Arts » Arts Etc.

NOTHING NEW

In these days of violent invasion, justified in part, in part invoked from the shaky pedestals of an imprecise cultural and ethical superiority, all hope in a different future for this ever smaller world ever more harassed by difficulties falters once more. The ancient drums of the war to death resound around the world; they excite everyone and they make tense even among the most pacifist of all the nerves of fury. Terrible days of fury. What for a while could be hope improbable has happened and, as in all classic tragedies, there is no going back. There is no remorse either. Once more violence has prevailed. Once more, as many times before, time teaches despair. Undisturbed, history writes with the sword a new triumphant page, a new page of defeat.

For those who did not expected the worst, the most difficult part will be now, perhaps, to have to admit that there is nothing new in all this; that what shall come will bring nothing new either. One will have to accept, then, the effectiveness of the uncontrollable natural inclination for intimidation and violence. Faced to the evidence, every effort - by the few idealists - to control the instinct becomes useless. It is impossible to eradicate an instinct that has been glorified by most since antiquity in the dithyramb, the medal, the monument, and even the work of art. Our museums are filled with images that extol war with the perfection of artistic artifice. Our libraries are brimming with epic songs and stories of blood and fire. The hymns of victory resound in our cathedrals and concert halls. In our daily domestic television screens sparkle the irate epics of assaults and insults, the vulgar heroics of the street gangs and the shameless crime that entertains.

Thus, the luminous cinematic image and its universal enchantment have transformed violent action in daily subject of fascinated admiration. Whatever be said about the perils the innumerable programs of vain violence on television and at the movies might present to our children - and why not also to our adult population - they are broadly applaud by a public that, by instinct, delights in all forms of roughness and injury. These hypnotic images serve very well in perpetuating the arrogance of physical superiority and the effrontery of triumphal boasting. Violence in all its forms is so much liked by everyone, so well accepted. and worshiped by most people that is difficult to imagine, much less to hope for, a different reality, free from the shouts of threat and victory at any cost.

Sitting in front of the familiar television, with refreshments at hand, children and grown-ups have in front of them in these days of war the crudest proof of what can be gained by repeating daily brutal images of violence: a society inflamed of its own capacity for violence. Idealized in the mystifying magic of the brightly colorful screen - military action as fireworks - to most destructive action becomes a blind, merciless conviction that there is no better expression of reason than force itself. Wee have not left yet the kingdom of terror and, in spite of what can be preached on the contrary, we are still under the authority of the raised and well armed arm, and we still follow the proverbial and immutable law of the eye for the eye and the tooth for the tooth. Television only confirms with its partial images of the war - vaguely successive instants of irrational action among persistent and inane commercials - the dubious virtue of being always right, at any cost to the adversary. •


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