Not Saussure

September 27, 2006

Replace God Save the Queen with the Ode To Joy?

Filed under: hubris, Icons, UK — notsaussure @ 2:19 pm

Phillippa Ibbotson, in the Groan’s Comment is Free, has a reprise, or it may be a rondo, or … anyway, she’s off on her hobby horse again and has virtually reproduced an article from the previous month about how British classical concerts are not nearly internationalist enough.

Recalling how

Repressive regimes have been well aware of the power of music. Witness its banning by the Taliban, its minimal, prescriptive use by Mao Zedong in China, and in Stalin’s Russia. The potential of music to energise and exhilarate a crowd is dangerous to dictatorships, the arousal of emotions being counterproductive to their will to suppress. Of course this same musical power can also be used to their advantage. Take the careful selection of Wagner’s Meistersinger for performance at Nuremberg rallies.

she suggests that,

in today’s world of burgeoning multiculturalism and media sophistication, it is necessary to question the place of such nationalistic music-making; and in so doing to risk accusations of political correctness and imposing manipulative leftwing agendas. For, in Britain at least, there is a disturbing trend for live classical concerts to be run as patriotically themed spectacles.

Consequently, we should replace God Save the Queen with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, along with Schiller’s original words, which will have the added advantage — I swear I’m not making this up — of somehow concentrating our minds wonderfully on global warming.

I’m not at all sure she can have read the words to Schiller’s Ode To Joy; I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d feel a bit of a Charlie singing

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

and I shudder to think what Richard Dawkins would make of it.

I don’t really know what we could use; Jerusalem is sometimes suggested, but might cause problems for Irish, Welsh and Scots rugby fans. Besides, my aged mother once raised the very sound objection that on her visit to Jerusalem she found the place hot, noisy, dirty and full of demented Jews and Arabs who all wanted to kill each other — ‘Not the sort of place we really want here in England, dear’.

The whole thing reminds me rather of the BBC’s proposal to replace the late Fritz Spiegel’s Radio 4 theme — now sadly gone, of course — with a similar arrangement reflecting Britain’s place in Europe, broadcast early in April this year as I recall.

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September 8, 2006


Filed under: Blogroll, Food, Icons, Marmite, UK, usa — notsaussure @ 5:27 pm

Both Tim Worstall and Definition Britain have been discussing this fine savoury (which is, incidentally, being voted on at the moment as an Icon of Britain); being an addict of trash American horror stories and thrilers, I recently came across a somewhat unusual use for it in Fires of Eden, a somewhat insane story about Hawaian deities taking revenge on developers spoiling the place.

At one stage in the plot, the goodies have discovered an ancient spell that will enable them to visit the Hawaian underworld, which is absolutely essential to their plans for reasons too complex to explore here.

However, the spell involves coating yourself with strong-smelling substances to confuse the spirits you’ll there encounter; obviously the original recipe has traditional ingredients, but the beleagured heroes have to improvise, so they raid the hotel kitchens:

‘What’s it say on that little black jar?’ she asked.

Trumbo leaned closeer and read it in the flashlight beam. ‘Marmite,’ he said. ‘It’s this paste that some of our British guests like for breakfast on their toast and…’.

‘I know Marmite,’ said the woman. ‘I had me some in London once. It’s this black yeast stuff that smells like a mouse crawled in the jar and died a year or twi before. And it tastes worse. Better take that jar, too.

It certainly works to scare off the venegeful spirits, at least in the novel.

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