Thursday, August 15, 2013

Culture and crisis

‘ can you live in a country that doesn’t care about lies?’
Two longer pieces, both worth reading in full. First, is George Szirtes' Guardian article on the attempt to control culture in Hungary by its proto-fascist government.
In a country where party politics has always sought to control the cultural field, the aim of such war is to wipe out, or at least quarantine, the opposition, its ideology, its language, its notions of independence, and – in the case of the current administration – to impose an all-consuming patriotic line whereby only one version of Hungary is allowed to exist.
Secondly, Roy Foster writes a coruscating account of the Irish economic crisis and its consequences where he notes:
In Ireland’s past history, a coming change has often been heralded first in the cultural sphere. This is most obvious in the early years of the 20th century, when innovations in drama, literature and Gaelic revivalism presaged a wider radical critique of the status quo, eventually displacing constitutional nationalism altogether. In the view of WB Yeats, who was centrally involved, the ‘long gestation’ of the Irish revolution was grounded in a seismic shift of literature and art.
And here lies hope. Foster concludes,
The answers are not coming from the politicians, nor from any other sector of the shellshocked Irish establishment. It seems likely that the questions will be raised, and responses floated, from elsewhere, from what Yeats called ‘the cellars and garrets’, where artists and social radicals mingle on the margins of respectable life. Whether the evident anger that fuels them will be transmuted into the mainstream of Irish life, or find its own outlet, remains to be seen.
And there is hope for Hungary too, unless those cellars and garrets are to be replaced by prison cells.

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