The Beethoven rant

This began as a Musical Interlude, but morphed into something else when I posted Lang Lang’s performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto on Facebook yesterday. So first the music, then an augmented rant.

Here is the second movement of the Emperor Concerto — one of the most beautiful musical experiences you can ever have! I recall times in Wollongong around 1975 when I first encountered this- – obviously not played then by Lang Lang! But I truly had never heard or felt anything like it! And that stays with me over 40 years later. It belongs to all humanity.

And in this performance the chemistry between soloist and conductor, the shared emotion, is just palpable.

I hope you played that first! Now to the rant.

RANT WARNING: I vent about the absolute stupidity, a kind of mirror image of deadshits like Donald Trump, that has entered our discourse lately leading to such idiocy as pulling an episode of Fawlty Towers off the air.


Of course the modern puritans have their go: for example this fashionable crap . “Western classical music is not about culture. It’s about whiteness. It’s a combination of European traditions which serve the specious belief that whiteness has a culture—one that is superior to all others. Its main purpose is to be a cultural anchor for the myth of white supremacy. In that regard, people of color can never truly be pioneers of Western classical music. The best we can be are exotic guests: entertainment for the white audiences and an example of how Western classical music is more elite than the cultures of people of color.”

To which honestly I just say: I don’t fecking care! I used years ago to lament the stupidity of some US school districts that banned “Huckleberry Finn” because it had the N-word in it — which it does. They could not see that reading “Huckleberry Finn” is one of the best ways to learn — as Huck does — that the N-word is truly evil. On realising who the runaway slave Jim really is, Huck rejects the social norms of his time and decides going to Hell is better than betraying what he has learned about Jim and about slavery.


Today’s puritans are repeating the historic iconoclast crime, like those Protestants in the time of Henry VIII who saw the destruction of the art and culture developed over centuries was the will of God, or like the Taliban who felt God was so grossly upset by Buddhism that blowing up the Bamayan Buddhas was the right thing to do.

Here and now we have descended to the level of absurdity where removing an episode of Fawlty Towers (“Don’t mention the war!”) is somehow necessary to cure the disease of racism. I can imagine my one-time neighbours in Wollongong, Tilly and Willy, who laughed at Hogan’s Heroes despite the fact Willy had been in the Wehrmacht on the Russian Front, would be nonplussed were they still alive, as would my Dad who in the 1970s found in Willy a congenial soul, despite the fact that as a member of the RAAF in WW2 he would once upon a time have been obliged to kill Willy.

I find the “cancel culture” disturbingly similar to the above.

I am all for #racismnoway and #blacklivesmatter as many of you know, but the woke among us are too often now like so many fanatics blind to complexity, and arrogantly righteous.

I hate it!

I am with Barack Obama on this.

Former US President Barack Obama has challenged “woke” culture telling young people: “The world is messy.” He made the comments at the Obama Foundation’s annual summit in Chicago on Tuesday.

Mr Obama said that calling people out on social media did not bring about change, and that change was complex.

“Woke” is described as being alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice, along with being aware of what’s going on in the community.

Mr Obama told the audience: “I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!'”

Last April, he told a crowd at an Obama Foundation event in Berlin: “One of the things I do worry about among progressives in the United States, maybe it’s true here as well, is a certain kind of rigidity where we say ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be’ and then we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad’, where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues.”

Jen Psaki, former Obama White House communications director, told CNN that she believed Mr Obama’s most recent comments were a message for the Democratic Party and those running for election.

“If we are launching purity tests, we are going to have such a small party and will not be able to win. Governing is not about saying: ‘You don’t agree with me, then you can’t be part of the conversation.'”

But I do rejoice in this!


Mural in Surry Hills of former Sydney Swans star and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, centre of controversy in recent years over the action he took against racism.

See also on this blog:  Bicentenary of Dharawal massacre in Appin area.  Living with the facts of our history.

Finally, some challeges:


And a last video, a brilliant biting satirical sketch on the ABC a few days back. Yes, I was stung too — but have to admit it hit the target square on.