Saturday
4 August
11:29pm

The inclusionary, exclusionary Ode to Joy

We don't really talk about "surfing the web", particularly now we're supposed to be getting our stuff from algorithmically optimised apps, but I much prefer the sentiment of just following your nose and stumbling upon things you wouldn't otherwise have considered. Digital Flaneurism, as my old chum Jon B used to call it.

So I'm surfing around and come across this, from a local character.

Ode To Joy as the anthem of the European Union is a fascinating thing because it's not exclusive, being extracted from Beethoven's 9th. Repurposed, if you will, like Blake's And did those feet was repurposed by Hubert Parry to bolster support for WW1 and in turn become the preferred national anthem for those who find God Save The King/Queen a turgid dirge.

I was reminded of something I'd seen where some brainy chap had pointed out the ideological flexibility of Ode to Joy, how it had been adopted by nazis, communists, racists, revolutionaries and now the EU. It was, of course, Slavoj Žižek in his highly recommended 2012 film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology in which he uses scenes from classic films to illustrate philosophical ideas, in this case A Clockwork Orange, in which the music of ol' Ludwig Van plays a major role.

The interesting thing Žižek points out is that all the ideologies that use Ode to Joy only seem to use the first bit, the rousing, sublime, brotherhood-of-man stuff which lends itself to national myths. But this is followed by a second bit (starting here), a more carnivalesque, vulgar, common bit, evoking the kind of people who might be excluded by from the brotherhood of man, because as we know from history, anything that binds people together requires other people to be cast aside.

End-note: The EU has a collection of versions of Ode to Joy for use in films and the like. They range from the sublime to the laughably awful.


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