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EDITORIAL The New Europe, the New World Dear PAJ Reader: For those of us born after World War 11, which created the shape of the world we live in, there has been no more spectacular event than the transformation of Central Europe-without another world war- in 1989. Hundreds of thousands filled the squares of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany, and Rumania to demand what they believed to be their human rights. Television carried the revolution live to people all over the globe. Who can forget the sight of Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall, or the startled freeze on Ceausescu's face as he addressed the Rumanians who mocked his power, or the signs and their slogans-in English-held up in Lithuania, Berlin, Prague-for an international audience beyond their own borders. How ironic that what was once called the "Iron Curtain" should dissolve in the realness of gestures by citizen/actors in a new historical drama. And coinciding with these enormous historical changes, comparatively bloodless except for Rumania, given Europe's military history, is the death of Beckett who more than any other playwright reflected the post-war human condition for our half century. Beckett is perhaps the last of the universal playwrights in our post-drama age which has seen the theatre itself lose ground steadily to the spectacle of society. More and more it 4 seems drama will become as culture bound as most languages, a kind of local knowledge, and only those writers, like Havel and Fugard, who are emblematic of an age will travel in foreign languages. Cultures need their artists more and more, as the recent revolutions have shown. But more than that, we have learned the greater lesson of how much people need their cultures. Just as in the Soviet Union artists and intellectuals prepared the way for perestroika,so in Central Europe they created an unofficial culture, keeping their books and music and painting alive in a special kind of repository of the heart. All the while a passionless official culture existed on the surface. Decades ago Georg Simmel described this duality as subjective culture and objective culture. Theatres, universities, and concert halls became sites of protest in which to begin the critique of culture. Perhaps it is necessary to remind ourselves, as Milan Kundera has done so well in his essays of mourning , that Central Europe is one of the homes of modernism. It is not the purpose here to summarize the political or cultural histories of the nations involved in changing the idea of Europe. In his thoughtful, passionate essays in the New York Review of Books, Timothy Garton Ash has been our most expert reporter on these matters. Rather, in the context of our pages here, it seems more necessary to make our contribution to the dialogue that has been opened up by recent events, not only in Europe, but in the Soviet Union as well. Also, this issue, coming as it does immediately after the "Interculturalism" issue (PAJ 33/34), has given us a chance to explore many cultural, political and artistic themes in a global context, first addressing Third World interests, and now European ones. This is a period when we are witnessing the strong role artists and intellectuals can play in the creation of new values in society. It is also a period characterized by the internationalization of finance, of development, of art and artists. Everywhere people are changing the way they think about their work, their neighborhood, their country, their physical world. It is too soon to do more than guess what the reorganization of Central Europe, and the continent itself in 1992, will mean in terms of our own cultural and economic life. The United States which, since World War II has gotten used to being at center stage, may now find itself looking to Europe for the new shape of contemporary thought, as has happened often in our past. As we move toward another turn of century, over 80% of the world is now living in so-called developing countries, but there are also at least 15 million refugees wandering this world, and enormous environmental problems to address. If we...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 4-6
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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