Weltpolitik

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dedalus
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Weltpolitik

Post by dedalus » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:14 pm

People do die
so no reason to sigh
if and when they do.

It is all very sad
neither good nor bad
no other end in view.

Mounds of skulls and bones
lovingly preserved, piled in cages,
can be seen all over Europe.

Heine dear, mein Mendelssohn,
please sing to us a plaintive song!

This Massacre, this or that War!
Vienna and Dublin, both ghoulish cities,
preserve even scraps of clothing.


People die, it’s not news,
so who can care about the Jews?
all of them would have died

in time, you know?
Hitler and Stalin (Uncle Joe)
simply speeded things along.
Last edited by dedalus on Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ros
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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by Ros » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:19 pm

yes, well, eventually the entire planet will burn up when the sun becomes a red giant, but I think that's rather missing the point, you know?

From a more short-term point of view, mass killings also deprive the race concerned of their potential offspring too, so I would mildly contend you're wrong.

I'll avoid the obvious criticism of this as a crass piece of writing.

Ros
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dedalus
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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by dedalus » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:24 pm

On the other hand, Ros, this could be seen as a criticism of totalitarian rule of any kind, and the way such regimes treat the lives of their captive peoples so indifferently ... this might include North Korea and, to some extent, modern-day China. And increasingly, Russia (again). Maybe it takes an effort to see beyond the surface but the intent of this poem is neither cheap nor crass. Give me Winston Churchill any day.

The music of both Heine and Mendelssohn, German composers and musicians of international as well as local renown, was banned in Nazi Germany because ... well, because they were Jewish.

As always,
Bren

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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by Ros » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:19 pm

It could, Bren, and I apologise for misreading your intent. I don't think the poem goes far enough to indicate that intent, though, even allowing for the music.

Ros
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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by ljordan » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:33 pm

The thread of this interested me. Ros' read in light of a glossing by Bren. How interesting that the subject can be viewed so close to a line that teeters between horror and outrage, depending on the reader's sensibilities. This reminds me of an extraordinary essay by Annie Dillard tiltled The Wreck of Time. She later adapted parts of the essay in her book "For the Time Being". Reading the Dillard essay puts the reader in touch with their own sensibilities without asserting much of the author's views. She seems to do this by scale, the distance and minutia of human fragility juxtaposed to the magnitude of huge losses of life. A ponderous essay:

http://www.midwayisd.org/cms/lib/TX0100 ... f_Time.pdf

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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by Ros » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:50 pm

Hmm, interesting essay, Larry, though I'm not sure what point she's trying to make. There are a lot of us; we're actually insignificant; there's no reason to think this era is more important than any other. People live; people die. Sometimes we care about saving individuals while not being able to comprehend the deaths of thousands. The point, perhaps, seems to be this:

"Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other."

and I think that statement is wrong. Individually, and as members of a current society, each life is important to us. Viewed over a longer time period, from a more objective viewpoint, life (as far as we know) is something that arose on one insignificant planet during one tiny period in the universe's history, and will end when that planet ends (unless we manage to leave). Such life has no more or less meaning than anything else in the universe.

Ros
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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by ljordan » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:09 pm

I think your "take-away" is on point. What attracts me to the article is its mechanism for getting the reader to engage. We are not finally interested in what Dillard believes, but in how we construct our own beliefs in the context of values towards life, sacred or not, meaningful or not. I think when reading it, especially the sentence you quoted, makes us interrogate our feelings about ourselves as similar and different. I was surprised by my tears upon hearing of the deaths of those children in the Connecticut school and how that same emotion was lacking at the news of other shootings when the victims are older. What is the difference?

I wish I could reach the poems lurking in here.

larry

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Re: Weltpolitik

Post by dedalus » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:59 am

Fair point, Ros, perhaps I didn't nail down my POV sufficiently; but at least the question of how mass death, or the "unfair" death of strangers, particularly children (as in the Connecticut shootings referred to), affects us - or perhaps doesn't affect us - in relation to our more personal response to the deaths of people we know, is worth some consideration. The poem - in my own opinion - does not or cannot quite carry this burden but it has sparked some sort of a discussion on the themes raised.

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