Picking Up the Pieces

Picking Up the Pieces

Zig Zag: The Politics of
Culture and Vice Versa
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
(trans. Linda Haverty Rugg, et al.)
The New Press, 1998 342 pp $25

Here is a cherished anecdote told every now and then at Wesleyan University, where I teach. It involves the German poet, essayist, and social critic Hans Magnus Enzensberger, who had come to spend a year, 1967 – 1968, as a fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for Advanced Studies. During
his first semester, so the story goes, Enzensberger found himself increasingly disillusioned with American politics and with what he saw as an oppressive atmosphere that precluded active engagement among the students and faculty. He felt detached, stifled, incapable of completing his two-term stint. Thus, after only three months of residency, he
abandoned Middletown, Connecticut for Havana, Cuba—a place where he believed he would be far more apt to fulfill his ideological
dreams. “I just feel that I can learn more from the Cuban people and be of greater use to them,” he explained, “than I could ever be to the students of Wesleyan University.”

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