Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Vera Lynn said we'll meet again. We could only hope.

In 1942 the English singer Vera Lynn recorded "We’ll Meet Again", the words of which continue, " . . . don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day," and it became a huge war-time hit in her country.

20-some years later, Stanley Kubrick used the record for the closing sequence of his nuclear-holocaust comedy, Dr. Strangelove, to accompany images of mushroom clouds and devastation.

Which reminds me of Adorno: "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric, and this corrodes even the knowledge of why it has become impossible to write poetry today."

The Inquisition, the Middle Passage, the butchery of the first World War, centuries of colonization and enslavement and genocide -- Auschwitz had its particular horrorific details, but civilization had always been barbaric. I sympathize with Adorno's revulsion, but the barbarism he reacted to was new only in marginal ways.

For Kubrick, the chin-up hopefulness of his elders in a perilous time was fodder for joking. This style of sardonicism is still hip -- Michael Moore's Columbine movie does the same thing to "What a Wonderful World."

I wonder whether Michael Moore asked the band to play "Pretty Vacant" or "Me and the Devil Blues" during his wedding vows. Or "Beat on the Brat." After all, the world is violent and corrupt and evil; his and Kubrick's cinematic critique of love songs makes me think they think that love is false, impossible, evasive.

Still, Adorno's quote makes me think of Paul Celan, a great poet and survivor of the Concentration Camps. Here is a poem of his from the sequence "Breathcrystal," in a translation by Pierre Joris.

the beamwind of your speech
the gaudy chatter of the pseudo-
experienced -- the hundred-
tongued perjury-
poem, the noem.

the path through the men-
shaped snow,
the penitent's snow, to
the hospitable
glacier-parlors and -tables.

in the timecrevasse,
in the
waits a breathcrystal,
your unalterable

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