Pierre Loti le deuxième

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“Peter” heißen beide, der alte Orient- und der neue Balkanenthusiast. Pierre Lotis Erfolg vor hundert Jahren zog schlimmstennfalls Nazim Hikmets Beschimpfung nach sich, der Scharlatan könne doch gar nicht wissen, was der Orient sei. Demgegenüber wird heute Peter Handkes Nobelpreis mit dem Völkermord in Verbindung gebracht.

Journalisten-Bissigkeit kommt wohl Handke nicht zeitgeistbedingt zuteil. Denn, um bei Serbien zu bleiben: Der andere große literarische Zeitgenosse des Landes, Milorad Pavić, durfte ohne Vorwürfe Oriententhusiast sowie ab 1991 Mitglied der Serbischen Akademie sein.

Der Unterschied? Pavić war ja Belgrader. Handke jedoch lebt in Paris. Daher muss erst der Journalist bestimmen, ob er serbische Nudeln und serbische Wälder zu Kriegszeiten verklärt betrachten durfte.

Das nachfolgende Foto und die Assoziation Handke-Loti-Pavić gab mir Belgrad am 10. Oktober des ausgehenden Jahres, dem Tag der Ankündigung der Nobelpreisvergabe. Für mehr persönliche Hintergründe soll sich der Leser den nachfolgenden englischen Text antun.

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Hungry and tired and denied a table in Vuk we strolled in the Knez Mihajlova when I thought of Proleće. You can always find a table there! It was rather too late in the evening of October 10, 2019. Earlier, in the afternoon, still in Greece but near the state borders, the car radio had said that Peter Handke was one of this year’s Nobel prize laureates. Now, despite hunger and darkness, I noticed the announcement of a just finished literary evening “90 years after the birth and 10 after the death” of Serbia’s other great novelist, Milorad Pavić. Wife and children were in a hurry “Where is your plan B? We’re hungry!” I thought I was ridiculous thinking that Handke would have been celebrated in Belgrade in the very evening of the announcement from Stockholm.

Proleće had a table alright…

I do believe that Handke is a great author of Serbia although he has never written literary texts in Serbocroatian, a language in which, nevertheless, he is fluent. What I also believe is that he loved Yugoslavia in a rather postmodern way. But he who has not sinned cast the first stone. To me too, about the same time, Yugoslav market places, Yugoslav bookstores, Yugoslav newspapers appeared as the Southeast the way it once was: full of pretentious seriousness in the literary supplement, full of self-irony in the fiction department, full of fun beside the vegetables where a gypsy band played one of the innumerable versions of “Come and make me yours” full of major seconds and melismas.

Exoticism has very rarely been held to be big art. But I’m not an artist, so I wouldn’t care if I were attributed bad taste. Not much anyway. Paul Gauguin was happy to see his exoticism winning the Parisian public over. Pierre Loti’s fame, Gauguin’s first inspiration to visit Tahiti, melted however rapidly. In the 20s, the Turkish poet and socialist Nazim Hikmet was wondering what an imposter it takes to glorify poverty, prejudice and superstition in the name of picturesque, giving his poem the title “Pierre Loti”.

One century after the Pierre and the Paul of Tahitian exoticism, Peter Handke focused on a picturesque much closer. It was – to put it sarcastically – an emerging picturesque. To quote a back then famous movie: Lepa sela lepo gore: nice villages burn nicely.

Handke never employed sarcasm in his two travel journals in Serbia and Bosnia. At most, he quoted it: “May your house be shown on CNN!” as a curse between quarrelling neighbours for example (CNN was showing much burned down property in those days). Handke never wrote war propaganda – unless it is war propaganda to adore the “different yellowness” of pasta purchased from a Serbian market. In Handke’s work there is nothing that could connect his Nobel prize with genocide. But this is exactly what is constantly repeated in the two last months.

To return to Milorad Pavić, 10 years after his death and 90 etc: also he styled a postmodern picturesque. And – what was more dubious in Milošević’s Serbia – he became a member of the Serbian Academy. In 1991! No complaints here!

The difference is probably that Pavić lived in Belgrade. Someone like him had the right to love and hate whoever he liked. Handke however lives in Paris. Consequently it is the journalism that has to decide if it was OK to be Yugophile…

Making sense of … Marks (sic)

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Ein Teil der Leser wird beim Lesen des Titels gedacht haben, dass es mir wie nur so oft in diesem Blog wieder um Leistungsbewertung und Didaktik geht. Diesen Eindruck wollte ich aber mit dem Titel dieses Eintrags nicht erwecken. Stattdessen wollte ich auf Jon Elsters Buch Making Sense of Marx (1985) anspielen, ein repräsentatives Beispiel der analytischen Lesart von Marx – dabei aber die serbokroatische Rechtschreibung des Namens des Autors des Kapitals benutzen.

Wie im Leben, so ist es auch in der Philosophie ein nicht unübliches Phänomen, dass Sprache, Standort, Tradition, Wahrzeichen es einem ermöglichen, die Idee eines anderen effektiver zu vermarkten. Das passierte z.B. mit Asenjos und Tamburinos logischem System, das den Wahrheitswert wahr-und-falsch zulässt. Allgemein bekannt wurde es nur Jahre später als Graham Priests LP.

Jugoslawischen Philosophen wie Mihailo Marković und Svetozar Stojanović erging es nicht besser. Ihren analytischen Neomarxismus haben sie formuliert bereits Jahrzehnte, bevor die jungen Intellektuellen, die New Labour wählten, Jon Elster entdeckten.

Das Thema der Dissertation von Marković war die Metalogik. Kein anderer als der logische Positivist A.J. Ayer war der Doktorvater, dessen Reaktion ich sehr gern gewusst hätte, als er lies, wie sein Student “Logik” definierte: “Eine Menge aus Theorien, (i) denen von der Öffentlichkeit Bedeutung zugewiesen wird, (ii) die beweisbar sind, und (iii) die sich auf eine bestimmte Theorie T auf niedrigerer Ebene anwenden lassen”. (Marković, M. (1958), The Concept of Logic, London: Dissertation, S. 1).

Stojanović promovierte 1962 in Belgrad über zeitgenössische Metaethik. Das Feld war noch neu und Stojanović hat eine allgemeine Übersicht und eine historistische und relativistische Alternative geliefert (Stojanović, S. (1964), Savremena meta-etika, Belgrad: Nolit, insb. S. 283-322).

Warum schreibe ich all das? Weil ich bei meinem letzten Aufenthalt in Belgrad an die Worte eines chilenischen Kollegen, eines parakonsistenten Logikers, denken musste: “Diejenigen, die bei den großen internationalen Publikationen näher sind, lassen dich verstehen, dass sie einen Diskurs führen, zu dem du in der Peripherie nicht gehörst – selbst wenn du eigentlich diesen Diskurs losgetreten hast”.

Stojanovic

Some of you might expected to read a piece about school grades when they read the title of the posting – say as a follow-up to my former postings on didactics and marks in this blog. But this would be the false impression. I don’t think that one can really make sense of quantified evaluations of the students’ output. In the title of this posting I’m just alluding to Jon Elster’s Making Sense of Marx (1985), a book emblematic of an analytic understanding of Marx, but I’m using the Serbocroatian spelling of the name of the author of the Capital.

Like life in general, also philosophy has many examples to offer about people who, for reasons of language, location, tradition, trade mark etc. managed to distribute ideas of others much more effectively than the original thinkers. This was the case with Asenjo’s and Tamburino’s logic system which allows for sentences to be true-and-false at the same time – a system which became generally known only years later as Graham Priest’s LP.

This was also the case with Yugoslav philosophers like Mihailo Marković and Svetozar Stojanović: they had produced pieces of analytical Neo-Marxist philosophy decades before the New Labour intellectuals discovered Jon Elster.

Let me only remark that Marković’s supervisor for his PhD-thesis on what today is called epistemology of logic was A.J. Ayer – a logical positivist, of course, whose reaction to his student’s pragmatic definition of logic as “a class of theories which are (i) publicly meaningful (ii) provable and (iii) applicable to a certain lower-level theory T” I would very much like to know (Marković, M. (1958), The Concept of Logic, London: PhD-thesis, p. 1).

Stojanović’s PhD-thesis Contemporary Metaethics, submitted in 1962 in Belgrade, reviews a back then emerging field of philosophical research taking a historicist and relativistic stance (Stojanović, S. (1964), Savremena meta-etika, Belgrade: Nolit, esp. pp. 283-322).

Why am I writing all this? Because during my last stay in Belgrade I remembered what a colleague from Chile, a paraconsistent logician, said to me once: “The ones who are closer to the big international publications want to make you think that they have a discourse and you, on the periphery, are not part of this discourse – even if you’re the one who launched it”.

Опасност, филозофиjа

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Ich fasse mich kurz, denn ich muss heute zwei Vorträge halten: Einen über Menschenrechte bei der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung hier in Belgrad und eine über das Krokodilsparadox am Fachbereich für Philosophie der Belgrader Universität. Ich hoffe, durch kritische Bemerkungen von Miloš Arsenijević und seinen Kollegen, meine spieltheoretische Analyse des κροκοδειλίτης verbessern zu können.

Wenn ich wieder in München bin, schreibe ich einen Eintrag über Praxis-Schule und Begriffsanalyse. Über die jugo-analytische Philosophie sozusagen…

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I have to be brief since I have two lectures to deliver today: one on human rights at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung here in Belgrade and one on the crocodile paradox at the Department of Philosophy. Definitely, the one or the other critical remark by Miloš Arsenijević and his colleagues will help me improve the paper on the game-theoretical analysis of the κροκοδειλίτης.

When I’m back in Munich, I’ll post something on the Praxis School and analytic philosophy – a Yugo-analytic posting so to say…