Archive for the ‘John Stammers Page’ Category

From The Guardian/Observer review (Matthew Reisz, Sunday January 15, 2023)

 The Holocaust: An Unfinished History, by Dan Stone

In many ways, writes historian Dan Stone, “we have failed unflinchingly to face the terrible reality of the Holocaust”


As this may suggest, Stone is sceptical about the oft-proclaimed benefits of Holocaust education and commemoration. Back in the 1990s, he believes, awareness of the Holocaust was not only widespread but “channelled in favour of human rights, cosmopolitanism and progressive ideas”. Since the millennium, however, “this confident narrative has been derailed. The use of Holocaust memory to further nationalist agendas, to facilitate geopolitical alliances on the far right or to ‘expose’ progressive thinkers for their supposed antisemitism or anti-Israel bias is now a familiar part of the landscape.”

The implications of all this could hardly be more sobering. Just as “Nazism was the most extreme manifestation of sentiments that were quite common, and for which Hitler acted as a kind of rainmaker or shaman”, suggests Stone, the defeat of his regime has left us with “a dark legacy, a deep psychology of fascist fascination and genocidal fantasy that people turn to instinctively in moments of crisis – we see it most clearly in the alt-right and the online world, spreading into the mainstream, of conspiracy theory”. His book offers a brisk, compelling and scholarly account of the Nazi genocide and its aftermath. But never for one moment does it let us believe that the events are now safely in the past.

 The Holocaust: An Unfinished History by Dan Stone is published by Pelican (£22)

I could not get the image to paste, so ask your indulgence in following the link.
It is worth it.

Best wishes, as always.

I was I think seventeen years old; I had just left school. I was looking for something of my own, that was myself.
I came across this on a market stall, and bought it. An old vinyl record of Beethoven’s Piano Trios, Number 4.

Such items retain a certain potency. This was my ‘find’.

J’avais je pense dix-sept ans; Je venais de quitter l’école. Je cherchais quelque chose à moi, c’était moi-même.
Je suis tombé dessus sur un étal de marché et je l’ai acheté. Un vieux disque vinyle des trios avec piano de Beethoven, numéro 4.

Ces éléments conservent une certaine puissance. C’était ma “trouvaille”.

Avevo, credo, diciassette anni; Avevo appena lasciato la scuola. Stavo cercando qualcosa di mio, quello ero me stesso.
Mi sono imbattuto in questo su una bancarella del mercato e l’ho comprato. Un vecchio disco in vinile dei Trii per pianoforte di Beethoven, numero 4.

Tali oggetti mantengono una certa potenza. Questa è stata la mia “scoperta”.

Ik was ik denk zeventien jaar oud; Ik was net van school af. Ik was op zoek naar iets van mezelf, dat was ikzelf.
Ik kwam dit tegen op een marktkraam en kocht het. Een oude vinylplaat van Beethovens pianotrio, nummer 4.

Dergelijke items behouden een bepaalde potentie. Dit was mijn ‘vondst’.

This will always be Christine McVie for me.

Chicken Shack, with Christine Perfect as she was then.
I Would Rather Go Blind

When I see that lark rising

Posted: September 21, 2022 in John Stammers Page

on thermals, so effortlessly
I forget all I ever doubted
and remember all I’d hoped
of life and our future – of seeing
your face again while I still can
between this day and that night
that takes off shoes, coat,
and makes out it wants to stay.

And if thermals can do this,
and thin bones, stringy muscles,
dull brown wings, and a sky
in a lull between holiday flights,
then why is it so hard to achieve
in the slow fall of the year when heat
is unbearable, and time spare
so taken up with it, I wonder?

And receive no answer.
But become young again.
And just for the duration of that song
it seems I can lift the weight off
by piling hope high,
a sustained height.

The bird cannot surpass itself, 
only the song in the air 
can be carried further

White Lily

Posted: September 1, 2022 in John Stammers Page

Laurie Anderson, on Fassbinder’s ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz

From Memoirs of Hadrianby Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Grace Frick. Penguin, 1951.

‘I have supposed, and in my better moments think so still, that it would be possible… to participate in the existence of everyone; such sympathy would be one of the least revocable kinds of immortality. There have been moments when that comprehension tried to go beyond human experience, passing from the swimmer to the wave. But in such a realm, since there is nothing exact left to guide me, I verge upon the world of dream and metamorphosis.’

What do you know about Ostend?
 – Did you know that James Ensor, the painter, grew up there?
 – Or that Marvin Gaye, soul legend, once lived there?

 – We have just passed Bloomsday, but did you know that James Joyce and family spent a very happy vacation there, in 1926?
It made its way into Finnegan’s Wake, he was writing at the time.

Then, there is Aldous Huxley spending many formative periods in Brabant.

Albert Einstein in De Haan , on the West Flanders coast.

These are just the bare bones. The cultural richness is there to be awakened for you, explored.

Access to the Dutch cultural impact is here made available to the English-speaking world.
And it is very rich and rewarding.

The High Road to Culture in Flanders and The Netherlandsis your passport:

The site is the online presence of the Flemish-Dutch cultural institution Ons Erfdeel vzw.
They state:
It is our mission to provide an English-language audience with the necessary background information to be able to appreciate the arts, history, language, literature and societal developments in the Low Countries. We pay special attention to connections between Dutch and English-speaking communities.

The site has a highly polished, interactive, and reactive, screen presence. 
Stylistic, smart, and always up-to-date on a surprising range of events, publications, activities.

The site’s banner head gives us access to a wide swathe of Dutch and Flemish culture : Arts History Language Literature Society Podcast and also Publication.

The present updated site gives us articles on Why Brussels Needs to Rethink Its Governance, a lively in-depth look at how Brussels negotiates its multi-lingual needs of governance.

We also see in Art In The Chapel, how an abandoned 16thchapel in Ghent has been revivified by artist Berlinde de Bruyckere.

New Book On Netherlandish Drawings 1500 – 1800which takes from Breughel, through Peter Paul Rubens (what skill at age 20!) onwards.

What do you know about Polydore de Keyser? He was a Flemish hotelier who moved to London, eventually becoming Lord Mayor.

There is an on-going Series side-banner, where history articles are made available from the Republic of Amsterdam Radio group.
These in themselves are invaluable. But they are just one part of what is available on this site.
There is, of course, the Young Voices on Slavery series, where young people respond to actual artefacts and records of slavery.
The latest venture in this field is Young Writers On Invisible Labour, where responses are to the neglected workers behind great works.

Or video poetry:

And there is the regular Friday Verses slot, that I keep recommending. Some excellent work here, available in English translation for the first time.

Here are 41 Dutch Books You Need To Read This Summer, available in translation, summer 2022: Fiction, Poetry, Comics and Graphic Novels, Children’s and Youth Literature, and Nonfiction. 

Or, you may prefer Stefan Zweig on The Land Between The Languages, an jewel of a book, illustrated, of his reportages of times in The Netherlands, reflections on The Great War, and the arts of the period.

Try this one: When Did New York Stop Speaking Dutch?

You can sign-up to their email newsletter. Better still is to open a subscription, and choose an option. 
Subscription opens up the archive of articles, podcasts and themed series.

Highly recommended.

Einsturzenden Neubauten

Posted: June 11, 2022 in John Stammers Page


The opening fanfare is phenomenal!
What a performance.