what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In praise of austerity


The art blog I mentioned yesterday reproduces a range of quiet interior paintings by a 19th century Danish artist Hamersoi in which our attention is drawn to the starkness of the d├ęcor – wooden floors and minimal wall hangings. D’s response was that this must say something about the poverty of even the middles classes in Scandinavia in those days. I tried to suggest that it had more to do with the influence of Protestant values (Lutheran I think) which have had such a powerful influence on social and political developments in these countries – let alone on notions of interior design. Austerity is getting a bad name these days – when I googled to try to find something about this aspect of Scandinavian societies all I got was articles on the latest European fiscal crisis - one of which acctually bears the title Beyond Austerity . As a child of the war years (who still has his ration book) and raised in a Scottish Presbyterean household, I have great respect and affection for austere ways of living (providing wine is accepted as a basic requirement – from the barrel of course!). Tony Judt used that last painful period of his life to reflect about his life in powerful short pieces in New York Review of Books – and some of them celebrated the immediate post-war period in Britain which is so often viewed in a negative light. My surfing put me onto a recent book Austerity Britain which appears to take a more positive view. /

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