Ian Buruma is fascinated, he writes, “by what makes the human species
behave atrociously.” In *Theater of Cruelty* the acclaimed author of
*The Wages of Guilt* and *Year Zero: A History of 1945* once again turns
to World War II to explore that question—to the Nazi occupation of
Paris, the Allied bombing of German cities, the international
controversies over Anne Frank’s diaries, Japan’s militarist
intellectuals and its kamikaze pilots.
One way that people respond to
power and cruelty, Buruma argues, is through art, and the art that most
interests him reveals the dark impulses beneath the veneer of civilized
behavior. This is what draws him to German and Japanese artists such as
Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Mishima Yukio, and
Yokoo Tadanori, as well as to filmmakers such as Werner Herzog, Rainer
Werner Fassbinder, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, and Hans-Juergen Syberberg. All
were affected by fascism and its terrible consequences; all “looked into
the abyss and made art of what they saw.”
Whether he is writing in this
wide-ranging collection about war, artists, or film—or about David
Bowie’s music, R. Crumb’s drawings, the Palestinians of the West Bank,
or Asian theme parks—Ian Buruma brings sympathetic historical insight
and shrewd aesthetic judgment to understanding the diverse ways that
people deal with violence and cruelty in life and in art.
Theater of Cruelty includes eight pages of color and black & white images.
Boktitel: Theater of Cruelty. Art, Film, and the Shadows of War Författare: Ian Buruma Bokförlag: nyrb