Filed under: News & Current Events, Pseuds Corner, The War On Stupid
To say that Oliver Kamm is an acquired taste is rather akin to noting that one can develop a tolerance for arsenic, over time, if one sticks to relatively small doses. which perhaps explains his recent posting of this remarkably spiteful exercise is intellectual snobbery.
I greatly desire a full integration of black and Asian British into all fields of national life. It is a pity that on the evidence of this article there is one black British man too many in the field of arts administration, namely Mr Albert, who should immediately be relieved of his responsibilities on the grounds that he has no idea what the arts are for. His incomprehension is merely compounded by this truism:
Albert’s ‘crime against art’ is to be found in this entirely innocuous article in the Observer in which he notes that a fair number of paintings in the National Gallery’s collection contain or allude to a little regarded ‘history’ of Britain’s interaction with Africa and Africans. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘let’s reinterpret everything in terms of racism/slavery, etc.’ school of ‘racial’ politics but reading Albert’s article, he does make a fair point in noting that one can indeed look for (and find) that ‘behind many of the portraits of white folk in their finery lurks the ghostly presence of an invisible black population’.
It’s one perspective on the gallery’s collection, and a fairly valid one at that, and if it pointing it out does result in a few more Black vistors to the gallery then that’s all to the good - even if they don’t quite get what Albert is driving at, they can still enjoy the painting on display.
It’s not that often, therefore, that I find myself agreeing with the Drink-Soaked Trots, but on this occasion Neil’s description of Kamm’s comments as the most scabby, nasty piece of blogging I have ever read seems about right to as well, not least as Kamm hardly covers himself in intellectual glory is eulogising the work of an obscure German playwright:
Race and racism are important themes in human history, and some great artists and writers have illuminated them. (All my readers will know Othello. Many may not know a magnificent play by the writer of the German Enlightenment Gotthold Ephraim Lessing called Nathan der Weise, or Nathan the Wise. It is, in European literature, one of the great attacks on racism.)
Yes, it’s hello and welcome to Pseud’s Corner with your genial host, this week, Oliver Kamm.
Just one point, to make about Oliver’s citation. Lessing’s play, was written (if I remember correctly) during the late 1770’s - yes, I have read it, but have never felt any great need to boast about it - which is around 90 years before the development of the concept of racism in any modern or meaningful sense of the term…
…which explains why the play’s central theme is not racism in the conventional sense, but religion and religious tolerance.
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