For those of you who don’t follow such things closely, Daniel Barenboim is a musician who’s much better at tooting his own horn than playing the piano or conducting.
Having failed to develop his superb musicality into serious musicianship, he has instead devoted all his inexhaustible energy to developing his unrivalled talent for self-promotion, that sole guarantor of success in the modern musical world.
As a result, rather than becoming a great musician, Danny has become something much more lucrative: a musical celebrity. And nowadays celebrity of any kind demands expansion into adjacent, or not so adjacent, areas.
Hence Danny Boy has been pretending for quite some time that he could single-handedly put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is basically the Palestinians trying to kill all Israelis, with the latter trying to prevent such an outcome.
To emphasise that he carries Middle Eastern peace in his own breast, Danny has taken out dual citizenship in Israel and Palestine, which is an amazing achievement considering that, though Israel is a state, Palestine isn’t. It’s more or less a combination of eternal refugee camp and terrorist base.
But Danny vowed to change this lamentable situation by founding the Divan, a mediocre orchestra featuring Israeli and Palestinian musicians. “Once young Israelis and Arabs agree on how to play just one note together,” explained Danny Boy, “they will not be able to look at each other in the same way again.”
By ‘they’ he didn’t just mean the musicians themselves – he meant that the anodyne sounds produced by his orchestra will force Palestinians to stop killing Israelis, and Israelis killing Palestinians in self-defence.
This would be idiotic if accepted at face value. But Danny Boy didn’t mean it literally. The purpose of the exercise was to promote not peace but Danny, and in that it has been a success, having failed miserably to achieve its declared goal.
But Danny isn’t the type to be deterred easily. “My point,” he persisted, “is that when Israelis and Palestinians play the same music… in the end we don’t give a damn whether we are enemies or not. But will that bring a solution to this conflict? No.”
I’m confused. I thought solving the conflict was the whole purpose. If that isn’t, what is? Surely the world has enough second-rate orchestras already.
Then Danny proceeded to utter the kind of drivel one doesn’t expect even from him: “I still think the idea of combining social engineering with music is wonderful. It gives music a real place in society.”
English isn’t Danny’s first language, and probably not even his second, but he knows it well enough to realise that ‘social engineering’ is a pejorative term.
First introduced at the very end of the 19th century, it refers to refashioning traditional society and forming ‘the new man’, one divested of any traces of our Judaeo-Christian civilisation.
Predictably social engineering is the ideal pursued by all totalitarian regimes of modernity. The assumption is that, since mankind is a machine, its working can be influenced by elect mechanics, specialists endowed with the ability and authority to tweak the mechanism as they see fit.
This is fascism at its purest, whatever the theoreticians and practitioners of social engineering call themselves, and their chosen monikers run towards ‘progressive’, ‘socialist’ or ‘humanist’.
It’s also staggering to hear from someone who fancies himself a musical guru that, unless it’s used for the purpose of social engineering, music has no “real place in society.”
Such a utilitarian view of music would have appalled Bach, Mozart or Beethoven, though it would have been welcomed by Lenin, Hitler or Stalin.
Music’s real place in society is to express the highest spiritual and aesthetic reaches of our civilisation – not to act as the battering ram of modernity. By music, in case Danny misunderstands, I mean Messrs Bach, Mozart et al, not the Internationale or the Horst-Wessel-Lied so beloved of Danny’s fellow social engineers.