It had been a strange feeling or mood – returning Sunday around lunchtime from Helsinki – taking a longish walk from the railway station zoo through the park, passing the memorial fro Rosa Luxemburg at the Landwehr Canal, doing some text editing and having an early dinner in the canteen of the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht’s place of activity – then off to the Gorki theatre: Les Justes. En route passing the metro station at Friedrichstraße where I occasionally crossed the border for visits at the peace council an others …. a bit further the Humboldt university, where I gave one of my first public presentations as young academic …. the statue which Käthe Kollwitz made before I enter the theatre for the performance of the Albert-Camus-piece.
The is still some repercussion from Helsinki – opportunity for a short visit in the national gallery. There hadn’t been the great names – most of the names never heard outside of the country, the paintings more placid than those of the great names, depicting more the landscapes, unknown people and everyday’s life – the periphery one may say. Sure, they can also be found in other galleries some time ago the New Pinakothek came up with a special exhibition:
L WIE LAND UND LEUTE… LANDSCHAFT UND GENRE IN DER STUDIENGALERIE DER NEUEN PINAKOTHEK
But that is the point: it is more about a special exhibition – paintings that usually do not make the way in the main halls.and even there mostly it is the depiction accepted power,
Different in the museum in Helsinki. Much could be thought and said, at the end very much concerned with the fact that the centre of power is looking too often at the periphery of culture, distracting from “ordinary life”, from the worries and joys of people in their real life, that kind of life that is not about glory and that is not reflected in income statistics, employment figures and the like. And that life in which even angels may get wounded.
(Hugo Simberg: The Wounded Angel, from the Ateneum website)
It is the normality of what actually defines life: Kaethe Kollwitz, the hesitation in Camus’ piece when it comes to revenge while facing a real human being, not just the personification of a role, a specific vulnerability that is acknowledged and offers some special strength – that kind of strength that does not need huge power centres as materialisation of control, that does not need helicopters or massive “intelligence” for its protection,
(BND – the fortress of FRGs secret service – this part of the building sowing a fraction of the entire complex)
a strength that emerges from acknowledged truth. The open centres of exhibited power
loose centrality where they loose the respect of the seeming periphery: the real life; political and imperial power moves to the periphery where the actual meaning is emerging from the way in which people shape and share every day and everywhere, where we find confirmed that
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.
And where we have to add that it is not only history but also the attraction of present power, the presentation of power in attractiveness, meaning beauty and might that takes this nightmarish character.
Still, it remains the question. often asked: can people be just in a world that is profoundly unjust? – All this surely something to reflect upon when we talk about populism.