Hubert von Goisern


Miscellaneous: 2006

"Homeland is memory"

Kleine Zeitung 10th September 2006 | Text: Bernd Melichar, Frido Hütter | Photo: Franz Neumayr

At the point at which he was most successful, he refused commerce.
Hubert von Goisern on homeland, parties and a world without boundaries.

Hubert von GoisernMr Goisern, you probably know where the Danube flows to, but where does it have its source?

The Danube originates in the Black Forest. I don't know where exactly.

The background to the question: At a demonstration against the Black-Blue government in February 2000, you said: "If 40% of Austrians don't know where the Danube flows to, then how should they know where a government with Haider flows to?

Well, if someone doesn't know the geographical basics, then he won't know much about what's going on in the world, either - and is thereby easily manipulated. For me, it's about this disinterest, that is basically undermining democracy. If one is not interested in who is doing what in government, if they think that, they do want they want too.

Is the disinterest in one's own country connected to the disinterest in politics?

Yes, and this disinterest often goes hand in hand with ever fewer people getting involved. One prefers to order one's Acker, or be a clock puncher, go home in the evening, concern oneself with nothing and take no responsibility for what's happening all around.

Can one also define this "all around" as "homeland"? You have sung about shepherdesses and alpenglow, given concerts in the African savannah and do a lot for Tibet. Where does your homeland lie?

I think that my homeland is here, in Salzburg. My wife, my children are here. Goisern is homeland too, where I like to be and am time and time again, because I have family and friends there. On the other hand, in July I was in Lappland for the fourth time and that is already also like going back, going home. Each time, when I then return south again to home, I think that I don't actually want to leave. For me, homeland has something to do with memory, but with security too. Through the gypsy-like life a musician leads and which I like to lead, I quickly feel at home, even when I am only there a couple of hours.

Could one also call homeland a kind of geographical soundtrack?

That might not be a bad expression. When I begin to play music, then I am at home in the music, I don't see anything else, then I do have my eyes open, but the perception is secondary. The music is the space and the sounds are lighthouses between which I navigate.

Before we become too poetic, we will betake ourselves again to the lowlands of politics. Five years ago, you thought the political situation in Austria was enough to make one cry, what do you think of it today?

Well, a feeling has crept in of everything being ok in the political landscape. Schüssel has a good feeling for it, whereby he removes the tension by not speaking about the subjects which are really fascinating.

On the basis of your political resumé, we assumed that you are not a big fan of Schüssel.

I believe nonetheless, that he is the most skilful politician we have at the moment. But this skill unfortunately outweighs his visionary strength. For otherwise it must have occurred to him that the education policy has been a disaster since he has been Chancellor, his finance minister shows substantial shortcomings, except in counting and being smart, and his Vice-Chancellor is a laughing stock.

And your sympathies for the left?

Unfortunately, I can't stand Gusenbauer. Just in the way he speaks, it has something so smug about it. I'm really suffering because I think it would be important to counter Schüssel with something, it's just not Gusi.

You have seen a lot of the world. Is there a social model anywhere, which you would favour over the Austrian one?

No. I think that, despite all the problems, we are still something like an island of the blessed. It's just that the projection of this blessedness isn't working any more. Before, in the 70s and 80s, one could project this blessedness and through that there was also a much greater serenity in the circumstances.

We have spoken about what you don't like. What do you wish for from this country, from this world?

In the sense of John Lennon's Imagine, I wish for a world without boundaries, without nations, without religions and no political parties.

Hubert von Goisern is a dreamer?

No, because I know that it will be a while yet, until it comes to that and until then, parties are a necessary evil. Just as religions are a necessary evil. Man needs something to hold onto. But the great sense of community, that we are all on one world and dependent on each other, is difficult for me to realise and experience too. Those are the great moments that everyone has, where you feel really connected with everybody and no longer have to say "I'm a Christian" in order to live belief.

That means that you don't need any political parties to function as a politically-thinking person?

Parties always have these tendencies towards demarcation. The moment that you say: "For us, it goes from here to there", everything outside is gone and no longer belongs. And I think that's a shame. But the moment that you say, we are a party, which goes 360 degrees around, the whole thing doesn't have a profile any more and doesn't work either. For a party, as the name says, can only ever be a part, never the whole thing. It is a dilemma. We live in a time where everything is breaking up and the old structures are not suitable any more. There are some new structures, but they are still unfamiliar. So we hold to the old, familiar structures. Even if they are not suitable any more.