Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Picking up Loose Ends - 1

The story about the Danish cultural canon isn't over yet, so I shall entertain you a bit with the political side of it all. It is going to be published by Poltikens Forlag - just to pick up another of the loose endes.

When Brian Mikkelsen, minister of football and other cultural affairs, spoke at the annual meeting of his party in September last year, the Conservatives, he announced that the cultural canon would be used as a weapon in the cultural war against the medieval Weltanschauung of Islam. (This was just a couple of days before the publication of the famous cartoons, by the way.)

When challenged by Erik A. Nielsen, professor in Danish literature at the University of Copenhagen, and other members of the canon committees, he insisted that he had been misunderstood - although it was quite difficult to see for the undiscerning public what there was to be misunderstood in his words. They were broadcasted - and not just quoted.

Anyway, those who had threatened to leave the project felt mollified and continued their work.

About a week ago Brian Mikkelsen said in an interview that he had meant what he had said in September - and professor Nielsen popped up again like another Jack-in-the-box, threatening to leave the rest of his canonical work behind.

Mr Mikkelsen again claimed to have been misunderstood. Professor Nielsen accepted the explanation.

Torben Bille, member of the committee for popular music and editor of a Danish encyclopedia of pop music, however, lost his temper and decided to leave because he could not bear to be fooled twice by the minister.

Since professor Nielsen had been in example in fickleness already Mr Bille had to face a few questions by the press assuming that he eventually would return to the laughing stock as well.

His answer was: "I have no comments on Erik A. Nielsen's actions. But I can say this much: I am a man of my word."

His possibility to withstand temptation is greater than professor Nielsen's, anyway. In an article in the Copenhagen daily Politiken the professor explained why he was in favour of a canon: his students knew everything about positioning themselves within the framework of consumerism - but they knew nothing about the joy of Danish literature.

I will not argue with him about that. But somehow, somewhere he has to accept the responsiblity that comes with having tenure. He is not known for taking an interest in the literary education of children in primary or secondary school. Very few of his colleagues are.

Now that his objet aimé is showing signs of age and decay he thinks it important to make a list about its former beauty.

When we make lists about what we want to remember we already have forgotten.

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