Uskyldens paradoks



Det måtte blive bamser, som Studio Total lod dale i faldskærm over Minsk sidste måned. Bamsen har særstatus i vestlig kultur som en uantastelig størrelse, vi ikke kan sige noget dårligt om. Selv i selskab med de skarpe tænder, som var Peter Lautrops tidlige billedunivers, magten uden menneskelighed - kan de aldrig virkelig få skovlen under en sådan lille fyr. Den går blot sin vej.

It had to be teddy bears that Studio Total let parachute over Minsk last month. The bear has a special status in Western culture as an unassailable creature, about whom we cannot say anything bad. Even in the company of the Sharp Teethed Ones from the early pictorial universe of Peter Lautrop; those who embody power without humanity, even they can never really get to grips with such a little guy. It just turns around and goes its own way.

Peter Lautrop - Bamsernes Befrielsesfront,
illustration fra bogen af samme navn ved Forlaget Politisk Revy.
Peter Lautrop: "The Teddy Bears' Liberation Front"

Af samme årsag har bamsen som begreb aldrig været nuttet eller insisteret på at strø sukker ud over en desillusioneret verden.

Som Adorno opsummerede i sin diskussion om umuligheden af ​​at skrive digte efter Holocaust: Der er ikke længere plads til kunsten; men der er behov for kunsten. Ligefrem et udråb om en type af kunst, som ikke udglatter og afbøder. Bamsen er en enhed af blødt nærvær, der fungerer som en slags stødpude mod verden, men dens uskyld ligger i en ubestikkelighed. Når den konfronteres med krav og undergravelse fra de blottede tænder, preller det af på den. Den holder verden i armslængde.

Bamser er dertil et eksempel på bladtegning, der har vundet en udbredelse, så stort set alle børn i den vestlige verden gennem foreløbig et århundrede er vokset op med dem. Clifford K. Berryman var tegneren, som i The Washington Post greb en jagtsituation i november 1902, hvor den amerikanske præsident, Theodore D. Roosevelt, nægtede at skyde en indfanget sortbjørn efter en jagt med sølle udbytte i Mississippi.

For the very same reason the notion of the teddy bear has never been saccharine, insisting on sugaring a disenchanted world.

When Adorno summed up to his argument of the impossibility of writing poetry after Holocaust that there was no longer any room for art, he concluded: But there is a need for art. A cry out even for an art, which does not smooth and mitigate. The teddy bear is an entity of cuddly presence, which acts as a sort of buffer against the world, but its innocence is of the incorruptible kind. When confronted with the threats or lures of the Exposed Teeth, it couldn't care any less. It keeps the world at arm's length.

The teddy bear is an example of a cartoon so widely distributed that for the past century virtually all children in the Western world have grown up with a bear. Clifford K. Berryman was the cartoonist, who in "The Washington Post" added a twist to a hunting situation in November 1902, when the U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, refused to shoot a captured black bear following a hunt with a paltry outcome in Mississippi.

Clifford K. Berryman: Drawing the Line. 1902, The Washington Post.
Better title for a cartoon is hardly to be found.

Bjørnen var gammel, træt og såret efter indfangningen, og præsidenten har fundet det usportsligt at lege jæger i den situation. De lokale har febrilsk søgt at gøre jagten til succes: "Se her, Hr. Præsident, denne er lige til at ramme". Men man forstår præsidenten, der udmærket har vidst , at hans politiske modstandere ville gøre tykt nar ad en statsleder, der kun kan slå til, når byttet allerede er nedlagt.

Berryman tegnede Roosevelt, der slog hånden afvisende ud mod bjørnen. Denne var først en voksen bjørn, men da tegningen blev solgt videre til andre blade, var den blevet en bjørneunge med buskede ører og barneansigt. Allerede året efter boomede markedet af syede plysbamser.

The bear was old, tired and had been wounded at the capture, and the President found it dishonorable to act the hunter in that situation. The locals have frantically tried to make the hunt a success: "Look here, Mr. President, it is right here, just waiting to be shot". But we do understand the President, who very well knew that his political opponents would ridicule a state leader, who can only strike when the victim has already surrendered.

Berryman drew Roosevelt with outstretched hand in disgust towards the bear. The first drawing showed a grown bear, but when it was sold on to other magazines, the bear had turned into a baby-faced cub with bushy ears. The ensuing year the market boomed with sewn teddy bears.

Clifford K. Berryman, Theodore Roosevelt as Rough Rider
The date is not known (1902-1940), Library of Congress.

Bamsen blev en fast følgesvend i Berrymans tegninger af Roosevelt. Amerikansk tegnetradition forevigede på denne tid statsmænd stående eller siddende som urørlige søjler, mens verdens støj hvirvlede omkring dem. Den enkelte politikers handlinger, såsom beslutninger og erklæringer blev derfor beskrevet gennem politikerens særlige kendetegn, som hele handlingen blev lagt over på.

Roosevelt fik sin bamse, og allerede i den første tegning forbliver præsidenten urørligt rank, mens bamsen udtrykker undren med åben mund og angst med runde øjne. Roosevelt takkede siden Berryman for den store andel, som tegningerne havde i præsidentens popularitet.

En dejlig historie i sig, ikke mindst fordi bamseskikkelsen straks viste sig at formå at være en nuanceret medvirkende, selvom han i Berrymans streg var det moralsk gode i et politisk forrevet landskab.

The bear became a permanent companion in Berryman's drawings of Roosevelt. The American cartooning tradition at this time would have the politician standing or sitting in stately seclusion as if an immovable pillar around which the noise of the world would be swirling. The specific actions of the politician, such as his resolutions and declarations, would then be described through his already established attributes, onto which the entire plot of the drawing was ascribed.

Roosevelt got his teddy bear, and from the onset, in fact from the very first drawing, the President could hold his head high remaining untouchable, while the bear acted out surprise and anxiety with rounded eyes and an open mouth. Later on Roosevelt would send Berryman his thanks for the large share the cartoonist had had in the popularity of the President.

A delightful story in itself, not least since the bear immediately proved  able to be a nuanced associate to the whole, even if it in the line of Berryman continued to be the moral good in a rugged political landscape.

E.H. Shepard, illustration from A.A. Milne, The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh.

Det andet, store nedslag i bamsens historie skete 20 år senere og var også tegnet - A.A. Milnes Winnie-the Pooh med tegninger af E.H. Shepard, der på dansk blev til Peter Plys. Plys blev introduceret til verden, mens han bumpede sit baghoved mod hvert trappetrin på vej ned ad en trappe. Og her gjorde han det modsatte af, hvad det 20. århundrede forventede af ham. Han opfattede sig ikke som et offer for ubetænksom barnevold. På intet tidspunkt udråbte han hvilken gru, han arme væsen blev udsat for - offerets status medfører ellers ret til at klage sig, at protestere og gøre krav. Det 20. århundrede dyrkede offerrollen intenst. Nazisterne legitimerede deres vold ved at udråbe, at ingen forstod dem.

Plys derimod brugte mellemrummet fra det ene bump til det næste til at overveje, om der dog ikke var alternative løsninger til at forcere trappen.

Forskellen er afgørende. I sin uskyld tør bamsen spørge helt ind til kernen af verden og er heri et anarkistisk væsen. Ikke revolutionært, for den gøre sig ingen tanker om, at andre skal gøre som den selv. Den finder bare sine egne veje.

The second major chapter in the history of the teddy bear took place 20 years later and this too happened to be of the drawn kind. Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne with drawings by E. H. Shepard. Pooh was introduced to the world while bumping the back of his head on each step going down a flight of stairs. While doing so, he drew the opposite conclusion of what the 20th century expected of him. He did not see himself as a victim of thoughtless child abuse. Not at any time did he proclaim the horror, he poor fellow was being exposed to even if the status of the victim means he would be entitled to complain, protest and make demands. The 20th century produced an intense cultivation of the role of the victim. The Nazis legitimized their violence by proclaiming how terribly misunderstood they were by everyone.

Pooh on the other hand used the interim from the one bump of his head to the next to consider the case, whether there were alternative ways to descend a staircase.

The difference is crucial. In its innocence, the teddy bear dares question the core of things and is herein an anarchic creature. Not a revolutionary creature, since it has no intention of making anyone follow in its steps. It just goes in its own direction.

"Avoid all strife, each bear its own demonstration".
A teddy bear in a nutshell, by Peter Lautrop and his "The Teddy Bears' Liberation Front":
 Bamsernes Befrielsesfront, published by Forlaget Politisk Revy.

"Bamser er jo vidne til mange utrolige oplevelser mellem mennesker. De er til stede hver gang og er straks parate til at hjælpe dem til en dybere forståelse", som Peter Lautrop siger. Men på samme tid som bamsen giver sig helt og fuldt, forbliver den sin egen. Det er bamsens paradoks. 

"Bears witness many incredible experiences between people. They are present each and every time and are ready to help them reach a deeper understanding", as Peter Lautrop says. But at the same time as the bear gives its all, it remains its own. It is the paradox of the teddy bear.

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