Category Archives: Art

Less of the sermon

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

The two previous instalments (Would you Adam and Eve it? and I just can’t help believing – or can I?) quoted for authenticity a number of passages from Clifford’s The Ethics of Belief.

At times he comes across like a Victorian sermon though, which can be a tad off-putting.

But if we dial down the rhetoric I think we can make a fairly strong case for much of what he has in mind, particularly in relation to belief in its social context.

So here is my own version.

Clifford expressed his evidence principle (which we are calling ’CP’) in universal, absolute terms:

[CP] …it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.1

Staffordshire figure of Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon
Staffordshire figure depicting Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, circa 1860 [photo: David Madelena]
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Evidence, m’lud

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

Evidence was a 1922 silent film directed by George Archainbaud and starring Elaine Hammerstein.

This article is not about this Evidence however but about evidence as something that may or may not support a belief.

Evidence movie starring Elaine Hammerstein
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Fasten your seatbelts

A few weeks ago I was talking about the actress Elisabeth Bergner.

But I didn’t mention the curious link between her and the 1950 Academy Award winner All About Eve, starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter.

Elisabeth Bergner was born in 1897 in Drohobych, which is now in the Ukraine but was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her career began in Austria and Germany, but the Nazi takeover forced her to move to London in 1933.

Hans Rewald: Elisabeth Bergner
Hans Rewald: Portrait of Elisabeth Bergner, 1929
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A Nazi drama in seven characters: Act 3

We looked last time at one ‘character’ from Peter Handke‘s The Ride Across Lake Constance who escaped the Nazi regime and one who didn’t manage to.

To complete the seven we now look at an Austrian actor who portrayed Nazis from the safety of Hollywood, and two twins who were born in Nazi Germany.

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A Nazi drama in seven characters: Act 1

We mentioned last time that in Peter Handke‘s The Ride Across Lake Constance the actors do not play characters as such. Instead they ‘are and play themselves at one and the same time’.

To avoid calling them ‘Actor A’, ‘Actor B’ and so on in the published text Handke names the parts after well-known actors. The dramatis personae therefore reads like a who’s who (or wer ist wer?) of 20th Century Germanic cinema, with all that that entails:

Emil Jannings
Heinrich George
Elisabeth Bergner
Henny Porten
Erich von Stroheim
Alice and Ellen Kessler

More on the first two below.

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IMG-2537 copyIf you are in the neighbourhood the Museum der Dinge (‘Museum of Things’) in Kreuzberg, Berlin is well worth a visit. It boasts a huge and articulately presented collection of everyday objects of the 20th and 21st Centuries. The earliest Dinge I saw were from the First World War, but my pictures here are of what seem to be art deco artefacts from the Weimar period, plus a few rather more spooky memorabilia from a bit later.

© Chris Lawrence 2018.

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Mother with her dead son

In the Neue Wache (‘New Guardhouse’) in Berlin is a copy of a small sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz. It stands beneath a circular open skylight, or oculus, which exposes it to the elements.

Kollwitz made the original in the late 1930s as a memorial to her son Peter who was killed in the First World War. In 1993 Chancellor Helmut Kohl commissioned sculptor Harald Haacke to make a considerably enlarged copy which was installed at the centre of the ‘Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Victims of War and Tyranny’ at the reopened Neue Wache.

© Chris Lawrence 2018.