The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Question #16 - Art has a social function?

by Heinrich Böll

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The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Question #16 - Art has a social function?

Unread postby Liz » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:50 am

From pgs. 96-98:

So far we know only one instance of an actual exchange of blows, one which unfortunately aroused a good deal of public attention. It was at the preview of the exhibition of the work of the painter Frederick Le Boche, whose patron Blorna is considered to be, that Blorna and Sträubleder came face-to-face again for the first time. As Sträubleder approached him with a broad grin, Blorna did not hold out his hand, but this did not prevent Sträubleder from grabbing it and whispering: “For God’s sake, don’t take it all so seriously! We’re not going to let you and Trude go to the dogs—you’re the one who’s doing that.” Well, if we are to be honest we have regretfully to report that at this moment Blorna did punch Sträubleder in the jaw. Without further ado, so that it my be forgotten without further ado: Blood flowed, from Sträubleder’s nose; according to private estimates, some four to seven drops but, what was worse: although Sträubleder backed away he did say: “I forgive you, I forgive you everything—considering your emotional state.” And so it was that this remark apparently maddened Blorna, provoking something described by witnesses as a “scuffle,” and, as is usually the case when the Sträubleders and Blornas of this world show themselves in public, a News photographer by the name of Kottensehl (successor to the murdered Schönner) was present, and we can hardly be shocked at the News (its nature being now known) for publishing the photograph of this scuffle under the heading: “Conservative politician assaulted by Leftist attorney.” Not until the following morning, of course.

At the exhibition there was furthermore a confrontation between Maud Sträubleder and Trude Blorna. Maud Sträubleder said to Trude Blorna: “I do sympathize with you so, Trude dear,” whereupon Trude B. said to Maud S.: “You can put your sympathy right back in the fridge where you keep all the rest of your feelings.” Upon Maud again offering her forgiveness, indulgence, pity, indeed almost love, with the words: “Nothing, nothing, not even your destructive words that cannot be repreated here, only noted; ladylike is not the way to describe the words in Trude B. hinted at Sträubleder’s numerous advances to her and, among other things—thus violating the professional secrecy to which even the wife of an attorney is bound—alluded to the ring, the letters, and key which “your consistently rejected suitor left behind in a certain apartment.” At this point the squabbling ladies were parted by Frederick Le Boche, who with great presence of mind had seized upon the chance to catch Sträubleder’s blood on a piece of blogging paper and had converted it into what he called “a specimen of instant art.” This he entitled “End of a Long Friendship,” signed, and gave not to Sträubleder but Blorna, saying: “here’s something you can peddle to help you out of a hole.” From this occurrence plus the preceding acts of violence it should be possible to deduce that Art still has social function.

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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Question #16 - Art has a social function?

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:35 am

When I read this I took it as humor. I guess humor has a social function, doesn't it?

But the truth is, most anything can be marketed if the item is advertised properly. Remember the people dipping handkerchiefs in Dillinger's blood for a souvenir?

A fad perhaps? Or an oddity? It is sometimes amazing what people will consider worthwhile. Just watch Antiques Roadshow. $20,000 for a vase? My response would be "Sold!" But I have invested hundreds of dollars in trading cards over the years and they are treasures to me.

The wheels of commerce, the enjoyment of owning, a piece of history or a subject of conversation. These are things with a social value.

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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Question #16 - Art has a social function?

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:26 pm

I took it as almost a sarcastic remark, i.e. the violence of the bloody nose captured as art and then peddled as art to the highest buyer. Thus, violence can become socially rewarding in a very twisted way.

I noticed that Boll sometimes allows his narrator rather ironic asides, often caustic, where other times the narration is as straightforward as any police report.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Question #16 - Art has a social function?

Unread postby Buster » Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:43 pm

Yeah, I read this as tongue-in-cheek, as well.

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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Question #16 - Art has a social function?

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:35 pm

Yeah, I read it as biting sarcasm as well. Not only with the “social function” aspect, but he also seemed to be saying that anything passes for “art”, just as anything passes for “journalism”. As if he was disgusted with the whole lot at that moment.

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