Saturday, 11 May 2013

HARD TO IMAGINE

But not to be ignored
Imagine a world without institutions. It is a world where borders between countries seem to have dissolved, leaving a single, endless landscape over which people travel in search of communities that no longer exist., There are no governments any more, on either a national scale or even a local one. There are no schools or universities, no libraries or archives, no access to any information whatsoever. There is no cinema or theatre, and certainly no television. The radio occasionally works, but the signal is distant, and almost always in a foreign language .No one has seen a newspaper for weeks. There are no railways or motor vehicles, no telephones or telegrams, no post office, no communications at all except what is passed through word of mouth.


There are no banks, but that is no great hardship because money no longer has any worth. There are no shops, because no one has anything to sell. Nothing is made here: the great factories and businesses that used to exist have all been destroyed or dismantled, as have most of the other buildings. There are no tools, save what can be dug out of the rubble. There is no food.

Law and order are virtually non-existent, because there is no police force and no judiciary. In some areas there no longer seems to be any clear sense of what is right or wrong. People help themselves to whatever they want without regard to ownership – indeed, the sense of ownership itself has largely disappeared. Goods belong only to those who are strong enough to hold on to them, and those who are willing to guard them with their lives. Men with weapons roam the streets, taking what they want and threatening anyone who gets in their way. Women of all classes prostitute themselves for food and protection. There is no shame. There is no morality. There is only survival.

For modern generations it is difficult to picture such a world existing outside the imaginations of Hollywood script-writers...
yet this is the world in the midst of which, in early 1945, András Pető began publicly practising his movement therapy. Any consideration of what he did then, and how he was able to do it, has to account for the times in which he lived. The material, social and personal damage brought about by the Second World War are vital factors in construing this man and his work in their times – with the important reminder that those times changed fast so that, by the late 1940s, Hungarian society, had already entered into an altogether new stage...

Yes, I have succumbed to temptation and begun reading Keith Lowe's Savage Continent from front cover onwards (the above passage comprising the opening paragraphs of the author's Introduction (p. xiii). The text is engrossing and, despite the horrors, I suspect that I shall probably make it to the end.

References

Lowe, K. (2012) Savage Continent: Europe in the aftermath of World War II, London, Penguin

Maguire, G. Sutton, A. (eds) András Pető, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press

Sutton A. (2013) Europe, Conductive World, 10 May

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