Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 831383 times)

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M forever

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #940 on: February 02, 2008, 12:02:46 AM »
Right now, I am reading this interesting book:



about the life and work of Günter Wand. The title basically means "in this and no other way" and describes Wand's uncompromising work ethic and attitude towards the music he conducted.


Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #941 on: February 02, 2008, 12:39:21 AM »
I was mainly referring to political decisions, especially war, those, I think, are basically always motivated by economic interests, no matter how they are "illustrated" and "sold" to the people. I don't think there are real religious or ideological wars. It's always about power and economic interests, no matter what the people who actually do the fighting and dying are told and what they think they are fighting and dying "for". After all, wars do require enormous manpower and resources, they are just too expensive to fight just for fun or for a "cause".

Agreed. I am just as cynical about the motives for war as you. How do you rate the current 'war on terror'? I see it as the last try of a fading empire (USA) to control central Asia, with all its resources, before India, Russia or China do. (Interesting reading (in German): http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/27/27112/1.html)

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In this current context, my basic point was just that after WWI, those fading colonial empires such as Britain and France didn't want to allow an unified Germany (which would have included Austria and the German speaking parts of Czechoslovakia since the idea to put all German speaking people - except for the German Swiss - into one nation was very popular among those people long before 1938) to assume its natural position as an economic leader in Europe

Agreed.

BUT with the essential proviso that in those times economic power went hand in hand with military power. Imperialism showed us how you simply took a land and wrung every resource out of it. As the cake had already been divided, only Europe remained for Germany to expand in. And in WWI it was already trying. Here is our essential difference.

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- which it was destined for, not because of some "Aryan" racial superiority or some other ideological BS, but simply because of the sheer number of people and the level of development of the region at that time. By tring to suppress the natural course of events, they didn't *create* those extremists since they had already been there - and not just in Germany, a lot of the nonsense the Nazis and related political or ideological groups were into was very popular in many Western countries, much more than they want to admit now -

Agreed. If you read a lot, as I do, you can see some amazing things that the current 'squeaky clean' democracies don't want to be reminded of.

BUT I stand by my assertion that the cocktail Germany was able to brew, with its combination of rationality and lunacy, and which got the mostly tacit backing (out of fear, disinterest, or egoism) of the majority of the population is really something else. Economic interest alone doesn't explain it.

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but they certainly helped create the environment in which those extremists could actually come to power and unleash the concentrated economic power of Germany on half the rest of the world in the the most devastating war ever. And that war was started for economic reasons, too. If you strip away all the ideological blabla, what remains are naked economic interests - gaining new territory, access to natural resources, etc. The nature of such extremist regimes is that they run completely wild though, as we have seen. Once things are started, there is no turning back until things come to a complete catastrophe. They even start losing sight of their own interests. But I wouldn't call that an ideological war either at that point - it is just total madness and chaos.

Here I disagree. The attack on the Soviet Union and the extermination of the Jews - though the economic aspect is there, like trying to get to the Urals - lost Germany the war, and were strongly ideologically inspired, yes, almost religiously so. Stopping Bolshevism combined with gaining 'Lebensraum' combined with destroying the enemy of mankind (the Jew). In this case, when the Nazis spoke of the 'Weltanschauungskrieg' (war of world-views, see Krausnick's study with the same title) they spoke the truth. By killing the 'subhuman' Slavs, they lost all sympathy they could have got if they really wanted to build an empire with a future, and by killing the Jews they had to siphon off resources they could have used to increase their chances of winning the war.

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Anyway, again, my original point was that WWII was totally pointless because those countries which officially lost it - Germany and Japan - still turned out to be economic winners in the decades after. While a lot of the countries which were officially on the winning side lost big time, first and foremost all the countries which were forced into the Eastern Block. History is just really unfair.
Or does anyone still think that Britain declared war on Germany to heroically "save Poland from the Nazis"?

Pointless, indeed. But you stick admirably to your point that outside forces wanted to keep Germany (and Japan, but that's not the focus of our debate) from becoming an economic power. This implies that those forces were malign and that Germany was only benignly trying to be what it was entitled to. And that it 'radicalised' (to use the current jargon) when it was frustrated in this endeavour. This makes Germany into a passive victim, which I reject. You simply don't want to accept that conquest and domination were part and parcel of Germany's will to power. If you can accept dark motives on the other side, as I do, and are cynical about them, as I am, why not be a bit more critical about Germany?
« Last Edit: February 02, 2008, 03:07:53 AM by Jezetha »
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

M forever

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #942 on: February 02, 2008, 08:28:37 AM »
Pointless, indeed. But you stick admirably to your point that outside forces wanted to keep Germany (and Japan, but that's not the focus of our debate) from becoming an economic power. This implies that those forces were malign and that Germany was only benignly trying to be what it was entitled to. And that it 'radicalised' (to use the current jargon) when it was frustrated in this endeavour. This makes Germany into a passive victim, which I reject. You simply don't want to accept that conquest and domination were part and parcel of Germany's will to power. If you can accept dark motives on the other side, as I do, and are cynical about them, as I am, why not be a bit more critical about Germany?

I am, much more than most people are about their own countries, and I don't have that kind of emotional attachment to my home country which a lot of people have that makes it impossible for them to criticize it seriously. Again, I find emotional attachment to a whole country hard to understand since we are not talking about a person, but about an extremely complex phenomenon with many positive and negative elements of all sorts of kinds. What I don't understand here is why you keep saying the above when I very explicitly said several times over that the extremist nutcases which came to power in 1933 were not the result of external pressure but something that had indeed developed from within. The spectrum of political opinions and ideologies in Germany at that time was very wide, very diverse, and there were many extreme political tensions among all those groups in the 20s. Some of those wanted to take revenge for WWI and conquest and dominate by force, but a large part of the political spectrum wanted to rebuild the country and move on into a democratic direction - which was very difficult because a lot of people were mentally still in the monarchy which had just evaporated. But the democratic forces were at the wheel at first and it is pretty amazing to see how long the Weimar Republic, as ineffective and chaotic as it was, actually lasted under these circumstances. So it is no suprise that not even 20 years later, after WWII, when they let them, they rebuilt the country once again in record time and reated Europe's strongest economy, more or less out of ruins.
I don't understand why you apply this simplistic "good country-bad country" thinking to what I say which has not much to do with the things I said several times over now about those extremists and their place in the political spectrum at that time. I don't think there are "good countries" and "bad countries". Germany certainly has a lot of both the good, the bad and the ugly because it is a country with a very complex and diverse culture, no doubt a heritage of the many centuries of decentral political organization (or lack thereof).
I think I see what you mean when you say that in those days, economic power went hand in hand with military power so other countries must have had a good reason to be afraid of Germany. Overall, you can see how in a lot of countries at that time, part of the spectrum still believed in those old "values" while a lot of people already wanted to move on into an age of economic development and cooperation instead of domination by force. There was also a very strong pacifict movement in Britain, for instance. Many people were dead tired of war after WWI and its completely pointless killing of millions in the trenches. But that applied to Germany as well, and while I still don't believe in speculative history, I think it is pretty obvious from what happened later, before and after WWII, that if they had just left them alone, all that wouldn't have happened. You simply can't push around a country with so many people and such a strong economic potential the way they tried to do in the 20s. They really drove a lot of people in Hitler's direction. Again, that is very impressively documented by how popularity of the Nazis (or other extremist groups, because there were also *a lot* of hardcore communists back then) went up and down over the course of the 20s, to points when they almost disappeared from sight to where they finally became strong enough to get in power.
I'll get back to the other points later, right now, I have to get ready and drive to Washington (I am still in the process of driving across the US, today we are in Nashville, TN).

longears

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #943 on: February 02, 2008, 08:38:12 AM »
To recognize the fact that punitive war reparations after WWI contributed to the conditions in Germany that permitted Hitler's rise to power is hardly the same as "blaming" other nations for it.

longears

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #944 on: February 02, 2008, 09:00:19 AM »
Agreed. I am just as cynical about the motives for war as you. How do you rate the current 'war on terror'? I see it as the last try of a fading empire (USA) to control central Asia, with all its resources, before India, Russia or China do.

Thank you.  What an interesting and candid "take" on the matter!  Obviously an outsider's point of view, conditioned by an education in historical geopolitics and a failure to understand the moral center of America's national character.  Cynical, indeed!

It would be interesting to see what you would do with the "War on Terror" if you tried spinning it from a favorably idealistic point of view instead of this bitterly cynical vantage point which neglects America's history in armed conflicts outside of her hemisphere and the hard lessons learned in the 20th Century--perhaps the most painful of which is that accomodating the threat of violence rather than standing up to it only begets more and more vicious violence, and that it's far less costly in lives, capital, and human suffering to destroy a man-eating tiger when it first appears than after it's ravaged your village, home, and family.

rockerreds

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #945 on: February 02, 2008, 09:30:21 AM »
Mary Gaitskill-Veronica

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #946 on: February 02, 2008, 10:00:55 AM »
What I don't understand here is why you keep saying the above when I very explicitly said several times over that the extremist nutcases which came to power in 1933 were not the result of external pressure but something that had indeed developed from within.

Okay.

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I don't understand why you apply this simplistic "good country-bad country" thinking to what I say which has not much to do with the things I said several times over now about those extremists and their place in the political spectrum at that time. I don't think there are "good countries" and "bad countries".

Neither do I. I am not that simplistic. Countries are complex, as you say.

Goodness and morality are, in my opinion, things you can only ascribe to persons, not to states (or organisations, or companies). A state is like a firing-squad: everybody shoots, so no one is responsible. And yet, I am not cynical. But I tend to reserve my idealism (which I really possess in great quantities) for persons. That's all. Like through this conversation - you can't talk to a state.


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Many people were dead tired of war after WWI and its completely pointless killing of millions in the trenches. But that applied to Germany as well, and while I still don't believe in speculative history, I think it is pretty obvious from what happened later, before and after WWII, that if they had just left them alone, all that wouldn't have happened. You simply can't push around a country with so many people and such a strong economic potential the way they tried to do in the 20s. They really drove a lot of people in Hitler's direction.

I do understand your point. You say that the pressure the victorious Allies put on post-World War I Germany increased Hitler's appeal. Yes, of course it did. And the World Crisis didn't help either. And that you mustn't humiliate a great nation, or 'cramp its style'. Agreed. But all I am saying is that Hitler, apart from being a reaction to the times in which he lived, also embodied things that went farther back. Which, I gather, you agree with?

P.S. I wonder whether this whole discussion might not be better conducted through PMs (although we are getting closer to some kind of mutual understanding). We are by now hopelessly OT.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2008, 10:29:38 AM by Jezetha »
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

M forever

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #947 on: February 03, 2008, 01:12:34 AM »
Maybe. Or maybe not. I guess that is the nature of discussions in general. In any case, we can continue here: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,5805.0.html

Offline Brewski

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #948 on: February 04, 2008, 12:11:05 PM »
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks.  Just getting started...so far, excellent. 

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Offline toledobass

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #949 on: February 04, 2008, 12:46:42 PM »
House A Memoir by Michael Ruhlman.   Ruhlman takes us along his journey of buying, renovating and moving into an old house in Cleveland Heights.  He delves into how neurotic and crazy the whole process can be....apparently somehow all decisions regarding everything over budget becomes justified with some 'sensible' explanation.  He also touches on why we have an emotional need for 'home'.  Throw in some Cleveland Heigths history as well as some turn of the century American suburb history and all in all he's come out with a very enjoyable read.




Allan
« Last Edit: February 04, 2008, 12:50:25 PM by toledobass »

karlhenning

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #950 on: February 04, 2008, 12:53:17 PM »
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She was a brick . . . (do do dooo doot) . . . house!

Offline toledobass

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #951 on: February 04, 2008, 12:55:39 PM »
Word is that somehow that song started out with a yurt in mind.....


bwv 1080

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #952 on: February 04, 2008, 01:03:56 PM »


Very engaging and well written history of the Depression that takes into account all the modern scholarship on the issue.  Some issues are glossed (like the claim that anti-semitism was responsible for the failure of the Bank of United States while ignoring the malfeasance of its directors), but all in all a comprehensive popular history as well as a glaring indictment of the policy mistakes of Hoover, which caused the Depression, and FDR, who prolonged it and largely stymied a recovery.  Macroeconomic issues are contrasted with individual stories such as Father Divine, a Harlem prosperity gospel preacher, Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, and the Schecter Bros, small time butchers who won a landmark Supreme Court case against the meddling under the National Industrial Recovery Act.  Also details the various members of FDR's brain trust who for the most part were infatuated with Mussolini and Stalin to some degree.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #953 on: February 04, 2008, 01:19:38 PM »
Very engaging and well written history of the Depression that takes into account all the modern scholarship on the issue.  Some issues are glossed (like the claim that anti-semitism was responsible for the failure of the Bank of United States while ignoring the malfeasance of its directors), but all in all a comprehensive popular history as well as a glaring indictment of the policy mistakes of Hoover, which caused the Depression, and FDR, who prolonged it and largely stymied a recovery.  Macroeconomic issues are contrasted with individual stories such as Father Divine, a Harlem prosperity gospel preacher, Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, and the Schecter Bros, small time butchers who won a landmark Supreme Court case against the meddling under the National Industrial Recovery Act.  Also details the various members of FDR's brain trust who for the most part were infatuated with Mussolini and Stalin to some degree.

This looks like an interesting (and unprejudiced) book! It would be an illuminating experiment to read it in tandem with some of the novels that were written at the time, to see what contemporary authors made of the present in which they found themselves...
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

karlhenning

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #954 on: February 04, 2008, 01:36:00 PM »
I never had heard the phrase "forgotten man" before watching the DVD of My Man Godfrey

Kullervo

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #955 on: February 05, 2008, 12:46:31 PM »
Ended up skipping most of Hoppin's Medieval Music (not really interested in the history of liturgy or Gregorian Chant) and read the sections on Machaut and the Ars Nova and the composers of the Ars Subtilior — The section on the "manneristic" notation was especially interesting, with several examples of the beautiful manuscripts of the time:



Now onto this:



 

Lilas Pastia

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #956 on: February 05, 2008, 04:01:48 PM »
A belated entry for me: Plato's works. Well, a few of them. So far I've read Hippias minor and Alcibiades. This is delightfully written. Witty, ironical and with a wonderful sense of timing and rythm.  I do wonder where this argumentation mania leads in the end, though.

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #957 on: February 05, 2008, 04:34:27 PM »
Herbert von Karajan biography by Vaughans.

Offline Bogey

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #958 on: February 05, 2008, 05:36:09 PM »


Ms. Austen's last completed novel.  This is reminding me that all the continued posthumous praise that she continues to receive is deserved.
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

longears

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #959 on: February 06, 2008, 10:23:50 AM »


Ms. Austen's last completed novel.  This is reminding me that all the continued posthumous praise that she continues to receive is deserved.
Indeed.

And knowing you as a movie fan, Bill:  There's a fine BBC film adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds that's more restrained and period correct than the preposterously glitzy "Ode to Closeups of Kiera Knightley's Visage" that recently masqueraded as a movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.