Something Is Rotten

christianhavns_gym.jpgA couple of days ago, I wrote a post lamenting the closure of Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen. Since then, the city has seen rioting on a scale unprecedented for over a decade, with property damage in the millions, but thankfully no serious injuries (as far as I have been able to ascertain). I am not in Copenhagen, but talking to people there and following the news stories paints the picture of a situation gone seriously awry.

I am still saddened by the closure of Ungdomshuset, and of learning that the owners, the unsavoury religious sect Faderhuset, have now decided to demolish it. An erasure of symbolic proportion. However, I am equally saddened to learn that sympathisers of Ungdomshuset last night broke into the library of my old high school in my neighbourhood of Christianshavn and practically razed it, throwing a large number of its books into the street where they burned them along with other material at hand. A senseless act of equally symbolic proportion. Are these so-called anti-fascists so blinded by their own sense of victimisation, or whatever it is that motivated this, that they are completely blind to the precedent they are following here?

Of course, the violent acts of a few idiots do not detract from the legitimacy of the general protests against the closure of Ungdomshuset, but it nevertheless hurts their legitimacy seriously. The events of the last couple of days prompt two interrelated questions: What the fuck were these people thinking? And How the fuck did we get to a stage where people think whatever it was they were thinking?

Photo of the windows of the library at Christianshavns gymnasium being boarded up earlier today, from Check out Berlingske‘s slideshow of the events of the day of the closure here. See video recordings of the vandalisation of the school building here. The school has set up a support fund – read more here.

Rindom Redux: Barks i 70erne

djaevelens_tand.jpghugtand.jpgI forbindelse med mine undersøgelser af danske udgivelser af Carl Barks’ Anders And, dengang bølgerne gik højt i forhold til den stadigvæk skandaløst ringe tilrettelagte Carl Barks Samlede Værker (CBSV) fra Egmont, fik jeg bekræftet hvad jeg havde hørt: at de danske oversættelser af historierne fra førsteudgaverne i Anders And-bladet mellem 1946 og sen-60erne, udført af den skattede Sonja Rindom, blev justeret på ganske markant vis i løbet af 70erne, i forbindelse med genoptrykningen af dem i Anders And & Co. og måske også med deres udgivelse i den enestående grimt tilrettelagte, men i det mindste folkelige samleudgave i albumformat, serien “Bedste Historier om Anders And” (BHAA).

Det der med det samme slog mig var, at oversættelserne ofte var bedre efter denne justering. Ofte, men ikke altid, vil jeg straks tilføje. Der er også er den del eksempler på unødvendige ændringer og til tider endda forringelser. Justeringerne repræsenterer gennemgående en mere fri fortolkning af originalteksten end den i førsteudgaven, hvilket fra en puristisk synsvinkel er problematisk, men rent faktisk ofte rammer historiens nerve bedre end den mere tekstnære tilgang, førsteudgaven bød på.

Ungdomshuset 1982-2007


Yesterday, the police vacated one of Copenhagen’s most significant bastions of alternative culture of the last two decades, Ungdomshuset (the “Youth House”) in the borough of Nørrebro. While the community of Ungdomshuset has not always behaved in ways that helped their cause, or just plain made any social sense, this is nevertheless emblematic of certain worrying tendencies in Denmark.

In this particular case, the responsibility primarily lies with the Copehagen city government who sold the building to the fringe religious sect Faderhuset in 2000. Justifying their purchase in a command from God, these people have – despite numerous, generous offers – refused to resell it to various bodies wanting to preserve Ungdomshuset. The blasé attitude of the city government is mirrored in decisions of national policy taken by the present government, to “normalise” one of the most unique alternative communities in Europe, the Copenhagen Free Town of Christiania. In the new Danish society proposed by the government and supported by the people who vote for them, there is little room for the different, the “antisocial”, and generally people who do not “contribute” in the same, measurable way as everyone else. A sad, though unfortunately unsurprising state of affairs in a country whose latest attempt at homogenisation is a 40-question pop quiz on Danish society and culture to be taken by anyone applying for citizenship (no shit!).

These are depressing times in Denmark. Here’s to the hope that things will change for the better in the future. A hope kept alive at Ungdomshuset for more than two decades.

Here is Ungdomshuset’s website, and this is the very up-to-date wiki entry, for those who would like more information. The photo belongs to Scanpix.

Ni-Millimeteren begraves

9mm.jpgEfter sidste uges genoplivning af den gamle BLÆK-ballade mellem Henrik Rehr og undertegnede (her og her), har de involverede parter per privat korrespondence efter bedste evne fået mast bøffen. Rehr har sendt følgende udtalelse til offentliggørelse, og vi replicerer nedenfor.

I forlængelse af en email-udveksling med Matthias Wivel og Thomas Thorhauge er jeg blevet opmærksom på, at den ene af redaktørerne på antologien Blæk, der udkom på Politikens Forlag sidste år, mener at jeg har beskyldt vedkommende for svindel i forbindelse med udgivelsens oprindelige økonomiske dispositioner. Det var ikke min intention, men samtidig vil jeg gerne kraftigt understrege, at jeg aldrig brugte ordet “svindel” eller et synonym derfor i min fremførte kritik. Min grundlæggende anke gik på det forkerte i at betale nogle af de indvolverede i udgivelsen og ikke at betale andre, og det synspunkt står jeg såmænd ved. Imidlertid skal jeg gerne medgive at tonen i min kritik langtfra var diplomatisk eller forstående. En bedre mand end jeg kunne sikkert have modstået fristelsen, men jeg så en åbning til at give Thomas Thorhauge hvad jeg syntes han havde godt af og afleverede en fuld bredside med samtlige kanonporte på vid gab. Thomas har aldrig selv været bleg for at bruge ubehøvlet retorik, så han havde såmænd fortjent det, men svindlere er hverken han eller Matthias. Ikke at vi behøver være hjertevenner, men hvis vi skal være uvenner, foretrækker jeg at det i det mindste ikke beror på en misforståelse. Forhåbentligt har ovenstående renset luften for en af slagsen.

The Žižek Show

trokhimeko_stalin.jpgGot my first Žižek experience yesterday. I was simultaneously impressed and underwhelmed. My only exposure to his work until today had been through the plethora of other authors citing him these days, and through a friend who enthusiastically appreciates his iconoclasm and originality, and also does a killer impression of the man. I have been meaning to read something by him for a while, and will probably get around to it sooner rather than later now.

Anyway, Slavoj Žižek was lecturing at Birkbeck College in London, as is his wont. The theme was “The Uses and Misuses of Violence”. Basically he was tackling the question of why normal people inflict atrocious violence on others when they, by all accounts, are caring and considerate of their comrades and family. He started with former Maoists turned Zionists and ended with Stalin (one of his favourite subjects), and made many entertaining and often enlightening digressions along the way. The basic idea was that idealists are invariably aware of the imperfection or even downright infamy of the people they idealize, in this case Mao, but revere them even more because of that fact, because it lends their aspirations a kind of empyrean air. Had Mao been a benign ruler, he would not have inspired such zealous idolization, but languished in history book obscurity instead, he argued.

How I Spun the War

cw_punch_top.jpgContrary to large parts of the comics intelligentsia who dismiss it by default, and the masochistic fans who dis it but keep coming back for more, I do not want to dump unreservedly on Marvel’s Civil War. Sure, it is easy to make fun of, what with its ineptly handled attempts at political allegory and its amateurish lack of coherence as a story. But, flipside, it actually started out as a rather ambitious effort at creating an intelligent superhero story that did not just preserve the status quo, but actually moved something. This did not really work, but I still think the people behind deserve some credit for trying.

Grass Roots

bighungryjoe.jpgJust thought I’d take a little time out to plug a couple of good folks back home, in the Deekay. First and foremost, there’s Big Hungry Joe, the newly formed old times orchestra. They play American folk music with enthusiasm and brio, and they have an album coming from Danish comics publisher Brun Blomst. In the orchestra are two Danish cartoonists, Jesper Deleuran who is a veteran of the Danish underground comics scene of the 70s (read my review of the recent reedition of his and John Pedersen’s classic Ftatateetah, in Danish, here), and Tobias Enevoldsen, who graduated from the Joe Kubert School a few years back and released his first comic, Sidste år som MakulatorOperatør (which translates roughly to “My Last Year as Office-Shredder Operator”) at Brun Blomst last year (read Rackham‘s review, in Danish, here). Check Big Hungry Joe’s new website, which has plenty of their music, here.

Also, one of Denmark’s premier comics critics, literary editor and author Benni Bødker, recently launched his website, which contains samples of his work and other nice stuff. Check it here.

The Cambridge Cartoon Crisis

claregate.jpgFor the past weeks, our very own cartoon crisis, here in the academic bubble of Cambridge, has been rolling. In the first week of February, the Clare College newspaper Clarefication put out a special satirical issue entitled “Crucification” that amongst other things printed one of the Danish Muhammed cartoons, which last year had people going apeshit all over the world.

I have unfortunately have not been able to locate a copy, but it appears Clareification published the cartoon in just about as moronic a way as Jyllands-Posten did in September of 2005. Apparently, it was part of a “look-alikes of the week” feature, where the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, which I assume was the emblematic one of the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, was juxtaposed with a photo of the President of the Union of Clare Students. The caption below the cartoon of the Prophet had the President’s name, and vice versa. Underneath the captions was a supplementary text apparently insinuating that one was a “violent paedophile” and the other “a prophet of God, a great leader and an example to us all”.