1850 – Tristans Ehre?

There’s graffiti, there’s tagging and there are political messages. I suspect these were meant as instances of the latter. Hitler’s “Waffen SS” had the motto “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” (“My Honour is Loyalty”), a sentence that you hear or read once in a while when Austria’s neo-Nazis feel that it’s time for provocation again, and often it’s reduced to the word “Ehre” alone.

Funny, huh? There’s nothing particularly dishonest about the word “honor”, but around here it has been degraded to a tag, to a political slogan for the worst of our worst. Why? Because it is so frequently used with that SS connotation, used as a code, as a reference to our dreadful past, used by those who don’t find that past dreadful at all.

Poor Wagner. Yes, he was an anti-Semite and a scoundrel in so many ways, but he didn’t deserve to be loved by Hitler. Nobody deserves that.

“Tristans Ehre, höchste Treu'”, that’s a line from “Tristan und Isolde”. See a video of one of the better performances, Daniel Barenboim directing in Bayreuth, Rene Kollo and Johanna Meier as Tristan and Isolde. See a video on YouTube.

4 thoughts on “1850 – Tristans Ehre?”

  1. Oh dear! Perhaps you’ve come upon evidence that the neo-nazis are on the move again? I sure hope not. The 3 ERHE’s do make for a nice image, tho – if one can get past the modern political connotation.

    1. No, not really. The real danger comes from a rising general acceptance of totalitarianism. See how the content industry constantly whines for Internet censorship and how the general public is lead to believe that it’s for the best of their children. But what it really is, is just the same technology that Syria or Myanmar use to suppress their people. There’s also no way that such technology “in the right hands” wouldn’t be abused. We build the infrastructure that our next dictators will thank us for.

  2. Odd thing…. The taggers of the US seem to have influenced Graffs worldwide. As I travelled recently in Turkey, the design … the craft… of their tags were virtually identical from those in the hidden alleyways around the Amtrak yards in Philadelphia. But there’s an amazing difference in content. Here in the US, the taggers are rarely political. They are overwhelmingly the markings of people who want to essentially proclaim their personal presence… similar in a lot of ways to the way dogs mark anything that’s vertical outdoors. But in much of the rest of the world the medium carries messages beyond egotism on steroids.

    Dunno why that is. Oh wait… there is a way-marginall form of graffiti here in the States that has some socio-cultural-political content. But these are overwhelmingly stencil or sticker work. The Shepard Fairy Obama poster’s a good example. Fairy grabs other folks’ work, solarizes it, then mass produces stickers or silk screened versions. Sticker/stencil work is more likely to be a mass production rather than the individually crafted work of the American street tagger.

    Of course all of it defaces and degrades communities with the wailings of the few who have generally chosen to herd with hate, or at least with smoldering pain. Ah well, the uncovered walls of Pompeii are scrawled with graffs. I wonder if the cave paintings of Lascaux drew tut-tuts from their cave-dwelling neighbors? Did their artists strike in the night? Hmmmmmm…..

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