Improvisations on the Bassoon

Werner von Delmont
in conversation with his son, Hans-Dieter, in the year 2033

D e l m o n t : A small company is secretly gathered together for a celebration. The showmen of bygone days have hastily thrown their dusty wigs over their thinning locks. Curious, for the final act, to begin.

The organs of politics are all dead. Everything else is vegetating withal. Drapery, a good leg, and close-fit, fine-spun garments are become the insignia of a new conspiracy - To share the erotic of the ultimate: death.

Silks rustle between the sexes. Torches burn sweetly in the tombs. Our new palaces lie in ruins. A concert shimmers in the dark. Spiders' webs! Candle stubs! A thousand flitting and devoted moths. Pale and dainty flirting ribbons. Curls abounding, we are loosely binding locks of laughter in the air. As if a dear and trusted fragrance, our bashful whispers soothe your ear.

The barber's blades, the hairdresser's pins! The scent of friends upon our fingers. Breath which rises, falls again, a throb of pleasure, Love’s refrain.

Our Love's lyric fretworks stretch and strain against the narrow corset's frame. Keenly, like the knive edged scalpel's flesh dividing aim! Etiquette may only be secretly breached. The rules and regulations of punishment fall back into line. Fiddle with hierarchies and stumble and stutter, then meet death. Transgress... Offence followed by expulsion from the clandestine world. Fencing and foiling drills... all for the sake of the offspring! There are no more innovations - we have instead inter-pre-tations - of old music!

Secrecy is observed in all important matters, for there are agents everywhere. Our past life has died like an old love that withered and now we are free. We are living the

H a n s D i e t e r : Aghum, aghum

D e l m o n t : Is that you, Hans Dieter?

H a n s D i e t e r : Who else?....Did you take your pills already today, Pa?

D e l m o n t : I have buried them in the garden, son.

H a n s D i e t e r : Oh Dad! Your Alzheimer's will never improve that way...

D e l m o n t : No, seriously, I have been stashing a few away and so today I took an overdose... Marvellous! Ye old’e spirit is fresh again, like a fishy in the water...

H a n s D i e t e r : Really? In that case, you can crack some of the old chestnuts for me again. They must have been fabulous days, those old days, so close to the turn of the millennium?

D e l m o n t : What?.... The devil take me... no! The nineties... that was... like the seventies... an overpowering iron fist that grabbed the soul and crushed it! I would need to start with Adam and Eve to make all that clear to you... and so far I haven’t swallowed that much stuff...

H a n s D i e t e r : Then just cut a long story short for once! All that rubbish about the recurring crisis of capitalism, globalisation, deregulation and so forth... we got to grips with that long ago, but you all believed it back then, didn’t you? You all fell for it without a second thought!... The last mass-hysteria of the 20th century -

D e l m o n t : You’d better watch out, you cheeky young rascal! That dirt is still sticking to your shoes too. So said the corporations, quite at ease: ‘Global competition just exists and therefore we have to produce as cheaply as possible, or else we'll go bust and you'll all lose your jobs. So... if you don't mind making your labour just slightly less expensive...otherwise we may find ourselves required to offer it instead to those who would be glad to work merely for a little bite to eat. Then you and your welfare state can all go and sign on - just as long as the supplies happen to last, naturally.

H a n s D i e t e r : .............An attempt at blackmail, if I’m not much mistaken?

D e l m o n t : That you could very well call it! But the best part of the story is that the governments of the administrative units did not intervene... for at that time they still thought of themselves as sovereign states or nations... For more than three hundred years, and with bloody revolutions, workers and citizens have tried everything to wrest state authority from the ruling elites, with the aim of organising themselves democratically and on their own terms.

H a n s D i e t e r : ...Once upon a time, democracy was the idea of a common agenda!

D e l m o n t : But then everything comes crashing down, and what remains of civilian politics gets caught up in the net of its own promises. This is the name of the lie: Participation, Regulation and the Control of Power. A new religion is born, and it is bankers, managers and business consultants who spread its word in every land....The global COINAGE! Property, productivity and distribution of income are sacred. ‘Stability and growth’, ‘Stability and growth’, clicks the eternal rosary of the consumer democracies.

H a n s D i e t e r : Perhaps.... Maybe.... the corporations could have been converted into subcontractors to the state?

D e l m o n t : Now it is just the other way around! The state's administrative units are working on behalf of the corporations! But who notices that?

H a n s D i e t e r : And in school, religious education was substituted with subjects like ‘Enterprise Strategies’, ’Team Abilities’, ‘The Individual's Initiatives’...I can still remember how you freaked out when we were supposed to set up our own company during the summer holidays, just when you wanted to go to Italy with all the family.

D e l m o n t : Indeed, taking a holiday from Neo Realism... ah me, Neo Liberalism just did not seem possible any more. We were suffocating like woodlice trapped under the heavy dusty carpet that global capital had wrapped around the world...

H a n s D i e t e r : That's just what some crazy crackpots in the art world believed...

D e l m o n t : We can presume that the Banking Aristocracy, the Council of German Industry and the grasping Profit Pools of the German Reunification believed it as well! It was they after all who had ushered the rethoric of globalisation. And thus, by dint of such intimidating propaganda, they awarded themselves carte blanche to stake out their claims in the Eldorado of the East. Now of course, this affected the Arts as well, for investors had a natural interest in culturally legitimising the frequently criticised economic development of the East. And here, an apparently international style and site-specific art promised additional elegance. Hans-Dieter! Siemens Court Theatre! The stage for culturification!

D e l m o n t : The realm of wealth was to be extended ....through wealth!

H a n s D i e t e r : ...but I doubt, however, that that is the point which you want to make...

D e l m o n t : No, I just wanted to try and see things in conjunction with one another. There was the occupation of the East, dubbed ‘Rebuilding the East’, and this was achieved first and foremost with the corporate capital of the West. Hand in hand with it came a cultural occupation - the first forward thrust of culturification...

H a n s D i e t e r : The renovation of the East seemed to be nothing more than the restoration of old cultural values?

D e l m o n t : Bingo! Berlin, the Reich's erst-while capital city, was here supposed to provide the mainstage for the culturally re-store-rated nation. Whole railway stations were converted to house the pomp of rich speculators' cravings. In the main, they showed leaden aeroplanes, burnt earth, or disco decorations, because it was the money and taste of the collector that determined the art ...

H a n s D i e t e r : Art makes the money taste good, and the money supports those who decide on the taste for the art.... That is a well regulated cycle, enrollment in which is determined by greed.

D e l m o n t : And that was fine by the state, because it got some culture for free, not caring what it was, so long as it promoted the only possible site for investment: Ger-money!

H a n s D i e t e r : So the official picture of culture showed what was easily digestible, what the wealthy bourgeois found tasty. It demonstrated one kind of truth: a rich upper-class who liked art that represented a rich upper class... a class which, in its high bourgeois craving for prestige, placed its art at the disposal of the state’s institutions.

D e l m o n t : Ha! And.... by coincidence... the value of the art went up.

H a n s D i e t e r : Looks to me like the Salon Art which came out of the 19th century’s constitution of the cultural bourgeoisie. Wasn’t it in both cases the fact, that a reinforced nationalism produced the same simplistic posturing with ‘cultural values’, with the aim of obscuring then the colonial, and now the global, economic mission?

D e l m o n t : And yoked in both cases to the same social Darwinism! For the Reign of Terror continued to rage! And Global Coinage plagued the earth and plundered the realms and tortured the people. And all the while, the critics heated their maisonettes, fearing the kitsch of being emotionally touched.

H a n s D i e t e r : Were you one of them?

D e l m o n t : ...... ?

H a n s D i e t e r : „Were you one of them" I asked!

2nd Act

[click image for second act...]