After all Austria is a state of mind. Like a long, heavy hangover from cheap white (Ger., Eng.) and NIL-cigarettes (overview, article Ger., traditionally oval and made from oriental tabaccos). Most parts of Austria (Ger., Eng.) are covered by mountains and so of no further interest here: It’s good for mountaineers, hunters and people who like to get lost in avalanches. Next to this impressing natural scenery is Wien, Vienna. Wien was the capital of one of the largest global spanning empires before the British even knew how to handle a ship, before America stumbled into white christian history. China, India, the Osman Empire and Russia were already in existence.
This metropole is stuffed with history, art, culture and lots of crazy people. The average Austrian hates all and everything (women, non-catholics, gays, name it!) and loves small dogs. And Wiener Schnitzel, and sometimes … yeah. The Austrian society is partly still somewhere in the 1950s and wants to stay there. They play, f.e. at the Opernball (Ger., Eng.), re-enact, the “good old times” – that is pre WW I, when the good old Kaiser (Ger., Eng.) was still in command – a desire for style, for nobility, greatness … melancholia with gold rimming.
What makes a difference between the Austrian society and the West-German one is the year 1968 and what it caused. The revolt of the students thirty years ago did change the face of the western German society beyond recognition, as did the French spring of anarchy (Mai 1968). Such a thing did not happen in the good conservative, catholic “Alpen-Republik”. The elites stayed unchanged, well I guess since 1918.
Vienna was and particularily is still a hotbed for new developments in art, in culture. The Spießer‘s (Ger., Eng. – this English article is not really fitting) “Wurschtigkeit” couldn’t-care-less-attitude, the still large amount of money (there are still Mäzene), the influx of a large variety of foreign impulses – remember Vienna was the capital of an empire, it is the western gate of Europe to the East – made the scene brizzeling.
Generally speaking the Austrians hate their artists while they are alive, as it happened to Thomas Bernhard (Ger., Eng.), happens to Elfriede Jelinek (Ger., Eng.) and others. A lot of writers worked themselves up on that special Viennese melancholic melange, and finally payed with their health as f.e. Helmut Qualtinger (Ger., Eng.), whose “Herr Karl” is a history lesson at it’s best, describes and explaines a lot, a whole generation – and their larmoyant self-styling as “victims”, yeah nobody came to the “Heldenplatz” (Ger. only, “Anschluss” Ger., Eng.), only accidentially … and Haider (Ger., Eng.) was just “Einer von uns” (one of us).
I think looking at the fine art of caricature of a land helps to understand and for Austria that means to look at the work of Manfred Deix (Ger. only, for a photogallery go here). The various scandals over the years that shattered Austria (bribery, pedophily, mafia-like structures), did not really change it – Deix and friends paint, draw and write, but the Austrian remains the same. “Und wirft der Arsch auch Falten, wir bleiben doch die Alten.”
To be fair, they are leapfrogging forward, as any non-developed country, and there is something as a “New Austria”, especially in economical terms.
And when you are fed up with Deixens flabby swelling ugly meat, have a look here, as an antidote.