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Arts and Limits / Respect for other Religions?

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  • Arts and Limits / Respect for other Religions?

    The Berlin opera house has cancelled Mozart's Ideomeneo for fears of attacks by radical Muslims. The planned production was to show "severed heads" of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha in a scene.
    Politicians in our country have deplored this "kneefall" as it surrenders the freedom of expression etc.
    Read more here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/...439393,00.html

    While I, too, find it questionable to bow to pressure in these things, I wonder if there isn't one obvious circumstance completely disregarded by the media:
    Can the police really protect all actors and singers? Is it a singer's duty to be prepared to die for singing or performing in an opera?
    Google ergo sum


  • #2
    L'Etranger posted this important question at MM, and I wanted to share it (as well as my response) with people here:
    Originally posted by L'Etranger
    The Berlin opera house has cancelled Mozart's Ideomeneo for fears of attacks by radical Muslims. The planned production was to show "severed heads" of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha in a scene.
    Originally posted by L'Etranger
    Politicians in our country have deplored this "kneefall" as it surrenders the freedom of expression etc.
    Read more here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/...439393,00.html
    While I, too, find it questionable to bow to pressure in these things, I wonder if there isn't one obvious circumstance completely disregarded by the media:
    Can the police really protect all actors and singers? Is it a singer's duty to be prepared to die for singing or performing in an opera?
    You've raised some important concerns.


    I do not believe performers should be forced to put themselves in jeopardy. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and nobody can (or should) be forced to say anything they don't want to say. And I am concerned for the perfumers who may do this because of their economic circumstances. That is, they may not want to perform in such a show, but they have to pay the rent, support families, further their careers, and so on.


    On the other hand--and lets be frank about this--western culture will be destroyed if we allow theocratic forces to work their fingers into the cracks of political correctness. It only takes a glance at history to see confirmations of this. When combined, church and state will result in a violent and oppressive state, featuring ignorance and poverty for the "subjects" of that state. The traditional European (Western) response is to suppress theocrats with our laws, which are also a means of protecting us from religious conflict. In this context, our free speech laws are meant to protect us from not only theocratic tyranny, but also to preserve us from the violence which will result when church is combined with state, and to protect us from the conflict that was necessary in the past to suppress theocracy originally. Historically, and again from the Western perspective, extreme violence is the response to theocracy. Moreover, traditionally this violence has been viewed as “necessary” to preserve civilization, especially to preserve the middle classes and working people. That is, the onus is upon the theocrats. Verbal and written condemnations of theocracy must be allowed to be performed and published, for, if such expressions are restricted, civil violence will emerge in its place. Our western civil structures are complex, but they are also fragile as a result of this complexity. Extreme theocratic action (bombings, threats of violence, violence in the streets, repression of women, etc.) can degrade civil peace quite suddenly and catastrophically, leading to a civil war that can be exploited by right wing forces (meaning a state of permanent civil war and/or "heightened security”) as well as the deaths of many innocent people.

    The state could in fact protect the opera performers, but this would require nations to elect politicians with the will to do so. As David Selbourne argues ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...349195,00.html ) Europe (including England) probably lacks the political will to preserve western civilization (and I underscore the middle class component of this concept). In the United States, possibly, there is a greater (but is it sufficient?) political will to do so. The United States, however, is also stigmatized and weakened by an administration that is exploiting the situation for profit, which "complicates" things.


    Which leads to my final point. Cultural workers must act quickly and with precision to expose the nature of what is going on. The superficial masks of religion and race must be removed. The greatest threat represented by this conflict is the threat to the middle class (which I take to include working people). That is, transparency must be upheld, and this includes exposing ALL religious superstition and power structures, as well as exposing ALL right wing (and left wing) forces that are exploiting the situation for their own ends.


    The pedigrees of artists, writers, directors, poets and critics are directly related to their ability to preserve civilization. We grew up seeing people like Kubrick do this—consider, for example, Dr. Strangelove, which was a brilliant and (more importantly) efficacious argument against the superstitions and tensions driving the cold war.


    Art matters.
    Last edited by nalpak retrac; 09-27-2006, 09:59 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by L'Etranger
      The Berlin opera house has cancelled Mozart's Ideomeneo for fears of attacks by radical Muslims. The planned production was to show "severed heads" of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha in a scene.
      Politicians in our country have deplored this "kneefall" as it surrenders the freedom of expression etc.
      Read more here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/...439393,00.html

      While I, too, find it questionable to bow to pressure in these things, I wonder if there isn't one obvious circumstance completely disregarded by the media:
      Can the police really protect all actors and singers? Is it a singer's duty to be prepared to die for singing or performing in an opera?
      Just one question? What does Mozart's 'Idomeneo' have to do with religion, and or religious leaders in the first place. In what context is this story played out in?

      *Cheers! The beer's and ladies are waiting!*

      Comment


      • #4
        Oddly enough, the US press reported that the performance was cancelled because it showed the severed head of Muhammad, leaving out of their stories that Jesus and Buddha were likewise depicted.

        Of course Carter is right. Art matters. When art is censored on political grounds, the action often only strengthens the ideas the art represents and creates.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Theocrat
          Just one question? What does Mozart's 'Idomeneo' have to do with religion, and or religious leaders in the first place. In what context is this story played out in?
          This is a *very* good question:

          Plot from Wikipedia:


          The "Idomeneo" production, directed by Hans Neuenfels, shows King Idomeneo staggering on stage carrying the decapitated heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad; a departure from the libretto and score.
          To be honest, if the decapitated heads are an 'addition' to the opera - ie not an integral part of the original drama by Mozart - then I don't see how it's defensible. Ars gratia artis is not a good enough argument without something important to say. I would like to know why the 'heads' were added in the first place, and also why the performances couldn't go ahead without the 'additions' - i.e. as originally intended by Mozart. This 'all or nothing' solution smacks of some hidden agenda - or 'point scoring' by someone, possibly within Deutsche Oper?
          Last edited by David Mosley; 09-27-2006, 10:14 AM.
          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

          Comment


          • #6
            I think Art has to be free...it is a free expression of human mind and so I guess it's absurd to modify or to cut Mozart, or Guido Reni, or every other great artists from our past in order actual political situation.
            Hieronymus

            - Dalmatius -

            "I'm forbidden to reign, but I'll never yield before the facts: I am the Cat"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Carter Kaplan

              On the other hand--and lets be frank about this--western culture will be destroyed if we allow theocratic forces to work their fingers into the cracks of political correctness.
              ....
              (shortened by L'E)
              ...
              Our western civil structures are complex, but they are also fragile as a result of this complexity. Extreme theocratic action (bombings, threats of violence, violence in the streets, repression of women, etc.) can degrade civil peace quite suddenly and catastrophically, leading to a civil war that can be exploited by right wing forces (meaning a state of permanent civil war and/or "heightened security”) as well as the deaths of many innocent people.


              The state could in fact protect the opera performers, but this would require nations to elect politicians with the will to do so. As David Selbourne argues ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...349195,00.html ) Europe (including England) probably lacks the political will to preserve western civilization (and I underscore the middle class component of this concept). In the United States, possibly, there is a greater (but is it sufficient?) political will to do so. The United States, however, is also stigmatized and weakened by an administration that is exploiting the situation for profit, which "complicates" things.
              Political will?
              The effort to "protect Western civilisation" can easily pervert into what I perceive with some of the forces in the Bushovik camp: a frightening strengthening of the opposing fundamentalists who disguise as defenders of Liberty - or better "our way of life" (the latter is easier to mold ...)
              Already in several of our European countries, namely Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands you note an effect: Substantial numbers of voters rallye around nationalistic populist movements and Neo-fascist organisations because of what they perceive as Muslims having "gained free rein" in the European heartlands.
              And the Opera's retreat gives them even more momentum. How terrible.

              Originally posted by Carter Kaplan
              ....

              Which leads to my final point. Cultural workers must act quickly and with precision to expose the nature of what is going on. The superficial masks of religion and race must be removed. The greatest threat represented by this conflict is the threat to the middle class (which I take to include working people). That is, transparency must be upheld, and this includes exposing ALL religious superstition and power structures, as well as exposing ALL right wing (and left wing) forces that are exploiting the situation for their own ends.


              The pedigrees of artists, writers, directors, poets and critics are directly related to their ability to preserve civilization. We grew up seeing people like Kubrick do this—consider, for example, Dr. Strangelove, which was a brilliant and (more importantly) efficacious argument against the superstitions and tensions driving the cold war.


              Art matters.
              I agree largely, but perhaps they should have composed and published a totally new opera, not altering one of Mozart and thereby dragging him and all who listen to his music into the target sights of radicals. As we have seen in the incident with the Pope's unhappy quote - the radicals in the world are just waiting for a pretext to strike. An Italian nun was killed in Somalia, because of this. Perhaps Mozart lovers could equally become victims, because of the aspirations of an opera director who wants to make a statement. Of course we don't know.
              I am in Arts myself. If I want to make statements I join groups or stages or filmproductions and publishing houses known for their commitment. As an opera singer I'd probably be surprised and wholly unprepared to suddenly find myself in such a situation.

              It says a lot though, that a society is publicly appalled by the withdrawal instead of immediately offering protection.
              Interestingly, Muslim groups in Germany have announced their interest to see the opera for themselves to be able to talk about it with competence.
              Google ergo sum

              Comment


              • #8
                the matter is not only with art.

                Islamists ( not muslims ) object to any historical and critical analysis of Islam. a french teacher of philosophy is under a threat of death because he wrote about islam in a french daily newspaper ....

                french text ....



                English text ( approximative translation by Google ) :




                I don't agree with every thing said but i agree with one thing : democracy and right to free speech need to be fought for !

                And secularism is a necessity, against any fanatism and religious integrism .....
                Last edited by Morgan Kane; 09-27-2006, 10:12 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Update
                  On a lighter note:
                  A leading Jewish columnist writing for German papers has shown his (tongue-in-cheek) indignation for the discrimination of Jews in Neuenfels' Idomeneo production, because no beheaded Moses was included!

                  His entire comment:
                  http://www.spiegel.de/international/...439642,00.html
                  Google ergo sum

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm totally in favour of free speech and against bowing to the "offended on behalf of G*d", but I must say that this seemed quite gratuitous to me (it's not part of the original opera) and I must say I suspect a publicity stunt or something politically motivated.

                    I think there's a lot of people (the anti-immigration lobby, for a start) who quite like to see Muslims behaving in a way which is "incompatible with Western values". The sad thing is that there seems to be so many Muslims willing to do so.

                    Perhaps if liberals stopped showing them so much "understanding" when they take to the streets with hate-filled placards, they would see less benefit in conforming to stereotype.
                    \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by L'Etranger
                      Update
                      On a lighter note:
                      A leading Jewish columnist writing for German papers has shown his (tongue-in-cheek) indignation for the discrimination of Jews in Neuenfels' Idomeneo production, because no beheaded Moses was included!

                      His entire comment:
                      http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,439642,00.html
                      This time the German opera authorities have gone too far! I am outraged! Someone must chop off the head of Moses, immediately!
                      "Jerry Cornelius was based, for instance, on a young man I used to see around Notting Hill where there was also a greengrocer called Cornelius of London."

                      --Michael Moorcock

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am afraid i am a liberal in the meaning Mickey c is giving to the word.

                        I have no understanding for integrism, muslim or other ........

                        The problem is that the war against democracy has begun and integrist are allied with some ultra conservatives .... even if they fight, they agree on the idea that free speach must be limited !

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What About the Pagans?

                          Well, I'm a Pagan, and I'm offended because none of my deities will be beheaded in the opera! See, they're always leaving out the Pagans! If Pagans aren't being vilified, we're being forgotten. Discrimination!

                          I won't see the opera if my gods aren't decapitated. And don't forget the goddesses. Medusa would have a good laugh, I think.

                          And the Green Knight, but he might be tricky. I know he's not a god in the usual sense, but, dammit, I like him.

                          If you behead one deity, you have to behead them all, just to be fair.

                          And who are these Islamic Extremists to get all up in arms over beheading anyway? They do enough of it from what I heard. Hypocrites.

                          The Arts should show respect for religions when religions finally show respect for one another.
                          Last edited by Marie-Bernadette; 09-29-2006, 08:36 PM.
                          WWED -- What Would Elric Do?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What's to stop me from forming my own religion with Elric acting as a divine being? The Blacksword could be my spiritual artifact and in regards to the question as of who would be doing the beheading.....well that would be short lived, wouldnt it?
                            No race should have the right to force their beliefs on others.
                            Global bullying is not a new technique.
                            That is the reason why we must never forget events of the past.(WW2 for instance)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Marie-Bernadette
                              And who are these Islamic Extremists to get all up in arms over beheading anyway?
                              But as I understand it, no muslims have been 'up in arms' over this opera's production. The decision to cancel the production is entirely pre-emptive. If so, there's something very fishy about the whole thing. The effect has been to demonise muslims* (yet again) without muslims having to do anything in the first place.

                              *Although muslims don't really need any help from German opera companies in that regard, seeing as some of their fellows are perfectly capable of doing that on their own
                              _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                              _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                              _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                              _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                              Comment

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