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Words Without Borders

The War Against Error

"War Againstt Error" [sic] is the title of the latest cd by Christoph Steinmann, who produces his music under the name Softland. Steinmann's idea of music might not be everbody's cup of tea—he believes that everything can be music. When I visited his studio in Zurich, he was busy working on the sound of a human being biting into an apple—but the title of his cd is enchanting enough to give him at least five minutes of your time.
When I asked Mr. Steinmann if we should see his title as a political statement, he denied it vehemently. Shortly after I had left Mr. Steinmann, I read in The Herald Tribune a piece by James Traub in which he warned us that Harol Pinter might use his Nobel Prize acceptance speech for some America bashing.
I believe that America bashing should be left to the Americans because they are the best at it. Besides that, I don’t think that anybody should be afraid of Mr. Pinter’s acceptance speech, no matter what he is going to say. Who remembers any Nobel Prize acceptance speech?
But Mr. Traub’s solution to undo the negative (in his opinion) effects of Mr. Pinter’s world view on young people all over the world was rather original. Mr. Traub suggested that the CIA should subsidize Mr. Pinters’s political poetry. In Mr. Traub’s own words, “Actually, I have a better idea: get the C.I.A. to secretly subsidize the publication of Pinter's political poetry, along with a worldwide tour booked into major sports stadiums. The poet would be encouraged to recite such clanking fragments of doggerel as the following from 'God Bless America': 'Here they go again/The Yanks in their armoured parade/Chanting their ballads of joy/As they gallop across the big world/Praising America's God.'”
This is marvelous. When the CIA starts subsidizing mediocre poetry, we are indeed in a war against error, and I could only applaud the CIA for this.
As soon as the CIA started subsidizing my own poetry, specially written for and dedicated to the CIA, I would apply for citizenship. I’m not expensive. $5000 a poem will do.


(Words Without Borders, November 3, 2005)