Posts Tagged ‘russia’

TRIVIALITIES: LONG AND SHORT 徐江 Xu Jiang

5月 3, 2021

Xu Jiang
TRIVIALITIES: LONG AND SHORT

The France I used to like has disappeared,
Paris is thronged with people from places
very far away from the outskirts of Gaul.
The America I used to love
has gone back into the movies.
Many people who live there now are villains from fiction,
Robert Penn Warren, William Styron, Faulkner and Steinbeck.
Hemingway characters have been condensed into fairytales.
And those bumpkins ridiculed by Thomas Wolfe,
they would like to hold the world by its throat as a matter of course.
I am thinking of Ellery Queen, Bogart, Jack Nicholson
and all sorts of Pacino,
standing between shadows and light, DeNiro people.
I am not sure whether the lives
described by the great Annie Proulx and Ring Lardner
have really existed.
If it really was like that,
then Philip Roth and Salinger, those two masters,
they didn’t have it any easier than Bernard Malamud or myself.
The Britain I liked and also hated,
the world of Dickens, Hardy, Emily Brontë, Evelyn Waugh,
also the world of Guy Maddin.
Chaplin and Hitchcock, they came from England,
no matter if they thought of it as their grandmother‘s home or whatever,
that kind of world is gone, no-one can go back to it.
Italy, of Umberto Saba’s bitter poetry,
of Tornatore’s splendor,
Fellini’s ghosts and deities,
a world has gone under but another world has not risen.
Poor Barcelona, poor Spain,
aside from Messi, what else can you make me think of?
The bullets shot at Lorca?
Thick smoke covers Cervantes and Unamuno.
But you are singing, saying what does this have to do with you?
As you go north, farther north, everywhere north in the world
you’ll run into people drinking forever.
They are crawling out of Ibsen, Hamsun, Dostoyevski’s White Nights,
Crawling all the way till today until half of what Solzhenitsyn described is gone.
I really don’t know if this is a good thing or not.
Neither Tolstoy nor Maupassant nor the wisdom of Martin du Gard can advise me.
Old Hesse stares into the distance with his Steppenwolf eyes and doesn’t speak.
At this time everyone can understand a little why Stefan Zweig and Richard Strauss broke down.
Bukowski didn’t care about any of this, he drank a bottle and went on writing.
Pasternak screwed up his horse face and stared at a row of trees in the snow.
Wandering souls drive their chariots, circling and circling,
soundlessly crushing expectations and fear;
crushing Nietzsche and Stephen Hawking, actually
all of this can be seen to belong to Stephen King.
But it’s ok,
just be glad it’s still ok,
food is eaten, television’s turned on.
Ineffective dreams are about to start,
about to start again.
You will wake up, we will wake up,
from utter sadness, wake up to enter
indefinite nights, poisoned days.
Yes, everything definitely indefinite.
Let us clear away this forest,
let us see the distance in the past.
Not so we can see the past,
but so we can see once more
the distance we longed for.

Translated by MW on May 2nd, 2021

新世纪诗典作品联展#徐江#(32.0)

伊沙推荐:徐氏现代感怀赋体诗,是徐江在一首决胜争奖时惯用的杀手锏,确实能够展示一名诗人的综合修养与实力,但在我的评判中并非次次都奏效,取决于真知灼见与书生义气所占比例之多寡,当然是前者百分比越高就越好。本诗不算高也不算低,所以入典推荐但不染指荣誉,好在作者新近刚获李白诗歌奖新世纪中国十大诗人奖并继续保持满额。

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

况禹点评《新诗典》徐江《杂事诗·长短调》:本诗的缘起当然是横行全球的新冠疫情,主题则是这一疫情下文明的崩溃与混乱,以及人所应持有的正确反应。属于作者当下题材的作品中,最重要的主题之一。

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

黎雪梅读《新世纪诗典》之徐江《杂事诗.长短调:》这是一首关于疫情的诗歌,在诗中你能感受到各种秩序的混乱,无论欧洲还是美洲;你还能遇见很多熟悉的作家及诗人的名字,仿佛跨越时空,他们都站在你的面前,与你探讨自由、正义和死亡等有关人类存在最基本的问题,也许每个人的观点不同,但人们还是看见了远方的曙光,这正是人类的希望所在。

黄开兵:密集恐惧症——抄了两个多小时!孩子都快看完两部电影了。推荐词部分特意用了朱墨书写,避免因为密集而难以辨别。视觉效果不错!

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

黄平子读徐江《杂事诗·长短调》

——《新世纪诗典》3682

黄平子读诗:百度了一下“长短调”,由于该词涉及到音乐、摄影等知识,徐江老师又将其运用到诗里,我还是搞不大明白。不懂不装懂,这是我的读诗原则。猜一下:该诗叫长短调,大约是前后两节写了不同的内容,用了不同的手法吧。从“我喜欢的法国消失了”到“所有这些你也都可以看成是斯蒂芬·金”是诗的第一小节。诗人从法国开始,先后写到美国、英国、意大利、巴萨罗那、西班牙、北方、更北方、全世界所有的北方。诗人通过追忆那些逝去的大师们,最终发出感慨:“一个世界沉没了可另一个世界并没有升起来”。从“不过还好”到“我们过去向往的远方”是诗的第二小节。诗人由回忆回到现实:“你将醒来我们将醒来/从确切的悲伤中醒来”。过去很美好,现在不尽人意,不过将来肯定会更好。徐江不是悲观论者,这一点,诗写得很清楚:“不是为了看到过去/而是为了重新看一看/我们过去向往的远方”。第一小节偏叙事,第二小节偏议论。从百度关于长短调的定义来看,第一小节应该属于短调,第二小节属于长调。不知道有没有搞错。好几个诗人都说这是一首疫情诗。我觉得不是。《长短调》缅怀的是逝去的大师和过去璀璨的文明:“那样的世界今天的人现在都回不去了”。

2021年5月2日21记47分

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

Calligraphy by Huang Kaibing

马金山|读徐江的诗《杂事诗·长短调》的十一条:
1、文字燃烧思想,现实成就诗史;
2、当代性,即先锋性。活出文明,诗写人生;
3、徐江,毕业于北京师范大学中文系。1991年创办《葵》。著有诗集《黄昏前说起天才》《徐江的诗》《花火》《雾》《杂事诗》《我斜视》、诗学论著《这就是诗》《现代诗物语》等二十余种。主持编选《1991年以来的中国诗歌》《给孩子们的诗》。五次荣获新世纪诗典“李白诗歌奖”。曾获首届亚洲诗人奖、《世界诗人》2006年度国际最佳诗人;
4、徐江的诗,尤其是短制系列作品,是极其少有的值得我整理打印出来一读再读的,其作品给我最多的意义在于丰富与智慧,并且文字的言外之意,何等绚烂、精彩;
5、《杂事诗》系列,对于诗人徐江来说,应该是尤为重要的,不仅如此,对于新世纪的诗坛来说,何偿不是一部重要的作品呢,既有个人化的印记,还有时代的呼吸与脉搏,庞大而丰富;
6、本诗写作的背景,毫不回避的是现实与疫情,不只如此,还有个体的情感与生活,除此之外,还有审视的眼光和内在的格局,均对世界物象的触感具有智性的广度与深度;
7、诗里行间,不仅有细小的颗粒,还有辽阔的世界性建构,在纹理细腻的情感排列中,既有清晰的空间,还有现代的文明,锋利而又鲜活;
8、浓厚与庞杂,是这个世界的秩序,还是我读这首史诗的深切感受,几乎每一节,都是芬芳,都是灿烂与文明,这是很多作品所不具备的,而此诗有,想要的一切;
9、未来可期,这是本诗给予我提供的精神价值,传递健康积极的生活态度与思想观念,也是此诗给予的力量;
10、本诗给予诗人的启示:“伟大的诗,源于伟大的时代,而这个时代,何尝不是伟大的历史时期呢”;
11、时代之诗,文化之诗,文明史记。

SCHNEE, FÜR SACHAROW – 任洪渊 Ren Hongyuan

9月 2, 2020

Ren Hongyuan
SCHNEE, FÜR SACHAROW

In den 1970er Jahren stand Andrej Sacharow Jahr für Jahr am 7. November am Puschkin-Platz vor dem Denkmal des Dichters im Schnee. Die Silhouetten von Sacharow und von Puschkin haben sich im Schnee überlagert.

Schnee, Schnee fällt am 7. November
vor der Statue, eure Figuren, Puschkin und Du
aufeinander im Schnee, endlose Stille.
Du hörst auf dich selbst, auf den Schnee.

Du stehst im Frost, in der Weite des Schnees.
Sonne friert im Wasser, Wasser friert im Licht.
Vom Glitzern des ersten Strahls
zum Waschen der ersten eisigen Welle.

Du stehst, von Schnee zu Schnee
im tiefen Schnee, aus dem Du nicht heraussteigst.
Obwohl Wege im Schnee nach Osten und Westen
unter Deinen Füßen nicht enden, obwohl

Puschkins Augen wieder auf Deine treffen,
sieht er Dich nicht im strahlenden Schneelicht.
Was aus dem Schnee kommt, bleibt im Schnee.
Im Schnee begraben, Dein Opfer im Schnee.

Von Wasser bleibt in der Sonne nichts über
als brennender Glanz, Glitzern trifft aufeinander
auf klaren Flächen bis in die Tiefe.
Schnee im Licht unverdeckt, Schnee verdeckt nicht,

so wie die Sonne im Wasser jedes Sandkorn herauswäscht,
das Licht, das läuft und stürzt aus dem Schnee
nichts verschlingt und nicht untergeht im wogenden Strom bis ins Meer.
Schnee strömt aus Schnee, Schnee ohne Ufer.

Reinheit am Ende ist auch Vernichtung am Anfang,
reiner Schnee wird leicht zu Schneeresten, Schneescherben.
Schneetrauer gewandelt und wiedergeboren in Schnee.
Schnee flüstert weiter in endloser Stille.

So wie Wasser Sonne zurückbringt, die nicht verwelkt,
so bringt Sonne Wasser zurück, das nicht verfließt.
Ich hör Deine reine Schwermut im Schnee,
ich hör dich, die Dämmerung im Sommer ist die Weiße Nacht.

Erste Fassung 1971,
zweite Fassung 2011

Übersetzt von MW am 1. September 2020

 

 

Лермонтов: Выхожу один… LERMONTOW: ICH GEH AUS ALLEIN…

11月 12, 2019

LERMONTOW: ICH GEH AUS ALLEIN…

 

Ich geh aus, allein. Nacht liegt wie tot.

Ein Pfad blitzt im Nebel, ich kann mich entfernen.

Das leere Feld hört auf Gott

Und Sterne reden mit Sternen.

 

Der Himmel ist ein feierliches Wunder.

Die Erde schläft im Blau.

Was fällt mir schwer? Wo ist meine Wunde?

Was tut mir leid? Worauf wart ich genau?

 

Ich warte auf nichts mehr im Leben

Und finde auch nichts, das mich reut.

Ich suche Ruhe und Freiheit,

Vergessen und Schlummer sollt ihr mir geben.

 

Nur will ich nicht in die kalte Gruft,

Ich will Jahrhunderte dösen,

Meine Kraft soll ruhen in meiner Brust

Aber mein Atem darf nicht verwesen.

 

Tag und Nacht brauch ich Liebe im Ohr,

immer im Grünen ein süßes Singen,

eine raschelnde Eiche möcht ich davor,

dass Zweige dunkel über mir hingen.

 

1841

Übersetzt von MW im November 2019

 

RUSSIAN POETRY: From the ends to the beginning – a bilingual anthology

 

 

М.Ю. Лермонтов

I.

Выхожу один я на дорогу
Сквозь туман кремнистый путь блестит;
Ночь тиха. Пустыня внемлет Богу,
И звезда с звездою говорит.

II.

В небесах торжественно и чудно!
Спит земля в сиянье голубом…
Что же мне так больно и так трудно?
Жду ль чего? жалею ли о чём?

III.

Уж не жду от жизни ничего я,
И не жаль мне прошлого ничуть;
Я ищу свободы и покоя!
Я б хотел забыться и заснуть!

IV.

Но не тем холодным сном могилы…
Я б желал навеки так заснуть,
Чтоб в груди дремали жизни силы,
Чтоб, дыша, вздымалась тихо грудь;

V.

Чтоб всю ночь, весь день мой слух лелея,
Про любовь мне сладкий голос пел,
Надо мной чтоб, вечно зеленея,
Тёмный дуб склонялся и шумел.

1841г

 

RUSSIAN POETRY: From the ends to the beginning – a bilingual anthology

 

 

 

GORBACHEV

11月 10, 2019

GORBACHEV

Gorbachev is a moral voice.
The leader of an empire is
a moral voice for most of his life.
He tried everything to preserve
the empire he undermined.
He is a Communist.
And so
Gorbachev is a moral voice
for the world.

Reagan was a supportive
Cowboy actor.
Very supportive
for speculators
and Contra terrorists
and Kissinger’s and Thatcher’s
and the Chicago Boys’ Pinochet.
Very supportive.

Gorbachev is for democracy
and world peace.
Could he be a leader
of the European Union,
could he be a good one?
He’s too old anyway.
But it would have to include Russia
to say nothing of Britain
of course
and so on.
Wish we all
all people affected
would have a say.

P.S.: My wife
thinks this is hogwash.
She doesn’t like my political poems.
What do you think?
I know I have to write a lot
and translate and read
and do a lot of other stuff
to write some good ones.
So there.

MW November 2019

 

P.P.S.: Here are some great photos and a short film from the GDR: https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/089938-000-A/radfahrer/

 

And here is Gorbachev’s Pizza Hut commercial from 1997. Click on the image to read a hilarious Foreign Policy article and watch the commercial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEBRATENES SCHWEIN WEINT IM HERZEN VOM HUND MIT SEHNSUCHT NACH SÜDEN – 李异

2月 18, 2019

Li Yi
GEBRATENES SCHWEIN WEINT IM HERZEN VOM HUND MIT SEHNSUCHT NACH SÜDEN

Ich und die Dichter
gehen nach Japan
(besuchen Shinjuku Kabukichō,
die Manga-Meister Akira Toriyama & Ryoichi Ikegami),
nach Taiwan
(essen die besten chinesischen Dim-Sum,
bewundern Mädchen so schön wie frisches Wandpapier)
gehen nach Kambodscha
(hören Schreie von Seelen
in Ritzen von Angkor Wat).
Ich möchte auch heuer im Sommer
nach Russland reisen
(Ai Hao hat sich angemeldet),
aber das geht alles nur in Gedanken
(Ich bin ein Mann ohne Geld).
Gestern Abend
spiel ich mit meiner Tochter
im Zimmer.
Sie sagt Papa,
komm schwimmen!
Also lieg ich auf dem Bauch auf der Decke auf der Matratze
und kraul durch die Wogen.
Diese Ente hat keine Flossen,
der Papa hat keinen Groschen.

Übersetzt von MW im Februar 2019

 

STRONGMAN

11月 10, 2016

14910483_10210481306486887_8001266828958303970_n

STRONGMAN

strongman, he is not a bird
strongman, he is not a plane
what is strongman all about?
strongman makes it strong for you
strongman, he makes all the shots
strongman, he makes all the drinks
strongman, he makes every sauce

strongman, chairman get along

strongman makes you extra strong
makes you swallow his strongsong
don’t tell me you didn’t know

MW November 2016

FLAGGE ZEIGEN – SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS!

9月 23, 2016

photo by David Howard

photo by David Howard

 

SHOW YOUR COLOURS

I see your true colours
shining through.
I see your true colours
and that’s why I hate you!
So do be afraid…
Show your colours
says the candidate
the right-wing candidate.
Is it Trump?
Is it Le Pen?
Is it Erdogan?
Putin?
Orban?
Maybe someone in Britain?
Show your true colours!
If this person wins
Austria is the ugliest place
in the Murky Way.

MW September 2016

 

 

FLAGGE ZEIGEN

flagge zeigen
steht auf dem plakat
des deutschnationalen
für die 3. wahl
für den zweiten termin
der 3. wahl
seit april
zum präsidenten von österreich
flagge zeigen
sagt der deutschnationale
der mit den nazis in der partei
welche flagge
will er denn zeigen
die der republik österreich?
im ernst, welche flagge?

MW September 2016

五月新聞、奥地利国歌 hymne + nachricht (verfahren, techniken)

5月 8, 2015

HYMNE

heimat bist du großer kinder
volk begnadet an den rändern
vielgeliebtes österreich
vielgeliebtes österreich

mw 6. Mai 2015

五月新闻

母亲节
我们要
七十年前
失控
最近
集中营
纪念
俄国
奥地利
太空船
毛特豪森
进入大气
被解放
烧光了

2015.5.8

NACHRICHT

am muttertag
wird
beim eintritt
in die
russische raumfähre
der befreiung
die außer
vor 70 jahren
kontrolle
atmosphäre
von mauthausen
gedacht
geratene
ist verglüht

mw 8. Mai 2015

YI SHA IN AMERICA 伊沙 《美国行》

4月 24, 2015

Yi Sha in Amerika

Yi Sha 《与布靠斯基同行》
ON THE ROAD WITH BUKOWSKI

at vermont studio center
drugs are taboo
no smoking inside
in case of sexual harassment
please dial this number
with a sigh I said to martin:
“even charles bukowski
such a great writer
had to go out himself to buy alcohol
this would never happen
in china …”

later we found
johnson town supermarket
stacked all kinds of booze
we breathed a sigh of relief
for old bukowski
one day later
we found the shop at the gas station
closer from the studios
another sigh of relief
for old bukowski
even later than that
we found a place
looked like a liquor store
complete selection
of local specialties
at cheaper prices
now
we could be rather sure
bukowski’s days at vsc
were happy days
drinking
and writing to his heart’s content

bukowski was happy
we were happy too

Oct. 2014
Tr. MW, 2015

Yi Sha 《与布靠斯基同行》
MIT BUKOWSKI UNTERWEGS

im künstlerzentrum
sind drogen verboten
besonders das rauchen
bei sexueller belästigung
gibt es einen notruf
ich sage seufzend zu martin:
“sogar charles bukowski
der große dichter
musste hier selbst nach alkohol suchen
das wäre in china
undenkbar ….”

nachher fanden wir
im großen supermarkt mitten im ort
die regale voller alkohol
wir atmeten auf
in gedanken an bukowski
später fanden wir
bei der tankstelle auch einen supermarkt
noch näher am künstlerzentrum
wir atmeten noch einmal auf
für den alten bukowski
noch später
entdeckten wir ein spezialgeschäft
lauter alkohol in allen sorten
außerdem billiger
jetzt war es entschieden
wir konnten sicher sein
im vermont studio center
war bukowski glücklich
trank in frieden
schrieb in frieden

bukowski war glücklich
wir waren es auch

Oktober 2014
Übers. v. MW, 2014-2015

Yi Sha still in Vermont

Yi Sha 《飞越太平洋》
FLUG ÜBER DEN PAZIFIK

von china nach amerika
von peking nach detroit
ich hatte geglaubt
wir würden den weiten pazifischen ozean
überqueren
doch unser flugzeug
war praktisch die ganze zeit
über festem boden
von peking nach nordosten
über harbin hinweg
ich sah die lichter
dann ging es nach russland
über das äußere hinggan-gebirge
über die halbinsel kamtschatka
über die beringsee
(der einzige schmale streifen meer
den wir überflogen)
dann kam alaska
(also war ich schon in amerika)
wir überquerten die kordilleren
flogen durch kanadas öde weiten
und dann nach südosten
bald darauf die landung
im üppigen grün
der häuser und villen rund um detroit
nach meinen informationen
gelangten die eskimos
aus der mongolischen hochebene
über genau diese route
auf den amerikanischen kontinent

Ende Sept. 2014
Übers. v. MW, 2015

Yi Sha 《窗外》
DRAUSSEN VORM FENSTER

jede nacht
fährt ein auto
auf der pearl street an meinem fenster vorbei
schnell wie der wind
ein mobiles
heavy metal konzert
lang nachdem der wagen verschwindet
hallt die musik in meinem herzen
das ist amerika
jedenfalls hab ich in china
oder in anderen ländern
so etwas nicht erlebt

Okt. 2014
Übers. v. MW, 2014-2015

Yi Sha 《异国小镇》
KLEINE ORTE IM AUSLAND

“solche kleinen orte
da krieg ich gleich
ein unheimliches gefühl
wahrscheinlich hab ich
zu viele amerikanische filme gesehen”
sag ich zu martin

martin antwortet:
“das geht mir auch so”
(hätt ich nicht erwartet)

“gibt es in österreich
auch solche orte?”

“natürlich, sehr viele”

“wenn du solche orte siehst
hast du dort auch
ein unheimliches gefühl?”

“ja”

“warum? dort ist deine heimat
dort muss dir alles vertraut sein …”

“in solchen orten
gibt es auch neonazis”

Okt. 2014
Übers. v. MW 2014-2015

Yi Sha 《在天涯》
AN DEN RÄNDERN DES HIMMELS

drückt mich lässt mich nicht los
heimatland
im computer

Okt. 2014
Übers. v. MW, 2014-2015

Punks, empathy and torture: Pussy Riot in China and Vienna

8月 17, 2012

Image

Aug. 25

Daniele Kowalsky showed me a very interesting interview with Jonathan Campbell in the L.A. Review of Books. Jonathan Campbell talks with Jeffrey Wasserstrom about 盤古 Pangu,崔健 Cui Jian,無聊軍隊 Wuliao Jundui and other details of rock music and punk in China.

Unfortunately, I can’t agree with Jonathan that yaogun 摇滚 (Chinese rock music) could galvanize China like Pussy Riot seems to have galvanized opposition in Russia. Cui Jian 崔建 did have some very memorable moments, and people in China do remember them, and they will tell you readily about the parts before 1989, mostly. But those moments in 1989 were so painful in the end that no one knows if there will ever be a similar broad-based protest movement again. 1989 brought hope in Europe. Risk, very risky change, and some very ugly violence in Romania. But overall there was hope, and whatever came out of it, 1989 is generally remembered as a year of wonder. In China it’s a trauma. A wound that is usually covered up, but even China is very much connected to the world nowadays, and the world knows. And there are much deeper and older traumata, which can be accessed and shared via 1989. So in that way, there is hope. Connected to underground music. Like the kind that Liao Yiwu’s 廖亦武 music comes from.

There are parallels, certainly. Parallels between Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei 艾未未, in the pornography. Parallels in the way of some Ai Weiwei news or other embarrassing news everyone gets to know about, and the dark stuff below. The disappearances, the longer ones, see Gao Zhisheng 高智晟. And the corpses. I learned about the late attorney Sergei Magnitsky via Pussy Riot. He died in jail in 2009, and among people concerned with Russia he is as famous as Gao is in and outside China, which means not so many people want to talk about him or even admit they’ve heard of cases like that. Of course, there are corpses under the carpets in every country. Only China is the oldest 5000 year old one, of course.

Aug. 22

2 years for singing in church. Perfectly absurd. Punk music, controversial art. Public space and religion. Russia, Africa, China. What is art? Depends where you are, what you are, who you are, who is with you. What you believe.

One week ago I read two books. A few months before I got to know a poet. Still haven’t seen her. A Jewish poet in Germany, soon to be teaching in Vienna. Esther Dischereit.

Last month I finally got around to pick up a book that contains many poems I translated. Freedom of writing. Writers in prison. A beautiful anthology, edited by Helmuth Niederle, currently head of Austrian PEN.

Connections. Connected to China. Punk music isn’t all that subversive, not in a big way, usually. What if musicians insult the government on stage. Well, I’ve been to about 300 concerts in China, said Yan Jun. Sometimes someone was screaming something in that direction. But they aren’t big stars. They can be ignored.

Christa Wolf. Stadt der Engel. The Overcoat of Dr. Freud. Long and convoluted. Gems in there. How she was loyal to the Party in 1953. And insisted on protest against Party policy. How and what they hoped in 1989. How and what Germany was and is.

Aug. 21

2 years for singing in church. And many more arrested. It does sound more like China than Russia, doesn’t it? The case of Li Wangyang 李旺陽李汪洋) comes to mind. Li Wangyang died around June 4th 2012 in police care after being released from over 20 years of jail. He was a labor activist in the 1989 protests that ended with the massacre on June 4th in Beijing. Li Wangyang supposedly killed himself, but the police report was disputed in China and in Hong Kong, where tens of thousands of people protested. Li’s relatives and friends are still being persecuted. One has been formally arrested and accused of revealing state secrets, because he photographed Li’s body.

Parallels between Russia and China were drawn in media comments after the verdict in Moscow. One comment wondered whether Russia is trying to emulate China, where the word civil society is banned on the Internet. China has had economic success for decades. People put up with authoritarian one-party rule there, the comment said. But it won’t work in Russia, because the economy depends on natural resources, not on industry. The comment contained the old misunderstanding that in China, government policy and enforced stability have caused economic success. Beijing wants the world to think that, of course. However, the prominent law and economy professors Qin Hui 秦暉 and He Weifang 賀衛方 have been saying for years that the economic miracle of the 1980s depended on a consensus to move away from the Cultural Revolution, as well as on investment from Taiwan, Hong Kong and overseas. After 1989, there has been no comparable social consensus. After 1989, the social drawbacks and the gap between rich and poor may have grown faster than the economy. But the middle class has also grown. Regional protests are frequent but limited. Or the other way ’round. The Internet remains vibrant. With Weibo microblogs inside the Great Firewall, and very much Chinese going on outside. Not because the government initiates it. They let it happen. The economy, the art, the internet. Even protests, when they are against Japan, and/or not too big. And they profit. The oligarchy is the Party.

Religion and more or less independent art have been growing in China, about as much as the social conflicts. Art brings huge profits, so they let it happen. In Russia, Pussy Riot have succeeded in connecting independent art, oppositional politics and religion in a highly visible way. Art, political activism and religion are voluble factors, so much that societies where everyday news has been fixated on finance for at least four years now could almost grow jealous.

Pussy Riot were not mentioned in our church on Sunday, as far as I could tell. I had to look after the children. But the preacher drew on her experiences from jail work. She championed the rights of refugees and was a prominent anti-governmental figure in Austria in the 1990s. Direct relevance for religion in Austrian politics is rare. We had Catholic Austro-Fascism in the 1930s, paving the way for Hitler. Some Protestant Nazis as well. After the Holocaust, religion in Austria has a somewhat undead quality. A bit like traditional opera in China, which is rallying, hopefully.

For international discussion about the relevance of underground art, music and religion, China has Liao Yiwu 廖亦武. And Russia has Pussy Riot.

Photo by Vincent Yu/AP

Aug. 17

Worldwide empathy for Pussy Riot is great. The trial in Moscow ends today, so I don’t know yet if three women have to remain in jail for years after singing in a church. There was a lot of worldwide attention last year as Ai Weiwei 艾未未 was abducted and detained by Chinese state security. He was released and voted most influential artist worldwide. I have seen graffiti in support of Pussy Riot here in Vienna in the last few days. One at newly renovated Geology Institute. Not very nice. And there was some kind of happening at the Vienna Russian Orthodox church, I heard. Church authorities not amused. Well, hopefully worldwide support can help enough this time. Quite recently, many political prisoners in China have been sentenced to more than 10 years. There was a lot of attention abroad in one case. And a Nobel.

Austria is a nice place, generally. Sometimes it’s uglier than Germany. Generally uglier, in terms of police abusing, even killing people, always getting away with it. Have been reading Vienna Review and Poetry Salzburg Review in the last few days. News and poetry. Many of our friends here in Vienna are not from Austria. Coming from abroad often provides a clearer perspective.

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Aug. 14

Read two good books. Not in Chinese. Ok, in Chinese I’m reading poetry. And other books, not enough. Anyway. Cornelia Travnicek and Manfred Nowak. Both in German. Non-Fiction and Fiction. No connection. Like Liao Yiwu 廖亦武, Bei Ling 貝嶺 and that Berlin novel, what was it called? Plan D. Ok, there was a connection. Taipei Bookfair 台北國際書展. Ok or not, no connection. A novel. Punks in Austria. Young and female. Male protagonists dead or dying. Ok, not all of them. Anyway, good novel. Vienna, occupied, death, youth, love, society, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s. 2012 exhibition at Wien Museum. Empathy. And the other book? Torture. Human Rights, UN, Austria, torture in Austria (see this newspaper report, also in German), Moldavia, Equatorial-Guinea or how do you call that country, Uruguay and so on. Neglect. Conditions of/for empathy. Ok, so both books are about empathy. Good. And in German. Oh well, maybe some people who read this read German. Or they’ll get translated. The books, not you. Manfred Nowak’s books and other written sources are available in several other languages than German. You can get some very useful stuff in English for free here.


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