Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Viennese Chill

Public life in late imperial America seems to be freakishly repulsive and repulsively freakish.

Public life in late imperial Austria was no better; in fact it was even more menacing. The Imperial government tried to hold together an ever more fractious Empire by introducing modern cosmopolitanism and a small measure of modern liberalism. Minorities such as Hungarians, Serbs, and Czechs were demanding greater recognition and autonomy. Vienna's populist antisemitic mayor Karl Lueger spoke for all those who saw themselves as pious hard working Germans deeply offended by all of these modern and Jewish attempts to dilute and destroy solid German values of Throne and Altar.

The Viennese knew how to chill, and were probably better at it than we are. Our idea of escape is even more adrenaline rushes, more and freakier freak shows, and ever higher anxiety; shoot-'em-ups, teenage slasher pics, gross-out humor, and apocalypse fantasies.
The Viennese always said, "The situation is hopeless, but not serious." They gave the world Strauss waltzes.

So let's sing along. "Donau so bau, so schoen, so blau...!"

They had champagne and song. We have beer and revenge fantasies. I can't decide who was better off.

That last post was so depressing that I had to post something to clear out the evil spirits.

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