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Tony Grist

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Trafalgar [Jun. 28th, 2005|10:21 am]
Tony Grist
We are celebrating Trafalagar. Well, I'm not, but the British nation is. And what I want to know is why?

Two hundred years ago the British fleet under Horatio Nelson smashed the French and Spanish fleet. I guess the long term effect was that Britannia ruled the waves without serious challenge for the next century and a bit.

But the British Empire has gone now. The Royal Navy is a geopolitical irrelevance. The French and Spanish are our partners in a Europe where war between member states is all but unthinkable. The world of Tralalgar has disappeared. The work that Trafalgar accomplished has been undone.

And lets not forget that Tralalgar was a battle not a football match. Something like 7000 people were killed. We're doing this tribal dance of ours on a whole bunch of graves.

So what's left? The memory of a time when we were briefly "top nation"? Hooray.

"A British tar is a soaring soul,
As free as a mountain bird,
His energetic fist should be ready to resist
A dictatorial word."

Et cetera....

And now lets get over ourselves and move on.

[User Picture]From: airstrip
2005-06-29 02:30 pm (UTC)
Pretty much the same as here. There are lots of stirring songs about the (rightful) values of the nation or the beauty of the country but none really about any particular military conquest that is mentioned by name.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic comes awfully close (and I find it stirring at least), but doesn't really have the character of most war tunes. I think this is ultimately the expression of Puritan values--which are, to be anachronistic, somewhat Kantian (indeed Kant spends nearly his entire time justifying the particular beliefs of Lutheran Pietism)--that can't be rightly said to be possessed by "a people" or that cannot be brought out in others.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-06-29 02:48 pm (UTC)
The Battle Hymn of the Republic is a bloody good song and The Star Spangled Banner runs it close, but the French possess the all time winner in the Marseillaise.

The best British patriotic song- by a mile- is William Blake's Jerusalem, as set to music by Charles Parry. The National anthem- God Save The Queen- is a godawful dirge.
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2005-06-29 05:04 pm (UTC)
Actually, have you heard the Mexican National Anthem? It reminds me of Schoenberg, though it predates him considerably if I'm not mistaken.

Of course, a standard critique of Modernist composers is that it is merely a continuation of the Romantic cult of the artist-as-individual as opposed to the artist qua his ability to express cultural ideals.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-06-30 12:58 am (UTC)
I can't say I have ever heard the Mexican national anthem. Europeans remain woefully ignorant of everything Mexican (with the exception of Frida Kahlo).
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2005-06-30 10:46 am (UTC)
It's okay. I'll bring you up to speed with American knowledge of Mexico: Aztec, burritos, chimichangas, tacos, nachos, cheap labor, drugs, laws are written in pencil (green erasers available in all US financial institutions).

There ya go! Quiz Monday.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-06-30 12:28 pm (UTC)
I'll study hard over the weekend.
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