This is a miscellaneous collection of blog entries, honouring Oscar Wilde's fictional character, whom he made declare, famously and frivolously: “I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.” The overarching theme is perhaps best characterised as cultural snobbism - but there are some more specific sub-categories.
One of those rare sunny autumn days when there is nothing better to do than go for an “adult lane swim” in the local swimming pool (although being overtaken by at least 30% speed difference by a man in his 70s only using his arms is a bit intimidating, or more positively, showing there is room for development), followed by an al fresco lunch at the wonderfully hippy, rather than hipster, Zoo café; and to grab the last portion of the daily special vegetarian lasagne, with mushrooms and spinach, in a rich sauce, crispy garlic toast and a colourful and totally healthy (except the mayonnaise) side salad. Accompanied by the handy volume of selected writings by Karl Polányi (Economy and Society – a title strongly suggesting Max Weber’s opus magnum). Followed by a mocha – a new habit which should not become an addiction
Prokofiev’s War and Peace, written during WWII, and clearly showing signs of the time of its composition, performed in Nuremberg in the 2018/19 season, gets another layer of historical complexity. It makes one think of these 3 or 4 layers, the representation of real historical events, the adaptation of literature, the reinterpretation of musical compositions, all at once, knowing what we know, and not know about today’s Russia. We are 200 years after Napoléon’s invasion of and defeat in Russia, and 150 after Tolstoy’s 1867 literary classic which has, as we all know, the 1812 highlights of the Napoleonic wars as theme or, in a sense, stage or background. The continuing relevance of Napoléon and the radical rupture his rise meant in European history has been discussed by historians such as Guilielmo Ferrero for a long time. (This is not the only Napoléon – Ferrero connection, though.) But what if one has not read his Tolstoy?
Well… the opera performance, very successful and convincing, also inspired a wholly unexpected online exchange of ideas.