A recent doco, along the lines of the Ark of the Covenant movie ending, [the warehouse containing all the inconvenient horrors], expounded the theory of the fate of the Amber Room. It also mentioned the Spear of Destiny, a relic from Roman times, belonging to the corpus of Grail mysticism, the Opferschale, or sacrificial cup of Wagnerian opera.
The Amber Room was a Baroque chamber totally covered with panels of fragile amber mosaics; it had been constructed by Prussian master craftsmen and given as a diplomatic gesture to the Russians of St Petersburg. What is disturbing about the image is that at the end of World War Two, it seems that Nazi art collectors attempted to plunder it from the captured St Petersburg to be returned to Germany to form part of a museum to Germanic greatness. Ask the underpaid artisans how they might feel about such an interpretation being placed on their work.
It reminded me of some middle class work colleagues whom I overheard one evening asserting the superiority of western over of indigenous culture. When I hear such a verbal riposte, it always comes from people who live lives of middle class poseur-dom, at that intersection of art appreciation & social ritual, people who, themselves, practise very little of the art they champion. They would not write, draw or play music; they are to be seen, dressed immaculately, cigarette in hand, imitating the many affectations of Oscar Wilde. However, he at least balanced appearance and inner development. He described it as being overdressed as well as over-educated. In Australia, as doubtless in the UK, the USA and Canada, it was a camp, middle class minority, affected and Anglo-Saxon, who expressed themselves thus.
Meanwhile, people like myself were rising through the ranks, getting a university education, which meant coming into contact with such a milieu; the education should have provided me with professional & thus separatist employment; certainly, the education gave one pause for thought. My background was multi-cultural, which denied access to a simple cultural identification. My parents were Dutch and Italian/Slovenian, and spoke half a dozen languages between them. From my mother’s culture I learned of such giants as Mario Magajna and Jose Plecnik who synthesised the various elements of their backgrounds. Plecnik is a still largely unrecognised genius who combined elements of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. It will be many generations before the many cultures recently emerged in Australia have fully contributed to its cultural landscape.