Martin Luther King/85e: Cachez cette religion que ne saurai voir ! (No religion please, we’re Americans!)

20 janvier, 2014
St MLKhttp://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/amos-5-24-2.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.amdoc.org/projects/truelives/pressroom/mayalin/images/03_mayalin.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Westminster_Abbey_C20th_martyrs.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/28676-libertybellatlibertymiddle.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/a6560-freeatlast.pngMoïse monta des plaines de Moab sur le mont Nebo, au sommet du Pisga, vis-à-vis de Jéricho. Et l’Éternel lui fit voir tout le pays (…) L’Éternel lui dit: C’est là le pays que j’ai juré de donner à Abraham, à Isaac et à Jacob, en disant: Je le donnerai à ta postérité. Je te l’ai fait voir de tes yeux; mais tu n’y entreras point. Moïse, serviteur de l’Éternel, mourut là, dans le pays de Moab, selon l’ordre de l’Éternel. (…) Les enfants d’Israël pleurèrent Moïse pendant trente jours, dans les plaines de Moab (…) Il n’a plus paru en Israël de prophète semblable à Moïse, que l’Éternel connaissait face à face. Nul ne peut lui être comparé pour tous les signes et les miracles que Dieu l’envoya faire au pays d’Égypte contre Pharaon, contre ses serviteurs et contre tout son pays, et pour tous les prodiges de terreur que Moïse accomplit à main forte sous les yeux de tout Israël. Deutéronome 34 : 1-12
Comme tout le monde, j’aimerais vivre une longue vie. La longévité est importante mais je ne suis pas concerné par ça maintenant. Je veux juste accomplir la volonté de Dieu. Et il m’a autorisé à grimper sur la montagne! Et j’ai regardé autour de moi, et j’ai vu la terre promise. Martin Luther King (extrait de son sermon à la veille de son assassinat)
Que la droiture soit comme un courant d’eau, et la justice comme un torrent qui jamais ne tarit. Amos 5: 24
Que toute vallée soit exhaussée, Que toute montagne et toute colline soient abaissées! Que les coteaux se changent en plaines, Et les défilés étroits en vallons! Alors la gloire de l’Éternel sera révélée, Et au même instant toute chair la verra. Esaïe 40: 4-5
Et nous sommes déterminés ici à Montgomery, de travailler et de nous battre jusqu’à ce que la justice jaillisse comme l’eau et le droit comme un torrent intarissable. Martin Luther King (Montgomery, 1955)
Nous ne sommes pas satisfaits et ne le serons jamais, tant que le droit ne jaillira pas comme l’eau, et la justice comme un torrent intarissable. (…) Je rêve qu’un jour toute vallée sera relevée, toute colline et toute montagne seront rabaissées, les endroits escarpés seront aplanis et les chemins tortueux redressés, la gloire du Seigneur sera révélée à tout être fait de chair. Telle est notre espérance. C’est la foi avec laquelle je retourne dans le Sud. Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de distinguer dans la montagne du désespoir une pierre d’espérance. Martin Luther King (Washington, 1963)
Vous proclamerez la liberté dans le pays pour tous ses habitants. Lévitique 25: 10
Mon pays, c’est toi, douce terre de liberté, c’est toi que je chante. Terre où sont morts mes pères, terre dont les pèlerins étaient fiers, que du flanc de chacune de tes montagnes, sonne la cloche de la liberté ! Mon pays, c’est toi que je chante (ancien hymne national américain)
Enfin libres, enfin libres, grâce en soit rendue au Dieu tout puissant, nous sommes enfin libres !  Negro spiritual
Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King, I ain’t usin’ it for the right thing, In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes, I put together pieces of a Dream I still have one …The world waitin’ for me to yell « I Have a Dream … Common
Now, the main thing, Martin Luther King wanted not to be a deity. He wanted to be just an ordinary man. He did not want to be a saint or viewed as a saint. He was just a human being, capable of becoming and producing and leading his people out of the wilderness of segregation into the promise land, saying to me, privately, long before he said it from the Memphis pulpit, « Ralph, I may not get there, but I have been to the mountain top. » « Take my people on across this Jordan to the land of Canaan », « And I want freedom for all Americans. » And he freed many white people and poor people who were black, American Indians, the native people of this country and he was just a marvelous and fantastic leader and I am surprised that they would center on four pages and I didn’t ever say that he had sex with anybody. I said that when I was awakened, he was coming out of the room with this lady and maybe, I don’t know what they did, he never told me he had sex with that lady. He may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know, the sanitation workers track. I did not say that later that when we arrived at the motel, the Lorraine Motel, that he engaged in sex. I merely said that this Kentucky Legislator was there and when I discovered that he was in good hands, I took off and went to bed because it was about 1:30 to 2 in the morning. I did not try to dodge the issue. Ralph Abernathy (39:50-42:43)
Il y a, cependant, des considérations pratiques occasionnelles qui justifient les tergiversations, voire la répression. Au cours de la l’hystérie médiatique Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton a été neutralisé, incapable de mener à bien les tâches qui étaient les siennes avec le cafouillage sur les taches des robes bleues et la configuration exacte du pénis présidentiel. Il aurait pu être  désastreusement distrayant si, pendant la crise des missiles cubains, on avait appris que les frères Kennedy se faisaient Marilyn Monroe à tour de rôle. Les grandes affaires du monde sont plus importantes que ces anecdotes. La vision de MLK n’a pas encore été entièrement accomplie: jusqu’à qu’elle le soit, son héritage doit être protégé, comme l’a été la réputation publique des Kennedy en leur temps. Tant pis si cela requiert une dose d’aseptisation, la lutte continue pour les droits civiques n’est pas chose futile. Néanmoins, je préférerais de beaucoup voir le film de Greengrass que celui de Spielberg, pas vous? John Sutherland (The Guardian)
Du rififi à Montgomery Les studios Universal ont décidé de lâcher Memphis, un projet de film sur Martin Luther King porté par le réalisateur Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, United 93, Green Zone, la série des Jason Bourne…), qu’ils prévoyaient de sortir à l’occasion du prochain Martin Luther King Day, en janvier 2012. La raison officielle est qu’ils craignent que le film ne puisse pas être prêt à temps, mais il existe une raison officieuse, selon le site Deadline, qui a révélé l’information: «Les héritiers King se montraient très critiques envers le projet et ont exercé des pressions sur le studio pour qu’il l’abandonne. […] La famille aurait fait savoir qu’elle pourrait manifester publiquement son déplaisir concernant le scénario de Greengrass.» (…) «Il devait se concentrer sur les derniers moments controversés de Martin Luther King en mars-avril 68, de son combat pour les droits des éboueurs de Memphis à ses relations enflammées avec le président Johnson en raison de leur désaccord sur le Vietnam, en passant par sa vision du Black Power et de la classe ouvrière. Le film devait aussi s’attarder sur sa vie personnelle, alors qu’à l’époque sa tabagie s’intensifiait, son mariage s’effondrait et qu’il consommait des quantités déraisonnables de nourriture et d’alcool.»Un ami et confident de King, Andrew Young, ancien maire d’Atlanta, s’en est lui pris au projet dans les colonnes du quotidien britannique The Independent on Sunday: «Ce scénario était fondé sur des informations fausses. Des gens ont témoigné devant le Congrès du fait que le FBI avait fabriqué certaines informations, comme celle selon laquelle Martin et Coretta songeaient au divorce. […] C’est une histoire trop grandiose pour s’attarder sur des balivernes. […] Je veux que quelqu’un fasse pour Martin Luther King ce que Sir Richard Attenborough a fait pour Gandhi.» Deadline estime que cette attitude pourrait également s’expliquer par l’existence d’un autre projet porté par le scénariste Ronald Harwood (Le Pianiste de Polanski) et les studios Dreamworks de Steven Spielberg, qui ont payé les droits pour pouvoir utiliser les discours du leader des droits civiques. Un troisième projet sur Martin Luther King, Selma, du réalisateur Lee Daniels, a lui échoué à se lancer. Revenant sur cette affaire et sur celle de la mini-série sur les Kennedy tournée puis refusée par une chaîne américaine, le chroniqueur John Sutherland livre un point de vue ambigu dans The Guardian, en estimant qu’un certain degré de réécriture de l’Histoire peut encore se justifier: « La vision de MLK n’a pas encore été entièrement accomplie: jusqu’à qu’elle le soit, son héritage doit être protégé, comme l’a été la réputation publique des Kennedy en leur temps. Tant pis si cela requiert une dose d’aseptisation, la lutte continue pour les droits civiques n’est pas chose futile. Néanmoins, je préférerais de beaucoup voir le film de Greengrass que celui de Spielberg, pas vous? » Slate
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
Sad news. My MLK project involvement has ended. I did an extensive rewrite of the script, but the producers won’t go with it.
10:04 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
The script dealt w/ issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation into a higher, more radical being
10:13 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth.
10:21 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington
10:30 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone         @TheOliverStone Follow
Martin, I grieve for you. You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans—but, thank God, not a saint.
10:39 PM – 17 Jan 2014
Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.” This is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. (…) I read the script for Memphis – which juxtaposed MLK’s final days, haunted by Hoover’s FBI, whose agents were then thrust into a ticking-clock thriller to find his killer — and found it to be exceptionally good, and the depiction of Dr. King with a woman who wasn’t his wife was presented in matter-of-fact fashion and wasn’t a focus of the story at all. It was just there. (…) I suggested that when films canonize subjects, audiences can sense it, and that is why good biopics mix reverence with warts-and-all treatment. (…) Stone had no choice to move off the project, which has to be blessed by Dr. King’s heirs. Greengrass has no such shackles. When I interviewed Greengrass recently, he promised that he will make the film. He just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Here are the comments he made, right after the death of Nelson Mandela, whose recently released biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom showed the former South African leader in a less than flattering light that included extramarital affairs. By the way, it didn’t undermine Mandela’s evolution and heroism. (…) Greengrass told me recently. “I don’t think it will be next. I didn’t want Memphis to come out when it was all about the King of ‘I have a dream.’ There’s an arc to that very great life, somewhat the reverse of Mandela’s life. 1963 was a moment of transcendent oratorical achievement that in the following year ushered in busing rights and other civil rights acts. I was more interested in the King of ’68, very late in his life, when I think he was having a crisis of faith. That felt real to me. My family, on my father’s side, is strict Baptist. I understand the valleys and the mountains of growing up with that, in a British context. The way I see it is, any time between now and four or five years’ time it will be time to make that movie. I also need to meet the actor who’ll play him.” (…)  Even though there are pitfalls, fact-based films are often the most satisfying and enduring films Hollywood makes. But DreamWorks and Warner Bros are in a bind here. Stone is right, the forgettable biopics are the ones that are too reverent to their subject. “Martin, I grieve for you,” Stone wrote. “You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans–but thank God, not a saint.” Mike Fleming jr.
Nous ne rendons pas service à Martin Luther King et au pays qu’il a contribué à changer quand nous enjolivons l’image du tumulte social et politique déclenché par le mouvement pour les droits civiques, mouvement extrêmement controversé qui s’est heurté à une opposition acharnée. Tout comme King lui-même. On ne se souvient qu’imparfaitement de Martin Luther King, réduit à quelques fragments de rhétorique dans les gentils sermons du dimanche et à une silhouette de teinte sépia dans les parades scolaires. Si vous vous imaginez que King était un homme paisible et modéré sur le plan politique, passionné mais jamais provocateur, vous ne savez rien de lui. Vous avez fait d’une personnalité complexe une caricature. Il était bien plus que sa célèbre formule « Je fais un rêve ». Les archives historiques montrent que King était rejeté comme un communiste – un traître – par une grande partie des citoyens américains, et non des moindres, tel le directeur du FBI de l’époque, J. Edgar Hoover. Alors que King incitait ses partisans à n’opposer aux chiens policiers et aux lances à incendie que des têtes baissées, on l’accusait de fomenter des violences.(…) Si King louait généreusement les responsables religieux blancs, juifs et catholiques compris, qui soutenaient le mouvement pour les droits civiques, il critiquait aussi férocement les hommes d’Eglise blancs qui ne le faisaient pas. Dans un entretien accordé en 1965 au magazine Playboy, il expliquait : « L’Eglise blanche m’a considérablement déçu. Alors que l’homme noir lutte contre une terrible injustice, la plupart des religieux blancs n’ont à offrir que de pieuses absurdités et de sentencieuses bêtises. Les paroissiens blancs, qui tiennent tant à se dire chrétiens, pratiquent la ségrégation dans la maison de Dieu avec la même rigidité que dans les salles de cinéma. Les croyants blancs sont bien trop nombreux à se montrer timides et inefficaces, et certains sont hystériques dans leur défense du racisme et des préjugés. » Une des déclarations publiques les plus controversées de Martin Luther King a été sa dénonciation de la guerre du Vietnam, en 1967, lors d’un discours prononcé dans l’église de Riverside, à New York. Outre ses critiques à l’encontre de la guerre elle-même, il s’en est pris vertement au recours à la force de l’Amérique : « Je sais que jamais je ne pourrai de nouveau m’élever contre la violence dont font l’objet les opprimés dans les ghettos sans m’être d’abord exprimé sans ambiguïté à propos du plus grand pourvoyeur de violence dans le monde aujourd’hui, mon propre gouvernement. » Les Vietnamiens « nous regardent empoisonner leur eau, détruire leurs récoltes par millions d’hectares. Jusqu’à présent, peut-être avons-nous tué 1 million d’entre eux, des enfants pour la plupart », avait-il déclaré. Cynthia Tucker
“It was a good speech,” says Clarence Jones, writer of the final draft. “Substantively it was not his greatest speech. But it was the power of delivery and the power of the circumstances. The crowd, the march, the Lincoln Memorial, the beautiful day. So many intangible things came together … It was a perfect storm.” A great speech is both timely and timeless. First and foremost it must touch and move its immediate audience. It needs to encapsulate the mood of a moment, reflect, and then amplify it. But it must also simultaneously reach over the heads of the assembled toward posterity. There are many excellent speeches so narrowly tailored to the needs of their particular purpose that their lasting relevance is limited. The “I Have a Dream” speech qualified on both counts. It was delivered in a year that started with Alabama governor George Wallace standing on the steps of the state capitol in hickory-striped pants and a cutaway coat declaring, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and ended with President Kennedy’s assassination. The march was held just ten weeks after Wallace stood in a schoolhouse doorway to prevent black students from going to college, and little more than two weeks before four black girls were bombed to death in Birmingham, Alabama, during Sunday school. So it came at a turning point for both the civil rights movement and the country. The speech starts, both literally and metaphorically, in the shadow of Lincoln (King spoke at the Lincoln Memorial), ends with a quote from a Negro spiritual, and in between quotes the song “My Country ’Tis of Thee” while evoking “a dream rooted in the American dream” and drawing references from the Bible and the Constitution. (…) It speaks, in the vernacular of the black church, with clarity and conviction to African Americans’ historical plight and looks forward to a time when that plight will be eliminated (« We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘for whites only’. No, no, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream »). Its nod to all that is sacred in American political culture, from the founding fathers to the American dream, makes it patriotic (« I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' »). It sets bigotry against colour-blindness while prescribing no route map for how we get from one to the other. (« I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists… little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. ») Gary Younge
These green bars represent familiar songs and hymns and scriptures throughout the piece. These words were sacred to the audience because they’d read and sung them together. The orange bars are references to political documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of independence. … Now let’s look at that amazing climax of the speech … there’s a lot of green … Green, remember, is the spiritual songs and hymns …   the first batch of green is a scripture from the prophetic book of Isaiah making the audience fill as if they are fulfilling scripture. The second batch of green is a patriotic song « My countrys t’is of thee » … The fourth batch of green is the very famous negro spiritual « Free at last ». This serves as a powerful ending to his new bliss. What Dr. King did is he reached into the hearts of his audience. He identified things that were already there and resonated deeply with those things and utilized them throughout his speech to persuade the audience to work towards equality for all men. Nancy Duarte
The Memorial has generated some controversy, first for the choice of a Chinese sculptor. It’s also been pointed out that one of the engraved quotations is broadly paraphrased rather than quoted exactly, and another, though spoken by King, was originally from a sermon given a century earlier by Theodore Parker. Be all that as it may, the sculpture, “The Stone of Hope,” (…) the concept derives from a line in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 48 years ago tomorrow, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said that with faith in the dream, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Yixin has shown King himself as a kind of stone of hope emerging out of the marble block. King’s language here, as so often, is deeply biblical. My uncle, Carl Scovel, a Unitarian minister, attended the March on Washington in 1963 and heard King and others speak. He said to me it was striking how biblical King’s rhetoric sounded, far more so than any of the other speakers. Hewing stone comes up a lot in the King James Bible. King may not be thinking of any particular passage, but there are several that he might have had in mind. Moses is commanded by God to hew two tables of stone that will become the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:1-4), for instance. And Jesus is buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock, with a stone rolled in front of it (Matthew 27:59-60). The Temple in Jerusalem is built by the workers of David and Solomon hewing stones out of the mountain (1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2). One of the inscriptions on the walls of MLK memorial contains a passage from the prophet Amos that obviously spoke to King: he used it often, including during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and later in the “I Have Dream” speech. The wording on the memorial is from the Montgomery speech: “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” In 1963, King modified the words slightly: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” The quoted verse is from Amos 5:24 and the language is that of the KJV, with the single exception of the word “justice.” The KJV translators chose “judgment” instead, but the word was altered to “justice” in the American Standard Version (1901), which King may have been remembering as well. (He could also have known the Revised Standard Version of 1952, which also has “justice,” but it changes “mighty stream” to “ever-flowing stream,” so King wasn’t remembering this translation.) The language of the King James Bible, its word choices, its rhythms and patterns of speech, have been a part of American public oratory for the country’s entire history, especially, though not exclusively, among African Americans. (Lincoln’s speeches were highly biblical.) Appropriately, at the inauguration of American’s first African American president, Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the verse from Amos’s prophecy that was so important to Martin Luther King. In his benediction, Lowry looked forward, as King had done, to the time “when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Hannibal Hamlin
Four days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained the Christian foundation of the civil rights movement he was about to lead. « I want to say that we are not here advocating violence, » King said in a Dec. 5, 1955, speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church. « I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people, » King said. « We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. » King, a Baptist minister and American patriot whose organization would be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wanted the nation to know that the civil rights movement was rooted in fidelity to Judeo-Christian morality and to America’s founding documents. « And we are determined here in Montgomery, » King said that day in 1955, « to work and fight until justice ‘runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.' » In these last words, King was quoting from the Bible — Amos 5:24. A visitor to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., will find 16 statements from King carved in granite there. One is from his 1955 Montgomery speech. In its entirety, it reads: « We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.' » This is as close as the memorial gets to acknowledging that King was a Christian clergyman who passionately argued that discrimination was wrong because it violated God’s law. The words « God, » « Jesus » and « Lord » — ever-present in King’s speeches and sermons — are carved nowhere in the stones of the memorial dedicated in his name. King’s name is repeatedly carved into the memorial. But none of these carvings refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In all cases, he is called simply « Martin Luther King Jr. » (…) Near the close of his « I Have a Dream » speech » — delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — King cites Isaiah 40:4-5. « I have a dream, » said King, « that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’ « This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with, » King said. « With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope » On the right side of the granite statue of King at the memorial, the last half of this last sentence is carved in stone: « Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. » The first half of the sentence — « With this faith, we will be able to hew » — is missing. Yes, the « faith » is missing. Just a few feet from this statue of King where the word « faith » has been edited from the passage of his « I Have a Dream » speech, there is a similarly secular quote from a sermon reprinted in King’s book, « Strength to Love. » At the end of that sermon, King said: « Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him. » The Rev. Martin Luther King was a Christian clergyman who became an American hero by standing up for the God-given rights our nation was founded to protect. It is a shame the name of God cannot be found at his memorial. Terence P. Jeffrey

Attention: un tabou peut en cacher un autre !

Au lendemain de la véritable overdose de panégyriques qui a suivi la mort d’autre grand saint laïque qui, à quelques arrangements près avec son passé de terroriste repenti a eu, lui, droit à plusieurs films …

Et en ce 85e anniversaire du pasteur baptiste et véritable apôtre (républicain, s’il vous plait!) de la lutte pour les droits civiques américain Martin Luther King (né Michael King) …

Comment ne pas s’étonner, 46 ans après sa mort-martyre, que l‘équivalent le plus proche de ce que les Américains puissent avoir d’un saint laïque n’ait toujours pas eu droit, malgré plusieurs récentes tentatives (les nombreux plagiats et les tout aussi multiples liaisons ne semblent décidément pas passer, du moins pour la famille King qui interdit aussi pour des raisons de droits la reproduction du fameux discours de 1963, la rampe de l’histoire ou en tout cas du cinéma grand public ?) , à aucun film ?

Mais surtout, contre toute vérité historique, que les divers monuments qui ont depuis été construits en son honneur aient pu à ce point gommer ce qui faisait justement la force et la résonance proprement prophétiques de ses discours et de son action …

A savoir non seulement les célébrissimes cadences mais la parole vive de la Bible elle-même ?

Missing From Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: God

Terence P. Jeffrey

CNS news

January 18, 2012

Four days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained the Christian foundation of the civil rights movement he was about to lead.

« I want to say that we are not here advocating violence, » King said in a Dec. 5, 1955, speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church.

« I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people, » King said. « We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. »

King, a Baptist minister and American patriot whose organization would be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wanted the nation to know that the civil rights movement was rooted in fidelity to Judeo-Christian morality and to America’s founding documents.

« And we are determined here in Montgomery, » King said that day in 1955, « to work and fight until justice ‘runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.' »

In these last words, King was quoting from the Bible — Amos 5:24.

A visitor to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., will find 16 statements from King carved in granite there. One is from his 1955 Montgomery speech. In its entirety, it reads: « We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.' »

This is as close as the memorial gets to acknowledging that King was a Christian clergyman who passionately argued that discrimination was wrong because it violated God’s law.

The words « God, » « Jesus » and « Lord » — ever-present in King’s speeches and sermons — are carved nowhere in the stones of the memorial dedicated in his name.

King’s name is repeatedly carved into the memorial. But none of these carvings refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In all cases, he is called simply « Martin Luther King Jr. »

How important was King’s Christian ministry to him? When he was thrown in the Birmingham jail for marching without a permit on Good Friday 1963, King wrote an open letter expressing disappointment with fellow clergymen who criticized the nonviolent movement to desegregate that city.

« I say it as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen, » said King.

In the same letter, King explained again how the civil rights movement was rooted in traditional Christian morality.

« A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God, » King said. « An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. »

In this letter, King also again argued that the God-given moral law that demanded equal rights for African Americans was the same God-given moral law on which America was founded.

« We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands, » said King.

« One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and thus carrying our whole nation back to great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, » said King.

The granite slabs at the memorial do quote from this famous letter. But they steer clear of King’s invocation of God’s law, the Declaration and the Constitution. Instead they use these words: « Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly, affects all indirectly. »

Near the close of his « I Have a Dream » speech » — delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — King cites Isaiah 40:4-5.

« I have a dream, » said King, « that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’

« This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with, » King said. « With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope »

On the right side of the granite statue of King at the memorial, the last half of this last sentence is carved in stone: « Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. » The first half of the sentence — « With this faith, we will be able to hew » — is missing.

Yes, the « faith » is missing.

Just a few feet from this statue of King where the word « faith » has been edited from the passage of his « I Have a Dream » speech, there is a similarly secular quote from a sermon reprinted in King’s book, « Strength to Love. »

At the end of that sermon, King said: « Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him. »

The Rev. Martin Luther King was a Christian clergyman who became an American hero by standing up for the God-given rights our nation was founded to protect. It is a shame the name of God cannot be found at his memorial.

Voir aussi:

Martin Luther King and the King James Bible

Hannibal Hamlin

Manifold greatness

Tomorrow (August 28) was to have been the day for officially opening the new and long-awaited Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. Hurricane Irene delayed these plans along with so much else. (Check the Memorial’s website for updates on the ceremony plans for the future.) August 28 remains, of course, the anniversary of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech from the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

For the past week, the site on the Tidal Basin, on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, has been open to visitors, though, who could view the impressive sculpture by Lei Yixin and the many quotations from King’s speeches and writings engraved around the site. The Memorial has generated some controversy, first for the choice of a Chinese sculptor. It’s also been pointed out that one of the engraved quotations is broadly paraphrased rather than quoted exactly, and another, though spoken by King, was originally from a sermon given a century earlier by Theodore Parker.

Be all that as it may, the sculpture, “The Stone of Hope,” looks impressive, though I’ve as yet seen it only in photos. The concept derives from a line in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 48 years ago tomorrow, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King said that with faith in the dream, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Yixin has shown King himself as a kind of stone of hope emerging out of the marble block. King’s language here, as so often, is deeply biblical. My uncle, Carl Scovel, a Unitarian minister, attended the March on Washington in 1963 and heard King and others speak. He said to me it was striking how biblical King’s rhetoric sounded, far more so than any of the other speakers. Hewing stone comes up a lot in the King James Bible. King may not be thinking of any particular passage, but there are several that he might have had in mind. Moses is commanded by God to hew two tables of stone that will become the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:1-4), for instance. And Jesus is buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock, with a stone rolled in front of it (Matthew 27:59-60). The Temple in Jerusalem is built by the workers of David and Solomon hewing stones out of the mountain (1 Chronicles 22, 2 Chronicles 2).

One of the inscriptions on the walls of MLK memorial contains a passage from the prophet Amos that obviously spoke to King: he used it often, including during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and later in the “I Have Dream” speech. The wording on the memorial is from the Montgomery speech: “We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs ‘down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” In 1963, King modified the words slightly: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’” The quoted verse is from Amos 5:24 and the language is that of the KJV, with the single exception of the word “justice.” The KJV translators chose “judgment” instead, but the word was altered to “justice” in the American Standard Version (1901), which King may have been remembering as well. (He could also have known the Revised Standard Version of 1952, which also has “justice,” but it changes “mighty stream” to “ever-flowing stream,” so King wasn’t remembering this translation.)

The language of the King James Bible, its word choices, its rhythms and patterns of speech, have been a part of American public oratory for the country’s entire history, especially, though not exclusively, among African Americans. (Lincoln’s speeches were highly biblical.) Appropriately, at the inauguration of American’s first African American president, Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the verse from Amos’s prophecy that was so important to Martin Luther King. In his benediction, Lowry looked forward, as King had done, to the time “when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.” That final time of Justice might not yet have arrived, but Lowry must have been thinking that at least some of those waters had rolled down since 1963. King had looked down the Mall toward the Capitol as he shared his dream of racial equality, but Lowry, and Obama, looked back the opposite way from the steps of the Capitol itself.

Hannibal Hamlin, associate professor of English at The Ohio State University, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Voir encore:

On Eve Of MLK Day, Will Adultery Keep Epic Dr. King Movie Off The Big Screen?

Mike Fleming

January 17, 2014

Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.”

This is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. This is an incredibly difficult and emotional situation because it depicts flaws in a man whose message of tolerance and equality and nonviolence still means so much to so many and has made him one of the most galvanizing figures of the 20th Century.

I read the script for Memphis – which juxtaposed MLK’s final days, haunted by Hoover’s FBI, whose agents were then thrust into a ticking-clock thriller to find his killer — and found it to be exceptionally good, and the depiction of Dr. King with a woman who wasn’t his wife was presented in matter-of-fact fashion and wasn’t a focus of the story at all. It was just there. Young understandably felt differently. “There is testimony in congressional hearings that a lot of that information was manufactured by the FBI and wasn’t true,” Young told me. “The FBI testified to that. I was saying simply, why make up a story when the true story is so great? My only concern here is honoring the message of Martin Luther King’s life, and how you can change the world without killing anybody. You’ve seen glimpses of that in the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Poland, South Africa, in a movement in Egypt that began with prayers, where even mercenaries and the most brutal soldiers have trouble shooting someone on their knees. These regimes crumbled before nonviolent demonstrations, and that is a message the world needs.”

I suggested that when films canonize subjects, audiences can sense it, and that is why good biopics mix reverence with warts-and-all treatment. Young said: “It’s not wrong if the warts are there. But we had the most powerful and understanding wives in history: Coretta, my wife Jean, and Ralph Abernathy’s wife Juanita. These women were more dedicated and enthusiastic in pushing us into these struggles than anybody, and the inference Coretta might have been upset about Martin being gone so much or them having marital troubles, it’s just not true. Maybe I’m piqued because nobody read my book, and I tried to be honest, and I was there. We were struggling with history that we didn’t even understand, but somehow by the grace of God it came out right. We were trying to change the world — not by any means necessary, but by being dedicated to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecuted us. That’s hard to believe in this day and age. But I can remember when everybody had guns in the South, and after Martin’s house was bombed, they all came. He sent them home. Time after time, our nonviolent commitment was put the test, but that was one test we passed, even in extremely difficult circumstances.” Young said he offered input on Memphis but hasn’t heard back. “I said I would pay my own way to LA to sit with the writers, tell what really went on, and give them names, but nobody took me up on it,” he said.

Stone had no choice to move off the project, which has to be blessed by Dr. King’s heirs. Greengrass has no such shackles. When I interviewed Greengrass recently, he promised that he will make the film. He just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Here are the comments he made, right after the death of Nelson Mandela, whose recently released biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom showed the former South African leader in a less than flattering light that included extramarital affairs. By the way, it didn’t undermine Mandela’s evolution and heroism.

You’ll definitely see it, I’m just not quite ready to do it yet,” Greengrass told me recently. “I don’t think it will be next. I didn’t want Memphis to come out when it was all about the King of ‘I have a dream.’ There’s an arc to that very great life, somewhat the reverse of Mandela’s life. 1963 was a moment of transcendent oratorical achievement that in the following year ushered in busing rights and other civil rights acts. I was more interested in the King of ’68, very late in his life, when I think he was having a crisis of faith. That felt real to me. My family, on my father’s side, is strict Baptist. I understand the valleys and the mountains of growing up with that, in a British context. The way I see it is, any time between now and four or five years’ time it will be time to make that movie. I also need to meet the actor who’ll play him.”

These fact-based films continue to present creative quandaries, the latest of which is The Wolf Of Wall Street, which got a haul of Oscar nominations this week including Best Picture. It was among five fact-based stories that got Best Picture noms. Even though there are pitfalls, fact-based films are often the most satisfying and enduring films Hollywood makes. But DreamWorks and Warner Bros are in a bind here. Stone is right, the forgettable biopics are the ones that are too reverent to their subject. “Martin, I grieve for you,” Stone wrote. “You are still a great inspiration for your fellow Americans–but thank God, not a saint.”

Voir par ailleurs:

« I have a dream » : il y a 50 ans, Martin Luther King a failli ne pas prononcer ce discours

Béatrice Toulon

journaliste formatrice

Le Nouvel observateur

28-08-2013

LE PLUS. « I have a dream » est l’un des discours les plus célèbres du monde. Prononcés par Martin Luther King le 28 août 1963, ces mots fêtent leurs 50 ans. Mais ce jour-là, le pasteur a failli rater son rendez-vous avec l’histoire… Retour sur les coulisses avec Béatrice Toulon, formatrice spécialiste de la prise de parole en public.

« I have a dream » aurait pu rester dans les mémoires sous le nom « Let Freedom Ring » ou « Go back ». Il aurait pu ne pas avoir de nom du tout, car aujourd’hui, il serait oublié.

« I have a dream », le discours prononcé par Martin Luther King il y a juste 50 ans, le 28 août 1963, a failli être amputé de la partie du rêve éveillé qui lui a donné son statut de chef d’œuvre de rhétorique aux USA et dans le reste du monde.

Le 27 au soir, le leader du Mouvement des droits civiques est dans un hôtel de Washington, avec ses conseillers. Ils parlent du discours qu’il doit prononcer le lendemain. Le 28, on célèbre les 100 ans de l’abolition de l’esclavage. Ce sera le point d’arrivée de la grande marche « Justice et emploi » qui mobilise des dizaines de milliers de personnes qui réclament l’abolition de la ségrégation encore en vigueur dans les États du sud. 100.000 personnes sont attendues, les télévisions ont fait le déplacement.

« Ne mets pas ‘le rêve' »

Les discours, c’est son job. Martin Luther King est pasteur, un de ces prêcheurs du Sud qui changent les messes en kermesses. Il s’est aussi rodé au discours politique à force de meetings. Mais là, c’est différent. Il ne s’adresse pas à ses paroissiens, ni au militants des droits civiques, il s’adresse à toute l’Amérique, il doit lui faire comprendre qu’elle perd son âme en acceptant la ségrégation. Et qu’elle peut encore gagner son ciel.

Les conseillers se disputent pas mal sur le contenu du discours. Wyatt Walker, l’un de ses proches, est sûr d’une chose:

« Ne mets pas ‘le rêve’. C’est trop banal, trop cliché. »

Il parle de « I have a dream ». Ce rêve éveillé d’un monde meilleur, Martin Luther King le place systématiquement dans ses discours depuis quelques temps. Il aime cette idée de décrire une Jérusalem céleste sur Terre. Cela correspond bien à sa double personnalité d’homme d’Église et d’homme d’action.

La semaine précédente, son rêve a eu un beau succès dans son discours à Chicago. Walker insiste :

« Je t’assure, tu l’as trop utilisé. »

Martin Luther King travaille toute la nuit à son discours. Il dira plus tard qu’il a aussi beaucoup dialogué avec Dieu, pour l’inspiration. Le lendemain matin, il descend dans le hall muni et donne son texte à un assistant pour impression. Le rêve n’y figure pas.

« Dis-leur ton rêve, Martin ! »

Martin Luther King est le dernier intervenant de la journée, juste avant la bénédiction. La foule compte 250.000 personnes, du jamais vu. Mais l’ambiance est un peu molle. Les orateurs se sont succédé toute la journée, l’assistance est un peu fatiguée. Le rabbin Prinz évoque l’Allemagne sous Hitler, « un grand peuple devenu muet, simple spectateur » et exhorte les Américains à « ne plus rester muets ». Puis il passe la parole à Martin Luther King.

Orateur aguerri, King est stressé. Il lit son texte, trop. Ceux qui le connaissaient bien diront qu’il n’était pas à son meilleur. Peu à peu, il prend de l’assurance, lève les bras, se met à vibrer à la lecture des mots scandés comme dans les poésies :

« Go back to Mississipi, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana… »

La fin du discours approche. Son conseiller Clarence Jones racontera plu tard qu’à ce moment-là, Mahalia Jackson, la chanteuse et amie très chère du pasteur, lui lance depuis l’arrière de l’estrade :

« Dis leur ton rêve, Martin ! Le rêve… »

King poursuit encore son texte puis lève le nez, met son texte de côté et lance :

« Même si nous affrontons des difficultés, je fais un rêve… »

Clarence Jones entendit Walker s’écrier :

« Oh, merde ! Le rêve… »

Son public : toute l’Amérique

Il ne faut pas toujours écouter les conseillers. Ce que Walker n’avait pas compris c’est que jusqu’à présent, seuls les paroissiens et les partisans avaient entendu les discours/prêches de King.

Son public, cette fois, c’était toute l’Amérique. Il pouvait lui décrive avec son éloquence de génie qu’elle était devenue l’enfer sur terre mais qu’elle pouvait, si elle le voulait, devenir le paradis. Pour cela, il fallait lui faire prendre de la hauteur, une hauteur vertigineuse même, là-haut où les peurs s’effacent devant la beauté de la promesse.

Toute la partie précédente, solide, explicative, puissante n’arriverait pas assez haut sans l’offre d’un rêve, d’une utopie partagée. Martin Luther King expliquera plus tard qu’il avait senti qu’il fallait qu’il ajoute « I have a dream ». Il ne risquait rien, ce n’était pas vraiment une improvisation. Les témoins parleront d’une foule électrisée. L’année suivante toutes les lois raciales étaient abolies.

Pour le racisme, c’est une autre histoire…

Voir enfin:

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

28 August 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the « unalienable Rights » of « Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. » It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked « insufficient funds. »

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, « When will you be satisfied? » We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: « For Whites Only. » We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until « justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.« ¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: « We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. »

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of « interposition » and « nullification » — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; « and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.« 2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

¹ Amos 5:24 (rendered precisely in The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible)

2 Isaiah 40:4-5 (King James Version of the Holy Bible). Quotation marks are excluded from part of this moment in the text because King’s rendering of Isaiah 40:4 does not precisely follow the KJV version from which he quotes (e.g., « hill » and « mountain » are reversed in the KJV). King’s rendering of Isaiah 40:5, however, is precisely quoted from the KJV.

3 At: http://www.negrospirituals.com/news-song/free_at_last_from.htm

Also in this database: Martin Luther King, Jr: A Time to Break Silence

Audio Source: Linked directly to: http://www.archive.org/details/MLKDream

External Link: http://www.thekingcenter.org/

JE REVE

(traduction en français)

Jeune Afrique

« Je suis heureux de me joindre à vous aujourd’hui pour participer à ce que l’histoire appellera la plus grande démonstration pour la liberté dans les annales de notre nation.

Il y a un siècle de cela, un grand Américain qui nous couvre aujourd’hui de son ombre symbolique signait notre Proclamation d’Émancipation. Ce décret capital se dresse, comme un grand phare illuminant d’espérance les millions d’esclaves marqués au feu d’une brûlante injustice. Ce décret est venu comme une aube joyeuse terminer la longue nuit de leur captivité.

Mais, cent ans plus tard, le Noir n’est toujours pas libre. Cent ans plus tard, la vie du Noir est encore terriblement handicapée par les menottes de la ségrégation et les chaînes de la discrimination. Cent ans plus tard, le Noir vit à l’écart sur son îlot de pauvreté au milieu d’un vaste océan de prospérité matérielle. Cent ans plus tard, le Noir languit encore dans les coins de la société américaine et se trouve exilé dans son propre pays.

C’est pourquoi nous sommes venus ici aujourd’hui dénoncer une condition humaine honteuse. En un certain sens, nous sommes venus dans notre capitale nationale pour encaisser un chèque. Quand les architectes de notre République ont magnifiquement rédigé notre Constitution de la Déclaration d’Indépendance, ils signaient un chèque dont tout Américain devait hériter. Ce chèque était une promesse qu’à tous les hommes, oui, aux Noirs comme aux Blancs, seraient garantis les droits inaliénables de la vie, de la liberté et de la quête du bonheur.

Il est évident aujourd’hui que l’Amérique a manqué à ses promesses à l’égard de ses citoyens de couleur. Au lieu d’honorer son obligation sacrée, l’Amérique a délivré au peuple Noir un chèque en bois, qui est revenu avec l’inscription “ provisions insuffisantes ”. Mais nous refusons de croire qu’il n’y a pas de quoi honorer ce chèque dans les vastes coffres de la chance, en notre pays. Aussi, sommes-nous venus encaisser ce chèque, un chèque qui nous donnera sur simple présentation les richesses de la liberté et la sécurité de la justice.

Nous sommes également venus en ce lieu sacré pour rappeler à l’Amérique les exigeantes urgences de l’heure présente. Ce n’est pas le moment de s’offrir le luxe de laisser tiédir notre ardeur ou de prendre les tranquillisants des demi-mesures. C’est l’heure de tenir les promesses de la démocratie. C’est l’heure d’émerger des vallées obscures et désolées de la ségrégation pour fouler le sentier ensoleillé de la justice raciale. C’est l’heure d’arracher notre nation des sables mouvant de l’injustice raciale et de l’établir sur le roc de la fraternité. C’est l’heure de faire de la justice une réalité pour tous les enfants de Dieu. Il serait fatal pour la nation de fermer les yeux sur l’urgence du moment. Cet étouffant été du légitime mécontentement des Noirs ne se terminera pas sans qu’advienne un automne vivifiant de liberté et d’égalité.

1963 n’est pas une fin, c’est un commencement. Ceux qui espèrent que le Noir avait seulement besoin de se défouler et qu’il se montrera désormais satisfait, auront un rude réveil, si la nation retourne à son train-train habituel.

Il n’y aura ni repos ni tranquillité en Amérique jusqu’à ce qu’on ait accordé au peuple Noir ses droits de citoyen. Les tourbillons de la révolte ne cesseront d’ébranler les fondations de notre nation jusqu’à ce que le jour éclatant de la justice apparaisse.

Mais il y a quelque chose que je dois dire à mon peuple, debout sur le seuil accueillant qui donne accès au palais de la justice : en procédant à la conquête de notre place légitime, nous ne devons pas nous rendre coupables d’agissements répréhensibles.

Ne cherchons pas à satisfaire notre soif de liberté en buvant à la coupe de l’amertume et de la haine. Nous devons toujours mener notre lutte sur les hauts plateaux de la dignité et de la discipline. Nous ne devons pas laisser nos revendications créatrices dégénérer en violence physique. Sans cesse, nous devons nous élever jusqu’aux hauteurs majestueuses où la force de l’âme s’unit à la force physique.

Le merveilleux esprit militant qui a saisi la communauté noire ne doit pas nous entraîner vers la méfiance de tous les Blancs, car beaucoup de nos frères blancs, leur présence ici aujourd’hui en est la preuve, ont compris que leur destinée est liée à la nôtre. L’assaut que nous avons monté ensemble pour emporter les remparts de l’injustice doit être mené par une armée bi-raciale. Nous ne pouvons marcher tout seul au combat. Et au cours de notre progression il faut nous engager à continuer d’aller de l’avant ensemble. Nous ne pouvons pas revenir en arrière.

Il y a des gens qui demandent aux militants des Droits Civiques : “ Quand serez-vous enfin satisfaits ? ” Nous ne serons jamais satisfaits aussi longtemps que le Noir sera la victime d’indicibles horreurs de la brutalité policière. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que nos corps, lourds de la fatigue des voyages, ne trouveront pas un abri dans les motels des grandes routes ou les hôtels des villes.

Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que la liberté de mouvement du Noir ne lui permettra guère que d’aller d’un petit ghetto à un ghetto plus grand. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps que nos enfants, même devenus grands, ne seront pas traités en adultes et verront leur dignité bafouée par les panneaux “ Réservé aux Blancs ”. Nous ne pourrons être satisfaits aussi longtemps qu’un Noir du Mississippi ne pourra pas voter et qu’un Noir de New-York croira qu’il n’a aucune raison de voter. Non, nous ne sommes pas satisfaits et ne le serons jamais, tant que le droit ne jaillira pas comme l’eau, et la justice comme un torrent intarissable.

Je n’ignore pas que certains d’entre vous ont été conduis ici par un excès d’épreuves et de tribulations. D’aucuns sortent à peine d’étroites cellules de prison. D’autres viennent de régions où leur quête de liberté leur a valu d’être battus par les orages de la persécution et secoués par les bourrasques de la brutalité policière. Vous avez été les héros de la souffrance créatrice. Continuez à travailler avec la certitude que la souffrance imméritée vous sera rédemptrice.

Retournez dans le Mississippi, retournez en Alabama, retournez en Caroline du Sud, retournez en Georgie, retournez en Louisiane, retournez dans les taudis et les ghettos des villes du Nord, sachant que de quelque manière que ce soit cette situation peut et va changer. Ne croupissons pas dans la vallée du désespoir.

Je vous le dis ici et maintenant, mes amis, bien que, oui, bien que nous ayons à faire face à des difficultés aujourd’hui et demain je fais toujours ce rêve : c’est un rêve profondément ancré dans l’idéal américain. Je rêve que, un jour, notre pays se lèvera et vivra pleinement la véritable réalité de son credo : “ Nous tenons ces vérités pour évidentes par elles-mêmes que tous les hommes sont créés égaux ”.

Je rêve qu’un jour sur les collines rousses de Georgie les fils d’anciens esclaves et ceux d’anciens propriétaires d’esclaves pourront s’asseoir ensemble à la table de la fraternité.

Je rêve qu’un jour, même l’Etat du Mississippi, un Etat où brûlent les feux de l’injustice et de l’oppression, sera transformé en un oasis de liberté et de justice.

Je rêve que mes quatre petits-enfants vivront un jour dans une nation où ils ne seront pas jugés sur la couleur de leur peau, mais sur la valeur de leur caractère. Je fais aujourd’hui un rêve !

Je rêve qu’un jour, même en Alabama, avec ses abominables racistes, avec son gouverneur à la bouche pleine des mots “ opposition ” et “ annulation ” des lois fédérales, que là même en Alabama, un jour les petits garçons noirs et les petites filles blanches pourront se donner la main, comme frères et sœurs. Je fais aujourd’hui un rêve !

Je rêve qu’un jour toute vallée sera relevée, toute colline et toute montagne seront rabaissées, les endroits escarpés seront aplanis et les chemins tortueux redressés, la gloire du Seigneur sera révélée à tout être fait de chair.

Telle est notre espérance. C’est la foi avec laquelle je retourne dans le Sud.

Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de distinguer dans la montagne du désespoir une pierre d’espérance. Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de transformer les discordes criardes de notre nation en une superbe symphonie de fraternité.

Avec cette foi, nous serons capables de travailler ensemble, de prier ensemble, de lutter ensemble, d’aller en prison ensemble, de défendre la cause de la liberté ensemble, en sachant qu’un jour, nous serons libres. Ce sera le jour où tous les enfants de Dieu pourront chanter ces paroles qui auront alors un nouveau sens : “ Mon pays, c’est toi, douce terre de liberté, c’est toi que je chante. Terre où sont morts mes pères, terre dont les pèlerins étaient fiers, que du flanc de chacune de tes montagnes, sonne la cloche de la liberté ! ” Et, si l’Amérique doit être une grande nation, que cela devienne vrai.

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des merveilleuses collines du New Hampshire !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des montagnes grandioses de l’Etat de New-York !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des sommets des Alleghanys de Pennsylvanie !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut des cimes neigeuses des montagnes rocheuses du Colorado !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne depuis les pentes harmonieuses de la Californie !

Mais cela ne suffit pas.

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut du mont Stone de Georgie !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut du mont Lookout du Tennessee !

Que la cloche de la liberté sonne du haut de chaque colline et de chaque butte du Mississippi ! Du flanc de chaque montagne, que sonne le cloche de la liberté !

Quand nous permettrons à la cloche de la liberté de sonner dans chaque village, dans chaque hameau, dans chaque ville et dans chaque Etat, nous pourrons fêter le jour où tous les enfants de Dieu, les Noirs et les Blancs, les Juifs et les non-Juifs, les Protestants et les Catholiques, pourront se donner la main et chanter les paroles du vieux Negro Spiritual : “ Enfin libres, enfin libres, grâce en soit rendue au Dieu tout puissant, nous sommes enfin libres ! ”. »

Voir par ailleurs:

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

by Rev. Ralph David Abernathy

Booknotes

October 29, 1989

BRIAN LAMB: Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, author of the book, « And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, » when did you first think that you wanted to write your autobiography?

ABERNATHY: Oh, about four or five years ago. I decided that I would write my autobiography and I have been working on it ever since then. Not straight out but for given periods, I would write and I would leave it, you know, and go back to it, and come back to it, and so I wanted to write this book.

LAMB: Are you happy about it?

ABERNATHY: Yes, I am very, very happy about it. I am so pleased that it is a good looking book and it is a good book and it is more than 600 pages of my life story. I am the son of a farmer and I grew up in Linden, Alabama — Meringo County, the heart of the black belt. My grandfather and my grandmother were born slaves and I just wanted to tell my story and to show the youth of America, the children of America, that you may be locked in poverty and you may have a difficult time surviving but you can be, what my dear friend, Martin Luther King, often quoted: « If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley but be the best little scrub by the side of the hill…be a bush if you can’t be a tree. » So you can be something and somebody if you do not lose your sense of worth and dignity and somebody-ness.

LAMB: I want to start with the last part of the book first, the epilogue. In there you describe that in 1980 you supported Ronald Reagan for the presidency. Why did you do that?

ABERNATHY: Well, I did it for the simple reason first. I did not believe President Carter could lead the nation forward at that particular juncture. He is a good man but I just did not feel that you could run the country as he had ran the state of Georgia and he did not have, around him, the staff, that was able to do that. Secondly, I supported Ronald Reagan because he was talking about jobs and income and I went on with that side of my political life and thirdly, I believe that young black people should participate in both parties. The Republican Party has too long ignored us and the Democratic Party has taken us for granted and so since all of my colleges and the latter in various places across the country were supporting the Democratic Party, I felt that I should support Ronald Reagan.

I understood very, very clearly that it is a policy in politics, according to President Gerald Ford, that you reward your friends but you punish your enemies, so I thought that I would launch a job program and get help from Mr. Reagan and from the private sector as well as the public sector. The Republicans have most of the money in the country and I thought that I would get that type of help but he’d soon forgotten what I had sought to do to him, or I cannot get through. And one distinguished journalist, just happened to have been connected with my congregation and I had to do the grandmother’s funeral and she told me, « Dr. Abernathy, what you really should do to get to Mr. Reagan is get to Mrs. Reagan and maybe like that you can get through. » But Ed Meese and the people surrounded him. I just felt that they never let my calls through and never gave me ample time to explain fully the meaning of the foundation of economic enterprises development.

LAMB: Let’s go back. I did not mean to interrupt, but I want to go back so that the audience understands the context. You were asked to come and do public, hold up the hands and endorse President Reagan back during the 1980 campaign, and you did that. Do remember the city in which you did that?

ABERNATHY: Yes, in Detroit, Michigan.

LAMB: And you flew up there to do it and when you got there you had a meeting with the President. And then you walked out and found some of your other friends were there with you?

ABERNATHY: Yes, I found that other persons, including Jose Williams, former staff member of mine, at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had come to join me in endorsing Mr. Reagan. But I had a private conference with Mr. Reagan because I wanted to get the guarantee from him that he wanted me to endorse him and that he would be accessible to me, because I didn’t want to just be endorsing a man that I was unable to talk to.

LAMB: After you endorsed him, the election is over, you tried to reach President Reagan, what happened?

ABERNATHY: Well, I could not get any farther than Ed Meese. I went out to Palm Springs to see President Gerald Ford and he was most sympathetic, most kind and he called the White House while I was there and he …

LAMB: This was in 1981, right in the first year?

ABERNATHY: Yes, and he said, « Well, hey Meese, I want you to arrange a meeting with the President and Ralph Abernathy has suffered greatly. » — Because my colleagues didn’t like that, you know. They tried to dry up my resources and everything. — And he said, « Well, I want him to be able to talk to the President. » And he said, « Well, I will arrange the meeting and you can be assured. » I was in his office at that particular time. I had set up the foundation for Economic Enterprises Development, was fully tax deductible and I had gone through this ordeal of my friend James Peterson had worked with me and he was the executive vice-president of the organization and finally the meeting was arranged. It was just about a five minute, ten minute meeting.

LAMB: With the President?

ABERNATHY: Yes.

LAMB: Was he interested?

ABERNATHY: No, Mr. Meese had told me that he was not interested. He, Mr. Ford, thought that he could call to the White House, some millionaires, about one hundred of them, and they could give the money that was necessary — $100,000 each to the Foundation and take care of one who had suffered so much because I endorsed the President. Mr. Meese said that he could not call anybody to come to the White House and there were no private sector funds available and he told me that the public sector writes proposals. And we wrote a proposal, and finally, the Department of Transportation — finally we received a small grant from the Department of Labor, and that is all that we received and that was not enough to sustain that Foundation. So the Foundation now has no address to receive contributions but I am working still with the Foundation and James Peterson is working still with the Foundation and hopefully we will get it back operating.

LAMB: What did you do in 1984, did you endorse President Reagan for a second term?

ABERNATHY: No, I decided to go with my friend, Jesse L. Jackson. Jesse Jackson had expressed the hope and the dream of receiving the nomination of the Democrats. So, naturally, he was my former employee and my friend, and so I went to — I guess it was somewhere in North Carolina — and when he announced his candidacy I supported him all the way. He preached at my church and spoke at my church and we were able to give him more than $10,000 in offering for his candidacy. And we were proud to. And he has carried us closer as black people to the White House than any other person. Jesse Jackson is a good man. He is very, very articulate. He has his faults and failures as all of us have them and he has a big ego, but I do not know a President of the United States that has not had a big ego. I guess it takes a big ego to become the President.

LAMB: In the epilogue, again, you write about the illnesses that you had and you talk about the strokes. How many strokes have you had?

ABERNATHY: I have had two small strokes, never a massive stroke. I have had brain surgery, one of the carotid arteries was clogged and I went to Johns Hopkins Hospital. My wife took me there and I had a carotid artery and that artery supplies the blood flow to the brain — there are two — and I became the 51st person to undergo that microscopic surgery and it takes about 12 hours. I could not speak too clearly because of it being clogged. So, consequently, when the anesthesiologist came to me and gave me lessons and said, « Dr. Abernathy…, » — they call me « Dr. A. » — « Dr. A., when you wake up, I want you to wake up talking and when we ask you to move your right hand, don’t move your left hand and you have to prove to us that you understand when we ask, who is the President of the United States, we want you to say, ‘Ronald Reagan' ».

So, consequently, Mr. Reagan did call me and wish me success in everything and so when I finished with the surgery and the anesthesiologist called me, « Dr. A., wake up…, » I knew and I heard them the first time, but I knew that I would have to spend the rest of my life, from my meager earnings and savings, paying them for such an operation, so I just caused them some anxiety.

They had to call me the second time. « Dr. A., wake up… » and I said, « I love Jesus, I love Jesus, I love Jesus. » And they said, « Dr. A., don’t say another word, because you are running your blood pressure off the cuff. » What I was thought to be did not happen. I was to have a black eye and I was to have to be kept in intensive care for five to six days. But the next morning I was awakened and I had a full breakfast — bacon and eggs, juice and coffee and they said, « Now we are going to get you out of here, because you are doing fine. » And I called my wife over at the Hopkins Inn and she said, « Oh, Ralph, why are you — are you still perking and kicking…? » And I said, « I am back in my room at Johns Hopkins Hospital. » And she said, « I cannot believe it, they said that you would be there four to five days in intensive care. » But God was good to me and God be the Glory, he is due all the praise and people across this nation had fasted and prayed for me and my family and Juanita is a very, very, lovely wife and I am proud that she is the mother of my four, lovely children. She is a great woman and she is a woman of great intellect. And she is just — I love her.

LAMB: In the book, we have a picture here that the audience will see of your family, when was this taken?

ABERNATHY: Oh, that was taken, I guess, a couple of years ago.

LAMB: Can you tell us who is your daughter here?

ABERNATHY: Oh, that is Donzalae. Donzalae Abernathy is married to George Bosley and George Bosley is a high school — not high school — but college school mate, who majored in the movie industry also. Donzalae is an actress. She maintains her name Abernathy. She is married to a young white man but she is dedicated to the family. She is the second of our two daughters.

LAMB: This daughter right here?

ABERNATHY: That is Donzalae.

LAMB: And you say that she is married to a white man?

ABERNATHY: Yes, uh huh…

LAMB: Would you tell us the story that you tell in the book about the marriage itself?

ABERNATHY: Well, it is just a very, very comical thing. The church holds about 2,500 people and the marriage was scheduled for 11 o’clock and it was thought that George’s mother had a heart attack the previous evening and it turned out that she just had some gas pains or something like that but she was in the hospital. George was to go by and let her check him out and see his tuxedo, and he neglected — as young people will do — to call the church and be in contact with me and I thought that he might have stood up my daughter.

LAMB: How late was he?

ABERNATHY: He was about 45 minutes late.

LAMB: So you had a church full of 2,500 people?

ABERNATHY: Yes, yes and they were waiting and Father Jim Nickie from Chicago, Illinois, the Chaplain of the O’Hare Airport, had been invited to assist me in marrying my daughter and I was to marry her, but certainly he was to assist me and I had him go out and assure the people that George was running late and finally, George came. What a relief it was for me.

LAMB: All right, in this picture, in addition to Donzalae you have another daughter and let’s see on the screen please … Who is this daughter?

ABERNATHY: This daughter is Wandalynn. Wandalynn is our oldest daughter. She lives in West Germany as she is an opera singer. She sang at the wedding of Donzalae. She is not married. I chided recently about being able to see one of my grandchildren before passing on to the other side, my new home. And she said, « Oh, daddy, I am not married. » And I said, « I would like to see some of my grandchildren. » And she said, « Well, what about a surrogate, grandchild? » And I said, « Oh, no, no, I want the real thing. I want a real Abernathy. »

LAMB: You have more children here in this picture, two sons, right here. Who are they?

ABERNATHY: Yes, that is Quamaylatuli, an 18-year-old student Williams College in Massachusetts now and Ralph David Abernathy III. He is a member of the State Legislature in Georgia.

LAMB: Ralph David Abernathy, our guest and the name of the book is « And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. » Where did you get the title?

ABERNATHY: Well, I just thought about it and finally concluded to use the old spiritual .. the battle is Jericho, Jericho. « And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. »

LAMB: Did you write this yourself or did you have help?

ABERNATHY: No, no, I wrote it myself. Naturally, I had editorial assistance, suggestions and I had research person who checked out the dates for accuracy and assisted me in reading and grammar and spelling of words and so forth but it is my writing, my story, my words. »And the Walls Came Tumbling Down ».

LAMB: How did you write it? Did you write it on a typewriter, long hand or a computer, or how?

ABERNATHY: Sometimes I wrote it on a legal pad, in long hand and I used to talk into a tape recording machine and the secretary would lift it from there and I would use various means. No I cannot operate a computer. I was not blessed with any such skills. I had to deal with the talking into a tape recorder or writing it in long hand. And I have my own type of short hand. You know, you have to write when you feel like writing, are inspired to write. I have to write my sermons like that So often my wife says to me, « You know, Ralph, if you complete your sermon and then we can go out to a party or visit some friends but you don’t write. » I don’t write like that. I have to wait for the moment of inspiration to come. And I can work, work and work and work and work long hours way until the wee hours of the morning. Often I sit up all night long.

LAMB: Did you write totally from memory or had you kept notes over the years?

ABERNATHY: I had kept notes over the years but mainly memory. As I acknowledged in the introduction, the Bible was written by many, many inspired men of God. But the life of Jesus is recorded in what is referred to as the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And they give the life, the verse, the crucifixion, and the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But they all tell it in a different day and I wrote it from my perspective. And I told it to the best of my ability. And memory sometimes fail. But I had a person to check me on accurate dates, especially the New York Times.

LAMB: There are 638 pages including the index in this book. And as you well know, three pages out of this book have been the focus of attention. The night before Martin Luther King was murdered. Are you surprised that only those three pages have been the subject of all the attention for this book?

ABERNATHY: Greatly surprised and disappointed.

LAMB: Why?

ABERNATHY: Because to me it is only jealousy. I didn’t ask anybody if I could write my autobiography. It is my story. The story of my life. And you would believe it was the story of the life of my dearest buddy and friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And so it is not his story, but it is my story. And the second reason why I am surprised — they took these four pages and created a controversy. And they sent me a telegram and tried to get me to retract, falsely accused me of not having written the book, and demanding that I withdraw. Tell the publisher « repudiate this book. » And I said to her, « I cannot do that. » And I went to Memphis on my first tour in promoting the book. And so when I got there, upon arrival at the Peabody Hotel, this young man from the commercial appeal on the newspaper …

LAMB: In Memphis?

ABERNATHY: … in Memphis, was there. And he was a black young man and he said, « Dr. Abernathy I need to see you and ask you some questions. » And naturally I didn’t want to talk to him but he said, « It’s very, very urgent. » And I went up and checked in and went up to the room and came back to talk with him and he told me that the Associated Press had received a telegram and that had been sent to me from The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. I thought that was very, very unfortunate because The Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change is being very, very violent.

These people had not come to see me at all. Only the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Jesse Hill, had come to see me. And he came not reaching me, keeping me standing all day that Saturday and all day that Sunday. And on the Sunday brought a dear friend of mine who signed the telegram and he just left on the message box of my wife’s telephone that I should look under the door because they had left a message for me, the copy that of the telegram that I would be receiving. And so I didn’t. It was piercing and strong –telling me to repudiate it and I talked to Dr. Kilgore and to him the next morning and Dr. Kilgore was in very, very unique position because he had enough love for me and my family and enough love for Dr. King Jr. and his family. He loved and supported both of us. He was now in North Carolina and Jesse Hill hooked me into Dr. King, Dr. Kilgore, and we talked, we talked, we talked and we prayed, and we prayed, and we prayed and I agreed to receive calls from Lerome Bennett and from Bob Johnson, the editor of Jet magazine in Chicago and the editor of Ebony magazine, since they were learned in that field of publication.

And the next time I heard from Mr. Hill he was telling me or telling my wife that he had received a message that I was supposed to answer that I was supposed to give in response to. And Lerome Bennett never called me. Bob Johnson never called me. And I didn’t dignify what they were trying to say to me. If they wanted to reach me my telephone is listed. The only black leader, national black leader in the country. I have a listed telephone and you can look in the telephone directory and see the Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and you can look in the telephone book under the Mary Kay Cosmetic Section, Business Section and my wife’s telephone is listed, Mrs. Juanita Odessa Jones Abernathy. And so, I have always had the burning desire to be accessible to the poor people of this country and the poor people of this land.

LAMB: Why do you think that your friends, and there are a lot of people that are well known — Jesse Jackson was in that — I assumed signed that telegram and others. Why do they feel that strongly about you publishing what you say is the truth about Martin Luther King?

ABERNATHY: Well, I don’t know you would have to ask them. I cannot answer that question.

LAMB: They help sales. Are you selling more books because of all of the controversy?

ABERNATHY: No, I don’t know, I have not been in contact with the Harper & Row. I just heard that they have ordered some more books, but I do not know how the sales of the books are going and whether they are helping or hurting. I just don’t know.

LAMB: What do you think of the way that the media has treated you, the interviews that you have they been fair?

ABERNATHY: No, a lot of people ask me the same old questions, there it goes again, the same question, over and over again. And Bryant Gumble from NBC, my brother, who is my hero, March Arden, long for him to have the host of the Today Show, and he, one week prior to my appearance on NBC, had come to Atlanta and taped in the interview with me and had not even mentioned anything about Martin Luther King womanizing or anything but he wanted me to come to New York last Friday and I went to New York and I told him, you know, « Why come to Atlanta and ask me nothing about these pages? » And nobody had to ask me anything about Martin Luther King’s womanizing and if they had been true, most people that read a book and buy a book, especially in the black community, they stop long before 435 pages. They don’t read that far but they created a controversy.

LAMB: Why did you fly all the way to New York to sit down with Bryant Gumble on the Today Show? Did he tell you what he was going to do, that he wanted to ask you about those pages before you flew up there?

ABERNATHY: No, he did not tell me that. I was scheduled to go to New York and to sign books and promote the book for Harper & Row. When I got there, just as I am in Washington today, I was invited to appear on your show, and so I was invited to appear on Phil Donahue’s Show. My wife and I were both on the show and bell hooks was on that show, Roy Ennis was on that show with us and the four of us dealt with Mr. Donahue the same day. And Jose Williams was invited and I understand that he had called me the Judas of the movement, and Jose Williams had always supported me across the years and he had brought 30 pieces of silver and Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Now, the main thing, Martin Luther King wanted not to be a deity. He wanted to be just an ordinary man. He did not want to be a saint or viewed as a saint. He was just a human being, capable of becoming and producing and leading his people out of the wilderness of segregation into the promise land, saying to me, privately, long before he said it from the Memphis pulpit, « Ralph, I may not get there, but I have been to the mountain top. » « Take my people on across this Jordan to the land of Canaan », « And I want freedom for all Americans. » And he freed many white people and poor people who were black, American Indians, the native people of this country and he was just a marvelous and fantastic leader and I am surprised that they would center on four pages and I didn’t ever say that he had sex with anybody. I said that when I was awakened, he was coming out of the room with this lady and maybe, I don’t know what they did, he never told me he had sex with that lady. He may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know, the sanitation workers track. I did not say that later that when we arrived at the motel, the Lorraine Motel, that he engaged in sex. I merely said that this Kentucky Legislator was there and when I discovered that he was in good hands, I took off and went to bed because it was about 1:30 to 2 in the morning. I did not try to dodge the issue.

I wanted to tell the story, where my book would have validity and not be thrown out by historians because they would say that he has been dishonest in not talking about the life of Martin Luther King to it’s fullest extent, so if he lies about one thing, looks over one side of the picture, the book is no good. I wanted it to be an honest and truthful book and I told nothing but the truth, so help me God. I am not a criminal and I challenge anybody to prove that the things that I said was not true in that book.

LAMB: Right after this book was published and right after the Memphis appeal reporter and the AP and all started writing about that four pages, the first thing that we read was that you had a couple of strokes and had brain surgery and that something was wrong — and that was why you put it in here, and did not quite know what you were doing. And then after another series of stories, we read that Bernard Lee, who was written about as the only other man with you that night, I believe, before. Is that correct?

ABERNATHY: Yes …

LAMB: Bernard Lee is out here in Lorton Prison as a chaplain …

ABERNATHY: Yes, that is right.

LAMB: …but then you hear Bernard Lee being quoted as saying that you were intoxicated that night.

ABERNATHY: Well, Bernard Lee is quoted as saying that he is the assistant pastor of the West 100th Street Baptist Church …

LAMB: Where you were?

ABERNATHY: And I, where I am today and Bernard Lee has never assisted me as pastor of the West 100th Street Baptist Church, so he told an untruth. I have never been a drinking man. I have never desired even a strong — a Coca-Cola is too strong for me and it burns my throat and I have never needed caffeine to wake me up. I have never been a smoker and I have never been a coffee drinker, even if it is decaffeinated coffee. They said that I have had two massive strokes and I have had brain surgery, but thanks be to God, you can ask me any question about what happened in the Movement. I was there and they were not there. I was there and I can give you an accurate account of what happened because I was there and I was alive and I was awake and I have never been drunk.

LAMB: One last question on this particular thing — Why have your former friends, or you may call them still your friends, worked so hard at trying to discredit you? What will be — after the dust clears on this — what is the effect of trying to discredit you?

ABERNATHY: Well, I really don’t know, for my so-called friends. First they are so-called friends because they didn’t come to see me out of the 25-30 people that signed that telegram. Many of them I do not even know and, consequently, only, I guess two people came to see me while I had these so called massive strokes. Now, I am not paralyzed. A massive stroke leaves an individual paralyzed or the mouth disfigured, or something like that. I have all of my thinking faculties and my memory. I talk slow and I am not — the wear and tear of the 63 years of my life has taken it’s toll on me — but I have been on this show.You told me when I came in that I came in here with the understanding that I was to talk to you for 45 minutes and you told me an hour and I am going an hour and I can go two hours, because I am an honest man and if you expect me to talk to you an hour, I will talk to you two hours if necessary.

Jesus says that when any man requires of you to walk one mile with him, walk two miles with him and that meant in my estimation, the one mile is required, but when you start walking the second mile, he is embarrassed and he starts loving you and being kind to you. And Jesus was a non-violent personality, but Jesus became violent on one occasion when he ran the people out of the temple because they were misusing his house. Martin Luther King shoved a woman across the bed the next day because he lost his temper. People are just people, human beings are mortal feeble beings and the apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh of which he spoke about.

I could call you a list of people. I am staying at the Jefferson Hotel, but Thomas Jefferson had made some mistakes also. The father of our nation, George Washington had made mistakes, the slave girls talked about his affairs. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt — I don’t propose to know and be able to talk about these people and I do not speak of them in this book but I do speak of my friend, Martin Luther King Jr. and he would want me to tell it like it is and be honest and truthful and I am not trying to hurt Mrs. King because she knows it is public knowledge.

J. Edgar Hoover had revealed Martin Luther King’s lifestyle and in the book I tell of visits that I had made on his behalf and I am not trying to tell the children, his lovely children, of anything about that day because I love those children and they call me Uncle Ralph and they cited to me in the telegram that the Uncle Ralph I know would not do this. Yet, they do all kinds of things, including sending me mail to my house where they invite not my wife to the birthday celebration of Mahatma Ghandi. They are just always trying to ignore and re-write history.

If you go to the King’s Center on the marches and demonstrations and if you go to the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, you will see pictures of me and Martin marching together and that somebody has cropped me off. They have decided that I am not going to fill my rightful place in history and, if they have the power to broad out my having been there by the side of Martin Luther King, they are willing. They have my permission to try to block me out because I came as Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to free the captives to set liberty to those of the blues and to proclaim the acceptable year of the law. I have been talking to you all this time and have not even taken a drink of water from this lovely cup that I am going to take and put in a loftily place, signifying that I was here today.

LAMB: Let me ask you, and we are about out of time. Your chapter headings are Atlanta, Albany, Birmingham, St. Augustine, Selma, Chicago, Memphis, Charleston, Martin Luther King Jr., and then you have a chapter heading Jesse Jackson. Now let me read to you the last paragraph that you wrote about Jesse Jackson in this chapter. »Yet I have supported him twice in his bid for Presidency… » – I assume that is 1984 and 1988?

ABERNATHY: That is right.

LAMB: « … And I suspect that I will support him again if he chooses to run. Over the years I have come to love and admire Jesse in part because he has matured into a great leader, in part because he has been so supportive of me. » You go on to write though in the book, or you wrote before that in the book, about the night that Martin Luther King was killed and the story that we have looked at many times since then — was Jesse Jackson there and did he cradle Martin Luther King his arms? And you talk about how close you were to him, and that Jesse Jackson. — I haven’t got the quotes here right in front of me — was nowhere around right after the shot was fired. How much admiration is there from Jesse Jackson to you? And after this episode, where he has denounced you in what you said here, do you think that you will still support him the next time that he runs for President?

ABERNATHY: Jesse Jackson is a good man and he has shown amazing growth in his maturity as we all. He was young then but he did not cradle Martin Luther King. He was down in the Courtyard and his first reaction was to call Mrs. King and notify her that he had been shot. But I rushed to the side of Martin Luther King and I cradled him in my arms and Bernard Lee, I want you to ask him — didn’t I and he commit civil disobedience and stay in the operating room and the doctor came over and said to me that it would be an act of mercy if God took him because he would be a vegetable. He would be paralyzed from his neck down. And I want you to ask Jose Williams, where did Jesse Jackson get that blood from — the man that called me the Jesus and the man that has supported me all of these years. And I have never done anything but try to tell the truth and try to be with Martin Luther King in all of his efforts while he was alive and lived in Resurrection City, right here in Washington D.C. and built the Resurrection City and stayed in the Movement — trying to keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive of exposing poverty in this nation.

LAMB: What is your favorite chapter, we just have a minute left, of all the chapters?

ABERNATHY: Oh, my favorite chapter is the chapter Little David, the first chapter in the book, because I just love, I just love my daddy. Upon birth when I was delivered by my maternal grandmother, Ellen Bell, he came home and made my name Little David and I regret that fact that my sister later added Ralph, because Ralph does not have much meaning but I love the name David. I was a Little David, like the goal I faced and I was able to do much, much to help Martin Luther King realize his dreams and my dreams and the dreams of all black people in this country.

LAMB: Our guest for the last hour has been Ralph David Abernathy and this is the book. « And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, » an autobiography. Thank you for being with us.

ABERNATHY: Thank you so very, very kindly.

Voir aussi:

I have a Deram or Dream

By IHaveaDERam

CNN (unvetted)

August 2, 2009

Forty years after his death, the popularity of Martin Luther King remains extraordinary. He is perhaps the single most praised person in American history, and millions adore him as a hero and almost a saint. The federal government has made space available on the Mall in Washington for a national monument for King, not far from Lincoln’s. Only four men in American history have national monuments: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt; and now King will make five.

King is the only American who enjoys the nation’s highest honor of having a national holiday on his birthday. There are other days of remembrance such as Presidents’ Day, but no one else but Jesus Christ is recognized with a similar holiday. Does King deserve such honors? Much that has been known to scholars for years—but largely unknown to most Americans—suggests otherwise.

Plagiarism

As a young man, King started plagiarizing the work of others and he continued this practice throughout his career.

At Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor of divinity degree in 1951, many of his papers contained material lifted verbatim and without acknowledgement from published sources. An extensive project started at Stanford University in 1984 to publish all of King’s papers tracked down the original sources for these early papers and concluded that his academic writings are “tragically flawed by numerous instances of plagiarism.” Journalist Theodore Pappas, who has also reviewed the collection, found one paper showing “verbatim theft” in 20 of a total of 24 paragraphs. He writes:

“King’s plagiarisms are easy to detect because their style rises above the level of his pedestrian student prose. In general, if the sentences are eloquent, witty, insightful, or pithy, or contain allusions, analogies, metaphors, or similes, it is safe to assume that the section has been purloined.”

King also plagiarized himself, recycling old term papers as new ones. Some of his professors complained about sloppy references, but they seem to have had no idea how extensively he was stealing material, and his habits were well established by the time he entered the PhD program at Boston University. King plagiarized one-third of his 343-page dissertation, the book-length project required to earn a PhD, leading some to say he should be stripped of his doctoral degree. Mr. Pappas explains that King’s plagiarism was a lifelong habit:

“King’s Nobel Prize Lecture was plagiarized extensively from works by Florida minister J. Wallace Hamilton; the sections on Gandhi and nonviolence in his ‘Pilgrimage’ speech were taken virtually verbatim from Harris Wofford’s speech on the same topic; the frequently replayed climax to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech—the ‘from every mountainside, let freedom ring’ portion—came from a 1952 address to the Republican National Convention by a black preacher named Archibald Carey; and the 1968 sermon in which King prophesied his martyrdom was based on works by J. Wallace Hamilton and Methodist minister Harold Bosley.”

Perhaps King had no choice but to use the words of others. Mr. Pappas has found that on the Graduate Record Exam, King “scored in the second-lowest quartile in English and vocabulary, in the lowest ten percent in quantitative analysis, and in the lowest third on his advanced test in philosophy.”

Adultery

King lived a double life. During the day, he would speak to large crowds, quoting Scripture and invoking God’s will, and at night he frequently had sex with women from the audience. “King’s habits of sexual adventure had been well established by the time he was married,” says Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University, a King admirer. He notes that King often “told lewd jokes,” “shared women with friends,” and was “sexually reckless.” According to King biographer Taylor Branch, during a long party on the night of January 6 and 7, 1964, an FBI bugging device recorded King’s “distinctive voice ring out above others with pulsating abandon, saying, ‘I’m f***ing for God!’”

Sex with single and married women continued after King married, and on the night before his death, King had two adulterous trysts. His first rendezvous was at a woman’s house, the second in a hotel room. The source for this was his best friend and second-in-command, Ralph Abernathy, who noted that the second woman was “a member of the Kentucky legislature,” now known to be Georgia Davis Powers.

Abernathy went on to say that a third woman was also looking for King that same night, but found his bed empty. She knew his habits and was angry when they met later that morning. In response, writes Abernathy, King “lost his temper” and “knocked her across the bed. … She leapt up to fight back, and for a moment they were engaged in a full-blown fight, with [King] clearly winning.” A few hours later, King ate lunch with Abernathy and discussed the importance of nonviolence for their movement.

To other colleagues, King justified his adultery this way: “I’m away from home twenty-five to twenty-seven days a month. F***ing’s a form of anxiety reduction.” King had many one-night stands but also grew close to one of his girlfriends in a relationship that became, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Garrow, “the emotional centerpiece of King’s life.” Still, sex with other women remained “a commonplace of King’s travels.”

In private, King could be extremely crude. On one FBI recording, King said to Abernathy in what was no doubt a teasing remark, “Come on over here, you big black motherf***er, and let me suck your d**k.” FBI sources told Taylor Branch about a surveillance tape of King watching a televised rerun of the Kennedy funeral. When he saw the famous moment when Jacqueline Kennedy knelt with her children before her dead husband’s coffin, King reportedly sneered, “Look at her. Sucking him off one last time.”

Despite his obsession with sex and his betrayal of his own wife and children, and despite Christianity’s call for fidelity, King continued to claim the moral authority of a Baptist minister.

Whites

King stated that the “vast majority of white Americans are racist” and that they refused to share power. His solution was to redistribute wealth and power through reparations for slavery and racial quotas:

“No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries. Not all the wealth of this affluent society could meet the bill. Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages. … The payment should be in the form of a massive program by the government of special, compensatory measures which could be regarded as a settlement.” Continued King, “Moral justification for such measures for Negroes is rooted in the robberies inherent in the institution of slavery.” He named his plan the Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged. Some poor whites would also receive compensation because they were “derivative victims of slavery,” but the welfare of blacks was his central focus.

King has been praised, even by conservatives, as the great advocate of color-blindness. They focus too narrowly on one sentence in his “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he said he wanted to live in a nation “where [my children] will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The truth is that King wanted quotas for blacks. “[I]f a city has a 30 percent Negro population,” King reasoned, “then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30 percent of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas.”

One of King’s greatest achievements is said to have been passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the signing ceremony on July 2, he stood directly behind President Lyndon Johnson as a key guest. The federal agency created by the act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, now monitors hiring practices and ensures that King’s desires for racial preferences are met.

Like liberals today, King denied racial differences. In a reply to an interviewer who told him many Southern whites thought racial differences were a biological fact, he replied:

“This utterly ignorant fallacy has been so thoroughly refuted by the social scientists, as well as by medical science, that any individual who goes on believing it is standing in an absolutely misguided and diminishing circle. The American Anthropological Association has unanimously adopted a resolution repudiating statements that Negroes are biologically, in innate mental ability or in any other way inferior to whites.”

The conclusions to be drawn from his belief in across-the-board equality were clear: failure by blacks to achieve at the level of whites could be explained only by white oppression. As King explained in one interview, “I think we have to honestly admit that the problems in the world today, as they relate to the question of race, must be blamed on the whole doctrine of white supremacy, the whole doctrine of racism, and these doctrines came into being through the white race and the exploitation of the colored peoples of the world.” King predicted that “if the white world” does not stop this racism and oppression, “then we can end up in the world with a kind of race war.”

Communism

In his public speeches, King never called himself a communist, instead claiming to stand for a synthesis of capitalism and communism: “[C]apitalism fails to realize that life is social. Communism fails to realize that life is individual. Truth is found neither in the rugged individualism of capitalism nor in the impersonal collectivism of communism. The Kingdom of God is found in a synthesis that combines the truths of these two opposites.”

However, David Garrow found that in private King “made it clear to close friends that economically speaking he considered himself what he termed a Marxist.” Mr. Garrow passes along an account of a conversation C.L.R. James, a Marxist intellectual, had with King: “King leaned over to me saying, ‘I don’t say such things from the pulpit, James, but that is what I really believe.’… King wanted me to know that he understood and accepted, and in fact agreed with, the ideas that I was putting forward—ideas which were fundamentally Marxist-Leninist. … I saw him as a man whose ideas were as advanced as any of us on the Left, but who, as he actually said to me, could not say such things from the pulpit. … King was a man with clear ideas, but whose position as a churchman, etc. imposed on him the necessity of reserve.” J. Pius Barbour, a close friend of King’s at seminary, agreed that he “was economically a Marxist.”

Some of King’s most influential advisors were Communists with direct ties to the Soviet Union. One was Stanley Levison, whom Mr. Garrow called King’s “most important political counselor” and “at Martin Luther King’s elbow.” He organized fundraisers for King, counseled him on tax issues and political strategy, wrote fundraising letters and his United Packinghouse Workers Convention speech, edited parts of his books, advised him on his first major national address, and prepped King for questions from the media. Coretta Scott King said of Levison that he was “[a]lways working in the background, his contribution has been indispensable,” and Mr. Garrow says the association with Levison was “without a doubt King’s closest friendship with a white person.”

What were Levison’s political views? John Barron is the author of Operation SOLO, which is about “the most vital intelligence operation the FBI ever had sustained against the Soviet Union.” Part of its work was to track Levison who, according to Mr. Barron, “gained admission into the inner circle of the communist underground” in the US. Mr. Garrow, a strong defender of King, admits that Levison was “one of the two top financiers” of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), which received about one million dollars a year from the Soviet Union. Mr. Garrow found that Levison was “directly involved in the Communist Party’s most sensitive financial dealings,” and acknowledged there was first-hand evidence of Levison’s “financial link to the Soviet Union.”

Hunter Pitts O’Dell, who was elected in 1959 to the national committee, the governing body for the CPUSA, was another party member who worked for King. According to FBI reports, Levison installed O’Dell as the head of King’s New York office, and later recommended that O’Dell be made King’s executive assistant in Atlanta.

King knew his associates were Communists. President Kennedy himself gave an “explicit personal order” to King advising against his “shocking association with Stanley Levison.” Once when he was walking privately with King in the White House Rose Garden, Kennedy also named O’Dell and said to King: “They’re Communists. You’ve got to get rid of them.”

The Communist connections help explain why Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy authorized the FBI to wiretap King’s home and office telephones in October 1963. Kennedy, like his brother John, was deeply sympathetic to King but also aware of the threat of communism.

Mr. Garrow tried to exonerate King of the charge of being a fellow traveler by arguing that Levison broke with the CPUSA while he worked for King, that is, from the time he met King in the summer of 1956 until King’s death in 1968. However, as historian Samuel Francis has pointed out, an official break with the CPUSA does not necessarily mean a break with the goals of communism or with the Soviet Union.

John Barron argues that if Levison had defected from the CPUSA and renounced communism, he would not have associated with former comrades, such as CP officials Lem Harris, Hunter Pitts O’Dell, and Roy Bennett (Levison’s twin brother who had changed his last name). He was also close to the highly placed KGB officer Victor Lessiovsky, who was an assistant to the head of the United Nations, U Thant.

Mr. Barron asks why Lessiovsky would “fritter away his time and risk his career … by repeatedly indulging himself in idle lunches or amusing cocktail conversation with an undistinguished lawyer [Levison] … who had nothing to offer the KGB, or with someone who had deserted the party and its discipline, or with someone about whom the KGB knew nothing? … And why would an ordinary American lawyer … meet, again and again, with a Soviet assistant to the boss of the United Nations?”

Other Communists who worked with King included Aubrey Williams, James Dombrowski, Carl Braden, William Melish, Ella J. Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Benjamin Smith. King also “associated and cooperated with a number of groups known to be CPUSA front organizations or to be heavily penetrated and influenced by members of the Communist Party”—for example, the Southern Conference Educational Fund; Committee to Secure Justice for Morton Sobell; the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America; the National Lawyers Guild; and the Highlander Folk School.

The CPUSA clearly tried to influence King and his movement. An FBI report of May 6, 1960 from Jack Childs, one of the FBI’s most accomplished spies and a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Intelligence, said that the CP “feels that it is definitely to the Party’s advantage to assign outstanding Party members to work with the [Martin] Luther King group. CP policy at the moment is to concentrate upon Martin Luther King.”

As Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina concluded in a Senate speech written by Francis, King’s alliance with Communists was evidence of “identified Communists … planning the influencing and manipulation of King for their own purposes.” At the same time, King relied on them for speech writing, fundraising, and raising public awareness. They, in turn, used his stature and fame to their own benefit. Senator Helms cited Congressman John M. Ashbrook, a ranking member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, who said: “King has consistently worked with Communists and has helped give them a respectability they do not deserve. I believe he has done more for the Communist Party than any other person of this decade.”

Christianity

King strongly doubted several core beliefs of Christianity. “I was ordained to the Christian ministry,” he claimed, but Stanford University’s online repository includes King’s seminary writings in which he disputed the full divinity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection, suggesting that we “strip them of their literal interpretation.”

Regarding the divine nature of Jesus, King wrote that Jesus was godlike, but not God. People called Jesus divine because they “found God in him” like a divinely inspired teacher, not because he literally was God, as Jesus himself claimed. On the Virgin Birth, King wrote:

“First we must admit that the evidence for the tenability of this doctrine is to [sic] shallow to convince any objective thinker. How then did this doctrine arise? A clue to this inquiry may be found in a sentence from St. Justin’s First Apology. Here Justin states that the birth of Jesus is quite similar to the birth of the sons of Zeus. It was believed in Greek thought that an extraordinary person could only be explained by saying that he had a father who was more than human. It is probable that this Greek idea influenced Christian thought.”

Concerning the Resurrection, King wrote: “In fact the external evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine is found wanting.” The early church, he says, formulated this doctrine because it “had been captivated by the magnetic power of his [Jesus’] personality. This basic experience led to the faith that he could never die. And so in the pre-scientific thought pattern of the first century, this inner faith took outward form.” Thus, in this view, Jesus’ body never rose from the dead, even though according to Scripture, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”

Two other essays show how King watered down Christianity. In one, he wrote that contemporary mystery religions influenced New Testament writers: “[A]fter being in contact with these surrounding religions and hearing certain doctrines expressed, it was only natural for some of these views to become part of their subconscious minds. … That Christianity did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied, but it was generally a natural and unconscious process rather than a deliberate plan of action.” In another essay, King wrote that liberal theology “was an attempt to bring religion up intellectually,” and the introduction to the paper at the Stanford website says that King was “scornful of fundamentalism.” King wrote that in fundamentalism the Trinity, the Atonement, and the Second Coming are “quite prominent,” but again, these are defining beliefs of Christianity.

Known and unknown

King is both known and unknown. Millions worldwide see him as a moral messiah, and American schools teach young children to praise him. In the United States there are no fewer than 777 streets named for him. But King is also unknown because only a few people are aware of the unsavory aspects of his life. The image most people have of King is therefore cropped and incomplete.

In the minds of many, King towers above other Americans as a distinguished orator and writer, but this short, 5’6½ » man often stole the words of others. People believe he was a Christian, but he doubted some of the fundamentals of the faith. Our country honors King, but he worked closely with Communists who aimed to destroy it. He denied racial differences, but fought for racial favoritism in the form of quotas. He claimed to be for freedom, but he wanted to force people to associate with each other and he promoted the redistribution of wealth in the form of reparations for slavery. He quoted the ringing words of the Bible and claimed, as a preacher, to be striving to be more like Jesus, but his colleagues knew better.

Perhaps he, too, knew better. His closest political advisor, Stanley Levison, said King was “an intensely guilt-ridden man” and his wife Coretta also called him “a guilt-ridden man.” Levison said that the praise heaped upon King was “a continual series of blows to his conscience” because he was such a humble man. If King was guilt-ridden might it have been because he knew better than anyone the wide gap between his popular image and his true character?

The FBI surveillance files could throw considerable light on his true character, but they will not be made public until 2027. On January 31, 1977, as a result of lawsuits by King’s allies against the FBI, a US district judge ordered the files sealed for 50 years. There are reportedly 56 feet of records — tapes, transcripts, and logs — in the custody of the National Archives and Record Service.

Meanwhile, for those who seek to know the real identity of this nearly untouchable icon, there is still plenty of evidence with which to answer the question: Was Martin Luther King, Jr. America’s best and greatest man?

COMPLEMENT:

Why ‘I have a dream’ was and still is an exceptionally good speech

by JC Durbant

As a biographer of Martin Luther King’s famous 1963 speech recently said, a great speech is a speech that is “both timely and timeless”, that is a speech that is both adapted to the occasion and its immediate audience but also a speech that will stand the test of time. And ‘I have a dream’ obviously qualifies on both counts.

Timely because it appealed to and had a message for all the different types of audience that were then present, the over 200, 000 thousands who were physically there on Washington’s Mall and the probably millions who were listening in or watching at home on their radios or televisions. To the ordinary blacks who needed encouragement for the present and hope for the future (“we are not be satisfied”, “go back to Mississippi”) and the militant blacks who were tempted by the violent ways of Malcom X and the Black panthers (“discipline”, “dignity”). But also to the average whites and the largely white authorities who needed to understand the black population’s unacceptable condition and their responsibility in it as well as the white supremacists who needed to be shown blacks were just as American as they were and not the savages they portrayed them to be (“police brutality”, “lodging in motels and hotels”, “For Whites only signs”, the northern “ghettoes”, the “vote” question).

And timeless because it appealed to all that was then and still is sacred to all Americans. First by placing itself literally in the shadow of US history’s most respected president (the majestic Lincoln memorial but also the centennial of his Emancipation Proclamation which offered freedom to the South’s slaves willing to fight for it). But also by profusely and patriotically quoting from the founding texts of the nation: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (”unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”) as well as the old national anthem (“America, my country ‘tis of thee”) and the Liberty bell’s biblical motto (“proclaim liberty throughout the land”). And of course, not to mention the Gettysburg Address reference (“five score years ago”), the naming of all the major states and a Shakespeare half quote (“summer of discontent” from the opening of Richard III), from the Bible itself – King never let you forget he was a pastor – both directly (“justice rolls down like waters”, “every valley shall be exalted”) and through an old Negro spiritual (“Free at last”).

But both timely and timeless by the way Dr. King and his speechwriters so effectively made use of all the riches of eloquence and rhetoric. From the easy-to-remember anaphora and epistrophe (the famous “I have a dream” – which is also “deeply rooted” in the quintessential American dream – repeated no less than eight times, “now is the time”, “satisfied”, “let freedom ring”, “free at last”, “together”) to the biblical cadences and parallelisms. From the analogies, comparisons and metaphors to the alliterations, rhymes and rhetorical questions, not to mention the humor and irony (“bad check”, perhaps the only direct reference to the March’s original goal of jobs). And of course from King himself, the deep, powerful voice to inspire, build up emotion and win over both heads and hearts. Then, as the crowd’s cheering amply shows in the recording but also as the civil rights legislation and his Nobel prize proved the following year or just more recently his own national holiday and memorial in the nation’s capital. And still, fifty-one years later – and not just to Americans – under an African-American president, today.

I Have A Dream

Common, 2006

(I am happy…I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out

(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day) That one day

(That One Day) I’ma look deep within myself

(I Have a Dream) I gotta find a way…

My Dream Is To Be Free

In search of brighter days, I ride through the maze of the madness,

Struggle is my address, where pain and crack lives,

Gunshots comin’ from sounds of Blackness,

Given this game with no time to practice,

Born on the Black list, told I’m below average,

A life with no cabbage,

That’s no money if you from where I’m from,

Funny, I just want some of your sun

Dark clouds seem to follow me,

Alcohol that my pops swallowed bottled me,

No apology, I walk with a boulder on my shoulder,

It’s a Cold War – I’m a colder soldier,

Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King,

I ain’t usin’ it for the right thing,

In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes,

I put together pieces of a Dream

I still have one

Chorus

The world’s seen me lookin’ in the mirror,

Images of me, gettin’ much clearer,

Dear Self, I wrote a letter just to better my soul,

If I don’t express it then forever I’ll hold, inside

I’m from a side where we out of control,

Rap music in the ‘hood played a fatherly role,

My story’s like yours, yo it gotta be told,

Tryna make it from a gangsta to a godlier role,

Read scrolls and stow slaves,

And Jewish people in cold cage,

Hate has no color or age, flip the page,

Now my rage became freedom,

Writin’ dreams in the dark, they far but I can see ’em,

I believe in Heaven more than Hell,

Blessings more than jail,

In the ghetto let love prevail,

With a story to tell, my eyes see the glory and well,

The world waitin’ for me to yell « I Have a Dream


Rockers dépendants: faut-il les prendre chez soi ? (Aging rockers: How far can you take youthful rebellion and age denial when you’re way past your expiration date and qualify for senior discounts?)

20 janvier, 2014
https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1/q71/1604780_10151906148861219_1924074961_n.jpgHope I die before I get old. (…) Why don’t you all fade away ? The Who
Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Roger Waters
I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they [the Palestinians] are treated.  Johnny « Rotten » Lydon
We’ve arrived at this happy situation for several reasons, among them the growing realization, as articulated by John Lydon, that there is something absurd about boycotting Israel when the states that surround it engage in egregious human rights violations. Waters won’t play in Israel, but he was quite happy to play in Dubai in 2007 – an Arab city almost entirely built by slave labor imported from Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. If other stars grasp the appalling hypocrisy this represents, then having Roger Waters indulge his hatred of Israel at every opportunity is a price worth paying. Ben Cohen
It’s like hearing that your grandparents still have sex: bully for them, but spare us the details. (…) After 40, it’s time to lose the sequins, unless you’re Liberace. The NYT
I hate the idea of attending a show just for the morbidity factor: ‘This guy is so old /so ill we might not see him again.’ Marianne
I will donate $1,000 to #121212Concert if Roger Daltry  buttons his shirt. Alan Zweibel (comedy writer, 62)
Rock stars, after all, face the same battles with crow’s feet and sagging jowls that everyone else eventually does. But their visible aging happens under the microscope, and seems somehow more tragic since they toil in a business built on youthful rebellion, and contrasts so sharply with our shared cultural images of them, frozen in youthful glory. The issue takes on added relevance for graying fans from the baby boom and Generation X who grew up taking style cues from these rock heroes (and continue to make geriatric acts like Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters some of the biggest draws in the concert business). If rock immortals can’t accept with a certain grace the ravages of time, what does this portend for the rest of us? Perhaps this is why so many of the concert’s 19 million American viewers turned into fashion critics during the show, zapping the rockers on blogs and Twitter not just for looking old, but for their occasionally clumsy efforts to appear young. The quickest route to ridicule, it seems, is for aging rockers to proceed as if nothing has changed. The truth is, years have passed, and to deny this is a form of visual dishonesty. With his shirt thrown open during a rousing rendition of “Baba O’Riley” Mr. Daltrey — a specimen for his age, to be sure — unfortunately invited comparisons to his groupie-magnet self from the “Tommy” era. In doing so, he violated an obvious dictum for seniors: keep your clothes on in public. But he is not the only offender. At 65, Iggy Pop still takes the stage wearing no shirt, just jeans, as if it’s 1972. It’s not that his body is not freakishly impressive for a man his age. Aside from a few sags and bulging veins, his torso generally looks as lithe as a Joffrey dancer’s. The problem is not the image itself, so much as the image suggested, as if these aging sex symbols are still attracting hordes of groupies to the cozy confines of their tour buses. That may well be true, of course, but when these flesh-baring rockers are men of Viagra-taking age, that’s a visual most people could do without. It’s like hearing that your grandparents still have sex: bully for them, but spare us the details. Hair is complicated for seemingly anyone over 40 — to dye or not to dye, that is question. But it is a tougher call for rock stars like Mr. Bon Jovi, whose hair has always been a key element of his brand. If, one day, the pop-metal crooner were to appear singing “Lay Your Hands on Me” sporting a professor emeritus shock of white hair, as the fellow “12-12-12” performer Mr. Waters of Pink Floyd did, would anyone heed his siren call? (I guess we should be grateful that Mr. Bon Jovi hasn’t gone the route of Roy Orbison, who maintained his jet-black coif well into his 50s, giving him the unfortunate look of an aging blackjack dealer at a lesser Vegas casino.) Given the raised eyebrows that Mr. Jagger and Mr. McCartney attract with their ever-chocolate locks (though at least Mr. Jagger’s wrinkled magnificence suggested his face had been untouched by a surgeon’s blade), it is no wonder the new tonsorial compromise of choice for aging rockers is strategic baldness. A close-cropped buzz cut or shaven head simply erases all visible evidence of follicular aging, as well as lending them a vague bouncerish tough guy appeal. It works for Phil Collins, Moby and Seal. With his shaved head, Paul Shaffer, the David Letterman foil, looked nearly as age-ambiguous playing piano behind Adam Sandler on the comedian’s “Hallelujah” parody during the “12-12-12” as he did playing in the “Saturday Night Live” house band in the late ’70s. It would have worked for Michael Stipe, too, if he hadn’t chosen to tarnish the effect with a silver Robert E. Lee beard. Ultimately, there is little to be done about graying temples or sagging jowls (short of medical intervention, anyway). This leaves clothing as the prime area for rock stars to experiment with age denial, without looking plastic. Most fading rock gods seem to intuit that overly sexualized stage outfits turn into clown costumes after a certain age. David Lee Roth, who scissor-kicked his way through the ’80s in skintight tiger-stripe jumpsuits, took the stage on a recent Van Halen tour dressed more like a groom atop a biker wedding cake: black leather pants, shiny blue shirt, black pinstripe vest. Take a lesson from Eric Clapton and his well-fitting suits: after 40, it’s time to lose the sequins, unless you’re Liberace. Sometimes, though, even a keen fashion sense is not enough to ward off the jibes. At the “12-12-12” concert, Mick Jagger took the stage in a subtly snazzy gray python jacket, a Bordeaux taffeta shirt and black jeans. The jacket and shirt, designed by his longtime companion L’Wren Scott, were a far cry from his sequined jumpsuits of the ’70s, but that did not stop the wisecracks. “Mick Jagger looks like your aunt trying to be cool at a wedding,” tweeted Gregg Hughes, known as “Opie,” the SiriusXM radio shock-jock. But Mr. Jagger, who at 69 still bounds and gyrates through unimaginably athletic, 2 1/2-hour sets, has a built-in response at the ready. As he put it long ago, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” The NYT
Unlike the bluntly bluesy garage-band sound of the Stones, Mr. Fagen’s music is a rich-textured, harmonically oblique amalgam of rock, jazz and soul. It is, in a word, music for grown-ups—with lyrics to match. What is especially interesting about Mr. Fagen, though, is that unlike most of his contemporaries, he has always made music for grown-ups. Steely Dan, the group that he co-founded with Walter Becker in 1972, never did go in for kid stuff, and doesn’t now. Jazz heavies like Wayne Shorter and Phil Woods have long popped up from time to time on Steely Dan’s albums, playing solos that don’t sound even slightly out of place. Needless to say, musical complexity is not the same thing as maturity. What makes Mr. Fagen’s music stand out is its coolly detached point of view. He knows full well that the narrator of « Slinky Thing » is a comic figure and deserves to be. Nor does he lapse into the breast-baring confessionalism that is the blight of second-rate singer-songwriters. He’s a portrait artist, and even when the subject is himself, he wields a razor-sharp brush. Mr. Fagen, who turns 65 on Thursday, is about the same age as the 69-year-old Mr. Jagger. The difference is that he acts his age. Wall Street Journal contributor Marc Myers put it well when he wrote on JazzWax, his blog, that Mr. Fagen’s music « fully embraces the male aging process, which is what makes him cool. » The WSJ
Does the music of protest have to be accompanied by bounding across the stage, gyrations and age-denying cosmetic interventions? This is not a remote issue: the “You are My Sunshine” days of sing-along music activities in long-term care settings are coming to an end. We need to think about how the next wave may want to spend their time enjoying music in groups when they are not listening to iPods or rock wall climbing. (…) Let me introduce the concept of “trait transformation” as a proposed solution that allows aging boomers to rock on without engaging in age denial. This finding in developmental psychology helps to explain how people develop and get more complex, but stay the same person. Trait transformation is the process that takes place as a result of development and maturation when a lifelong trait changes how it appears in a person’s behavior. For example, infants who were very good at following a moving picture of a human face were superior socializers at three months, but then they didn’t seem to want to follow the picture anymore. They had moved on; the trait that was being measured had transformed from tracking a picture to interacting with a human being. The Experience Corps is full of retirees who use their traits to help others although they no longer work in their old jobs. If the music boomers grew up on is still meaningful, then enjoying its essence—its many meanings—as we age will have to be available without the distractions of age-denying cosmetic overlays that the stars use. Rockers can get old and still rock on, and that will be the “new normal.” The message of the ’60s and ’70s was not about only about sexual revolution and protest, it also was about protesting the status quo that limits the diversity of individual expression of who we were and what we could become, aging rockers have much to contribute to how boomers will experience aging. If they would only accept that they don’t have to deny their aging to be relevant. For many of their aging fans, the next era of life will depart from the conformity that an ageist, declinist approach to aging dictates. You won’t need to take off your shirt or dye your hair to be an icon of cool aging or to sing songs about what was (and is) important. Because what’s cool looks different as a person ages, but cool remains a trait. Judah L. Ronch
All those matey thumbs-up gestures and ghastly peace signs. All that dated slang and frankly feeble inter-song patter. There’s an argument for saying that Paul was always that way. But the difference was that back in the Sixties that gawky lack of street cred seemed puppyishly charming. Now it looks lame and desperate – a sixtyish man trying unsuccessfully to show he’s still one of the lads. What you also notice – and this annoyance is by no means confined to Macca – is how very different the song you’re hearing sounds from the one on your old LPs. As a diehard fan – and you wouldn’t be there if you weren’t a diehard fan – you want your favourite hits to be played exactly as they are on the record. Yet the ageing rocker gives you anything but. First, he can’t hit the high notes like he once could. Second, he has played this song so many times before that he finds it demeaning and boring to do it in the old-fashioned way. Instead, he wants to show you how adventurous and inventive he still is 30 or 40 years on. And if you don’t like it – well, tough, because he’s the star and you’re not, and you should be damn grateful he’s playing it at all. Bob Dylan is a particular master of this art. I remember watching him play a set of classics including Lay, Lady, Lay, Like A Rolling Stone, and Mr Tambourine Man – and the only reason I discovered which songs they were was because I asked the person next to me. (…) But what it does mean is that the version we’ll always have in our heads is the pristine studio version from the original album, recorded when Robert Plant was a snake-hipped, leather-larynxed rock god of 23. What we don’t want to hear is the version he sang on Monday at the age of 59, when the Valkyrie shrieking of yore sounded more like a rutting bull moose. And lyrics such as « If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now – it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen » sound a little undignified for a man well on the way to his free bus pass. It’s a cliche that rock ‘n’ roll is a young man’s game. But it’s a cliche because it’s true. Try, if you can, to think of a single rock act which has made a half-way decent album past the age of 35. I can think of only one, Johnny Cash, who actually got better the more he began resembling the Old Testament prophet he was so clearly born to be. For the majority of rock acts – harsh but true – by far the more sensible course of action if you want to be viewed kindly by posterity is to get yourself killed tragically young. (…) « Ah, but what of the Rolling Stones? » some will ask. Aren’t they still going strong after all these years? Well, up to point. But the reason we queue to see them today has less to do with their continued greatness than the extraordinary freak-show value that a band with the combined age of Methuselah can yet go on performing without the aid of respirators and cardiac nurses. Pete Townshend had it right, of course, when in 1965 he wrote « Hope I die before I get old » – lines he has lived increasingly to regret the older he has grown. Perhaps it would be too much to ask for an official culling system to be introduced, in the manner of the science fiction film Logan’s Run, where all rock stars are quietly exterminated at the age of 30. But surely they owe it to their fans and their own sense of dignity to realise when enough is enough? It’s not as though they got a particularly raw deal in life. Long before middle age, they have earned more money and enjoyed more sex than most of us could manage in several lifetimes. In return, they should accept that part of the package includes early retirement. The Daily Mail

A l’heure où, entre deux concerts anti-Israël, nos rockers viellissants ont du mal à s’assumer seuls, la question de les accueillir à notre domicile peut se poser.

Mais attention, il faut y être prêt.

Quelques conseils glanés dans la presse anglo-saxonne …

God save us from ageing rockers!

The Daily Mail

Led Zeppelin were the greatest rock band in the universe: so loud, raunchy and virile they made the Rolling Stones look like Trappist monks; so epic, majestic and inventive they made The Beatles sound like choirboys.

They were so rich, extravagant and outrageous with their private jets and TVs-chucked-from-hotel-bedrooms that they made the meanest gangsta rappers look like Steptoe and Son.

But note that use of the past tense. Led Zeppelin were the greatest rock band in the world.

But they’re not any more. Not by a mile – as the more honest among the 20,000 punters who saw them perform at London’s O2 Arena on Monday night ought surely now to have the good sense to admit.

No matter how proficient Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, the three survivors of the Seventies’ heyday, played, no matter how good it is to see them back on stage still breathing and vaguely compos mentis, there is something deeply sad and unedifying about rockers who go on rocking past their natural sell-by date.

It was something I noticed a few years ago, seeing Paul McCartney trotting through his old hits at the Glastonbury festival.

Your immediate response is pure jubilation: « I’m standing here watching Eleanor Rigby and Penny Lane being performed by the actual Beatle who wrote them! » you think.

It isn’t long, though, before the niggling doubts creep in.

You notice, for example, how painfully and embarrassingly uncool this alleged rock legend is.

All those matey thumbs-up gestures and ghastly peace signs. All that dated slang and frankly feeble inter-song patter.

There’s an argument for saying that Paul was always that way. But the difference was that back in the Sixties that gawky lack of street cred seemed puppyishly charming.

Now it looks lame and desperate – a sixtyish man trying unsuccessfully to show he’s still one of the lads.

What you also notice – and this annoyance is by no means confined to Macca – is how very different the song you’re hearing sounds from the one on your old LPs.

As a diehard fan – and you wouldn’t be there if you weren’t a diehard fan – you want your favourite hits to be played exactly as they are on the record.

Yet the ageing rocker gives you anything but. First, he can’t hit the high notes like he once could.

Second, he has played this song so many times before that he finds it demeaning and boring to do it in the old-fashioned way.

Instead, he wants to show you how adventurous and inventive he still is 30 or 40 years on.

And if you don’t like it – well, tough, because he’s the star and you’re not, and you should be damn grateful he’s playing it at all.

Bob Dylan is a particular master of this art. I remember watching him play a set of classics including Lay, Lady, Lay, Like A Rolling Stone, and Mr Tambourine Man – and the only reason I discovered which songs they were was because I asked the person next to me.

If you’re really unlucky, your ageing rock band will have a new record to promote – as The Eagles had recently with their flabby, eco-breast-beating, sublimely awful Long Road Out Of Eden.

For every song you want to hear, there’ll be another introduced by those dread words « and here’s one from the new album ».

And you have to listen politely, and applaud enthusiastically at the end, when all you’re really thinking throughout is: « Oh, for Heaven’s sake! Get on and play Ziggy Stardust/Hotel California/Sympathy For The Devil/Stairway To Heaven will you? »

Ah yes, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven. Let us suppose, as many think, that it really is the greatest rock song ever written.

Is that sufficient justification for its three surviving originators – one now looking like an accountant, one like a Muppet in a white fright wig, one like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard Of Oz – to creak back on stage and play it not quite as excitingly as they could in 1971, 1972 or 1973 for an audience of mostly staid, pot-bellied, middle-aged men in a smokeless environment named after a mobile phone company?

And if they insist on doing so, shouldn’t it be renamed Stannah Stairlift To Heaven?

The only proper place for Stairway To Heaven to be played live by Led Zeppelin today is in the fond, addled memories of ageing hippies.

This might seem harsh on people such as me, too young to have caught Led Zep in their heyday.

But what it does mean is that the version we’ll always have in our heads is the pristine studio version from the original album, recorded when Robert Plant was a snake-hipped, leather-larynxed rock god of 23.

What we don’t want to hear is the version he sang on Monday at the age of 59, when the Valkyrie shrieking of yore sounded more like a rutting bull moose.

And lyrics such as « If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now – it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen » sound a little undignified for a man well on the way to his free bus pass.

It’s a cliche that rock ‘n’ roll is a young man’s game. But it’s a cliche because it’s true.

Try, if you can, to think of a single rock act which has made a half-way decent album past the age of 35.

I can think of only one, Johnny Cash, who actually got better the more he began resembling the Old Testament prophet he was so clearly born to be.

For the majority of rock acts – harsh but true – by far the more sensible course of action if you want to be viewed kindly by posterity is to get yourself killed tragically young.

Would we revere Marc Bolan nearly so much if he hadn’t driven into that tree? Would we Hell. As it was, he could barely play three chords.

« Ah, but what of the Rolling Stones? » some will ask. Aren’t they still going strong after all these years?

Well, up to point. But the reason we queue to see them today has less to do with their continued greatness than the extraordinary freak-show value that a band with the combined age of Methuselah can yet go on performing without the aid of respirators and cardiac nurses.

Pete Townshend had it right, of course, when in 1965 he wrote « Hope I die before I get old » – lines he has lived increasingly to regret the older he has grown.

Perhaps it would be too much to ask for an official culling system to be introduced, in the manner of the science fiction film Logan’s Run, where all rock stars are quietly exterminated at the age of 30.

But surely they owe it to their fans and their own sense of dignity to realise when enough is enough? It’s not as though they got a particularly raw deal in life.

Long before middle age, they have earned more money and enjoyed more sex than most of us could manage in several lifetimes. In return, they should accept that part of the package includes early retirement.

Voir aussi:

The Music Is Timeless, but About the Rockers …

Alex Williams

The New York Times

December 19, 2012

THERE was Roger Daltrey, 68, with his open shirt revealing a Palm Beach perma-tan, and abs so snare-tight that they immediately raised suspicion. (“Implants!” charged a few skeptical members of the Twittersphere.)

There was Jon Bon Jovi, 50, with his flowing mane now a shade of coppery gold that only a hairdresser could love.

There was Paul McCartney, 70, with his unlined face retaining an eerie degree of his Beatlemania-era boyishness.

Last week’s star-studded “12-12-12” concert — a showcase of retirement-age rock icons like the Rolling Stones, the Who and Eric Clapton — not only raised millions to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy, but as the “the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden,” as Mick Jagger joked onstage, it also inspired viewer debate about whether is it possible to look cool and rebellious after 50 without looking foolish?

Rock stars, after all, face the same battles with crow’s feet and sagging jowls that everyone else eventually does. But their visible aging happens under the microscope, and seems somehow more tragic since they toil in a business built on youthful rebellion, and contrasts so sharply with our shared cultural images of them, frozen in youthful glory.

The issue takes on added relevance for graying fans from the baby boom and Generation X who grew up taking style cues from these rock heroes (and continue to make geriatric acts like Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters some of the biggest draws in the concert business). If rock immortals can’t accept with a certain grace the ravages of time, what does this portend for the rest of us?

Perhaps this is why so many of the concert’s 19 million American viewers turned into fashion critics during the show, zapping the rockers on blogs and Twitter not just for looking old, but for their occasionally clumsy efforts to appear young.

“I want to re-knight Sir Paul for those next-level dad jeans,” tweeted Julieanne Smolinski, 29, a New York writer, in reference to Sir Paul’s crisp, pre-faded dungarees, which looked like Gap deadstock from 1991.

“I will donate $1,000 to #121212Concert if Roger Daltry buttons his shirt,” tweeted Alan Zweibel, 62, a comedy writer.

The quickest route to ridicule, it seems, is for aging rockers to proceed as if nothing has changed. The truth is, years have passed, and to deny this is a form of visual dishonesty. With his shirt thrown open during a rousing rendition of “Baba O’Riley” Mr. Daltrey — a specimen for his age, to be sure — unfortunately invited comparisons to his groupie-magnet self from the “Tommy” era. In doing so, he violated an obvious dictum for seniors: keep your clothes on in public.

But he is not the only offender. At 65, Iggy Pop still takes the stage wearing no shirt, just jeans, as if it’s 1972. It’s not that his body is not freakishly impressive for a man his age. Aside from a few sags and bulging veins, his torso generally looks as lithe as a Joffrey dancer’s.

The problem is not the image itself, so much as the image suggested, as if these aging sex symbols are still attracting hordes of groupies to the cozy confines of their tour buses.

That may well be true, of course, but when these flesh-baring rockers are men of Viagra-taking age, that’s a visual most people could do without. It’s like hearing that your grandparents still have sex: bully for them, but spare us the details.

Hair is complicated for seemingly anyone over 40 — to dye or not to dye, that is question. But it is a tougher call for rock stars like Mr. Bon Jovi, whose hair has always been a key element of his brand. If, one day, the pop-metal crooner were to appear singing “Lay Your Hands on Me” sporting a professor emeritus shock of white hair, as the fellow “12-12-12” performer Mr. Waters of Pink Floyd did, would anyone heed his siren call? (I guess we should be grateful that Mr. Bon Jovi hasn’t gone the route of Roy Orbison, who maintained his jet-black coif well into his 50s, giving him the unfortunate look of an aging blackjack dealer at a lesser Vegas casino.)

Given the raised eyebrows that Mr. Jagger and Mr. McCartney attract with their ever-chocolate locks (though at least Mr. Jagger’s wrinkled magnificence suggested his face had been untouched by a surgeon’s blade), it is no wonder the new tonsorial compromise of choice for aging rockers is strategic baldness. A close-cropped buzz cut or shaven head simply erases all visible evidence of follicular aging, as well as lending them a vague bouncerish tough guy appeal. It works for Phil Collins, Moby and Seal. With his shaved head, Paul Shaffer, the David Letterman foil, looked nearly as age-ambiguous playing piano behind Adam Sandler on the comedian’s “Hallelujah” parody during the “12-12-12” as he did playing in the “Saturday Night Live” house band in the late ’70s. It would have worked for Michael Stipe, too, if he hadn’t chosen to tarnish the effect with a silver Robert E. Lee beard. Ultimately, there is little to be done about graying temples or sagging jowls (short of medical intervention, anyway). This leaves clothing as the prime area for rock stars to experiment with age denial, without looking plastic.

Most fading rock gods seem to intuit that overly sexualized stage outfits turn into clown costumes after a certain age. David Lee Roth, who scissor-kicked his way through the ’80s in skintight tiger-stripe jumpsuits, took the stage on a recent Van Halen tour dressed more like a groom atop a biker wedding cake: black leather pants, shiny blue shirt, black pinstripe vest.

Take a lesson from Eric Clapton and his well-fitting suits: after 40, it’s time to lose the sequins, unless you’re Liberace.

Sometimes, though, even a keen fashion sense is not enough to ward off the jibes.

At the “12-12-12” concert, Mick Jagger took the stage in a subtly snazzy gray python jacket, a Bordeaux taffeta shirt and black jeans. The jacket and shirt, designed by his longtime companion L’Wren Scott, were a far cry from his sequined jumpsuits of the ’70s, but that did not stop the wisecracks. “Mick Jagger looks like your aunt trying to be cool at a wedding,” tweeted Gregg Hughes, known as “Opie,” the SiriusXM radio shock-jock.

But Mr. Jagger, who at 69 still bounds and gyrates through unimaginably athletic, 2 1/2-hour sets, has a built-in response at the ready. As he put it long ago, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

Voir également:

Should aging rockers ever stop?

Joanna Weiss

Boston.com

June 20, 2013

So maybe getting old isn’t a drag after all. Last week, the Rolling Stones swung through the TD Garden on their « Fifty and Counting » tour, kicking off a Boston summer filled with what might be called vintage rock. Sir Paul McCartney is playing Fenway Park next month. The Rascals, Zombies, and Monkees are coming to town. Steven Tyler, 65, is making noise about a solo album.

On the occasion of the Stones show, Globe columnist Scot Lehigh mused on aging rockers and the people who will spend $600 per ticket to see them. At a time when 70 is clearly the new 50, long careers are something to celebrate. But does age change expectations? Does a certain kind of performance — say, Mick Jagger’s feral prance — feel different when a rocker qualifies for senior discounts? Or should rockers flaunt what they’ve got for as long as they can? Below are some thoughts on the Stones and other rockers with longevity. Add yours to the comments below, or tweet at the hashtag #stillrocking.

This could be the last time?

Lehigh mug.jpgA self-proclaimed goodbye tour is a time-tested audience-enhancer for flagging bands, but that doesn’t describe the Stones. They aren’t talking about calling it a day — not openly, at least. Their last real album, “A Bigger Bang,” was their best in years. Their recent performances have gotten deservedly strong reviews. But the-end-is-near fear hangs palpably over the band’s 50th anniversary expedition. It’s not that Mick and Keith, both 69, are old. Not by today’s standards…. Rather, it’s that they are pressing hard against our expectations for rock musicians. You can’t be skipping around the stage singing “Sympathy for the Devil” at 75, at 80…can you?

Scot Lehigh, Globe columnist

‘Swan Song Angst,’ June 19, 2013

In the Senate, they’d be in their prime

IMG_2212.JPGDianne Feinstein is 80 years old as of Saturday. But in the United States Senate, where she was just elected to another six-year-term, she’s more powerful than ever, and every bit as active. Indeed, senators are presumed to be on top of their game in their 70s, with John McCain (77 in August) leading the charge on immigration reform while crisscrossing the world on military issues. John Kerry, who just took over as Secretary of State, turns 70 in December – a week before Keith Richards, as it turns out. But Richards is the only one getting flak for continuing to work. Actually, rock stars who keep up a full touring schedule, replete with gyrating dance moves and soaring vocals, are doing everyone else a favor. They’re demonstrating that people who keep on working in their 70s aren’t in denial about their declining abilities; they’re fully engaged and just as inspired as when they were younger.

Peter Canellos, Editorial Page Editor

The Boston Globe

Unstoppable

Be kind to your fans

IMG_2213.JPGYes, the Rolling Stones should quit touring — if only as a humane gesture to their loyal fans. It’s not that the band can’t still put on a show: last week’s concerts at the TD Garden proved that. But their relationship with concert-goers has become exploitative. Scot Lehigh wrote that he went to the Stones concert partly because the band members are now so old: seeing Mick and Keith strut around on stage made the fantasy of postponing the inevitable seem feasible. Lehigh probably wasn’t the only fan who felt that way. But that turns the twilight of the band’s career into a sad spectacle — a kind of Baby Boomer coping ritual, a group rage against the dying of the light. Surely, the Stones have harvested enough money from the Boomers already that they could stop cashing in on their angst.

Alan Wirzbicki

Globe editorial writer

Don’t go for the ‘morbidity factor’

geoff edgers mug.jpgLike any true hypocrite, I’ll go see the Rascals and Zombies this summer out of curiosity. But you won’t see me at the TD Garden this week throwing down $600 plus to shuffle to “One More Shot.” Been there, done that. [My friend] Marianne wrote: “I hate the idea of attending a show just for the morbidity factor: ‘This guy is so old /so ill we might not see him again.’ ” On this one, I’m with you.

Geoff Edgers, Globe arts writer

The Stones still have it

James Reed mug.jpgTo answer the questions you no doubt have: Yes, Mick sounded great, strutted like a feral alley cat, and he’s still skinnier than you and I will ever be. Yes, Keith Richards is the most unbelievable pirate guitarist who ever lived. Yes, Ronnie Wood looks like he’s having more fun than anyone else on stage. And yes, Charlie Watts remains the underrated statesman of the band, keeping the beat and regal in a polo shirt while his cohorts looked every inch the rock stars they are.

James Reed, Globe music critic

Concert review, June 13, 2013

Voir encore:

How to Be an Aging Rocker

Terry Teachout

The WSJ

Jan. 3, 2013

What does it mean to say that a work of art is « dated »? I know people who sincerely believe that Shakespeare’s plays are dated because of the way in which they portray women, a point of view that says far more about the complainants in question than it does about Shakespeare. On the other hand, countless once-popular artists were so desperate to stay up to the minute that their art barely outlived them. An artist, however talented, who goes out of his way to be « with it » is foreordained to end up looking blush-makingly quaint sooner or later, usually sooner.

Consider, if it doesn’t embarrass you too much to do so, the rock music of the 1960s and ’70s. How much of it holds up today? I was raised on rock and took it with supreme seriousness, but most of the albums with which my high-school playlist was clotted now strike me as jejune at best, horrendous at worst. I don’t know about anybody else, but I haven’t been able to listen to Crosby, Stills & Nash or Jefferson Airplane for decades.

One of the reasons why so much first- and second-generation rock ‘n’ roll has aged so badly is that most of it was created by young people for consumption by even younger people. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing—if you’re a teenager. But if you’re not, why would you want to listen to it now? And what has happened to its makers now that they’re over the demographic hill? Have they anything new to say to us, or are they simply going through the motions?

The Rolling Stones, who recently embarked on their 50th-anniversary tour, can still play up a storm—but so what? When not recycling the hits of their long-lost youth, Sir Mick Jagger and his venerable colleagues trot out « new » songs that sound as though they’d been written in 1962.

Compare these two lyrics:

« Everybody’s talking / Showing off their wit / The moon is yellow but I’m not Jell-O / Staring down your tits. »

« We went to a party / Everybody stood around / Thinkin': Hey what’s she doin’ / With a burned-out hippie clown. »

The first quatrain is from « Oh No, Not You Again, » written by Mr. Jagger and Keith Richards and recorded by the Stones on « A Bigger Bang, » their most recent album, released in 2005. The second is from « Slinky Thing, » the first track on « Sunken Condos, » Donald Fagen’s new solo album, which came out in October. It’s a sly, ironic portrait of a Goethe-quoting 60-something gent who is dating a considerably younger woman, much to the sardonic amusement of her friends. And which song sounds fresher? « Slinky Thing, » by the longest of long shots.

Unlike the bluntly bluesy garage-band sound of the Stones, Mr. Fagen’s music is a rich-textured, harmonically oblique amalgam of rock, jazz and soul. It is, in a word, music for grown-ups—with lyrics to match. What is especially interesting about Mr. Fagen, though, is that unlike most of his contemporaries, he has always made music for grown-ups. Steely Dan, the group that he co-founded with Walter Becker in 1972, never did go in for kid stuff, and doesn’t now. Jazz heavies like Wayne Shorter and Phil Woods have long popped up from time to time on Steely Dan’s albums, playing solos that don’t sound even slightly out of place.

Needless to say, musical complexity is not the same thing as maturity. What makes Mr. Fagen’s music stand out is its coolly detached point of view. He knows full well that the narrator of « Slinky Thing » is a comic figure and deserves to be. Nor does he lapse into the breast-baring confessionalism that is the blight of second-rate singer-songwriters. He’s a portrait artist, and even when the subject is himself, he wields a razor-sharp brush. Mr. Fagen, who turns 65 on Thursday, is about the same age as the 69-year-old Mr. Jagger. The difference is that he acts his age. Wall Street Journal contributor Marc Myers put it well when he wrote on JazzWax, his blog, that Mr. Fagen’s music « fully embraces the male aging process, which is what makes him cool. »

The British author V.S. Pritchett, who was as good a critic as he was a short-story writer, had a particular affinity for the works of novelists « who are not driven back by life, who are not shattered by the discovery that it is a thing bounded by unsought limits, by interests as well as by hopes, and that it ripens under restriction. Such writers accept. They think that acceptance is the duty of a man. » No doubt it would have surprised him to hear his words applied to a gray-haired rocker, but they couldn’t be more relevant to the music of Donald Fagen. Not only does he accept life’s limits, but he smiles wryly at them—and when he does, so do we.

—Mr. Teachout, the Journal’s drama critic, writes « Sightings » every` other Friday. He is the author of « Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong. » Write to him at tteachout@wsj.com.

Voir de plus:

Aging well or just aging: The rockers of my youth

Judah L. Ronch, PhD

Itlmagazine

January 2, 2013

I was one of the estimated 50 million people who watched the “12-12-12” concert for Hurricane Sandy relief and I had two reactions. The first was that event was especially poignant because, as the New York Times reported, more than 40% of the fatalities of this storm were people over age 65. Many drowned in their homes or died when help couldn’t reach them in time to get medical care. (I think this is really a comment about aging in community vs. aging in place.) But, this is an issue beyond my ken to solve. I am not a politician or a policy person. What I am, though, is a “child who’s grown old” with rock and roll music as the soundtrack of my life, and I saw this in stark detail during the broadcast.

An article by Alex Williams headlined: The music is timeless, but about the rockers… was the second thing I reacted to. Here were the groups that helped me get through the turbulence of the 1960s and ’70s. They were largely, as Mick Jagger so aptly quipped, “…the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden.” (Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel were there too, and while they are younger they were termed “geriatric” in the article.)

The old English musicians were about my age or younger! Williams’ article looked at the critical issue of whether it is “possible to look cool and rebellious after 50 without looking foolish.” In other words, do those aging rock stars who dyed their hair and bared their bellies have to fade away when they no longer have the youthful images that are the calling card of youthful rebellion?

There was much reaction to Roger Daltrey showing his midriff during The Who’s energetic set of classics (remember their hit “My Generation,” with the line “Hope I die before I get old.”?), and of the color of Bon Jovi’s and Paul McCartney’s hair. These and other icons were reported to have been the subjects of snarky Tweets. And Jagger still struts like he did when he was in his twenties, but it looked odd to me doing it at almost 70. So why do some aging rockers have to use age denial to perpetuate their rebellious bona fides?

Does the music of protest have to be accompanied by bounding across the stage, gyrations and age-denying cosmetic interventions? This is not a remote issue: the “You are My Sunshine” days of sing-along music activities in long-term care settings are coming to an end. We need to think about how the next wave may want to spend their time enjoying music in groups when they are not listening to iPods or rock wall climbing.

Let me introduce the concept of “trait transformation” as a proposed solution that allows aging boomers to rock on without engaging in age denial. This finding in developmental psychology helps to explain how people develop and get more complex, but stay the same person. Trait transformation is the process that takes place as a result of development and maturation when a lifelong trait changes how it appears in a person’s behavior. For example, infants who were very good at following a moving picture of a human face were superior socializers at three months, but then they didn’t seem to want to follow the picture anymore. They had moved on; the trait that was being measured had transformed from tracking a picture to interacting with a human being. The Experience Corps is full of retirees who use their traits to help others although they no longer work in their old jobs.

If the music boomers grew up on is still meaningful, then enjoying its essence—its many meanings—as we age will have to be available without the distractions of age-denying cosmetic overlays that the stars use. Rockers can get old and still rock on, and that will be the “new normal.”

The message of the ’60s and ’70s was not about only about sexual revolution and protest, it also was about protesting the status quo that limits the diversity of individual expression of who we were and what we could become, aging rockers have much to contribute to how boomers will experience aging. If they would only accept that they don’t have to deny their aging to be relevant.

For many of their aging fans, the next era of life will depart from the conformity that an ageist, declinist approach to aging dictates. You won’t need to take off your shirt or dye your hair to be an icon of cool aging or to sing songs about what was (and is) important. Because what’s cool looks different as a person ages, but cool remains a trait.

Thanks to McCartney, Jagger and the old English musicians, the beat went on. That’s the soundtrack of the boomers’ lives. What will the music in your setting be in 2030, and what timeless music will people singing along with? I expect that people will still agree with Mick: “I know it’s only rock and roll but I like it.”

Voir aussi:

Neil Young Stuns With a Spellbinding Carnegie Hall Show

The marathon set featured a wealth of Seventies classics

Rolling stone

January 7, 2014

When Neil Young walked onstage for the first of his four-night stand at Carnegie Hall, nobody in the audience had any idea what sort of show he was about to present. His previous theater tour in 2010 was a bizarre (and ultimately unsatisfying) mixture of solo acoustic and solo electric tunes, concentrating on hits and selections from his then-unreleased LP Le Noise. The last time he launched a solo acoustic tour was eleven years ago in Europe, and those crowds heard a complete performance of his rock opera Greendale, which wouldn’t hit shelves for another four months. More recently, he played a set at Farm Aid last year that consisted almost entirely of other people’s songs. If the man’s anything, he’s unpredictable.

Thankfully, Neil Young had no such surprises for the capacity crowd at Carnegie Hall. Instead, he treated them to an absolutely jaw-dropping two hour and 20-minute show that focused largely on his golden period of 1966 to 1978. He only deviated from that era for two songs from 1992’s Harvest Moon, the 1989 obscurity « Someday » and a pair of covers by Phil Ochs and Bert Jansch. The opening notes of classics « Harvest, » « A Man Needs a Maid » and « On the Way Home » sent shockwaves of recognition and joy through the crowd, who then listened to them in near silence. It was, without a doubt, one of the greatest Neil Young shows of the past decade, at least when he wasn’t playing with Crazy Horse.

The first time Young played Carnegie Hall was a two-night stand in late 1970, capping off an incredible year where he recorded Deja Vu with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as well as his solo album After the Gold Rush. « I was pretty jacked up [that night], » he said early on last night. « People started yelling out and doing all kinds of things. I said, ‘Listen, I know what I’m doing here. I’ve been dying to get into this place. I planned it out. I know exactly what I’m going to play and nothing you’re going to say is going to change my mind.’ Then I was playing this Buffalo Springfield song ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ and somebody yelled out from the audience and I stopped and said, ‘Shit, I lost my concentration.’ Then I left. There wasn’t going to be an intermission, but there was. Tonight I planned on an intermission. I’m much more mellow now. »

It would be tough to be less mellow than Neil Young circa 1970, but there were no outbursts last night (though Carnegie Hall’s incredible acoustics made every knucklehead’s commentary perfectly audible to the entire auditorium). « You guys finished? » he asked calmly after a group of guys refused to stop demanding loudly that he play the extreme rarity « Don’t Be Denied. » « You paid real money to get in here, so you should be able to listen to each other. I hear a little voice, ‘Be nice, be nice.’ Thank you, sweetheart. »

Much like his stellar 1999 solo acoustic tour, there was a chair in the center of the stage surrounded by about eight acoustic guitars and a banjo. There were also two pianos and a pump organ, and sometimes between songs Young would wander around, pick up a guitar, briefly contemplate using it, and then opt for another. He was also in a chatty mood, sharing stories behind many of the instruments, including the legendary guitar that once belonged to Hank Williams.

But the night was largely devoted to classics from Young’s commercial peak in the early Seventies. It’s been years since he crammed this many hits into a set, playing over half the songs on Harvest (« Heart of Gold, » « Are You Ready for the Country, » « Old Man, » « The Needle and the Damage Done, » « A Man Needs A Maid » and « Harvest »), along with « Ohio, » « After the Gold Rush, » « Only Love Can Break Your Heart, » « Comes a Time, » « Long May You Run » and his first performance of « Southern Man » in nearly a decade.

Midway through the second set he broke out Bert Jansch’s 1965 classic « Needle of Death. » Young has claimed he lifted the chords of « Ambulance Blues » from the tune, and he emphasized the similarities between the two during the intro. He followed it up with the thematically similar « Needle and the Damage Done, » showing just how influential this single tune was on his songwriting.

Some of the best moments of the night came when he resurrected material from the Buffalo Springfield catalog. « On the Way Home » was absolutely spellbinding, and he proved why « Flying on the Ground Is Wrong » is one of his most under-appreciated masterpieces when he played it on the upright piano. But the most radically rearranged song of the night was « Mr. Soul, » which he played on the pump organ.

Other highlights included a banjo rendition of the Tonight’s the Night gem « Mellow My Mind, » a rollicking « Are You Ready for the Country? » and a climactic « After the Gold Rush, » both on the standup piano. The only real complaint is that he played so many early Seventies classics that he neglected all other eras of his long career. Not a single note of music was played from the past 22 years, nor did he go near anything from 1978 to 1989. The late Sixties and the Seventies were obviously the period when he produced his best work, but there’s been a lot of amazing stuff since then, and it would have been nice to hear just a little more of it.

It’s incredible to think that in the past five months, Young has played ridiculously loud, feedback-drenched marathon concerts with Crazy Horse all over Europe, reunited with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at the Bridge School Benefit and put together this gentle, nostalgic Carnegie Hall show. At age 68, his voice has lost only a bit of its range, and his guitar playing sounds just like it did the first time he played Carnegie Hall.

It’s unclear if he’s going to perform this show outside of Carnegie Hall and his four « Honor the Treaties » gigs in Canada later this month, but Neil Young fans should make every possible effort to see it while they can. This is the show they’ve been waiting to see for years and years.

Voir enfin:

Aging Rocker’s Failed Anti-Israel Crusade

Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of the ugliest, most primitive kind.

Ben Cohen

August 29th, 2013

Back in 1976, when the burgeoning punk movement began transforming the rock’n’roll landscapes of London and New York, a young punk rocker named John Lydon scrawled the words “I Hate…” on his Pink Floyd t-shirt.

With this one stroke, Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, demarcated the past from the future: eschewing the lengthy and ponderous compositions of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, Rotten and his mates set about delivering sharp, angry tunes in a compact three-minute format. Almost 40 years later, popular music has undergone numerous other transformations, but Rotten (who now calls himself Lydon again) and Waters have remained polar opposites. And as Israelis know better than most, that’s true both inside and outside the recording studio.

Back in 2010, Lydon rounded on critics of his decision to play a gig in Tel Aviv by telling them, “I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they [the Palestinians] are treated.”

By contrast, Waters, outwardly, a much more refined and eloquent fellow, has firmly hitched himself to the movement pressing for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Waters’s support for BDS is thought to be the reason that his scheduled appearance at the 92nd Sreet Y in New York City was canceled back in April, while more recently he tussled with the Simon Wiesenthal Center over an accusation of anti-Semitism that stemmed from a feature of his live show, in which a Star of David is projected onto a flying inflatable pig.

In his response to the Wiesenthal Center, Waters denied he was an anti-Semite, coming out with the standard response that hating Zionism and hating Jews are completely distinct. But a subsequent letter written in August to “My Colleagues in Rock’n’Roll” – his legendary pomposity remains unaltered – is certain to revive the charge. This time, it’s hard to see how Waters can wriggle around it.

The letter begins by citing another British musician, the violinist Nigel Kennedy, who slammed Israeli “apartheid” during a recent concert that was recorded by the BBC. “Nothing unusual there you might think,” Waters wrote, “[but] then one Baroness Deech, (nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement.”

Why did Waters think it necessary to point out the maiden name of Baroness Ruth Deech, a noted academic and lawyer? The answer is obvious: before she was Deech, a name that resonates with English respectability, she was Fraenkel, a name that sounds positively, well, Jewish. And much as she might try to hide her origins, the intrepid Waters is determined to out her, along with her nefarious Jewish –sorry, I mean, Zionist – agenda.

Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of the ugliest, most primitive kind. Appropriately, Waters’s letter appeared first on the website of the Electronic Intifada, a U.S.-based outfit that has emerged as one of the prime organizing platforms of the BDS movement.

The Waters letter ends as follows: “Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

In case it’s not clear, in the BDS movement, such elaborate formulations are code for “until such time as the state of Israel, which was born in a state of original sin, is finally eliminated.”

Here’s the rub, though: ten years ago, when the BDS movement was a relatively new phenomenon, statements like these would have set off a minor panic in the Jewish world. These days, we’re far more sanguine, and we’ve learned that Israel can survive and flourish no matter how many graying prog-rockers like Waters dedicate their lives to removing the world’s only Jewish state from the map.

As unpalatable as this may be for Waters’s digestion, the plain truth is that the BDS movement has failed. Its original aim was to replicate the massive outcry against South African apartheid during the 1980s, when songs like “Free Nelson Mandela” and “(I Ain’t Gonna Play) Sun City” ruled the airwaves. Instead, it has remained a fringe movement, a minor irritant that has had precious little impact on Israel’s economic life and garners media attention only when someone like Waters decides to shoot his mouth off.

We’ve arrived at this happy situation for several reasons, among them the growing realization, as articulated by John Lydon, that there is something absurd about boycotting Israel when the states that surround it engage in egregious human rights violations. Waters won’t play in Israel, but he was quite happy to play in Dubai in 2007 – an Arab city almost entirely built by slave labor imported from Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. If other stars grasp the appalling hypocrisy this represents, then having Roger Waters indulge his hatred of Israel at every opportunity is a price worth paying.

About the Author: Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.


Mimétisme: Attention, un triangle peut en cacher bien d’autres ! (From Venitian vanitas and Venus in sackcloth to NSFW, nude yoga and pubic hair mannequins: the long road to the domestication of the male gaze)

19 janvier, 2014
Debate: Shoppers have had mixed reactions to the window display, with some agreeing that it' a positive move for feminism and others believing it is too graphichttps://i0.wp.com/medias.unifrance.org/medias/170/200/116906/format_page/belle-comme-la-femme-d-un-autre.jpghttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/BeBb3GJIIAAbIWR.jpgTu ne convoiteras point la femme de ton prochain; tu ne désireras point la maison de ton prochain, ni son champ, ni son serviteur, ni sa servante, ni son boeuf, ni son âne, ni aucune chose qui appartienne à ton prochain. Deutéronome 5: 21
Si le Décalogue consacre son commandement ultime à interdire le désir des biens du prochain, c’est parce qu’il reconnait lucidement dans ce désir le responsable des violences interdites dans les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Si on cessait de désirer les biens du prochain, on ne se rendrait jamais coupable ni de meurtre, ni d’adultère, ni de vol, ni de faux témoignage. Si le dixième commandement était respecté, il rendrait superflus les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Au lieu de commencer par la cause et de poursuivre par les conséquences, comme ferait un exposé philosophique, le Décalogue suit l’ordre inverse. Il pare d’abord au plus pressé: pour écarter la violence, il interdit les actions violentes. Il se retourne ensuite vers la cause et découvre le désir inspiré par le prochain. René Girard
Monsieur le président, mesdames les ministres, cet amendement concerne l’article 206 du code civil. J’évoquais tout à l’heure Jaurès. Je souhaite maintenant convoquer les mânes de Courteline, Feydeau, Labiche et Guitry. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’en transformant l’article 206, mes chers collègues, vous supprimez la belle-mère ! Vous supprimez un personnage essentiel de leur théâtre ! Vous portez un coup terrible au théâtre de boulevard ! La belle-mère disparaît ! Marc Le Fur (député UMP, débat parlementaire sur la suppression des mots « père » et « mère », 05.02.13)
Je vous jure, Monseigneur, qu’il n’existe pas d’homme perspicace qui ne la prenne pour une femme en chair et en os. Il n’existe pas d’homme assez usé par les ans, ni d’homme aux sens assez endormis, pour ne pas se sentir réchauffé, attendri et ému dans tout son être. Ludovico Dolce
Les toiles de Titien et les Sonnets luxurieux de l’Arétin ont la même raison – érotique – d’être. Mais, à la différence de ces sonnets, les nus de Titien peuvent sembler répondre à l’exigence du Livre du Courtisan de Baldassar Castiglione, livre de chevet de l’empereur Charles Quint, livre qui régit les convenances de toutes les cours : « Pour donc fuir le tourment de cette passion et jouir de la beauté sans passion, il faut que le Courtisan, avec l’aide de la raison, détourne entièrement le désir du corps pour le diriger vers la beauté seule, et, autant qu’il le peut, qu’il la contemple en elle-même, simple et pure, et que dans son imagination il la rende séparée de toute matière, et ainsi fasse d’elle l’amie chérie de son âme. Pascal Bonafoux
Le système de l’amour du prochain est une chimère que nous devons au christianisme et non pas à la nature. Sade
Il me semblait même que mes yeux me sortaient de la tête comme s’ils étaient érectiles à force d’horreur. Georges Bataille
Il arriverait, si nous savions mieux analyser nos amours, de voir que souvent les femmes ne nous plaisent qu’à cause du contrepoids d’hommes à qui nous avons à les disputer, bien que nous souffrions jusqu’à mourir d’avoir à les leur disputer ; le contrepoids supprimé, le charme de la femme tombe. On en a un exemple douloureux et préventif dans cette prédilection des hommes pour les femmes qui, avant de les connaître, ont commis des fautes, pour ces femmes qu’ils sentent enlisées dans le danger et qu’il leur faut, pendant toute la durée de leur amour, reconquérir ; un exemple postérieur au contraire, et nullement dramatique celui-là, dans l’homme qui, sentant s’affaiblir son goût pour la femme qu’il aime, applique spontanément les règles qu’il a dégagées, et pour être sûr qu’il ne cesse pas d’aimer la femme, la met dans un milieu dangereux où il lui faut la protéger chaque jour. (Le contraire des hommes qui exigent qu’une femme renonce au théâtre, bien que, d’ailleurs, ce soit parce qu’elle avait été au théâtre qu’ils l’ont aimée. Proust
Vous nous avez fait faire tout ce chemin pour nous montrer quoi: un triangle à la française ? Eglinton (Ulysse, James Joyce)
Elle était belle comme la femme d’un autre. Paul Morand
En 1974, un accident de la circulation impliquant le président Giscard d’Estaing, qui conduisait lui-même une voiture aux côtés d’une conquête, au petit matin dans une rue de Paris avait fait les titres de la presse satirique. (…) Mitterrand, entre deux dossiers, consacrait beaucoup de temps à son harem. Chirac nommait ses favorites au gouvernement. Ses disparitions nocturnes entraînaient l’inévitable question de Bernadette : « Savez-vous où est mon mari ce soir? » C’est ainsi: en France, sexe, amour et politique sont indissociables. Sexus Politicus
Les sorties de l’Elysée en direction d’un souterrain où l’attendaient un scooter et un casque intégral, les séjours rue du Cirque (cela ne s’invente pas) semblent sortir d’une comédie de boulevard ou d’un vaudeville. La France est passée en quatre décennies d’un Président qui sortait de l’Elysée en petite voiture discrète pour aller voir ses maîtresses, et qui pouvait heurter le camion du laitier à l’aurore à un Président polygame entretenant sa deuxième famille aux frais du contribuable, avant que vienne le célèbre monsieur « trois minutes douche comprise ». Elle a échappé au priapique du Sofitel de New York pour avoir le premier Président non marié et acteur burlesque à ses heures, dans le rôle « je trompe ma femme, mais elle ne le sait pas, d’ailleurs ce n’est pas ma femme ». Ce Président a voulu le mariage pour les homosexuels, mais surtout pas pour lui-même. Guy Millière
L’éventail proposé dans Benefits Street est large : il y a la mère de famille polonaise qui élève seule ses deux enfants et tente de trouver un boulot, un couple de 22 et 23 ans avec deux enfants qui ne travaille pas, une famille de 14 Roumains, récemment installés, qui inspectent les poubelles pour trouver du métal afin de le revendre, le vieil alcoolique revendiqué qui explique fièrement «être la vedette du programme et avoir inventé le titre» et affirme utiliser ses allocations pour nourrir son chien et acheter ses bouteilles. Bref, on plonge droit dans le cliché complet de ce que certaines critiques – et elles sont nombreuses – ont qualifié de « pornographie de la pauvreté ». Libération

Après le mariage, le vaudeville pour tous !

A l’heure où, oubliant le double accident qui entre le rejet de Sarkozy et la défection de DSK l’avait fait, l’actuel maitre de la synthèse qui nous tient actuellement lieu de président vient de rappeler au monde l’une des plus grandes contributions du pays de Sade et de Bataille à la compréhension de la nature humaine, à savoir le fameux « French triangle »  de nos célébrissimes pièces de boulevard …

Et en ces temps du tout est permis où le terme de pornographie ne peut plus guère qualifier que le rappel de la pauvreté …

Pendant que, du yoga nu aux mannequins aux poils pubiens, nos cousins américains rivalisent d’ingéniosité pour contourner les nouveaux interdits du « male gaze » des féministes et du NSFW de leurs employeurs …

Comment ne pas voir derrière les efforts titienesques de nos premiers grands peintres il y a quelque 500 ans pour tenter de légitimer, entre vénus et marie-madeleines, leur célébration du corps humain et surtout féminin …

Et, du voyeurisme (autre importante contribution lexicale française au monde) au contrepoids proustien ou à la pulsion scopique freudienne ou au miroir lacanien, derrière les efforts non moins titanesques de nos romanciers et de nos cliniciens  …

La vérité, longtemps oubliée depuis l’avertissement multimillénaire du dixième commandement mais retrouvée et théorisée récemment par René Girard, de la nature intrinsèquement triangulaire du désir humain  …

Autrement dit, comme le rappelle si efficacement, le titre morandien d’un film (français) qui vient de sortir sur nos écrans, qu’aucune femme n’est jamais aussi belle que la femme d’un autre ?

To NSFW or not to NSFW? (now SFW)

Roger Ebert

October 31, 2010

This entry is safe for work.

I hesitated just a moment before including Miss June 1975 in my piece about Hugh Hefner. I wondered if some readers would find the nude photograph objectionable. Then I smiled at myself. Here I was, writing an article in praise of Hefner’s healthy influence on American society, and I didn’t know if I should show a Playmate of the Month. Wasn’t I being a hypocrite? I waited to see what the reaction would be.

The Sun-Times doesn’t publish nudes on its site, but my page occupies a sort of netherland: I own it in cooperation with the newspaper, but control its contents. If anyone complains, I thought, it will be the paper, and if they do I’ll take it down.

You dance with the one that brung you. But no one at the newspaper said a word, even though they certainly saw the page because the same article also appeared in the Friday paper. Hefner was in town for the weekend for a nostalgic visit to his childhood home, and a screening at the Siskel Film Center of the new documentary about his life . He’s a local boy who made good.

At first no one at all objected to the photo, even though the entry was getting thousands of hits. It went online early on Sunday afternoon. But Monday was a workday, and a reader asked if it had occurred to me to label it NSFW (« not suitable for work »). The thought may have crossed my mind, but come on, would anybody be surprised to find a nude somewhere during a 2,200-word piece on Hef? It wasn’t like I was devoting a whole page to it; I embedded it at a prudent 300 pixels. Like this:

Sorry. After learning that the mere presence of this photograph could get you fired and my blog put on a restricted list, I have removed the « prudent 300 pixels » and linked the photograph here.

Then other readers started wondering about a NSFW warning. They weren’t objecting to the photo; indeed, no one ever did, even some readers who felt Hefner had been a pernicious influence on the world. Feminist readers, some well known and respected by me, spoke of his objectification of the female body, his misuse of the Male Gaze, and so on. But no one objected to the photo itself. No, they explained that they read the column at work (« during lunch break, » of course) and were afraid a supervisor or co-worker might see a nude on their monitor. I asked one of these readers if his co-workers were adults. Snark.

As a writer, it would have offended me to preface my article with a NSFW warning. It was unsightly — a typographical offense. It would contradict the point I was making. But others wrote me about strict rules at their companies. They faced discipline or dismissal. Co-workers seeing an offensive picture on their monitor might complain of sexual harassment, and so on. But what about the context of the photo? I wondered. Context didn’t matter. A nude was a nude. The assumption was that some people might be offended by all nudes.

This was a tiny version of this photograph. When will we grow up?

I heard what they were saying. I went in and resized the photo, reducing it by 2/3, so that it was postage-stamp 100 pixel size (above) and no passer-by was likely to notice it. This created a stylistic abomination on the page, but no matter. I had acted prudently. Then I realized: I’d still left it possible for the photo to be enlarged by clicking! An unsuspecting reader might suddenly find Miss June 1975 regarding him from his entire monitor! I jumped in again and disabled that command.

This left me feeling more responsible, but less idealistic. I knew there might be people offended by the sight of a Playmate. I disagreed with them. I understood that there were places where a nude photo was inappropriate, and indeed agree that porn has no place in the workplace. But I didn’t consider the photograph pornographic. Having grown up in an America of repression and fanatic sin-mongering, I believe that Hefner’s influence was largely healthy and positive. In Europe, billboards and advertisements heedlessly show nipples. There are not « topless beaches » so much as beaches everywhere where bathers remove swimsuits to get an even tan.

At Cannes you see this on the public beach, and pedestrians nearby on the Croisette don’t even stop to notice. Ironically, the only time you see a mob of paparazzi is when some starlet (on the Carlton Hotel pier say), is making a show of removing her clothes. Then you have a sort of meta-event, where paparazzi are photographing other paparazzi photographing this event. It’s all a ritual. The clothes come off, the photographers have a scrum, everyone understands it’s over, and the paparazzi leave, sometimes while the starlet is still standing there unadorned. In Europe, people know what the human body looks like, and are rather pleased that it does.

America has a historical Puritan streak, and is currently in the midst of another upheaval of zeal from radical religionists. They know what is bad for us. They would prefer to burn us at a metaphorical stake, but make do with bizarre imprecations about the dire consequences of our sin. Let me be clear: I am not speaking of sexual behavior that is obviously evil and deserves legal attention. But definitions differ. Much of their wrath is aimed at gays. I consider homosexuality an ancient, universal and irrefutable fact of human nature. Some radicals actually blamed it for 9/11. For them the ideal society must be Saudi Arabia’s, which I consider pathologically sick.

When we were making « Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, » I got to know Cynthia Myers and Dolly Read (above), the two Playmates in the film, and have followed them through the years. They have good memories of the experience. I am in touch with Marcia McBroom, the actress who played the third of the movie’s rock band members. She is a social activist, loves the memory of her Hollywood adventure, and recently sponsored a benefit showing of BVD for her Africa-oriented charity, the For Our Children’s Sake Foundation. These women looked great in the 1970s and they look great today, and let me tell you something I am very sure of: We all want to look as great as we can.

Now back to the woman in the photograph. Her name is Azizi Johari. She went on after her centerfold to have some small success in motion pictures, most notably in John Cassavetes’ « The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. » Today she would be in her 50s and I hope is pleased that such a beautiful portrait of her was taken. A reader sent me a link to Titian’s 16th century painting « Venus of Urbino » (below), and suggested to me that this was art and Miss Johari’s photograph was not. I studied them side by side. Both women are unclothed, and regard the viewer from similar reclining postures on carefully-draped divans. I looked at them with the Male Gaze, which I gather that (as a male) is my default Gaze. I want to be as honest as I can be about how these two representations affect me.

Let us assume that the purpose of both artworks is to depict the female form attractively. Both the photographer and the painter worked from live models. Titian required great skill and technique in his artistry. So did the photographer, Ken Marcus, because neither of these portraits pretends to realism. Great attention went to the lighting, art direction and composition of the photograph, and makeup was possibly used to accent the glowing sheen of Miss Johari’s skin. I would argue that both artworks are largely the expressions of imagination.

For me, Miss Johari is more beautiful than Venus. She strikes me as more human. She looks at me. Her full lips are open as if just having said something. Her skin is lustrous and warm. Venus, on the other hand, seems to have her attention directed inward. She is self-satisfied. She seems narcissistic, passive, different. Johari is present. She seems quietly pleased to suggest, « Here I am. This is me. » Wisely she avoids the inviting smile I find so artificial in « pin up » photography. She is full of her beauty, aware of it, it is a fact we share. Venus is filled by her beauty, cooled by it, indifferent to our Gaze. If you were to ask me which is the better representation of the fullness of life, I would choose Johari.

Of course abstract artistic qualities are not the point of either work. The pictures intend to inspire a response among their viewers. For men, I assume that is erotic feeling. Women readers will inform me of the responses they feel. Homosexuals of both sexes may respond differently. They will tell me.

For me? Miss June is immediately erotic. I regard first of all her face, her eyes, her full lips and then her breasts, for I am a man and that is my nature. I prefer full lips in women, and hers are wonderful. I admire full breasts. Hers are generous but manifestly natural. The female breast is one of the most pleasing forms in all of nature, no doubt because of our earliest associations. I dislike surgical enhancements. As my friend Russ Meyer complained in the early days of silicone, « It misses the whole principle of the matter. »

Miss Johari’s arms and legs are long and healthy, she is trim but not skinny, she is not necessarily posing with her left arm but perhaps adjusting a strand of hair. I find the dark hue of her skin beautiful. Photographs like this (she was the fifth African-American Playmate) helped men of all races to understand that Black is Beautiful at a time when that phrase came as news to a lot of people. In a blog about her, I find she was « the first black Playmate to have distinctly African features. » Another entry could be written about that sentence.

As for Venus of Urbino, she has no mystery at all. I look at her and feel I know everything, and she thinks she does too. She gives no hint of pleasure or camaraderie. If you tickled her with a feather, she would be annoyed. Miss Johari, I imagine, would burst into laughter and slap the feather. I can see myself having dinner with her. To have dinner with Venus would be a torment. My parting words would be, « This bill is outrageous! I wouldn’t pay it if I were you! »

Of course these are all fantasies. I know nothing about either model. That is what we do with visual representations of humans; we bring our imaginations to them. It’s the same with movies. The meaning is a collaboration between the object and the viewer. That is how we look at pictures, and how we should. If it seems impertinent of my to compare the photograph with the painting, the best I can do i quote e. e. cummings:

mr youse needn’t be so spry

concernin questions arty

each has his tastes but as for i i likes a certain party

gimme the he-man’s solid bliss for youse ideas i’ll match youse

a pretty girl who naked is is worth a million statues

Now as to the problem of the workplace. I understand there will be pictures on a computer screen that will be offensive. I get that. Why will they be offensive? Perhaps because they foreground a worker’s sexual desires, and imply similar thoughts about co-workers. Is that what’s happening with the blog entry on Hefner? Is anyone reading it for sexual gratification? I doubt it. That’s what bothers me about so many of the New Puritans. They think I have a dirty mind, but I think I have a healthy mind. It takes a dirty mind to see one, which is why so many of these types are valued as censors or online police.

The wrong photographs on a screen might also suggest a blanket rejection of the values of the company. Some corporations require an adherence to company standards that is almost military. Sex has a way of slicing through all the layers of protocol and custom and revealing us as human beings. But lip service must be paid to convention.

We now learn that the recent Wall Street debacle was fueled in part by millions spent on prostitution and drugs. We have seen one sanctimonious politician and preacher after another exposed as a secret adulterer or homosexual. I don’t have to ask, because I guess I know: If an employee in the office of one of those bankers, ministers or congressman had Azizi Johari on his screen, he would be hustled off to the HR people.

I haven’t worked in an office for awhile. Is there a danger of porn surfing in the workplace? Somehow I doubt it. There is a greater danger, perhaps, of singling out workers for punishment based on the zeal of the enforcers. And of course there is always this: Supervisors of employee web use, like all employees, must be seen performing their jobs in order to keep them.

There is also this: Perfectly reasonable people, well-adjusted in every respect, might justifiably object to an erotic photograph on the computer monitor of a coworker. A degree of aggression might be sensed. It violates the decorum of the workplace. (So does online gaming, but never mind.) You have the right to look at anything on your computer that can be legally looked at, but give me a break! I don’t want to know! I also understand that the threat of discipline or dismissal is real and frightening.

I’ve made it through two years on the blog with only this single NSFW incident. In the future I will avoid NSFW content in general, and label it when appropriate. What a long way around I’ve taken to say I apologize.

Voir aussi:

Behind the mask

Jonathan Jones

The Guardian

04 January 2003

Very little is recorded of the life of the great Renaissance artist Titian. What we do know of his personality and his turbulent sexuality is laid bare in his painting

He could not help looking. It was an accident – well, all right, an accident combined with curiosity. But what was a man to do? Actaeon, the story goes, was out hunting with his friends in the woods when he got lost. That was his only mistake, really – that and looking at a naked goddess. « There is nothing sinful in losing one’s way, » points out the ancient Roman poet Ovid, who tells the story of Actaeon in his fabulist poem Metamorphoses, written 2,000 years ago.

The grandson of Cadmus had hunted all morning with his friends, and their nets and swords were dripping with blood, when Actaeon suggested they call it a day and enjoy the noon heat. He himself wandered off from the sweaty mob into a thickly overgrown valley, and found a cave. It was a beautiful and refreshing place, entered via a graceful arch, and inside there was cold, clear water, flowing from a spring into a deep pool where Diana, goddess of the hunt, liked to come to cool off when she was tired from shooting her bow and hurling her javelin. Here she was, accompanied by her nymphs, who took her weapons and her clothes so that, naked, unencumbered, she could bathe. And that was when Actaeon blundered in.

Did his eyes fix on her breasts, her thighs? Or did he try not to look? Diana didn’t care if he was guilty or innocent. She was a modest goddess. She hadn’t got her bow, so instead she threw water – magic water – in the young fool’s face, yelling at him, « Now go and tell everyone you saw Diana naked – if you can! » Actaeon was growing antlers, his face was turning furry. Diana turned him into a stag – a dumb male animal, his phallic antlers useless when what he needed, and no longer had, was a voice to tell his hunting dogs it was him, their master, Actaeon, that they were hunting down.

In Titian’s painting The Death Of Actaeon, the dogs have just caught up with their hapless master. They are good, zealous dogs, doing what they were trained to do. In a line of energy, they fly at him – the three pack leaders are already on him. In Titian’s version, some details of Ovid’s story are changed in a way that brilliantly simplifies and intensifies the action, and heightens its emotion. Titian’s Actaeon has the body of a burly man; only his head has changed into that of a very stupid-looking stag, like a dead, stuffed trophy fixed on to his shoulders. The strangest thing about Actaeon’s head is that you can barely see his eye on the profile facing us; Titian – who painted the reflective depths of eyes as well as anyone in history – has chosen here to blind Actaeon in a painterly equivalent to Ovid’s robbing him of speech.

Titian’s painting has humour – it’s a blackly comic tale of voyeurism punished, and Titian relishes Diana’s mighty presence in a way that’s joyous and celebratory – but it is also heartfelt, sombre, magnificently piteous. The tragedy is in the trees. They are yellow and brown and seared and autumnal; these are not the fresh, green trees of youth, but the tired woods of age, decay; it is as if Actaeon’s youth has sped into senescence as the life not lived flashes in front of him. And yet those trees are lovely; the matted texture of them is so deliberately thick and rough that you can feel it on your skin, on your face. You can feel the stormy air, too, the chill breeze before the storm that those roiling clouds and that terrific sky – eerily turning from grey to yellow – promise.

It was said that Tiziano Vecellio was 104 years old when he died in 1576. This was probably an exaggeration, but an understandable one – 500 years ago, living beyond your 30s was an achievement. The one rival to Titian’s crown as the supreme genius of Renaissance Venice – the romantic, turbulent Giorgione – died of plague as a young man in 1510, after less than a decade’s work. Titian outlived him, and the average life span, by 10, 20, 30 . . . eventually, in that world, you lost count. He was probably born in the 1480s, making him between 86 and 96 when he died. Which means that Titian was at least in his 60s when he wrote to Philip II of Spain in June 1559, telling him he had « two poesie already under way: one of Europa on the Bull, the other of Actaeon torn apart by his own hounds ».

Actaeon never got to Spain; it never joined the collection commissioned by Philip II from Titian, illustrating myths from Ovid. Instead, it seems to have stayed in his studio, possibly until his death. It is a chromatically muted painting – very different from the erotic, visual banquets of Titian’s other poesie; some say that it is unfinished, that it would have eventually looked much brighter. But I think the lack of finish is telling. The Death Of Actaeon seems to me a fearsomely personal work. It is one of those paintings in which Titian speaks about himself: he is Actaeon. An Actaeon grown old, a frenzied animal at the mad mercy of his eye, his roving, incredible eye.

About his greatness there has never been any doubt – not since he painted his astonishing altarpiece of the Assumption in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice as an up-and-coming contender in 1516-18. The Frari is a gothic church, high and bare, its glory a tall, semicircular network of arched windows that turns its south-west wall into a broken dazzle of sunlight. Insanely, the ambitious Titian accepted a commission to make an altar painting to stand in front of this wall of light – a painting that was doomed to be cast into a deep shadow, to seem a mere eccentric, dull daub against the sun that shone above and around it.

Titian’s painting meets the sun on equal terms. It is so bright, the gold heaven towards which the Virgin Mary is raised on a cloud borne by putti is so luminous, that instead of being overpowered by the sunlight streaming above, it seems that the sun is paying its compliments to Titian. Look more closely, and it turns out that Titian has tricked the eye by mimicking the contrast of light and shade that threatens to dull his painting. Down at the bottom of the seven metre tall panel, at our level, the disciples – as we do – look up at the ascending Virgin; they are in shade in a dowdy space. At the very centre of the earthbound crowd is a black hole. Up above, the heavenly gold light Mary enters is a shining circle, its circumference clearly defined by angels’ faces, and it gets whiter towards the centre: it is a depiction of the sun. Seeing how this light outshines the cooler colours below, we somehow accept that this painted sun is as powerful as the real one. Titian is a magician, and this is his most jaw-dropping sleight of hand.

No one has ever questioned that this is one of the world’s indispensable works of art; and no one has ever questioned Titian’s stature. He is the painter’s painter, and he is also the prince’s painter (not to mention, as he was nicknamed, the Prince of Painters); he is the expert’s painter and the people’s painter; he has never gone out of fashion, not in his lifetime, not ever. His art is endlessly fresh and generative. Even when they parodied him – Manet’s Olympia is a travesty of Titian’s Venus Of Urbino – artists learned from him, studied him, were inspired by him.

The three most influential post-Renaissance painters, Velázquez, Rubens and Rembrandt, were devoted to Titian – Rembrandt modelled one of his own self-portraits on Titian’s Portrait Of A Man (with a blue sleeve) in the National Gallery; Velázquez learned his luxurious style from Titians in the Spanish royal collection; Rubens copied many of his paintings. More than anyone else, Titian shaped our idea of painting – what it is, what it is capable of.

When he was young, oil painting was a new idea, and it was used with a raw excitement, as if every painting were a scientific discovery – the first time a landscape was depicted in convincing perspective, the first accurate painting of a reflection. When Titian died, oil painting had grown up – it had at its command an incredible array of techniques, an empire of the visual. It was Titian who created this empire. It was Titian who demonstrated the full range of powers specific to painting on canvas – to be at once a convincing imitation of appearances and also something else, something abstract. At the same time he displayed painting’s sensuality: when the American artist Willem de Kooning said oil paint was invented to depict flesh, it must have been Titian (and his disciple, Rubens) he was thinking of. Today, it is possible to argue that Titian was the most influential painter in history. And because his painterliness has an abstract quality, he has continued to influence modern artists. In the 19th century, Delacroix took Titian’s colour into realms of romantic madness – his Death Of Sardanapalus is a psychotic riff on Titian – and Degas took up his cult of the flesh. Even today, the best living painters, Gerhard Richter (who has done versions of Titians) and Lucian Freud, echo different aspects of Titian.

Titian is part of a triumvirate, with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who invented the very idea of the modern artist. Da Vinci and Michelangelo, in their refusal to complete commissions and, in Michelangelo’s case, his stroppiness, established the image of the self-pleasing, wilful genius; Titian, partly because of his long career, but mostly through his dominance of a Europe-wide art market in which kings and princes collected his work for decades, established the authority of painting. He once dropped his brush in the presence of Emperor Charles V, and it was the Emperor who insisted on picking it up in deference to Titian.

And yet, he wears a mask. He lived for perhaps 90 years, in the most sophisticated city in the world, and he was famous from his 20s onwards. He was by all accounts an articulate, courtly, sociable man, a close friend of the writers Ariosto and Aretino, bright enough to be sent on diplomatic missions on behalf of the Venetian Republic, refined enough to become the companion of kings. And yet behind the screen of constant, smooth success, his life is practically unknown. His work, because of that, retains an enigmatic distance. The Frari altarpiece is Venice’s answer to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; and yet it’s nothing like as touristed because Titian doesn’t have the charisma of Michelangelo, his Florentine contemporary. Titian’s personality doesn’t burst out of the past like Michelangelo’s.

Titian never said anything quotable, but Michelangelo said something quotably mean about Titian. In the 1540s, Titian worked for a while in Rome. There, Michelangelo visited his studio. Titian had just finished his painting of Danaë – illustrating another tale from ancient mythology, in which the god Jupiter takes the form of a shower of gold to make love to Danaë. He did several versions of the painting – but the one Michelangelo saw is the best (part of the Capodimonte Museum exhibit in Naples, it is coming to the National Gallery’s Titian exhibition). It is the erotic pendant to Titian’s Frari altarpiece; just as he creates his own blazing sun in the Frari, here he makes flesh and gold merge in an uncanny, inexplicable bit of magic – a painting that is at once sensual and mystical, or rather, that is mystical about the senses.

As in the Frari, it is the play of light and darkness that weaves a spell. On her bed, the naked Danaë is warmed by subtly golden light. Titian captures the richness rather than the vulgarity of gold: that is also true of the almost bronze cloud, flecked with coins, that looms above Danaë in a dark, dense interior. The void of darkness at the centre makes the scene incomplete, luring the viewer to complete it; the imagination does this by abstracting and fusing the colours of skin and gold, that hang in memory as a dream, a vision of desire beyond verbal expression.

After seeing this incredible painting, Michelangelo praised the painting to Titian’s face. When he left the studio, however, he commented that it was very nice, its colouring was very nice – but it was a pity that Titian couldn’t draw.

Michelangelo’s put-down is the most celebrated expression of the fundamental difference between Florentine and Venetian art: while Tuscan Renaissance artists believed that line came first, Venetian painting defines space by colour, and it is in his colours that Titian’s personality will be found, in the texture of his paint. Titian’s paintings are not designed, then filled in; they exist in total spontaneity, in the brushing that Titian makes visible. His paintings are not smooth; he paints on rough canvas in which paint catches; and he pursues the same emotive, personal themes across his long career. Titian was a high-class kind of guy; his friend, the poet Aretino, commented on how Titian always knew how to speak to a lady, kissing hands, making courtly jests. And there’s a pleasure in civilised restraint – or, perhaps, a need for it – that distinguishes his art. This comes out most profoundly in his love of genre.

Titian, I think, enjoyed the discipline of objective rules – for example the conventions of portraiture – which he could then stretch, challenge, reinvent. His incredibly lifelike Portrait Of A Man (with a blue sleeve), painted in 1512, which may be a self-portrait, is an example of this. Titian’s joy as an artist in this painting is purely technical; he reinvents the repertoire of poses available to painters. Doing something stylish, Titian communicates something personal – the deeply felt presence of this unnamed 16th-century man.

Titian’s most accomplished genre of all is the one he himself invented or helped to invent – that of erotic mythology. There had been classical mythological paintings in Italy since the 15th century, but the kind of narrative, Ovidian art for which Titian is famous was new; it was his genre, the « poesie », as he called his paintings for Philip II. If genre is a discipline, and literary subject matter is an objective constraint, what Titian gave himself when he developed his unique kind of narrative painting was a way of both restraining and at the same time releasing – in a stylised, mediated way – his own sexuality. It is as if he was so obsessed with eroticism, so obsessed with women – like Picasso in his sometimes loving, sometimes hateful portraits – that he had to invent a new art of organised fantasy, of civilised eroticism.

Because the fantasies that Titian painted, from early on, are not just the lovingly painted, perhaps slightly complacent images of bountiful, sexually generous women, such as his Venus Of Urbino in the Uffizi – a painting that strikes you as pure body, openly desired by the artist. Or his dreamlike Le Concert Champêtre in the Louvre, once attributed to Giorgione, in which the same woman – depicted twice, including from behind, as if Titian wanted to record her entire physical presence – is the unashamedly naked attendant, the sexy yet docile companion, of two fully dressed men (this is a another picture Manet parodied – Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe).

Titian loved women – this has to be the least debatable statement in the history of art. This wasn’t just sex. He painted women as heroic and strong social actors – his portrait known as La Schiavona in the National Gallery stands above a marble relief of her own face, making her resemble a proud Roman matron, and she’s a big, forceful character. And the most brilliant of all Titian’s portraits, the most lovingly alive, is his dignified picture of a two-year-old girl, Clarissa Strozzi.

Titian’s emotional life pervades his paintings. Far from coming easily, the civilised tone of his art seems hard-won – violence, rage, terror are frothing in his brushwork. His overriding eroticism is not something worked up for patrons – although there was obviously a market for paintings like « the nude lady », as the man who commissioned it called the Venus Of Urbino – but something in him which painting allows him to project, simultaneously to enjoy and control.

Through his career, he is drawn to fierce and violent images. In his very first major public commission, a series of frescoes in Padua, he includes a scene of shocking brutality: the story of a jealous husband who murdered his wife. She begs for mercy while he prepares to stab her a second time. Later, Titian did several paintings of The Rape Of Lucretia, including a late, expressionistic work comparable to The Death Of Actaeon.

None of this is to say that Titian’s paintings are misogynist, hateful or hypocritical – on the contrary. There is a stale view of paintings such as the Venus Of Urbino, which arises from their popularity in the 19th century, as mildly saucy soft porn. In reality, and this is the source of his power, Titian’s sexuality is complicated, emotional, tortured and alive; his paintings embody the desires and terrors of a man who was capable of acute jealousy, anger, and a kind of religious worship of women.

Titian’s paintings of women are personal in another way. The same models recur in many of his pictures. One group of paintings seems to depict a woman who – a flower she holds suggests – may have been called Violante. It used to be said she was his lover and the pictorial evidence makes that romantic Victorian idea very plausible. The woman who posed as Flora, Titian’s most iconic beauty, is also in his painting Sacred And Profane Love. Flora is interpreted in all kinds of ways – as the goddess Flora, as a Venetian courtesan, as an image of correct sexual behaviour in a Venetian marriage – but the intimacy and warmth and passion of this painting (which is coming to the National Gallery from the Uffizi in Florence) might actually be Titian’s, and her, secret. Many of his most erotic paintings may be games in which Titian paints monuments to his lovers under the guise of heady mythological and pastoral art. It has even been suggested that Flora is Titian’s mistress Cecilia, whom he finally married in 1525 to legitimise their children.

Titian, so quiet about himself and so organised in his professional career, is in reality a powder keg of emotion, artfully channelled but never suppressed; his art is profoundly confessional. The Death Of Actaeon is a confession. And at the end of his life, Titian movingly drops all his elaborate strategies, takes off his Venetian mask and addresses us – and his God – directly in one of the most unguarded paintings anywhere. Only a master of irony could make such a total confession; only a master of colour could make a painting that is so denuded of it: Titian’s Pietà in the Accademia in Venice was painted as an ex-voto offering, a prayer, when Titian was very old and when Venice, the city he adored, was being devastated by plague. Titian’s Pietà pleads (the text is on a painted tablet) for mercy for Titian himself and for his son, Orazio. Titian puts himself in the painting, an almost naked, bearded old man, pathetically and hopelessly touching the hand of the dead Christ. Light has almost gone from the world – apart from a dull glow on the mosaic above Christ’s dimly shining corpse, the painting sinks into reveries of shadow, of death. If you look, you will eventually see what you fear, and in this last painting Titian sees death, his own death. Titian’s offering failed; neither he nor Orazio outlived the plague epidemic.

What is striking is that Titian, in his 80s, or 90s, or – who knows? – at the age of 104, so obviously wanted more life, more colour, more flesh. And looking at his paintings, so do we

· Titian is at the National Gallery, London WC2 (020-7747 5898), from February 19-May 18, 2003.

Voir également:

Italy’s Most Mysterious Paintings: Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love

Walks of Italy

November 29, 2012

Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love… a beautiful, and mysterious, painting in Italy!

Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love is the gem of Rome’s Borghese gallery… and one of the most famous paintings of Renaissance Italy. It’s so beloved, in fact, that in 1899, the Rothschild family offered to pay the Borghese Gallery 4 million lira for the piece—even though the gallery’s entire collection, and the grounds, were valued at only 3.6 million lira!

Perhaps the painting is so famous simply because of its beauty and because it’s a masterpiece by the Renaissance great Titian.

Or perhaps people have fallen in love with it because of its hidden secrets and symbolism—much of which art historians still don’t completely understand!

There’s a lot of mysterious stuff going on here.

At first glance, the painting might just look like another portrait of two lovely ladies, with a pastoral background behind them.

Look again.

First of all, there are the women themselves. One is clothed, bejeweled, and—seemingly—made up with cosmetics. She’s wearing gloves, and holding a plant of some kind. The other is (almost) stark naked, holding just a torch.

The church and pasture in Sacred and Profane Love

Then look at what they’re sitting on. That’s no carved-marble bench… that’s a sarcophagus. In other words, a coffin, of the type the ancient Romans used.

And it’s a strange sarcophagus, because it appears to be filled with water, which a cherubic baby is swirling.

Look even closer, and you can see a spout in the sarcophagus’ front, which the water is pouring out of and, seemingly, watering a growing plant below.

In the background, meanwhile, you have some other strange things going on: On our left, a horse and rider race up a mountaintop to a looming fortress, while two hares appear to be playing (or chasing each other); on our right, shepherds herd sheep in a pasture in front of a picturesque church, while a dog chases a hare.

Nothing that’s here is here by mistake. So what does it all mean?

We’re not sure. We have to rely on our knowledge of the painting’s symbols and hidden meanings to find out. And that’s because…

We don’t even know the real title of one of the most famous paintings in Europe

Although the piece is called Sacred and Profane Love, that’s not its original name. In fact, we don’t know what its original name was.

Here’s what we do know: Titian painted the piece in 1513-1514, at the age of just 25. And it was commissioned to celebrate the marriage of Niccoló Aurelio, a secretary to the Council of Venice, to Laura Bagarotto. No name is listed in the records for the painting, but in 1693, almost 200 years after it was painted, it showed up in the Borghese Gallery’s inventory under the name Amor Divino e Amor Profano (“divine love and profane love”).

…or what it’s supposed to show.

Sacred—or profane?

For a long time, art historians thought that the painting was supposed to show two different kinds of love: the sacred, and the profane.

It’s definitely safe to say the painting is about love. Symbols of love are scattered throughout, from the roses on the sarcophagus to the myrtle the woman on our left clasps (more on that later!). And, of course, the painting was a marriage gift, which would make this focus highly appropriate.

But does it show sacred and profane love? Well, if so, that might explain the background. The fortress, symbol of war and humanity, could symbolize the profane (or worldly); the church would, obviously, symbolize the sacred.

And it could explain the two women. Perhaps one is meant to be a Venus showing what worldly love looks like; the other, a Venus showing us sacred love.

But the interesting question is:

If this is true, then which of the two women represents sacred love, and which is the profane?

Is nudity actually a sign of the sacred? (Maybe!)

At first glance, you might think the woman on our left represents sacred love. After all, she’s clothed! The other, naked one would, of course, represent worldly, amorous love.

Some aspects of each woman’s costume do back up that theory, because there are so many hidden symbols here! For example, the clothed woman’s belt was generally considered a symbol of marital ties; and the myrtle in her hand symbolized the lasting happiness of marriage. On the other hand, the nude woman’s flame symbolized earthly lust.

But look again, and you see just as much symbolism pointing us in the opposite direction. For one thing, the clothed woman is seated, and therefore below—and closer to the earth than—her nude counterpart. She’s wearing gloves for falconry, or hunting, and holding a case of jewels, both signs of worldly pursuits. And she’s dressed very sumptuously (and not all that modestly!), with rich fabrics and even a touch of cosmetics.

But heavenly beauty doesn’t need any worldly adornment. The nude woman, therefore, might be sacred.

The key could be Cupid, mixing the waters in the sarcophagus…

Water swirls in the sarcophagus… and waters a growing plant?

Of course, that’s no baby between the two depictions of love (in this interpretation, two versions of Venus, goddess of love, herself): It’s Cupid. By mixing the waters in the well/sarcophagus, he might be suggesting that the ideal love is, in fact, a mix of these two kinds.

But this painting might not even be about sacred and profane love.

In the 20th century, art historian Walter Friedländer argued that the painting wasn’t about these two types of love at all. He thought it showed Polia and Venere, two characters in Francesco Colonna’s popular 1499 romance Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (don’t worry, there won’t be a test on that name!).

Another interpretation that’s much more simple… and makes a lot of sense? The painting could show the bride, Laura Bagarotto, herself, dressed in virginal white on the left. And the nude woman on the right? She might be Venus, initiating Laura into what love is like—complete with showing her the passion that’s necessary to make a marriage work (the torch).

But no one is sure what this painting really means. There’s a lot going on here, that’s for sure. And it’s kept art historians interested—and arguing!—for centuries.

Voir encore:

Titien ou l’art plus fort que la nature : être Apelle

Pascal Bonafoux

Ecrivain et critique d’art. Professeur d’histoire de l’art à l’université.

Clio

Le 5 janvier 1857 dans son Journal, Delacroix note : « Si l’on vivait cent vingt ans, on préférerait Titien à tout. » Cézanne affirme quant à lui : « La peinture, ce qui s’appelle la peinture, ne naît qu’avec les Vénitiens. » Cézanne songe à Titien comme il songe à Tintoret et à Véronèse. Peu lui importe que Titien ait près de trente ans, trente ans peut-être, lorsque naît Tintoret, qu’il ait dix ans de plus lorsque naît Véronèse en 1528. Ces regards de peintres sont essentiels. Parce qu’ils savent ce que « regarder », ce que « voir » veut dire. Parce qu’ils savent ce que « peindre » veut dire. Or la peinture est la seule vérité de Titien. Pour le reste…

Plus jeune en sa jeunesse, plus âgé en son vieil âge

Le 1er août 1571, Titien écrit à Philippe II pour réclamer des sommes qui lui sont dues. Il se dit dans cette lettre « serviteur du roi, maintenant‚ âgé de quatre-vingt-quinze ans ». Un émissaire espagnol, un certain Garcia Hernandez, dans un rapport daté du 15 octobre 1564, assure que Titien a près de quatre-vingt-dix ans. Raffaello Borghini écrit, quelques années après la mort du peintre, qu’il mourut en 1576 « à l’âge de quatre-vingt-dix-huit ou quatre-vingt-dix-neuf ans ». Ce qui confirme à peu près la même date… Titien serait né en 1477…

Dans le registre de la paroisse de San Canciano où meurt Titien le 27 août 1576, on inscrit son âge : cent trois ans. Titien serait né en 1473… Dans une lettre du 6 décembre 1567, Thomas de Cornoça, consul d’Espagne à Venise, affirme alors au roi que Titien a « quatre-vingt-cinq ans ». Titien serait né en 1482… Lorsqu’il lui rend visite en 1566, Vasari note que Titien a alors « environ soixante-seize ans ». Titien serait né en 1490… Dans le Dialogo della Pittura qu’il publie à Venise en 1557, Lodovico Dolce, qui est de ses amis, assure que lorsqu’il entreprit de peindre les fresques du Fondaco dei Tedeschi auprès de Giorgione en 1508, il « n’avait pas encore vingt ans ». Titien serait donc né en 1488…

1477, 1473, 1482, 1488, 1490 ?… Jeune, longtemps Titien a sans doute laissé entendre qu’il était plus jeune encore. Pour que l’on ne doute pas de sa précocité. Âgé, Titien n’a vu aucun inconvénient à ce qu’on le crut plus vieux qu’il n’était. Pour que l’on rende hommage aux prodiges dont il ne cessait pas d’être capable en dépit de son âge.

Prouver qu’il est Titien

Regarder la peinture de Titien, c’est devoir songer à une lettre de Pietro Aretino – l’Arétin – qui regarde la nuit tomber sur Venise. « Vers certains côtés apparaissait un vert-bleu, vers d’autres un bleu-vert, des tons vraiment composés par un caprice de la nature, maîtresse des maîtres. À l’aide des clairs et des obscurs, elle donnait de la profondeur ou du relief à ce qu’elle voulait faire avancer ou reculer; et moi qui connais votre pinceau comme son inspirateur, je m’exclamai trois ou quatre fois : Ô Titien, où êtes-vous donc ? » Posée en mai 1544, la question reste sans réponse… Ou, plus exactement, les seules réponses qui vaillent sont celles de la légende, de la fable et du mythe. Parce que, grevées de soupçons, elles s’accordent aux silences qui bruissent de sens qui sont ceux de ses toiles.

Les lettres de Titien, celle adressée en 1513 au Conseil des Dix de la Sérénissime République de Venise, celle écrite en 1530 à Frédéric de Gonzague, duc de Mantoue, celle qu’il fait écrire en 1544 par Giovanni della Casa au cardinal Alessandro Farnese, celle encore qu’il adresse en 1545 à Sa Très Sainte Majesté Césarienne, Charles Quint, l’assurance qu’il donne en 1562 à Philippe II : « J’emploierai tout le temps de vie qui me reste pour faire le plus souvent possible à Votre Majesté Catholique la révérence de quelque nouvelle peinture, travaillant pour que mon pinceau lui apporte cette satisfaction que je désire et que mérite la grandeur d’un si haut roi », toutes ces lettres sont celles d’un peintre qui semble n’avoir d’autre ambition que de servir. Maldonne. Titien n’est, n’a jamais été fidèle qu’à Titien. Titien ne sert, n’a servi, que Titien.

Et tous les moyens lui auront été bons. Récit de Vasari : « À ses débuts, quand il commença à peindre dans la manière de Giorgione, à dix-huit ans à peine, fit le portrait d’un gentilhomme de la famille Barbarigo, son ami… on le jugea si bien peint et avec tant d’habileté que, si Titien n’y avait mis son nom dans une ombre, on l’aurait pris pour une œuvre de Giorgione. » Titien ne laisse pas longtemps son nom dans l’ombre… Il n’a voulu qu’on le confonde avec Giorgione, emporté par la peste en 1510, que parce que cette confusion le sert lorsqu’il n’a pas vingt ans encore. Lorsque les « faux » Giorgione qu’il a peints lui ont acquis la renommée qu’il estime devoir lui revenir, il n’a plus d’autre ambition que de prouver qu’il est Titien. Donc incomparable.

Le 5 octobre 1545, Titien lui-même écrit à Charles Quint : « Très Sainte Majesté Césarienne, j’ai remis au Seigneur Don Diego de Mendoza les deux portraits de la Sérénissime Impératrice, pour lesquels j’ai été aussi vigilant que possible. J’aurai voulu les apporter moi-même, mais la longueur du voyage et mon âge ne me le permettent pas. Je prie Votre Majesté de me faire dire les erreurs et les manquements, en me les renvoyant afin que je les corrige ; et que Votre Majesté ne permette pas qu’un autre y touche. » Nouvelle lettre impatiente, le 7 décembre 1545 : « Très Sainte Majesté Césarienne, j’ai envoyé il y a quelques mois à Votre Majesté par les mains du Seigneur Don Diego votre ambassadeur le portrait de la sainte mémoire de l’Impératrice votre épouse, fait de ma main, avec cet autre qui me fut donné par elle comme modèle. J’attends avec un infini dévouement de savoir si mon œuvre Vous est parvenue et si elle Vous a plu ou non. Car si je savais qu’elle vous a plu, je sentirais dans l’âme un contentement que je ne suis pas capable d’exprimer… » On raconte que devant ce portrait peint en 1545 de sa femme Isabelle de Portugal morte le 1er mai 1539, l’empereur pleura. Titien peut ne plus douter de la puissance de sa peinture. Qu’il peigne une impératrice morte ou une déesse, son pouvoir est le même.

« L’art plus puissant que la nature »

En 1554, quelques mois avant qu’une toile dont le Livre X des Métamorphoses d’Ovide a tenu lieu de modèle, quelques mois avant que la toile, récit de l’amour que porte Venus à Adonis, jeune mortel, ne soit expédiée à Madrid, Ludovico Dolce décrit l’œuvre découverte dans l’atelier de Titien : « Je vous jure, Monseigneur, qu’il n’existe pas d’homme perspicace qui ne la prenne pour une femme en chair et en os. Il n’existe pas d’homme assez usé par les ans, ni d’homme aux sens assez endormis, pour ne pas se sentir réchauffé, attendri et ému dans tout son être. » Les toiles de Titien et les Sonnets luxurieux de l’Arétin ont la même raison – érotique – d’être. Mais, à la différence de ces sonnets, les nus de Titien peuvent sembler répondre à l’exigence du Livre du Courtisan de Baldassar Castiglione, livre de chevet de l’empereur Charles Quint, livre qui régit les convenances de toutes les cours : « Pour donc fuir le tourment de cette passion et jouir de la beauté sans passion, il faut que le Courtisan, avec l’aide de la raison, détourne entièrement le désir du corps pour le diriger vers la beauté seule, et, autant qu’il le peut, qu’il la contemple en elle-même, simple et pure, et que dans son imagination il la rende séparée de toute matière, et ainsi fasse d’elle l’amie chérie de son âme. »

Le 10 mai 1533, Charles Quint nomme Titien comte du Palazzo Laterrano, du Consiglio Aulico et du Consistoro. Il lui accorde encore le titre de comte palatin et de chevalier « dello Sperone ». Titien a libre accès à la cour. Enfin l’empereur reconnaît à ses fils, auxquels il concède le titre de « Nobles de l’Empereur », les mêmes privilèges qu’à ceux qui portent un pareil titre depuis quatre générations. La devise que se choisit Titien est NATURA POTENTIOR ARS – l’art est plus puissant que la nature. Elle s’accorde à celle de Charles Quint, « Plus oultre ». Même volonté. Même orgueil.

Apelle, mythe et modèle

Au monastère de San Yuste où il se retire après avoir, rongé par la goutte, abdiqué à Bruxelles, le 28 août 1556, comme aucun empereur ne l’a fait depuis Dioclétien quelque douze siècles plus tôt, Charles Quint emporte plusieurs tableaux de Titien. Titien n’a peut-être pas eu d’autre ambition que d’être l’Apelle de cet empereur. D’Apelle, mort vers 300 avant J.-C., il ne reste rien. Il ne reste qu’un nom que rapportent quelques fragments de textes anciens, il ne reste que quelques anecdotes… Reste un mythe. C’est à ce mythe que Titien s’identifie.

On rapporte qu’Apelle datait des œuvres à l’imparfait. Le légat du pape à Venise commande à Titien un polyptyque. Lorsqu’il l’achève en 1520, il le signe et le date TICIANUS FACIEBAT MDXXII. À l’imparfait. Comme Apelle. Description par Ovide de l’œuvre la plus célèbre d’Apelle : « L’on voit Vénus ruisselante séchant avec ses doigts sa chevelure humide, toute couverte des eaux où elle vient de naître. » En 1520 peut-être, Titien peint une pareille Vénus qui essuie ses cheveux. Comme Apelle.

Pline assure : « Il n’y a de gloire que pour les artistes qui ont peint des tableaux. Il n’y avait aucune peinture à fresque d’Apelle. » Titien ne peint que de rares fresques. Après 1523, il n’en peint plus aucune. Comme Apelle. Alexandre, rapporte encore Pline, « avait interdit par ordonnance qu’aucun autre peintre fit son portrait. »

Charles Quint ne commande plus son portrait qu’à Titien qu’il dit en 1536 être son « Premier peintre ». Titien a auprès de Charles Quint la place qui fut, auprès d’Alexandre, celle d’Apelle. Titien est Apelle. Presque. Un geste de Charles Quint est nécessaire encore. Roger de Piles rapporte en 1708 : « Titien donna tant de jalousie aux courtisans de Charles Quint, qui se plaisait dans la conversation de ce peintre, que cet empereur fut contraint de leur dire qu’il ne manquerait jamais de courtisans, mais qu’il n’aurait pas toujours un Titien. On sait encore que ce peintre ayant un jour laissé tomber un pinceau en faisant le portrait de Charles Quint, cet empereur le ramassa, et que sur le remerciement et l’excuse de Titien lui en faisait, il dit ces paroles : Titien mérite d’être servi par César. » Par ce geste qui fut celui d’Alexandre qui, raconte-t-on, se baissa pour ramasser le pinceau d’Apelle, Charles Quint fait de Titien un nouvel Apelle – comme il se sacre lui-même l’égal d’Alexandre le Grand.

Voir enfin:

How long for France’s accidental president?

Konrad Yakabuski

The Globe and Mail

Jan. 16 2014

The narrow Paris laneway where French President François Hollande allegedly conducted his trysts, in a rented apartment tied to the Corsican mafia, is called Rue du Cirque – Circus Street, owing to its history as the site of a 19th-century summer carnival. And the no-drama nerd who promised to restore decorum to the presidency after the bling and histrionics of Nicolas Sarkozy has certainly ended up creating a circus worthy of his media-baiting predecessor.

In choosing not to marry his companion when he entered the Élysée Palace, Mr. Hollande was supposed to be making an honest break from the French tradition of presidents who had sexless wives for official functions but sexy mistresses for fun or love. Mr. Hollande was the modern man, finding his soulmate and satisfying protocol in his common-law relationship with journalist Valérie Trierweiler.

Ms. Trierweiler (pronounced Tree-air-vay-lair) became France’s first unmarried first lady, with her own Elysée office, staff, state schedule and web page. Allegations that Mr. Hollande has been having an affair with a younger actress have thrown Ms. Trierweiler’s official status up in the air and left the Socialist Mr. Hollande’s carefully constructed 2014 agenda in tatters. His own ministers see him as a millstone and his ability to govern his fractured nation is in doubt.

To be clear, the French don’t give a flying steak-frites about whom their presidents sleep with. But they do prize elegance. Mr. Sarkozy was an affront to both, with his messy marital breakup, his remarriage to a tipsy model, his new-money friends and his flashy presence. If Mr. Sarkozy’s private life was an open book, it was a cheesy Harlequin the French had no desire to read.

François Mitterrand had elegance. Three decades ago, he could maintain a second family without the media making a fuss or questioning the first-lady status of wife Danielle. Both wife and mistress attended his 1996 burial, which, while noted, was hardly big news.

Mr. Hollande’s mistake was to believe his after-hours dalliances would be treated with similar discretion by the mainstream media. The presidency is no longer held in much reverence by the French. Today, not even Mr. Mitterrand could get away with living a double life, especially if seen to be interfering with his job or contradicting the image he was seeking to project.

But what the French find most galling about Mr. Hollande’s alleged affair, which he has not denied, is his sloppiness. The photos of the helmet-wearing President sneaking out on the back of a scooter, with minimal security detail following him, raise serious questions about whether those protecting this G-7 head of state are plain incompetent or just out to undermine their boss.

Didn’t the Groupe de securité de la présidence de la République, France’s secret service, know of paparazzi snapping photos from a building adjacent to where Mr. Hollande allegedly met actress Julie Gayet? Didn’t it know that the apartment was rented by a Gayet acquaintance whose two previous partners (one of whom was murdered just this year) had possible ties to the Corsican mafia?

This is not just tabloid fodder. Even Le Monde is playing the conspiracy card, asking whether Mr. Sarkozy’s aim of recapturing power had something to do with a gossip magazine’s publication of the compromising photos just four days before Mr. Hollande was set to give a critical speech. “At the Elysée, those loyal to [Mr. Sarkozy] are still in place, particularly in the GSPR,” Le Monde wrote in Monday’s edition.

Mr. Hollande’s Tuesday speech came after a disastrous year economically in France. In pledging tax and spending cuts, Mr. Hollande aimed to make headlines with new pro-business policies and a goal to spread French influence globally. But those ambitions now look laughable, as steamier headlines crowd out Mr. Hollande’s desired narrative.

All this makes the otherwise jovial Mr. Hollande a tragicomic figure. He became president by accident; voters did not so much choose him as reject Mr. Sarkozy. But he has been true to his nickname (Flanby, after a jiggly French custard dessert). In office, he’s had the consistency of Jell-O, with ambiguous policies that please no one in his factionalized party or the broader electorate.

All he had going for him was the appearance of normalcy at home. Now, that’s gone. How long before he is, too?


Andrea Bocelli: Attention, un miracle peut en cacher bien d’autres (We talk about beauty, but we all keep score)

12 janvier, 2014
https://scontent-a-cdg.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash2/486460_10151394534058953_1363323043_n.jpg

Si Dieu chantait, sa voix ressemblerait à celle d’Andrea Bocelli. Céline Dion
Because of my personal convictions as a devout Catholic, I am not only fighting against something, I am fighting for something – and I am for life. … A young pregnant wife was hospitalized for a simple attack of appendicitis. The doctors had to apply some ice on her stomach and when the treatments ended the doctors suggested that she abort the child. They told her it was the best solution because the baby would be born with some disability. But the young brave wife decided not to abort, and the child was born. That woman was my mother, and I was the child. Maybe I’m partisan, but I can say that it was the right choice. … I hope this could encourage many mothers that sometimes find themselves in difficult situations – in those moments when life is complicated but want to save the life of their baby. Andrea Bocelli
Les gens n’aiment pas que l’on explique des choses qu’ils veulent garder  » absolues « . Moi, je trouve qu’il vaut mieux savoir. C’est très bizarre que l’on supporte si mal le réalisme. Dans le fond, la sociologie est très proche de ce qu’on appelle la sagesse. Elle apprend à se méfier des mystifications. Je préfère me débarrasser des faux enchantements pour pouvoir m’émerveiller des vrais  » miracles « . En sachant qu’ils sont précieux parce qu’ils sont fragiles.  (…) Le succès de la pilule Viagra n’est que l’attestation visible de ce qui se sait depuis longtemps dans les cabinets médicaux ou psychanalytiques. Les hommes, surtout, pourraient se simplifier la vie. Le rôle masculin m’est très insupportable depuis très longtemps dans son côté faiseur, bluffeur, m’as-tu-vu, exhibitionniste. Si les rapports masculins/féminins (qui se reproduisent aussi chez les homosexuels) étaient dépouillés de ce devoir d’exhibition, on respirerait mieux. Les numéros d’hommes, c’est tuant! Pierre Bourdieu
Je crois que la culture dans nos sociétés est un des lieux du sacré : la religion culturelle est devenue pour certaines catégories sociales – dont les intellectuels – le lieu des convictions les plus profondes, des engagements les plus profonds. Par exemple, la honte de la gaffe culturelle est devenue l’équivalent du péché. Je pense que l’analogie avec la religion peut-être poussée très loin. Alors qu’aujourd’hui, une analyse de sociologie religieuse peut être poussée très loin, comme celle sur les évêques ; elle ne touche personne même pas les évêques. … La sociologie de la culture se heurte à des résistances fantastiques. Et le travail d’objectivation qui a été fait sur la religion : personne ne peut contester qu’il y a une certaine corrélation entre la religion que l’on a acquise dans sa famille et la religion que l’on professe ; on ne peut pas nier qu’il y ait une transmission de père en fils des convictions religieuses, que quand cette transmission disparaît, la religion disparaît. Bon, quand on le dit sur la culture, on enlève à l’homme cultivé un des fondements du charme de la culture, à savoir l’illusion de l’innéité, l’illusion charismatique : c’est à dire j’ai acquis ça par moi-même, à la naissance comme une espèce de miracle. Pierre Bourdieu
Les miracles, ce sont les situations dans lesquelles les lois ordinaires sont suspendues. Il y a l’amor fati. C’est un truc que j’ai dit à propos de la Kabylie et du Béarn : c’est terrible, les gens aiment vraiment ceux qu’ils ont des chances socialement définies d’aimer. Quand on dit : « Il a épousé sa promise », on le dit très clairement. Dans les milieux que j’ai étudiés — les paysans kabyles ou béarnais —, pour chaque garçon, il y a trois filles possibles. Et il se trouve qu’il aime une de celles-là. Sauf accident, il y a des mésalliances… C’est assez désespérant. Parmi toutes les lois sociales, une des plus terribles est la loi de l’homogamie. Or ces lois sont vraies à grande échelle ; et quand on raffine, c’est pire. Quand on prend l’espace social tel qu’il est décrit dans La Distinction, plus on découpe petit, plus l’homogamie se renforce. J’avais fait une toute petite note dans La Noblesse d’Etat sur l’homogamie des normaliens. Ça fait froid dans le dos. Mais ce qui se passe dans le cercle homogame peut être vécu comme miraculeux : les rapports de violence, de domination peuvent être suspendus. Pierre Bourdieu
Le goût « pur » et l’esthétique qui en fait la théorie trouvent leur principe dans le refus du goût « impur » et de l’aïs­thèsis [« sensation » en grec, ce qui a donné « esthétique »] forme simple et primitive du plaisir sensible réduit à un plaisir des sens, comme dans ce que Kant appelle « le goût de la langue, du palais et du gosier », abandon à la sensation immédiate […]. On pourrait montrer que tout le langage de l’esthé­tique est enfermé dans un refus principiel du facile, entendu dans tous les sens que l’éthique et l’esthé­tique bourgeoises donnent à ce mot. (… Comme le disent les mots employés pour les dénoncer, « facile » ou « léger » bien sûr, mais aussi « frivole », « futile », « tape-à-l’oeil », « supericiel », « racoleur » … ou dans, dans le registre des satisfactions orales, « sirupeux », « douceâtre », « à l’eau de rose », « écoeurant », les oeuvres vulgaires ne sont pas seulement une une sorte d’insulte au raffinement des raffinés, une manière d’offense au public « difficile » qui n’entend pas qu’on lui offre des choses « faciles » (on aime à dire des atistes, et en particulier des chefs d’orchestre, qu’ils se respectent et qu’ils respectent leur public); elles suscitent le malaise et le dégoût par les méthodes de séduction, ordinairement dénoncées comme « basses », « dégradantes », « avilissantes » qu’elles mettent en oeuvre, donnant au spectateur le sentiment d’être traité comme le premier venu, qu’on peut séduire avec des charmes de pacotille, l’invitant à régressser vers les formes les plus primitives et les plus élémentaires du plaisir. Pierre Bourdieu
La musique la plus légitime fait l’objet, avec le disque et la radio, d’usages non moins passifs et intermittents que les musiques « populaires » sans être pour autant discréditée et sans qu’on lui impute les effets aliénants qu’on attribue à la musique populaire. Quant au caractère répétitif de la forme, il atteint un maximum dans le chant grégorien (pourtant hautement valorisé) ou dans nombre de musiques médiévales aujourd’hui cultivées et dans tant de musiques de divertissement du 17e et du 18e siècles, d’ailleurs conçues à l’origine pour être ainsi consommées « en fond sonore ». Pierre Bourdieu
There are occasional miracles…but such blockbusters are rare. . . . They have to be seen as special, almost freak occurrences. Decca senior vice president
There are simply so many other options competing for our scarce leisure time and our ever-rising disposable income. A hundred years ago, we didn’t have TV. Fifty years ago, there was no Internet. Twenty-five years ago, the $10 billion video game industry was in its infancy. As the entertainment market offers an ever-increasing number of options, classical music’s fight for our attention has become more competitive and makes the classical audience look small, even as it holds on to its share. If Lizst had to vie with the Matrix Reloaded or video games such as Grand Theft Auto III, would he have captured the public’s imagination? …Some argue that classical music has more intrinsic value than other forms of entertainment because of its significance for our musical tradition and its intellectual complexity. But whether this makes it more valuable depend on why one listens to music. We may admire the musical facility in Mozart or be challenged by the expansive musical canvas in Mahler, but be more profoundly moved by “Amazing Grace” on a lone bagpipe. Still, classical music’s prevailing culture and conventions do feel increasingly out of sync with contemporary experience. As most people will tell you, a modern classical music concert is an entirely somber, serious affair for performers and audiences alike. It is predictable and almost lifelessly professional. No classical music stage today would tolerate the onstage shenanigans of Vladimir de Pachmann, a world-famous nineteenth-century pianist who earned millions touring and was known to dip each finger in brandy before a recital. Although the dress code has relaxed somewhat in recent years—much to the horror of the old guard—some rules are strictly observed, such as no applause between movements. These conventions may seem unnecessarily restrictive for those who have known only dress-casual workplaces. This widening gap between the conventions of classical music and the rest of society tends to reinforce classical music’s image as music for the economic elite. And yet this image is not entirely borne out by the facts. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, the classical music concert audience is no richer than audiences for jazz or musical plays. This survey shows that the level of participation in all arts rises with income. It is not simply that classical music audiences tend to be richer than other audiences, but that all audiences tend to be richer than average. Moreover, both rich and poor share similar preferences. For example, musical plays are more popular than classical music at each income level, with similar relative participation rates. Perhaps more worrisome is the cultural elitism of many people in the classical music community. The fact that there are 276 versions of Beethoven’s 5th, already tends to foster an atmosphere where someone who can’t tell one from the other is made to feel less than welcome. Even those in the business end, “encouraged the attitude that you have to be able to spell Tchaikovsky backwards to be qualified to buy something,” noted the President of EMI Classics back in 1990. And some classical music proponents criticize any attempt to reach a wider audience as “dumbing down.” They view the enormous popularity of The Three Tenors and other crossover albums as a phenomenon that degrades or reduces the status of classical music. In the words of essayist Joseph Epstein: “The bloody snobbish truth is, I prefer not to think myself part of this crowd [his fellow audience at a Pops concert]. I think myself…much better—intellectually superior, musically more sophisticated, even though I haven’t any musical training whatsoever and cannot follow a score.” This attitude, albeit half-joking, may hurt classical music’s ability to reinvent itself and adapt to the modern audience and the modern world. On the contrary, to emotionally connect to today’s audiences and capture their imaginations will take vision and innovation. But there are examples out there. One of the most unlikely successes on Broadway last year was a production of Puccini’s La Bohème, the 1896 opera about a doomed love between Mimi, a Parisian seamstress, and Rodolfo, a starving poet. While the music is exactly as Puccini wrote it and the characters sing in Italian, Baz Luhrmann, the director of Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge, reimagined the story set in 1957. More importantly, he ignored the usual opera conventions and hired singers who looked and acted the parts. Although purists criticized the quality of the singing and objected to the use of microphones, Luhrmann’s experiment shows that there is an enthusiastic new audience for classical music if classical music is made relevant. Even in tradition-bound solo recitals, old customs are loosening up. At the end of a recent recital, Maxim Vengerov, a rising twenty-something violinist, picked up a microphone and talked to the audience for 20 minutes. On a stage where the only thing usually uttered by the soloist is the announcement of the encores, his entertaining anecdotes and sincere answers to questions left the audience more connected to both the music and the musician. Is it possible to make money in today’s classical recordings business without blockbuster crossovers? Absolutely, says Naxos, the world’s bestselling budget label, with 15 percent of classical CD sales in the U.K., 25 percent in Canada, and more than 5 percent in the U.S. While the major labels pursued blockbusters, Naxos, founded in 1987, focused on producing the standard repertory cheaply. “My ambition was to make classical recordings available on CD at a price comparable to that of LPs,” states Klaus Heymann, founder and chairman. Think of Naxos as the Southwest Airlines of classical CDs. It delivers classical music without frills and at rock-bottom prices. It hires young or unknown recording artists, many from Eastern Europe, and pays them a flat fee with no added royalties. It keeps one recording of each work in its catalog, limiting the catalog to about 2,500 titles and eliminating duplication of repertoire. It doesn’t waste a lot of money on expensive promotions. That way, it can sell its CDs for $6.98, not $16.98. And it sells a lot of CDs. Enough to be profitable in spite of budget prices. The other successful strategy focuses on niche markets and nonstandard repertory. Hyperion, a British label founded in 1980, and others have taken this approach. “I didn’t see the point in doing the 103rd version of the New World Symphony, so I went for the more neglected areas, but not so neglected that nobody would buy them,” said Hyperion founder Ted Perry. The label’s first hit was an album of Latin hymns by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), which sold over 150,000 copies. Along with Nonesuch, which released Górecki’s Third Symphony and the works of other contemporary composers, Hyperion has shown that record companies can be profitable by exploiting a niche market that has been neglected in the catalogs of the major labels. Boston Fed
I believe Andrea’s voice is similar to the way people sang bel canto at the time bel canto was written. It was a chest voice admittedly up to G, maybe A-flat. Everything after that, basically from A-flat or A on, goes into a mixed voice. It’s half head, half chest. Andrea can get to a G, maybe an A-flat, in that full voice. After that, which was bel canto tradition, they turned it into, if not a real falsetto, a mixed voice. If you look at some of these old Donizetti things, written up to high Bs, by the time they were singing that high, they were singing in a falsetto. Andrea has always had this sort of half voice. Now, if you’re trying to sing B-flat and Cs, which opera singers like the Marcello Giordanis of the world do, well, they’re singing those high notes in full voice. And when they sing over an orchestra, they cut glass. In other words, it gets really exciting. Whereas Andrea’s voice, amplified, is just fine. Singing that stuff on stage unamplified is where the issue is. Andrea’s voice comes originally from the pop side. It comes from the pop side so it speaks clearly. And so when he sings opera in that style it doesn’t sound overly mannered. Now that has pros and cons. This is where the big battle comes. Because the opera purist will say, ‘Well, that’s not really an opera voice. Because he can’t do what the so-called real opera singers do on stage. He can’t do those high notes. They don’t grow and get bigger.’ But therefore he’s less histrionic. So people who are coming from a non-opera background will say, ‘Oh, isn’t it nice to hear that?’ Because Andrea doesn’t sound like he’s exaggerating, he sounds like he’s just singing in a nice lyrical way. So it’s easy for people to approach that without feeling like they’re hearing somebody barking in that exaggerated operatic way. People who don’t know how to approach opera. But people can get to opera by liking Andrea’s pop stuff. And when he sings opera or classical stuff, since it’s all amplified, and recorded, and he’s singing in that nice lyric way, they won’t feel put-off. That’s a big point of contention for the real opera fan or the real opera critic. They’re saying that’s not real. That’s a recording studio or an amplified reality. What happens to the poor opera singer who lives day in and day out, who’s screaming their guts out, trying to cut over an orchestra? Of course they’re going to sound more histrionic, even on recording, because that’s the way they sing. Likewise, that’s why a lot of opera singers, when they sing pop music, tend to sound exaggerated. Because they learn what the Italians call l’impostazione, a way of placing the voice in this way to cut glass over the second row, and they don’t know how to turn that off. Steven Mercurio
Pavarotti’s great career therefore ended with a virtual performance, something sad but inevitable. It would have been too dangerous for him, because of his physical condition, to risk a live performance before a global audience. First I recorded a number of versions of the orchestra playing the aria, then [I] took the tapes to the small studio at Pavarotti’s house in Modena. He selected the right version before I directed him alone as he sang along, while being recorded. He found the force to repeat it until he was completely satisfied. Then he collapsed on his wheelchair and closed his eyes, exhausted. (…)  The orchestra pretended to play for the audience, I pretended to conduct and Luciano pretended to sing. The effect was wonderful. Leone Magiera
Beginning with the premise that a listener always wants the most beauty possible, it would have been interesting to offer ticket buyers in Modena this choice: ripe Pavarotti, U.S.D.A.-inspected, guaranteed and pretested; or Pavarotti as a gamble on the unknown — and given the lack of rehearsal time a bad gamble at that. It was going to be his voice either way. Everyone, of course, would reject the simulation to see what happened. The explanation they would no doubt give is that live sound is better than recorded sound. But I think the real reason would be something else. It’s the time factor. People don’t want to be two-timed. Everything we do in life is geared to cause and effect, and when Mr. Pavarotti opens his mouth, we insist on not knowing what will come out. Public performance is more of a sporting event than we like to admit. We talk about beauty, but we all keep score. Picture a soccer match on television. Diego Maradona is outwitting defenders and speeding toward the enemy goal. Now picture Mr. Pavarotti and the Modena concert’s producer, Tibor Rudas, in the telecast booth. « Maradona looks off balance, » they say to themselves. « This isn’t going to be a very beautiful kick. But wait. Remember that great goal by Di Stefano for Real Madrid 35 years ago. We have that right here, queued up on tape. Our fans deserve the most beautiful football we can give them, so let’s cut from Maradona and show them this instead. » How could soccer fans possibly complain? The substitute is going to have just about the same look: two-dimensional and shrunk to the scale of a television screen. And it is more beautiful. But of course they are going to complain. Soccer fans are being denied the link of action to consequence, the motion of time, the chunk of data that connects the past (Maradona’s approach) and the future (the result of his kick). If anyone was cheated by Mr. Pavarotti, it was the good citizens of Modena, the ones who were in attendance when it happened. They had the great man in front of them, sharing the same space, the same moment. They had their right to the present and to the unknown. For BBC listeners who could not see the Pavarotti lips moving out of whack with the music, ignorance may have been bliss and the sounds divine. When broadcasters record « live » events for future transmission (which they frequently do), the margin for complaint narrows even more. Here the thrill of the moment was never theirs to begin with. Frozen on tape, a firsthand experience is now secondhand. Mr. Pavarotti’s tactic would change the process to a thirdhand experience of a secondhand event. The difference isn’t all that dramatic. The Maradona analogy reminds us of the two kinds of listening going on in music these days: what is about to happen versus what has already happened. The dichotomy, which actually predates electronics by a generation or two, began with the marketing of eternal masterpieces, unmovable and omnipresent. Here, you get to know the music so well that, after bar 50, bar 51 is scarcely a surprise. Recordings — the kind Mr. Pavarotti lip-synced to — have simply reinforced the syndrome. You not only know exactly what, but exactly how. This is the little self-deception we exercise every time we play a favorite record or tune in a « Live From Lincoln Center » repeat. If we don’t already know the results, we at least know that if the performance had been a disaster, it wouldn’t be there for us to hear in the first place. Maybe Mr. Pavarotti wasn’t fooling his listeners any more than they have consented to fool themselves. Bernard Holland
Audiences have changed. People who go and hear Bocelli hear opera in soundbites – just one aria from Boheme or Tosca, like you would hear a pop song. … It’s more that I have such respect for what it takes to be a great jazz or pop artist that I know how few opera singers can really do that. To be Ella Fitzgerald, who to me is one of the greatest singers ever, you have to improvise, you have to be raw, you need to be able to lose that trained style that can sound so mannered. Collette
Compared with sopranos, tenors are a rare breed, partly because the way in which they sing is unnatural. The natural male voice is a baritone. With training, some voices have the ability to go down and become bass or bass baritone, fewer have the ability to go up and become tenors. But if the voice is forced, it can be ruined, as has happened to many great tenors with short careers. And there is no magic formula in terms of a teaching method. Each voice is unique and determined by factors such as nationality, which will influence the sound the larynx can produce – in some countries, the language spoken produces a more open sound than others. Who you like is also very much a question of personal taste. John Cargher
Bocelli has gone about it the other way round, beginning his career as a recording artist before attempting to earn credibility in staged productions. The reason for this is obvious: Bocelli’s blindness is a serious obstacle, not only in terms of the dramatic interaction with fellow cast members but in terms of his relationship with the conductor. In the 19th century, conductors followed singers when it came to tempo, these days it’s the other way round. But there is no way that Bocelli can follow a conductor he can’t see. The result is that his limited appearances in opera productions have been treated with derision by unforgiving critics. At one stage Bocelli’s management, it’s rumoured, offered several opera companies around the world the opportunity to use the star in a fundraising concert in exchange for casting him in an operatic production. All of them declined. Kevin Berger
Bocelli is, plain and simple, a San Remo smoocher who was snapped up by desperate classical labels as a marketing gimmick – it’s the blind leading the deaf. He is rarely in tune and never in tempo. Listen to his recording of the Verdi Requiem and blush. The conductor, Valery Gergiev, only tolerated him because he was assured that it would multiply sales and it did, but no person of discrimination would keep it in the house. Norman Lebrech
It’s more that I have such respect for what it takes to be a great jazz or pop artist that I know how few opera singers can really do that. To be Ella Fitzgerald, who to me is one of the greatest singers ever, you have to improvise, you have to be raw, you need to be able to lose that trained style that can sound so mannered. These days it is the fashion, and indeed universally expected, for tenors to take high notes at full volume, but this was not always the case. Until the 1850s, top Cs were sung falsetto. Audiences now would feel cheated if deprived of the thrill of anticipating whether or not a singer will clear the bar of the last note in the first act of La Boheme. And today we also expect our tenors to be true romantic leads, as in the case of the suavely handsome Roberto Alagna. These days what’s expected of a singer is that he has to have all the vocal ability plus he has to have the acting talents and presence of a theatre actor or a Hollywood star. Record companies and opera management know that’s what audiences want. … The concept exploited unique opportunities to build a global crossover audience of people who might never feel comfortable in the supposedly starchy atmosphere of an opera house, but wanted to hum along to Nessun Dorma. It was a logical, irresistible opportunity: the association with sport enabled opera to score a goal with an added oomph of virility. The Sydney Morning Herald
La technique d’enseignement des conservatoires de musique a tendance à polariser les élèves entre deux solutions extrêmes, la professionnalisation et l’échec, aux dépends de l’amateurisme actif, qui se trouve de fait peu encouragé par la pratique normale du conservatoire, par sa fermeture sur lui-même et l’exclusivité de son répertoire. Antoine Hennion, Françoise Martinat, Jean-Pierre Vignole
Si la musique commence lorsque la formation est terminée, cela implique que les élèves n’ayant pas atteint le niveau requis pour devenir virtuose ne seront jamais musiciens. Il en résulte, en France, un malentendu qui jalonne l’histoire de l’inscription sociale de la musique, où la place et le statut de l’amateur dans la société n’a pas été pensée, car elle n’est tout simplement pas pensable dans un tel contexte. La figure du musicien virtuose, telle qu’elle est si parfaitement incarnée par le violoniste Morel de Marcel Proust, chasse toute possibilité d’envisager l’amateurisme, lequel ne se conçoit alors que de manière négative : l’amateur est celui qui a échoué à devenir musicien, qui n’a pas atteint la perfection ; qui ne jouera donc jamais de musique. Le nageur qui reste sur son tabouret n’est pas un nageur, le musicien qui ne joue pas de musique n’est pas un musicien. Noémi Lefebvre
 Si les publications sur ce qu’on appellera par commodité « le rock », et ses publics, sont aujourd’hui bien répandues, le grand absent des travaux sur les musiques populaires est incontestablement ce qu’on range sous la catégorie « musique de variété ». La raison principale en est sans doute que, alors que le rock à la suite du jazz a acquis ses lettres de noblesse au fur et à mesure qu’il cessait de devenir l’expression de la rébellion postadolescente et que les politiques publiques le consacraient comme nouveau territoire légitime d’intervention, la variété reste considérée comme le vilain petit canard de la portée : au mieux, une musique à faire pleurer à bon compte dans les chaumières, une sorte d’équivalent du roman à l’eau de rose pour ménagères rêvant d’évasion ; au pire, la version la plus aboutie et donc idéologiquement la moins défendable de l’industrie musicale, une machine à vendre du disque et à asséner des tubes sur les radios, des tubes forcément simplistes qui puissent plaire au plus grand nombre. Cette légitimité inexistante de la variété est probablement accentuée par le fait que les valeurs qu’elle met en scène – dans les textes des chansons autant que par certains arrangements « dégoulinants » – sont l’expression d’un certain romantisme, valeur que la division sexuelle des loisirs a pendant longtemps et sans doute encore aujourd’hui attribué préférentiellement aux femmes (alors que le rock est plutôt du côté des pratiques et des représentations masculines). Philippe Le Guern

Attention: un miracle peut en cacher bien d’autres !

En ces temps où, avec les progrès de la médecine, l’oreille absolue sera bientôt à la portée du premier venu …

Mais où les exigences et les cadences infernales tant de l’opéra moderne que des grand messes sportives contraignent les chanteurs contre-nature que sont les ténors à la retraite précoce ou à la tricherie du playback

Pendant que, comme vient de le redémontrer le Washington Post, la beauté semble plus que jamais dans l’oreille de celui qui écoute …

Et qu’en France, un enseignement de la musique centré sur la virtuosité technique ne laisse aucune place au simple amateur …

Comment ne pas voir, de sa condamnation médicale dès la naissance à sa perte ultérieure de la vue (le privant largement du contact indispensable avec le chef d’orchestre) et,  sans compter une église qui en lui refusant le remariage le contraint au concubinage, son rejet actuel par les professionnels de l’opéra toujours plus guindés …

Le véritable miracle de la consécration désormais planétaire de l’ancien chanteur de piano-concert devenu ténor lyrique Andrea Bocelli (plus de 40 millions de disque vendus) ?

Beyond the criticism: Deconstructing Andrea Bocelli’s voice

Kevin Berger

The Los Angeles Times

December 8, 2010

Steven Mercurio knows Andrea Bocelli well. The dynamic New York-based conductor has guided some of the world’s best singers, including Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, on celebrated opera stages. Because of his passionate approach to all styles of music, and his natural talents as a teacher, Mercurio was called upon to school Bocelli through his first starring performance in an opera, Rodolfo in « La Boheme, » in 1998. Since then Mercurio has conducted Bocelli in countless stage performances and recordings, arranged many of his songs, and been his good friend.

I didn’t want to devote my Los Angeles Times profile of Bocelli, who’s appearing Friday at Staples Center, to retreading the timeworn critical controversy over his voice. But I did want to hear from the straight-shooting Mercurio, whose infectious energy is matched by his musical intelligence. I asked him to explain, if he didn’t mind, Bocelli’s vocal range to me. He didn’t mind at all.

« I believe Andrea’s voice is similar to the way people sang bel canto at the time bel canto was written, » Mercurio said. « It was a chest voice admittedly up to G, maybe A-flat. Everything after that, basically from A-flat or A on, goes into a mixed voice. It’s half head, half chest. Andrea can get to a G, maybe an A-flat, in that full voice. After that, which was bel canto tradition, they turned it into, if not a real falsetto, a mixed voice. If you look at some of these old Donizetti things, written up to high Bs, by the time they were singing that high, they were singing in a falsetto. Andrea has always had this sort of half voice.

« Now, if you’re trying to sing B-flat and Cs, which opera singers like the Marcello Giordanis of the world do, well, they’re singing those high notes in full voice. And when they sing over an orchestra, they cut glass. In other words, it gets really exciting. Whereas Andrea’s voice, amplified, is just fine. Singing that stuff on stage unamplified is where the issue is. »

How would he explain Bocelli’s popularity?

« Andrea’s voice comes originally from the pop side, » Mercurio said. « It comes from the pop side so it speaks clearly. And so when he sings opera in that style it doesn’t sound overly mannered. Now that has pros and cons. This is where the big battle comes. Because the opera purist will say, ‘Well, that’s not really an opera voice. Because he can’t do what the so-called real opera singers do on stage. He can’t do those high notes. They don’t grow and get bigger.’ But therefore he’s less histrionic.

« So people who are coming from a non-opera background will say, ‘Oh, isn’t it nice to hear that?’ Because Andrea doesn’t sound like he’s exaggerating, he sounds like he’s just singing in a nice lyrical way. So it’s easy for people to approach that without feeling like they’re hearing somebody barking in that exaggerated operatic way. People who don’t know how to approach opera.

« But people can get to opera by liking Andrea’s pop stuff. And when he sings opera or classical stuff, since it’s all amplified, and recorded, and he’s singing in that nice lyric way, they won’t feel put-off. That’s a big point of contention for the real opera fan or the real opera critic. They’re saying that’s not real. That’s a recording studio or an amplified reality. What happens to the poor opera singer who lives day in and day out, who’s screaming their guts out, trying to cut over an orchestra? Of course they’re going to sound more histrionic, even on recording, because that’s the way they sing. Likewise, that’s why a lot of opera singers, when they sing pop music, tend to sound exaggerated. Because they learn what the Italians call l’impostazione, a way of placing the voice in this way to cut glass over the second row, and they don’t know how to turn that off. »

Voir aussi:

Andrea Bocelli worked hard to become a big draw

With a concert tour stop at Staples Center, he is a long way from the days of singing classic pop covers in piano bars. He looks back at his time as a struggling singer with fondness.

Kevin Berger

The Los Angeles Times

December 9, 2010

Reporting from New York

Friday evening, as Christmas lights glittered outside the window of his Central Park hotel suite, Andrea Bocelli was doing his best to explain himself in English. At his side was gracious Italian translator Maria Galetta, ready to help out. But the singer remained determined to find the right words himself.

Ten years ago, at a peak of his international stardom, Bocelli wrote an ingratiating memoir. He frankly described his blindness, the pains and prejudices he confronted as a kid, and the years he scraped by as a piano singer in bars and clubs in his native Tuscany. Why had he called his book « The Music of Silence »?

Bocelli, 52, furrowed his brow and leaned forward. He was unshaven and wearing a white-knit sweater, open at the neck. He had a day off from his Christmas tour, which arrives Friday at Staples Center, and had the look of a perennial performer glad to be free for a moment from his tailored suits and image. A seriousness took hold.

« First, silence is part of music, » he said slowly in English. « In the scores, the pauses are very important. Second, because in our society, what we really miss is the silence. We live in a society full of big sounds, big confusion, big mess, you know? Everywhere there is music, in the elevator, in the restaurant, in the cars, at theaters. Cars, they make noise, the engines. There’s no place where we can feel the peace of silence. For this reason I discovered that silence is music for me. »

A gentle lyricism and warm tone animate Bocelli’s singing voice. His hugely popular repertoire glides from the classic Neapolitan songs of Enrico Caruso to swooning pop duets with Celine Dion, or, as the case will be at Staples Center, Heather Headley, best known for her marquee Broadway roles in « The Lion King » and « Aida. »

Bocelli’s forays into opera have enchanted fans — though seldom critics, who argue he doesn’t have the vocal prowess and range of a classically trained tenor. Steven Mercurio, who has worked with Bocelli on stage and in the studio more often than any other conductor, agreed.

But, said Mercurio in a phone interview — he is busy conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on tour with Sting — Bocelli’s voice is « expressive and lyrical. » When Bocelli stays true to his range, Mercurio added, « he sounds beautiful. »

Given Bocelli’s romantic mystique, it’s surprising, and refreshing, to revisit his memoir. He wanted to explain his life to his sons (Amos, 15, and Matteo, 13), he said, and composed his book like a novel. « It’s easier to do it telling a story, » he said. « Because otherwise you end up writing an essay. Nobody’s interested in an essay. »

Did he also want to set the record straight, given so many others had written about him? « No. Because honestly I read probably 1% of the things that people write about me. »

As Bocelli acknowledged, the book has been poorly translated from Italian into English, which may explain why it quickly disappeared in the U.S. after being published in 2002. Still, it lays bare a little hellion — his parents called him Terremoto (earthquake) — behind the international hits.

Bocelli was born with congenital glaucoma and had partial sight until he was 12. He attended a school for the blind and one day, while playing goalie in a soccer game, was struck in the face by a ball.

The ball had a special metal plate in it so the kids could hear it when kicked. The plate caught Bocelli in the eye that had allowed him to see light and colors.

At the hospital, doctors attempted to stop the hemorrhage. They placed leeches between Bocelli’s eye and temple to suck out the blood. The treatments failed. From that point on, Bocelli would have to learn to live with complete blindness, like one learns to live « with sadness and pain, » he wrote.

Bocelli soon forged an internal fortitude about his blindness. As he wrote, referring to himself in third person, « He felt himself capable of doing everything that other boys his own age did, and claimed the right to be treated and judged by the same standards as everyone else. »

Bocelli has never veered from that attitude. Mercurio recalled that after their performances of the Jules Massenet opera « Werther » at the Detroit Opera House in 2000, he would drive Bocelli to the Detroit Athletic Club and teach him to play basketball. « I’d put him on the foul line and stand under the basket and say, ‘No, shoot a foot higher,’  » Mercurio said. « When it went in and he heard the swish he went out of his mind. »

Bocelli hates to talk publicly about his blindness. Journalists are warned by his publicist that he may end the interview if they bring it up. In private it’s a different story. « With friends he’ll say anything, » Mercurio said.

Given Bocelli’s lavish fame — spotlighted by his massive concerts at the Statute of Liberty, St. Peter’s Basilica, Leicester Square — it’s hard not to ask him to reflect on the nights in the1980s when he sang over clinking glasses, through clouds of cigarette smoke, in Italian clubs.

He fondly remembered one club that was part disco, part bar.

Patrons would meander between thumping disco music in one room and him playing the piano in another. What songs did he sing?

« Classic pop music like Frank Sinatra, Charles Aznavour, Stevie Wonder. the Beatles, » Bocelli said. He started singing in a jarringly flawless American voice, « Don’t go changing to try and please me, you never let me down…. » He laughed.

Reminded that he called that period of his life « dissolute, » Bocelli let slip a sly grin. « I had many friends, some girlfriends, » he said.

Galetta, the translator, conferred with him in Italian. « In Italian, female friends and girlfriends can easily be confused, » she said.

Bocelli assured her he meant « girlfriends. »

One summer night in an open-air club in the town of Chianni, a 17-year-old fan, Enrica Cenzatti, introduced herself to Bocelli. The two fell in love and married when Bocelli got his first big break — an endorsement from Luciano Pavarotti, who had heard and liked one of Bocelli’s demos.

Bocelli, Cenzatti and their boys moved to the coastal commune of Forte dei Marmi. The marriage unraveled in 2002; today Bocelli lives with his girlfriend and manager, Veronica Berti, in a villa near his wife, whom he hasn’t divorced, and their kids.

Talking about his carefree nights as the piano man seemed to put Bocelli in a slightly melancholic mood. « When I played in the piano bar I was very comfortable, much more than now, » he said. « Because now I have many responsibilities. Many people come to my concerts just for me. And often the tickets are very expensive. And I am sorry for this. At that time I spent my time very easy. Now it’s much more difficult. But I feel a big affection from the people. »

Indeed, it must feel like he’s come a long way from singing « Strangers in the Night » to 30 people, toasting him with shot glasses of grappa? This time he responded without hesitation. « Many, many kilometers. »

Voir également:

The king of popera

The Sydney Morning Herald

August 28, 2004

He may be a hit with the masses, but tenor Andrea Bocelli has few fans within opera’s establishment, writes Caroline Baum.

It’s no accident that IMG, the global entertainment management company that represents the world’s biggest sporting stars (Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, Michael Schumacher) also has a few of the world’s top tenors in its stable. Tenors are the elite athletes of the opera world, the Olympians of track and field: they need the stamina of the marathon runner, the quick reflexes of the sprinter and the vocal and physical agility of the hurdler.

The late Mark McCormack, IMG’s founder, understood that, blessed with natural gifts and sometimes freakish talents, tenors could be as profitable as champions. So it’s no coincidence that these days you are as likely to hear a tenor in a sporting arena as you are in an opera house.

No one embodies the new « popera » genre more than Andrea Bocelli, the 46-year-old Italian tenor who has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide since 1997.

A love of sport had tragic consequences in Bocelli’s life, when he was blinded in an accident during a soccer game at home in Tuscany.

But that disability has also contributed to his success, creating an aura of sympathy and pathos around him. In other ways, he has been blessed, with several lucky breaks leading to a career no one could have envisaged for a lawyer who sang Sinatra songs in piano bars to pay for his musical tuition.

Bocelli’s big chance came when Luciano Pavarotti heard him singing a song by U2’s Bono on an audition tape. Pavarotti later invited Bocelli to sing a duet with him at a concert. The audience went wild and has been doing so ever since.

Yet when Bocelli comes to Sydney, he’ll be performing at the SuperDome at Sydney Olympic Park, not at the Opera House, singing to a capacity crowd of 18,000 each night. And thanks to amplification and giant-screen technology, everyone will be able to hear and see him as if they had the best seat in the house, something you can’t always guarantee in a conventional theatre.

But it is the very use of such technology that helps, at least in part, to explain the sniffy attitude that means Bocelli is not taken seriously by true opera lovers. The fact that he sings into a microphone disguises the inherent lack of power in his voice, they contend.

For purists, the power of a tenor’s voice is very much part of the thrill. The microphone is to opera what illicit drugs are to sport.

Not that Bocelli is the first, or the only operatic tenor to resort to such aids. Pavarotti’s former manager, Herbert Breslin, reveals in a new kiss-and-tell book to be published later this year that the legendary tenor would occasionally lip-synch during concerts if he was tired.

It’s a claim never before made in the world of opera, but common in pop, which relies completely on amplification and its many tricks to boost vocal effect.

As Opera Australia’s managing director Adrian Collette explains: « Amplification doesn’t just augment the voice, it can cover up a lot of mistakes.

« Bocelli, for example, has a small voice and sings out of tune from time to time, but the amplification reverb helps cover that up. It can also extend notes so they sound like they’re being held longer. »

Without the phenomenal success of the Three Tenors (Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carerras), there would have been no precedent for the Bocelli phenomenon. It was they, and their canny managers, who embraced the notion of arena performances.

In a stroke of marketing genius, impresarios such as Mario Dradi, who staged the first Three Tenors concert in Rome in 1990, and Tibor Rudas, who managed several of Pavarotti’s outdoor concerts, brought together the three most charismatic male voices of the second half of the 20th century.

The concept exploited unique opportunities to build a global crossover audience of people who might never feel comfortable in the supposedly starchy atmosphere of an opera house, but wanted to hum along to Nessun Dorma. The Three Tenors brand (a registered trademark) played on the trio’s shared passion for football, making their first performance at a soccer World Cup.

It was a logical, irresistible opportunity: the association with sport enabled opera to score a goal with an added oomph of virility.

Of course, it helped that on their own, each of the Three Tenors possessed prodigious talents, enormous reputations, undoubted charisma and a devoted following, but were sufficiently different in style and temperament to make the mystique of the tenor an elusive quality.

In the case of Pavarotti it is the sweet natural beauty of his voice and an unmistakable presence; in the case of Domingo, the darker timbre of the voice plus a dramatic intensity; and in Carreras, a matinee idol persona heightened by a sense of tragedy (he overcame life-threatening leukaemia with a bone marrow transplant).

Enrico Caruso, considered by many the greatest tenor of all time, defined a great tenor as, « a big chest, a big mouth, 90 per cent memory, 10 per cent intelligence, lots of hard work and something in the heart ».

What he could not foresee as being equally crucial was the power of management and marketing, although he took part in the beginning of the era of mass communication as the first tenor to make a recording, thereby guaranteeing himself the largest operatic audience in the world at that time.

Mario Lanza, to whom Bocelli is sometimes compared, made the transition from opera singer to crossover artist by starring in several Hollywood movies, in the process tarnishing his operatic credibility and reducing him to the status of schmalzy crooner at a time when the synergy between film, considered a lowbrow medium, and opera, a highbrow medium, had not been fully understood. It was something that Domingo, a consummate actor, seized on to great success in films like Tosca and La Traviata.

Breslin, a veteran of the opera world who once also represented Joan Sutherland, says: « Several things have changed: first of all, there are very few great tenors around, so of course the public is hungry for what they can get and are prepared to settle for second best. When Pavarotti began his career, there were a dozen brilliant tenors singing around the world, which kept standards very high.

« Secondly, audiences have changed. People who go and hear Bocelli hear opera in soundbites – just one aria from Boheme or Tosca, like you would hear a pop song. »

Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras had already earned themselves impeccable credentials as the finest tenors of the age inside opera’s inner sanctum, performing the traditional repertoire to critical acclaim in the most august houses on the circuit, such as La Scala, Covent Garden and the Metropolitan.

Bocelli has gone about it the other way round, beginning his career as a recording artist before attempting to earn credibility in staged productions.

The reason for this is obvious: Bocelli’s blindness is a serious obstacle, not only in terms of the dramatic interaction with fellow cast members but in terms of his relationship with the conductor. In the 19th century, conductors followed singers when it came to tempo, these days it’s the other way round. But there is no way that Bocelli can follow a conductor he can’t see.

The result is that his limited appearances in opera productions have been treated with derision by unforgiving critics. At one stage Bocelli’s management, it’s rumoured, offered several opera companies around the world the opportunity to use the star in a fundraising concert in exchange for casting him in an operatic production. All of them declined.

Opera Australia’s Collette, who has only heard Bocelli on recordings, describes his voice as « pretty, light, with a very individual colour and timbre – he’s got a unique sound ». He insists that he’s not a snob about singers who attempt to crack the highly lucrative crossover market, singing popular tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Weber or the Beatles along with a bit of Puccini and Verdi.

« It’s more that I have such respect for what it takes to be a great jazz or pop artist that I know how few opera singers can really do that. To be Ella Fitzgerald, who to me is one of the greatest singers ever, you have to improvise, you have to be raw, you need to be able to lose that trained style that can sound so mannered.

« If you’re Domingo, you’re not Hugh Jackman. There’s only one tenor in Australia who has had real success as a crossover artist and that’s David Hobson, whose voice suits the lighter repertoire in opera as well as musicals. »

Breslin is reluctant to call Bocelli an opera singer, but recognises that he is a great entertainer « who sings pretty songs in a nice voice, a bit like Engelbert Humperdinck ».

Compared with sopranos, tenors are a rare breed, partly because the way in which they sing is unnatural, as John Cargher, the doyen of opera connoisseurs explains.

« The natural male voice is a baritone. With training, some voices have the ability to go down and become bass or bass baritone, fewer have the ability to go up and become tenors. But if the voice is forced, it can be ruined, as has happened to many great tenors with short careers. And there is no magic formula in terms of a teaching method. Each voice is unique and determined by factors such as nationality, which will influence the sound the larynx can produce – in some countries, the language spoken produces a more open sound than others. Who you like is also very much a question of personal taste. »

And, like wine (which Bocelli’s father produces at the family vineyard, under the label of Chianti Bocelli), some voices mature better than others.

These days it is the fashion, and indeed universally expected, for tenors to take high notes at full volume, but this was not always the case. Until the 1850s, top Cs were sung falsetto. Audiences now would feel cheated if deprived of the thrill of anticipating whether or not a singer will clear the bar of the last note in the first act of La Boheme. And today we also expect our tenors to be true romantic leads, as in the case of the suavely handsome Roberto Alagna.

Pavarotti was the exception to the rule, simply because the quality of his voice meant audiences made allowances for him. « He was an irresistible force, » says Collette, who, having heard the singer live, calls him « one of the two or three greatest ever ».

« These days what’s expected of a singer is that he has to have all the vocal ability plus he has to have the acting talents and presence of a theatre actor or a Hollywood star, » Collette says. « Record companies and opera management know that’s what audiences want. For the OA, the bottom line is if you can’t sing it, no matter how well you act or look, you won’t get the role. »

Among the current batch of homegrown tenors singing with Opera Australia, Collette singles out Stuart Skelton as « the one to watch ». Cargher also mentions Skelton, together with three other Australian tenors building a reputation with their performances in European opera houses: Steve Davislim, Julian Gavin and Glen Winslade.

But no one is suggesting that any of these singers is going to fill a sports stadium. And despite the best efforts of Alan Jones and friends, former shoe repair man Peter Brocklehurst, featured recently on the ABC’s Australian Story program and in Good Weekend magazine pursuing his dream of becoming a tenor at the age of 44, is not, according to the opera world’s sharpest ears, a contender.

London opera critic Norman Lebrecht, who has written several books on the classical music world, sees the triumph of Bocelli as a cynical exercise on the part of a recording industry facing diminishing audiences.

« Bocelli is, plain and simple, a San Remo smoocher who was snapped up by desperate classical labels as a marketing gimmick – it’s the blind leading the deaf. He is rarely in tune and never in tempo.

« Listen to his recording of the Verdi Requiem and blush. The conductor, Valery Gergiev, only tolerated him because he was assured that it would multiply sales and it did, but no person of discrimination would keep it in the house. »

Of course, such criticism is unlikely to deter his hundreds of thousands of (mostly female) fans around the world. They’ll keep buying his CDs, pelting him with red roses and begging for encores of French and Italian love songs, swooning in the aisles over Bocelli’s potent combination of vulnerability, intensity and good looks.

For them, the future looks rosy: Bocelli, could have another 20 years as a successful recording artist and arena performer ahead of him. Perhaps the shrewdest assessment that IMG’s Mark McCormack made is that, unlike athletes, whose peak performance period usually spans a brief time, tenors can go the distance for far longer than any marathon man.

Andrea Bocelli performs with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the SuperDome on September 17 and 18.

A fistful of top tenors

Roberto Alagna, Franco-Italian

Is married to star soprano Angela Gheorghiu; as opera’s royal couple, they appear in many productions together.

Ramon Vargas, Mexican

A glamorous lyrical tenor, suited to the romantic repertoire.

Juan Diego Florez, Peruvian

Brilliant in ornamental, florid repertoire, such as Rossini.

Josef Calleja, Maltese

Tipped by some as the next Pavarotti.

Ben Heppner, Canadian

Heroic tenor particularly suited to big Wagnerian roles.

Jose Cura, Argentinian

Like Domingo, is also pursuing a career as a conductor.

Marcello Alvarez, Argentinian

Quit his job in a furniture factory to pursue an operatic career at 30.

Salvatore Licitra, Italian

Replaced Pavarotti to debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Voir encore:

Critic’s Notebook; Pavarotti Lip-Syncs, And the Echoes Are Far-Reaching

Bernard Holland

The New York Times

October 27, 1992

The BBC, by all reports, is not happy with Luciano Pavarotti. The British broadcasters bought the rights to a Sept. 27 concert in Modena, Italy, and discovered that the Italian tenor had silently moved his mouth (inexpertly, some of those present said) to recorded music. Mr. Pavarotti’s part in this two-hour event was small, but the BBC paid for the real thing and wants some of its money back. Mr. Pavarotti says he did it because he had had no time to rehearse.

Deciding what the term « real thing » means has not been so easy since music first started using electrical current. Once upon a simpler time, a musician made a noise and someone else’s ears received it. Now there are an awful lot of wires in between. There is nothing artificial about them. They have become part of the music.

Sound engineers possess little boxes that can make the inside of a small recording studio sound like a cathedral, and vice versa. And can we call Mr. Pavarotti’s little subterfuge fraudulent when Frank Sinatra’s voice in concert is being reconstituted by microphones, amplifiers and loudspeakers on its way to paying customers?

The Sinatra transaction and the Pavarotti caper aren’t the same, but the confusions between live and electronic are. Modena is different mainly in the time gap between the original « real thing » and the synthesized « real thing. » Maybe the BBC ought to be glad it caught Mr. Pavarotti in such good voice, even if it wasn’t the one he had on Sept. 27.

Beginning with the premise that a listener always wants the most beauty possible, it would have been interesting to offer ticket buyers in Modena this choice: ripe Pavarotti, U.S.D.A.-inspected, guaranteed and pretested; or Pavarotti as a gamble on the unknown — and given the lack of rehearsal time a bad gamble at that. It was going to be his voice either way.

Everyone, of course, would reject the simulation to see what happened. The explanation they would no doubt give is that live sound is better than recorded sound. But I think the real reason would be something else. It’s the time factor. People don’t want to be two-timed. Everything we do in life is geared to cause and effect, and when Mr. Pavarotti opens his mouth, we insist on not knowing what will come out. Public performance is more of a sporting event than we like to admit. We talk about beauty, but we all keep score.

Picture a soccer match on television. Diego Maradona is outwitting defenders and speeding toward the enemy goal. Now picture Mr. Pavarotti and the Modena concert’s producer, Tibor Rudas, in the telecast booth. « Maradona looks off balance, » they say to themselves. « This isn’t going to be a very beautiful kick. But wait. Remember that great goal by Di Stefano for Real Madrid 35 years ago. We have that right here, queued up on tape. Our fans deserve the most beautiful football we can give them, so let’s cut from Maradona and show them this instead. »

How could soccer fans possibly complain? The substitute is going to have just about the same look: two-dimensional and shrunk to the scale of a television screen. And it is more beautiful.

But of course they are going to complain. Soccer fans are being denied the link of action to consequence, the motion of time, the chunk of data that connects the past (Maradona’s approach) and the future (the result of his kick).

If anyone was cheated by Mr. Pavarotti, it was the good citizens of Modena, the ones who were in attendance when it happened. They had the great man in front of them, sharing the same space, the same moment. They had their right to the present and to the unknown. For BBC listeners who could not see the Pavarotti lips moving out of whack with the music, ignorance may have been bliss and the sounds divine.

When broadcasters record « live » events for future transmission (which they frequently do), the margin for complaint narrows even more. Here the thrill of the moment was never theirs to begin with. Frozen on tape, a firsthand experience is now secondhand. Mr. Pavarotti’s tactic would change the process to a thirdhand experience of a secondhand event. The difference isn’t all that dramatic.

The Maradona analogy reminds us of the two kinds of listening going on in music these days: what is about to happen versus what has already happened. The dichotomy, which actually predates electronics by a generation or two, began with the marketing of eternal masterpieces, unmovable and omnipresent. Here, you get to know the music so well that, after bar 50, bar 51 is scarcely a surprise. Recordings — the kind Mr. Pavarotti lip-synced to — have simply reinforced the syndrome. You not only know exactly what, but exactly how.

This is the little self-deception we exercise every time we play a favorite record or tune in a « Live From Lincoln Center » repeat. If we don’t already know the results, we at least know that if the performance had been a disaster, it wouldn’t be there for us to hear in the first place. Maybe Mr. Pavarotti wasn’t fooling his listeners any more than they have consented to fool themselves.

Voir de plus:

Pavarotti mimed at final performance

· Millions watched tenor’s opening of Olympics

· Star’s conductor Leone Magiera reveals secret

Tom Kington in Rome

Monday 7 April 2008 00.04 BST

On a freezing February night in 2006, an ailing Luciano Pavarotti rose from his wheelchair at the opening of the Turin Winter Olympics to give a resounding rendition of the aria Nessun Dorma, his final public performance before he died of cancer last September.

Details have emerged of how the opera singer was unsure of his weakening voice and faked the live appearance in front of a TV audience of millions, using video trickery, careful lipsynching and a compliant orchestra that pre-recorded its backing days earlier.

« Pavarotti’s great career therefore ended with a virtual performance, something sad but inevitable, » said Leone Magiera, the star’s longtime pianist and conductor, who has revealed the ploy in a book. « It would have been too dangerous for him, because of his physical condition, to risk a live performance before a global audience. »

Magiera said that the trick took days to set up. « First I recorded a number of versions of the orchestra playing the aria, then [I] took the tapes to the small studio at Pavarotti’s house in Modena, » he said.

« He selected the right version before I directed him alone as he sang along, while being recorded. »

In the book, Pavarotti Visto da Vicino, or Pavarotti Seen from up Close, Magiera says: « He found the force to repeat it until he was completely satisfied. Then he collapsed on his wheelchair and closed his eyes, exhausted. »

Less than a week later, just before the Olympics ceremony, Pavarotti was filmed on stage miming to the recordings as the orchestra pretended to play behind him.

On the big night, that video was played for TV audiences along with the pre-recorded music, while crowds in the stadium heard the music and saw conductor, singer and orchestra faking it for a second time.

« The orchestra pretended to play for the audience, I pretended to conduct and Luciano pretended to sing. The effect was wonderful, » Magiera wrote in the book.

The effect was good enough for one fan who wrote on YouTube after watching the video: « Knowing when to cut off that final high note to match a tape would be next to impossible … It’s live, it’s him. »

Looking back, Magiera said he preferred to recall another performance given by Pavarotti in the 1990s, this time to a deserted opera house in the Amazon jungle. Built in 1896 for rubber barons, the opulent Amazon Theatre featured in the film Fitzcarraldo.

« He was determined to sing at the old opera house in Manaus, where he was convinced Caruso had once sung, » he said.

« We went up there by boat, located a piano but found the theatre out of use. Nevertheless, we went in and he sang two arias from Tosca, E lucevan le stelle and Recondita armonia to an audience of about five. »

Magiera’s memoir details Pavarotti’s struggle to work, even as he succumbed to pancreatic cancer. While giving lessons to young singers, he would drift off, whereupon his Peruvian assistant would ring him on his mobile phone. Jerked awake, Pavarotti « would immediately make a more or less relevant observation about the performance he had only partly listened to ».

At the end, even his legendary appetite deserted him, Magiera writes. When he could not eat the plate of rigatoni he had asked for, « he looked at me with a sad smile and said ‘That’s a bad sign for me if I prefer mashed potato to macheroni’. »

Voir de même:

Andrea Bocelli Miracle Birth Gave Us Music

Fool’s gold today

In 1958 a pregnant mother went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. A diagnosis of acute appendicitis was made and surgery was the obvious best option.

It can be a formidable challenge to anesthetize and do surgery on a pregnant patient, especially non-obstetric surgery. Every time I face such a case, I am well aware that I must take care of two patients, and their lives and well-being are equally important to me. The stakes are increased not only because there are two individuals under my care, but because pregnancy increases the anesthetic risk for the mother significantly.

Imagine how much more difficult this situation was in 1958, when surgical and anesthetic technique was not nearly as developed as today!

At the time of surgery, the young mother-to-be was advised to abort her baby due to the risk of developmental defects as a result of surgery and anesthesia. But contrary to medical advice, the mom trusted God and decided to keep the baby in the hopes things will work out alright.

She gave birth to a boy who had congenital glaucoma, but who was otherwise healthy. He had decreased vision, and following some trauma during a football game he lost his vision at age 12.

But this boy was special for a different reason. He was blessed with an unbelievable talent. He had and continues to have the voice of an angel.

During a concert he thanked his mother, Edi, who made the right decision to allow him to live so he can bless the world with the common grace of beautiful music. He ended up selling over 70 million records, and his music is well-loved throughout the world.

That musician’s name is Andrea Bocelli.

Voir encore:

Andrea Bocelli : une voix et un coeur.

Un chanteur lyrique qui flirte avec la variété et dont le grand Al Jarreau a dit qu’il avait « la plus belle voix au monde » : portrait.

Andrea Bocelli est né le 22 Septembre 1958 dans la ferme familiale Lajatico (Toscane). Il devient aveugle à l’âge de 12 ans à la suite d’un glaucome congénital aggravé par un diabète chronique. Il apprend le braille dans une école spécialisée de Reggio Emilia où la beauté de sa voix lui permet de devenir soliste dans le choeur. Selon ses propres termes, il ne se souvient pas avoir vécu sans passion pour la musique, et il a poursuivi très tôt le rêve de devenir chanteur d’opéra. Durant l’adolescence, il gagne nombre de concours de chant mais choisit par prudence de passer un diplôme de Droit à l’Université de Pise tout en faisant quelques apparitions remarquées dans les bars musicaux de la ville dans un répertoire allant d’Aznavour à Sinatra. Le réel tournant dans sa vie d’artiste est sa rencontre avec le légendaire ténor Franco Corelli qui accepte de prendre comme élève celui qu’il surnomme « l’ange aveugle ». Fini le Droit et les cafés-concerts…

En 1992, la rock-star italienne Zucchero Fornaciari, qui avait besoin d’un ténor de doublure pour lui donner la réplique dans la préparation du duo « Miserere » à chanter avec Luciano Pavarotti, recrute Andrea Bocelli. Pavarotti est enchanté. Le jeune débutant est ensuite approché par la maison de disque Sugar Label dont la présidente l’a entendu chanter le fameux « Nessun dorma » du Turandot de Puccini lors d’une soirée privée. La maison de disque fait en sorte de faire inviter son protégé au Festival de San Remo où il obtient le succès escompté et une révélation au public italien. Le reste du monde le découvre à l’occasion de la sortie du tube planétaire « Con te partirò », numéro 1 en France pendant six semaines et meilleure vente de disques de tous les temps en Allemagne…

En 1994, Luciano Pavarotti invite personnellement Andrea Bocelli au festival Pavarotti de Modène où il chante en duo avec le Maestro (qui l’a désigné comme son successeur) mais aussi avec Bryan Adams, Andreas Vollenveider et Nancy Gustavsson. « Le ténor qui voit avec le coeur » passe même la veillée de Noël aux côtés du Pape! L’année suivante, il fait une tournée télévisée triomphale en Europe où il partage la vedette avec Al Jarreau, Bryan Ferry, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) et John Miles. Depuis, il a chanté sur les scènes les plus prestigieuses avec la plupart des stars mondiales.

Ses grands débuts sur une scène d’opéra se font en 1998 à Cagliari (Sicile) dans une production de la Bohème de Puccini, où il tient le rôle de Rodolphe. Malheureusement, sa voix rencontre des difficultés à « passer la fosse d’orchestre », pour employer l’expression des critiques lyriques : Bocelli ne réussit pas à cette occasion à être reconnu par la presse et les « aficionados » comme le grand ténor capable d’enflammer le public des salles d’opéra. A la scène, c’est donc vers la carrière de chanteur de variétés qu’il s’oriente, tout en poursuivant son travail de ténor pour le disque, enregistrant les arias les plus célèbres du répertoire et quelques intégrales lyriques à destination du grand public. Marié en 1993, Andrea Bocelli est le père de deux garçons. Il a, dit- il, fait sienne la devise du Petit Prince de Saint- Exupéry : « On ne voit qu’avec le coeur; l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux »…

Voir encore:

A Requiem for Classical Music?

Julie Lee

Boston Fed

Regional ReviewQuarter 2, 2003

A man stands surrounded by women. He is tall and handsome with long, flowing hair; the women are worshipful, kneeling at his feet. There is one particularly zealous admirer with large scissors, ready to cut a lock of his hair. If it weren’t for the corsets and bustles, this could be a scene of a rock star being hounded by hysterical female fans. Yet, this is a caricature from 1876 depicting Franz Lizst and admirers after one of his concerts.

A lot has changed since then. Today, such an enthusiastic reception is reserved for teen pop idols and movie stars. Even as overall sales of music grew steadily until the late 1990s, the sales of classical music CDs hovered at a scant 3 to 4 percent of the total. Record companies such as BMG Classics are slashing the number of new classical releases or, like CRI (a not-for-profit label which has recorded 42 Pulitzer Prize-winning composers), closing altogether. Classical music stations have disappeared in many cities; one-third of the nation’s top 100 radio markets do not have a classical station. After 63 years, ChevronTexaco’s radio broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera House will be off the air next year. Many symphony orchestras are cutting back programs and suffering financial difficulties. The Pittsburgh Symphony is selling its concert hall. A sign of the times: the “Death of Classical Music Archive” on ArtsJournal.com contains more than 50 recent articles on the topic.

At the same time, it is easier than ever to buy any classical CD one might desire. A recent search on Amazon.com for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 yielded a staggering 874 options, including 276 different recordings of a complete performance of all four movements. The choices included every imaginable compilation (from Beethoven: Greatest Hits to Beethoven: Super Hits) and every possible price point (from $2.98 for a performance by an unnamed orchestra to $101.98 for a boxed set with famed conductor Herbert von Karajan). Previously hard-to- find works are also more readily available. As a piano student 20 years ago, I had trouble locating Debussy’s “Children’s Corner” (a suite of miniatures for piano) performed by Walter Gieseking—but Amazon instantly offered up two choices.

Moreover, attendance at classical concerts appears to be rising slightly. According to a 1997 survey commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, more than 15 percent of respondents attended a classical music event the previous year, a 3 percentage point increase from five years earlier. And while classical’s share of CDs is not large, it appears to have held steady over the past 20 years.

So, is classical music dying? Or are the reports of its demise simply exaggerated?

A STAR IS BORN:

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CLASSICAL MUSIC BUSINESS

Everybody knows classical music when they hear it. It’s old. It’s serious. It’s stuffy. Yet, classical music is an imprecise term, generally referring to Western music from medieval times to the present day. Most of what is commonly called classical music is indeed old, dating back to the sixth century when church chants were first written down and codified. However, much new classical music is being written right now, and much more is still to be written. During the 2002-2003 season alone, 207 works were premiered worldwide.

It is often assumed that all classical music is serious and is written with artistic merit as its purpose. But that is not the case. Classical music can be complex, deep, and intellectually meaty (like Beethoven or Brahms symphonies), but it also can be light, irreverent, and frivolous (like Strauss waltzes). And while knowledge and familiarity can enhance one’s enjoyment of classical music, they are not required, much in the way one needn’t be an Elizabethan scholar to enjoy Shakespeare or a film studies major to enjoy movies. Many people enjoy classical music with little or no formal training.

Whatever its pretensions, artistic or otherwise, until the 19th century the classical music business was relatively prosaic. The composer was a staff function within the machinery of social organizations like the royal court, which employed musicians to sing and play for worship in the cathedral and for entertainment at the palace. Many prominent composers, including Monteverdi, Haydn, and Mozart, held such positions. These hired composers/conductors/music directors generally worked at the whim of their employers, who were not always interested in music. Haydn is said to have composed the “Surprise” symphony to wake dozing patrons after a big meal and the “Farewell” symphony to send his employer a message that it was time to cut short a stay in the country because the musicians were homesick.

Consequently, many famous works in classical music were composed because they were in the job description. For example, J.S. Bach (1685-1750) wrote his cycle of cantatas so that his choir would have a piece to perform each Sunday. And he dedicated the Brandenburg Concertos to a potential employer, as a job application of sorts. By all accounts, Bach was a methodical and industrious employee, “in the business of holding jobs.” He did not set out to create masterpieces of artistic importance; those turned out to be fortunate by-products.

The rise of the bourgeois class by the eighteenth century set the stage for change, including the appearance of freelance composers, star performers, and the modern market for music. As music moved out of the salons of aristocracy to the concert halls of the middle class, it became a public commercial activity in which the professional musicians performed for the paying audience. By the nineteenth century, many of the principles governing the classical music business today were already in place. The new system of an organized market for mass consumption of music required two key elements: star performers to attract an audience, and the supporting business apparatus to deliver the star and the music to the public efficiently. There were tickets to sell, seats to fill, and stars to manufacture and market.

Which bring us back to Franz Lizst (1811-1886), a Hungarian- born composer-pianist and, along with Nicolò Paganini, the first modern virtuoso and international superstar. First and foremost, there was his brilliant technique. In the words of Felix Mendelssohn, “Lizst has a certain suppleness and versatility in his fingers, as well as a thoroughly musical feeling, which may nowhere find its equal.” But Lizst was also a showman. He heightened the effect of his technique by performing from memory (a requirement on today’s stage) and by refusing to share the stage with other musicians (before him, there were no solo recitals and no instrumentalist gave a concert without others). And not unlike today’s rock stars, his extra-musical activities and scandalous love affairs were integral to his mystique. Although critics and detractors considered him cheap and flashy, those very qualities made him a star. He gave his audience what they wanted.

The twentieth century brought additional ways to consume music and new ways to promote star performers. Recordings, radio, television, and eventually the Internet further increased the potential audience for classical music. Tenor Enrico Caruso was the first recording star. His 1904 performance from the opera I Pagliacci became the first record to sell one million copies; and several other artists had top ten hits in the years between 1900 and 1920. Superstar conductors like Arturo Toscanini, Eugene Ormandy, and Leopold Stokowski were successful enough to become household names. Although accurate sales figures are hard to come by, Ormandy and Toscanini are reported to have sold more than 20 million records each over the course of their careers. And Stokowski shook hands with twentieth-century pop icon, Mickey Mouse, in Disney’s 1940 movie, Fantasia.

WHERE’S THE MONEY?

THE CASE OF THE RECORDING INDUSTRY

In spite of the commercial success of its biggest stars, classical music recordings were not traditionally expected to make much of a profit, at least not a quick one. The typical recording sold at a relatively slow rate, two or three thousand on first release, but steadily over a longer period. Walter Legge, arguably the best-known record producer in the history of classical music, said that he wanted to make records that would sell for 20 or 30 years—and 40 years later, many still do. But this also meant that many recordings (especially those by large orchestras) wouldn’t make a profit until they were reissued as part of a midprice or budget series.

For the most part, record companies seemed content with the prestige and comparatively small profit margins of their classical recordings or were willing to subsidize them with profits from their pop divisions. They kept their focus on “documenting” star performances. “The major labels all operated on the principle that the best way to make money was to record prominent names in standard repertory. . . [and they] signed exclusive contracts with the biggest artists they could find,” wrote music critic Terry Teachout in Commentary. Under this regime, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price, Artur Rubinstein, and other big names continued to sell records into the 1960s and 1970s. Bernstein, in particular, brought classical music into millions of homes during the 1960s with his television series introducing classical music to young people.

But cracks were appearing in the traditional business model. The market for classical music and its star performers began to shrink if not in absolute sales, at least relative to the alternatives: Elvis, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson. The explosion of other entertainment options such as television, movies, and later videogames only intensified the competition for the audience’s time and pocketbook.

Moreover, this stars-and-standard repertory approach also resulted in market saturation of the core product, the Bach-Beethoven-Brahms fare constituting the canon. Since a “new” product meant a recording of an old piece by a young performer or a second recording by a veteran, the number of recordings of a relatively small number of pieces eventually proliferated. The result was a catalog consisting of tens of thousands of titles—the majority concentrated in the standard repertory—which was expensive for labels and retailers to maintain and potentially confusing to fans.

The industry also underwent several periods of consolidation including, a particularly intense round of mergers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For example, Decca, a British label founded in 1929, merged with Polygram in 1980 (which itself was formed by a merger of Deutsche Grammophon and Philips in 1972) and then was incorporated into Universal Music after its purchase in 1998. Similarly, RCA (Toscanini’s label) is now part of Bertelsmann, a German conglomerate, and Columbia Records (Vladimir Horowitz’s label) is part of Sony. As a division within a multinational conglomerate, these labels now competed directly with the more lucrative popular music divisions, and faced increasing pressure to maximize profits.

THE THREE TENORS

It was under these circumstances, that classical music experienced its most unprecedented commercial triumph. The phenomenal success of the Three Tenors in the early 1990s changed expectations and set a new standard for the industry. “Gone were the days when it was acceptable for classical music sales to chug along at a few hundred per year. Now they were expected to perform like popular music divisions,” observed Ian Lace in BBC Music Magazine.

José Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti, the three tenors of world renown, first sang together as a trio for the 1990 World Cup in Rome. What nobody could have imagined was the extraordinary success of this venture. About 800 million people worldwide saw the television broadcasts, and the recording, The Three Tenors in Concert, became by far the bestselling classical album of all time, with sales exceeding 10 million. The Three Tenors became both a franchise and a marketing concept. They went on to sing at subsequent World Cups (Los Angeles in 1994, Paris in 1998, and Yokohama in 2002), and spawned imitators like the Three Sopranos and even the Three Chinese Tenors.

In addition to making the singers extremely rich, The Three Tenors in Concert had an enormous effect on the business. It demonstrated that a classical CD can sell in the millions. In the way that Star Wars changed the movie industry, The Three Tenors instigated the industry’s relentless search for the next blockbuster that would immediately sell millions. Marketing became more expensive and sophisticated as companies worked to amplify small successes into hits. And some predicted this would help build a new, larger audience for classical music.

Such efforts have been successful to a point, leading to a string of highly popular crossover albums that topped pop charts. A 1992 recording of Henryk Górecki’s Third Symphony, a mournful work for soprano and orchestra by the contemporary Polish composer—previously more cult figure than superstar —sold more than 1 million CDs. Even more successful was Chant, recorded by Benedictine monks in northern Spain. Originally promoted by EMI Spain as an antidote to stress, the company undertook a U.S. marketing campaign after sales began to rise that included reducing the two-CD recording to one disc, shortening the title from Las Mejores Obras del Canto Gregoriano (The Best of Gregorian Chants) to the snappier Chant, commissioning an eye-catching new cover, and even shooting a video clip to accompany “Alleluia, beatus vir qui suffert.” Sales, in excess of 4 million, probably amount to more copies than all other Gregorian chant CDs combined.

Yet, a business strategy based on crossover blockbusters has turned out to be unreliable. Just as nobody had imagined the extraordinary success of The Three Tenors, finding and marketing the next classical mega-hit has been difficult and unpredictable, with little guidance from the three very different hits mentioned above: The Three Tenors is a crowd-pleasing medley of songs including the greatest hits of the opera repertory sung by the reigning tenors of the day; Chant consists of simple, unaccompanied melodies from the very beginning of Western music; and Górecki’s Third Symphony is a somber piece in the minimalist tradition by a modern composer. Notes then senior vice president at Decca (the record label responsible for The Three Tenors): “There are occasional miracles…but such blockbusters are rare. . . . They have to be seen as special, almost freak occurrences.”

Moreover, if Amazon’s “customers also bought” links are any indication, such one-time hits don’t appear to have spilled over into increased sales in the standard repertoire. Customers who purchased The Three Tenors have also bought other crossover CDs, like Pavarotti’s Greatest Hits or The #1 Opera Album, but don’t appear to have ventured into traditional opera CDs, like Pavarotti’s Turandot or La Bohème.

While the major recording companies pursued the seductive but elusive lure of mega-hits, a number of companies have been quite successful—commercially and artistically—by taking other approaches. The label Naxos, for example, records new versions of the standard repertory without star performers to keep costs reasonable; Hyperion and others specialize in recording and releasing less often heard, more adventurous works. (See sidebar.) The success of these firms suggests that classical music may still have some life in it yet.

REVERENCE VS. RELEVANCE:

THE CASE FOR EXPANDING THE AUDIENCE

It is worth noting that concerns about the health of classical music have popped up fairly regularly. In 1980, a New York Times article announced a “classical crisis” in the recording industry. In 1971, another New York Times piece noted a decline in classical radio stations going back to 1967; in 1949, articles in other publications complained of similar circumstances.

Yet, a closer look suggests that the demand for classical music seems to have held fairly steady, at least over the past 20 years. During that time, the share of classical recordings has remained relatively stable at about 3 to 5 percent. (The figure briefly reached an unusually high 7 to 8 percent in the late 1980s as classical music buffs replaced their LPs with CDs.) Moreover, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, 30 million adults (16 percent) had attended a classical music event in the previous 12 months—on par with the rates for jazz concerts and plays but smaller than for watching TV (96 percent) or going to the movies (66 percent). However, in reviewing all the evidence for an article published by the Symphony Orchestra Institute, Professor Douglas Dempster, of the Eastman School of Music concluded, “Classical music is more widely heard and available, performed at a higher level of preparation and artistry,

So, what is the source of the evident concern? One reason may be that there are simply so many other options competing for our scarce leisure time and our ever-rising disposable income. A hundred years ago, we didn’t have TV. Fifty years ago, there was no Internet. Twenty-five years ago, the $10 billion video game industry was in its infancy. As the entertainment market offers an ever-increasing number of options, classical music’s fight for our attention has become more competitive and makes the classical audience look small, even as it holds on to its share. If Lizst had to vie with the Matrix Reloaded or video games such as Grand Theft Auto III, would he have captured the public’s imagination?

Some argue that classical music has more intrinsic value than other forms of entertainment because of its significance for our musical tradition and its intellectual complexity. But whether this makes it more valuable depend on why one listens to music. We may admire the musical facility in Mozart or be challenged by the expansive musical canvas in Mahler, but be more profoundly moved by “Amazing Grace” on a lone bagpipe.

Still, classical music’s prevailing culture and conventions do feel increasingly out of sync with contemporary experience. As most people will tell you, a modern classical music concert is an entirely somber, serious affair for performers and audiences alike. It is predictable and almost lifelessly professional. No classical music stage today would tolerate the onstage shenanigans of Vladimir de Pachmann, a world-famous nineteenth-century pianist who earned millions touring and was known to dip each finger in brandy before a recital. Although the dress code has relaxed somewhat in recent years—much to the horror of the old guard—some rules are strictly observed, such as no applause between movements. These conventions may seem unnecessarily restrictive for those who have known only dress-casual workplaces.

This widening gap between the conventions of classical music and the rest of society tends to reinforce classical music’s image as music for the economic elite. And yet this image is not entirely borne out by the facts. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, the classical music concert audience is no richer than audiences for jazz or musical plays. (See sidebar in full-text PDF.) This survey shows that the level of participation in all arts rises with income. It is not simply that classical music audiences tend to be richer than other audiences, but that all audiences tend to be richer than average. Moreover, both rich and poor share similar preferences. For example, musical plays are more popular than classical music at each income level, with similar relative participation rates.

Perhaps more worrisome is the cultural elitism of many people in the classical music community. The fact that there are 276 versions of Beethoven’s 5th, already tends to foster an atmosphere where someone who can’t tell one from the other is made to feel less than welcome. Even those in the business end, “encouraged the attitude that you have to be able to spell Tchaikovsky backwards to be qualified to buy something,” noted the President of EMI Classics back in 1990. And some classical music proponents criticize any attempt to reach a wider audience as “dumbing down.” They view the enormous popularity of The Three Tenors and other crossover albums as a phenomenon that degrades or reduces the status of classical music. In the words of essayist Joseph Epstein: “The bloody snobbish truth is, I prefer not to think myself part of this crowd [his fellow audience at a Pops concert]. I think myself…much better—intellectually superior, musically more sophisticated, even though I haven’t any musical training whatsoever and cannot follow a score.” This attitude, albeit half-joking, may hurt classical music’s ability to reinvent itself and adapt to the modern audience and the modern world.

On the contrary, to emotionally connect to today’s audiences and capture their imaginations will take vision and innovation. But there are examples out there. One of the most unlikely successes on Broadway last year was a production of Puccini’s La Bohéme, the 1896 opera about a doomed love between Mimi, a Parisian seamstress, and Rodolfo, a starving poet. While the music is exactly as Puccini wrote it and the characters sing in Italian, Baz Luhrmann, the director of Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge, reimagined the story set in 1957. More importantly, he ignored the usual opera conventions and hired singers who looked and acted the parts. Although purists criticized the quality of the singing and objected to the use of microphones, Luhrmann’s experiment shows that there is an enthusiastic new audience for classical music if classical music is made relevant.

Even in tradition-bound solo recitals, old customs are loosening up. At the end of a recent recital, Maxim Vengerov, a rising twenty-something violinist, picked up a microphone and talked to the audience for 20 minutes. On a stage where the only thing usually uttered by the soloist is the announcement of the encores, his entertaining anecdotes and sincere answers to questions left the audience more connected to both the music and the musician.

REPRISE

Classical music may never be the most popular music. And changes are afoot in the industry—and not only in classical music —as the Internet and other technological advancements roil the landscape and challenge traditional ways of doing business. For example, the initial success of Apple’s iTunes Music Store suggests there may be new and viable ways of buying recorded music over the Internet. These developments may change the ways in which we consume and experience classical music. But that does not necessarily signal its demise.

However, both artists and business people need to think hard about who their future audience is going to be and how to make classical music exciting and relevant to that audience. Whether by delivering neglected repertory, or offering fresh interpretations of old favorites to a small but dedicated audience, or by shedding antiquated conventions and trying to expand into new territory, in the end, successful strategies will need to make people care about the music. These experiments may mean the death of the classical music business as we know it, but also may provide an opportunity for rebirth and renewal.

Indie Classical (sidebar)

Is it possible to make money in today’s classical recordings business without blockbuster crossovers? Absolutely, says Naxos, the world’s bestselling budget label, with 15 percent of classical CD sales in the U.K., 25 percent in Canada, and more than 5 percent in the U.S. While the major labels pursued blockbusters, Naxos, founded in 1987, focused on producing the standard repertory cheaply. “My ambition was to make classical recordings available on CD at a price comparable to that of LPs,” states Klaus Heymann, founder and chairman.

Think of Naxos as the Southwest Airlines of classical CDs. It delivers classical music without frills and at rock-bottom prices. It hires young or unknown recording artists, many from Eastern Europe, and pays them a flat fee with no added royalties. It keeps one recording of each work in its catalog, limiting the catalog to about 2,500 titles and eliminating duplication of repertoire. It doesn’t waste a lot of money on expensive promotions. That way, it can sell its CDs for $6.98, not $16.98. And it sells a lot of CDs. Enough to be profitable in spite of budget prices.

The other successful strategy focuses on niche markets and nonstandard repertory. Hyperion, a British label founded in 1980, and others have taken this approach. “I didn’t see the point in doing the 103rd version of the New World Symphony, so I went for the more neglected areas, but not so neglected that nobody would buy them,” said Hyperion founder Ted Perry. The label’s first hit was an album of Latin hymns by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), which sold over 150,000 copies. Along with Nonesuch, which released Górecki’s Third Symphony and the works of other contemporary composers, Hyperion has shown that record companies can be profitable by exploiting a niche market that has been neglected in the catalogs of the major labels.

Julie Lee is a health economist. After years of piano lessons, she is more comfortable as a fan of classical music than as a performer.

Voir enfin:

Pierre Bourdieu : Les aventuriers de l’île enchantée

entretien avec Catherine Portevin et Jean-Philippe Pisanias

Télérama n°2536

19/08/98

Conclusion naturelle de notre série d’entretiens avec le sociologue avant la sortie en librairie, le 26 août, de son livre, La Domination masculine (éd. du Seuil) et l’amour ? Quelle place a-t-il dans ces rapports de force que sont les relations entre les hommes et les femmes ?

Souvent, en lisant Bourdieu, on s’était posé cette question. À nous qui nous croyions des individus libres et indépendants, toute son oeuvre ne cessait de révéler nos déterminismes sociaux. Nos choix professionnels, affectifs, esthétiques, nos fragilités, nos souffrances ou nos assurances, nos ascensions sociales ou nos ruptures, nos façons de parler ou de penser, nos adhésions conscientes ou inconscientes répondent à des logiques sociales, selon nos origines, nos généalogies, le  » champ  » auquel nous appartenons… Dans tout ça, peut-il seulement exister un sentiment pur, un amour vrai, irréductible au social et qui soit un des moteurs les plus puissants de l’existence?

C’est la première fois, à notre connaissance, que Pierre Bourdieu répond à cette question. Et par l’affirmative; un oui à la fois enflammé et prudent, enthousiaste et sage.

TELERAMA: Vous dessinez, en conclusion de votre livre, un  » amour pur « , seul  » îlot enchanté  » ou peuvent s’annihiler les rapports de domination entre les sexes. Qu’est-ce, en la circonstance, que la pureté?

PIERRE BOURDIEU : Pur, cela veut dire indépendant du marché, indépendant des intérêts. L’amour pur, c’est l’art pour l’art de l’amour, l’amour qui n’a pas d’autre fin que lui-même. L’amour de l’art et l’amour pur sont des constructions sociales nées ensemble au XIXe siècle. On dit toujours que l’amour remonte au siècle des troubadours, ce n’est pas faux. Mais l’amour romanesque, tel que nous le connaissons, est vraiment une invention de la vie de bohème, et c’est entièrement le sujet de L’Education sentimentale, de Flaubert : la confrontation entre l’amour pur et l’amour  » normal « ,…

TRA : C’est quoi, l’amour normal ?

P.B. : C’est l’amour socialement sanctionné. L’amour pur s’invente chez les artistes, chez les gens qui peuvent investir dans une relation amoureuse du capital littéraire, du discours, de la parole… Tout ce que Flaubert a mis dans son roman. Les trois femmes qu’il met en scène sont chacune une des représentations de l’amour et se définissent les unes contre les autres. Mme Dambreuse est l’incarnation de l’amour bourgeois, Mme Amoult de l’amour pur et Rosanette, de l’amour vénal et mercenaire. Et l’amour pur se définit à la fois contre l’amour bourgeois qui a pour objectif la carrière, et contre l’amour vénal qui a pour objectif l’argent. Les deux étant en fait des amours mercenaires.

TRA Est-ce que, dès lors, cet amour pur est forcément une transgression sociale ?

P.B. : Oui, dans la mesure où il est en rupture avec l’ordre social qui demande d’autres gages. L’amour pur, c’est l’amour fou ; l’amour social convenable est un amour subordonné aux impératifs de la reproduction pas seulement biologique mais sociale.

TRA : Il peut tout de même y avoir de l’amour, là-dedans aussi ?

P.B. : Evidemment, c’est aussi de l’amour. Mais pas de l’amour fou. C’est de l’amour conforme, de l’amour du destin social, l’amor fati. On aime sa  » promise « . Ces constats de la sociologie désespèrent beaucoup en général. Or, quand on étudie statistiquement les mariages, on observe qu’ils unissent des hommes et des femmes de même milieu. Autrefois, cette homogamie était garantie et aménagée par les familles ; c’était le mariage de raison, de raison sociale. Aujourd’hui, les garçons et les filles se rencontrent de manière apparemment libre, et l’homogamie fonctionne toujours. Dans le Béarn, j’ai étudié les effets de ce passage des mariages arrangés aux mariages libres, le bal devenant le  » marché  » où se nouaient les unions d’où sortiront les mariages. Ce qui est intéressant, c’est qu’ils ne sont le produit ni d’un choix ni de l’intervention d’une instance supérieure (la famille) ; ils sont le produit de dispositions sociales qu’on appelle amour…

Peut-être, d’ailleurs, avons-nous un taux de divorce élevé parce que nous investissons dans le mariage des attentes démesurées. C’est lié, en particulier, aux femmes qui dépendent plus des valeurs d’amour que les hommes. Pour – j’insiste encore – des raisons uniquement sociologiques qui n’ont rien à voir avec la supposée  » nature  » féminine. On dit souvent que les femmes sont romanesques, et c’est vrai, dans tous les milieux, à tous les niveaux, comme l’atteste le fait que les femmes ont partie liée avec la lecture et la littérature.

TRA L’amour pur serait alors I’ exception, forcément éphémère. Et il ne semble pouvoir exister qu’hors du monde. N’est- il pas possible cependant que, même en se colletant au monde, aux contraintes sociales, il reste le plus fort?

P.B. : Cela arrive. La littérature est remplie des triomphes de l’amour pur. Dans la réalité, cette île enchantée sans violence, sans domination, est vulnérable en diable. Ce n’est pas raisonnable, raisonnable voulant dire conforme aux réalités sociales. C’est  » miraculeux « , avec beaucoup de guillemets, miraculeux sociologiquement : c’est peu probable, cela peut arriver, mais cela a une chance sur mille. La réciprocité parfaite, l’émerveillement réciproque, c’est voué au dépérissement… ne serait-ce que sous l’effet de la routine.

Les gens n’aiment pas que l’on explique des choses qu’ils veulent garder  » absolues « . Moi, je trouve qu’il vaut mieux savoir. C’est très bizarre que l’on supporte si mal le réalisme. Dans le fond, la sociologie est très proche de ce qu’on appelle la sagesse. Elle apprend à se méfier des mystifications. Je préfère me débarrasser des faux enchantements pour pouvoir m’émerveiller des vrais  » miracles « . En sachant qu’ils sont précieux parce qu’ils sont fragiles.

TRA : Et si on chassait toutes les marques de la domination masculine, quelle serait la part possible, entre les hommes et les femmes, de la séduction (dont vous dîtes qu’elle est une reconnaissance implicite de la domination sexuelle), du jeu entre les êtres, voire du charme?

P.B. : Certains intellectuels défendent la tradition française de la courtoisie, en s’inquiétant de la voir mise en péril par ce désenchantement actuel de la relation hommes/femmes. Ce genre d’attitude, qui va souvent de pair avec la méfiance à l’égard du féminisme, m’est très antipathique parce que c’est une manière moderne de s’en rapporter à de vieilles lunes. Ce n’est pas intéressant et puis c’est faux. Est-ce que la lucidité sur les rapports entre les sexes, ou sur les rapports sexuels en général, pourrait détruire tout enchantement? Je n’en suis pas sûr.

Cela débarrasserait au contraire les relations de ce qui les encombre, de la mauvaise foi (au sens sartrien de  » mensonge à soi-même « ), de la tricherie, des malentendus.

Dieu sait si je ne suis pas très optimiste mais, sur certains terrains, l’analyse des effets de domination symbolique a une vertu clinique. Cela détruit les contraintes que les gens s’imposent parce qu’ils sont dans des rôles pré-constitués, dans des  » programmes  » sociaux. L’un pour faire l’homme, l’autre pour faire la femme.

TRA : Quand on voit le succès de la pilule Viagra, on se dit que ce n’est pas demain la veille, tant la virilité reste une valeur et une angoisse…

P.B. : Une angoisse parce qu’une valeur. Le succès de la pilule Viagra n’est que l’attestation visible de ce qui se sait depuis longtemps dans les cabinets médicaux ou psychanalytiques.

Les hommes, surtout, pourraient se simplifier la vie. Le rôle masculin m’est très insupportable depuis très longtemps dans son côté faiseur, bluffeur, m’as-tu-vu, exhibitionniste. Si les rapports masculins/féminins (qui se reproduisent aussi chez les homosexuels) étaient dépouillés de ce devoir d’exhibition, on respirerait mieux. Les numéros d’hommes, c’est tuant!


Polémique Dieudonné: Après le mariage, la victimisation pour tous ! (Streisand effect: How demonization keeps France’s defrocked multiculturalist poster child alive)

5 janvier, 2014
Manifestation de soutien à Dieudonné le 28 décembre 2013.http://commentisfreewatch.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/next.jpeghttps://i0.wp.com/img.over-blog-kiwi.com/0/20/39/77/201312/ob_4cb4fd5b214abe66efb2a1bde6351932_pi30-jpg.jpeghttps://i2.wp.com/img.over-blog-kiwi.com/0/20/39/77/201312/ob_e75f461b6fd55538c3e699cc1f6c5738_soralberlin-jpg.jpeghttps://i0.wp.com/img.over-blog-kiwi.com/0/20/39/77/201312/ob_5f121e_1475866-446627335441323-1693066782-n-jpg.jpeghttps://i2.wp.com/www.gabrielglewis.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/strangelove.jpgPresque aucun des fidèles ne se retenait de s’esclaffer, et ils avaient l’air d’une bande d’anthropophages chez qui une blessure faite à un blanc a réveillé le goût du sang. Car l’instinct d’imitation et l’absence de courage gouvernent les sociétés comme les foules. Et tout le monde rit de quelqu’un dont on voit se moquer, quitte à le vénérer dix ans plus tard dans un cercle où il est admiré. C’est de la même façon que le peuple chasse ou acclame les rois. Marcel Proust
Il ne faut pas dissimuler que les institutions démocratiques développent à un très haut niveau le sentiment de l’envie dans le coeur humain. Ce n’est point tant parce qu’elle offrent à chacun les moyens de s’égaler aux autres, mais parce que ces moyens défaillent sans cesse à ceux qui les emploient. Les institutions démocratiques réveillent et flattent la passion de l’égalité sans pouvoir jamais la satisfaire entièrement. Cette égalité complète s’échappe tous les jours des mains du peuples au moment où il croit la saisir, et fuit, comme dit Pascal, d’une fuite éternelle; le peuple s’échauffe à la recherche de ce bien d’autant plus précieux qu’il est assez proche pour être connu et assez loin pour ne pas être goûté. Tout ce qui le dépasse par quelque endroit lui paraît un obstacle à ses désirs, et il n’y a pas de supériorité si légitime dont la vue ne fatigue sas yeux. Tocqueville
Il y a en effet une passion mâle et légitime pour l’égalité qui excite les hommes à vouloir être tous forts et estimés. Cette passion tend à élever les petits au rang des grands ; mais il se rencontre aussi dans le cœur humain un goût dépravé pour l’égalité, qui porte les faibles à vouloir attirer les forts à leur niveau, et qui réduit les hommes à préférer l’égalité dans la servitude à l’inégalité dans la liberté. Tocqueville
Depuis que l’ordre religieux est ébranlé – comme le christianisme le fut sous la Réforme – les vices ne sont pas seuls à se trouver libérés. Certes les vices sont libérés et ils errent à l’aventure et ils font des ravages. Mais les vertus aussi sont libérées et elles errent, plus farouches encore, et elles font des ravages plus terribles encore. Le monde moderne est envahi des veilles vertus chrétiennes devenues folles. Les vertus sont devenues folles pour avoir été isolées les unes des autres, contraintes à errer chacune en sa solitude. Chesterton
L’antisémitisme est le socialisme des imbéciles. Ferdinand Kronawetter ? (attribué à August Bebel)
Imaginons deux enfants dans une pièce pleine de jouets identiques. Le premier prend un jouet, mais il ne semble pas fort intéressé par l’objet. Le second l’observe et essaie d’arracher le jouet à son petit camarade. Celui-là n’était pas fort captivé par la babiole, mais – soudain – parce que l’autre est intéressé cela change et il ne veut plus le lâcher. Des larmes, des frustrations et de la violence s’ensuivent. Dans un laps de temps très court un objet pour lequel aucun des deux n’avait un intérêt particulier est devenu l’enjeu d’une rivalité obstinée. René Girard
C’était une cité fortement convoitée par les ennemis de la foi et c’est pourquoi, par une sorte de syndrome mimétique, elle devint chère également au cœur des Musulmans. Emmanuel Sivan
Il faut se souvenir que le nazisme s’est lui-même présenté comme une lutte contre la violence: c’est en se posant en victime du traité de Versailles que Hitler a gagné son pouvoir. Et le communisme lui aussi s’est présenté comme une défense des victimes. Désormais, c’est donc seulement au nom de la lutte contre la violence qu’on peut commettre la violence. René Girard
L’effet Streisand est un phénomène médiatique au cours duquel la volonté d’empêcher la divulgation d’informations que l’on aimerait garder secrètes – qu’il s’agisse de simples rumeurs ou de faits vérifiés – déclenche le résultat inverse. Par ses efforts, la victime encourage malgré elle l’exposition d’une publication qu’elle souhaitait voir ignorée. Il s’agit donc à proprement parler d’un « effet pervers ». Wikipedia
Que veut, en fait, Dieudonné ? Il veut un ‘Holocauste’ pour les Arabes et pour les noirs aussi. (…) La noble idée de « la guerre contre le racisme » se transforme graduellement en une idéologie hideusement mensongère. Et cet antiracisme sera, pour le XXIe siècle, ce qu’a été le communisme pour le XXe. Alain Finkielkraut
Nous sommes entrés dans un mouvement qui est de l’ordre du religieux. Entrés dans la mécanique du sacrilège : la victime, dans nos sociétés, est entourée de l’aura du sacré. Du coup, l’écriture de l’histoire, la recherche universitaire, se retrouvent soumises à l’appréciation du législateur et du juge comme, autrefois, à celle de la Sorbonne ecclésiastique. Françoise Chandernagor
La lisibilité de la filiation, qui est dans l’intérêt de l’enfant, est sacrifiée au profit du bon vouloir des adultes et la loi finit par mentir sur l’origine de la vieConférence des évêques
C’est un moment génial de l’histoire de France. Toute la communauté issue de l’immigration adhère complètement à la position de la France. Tout d’un coup, il y a une espèce de ferment. Profitons de cet espace de francitude nouvelle. Jean-Louis Borloo (ministre délégué à la Ville, suite à des manifestations anti-guerre d’Irak marquées par nombre de cris d’ »A mort les juifs! », avril 2003)
Juifs et musulmans pour moi, ça n’existe pas. Donc, antisémite n’existe pas, parce que juif n’existe pas. Ce sont deux notions aussi stupides l’une que l’autre. Personne n’est juif ou alors tout le monde … pour moi, les juifs, c’est une secte, une escroquerie. C’est une des plus graves parce que c’est la première. Certains musulmans prennent la même voie en ranimant des concepts comme « la guerre sainte » … Dieudonné (Lyon Capitale, 23 janvier 2002)

En dépit de l’emploi des termes « secte et escroquerie », le contexte de l’entretien en cause laisse apparaître qu’en critiquant d’autres religions en des propos également vifs, le prévenu a seulement manifesté son hostilité au principe même du fait religieux et qu’ainsi, les invectives proférées ne s’adressent pas à la communauté juive en tant que telle.
Tribunal correctionnel de Paris (30 juin 2004)
Replacés dans leur contexte, les termes « les juifs, c’est une secte, c’est une escroquerie » relèvent d’un débat théorique sur l’influence des religions et ne constituent pas une attaque dirigée contre la communauté juive en tant que communauté humaine ». Cour d’appel de Paris (9 février 2006)
Je ne comprends pas qu’on puisse assimiler ce geste à un geste nazi, alors que c’est un bras d’honneur à l’horizontale ! Les gens qui disent ça ont simplement de vraies obsessions. Jean-Marie Le Pen
Cohen , il a dit que j’avais un cerveau malade , alors tu vois , quand j’entends parler Patrick Cohen, je me dis les chambres à gaz… Dommage ! Dieudonné
Je n’ai pas le droit à la prison, c’est évidemment une très très grande déception, parce que je m’y étais préparé, ça faisait partie de ma campagne promotionnelle. Dieudonné
While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it. When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful. Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions. Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt. Tony Parker
La quenelle est avant tout un code identitaire, qui a acquis une vraie popularité chez les jeunes. Difficile de dire que tous aient conscience de la portée de ce geste». .. une mouvance transversale, antisystème et complotiste, dont l’antisémitisme reste la colonne vertébrale. Leur vision du monde est celle d’un ordre mondial dominé par l’axe Washington-Tel-Aviv. Derrière les discours fustigeant l’Otan et la finance internationale, tout en soutenant Bachar al-Assad et Hugo Chávez, il y a la conviction qu’au fond, ce sont les Juifs qui tirent les ficelles. Jean-Yves Camus (spécialiste de l’extrême droite)
A présent que ce geste s’est répandu dans toutes les cours de récréation, des milliers de personnes qui faisaient ce geste par amusement et qui ne pensaient pas du tout aux juifs (et oui, Mesdames, Messieurs du Crif, les juifs et la shoah n’occupent pas les pensées de tout le monde, tout le temps….), il est certain que toutes ces personnes pourront se dire « c’est à cause des juifs et d’Israël (bref des sionistes) que l’on ne peut plus rigoler, ils nous cassent les pieds » (et je reste poli…). On sait déjà que la source originelle de l’antisémitisme vient du fait que le judaïsme a instauré pour l’humanité des principes de vie et de morale avec les dix commandements, et que ne plus obéir totalement à son désir, mais avoir des contraintes morales est nécessairement une atteinte à sa liberté (on n’est plus libre de tuer qui on veut, de voler ce qui nous plait, et l’on ne se sent plus aussi bien lorsque l’on pratique l’adultère….). Le désastre, c’est qu’aujourd’hui, pour les centaines de milliers de fans de Dieudonné, il y a un onzième commandement : on ne va plus pouvoir rigoler et faire de bonnes blagues à cause des juifs, des sionistes et d’Israël. Raison de plus pour résister à ce nouveau « diktat moral des juifs » en continuant à faire ce geste…. Cette mise en exergue d’un geste qui n’était qu’un trait de vulgarité, a réveillé un immense caractère antisémite dans des milliers de cerveaux français, et bientôt européens…. Stéphane Haddad
Il se marre. Il se bidonne, il s’éclate, Dieudonné ! La polémique sur la possible interdiction de son show a refait le plein de carburant pour sa petite machine à haine, et à cash. Le ministre de l’Intérieur va demander aux préfets d’invoquer un risque de «trouble à l’ordre public ».« Trouble à l’ordre public » ? C’est presque la Légion d’honneur qui lui est ainsi décernée. Dieudonné se nourrit du «trouble» et conchie l’ «ordre public », qui n’est, pour lui, que l’ordre sioniste, l’ordre des Juifs, l’ordre du « système ». Ses fans s’enflamment : si Dieudonné est ainsi menacé, c’est bien qu’il dérange ! Et qu’il vise juste ! Car le public qui se presse pour assister à son spectacle a évolué, au fil des années, suivant docilement la trajectoire de l’« artiste». Ce n’est plus l’humoriste que l’on va voir pour rigoler un bon coup. C’est le provocateur. C’est l’«antisystème ». A chaque dérapage antisémite, l’assistance est parcourue par le délicieux frisson de l’interdit.  (…) Il faut une solide dose d’aveuglement, ou plutôt de mauvaise foi, pour ne pas traduire correctement le mot « système ». Si le monde va comme il va, c’est parce que les Juifs le font tourner. Il ne s’agit pas seulement d ‘ une vulgaire déclaration raciste. C’est une lecture de l’Histoire : la lecture des nazis. D’ailleurs, la filiation est assumée, avec cette fameuse «quenelle». Ce geste est celui du Docteur Folamour, dans le film du même nom. Incapable de réfréner le salut nazi que fait compulsivement son bras droit, le héros est obligé de le bloquer avec la main gauche. Le gag de Kubrick a fait florès. Mille fois répété, bien avant que Dieudonné s’en saisisse, sa signification est parfaitement claire : je suis nazi, mais je ne dois pas l’exprimer. Il suffit pour s’en convaincre de recenser les lieux choisis par les fans qui se font photographier en pleine quenelle et adressent le cliché au site Internet de Dieudonné : le mémorial de la Shoah à Berlin, la voie ferrée menant à Auschwitz, l’école de Toulouse où Merah a tué des enfants juifs… Rien d’antisémite dans ces choix! Ceux qui font mine de s’interroger sur la portée du geste se foutent du monde. (…) Tiens ? Où est-elle passée, Christiane Taubira, en pleine tourmente Dieudonné ? Quelles instructions a-t-elle données aux parquets généraux ? Il y a de quoi rire, en effet, quand on sait qu’aucune des condamnations déjà prononcées n’a été exécutée . Le Canard enchainé
Cela ne concerne pas toute la France, sinon Jean-Jacques Goldman et Patrick Bruel y seraient des marginaux, tout comme Gad Elmaleh ou Patrick Timsit, mais cela concerne néanmoins une part inquiétante de la population française : il existe en ce pays une nébuleuse fétide où se mêle une extrême droite porteuse de relents pétainistes, catholiques intégristes, nationalistes myopes, anti-israéliens et anti-américains, une extrême-gauche qui ne se distingue de l’extrême droite que parce qu’elle est favorable à l’islamisation du monde et à l’immigration sans contrôles, et, précisément, des courants islamiques eux-mêmes anti-israéliens et anti-américains. L’extrême droite camoufle son antisémitisme sous le manteau de l’ « antisionisme », qui est celui sous lequel s’abritent aussi extrême gauche et courants islamiques. Dieudonné trouve un public dans les divers composants de cette nébuleuse. Il suscite aussi chez des spectateurs de passage une accoutumance à certains parfums. Ces parfums sont ceux de la décomposition. On n’arrêtera pas la décomposition en interdisant des spectacles. Mais si des vagues de révolte contre ce que signifient ces spectacles se lèvent, ce seront des vagues salubres. Et elles ont mon soutien. On n’arrêtera pas le recours à certains gestes en interdisant ceux-ci. Mais faire un geste qui se trouve fait et photographié à Auschwitz, devant des synagogues, devant l’école juive de Toulouse où Merah a assassiné des enfants juifs, devant des photos d’Anne Frank, et j’en passe, c’est faire un geste lourd de sens et lourd de son poids de cadavres, et se voir traité comme un être infâme pour avoir fait ce geste est pleinement légitime. C’est se faire complice, par l’esprit, d’un crime contre l’humanité passé et de crimes contre l’humanité présents : ceux qui frappent des Israéliens et peuvent les frapper. Et que face à ce geste se lèvent aussi des vagues de révolte est sain et légitime. Je crains, hélas, que Dieudonné soit l’un des signes annonciateurs de ce qui vient. Guy Millière
Dans une vidéo postée sur YouTube le 20 août et vue 385 000 fois, Dieudonné, écharpe du Hamas au cou, se délecte de la popularité exponentielle du geste, feignant d’être dépassé par son succès. «Je ne pensais pas que le mouvement de la quenelle irait aussi loin. Aujourd’hui, cet acte subversif ne m’appartient plus, il appartient à la révolution.» S’ensuit un montage photo de «quenelles glissées» par des jeunes, des vieux, des pompiers, des syndicalistes. On retrouve le geste sur des photos de classe et de mariage. D’autres, prises devant des synagogues en France ou à l’étranger et jusqu’au mémorial de la Shoah à Berlin, ne cachent pas leur sous-texte antisémite. Climax de la vidéo, des policiers et militaires en tenue. Hilare, Dieudonné se met à «rêver d’un coup d’Etat au secours du peuple, comme en Egypte». Avec la condamnation du ministère de la Défense, la polémique dépasse désormais le cercle des initiés. Et ce débat amène certains, à l’instar du journaliste Jean-Laurent Cassely, à s’inquiéter d’une éventuelle «dieudonisation des esprits». Libération
La quenelle est, si on ose dire, le bras armé de l’idéologie de Dieudonné. Tout à la fois running gag, symbole politique et bras d’honneur dirigé contre ceux «d’en haut», «glisser une quenelle» consiste à placer sa main ouverte sur son bras opposé, à allonger se dernier pour faire un signe dont la signification est explicite. La référence au salut hitlérien est évidemment volontaire. On a vu d’ailleurs apparaître ces «quenelles» dans le cadre de la campagne du Parti antisioniste, dont il fut l’éphémère tête de liste en Ile de France aux européennes de 2009, sur une affiche électorale dont l’ambiguïté n’était pas vraiment de mise… La quenelle se décline en plusieurs tailles, à jauger en fonction du succès de l’action: petite quenelle, quenelle de 12, quenelle de 40, de 175, quenelle épaulée, etc. Plus la quenelle est longue, plus, bien entendu, le bras d’honneur est profond et procure satisfaction à son auteur. Un registre paillard qui rappelle un peu le slogan de Coluche lors de la présidentielle de 1981, pour laquelle il décidera finalement de se retirer: «Tous ensemble, pour leur foutre au cul». La cible n’est évidemment plus la même. Quant à l’ananas, décliné tout au long de la soirée sous de multiples formes (ananas frais au buffet, fresque géante devant la salle, tee-shirts souvenir, déguisements, etc.), il est omniprésent pour rappeler la cause de la condamnation de l’intéressé pour provocation à la haine: la chanson Shoananas, qu’il reprend en cœur avec son public lors de chaque spectacle, sur l’air de la chanson Chaud Cacao d’Annie Cordy. Le troisième signe de ralliement important qui, avec la quenelle et l’ananas, forme la trinité de la terminologie officielle, c’est l’expression «Au-dessus, c’est le soleil». Traduction: on s’attaque à la chose la plus haute, la plus sacrée possible (la Shoah, mais cela peut aussi s’appliquer à Bernard-Henri Levy ou à Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). Cette phrase peut-être prononcée, imprimée sur tee-shirt, ou encore simplement mimée (il suffit pour cela de tenir son doigt en l’air comme pointé vers le soleil, en mimant avec la bouche une sorte de bisou pour en faire une caricature de rabin). Quant à la quenelle à proprement parler, elle se décline en signes, en tee-shirts, en logos détournés. Elle est devenue une unité de langage. La voici parodiant le logo de Facebook, « réseau social sioniste ». Jean-Laurent Cassely
Malheureusement, toutes ces manœuvres sont non seulement inutiles, mais également contre-productives. Et cela, qu’elles soient légales ou illégales, menées par des individus ou des institutions : la répression ne fonctionne pas lorsqu’elle lutte contre des idées. La répression d’idées « dissidentes » par les pouvoirs publics ou les médias nationaux a un effet pervers : elle leur offre un véritable « diplôme de non-respectabilité ». Cela tient de la logique circulaire : si ces idées sont combattues avec autant d’acharnement par des « représentants du système » (journalistes, commentateurs, intellectuels médiatiques) ou par les pouvoirs publics, c’est qu’elles dérangent. Encore récemment, le Front national utilisait cet effet, s’appuyant sur sa « diabolisation » afin de prouver qu’il constituait un parti d’opposition de premier ordre. Dieudonné l’expliqua lui-même à la suite de sa dernière condamnation : « Je n’ai pas le droit à la prison, c’est évidemment une très très grande déception, parce que je m’y étais préparé, ça faisait partie de ma campagne promotionnelle ». Aujourd’hui, la censure produit l’effet totalement inverse de son objectif premier ; il s’agit de l’une des applications de l’Effet Streisand. Cet effet s’ajoute à celui de la « validation » des idées comme anti-systèmes par les « représentants du système » eux-mêmes. Cette censure confine à l’absurde lorsqu’elle concerne la publication d’œuvres tombées dans le domaine public, comme c’est le cas de celles de Léon Bloy ou d’Edouard Drumont, éditées par Kontre Kulture. À ce premier anachronisme qui consiste à vouloir empêcher la diffusion de textes politiques en France au XXIe siècle, s’ajoute un problème technique et moral : pourquoi empêcher une maison d’édition de publier des textes que n’importe quel internaute peut dénicher gratuitement ? À l’heure de la diffusion numérique massive, même des textes hors-domaine public, donc piratés, s’obtiennent sans difficulté sur internet. Par chance, nous vivons dans une démocratie. Les seules violences exercées contre des porte-paroles d’idéologies jugées inacceptables le sont par des individus n’ayant aucun lien avec les pouvoirs publics. Malgré tout, cette approche fait partie du prisme répressif, du front luttant contre les idées d’Alain Soral et Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Et comme les approches légales de la répression, il est important de souligner qu’elles sont parfaitement inutiles. La violence, qu’elle soit légalement ou illégalement exercée, affaiblit difficilement les idées. Au contraire : celles-ci se nourrissent des réactions qu’elles engendrent, et se renforcent grâce aux actes engagés contre leurs porte-paroles. Ainsi, les agressions d’Alain Soral et Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, les menaces qu’ils reçoivent et la pression exercée sur les « quenelleurs » sont prises comme des raisons supplémentaires de poursuivre leur combat. La radicalisation d’Alain Soral, par exemple, est postérieure à son agression en 2004, lors d’une dédicace, durant laquelle l’essayiste fut blessé au même titre que ses lecteurs. Que l’on juge nauséabonde ou honorable une idéologie, celle-ci obéit à la même loi : ses défenseurs trouvent dans la répression une raison supplémentaire de tenir tête à leurs adversaires. Les démocrates et les défenseurs de l’ordre républicain devraient se rappeler qu’il y a bien plus d’utilité et de noblesse à défendre l’expression libre d’idées avec lesquelles nous ne sommes pas d’accord. L’Histoire devrait également leur rappeler que le marteau du juge, la matraque du policier ou la barre de fer du militant violent n’ont jamais réussi à arrêter des idées, nauséabondes ou non. Face aux idées, il ne peut y avoir que des idées. La condamnation systématique et aveugle, la haine comme moteur de l’action politique et la mystification de l’adversaire ne sont que des pratiques inefficaces et désuètes. Au mieux, elles troublent le jeu démocratique ; au pire, elles renforcent ceux qu’elles comptaient combattre. Arnaud Lavalade
Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala was born in a Paris suburb nearly 48 years ago. His mother was white, from Brittany, his father was African, from Cameroun.  This should make him a poster child for the “multiculturalism” the ideologically dominant left claims to promote.  And during the first part of his career, teaming up with his Jewish friend, Elie Simoun, he was just that: campaigning against racism, focusing his criticism on the National Front and even running for office against an NF candidate in the dormitory town of Dreux, some sixty miles West of Paris, where he lives. Like the best humorists, Dieudonné always targeted current events, with a warmth and dignity unusual in the profession. His career flourished, he played in movies, was a guest on television, branched out on his own.  A great observer, he excels at relatively subtle imitations of various personality types and ethnic groups from Africans to Chinese. Ten years ago, on December 1, 2003, as guest on a TV show appropriately called “You Can’t Please Everybody”, dedicated to current events, Dieudonné came on stage roughly disguised as “a convert to Zionist extremism” advising others to get ahead by “joining the American-Israeli Axis of Good”. This was in the first year of the US assault on Iraq, which France’s refusal to join had led Washington to rechristen what it calls “French fries” (Belgian, actually) as “Freedom fries”.  A relatively mild attack on George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” seemed totally in the mood of the times. The sketch ended with a brief salute, “Isra-heil”.  This was far from being vintage Dieudonné, but nevertheless, the popular humorist was at the time enthusiastically embraced by other performers while the studio audience gave him a standing ovation. Then the protests started coming in, especially concerning the final gesture seen as likening Israel to Nazi Germany. (…) Thus began a decade of escalation.  LICRA began a long series of lawsuits against him (“incitement to racial hatred”), at first losing, but keeping up the pressure.  Instead of backing down, Dieudonné went farther in his criticism of “Zionism” after each attack.  Meanwhile, Dieudonné was gradually excluded from television appearances and treated as a pariah by mainstream media.  It is only the recent internet profusion of images showing young people making the quenelle sign that has moved the establishment to conclude that a direct attack would be more effective than trying to ignore him. To begin to understand the meaning of the Dieudonné affair, it is necessary to grasp the ideological context.  For reasons too complex to review here, the French left – the left that once was primarily concerned with the welfare of the working class, with social equality, opposition to aggressive war, freedom of speech – has virtually collapsed.  The right has won the decisive economic battle, with the triumph of policies favoring monetary stability and the interests of international investment capital (“neo-liberalism”).  As a consolation prize, the left enjoys a certain ideological dominance, based on anti-racism, anti-nationalism and devotion to the European Union – even to the hypothetical “social Europe” that daily recedes into the cemetery of lost dreams. In fact, this ideology fits perfectly with a globalization geared to the requirements of international finance capital. In the absence of any serious socio-economic left, France has sunk into a sort of “Identity Politics”, which both praises multiculturalism and reacts vehemently against “communitarianism”, that is, the assertion of any unwelcome ethnic particularisms. (…) France has adopted laws to “punish anti-Semitism”.  The result is the opposite.  Such measures simply tend to confirm the old notion that “the Jews run the country” and contribute to growing anti-Semitism.  When French youth see a Franco-Israeli attempt to outlaw a simple gesture, when the Jewish community moves to ban their favorite humorist, anti-Semitism can only grow even more rapidly. Diana Johnstone

Après le mariage,… la victimisation pour tous !

Alors qu’attirés par le goût du sang de la polémique qui enfle et contre toutes les hyprocrites dénégations (« anti-système », on vous dit !) de leurs initiateurs, nos nouveaux tenants du socialisme des imbéciles bouffeurs de rabbins disent chaque jour un peu plus la pathétique vérité de leur geste

Et que d’autres qui avec leurs confrères bouffeurs de curé se sont faits un véritable de fonds de commerce de la caricature la plus débile en sont à dénoncer le jusqu’alors silence assourdissant d’une ministre de la Justice à qui l’on doit déjà deux lois vériticides (historique et biologique) …

Pendant qu ‘outre-manche ou atlantique et sans la moindre loi mémorielle, on ne semble pas trop plaisanter avec ces choses …

Comment ne pas voir après les lois liberticides sur les génocides juif et arménien ou l’actuelle mode des génocides et autres mariages pour tous

Et les tentatives, jusqu’ici heureusement infructueuses, du totalitarisme islamique de faire condamner les caricatures de leur propre prêcheur de haine

L’énième épisode d’un syndrome mimétique et de la concurrence des victimes qui est ici en train de se rejouer dans ce cimetière rempli d’idées chrétiennes devenues folles qu’est devenu notre monde moderne ?

Mais aussi, au-delà des indéniables risques de banalisation (Enderlin-Dieudonné, même combat!) l’immense cadeau que l’on est en train de faire en prétendant le priver de son imprescriptible droit à la bêtise la plus crasse …

A l’humoriste de seconde zone qui, réduit à jouer les victimes (jusqu’à sa propre insolvabilité pendant que Madame dépose la marque de l’objet du délit!) et à multiplier les provocations à l’instar de son pathétique mentor front-nationaliste, avait largement lui aussi dépassé sa date de péremption ?

La « quenelle » de Dieudonné : face aux idées, la répression et la violence sont inutiles

Arnaud Lavalade

Chargé d’études

Le Nouvel Observateur

29-12-2013

Manuel Valls n’a pas de mots assez durs pour définir l’essayiste Alain Soral et l’humoriste Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Les considérant comme des ennemis de la République, dégoûté par leur « idéologie nauséabonde », il prône désormais l’interdiction des spectacles de Dieudonné.

Du débat public à la répression de la parole

Cette politique répressive est censée faire face à la « dieudonnisation des esprits », et s’inscrit plus globalement dans le cadre de la lutte contre des idées jugées inacceptables. Cette lutte a pu prendre différentes formes, allant de l’agression physique aux interdictions de spectacles par des élus locaux, en passant par de multiples condamnations publiques ou judiciaires.

Entre autres condamnations récentes, la maison d’édition Kontre Kulture, diffusant les œuvres des deux militants, s’est vue forcée de censurer plusieurs de ses ouvrages. En parallèle, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala a été condamné en appel pour sa chanson « Shoah Nanas » à 28.000 euros d’amende.

La répression systématique étendue aux « quenelleurs »

Cette répression s’étend également à tous ceux affichant, de près ou de loin, des affinités pour le duo polémique. Entre autres : les « quenelleurs », pratiquant le geste de la quenelle, considéré par certains comme une sorte de bras d’honneur, par d’autres comme un salut nazi ou un signe simplement antisémite.

Les actions « anti-quenelles » reprennent un schéma comparable : ennuis professionnels, condamnations publiques, procès, voire des actes illégaux accomplis par des activistes, tels que des piratages informatiques ou violences physiques. En sus, on attend de toute célébrité ayant déjà réalisé une quenelle qu’elle s’explique publiquement sur son geste.

Malheureusement, toutes ces manœuvres sont non seulement inutiles, mais également contre-productives. Et cela, qu’elles soient légales ou illégales, menées par des individus ou des institutions : la répression ne fonctionne pas lorsqu’elle lutte contre des idées.

La répression décerne le titre « d’ennemi du système »

La répression d’idées « dissidentes » par les pouvoirs publics ou les médias nationaux a un effet pervers : elle leur offre un véritable « diplôme de non-respectabilité ».

Cela tient de la logique circulaire : si ces idées sont combattues avec autant d’acharnement par des « représentants du système » (journalistes, commentateurs, intellectuels médiatiques) ou par les pouvoirs publics, c’est qu’elles dérangent. Encore récemment, le Front national utilisait cet effet, s’appuyant sur sa « diabolisation » afin de prouver qu’il constituait un parti d’opposition de premier ordre.

Dieudonné l’expliqua lui-même à la suite de sa dernière condamnation : « Je n’ai pas le droit à la prison, c’est évidemment une très très grande déception, parce que je m’y étais préparé, ça faisait partie de ma campagne promotionnelle ».

La censure, un outil désuet

Aujourd’hui, la censure produit l’effet totalement inverse de son objectif premier ; il s’agit de l’une des applications de l’Effet Streisand. Cet effet s’ajoute à celui de la « validation » des idées comme anti-systèmes par les « représentants du système » eux-mêmes.

Cette censure confine à l’absurde lorsqu’elle concerne la publication d’œuvres tombées dans le domaine public, comme c’est le cas de celles de Léon Bloy ou d’Edouard Drumont, éditées par Kontre Kulture.

À ce premier anachronisme qui consiste à vouloir empêcher la diffusion de textes politiques en France au XXIe siècle, s’ajoute un problème technique et moral : pourquoi empêcher une maison d’édition de publier des textes que n’importe quel internaute peut dénicher gratuitement ?

À l’heure de la diffusion numérique massive, même des textes hors-domaine public, donc piratés, s’obtiennent sans difficulté sur internet.

Une violence inutile

Par chance, nous vivons dans une démocratie. Les seules violences exercées contre des porte-paroles d’idéologies jugées inacceptables le sont par des individus n’ayant aucun lien avec les pouvoirs publics. Malgré tout, cette approche fait partie du prisme répressif, du front luttant contre les idées d’Alain Soral et Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Et comme les approches légales de la répression, il est important de souligner qu’elles sont parfaitement inutiles.

La violence, qu’elle soit légalement ou illégalement exercée, affaiblit difficilement les idées. Au contraire : celles-ci se nourrissent des réactions qu’elles engendrent, et se renforcent grâce aux actes engagés contre leurs porte-paroles.

Ainsi, les agressions d’Alain Soral et Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, les menaces qu’ils reçoivent et la pression exercée sur les « quenelleurs » sont prises comme des raisons supplémentaires de poursuivre leur combat. La radicalisation d’Alain Soral, par exemple, est postérieure à son agression en 2004, lors d’une dédicace, durant laquelle l’essayiste fut blessé au même titre que ses lecteurs.

Une répression contre-productive

Que l’on juge nauséabonde ou honorable une idéologie, celle-ci obéit à la même loi : ses défenseurs trouvent dans la répression une raison supplémentaire de tenir tête à leurs adversaires.

Les démocrates et les défenseurs de l’ordre républicain devraient se rappeler qu’il y a bien plus d’utilité et de noblesse à défendre l’expression libre d’idées avec lesquelles nous ne sommes pas d’accord. L’Histoire devrait également leur rappeler que le marteau du juge, la matraque du policier ou la barre de fer du militant violent n’ont jamais réussi à arrêter des idées, nauséabondes ou non.

Face aux idées, il ne peut y avoir que des idées. La condamnation systématique et aveugle, la haine comme moteur de l’action politique et la mystification de l’adversaire ne sont que des pratiques inefficaces et désuètes. Au mieux, elles troublent le jeu démocratique ; au pire, elles renforcent ceux qu’elles comptaient combattre.

Voir aussi:

Ca part en quenelle

Louis-Marie Horeau

Le Canard enchainé

31 décembre 2013

Il se marre. Il se bidonne, il s’éclate, Dieudonné ! La polémique sur la possible interdiction de son show a refait le plein de carburant pour sa petite machine à haine, et à cash. Le ministre de l’Intérieur va demander aux préfets d’invoquer un risque de «trouble à l’ordre public ».

« Trouble à l’ordre public » ?

C’est presque la Légion d’honneur qui lui est ainsi décernée. Dieudonné se nourrit du «trouble» et conchie l’ «ordre public », qui n’est, pour lui, que l’ordre sioniste, l’ordre des Juifs, l’ordre du « système ».

Ses fans s’enflamment : si Dieudonné est ainsi menacé, c’est bien qu’il dérange ! Et qu’il vise juste ! Car le public qui se presse pour assister à son spectacle a évolué, au fil des années, suivant docilement la trajectoire de l’« artiste». Ce n’est plus l’humoriste que l’on va voir pour rigoler un bon coup. C’est le provocateur. C’est l’«antisystème ».

A chaque dérapage antisémite, l’assistance est parcourue par le délicieux frisson de l’interdit. Le sommet est atteint quand Dieudonné se lâche et reprend dans un sketche les termes d’une plainte déposée par son avocat. « La sodomie ne pouvant être réalisée sur des restes calcinés de corps humains sortis des fours crématoires nazis, et pire encore après qu’ils aient été transformés en savon…» Applaudissements.

Il faut une solide dose d’aveuglement, ou plutôt de mauvaise foi, pour ne pas traduire correctement le mot « système ». Si le monde va comme il va, c’est parce que les Juifs le font tourner. Il ne s’agit pas seulement d ‘ une vulgaire déclaration raciste. C’est une lecture de l’Histoire : la lecture des nazis.

D’ailleurs, la filiation est assumée, avec cette fameuse «quenelle». Ce geste est celui du Docteur Folamour, dans le film du même nom. Incapable de réfréner le salut nazi que fait compulsivement son bras droit, le héros est obligé de le bloquer avec la main gauche. Le gag de Kubrick a fait florès. Mille fois répété, bien avant que Dieudonné s’en saisisse, sa signification est parfaitement claire : je suis nazi, mais je ne dois pas l’exprimer. Il suffit pour s’en convaincre de recenser les lieux choisis par les fans qui se font photographier en pleine quenelle et adressent le cliché au site Internet de Dieudonné : le mémorial de la Shoah à Berlin, la voie ferrée menant à Auschwitz, l’école de Toulouse où Merah a tué des enfants juifs… Rien d’antisémite dans ces choix! Ceux qui font mine de s’interroger sur la portée du geste se foutent du monde. Et ils font rigoler Dieudonné.

Ce ne sont pas quelques arrêtés d’interdiction qui vont l’empêcher de se marrer. Toutes les tentatives dans ce sens se sont heurtées au droit et ont été annulées par les tribunaux administratifs . Le régime de la censure préalable n’a plus le droit de cité en France, et c’est heureux . En revanche, la justice a son mot à dire. Et elle le dit : plusieurs condamnations ont déjà été prononcées, d’autres sont à venir. Et Dieudonné rigole toujours. Il rigole parce que les poursuites sont engagées par des particuliers ou des associations. Les procureurs de la République roupillent. La Chancellerie regarde ailleurs, la ministre de la Justice se tait.

Tiens ? Où est-elle passée, Christiane Taubira, en pleine tourmente Dieudonné ? Quelles instructions a-t-elle données aux parquets généraux ? Il y a de quoi rire, en effet, quand on sait qu’aucune des condamnations déjà prononcées n’a été exécutée . Dieudonné se marre, et il y a de quoi. Le ministre de l’Intérieur se fâche, et il a raison, mais il est impuissant. La ministre qui pourrait agir est aux abonnés absents . Une idée de sketch pour le prochain spectacle ?

Voir également:

Dieudonné et sa « quenelle » : lettre à mes amis (encore) fans de l’humoriste

Thomas Carre-Pierrat

Le Nouvel observateur

28-12-2013

Vous êtes encore quelques-uns, dans mon entourage, à vouloir rigoler des blagues de Dieudonné. Pendant longtemps, il fut l’un de nos comiques préférés, pour ne pas dire le premier. Il était assurément l’humoriste le plus doué de sa génération ; un comédien génial et un auteur d’exception.

Comme vous, je suis encore capable de réciter certains de ses sketchs par cœur. Mais voilà, cela fait un moment que « Dieudo », comme vous l’appelez encore, ne me fait plus marrer. En fait, j’ai décroché le jour où j’ai compris qu’il se moquait ouvertement de nous.

Dieudonné a basculé dans la mouvance d’extrême droite

Malheureusement, Dieudonné n’est plus un provocateur, un type subversif qui utilisent l’humour pour taper où cela fait mal. Il est devenu un homme politique qui se sert de ses spectacles pour diffuser des idées qui nous ulcèrent par ailleurs.

Dans un souci de cohérence, j’ai dû arrêter de le soutenir car je ne pouvais plus cautionner un mec qui traîne dans la nébuleuse de l’extrême droite et fréquente des hauts responsables du Front national, ce parti contre lequel nous avons si souvent usé nos souliers.

Essayez de répondre franchement et de manière convaincante aux questions suivantes : comment peut-on apprécier un type qui était venu consoler Jean-Marie Le Pen après sa défaite à la présidentielle en 2007 ? A-t-on envie de s’asseoir sur les bancs de son théâtre qui a servi de salle de formation pour des militants du Front National ? Est-il vraiment drôle et subversif de choisir Jean-Marie Le Pen pour être le parrain de sa fille ? Auriez-vous envie comme Dieudonné, d’aller boire des coups avec Serge Ayoub, l’un des leaders des skinheads français, après la mort du militant antifasciste Clément Méric ?

La vérité est tristement factuelle. Dieudonné est aujourd’hui un militant d’extrême droite. Cela ne signifie pas que vous l’êtes également. Mais, lorsque vous regardez ses spectacles, un certain nombre de vos voisins viennent précisément pour cette raison.

Car eux, ont bien compris que Dieudonné ne blaguait pas sur les juifs comme il est capable de le faire avec les musulmans, les catholiques ou les bouddhistes. Ils savent que Dieudonné est passé, au fil du temps, d’antisioniste à antisémite. Il fait partie de ces gens qui croient réellement en l’existence d’un lobby juif dont nous serions les frêles marionnettes.

Un humoriste qui vous coupe l’appétit

Le seul trait de génie dont on peut encore créditer Dieudonné, est précisément de s’appuyer sur cette ambiguïté entre l’humoriste et le politique pour faire passer un message purement et banalement antisémite. En cela, et pour le paraphraser, Dieudonné est la branche comique de l’extrême droite.

Je préfère le répéter une nouvelle fois ; cela ne signifie pas, chers amis, que vous seriez également d’extrême droite, de la même manière que bien des « quenelles » n’ont aucun soubassement antisémite.

Mais, en participant à cela, vous cautionnez son combat nauséabond et vous faites prospérer la boutique de Dieudonné et de ses nouveaux camarades.

Comment peut-on critiquer, à juste titre, les hommes politiques qui stigmatisent les étrangers, les musulmans ou les Roms pour chasser sur les terres du FN et continuer d’applaudir un mec qui mange déjà à la table des Le Pen ? Personnellement, cela me coupe définitivement l’appétit.

Le « système » n’est pas l’ennemi de Dieudonné mais son gagne-pain

En réalité, Dieudonné vous a fait cocu avec l’extrême-droite et vous continuez à fermer les yeux parce que vous aimez son image de rebelle, pourfendeur du « système ». Désolé de vous décevoir là-aussi, mais Dieudonné n’est qu’un rebelle de supermarché, un provocateur de bac à sable.

Franchement, peut-on se présenter comme un adversaire du « système » et se faire prendre en photo avec des Yannick Noah, Tony Parker ou Mamadou Sakho, c’est-à-dire des millionnaires, purs produits du système et dont la conscience politique est comparable à l’érudition de Nabilla.

Si vous souhaitez éveiller vos consciences, ou lutter contre l’ordre établi, je vous recommande plutôt de lire des livres de Noam Chomsky ou Naomi Klein. Leurs œuvres sont moins drôles, mais légèrement plus pertinentes et argumentés que les saillies inutiles de Dieudonné.

Le « système » n’est pas l’ennemi de Dieudonné mais son gagne-pain. Dans la plus pure tradition de l’extrême droite, il joue sur les peurs et les indignations de son public en lui livrant un bouc-émissaire éternel, le prétendu lobby juif. En plus d’avoir perdu son sens de l’humour, Dieudonné est un piètre penseur sans idée et dont l’idéologie ne procède que d’un délire paranoïaque.

Il faut tourner définitivement la page

L’humoriste Dieudonné est malheureusement mort et il faut être capable d’en faire son deuil. Comme tous les grands, il est irremplaçable. Sa pathétique réincarnation qui s’agite au Théâtre de la Main d’or est épouvantable. Malgré les légères ressemblances, il est vain de vouloir le défendre. Il n’y a plus rien à faire si ce n’est tourner définitivement la page.

Plus que d’éventuelles interdictions des pouvoirs publics ou de sanctions judiciaires qui le maintiendraient confortablement dans sa position de victime, Dieudonné doit être condamné par son public.

Chers amis, en cette fin d’année, prenez une bonne résolution : cessez de rire aux sketches de ce personnage car, à chacun de vos applaudissements, derrière la scène, c’est l’extrême droite qui se frotte les mains.

Voir également:

Les «quenelles» de Dieudonné laissent un sale goût

Guillaume Gendron

Libération

12 septembre 2013

RÉCIT

Le salut inventé par l’humoriste condamné pour antisémitisme a essaimé sur le Web. Des sanctions contre deux soldats qui ont reproduit le geste vont être prises.

Main ouverte près de l’épaule, bras opposé tendu vers le bas, paume ouverte et doigts joints, les deux militaires posent devant une synagogue, rue de Montevidéo, dans le XVIe arrondissement de Paris. Tout sourire, les deux chasseurs alpins en mission Vigipirate dans la capitale reproduisent le geste dit de la «quenelle», dont la paternité est revendiquée par l’humoriste controversé Dieudonné, poursuivi et condamné à plusieurs reprises pour des propos antisémites. La photo, qui circule depuis quelques semaines sur les réseaux sociaux après sa publication sur un site «antisioniste», a provoqué l’ire de Jean-Yves Le Drian, le ministre de la Défense, qui a réclamé mardi des sanctions à l’encontre des deux militaires. «Ils ont porté atteinte à l’uniforme et aux valeurs de l’armée de terre», a fait savoir, hier, Pierre Bayle, porte-parole du ministère de la Défense, qui a envoyé un «rappel au règlement à l’ensemble des personnels».

Totem. Depuis la diffusion du cliché par le magazine le Point en début de semaine, plusieurs autres photos de soldats «glissant des quenelles», selon l’expression consacrée par Dieudonné, avaient fait surface. Une source militaire parle même «d’un phénomène de mode», invisible aux yeux du grand public mais loin de se limiter aux rangs de l’armée. Bras d’honneur «bien profond dans le cul du système» pour ses ouailles ou ersatz de salut nazi à peine déguisé pour ses détracteurs, la «quenelle» de Dieudonné est à la fois un signe de ralliement et un message subliminal. Comme les ananas, autre totem des dieudonâtres faisant référence à la chanson Shoahnanas (un détournement antisémite de la chanson Cho Ka Ka O d’Annie Cordy pour laquelle il a été condamné fin 2012), la quenelle est d’autant plus réussie quand elle passe inaperçue aux yeux des profanes et des principales cibles de la vindicte dieudonesque. Soit les «sionistes», les médias et «le système».

Code. D’année en année, parallèlement à l’ostracisation plus ou moins orchestrée de l’humoriste enchaînant les dérapages, la quenelle s’est répandue sur la fachosphère. Quitte à être reprise par des milliers d’anonymes et des personnalités qui n’en mesurent pas totalement la symbolique, à l’image d’un Tony Parker immortalisé en compagnie de Dieudonné dans les coulisses du théâtre de la Main d’or ou du footballeur montpellierain Mathieu Deplagne après avoir marqué un but. «La quenelle est avant tout un code identitaire, qui a acquis une vraie popularité chez les jeunes. Difficile de dire que tous aient conscience de la portée de ce geste», estime Jean-Yves Camus, spécialiste de l’extrême droite. Le politologue définit cependant le groupe hétéroclite de fans de Dieudonné comme «une mouvance transversale, antisystème et complotiste, dont l’antisémitisme reste la colonne vertébrale. Leur vision du monde est celle d’un ordre mondial dominé par l’axe Washington-Tel-Aviv. Derrière les discours fustigeant l’Otan et la finance internationale, tout en soutenant Bachar al-Assad et Hugo Chávez, il y a la conviction qu’au fond, ce sont les Juifs qui tirent les ficelles.»

Les origines du geste sont floues, sans cesse réinventées par son géniteur. En revanche, son usage systématique lors des apparitions publiques de Dieudonné date de la «liste antisioniste», qu’il a présentée en Ile-de-France lors des européennes de 2009, au côté d’Alain Soral, ex-plume de Jean-Marie Le Pen, devenu gourou idéologique de l’humoriste. A l’époque, Dieudonné se réjouissait à «l’idée de glisser [sa] petite quenelle dans le fond du fion du sionisme», comme il l’avait déclaré à Libération. Aujourd’hui, la quenelle se veut «révolutionnaire».

Dans une vidéo postée sur YouTube le 20 août et vue 385 000 fois, Dieudonné, écharpe du Hamas au cou, se délecte de la popularité exponentielle du geste, feignant d’être dépassé par son succès. «Je ne pensais pas que le mouvement de la quenelle irait aussi loin. Aujourd’hui, cet acte subversif ne m’appartient plus, il appartient à la révolution.» S’ensuit un montage photo de «quenelles glissées» par des jeunes, des vieux, des pompiers, des syndicalistes. On retrouve le geste sur des photos de classe et de mariage. D’autres, prises devant des synagogues en France ou à l’étranger et jusqu’au mémorial de la Shoah à Berlin, ne cachent pas leur sous-texte antisémite. Climax de la vidéo, des policiers et militaires en tenue. Hilare, Dieudonné se met à «rêver d’un coup d’Etat au secours du peuple, comme en Egypte». Avec la condamnation du ministère de la Défense, la polémique dépasse désormais le cercle des initiés. Et ce débat amène certains, à l’instar du journaliste Jean-Laurent Cassely, à s’inquiéter d’une éventuelle «dieudonisation des esprits».

Voir encore:

La dieudonnisation des esprits, une (grosse) quenelle qui vient d’en bas

Jean-Laurent Cassely

Slate

27/06/2013

Un reportage de juin 2013. Le soir de la fête de la musique, Dieudonné tenait son grand meeting annuel, «Le Bal des Quenelles», entre festival d’humour et université d’été politique. Grâce à un ensemble de signes cryptés, il a formé en dix ans une petite contre-culture autour de lui: vous l’avez vu récemment dans Top Chef, Secret Story ou encore Pékin Express… Sans même le savoir.

Manuel Valls, le ministre de l’Intérieur, souhaite faire interdire les spectacles de Dieudonné. Dans une interview au Parisien, Manuel Valls rappelle que «Dieudonné a été condamné à plusieurs reprises pour diffamation, injures et provocation à la haine raciale». «C’est donc un récidiviste et j’entends agir avec la plus grande fermeté, dans le cadre de la loi» déclare-t-il. Nous republions à cette occasion le reportage de Jean-Laurent Cassely à l’un des spectacles de Dieudonné.

***

Un automobiliste roulant le 21 juin dans les environs de Saint-Lubin-de-la-Haye, à la limite de l’Ile-de-France et de la région Centre, serait tombé ce soir-là sur de petits panneaux indiquant la simple mention «quenelles» en bord de route, près d’un élevage bovin.

Il aurait peut-être cru qu’il s’agissait d’une vente directe de cette spécialité, mais aurait tiqué en se souvenant que c’est plutôt vers Lyon qu’on apprécie ce plat. Quelques virages plus loin, l’automobiliste aurait alors croisé, entassés dans une petite voiture, des jeunes brandissant des ananas depuis les fenêtres, ce qui leur procurait manifestement une très grande excitation.

Songeur, notre automobiliste imaginaire aurait alors continué sa route, s’interrogeant sur les mœurs curieuses de cette partie calme et isolée du pays. Sans se douter une seconde qu’à quelques kilomètres de là, la «Dieudosphère» tenait son grand rassemblement annuel.

C’est à cela qu’on reconnaît que Dieudonné a construit, patiemment et avec obstination, une petite contre-société, qui dispose désormais de signes de reconnaissance et de communication très sûrs, car totalement ésotériques pour le profane, mais très visibles même dans les médias les plus grand public.

Ananas, soleil, quenelle: une grammaire de la dieudosphère

La quenelle est, si on ose dire, le bras armé de l’idéologie de Dieudonné. Tout à la fois running gag, symbole politique et bras d’honneur dirigé contre ceux «d’en haut», «glisser une quenelle» consiste à placer sa main ouverte sur son bras opposé, à allonger se dernier pour faire un signe dont la signification est explicite. La référence au salut hitlérien est évidemment volontaire.

On a vu d’ailleurs apparaître ces «quenelles» dans le cadre de la campagne du Parti antisioniste, dont il fut l’éphémère tête de liste en Ile de France aux européennes de 2009, sur une affiche électorale dont l’ambiguïté n’était pas vraiment de mise…

La quenelle se décline en plusieurs tailles, à jauger en fonction du succès de l’action: petite quenelle, quenelle de 12, quenelle de 40, de 175, quenelle épaulée, etc. Plus la quenelle est longue, plus, bien entendu, le bras d’honneur est profond et procure satisfaction à son auteur. Un registre paillard qui rappelle un peu le slogan de Coluche lors de la présidentielle de 1981, pour laquelle il décidera finalement de se retirer: «Tous ensemble, pour leur foutre au cul». La cible n’est évidemment plus la même.

Quant à l’ananas, décliné tout au long de la soirée sous de multiples formes (ananas frais au buffet, fresque géante devant la salle, tee-shirts souvenir, déguisements, etc.), il est omniprésent pour rappeler la cause de la condamnation de l’intéressé pour provocation à la haine: la chanson Shoananas, qu’il reprend en cœur avec son public lors de chaque spectacle, sur l’air de la chanson Chaud Cacao d’Annie Cordy (Dieudonné a fait appel du jugement).

Depuis cette condamnation, la chanson Shoananas est le clou du spectacle Foxtrot, qui a tourné dans toute la France ces derniers mois. A chaque fois, Dieudonné fait mine de ne plus pouvoir la faire chanter à son public, sous peine de poursuites judiciaires… Et, bien sûr, finit par l’interpréter, pour le plus grand plaisir de la salle qui chante en choeur avec lui.

A l’entrée du Bal des quenelles, une fresque géante d’ananas donne le ton…

Le troisième signe de ralliement important qui, avec la quenelle et l’ananas, forme la trinité de la terminologie officielle, c’est l’expression «Au-dessus, c’est le soleil». Traduction: on s’attaque à la chose la plus haute, la plus sacrée possible (la Shoah, mais cela peut aussi s’appliquer à Bernard-Henri Levy ou à Mahmoud Ahmadinejad).

Cette phrase peut-être prononcée, imprimée sur tee-shirt, ou encore simplement mimée (il suffit pour cela de tenir son doigt en l’air comme pointé vers le soleil, en mimant avec la bouche une sorte de bisou pour en faire une caricature de rabin).

Un gif animé qui capture la gestuelle caractéristique du «Soleil». Mémorisez-là, c’est utile pour la suite de l’article

Quant à la quenelle à proprement parler, elle se décline en signes, en tee-shirts, en logos détournés. Elle est devenue une unité de langage. La voici parodiant le logo de Facebook, «réseau social sioniste».

Source: Dieudosphère

A l’entrée du Bal des quenelles, qui se déroule chaque année dans le vaste hangar où l’artiste tourne ses films, les fans venus de loin immortalisent ce moment en se faisant prendre en photo entre deux humains déguisés en ananas, mimant la fameuse quenelle. Un peu comme à Disneyland, quand Mickey ou Pluto viennent prendre la pose avec vos enfants…

Deux des trois signes codés de la dieudosphère: l’ananas et la quenelle, ici au Bal des quenelles 2013

Prendre la pose en mimant une quenelle est devenu un rituel chez les admirateurs de Dieudonné. Pour ce dernier, les quenelles sont un instrument politique: en demandant à ses fans de lui envoyer les photos et en les postant sur le mur de son compte Facebook officiel, il veut montrer à quel point il est soutenu par la base.

Ici à Strasbourg, la quenelle géante à laquelle le public est invité à participer en fin de spectacle se présente comme la défense de la liberté d’expression, et un bras d’honneur aux maires qui tentent de faire interdire le spectacle pour trouble à l’ordre public

Un public jeune et mélangé

Les gens sont venus nombreux: en couple, entre amis, la plupart se sont retrouvés à la gare voisine d’Houdan, d’où l’équipe de Dieudonné indiquait la route pour se rendre sur place, l’information n’étant pas disponible sur les billets sans doute pour éviter de voir la fête troublée par des opposants. De sympathiques jeunes gens m’ont amené en voiture jusqu’à la salle. D’ailleurs presque tous les participants sont jeunes.

Derrière moi, dans la queue pour accéder au buffet, deux très jeunes musulmans discutent du «Prophète», de ce qu’il autorise et ce qu’il interdit en matière d’alimentation, de culture, etc. Certains jeunes issus de l’immigration qui vivent leur revival religieux peuvent être naturellement séduits par les combats politiques de Dieudonné autour de la question palestinienne (ne me demandez pas de quantifier cette affirmation, évidemment nous n’en savons rien).

La recherche d’une vérité alternative basée sur un relativisme généralisé —le monde selon Dieudonné— a fini par séduire des populations hétéroclites. Tout un petit peuple de rastas blancs, qu’on imaginerait plutôt dans un festival reggae ou une free party. Une frange de l’extrême gauche altermondialiste, qu’on reconnaîtra facilement au port du tee-shirt à l’effigie d’Hugo Chavez ou au total look joueur de diabolo à Rennes. On supposera que cette jeunesse est plutôt arrivée là par le biais de la critique radicale des médias, de l’oligarchie et du «nouvel ordre mondial» que par le prisme du conflit israélo-palestinien, encore que les deux logiques aient tendance à s’entrecroiser.

Des partisans de Bachar el-Assad brandissant des drapeaux syriens et des portraits à l’effigie du dictateur sont d’ailleurs venus recevoir leur «Quenelle d’or» (catégorie «pour l’ensemble de son œuvre»), la petite statuette inspirée des César que Dieudonné distribue lors de ce bal annuel à ses soutiens ou à ceux qui partagent ses combats. Selon le site révisionniste Entre la plume et l’enclume, la quenelle sera d’ailleurs remise en mains propres au président syrien.

Quelques authentiques militants d’extrême droite, qui regrettent l’absence du négationniste Faurisson, sont aussi présents mais ne semblent pas représenter la majorité du public… En revanche on retrouve dans ces soirées les animateurs du réseau qui sont désormais des relais artistiques sur internet de la pensée «antisioniste», selon l’expression consacrée: le Jamel Comedy Club de Dieudonné. Car en un peu plus d’une décennie, Dieudonné a fait école.

Très présents sur Internet, ils publient des BD, des pamphlets ou des vidéos, comme les dessinateurs Zéon et Joe Lecorbeau —un «glisseur de quenelles» qui réalise des détournements dieudonniens de BD célèbres comme Astérix ou Tintin— ou sont actifs dans l’écriture et l’idéologie, comme Salim Laïbi (alias «Le libre penseur») et Alain Soral bien sûr —dit «Maître quenellier», distinction qu’il est le seul à partager avec Dieudonné.

La première partie était assurée par le comique Jo Damas, et par le régisseur des spectacles de Dieudonné, l’acteur Jacky Sigaux, célèbre pour son rôle du juif déporté dans les précédents spectacles du comédien, et qui est monté sur scène dans le personnage de «Samuel» pour se lancer dans une lamentation musicale intitulée «Je suis juif». Personnage copieusement hué par la salle.

Dieudonnisation médiatique ou l’entrisme de la quenelle

Mais ce «Dieudonnisme», que vous croyiez ne plus avoir aperçu dans les médias depuis un sketch chez Marc-Olivier Fogiel devant Jamel Debbouze en 2003, a su faire grimper son influence à la télévision, par des moyens souvent détournés et grâce à ses petites quenelles:

Le 23 janvier 2013, le footballeur de Montpellier Mathieu Deplagne marque son premier but en pro face au FC Sochaux. Pour son petit geste de parade, le footballeur mime alors une «quenelle». Le lendemain, il fait la une de Midi Libre.

Il est venu, le 21 juin, récupérer sa Quenelle d’Or, «catégorie sportive», des mains de Dieudonné.

Les sportifs sont, à l’image de Tony Parker, nombreux à effectuer ces clins d’oeil à l’humoriste.

Ci-dessous, Didier Dinart et Nikola Karabatic de l’équipe de France de hand.

Source: Facebook Dieudonné officiel

… Et oui, Yannick Noah aussi

Dans les émissions de téléréalité aussi, Dieudonné fait des apparitions fréquentes grâce à l’astuce de ses fans.

Sur TF1, dans l’émission Bienvenue chez nous du 20 juin, un jeune homme est apparu portant un tee-shirt «Au-dessus c’est le soleil».

Réaction de joie immédiate sur la page Facebook de Dieudonné:

«En direct sur TF1 ça glisse de la quenelle !!»

Et réactions enchantées du public:

Un peu plus tôt dans le mois, c’est cette fois l’équipe de la saison 2013 de Pékin Express (M6) qui pose en faisant une quenelle. Et il n’est pas inintéressant de reprendre la description que fait un blog pro-Dieudonné des participants, en tout point conforme au type de population que l’on trouvait au Bal des quenelles, c’est-à-dire des profils de classes moyennes et populaires.

«Denis (28 ans, comptable) & Julie (30 ans, chargée de communication), deux corses/ Linda & Salim (Un couple. Ils ont tout deux 33 ans et sont techniciens)/ Fabien (26 ans, barman et mannequin) & Tarik (51 ans, chanteur) : Père et fils.»

Le 5 mars 2013, c’était un candidat de Top Chef, l’émission culinaire star de M6, qui faisait une référence à Dieudonné en citant la phrase «Au-dessus, c’est le soleil». Mais est-ce vraiment une référence volontaire? Difficile à dire (à 2’56 dans la vidéo).

En 2010, c’est une équipe de candidats de l’émission Secret Story qui, interrogée lors d’un des appartés face caméra pour commenter les derniers épisodes, affirme avoir glissé une grosse quenelle à ses concurrents. Benjamin Castaldi lui-même reprend la formulation sur le plateau.

Sur Internet, les forums proches de l’humoriste exultent devant l’ironie de la situation. La principale chaîne du système vient de rendre un hommage appuyé bien qu’involontaire à l’humoriste le plus boycotté de France. Qui plus est, Secret Story est produit par Endemol, la société d’Arthur, ennemi juré de Dieudonné. L’archive a été rapidement supprimée, mais elle est encore visionnable sur le site russe Rutube.

Le niveau de conscience politique des multiples candidats de téléréalité qui citent du Dieudonné est difficile à évaluer, bien entendu (leur niveau de conscience tout court, peut-être, aussi). Mais le phénomène est bien réel.

Est-ce vraiment surprenant? Le dernier spectacle de Dieudonné, Foxtrot, a fait le plein des Zenith de France, réunissant 2 à 4.000 spectateurs par ville. Posté le 18 juin sur YouTube, ce dernier avait, le 23, été visionné près de 300.000 fois (vidéo aujourd’hui retirée). Quant au grand raout annuel des troupes, le Bal des quenelles, l’édition 2013 a écoulé toutes ses places, et il est raisonnable d’estimer l’affluence à un petit millier de personnes.

L’activité protéiforme de Dieudonné et sa capacité à se placer simultanément sur plusieurs tableaux constitue un phénomène assez nouveau. Il se passe bien quelque chose, mais on ne sait pas encore vraiment quoi.

Voir de plus:

Quenelle de Dieudonné : la stupidité des élites juives

Stephane Haddad

Riposte laïque

31 décembre 2013

La Quenelle de Dieudonné a pris des proportions considérables et comme son inventeur antisémite, le proclame fièrement, « ça ne lui appartient plus, ça appartient à l’Histoire ».

Il convient de rappeler que ce geste est apparu il y a au moins 5 ans. Dieudonné a mis ce geste à toutes les sauces, en visant les politiques, les administrations, le gouvernement, les américains, les juifs, etc. Personne ne l’avait remarqué pour autre chose que sa façon de faire rire son public, de la même manière que chaque humoriste a ses marottes et ses postures pour être identifié et se démarquer.

Pour l’immense majorité des personnes, dont je suis, il pouvait être considéré comme un geste provocateur, vulgaire ou drôle selon l’humeur et l’humour de chacun, mais pas comme le salut nazi inversé. La meilleure preuve en est que, pendant des années, ce geste ne soulevait pas l’indignation qu’il provoque aujourd’hui, et n’avait pas gagné une popularité d’une telle ampleur.

Il a fallu qu’un esprit peu éclairé de la communauté, décide que c’était là le symbole du salut Nazi inversé pour lui donner à présent cette unique signification et que le phénomène prenne des proportions considérables et irrattrapables….

Il fallait qu’un esprit en mal de reconnaissance, qui se croyait plus intelligent que les autres, « shoatise » le geste, pour se faire remarquer ( ?), ou pour déclarer vouloir lutter contre Dieudonné alors qu’il y a bien d’autres moyens et raison de le combattre et de le critiquer (une des meilleures étant probablement d’aller sur son terrain, et de le moquer, en le caricaturant en grouillot lèche babouche de l’Iran et des islamistes ce que personne ne fait…).

Même si il est possible que Dieudonné ait eu cette idée dès la création de cette posture, elle ne faisait pas les ravages actuelles qu’elle provoque avant qu’elle soit requalifiée de la sorte. De surcroit, Dieudonné « surfant sur la vague du succès » a, à présent, légèrement modifié le geste en baissant un peu le niveau de la main, pour effectivement le rapprocher du salut nazi inversé.

En décrétant ce geste comme le symbole du mal absolu, cette personne a de façon évidente offert sa plus belle victoire à Dieudonné, un peu comme lorsque l’on ouvre un programme indésirable dans un ordinateur, et qu’un virus contamine tout le réseau. C’est un désastre.

Il y a de surcroit un effet pervers beaucoup plus redoutable qui a été réveillé.

A présent que ce geste s’est répandu dans toutes les cours de récréation, des milliers de personnes qui faisaient ce geste par amusement et qui ne pensaient pas du tout aux juifs (et oui, Mesdames, Messieurs du Crif, les juifs et la shoah n’occupent pas les pensées de tout le monde, tout le temps….), il est certain que toutes ces personnes pourront se dire « c’est à cause des juifs et d’Israël (bref des sionistes) que l’on ne peut plus rigoler, ils nous cassent les pieds » (et je reste poli…).

On sait déjà que la source originelle de l’antisémitisme vient du fait que le judaïsme a instauré pour l’humanité des principes de vie et de morale avec les dix commandements, et que ne plus obéir totalement à son désir, mais avoir des contraintes morales est nécessairement une atteinte à sa liberté (on n’est plus libre de tuer qui on veut, de voler ce qui nous plait, et l’on ne se sent plus aussi bien lorsque l’on pratique l’adultère….).

Le désastre, c’est qu’aujourd’hui, pour les centaines de milliers de fans de Dieudonné, il y a un onzième commandement : on ne va plus pouvoir rigoler et faire de bonnes blagues à cause des juifs, des sionistes et d’Israël. Raison de plus pour résister à ce nouveau « diktat moral des juifs » en continuant à faire ce geste…. Cette mise en exergue d’un geste qui n’était qu’un trait de vulgarité, a réveillé un immense caractère antisémite dans des milliers de cerveaux français, et bientôt européens….

La Quenelle de Dieudonné, ou quand ceux qui se considèrent comme « l’élite » de la communauté juive devraient apprendre à tourner sept fois leur langue dans la bouche avant de parler.

Voir par ailleurs:

Dieudonné est un signe annonciateur de ce qui vient

Guy Millière

Dreuz

02 jan 201

Dois-je l’écrire ? Je ne suis pas socialiste. J’ai eu l’occasion de critiquer de nombreuses fois ce gouvernement, et Manuel Valls. Mais quand Manuel Valls prend une position digne, je dis que Manuel Valls prend une position digne, je le dis. Et, en l’occurrence, je dis que Manuel Valls prend une position digne dans l’affaire Dieudonné.

J’ajoute que ceux qui invoquent la liberté de parole ou les principes inhérents au Premier amendement à la Constitution des Etats-Unis se trompent : il ne s’agit plus, en l’occurrence, de liberté de parole, mais d’incitations à la haine, et, sans doute, d’incitations au meurtre, voire d’incitation au génocide. C’est en tout cas dans cette catégorie que tombent les propos tenus par le principal intéressé concernant Patrick Cohen et les chambres à gaz. La liberté de parole ne couvre pas les incitations au meurtre, voire les incitations au génocide, qui peuvent faire l’objet de procédures judiciaires aux Etats-Unis, à juste titre à mes yeux. Dire « je suis raciste » est une chose (qui rentre dans la même catégorie que dire : je suis un salaud) : dire « ce serait bien de tuer les Noirs » est tout à fait une autre chose.

Je précise que ceux qui parlent de « spectacle » se trompent aussi : il ne s’agit plus de spectacle lorsque les propos qu’on tient sont emplis de connivences permettant aux racistes, aux antisémites, aux négationnistes, à ceux qui souhaitent la destruction génocidaire d’Israël de s’exciter ensemble et d’entendre de surcroît les incitations susdites.

Je souligne que les propos des dirigeants du Front National sur le sujet suffisent à montrer que décidément, le Front National continue à entretenir un rapport aux Juifs, au judaïsme et à Israël couvert de moisissures.

Je souligne aussi que les propos tenus de façon récurrente dur un site tel que Boulevard Voltaire montrent la dérive de ce site vers des positions qui sont celles d’une extrême droite qui ne me semble pas très fréquentable.

Publier des propos anti-israéliens comme il en traîne dans des publications déjà nombreuses n’a rien d’original. Faire de la publicité pour des livres radicalement anti-israéliens (tels « Le livre noir de l’occupation israélienne ») dans un contexte où des textes excusent ou édulcorent l’antisémitisme n’a rien de courageux.

Dans une société comme la société américaine, Dieudonné serait considéré comme si abject qu’il aurait déjà disparu de l’horizon, et se produirait devant des salles quasiment vides. Malgré Obama, les Etats-Unis restent un pays très imperméable à l’antisémitisme, et c’est ce qui en fait un pays qui reste plus sain que la France. On trouve aux Etats-Unis de la propagande « pro-palestinienne », sur les campus universitaires surtout, mais ceux qui disséminent cette propagande veillent soigneusement à éviter ce qui pourrait permettre de les accoler à des propagateurs de haine antisémite.

En France, l’abjection qu’incarne désormais Dieudonné remplit les salles, crée des réseaux, use de signes de ralliement prolongeant les connivences inhérentes aux spectacles. Les commentaires publiés après divers articles de presse montrent que l’antisémitisme remonte des égouts et traine désormais dans de nombreux caniveaux.

Parce qu’il prend position, avec courage, Meyer Habib, qui mène remarquablement un travail de vigilance contre l’antisémitisme et l’ « antisionisme », se voit incité à aller vivre en Israël.

Cela ne concerne pas toute la France, sinon Jean-Jacques Goldman et Patrick Bruel y seraient des marginaux, tout comme Gad Elmaleh ou Patrick Timsit, mais cela concerne néanmoins une part inquiétante de la population française : il existe en ce pays une nébuleuse fétide où se mêle une extrême droite porteuse de relents pétainistes, catholiques intégristes, nationalistes myopes, anti-israéliens et anti-américains, une extrême-gauche qui ne se distingue de l’extrême droite que parce qu’elle est favorable à l’islamisation du monde et à l’immigration sans contrôles, et, précisément, des courants islamiques eux-mêmes anti-israéliens et anti-américains. L’extrême droite camoufle son antisémitisme sous le manteau de l’ « antisionisme », qui est celui sous lequel s’abritent aussi extrême gauche et courants islamiques. Dieudonné trouve un public dans les divers composants de cette nébuleuse. Il suscite aussi chez des spectateurs de passage une accoutumance à certains parfums. Ces parfums sont ceux de la décomposition.

On n’arrêtera pas la décomposition en interdisant des spectacles. Mais si des vagues de révolte contre ce que signifient ces spectacles se lèvent, ce seront des vagues salubres. Et elles ont mon soutien.

On n’arrêtera pas le recours à certains gestes en interdisant ceux-ci. Mais faire un geste qui se trouve fait et photographié à Auschwitz, devant des synagogues, devant l’école juive de Toulouse où Merah a assassiné des enfants juifs, devant des photos d’Anne Frank, et j’en passe, c’est faire un geste lourd de sens et lourd de son poids de cadavres, et se voir traité comme un être infâme pour avoir fait ce geste est pleinement légitime. C’est se faire complice, par l’esprit, d’un crime contre l’humanité passé et de crimes contre l’humanité présents : ceux qui frappent des Israéliens et peuvent les frapper. Et que face à ce geste se lèvent aussi des vagues de révolte est sain et légitime.

Je crains, hélas, que Dieudonné soit l’un des signes annonciateurs de ce qui vient.

Je crains que des tendances plus denses et plus profondes soient à l’oeuvre en France.

Je crains que les amis de Manuel Valls, qui oeuvrent au sein du parti socialiste ne servent ces tendances, sans toujours savoir ce qu’ils font.

Je crains que les amis de Patrick Cohen qui oeuvrent au sein de la nomenklatura médiatique ne servent eux aussi ces tendances, sans eux-mêmes toujours savoir ce qu’ils font.

Je crains que nous ne soyons dans une époque très malsaine, et que cela ne s’arrange pas.

Des Français quittent la France chaque année, comme on quitte un navire qui glisse vers le naufrage : c’est un fait.

Des Juifs quittent la France chaque année parce qu’ils sentent ce qui passe dans l’air du temps : c’est un fait encore.

Je comprends ces départs.

Voir aussi:

L’ITW dans Lyon Capitale qui a fait condamner Dieudonné
Par la rédaction
03/01/2014

En janvier 2002, Lyon Capitale interrogeait Dieudonné, qui était alors candidat à l’élection présidentielle. Dans cet entretien mené par Philippe Chaslot, cofondateur de Lyon Capitale, Dieudonné déclarait : “antisémite n’existe pas parce que juif n’existe pas”. Ces propos, entre autres, lui ont valu d’être attaqué par des associations de lutte contre l’antisémitisme. Malgré une relaxe en appel en 2004, la Cour de cassation juge de manière définitive (arrêt du 16 février 2007*) que “ces propos mettent précisément en cause la communauté juive à raison de sa religion, ce qui manifeste une conviction ouvertement antisémite”. Nous republions ci-dessous l’intégralité de cet entretien.

Lyon Capitale n° 360 (23 janvier 2002)

Dieudonné existe-t-il ?
Dieudonné, humoriste et candidat aux présidentielles

Entretien – La candidature aux présidentielles de l’humoriste Dieudonné n’est pas sa première implication en politique comme c’était le cas pour Coluche en 1981. Dieudonné se décrit avant tout comme un utopiste révolté. Il développe dans Lyon Capitale ses revendications communautaristes. Son anticléricalisme tous azimuts l’entraîne à nier jusqu’à l’existence même du fait religieux. Jusqu’à l’irresponsabilité dangereuse quand il n’hésite pas à renvoyer au même néant Juifs et antisémites.

“Lyon Capitale : Quelle est votre identité de candidat aux présidentielles et où en êtes-vous de vos 500 signatures ?

Dieudonné : Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala. Ça figure sur mes pièces d’identité. Ce sera inscrit sur les bulletins de vote. Nous en sommes à 300 signatures.

Pourquoi cette candidature ?

Je ne compte pas être élu président, mais j’ai le sentiment d’être un otage d’un pouvoir autoritaire et injuste. Je veux apporter une dimension d’utopie peut-être, de libre-penseur sûrement. C’est important que les discours ne soient pas monopolisés par des professionnels de la politique dont les carrières ne devraient pas excéder 5 à 6 ans. Après les choses s’entremêlent.

Le FN vous paraît-il toujours aussi dangereux ?

Je joue beaucoup aux échecs et je dirais que le FN reste une pièce qui compte sur l’échiquier. Il est indispensable au jeu politique actuel, bouclier ou épouvantail. Le FN représente les valeurs nues d’une droite d’ultra-conservateurs. Ça peut être un réservoir. Le FN, comme les chalutiers, ça ramasse ce qu’il y a au fond, la merdasse. Une certaine gauche en a aussi besoin pour l’emporter grâce à des triangulaires. Depuis 1997, j’appréhende un peu mieux les enjeux et les règles : il y a des stratégies d’intérêts croisés et il ne faut pas toujours se fier aux étendards politiques.

Dans une salle remplie de militants FN, feriez-vous un discours ou un sketch ?

Un sketch. Et je pense que je les ferais marrer ! Mon métier c’est de rire de la bêtise humaine, on aurait de quoi rire ensemble. Si l’on réfléchit sur leur programme… En attendant, le MNR dans certaines villes appelle dans des tracts à l’interdiction de mon spectacle.

Vous proposez une politique de quotas pour les gens dits “de couleur”… Ce modèle anglo-saxon est très contesté en France. Assumez-vous le fait d’être un candidat communautariste ?

Chirac et Jospin sont des candidats communautaristes, hommes et blancs, et comme les politiques en France qui sont toujours chrétiens ou juifs. C’est une petite minorité au pouvoir dans cette société. Moi, je ne suis pas communautariste… ou alors pas plus qu’eux !

Chirac et Jospin ne sont pas communautaristes, ils n’ont pas été élus sur ces critères – écrits nulle part – mais sur un nom et un programme…

Quand vous allez chercher un boulot ou un logement, la discrimination n’est écrite nulle part. Elle se vit au quotidien. C’est la vérité tout comme l’apartheid en Israël. Aux Antilles, 95 % des richesses appartiennent encore aux descendants des esclavagistes, toujours au pouvoir. Je suis favorable à une nouvelle répartition de ces richesses ainsi qu’aux quotas à la télévision avec une représentativité des minorités.

Comme aux États-Unis ?

Exactement, comme aux États-Unis. Il faut des lois, des règles. Il faut des femmes aux postes de responsabilité et des Noirs. Il n’est pas normal qu’en Guadeloupe, Martinique ou en Nouvelle-Calédonie le pouvoir soit exercé uniquement par des minorités blanches. C’est vrai qu’en République on ne peut pas définir un homme en fonction de sa couleur : un citoyen est un citoyen. Mais ça, c’est la poésie. Quand on va chercher un logement… ça ne marche pas. Alors il faut tendre vers l’utopie républicaine mais il faut jalonner ce parcours de règles et de lois comme la parité et les quotas.

Pour vous, “il est impératif de reconnaître la dette de la France envers les descendants d’esclaves” et vous demandez “réparation comme pour les descendants des Juifs déportés”. Quel sens cela a-t-il, 150 ans après ?

Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, ancien pdg d’Elf, m’a expliqué comment aujourd’hui encore la France continuait à piller le continent africain, comme du temps des esclaves, comment des cargaisons entières de pétrole partaient d’Afrique sans être comptabilisées. La France est un État voleur. La France doit faire un bilan avec son passé, d’autant que le pillage continue. Le braquage organisé par Elf se fait sur ordre de Lionel Jospin et Jacques Chirac. C’est la réalité (…) En cas de crise, Chirac et Jospin se retrouvent ensemble dans une église. Moi, à leur place, plutôt que d’écouter les bêtises de Lustiger, j’aurais pris les textes sacrés et je les aurais brûlés sous l’Arc de Triomphe pour symboliser la destruction des frontières virtuelles qui séparent les hommes jusqu’à les pousser à s’entretuer.

Que pensez-vous de la montée de l’antisémitisme parmi certains jeunes Beurs ?

Le racisme a été inventé par Abraham. Le “peuple élu”, c’est le début du racisme. Les musulmans aujourd’hui renvoient la réponse du berger à la bergère. Juifs et musulmans, pour moi, ça n’existe pas. Donc antisémite n’existe pas parce que juif n’existe pas. Ce sont deux notions aussi stupides l’une que l’autre. Personne n’est juif ou alors tout le monde. Je ne comprends rien à cette histoire. Pour moi, les Juifs, c’est une secte, une escroquerie. C’est une des plus graves parce que c’est la première. Certains musulmans prennent la même voie en ranimant des concepts comme la “guerre sainte”, etc.

Votre liste de ministres putatifs est prestigieuse : Jamel, Bové, etc. Mais votre ancien partenaire Élie Semoun n’en fait pas partie. C’est parce qu’il fait partie du peuple élu ?

Pour moi, Élie n’est pas juif, c’est un comédien qui a des idées politiques que je crois proches du PS. Est-ce que c’est par conviction ou intérêt personnel ? Je ne sais pas, mais je ne vais pas l’entraîner dans une aventure libertaire qu’il ne partagerait pas.

Vous agacez souvent par votre côté revendicatif et geignard. N’avez-vous pas besoin d’un bon conseiller en com’ ou d’une Bernadette à faire valoir ?

(Rires.) Je ne sollicite pas vraiment les électeurs. Il n’y a pas d’autre projet que d’être symboliquement là et d’aborder certains thèmes comme la justice, le droit au logement, la répartition de la richesse en France par rapport au reste du monde. Mon côté revendicatif ? J’ai peu de temps pour exprimer les choses dramatiques que je perçois sur le terrain. Quand on voit 25 personnes sans abri dans la rue dont des femmes et des enfants, c’est insupportable. Ça peut irriter et rendre tendu. Avec le temps, je me défends… mais je ne lâche pas l’affaire (…) Coluche a amené une candidature très burlesque. Je n’ai ni son talent ni sa notoriété. Mais Mme Tjibaou m’a envoyé le drapeau de la Kanakie, c’est important (…) Alors on me trouve chiant, mais c’est la télé-divertissement qui l’est ! Je les trouve chiants, les Fogiel, les Arthur et Ardisson – enfin, Ardisson, ce n’est vraiment pas le pire. La télé est globalement chiante. C’est vrai qu’avec mes histoires de négro j’ai pu emmerder certaines personnes.

Pour un humoriste, la candidature aux présidentielles est un exercice périlleux. Comment être pris au sérieux sans casser son image ?

Je ne me débrouille pas si mal. Aujourd’hui, pour leur “foutre au cul”, comme disait Coluche – pour rester dans cette ligne de pensée –, il faut adopter une attitude sur le fil du rasoir, entre dérision et engagement citoyen. Il faut ne pas se prendre au sérieux mais ne pas être dans la rigolade non plus… Sinon, les hommes au pouvoir, on ne les embêterait pas tant que ça.

Qu’est-ce qui vous fait rire dans la fonction présidentielle ?

Tout m’amuse. Les fastes… Jospin, Chirac, c’est la cour. Ne manquent que les couronnes. L’armée, la religion, les puissances économiques, tout est là. On a un vernis démocratique sur un système complètement archaïque et ringard. Le G8, c’est Rome toute-puissante. Jésus-Christ s’est battu lui-même contre cet empire, contre Berlusconi (…) Quand on a la bombe atomique, on ne vit pas dans une nation civilisée. Dans ce monde, les pires sont ceux qui fabriquent les armes, les Français, les Américains et d’autres.

Le 30 janvier, sort Astérix. Une façon de parler de vos ancêtres les Gaulois ?

Ben voilà, c’est ça. Entre Jamel et moi, c’est important d’être dans ce film qui fait référence au patrimoine. Je suis français, mes ancêtres n’étaient pas forcément gaulois et ce n’est pas un problème. C’est bien !”

Propos recueillis par Philippe Chaslot.

* L’arrêt de la Cour de cassation est en ligne ici.

Voir enfin:

The Move to Muzzle Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala

The Bête Noire of the French Establishment

Diana Johnstone

Counterpunch

Paris

French mainstream media and politicians are starting off the New Year with a shared resolution for 2014: permanently muzzle a Franco-African comedian who is getting to be too popular among young people.

In between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, no less than the President of the Republic, François Hollande, while visiting Saudi Arabia on (very big) business, said his government must find a way to ban performances by the comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, as called for by French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls.

The leader of the conservative opposition party, UMP, Jean-François Copé, immediately chimed in with his “total support” for silencing the unmanageable entertainer.

In the unanimous media chorus, the weekly Nouvel Observateur editorialized that Dieudonné is “already dead”, washed up, finished. Editors publicly disputed whether it was a better tactic to try to jail him for “incitement to racial hatred”, close his shows on grounds of a potential “threat to public order”, or put pressure on municipalities by threatening cultural subsidies with cuts if they allow him to perform.

The goal of national police boss Manuel Valls is clear, but the powers that be are groping for the method.

The dismissive cliché heard repeatedly is that “nobody laughs at Dieudonné any more”.

In reality, the opposite is true. And that is the problem. On his recent tour of French cities, videos show large, packed theaters roaring with laughter at their favorite humorist. He has popularized a simple gesture, which he calls the “quenelle”. It is being imitated by young people all over France. It simply and obviously means, we are fed up.

To invent a pretext for destroying Dieudonné, the leading Jewish organizations CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, the French AIPAC) and LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme, which enjoys special privileges under French law) have come up with a fantasy to brand Dieudonné and his followers as “Nazis”. The quenelle is all too obviously a vulgar gesture roughly meaning “up yours”, with one hand placed at the top of the other arm pointing down to signify “how far up” this is to be.

But for the CRIF and LICRA, the quenelle is “a Nazi salute in reverse”. (You can never be too “vigilant” when looking for the hidden Hitler.)

As someone has remarked, a “Nazi salute in reverse” might as well be considered anti-Nazi. If indeed it had anything to do with Heil Hitler. Which it clearly does not.

But world media are taking up this claim, at least pointing out that “some consider the quenelle to be a Nazi salute in reverse”. Never mind that those who use it have no doubt about what it means: F— the system!

But to what extent are the CRIF and LICRA “the system”?

France needs all the laughter it can get

French industry is vanishing, with factory shutdowns week after week. Taxes on low income citizens are going up, to save the banks and the euro. Disillusion with the European Union is growing. EU rules exclude any serious effort to improve the French economy. Meanwhile, politicians on the left and the right continue their empty speeches, full of clichés about “human rights” – largely as an excuse to go to war in the Middle East or rant against China and Russia. The approval rating of President Hollande has sunk to 15%. However people vote, they get the same policies, made in EU.

Why then are the ruling politicians focusing their wrath on “the most talented humorist of his generation” (as his colleagues acknowledge, even when denouncing him)?

The short answer is probably that Dieudonné’s surging popularity among young people illustrates a growing generation gap. Dieudonné has turned laughter against the entire political establishment. This has led to a torrent of abuse and vows to shut down his shows, ruin him financially and even put him in jail. The abuse also provides a setting for physical attacks against him. A few days ago, his assistant Jacky Sigaux was physically attacked in broad daylight by several masked men in front of the city hall of the 19th arrondissement – just opposite the Buttes Chaumont Park. He has lodged a complaint.

But how much protection is to be expected from a government whose Interior Minister, Manuel Valls – in charge of police – has vowed to seek ways to silence Dieudonné?

The story is significant but is almost certain to be badly reported outside France – just as it is badly reported inside France, the source of almost all foreign reports. In translation, a bit of garbling and falsehoods add to the confusion.

Why Do They Hate Him?

Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala was born in a Paris suburb nearly 48 years ago. His mother was white, from Brittany, his father was African, from Cameroun. This should make him a poster child for the “multiculturalism” the ideologically dominant left claims to promote. And during the first part of his career, teaming up with his Jewish friend, Elie Simoun, he was just that: campaigning against racism, focusing his criticism on the National Front and even running for office against an NF candidate in the dormitory town of Dreux, some sixty miles West of Paris, where he lives. Like the best humorists, Dieudonné always targeted current events, with a warmth and dignity unusual in the profession. His career flourished, he played in movies, was a guest on television, branched out on his own. A great observer, he excels at relatively subtle imitations of various personality types and ethnic groups from Africans to Chinese.

Ten years ago, on December 1, 2003, as guest on a TV show appropriately called “You Can’t Please Everybody”, dedicated to current events, Dieudonné came on stage roughly disguised as “a convert to Zionist extremism” advising others to get ahead by “joining the American-Israeli Axis of Good”. This was in the first year of the US assault on Iraq, which France’s refusal to join had led Washington to rechristen what it calls “French fries” (Belgian, actually) as “Freedom fries”. A relatively mild attack on George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” seemed totally in the mood of the times. The sketch ended with a brief salute, “Isra-heil”. This was far from being vintage Dieudonné, but nevertheless, the popular humorist was at the time enthusiastically embraced by other performers while the studio audience gave him a standing ovation.

Then the protests started coming in, especially concerning the final gesture seen as likening Israel to Nazi Germany.

“Anti-Semitism!” was the cry, although the target was Israel (and the United States as allies in the Middle East). Calls multiplied to ban his shows, to sue him, to destroy his career. Dieudonné attempted to justify his sketch as not targeting Jews as such, but, unlike others before him, would not apologize for an offense he did not believe he had committed. Why no protests from Africans he had made fun of? Or Muslims? Or Chinese? Why should a single community react with such fury?

Thus began a decade of escalation. LICRA began a long series of lawsuits against him (“incitement to racial hatred”), at first losing, but keeping up the pressure. Instead of backing down, Dieudonné went farther in his criticism of “Zionism” after each attack. Meanwhile, Dieudonné was gradually excluded from television appearances and treated as a pariah by mainstream media. It is only the recent internet profusion of images showing young people making the quenelle sign that has moved the establishment to conclude that a direct attack would be more effective than trying to ignore him.

The Ideological Background

To begin to understand the meaning of the Dieudonné affair, it is necessary to grasp the ideological context. For reasons too complex to review here, the French left – the left that once was primarily concerned with the welfare of the working class, with social equality, opposition to aggressive war, freedom of speech – has virtually collapsed. The right has won the decisive economic battle, with the triumph of policies favoring monetary stability and the interests of international investment capital (“neo-liberalism”). As a consolation prize, the left enjoys a certain ideological dominance, based on anti-racism, anti-nationalism and devotion to the European Union – even to the hypothetical “social Europe” that daily recedes into the cemetery of lost dreams. In fact, this ideology fits perfectly with a globalization geared to the requirements of international finance capital.

In the absence of any serious socio-economic left, France has sunk into a sort of “Identity Politics”, which both praises multiculturalism and reacts vehemently against “communitarianism”, that is, the assertion of any unwelcome ethnic particularisms. But some ethnic particularisms are less welcome than others. The Muslim veil was first banned in schools, and demands to ban it in adult society grow. The naqib and burka, while rare, have been legally banned. Disputes erupt over Halal foods in cafeterias, prayers in the street, while cartoons regularly lampoon Islam. Whatever one may think of this, the fight against communitarianism can be seen by some as directed against one particular community. Meanwhile, French leaders have been leading the cry for wars in Muslim countries from Libya to Syria, while insisting on devotion to Israel.

Meanwhile, another community is the object of constant solicitude. In the last twenty years, while religious faith and political commitment have declined drastically, the Holocaust, called the Shoah in France, has gradually become a sort of State Religion. Schools commemorate the Shoah annually, it increasingly dominates historical consciousness, which in other areas is declining along with many humanistic studies. In particular, of all the events in France’s long history, the only one protected by law is the Shoah. The so-called Gayssot Law bans any questioning of the history of the Shoah, an altogether unprecedented interference with freedom of speech. Moreover, certain organizations, such as LICRA, have been granted the privilege of suing individuals on the basis of “incitement to racial hatred” (very broadly and unevenly interpreted) with the possibility of collecting damages on behalf of the “injured community”. In practice, these laws are used primarily to prosecute alleged “anti-Semitism” or “negationism” concerning the Shoah. Even though they frequently are thrown out of court, such lawsuits constitute harassment and intimidation. France is the rare country where the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israeli settlement practices can also be attacked as “incitement to racial hatred”.

The violence-prone Jewish Defense League, outlawed in the United States and even in Israel, is known for smashing books shops or beating up isolated, even elderly, individuals. When identified, flight to Israel is a good way out. The victims of the JDL fail to inspire anything close to the massive public indignation aroused when a Jewish person falls victim to wanton violence. Meanwhile, politicians flock to the annual dinner of the CRIF with the same zeal that in the United States they flock to the dinner of AIPAC – not so much for campaign funds as to demonstrate their correct sentiments.

France has the largest Jewish population in Western Europe, which actually largely escaped the deportation during German occupation that expelled Jewish immigrants to concentration camps. In addition to an old, established Jewish population, there are many newcomers from North Africa. All this adds up to a very dynamic, successful population, numerous in the more visible and popular professions (journalism, show business, as well as science and medicine, among others).

Of all French parties, the Socialist Party (especially via the Israeli Labor Party of Shimon Peres in the Socialist International) has the closest historic ties with Israel. In the 1950s, when France was fighting against the Algerian national liberation movement, the French government (via Peres) contributed to the Israeli project of building nuclear weapons. Today it is not the Labor Party that rules Israel, but the far right. Hollande’s recent cozy trip to Benjamin Netanyahu showed that the rightward drift of policy in Israel has done nothing to strain relations – which seem closer than ever.

Yet this Jewish community is very small compared to the large number of Arab immigrants from North Africa or black immigrants from France’s former colonies in Africa. Several years ago, a leading Socialist Party intellectual, Pascal Boniface, cautiously warned party leaders that their heavy bias in favor of the Jewish community could eventually cause electoral problems. This statement in a political assessment document caused an uproar which nearly cost him his career.

But the fact remains: it is not hard for French people of Arab or African background to feel that the “communitarianism” that really has clout is the Jewish community.

The Political Uses of the Holocaust

Norman Finkelstein showed some time ago that the Holocaust can be exploited for less than noble purposes: such as extorting funds from Swiss banks. However, in France the situation is very different. No doubt, constant reminders of the Shoah serve as a sort of protection for Israel from the hostility aroused by its treatment of the Palestinians. But the religion of the Holocaust has another, deeper political impact with no direct relation to the fate of the Jews.

More than anything else, Auschwitz has been interpreted as the symbol of what nationalism leads to. Reference to Auschwitz has served to give a bad conscience to Europe, and notably to the French, considering that their relatively small role in the matter was the result of military defeat and occupation by Nazi Germany. Bernard-Henri Lévy, the writer whose influence has grown to grotesque proportions in recent years (he led President Sarkozy into war against Libya), began his career as ideologue by claiming that “fascism” is the genuine “French ideology”. Guilt, guilt, guilt. By placing Auschwitz as the most significant event of recent history, various writers and speakers justify by default the growing power of the European Union as necessary replacement for Europe’s inherently “bad” nations. Never again Auschwitz! Dissolve the nation-states into a technical bureaucracy, free of the emotional influence of citizens who might vote incorrectly. Do you feel French? Or German? You should feel guilty about it – because of Auschwitz.

Europeans are less and less enthusiastic about the EU as it ruins their economies and robs them of all democratic power over the economy. They can vote for gay marriage, but not for the slightest Keynesian measure, much less socialism. Nevertheless, guilt about the past is supposed to keep them loyal to the European dream.

Dieudonné’s fans, judging from photographs, appear to be predominantly young men, fewer women, mostly between the ages of twenty and thirty. They were born two full generations after the end of World War II. They have spent their lives hearing about the Shoah. Over 300 Paris schools bear a plaque commemorating the tragic fate of Jewish children deported to Nazi concentration camps. What can be the effect of all this? For many who were born long after these terrible events, it seems that everyone is supposed to feel guilty – if not for what they didn’t do, for what they supposedly might do if they had a chance.

When Dieudonné transformed an old semi-racist “tropical” song, Chaud Cacao, into Shoah Ananas, the tune is taken up en masse by Dieudonné fans. I venture to think that they are not making fun of the real Shoah, but rather of the constant reminders of events that are supposed to make them feel guilty, insignificant and powerless. Much of this generation is sick of hearing about the period 1933-1945, while their own future is dim.

Nobody Knows When to Stop

Last Sunday, a famous football player of Afro-Belgian origin, Nicolas Anelka, who plays in the UK, made a quenelle sign after scoring a goal – in solidarity with this friend Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala. With this simple and basically insignificant gesture, the uproar soared to new heights.

In the French parliament, Meyer Habib represents “overseas French” – some 4,000 Israelis of French origin. On Monday he twittered: “Anelka’s quenelle is intolerable! I will introduce a bill to punish this new Nazi salute practiced by anti-Semites.”

France has adopted laws to “punish anti-Semitism”. The result is the opposite. Such measures simply tend to confirm the old notion that “the Jews run the country” and contribute to growing anti-Semitism. When French youth see a Franco-Israeli attempt to outlaw a simple gesture, when the Jewish community moves to ban their favorite humorist, anti-Semitism can only grow even more rapidly.

Yet in this escalation, the relationship of forces is very uneven. A humorist has words as his weapons, and fans who may disperse when the going gets rough. On the other side is the dominant ideology, and the power of the State.

In this sort of clash, civic peace depends on the wisdom of those with most power to show restraint. If they fail to do so, this can be a game with no winners.


Bilan 2013: La meilleure année de l’histoire (It really is a wonderful world – happy new year to all !)

1 janvier, 2014
https://i1.wp.com/www.skeptical-science.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/The_biggest_shocker_of_2013__That_it_really_is_a_wonderful_world_%C2%BB_Spectator_Blogs.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/cdn2.spectator.co.uk/wp-content/blogs.dir/11/files/2013/12/Screen-Shot-2013-12-27-at-21.45.11.pnghttps://i2.wp.com/www.skeptical-science.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/The_biggest_shocker_of_2013__That_it_really_is_a_wonderful_world_%C2%BB_Spectator_Blogs2.jpg
Nous vivons à la fois dans le meilleur et le pire des mondes. Les progrès de l’humanité sont réels. Nos lois sont meilleures et nous nous tuons moins les uns les autres. En même temps, nous ne voulons pas voir notre responsabilité dans les menaces et les possibilités de destruction qui pèsent sur nous. René Girard
 Je me souviens d’un journal dans lequel il y avait deux articles juxtaposés. Le premier se moquait de l’Apocalypse d’une certaine façon ; le second était aussi apocalyptique que possible. Le contact de ces deux textes qui se faisaient face et qui dans le même temps se donnaient comme n’ayant aucun rapport l’un avec l’autre avait quelque chose de fascinant. (…) Nous sommes encore proches de cette période des grandes expositions internationales qui regardait de façon utopique la mondialisation comme l’Exposition de Londres – la « Fameuse » dont parle Dostoievski, les expositions de Paris… Plus on s’approche de la vraie mondialisation plus on s’aperçoit que la non-différence ce n’est pas du tout la paix parmi les hommes mais ce peut être la rivalité mimétique la plus extravagante. On était encore dans cette idée selon laquelle on vivait dans le même monde : on n’est plus séparé par rien de ce qui séparait les hommes auparavant donc c’est forcément le paradis. Ce que voulait la Révolution française. Après la nuit du 4 août, plus de problème !  L’Amérique connaît bien cela. Il est évident que la non-différence de classe ne tarit pas les rivalités mais les excite à mort avec tout ce qu’il y a de bon et de mortel dans ce phénomène. (…)  il n’y a plus de sacrifice et donc les hommes sont exposés à la violence et il n’y a plus que deux choix : soit on préfère subir la violence soit on cherche à l’infliger à autrui. Le Christ veut nous dire entre autres choses : il vaut mieux subir la violence (c’est le sacrifice de soi) que de l’infliger à autrui. Si Dieu refuse le sacrifice, il est évident qu’il nous demande la non-violence qui empêchera l’Apocalypse. (…) Je crois qu’il y a un double mouvement. Il ne faut pas oublier qu’il y a aussi une société de la peur. Beaucoup de gens considèrent que la violence augmente dans notre univers. Les deux mouvements se chevauchent.  Il y a eu des gestes de prudence extraordinaires, puisque Kroutchev n’a pas maintenu à Cuba les bombes atomiques. Il y a, dans ce geste, quelque chose de décisif. Ce fut le seul moment effrayant pour les hommes d’Etat eux-mêmes. Aujourd’hui nous savons qu’il y a des pays qui essaient par tous les moyens de se procurer ces armes et nous savons aussi qu’ils sont bien décidés à les utiliser. On a donc encore franchi un palier. René Girard
La mondialisation engendre une fragilité qui se répercute en cascade tout en diminuant la volatilité et en créant une apparence de stabilité. En d’autres termes, la mondialisation produit des Cygnes Noirs foudroyants. Nous n’avons jamais vécu sous la menace d’un effondrement général. Jusqu’à présent, les institutions financières ont fusionné, donnant naissance à un nombre plus restreint de très grandes banques. Maintenant, les banques sont pratiquement toutes liées entre elles. Ainsi l’écologie financière est-elle en train d’enfler pour former des banques bureaucratiques gigantesques, incestueuses (souvent « gaussianisées » en termes d’évaluation des risques) – la chute de l’une entraîne celle de toutes les autres. La concentration accrue des banques semble avoir pour effet de rendre les crises financières moins probables, mais quand elles se produisent, c’est à une échelle plus globale et elles nous frappent très cruellement. Nous sommes passés d’une écologie diversifiée de petites banques, avec différentes politiques de prêt, à un ensemble plus homogène de sociétés qui se ressemblent toutes. Certes, nous enregistrons maintenant moins d’échecs, mais quand ils se produisent… Cette pensée me fait frémir. Je reformule mon idée : nous allons avoir moins de crises, mais elles seront plus graves. Plus un événement est rare, moins nous connaissons les chances qu’il a de se produire. Autrement dit, nous en savons toujours moins sur les possibilités qu’une crise a de survenir. Nassim Taleb
For centuries, social theorists like Hobbes and Rousseau speculated from their armchairs about what life was like in a « state of nature. » Nowadays we can do better. Forensic archeology—a kind of « CSI: Paleolithic »—can estimate rates of violence from the proportion of skeletons in ancient sites with bashed-in skulls, decapitations or arrowheads embedded in bones. And ethnographers can tally the causes of death in tribal peoples that have recently lived outside of state control. These investigations show that, on average, about 15% of people in prestate eras died violently, compared to about 3% of the citizens of the earliest states. Tribal violence commonly subsides when a state or empire imposes control over a territory, leading to the various « paxes » (Romana, Islamica, Brittanica and so on) that are familiar to readers of history. It’s not that the first kings had a benevolent interest in the welfare of their citizens. Just as a farmer tries to prevent his livestock from killing one another, so a ruler will try to keep his subjects from cycles of raiding and feuding. From his point of view, such squabbling is a dead loss—forgone opportunities to extract taxes, tributes, soldiers and slaves. (…) Historical records show that between the late Middle Ages and the 20th century, European countries saw a 10- to 50-fold decline in their rates of homicide.(…) Historians attribute this decline to the consolidation of a patchwork of feudal territories into large kingdoms with centralized authority and an infrastructure of commerce. Criminal justice was nationalized, and zero-sum plunder gave way to positive-sum trade. People increasingly controlled their impulses and sought to cooperate with their neighbors. (….) Governments and churches had long maintained order by punishing nonconformists with mutilation, torture and gruesome forms of execution, such as burning, breaking, disembowelment, impalement and sawing in half. The 18th century saw the widespread abolition of judicial torture, including the famous prohibition of « cruel and unusual punishment » in the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. At the same time, many nations began to whittle down their list of capital crimes from the hundreds (including poaching, sodomy, witchcraft and counterfeiting) to just murder and treason. And a growing wave of countries abolished blood sports, dueling, witchhunts, religious persecution, absolute despotism and slavery. (…) Today we take it for granted that Italy and Austria will not come to blows, nor will Britain and Russia. But centuries ago, the great powers were almost always at war, and until quite recently, Western European countries tended to initiate two or three new wars every year. The cliché that the 20th century was « the most violent in history » ignores the second half of the century (and may not even be true of the first half, if one calculates violent deaths as a proportion of the world’s population). Though it’s tempting to attribute the Long Peace to nuclear deterrence, non-nuclear developed states have stopped fighting each other as well. Political scientists point instead to the growth of democracy, trade and international organizations—all of which, the statistical evidence shows, reduce the likelihood of conflict. They also credit the rising valuation of human life over national grandeur—a hard-won lesson of two world wars. (…) Since 1946, several organizations have tracked the number of armed conflicts and their human toll world-wide. The bad news is that for several decades, the decline of interstate wars was accompanied by a bulge of civil wars, as newly independent countries were led by inept governments, challenged by insurgencies and armed by the cold war superpowers. The less bad news is that civil wars tend to kill far fewer people than wars between states. And the best news is that, since the peak of the cold war in the 1970s and ’80s, organized conflicts of all kinds—civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, terrorist attacks—have declined throughout the world, and their death tolls have declined even more precipitously. The rate of documented direct deaths from political violence (war, terrorism, genocide and warlord militias) in the past decade is an unprecedented few hundredths of a percentage point. Even if we multiplied that rate to account for unrecorded deaths and the victims of war-caused disease and famine, it would not exceed 1%. The most immediate cause of this New Peace was the demise of communism, which ended the proxy wars in the developing world stoked by the superpowers and also discredited genocidal ideologies that had justified the sacrifice of vast numbers of eggs to make a utopian omelet. Another contributor was the expansion of international peacekeeping forces, which really do keep the peace—not always, but far more often than when adversaries are left to fight to the bitter end. (…° In the developed world, the civil rights movement obliterated lynchings and lethal pogroms, and the women’s-rights movement has helped to shrink the incidence of rape and the beating and killing of wives and girlfriends. In recent decades, the movement for children’s rights has significantly reduced rates of spanking, bullying, paddling in schools, and physical and sexual abuse. And the campaign for gay rights has forced governments in the developed world to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality and has had some success in reducing hate crimes against gay people. (…) The most obvious of these pacifying forces has been the state, with its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. A disinterested judiciary and police can defuse the temptation of exploitative attack, inhibit the impulse for revenge and circumvent the self-serving biases that make all parties to a dispute believe that they are on the side of the angels. We see evidence of the pacifying effects of government in the way that rates of killing declined following the expansion and consolidation of states in tribal societies and in medieval Europe. And we can watch the movie in reverse when violence erupts in zones of anarchy, such as the Wild West, failed states and neighborhoods controlled by mafias and street gangs, who can’t call 911 or file a lawsuit to resolve their disputes but have to administer their own rough justice. Another pacifying force has been commerce, a game in which everybody can win. As technological progress allows the exchange of goods and ideas over longer distances and among larger groups of trading partners, other people become more valuable alive than dead. They switch from being targets of demonization and dehumanization to potential partners in reciprocal altruism. (…) Bearers of good news are often advised to keep their mouths shut, lest they lull people into complacency. But this prescription may be backward. The discovery that fewer people are victims of violence can thwart cynicism among compassion-fatigued news readers who might otherwise think that the dangerous parts of the world are irredeemable hell holes. And a better understanding of what drove the numbers down can steer us toward doing things that make people better off rather than congratulating ourselves on how moral we are. As one becomes aware of the historical decline of violence, the world begins to look different. The past seems less innocent, the present less sinister. One starts to appreciate the small gifts of coexistence that would have seemed utopian to our ancestors: the interracial family playing in the park, the comedian who lands a zinger on the commander in chief, the countries that quietly back away from a crisis instead of escalating to war. For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment that we can savor—and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible. Steven Pinker
Le monde n’a jamais été plus riche, la croissance n’a jamais été plus équitablement répartie. Nous sommes plus nombreux que jamais, mais n’avons jamais eu aussi peu faim. On parle maintenant de la « fin du sida ». Les progrès contre l’un des plus grands tueurs, le paludisme, étaient lents il y a dix ans. Maintenant, ils sont rapides. (…) Mais c’est rarement avec de bonnes nouvelles  qu’on vend du papier et ce non  pas à cause d’une quelconque sinistre conspiration de la presse. Les nouvelles positives sont moins susceptible d’être lues, ou de vendre des journaux. Si vous êtes au pub et un ami vous raconte que votre voisin vient de qutter son mari après un violent accrochage, etc.,  vous serez écouté. Dites que votre voisin a eu une excellente année 2013 et s’attend à une encore meilleure année 2014 et tout le monde s’en fichera. Il en va de même pour le journalisme – ce qui entraine un fort parti pris dans les médias pour les histoires qui tournent mal. (…) Juger un pays, ou  le monde, d’après les journaux, c’est comme si on jugeait une ville en passant la nuit dans sa salle d’urgences. Mais il n’y a pas que les  journalistes : les associations caritatives ont aussi intérêt à projeter une image de l’Afrique comme celle d’une zone de grande famine. En ce moment même, par exemple, il y a un appel pour les victimes de la guerre civile syrienne – qui sont d’ailleurs tout à fait réelles. Mais c’est l’exception. En fait, nous vivons à l’ère plus paisible de l’histoire moderne. (…) Mais qu’en est-il du chaos climatique ? Ne sommes nous pas entrés dans une nouvelle ère d’inondations, tempêtes et autres phénomènes météorologiques extrêmes, provoquant toujours plus massivement de victimes ? Bien au contraire. Il y a encore des tempêtes, bien sûr, mais un monde plus riche y est mieux préparé. Les défenses contre les inondations, des bâtiments plus solides, etc., font que  le nombre de victimes de la météo a baissé d’un étonnant 93% depuis les années 1920. (…) Nous avons tendance à ne pas entendre parler de tout cela, parce que les journalistes, comme les politiciens, sont là pour identifier et attirer notre attention sur les problèmes. Et à juste titre : aussi longtemps que les banques alimentaires seront nécessaires, aussi longtemps que les gens dormiront dans la rue en Grande-Bretagne et souffriront de la faim en Asie, aussi longtemps que quelqu’un mourra d’une maladie évitable comme la malaria alors il y aura encore largement de quoi à être scandalisés. (…) Mais ce qui va mal dans le monde est  largement contrebalancé par ce qui va bien. Et la déprimante suite de nouvelles peut effectivement nous aveugler sur la plus grande nouvelle de notre époque : nous sommes vraiment sur le point de reléguer la pauvreté à l’histoire. (…) C’est une nouvelle dont aucune organisation ou gouvernement ne peut se prévaloir  – et une nouvelle qui ne convient  à l’ordre du jour de quiconque en particulier. Mais la nouvelle est là, pour ceux qui ont des yeux pour la voir. Fraser Nelson

Plus grande richesse, égalité et population de l’histoire, réduction historique de la faim, des grandes épidémies et de la violence comme du nombre de victimes du climat …

En ce début 2014 …

Quel meilleur antidote, avec le plus ancien magazine britannique, contre le parti pris systématique de nos médias notamment de gauche pour les histoires qui tournent mal …

Que ce rappel des incroyables et proprement inouïs bienfaits apportés par la mondialisation que nos médias prennent tant de plaisir à longueur de pages à dénigrer ?

Même si bien sûr, comme le rappellent souvent René Girard ou Nassim Taleb, ces incroyables progrès ne nous mettent pas nécessairement à l’abri de crises plus rares mais potentiellement plus massives …

The biggest shocker of 2013? That it really is a wonderful world

Fraser Nelson

28 December 2013

Next year marks a millennium since the sermon given in 1014 by Archbishop Wulfstan in York where he declared that “the world is in a rush and is getting close to its end.” Ever since, people (especially clergy) have had a similar story to tell: the world is moving too fast, people are too selfish and things are going to the dogs. The truth is that the world is in a better shape now than any time in history – a claim which may sound bizarre, but it’s borne out by the facts.

I was on LBC radio earlier, discussing the leading article in the Spectator Christmas special which explained why 2013 was the best year in human history. Never has the world been wealthier, never has the growth been more fairly distributed. Never has there been more of us but never has there been less hunger. People now talk about the ‘end of Aids’. Progress against one of the biggest killers, Malaria, was slow ten years ago. Now it’s rapid, as the below graph shows:-

Countries who grow richer can afford malaria nets and places like Cambodia believe they’re three years away from extinguishing Malaria deaths. The UN believes Africa could be just 12 years away from the end of famine.

When Louis Armstrong sang ‘Wonderful World’ more than 80 per cent of China lived below the poverty line. Now it’s just 10 per cent. China’s embrace of trade – and, yes, global capitalism – has seen lead the fastest progress against poverty that mankind has ever witnessed. We’re living in a golden age.

The LBC interviewer joked that I’d have my journalistic credentials stripped from me: isn’t journalism about telling folk how bad things are going?

It’s a very good point. Good news seldom makes good copy, and not because of a wicked conspiracy by the press. The positive stuff is less likely to be read, or to sell newspapers. This is due to human nature: as a species we’re more interested in what’s going wrong than going right. If you’re down the pub and see a friend and you say your neighbor has just ditched her husband after a massive bust-up etc – people will listen. Say your neighbour’s had a good 2013 and expects a better 2014 and no one would care. The same is true in journalism – which creates a heavy bias in the media towards what’s going wrong.

Judging a country, or the world, by newspapers is like judging a city by spending a night in its A&E ward. But it’s not just journalists: aid agencies have a interest in projecting a picture of Africa as one big famine zone; Western governments seeking Brownie points from large aid budgets also like to portray the third world as a place that is entirely dependent on the largesse of virtuous politicians in rich countries. Right now, for example, there’s an appeal on for the victims of the Syrian civil war – who are all too real. But it’s the exception. We’re actually living in the most peaceful age in modern history as Steven Pinker outlined recently. Here’s some of his evidence:-

Ah, you may say, war’s one thing. But what about that climate chaos? Aren’t we seeing a new era of floods, storms and other extreme weather events inflicting a massive death toll? Quite the reverse. The storms still come, of course, but a richer world is better-prepared for them. The graph below, from Indur Goklany’s 2008 study (pdf) shows how flood defences, stronger houses etc, mean deaths from weather are down by an astonishing 93pc since the 1920s. The developing world is never been better able to confront the fury of nature.

We tend not to hear about all this because journalists, like politicians, are in the business of identifying and drawing attention to problems. And rightly: it’s human nature to be never satisfied, to always raise the definition of success, to always strive for something better. For as long as food banks remain needed, for as long as people are sleeping rough in Britain and hungry in Asia, for as long as anyone dies of a preventable disease like Malaria then there’s still plenty to be outraged about.

But what is going wrong with the world is vastly outweighed by what is going right. And the run of depressing news stories can actually blind us to the greatest story of our age: we really are on our way to making poverty history. Thanks to the way millions of people trade with each other, via a system known by its detractors as global capitalism.

It’s a story that no one organisation or government can take credit for – and a story that doesn’t particularly suit anyone’s agenda. But the story is there, for those with an eye to see it.

PS And for anyone interested in this general idea, I can heartily recommend two things. One is a subscription to the Spectator (we’re extending our Christmas deal, our best-ever offer). The other is a short book that explained it all to me – and changed my mind about a lot of things (and one I still give as a present to friends) : In Defence of Global Capitalism by Johan Norberg.

Voir aussi:

Violence Vanquished

We believe our world is riddled with terror and war, but we may be living in the most peaceable era in human existence. Why brutality is declining and empathy is on the rise.

Steven Pinker

The Wall Street Journal

September 24, 2011

On the day this article appears, you will read about a shocking act of violence. Somewhere in the world there will be a terrorist bombing, a senseless murder, a bloody insurrection. It’s impossible to learn about these catastrophes without thinking, « What is the world coming to? »

With all its wars, murder and genocide, history might suggest that the taste for blood is human nature. Not so, argues Harvard Prof. Steven Pinker. He talks to WSJ’s Gary Rosen about the decline in violence in recent decades and his new book, « The Better Angels of Our Nature. »

But a better question may be, « How bad was the world in the past? »

Believe it or not, the world of the past was much worse. Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species.

The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth. It has not brought violence down to zero, and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is a persistent historical development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children.

This claim, I know, invites skepticism, incredulity, and sometimes anger. We tend to estimate the probability of an event from the ease with which we can recall examples, and scenes of carnage are more likely to be beamed into our homes and burned into our memories than footage of people dying of old age. There will always be enough violent deaths to fill the evening news, so people’s impressions of violence will be disconnected from its actual likelihood.

Evidence of our bloody history is not hard to find. Consider the genocides in the Old Testament and the crucifixions in the New, the gory mutilations in Shakespeare’s tragedies and Grimm’s fairy tales, the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals.

Today the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified. A look at the numbers shows that over the course of our history, humankind has been blessed with six major declines of violence.

The first was a process of pacification: the transition from the anarchy of the hunting, gathering and horticultural societies in which our species spent most of its evolutionary history to the first agricultural civilizations, with cities and governments, starting about 5,000 years ago.

For centuries, social theorists like Hobbes and Rousseau speculated from their armchairs about what life was like in a « state of nature. » Nowadays we can do better. Forensic archeology—a kind of « CSI: Paleolithic »—can estimate rates of violence from the proportion of skeletons in ancient sites with bashed-in skulls, decapitations or arrowheads embedded in bones. And ethnographers can tally the causes of death in tribal peoples that have recently lived outside of state control.

These investigations show that, on average, about 15% of people in prestate eras died violently, compared to about 3% of the citizens of the earliest states. Tribal violence commonly subsides when a state or empire imposes control over a territory, leading to the various « paxes » (Romana, Islamica, Brittanica and so on) that are familiar to readers of history.

It’s not that the first kings had a benevolent interest in the welfare of their citizens. Just as a farmer tries to prevent his livestock from killing one another, so a ruler will try to keep his subjects from cycles of raiding and feuding. From his point of view, such squabbling is a dead loss—forgone opportunities to extract taxes, tributes, soldiers and slaves.

The second decline of violence was a civilizing process that is best documented in Europe. Historical records show that between the late Middle Ages and the 20th century, European countries saw a 10- to 50-fold decline in their rates of homicide.

The numbers are consistent with narrative histories of the brutality of life in the Middle Ages, when highwaymen made travel a risk to life and limb and dinners were commonly enlivened by dagger attacks. So many people had their noses cut off that medieval medical textbooks speculated about techniques for growing them back.

Historians attribute this decline to the consolidation of a patchwork of feudal territories into large kingdoms with centralized authority and an infrastructure of commerce. Criminal justice was nationalized, and zero-sum plunder gave way to positive-sum trade. People increasingly controlled their impulses and sought to cooperate with their neighbors.

The third transition, sometimes called the Humanitarian Revolution, took off with the Enlightenment. Governments and churches had long maintained order by punishing nonconformists with mutilation, torture and gruesome forms of execution, such as burning, breaking, disembowelment, impalement and sawing in half. The 18th century saw the widespread abolition of judicial torture, including the famous prohibition of « cruel and unusual punishment » in the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

At the same time, many nations began to whittle down their list of capital crimes from the hundreds (including poaching, sodomy, witchcraft and counterfeiting) to just murder and treason. And a growing wave of countries abolished blood sports, dueling, witchhunts, religious persecution, absolute despotism and slavery.

The fourth major transition is the respite from major interstate war that we have seen since the end of World War II. Historians sometimes refer to it as the Long Peace.

Today we take it for granted that Italy and Austria will not come to blows, nor will Britain and Russia. But centuries ago, the great powers were almost always at war, and until quite recently, Western European countries tended to initiate two or three new wars every year. The cliché that the 20th century was « the most violent in history » ignores the second half of the century (and may not even be true of the first half, if one calculates violent deaths as a proportion of the world’s population).

Though it’s tempting to attribute the Long Peace to nuclear deterrence, non-nuclear developed states have stopped fighting each other as well. Political scientists point instead to the growth of democracy, trade and international organizations—all of which, the statistical evidence shows, reduce the likelihood of conflict. They also credit the rising valuation of human life over national grandeur—a hard-won lesson of two world wars.

The fifth trend, which I call the New Peace, involves war in the world as a whole, including developing nations. Since 1946, several organizations have tracked the number of armed conflicts and their human toll world-wide. The bad news is that for several decades, the decline of interstate wars was accompanied by a bulge of civil wars, as newly independent countries were led by inept governments, challenged by insurgencies and armed by the cold war superpowers.

The less bad news is that civil wars tend to kill far fewer people than wars between states. And the best news is that, since the peak of the cold war in the 1970s and ’80s, organized conflicts of all kinds—civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, terrorist attacks—have declined throughout the world, and their death tolls have declined even more precipitously.

The rate of documented direct deaths from political violence (war, terrorism, genocide and warlord militias) in the past decade is an unprecedented few hundredths of a percentage point. Even if we multiplied that rate to account for unrecorded deaths and the victims of war-caused disease and famine, it would not exceed 1%.

The most immediate cause of this New Peace was the demise of communism, which ended the proxy wars in the developing world stoked by the superpowers and also discredited genocidal ideologies that had justified the sacrifice of vast numbers of eggs to make a utopian omelet. Another contributor was the expansion of international peacekeeping forces, which really do keep the peace—not always, but far more often than when adversaries are left to fight to the bitter end.

Finally, the postwar era has seen a cascade of « rights revolutions »—a growing revulsion against aggression on smaller scales. In the developed world, the civil rights movement obliterated lynchings and lethal pogroms, and the women’s-rights movement has helped to shrink the incidence of rape and the beating and killing of wives and girlfriends.

In recent decades, the movement for children’s rights has significantly reduced rates of spanking, bullying, paddling in schools, and physical and sexual abuse. And the campaign for gay rights has forced governments in the developed world to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality and has had some success in reducing hate crimes against gay people.

* * * *

Why has violence declined so dramatically for so long? Is it because violence has literally been bred out of us, leaving us more peaceful by nature?

This seems unlikely. Evolution has a speed limit measured in generations, and many of these declines have unfolded over decades or even years. Toddlers continue to kick, bite and hit; little boys continue to play-fight; people of all ages continue to snipe and bicker, and most of them continue to harbor violent fantasies and to enjoy violent entertainment.

It’s more likely that human nature has always comprised inclinations toward violence and inclinations that counteract them—such as self-control, empathy, fairness and reason—what Abraham Lincoln called « the better angels of our nature. » Violence has declined because historical circumstances have increasingly favored our better angels.

The most obvious of these pacifying forces has been the state, with its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. A disinterested judiciary and police can defuse the temptation of exploitative attack, inhibit the impulse for revenge and circumvent the self-serving biases that make all parties to a dispute believe that they are on the side of the angels.

We see evidence of the pacifying effects of government in the way that rates of killing declined following the expansion and consolidation of states in tribal societies and in medieval Europe. And we can watch the movie in reverse when violence erupts in zones of anarchy, such as the Wild West, failed states and neighborhoods controlled by mafias and street gangs, who can’t call 911 or file a lawsuit to resolve their disputes but have to administer their own rough justice.

Another pacifying force has been commerce, a game in which everybody can win. As technological progress allows the exchange of goods and ideas over longer distances and among larger groups of trading partners, other people become more valuable alive than dead. They switch from being targets of demonization and dehumanization to potential partners in reciprocal altruism.

For example, though the relationship today between America and China is far from warm, we are unlikely to declare war on them or vice versa. Morality aside, they make too much of our stuff, and we owe them too much money.

A third peacemaker has been cosmopolitanism—the expansion of people’s parochial little worlds through literacy, mobility, education, science, history, journalism and mass media. These forms of virtual reality can prompt people to take the perspective of people unlike themselves and to expand their circle of sympathy to embrace them.

These technologies have also powered an expansion of rationality and objectivity in human affairs. People are now less likely to privilege their own interests over those of others. They reflect more on the way they live and consider how they could be better off. Violence is often reframed as a problem to be solved rather than as a contest to be won. We devote ever more of our brainpower to guiding our better angels. It is probably no coincidence that the Humanitarian Revolution came on the heels of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, that the Long Peace and rights revolutions coincided with the electronic global village.

Whatever its causes, the implications of the historical decline of violence are profound. So much depends on whether we see our era as a nightmare of crime, terrorism, genocide and war or as a period that, in the light of the historical and statistical facts, is blessed by unprecedented levels of peaceful coexistence.

Bearers of good news are often advised to keep their mouths shut, lest they lull people into complacency. But this prescription may be backward. The discovery that fewer people are victims of violence can thwart cynicism among compassion-fatigued news readers who might otherwise think that the dangerous parts of the world are irredeemable hell holes. And a better understanding of what drove the numbers down can steer us toward doing things that make people better off rather than congratulating ourselves on how moral we are.

As one becomes aware of the historical decline of violence, the world begins to look different. The past seems less innocent, the present less sinister. One starts to appreciate the small gifts of coexistence that would have seemed utopian to our ancestors: the interracial family playing in the park, the comedian who lands a zinger on the commander in chief, the countries that quietly back away from a crisis instead of escalating to war.

For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment that we can savor—and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible.

—Mr. Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. This essay is adapted from his new book, « The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, » published by Viking.


Guerre des sexes: Si la civilisation avait été laissée aux mains des femmes, nous vivrions encore dans des cases en paille (Camille Paglia: How ignoring biological differences undermines Western civilization)

1 janvier, 2014
https://scontent-b-cdg.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1466136_3740337004038_161703403_n.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/12/29/article-2530741-1A5518F500000578-984_634x382.jpg« Lone Survivor » burns with the fever of a passion project. Writer-director Peter Berg’s gratitude to United States servicemen for all their sacrifice comes through viscerally, from first frame to last. The film … amounts to « The Passion of the Christ » for U.S. servicemen: a bloody historic episode recounted mainly in images of hardy young men being ripped apart, at screeching volume. Though Berg’s source material isn’t the New Testament, he often handles Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell’s account (via ghostwriter Patrick Robinson) of his doomed 2005 reconnaissance mission with the thunderous reverence Mel Gibson brought to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Berg is at heart an action director, so his way of restraining the urge to Rambo-fy his heroes in the interest of this film’s patriotic agenda is to double down on their suffering. Steven Boone
Lone Survivor is war porn of the highest order, relishing every bloody bullet hit and Dolby-accentuated bone crunch while trading in the most facile armed-conflict ironies. Berg treats the SEAL team like cartoon symbols of American sacrifice—in one sequence, several of them even roll down the steep side of a cliff like Wile E. Coyote thwarted by jihadist Road Runners. Those evil Afghans, meanwhile, twirl their mustaches plenty in the first act, which of course portends the appearance of a bunch of saintly ones in the third. Berg may be adhering to the basic facts, but his movie’s childish machismo is a disgrace to all involved. Keith Uhlich
Lone Survivor … is a jingoistic snuff film about a Navy SEAL squadron outgunned by the Taliban in the mountainous Kunar province. (…) These four men were heroes. But these heroes were also men. As the film portrays them, their attitudes to the incredibly complex War on Terror, fought hillside by bloody hillside in the Afghan frontier with both U.S. and Taliban forces contributing to an unconscionably high civilian body count, were simple: Brown people bad, American people good. When the guys debate whether to kill the three goat herders who’ve stumbled onto their hiding place — a dilemma that, morality aside, could have been solved if any of them had recalled that middle school logic problem about the fox, the chicken, the feed, and the too-small boat — Foster grabs an unarmed teenager by the face and insists, « That’s death. Look at death. » And when the firefight starts, he bellows, « You can die for your country — I’m going to live for mine. » (…) Berg (…) ‘s done the right thing by refusing to whitewash these guys as saints, although three of the four are depicted as devoted husbands and fiancés, and the fourth gets to be Mark Wahlberg. And Berg is justified in hoisting these guys up as real-life action stars, building his case with an opening montage of actual Navy SEAL training footage in which screaming instructors winnow a pack of athletes into an all-for-one-one-for-all band of badass brothers who, when forced to float in freezing ocean waves, link arms and sing « Silent Night. » (…) I’d like to think that, on some level, Berg is questioning the sense of a film — and a foreign policy — that makes target practice of our magnificent teams of hard-bodied, hairy-chested, rootin’-tootin’, shootin’, parachutin’, double-cap-crimpin’ frogmen, these soldiers who decorate their bunks with baby pictures of themselves next to an American flag and are so nobly eager to sacrifice their lives for each other and their country. But the ammo doesn’t stop blasting long enough for their deaths to have weight. Instead, Lone Survivor just reads like a quasi-political exaggeration of a slasher film: the cellphones that don’t work, the rescuers just out of reach, the killers chasing our victims through the woods. What are we meant to learn from this waste of life? Who is even to blame? All Lone Survivor offers is the queasiest apology of the year. Grunts a battered Wahlberg to his even more-battered best buddy, « I’m sorry that we didn’t kill more of these motherfuckers. » Replies his fellow soldier, « Oh, don’t be fucking sorry. We’re going to kill way more of them. » Amy Nicholson
 Un film de guerre peut-il échapper à la propagande ? (…) A croire que les bons films de guerre actuels ne parlent que de défaites… Télérama
Quel récit collectif sommes-nous capables de mettre en avant qui puisse donner un sens au sacrifice de ces jeunes ? Et l’absence d’un tel récit – qui va au-delà du sens subjectif que chacun d’eux pouvait donner à l’éventualité de mourir au combat et que chacun assumait en s’engageant dans l’armée – dépossède les jeunes soldats tombés du sens de leur mort. Danièle Hervieu-Léger
Si les hommes sont obsolètes, alors les femmes disparaîtront bientôt, à moins que nous nous précipitions sur le sinistre chemin du « meilleur des mondes », où les femmes se feront cloner par parthénogenèse, comme le font à merveille les dragons de Komodo, les requins marteaux et les vipères.Une rancune mesquine et hargneuse contre les hommes a été l’une des caractéristiques les plus désagréables et injustes du féminisme de la deuxième et de la troisième vague. Les fautes, les défauts et les faiblesses des hommes ont été saisis et décuplés par d’affreux actes d’accusation. Des professeurs idéologues dans nos grandes universités endoctrinent des étudiants de premier cycle aisément impressionnables par des théories négligeant les faits, arguant que le genre était une fiction oppressive et arbitraire dénuée de fondement biologique.(…) Une rancune mesquine et hargneuse contre les hommes a été l’une des caractéristiques les plus désagréables et injustes du féminisme de la deuxième et de la troisième vague. Les fautes, les défauts et les faiblesses des hommes ont été saisis et décuplés par d’affreux actes d’accusation. Des professeurs idéologues dans nos grandes universités endoctrinent des étudiants de premier cycle aisément impressionnables par des théories négligeant les faits, arguant que le genre était une fiction oppressive et arbitraire dénuée de fondement biologique. Faut-il s’étonner que tant de jeunes femmes de haut niveau, malgré tous les discours heureux sur leur réussite scolaire, se retrouvent dans les premiers stades de leur carrière dans l’incertitude chronique ou l’anxiété concernant leurs perspectives d’une vie privée épanouie émotionnellement ? Lorsqu’une culture instruite dénigre systématiquement la masculinité et la virilité, puis les femmes se retrouveront perpétuellement coincées avec des garçons qui n’ont pas intérêt à la maturité ou à honorer leurs engagements. Et sans hommes forts comme modèles à accepter ou (pour les lesbiennes dissidentes) contre lesquels se positionner, les femmes n’atteindront jamais une image centrée et profonde d’elles-mêmes en tant que femmes.(…) D’après ma longue observation, qui est antérieure à la révolution sexuelle, cela reste un grave problème qui afflige la société anglo-américaine, avec ses résidus puritains. En France, Italie, Espagne, Amérique latine et Brésil, en revanche, beaucoup de femmes professionnelles ambitieuses semblent avoir trouvé une formule pour affirmer le pouvoir et l’autorité dans le monde du travail tout en projetant encore attrait sexuel et même glamour. Il s’agit de la vraie mystique féminine, qui ne peut être enseignée mais découle d’une reconnaissance instinctive des différences sexuelles. L’atmosphère punitive aujourd’hui de propagande sentimentale sur le genre, l’imagination sexuelle a fui tout naturellement dans l’univers alternatif de la pornographie en ligne, où les forces rudes mais exaltantes de la nature primitive se défoulent sans être entravées par le moralisme religieux ou féministe. (…° L’histoire doit être perçue clairement et équitablement : les traditions obstructives ne provenaient pas de la haine ou de l’asservissement des femmes par les hommes, mais de la division naturelle du travail qui s’est développée pendant des milliers d’années au cours de la période agraire. Celle-ci a immensément bénéficié et protégé les femmes, leur permettant de rester au foyer pour s’occuper des nourrissons et des enfants sans défense. Au cours du siècle dernier, les appareils susceptibles d’épargner du travail, inventés par les hommes et répartis par le capitalisme, ont libéré les femmes des corvées quotidiennes. (…) En effet, les hommes sont absolument indispensables en ce moment, bien que cela soit invisible pour la plupart des féministes — qui semblent aveugles à l’infrastructure qui rend leur propre travail possible. Ce sont majoritairement des hommes qui font le sale (et dangereux) boulot. Ils construisent les routes, coulent le béton, posent les briques, pendent les fils électriques, excavent le gaz naturel et les égouts, coupent les arbres, et aplanissent au bulldozer les paysage pour les projets immobiliers. Ce sont les hommes qui soudent les poutres d’acier géantes qui maintiennent nos immeubles de bureaux, et ce sont les hommes qui font le travail ébouriffant d’encartage et d’étanchéité des fenêtres, posant ces plaques de verre sur des gratte-ciel hauts de 50 étages. Chaque jour, le long de la rivière Delaware à Philadelphie, on peut regarder le passage de vastes pétroliers et imposants cargos en provenance du monde entier. Ces colosses majestueux sont chargés, dirigés, et déchargés par des hommes. L’économie moderne, avec son vaste réseau de production et de distribution, est une épopée masculine, où les femmes ont trouvé un rôle productif – mais les femmes n’en sont pas les auteurs. Certes, les femmes modernes sont assez fortes maintenant pour donner du crédit lorsque le crédit est dû ! Camille Paglia
Le féminisme est héritier de Rousseau en ce qu’il voit chaque hiérarchie comme répressive, une fiction sociale ; chaque négatif sur la femme est un mensonge masculin conçu pour la garder à sa place. Le féminisme a dépassé sa mission propre de recherche de l’égalité politique pour les femmes et a fini par rejeter la contingence, c’est-à-dire les limites humaines par la nature ou le destin…. Si la civilisation avait été laissée aux mains des femmes, nous vivrions encore dans des cases en paille. Camille Paglia
The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster. These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality. (…) So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street. I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters. (…) Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys. They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters. » This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness. Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now. Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly. (…) Michelle Obama’s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum » and « people end up saddled with huge debts. What’s driving the push toward universal college is social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window. I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on. (…) I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code, » says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making. I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented.  Camille Paglia
In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality – as I one hundred percent do. ‘If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again, they have a right of religious freedom there. Camille Paglia
A review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap. The typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing; he is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. In 1997 college full-time enrollments were 45 percent male and 55 percent female. The Department of Education predicts that the proportion of boys in college classes will continue to shrink. Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today’s girls outshine boys. They get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow more-rigorous academic programs and participate in advanced-placement classes at higher rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls, allegedly timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and in debating clubs. Only in sports are boys ahead, and women’s groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. In 1997, a typical year, 4,483 young people aged five to twenty-four committed suicide: 701 females and 3,782 males. (…) Gilligan appears to be making the same mistake with boys that she made with girls — she observes a few children and interprets their problems as indicative of a deep and general malaise caused by the way our society imposes gender stereotypes. The pressure to conform to these stereotypes, she believes, has impaired, distressed, and deformed the members of both sexes by the time they are adolescents. In fact — with the important exception of boys whose fathers are absent and who get their concept of maleness from peer groups — most boys are not violent. Most are not unfeeling or antisocial. They are just boys — and being a boy is not in itself a failing. (…) Every society confronts the problem of civilizing its young males. The traditional approach is through character education: Develop the young man’s sense of honor. Help him become a considerate, conscientious human being. Turn him into a gentleman. This approach respects boys’ masculine nature; it is time-tested, and it works. Even today, despite several decades of moral confusion, most young men understand the term « gentleman »and approve of the ideals it connotes. What Gilligan and her followers are proposing is quite different: civilize boys by diminishing their masculinity. « Raise boys like we raise girls » is Gloria Steinem’s advice. This approach is deeply disrespectful of boys. It is meddlesome, abusive, and quite beyond what educators in a free society are mandated to do. Did anything of value come out of the manufactured crisis of diminished girls? Yes, a bit. Parents, teachers, and administrators now pay more attention to girls’ deficits in math and science, and they offer more support for girls’ participation in sports. But who is to say that these benefits outweigh the disservice done by promulgating the myth of the incredible shrinking girl or presenting boys as the unfairly favored sex? A boy today, through no fault of his own, finds himself implicated in the social crime of shortchanging girls. Yet the allegedly silenced and neglected girl sitting next to him is likely to be the superior student. She is probably more articulate, more mature, more engaged, and more well-balanced. The boy may be aware that she is more likely to go on to college. He may believe that teachers prefer to be around girls and pay more attention to them. At the same time, he is uncomfortably aware that he is considered to be a member of the favored and dominant gender. The widening gender gap in academic achievement is real. It threatens the future of millions of American boys. Boys do not need to be rescued from their masculinity. But they are not getting the help they need. In the climate of disapproval in which boys now exist, programs designed to aid them have a very low priority. This must change. We should repudiate the partisanship that currently clouds the issues surrounding sex differences in the schools. We should call for balance, objective information, fair treatment, and a concerted national effort to get boys back on track. That means we can no longer allow the partisans of girls to write the rules. Christina Hoff Sommers
What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide, » says Camille Paglia. This self-described « notorious Amazon feminist » isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. By denying the role of nature in women’s lives, she argues, leading feminists created a « denatured, antiseptic » movement that « protected their bourgeois lifestyle » and falsely promised that women could « have it all. » And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks. For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the « nanny state » mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one « open to stay-at-home moms » and « not just the career woman. » More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women’s movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are « more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus. » Bari Weiss

Attention: une guerre peut en cacher une autre!

Emasculation des garçons dès leur plus jeune âge, perte de l’expérience militaire dans la classe dirigeante, assignation de la masculinité aux réserves d’indiens des radios sportives, dévalorisation systématique du travail manuel, bannissement de toute critique de l’homosexualité, déféminisation et déresponsabilisation vestimentaire des femmes, apaisement complice du totalitarisme islamique …

En ces temps étranges de politiquement correct et de féminisme triomphant …

Où l’expérience militaire n’a plus droit de cité hormis sous la forme de la défaite ou de la passion christique

Et où, obsédées par leur chasse aux différences biologiques et aveugles aux conditions de possibilité de leurs critiques, nombre de théoriciennes féministes en sont à rêver d’un monde sans hommes …

Comment ne pas voir avec les dernières voix dissidentes qui restent comme celles de Camille Paglia ou Christina Hoff Sommers  … 

L’impasse et les aberrations vers lesquelles nous pousse toujours plus le féminisme actuel ?

Camille Paglia : une féministe qui défend les hommes

Le Bulletin d’Amérique

12 décembre 2013

La « guerre des sexes » fait toujours rage en Amérique du Nord, où le féminisme demeure l’un des piliers du progressisme. Pourtant, au sein même de ce mouvement, certaines commentatrices se font plus critiques, à l’instar de Camille Paglia*, une « féministe post-féministe ».

Titre original : « Camille Paglia Defends Men » . Traduit de l’anglais par Le Bulletin d’Amérique.

AEIdeas

Par Christina Hoff Sommers** — « Que cela soit entendu : les hommes sont périmés » : tel était le sujet d’un récent débat à Toronto. Maureen Dowd et Hanna Rosin défendaient ce dernier point de vue, tandis que Camille Paglia* et Caitlin Moran y étaient opposées. Très pince-sans-rire, Dowd fit par exemple remarquer que les hommes avaient joué de façon si téméraire avec le monde entier « qu’ils l’avaient presque cassé« . Nous allons dans une nouvelle direction, dit-elle alors, avant d’ajouter : « Zut, les hommes ne prennent même pas la peine de demander quelle direction prendre! »

Mais ce sont les déclarations électrisantes de Camille Paglia qui attirèrent toute l’attention :

Si les hommes sont obsolètes, alors les femmes disparaîtront bientôt, à moins que nous nous précipitions sur le sinistre chemin du « meilleur des mondes », où les femmes se feront cloner par parthénogenèse, comme le font à merveille les dragons de Komodo, les requins marteaux et les vipères.

Une rancune mesquine et hargneuse contre les hommes a été l’une des caractéristiques les plus désagréables et injustes du féminisme de la deuxième et de la troisième vague. Les fautes, les défauts et les faiblesses des hommes ont été saisis et décuplés par d’affreux actes d’accusation. Des professeurs idéologues dans nos grandes universités endoctrinent des étudiants de premier cycle aisément impressionnables par des théories négligeant les faits, arguant que le genre était une fiction oppressive et arbitraire dénuée de fondement biologique.Paglia n’a pas seulement défendu les hommes, elle a aussi livré une défense rare du libre marché et de ses avantages pour le beau sexe. Selon ses propres termes :

L’histoire doit être perçue clairement et équitablement : les traditions obstructives ne provenaient pas de la haine ou de l’asservissement des femmes par les hommes, mais de la division naturelle du travail qui s’est développée pendant des milliers d’années au cours de la période agraire. Celle-ci a immensément bénéficié et protégé les femmes, leur permettant de rester au foyer pour s’occuper des nourrissons et des enfants sans défense. Au cours du siècle dernier, les appareils susceptibles d’épargner du travail, inventés par les hommes et répartis par le capitalisme, ont libéré les femmes des corvées quotidiennes.

Les partisans de la théorie selon laquelle les « mâles seraient sur le déclin » avancent que l’avenir appartiendrait aux femmes communicatives, de consensus, à l’intelligence émotive. Les hommes, avec leur force musculaire, leurs prises de risque et leur penchant pour le chaos ne seraient plus d’actualité. Dowd se demandait s’ils allaient finalement s’éteindre, en prenant « les jeux vidéo, Game of Thrones en boucle et une pizza froide le matin avec eux. » Paglia rappela poliment mais fermement à ses contradicteurs que si les « femelles alpha » pouvaient en effet aujourd’hui rejoindre les hommes dans la gestion du monde, elles n’étaient guère sur le point de les remplacer. Et leurs brillantes carrières sont rendues possibles par des légions d’hommes travailleurs, preneurs de risque et innovants. La citant de nouveau :

En effet, les hommes sont absolument indispensables en ce moment, bien que cela soit invisible pour la plupart des féministes — qui semblent aveugles à l’infrastructure qui rend leur propre travail possible. Ce sont majoritairement des hommes qui font le sale (et dangereux) boulot. Ils construisent les routes, coulent le béton, posent les briques, pendent les fils électriques, excavent le gaz naturel et les égouts, coupent les arbres, et aplanissent au bulldozer les paysage pour les projets immobiliers. Ce sont les hommes qui soudent les poutres d’acier géantes qui maintiennent nos immeubles de bureaux, et ce sont les hommes qui font le travail ébouriffant d’encartage et d’étanchéité des fenêtres, posant ces plaques de verre sur des gratte-ciel hauts de 50 étages. Chaque jour, le long de la rivière Delaware à Philadelphie, on peut regarder le passage de vastes pétroliers et imposants cargos en provenance du monde entier. Ces colosses majestueux sont chargés, dirigés, et déchargés par des hommes. L’économie moderne, avec son vaste réseau de production et de distribution, est une épopée masculine, où les femmes ont trouvé un rôle productif – mais les femmes n’en sont pas les auteurs. Certes, les femmes modernes sont assez fortes maintenant pour donner du crédit lorsque le crédit est dû !

Malgré plusieurs décennies de « girl power« , les femmes montrent peu ou pas l’envie de pénétrer de nombreux domaines traditionnellement masculins. Le Bureau of Labor Statistics rapporte que plus de 90 % des travailleurs dans le bâtiment, électriciens, mécaniciens de l’aviation, éboueurs, grutiers, pompiers, plombiers, tuyauteurs, réparateurs de lignes de télécommunication, et ingénieurs électriques sont des hommes. Ce sont encore des hommes qui déposent plus de 90 % des brevets.

Au début des années 1980, le dessinateur Nicole Hollander, créateur de Sylvia, publiait une caricature dans laquelle quelqu’un demande à Sylvia à quoi ressemblerait le monde sans hommes. Celle-ci lui répondit : « Il n’y aurait aucun crime et beaucoup de grosses femmes heureuses« . La prédiction de Paglia sur leur extinction est bien meilleure. Son intervention mérite d’être lue dans son intégralité.

_____________

*Camille Paglia est une « féministe dissidente » et critique du post-structuralisme « français » (issu de Foucault, Derrida, Lacan). Enseignante à l’University of the Arts de Philadelphie, elle est l’auteur de Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), de Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992), et Vamps and Tramps (1994).

**Christina Hoff Sommers est Senior Fellow à l’American Enterprise Institute. Elle est notamment l’auteur de Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (1995), The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (2000) et Freedom Feminism (2013).

Voir aussi:

Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues

The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization.

Bari Weiss

Dec. 28, 2013

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide, » says Camille Paglia. This self-described « notorious Amazon feminist » isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of « Sexual Personae, » she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled « Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson,  » and it’s easy to see why. « If civilization had been left in female hands, » she wrote, « we would still be living in grass huts. »

The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, « Glittering Images, » is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.

Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and « abrasive, strident and obnoxious. » Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (« a true artist »), then blasting ObamaCare (« a monstrosity, » though she voted for the president), global warming (« a religious dogma »), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (« the biggest canard, » yet she herself is a lesbian).

But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.

She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. « The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster, » she says. « These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality. »

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians « lack practical skills of analysis and construction ») to what women wear. « So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street, » she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.

When she has made this point in the past, Ms. Paglia—who dresses in androgynous jackets and slacks—has been told that she believes « women are at fault for their own victimization. » Nonsense, she says. « I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters. » She calls it « street-smart feminism. »

Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. « Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys, » she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. « They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters. »

She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the « war against boys » for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.

Ms. Paglia observes this phenomenon up close with her 11-year-old son, Lucien, whom she is raising with her ex-partner, Alison Maddex, an artist and public-school teacher who lives 2 miles away. She sees the tacit elevation of « female values »—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.

By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. « This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness. » The result: Upper-middle-class men who are « intimidated » and « can’t say anything. . . . They understand the agenda. » In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by « never telling the truth to women » about sex, and by keeping « raunchy » thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with « no models of manhood, » she says. « Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now. » The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm « inspires me as a writer, » she says, adding: « If we had to go to war, » the callers « are the men that would save the nation. »

And men aren’t the only ones suffering from the decline of men. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become « clones » condemned to « Pilates for the next 30 years, » Ms. Paglia says. « Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly, » adding that online pornography is increasingly the only place where men and women in our sexless culture tap into « primal energy » in a way they can’t in real life.

A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a « revalorization » of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women’s studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

 » Michelle Obama’s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum » and « people end up saddled with huge debts, » says Ms. Paglia. What’s driving the push toward universal college is « social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window. »

Ms. Paglia, who has been a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 1984, sees her own students as examples. « I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on, » she says. « My career has been in art schools cause I don’t get along with normal academics. »

To hear her tell it, getting along has never been Ms. Paglia’s strong suit. As a child, she felt stifled by the expectations of girlhood in the 1950s. She fantasized about being a knight, not a princess. Discovering pioneering female figures as a teenager, most notably Amelia Earhart, transformed Ms. Paglia’s understanding of what her future might hold.

These iconoclastic women of the 1930s, like Earhart and Katharine Hepburn, remain her ideal feminist role models: independent, brave, enterprising, capable of competing with men without bashing them. But since at least the late 1960s, she says, fellow feminists in the academy stopped sharing her vision of « equal-opportunity feminism » that demands a level playing field without demanding special quotas or protections for women.

She proudly recounts her battle, while a graduate student at Yale in the late 1960s and early ’70s, with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones: Ms. Paglia loved « Under My Thumb, » a song the others regarded as chauvinist. Then there was the time she « barely got through the dinner » with a group of women’s studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. « I left before dessert. »

In her view, these ideological excesses bear much of the blame for the current cultural decline. She calls out activists like Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi for pushing a version of feminism that says gender is nothing more than a social construct, and groups like the National Organization for Women for making abortion the singular women’s issue.

By denying the role of nature in women’s lives, she argues, leading feminists created a « denatured, antiseptic » movement that « protected their bourgeois lifestyle » and falsely promised that women could « have it all. » And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks.

But Ms. Paglia’s criticism shouldn’t be mistaken for nostalgia for the socially prescribed roles for men and women before the 1960s. Quite the contrary. « I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code, » says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making.

Sex education, she says, simply focuses on mechanics without conveying the real « facts of life, » especially for girls: « I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented. »

For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the « nanny state » mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one « open to stay-at-home moms » and « not just the career woman. »

More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women’s movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are « more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus. »

Ms. Weiss is an associate editorial features editor at the Journal.

Voir aussi:

‘There’s no room for anything manly now': Feminist writer Camille Paglia speaks out AGAINST the loss of masculine virtues and its negative impact on society

The self-described ‘dissident feminist’ believes society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age

She also believes the lack of people with military experience in important positions is a recipe for disaster

An avid listener of sports radio, she believes these ‘are the men that would save the nation’

‘Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,’ she said

Paglia also recently spoke out in favor of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and defended his right to free speech

The Daily Mail

30 December 2013

Our society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age, while the lack of people with military experience in important positions is a recipe for disaster, claims Camille Paglia, the controversial lesbian author and social critic.

Self-described ‘dissident feminist’ Paglia, 66, believes that attempts to deny the biological distinctions between men and women is to blame for the much that is wrong with modern society.

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide’ she told the Wall Street Journal.

Paglia, a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, is well known for her critical views on many aspects of modern culture, including feminism and liberalism.

She recently spoke out in support of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, supporting his right to express homophobic views.

‘In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality – as I one hundred percent do.

‘If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again, they have a right of religious freedom there.’ she told Laura Ingraham’s radio show last week.

Paglia, who is promoting her latest book, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt To Star Wars, told the WSJ that the diminished status of military service in people in important positions is a big mistake.

the diminished status of military service in people in important positions is a big mistake, says Paglia

The emancipation of masculine virtues is something that is beginning as early as kindergarten in the U.S., argues Paglia

Our society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age, right, while the lack of people with military experience in important positions is a recipe for disaster, left, claims Paglia

‘The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service – hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,’ she said.

‘These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.’

According to Paglia the results are there for all to see in the on-going dysfunction in Washington, where politicians ‘lack practical skills of analysis and construction’.

The emancipation of masculine virtues is something that is beginning as early as kindergarten in the U.S., argues Paglia.

‘Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys,’ she said.

The author, who along with her ex-partner Alison Maddex, is raising an 11-year-old son Lucian, believes that the way many schools have cut recess is ‘making a toxic environment for boys.’

‘Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters,’ she said.

The decline of America’s industrial base is another factor that the author believes is leaving many men with ‘no models of manhood.’

‘Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.’

Bizarrely Paglia claims that the only place that you can hear what men really feel these days is on sports radio.

The professor claims to be an avid listener and that the energy and enthusiasm ‘inspires me as a writer.’

‘If we had to go to war,’ the callers ‘are the men that would save the nation.’

Paglia didn’t spare the role of women in her musings and said that elite upper-middle-class women have become ‘clones’ condemned to ‘Pilates for the next 30 years.’

‘Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,’ she said.

THE OUTSPOKEN CAMILLE PAGLIA – SELF STYLED ‘DISSIDENT FEMINIST’

Ms Paglia (pictured) said some of Rihanna’s more candid shots were reminiscent of the work of Kathy Keeton – a South African ballet dancer who once edited Viva and whose fashion editor was Anna Wintour

Camille Paglia, is a self styled ‘dissident feminist’, outspoken on pop culture, and who has been described as a feminist bete noire.

The 66-year-old has been a professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA since 1984, but came to attention with the publication of her first book, ‘Sexual Personae’, in 1990, when she also began writing about popular culture and feminism in mainstream newspapers and magazines.

It is these articles which have propelled Paglia to the controversial figure she is today.

One scathing attack saw her conclude that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, have ‘insipid, bleached-out personas’ that hark back to the man-pleasing, pre-feminist era.

In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, she wrote that as a result, many of today’s young women fail to realize the role their sexuality plays in society and ‘partying till you drop has gotten as harmless as a Rotary Club meeting’.

She said: ‘Swift’s meandering, snippy songs make 16-year-old Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry if I Want to) seem like a towering masterpiece of social commentary, psychological drama and shapely concision.

‘Indeed, without her mannequin posturing at industry events, it’s doubtful that Swift could have attained her high profile.’

She cuttingly described Perry as a ‘manic cyborg cheerleader’.

Paglia previously slammed Lady Gaga, insisting her over-the-top sexuality is actually ‘stripped of genuine eroticism’.

She said the star’s willingness to dress in crazy outfits as an example of ‘every public appearance… has been lavishly scripted in advance’.

Voir également:

Munk Debate on the End of Men Post Debate Commentary

Christina Hoff Sommers

November 16, 2013

Be it resolved that men are obsolete. That was the question last week at a high spirited edition of Toronto’s celebrated Munk Debates. Hanna Rosin and Maureen Dowd said, “OMG Yes!” Camille Paglia and Caitlin Moran: “No way!” To men offended by the proposition: Lighten up. Don’t join those censorious feminists who have made the battle of the sexes a humor free zone. Rosin opened by asking, “How do we know men are finished?” Her answer was a quote from embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. “Yeah, there have been times I have been in a drunken stupor.” Exhibit B for her argument that men have become as fussy and insecure as women was a tweeted photograph of Anthony Wiener’s meticulously waxed chest. Along the way, she made serious p oints about how men are falling behind in education and the workplace. Women are adapting in the new world of gender equality; men are not. “Men are the new ball and chain,” Rosin said. Paglia was having none of it. She reminded Rosin and the female supr emacists that their busy Alpha female lives are made possible by an invisible army of men — “men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lin es, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments.” Paglia described the modern economy, with its vast system of production and distribution, as a sublime “male epic.” Women have joined it — but men built it. “Surely,” sai d the fiery Paglia, “modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!” And she reminded women that without strong men as models to either embrace or reject, women will never attain a distinctive sense of themselves as women. Maureen Dowd made good fun of her misfortune in following Camille Paglia — beginning, “Um, I’ve never debated before, and I am so screwed.” She did not fully engage the topic, but her beguiling style was a caution against letting “men and women are identica l” ideologues drive the discussion. With her Veronica Lake hair       and slinky black dress, Dowd was an alluring 1940s style vamp with up to date female taunts: “Men are so last century… they seemed to have stopped evolving.” When guys finally exit the stage, she wondered if they would be taking “video games, Game of Thrones on a continuous loop and cold pizza in the morning with them.” Women, said Dowd, have “clicked their ruby red stilettos three times” and now realize they are in charge. “The world is not f lat, Tom Friedman. The world is curvy.’” Actually, the world is both — as Dowd clearly knows and enjoys. And she does not want to destroy men, she wants to have fun with them — while joining them in the pursuit of power and happiness. Her playful, femme fatale feminism was more appealing than anything in Women’s Studies 101. Caitlin Moran, British writer and humorist, began by warning that her feminism was strident, Marxist, and “fueled by cocktails.” But she turned out to be a down to earth humanist, remindin g everyone that calling men obsolete was no better than the bad old sexist days when women were said to be irrelevant. We are in this together, said Moran: if one sex fails, the other staggers. All of the speakers acknowledged that working class men’s fort unes have fallen and that boys are having serious difficulties in schools. But, Moran insisted, that does not mean we should celebrate their travails, but rather that we should do everything possible to improve their prospects. She shocked and delighted th e audience with her concluding remark: “The question of the evening is: Are Men Obsolete? My conclusion is: No! I won’t let you be — you f___ers!” Imagine four brilliant, accomplished, funny women discussing the politics of gender outside the dreary, angry, “rape culture” obsessed framework of contemporary feminism. That happened this past Friday night at the Munk Debate, and both sexes came out ahead in the encounter. Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute a nd the author of The War Against Boys. The Munk Debates wished to thank Ali Wyne for his assistance in commissioning and compiling these essays. Ali Wyne is an associate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. A frequent commentator on international affairs, he is a coauthor of Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World (2013 ).

Voir enfin:

The War Against Boys

This we think we know: American schools favor boys and grind down girls. The truth is the very opposite. By virtually every measure, girls are thriving in school; it is boys who are the second sex

by Christina Hoff Sommers

The Atlantic

May  2000

IT’S a bad time to be a boy in America. The triumphant victory of the U.S. women’s soccer team at the World Cup last summer has come to symbolize the spirit of American girls. The shooting at Columbine High last spring might be said to symbolize the spirit of American boys.

That boys are in disrepute is not accidental. For many years women’s groups have complained that boys benefit from a school system that favors them and is biased against girls. « Schools shortchange girls, » declares the American Association of University Women. Girls are « undergoing a kind of psychological foot-binding, » two prominent educational psychologists say. A stream of books and pamphlets cite research showing not only that boys are classroom favorites but also that they are given to schoolyard violence and sexual harassment.

In the view that has prevailed in American education over the past decade, boys are resented, both as the unfairly privileged sex and as obstacles on the path to gender justice for girls. This perspective is promoted in schools of education, and many a teacher now feels that girls need and deserve special indemnifying consideration. « It is really clear that boys are Number One in this society and in most of the world, » says Patricia O’Reilly, a professor of education and the director of the Gender Equity Center, at the University of Cincinnati.

The idea that schools and society grind girls down has given rise to an array of laws and policies intended to curtail the advantage boys have and to redress the harm done to girls. That girls are treated as the second sex in school and consequently suffer, that boys are accorded privileges and consequently benefit — these are things everyone is presumed to know. But they are not true.

The research commonly cited to support claims of male privilege and male sinfulness is riddled with errors. Almost none of it has been published in peer-reviewed professional journals. Some of the data turn out to be mysteriously missing. A review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap. The typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing; he is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. In 1997 college full-time enrollments were 45 percent male and 55 percent female. The Department of Education predicts that the proportion of boys in college classes will continue to shrink.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today’s girls outshine boys. They get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow more-rigorous academic programs and participate in advanced-placement classes at higher rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls, allegedly timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and in debating clubs. Only in sports are boys ahead, and women’s groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. In 1997, a typical year, 4,483 young people aged five to twenty-four committed suicide: 701 females and 3,782 males.

In the technical language of education experts, girls are academically more « engaged. » Last year an article in The CQ Researcher about male and female academic achievement described a common parental observation: « Daughters want to please their teachers by spending extra time on projects, doing extra credit, making homework as neat as possible. Sons rush through homework assignments and run outside to play, unconcerned about how the teacher will regard the sloppy work. »

School engagement is a critical measure of student success. The U.S. Department of Education gauges student commitment by the following criteria: « How much time do students devote to homework each night? »and « Do students come to class prepared and ready to learn? (Do they bring books and pencils? Have they completed their homework?) »According to surveys of fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders, girls consistently do more homework than boys. By the twelfth grade boys are four times as likely as girls not to do homework. Similarly, more boys than girls report that they « usually » or « often » come to school without supplies or without having done their homework.

The performance gap between boys and girls in high school leads directly to the growing gap between male and female admissions to college. The Department of Education reports that in 1996 there were 8.4 million women but only 6.7 million men enrolled in college. It predicts that women will hold on to and increase their lead well into the next decade, and that by 2007 the numbers will be 9.2 million women and 6.9 million men.

Deconstructing the Test-Score Gap

FEMINISTS cannot deny that girls get better grades, are more engaged academically, and are now the majority sex in higher education. They argue, however, that these advantages are hardly decisive. Boys, they point out, get higher scores than girls on almost every significant standardized test — especially the Scholastic Assessment Test and law school, medical school, and graduate school admissions tests.

In 1996 I wrote an article for Education Week about the many ways in which girl students were moving ahead of boys. Seizing on the test-score data that suggest boys are doing better than girls, David Sadker, a professor of education at American University and a co-author with his wife, Myra, of Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls (1994), wrote, « If females are soaring in school, as Christina Hoff Sommers writes, then these tests are blind to their flight. » On the 1998 SAT boys were thirty-five points (out of 800) ahead of girls in math and seven points ahead in English. These results seem to run counter to all other measurements of achievement in school. In almost all other areas boys lag behind girls. Why do they test better? Is Sadker right in suggesting that this is a manifestation of boys’ privileged status?

The answer is no. A careful look at the pool of students who take the SAT and similar tests shows that the girls’ lower scores have little or nothing to do with bias or unfairness. Indeed, the scores do not even signify lower achievement by girls. First of all, according to College Bound Seniors, an annual report on standardized-test takers published by the College Board, many more « at risk » girls than « at risk » boys take the SAT — girls from lower-income homes or with parents who never graduated from high school or never attended college. « These characteristics, » the report says, « are associated with lower than average SAT scores. » Instead of wrongly using SAT scores as evidence of bias against girls, scholars should be concerned about the boys who never show up for the tests they need if they are to move on to higher education.

Another factor skews test results so that they appear to favor boys. Nancy Cole, the president of the Educational Testing Service, calls it the « spread » phenomenon. Scores on almost any intelligence or achievement test are more spread out for boys than for girls — boys include more prodigies and more students of marginal ability. Or, as the political scientist James Q. Wilson once put it, « There are more male geniuses and more male idiots. »

Boys also dominate dropout lists, failure lists, and learning-disability lists. Students in these groups rarely take college-admissions tests. On the other hand, the exceptional boys who take school seriously show up in disproportionately high numbers for standardized tests. Gender-equity activists like Sadker ought to apply their logic consistently: if the shortage of girls at the high end of the ability distribution is evidence of unfairness to girls, then the excess of boys at the low end should be deemed evidence of unfairness to boys.

Suppose we were to turn our attention away from the highly motivated, self-selected two fifths of high school students who take the SAT and consider instead a truly representative sample of American schoolchildren. How would girls and boys then compare? Well, we have the answer. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, started in 1969 and mandated by Congress, offers the best and most comprehensive measure of achievement among students at all levels of ability. Under the NAEP program 70,000 to 100,000 students, drawn from forty-four states, are tested in reading, writing, math, and science at ages nine, thirteen, and seventeen. In 1996, seventeen-year-old boys outperformed seventeen-year-old girls by five points in math and eight points in science, whereas the girls outperformed the boys by fourteen points in reading and seventeen points in writing. In the past few years girls have been catching up in math and science while boys have continued to lag far behind in reading and writing.

In the July, 1995, issue of Science, Larry V. Hedges and Amy Nowell, researchers at the University of Chicago, observed that girls’ deficits in math were small but not insignificant. These deficits, they noted, could adversely affect the number of women who « excel in scientific and technical occupations. »Of the deficits in boys’ writing skills they wrote, « The large sex differences in writing … are alarming…. The data imply that males are, on average, at a rather profound disadvantage in the performance of this basic skill. » They went on to warn,

The generally larger numbers of males who perform near the bottom of the distribution in reading comprehension and writing also have policy implications. It seems likely that individuals with such poor literacy skills will have difficulty finding employment in an increasingly information-driven economy. Thus, some intervention may be required to enable them to participate constructively.

Hedges and Nowell were describing a serious problem of national scope, but because the focus elsewhere has been on girls’ deficits, few Americans know much about the problem or even suspect that it exists.

Indeed, so accepted has the myth of girls in crisis become that even teachers who work daily with male and female students tend to reflexively dismiss any challenge to the myth, or any evidence pointing to the very real crisis among boys. Three years ago Scarsdale High School, in New York, held a gender-equity workshop for faculty members. It was the standard girls-are-being-shortchanged fare, with one notable difference. A male student gave a presentation in which he pointed to evidence suggesting that girls at Scarsdale High were well ahead of boys. David Greene, a social-studies teacher, thought the student must be mistaken, but when he and some colleagues analyzed department grading patterns, they discovered that the student was right. They found little or no difference in the grades of boys and girls in advanced-placement social-studies classes. But in standard classes the girls were doing a lot better.

And Greene discovered one other thing: few wanted to hear about his startling findings. Like schools everywhere, Scarsdale High has been strongly influenced by the belief that girls are systematically deprived. That belief prevails among the school’s gender-equity committee and has led the school to offer a special senior elective on gender equity. Greene has tried to broach the subject of male underperformance with his colleagues. Many of them concede that in the classes they teach, the girls seem to be doing better than the boys, but they do not see this as part of a larger pattern. After so many years of hearing about silenced, diminished girls, teachers do not take seriously the suggestion that boys are not doing as well as girls even if they see it with their own eyes in their own classrooms.

The Incredible Shrinking Girl

HOW did we get to this odd place? How did we come to believe in a picture of American boys and girls that is the opposite of the truth? And why has that belief persisted, enshrined in law, encoded in governmental and school policies, despite overwhelming evidence against it? The answer has much to do with one of the American academy’s most celebrated women — Carol Gilligan, Harvard University’s first professor of gender studies.

Gilligan first came to widespread attention in 1982, with the publication of In a Different Voice, which this article will discuss shortly. In 1990 Gilligan announced that America’s adolescent girls were in crisis. In her words, « As the river of a girl’s life flows into the sea of Western culture, she is in danger of drowning or disappearing. » Gilligan offered little in the way of conventional evidence to support this alarming finding. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what sort of empirical research could establish such a large claim. But she quickly attracted powerful allies. Within a very short time the allegedly vulnerable and demoralized state of adolescent girls achieved the status of a national emergency.

Popular writers, electrified by Gilligan’s discovery, began to see evidence of the crisis everywhere. Anna Quindlen, who was then a New York Times columnist, recounted in a 1990 column how Gilligan’s research had cast an ominous shadow on the celebration of her daughter’s second birthday: « My daughter is ready to leap into the world, as though life were chicken soup and she a delighted noodle. The work of Professor Carol Gilligan of Harvard suggests that some time after the age of 11 this will change, that even this lively little girl will pull back [and] shrink. »

A number of popular books soon materialized, including Myra and David Sadker’s Failing at Fairness and Peggy Orenstein’s Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap (1994). Elizabeth Gleick wrote in Time in 1996 on a new trend in literary victimology: « Dozens of troubled teenage girls troop across [the] pages: composite sketches of Charlottes, Whitneys and Danielles who were raped, who have bulimia, who have pierced bodies or shaved heads, who are coping with strict religious families or are felled by their parents’ bitter divorce. »

The country’s adolescent girls were both pitied and exalted. The novelist Carolyn See wrote in The Washington Post in 1994, « The most heroic, fearless, graceful, tortured human beings in this land must be girls from the ages of 12 to 15. » In the same vein, the Sadkers, in Failing at Fairness, predicted the fate of a lively six-year-old on top of a playground slide: « There she stood on her sturdy legs, with her head thrown back and her arms flung wide. As ruler of the playground, she was at the very zenith of her world. »But all would soon change: « If the camera had photographed the girl … at twelve instead of six … she would have been looking at the ground instead of the sky; her sense of self-worth would have been an accelerating downward spiral. »

A picture of confused and forlorn girls struggling to survive would be drawn again and again, with added details and increasing urgency. Mary Pipher, a clinical psychologist, wrote in Reviving Ophelia (1994), by far the most successful of the girls-in-crisis books, « Something dramatic happens to girls in early adolescence. Just as planes and ships disappear mysteriously into the Bermuda Triangle, so do the selves of girls go down in droves. They crash and burn. »

The description of America’s teenage girls as silenced, tortured, and otherwise personally diminished was (and is) indeed dismaying. But no real evidence has ever been offered to support it. Certainly neither Gilligan nor the popular writers who followed her lead produced anything like solid empirical evidence, gathered according to the conventional protocols of social-science research.

Scholars who do abide by those protocols describe adolescent girls in far more optimistic terms. Anne Petersen, a former professor of adolescent development and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and now a senior vice-president of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, reports the consensus of researchers working in adolescent psychology: « It is now known that the majority of adolescents of both genders successfully negotiate this developmental period without any major psychological or emotional disorder, develop a positive sense of personal identity, and manage to forge adaptive peer relationships with their families. » Daniel Offer, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern, concurs. He refers to a « new generation of studies » that find 80 percent of adolescents to be normal and well adjusted.

At the time that Gilligan was declaring her crisis, a study conducted by the University of Michigan asked a scientifically selected sample of 3,000 high school seniors, « Taking all things together, how would you say things are these days — would you say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy these days? » Nearly 86 percent of the girls and 88 percent of the boys responded that they were « pretty happy » or « very happy. » If the girls polled were caught in « an accelerating downward spiral, » they were unaware of it.

Contrary to the story told by Gilligan and her followers, American girls were flourishing in unprecedented ways by the early 1990s. To be sure, some — including many who found themselves in the offices of clinical psychologists — felt they were crashing and drowning in the sea of Western culture. But the vast majority were occupied in more-constructive ways, moving ahead of boys in the primary and secondary grades, applying to college in record numbers, filling challenging academic classes, joining sports teams, and generally enjoying more freedom and opportunities than any other young women in history.

The great discrepancy between what Gilligan says she discovered about adolescent girls and what numerous other scientists say they have learned raises obvious questions about the quality of Gilligan’s research. And these questions loom larger the more one examines Gilligan’s methods. Carol Gilligan is a much-celebrated figure. Journalists routinely cite her research on the distinctive moral psychology of women. She was Ms. magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1984, and Time put her on its short list of most-influential Americans in 1996. In 1997 she received the $250,000 Heinz Award for « transform[ing] the paradigm for what it means to be human. » Such a transformation would certainly be a feat. At the very least, it would require a great deal of empirical supporting evidence. Most of Gilligan’s published research, however, consists of anecdotes based on a small number of interviews. Her data are otherwise unavailable for review, giving rise to some reasonable doubts about their merits and persuasiveness.

In a Different Voice offered the provocative thesis that men and women have distinctly different ways of dealing with moral quandaries. Relying on data from three studies she had conducted, Gilligan found that women tend to be more caring, less competitive, and less abstract than men; they speak « in a different voice. » Women approach moral questions by applying an « ethic of care. » In contrast, men approach moral issues by applying rules and abstract principles; theirs is an « ethic of justice. » Gilligan argued further that women’s moral style had been insufficiently studied by professional psychologists. She complained that the entire fields of psychology and moral philosophy had been built on studies that excluded women.

In a Different Voice was an instant success. It sold more than 600,000 copies and was translated into nine languages. A reviewer at Vogue explained its appeal: « [Gilligan] flips old prejudices against women on their ears. She reframes qualities regarded as women’s weaknesses and shows them to be human strengths. It is impossible to consider [her] ideas without having your estimation of women rise. »

The book received a mixed reaction from feminists. Some — such as the philosophers Virginia Held and Sara Ruddick, and those in various fields who would come to be known as « difference feminists » — were tantalized by the idea that women were different from, and quite probably better than, men. But other academic feminists attacked Gilligan for reinforcing stereotypes about women as nurturers and caretakers.

Many academic psychologists, feminist and nonfeminist alike, found Gilligan’s specific claims about distinct male and female moral orientations unpersuasive and ungrounded in empirical data. Lawrence Walker, of the University of British Columbia, has reviewed 108 studies of sex differences in solving moral problems. He concluded in a 1984 review article in Child Development that « sex differences in moral reasoning in late adolescence and youth are rare. » In 1987 three psychologists at Oberlin College attempted to test Gilligan’s hypothesis: they administered a moral-reasoning test to 101 male and female students and concluded, « There were no reliable sex differences … in the directions predicted by Gilligan. » Concurring with Walker, the Oberlin researchers pointed out that « Gilligan failed to provide acceptable empirical support for her model. »

The thesis of In a Different Voice is based on three studies Gilligan conducted: the « college student study, » the « abortion decision study, » and the « rights and responsibilities study. » Here is how Gilligan described the last.

This study involved a sample of males and females matched for age, intelligence, education, occupation, and social class at nine points across the life cycle: ages 6-9, 11, 15, 19, 22, 25-27, 35, 45, and 60. From a total sample of 144 (8 males and 8 females at each age), including a more intensively interviewed subsample of 36 (2 males and 2 females at each age), data were collected on conceptions of self and morality, experiences of moral conflicts and choice, and judgments of hypothetical moral dilemmas.

This description is all we ever learn about the mechanics of the study, which seems to have no proper name; it was never published, never peer-reviewed. It was, in any case, very small in scope and in number of subjects. And the data are tantalizingly inaccessible. In September of 1998 my research assistant, Elizabeth Bowen, called Gilligan’s office and asked where she could find copies of the three studies that were the basis for In a Different Voice. Gilligan’s assistant, Tatiana Bertsch, told her that they were unavailable, and not in the public domain; because of the sensitivity of the data (especially the abortion study), the information had been kept confidential. Asked where the studies were now kept, Bertsch explained that the original data were being prepared to be placed in a Harvard library: « They are physically in the office. We are in the process of sending them to the archives at the Murray Center. »

In October of 1998 Hugh Liebert, a sophomore at Harvard who had been my research assistant the previous summer, spoke to Bertsch. She told him that the data would not be available until the end of the academic year, adding, « They have been kept secret because the issues [raised in the study] are so sensitive. » She suggested that he check back occasionally. He tried again in March. This time she informed him, « They will not be available anytime soon. »

Last September, Liebert tried one more time. He sent an e-mail message directly to Gilligan, but Bertsch sent back the reply.

None of the In a Different Voice studies have been published. We are in the process of donating the college student study to the Murray Research Center at Radcliffe, but that will not be completed for another year, probably. At this point Professor Gilligan has no immediate plans of donating the abortion or the rights and responsibilities studies. Sorry that none of what you are interested in is available.

Brendan Maher is a professor emeritus at Harvard University and a former chairman of the psychology department. I told him about the inaccessibility of Gilligan’s data and the explanation that their sensitive nature precluded public dissemination. He laughed and said, « It would be extraordinary to say [that one’s data] are too sensitive for others to see. » He pointed out that there are standard methods for handling confidential materials in research. Names are left out but raw scores are reported, « so others can see if they can replicate your study. » A researcher must also disclose how subjects were chosen, how interviews were recorded, and the method by which meaning was derived from the data.

« Politics Dressed Up as Science »

GILLIGAN’S ideas about demoralized teenage girls had a special resonance with women’s groups that were already committed to the proposition that our society is unsympathetic to women. The interest of the venerable and politically influential American Association of University Women, in particular, was piqued. Its officers were reported to be « intrigued and alarmed » by Gilligan’s research. They wanted to know more.

In 1990 The New York Times Sunday Magazine published an admiring profile of Gilligan that heralded the discovery of a hidden crisis among the nation’s girls. Soon after, the AAUW commissioned a study from the polling firm Greenberg-Lake. The pollsters asked 3,000 children (2,400 girls and 600 boys in grades four through ten) about their self-perceptions. In 1991 the association announced the disturbing results, in a report titled Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America: « Girls aged eight and nine are confident, assertive, and feel authoritative about themselves. Yet most emerge from adolescence with a poor self-image, constrained views of their future and their place in society, and much less confidence about themselves and their abilities. » Anne Bryant, the executive director of the AAUW and an expert in public relations, organized a media campaign to spread the word that « an unacknowledged American tragedy » had been uncovered. Newspapers and magazines around the country carried reports that girls were being adversely affected by gender bias that eroded their self-esteem. Sharon Schuster, at the time the president of the AAUW, candidly explained to The New York Times why the association had undertaken the research in the first place: « We wanted to put some factual data behind our belief that girls are getting shortchanged in the classroom. »

As the AAUW’s self-esteem study was making headlines, a little-known magazine called Science News, which has been supplying information on scientific and technical developments to interested newspapers since 1922, reported the skeptical reaction of leading specialists on adolescent development. The late Roberta Simmons, a professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh (described by Science News as « director of the most ambitious longitudinal study of adolescent self-esteem to date »), said that her research showed nothing like the substantial gender gap described by the AAUW. According to Simmons, « Most kids come through the years from 10 to 20 without major problems and with an increasing sense of self-esteem. » But the doubts of Simmons and several other prominent experts were not reported in the hundreds of news stories that the Greenberg-Lake study generated.

The AAUW quickly commissioned a second study, How Schools Shortchange Girls. This one, conducted by the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women and released in 1992, focused on the alleged effects of sexism on girls’ school performance. It asserted that schools deflate girls’ self-esteem by « systematically cheating girls of classroom attention. »Such bias leads to lower aspirations and impaired academic achievement. Carol Gilligan’s crisis was being transformed into a civil-rights issue: girls were the victims of widespread sex discrimination. « The implications are clear, » the AAUW said. « The system must change. »

With great fanfare How Schools Shortchange Girls was released to the remarkably uncritical media. A 1992 article for The New York Times by Susan Chira was typical of coverage throughout the country. The headline read « Bias Against Girls is Found Rife in Schools, With Lasting Damage. » The piece was later reproduced by the AAUW and sent out as part of a fundraising package. Chira had not interviewed a single critic of the study.

« Some of us grew up with the image of reporters as tough-minded skeptics. Yet there were no tough-minded reporters in sight in 1992, when the American Association of University Women released its report ‘How Schools Shortchange Girls.' » A Wall Street Journal article posted by the Brookings Institution.

In March of last year I called Chira and asked about the way she had handled the AAUW study. I asked if she would write her article the same way today. No, she said, pointing out that we have since learned much more about boys’ problems in school. Why had she not canvassed dissenting opinions? She explained that she had been traveling when the AAUW study came out, and was on a short deadline. Yes, perhaps she had relied too much on the AAUW’s report. She had tried to reach Diane Ravitch, who had then been the former U.S. assistant secretary of education and was a known critic of women’s-advocacy findings, but without success.

Six years after the release of How Schools Shortchange Girls, The New York Times ran a story that raised questions about its validity. This time the reporter, Tamar Lewin, did reach Diane Ravitch, who told her, « That [1992] AAUW report was just completely wrong. What was so bizarre is that it came out right at the time that girls had just overtaken boys in almost every area. It might have been the right story twenty years earlier, but coming out when it did, it was like calling a wedding a funeral…. There were all these special programs put in place for girls, and no one paid any attention to boys. »

One of the many things about which the report was wrong was the famous « call-out » gap. According to the AAUW, « In a study conducted by the Sadkers, boys in elementary and middle school called out answers eight times more often than girls. When boys called out, teachers listened. But when girls called out, they were told ‘raise your hand if you want to speak.' »

But the Sadker study turns out to be missing — and meaningless, to boot. In 1994 Amy Saltzman, of U.S. News & World Report, asked David Sadker for a copy of the research backing up the eight-to-one call-out claim. Sadker said that he had presented the findings in an unpublished paper at a symposium sponsored by the American Educational Research Association; neither he nor the AERA had a copy. Sadker conceded to Saltzman that the ratio may have been inaccurate. Indeed, Saltzman cited an independent study by Gail Jones, an associate professor of education at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, which found that boys called out only twice as often as girls. Whatever the accurate number is, no one has shown that permitting a student to call out answers in the classroom confers any kind of academic advantage. What does confer advantage is a student’s attentiveness. Boys are less attentive — which could explain why some teachers might call on them more or be more tolerant of call-outs.

Despite the errors, the campaign to persuade the public that girls were being diminished personally and academically was a spectacular success. The Sadkers described an exultant Anne Bryant, of the AAUW, telling her friends, « I remember going to bed the night our report was issued, totally exhilarated. When I woke up the next morning, the first thought in my mind was, ‘Oh, my God, what do we do next?' » Political action came next, and here, too, girls’ advocates were successful.

Categorizing girls as an « under-served population » on a par with other discriminated-against minorities, Congress passed the Gender Equity in Education Act in 1994. Millions of dollars in grants were awarded to study the plight of girls and to learn how to counter bias against them. At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing in 1995, members of the U.S. delegation presented the educational and psychological deficits of American girls as a human-rights issue.

The Myth Unraveling

BY the late 1990s the myth of the downtrodden girl was showing some signs of unraveling, and concern over boys was growing. In 1997 the Public Education Network (PEN) announced at its annual conference the results of a new teacher-student survey titled The American Teacher 1997: Examining Gender Issues in Public Schools. The survey was funded by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and conducted by Louis Harris and Associates.

During a three-month period in 1997 various questions about gender equity were asked of 1,306 students and 1,035 teachers in grades seven through twelve. The MetLife study had no doctrinal ax to grind. What it found contradicted most of the findings of the AAUW, the Sadkers, and the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women: « Contrary to the commonly held view that boys are at an advantage over girls in school, girls appear to have an advantage over boys in terms of their future plans, teachers’ expectations, everyday experiences at school and interactions in the classroom. »

Some other conclusions from the MetLife study: Girls are more likely than boys to see themselves as college-bound and more likely to want a good education. Furthermore, more boys (31 percent) than girls (19 percent) feel that teachers do not listen to what they have to say.

At the PEN conference, Nancy Leffert, a child psychologist then at the Search Institute, in Minneapolis, reported the results of a survey that she and colleagues had recently completed of more than 99,000 children in grades six through twelve. The children were asked about what the researchers call « developmental assets. » The Search Institute has identified forty critical assets — « building blocks for healthy development. » Half of these are external, such as a supportive family and adult role models, and half are internal, such as motivation to achieve, a sense of purpose in life, and interpersonal confidence. Leffert explained, somewhat apologetically, that girls were ahead of boys with respect to thirty-seven out of forty assets. By almost every significant measure of well-being girls had the better of boys: they felt closer to their families; they had higher aspirations, stronger connections to school, and even superior assertiveness skills. Leffert concluded her talk by saying that in the past she had referred to girls as fragile or vulnerable, but that the survey « tells me that girls have very powerful assets. »

The Horatio Alger Association, a fifty-year-old organization devoted to promoting and affirming individual initiative and « the American dream, » releases annual back-to-school surveys. Its survey for 1998 contrasted two groups of students: the « highly successful » (approximately 18 percent of American students) and the « disillusioned » (approximately 15 percent). The successful students work hard, choose challenging classes, make schoolwork a top priority, get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and feel that teachers and administrators care about them and listen to them. According to the association, the successful group in the 1998 survey is 63 percent female and 37 percent male. The disillusioned students are pessimistic about their future, get low grades, and have little contact with teachers. The disillusioned group could accurately be characterized as demoralized. According to the Alger Association, « Nearly seven out of ten are male. »

In the spring of 1998 Judith Kleinfeld, a psychologist at the University of Alaska, published a thorough critique of the research on schoolgirls titled « The Myth That Schools Shortchange Girls: Social Science in the Service of Deception. » Kleinfeld exposed a number of errors in the AAUW/Wellesley Center study, concluding that it was « politics dressed up as science. » Kleinfeld’s report prompted several publications, including The New York Times and Education Week, to take a second look at claims that girls were in a tragic state.

The AAUW did not adequately respond to any of Kleinfeld’s substantive objections; instead its current president, Maggie Ford, complained in the New York Times letters column that Kleinfeld was « reducing the problems of our children to this petty ‘who is worse off, boys or girls?’ [which] gets us nowhere.' » From the leader of an organization that spent nearly a decade ceaselessly promoting the proposition that American girls are being « shortchanged, » this comment is rather remarkable.

Boys and Their Mothers

GROWING evidence that the scales are tipped not against girls but against boys is beginning to inspire a quiet revisionism. Some educators will admit that boys are on the wrong side of the gender gap. In 1998 I met the president of the Board of Education of Atlanta. Who is faring better in Atlanta’s schools, boys or girls? I asked. « Girls, » he replied, without hesitation. In what areas? I asked. « Just about any area you mention. » A high school principal from Pennsylvania says of his school, « Students who dominate the dropout list, the suspension list, the failure list, and other negative indices of nonachievement in school are males by a wide margin. »

Carol Gilligan, too, has begun to give boys some attention. In 1995 she and her colleagues at the Harvard University School of Education inaugurated « The Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology, Boys’ Development and the Culture of Manhood. » Within a year Gilligan was announcing the existence of a crisis among boys that was as bad as or worse than the one afflicting girls. « Girls’ psychological development in patriarchy involves a process of eclipse that is even more total for boys, »she wrote in a 1996 article titled « The Centrality of Relationship in Human Development. »

Gilligan claimed to have discovered « a startling pattern of developmental asymmetry »: girls undergo trauma as they enter adolescence, whereas for boys the period of crisis is early childhood. Boys aged three to seven are pressured to « take into themselves the structure or moral order of a patriarchal civilization: to internalize a patriarchal voice. » This masculinizing process is traumatic and damaging. « At this age, » Gilligan told The Boston Globe in 1996, « boys show a high incidence of depression, out-of-control behavior, learning disorders, even allergies and stuttering. »

One can welcome Gilligan’s acceptance of the fact that boys, too, have problems while remaining deeply skeptical of her ideas about their source. Gilligan’s theory about boys’ development includes three hypothetical claims: 1) Boys are being deformed and made sick by a traumatic, forced separation from their mothers. 2) Seemingly healthy boys are cut off from their own feelings and damaged in their capacity to develop healthy relationships. 3) The well-being of society may depend on freeing boys from « cultures that value or valorize heroism, honor, war, and competition — the culture of warriors, the economy of capitalism. » Let us consider each proposition in turn.

According to Gilligan, boys are at special risk in early childhood; they suffer « more stuttering, more bedwetting, more learning problems … when cultural norms pressure them to separate from their mothers. » (Sometimes she adds allergies, attention-deficit disorder, and attempted suicide to the list.) She does not cite any pediatric research to support her theory about the origins of these various early-childhood disorders. Does a study exist, for example, showing that boys who remain intimately bonded with their mothers are less likely to develop allergies or wet their beds?

Gilligan’s assertion that the « pressure of cultural norms » causes boys to separate from their mothers and thus generates a host of early disorders has not been tested empirically. Nor does Gilligan offer any indication of how it could be tested. She does not seem to feel that her assertions need empirical confirmation. She is confident that boys need to be protected from the culture — a culture in which manhood valorizes war and the economy of capitalism, a culture that desensitizes boys and, by submerging their humanity, is the root cause of « out-of-control and out-of-touch behavior » and is the ultimate source of war and other violence committed by men.

But are boys aggressive and violent because they are psychically separated from their mothers? Thirty years of research suggests that the absence of the male parent is more likely to be the problem. The boys who are most at risk for juvenile delinquency and violence are boys who are physically separated from their fathers. The U.S. Bureau of the Census reports that in 1960 children living with their mother but not their father numbered 5.1 million; by 1996 the number was more than 16 million. As the phenomenon of fatherlessness has increased, so has violence. As far back as 1965 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called attention to the social dangers of raising boys without benefit of a paternal presence. He wrote in a 1965 study for the Labor Department, « A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos. »

The sociologist David Blankenhorn, in Fatherless America (1995), wrote, « Despite the difficulty of proving causation in the social sciences, the weight of evidence increasingly supports the conclusion that fatherlessness is a primary generator of violence among young men. » William Galston, a former domestic-policy adviser in the Clinton Administration who is now at the University of Maryland, and his colleague Elaine Kamarck, now at Harvard, concur. Commenting on the relationship between crime and one-parent families, they wrote in a 1990 institute report, « The relationship is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. »

Oblivious of all the factual evidence that paternal separation causes aberrant behavior in boys, Carol Gilligan calls for a fundamental change in child rearing that would keep boys in a more sensitive relationship with their feminine side. We need to free young men from a destructive culture of manhood that « impedes their capacity to feel their own and other people’s hurt, to know their own and other’s sadness, » she writes. Since the pathology, as she has diagnosed it, is presumably universal, the cure must be radical. We must change the very nature of childhood: we must find ways to keep boys bonded to their mothers. We must undercut the system of socialization that is so « essential to the perpetuation of patriarchal societies. »

Gilligan’s views are attractive to many of those who believe that boys could profit by being more sensitive and empathetic. But anyone thinking to enlist in Gilligan’s project of getting boys in touch with their inner nurturer would do well to note that her central thesis — that boys are being imprisoned by conventional ideas of masculinity — is not a scientific hypothesis. Nor, it seems, does Gilligan regard it in this light, for she presents no data to support it. It is, in fact, an extravagant piece of speculation of the kind that would not be taken seriously in most professional departments of psychology.

On a less academic plane Gilligan’s proposed reformation seems to challenge common sense. It is obvious that a boy wants his father to help him become a young man, and belonging to the culture of manhood is important to almost every boy. To impugn his desire to become « one of the boys » is to deny that a boy’s biology determines much of what he prefers and is attracted to. Unfortunately, by denying the nature of boys, education theorists can cause them much misery.

Gilligan talks of radically reforming « the fundamental structure of authority » by making changes that will free boys from the stereotypes that bind them. But in what sense are American boys unfree? Was the young Mark Twain or the young Teddy Roosevelt enslaved by conventional modes of boyhood? Is the average Little Leaguer or Cub Scout defective in the ways Gilligan suggests? In practice, getting boys to be more like girls means getting them to stop segregating themselves into all-male groups. That’s the darker, coercive side of the project to « free » boys from their masculine straitjackets.

It is certainly true that a small subset of male children are, as Gilligan argues, desensitized and cut off from feelings of tenderness and care. But these boys are not representative of their sex. Gilligan speaks of boys in general as « hiding their humanity, » showing a capacity to « hurt without feeling hurt. » This, she maintains, is a more or less universal condition that exists because the vast majority of boys are forced into separation from their nurturers. But the idea that boys are abnormally insensitive flies in the face of everyday experience. Boys are competitive and often aggressive, yes; but anyone in close contact with them — parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends — gets daily proof of their humanity, loyalty, and compassion.

Gilligan appears to be making the same mistake with boys that she made with girls — she observes a few children and interprets their problems as indicative of a deep and general malaise caused by the way our society imposes gender stereotypes. The pressure to conform to these stereotypes, she believes, has impaired, distressed, and deformed the members of both sexes by the time they are adolescents. In fact — with the important exception of boys whose fathers are absent and who get their concept of maleness from peer groups — most boys are not violent. Most are not unfeeling or antisocial. They are just boys — and being a boy is not in itself a failing.

Does Gilligan actually understand boys? Does she empathize with them? Is she free of the misandry that infects so many gender theorists who never stop blaming the « male culture » for all social and psychological ills? Nothing we have seen or heard offers the slightest reassurance that Gilligan and her followers are wise enough or objective enough to be trusted with devising new ways of socializing boys.

Every society confronts the problem of civilizing its young males. The traditional approach is through character education: Develop the young man’s sense of honor. Help him become a considerate, conscientious human being. Turn him into a gentleman. This approach respects boys’ masculine nature; it is time-tested, and it works. Even today, despite several decades of moral confusion, most young men understand the term « gentleman »and approve of the ideals it connotes.

What Gilligan and her followers are proposing is quite different: civilize boys by diminishing their masculinity. « Raise boys like we raise girls » is Gloria Steinem’s advice. This approach is deeply disrespectful of boys. It is meddlesome, abusive, and quite beyond what educators in a free society are mandated to do.

DID anything of value come out of the manufactured crisis of diminished girls? Yes, a bit. Parents, teachers, and administrators now pay more attention to girls’ deficits in math and science, and they offer more support for girls’ participation in sports. But who is to say that these benefits outweigh the disservice done by promulgating the myth of the incredible shrinking girl or presenting boys as the unfairly favored sex?

A boy today, through no fault of his own, finds himself implicated in the social crime of shortchanging girls. Yet the allegedly silenced and neglected girl sitting next to him is likely to be the superior student. She is probably more articulate, more mature, more engaged, and more well-balanced. The boy may be aware that she is more likely to go on to college. He may believe that teachers prefer to be around girls and pay more attention to them. At the same time, he is uncomfortably aware that he is considered to be a member of the favored and dominant gender.

The widening gender gap in academic achievement is real. It threatens the future of millions of American boys. Boys do not need to be rescued from their masculinity. But they are not getting the help they need. In the climate of disapproval in which boys now exist, programs designed to aid them have a very low priority. This must change. We should repudiate the partisanship that currently clouds the issues surrounding sex differences in the schools. We should call for balance, objective information, fair treatment, and a concerted national effort to get boys back on track. That means we can no longer allow the partisans of girls to write the rules.


Suivre

Recevez les nouvelles publications par mail.

Rejoignez 380 autres abonnés

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :