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Sunday, May 13, 2012

SUMMARY OF THE GRASS CONTROVERSY


Post Mortem  
For a Poem
  Embroiled in Controversy

Let me put it this way :
WHERE A MAX BOOT OF THE COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS CAN UNEXEPTIONALLY CALL FOR THE BOMBING OF IRAN
Why can’t little old Günter Grass
Wring his hands and go to no end of emotional contortions to prevent a potential catastrophe?!
Without incurring the wrath of a controversy?


A Summary
&
A Codicil


Part III:
The Poetics of the Beast
Posted @:
 http://artscritic.blogspot.com/2012/05/guenter-grasss-notorious-poem-poetics.html
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 ARCHIV FOR gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html
 
Archive for the Entire Controversy
 
@
 http://goaliesanxiety.blogspot.com/2012/04/gunter-grass-what-must-be-said.html
 
Part II
A Summary
Defense of the Beast
 
http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/2012/05/defense-of-beast-post-mortem-part-ii-of.html
 
Part I
A  Summary of the Political 
Critique of the Beast 
 
http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/2012/04/part-synopsis-of-grass-poem-controversy.html
 
Comments welcome
 
http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name





THE CONTEXT
 
In March of this year, 2012, Prime Minister Netanjahu came once more to Washington, sought for permission, from President Obama, for an instant first strike on Iran, but appears to have been told to hold his horses, i.e. his American-made Jets, at least until after the Fall 2012 presidential election; besides, negotiations have resumed, in Bagdad, it remains to be seen whether the conditions imposed on Iran to stop enhancing uranium, are so onerous as to be unacceptable. As a consolation Netanjahu got a basketful of bunker busting U.S. bombs and was assured that Israel had the U.S.’s back [the current cliché for saying we will back you no matter what].
Netanjahu
addressed the U.S. congress to wild cheering
and then addressed AIPAC
http://www.aipac.org/.


Israeli consideration of a first strike has been discussed for years, it is part of normal newspaper chatter, the way some Mafia dons talk about taking out a bothersome neighborhood competitor; e.g. this of May 10, 2012 about the new Israeli Unity government with Mofaz of the Kadima Party:
Mofaz, who has consistently opposed an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, joined the Netanyahu government on Tuesday despite having called the prime minister a liar. After taking over as Kadima head this spring, he repeatedly pledged to lead the opposition.

Some people are of course upset at the prospect, hold meetings, conferences, sign petitions, write at Common Dreams, even Tom Dispatch and The Nation are upset. It is very much old news. Everyday news. The reasons given for a pre-emptive strike, it would be Israel’s third but by far largest and more complicated in this instance on a large complex of nuclear installations, are certain threats that Prime Minister A. has made in the past,


Chief reason for the take-out first strike mugging is that the Mullah regime in the person of its President Amindejabad talks about his wishes to eliminate Israel, the beachhead of Western Imperialism in the Muslim nation. The pronouncement on that man’s part are given wide and frequently mistranslated dissemination.

"It's when I challenged him on the biggest talking point of all, Iran's supposed determination to 'wipe Israel off the face of the map,' that Meridor [deputey Prime Minister] seemed to stumble outside the lines of the agreed narrative."

://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/18-2

Although there is some doubt about the accuracy of the translation there is no doubt that the Iranian government regards Israel the beachhead of Western Imperialism; and of course for good reason if you consider the treatment Iran has been accorded by Western Modernism over the past several hundred years. Hell, I might revert too, though not to Mohammedanism but to animism if Bernard Lewis
treated me to modernism of this kind.
The West and the powers that be would just as soon install another Shah Pavlevi - in the immortal words of that old warhorse Jeanne Kirpatrick, he’d be one of our s.o.b.s.

However, there really is no disputing the fact that the fellow poses a threat somewhere down the line. That man will not become a friendly neighborhood pussycat, he has far too many grievances, so what if they are justified or not, let’s neuter the bugger now!
And there are those who dream that if we neuter him now, what a clear swath we have to Afghanistan,
Empire dreamers,
Geopolitical monsters
Dreaming big thought!

JUST IN CASE ANYONE HAS FORGOTTEN JOHN MCCAIN INDIANFIGHTER'S REFRAIN "BOMB BOMB IRAN" [“Wimps go to Bagdad, real men go to Teheran”] HERE IS OUR VERY OWN MAX BOOT OF THE COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS DOING THE SAME THIS YEAR, FOR A LITTLE CONTEXT WHERE GRASS AND THOSE WHO ARE UPSET HIM, FITS IN


The Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot is no stranger to calling for increasingly confrontational measures to address Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. But in a column in today’s L.A. Times, Boot doubles down on his calls for war while in the same breath admitting that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. He writes:

By BRADLEY S. RUSSELL 
AND MAX BOOT
Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz last week, in response to U.S. and European Union moves to apply sanctions on its oil industry. Only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, the strait sees the passage of roughly 28 tanker ships a day, half loaded, half empty. Some 17 million barrels of oil—20% of oil traded in the world—go through this chokepoint. If Iran really could close the strait, it would do great damage to the world economy. But it would also damage its own already shaky economy because Iran relies on the strait to deliver oil exports to China and
 


A.’s statements are put on publicity steroids and repeated ad infinitum and no one even bothers to check their veracity. Ditto for A.’s assertion  that the Holocaust is a fabrication, although the other day A. claimed to a visiting group of German businessmenm whom he had granted an audience, that he did not deny it.
If he did want to deny it what might be the reason – because a devout Muslim would have to honor the fact that Israel, besides being a 3 billion dollar a year aircraft carrier for the successor empire, is the refugium from the German holocaust.

Israel has committed two earlier preventive strikes, one against a reactor in Iraq and last year destroyed one in Syria. Any neighbor with nuclear abilities of any kind brings out the pre-emptor in Israeli governments.

There is no disputing that the Palestinians and the Israelis are being beastly to each other. Internecine warfare, assassinations
are the order of the day.
The Netanjahu government, as compared to prior Israeli governments, appears to have no interest in a peaceful solution of any kind. With a fair amount of opposition to his and foreign minister Lieberman’s plan for a pre-emptive strike against the numerous Iranian nuclear facilities, one wonders where Netanjahu might have support for such a venture, and one does not need to look far: it comes from the usual quarters, the U.S. Neo-Cons, the same people who brought you the war in Iraq, Max Boot [see above] and Afghanistan and going back a few decades earlier,
its destabilization, the creation and then, when they had done their job, the abandonment of the Mujahedeen. It’s the way of this particular version of Imperialism.

JUST IN CASE ANYONE HAS FORGOTTEN JOHN INDIANFIGHTER MCCAIN'S REFRAIN "BOMB BOMB IRAN," HERE IS OUR VERY OWN MAX BOOT OF THE COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS DOING THE SAME THIS YEAR, FOR A LITTLE CONTEXT WHERE GRASS AND THOSE WHOM HE UPSETS ARE UPSET, FITS IN:

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/12/01/377382/max-boot-iran/
The Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot is no stranger to calling for increasingly confrontational measures to address Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. But in a column in today’s L.A. Times, Boot doubles down on his calls for war while in the same breath admitting that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. He writes:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204632204577130834200656156.html

 There are one or two big differences between going to war against an impotent regime such as Saddam Hussein’s in 2003 and a 2012 Iran. One is that Iran might pose a threat somewhere down the line whereas Iraq did not
[“Real men go to Teheran.”
 and that Iran is not impotent as Saddam was when he was attacked.
The consequences immediate and long term are unforeseeable.
That is,
Günter Grass’s scenario where Iran destroyed nuclear facilities shower the country-side with radiation, or where Iran’ s final defeat requires the use of Israeli nuclear arms, possibly delivered by German Dolphin Class submarines – Grass ruminations, those of a poet-sage oracle - is not entirely fantastical,
although this suggestion of his seems to have been what most upset
his critics.
It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built…
But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it
reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said…
Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what by tomorrow might be
too late, must be spoken now,
and because we—as Germans, already
burdened enough—could become
enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
not to be eradicated
with any of the usual excuses…

and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control
of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.
Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness
—and finally, to ourselves as well.
(Full text in German, English, Spanish and Italian at the end)

A first strike would seem to initiate at least an huge regional   conflict.
There are parties in the United States, roughly described as Neo-Cons, who see the choice of this course of action as clearing of the throat.

Into this roughly sketched state of affairs, into this tenuous situation, this flux, waltzes an 84 year old Kashubian upsetter of applecarts, poet, writer with a bit of baggage but great work to look back on and issues a poem.

Yes,
into this situation enters the German writer, poet, playwright, visual artist and Nobel Prize for literature recipient Günter Grass with the below poem
(Full text in German, English, Spanish and Italian at the end)
And all frigging hell breaks loose!
Even now, five weeks later, as I am trying to sum up the mess, the international incident that Grass created,
Avgdir Liebermann shows up in Berlin and inveighs against Grass’s anti-semitism     
A charge that is seconded, echoed by his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.
The former head of the German Judenrat, a Ms. Knobloch
            accuses Grass           
Das Gedicht von Grass ist Volksverhetzung.”
Where I am uncertain what the dear lady means, one people or both the Israelis and the German people being set upon each other? She also advised the Bundestag not to go eadsy on Grass!
However, after five weeks of this I take out my garlic press, for Ms. Knobloch, and suggest that maybe both the Israeli and German government hire a few of those allegedly 30 % of the population Talmud students to decipher Grass’s intentionally lightly freighted text to discern where and why the critique of a particular Israeli government constitutes anti-Semitism. For you will note that most of those attacking Grass of anti-Semitism asservate that critique of Israeli governments is perfectly fine… except it appears in this instance.
The fracas that ensued upon publication of the Grass poem manifests the toxicity that
the “final solution”
has left not only among Germans and Jews, but world-wide.

When was the last time that a poem elicited half a dozen defensive aggressive statements from a Prime Minister, as Grass’s poem did
of Netanjahu?

Not only do certain parties, the very Neo-Cons who support a first strike, try to kill the poem by tossing dumpsters full of accusations of anti-Semitism,
A veritable phantasmagoria
 on it
[see Part A
http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/2012/04/part-synopsis-of-grass-poem-controversy.html ]

Many members of the Social Democratic Party with whom Grass has had a fruitful relationship for 50 + years
tell him that he is full of
it
 Leading Social Democrats are heading the offensive against their former party member, who was once one of the SPD’s most prominent election campaigners.
On the very day after the poem’s publication, SPD general secretary Andrea Nahles commented that, given the situation in the Middle East, the poem was “irritating and inappropriate”. Reinhold Robbe, former SPD spokesman on military affairs and current president of the German-Israeli Society, accused Grass of gross ignorance regarding the complex political situation in the Middle East. Grass’s views were “so general and shallow that it is almost pointless trying to counter them in any detail”. The text was “meagre, self-centred, superfluous and vain”, said Robbe, adding: “I don’t want to see Grass in any more election campaigns for the SPD”.


Moreover,
Quite a few fellow poets and aestheticians
   dispute that this is even a poem,
[see my Codicil on the Poetics of the Beast]

It’ just an editorial in op-ed form!
The poet has his his nose rubbed in his past as an enthusiastic Hitler Youth and a few months membership in the Waffen SS is called a career.
The fact that his writing and his mortified actions since he realized how he had been indoctrinated, statement from close friends, Jewish and not-Jewish would clear him of the charge, his multiple contrition means nothing to the nose-rubbers.
However, a slew of defenders come to the rescue and point out that Grass’s central charge that a first strike is planned and has been rehearsed is beyond dispute, as is the German building of submarines with the capacity to fire nuclear tipped missiles.
No one but me, I don’t think, has pointed out the utter irrelevance to that truth of whether Grass is or was ever anti-Semitic.
He might as well be the one SS general I once heard extolling the prowess of Moshe Dayan after the six days war.
No one seems willing to discuss the consequence of a possible first strike; well yes, there are the Max Boots of this world who will keep writing editorials until kingdom come.

I find such avoidance odd.
Not the message, but the messenger becomes the subject.

In the case of the imperialist minded Neo-Cons the interest in such avoidance is self-evident. But, why didn’t they simply do as they have done all along with numerous other appeals, and meetings. Why did Günter Grass with a carefully wrought, funereally toned 69 line poem get their goat? Inflame the often sober-minded Jakob Heilbrun? And I come up with the same reason I did a week or so ago: it is Dr. Fritz Stern’s pointing to the aggressive defensive insecure nature of the Netanjahu and Liebermann government, an assessment born out by the minister of the interior making Grass persona non-grata.
Aggressive-defensive dogs of war
are unpredictable.

Think about this for a second, when has a poem had this kind of effect, possibly on world history, so that you wished it were a bit more than a well-enough-crafted piece of free verse written in Brecht’s method of rhyme-less poetry with irregular rhythms.
Dactyls. Troches.

I am still mystified by its effect. Tetchy war-mongering Neo-Cons, intergovernmental relations,
Diplomats in an uproar,
 perhaps it’s those Dolphin-class submarines subsidized by the reparations, the unholy mix
of that and a Nobel-prize winning writer in oracular mode!

Lucky Bibi that Grass doesn’t know from hip-hop or every Palestinian would be spouting the Grass poem as they tossed yet another rock. Lucky Bibi that Grass did not write a great poem that resounds through the ages such as Brecht, or Auden or Yeats or Hoelderlin might have. Lucky Bibi that Grass only said later precisely whom
he had in mind.

Perhaps the poem ought to have been written in Gerald Manley Hopkins’ sprung rhythm,
Wreck of the Deutschland
  

THOU mastering me
            God! giver of breath and bread;
        World’s strand, sway of the sea;
            Lord of living and dead;
    Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
    And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
        Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.

 or turned into funagain Amurrican
a la Tony Kushner’s
version of
Mother Courage.



 ============










Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
over what is openly played out
in war games at the end of which we
the survivors are at best footnotes.
It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built.
But why do I forbid myself
to name that other land in which
for years—although kept secret—
a usable nuclear capability has grown
beyond all control, because
no scrutiny is allowed.
The universal silence around this fact,
under which my own silence lay,
I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss
courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.
But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it
reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said.
But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,
forbade mention of this fact
as definite truth about Israel, a country
to which I am and will remain attached.
Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what by tomorrow might be
too late, must be spoken now,
and because we—as Germans, already
burdened enough—could become
enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
not to be eradicated
with any of the usual excuses.
And admittedly: I’m silent no more
because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
—and one can hope that many others too
may free themselves from silence,
challenge the instigator of known danger
to abstain from violence,
and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control
of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.
Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness
—and finally, to ourselves as well.
Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.
4

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.
Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren - wenn auch geheimgehalten -
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?
Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt "Antisemitismus" ist geläufig.
Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.


Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir - als Deutsche belastet genug -
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.


Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.


















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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html