Monday, September 22, 2014

From the left's to Filipe's lashing

He may have died in 2008, but the great Finnish poet Paavo Haavikko sums up my feelings New Zealand's 2014 general election very well with his line:

I vote for Spring, Autumn wins, Winter forms the Cabinet. 

The International Socialist Organisation, which is one of several small Marxist outfits affiliated to the Mana Party, has made a calm, lucid, yet merciless analysis of the election and its lessons for the left.

If you'd like some imaginative escape - and, as Herbert Marcuse reminded us, escapism is a necessity for even the most committed political activist - from the wintry spring weather and wintrier politics of Niu Sila, then you might want to visit the online arts journal EyeContact, where I've continued my series on Tongan artists by writing about Filipe Tohi. Filipe discovered a secret and ancient language, full of references to genealogy and ocean currents and archipelagos, in the rafters of a Tongan church at the end of the 1980s, and has been turning it into austere and hypnotic sculptures ever since.

I've argued that Tohi's art can be considered a type of countermodernism, because of the way it appropriates offshore technological and aesthetic innovations and puts them at the service of Tongan preoccupations and traditions. As such, it has much in common with the hybrid society in which Tohi grew up, and to which he frequently returns.


Blogger Richard said...

That exhibition looks good. I must get out there, as I now have a reliable car.

I liked your poem (in the latest Brief) about the Russian cosmologists etc - did some of that derive from the book I saw you reading about these mad Russian religious and scientific people? I saw a book like that about Russian mathematicians / philosophers / mystics etc at a local library. I must will get it out sometime.

Yes the election surprised me. But I think because by and large most people are still relatively wealthy in NZ it is a case of "I'm alright Jack and keep it business as usual." But in fact what was interesting was how various politicians reacted either to the election or after it.

10:05 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

re the book, you had a copy some years ago...I surmise you still possess it? your range is wide and eclectic and you use it well in your poetry. Ted and I are both agreed on your poetry, the thumbs go up but I am not supposed to tell Hamilton!

10:08 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks Richard. I was reading this book:

You might be intetrested in this site, which is run by a young and very hip US intello w/ an unhealthy interest in revolutionary modernism:

Ted gave a lecture last week at 'Atenisi on 'Socrates vs Plato', I hear. It'll be good to debrief him when he returns.

I hear you had a good chat with Paul.

10:37 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

A couple of pages from Tohi's unpublished tohi:

10:50 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks for those links.

I recall you were rapt in that book! That was a few years ago.

I saw a similarly interesting book on mathematics and religion.

I talked with Paul. He is dealing with the ramifications of Tamaki-Makau-Rau history. Complex. I'll wait till he has that sorted. There is Ted's book launch soon.

Socrates influenced Plato. The point about Plato and Socrates is that they questioned the cliches of the society they were in. Does democracy make for a better world? They were in a time when democracy didn't mean what we mean by it, and indeed some of the difficulties and absurdities of democracy are still evident (one of the canditates (the leader of one of the weird "outer" parties) who looked like a revived version of Goebbels was advocating that the anti-smacking law be revoked on the strange basis that the great unwashed had endorsed it! In fact his whole policy revolved around referenda and whether or not we should beat the hell out of kids which is the kind of thing that has lead to deaths of many children. And in fact may be why crimes of violence are so high per capita in NZ and places like the looney United Mistakes...

Key and other saner people are opposed to that, as indeed I am: I absolutely am opposed to striking or hurting children. With my grandsons I persuade them as does my daughter. None of us strike children. It is a terrible thing to do.

But Socrates world (where no doubt some of my sentiments were not embraced in those very violent, but certainly also interesting and creative, times) is one Ted von Jennius is deeply au fait with...I will be keen to get a copy of his book.

11:34 pm  

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