I have been at the office all day; meetings phone calls, briefings etc. You know the usual stuff that people do everyday in political life. No time to read the newspapers or hear the news. Just on the go. Switching from this to that to this. You know what I mean. Its modern life.
So I have no idea what's going on in the world. Nor did I care. I feel jaded. Depressed. I feel my life is ebbing away.
Then I spied this.
.Its Imre Salusinszky doing his smash left intellectuals number. It evoked a memory of a hurdy gurdy song in a seedy fun fair that had seen better times. Its easy to imagine the scene.
There's a women outside Miss Lottee in 1930s swimsuit and fishnet stockings doing a very passable imitation of Australia's foreign minister singing a Beach Boys song Kokomo
in a down town Japanese bar. Miss Lottee invited us inside to see the show called Spoofing the intellectuals.
Inside was a balding sort of guy in need of bit of excercise. He wore a bow tie, non-descript clothes and his shoes needing cleaning. He was standing on a bare stage reading from a text in a flat monotone. Live feeds from Fox Television were being broadcast on a tv on the right front of the stage. Left back the pianist was slumped over the keyboard. It was all very minimalist, spoiled by the huge Australian flag being used as a backdrop. That made the performance kitschy.
I couldn't hear much of what Imre was saying because of the high rev babble on the television. But it got the gist. It had something to do with lefty intellectuals barracking for the enemy in the Iraq war.
Must be a comedy act I thought. I never like comedy. The free to air networks were full of comedy shows. Soem peopel thought that you could never get too much comedy. Whole evenings were devoted to comedy from what I could judge.
My initial take on the show? A postmodern gesture to the soapbox oratory in the park I thought by an old modernist sort of guy who had seen better days as a cultural conservative. Very self-referential. But then I see postmodernsim everywhere.
Yet the vibes didn't feel too good. I looked around . A few people were standing around. It was a free show. But no one made eye contact. "Not good, not good"
, I mumbled to myself.
I heard this:
"The tradition of critique and scepticism among intellectuals in the West is nothing new; it stretches back nearly 3000 years to Plato's Academy. However, in the age of capitalism and of the mass culture that has arisen alongside it, that critique has in a great many cases become something quite different. As intellectuals have found themselves marginalised, critique has morphed into disgust at the habits and values of ordinary people – a disgust reflected in the title of a "progressive" tract such as Michael Moore's Stupid White Men – and has been accompanied by a wholesale rejection of the habits and values of the open society."
Yawn. God. How many times have I heard this routine. Then a variation. A bit of creative spark.
"But contexts change and what seemed like harmless wankery before September 11 seems like something else now. September 11 put a fundamental question to the intellectuals about their ultimate allegiance and whether their critique functioned within Western liberalism or was, in fact, a challenge to it."
This was no postmodernist gesture. It was the good old either routine. It completely displaced the way critique had functioned within western liberalism and was a challenge to it. Chewing gum and walking the jive.
I yelled out. 'Hey Imre, "critique is good to have around cos its the lifeblood of democracy. Even old Socrates understood that you know."
Imre stopped. It was a theatrical gesture. But he really needed to catch his breathe.
The voice of Miss Lotte drifted in filling the silence. She was singing
"Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo."
Imre started winding up on what he meant by harmless wankery ' seeming like something else now'. It took the form of a long detour by way of the moral lessons WW2 and housepainting.
"Give us a break Kokomoa ," I yelled. "Don't you know that its difficult to write poetry after Auschwitz."
I walked out. Miss Lottee smiled at me. She really did look like some guy I saw on television a lot. You know the one who is a bit of mummy's boy. She was singing.
"Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo."
I plunged into the crowds bumping into an astrologist who was talking excitedly to her handbag about the stars being down to earth . I could hear an old David Bowie song being played. I stopped to listen. It was about heroes.
A wounded soldier walked by.
Thats another story.