I’ve recently continued work at the World Culture Hub, my event location, museum and library for world culture in Second Life. Apart from some technical enhancements – visitor counter, maintenance of the teleport system, tip jar and group inviter and some measures for prim saving – I’ve started with slowly building up the collection of cultural artifacts from all over the world, so far some high-resolution reproductions of oriental rugs, Chinese paintings and the first stages of a new Zen garden.
I hope the site is becoming more and more attractive for visitors. If you like to have a look, the SLURL is:
Small publisher ulme-mini-verlag, edited by ethno musicologist Martina Claus-Bachmann (one of the contributors of the coming Nova issue), has just published Herzensgeheimnis, a collection of love poetry by the Afghan writer Ahmad Zia Hadi, in three langugues, German, English and the original Dari. Based on the German version I have provided most of the English translations of the collection.
I’ve only recently became aware of the work of Swiss science fiction writer Marc Späni when he submitted a story to the magazine Nova that I edit with Olaf G. Hilscher and immediately convinced me of his talents with a furious story that’s going to be published in Nova 24. Afterwards he wrote a new story for the theme issue on science fiction and music and will thus have his debut in the magazine in Nova 23 (due to be published within the next weeks).
Marc had already explored the Second Life platform and didn’t require much persuasian by my fellow Kueperpunk Korhonen aka Thorsten Kueper to read his story from Nova 23 within the annual E-Book Event of the writer group Brennende Buchstaben. Marc will read on Friday, April 17th, starting at 20:00 CET / 11:00 SLT on the main stage of my World Culture Hub. The location is at
Last year the Museum für Neue Kunst (Museum of New Art) in Freiburg invited me to contribute a text to the 30 year retrospective of their collection. The result was a science fiction short story about the painting Laokoon by the German expressionist painter Karl Hofer that has been permanently incorporated into the collection.
The exhibition will be opened on Friday, March 13th, 19:00 CET, with speeches of cultural mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach and the museum’s curators Christine Litz and Jennifer Smailes. The museum has been so kind to invite me over to Freiburg for the occassion and I’m looking forward to an inspiring opening celebration with many interesting new contacts.
The roads toward artistic achievement are manifold. In music you have, on the one hand, virtuosos such as pianist Marc-André Hamelin or percussionist Zakir Hussain who impose by sheer manual dexterity and the complexity of their performance and expression. Edgar Froese, a father figure of electronic music who died of a pulmonary embolism on January 20th, was none of this. He was just average on his original instrument, the electric guitar. As a keyboarder he was just on a basic professional standard. His compositions were based on conventional classic harmony patterns. And still he managed to become a major influence on almost everybody making electronic music today by taking a historic opportunity with his band Tangerine Dream and developing standards for sound and production in electronic music in the seventies and eighties when synthesizers were only known to a few. You may not like his later recycling of classic Tangerine Dream themes, you may not like the way he extended the TD sound with sax, flute and vocals, you may even think that the band’s most profound achievements were the wild experimentation and improvisation of their early years (what I think would be too short) – you cannot work in electronic music today without refering, one way or the other, to the standards set by Froese and the many musicians he introduced to the electronic music scene, Peter Baumann, Chris Franke, Johannes Schmoelling or Froese’s son Jerome.
Opening pop and rock music to electronic sounds has probably been the most important achievement of a generatioon of German postwar musicians who came to be known as Krautrocks. Some important figures such as Conrad Schnitzer or the reclusive Florian Fricke have died in recent years. Klaus Schulze, maybe the most influential apart from Froese, has left the stage. Later generation may hardly imagine the revolution they have brought to music. Whether you’re an ambitious musician yourself or just an amateur synthesist like me, you owe gratitude to Edgar Froese’s work.
I have hesitated for a while to comment on the horrible shootings of the Charlie Hebdo caricaturists in Paris on January 7th. It was just too frustrating to see to what degree the assassins have achieved what surely has been one of their main goals: to deepen conflicts, to raise new barriers, to make life for their fellow brethrens in Europe harder, in the hope that they may join their ranks. In the aftermath of the events we had it all: politicians who would have loved to see the Charlie Hebdo caricaturists crucified a few months ago, now joining hands in a crocodiles tears march to defend the freedom of art and opinion. Conservative muslims who refuse to accept that Islamism is not simple a reaction to Western provocation but an inherent problem of Islam itself. And, last but not least, all those who see the shootings as the end of the multicultural society, as a proof that we see values and beliefs clashing in a way that simply can’t be reconciled – as if murderers could claim to have any values at all.
But the thing about me is, I have a bad attitude. I have collaborated with artists and writers from more than twenty countries and I will continue to do so. Even worse, I plan to extend my activities with such projects as InterNova, The World Culture Hub and the World Culture Repository. I refuse to let any bunch of dumb-ass xenophobic fanatics, whatever fraction, tell me what to do. I will not ask for their permission. I still believe that people who have settled on some basic rules of human and civilized conduct should be able, regardless of their cultural and ethnical background, to live peacefully side by side and solve their conflicts in a reasonable manner. I’m still convinced that differentiated understanding and respectful approach are better ways to pacify our world than wholesale condemnation. I’m fairly sure that sharing and exchange of arts and cultures could be a major force to tear down barriers and unite humanity in all its richness and diversity. But worst of all: I refuse to believe in the superiority of a culture that is responsible for the death of at least 160 million people in the 20th century alone.
Of course this is all naive and wishful thinking. But it were naives such as Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi who with their simple human outlook have advanced civilization. I’d rather follow their footsteps in my humble ways than to be just another puppet of murderers and indulge in excactly the kind of fanatism they strive to provoke.