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Royalism & Humanity II

Recent events, and business prospects before me,
have engendered a second "review" of cultural documents that support royalism, particularly UK royalism.

First, whatever has been proposed for Disney dolls stands. That's right, Wolfgang, at least to the point of discrediting such dolls, I stand by the view that young girls, like my daughter, should not be growing up wanting to be a princess.

Educating young girls about their prospects in life should include no encouragement of trying to be a princess. Such a fate is extremely rare. And as we see with Kate Middleton, it has little to do with merit.

My wife and my girlfriend now both disagree with me. They say that young girls need to indulge in the fantasy of dressing up like a princess. Why not just let them dress up like someone in the rich bourgeoisie?

I did not grow up wanting to become a prince.

None of my mates in grade schools wanted to become a prince.

We all wanted to become heroes and successful men.
So, as I recall very distinctly in second grade, in 1957, we boys were all disappointed with our national condition when the Russians, our foes, had bested us in the space race and sent a man into orbit.

In line with the guillotine piece by a favorite artist of mine, Lilliana Moro (thank you, Emi Fontana, for letting this work be shown!), I endorse the general public recognition that the guillotine was invented to permit the organized, legal and relatively merciful execution of people who behaved like Marie Antoinette.

No person of privilege, however gained, should behave like Marie Antoinette.

But having said that, I accept the geopolitical FACT that Royalism is alive and strong. It is a fact of State. It is also a fact of, shall we say, unapproachability. They are there; we commoners are here.

This here is a review.

It is a review of two cultural phenomena, at least.
(1) The film "The Queen."
(2) The Turner Prize.

About "The Queen": the royal family is legitimized, and the burden of being a queen (or being a king, like the queen's father) is made clear. We do not challenge that fact. We accept it. At present, the Western world is led by the royal family of the UK, followed by the royal families of Holland, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and then--but more tacitly--the royal families of the Arab world, and then--with a curious discretion--the royal families of East and South Asia. This means, don't challenge the authority, and certainly don't encourage violence.
The students who attacked the vehicle with Prince Charles and his current wife in it were foolish. First, why bother making Prince Charles the subject of a debate? Rather, deal with the stagnation of the UK economy. Rather, deal with the root causes for the economic duress that leads to tuition fees going up. The life of a man born to the Queen has nothing to do with what vexes the students. Direcing attention at the Royal Family does nothing.

Also about "The Queen": it says, forget about any theories or discussions about the former member of the royal family. Accept that the Queen actually did the right thing in not formally making much acknowledgement of the death of that former member of the royal family. Accept that the Queen modified her behavior only to accomodate strong public demand, a demand whipped up by the boulevard press.

But with that, accept the FACT that a Queen exists, as do her children and (she added significantly) her Grandchildren. And accept the geopolitical fact that the soldiers and sailors with her family were able to defeat the soldiers and sailors of other families, the then-reigning royal families of Germany, Austria, (in WW I) Italy, so that when the Royal Family of Great Britain speaks or acts, there is some subordination therein by other members of the military alliances and political alliances now in force, including Germany, Austia and Italy.

None of this should deter us from discouraging young girls to become princesses. "The Queen" makes clear that with very, very rare exceptions, no one can become a princess, and no one should "try." It is not an honorable ambition.
It is a burden, and that burden only befalls a very, very few.

So, I stand by the view that Disney should stop promoting princess roles.

I recant on any public use of phrases from the French Revolution.

I certainly do not approve of, or see any point in, voicing such phrases from the 18th century vis-a-vis a quite disempowered Prince of Wales.

As I wrote before, an exit strategy for royals in countries of little power, such as Sweden, could be simply a renunciation of title and a conversion to normal, bougeois life. Princess Viktoria of Sweden already slides in that direction.

Meantime, we can all think of what makes a person be royal.

In German (as this is 'meine Palin'), the King is a "Koenig" and the Queen is a "Koenigin." This means "able." The King is very, very able. The Queen is very, very able. I know of one person now who is a natural queen. She is very, very able, and she is very industrial on behalf of her country and her people, and she is both very compassionate and very firm. She has 'royal' qualities. She could be a head of state. She certainly has played a huge and constructive role in her state. This state is New Zealand. She is arguably the most influential woman in the country. She has created an environmental movement and a voting bloc with immense grassroots power, and she has done so continually through hard work, genuine feeling and no vanity. She is why I stay here in her country, New Zealand.

Tt is possible to be a true Koenigin. It is also possible for a man to be a true Koenig. This does not require a crown. But if there is a crown, if there is a burden from birth, the role must be borne as well as possible.

In this role, the current queens of the UK and of Holland have done well.

With this broader and more Realpolitik view of royalism, I turn to a key route of access in the art world to royal notice: the Turner Prize.

I ask: why not make the Turner Prize be awarded, if that must be, less for "art" per se, and more for art which serves the public?

And why not make the Turner Prize be more placed in the context of national and global policy?

As an English woman wrote to me, the recent winners of the Turner Prize have been distinguished for smallness. They do not tackle large or serious issues. They are not trying to serve the national and world public, as do participants in Platform in London, or Littoral in Manchester.

Let us accept the role of The Queen. Let us think about the State and the People. Let us wonder about policies to adopt in this dangerous world, a world burdened with weapons, endangered by polutants, wallowing in poverty. Who comes forth from the logic and praxis of art to deal with the dangerous world? Who comes forth with sound advice for the State?

A "prize" might not be needed. One could simply have a "shortlist" and let that stand. But those selected would be those artists, possibly of origin other than just UK, who happen to be serving the world in their work. A clue on selection comes from the two art & public policy summits organized by Creative Time in New York.
The prize could be closer in spirit to Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize now sparks controversy. The choices have been too plainly in service of certain nations' agendas. The Turner Prize could fill a void in such prize-giving. No recognition now is given for contributions from visual art, including architecture, to world well-being. But such should happen. Otherwise, art sinks further into its low reputation as a form of frivolous expenditure. Art sinks further into the mentality of Marie Antoinette. It's all good fun, but mainly for people of privilege. Can we ask, before the next Turner Prize selection process, that the Prize be given with attention to the grave duties of the Queen, hence of the State? Can we ask that the Prize be given, or that even just a shortlist and exhibition stand alone, with no final "choice," as to artists whose work is in public service?

I write this as possibly the only artist in the world who has been accused (it was an accusation in a civil case) of trying to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

As for prizes and tasks, I shall concentrate my attention on the work of a true Koenigin in her country, New Zealand, seeing to an diffusion of that work to elsewhere in the world.

This could also well serve the girls, like my daughter, now beset with role models like princesses, Hana Montana and Nicole Kidman. Such role models are generally unattainable and mostly frivolous.

The same goes for the role model inculcated wtih the Turner Prize. Almost no one can set about in life seriously to become a Turner Prize winner,
for in doing that they must find a way to be
acceptably strange. Too much is left to chance and whim, and not enough to whether one is benefiting the public.

Most winners of the Nobel prizes, except perhaps in two recent occasions, quite plainly earned that title. But the winners of the Turner Prize appear to be much more arbitrary. One person's taste is not another's. We could shift the thrust of the prize more towards the aims in the peace prize: what kinds of lifelong work are plainly of service, not just of present-day aesthetic choice?

Dein Pal,
for meine Palin,

Peter Fend