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Reversing the Anthem of Europe to Signal Distress

Transcending crises of governance via reverse music and reverse speech? (Part #1)

Reversal of music
Angelic versus Demonic music?
Doublespeak, reverse speech and Freudian slips?
Questionable denial and condemnation by authorities
Sonification of the European problematique and resolutique?
Implications of directionality of reading for directionality of governance?
Symbolic public performance of the European Anthem in reverse?
Mitridate, Re di Ponto -- a response by Mozart to the European crisis of governance

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European governance is currently faced with multiple crises. Its capacity to respond effectively is increasingly called into question, if only by increasing levels of popular discontent and active unrest. The crisis of governance in Europe is however but a reflection of the crisis of governance around the world -- and at the global level.

The central symbol of European governance, and of the values which it claims to uphold, is the Anthem of Europe. The Ode to Joy is the anthem of both the European Union and of the Council of Europe. The latter has recognized that, as a semi-modern composition with a mythological flair, it does represent Europe as a whole, rather than any particular organization. Based on the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (1823), it is one of the best known works of classical music and is played on official occasions by both organizations.

The anthem was to have been included in the European Constitution along with the other European symbols; however, the treaty failed ratification and was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which does not include any symbols. A declaration was attached to the treaty, in which sixteen member states formally recognized the proposed symbols. The European Parliament subsequently decided to play the anthem at the opening of Parliament after elections and at formal sittings.

The question raised here is whether current use of the anthem in a world in crisis is increasingly an indication of the manner in which the nature of that crisis is ignored. As such it reinforces an outdated pattern of thinking at a time when new thinking is required in order to transcend the crises of governance.

As a symbol, it is appropriate to note that the Ode to Joy was composed in the final years of his life when Beethoven was completely deaf. Performance of the anthem at this time might be provocatively compared to the notorious orchestral performances for the Auschwitz authorities and inmates by musicians from that concentration camp (notably the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz). Will the future consider current use of the Ode to Joy as equally perverse?

Although universally recognized as highly innovative, notably through inclusion of human voices, current use of the 9th Symphony raises the question as to whether other "voices" now urgently merit recognition in any symbolic composition -- given the patterns of thinking which have emerged since that time. In musical terms these are now typically in total contrast to symphonic music. They might even be said to be more consistent with the sounds of gunfire, cited as a background at the time of its composition (whether literally or metaphorically).

Curiously the music which has since emerged bears some resemblance to the playing of classical music backwards. Known as reverse music, it continues to be the subject of controversy associated with its early use in backmasking. In terms of classical musical tastes, rather than having the "angelic" quality of an anthem, it is effectively considered as an anathema, even "demonic" -- although potentially appealing to the tastes of wider portions of the population. No attempt has been made to reframe global initiatives in musical terms, as separately discussed (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006; Reframing the EU Reform Process -- through Song: responding to the Irish challenge to the Lisbon Treaty, 2008).

Conventional governance is now recognized as both surreal as well as inadequate (Surreal Nature of Current Global Governance as Experienced, 2016). The latter point introduced a more extensive discussion (Engaging with Hyperreality through Demonique and Angelique? 2016). This concluded with a discussion of the role of music, citing the role of reverse music (Engaging Creatively with Hyperreality through Music, 2016). Reference was also made to the even more controversial role of reverse speech, with the suggestion that this might be related to the doublespeak of which authorities are accused ever more frequently at this time (Enabling Suffering through Doublespeak and Doublethink, 2013; Occupying the Moral and Ethical High Ground through Doublespeak, 2013).

The argument here is that the key to any alternative mode of thinking, however controversial, may well be suggested by some form of reversal of the current modality -- especially the capacity to understand its complementary function. Despite antipathy to the demonic, the extent of "demonisation" of those who fail to "sing from the same hymn sheet" is widely evident -- most notably between political factions variously proposing alternative strategies . With respect to any anthem, "hymn sheet" may then be an especially inappropriate metaphor.

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