Punking Brussels

by Henry Farrell on January 15, 2009

A few years ago, I “wrote that”:https://crookedtimber.org/2004/09/17/acquis-fiction/

Nearly every corridor in every building of the Commission, Council and Parliament has two or three examples [of EU official art] along its walls – spectacularly bland and uninteresting prints and photographs, always with the twelve stars on a blue flag in there somewhere. The art is contentless and affectless because any strong statement, or even conveyed sense of geographic location, would probably offend somebody in one or another of the member states. There’s something about the EU that seems completely inimical to lively cultural expression.

Now a Czech art-prankster has “put this theory to its test”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f9eb2dae-e2a4-11dd-b1dd-0000779fd2ac.html, and found that member states are indeed liable to get offended.

Sited prominently in the headquarters of the EU Council in Brussels, a flagship work of art – which was designed to demolish national stereotypes by mocking them – has caused diplomatic outrage. Not only that, the piece turns out to be the work of a single Czech artist despite having been billed as the collaborative effort of all 27 member states. … As countries digested depictions of their character, such as a Dracula-inspired theme park (Romania), a rudimentary lavatory (Bulgaria) and a flooded land with minarets poking through (the Netherlands), the Czech presidency was forced into a public apology. … Other national depictions in the artwork include: Luxembourg as a lump of gold on sale to the highest bidder; France emblazoned with the word grève , or strike; Denmark made of Lego; and Sweden lying within an Ikea flatpack. Britain is simply missing – supposedly a reference to its euro-scepticism. But some diplomats appear in little doubt of what action they would like to see, namely the removal of the eight-tonne “modern art installation” from the bleak and lofty but all-too prominent atrium of the council’s main building.

In fairness, the artist seems to have gone out of his way to prod national sore spots – other depictions include Germany (autobahns making up a rather thinly disguised swastika) and Poland (a group of monks erecting the Rainbow flag). Pictures below.



The World As Will, plus Eggplant

by John Holbo on January 15, 2009

I just discovered that Daniel Pinkwater has a regular podcast [that’s the link to the site, but I prefer to get it through iTunes], which includes readings of his old books! He just got through chapter 3 of Borgel, which is drop-dead my favorite novel that isn’t Melville’s Confidence Man. And he’s reading other stuff with it. There’s this screamingly hilarious, alliterative bit about Bugsy Schwartz, M.D.-to-be. “I was looking after this broad with … a stomach ache.” You have to listen.

What are your favorite podcasts that I probably don’t know about? (I have this weird problem where iTunes decides it doesn’t like certain podcasts after a while and won’t download them anymore. Example: I can only download Rachel Maddow at work because my home mac doesn’t do that stuff anymore. I click. It tries for a second then gives up. Very strange.)

In other news, I haven’t been posting at the Valve of late. But I finally got back on that horse and hauled off and posted a great huge thing about literary stuff and Theory … just for those who are all nostalgic for the good old days.

God, I don’t want to read such a thing (you reasonably protest, and I can offer no cogent counter-argument.) Then, after you read it, you come back and complain: after all that hemming and hawing, you don’t even say whether Nietzsche has an unsatisfactorily one-dimensional account of power, in your considered opinion, or not?

Very well: it is my opinion that Nietzsche’s philosophy of power is precisely isomorphic, in dimensionality, to the subject matter of this work of art, “Monster Attack”, by young Eli Kochalka. It is the greatest work of art ever. Ergo, Nietzsche is a very sophisticated theorist of power!

I suggest you click on the Monster Attack link and leave it at that.

He was not a number, he was a free man.

by Harry on January 15, 2009

Patrick McGoohan is dead. Guardian obit here.

Cohen online reading group at Crooked Timber

by Chris Bertram on January 15, 2009

A month ago I proposed an online reading group for G.A. Cohen’s _Rescuing Justice and Equality_. (“US Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674030761/junius-20 , “UK Amazon”:http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674030761/junius-21 ) It is time to get started. I’ll kick-off a week from today with a post covering the introduction and chapter 1, “Rescuing Equality from ….The Incentives Argument”. We’ll then cover a chapter a week (plus the general appendix) with, I hope, other people sometimes taking the lead. Remember the rules: a condition of commenting is that you’ve actually read the text under discussion (violators will be deleted).