Oy Vey!

This topic contains 53 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Christopher Raven 12 years, 7 months ago. This post has been viewed 3308 times

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  • #8544

    007
    Participant

    Francis, haven't you heard of that alternative universe that Kevin hails from where Robert O. Lenkiewicz was in fact Robert O'Lenkiewicz, the artisticly talented son of one of the Irish maids at the Hotel Shemtov. He and his mother lived in staff quarters there and the young O'Lenkiewicz was exposed to very similar experiences to the other artist: he washed the bodies of corpses and drew dying Jewish residents; he met Jewish scholars like Alfred Reynolds or Axel Ney-Hoch; he was aware of the dominating presence of Alice Lenkiewicz; he knew the significance of Mrs Bobik's Belsen tattoo, and so on.This no doubt explains why the young O'Lenkiewicz's work is filled with Hasidic figures and why he was drawn to Cabala. It must have factored in his decision to paint a 3,000 foot mural on the theme of the influence of Jewish thought on Elizabethan philosophy, placing at the very apex of it a Rabbi who, according to Lenkiewicz (I quote from memory) "has an overview of the problem but is himself part of it". Or is that a Cardinal up there? The late self-portraits portraying himself as a Jewish scholar have been mistakenly interpreted - they are of course pictures of a Jesuit. Above all, you can't read anything into the fact that made the chief concern of his work an investigation into the causes of fascism.

    #8545

    Francis
    Participant

    I'm reminded of the BBC "Power of Art" last week by Simon Shama about Rothko. Born Marcus Rothkovitch in Russia, Rothko talked about the persecution and murder of Jews by the Cossacks when he was young.

    Don’t forget Schama’s Jewish too, he might be biased!Another famous Jewish critic Harold Rosenberg once asked to address an audience at the Jewish Museum in New York on the subject “Is there such a thing as Jewish art?” began by saying; “First they build a Museum, then they ask: is there such a thing as Jewish art? Jews!”The Rothkovichs, as Marlowe says, fled from Latvia in Eastern Europe, which leads us to a topic touched on by Kevin though his slant is disingenuous. Karl Marx, of course, was also from a Jewish background. His “Zur Judenfrage” was not ethnically driven anti-semitism but an attack on the importance of Jews in capitalist society. He also argued that Jewish emancipation should not mean a resurgence of Judaism (all religion being the “opium of the masses”) but Jews’ assimilation into an atheistic society. So, Kevin, wrong on that one.Also wrong on the history of Jewish emancipation. As I’ve said before, from the Enlightenment onwards, Jews increasingly gained political and civic rights through the 19th century. Emancipation was granted to Jews in 1789 in America, 1791 France, 1796 Netherlands, 1830 Greece, 1832 Canada, 1856 Britain, 1861 Italy, 1867 Habsburg Empire, 1871 Germany, 1874 Switzerland, 1878 Serbia and Bulgaria, 1908 Ottoman empire, 1910 Spain and (immediately after the Revolution) 1917 in Russia. A new anti-Semitism began to show itself towards the end of the century in the declining years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the rise of nationalism. The link between Jews and Bolshevism (and Modern Art) was significant for the Nazis. In “Mein Kampf” (1924) Hitler wrote: “In Russian Bolshevism we must see Jewry’s twentieth century effort to take world dominion unto itself.” The involvement of Jews in the Russian Revolution, having suffered so much under the Tsarist regime, had been immense.

    #8546

    marlowe
    Participant

    Why else are all those stolen Klimts and Schieles now being restored to their Jewish owners?

    The Klimt portrait of Adel Bloch Bauer now the most expensive painting ever sold, earlier this year at $135 million I believe.

    #8547

    007
    Participant

    Not the most festive of posts I agree but the gift of knowledge at Christmas might help clear the fog in Plymouth

    #8548

    007
    Participant

    One of the curious side-effects of the web's provision of academic texts to the masses is the proliferation of glib opinion. You'd think having the works of great thinkers at our fingertips might make us all better commentators, but a mere passing acquaintance with the writings of philosophers, economists, historians, etc., is no substitute for considered analysis. It's far too easy to pass off a mish-mash of original quotes as comprehension, when it is nothing of the kind. Fortunately, the facile regurgitation of texts by the glibmeister is easy to spot. Now, the use of an online text for the purposes of quotation is not damning in itself – for all we know, our commentator has a copy of Marx’s Collected Works crammed with margin notes and merely turned to the web for the ease of cutting and pasting. But there are a couple of markers for glibosity we can spot straight away.The first is the tendency for the culprit to cut and paste his chosen quotes exactly in the order they appear in the original text. This isn’t comprehension, of course, it’s bullet-pointing. Kevin’s post displays this property to the nth degree.The next thing to watch for is the thoughtless use of Google to find a secondary text you can quote in support of your own piffle. Googling “Marx anti-semitism” brings up as the second hit an article by Andrei Shapiro called ‘Marx on The Jewish Question’ on Hagshama – “The place for the young adults in the World Zionist Organization”. And embedded in that document you will find, exactly as formatted in Kevin’s text, the quote by Isaiah Berlin. So we'll drop that in to make us look cross-referential, shall we?Perhaps I owe Kevin an apology: maybe he isn’t a compulsive cutter & paster but just has bad style. But even if your writing merely has the semblance of glibitude, the smart thing to do is disguise the fact.But there’s no hiding deliberate misquoting to prove an erroneous point.Kevin quotes Marx as if he were trying to turn the question of Jewishness into a purely theological matter:

    The “Jewish question is a purely theological one. The Jew finds himself in religious opposition to the state, which recognizes Christianity as its basis.”

    But Marx’s thinking on this subject is far more socially nuanced:

    The Jewish question acquires a different form depending on the state in which the Jew lives. In Germany, where there is no political state, no state as such, the Jewish question is a purely theological one. The Jew finds himself in religious opposition to the state, which recognizes Christianity as its basis. In France, a constitutional state, the Jewish question is a question of constitutionalism, the question of the incompleteness of political emancipation... Only in the North American states – at least, in some of them – does the Jewish question lose its theological significance and become a really secular question. Only where the political state exists in its completely developed form can the relation of the Jew, and of the religious man in general, to the political state, and therefore the relation of religion to the state, show itself in its specific character, in its purity. The criticism of this relation ceases to be theological criticism as soon as the state ceases to adopt a theological attitude toward religion, as soon as it behaves towards religion as a state – i.e., politically.

    This, to coin a phrase, is the complete antithesis of what Kevin just claimed. It’s just one of many examples in the previous post.Chambers (online) defines "glib" thusly:“speaking or spoken readily and persuasively, but neither sincere nor reliable”Now to me, that’s a kind of motto, but I don’t have to tolerate it in others.

    #8549

    007
    Participant

    More turkey, surely not Jack.One of the ways in which one specifically indicates that one is quoting directly from text be it online or from a primary resource is to enclose it in quotation marks. The reader would then be able to recognise the fact it is an accurate quoted source, read and enquire as to the validity of the composition presented before them.One reason a poster might wish to present those points in the sequence in which they are written is because one is picking a principle thread from a logical flowing discourse that does not require addition or interpretation and stands on its own merit.Alas the Internet being what it is we are forced to suffer;People who play the man, not the argument. Eg;

    “the facile regurgitation of texts by the glibmeister is easy to spot.”

    “Kevin’s post displays this property to the nth degree.”

    People who play the red herring in order to distract. Eg;

    “The Jewish question acquires a different form depending on the state in which the Jew lives. In Germany, where there is no political state, no state as such, the Jewish question is a purely theological one. The Jew finds himself in religious opposition to the state, which recognizes Christianity as its basis. In France, a constitutional state, the Jewish question is a question of constitutionalism, the question of the incompleteness of political emancipation... Only in the North American states – at least, in some of them – does the Jewish question lose its theological significance and become a really secular question. Only where the political state exists in its completely developed form can the relation of the Jew, and of the religious man in general, to the political state, and therefore the relation of religion to the state, show itself in its specific character, in its purity. The criticism of this relation ceases to be theological criticism as soon as the state ceases to adopt a theological attitude toward religion, as soon as it behaves towards religion as a state – i.e., politically.”

    “Perhaps I owe Kevin an apology”

    Indeed you do sir.

    #8550

    007
    Participant

    Kevin, why don't you sum up where we are now in the original topic of this thread: the extent of the influence of Lenkiewicz's Jewish emigré background on his work.You took a strong position on this - namely, that there was none at all.This came as a surprise to some of us more credulous fans who tend to accept Robert's own published statements (quoted in this thread) to the effect that the influence was quite significant. Your response was curious: you claimed that Robert was dissembling, or had been cornered by trick questions.We're still waiting for your explanation of some specific content in his work - such as youthful drawings of elderly residents of the Hotel Shemtov; journeyman Hasidic themes; murals about Jewish philosophy; an investigation into the origins of fascism, etc. - without reference to European Jewish culture and history (as opposed to Judaism).Then there is the matter of an alternative biographical mapping of Robert's life that somehow explains his social concerns and ethical stance without seeing them as a response, at least in part, to the cultural influences which surrounded him during his formative years.So has your position changed? Is it still, "none at all", and if so, is that because you think the very term "Jewish emigré" does not signify, or because you think Lenkiewicz was psychologically impervious to the meaning of the environment in which he grew up?Let's let Robert have the last word:

    If the incident at Passover in your youth with the schnorrer had not occurred, do you think the Vagrancy Project and all that came after would never have happened?Well, I often wonder about this. That incident and many others. I think the answer is probably not. I think they would probably not have occurred. Sometimes, we only know what we think when we hear ourselves say it; so I think probably not.

    #8551

    Westlake
    Participant

    Let's let Robert have the last word

    Is that a promise, hopefully? Am I the only one bored silly by this constant bickering and point-scoring? Why not call it a draw or if you prefer, agree to differ, and move on. After all it is supposed to be the season of goodwill...

    #8552

    marlowe
    Participant

    Of course you're entitled to your view Westlake but then you can always not read it!! For me it's a positive thing that Lenkiewicz can provoke this kind of debate (“for the provocation of thought”!)and after all it's only a small part of this great website and the thread seems to have got good viewing numbers. I may not have followed everything but has reading it not changed your opinion of Lenkiewicz at all?

    #8553

    Westlake
    Participant

    …but has reading it not changed your opinion of Lenkiewicz at all?

    Not a jot.

    #8554

    007
    Participant

    ...but has reading it not changed your opinion of Lenkiewicz at all?Not a jot.

    Westlake, since you have such fixed views on Lenkiewicz’s influences, particularly on the Jewish question maybe you would like to share them with us?Putting to one side the Jewish Culture, Jewish History influence debate for one moment. We have for the first time Lenkiewicz’s own words in the form of ‘RO Lenkiewicz 1997’ online, I urge all those credulous fans to read it again, very carefully, I don’t see anything in the responses from Lenkiewicz that suggest for one moment he was influenced by being ‘Jewish’ or influenced by ‘Judaism’.

    Those fans “who tend to accept Robert's own published statements (quoted in this thread) to the effect that the influence was quite significant. Your response was curious: you claimed that Robert was dissembling, or had been cornered by trick questions.”

    I believe it a question of unbiased interpretation and the impartiality of the interviewer, lets look at those quotes;

    “Q: Your background was one of European Jewish emigres - what influence do you think that has had upon you and your work?A: In my opinion, probably profound. At the age of 16 I would have said none, at 25 I would have said occasionally, and the older I get the more embedded I find I am in real Yiddisher schmaltz of one kind or another; particularly schmilosophy as opposed to philosophy. A very strong influence, no doubt.”

    Francis concluded that this QnA amounted to an admission that “He's telling anyone that wants to listen that he's an artist not a philosopher” whilst I suggest Lenkiewicz is telling us that his life and work is increasingly influenced by Jewish sentimentality. However, Lenkiewicz might be as baffled as me by the question because he has no experience of what it is to be a Jewish Emigres and his response suggests at best a misunderstanding.

    “Q: What events were inspiring you to paint at this stage?A: Oh, anything at all.

    #8555

    007
    Participant

    Kevin, is English your first language? 998 people out of a 1000 would understand by the question, “Q: Your background was one of European Jewish émigrés - what influence do you think that has had upon you and your work?” that the interviewer was referring to the influence of those in Lenkiewicz’ life who were indeed émigrés, as opposed to himself (who was born in Britain). The two people who are “baffled” by this are you and, according to you, Robert. Robert’s response to that question seems perfectly apt. It is does not sound like something blurted out by a person who didn’t understand what was being asked. On your view no one has a “background” that is not a direct and consciously assimilated experience. You should rush over to Wikipedia and immediately correct the entry on, for instance, Saul Bellow, which stupidly states: “Bellow is best known for writing novels that investigate isolation, spiritual dissociation, and the possibilities of human awakening, echoing his Jewish heritage.” Anyone can edit these documents, so why don’t you point out that there’s no Jewish émigré background as such in Bellow’s life since he himself wasn’t chased out of St Petersburg by Cossacks, only his elders were?Similarly, everyone else understands this response to the question on Robert’s ideas about the roots of fascism – “A: Obviously, on reflection I would think that this was in some way linked to my indirect experience of the Holocaust but consciously I didn’t associate them in this way.” – to mean that he was acknowledging an unconscious influence (most people would insist it was a tremendously potent influence). Are you really claiming that because Robert had no “direct” experience of the Holocaust that his “indirect” experience of it was insignificant? Do you really think he wasn’t cognizant of what had befallen those people at the Hotel Shemtov, or was unmoved by it? Your interpretation of “A: My intellectual life began entirely circumstantially when I was twelve or thirteen. I was browsing through a rather battered Encyclopedia Britannica and I came across the name ‘Nee-etski’,” is willfully perverse. Lenkiewicz is responding to a question about formal intellectual instruction and simply replies that his first recollection of an intellectual epiphany is grasping the correct pronunciation of the name Nietzsche (when it is explained to him by… a Jewish émigré at the Hotel!). But he has already stated about his mother’s academic influence that he “had this curious sense quite early on that great things had happened in Germany, that here was one of the most phenomenal intellectual cultures ever known and yet look what it had led to.” What clearer evidence could you want that the young Lenkiewicz had spotted the “complex association of German culture with anti-Semitism and the suffering it had brought about,” or something to that effect? He’d certainly spotted the link in later life, often quoting Steiner’s remark “We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke, or play Bach and Schubert, in the evening, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.” Robert had a saying of his own which he often used as an emphatic full-stop at the end of any discussion of human suffering: “When the British were sheltering from Luftwaffe bombs during World War II they shared their spam sandwiches with strangers. In Auschwitz, no-one shared their food.” If you think Robert made no distinction between kinds of human suffering, or that there’s no link between the young Lenkiewicz having his food made by a cook (Mrs Bobik) with a visible Belsen tattoo and that remark, you are in a minority of one.

    #8556

    007
    Participant

    Oy Vey! Another year another fallacy …In the final dying acts of a debated position the life rafts can often be seen in the form of the ‘ad populum’ (appeal to the people) it is, in my opinion, the king of logical fallacies and is often used by politicians or salesmen to surprisingly good effect, however with a little thought it can be seen for what it is and people should not be persuaded by;

    “998 people out of a 1000 would understand by the question …”

    “Similarly, everyone else understands this response …”

    The ad populum alleges that its proposition is true simply because it claims many or all people believe it to be so. It appears in many cultures and goes by many common names ‘argument by consensus’, ‘the Bandwagon fallacy’ or just ‘tyranny’. It plays on human psychology, humans (social by instinct) not wanting to be in the minority will buy the argument and in doing so become “Everyone” or one of the lucky “998 people out of 1000”. You should try this out on your kids it can be great fun, tell them that “Father Christmas exits” when they ask why you say “Because everyone believes he does, therefore it must be true” or to adults via TV commercials “this cat food is the best” why “because 9 out of 10 cats prefer it, that’s why, therefore it must be true” in each case the persuader seeks to influence the immature, feeble of mind or those undecided and convince them to buy their shoddy proposition and in doing so you can join the crowd – you don’t want to be singled out now do you.How desperate my plight now seems, not only do I not understand English I am now less bright than “998 people out of a 1000” and indeed know less than “Everyone” I am in the minority it seems.However, since Jack is now the self-appointed leader of Group-998 lets look at this one more time;

    “Q: Your background was one of European Jewish emigres - what influence do you think that has had upon you and your work?A: In my opinion, probably profound. At the age of 16 I would have said none, at 25 I would have said occasionally, and the older I get the more embedded I find I am in real Yiddisher schmaltz of one kind or another; particularly schmilosophy as opposed to philosophy. A very strong influence, no doubt.”

    The following interpretations have been made;Kevin: ‘He’s telling us that his life and work is increasingly influenced by Jewish sentimentality’ or he’s confused.Francis: ‘He's telling anyone that wants to listen that he's an artist not a philosopher’.Jack Sparrow: ‘Robert’s response to that question seems perfectly apt’.Group-998 of course has a unique take on the question being presented which is interpreted thus: ‘that the interviewer was referring to the influence of those in Lenkiewicz’ life who were indeed émigrés, as opposed to himself (who was born in Britain).’This might be news to the actual interviewer and author of the question (Francis) who makes his position clear as follows;

    “Could Lenkiewicz's work have been produced without his Jewish emigree background? I think not.”

    Poor Francis is so taken by the notion that he has been revising European History in the hope of distilling a specific cultural identity for Jewish émigré’s in the hope of pinning traits on Lenkiewicz directly … Oh my.However, putting to one side the twin shocks of their being disagreement between Francis and Jack or indeed the rewriting of history, it seems appropriate since Jack thinks Roberts response is ‘perfectly apt’ that he should point to specific items of Roberts work that ‘profound(ly)’ reflect ‘real Yiddisher schmaltz’ or ‘schmilosophy’?.Dear Group-998 and ‘Everyone’ I ask you would you convict Lenkiewicz on this …

    #8557

    Francis
    Participant

    After a couple of seasonal malts and fed up with TV, I caught up with recent posts and decided to have a go at Jack’s Xmas Googling Game. First time lucky! I hit straight upon most of Kevin’s text and photos on Degenerate Art from Answers.com (www.answers.com/topic/degenerate-art ). Note the identical reference to Goebbels tea-leafing a number of paintings. (Also note the selective failure to quote the Nazi theory that modernism was a Jewish-Bolshevist conspiracy.) Then

    #8558

    007
    Participant

    Yeah, comedy is important in any good thread I guess, but there’s a darker message here surely for all you folk who mix too much alcohol and internet browsing, it seems the effects are degenerative and all too apparent – you are likely (it seems) to be surprised that widely available historic stock images and indeed some information has made its way into cyberspace, indeed, quotes on key Nazi figures looting art may astonish – The important point here of course is not to drink too much or you would also be surprised at say yesterdays telegraph article on ‘Van Gogh’s influence on German Artists - featuring Schiele’ or indeed the BBC’s ‘Christmas Masterpiece showing of Paul Gauguin – which featured footage of ‘Entartete Kunst’, this would lead to paranoia, you might assume that all media was conspiring to prove you wrong. There must be a name for this … But really it takes a true genius to quote;

    “It can obviously be very handy as then I came across the original “Entartete Kunst” exhibition catalogue published by the Third Reich’s Department of Culture. Again it talks about the “major Bolshevik/Jewish onslaught upon German art”

    And not realise he is talking about a political document … how dangerous a little knowledge and alcohol can be …

    “Maybe I’d had a dram too many”

    Your not wrong Francis …PS … You’ve got 24 hrs to sober up and find the ‘real Yiddisher schmaltz’’ for Group-998 and save Jack Sparrow.

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