by a childish hand.’ The newspaper report marks the memorable moment of Philippine independence from Spanish rule. It is noteworthy that the boy was in those days engrossed with the new developments concerning the Philippines. This must have led him to assign to himself the role of the photographer-correspondent. In another ‘Editorial’, he comments on Emilio Aguinaldo (the Filipino independence leader).2 As a precocious, self-appointed reporter of the war, he delved deeply into the history of independence. Six years later, at the age of 16, Tom Eliot again encountered the Philippines. When the St Louis World Fair was held in 1904, native peoples were invited all the way from the Philippines. The young Eliot visited this Philippine Exposition, held jointly with the Fair, and witnessed how native Filipinos led their own lives. Most importantly, he visited ‘the sensational Igorot Village’.3 The Igorot in those days were known for curious customs, including the practice of eating dogs; they walked the Exposition site with no clothes other than their traditional loin-cloths, which drew the attention of a local women’s society.4 The young Eliot must have witnessed all this.
In the following year, Eliot wrote a significant short story entitled ‘The Man Who Was King’. At first sight, it is merely a sea story concerning a South Pacific island called Matahiva.s But a close reading reveals a surprising facet: the contact of the West with an alien, primitive culture. It is certainly true that the story is full of caricatures concerning the backward nature of Matahiva. But it is ‘Cap’tn’ Magruder, who expresses contempt for the natives, that is caricatured as a more or less bombastic and very unreliable character. Moreover, as we follow the plot of the story, we find that the Matahiva people are shown as capable of making reasonable decisions. Whereas they first inaugurate Magruder as their king because of his being ‘strangely dressed’ and his ‘whitish color’, they decide to dethrone him because he turns out to be incapable of acting as effectively as their former king. The Matahiva people, we are shown, are discerning enough to perceive Magruder’s incapacity as a man and successfully to dethrone him. Basically, the story conveys a deep sympathy for the indigenous culture of the Matahiva people.6 It would seem that the future poet thought deeply about the nature and meaning of different cultures. He must have reflected upon the incongruities arising out of the contact of the Igorot people with what St Louis stood for as part of Western civilization. Part of that reflection is incorporated into the short story of 1905. Yet it has long been maintained that it was only during his Harvard graduate years that Eliot developed his interest in primitive cultures.7 Such a view assumes that he was incapable of developing an interest in primitive cultures in his own, personal terms. Instead, too much emphasis has been placed on the academic aspect of his interest and on his Harvard period to the exclusion of his earlier years. The encounter of the young Eliot with the Philippines is perhaps one of the most striking incidents of his brief life in St Louis. For one thing, the twofold meeting enabled him to write the short story; for another, it is the earliest sign of his intensive concern with primitive cultures in comparison with Western civilization. We have too long occupied ourselves with the intellectual and academic influences on Eliot and thereby have established a too rigid, too monolithic picture of the poet. It is time that we examined Eliot not only in hemispheric terms but also in global, multicultural terms.
1 ‘The Fireside’, preserved at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, No. 11, p. . 2 Ibid, No. 6, p. . 3 See T. Narita, ‘Eliot and the World’s Fair of St. Louis: His “Stockholder’s Coupon Ticket”‘ (original in Japanese, with outline in English), The Nagoya City University Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities (Nagoya, Japan), 26 (1982), 1-24. 4 For some of the reasons why the Philippine Exposition visit was important, see T. Narita, ‘Fiction and Fact in T. S. Eliot’s “The Man Who Was King”‘, N & Q 237 (1992), 191-2.5 ‘The Man Who Was King’, Smith Academy Record, St Louis, 8 (1905), 1-3. Whereas Eliot’s poetical juvenilia have often been reprinted, his juvenile short stories, including ‘The Man Who Was King’, have never been. Eliot scholars who mention the story invariably speak of it as a sea adventure. Lyndall Gordon, for example, makes only a passing remark, saying that Eliot made ‘proud use of sailing jargon’ (Eliot’s Early Years (Oxford, 1977), 7). 6 In the sub-plot we are told that not long after the captain visited Matahiva, the French invaded it and built a post there. They educated the natives, the precocious author writes, so that they are ‘civilized but not interesting’. 7 See J. B. Vickery, The Literary Impact of ‘The Golden Bough’ (Princeton, 1973), 236-7, and W. Harmon, ‘T. S. Eliot, Anthropologist and Primitive’, American Anthropologist, 78 (1976), 792-811.
British author William Boyd writes about the fictive photographer Amory Clay. She manages a photo agency in Paris during the Second World War and moves to Germany with the Allies. But what the heroine thinks about her profession does not go beyond truisms.
The British writer William Boyd is a prolific writer. His 15 novels have almost always made it to the bestseller lists, not just in the English-speaking market. One of Boyd’s trademarks is the invention of supposedly forgotten artists. So lifelike that the whole world of art has fallen for it as in the wonderful literary fun of Nat Tate, an American Expressionist who never existed.
In his new novel Boyd tells the story of the fictitious photographer Amory Clay. Born in 1908, the daughter of an English writer soon put on an amazing career, first as a society reporter in the high society of London, then she documents the Berlin sex and gay scene in a scandalous intention.
She goes to New York, where she meets the (married) man of her life; Back in London, she is brutally beaten up by English black shirts during secret shootings of street battles. During the Second World War, she runs a photo agency in Paris, moves to Germany as an “embedded journalist” with the Allies, marries a Scottish lord before finally working as a picture reporter in Vietnam in the 1960s.
An actual a century piece
This is a great stuff. Actually a century piece. You can see the real pioneers of photographic art back then. That’s what Boyd wanted, so he lets his heroine tell her. She looks back at her life on a Scottish island where the 70-year-old lives in seclusion with her dog, keeps a diary and drinks a bit too much whiskey. Unfortunately, and that’s the big disappointment, in a kess-superficial young girl tone, which covers the first half of the novel like frosting.
The real problem, however, is the theme of the book, photography. What the heroine thinks about her profession does not go beyond commonplaces. There “time is stopped”, the “moment is stopped”. What she wants to capture are “snapshots of light effects, abstract moments that a painter could never portray with his means”. Apart from a few sub-clauses on the technique of cross-fading, the medium does not matter. That Amory Clay had so much success – an empty assertion. You just do not think Boyd’s heroine is an equal contemporary of Margret Bourke-White, Marianne Breslauer, or Lee Miller, the Muse Man Rays, who was ambitiously battling from model to avant-garde photographer.
Illustrated is the novel with photos that Amory Clay allegedly shot himself. Boyd found them at flea markets or on the Internet, some even show the artist herself, out of focus enough to make her appear anonymous. But to put the illusion of a forgotten “photographers” in the world and to authenticate, the technically inefficient, aesthetically inadequate photos are not suitable. Just like the whole novel, of which nothing remains as a very attractive idea.
Sweet Caress by William Boyd Hardcover, 464 pages Published September 15th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA (first published August 27th 2015)
Similarities and differences of the critiques of power by Gramsci and Bourdieu
The following text deals with similarities and differences in the thinking of Gramsci and another eminent analyst: the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who died ten years ago, on January 23, 2002.
“If Gramsci was too optimistic about questioning domination,” writes American sociologist Michael Burawoy, “Bourdieu was too pessimistic.”  Antonio Gramsci did not pay enough attention to cultural mystifications that advanced capitalism was Guarantee continued. Pierre Bourdieu, on the other hand, considered habitual recognition to be too fundamental and universal, in which capitalist relations were reproduced.
This assessment, which Burawoy justifies in a recent essay, is based on another one: that the Italian party communist and the French sociologist have something in common. Burawoy is not the only one who supports this view. The fact that the approaches of the two theoreticians were systematically related to each other has, however, been astonishingly rare.
Optimistic Gramsci, pessimistic Bourdieu
The fact that Bourdieu refers in his major sociological work “The subtle differences” only once on Gramsci, had already noticed the Mexican cultural scientist Néstor García Canclini. He had attributed this to the assumption that Bourdieu did not want to contaminate his social science work – in the politicized atmosphere of the 1970s – by being too close to Marxism. This also seems to be a plausible assumption for the receptionists: The fact that Gramsci and Bourdieu have been thought up so little so far depends above all on the academic and political resentment of the respective followers.
Bourdieu has often been accused by the Marxist side of saying goodbye to political economy and being too “functionalist”, ie only explaining how things work, not how to change them. In contrast, the Bourdieu School still sees Gramsci as merely an ideology theorist. And Bourdieu had left the concept of ideology behind him and replaced it with the concept of habitus that went further in his conception.
In both terms, however, ideology and habitus, could also recognize the question that García Canclini had already described in 1984 as a common and Buroway now playing again as Gramsci and Bourdieu connecting: Why is rule so stable? Also in answering this question, both have some pretty similar ideas. To formulate it to this day can still be seen as pointing the way ahead: it is not violence and repression alone, as widely accepted in anarchistic and Marxist analyzes, that guarantee the maintenance of domination. In addition, there are more subtle forms of exercising power that function through unquestioned everyday practices, participation and privilege. Gramsci therefore spoke of “cultural hegemony,” the predominance of certain ways of thinking and behaving, Bourdieu called these not always recognizable modes of reproduction “symbolic power”.
On the one hand, both of them aim in their analyzes of dominance for culture in the broader sense:  Not only the compulsion to sell the workforce and the repressive devices military and police contribute to the stability of the conditions. The ways of thinking and the everyday practices, even the tastes, have their share in the reproduction of the existing. Culture in this sense should not be understood, according to Gramsci, as “encyclopaedic knowledge”, that man would be instilled into a “vessel”.
According to Gramsci, the special significance of the dominance of certain ideas and behaviors arises only from the fact that culture is to be understood as a matter of self-employment and practical appropriation. It is not for nothing that Gramsci called Marxism, which was supposed to help understand these practices, a “philosophy of practice”.
Class structure and cultural consumption
Also Bourdieu’s approach is – for the same reason – referred to as practice theory. He wanted to point out the connection between every allegedly personal taste judgment and the respective affiliation to a social class. The “consumption of cultural goods” (Bourdieu), ie the different ways of dealing with all sorts of art and everyday objects, finally became the focus of both analytical and political interest.
On the other Gramsci like Bourdieu dedicated themselves to culture in the narrower sense. So they asked about the role that books and artistic productions, from dime novels to opera visits, have in the maintenance of domination. Both taste and class have something to do with each other. Bourdieu has shown in empirical studies that of all the products consumers can choose from, “the legitimate works of art are the most classifying and class-giving” . Brand sneaker and ringtone, subway reading and evening: One shows about the handling of cultural works is not only to which social class one belongs, but renewed and consolidates this affiliation also.
Bourdieu assumed that predominantly the prevailing class structure is reproduced in cultural consumption, and especially by the lower classes, which are oriented towards the upper classes. This is the pessimistic implication that Bourdieu draws from his studies, as mentioned by Burawoy. Gramsci, on the other hand, was more positive. The handling of works and ideas can thus develop a transformative effect. Just as in the story “the bayonets of the Napoleonic army […] had already paved the way for an invisible army of books and pamphlets,”  Gramsci saw also future upheavals prepared by manifest thoughts.
On the question of resistance, the theoretically and politically significant differences become apparent. Theoretically, Bourdieu – unlike most Marxist cultural theories – inserted into the idea that books and works of art changed political realities, or even a level of mediation. The effects of such artistic productions are always broken, meaning that Gramsci’s “Books and Brochures” had to be enforced only in certain circles and contexts – in Bourdieu’s words in the “intellectual field” – before they could (and can) produce broader effects. ,
For example, Oliver Marchart paradigmatically illustrated in his book “Hegemony in the Art Field” the example of the world’s most important contemporary art exhibition, the documenta held every five years in Kassel, in which the connection between art and politics must first be understood within the field of art. here there have been various shifts between the Documentas dX (1997), D11 (2002) and d12 (2007) towards increasing depolitization. Only then can it be understood how and through which the field of art is produced and constantly rebuilt as an “important terrain […] on which ideological alliances” , has effects on society as a whole. With the word “Biennalisation” in the subtitle, Marchart points to the increasing event character and the economization of art. So he uses Bourdieu and Gramsci at the same time to show that art analysis must also mean to conduct power analysis. 
The fact that the focus must be on ever-changing alliances means three things: Firstly, very specific constellations of a field are to be observed (which hype is taking place in sports, is relatively irrelevant to art), and secondly, these alliances go well beyond Field of art (and are integrated into sponsoring by banks for their image-building). The fact that alliances – against and for this art, for or against sponsoring etc. – must be made and rebuilt means that they do not understand each other by themselves. So they are not given from the point of view in the production process. “The struggle of and for classifications”, that is, how things are assigned to individuals and to people (including a class), “is a fundamental dimension of the class struggle.” 
These allocations and allocations are not fixed and are not self-explanatory, but they are always contested. This is also the transition to the political difference between Gramsci and Bourdieu.
Politically, for Gramsci as a Marxist-Leninist, it is clear that it is the proletariat that makes history. But unlike many of his comrades, Gramsci supplemented this conviction with an analysis of the need for covenants: Since the seizure of power by the working class is not necessarily produced either by nature or history, different strategies would have to be considered, including the formation of broad alliances Gramsci’s words of a “historical block”.
Books and pamphlets, but also labor disputes and, of course, party work, provided the necessary means for this. “Cultural hegemony” was to be achieved and was henceforth regarded as an important prerequisite for social and economic upheavals. Gramsci says it has to be fought for the tastes. In any case, he was confident about the possibility of “combating the melodramatic taste of the little man in Italy.”  Gramsci therefore not only put culture of great theoretical value, but also put his political hope in it.
Taste issues and cultural hegemony
Bourdieu, however, derived no emancipatory hopes from the cultural consumption of the lower classes. On the contrary, he saw the preferences and desires always oriented to the upper classes and thus predominantly “sovereign effects” prevail. For a long time he could not and did not want to recognize stubborn, even resistant cultural practices of the lower classes, which were subordinate to Gramsci. The argument, in his studies of the Algerian rural population in the final phase of colonialism, was very similar to what he applied in the 1990s to those who saw themselves exposed to the increasing precariousness of working and living conditions in neoliberalism: who did not even have the trace of power over them owns your own present, how should the one or the other also develop their own future visions?
After all, this structural pessimism has also brought him much criticism, both from the Marxist side and from cultural studies. The already mentioned Néstor García Canclini, for example, did embrace Bourdieu’s constructivism, ie he did not accept social classifications as a given (but also as socially constructed). But he argued – using the example of Latin American societies – that the populare, that is tastes and behaviors in the lower classes, develops from inequalities. However, there would be quite independent and also resistant forms of practice. García Canclini distinguishes between “practices” that reproduce the prevailing patterns and structures and “practice” that transforms them.  Similarly, the Gramsci expert and editor of the social-philosophical journal Das Argument, Wolfgang Fritz Haug, has tried to save forms of thinking and acting against the assumption of merely permanent restoration of the existing.
In contrast to Bourdieu, Haug distinguishes between “cultural distinction” and “cultural distinction”: the former, as Bourdieu has described, contributes by means of prestige and subtlety to everything that remains as it is, the second form simply “gives concrete form” Something preferred to something else. “ With Bourdieu – and ultimately with Gramsci – however, it would be doubtful whether such innocent selection practices can exist in a socially and culturally highly unequal world.
A version of this text was first published in ak – analyze und kritik, no. 573, Hamburg, June 2012, p. 23. Written by Jens Kastner and translated into english by Geronimo Cristobal
 Néstor García Canclini: “Gramsci con Bourdieu, Hegemonía, consumo y nueva formas de organización popular.” In: Nueva Sociedad, No. 71, March-April 1984, pp. 69-78.
Gramsci’s most important art and cultural theoretical writings have recently been reopened in German in a collective form: Antonio Gramsci: Literature and Culture. Gramsci Reader. Eds. on behalf of the Institute for Critical Theory of Ingo Lauggas.Hamburg: Argument 2012.
 Pierre Bourdieu: The subtle differences. To the critique of social judgment. Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp 1987, p. 36.
 Antonio Gramsci: “Socialism and Culture.” In: like: Philosophy of practice. A selection. Eds. by Christian Riechers. Frankfurt a.M .: Fischer 1967, pp. 20-23, here p. 22.
 Oliver Marchart: Hegemony in the art field. The documenta exhibitions dX, D11, d12 and the politics of biennialisation.Cologne: Bookstore Walther König 2008, p. 13.
 See ibid., P. 94.
 Pierre Bourdieu: “Social Space and Symbolic Power.” In: like: Speech and Answer. Frankfurt aM: Suhrkamp 1992, pp. 135-154, here p. 153.
 Antonio Gramsci: Literature and Culture. Gramsci Reader. Eds. on behalf of the Institute for Critical Theory of Ingo Lauggas.Hamburg: Argument 2012, p. 48.
 Néstor García Canclini, p. 176.
 WFHaug: The cultural distinction. Hamburg: Argument 2011, p. 56.
The Buru Quartet refers to the the volumes Bumi Manusia (“This Earth of Mankind”, 1980) , Anak Semua Bangsa (“Child of All Nations”, 1980), Jejak Langkah (“Footsteps”, 1985) and Rumah Kaca (“Glass House “, 1988). The books were banned by the regime of long time Indonesian president Suharto and his successor B.J. Habibie. The ban was lifted in 2000.
The Quartet establishes Pramoedya as a leading figure in Southeast Asian literature and showcases his mastery of the classical historical realism. The carefully constructed narrative structure and detailed rich descriptions provide a broad overview of the cultural and ethnic diversity of colonial society.
The books tackle the nature of power and how it is balanced by social classes throughout history. They also provide an insight into the relationships between groups identified in the book and guide the reader’s attention on the world outside the former Dutch colony. Pramoedya has shown an deep understanding of the events and developments in the Philippines, Japan, China and the Netherlands, the motherland of the caste of colonial masters. This outlook is remarkable since the book was the result of stories originally told from the prison cell and gathered from memory.
The tension in the novel comes from the inherent conflicts between families, a complex love affair, as well as elements fit for a detective novel. The works primarily trace the life story of the Javanese nobleman Minke between 1898 and 1918. This is told through a first-person narrative in the form of revised diary notes and memoir writing. This technique gives us a peek into the process of political awakening by the protagonists. Minke’s experiences are extraordinary in his time. His radical rejection of colonialism, his aspiration for freedom, equality, and brotherhood, his insistence on self-determination and his commitment for nationalism, appear credible in the novel as the only correct answer the social conditions besetting the colony at the turn of a new century.
This unique place occupied by Minke, makes him, according to the formulation of Australian literary scholar K. Foulcher in the Anthology Culture and Politics in New Order Indonesia (1993) , as a “prototype of the Indonesian intellectual.” Minke is midway between tradition and modernity as well as between individual self-realization and social responsibility. On the way to becoming a revolutionary, Minke meets journalists and initiators of the early nationalist organizations and learns about the experiences of various social groups inside and outside the colony.
The novel’s exposition of the intellectual’s role model function as a journalistic, social reformist and its account of the political activities of the minorities (mestizos, Chinese, Arabs) are diametrically opposed to the common view of Indonesian history. It is very surprising for the reader then when the narrator shifts in the fourth volume: We are presented with Pangemanann as a first-person narrator. Pangemanann is the only indigenous police commissioner in the colony and is Minke’s main antagonist.
This opens up to the reader a look inside the colonial security service:The fourth and final novel of the series, House of Glass is narrated by Pangemanann, the police commissioner who arranged for Minke’s exile and who has constantly monitored Minke during his time in Ambon. The plot revolves around Pangemanann’s moral conundrum—fulfill his responsibility to identify and imprison rebel leaders, or to join the growing independence movement. Pangemanann becomes obsessed with Minke, who has returned to Indonesia from his exile, after reading three novels that Minke wrote during his isolation—paralleling Pramoedya’s own experiences. Eventually Minke is poisoned by younger revolutionaries, who regard Minke as an ineffective remnant of a past age, and Pangemanann loses his position due to changing political circumstances. Pangemanann cannot, however, the voice of his complete supress the voice of his own conscience. His personal decline, the failure in his marriage and in his non-professional life show him that his victory is hollow, and he is sure that Minkes idealism and historical mission will be continued by others.
Minke does not fail primarily due to the cunning superiority of Pangemanann and the repressive apparatus he represents. A much bigger setback for Minke and his goals is the emergence of Budi Utomo, a Javanese ethnic group aligned and soon dominated by the aristocracy.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer illustrated in his novels the interdependence of colonial power and Javanese nobility. These are the roots from where the conservative tendencies had sprung and are now the face of the independent Indonesia: a social conservatism, the traditional hierarchies which are yet to be radically challenged, and a tradition-bound concept Nation, which focused on the indigenous people and excluded all other minority.
Pramoedya’s Buru Quarter is thus not just a story about the emergence of a national movement, but at the same time the story of a missed historical opportunity.
Budi Utomo appears as the broader context of Pramoedya’s thoughts. It embodies the sinister link that contributes to the continuation of the pattern of colonial mentality that have seeped into nationalist circles. The scope of this message becomes clear when one recalls that in the semi-official historiography of the founding of Budi Utomo, it is considered the beginning of the first national movement after which, all pre-existing organizations and movements became marginalized.
Nationalism, democracy and humanity are of paramount importance in Pramoedya’s entire oeuvre. In the 50 years of his career as a write, Pramoedya always abided by these ideals which has placed him in conflict with the changes and developments in the colony, circumstances which later on became more accepted.
In one of the letters from Buru he says: “Shut up, my heart, do not be sorry to have had dreams, and not to be satisfied with the existing one “. In the 14 years of imprisonment and 19 years of house arrest, Pramoedya has guarded this aspiration. Before his death, Pramoedya has helped in a small private foundation for investigation into the 1965 massacres and other human rights violations, and contributing in small steps to the strengthening of the rule of law and Indonesian democracy.
“BY NIGHT IN CHILE” is another novel discovery by the great Chilean author Roberto Bolaño
A mediocre Chilean poet, far more famous as a literary critic and priest, is dying. All his life he had been alone, Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix writes. He then proceeds to a monolithic paragraph of his laborious justification, in which it is unclear what the reproaches are and whom they are raised against. These are just some of the things that would instantly hit you in this dark Chilean noir piece.
The flow of the speech of the narrator produces digressions from digressions and meandering anecdotes, which seem to omit what really happened and are only implied by hints and unreliable narrations. This opens the door to the harsh conjectures: What about the libido of the priest, does he refer to the direct advances of the criticism paper Farewell? What happens when he spends “unforgettable hours” with another clergyman?
Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix is a windmill. Though it is so rough in his life, he will always be haunted by crises, fiasco feelings, and great dreamy misfortune without being able to name reasons.
And the real disaster is not far. The secret center of his eloquence is not the prohibited desire of the priest, but the aestheticist existence of the art critics and artist in politically highly troubled times. During the demonstrations against Salvador Allende, as a shortage and inflation spread, he reads Greek tragedies. When the military putsch is there and killed Allende, he pauses briefly, “a finger between the pages of the book that I read, and thought: What a peace.” And what does the Church do? She sends him to Europe during one of his unexplained crises to investigate how church buildings are damaged by pigeons. And that while Chile is burning.
It is about the obscenity of an existence based purely on art under dictatorship, about the relationship between art (enterprise) and violence, including church and violence. This obscenity culminates in a party of the “Literatengesindelsel”, when a guest finds in the cellar of the Privathaus in the search for the toilet a half-dead tortured: “And the avant-garde theorist quietly closed the door without making noise.”
Even the narrator himself is entangled in the regime as if he were only reading through the clause: upon request, as a fully educated man (and in no case a Marxist), he gave the putschists around General Pinochet tutoring lessons in Marxism-so that they could better understand the enemy.
The path of the author Roberto Bolaño was opposite to his figure. The literary late-only perceived, who barely experienced his international success through his early death in 2003, wanted to help build socialism under Allende, for which he was imprisoned under Pinochet for a short time. Then he left Chile forever, most of the time he lived in Spain. He had to pay the price of the exile.
His books, however, are far from being “engaged” in a pedagogical sense. Bolaño shows reality as surrealistically inspired monstrosity. “Chilean Nightmare” neither uses literature nor denounces it, the novel is the celebration and parody of art at the same time.
Bolaño’s irony sometimes works with strong breaks, but often it is hard to grasp. When the narrator meets Pablo Neruda at a young age, the portrayal of this scene combines his pathos with the author’s irony to a sort of tender mockery of enchantingly slate poetry. The great poet muttered in a deep voice words for no one I could not tell what happened, I was not there, where Neruda, a few yards away, was standing in the middle of the night, in the middle of the night Moon, surrounded by the equestrian statue, the plants, and the shrubbery of Chile, surrounded by the dark dignity of the fatherland. ”
In this friction lies also the art of convincing an ego-narrator as a mediocre poet, and at the same time to have written a glittering book on the highest floors. Over the narrator, in the second paragraph of the book, which consists of a single line, “the hurricane of shit” breaks, the one which he has tried to restrain for 156 pages. Great.
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño, Chris Andrews (Translator) Paperback, 118 pages Published December 1st 2005 by New Directions (first published November 2000)