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vendredi, 13 septembre 2013

La morte per Jünger: l’inizio di un qualcosa

La morte per Jünger: l’inizio di un qualcosa

 

di Luigi Iannone

Ex: http://www.azionetradizionale.com

La grandezza di Ernst Jünger sta nell’aver conosciuto e intellettualmente dominato il moderno carattere faustiano della tecnica, gli scenari di crisi aperti dai totalitarismi e di aver intuito l’accelerazione del tempo. E, infatti, in Italia, la sua recezione si snoda attraverso una mole enorme di saggi scientifici che ne scandagliano in profondità questi aspetti. La biografia scritta da Heimo Schwilk (Ernst Junger. Una vita lunga un secolo, Effatà editrice, pp.720), amico personale di Jünger, è la prima nel nostro Paese e quindi apre finalmente una prospettiva completamente nuova integrando i temi della produzione saggistica con le vicende private.

Come era la giornata tipo di Jünger?

«Non era uno scrittore disciplinato, faceva quello che in quel momento gli passava per la mente. Sulla scrivania c’erano sempre più progetti in contemporanea, lettere, manoscritti, su due o tre livelli, e sempre tantissimi insetti. Ma si faceva facilmente distogliere dal lavoro. Bastava si presentasse una persona interessante per indurlo ad alzarsi e a dedicarsi ad essa. E poi amava moltissimo la televisione e guardava i telefilm del Tenente Colombo

Commentava le lotte partitiche degli anni ottanta?

«Aveva un distacco totale. Quando il cancelliere Helmut Schmidt perse le elezioni e Helmut Kohl divenne cancelliere, il suo commento fu laconico: “Un Helmut va, un Helmut viene”. Kohl ha cercato molto la vicinanza di Jünger, perché riteneva che la cosa gli desse prestigio, per cui andava spesso a trovarlo. Io gli chiesi: “Come mai viene così spesso?” Lui mi rispose: “Adesso basta, la mia capacità di averlo vicino è arrivata al limite”.»

In privato che giudizio dava di Kohl, Mitterand e Gonzalez?

«Kohl non era un intenditore di letteratura né un conoscitore dell’opera jüngeriana. Discorreva soprattutto della sua storia personale e Jünger ascoltava senza essere coinvolto. Quando intervenne al novantesimo compleanno di Jünger, quest’ultimo aveva appena pubblicato Un incontro pericoloso; nella dedica ironicamente gli scrisse: “Dopo un incontro non pericoloso”. Con Mitterand il dialogo era facilitato dal fatto che il Presidente francese aveva una profonda conoscenza della sua opera e nel suo staff personale c’era anche un traduttore dei libri di Jünger. González era invece un intenditore di botanica e quindi si trovavano in sintonia su questo tema.»

Il crollo del Muro lo colpì enormemente.

«“Sono molto felice che la Germania è stata riunificata”, fu il suo primo commento. Poi fece una pausa e aggiunse: “Ma ne manca ancora un terzo”, riferendosi ai territori ancora oggi parte di Polonia e Russia.»

Ha mai parlato del fatto di non aver ricevuto il Premio Nobel?

«Con me non ha mai parlato del Nobel, ma io so che l’ambasciatore Dufner, profondo conoscitore di Jünger, si era rivolto al governo tedesco affinché lo proponesse al comitato del Nobel; la risposta fu che rischiava di non essere accettato e questo sarebbe stato negativo per la sua reputazione. Fu una scusa. Comunque è nella Bibliothèque de la Pléiade dell’editore Gallimard. E lì ci sono soltanto tre tedeschi: Kafka, Brecht e Jünger.»

Come affrontò la morte?

«Ne parlava dicendo che la morte era per lui una grande curiosità. La stava aspettando perché la considerava l’inizio di un qualcosa. Aveva fatto una collezione delle ultime parole di molte persone che stavano per morire, perché voleva capire cosa si provasse di fronte alla morte. Ma la sua morte non è stata spettacolare; è morto in ospedale, anche se avevano già comprato un letto speciale per poterlo accudire a casa. Ho chiesto alla moglie se avesse detto un’ultima frase e mi ha risposto che il giorno prima aveva parlato tantissimo, ma al momento di lasciare questa vita è rimasto muto, impenetrabile. L’ultimo anno godeva di buona salute, ma la sua scrivania era praticamente vuota, non faceva quasi più niente: “Dopo cent’anni”, disse, “è stato detto abbastanza”. »

Può chiarirci le idee sulla questione della conversione?

«Jünger aveva sempre avuto una predisposizione favorevole verso il cattolicesimo, specie perché la madre, bavarese, era cattolica mentre il padre era protestante. Insomma, era come vivere un ecumenismo familiare che gli aveva dato una grande apertura su questi temi. Negli anni Venti gli piaceva molto il cattolicesimo perché era una religione combattiva, difensiva di norme certe, mentre da parte dei protestanti vedeva un abbandono di queste posizioni che avrebbe poi portato a quelli che definiva due grandi tradimenti: quello dei Deutsche Christen, schierati con il nazismo e quello della Kirche im Sozialismus integrata nel sistema comunista. Ammirava tantissimo i Gesuiti e il loro stile di vita e negli ultimi anni, viveva non lontano da casa sua un prete polacco che aveva combattuto il comunismo ed era stato vicino a Karol Wojtyła. Questo fatto lo attirava non poco. Si è convertito a 101 anni dicendo: “Adesso è venuto il momento di tornare nel luogo a me familiare, il cattolicesimo che ho conosciuto da mia madre”.»

 Fonte: Il Borghese- Agosto, Settembre 2013

jeudi, 12 septembre 2013

Ernst Jünger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch

ernst_juenger_1935.jpg

Ernst Jünger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch 8

by Keith Preston

Ex: http://www.attackthesystem.com

Perhaps the most interesting, poignant and, possibly, threatening  type of writer and thinker is the one who not only defies conventional categorizations of thought but also offers a deeply penetrating critique of those illusions many hold to be the most sacred. Ernst Junger (1895-1998), who first came to literary prominence during Germany’s Weimar era as a diarist of the experiences of a front line stormtrooper during the Great War, is one such writer. Both the controversial nature of his writing and its staying power are demonstrated by the fact that he remains one of the most important yet widely disliked literary and cultural figures of twentieth century Germany. As recently as 1993, when Junger would have been ninety-eight years of age, he was the subject of an intensely hostile exchange in the “New York Review of Books” between an admirer and a detractor of his work.(1) On the occasion of his one hundreth birthday in 1995, Junger was the subject of a scathing, derisive musical performed in East Berlin. Yet Junger was also the recipient of Germany’s most prestigious literary awards, the Goethe Prize and the Schiller Memorial Prize. Junger, who converted to Catholicism at the age of 101, received a commendation from Pope John Paul II and was an honored guest of French President Francois Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Franco-German reconciliation ceremony at Verdun in 1984. Though he was an exceptional achiever during virtually every stage of his extraordinarily long life, it was his work during the Weimar period that not only secured for a Junger a presence in German cultural and political history, but also became the standard by which much of his later work was evaluated and by which his reputation was, and still is, debated. (2)


Ernst Junger was born on March 29, 1895 in Heidelberg, but was raised in Hanover. His father, also named Ernst, was an academically trained chemist who became wealthy as the owner of a pharmaceutical manufacturing business, finding himself successful enough to essentially retire while he was still in his forties. Though raised as an evangelical Protestant, Junger’s father did not believe in any formal religion, nor did his mother, Karoline, an educated middle class German woman whose interests included Germany’s rich literary tradition and the cause of women’s emancipation. His parents’ politics seem to have been liberal, though not radical, in the manner not uncommon to the rising bourgeoise of Germany’s upper middle class during the pre-war period. It was in this affluent, secure bourgeoise environment that Ernst Junger grew up. Indeed, many of Junger’s later activities and professed beliefs are easily understood as a revolt against the comfort and safety of his upbringing. As a child, he was an avid reader of the tales of adventurers and soldiers, but a poor academic student who did not adjust well to the regimented Prussian educational system. Junger’s instructors consistently complained of his inattentiveness. As an adolescent, he became involved with the Wandervogel, roughly the German equivalent of the Boy Scouts.(3)


It was while attending a boarding school near his parents’ home in 1913, at the age of seventeen, that Junger first demonstrated his first propensity for what might be called an “adventurist” way of life. With only six months left before graduation, Junger left school, leaving no word to his family as to his destination. Using money given to him for school-related fees and expenses to buy a firearm and a railroad ticket to Verdun,  Junger subsequently enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, an elite military unit of the French armed forces that accepted enlistees of any nationality and had a reputation for attracting fugitives, criminals and career mercenaries. Junger had no intention of staying with the Legion. He only wanted to be posted to Africa, as he eventually was. Junger then deserted, only to be captured and sentenced to jail. Eventually his father found a capable lawyer for his wayward son and secured his release. Junger then returned to his studies and underwent a belated high school graduation. However, it was only a very short time later that Junger was back in uniform. (4)


Warrior and War Diarist


Ernst Junger immediately volunteered for military service when he heard the news that Germany was at war in the summer of 1914. After two months of training, Junger was assigned to a reserve unit stationed at Champagne. He was afraid the war would end before he had the opportunity to see any action. This attitude was not uncommon among many recruits or conscripts who fought in the war for their respective states. The question immediately arises at to why so many young people would wish to look into the face of death with such enthusiasm. Perhaps they really did not understand the horrors that awaited them. In Junger’s case, his rebellion against the security and luxury of his bourgeoise upbringing had already been ably demonstrated by his excursion with the French Foreign Legion. Because of his high school education, something that soldiers of more proletarian origins lacked, Junger was selected to train to become an officer. Shortly before beginning his officer’s training, Junger was exposed to combat for the first time. From the start, he carried pocket-sized notebooks with him and recorded his observations on the front lines. His writings while at the front exhibit a distinctive tone of detachment, as though he is simply an observer watching while the enemy fires at others. In the middle part of 1915, Junger suffered his first war wound, a bullet graze to the thigh that required only two weeks of recovery time. Afterwards, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.(5)


At age twenty-one, Junger was the leader of a reconnaissance team at the Somme whose purpose was to go out at night and search for British landmines. Early on, he acquired the reputation of a brave soldier who lacked the preoccupation with his own safety common to most of the fighting men. The introduction of steel artifacts into the war, tanks for the British side and steel helmets for the Germans, made a deep impression on Junger. Wounded three times at the Somme, Junger was awarded the Iron Medal First Class. Upon recovery, he returned to the front lines. A combat daredevil, he once held out against a much larger British force with only twenty men. After being transferred to fight the French at Flanders, he lost ten of his fourteen men and was wounded in the left hand by a blast from French shelling. After being harshly criticized by a superior officer for the number of men lost on that particular mission, Junger began to develop a contempt for the military hierarchy whom he regarded as having achieved their status as a result of their class position, frequently lacking combat experience of their own. In late 1917, having already experienced nearly three full years of combat, Junger was wounded for the fifth time during a surprise assault by the British. He was grazed in the head by a bullet, acquiring two holes in his helmet in the process. His performance in this battle won him the Knights Cross of the Hohenzollerns. In March 1918, Junger participated in another fierce battle with the British, losing 87 of his 150 men. (6)


Nothing impressed Junger more than personal bravery and endurance on the part of soldiers. He once “fell to the ground in tears” at the sight of a young recruit who had only days earlier been unable to carry an ammunition case by himself suddenly being able to carry two cases of missles after surviving an attack of British shells. A recurring theme in Junger’s writings on his war experiences is the way in which war brings out the most savage human impulses. Essentially, human beings are given full license to engage in behavior that would be considered criminal during peacetime. He wrote casually about burning occupied towns during the course of retreat or a shift of position. However, Junger also demonstrated a capacity for merciful behavior during his combat efforts. He refrained from shooting a cornered British soldier after the foe displayed a portrait of his family to Junger. He was wounded yet again in August of 1918. Having been shot in the chest and directly through a lung, this was his most serious wound yet. After being hit, he still managed to shoot dead yet another British officer. As Junger was being carried off the battlefield on a stretcher, one of the stretcher carriers was killed by a British bullet. Another German soldier attempted to carry Junger on his back, but the soldier was shot dead himself and Junger fell to the ground. Finally, a medic recovered him and pulled him out of harm’s way. This episode would be the end of his battle experiences during the Great War.(7)


In Storms of Steel


Junger’s keeping of his wartime diaries paid off quite well in the long run. They were to become the basis of his first and most famous book, In Storms of Steel, published in 1920. The title was given to the book by Junger himself, having found the phrase in an old Icelandic saga. It was at the suggestion of his father that Junger first sought to have his wartime memoirs published. Initially, he found no takers, antiwar sentiment being extremely high in Germany at the time, until his father at last arranged to have the work published privately. In Storms of Steel differs considerably from similar works published by war veterans during the same era, such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and John Dos Passos’ Three Soldiers. Junger’s book reflects none of the disillusionment with war by those experienced in its horrors of the kind found in these other works. Instead, Junger depicted warfare as an adventure in which the soldier faced the highest possible challenge, a battle to the death with a mortal enemy. Though Junger certainly considered himself to be a patriot and, under the influence of Maurice Barres (8), eventually became a strident German nationalist, his depiction of military combat as an idyllic setting where human wills face the supreme test rose far above ordinary nationalist sentiments. Junger’s warrior ideal was not merely the patriot fighting out of a profound sense of loyalty to his country  nor the stereotype of the dutiful soldier whose sense of honor and obedience compels him to follow the orders of his superiors in a headlong march towards death. Nor was the warrior prototype exalted by Junger necessarily an idealist fighting for some alleged greater good such as a political ideal or religious devotion. Instead, war itself is the ideal for Junger. On this question, he was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche, whose dictum “a good war justifies any cause”, provides an apt characterization of Junger’s depiction of the life (and death) of the combat soldier. (9)


This aspect of Junger’s outlook is illustrated quite well by the ending he chose to give to the first edition of In Storms of Steel. Although the second edition (published in 1926) ends with the nationalist rallying cry, “Germany lives and shall never go under!”, a sentiment that was deleted for the third edition published in 1934 at the onset of the Nazi era, the original edition ends simply with Junger in the hospital after being wounded for the final time and receiving word that he has received yet another commendation for his valor as a combat soldier. There is no mention of Germany’s defeat a few months later. Nationalism aside, the book is clearly about Junger, not about Germany, and Junger’s depiction of the war simultaneously displays an extraordinary level detachment for someone who lived in the face of death for four years and a highly personalized account of the war where battle is first and foremost about the assertion of one’s own “will to power” with cliched patriotic pieties being of secondary concern.


Indeed, Junger goes so far as to say there were winners and losers on both sides of the war. The true winners were not those who fought in a particular army or for a particular country, but who rose to the challenge placed before them and essentially achieved what Junger regarded as a higher state of enlightenment. He believed the war had revealed certain fundamental truths about the human condition. First, the illusions of the old bourgeoise order concerning peace, progress and prosperity had been inalterably shattered. This was not an uncommon sentiment during that time, but it is a revelation that Junger seems to revel in while others found it to be overwhelmingly devastating. Indeed, the lifelong champion of Enlightenment liberalism, Bertrand Russell, whose life was almost as long as Junger’s and who observed many of the same events from a much different philosophical perspective, once remarked that no one who had been born before 1914 knew what it was like to be truly happy.(10) A second observation advanced by Junger had to do with the role of technology in transforming the nature of war, not only in a purely mechanical sense, but on a much greater existential level. Before, man had commanded weaponry in the course of combat. Now weaponry of the kind made possible by modern technology and industrial civilization essentially commanded man. The machines did the fighting. Man simply resisted this external domination. Lastly, the supremacy of might and the ruthless nature of human existence had been demonstrated. Nietzsche was right. The tragic, Darwinian nature of the human condition had been revealed as an irrevocable law.


In Storms of Steel was only the first of several works based on his experiences as a combat officer that were produced by Junger during the 1920s. Copse 125 described a battle between two small groups of combatants. In this work, Junger continued to explore the philosophical themes present in his first work. The type of technologically driven warfare that emerged during the Great War is characterized as reducing men to automatons driven by airplanes, tanks and machine guns. Once again, jingoistic nationalism is downplayed as a contributing factor to the essence of combat soldier’s spirit. Another work of Junger’s from the early 1920s, Battle as Inner Experience, explored the psychology of war. Junger suggested that civilization itself was but a mere mask for the “primordial” nature of humanity that once again reveals itself during war. Indeed, war had the effect of elevating humanity to a higher level. The warrior becomes a kind of god-like animal, divine in his superhuman qualities, but animalistic in his bloodlust. The perpetual threat of imminent death is a kind of intoxicant. Life is at its finest when death is closest. Junger described war as a struggle for a cause that overshadows the respective political or cultural ideals of the combatants. This overarching cause is courage. The fighter is honor bound to respect the courage of his mortal enemy. Drawing on the philosophy of Nietzsche, Junger argued that the war had produced a “new race” that had replaced the old pieties, such as those drawn from religion, with a new recognition of the primacy of the “will to power”.(11)


Conservative Revolutionary


Junger’s writings about the war quickly earned him the status of a celebrity during the Weimar period. Battle as Inner Experience contained the prescient suggestion that the young men who had experienced the greatest war the world had yet to see at that point could never be successfully re-integrated into the old bougeoise order from which they came. For these fighters, the war had been a spiritual experience. Having endured so much only to see their side lose on such seemingly humiliating terms, the veterans of the war were aliens to the rationalistic, anti-militarist, liberal republic that emerged in 1918 at the close of the war. Junger was at his parents’ home recovering from war wounds during the time of the attempted coup by the leftist workers’ and soldiers’ councils and subsequent suppression of these by the Freikorps. He experimented with psychoactive drugs such as cocaine and opium during this time, something that he would continue to do much later in life. Upon recovery, he went back into active duty in the much diminished Germany army. Junger’s earliest works, such as In Storms of Steel, were published during this time and he also wrote for military journals on the more technical and specialized aspects of combat and military technology. Interestingly, Junger attributed Germany’s defeat in the war simply to poor leadership, both military and civilian, and rejected the “stab in the back” legend that consoled less keen veterans.


After leaving the army in 1923, Junger continued to write, producing a novella about a soldier during the war titled Sturm, and also began to study the philosophy of Oswald Spengler. His first work as a philosopher of nationalism appeared the Nazi paper Volkischer Beobachter in September, 1923.


Critiquing the failed Marxist revolution of 1918, Junger argued that the leftist coup failed because of its lacking of fresh ideas. It was simply a regurgitation of the egalitarian outllook of the French Revolution. The revolutionary left appealed only to the material wants of the Germany people in Junger’s views. A successful revolution would have to be much more than that. It would have to appeal to their spiritual or “folkish” instincts as well. Over the next few years Junger studied the natural sciences at the University of Leipzig and in 1925, at age thirty, he married nineteen-year-old Gretha von Jeinsen. Around this time, he also became a full-time political  writer. Junger was hostile to Weimar democracy and its commercial bourgeiose society. His emerging political ideal was one of an elite warrior caste that stood above petty partisan politics and the middle class obsession with material acquisition. Junger became involved with the the Stahlhelm, a right-wing veterans group, and was a contributer to its paper, Die Standardite. He associated himself with the younger, more militant members of the organization who favored an uncompromised nationalist revolution and eschewed the parliamentary system. Junger’s weekly column in Die Standardite disseminated his nationalist ideology to his less educated readers. Junger’s views at this point were a mixture of Spengler, Social Darwinism, the traditionalist philosophy of the French rightist Maurice Barres, opposition to the internationalism of the left that had seemingly been discredited by the events of 1914, irrationalism and anti-parliamentarianism. He took a favorable view of the working class and praised the Nazis’ efforts to win proletarian sympathies. Junger also argued that a nationalist outlook need not be attached to one particular form of government, even suggesting that a liberal monarchy would be inferior to a nationalist republic.(12)


In an essay for Die Standardite titled “The Machine”, Junger argued that the principal struggle was not between social classes or political parties but between man and technology. He was not anti-technological in a Luddite sense, but regarded the technological apparatus of modernity to have achieved a position of superiority over mankind which needed to be reversed. He was concerned that the mechanized efficiency of modern life produced a corrosive effect on the human spirit. Junger considered the Nazis’ glorification of peasant life to be antiquated. Ever the realist, he believed the world of the rural people to be in a state of irreversible decline. Instead, Junger espoused a “metropolitan nationalism” centered on the urban working class. Nationalism was the antidote to the anti-particularist materialism of the Marxists who, in Junger’s views, simply mirrored the liberals in their efforts to reduce the individual to a component of a mechanized mass society. The humanitarian rhetoric of the left Junger dismissed as the hypocritical cant of power-seekers feigning benevolence. He began to pin his hopes for a nationalist revolution on the younger veterans who comprised much of the urban working class.


In 1926, Junger became editor of Arminius, which also featured the writings of Nazi leaders like Alfred Rosenberg and Joseph Goebbels. In 1927, he contributed his final article to the Nazi paper, calling for a new definition of the “worker”, one not rooted in Marxist ideology but the idea of the worker as a civilian counterpart to the soldier who struggles fervently for the nationalist ideal. Junger and  Hitler had exchanged copies of their respective writings and a scheduled meeting between the two was canceled due to a change in Hitler’s itinerary. Junger respected Hitler’s abilities as an orator, but came to feel he lacked the ability to become a true leader. He also found Nazi ideology to be intellectually shallow, many of the Nazi movement’s leaders to be talentless and was displeased by the vulgarity,  crassly opportunistic and overly theatrical aspects of Nazi public rallies. Always an elitist, Junger considered the Nazis’ pandering the common people to be debased. As he became more skeptical of the Nazis, Junger began writing for a wider circle of readers beyond that of the militant nationalist right-wing. His works began to appear in the Jewish liberal Leopold Schwarzchild’s Das Tagebuch and the “national-bolshevik” Ernst Niekisch’s Widerstand.


Junger began to assemble around himself an elite corps of bohemian, eccentric intellectuals who would meet regularly on Friday evenings. This group included some of the most interesting personalities of the Weimar period. Among them were the Freikorps veteran Ernst von Salomon, Otto von Strasser, who with his brother Gregor led a leftist anti-Hitler faction of the Nazi movement, the national-bolshevik Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam who had figured prominently in the early phase of the failed leftist revolution of 1918, the American writer Thomas Wolfe and the expressionist writer Arnolt Bronnen. Many among this group espoused a type of revolutionary socialism based on nationalism rather than class, disdaining the Nazis’ opportunistic outreach efforts to the middle class. Some, like Niekisch, favored an alliance between Germany and Soviet Russia against the liberal-capitalist powers of the West. Occasionally, Joseph Goebbels would turn up at these meetings hoping to convert the group, particularly Junger himself, whose war writings he had admired, to the Nazi cause. These efforts by the Nazi propaganda master proved unsuccessful. Junger regarded Goebbels as a shallow ideologue who spoke in platitudes even in private conversation.(13)


The final break between Ernst Junger and the NSDAP occurred in September 1929. Junger published an article in Schwarzchild’s Tagebuch attacking and ridiculing the Nazis as sell outs for having reinvented themselves as a parliamentary party. He also dismissed their racism and anti-Semitism as ridiculous, stating that according to the Nazis a nationalist is simply someone who “eats three Jews for breakfast.” He condemned the Nazis for pandering to the liberal middle class and reactionary traditional conservatives “with lengthy tirades against the decline in morals, against abortion, strikes, lockouts, and the reduction of police and military forces.” Goebbels responded by attacking Junger in the Nazi press, accusing him being motivated by personal literary ambition, and insisting this had caused him “to vilify the national socialist movement, probably so as to make himself popular in his new kosher surroundings” and dismissing Junger’s attacks by proclaiming the Nazis did not “debate with renegades who abuse us in the smutty press of Jewish traitors.”(14)


Junger on the Jewish Question


Junger held complicated views on the question of German Jews. He considered anti-Semitism of the type espoused by Hitler to be crude and reactionary. Yet his own version of nationalism required a level of homogeneity that was difficult to reconcile with the subnational status of Germany Jewry. Junger suggested that Jews should assimilate and pledge their loyalty to Germany once and for all. Yet he expressed admiration for Orthodox Judaism and indifference to Zionism. Junger maintained personal friendships with Jews and wrote for a Jewish owned publication. During this time his Jewish publisher Schwarzchild published an article examining Junger’s views on the Jews of Germany. Schwarzchild insisted that Junger was nothing like his Nazi rivals on the far right. Junger’s nationalism was based on an aristocratic warrior ethos, while Hitler’s was more comparable to the criminal underworld. Hitler’s men were “plebian alley scum”. However, Schwarzchild also characterized Junger’s rendition of nationalism as motivated by little more than a fervent rejection of bourgeoise society and lacking in attention to political realities and serious economic questions.(15)


The Worker


Other than In Storms of Steel, Junger’s The Worker: Mastery and Form was his most influential work from the Weimar era. Junger would later distance himself from this work, published in 1932, and it was reprinted in the 1950s only after Junger was prompted to do so by Martin Heidegger.


In The Worker, Junger outlines his vision of a future state ordered as a technocracy based on workers and soldiers led by a warrior elite. Workers are no longer simply components of an industrial machine, whether capitalist or communist, but have become a kind of civilian-soldier operating as an economic warrior. Just as the soldier glories in his accomplishments in battle, so does the worker glory in the achievements expressed through his work. Junger predicted that continued technological advancements would render the worker/capitalist dichotomy obsolete. He also incorporated the political philosophy of his friend Carl Schmitt into his worldview. As Schmitt saw international relations as a Hobbesian battle between rival powers, Junger believed each state would eventually adopt a system not unlike what he described in The Worker. Each state would maintain its own technocratic order with the workers and soldiers of each country playing essentially the same role on behalf of their respective nations. International affairs would be a crucible where the will to power of the different nations would be tested.


Junger’s vision contains a certain amount prescience. The general trend in politics at the time was a movement towards the kind of technocratic state Junger described. These took on many varied forms including German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, the growing welfare states of Western Europe and America’s New Deal. Coming on the eve of World War Two, Junger’s prediction of a global Hobbesian struggle between national collectives possessing previously unimagined levels of technological sophistication also seems rather prophetic. Junger once again attacked the bourgeoise as anachronistic. Its values of material luxury and safety he regarded as unfit for the violent world of the future. (16)


The National Socialist Era


By the time Hitler took power in 1933, Junger’s war writings had become commonly used in high schools and universities as examples of wartime literature, and Junger enjoyed success within the context of German popular culture as well. Excerpts of Junger’s works were featured in military journals. The Nazis tried to coopt his semi-celebrity status, but he was uncooperative. Junger was appointed to the Nazified German Academcy of Poetry, but declined the position. When the Nazi Party’s paper published some of his work in 1934, Junger wrote a letter of protest. The Nazi regime, despite its best efforts to capitalize on his reputation, viewed Junger with suspicioun. His past association with the national-bolshevik Ersnt Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam and the anti-Hitler Nazi Otto von Strasser, all of whom were either eventually killed or exiled by the Third Reich, led the Nazis to regard Junger as a potential subversive. On several occasions, Junger received visits from the Gestapo in search of some of his former friends. During the early years of the Nazi regime, Junger was in the fortunate position of being able to economically afford travel outside of Germany. He journeyed to Norway, Brazil, Greece and Morocco during this time, and published several works based on his travels.(17)


Junger’s most significant work from the Nazi period is the novel On the Marble Cliffs. The book is an allegorical attack on the Hitler regime. It was written in 1939, the same year that Junger reentered the German army. The book describes a mysterious villian that threatens a community, a sinister warlord called the “Head Ranger”. This character is never featured in the plot of the novel, but maintains a forboding presence that is universal (much like “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s 1984). Another character in the novel, “Braquemart”, is described as having physical characteristics remarkably similar to those of Goebbels. The book sold fourteen thousand copies during its first two weeks in publication. Swiss reviewers immediately recognized the allegorical references to the Nazi state in the novel. The Nazi Party’s organ, Volkische Beobachter, stated that Ernst Jünger was flirting with a bullet to the head. Goebbels urged Hitler to ban the book, but Hitler refused, probably not wanting to show his hand. Indeed, Hitler gave orders that Junger not be harmed.(18)


Junger was stationed in France for most of the Second World War. Once again, he kept diaries of the experience. Once again, he expressed concern that he might not get to see any action before the war was over. While Junger did not have the opportunity to experience the level of danger and daredevil heroics he had during the Great War, he did receive yet another medal, the Iron Cross, for retrieving the body of a dead corporal while under heavy fire. Junger also published some of his war diaries during this time. However, the German government took a dim view of these, viewing them as too sympathetic to the occupied French. Junger’s duties included censorship of the mail coming into France from German civilians. He took a rather liberal approach to this responsibility and simply disposed of incriminating documents rather than turning them over for investigation. In doing so, he probably saved lives. He also encountered members of France’s literary and cultural elite, among them the actor Louis Ferdinand Celine, a raving anti-Semite and pro-Vichyite who suggested Hitler’s harsh measures against the Jews had not been heavy handed enough. As rumors of the Nazi extermination programs began to spread,  Junger wrote in his diary that the mechanization of the human spirit of the type he had written about in the past had apparently generated a higher level of human depravity. When he saw three young French-Jewish girls wearing the yellow stars required by the Nazis, he wrote that he felt embarrassed to be in the Nazi army. In July of 1942, Junger observed the mass arrest of French Jews, the beginning of implementation of the “Final Solution”. He described the scene as follows:


“Parents were first separated from their children, so there was wailing to be heard in the streets. At no moment may I forget that I am surrounded by the unfortunate, by those suffering to the very depths, else what sort of person, what sort of officer would I be? The uniform obliges one to grant protection wherever it goes. Of course one has the impression that one must also, like Don Quixote, take on millions.”(19)     


An entry into Junger’s diary from October 16, 1943 suggests that an unnamed army officer had told  Junger about the use of crematoria and poison gas to murder Jews en masse. Rumors of plots against Hitler circulated among the officers with whom Junger maintained contact. His son, Ernstl, was arrested after an informant claimed he had spoken critically of Hitler. Ernstl Junger was imprisoned for three months, then placed in a penal battalion where he was killed in action in Italy. On July 20, 1944 an unsuccessful assassination attempt was carried out against Hitler. It is still disputed as to whether or not Junger knew of the plot or had a role in its planning. Among those arrested for their role in the attemt on Hitler’s life were members of Junger’s immediate circle of associates and superior officers within the German army. Junger was dishonorably discharged shortly afterward.(20)


Following the close of the Second World War, Junger came under suspicion from the Allied occupational authorities because of his far right-wing nationalist and militarist past. He refused to cooperate with the Allies De-Nazification programs and was barred from publishing for four years. He would go on to live another half century, producing many more literary works, becoming a close friend of Albert Hoffman, the inventor of the hallucinogen LSD, with which he experimented. In a 1977 novel, Eumeswil, he took his tendency towards viewing the world around him with detachment to a newer, more clearly articulated level with his invention of the concept of the “Anarch”. This idea, heavily influenced by the writings of the early nineteenth century German philosopher Max Stirner, championed the solitary individual who remains true to himself within the context of whatever external circumstances happen to be present. Some sample quotations from this work illustrate the philosophy and worldview of the elderly Junger quite well:


“For the anarch, if he remains free of being ruled, whether by sovereign or society, this does not mean he refuses to serve in any way. In general, he serves no worse than anyone else, and sometimes even better, if he likes the game. He only holds back from the pledge, the sacrifice, the ultimate devotion … I serve in the Casbah; if, while doing this, I die for the Condor, it would be an accident, perhaps even an obliging gesture, but nothing more.”


“The egalitarian mania of demagogues is even more dangerous than the brutality of men in gallooned coats. For the anarch, this remains theoretical, because he avoids both sides. Anyone who has been oppressed can get back on his feet if the oppression did not cost him his life. A man who has been equalized is physically and morally ruined. Anyone who is different is not equal; that is one of the reasons why the Jews are so often targeted.”


“The anarch, recognizing no government, but not indulging in paradisal dreams as the anarchist does, is, for that very reason, a neutral observer.”


“Opposition is collaboration.”


“A basic theme for the anarch is how man, left to his own devices, can defy superior force – whether state, society or the elements – by making use of their rules without submitting to them.”


“… malcontents… prowl through the institutions eternally dissatisfied, always disappointed. Connected with this is their love of cellars and rooftops, exile and prisons, and also banishment, on which they actually pride themselves. When the structure finally caves in they are the first to be killed in the collapse. Why do they not know that the world remains inalterable in change? Because they never find their way down to its real depth, their own. That is the sole place of essence, safety. And so they do themselves in.”


“The anarch may not be spared prisons – as one fluke of existence among others. He will then find the fault in himself.”


“We are touching one a … distinction between anarch and anarchist; the relation to authority, to legislative power. The anarchist is their mortal enemy, while the anarch refuses to acknowledge them. He seeks neither to gain hold of them, nor to topple them, nor to alter them – their impact bypasses him. He must resign himself only to the whirlwinds they generate."

“The anarch is no individualist, either. He wishes to present himself neither as a Great Man nor as a Free Spirit. His own measure is enough for him; freedom is not his goal; it is his property. He does not come on as foe or reformer: one can get along nicely with him in shacks or in palaces. Life is too short and too beautiful to sacrifice for ideas, although contamination is not always avoidable. But hats off to the martyrs.”


“We can expect as little from society as from the state. Salvation lies in the individual.” (21)


Notes:


1. Ian Buruma, “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993. Hilary Barr, “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

2. Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 1-7. Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974, preface.

3. Nevin, pp. 9-26. Loose, p. 21

4. Loose, p. 22. Nevin, pp. 27-37.

5. Nevin. p. 49.

6. Ibid., p. 57

7. Ibid., p. 61

8. Maurice Barrès (September 22, 1862 - December 4, 1923) was a French novelist, journalist, an anti-semite, nationalist politician and agitator. Leaning towards the far-left in his youth as a Boulangist deputy, he progressively developed a theory close to Romantic nationalism and shifted to the right during the Dreyfus Affair, leading the Anti-Dreyfusards alongside Charles Maurras. In 1906, he was elected both to the Académie française and as deputy of the Seine department, and until his death he sat with the conservative Entente républicaine démocratique. A strong supporter of the Union sacrée(Holy Union) during World War I, Barrès remained a major influence of generations of French writers, as well as of monarchists, although he was not a monarchist himself. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Barr%C3%A8s

9. Nevin, pp. 58, 71, 97.

10. Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

11. Nevin, pp. 122, 125, 134, 136, 140, 173.

12. Ibid., pp. 75-91.

13. Ibid., p. 107

14. Ibid., p. 108.

15. Ibid., pp. 109-111.

16. Ibid., pp. 114-140.

17. Ibid., p. 145.

18. Ibid., p. 162

19. Ibid., p. 189.

20. Ibid., p. 209.

21. Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marion Publishers, 1980, 1993.


Bibliography


Barr, Hilary. “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

Braun, Abdalbarr. “Warrior, Waldgaenger, Anarch: An Essay on Ernst Junger’s Concept of the Sovereign Individual”. Archived at http://www.fluxeuropa.com/juenger-anarch.htm

Buruma, Ian. “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993.

Hofmann, Albert. LSD: My Problem Child, Chapter Seven, “Radiance From Ernst Junger”. Archived at http://www.flashback.se/archive/my_problem_child/chapter7.html


Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974.


Hervier, Julien. The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1986.


Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1980, 1993.


Junger, Ernst. In Storms of Steel. New York: Penguin Books, 1920, 1963, 2003.


Junger, Ernst. On the Marble Cliffs. New York: Duenewald Printing Corporation, 1947.


Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germnay: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.


Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.


Stern, J. P. Ernst Junger. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.


Zavrel, Consul B. John. “Ernst Junger is Still Working at 102″. Archived at http://www.meaus.com/Ernst%20Junger%20at%20102.html

 

mercredi, 11 septembre 2013

Dominique Venner, lecteur de Céline

 

LFC par Julien LAFORCE.jpg

Dominique Venner, lecteur de Céline

par Marc LAUDELOUT


Dans son livre-testament ¹, Dominique Venner évoque Céline et plus particulièrement Les Beaux draps, « ce curieux livre qui délivrait un message furibard à l’encontre de la prédication chrétienne, ultime recours du régime de Vichy qu’il méprisait ». Et de citer la fameuse sortie de Céline visant « la religion de “Pierre et Paul” [qui] fit admirablement son œuvre, décatit en mendigots, en sous-hommes dès le berceau, les peuples soumis, les hordes enivrées de littérature christianique, lancées éperdues imbéciles, à la conquête du Saint Suaire, des hosties magiques, délaissant à jamais leurs Dieux, leurs religions exaltantes, leurs Dieux de sang, leurs Dieux de race. (…) Ainsi, la triste vérité, l’aryen n’a jamais su aimer, aduler que le dieu des autres, jamais eu de religion propre, de religion blanche. Ce qu’il adore, son cœur, sa foi, lui furent fournis de toutes pièces par ses pires ennemis. »


Venner observe avec pertinence que, dans un langage différent, Nietzsche n’avait pas dit autre chose. Cet été, Anne Brassié, dans un quotidien fervemment catholique, a adressé une lettre post-mortem  à Venner ². N’ayant jamais lu Les Beaux draps, la biographe de Brasillach précise qu’elle ne connaissait pas ce texte et s’insurge contre cette attaque frontale de la religion chrétienne, d’autant  que le païen Venner  la faisait  sienne  mutatis mutandis.


Encore faut-il préciser ce qui, pour Céline, constituait le crime des crimes : « La religion catholique fut à travers toute notre histoire, la grande proxénète, la grande métisseuse des races nobles, la grande procureuse aux pourris (avec tous les saints sacrements), l’enragée contaminatrice ».


Céline, défenseur résolu du génie de la race et de son intégrité, reprochait à l’Église de favoriser le métissage par sa doctrine égalitaire. Après avoir vu un de ses textes censuré par la presse doriotiste, il tint à faire connaître la phrase caviardée :  « L’Église, notre grande métisseuse, la maquerelle criminelle en chef, l’antiraciste par excellence. » L’antienne n’était pas nouvelle. Quatre ans plus tôt, dans L’École des cadavres, il vouait aux gémonies les « religions molles ».  Et précisait déjà  : « Vive la Religion qui nous fera nous reconnaître, nous retrouver entre Aryens, nous entendre au lieu de nous massacrer, mutuellement, rituellement, indéfiniment. »


Anne Brassié admet que « la violence de Céline est née de sa terrible clairvoyance, l’Europe s’engageant dans une seconde guerre civile après le premier suicide de la guerre de 14-18 ». Cela étant, elle rétorque : « Sont-ce vraiment les chrétiens qui ont préparé ces guerres ? Qui furent envoyés au front pour mourir, dès 1914, en première ligne ? Les paysans bretons, catholiques, les officiers français catholiques et le premier d’entre eux, Péguy. » Mais pour Céline, la religion chrétienne est une religion juive facilitant les grands massacres en anesthésiant les peuples ainsi aliénés ³. Si Céline est antinationaliste c’est parce qu’il considère que les nations sont manipulées et génératrices de guerre. Pour lui seule la race est capable d’éradiquer la nation, d’où cette vision du « racisme » perçu comme antidote au nationalisme. Cette conviction peut aujourd’hui être ignorée et dissociée de son esthétique. Il n’en demeure pas moins qu’elle fut sienne.


 

Marc LAUDELOUT

 

 

1. Dominique Venner, Un samouraï d’Occident. Le Bréviaire des insoumis, Éd. Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2013.

2. Anne Brassié, « Un samouraï d’Occident », Présent, n° 7899, 20 juillet 2013, p. 5a-e.

3. Nietzsche considère que le christianisme représente le judaïsme « à la puissance deux » (La Volonté de puissance, 1887) dans la mesure où l’esprit judaïque s’y est universalisé.

 

© Extrait du Bulletin célinien, septembre 2013.

Abonnement 1 an : 55 euros.

Le Bulletin célinien, Bureau Saint-Lambert, B.P. 77, 1200 Bruxelles.

Voyage au bout de la nuit

Les Sélénites revisiteront l’oeuvre majeure de Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit, au Théâtre 2.21 de Lausanne du 24 septembre au 6 octobre 2013 dans une adaptation intitulée « Voyages au bout de la nuit (Hommes et ombres) ». Mise en scène Pascal Francfort, musique Marc Etienne Besson.

Théâtre 2.21
Rue de l’Industrie 10
1005 Lausanne

« Voyager, c’est bien utile, ça fait travailler l’imagination ». Chef-d’œuvre de la littérature du XXème siècle, Voyage au bout de la nuit continue à fasciner. Les thématiques bouleversantes qui tissent ce roman ne se sont jamais démodées. Guerre, colonisation, progrès, nouveau monde, amour, folie, survie, tout est là, sans concessions. Le regard acerbe que Céline porte sur son époque nous raconte encore et encore, et bien des fois terriblement, notre histoire. En s’inspirant de l’œuvre de Céline, les Sélénites vous convient à remettre le Voyage en route en ouvrant les portes de l’imaginaire. Une invitation à goûter à l’essence des sensations, à l’ivresse des perceptions, en fermant les yeux pour mieux voir. Une expérience sonore et visuelle, entre mémoire, rêve et réalité.

mardi, 10 septembre 2013

The Gentleman from Providence

The Gentleman from Providence

By Alex Kurtagić

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com

iap

S. T. Joshi
I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft [2]
2 vols.
New York: Hippocampus Press, 2012

When it comes to a truly comprehensive biography of Howard Philip Lovecraft, one cannot do better than S. T. Joshi’s I am Providence, a 2 volume, 1,000-page, 500,000-word mammoth of a book that aims to cover everything there is to know about the American master of the weird tale.

As with Mark Finn, whose biography of Howard I reviewed recently, it would seem that L. Sprague de Camp was what spurred Joshi into action: after reading the latter’s Lovecraft: A Biography upon initial publication in 1975, Joshi dedicated his life thereafter to the study of the author from Providence. His choice of university was dictated by its holding the Lovecraft manuscript collection of the John Hay Library. And when he discovered that At the Mountains of Madness, his favourite Lovecraft story, contained no less than 1,500 textual errors, he devoted the ensuing years to tracking down and examining manuscripts and early publications in order to determine the textual history of the work and make possible a corrected edition of Lovecraft’s collected fiction, “revisions,” and other writings. What we have here, you may confidently conclude, is the product of decades of fanaticism and obsessive investigation.

Lovecraft was born in 1890, into a conservative upper middle class family, in Providence, Rhode Island. His father, Winfield, was a travelling salesman, employed by Gorham & Co., Silversmiths, and his mother, Sarah, could trace her ancestry back to the arrival of George Phillips to Massachusetts in 1630. His parents married in their thirties.

The young Lovecraft was talented, intellectually curious, and precocious, able to recite poetry by age two, and to read by age three. Growing up at a time when school was not compulsory, Lovecraft would not be enrolled in one until he was eight years of age and his attendance would be sporadic, possibly due to a nervous complaint and / or psychosomatic condition. But he was well ahead of his coevals in any event, having been exposed, and thereafter enjoyed ready access, to the best of classical and English literature. From Lovecraft’s perspective, this meant 17th and early 18th century prose and poetry, and, indeed, so steeped was he in the canonical literature from this period that he regarded its style of writing not only the finest ever achieved, but, for him, the norm. In the process, he also absorbed some of the archaic tastes and sensibilities permeating this literature, which would subsequently be reflected in his writing, speech, and attitudes, fundamentally aristocratic and at odds with the 20th century. What is more, Lovecraft was never denied anything he may have needed in the pursuit of his intellectual development, be it a chemistry set, a telescope, or printing equipment, so he became knowledgeable enough on these topics, and particularly his passion, astronomy, to contribute articles to a local publication from an early age. He also regularly produced—while still in infancy—his own amateur scientific journals, many of which still survive and were personally examined by Joshi for this biography. Thus, from early on, Lovecraft, a somewhat lonely boy with a charmed boyhood, was committed to a life entirely of the mind.

With such beginnings, it would appear to a casual observer that Lovecraft was well-equipped to become a success in life. But, instead, in adulthood he experienced ever-worsening poverty, squalor, and, though well known for a period within the specialised milieu of amateur publishing, growing professional obscurity. That his legacy has endured owes—besides to the intrinsic value of his works—perhaps in a not insignificant measure to his having been a prodigous correspondent: it has been estimated that throughout the course of his life Lovecraft may have written as many as 100,000 letters (only about 20,000 of which survive), and these were not hastily penned missives, as can be seen in the many excerpts herein presented, but thoughtful communications, sometimes of up to 30 pages in length, which are works of literatue in themselves.

In examining his overall trajectory, we can identify a number of negative vectors early on. The loss of his father, who, following a psychotic episode and permanent committal to a local hospital, suffering from what Joshi presumes to have been syphilis, meant that, from 1893, Lovecraft passed into the care of his mother, aunts, and his maternal grandfather. Whipple van Buren Phillips, a wealthy businessman, proved a positive influence, but died in 1904, and, his estate being poorly managed, this eventually forced the family to downsize. This badly affected the young Lovecraft, to the point that he briefly contemplated suicide. He was eventually dissuaded by his own intellectual curiosity and love of learning.

In 1908, just prior to his high school graduation, Lovecraft suffered a nervous breakdown. Joshi speculates that failure to master higher mathematics may have been a factor, since Lovecraft’s ambition was to become a professional astronomer. (Failure to master meant not getting straight As, but, among the As, a few A-s and Bs.) Whatever its cause, the breakdown prevented Lovecraft from obtaining his diploma, a fact he would later conceal or minimise. Lovecraft then went into seclusion—hikikomori, as it would be called today—in which condition he remained for five years, mostly reading and writing poetry. Joshi expresses alarm at the sheer volume of reading undertaken by Lovecraft during this period, a large portion of it consisting of magazines.

Lovecraft’s re-emergence owes to his irritation with a pulp author, Fred Jackson, whose stories in Argosy magazine he found maudlin, mediocre, and irritating. His letter was published in the magazine, whereby it detonated an opinionated debate. When Lovecraft’s expressed view led to attacks, he responded in lofty and witty verse, thus instigating a months-long war—in archaic rhyme—in the letters’ page. This got him noticed by the president of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), Edward F. Daas, who invited Lovecraft to join. This inaugurated Lovecraft’s amateur career, which led to his return to fiction—something he had dabbled in years before—and, by 1919, to his first commerically published work. During his early years in amateurdom, Lovecraft would also produce his own literary journal, The Conservative, a publication that truly lived up to its name and that has only recently been reprinted by Arktos in unabridged form.

Throughout this period Lovecraft continued to live with his mother, who sustained them both off an ever-shrinking inheritance. Trapped between the expectations of her class and dwindling resources, she grew progressively more neurotic and unstable. She already had an unheathily close, love-hate, relationship with her son, and Joshi records that she considered her son’s visage too ugly for public view. By 1919, suffering from hysteria and clinical depression, she would be committed to hospital, where she would remain for the rest of her days. Mother and son stayed close correspondents, but she was a perennial source of worry. Thus, when Sarah died in 1921, initial grief led to a sense of liberation, and an improvement in Lovecraft’s general health—though he, at this time a tall man of nearly 200 lbs, always regarded himself as ailing.

Yet there were further turns to the worst ahead. In 1921, at a convention for amateur journalists in Boston, Lovecraft met Sonia Green, an assimilated 38-year-old Ukrainian Jew from New York, whom he would marry in 1924. Interestingly, Lovecraft only told his aunt after the fact, writing to her from New York, where he had by then already taken residence at Sonia’s apartment.

Joshi notes that at this time Lovecraft’s prospects appeared to be improving: Sonia earned a good living at a hat shop in Fifth Avenue, and Lovecraft’s professional writing career was taking off. Lovecraft, then in a decadent phase, was also enthralled by the city, where he had a number of amateur friends. However, Sonia lost her job almost immediately when the shop went bankrupt. This forced Lovecraft for the first time to find regular employment, but without qualifications, work experience, nor, apparently, marketable skills, he was unable to find a position. The consequent financial difficulties impacted on Sonia’s health, who entered a sanatorium for a period of recovery. Eventually, she would find a job in Cleveland, leaving Lovecraft to live on his own, in a tiny apartment, in Brooklyn Heights (then Red Hook), back then a seedy neighbourhood. Sonia sent him an allowance, which permitted him to cover his rent and minimal expenses, but otherwise Lovecraft lived in poverty, stretching as far as possible a minuscule fare of unheated beans, bread, and cheese.

This was, however, genteel poverty. When, on one occasion, Lovecraft’s apartment was burglarised, he was left with only the clothes on his back (while he slept, the thieves gained access to his closet and stole all his suits). His reaction says much about Lovecraft: first priority for him was to get four new replacements: light and dark, winter and summer—no easy task, given his slender wallet. A gentleman may be poor, but he must still dress like a gentleman! The ensuing hunt for suitable attire taxed Lovecraft’s ingenuity, and ignited his frustration at the shoddy quality of modern suits (Lovecraft’s original suits had been made in happier times). Eventually, he succeeded, with minimal compromise.

Seething with immigrants of all descriptions, crowded, and filthy, Lovecraft came to despise New York, recognising it as an emblem of modern degeneration (remember: he already thought this in 1925!). This negative opinion does not sit well with Joshi: having immigrated from India at a young age and having been a New York resident for 27 years, Joshi puts Lovecraft through the wringer for failing to appreciate the city’s vibrancy. Here and elsewhere, he attacks Lovecraft for his enamourment with Anglo-Saxondom, his fierce resistance to racial egalitarianism, and his rejection of the multicultural society. In Joshi’s estimation, Lovecraft ought to have considered Franz Boas’ research, which was beginning to transform anthropology at this time; Joshi views this as contrary to Lovecraft’s rigorous scientific outlook—in other words, as Lovecraft having been blinded by prejudice. However, this overlooks the fact that there were different strands of opinion in anthropology at this time: this was the Progressive Era, when the American eugenics movement was at its height, enjoying institutional legitimacy, famous proponents (e.g. John Harvey Kellogg), and backing from the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institution, and the the Harriman estate. Boas’ findings were politically motivated and not universally accepted, and he had by no means proven his case. (Worse still, since then there have been accusations of scientific fraud.) It would, therefore, seem that Lovecraft was entirely consequent with his aristocratic and scientific worldview.

Though Joshi deems it necessary to shoehorn his views on race and racism—zzz . . . —he shows admirable restraint, all things considered—though he has still been criticised by readers. He clearly struggles to reconcile his admiration for Lovecraft with an imagined rejection by him, which is coloured by the absurdities of the modern discourse on these matters. As the author of The Angry Right: Why Conservatives Keep Getting it Wrong (2006), where he invects against liberals like William Buckley and Rush Limbaugh, and where he welcomes the Leftward drift of American values, he can understand Lovecraft’s own merely as a reflection of the times in which he lived. Yet, Joshi has expended an immense amount of time and energy studying and writing about Lovecraft’s thought and worldview, as expressed both in correspondence and in fiction, and thus makes a fair attempt at describing them at length in a temperate fashion.

Lovecraft would eventually return to Providence, thus marking the beginning of the most productive phase of his career. By this time his marriage to Sonia was essentially over; a final attempt was made, but Lovecraft’s aunts rejected the idea of Sonia setting up shop in Providence, regarding her—or rather, the idea of a businesswoman—as somewhat declassé. Joshi again takes Lovecraft to task for not having shown more backbone before his aunts, but he is, nevertheless, of the opinion that Lovecraft was unsuited for marriage—being emotionally distant, stiff-upper lipped, and sexually sluggish—and ought never to have taken a wife. The Lovecrafts would in time agree on an amicable divorce (though, in the end, and to Sonia’s shock later on, he never signed the decree).

Despite his peaking productivity, Lovecraft’s economic prospects continued to decline. His stories became longer and more complex, and it became increasingly difficult to place them. Farnsworth Wright, Weird Tales’ capricious editor, repeatedly rejected them, though sometimes he would accept some after a period, after lobbying or intercession by one of Lovecraft’s correspondents. His seminal essay on horror fiction, Supernatural Horror in Literature [3], completed at this time, appeared haphazardly and incompletely in tiny amateur publications, and would never appear in its final, revised, complete form during his lifetime. Therefore, Lovecraft, now living in semi-squalor with his aunt in cramped accommodation, was increasingly forced to survive through charging for “revisions,” which, given the amount of hands-on editing and re-writing involved, was for the most part tantamount to ghostwriting. Lovecraft was too much of a gentleman, too generous for his own good, and charged very modest fees. We must remember, however, that Lovecraft, in this same modest spirit, saw himself as a hack.

All the same, through extreme frugality and resourcefulness, Lovecraft still managed to travel yearly around New England, mainly as an antiquary. This resulted in extensive travelogues, written in 18th-century prose, replete with archaisms and therefore neither publishable nor intended for publication. Joshi mentions that some have criticised Lovecraft for expending excessive energy on correspondence and unpublishable travelogues, rather than writing fiction, but he argues that this was Lovecraft’s life, not his critics’—who are they to tell him, posthumously, what he ought to have done?

Joshi notes that the Great Depression forced Lovecraft to reconsider some of his earlier positions, and that he—encouragingly in his view—embraced FDR’s New Deal. He also notes, although briefly, that Lovecraft may have misunderstood the nature of the program. All the same, he likes to describe Lovecraft as having become a “moderate socialist,” even if he is later careful to point out that his socialism was radically distinct from the Marxist conception—in fact, Lovecraft instinctively sympathised with fascism and Hitler’s movement, and would remain firmly opposed to Communism. Lovecraft’s conception of socialism was entirely elitist. From his perspective, the culture-bearing stratum of a civilisation should not, in an ideal world, be shackled by the need to waste time and energy on trivial tasks, out of the need to earn a living: the production of high culture is often incompatible with commercial goals, so, in his view, it demands freedom from economic activity. And this implied some sort of patronage, in the manner that kings, popes, or wealthy aristocrats or businessmen provided to artists in the past. In other words, a portion of the nation’s wealth should be channelled into things of lasting value—and, therefore, into seeing to it that the very few individuals capable of producing them are in a position to do so. Lovecraft conceived this as socialism because he saw it as the task of the best to better the rest, and high art and intellection played an important rôle in that endeavour.

By 1936, Lovecraft, already in constant pain, was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He would die a few months later, on 15 March 1937.

As with Finn’s biography of Robert E. Howard, Joshi carries on beyond the grave to trace Lovecraft’s legacy, and the development of Lovecraft scholarship over the past 75 years. Like Finn, he has complaints about L. Sprague de Camp’s biography, which he deems substandard and inaccurate; he describes de Camp as business-minded (a euphemism for opportunist). Joshi also criticises August Derleth, one of Lovecraft’s correspondents, who acted early on and energetically to preserve Lovecraft’s legacy through his publishing company, Arkham House: as de Camp did with Howard, Derleth sought to extend Lovecraft’s mythology with posthumous “collaborations,” wherein he distorted the mythology by infusing it with his own preconceptions. To Joshi this was a disreputable attempt to market his own fiction using Lovecraft’s name, though Derleth would later become a well-regarded author in his own right.

While Joshi’s biography is impressive in its comprehensiveness and level of detail, I found his compulsion to provide a plot summary of every single story that Lovecraft ever wrote rather tedious and beyond requirements. One can see that the biography’s comprehensive logic dictates their inclusion, and they can be useful, but I wonder if the tomes’ objectives could not have been met without this overwhelming prolixity.

Joshi recognises his subject’s superior character in that, though Lovecraft would have been able to prosper economically had he compromised on quality, produced more, and stuck to what was popular, he remained steadfast in his refusal to do so. Whatever he did, he did to the best of his ability, without homage to Mammon. Readers, says Joshi, should be grateful for that, as it was this that has guaranteed the lasting value of Lovecraft’s work as well as his enduring legacy.

 


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/09/the-gentleman-from-providence/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/iap.gif

[2] I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1614980519/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1614980519&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[3] Supernatural Horror in Literature: http://shop.wermodandwermod.com/supernatural-horror-in-literature.html

vendredi, 06 septembre 2013

Esprits insoumis

"Il faut être indulgent à ceux qui, au lieu de profiter paisiblement des grandes routes toutes tracées et foulées par les générations précédentes et par les aînés, s’en écartent pour chercher une autre voie. Ils ont au moins de l’audace et du courage, vertus essentielles aux conquérants, si modestes soient-ils. Ils ne sont pas tous des triomphateurs mais il ne faut pas sourire devant le sentier, si petit soit-il, que quelques-uns parmi eux frayent dans n’importe quel domaine, parce qu’il y aura toujours des esprits insoumis qui préféreront aux belles routes battues les sentiers pittoresques et incertains, et aussi parce que des sentiers tracés peuvent devenir, grâce à ceux qui suivront et qu’ils auront tentés, de larges avenues."


Valentine de Saint-Point

Ex: http://zentropaville.tumblr.com

jeudi, 05 septembre 2013

Intellectuels sous l'occupation

INTELLECTUELS SOUS L’OCCUPATION

 
Une réalité complexe

Pierre Le Vigan
Ex: http://metamag.fr
 
riding22.gifLe premier mérite de l’auteur, journaliste américain installé de longue date en France, c’est qu’il évite d’aborder une période compliquée avec des idées simples. Peu de périodes furent aussi compliquées que celle de l’Occupation. Alan Riding pose les bonnes questions : « Est-ce que le fait d’avoir travaillé sous l’Occupation était systématiquement une forme de collaboration ? » Des questions cruciales pour les intellectuels et artistes. 

Il y avait, montre-t-il, une infinité de nuances ente la résistance franche et la collaboration assumée, nuances passant notamment par la résistance passive – le fait de publier le minimum – le retrait de la vie littéraire, ou un mélange de collaboration et de services rendus à la Résistance. « Les Parisiens auraient été surpris d’apprendre que certains écrivains célèbres, des musiciens, des cinéastes, qui travaillaient avec l’accord des Allemands, étaient en même temps engagés dans la Résistance. » Si l’attitude des intellectuels et artistes français fut rien moins que monolithique, l’attitude des Allemands fut elle-même souvent complexe, entre répression, intimidation et tentative de séduction des intellectuels. C’est pourquoi la résistance littéraire fut bien souvent plutôt une dissidence de l’intérieur qui n’inquiétait pas outre mesure l’occupant allemand. « A partir de 1942, aucun de ceux qui étaient impliqués dans le Comité national des écrivains ou dans les groupes plus petits du cinéma, des arts, de la musique ou du théâtre ne fut arrêté. Une explication plausible est que, tout en étant décidé à lutter contre la résistance armée, les Allemands accordaient peu d’importance à ces groupes. » 

Une réalité complexe difficilement conciliable avec  les stéréotypes trompeurs d’une France toute entière résistante mais aussi avec la nouvelle vulgate dévalorisante présentant les Français comme massivement compromis dans la collaboration. Un écart entre le réel et le discours qui explique le persistant malaise français quant à l’histoire de la période 1940-1944. Comme le disait Jean-Galtier Boissière : veni, vidi, Vichy. Nous ne nous en sommes pas encore tout à fait remis.

Alan Riding, Intellectuels et artistes sous l’Occupation. Et la fête continue, Flammarion-Champs-histoire, 442 pages, 12 E.

mercredi, 04 septembre 2013

Au royaume de Kipling

kip.jpg

Au royaume de Kipling

Par

Mickaël Fonton

 

 

Ex: http://www.valeursactuelles.com

 

1894. Publiée cette année-là, la Légion perdue évoque dans un même mouvement la frontière afghane, le souvenir d'une colonie britannique massacrée en se retirant de Kaboul et la récolte des Cipayes. L'écrivain reporter conserve de l'afghanistan l'image d'un pays fascinant et redouté. 

Kipling nous avait prévenus : cette guerre ne pas être gagnée! De même que l’échec – re - latif – de l’invasion soviétique des années 1980, les difficultés rencontrées par les Britanniques en Afghanistan un siècle plus tôt servent de caution historique à ceux qui, aujourd’hui, jugent perdu d’avance le conflit mené par la coalition occidentale contre les talibans. Il est in contestable que Kipling a connu l’Afghanistan de la fin du XIXe siècle, expérience qui a influencé et nourri son oeuvre littéraire ; il est tout aussi vrai de dire que celle-ci n’a constitué qu’un épisode parmi d’autres d’une vie passée à parcourir de long en large l’Empire britannique, de l’Inde au Canada en passant par l’Afrique australe et l’Australie. Une biographie fouillée de Charles Zorgbibe, déjà auteur de travaux sur Herzl, Mirabeau ou Metternich, permet de mieux cerner le regard que l’auteur du Livre de la jungle portait sur le “pays rebelle”.

jung.jpgJoseph Rudyard Kipling est né le 30 décembre 1865, à Bombay, où ses parents sont arrivés huit mois plus tôt. Enfant, Kipling parle l’hindoustani aussi bien que l’anglais et, s’échappant du bungalow familial en compagnie de sa nounou (ayah), il découvre les foules indiennes aux turbans multicolores, les illusionnistes montreurs de serpents, les sons et les odeurs du bazar de Borah.

Toute sa vie Kipling gardera la trace de cette dualité de culture, ce « scandale intime » qu’on retrouvera aussi chez un autre écrivain, français cette fois, Albert Camus. À 6 ans, il est envoyé en Angleterre pour y suivre sa scolarité. Si ses premières années en famille d’accueil à Southsea sont douloureuses (il parlera plus tard de la « maison de la désolation »), ses années de collège à Westward Ho ! constituèrent en revanche une époque plus heureuse, à laquelle l’écrivain devra une part certaine de ses ressources littéraires – notamment l’humour et une imagination débridée.

Au sortir du collège, la vie de Kipling prend un tournant décisif : grâce aux relations de son père et du principal de Westward Ho !, il est engagé par la Civil and Military Gazette, le grand quotidien de Lahore, où il arrive le 18 décembre 1882, à l’âge de 17 ans. Après deux années d’apprentissage de son métier, durant lesquelles il découvre le microcosme de la société angloindienne, le jeune Kipling accompagne le nouveau vice-roi des Indes, lord Dufferin, sur la frontière afghane. Quarante ans plus tôt, à l’hiver 1842, seize mille soldats britanniques ont été massacrés dans la retraite de Kaboul et, si les Anglais ont pu ensuite y acheter un semblant de paix, la situation devait à nouveau se détériorer. À Rawalpindi, tout près de la frontière afghane, Kipling observe, prend des notes, recueille les confidences d’un proche d’Abdur Rahman, l’émir de Kaboul, alors en visite officielle. Il s’agit, pour lui, non seulement d’exercer son métier de journaliste mais aussi et surtout de nourrir des réflexions personnelles qu’il exprimera plus tard dans ses nouvelles. En particulier dans l’Homélie de l’émir, dont Charles Zorgbibe dit qu’elle constitue un « portrait extraordinairement percutant de l’émir et de son royaume ».

On y lit notamment que, pour Kipling, les Afghans constituent tout simplement « la race la plus turbulente qui existe ici-bas » ; il les voit comme des guerriers indépendants, éternels insoumis, rétifs à toute autorité interne ou étrangère. «Pour l’Afghan, écrit-il, ni la vie, ni la propriété, ni la loi, ni la royauté ne sont sacrées lorsque ses appétits le poussent à la révolte. L’instinct l’érige en voleur, l’hérédité et l’éducation le transforment en meurtrier, les trois réunis le rendent bestialement immoral. Il a, certes, une certaine conception de l’honneur, tortueuse et très personnelle, et son caractère est passionnant à observer. »

Ces réflexions – dont on comprend qu’elles aient pu contribuer à forger le mythe d’un Kipling “raciste” – traduisent chez le journaliste de 20 ans une vision qui porte davantage sur les hommes qui font un pays que sur des considérations militaires. D’ailleurs, si, à l’occasion de son séjour à Simla, la résidence d’été du vice-roi, Kipling est longuement interrogé par le général Roberts, commandant en chef des armées, c’est parce que celui-ci souhaite recueillir des impressions de journaliste sur l’état d’esprit des officiers ou le moral des troupes. Immergé dans le milieu militaire, Kipling met à profit son « extraordinaire faculté d’assimilation des moeurs et de la couleur locales » selon l’avis de son rédacteur en chef Kay Robinson ; il double son activité journalistique d’une production littéraire qui lui offre d’être plus offensif, plus critique, d’adopter un regard plus perçant sur le monde qui l’entoure. Sa nouvelle réputation de journaliste et le succès croissant de ses nouvelles (notamment les Simples Contes des collines) le conduisent bientôt à quitter Lahore pour Allahabad et la rédaction du Pioneer, puis à rejoindre l’Angleterre via la Chine, le Japon et les États-Unis. Il rencontre Mark Twain, Henry James ou Jerome K. Jerome, l’auteur de Trois hommes dans un bateau, avec qui il partage le goût d’un humour très britannique. Tout ce qu’il voit constitue pour lui une matière à écrire, qu’il s’agisse d’articles ou de nouvelles.

Il n’en demeure pas moins attaché à l’Inde, qui continue d’occuper son imaginaire ou nourrir ses réflexions politiques. Naturellement prisonnier d’une vision très “anglo-indienne”, il accueille avec beaucoup de scepticisme la naissance du Parti du Congrès et estime que, « sans les Britanniques, l’Inde s’effondrerait dans le chaos ». En Afghanistan, un accord entre les Afghans et les Anglais a donné naissance en 1893 à la ligne Mortimer-Durand (actuelle frontière avec le Pakistan, dans les monts Sulayman, au coeur du pays pachtoun). S’il ne s’exprime pas directement sur la politique menée par les Anglais, Kipling va donner à voir ses sentiments à travers plusieurs nouvelles aux genres très différents.

La Légion perdue, publiée en 1894, évoque dans un même mouvement la frontière afghane, le souvenir de la colonne massacrée lors de la retraite de Kaboul, plaie toujours à vif dans l’imaginaire britannique, et la révolte des Cipayes, qui secoua l’Inde huit ans avant la naissance de Kipling. Il brouille ici les cartes de la loyauté et de la rébellion entre les Britanniques, les Hindoustanis et les Afghans, dans le cadre d’une expédition visant à capturer « l’éternel trublion, le dissident islamique immuablement dressé contre la présence étrangère, le mollah Gulla Kutta ».

Dans Chéri des dames, publié un an plus tôt, une nouvelle sur le thème de l’amour fou, le régiment du héros rentre décimé d’une campagne en Afghanistan, preuve que, pour Kipling, comme pour ses lecteurs, la région conserve une résonance tragique.

Entre Lahore et la contrée mystérieuse au nord…

L’Afghanistan servait déjà de décor à la nouvelle l’Homme qui voulut être roi – publiée en décembre 1888, c’est-à- dire toujours dans la période indienne de Kipling. « Deux aventuriers ont conçu le projet fou de se tailler un royaume en Asie centrale, au-delà de la passe de Khyber – au “Kafiristan”, habité par des tribus aryennes. » Sensibles à l’équilibre géo stratégique de la région, ils sont en effet « soucieux d’établir un “glacis” sur la frontière nord de l’Inde, qui s’appuierait sur des populations plus assimilables que les tribus afghanes ». Où l’on voit qu’au-delà de la trame romanesque (doublée ici d’une ré - flexion sur la franc-maçonnerie), l’Afghanistan apparaît déjà aux yeux de Kipling, qui y a passé deux mois, comme une terre indomptable.

Kim.jpgEnfin il y a Kim, cette grande fresque publiée en 1901, roman picaresque, envoûtant, colonialiste et généreux, « l’oeuvre de la vie de Kipling ». Bien que le personnage principal en soit l’Inde, une Inde totale, éternelle, l’Inde de la grande route de liaison, l’un des personnages principaux est afghan. Celui-ci, Mahbub Ali, est marchand de chevaux ; il passe sa vie sur les pistes, entre Lahore et « la contrée mystérieuse au-delà des passes du Nord ». Agent des Britanniques, il surveille depuis Peshawar les principautés des montagnes. Selon Zorgbibe, Mahbub Ali incarne aux yeux de Kipling « à la fois l’Afghanistan hostile, incontrôlable et redouté, et l’espoir d’une alliance avec une fraction des Afghans » – ce qui est probablement le lien le plus pertinent qui puisse être établi avec les enjeux du conflit actuel.

Si Kipling n’est pas l’inventeur de la notion de “Grand Jeu” – cet affrontement entre les empires russe et britannique sur le terrain afghan –, il l’a rendu populaire par l’intermédiaire de ses nombreux récits. On peut y voir la raison pour laquelle l’écrivain est invoqué encore aujourd’hui quand il est question de l’Afghanistan, alors que l’importance réelle de ce pays fut, dans la vie de Kipling, inférieure à celle de l’Inde, de l’Empire britannique dans son ensemble, des États-Unis, de l’Angleterre, voire même de l’Afrique au trale, où Kipling joua un rôle important à l’époque de la guerre des Boers.

Car Rudyard Kipling ne saurait être réduit à ses récits les plus fameux, Kim, le Livre de la jungle ou son poème If («ce texte au souffle de forge volontariste »), encore moins à ses caricatures : écrivain colonialiste, héraut de la « plus-Grande Bretagne », voix officielle de l’Empire britannique.

Ce fut un homme à la pensée nuancée et complexe, célèbre à 20 ans, Prix No bel de littérature, qui influença aussi bien Baden-Powell que George Orwell, ami de Théodore Roosevelt ou de Clemenceau. Un Anglais amoureux de la France. Un homme qui perdit une fille en bas âge puis un fils à la guerre. Un écrivain convaincu que les écoles devaient « forger des hommes afin de créer et de conserver des empires », mais persuadé en même temps que « le fardeau de l’homme blanc » est finalement trop lourd à porter. Un homme d’action enfin, devenu mystique, partagé entre saint Paul et Kismet, le petit dieu malin de la mythologie indienne. 

Mickael Fonton

Kipling, de Charles Zorgbibe, Editions de Fallois, 490 pages, 24€

lundi, 02 septembre 2013

D. H. Lawrence on the Meaning of Sex

D. H. Lawrence on the Meaning of Sex

By Derek Hawthorne 

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com

D. H. Lawrence is best known to the general public as a writer of sexy books. In his own time, his treatment of sex made him notorious and caused him to run afoul of the authorities on a number of occasions. I have no desire to rehearse in detail the well-known history of Lawrence’s troubles with censorship, but for those who do not know anything of it a few details will suffice.

rainbow.JPGIn September 1915 Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow, one of his major works, was published by Methuen. By November it had been banned by court order, largely due to Lawrence’s brief (and, by today’s standards, extremely tame) depiction of a lesbian affair. The following year Lawrence finished what is arguably his greatest novel, Women in Love. However, owing to the notoriety of The Rainbow as well as to Women in Love’s much more frank depiction of sexuality, he could not find a publisher for the novel until 1920. Disgusted by his treatment at the hands of his fellow countrymen, Lawrence moved himself and his wife Frieda to Sicily that year, thereby beginning a long sojourn abroad that would take them to Sardinia, Ceylon, Australia, California, and New Mexico.

Lawrence was deterred neither by censorship nor by the frequent vilification he suffered at the hands of the press. In 1926, on a visit to Italy he wrote the first of three versions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, his most sexually explicit work and, in fact, one of the most sexually explicit “serious” works of literature ever written. A small edition of the novel was brought out in Florence in 1928, and another in Paris. Various pirated editions were also printed.

Copies of the novel were seized by customs in both the United States and Great Britain, and the reviews that appeared were brutal. One English critic declared that the novel was “the most evil outpouring that has ever besmirched the literature of our country. The sewers of French pornography would be dragged in vain to find a parallel in beastliness . . . Unfortunately for literature as for himself, Mr. Lawrence has a diseased mind.”[1] (The famous court case in Britain occurred thirty years after Lawrence’s death, when Penguin Books brought out an unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley.)

In 1926 Lawrence had started to paint. He wrote to his friend Earl Brewster, a Buddhist, “I put a phallus, a lingam you call it, in each one of my pictures somewhere. And I paint no picture that won’t shock people’s castrated social spirituality.”[2] Predictably, when an exhibition of his paintings was held in London in 1929 it was raided by the police, though, as Jeffrey Meyers notes, the officers “politely waited to carry out their orders until the Aga Khan had finished viewing the pictures.”[3]

Why was Lawrence seemingly so preoccupied with sex? The answer is that he saw sex as a means to awaken the true self, and to discover not only our own inner being but the inner being of all things. In Fantasia of the Unconscious he writes, “To the individual, the act of coition is a great psychic experience, a vital experience of tremendous importance.”[4]

Lawrence was unquestionably influenced by Schopenhauer in his views about the metaphysical significance of sex. In his unpublished notebooks—summing up views he expressed more circumspectly in his published writings—Schopenhauer states

If I am asked where the most intimate knowledge of that inner essence of the world, of that thing in itself which I have called the will to live, is to be found, or where that essence enters most clearly into our consciousness, or where it achieves the purest revelation of itself, then I must point to ecstasy in the act of copulation. That is it! That is the true essence and core of all things, the aim and purpose of all existence.[5]

However, Lawrence (unlike Schopenhauer) saw the inner essence of things as having religious significance. He felt that the “life mystery” at the core of all was the only thing that he could honestly call God. Hence, he regarded sex as sacred—indeed as an act of divine worship—since it opens us to the life mystery. In a posthumously published essay Lawrence writes, “In the very darkest continent of the body there is God.”[6] This is the real key to understanding Lawrence’s treatment of sex: it is reverential; he regards sex as sacred, not as profane. The public attacks on Lawrence’s work as “smut” are hugely unjust, for Lawrence had a lifelong hatred of pornography precisely because he saw it as a profanation of sex.

An illustration of Lawrence’s attitude is his reaction to James Joyce’s Ulysses. As Jeffrey Meyers notes, it was, in part, Lawrence’s hostile reaction to Ulysses that spurred him to write Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In a letter Lawrence stated, “The last part of [Ulysses] is the dirtiest, most indecent, obscene thing ever written. . . . This Ulysses muck is more disgusting than Casanova. I must show that it can be done without muck.”[7] This may seem a trifle ironic, given how others had attacked Lawrence’s own work with similar invective. But, in fact, Lawrence’s attitude to Joyce is not hypocritical. He is not attacking the explicitness of Joyce’s treatment of sex, but rather what he regarded as its unforgivable irreverence.

dhl.jpgIn Fantasia of the Unconscious Lawrence writes, “In sex we have our basic, most elemental being.”[8] Further, he declares that the procreative purpose of sex is “just a side-show.”[9] Lawrence rejects the reductive, scientific understanding of sex; part and parcel of the scientific will to nullify beauty and mystery and to make everything mundane and “practical.”

Sex can lead to reproduction, but it is no more correct to say that the “purpose” of sex is reproduction than it is to say that the purpose of eating is to fill our stomachs. More often than not, we eat not because we happen to really need nourishment just then, but because we take pleasure in eating, in the taste of food, and in the company of those we eat with. And frequently the food we enjoy ingesting has little actual nutritional value. If the purpose of eating were simply to acquire nourishment, then we ought not mind the idea of simply ingesting a tasteless paste full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates three times daily.

Sex, Lawrence tells us,

is our deepest form of consciousness. It is utterly non-ideal, non-mental. It is pure blood-consciousness. It is the basic consciousness of the blood, the nearest thing in us to pure material consciousness. It is the consciousness of the night, when the soul is almost asleep. The blood-consciousness is the first and last knowledge of the living soul: the depths.[10]

When we enter into what Schopenhauer calls “ecstasy in the act of copulation,” there is a sloughing off of intellect, of self-consciousness. The act is ecstatic precisely to the extent that this is accomplished. The Greek ekstasis could be translated literally as “standing outside oneself.” In ecstatic acts we have the sense of leaving ourselves, and certainly our consciousness of ourselves (our inner monitor, inner censor, inner doubter) behind. Insofar as we cannot accomplish this, the sexual act will be dissatisfying. The woman may experience little pleasure, and the man may even be unable to perform, should he fail to disengage the intellect.

Of course, when we are caught in the ecstasy of sex we are not literally unconscious. What happens, in effect, is that a different sort of consciousness takes over: what Lawrence calls “blood-consciousness.” What Lawrence means by this term is the pre-reflective, pre-conceptual, subterranean depth in consciousness: what he sometimes confusingly calls the “unconscious.”

Sometimes this type of consciousness is derisively labeled the “animal” in us. This is misleading, for we have a tendency not to think of ourselves as animals, and labeling the blood-consciousness “animal” becomes a way to disown it. But it is our own, and, of course, we are animals. In the heat of true, ecstatic sexual passion, one loses a sense of individuality. It is common to hear the participants speak (later on) of losing the sense of bodily boundaries, and feeling as if the two bodies merged into one. Strange, animal-like cries are uttered and motions become automatic rather than deliberately willed.

In sex we surrender our intellect and self-consciousness, and open ourselves to the blood-consciousness, to our primal self—so that we become, for the space of the act, that primal self. And this is the reason why modern people are so sex-obsessed.

To live in modern, industrialized society means to live almost constantly from what Lawrence calls the “upper centres,” from intellect. And it means to live surrounded at all times by the products of intellect, cocooned in a synthetic, human world built over top of the natural world, operating according to human ideas and ideals. Almost always, this life requires us to lead an existence that is false in certain fundamental ways; false and inimical to life and to the natural, primal self. Passionate sex, insofar as modern people can even manage it, is the only respite from this that most people know. As such, Lawrence believes that in sex we are fundamentally truer than at most other times in life. And reflection on what the sex act means may help us to recover this trueness in daily life, outside of sexual activity.

All of the above is an attempt to say “what sex is.” But Lawrence holds that ultimately it is ineffable:

We can never say, satisfactorily. But we know so much: we know that it is a dynamic polarity between human beings, and a circuit of force always flowing. . . . We know that in the act of coition the blood of the individual man, acutely surcharged with intense vital electricity—we know no word, so say “electricity,” by analogy—rises to a culmination, in a tremendous magnetic urge towards the blood of the female. The whole of the living blood in the two individuals forms a field of intense, polarized magnetic attraction. So, the two poles must be brought into contact. In the act of coition, the two seas of blood in the two individuals, rocking and surging towards contact, as near as possible, clash into a oneness.[11]

Lawrence’s remark about his use of the term “electricity” tells us that we should not take this description very literally. When he speaks of an “electricity” in the blood of a sexually aroused man or woman, he uses this term, for lack of a better one, to describe the peculiar sense of acute, tingling “aliveness” that one feels in sexual ecstasy. When he speaks of a “magnetic attraction” between the blood of man and woman, he means the uncanny, overpowering, and unchosen sense of attraction that one experiences for the other. It is a sense of attraction that at times makes men and women feel that they must come together or die.

We attempt to deflate the mystery of this attraction by chalking it up to “chemistry.” Indeed it may somehow be chemical, but to describe the physical conditions necessary for a profound experience to take place does not render it less profound, or less mysterious. It might seem a bit ironic, given Lawrence’s criticisms of science, that his own language has a kind of scientific veneer, with its talk of “electricity,” “magnetism,” and “polarity.” But Lawrence’s “science” is, in fact, a throwback to the vitalistic philosophy of nature of the Romantics.

Lawrence attempts to sum things up as follows: “Sex then is a polarization of the individual blood in man towards the individual blood in woman.”[12] At the root of this idea is a basic conviction of Lawrence’s, which cannot be overemphasized: that men and women are fundamentally and radically different—metaphysically different. (See my essay “D. H. Lawrence on Men and Women [2].”) In the same text he writes, “We are all wrong when we say there is no vital difference between the sexes.”

Lawrence wrote this in 1921 intending it to be provocative, but it is surely much more controversial in today’s world, where it has become a dogma in some circles to insist that sex differences (now called “gender differences”) are “socially constructed,” and that the only natural differences between the sexes are purely and simply anatomical. Lawrence continues: “There is every difference. Every bit, every cell in a boy is male, every cell is female in a woman, and must remain so. Women can never feel or know as men do. And in the reverse, men can never feel and know, dynamically, as women do.”[13]

dhl2.jpgInterestingly, I believe that Lawrence derives the idea of “cells” being male or female from Otto Weininger’s Sex and Character, a text he was definitely familiar with. Weininger writes: “every cell of the organism . . . has a sexual character.” And: “In a male every part, even the smallest, is male, however much it may resemble the corresponding part of a female, and in the latter, likewise, even the smallest part is exclusively female.”[14]

Setting Weininger aside, this is Lawence’s way of emphasizing that men and women are different all the way down, and that there are ways in which they can never understand each other, and never see as the other sees. Lawrence is concerned in particular (though this is not obvious) to guard against the claim that there are borderline cases of men and women who are (psychically) androgynous, straddling the divide between male and female:

A child is born sexed. A child is either male or female; in the whole of its psyche and physique is either male or female. Every single living cell is either male or female, and will remain either male or female as long as life lasts. And every single cell in every male child is male, and every cell in every female is female. The talk about a third sex, or about the indeterminate sex, is just to pervert the issue.[15]

The reference in the last sentence is to the ideas of figures like Magnus Hirschfeld and, indeed, Otto Weininger, both of whom argued that homosexuals were sexually “intermediate.” Part of the reason Lawrence is so vehement in this passage is that he had strong homosexual inclinations (as any honest reader of Women in Love, especially its deleted “Prologue,” will admit). Early in life he saw himself as an androgynous being, with a hefty share of femininity in his soul. However, he came to repudiate this idea and to regard it as having hindered his development as a man.

The Phallus

In coition, Lawrence writes, “the two seas of blood in the two individuals, rocking and surging towards contact, as near as possible, clash into a oneness.”[16] The means by which this connection occurs, where the blood of the man and the woman is brought together, is the phallus. One of Lawrence’s most important philosophical essays is “A Propos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’” which he wrote partly to answer criticisms of the novel, and partly to make explicit and expound upon the novel’s message. He writes at one point that “The phallus is a column of blood that fills the valley of blood of a woman. The great river of male blood touches to its depths the great river of female blood—yet neither breaks its bounds.” The two blood streams, the male and the female, “encircle the whole of life.”[17] They never literally mingle, but coition is essentially an act in which the blood of the male, enfolded within an extension of his flesh, enters the blood-engorged flesh of the woman—and the two blood streams come as close to mingling as they ever will.

The result is a crisis; an ecstatic moment in which—as in the Zen experience of satori—there is the sudden, non-verbal intuition that this here now is all there is, and there is a loss of the sense of individual separateness and isolation; a sense of becoming absorbed into a greater unity. Lawrence describes the orgasm as follows: “There is a lightning flash which passes through the blood of both individuals, there is a thunder of sensation which rolls in diminishing crashes down the nerves of each—and then the tension passes.”[18]

In his later works, Lawrence writes often and explicitly of the metaphysical, indeed the divine significance of the phallus. For example, in the second of Lawrence’s three versions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (published posthumously as John Thomas and Lady Jane) there is a scene in which Constance Chatterley lies beside her sleeping lover, contemplating his flaccid penis. “Wasn’t there a weird, grotesque godhead in it?” she asks herself, and what follows is a passage of great significance:

To most men, the penis was merely a member, at the disposal of the personality. Most men merely used their penis as they use their fingers, for some personal purpose of their own. But in a true man, the penis has a life of its own, and is the second man within the man. It is prior to the personality. And the personality must yield before the priority and the mysterious root-knowledge of the penis, or the phallus. For this is the difference between the two: the penis is a mere member of the physiological body. But the phallus, in the old sense, has roots, the deepest roots of all, in the soul and the greater consciousness of man, and it is through the phallic roots that inspiration enters the soul.[19]

Lawrence makes a traditional distinction in this passage (though, as usual, he is slip-shod about it) between the penis and the phallus, which is the erect penis. In cultures that have worshipped the penis, it always the erect penis that is depicted and revered. Why? Because, in a real sense, the phallus does not belong to the individual man. It is—notoriously—not under the control of his personality, his mental self-conscious being. It has a will of its own. It is the “second man within the man,” meaning that it is a direct expression or, if you will, externalization of the deeper, truer, self; of the unconscious, or blood-consciousness.

This self is “prior to the personality,” and indeed it is fundamentally the same in all men. So it transcends the individual—indeed it is an expression of the life mystery which permeates all of nature. The penis, Lawrence tells us, is a “mere member of the physiological body,” but the phallus is something that rises from out of the chthonic depth of nature itself. The phallus is our connection to those depths. When Lawrence says that it is “through the phallic roots that inspiration enters the soul” he means that it is insofar as we are able to surrender our intellect and mental awareness that we are guided by the wisdom of the blood-consciousness.

If a man’s mental self dominates him and grips him, refusing to let go, preoccupying him with thoughts, then he cannot achieve an erection. His mind has “blocked” the primal, unconscious self. This is all that the mind can do to the primal self—it cannot command it. Hence there is no “willing” an erection. But if a man can momentarily surrender his mental self, then the blood-consciousness is awakened, and the phallus comes to life. The virile man is admired because he has a connection to the primal force. The impotent man is pathetic in our eyes, because he has lost that connection. He is literally without power.

Thus, for Lawrence, sexual arousal in the male and the sex act following upon it become emblematic of what must take place if there is to be a general return to the blood-consciousness, and thus an achievement of lasting happiness, lasting satisfaction in the whole of life. There must be a surrender of idealism, and of the tendency to live strictly from the “upper centres.” There is no way to get to the natural self by way of intellect and its ideas, just as there is no willing an erection. All that mind can do is to let go—to do nothing. Then the blood-consciousness takes over and the result is that there rises up from the root of us a new man, a new self. New only in the sense that it is unfamiliar to us, for in truth it is actually the oldest of old selves.

Erection and a full, ecstatic sexual experience symbolize for Lawrence the successful reawakening of the primal self that is needed if we are to again become natural creatures and achieve our “fullness of being.” But they are not merely symbolic. Lawrence also sees coition as the deepest, most profound, and profoundly mysterious way in which we come into contact with our chthonic depth, and the chthonic depth of the natural world itself. Hence, in “A Propos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’” he says the following

[The] phallus is the connecting link between the two rivers [of male and female blood], that establishes the two streams in a oneness, and gives out of their duality a single circuit, forever. And this, this oneness gradually accomplished throughout a life-time in twoness, is the highest achievement of time or eternity. From it all things human spring, children and beauty and well-made things; all the true creations of humanity. And all we know of the will of God is that He wishes this, this oneness, to take place, fulfilled over a lifetime, this oneness within the great dual blood-stream of humanity.[20]

Here Lawrence makes it quite clear, as he does in innumerable other places, that his reverence for the phallus is a religious one. Indeed, it would not be a distortion to call his own, personal religion a form of “phallic worship.” This is, of course, a provocative choice of words, but not an inaccurate one. There is, in fact, a remarkable similarity between Lawrence’s views and Hindu Shaivism, the oldest surviving phallic cult in the world.

The God Shiva is a personification of what Lawrence means by the life mystery or “pan power,” as well as what Schopenhauer meant by the will in nature.[21] Alain Daniélou, one of the foremost Western interpreters of Shaivism, writes

As Lord of Yoga, Shiva is named Yogendra, Yogeshvara, Mahâyogi, since it is he who taught the world the Yoga method through which man can know himself, realize himself and communicate with subtle beings, beasts, plants and gods. He also teaches the dance and the music which leads to ecstasy, the intoxication which takes man out of himself. . . . His festivals are those of Spring, of the Renewal of Life, and of creative Eroticism. . . . He is naked, libidinous, and preaches rapture, love, detachment, and friendship with nature. God of Sensual Pleasure and of Death, he is present in the forest and the funeral pyre. Shiva is at the same time benevolent (Shambhu) and terrible (Bhîma).[22]

Although these and many other qualities are attributed to Shiva, the sacred Shaivite texts indicate that the true Shiva is beyond all human categories: “Shiva (the supreme divinity) is without sign (without sex), without color, without taste, without odor, beyond the reach of words or touch, without qualities, immutable and immobile.”[23] This being can therefore only be known through some tangible sign that it gives of itself in the physical, perceptible universe, and that sign is the phallus.

The Sanskrit word for phallus, lingam, literally means “sign.” Daniélou writes, “The lingam, or phallus, the source of life, is the form by which the Absolute Being, from whom the world is issued, can be evoked. . . . In the microcosm, which is to say in man, the sexual organ, the source of life, is the form in which the nature of the formless manifests itself.”[24]

Daniélou quotes liberally from ancient texts in order to explain the Shaivite attitude toward the phallus and its relationship to Shiva. One such text states, “Shiva said ‘I am not distinct from the phallus. The phallus is identical with me, and therefore must be worshipped. My well-beloved! Wherever there is an upright male organ, I myself am present, even if there is no other representation of me.”[25] This passage indicates that the phallus is not, in fact, merely a symbol of Shiva, but is a physical “expression” of the god—the most perfect expression of the god, in fact. In a way, Shiva is distinct from the phallus, but in a way the phallus is Shiva.

We find just the same sort of mystical logic in Lawrence: the phallus is an expression of the life mystery, as the blood-consciousness that animates it is an expression of the life mystery; but the phallus, and blood-consciousness just are the life mystery, as it expresses itself in us. The phallus is our link to the life force itself. Daniélou writes, “The penis is therefore the organ through which a link is established between man . . . and the creative force which is the nature of the divine.”[26] Lawrence expresses precisely this Shaivite conception in John Thomas and Lady Jane, when Constance Chatterley has an argument with her very modern and irreligious sister:

“I don’t care!” she said stubbornly to Hilda at bedtime. “I know the penis is the most godly part of a man. . . . I know it is the penis which connects us with the stars and the sea and everything. It is the penis which touches the planets, and makes us feel their special light. I know it. I know it was the penis which really put the evening stars into my inside self. I used to look at the evening star, and think how lovely and wonderful it was. But now it’s in me as well as outside me, and I need hardly look at it. I am it. I don’t care what you say, it was the penis gave it me.”[27]

According to Daniélou, Shaivism regards the procreative purpose of sex as “a side show” – just as Lawrence does. Daniélou writes that the phallus has a dual role: “the inferior one of procreation and the superior one of contacting the divine state by means of the ecstasy caused by pleasure (ànanda). The orgasm is a ‘divine sensation.’ So whereas paternity attaches man to the things of the earth, the ecstasy of pleasure can reveal divine reality to him, leading him to detachment and spiritual realization.”[28]

The orgasm, for Lawrence as well as for Shaivism, is a religious experience in which selfhood is transcended and we become reabsorbed, momentarily, into the life mystery; connected to “the stars and the sea and everything.” Daniélou quotes another Shaivite text: “Every orgasm, every pleasure is a divine experience. The entire universe springs forth from enjoyment. Pleasure is at the origin of all that exists.”[29]

Just as Lawrence’s ideas about the metaphysical significance of the phallus and intercourse can be likened to Shaivism, his views about the use of sex as a means to “awakening” can be likened to Tantra. Tantra refers to the set of practical techniques and methods used to bring the individual to union with the divine source.

In the West, we tend to associate Tantra exclusively with a kind of “sex magic,” and although there are other forms of Tantra this is, in fact, the one that I am drawing on in making comparisons to Lawrence. Tantric sex actually involves a rather overwhelmingly complex collection of ritual preparations, mantras, and physical positions. None of these are truly relevant to our concerns here. Suffice it to say that the theory behind Tantric sex involves the belief that if intercourse is approached properly, with an understanding of the metaphysical significance of the act, it affords the participants the opportunity to achieve a state of transcendence.

They lose their sense of individuality and merge with each other, and through merging with each other—through bringing together the male and female natures—they participate in the creative power represented by Shiva. Again, the parallels to Lawrence are obvious. He too regarded the man and the woman as representing eternal male and female powers, and he saw in intercourse a way in which the two become one (“the highest achievement of time or eternity”) and in so doing, lose themselves in the life mystery.

Notes

[1] Quoted in Jeffrey Meyers, D. H. Lawrence: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), 362.

[2] Quoted in Meyers, 367.

[3] Meyers, 369.

[4] D. H. Lawrence, Fantasia of the Unconscious in Fantasia of the Unconscious and Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (New York: Penguin, 1971), 106.

[5] Arthur Schopenhauer, Manuscript Remains, trans. E. F. J. Payne (Oxford: Berg, 1988–90), vol. 3, 262.

[6] D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix, ed. Edward McDonald (New York: Viking, 1968), 759 (“The Novel and the Feelings”).

[7] Quoted in Meyers, 362.

[8] Fantasia, 185.

[9] Fantasia, 106.

[10] Fantasia, 173.

[11] Fantasia, 106–07.

[12] Fantasia, 185.

[13] Fantasia, 102.

[14] Otto Weininger, Sex and Character, trans. Ladislaus Löb (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 17.

[15] Fantasia, 96.

[16] Fantasia, 106–07.

[17] D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix II, ed. Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore (New York: Viking, 1971), 505 (“A Propos of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover’”).

[18] Fantasia, 106–07.

[19] D. H. Lawrence, John Thomas and Lady Jane (New York: Penguin Books, 1977), 238.

[20] Phoenix II, 506 (“A Propos of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover’”).

[21] Alain Daniélou argues that the Greek Pan is equivalent to Shiva. See Alain Daniélou, The Phallus, trans. Jon Graham (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1995), 47–48.

[22] Alain Daniélou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus, no translator credited (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1992), 51.

[23] Linga Purána, 1.3.2–3. Quoted in Alain Daniélou, The Phallus, 11.

[24] Daniélou, The Phallus, 11–13.

[25] Quoted in Daniélou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy, 56.

[26] Ibid., 56.

[27] John Thomas and Lady Jane, 312.

[28] Daniélou, The Phallus, 18.

[29] Ibid., 18.

 


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/lawrencepine.jpg

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VILLON & CÉLINE de Pierre de BONNEVILLE

Vient de paraître : VILLON & CÉLINE de Pierre de BONNEVILLE

 
Les éditions Dualpha viennent de publier Villon & Céline de Pierre de Bonneville. Initialement paru aux éditions Improbable, ensuite publié en plusieurs partie par Le Bulletin célinien puis repris sur notre site (ici), ce texte fait un parallèle très intéressant entre les deux illustres écrivains, leurs vies, leurs époques, leurs styles...


Pierre de BONNEVILLE, Villon & Céline, Dualpha, 2013.
98 pages, 15 €
Commande sur www.francephi.com.


Quatrième de couverture 
Villon et Céline : près de cinq siècles les séparent, mais ils ont beaucoup de points communs. Parmi ceux-ci, l’auteur a relevé l’identité, la personnalité, le milieu, le génie, l’invention, le parcours, le destin, la musique, le comique et le tragique. Dans un parallèle rigoureux, il nous trace ces ressemblances, qui sont l’occasion de replonger dans les citations, les textes de ces deux écrivains d’exception.
« Les études comparatistes ne sont plus guère à la mode. Le fait que notre auteur renoue avec cette tradition se justifie tant il est vrai que le parallèle entre l’œuvre et l’itinéraire respectifs de Villon et Céline apparaît ici comme une évidence. Se basant notamment sur la somme du grand médiéviste Pierre Champion, il passe en revue tout ce qui les réunit. Leur destin d’écrivain maudit bien sûr, mais surtout ce lyrisme basé sur l’émotion et les ressources du langage populaire » (Marc Laudelout).

vendredi, 30 août 2013

D. H. Lawrence’s Phallic Traditionalism

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D. H. Lawrence’s Phallic Traditionalism

 

By Derek Hawthorne

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com

Sex and Religion

D. H. Lawrence argues that through the sex act, individuals participate in some kind of mysterious power running through nature. But does this momentary experience have any kind of long-term effect on them? Lawrence directly addresses this question. When the sex act is over, he writes, “The two individuals are separate again. But are they as they were before? Is the air the same after a thunderstorm as before? No. The air is as it were new, fresh, tingling with newness. So is the blood of man and woman after successful coition.” He states further that coition alters “the very quality of being, in both.”[1]

But how? Not surprisingly, Lawrence actually says little about how the experience changes the woman, but as for the man he has plenty to say. After coitus, “The heart craves for a new activity. For new collective activity. That is, for a new polarized connection with other beings, other men.”[2] As we have seen, Lawrence believes that sex involves an encounter with the creative force at the basis of nature. This encounter renews the male’s own creativity. He is eager, after the encounter, to break away from the woman for a time and to take action in the world, to bring something new into being: “Men, being themselves made new after the action of coition, wish to make the world anew. A new, passionate polarity springs up between men who are bent on the same activity, the polarity between man and woman sinks to passivity. It is now daytime, and time to forget sex, time to be busy making a new world.”[3]

The man yearns for union with the woman. At the time, all other considerations other than that union become trivial. Union must be achieved. But once it is achieved, he is renewed and yearns now to come together with other men in a new kind of union: a union directed toward the accomplishment of purposive activity. Again, however, what of the woman in all of this? Doesn’t she yearn for a purposive activity beyond the marriage bed? Lawrence answers that, in the main, this is not the case. He writes, “Primarily and supremely man is always the pioneer of life, adventuring onward into the unknown, alone with his own temerarious, dauntless soul. Woman for him exists only in the twilight, by the camp fire, when day has departed. Evening and the night are hers.”[4]

Lawrence’s view is that in life we must oscillate between an encounter with the source—through sex, for example—and purposive, creative activity. In other words, we must oscillate between blood-consciousness and mental consciousness. Lawrence is not anti-intellectual. Mental consciousness exists in order to allow us to carry out the inspirations we have received from blood-consciousness (recall that “it is through the phallic roots that inspiration enters the soul”). It is when mental consciousness is cut off from blood-consciousness and tries to make itself radically autonomous that problems result.

Lawrence at one point frames the issue of the relation of the two forms of consciousness in terms of “nighttime” and “daytime” selves:

Well, then, we have night-time selves. And the night-self is the very basis of the dynamic self. The blood-consciousness and the blood-passion is the very source and origin of us. Not that we can stay at the source. Nor even make a goal of the source, as Freud does. The business of living is to travel away from the source. But you must start every single day fresh from the source. You must rise every day afresh out of the dark sea of the blood.

When you go to sleep at night you have to say: “Here dies the man I am and know myself to be.” And when you rise in the morning you have to say: “Here rises an unknown quantity which is still myself.”[5]

When Lawrence speaks of rising in the morning, he means emerging from the world of dreams. Like Jung, Lawrence believed that we encounter our primal, pre-mental selves in dream. But he does not just mean this. He means that whenever we emerge from an encounter with the source – whenever we have sloughed off, for a time, our individuality and then put it back on again – we must be prepared to be changed, to be inspired with something that has emerged from the source. We must be willing to bring this into the light. He alludes to this idea in Studies in Classic American Literature when he tell us he believes “That my soul is a dark forest” and “That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.”[6]

Human beings generally make the mistake of absolutizing either the daytime self or the nighttime self; either making sex the be all and end all, to the exclusion of purposive activity, or vice versa. Lawrence writes that “With sex as the one accepted prime motive, the world drifts into despair and anarchy.”[7] In the sex act, as we have said, the sense of individuality, of personal identity is lost and the participants have the sense of merging into some larger unity. But what of the rest of life? We must live as individuals, with a sense of ourselves as separate beings for most of our waking existence.

But what are we to make of our individuality? Some people find the burden of separate, individual existence so great that they seek to have the sort of transcendence one can experience through sex on an almost constant basis, through alcohol or drugs or thrill-seeking. And what we often find with such individuals is that their lives come to pieces, they drift into “despair and anarchy.”

We have, according to Lawrence, two selves: the nighttime self which is the same in all of us, and which is an offshoot of the worldself, the life mystery; and the daytime self, which is different in each of us, and individual. To deny either is unnatural. We must shuttle back and forth between the two. If we absolutize the nighttime self, then we are destroyed as individuals. And any society that tries to found itself on the nighttime self would quite literally descend into chaos. (Consider the case of Woodstock, for example.) “Assert sex as the predominant fulfillment, and you get the collapse of living purpose in man. You get anarchy.”[8]

But it is equally mistaken to assert purpose above everything. This is, in effect, the mistake of idealism. There are individuals who deny sex or any act that involves a contact with the source. Such acts involve a loss of control, and a temporary breakdown in the sense of individual separateness. And this is terrifying to many people. So they live, as it were, from the neck up and devote themselves wholly to achievement, to productive work, to purpose. This is essentially what Freud means by the sublimation of the libido. Such individuals may not literally cease to have sex, but their sex is mechanical and without any real sensual depth. “Assert purposiveness as the one supreme and pure activity of life,” Lawrence writes, “and you drift into barren sterility, like our business life of today, and our political life.”[9]

Lawrence sees in these observations a key to understanding world history. “You become sterile, you make anarchy inevitable,” he says.[10] In other words, if a society asserts purposiveness above all, eventually it reaches a mass psychological breaking point, and the society will abandon itself to pure sensuousness. If this happens, however, things are destined to cycle back again. Someone or some movement will arise in response to this sensuous anarchy, and it will put forward the solution: abandon sensuousness, in favor of pure purpose, or pure idealism. And so on. To quote Anaximander (one of Lawrence’s favorite philosophers), “they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of time.”[11]

For Lawrence, the solution to this problem is for individuals to live in complete acceptance of sex and the blood-consciousness. They must accept these not only without guilt, but with positive reverence. Sex and all that puts us into touch with the primal, chthonic source is to be regarded as the touchstone of life. All plans and purposes of human beings are to draw their inspiration from the encounter with this source, and must be compatible with the free, regular, sensual contact with it.

Lawrence writes that “no great purposive passion can endure long unless it is established upon the fulfillment in the vast majority of individuals of the true sexual passion. No great motive or ideal or social principle can endure for any length of time unless based upon the sexual fulfillment of the vast majority of individuals concerned.” And just to make sure we have gotten his point, he says again a few lines later, “You have got to base your great purposive activity upon the intense sexual fulfillment of all your individuals.”[12] (Mysteriously, he adds, “That was how Egypt endured.”)

To sum up, it is certainly true to say that Lawrence was preoccupied with sex. But that was because for him sex was religion. In sex we awaken the deepest part of ourselves; we become that part, which is itself part of the life energy of which we are an expression. In sex we contact this mystery, and draw creative strength from it. Lawrence insists, however, that we cannot dwell forever in this mystery. Our lives must be a perpetual shifting back and forth between blood-consciousness and mental consciousness. Contact with the chthonic blood mystery spurs us on to purposive action. And in terms of what our purposes are to be, we draw inspiration from opening ourselves to the chthonic and whatever it may bring forth. 

Sex in the Head

Ideally, sex should not be the only means by which we contact the life mystery, but for modern people it usually is. That is, when they can manage to have fulfilling sex at all. The trouble is that modern people live almost exclusively from the intellect, from conscious, mental awareness. And they live with rigid conceptions of selfhood. These are constructions of the intellect and, not surprisingly, they make intellect central to selfhood.

We tend to think, in other words, that we are minds simpliciter. But it is actually worse than that. We tend to think of ourselves almost as disembodied minds, and we relate as one disembodied mind to another. We invest a tremendous amount in maintaining these conceptions. Anything that would break down or challenge our sense of individual distinction is regarded as a threat.

Consequently, as Lawrence tells us over and over again, we have “got our sex into our head.”[13] This is a favorite expression of his. As much as we may locate our sense of self in the head, we cannot ever fully extinguish thereby the flame of the “lower self.” Rather than cede any of its power to the lower self, intellect must find some way to get sex into the head and control it. Sex becomes a matter of ego-aggrandizement, and the object of myriad neuroses. Even sexual arousal comes to be controlled by the head. The instinctual, animal sexual response that nature equips us with is suppressed by intellect. The head develops its own fixations and these become “cues” which trigger arousal.

For example, fetishism is a sexual response triggered not by the presence of an actual man or woman, or male or female genitalia, but by something which somehow symbolizes or refers to these. For example, the fetishist who gets excited over women’s underwear but has difficulty getting excited in the presence of a real woman. This is a person whose response is, again, intellectual and unnatural. He is disconnected from natural sexual feelings, and achieves arousal by routing information through the intellect: “I associate panties with women’s crotches, and they’re sexy, therefore this is sexy.”

The head may even declare some sexual feelings “wrong,” because they are incompatible with the ego’s self-conception. Repression and terrible inner conflict are the result. The more we get our sex into our head, the more a natural, fulfilling sexual response becomes impossible. The end result is almost inevitably impotence in the man and frigidity in the woman. Lawrence would not have been surprised at all had he lived to see the plethora of drugs that have now become available to treat sexual dysfunction, and the massive profits made by the companies that produce them.

One would think that getting sex into the head would put modern people off of sex, but instead it actually makes them terrifically hungry for repeated, transient sexual experiences. Lawrence writes, “The more individual the man or woman, the more unsatisfactory is a non-individual connection: promiscuity.”[14] By identifying only with the “daytime self,” with the mental self alone, we in effect disown our bodies and their sensations and urges. But the urges remain, and we must satisfy them. So we go to a sexual encounter, but because we have rendered our bodies largely insensate, we wind up feeling very little. And because we are terrified of anything that might break down or transform our sense of ourselves, we emerge from the act unchanged.

We are unwilling to surrender ego and make ourselves vulnerable, and so the sex act becomes merely a gymnastic exercise, followed by some mildly pleasurable muscular contractions. Dimly, we sense that something is missing—or that we have missed out on something. So we are driven to go on to another encounter, but the old pattern repeats itself. Of course, part of what drives us to another encounter is the biological sex urge itself, but Lawrence believes that the sex urge alone cannot explain the extraordinary promiscuity of modern people.

A solution to promiscuity, of course, is to find a steady partner, ideally one to hold onto for a lifetime. But modern people tend to approach this from the head as well. Lawrence writes,

We have made the mistake of idealism again. We have thought that the woman who thinks and talks as we do will be the blood-answer. . . . We have made love and sex a matter of seeing and hearing and of day-conscious manipulation. We have made men and women come together on the grounds of the superficial likeness and commonality—their mental and upper sympathetic consciousness. And so we have forced the blood into submission. Which means we force it into disintegration.[15]

We relate to potential love partners through the head, looking for intellectual agreement and a “shared mutuality of values.” This is much more so the case today than when Lawrence wrote. It has become increasingly the case in today’s world that one feels obliged in certain contexts (for example, the workplace) to suppress one’s feelings of magnetic attraction to the opposite sex, and certainly never to give voice to it. Some find an expression of such feelings to be somehow degrading or demeaning, no matter the context. And so men and women tend now to relate to each other primarily through talking, and talking mainly about ideas, opinions, and preferences.

The other side of the coin, of course, is relationships based upon physical attraction. While these may seem superficially more healthy than the relationships just described, in their modern form they are in fact no better. Modern people, as I have said, are caught up in preserving ego boundaries, and that means they are caught up in not losing themselves in the other, in not going too far in the direction of sensuous abandon. Hence, after a while, modern relationships based upon sex reach a dead end, where neither partner is willing to go further for fear of actually becoming something other than what he or she already is. The sex becomes overly familiar, overly mechanical, and, for lack of anything else to sustain it, the relationship ends.

Between dissatisfying sexual encounters, modern people (especially males) steel themselves against the possibility that the next time might be a profound, transformative experience by making a smirking joke of sex; by treating sex as a game in which numbers count: number of conquests, number of orgasms, minutes elapsed before ejaculation, inches of erection, etc. Sex becomes a possession of the ego, something I do which elevates me in my own eyes, a selfish pursuit. What it should be, in fact, is the most selfless pursuit of all—not in the sense of being altruistic, but in the sense of being egoless and ecstatic:

But today, all is image consciousness. Sex does not exist; there is only sexuality. And sexuality is merely a greedy, blind self-seeking. Self-seeking is the real motive of sexuality. And therefore, since the thing sought is the same, the self, the mode of seeking is not very important. Heterosexual, homosexual, narcissistic, normal, or incest, it is all the same thing. . . . Every man, every woman just seeks his own self, her own self, in the sexual experience.[16]

Contrary to appearance, modern people hate and fear sex. They hate and fear the loss of control, the loss of ego, and the abandonment to the life mystery that real, “blood-conscious” sex involves. So they reduce sex to smut and laugh at it, and at themselves for wanting it. In his essay “Pornography and Obscenity,” Lawrence writes, “Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it. This is unpardonable.”[17] Further, as we have already discussed, scientism conspires with pornography to deflate the sex mystery and render it all a mundane matter of chemicals and “procreative drive.” “The scientific fact of sex is no more sex than a skeleton is a man,” Lawrence writes. “Yet you’d think twice before you stuck a skeleton in front of a lad and said, ‘You see, my boy, this is what you are when you come to know yourself.’”[18]

The “scientific” approach to deflating sex is largely the hard-headed approach of the sexually-repressed male. The sexually-repressed female has given us the “lovey-dovey” approach. Sex is “something wonderful and extra lovey-dovey, a bill-and-coo process of obtaining a sweet little baby.” Both approaches are, Lawrence tells us, “disastrous to the deep sexual life.” “But perhaps,” he adds, “that is what we want.”[19] We want, at some level, to destroy the sexual life because it threatens the ego and the control of intellect.

Phallic Traditionalism

Fear of sex, Lawrence tells us in John Thomas and Lady Jane is “fear of the phallus”:

This is the root fear of all mankind. Hence the frenzied efforts of mankind to despise the phallus, and to nullify it. All out of fear. Hence the modern jazz desire to make the phallus quite trivial, a silly little popgun. Fear, just the same. Fear of this alter ego, this homunculus, this little master which is inside a man, the phallus. Men and women alike committed endless obscenities, in order to be rid of this little master, to be free of it! Free! Free! Freedom![20]

Remember that the phallus—the erect penis—is the second man within the man: the expression of the primal, chthonic self. It is the bodying-forth in the male’s body of the unconscious, or the blood-consciousness. It is not a thing of intellect; its roots go much deeper. And because of this, it is an affront to the intellect, which prides itself on its autonomy. Lawrence is telling us that all of our reductive scientism, our pornography, our sanitized “lovey-dovey” smarm about sex, indeed most of modern life, are a concerted effort to deny the power of the phallus and to assert the radical autonomy of intellect.

It would be a mistake to understand Lawrence as simply saying that modern men and women fear a physical organ. In a way, Lawrence is saying this. The erect penis represents, in the minds of most people, the primal self within the self, deeper than intellect. And, indeed, it is under the control of that primal self; again, an erection cannot be “willed.” But recall also that for Lawrence the phallus is an expression of the life mystery that permeates all of nature.

The fear of the phallus thus represents, in another way, the fear and hatred of that which is greater than ourselves. It is no accident that the scientific “deflation” of sex usually goes hand in hand with atheism. They spring from the very same sort of mentality, the mentality that fears losing itself in something that would break the bounds of ego. To prevent this from ever happening, it must deny mystery, beauty, and God. These are all, in a way, the phallus. It must deny these or somehow explain them away. And above all it must deny itself pleasure. The fear of the phallus goes hand in hand with a fear of pleasure, for pleasure threatens to carry us away and give us a transcendent experience in which we feel absorbed into something greater than ourselves. As a Shaivite text says: “every pleasure is a divine experience. The entire universe springs forth from enjoyment. Pleasure is at the origin of all that exists.”

In “A Propos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’” Lawrence writes that “the bridge to the future is the phallus, and there’s the end of it.” At this point, as strange as it may seem, it should be unsurprising to hear Lawrence make such a claim. What is surprising, however, is that he insists that he is not saying that the bridge to the future is sex. In the same essay, Lawrence goes on to say that if England (and, by extension, the entire modern, Western world) is to be “regenerated . . . then it will be by the arising of a new blood contact, a new touch, and a new marriage. It will be a phallic rather than a sexual regeneration. For the phallus is the only great old symbol of godly vitality in a man, and of immediate contact.”[21]

What can Lawrence mean by “phallic rather than sexual”? One must keep in mind that which the phallus represents. Lawrence is calling upon us to return to consciousness of the life mystery, in every way that we can. Sex is only one way. The phallus is “only the great old symbol of godly vitality in a man,” and it is this godly vitality that we must put ourselves back in touch with. But what does Lawrence mean when he says, further, that the phallus is the old symbol of “immediate contact”?

Here he refers to his provocative claim, discussed earlier, that the phallus “is a column of blood that fills the valley of blood of a woman.” The phallus is the means by which the two great rivers, which are metaphysical opposites, are brought together wordlessly, and more profoundly than any words or ideas could convey. The phallus represents this and all other forms of “blood-contact,” meaning instinctive or intuitive, non-verbal contact between individuals.

Lawrence believes that individuals relate to each other in countless, mysterious ways that he often designates by the term “vibrations.” We relate to the opposite sex through these vibrations. No matter our sexual orientation, the vibrations are there. We relate to members of our own family, or our own ethnic group, or to members of another, different ethnic group through these vibrations. We must learn somehow to recover our awareness of these, and cease attempting to relate to one another exclusively through words and ideas. But this is only part of what we must do to get back in touch with “the phallus.”

In the same essay, Lawrence speaks of the necessity of establishing an entire life lived in connection to the phallus:

We must get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos and the universe. The way is through daily ritual, and the re-awakening. We must once more practise the ritual of dawn and noon and sunset, the ritual of the kindling fire and pouring water, the ritual of the first breath, and the last. This is an affair of the individual and the household, a ritual of day. The ritual of the moon in her phases, of the morning star and the evening star is for men and women separate. Then the ritual of the seasons, with the Drama and Passion of the soul embodied in procession and dance, this is for the community, in togetherness. And the ritual of the great events in the year of stars is for nations and whole peoples. To these rituals we must return: or we must evolve them to suit our needs.[22]

This is, of course, a description of the kind of life our distant ancestors lived. It was a life lived, in effect, in constant meditation upon and connection with the phallic mystery, the pan power. The phallus is the “bridge to the future,” but this bridge takes us roundabout and back again to the distant past.

 Notes

[1] D. H. Lawrence, Fantasia of the Unconscious in Fantasia of the Unconscious and Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (New York: Penguin, 1971), 107.

[2] Fantasia, 108.

[3] Fantasia, 108.

[4] Fantasia, 109.

[5] Fantasia, 182–83.

[6] D. H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (New York: Penguin, 1977), 22. Italics in original.

[7] Fantasia, 110. Later in the same text he declares, “Sex as an end in itself is a disaster: a vice” (Ibid., 187).

[8] Fantasia, 111.

[9] Fantasia, 111.

[10] Fantasia, 111.

[11] The Presocratic Philosophers, trans. G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven, and M. Schofield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 118.

[12] Fantasia, 110–11.

[13] Fantasia, 85.

[14] Fantasia, 175.

[15] Fantasia, 175.

[16] D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix, ed. Edward McDonald (New York: Viking, 1968), 381–82 (Review of Trigant Burrow, The Social Basis of Consciousness).

[17] Phoenix, 175 (“Pornography and Obscenity”).

[18] Fantasia, 114.

[19] Fantasia, 114.

[20] John Thomas and Lady Jane, 239.

[21] D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix II, ed. Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore (New York: Viking, 1971), 508 (“A Propos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’”).

[22] Phoenix II, 510 (“A Propos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’”).

 

 


 

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lundi, 26 août 2013

Montaigne et l’indifférence active

mont.jpg

Montaigne et l’indifférence active

par Claude BOURRINET

1) Dans les Essais, le discours n’est nullement l’enregistrement d’une existence mais le monologue d’une conscience qui se voit agir, qui s’accepte agissante sans pour cela paraître trop indulgente ni sans omettre de relever ce qui est digne d’être pris comme modèle. Il est donc tentant de soupçonner a priori une mauvaise foi latente dans tout ce qui est avoué, et d’autant plus que c’est avoué. Les relations qui existent entre Montaigne et son œuvre sont d’ordre dialectique. Dialogue socratique entre un homme qui voudrait être, sans plus (mais tâche ô combien ardue !) et une excroissance de cette essence problématique, monstrueuse (dans le sens du XVIe siècle) et inquisitrice, dont la tâche est d’établir un bilan sans concession et de ne cesser de rappeler qu’il est nécessaire d’accepter, pour être. De boire la coupe jusqu’à la lie. Une manière de conscience assumée, en quelque sorte, superlative, alternant entre lucidité aiguë et impératif pratique.

 

2) Le discours des Essais a ceci de singulier qu’il se détruit lui-même en avouant son incapacité à réformer la vie. C’est un anti-discours, comme celui des pyrrhoniens. Impression de n’en jamais tenir le bout, de perpétuel enlisement. Sa véritable sagesse, c’est l’absence de sagesse.

 

3) De vouloir trop appréhender l’homme Montaigne, malgré le prologue des Essais, c’est renouveler l’illusion réaliste dans l’art pictural.

 

4) Quand on lit et apprécie les Essais, on se sent délivré de tout scrupule à se réconcilier avec les mille travers de l’humaine condition, tellement ils nous semblent devenus naturels, mais aussi innocents, et l’un parce que l’autre (ce que rend bien le terme « naïf »). À vrai dire, il peut paraître excessif de prétendre cela. Mais ces travers ne sont ni mauvais, ni bons : ils sont ce que la nature et nous-mêmes les faisons, ce qui laisse une substantielle amplitude à la Fortune et à la volonté.

 

5) Inutilité des Essais en période vertueuse. Les cannibales en auraient-ils besoin ? Les Essais n’existent que parce que le siècle est corrompu.

 

6) Il faut prendre garde que Montaigne se veut hautement, ou bassement (au sens de basse continue) philosophe : « La moyenne région loge les tempestes, les deux extrêmes, des hommes philosophes et des hommes ruraus, concurrent en tranquillité et au bon heur ».

 

7) C’est à cette époque que les derniers feux de l’idée de croisade s’éteignent.

 

8 – L’intériorisation et la spiritualisation du sentiment de l’honneur tendent à remplacer son ostentation, même dans la dévotion. François de Salles fondera l’humble, l’orgueil de n’être que commun.

 

9) Montaigne change parfois de chaussures, mais c’est toujours pour aller sur la même voie et dans la même direction.

 

10) Écrire et publier sont deux fonctions qui appartiennent à des individus différents. Publier est affaire de vanité, de mensonge, de sincérité, de dévoilement, de témoignage, de générosité, d’égoïsme, d’intérêt bien compris, que sais-je encore ? Mais écrire est affaire d’être.

 

11) Le discours de Montaigne (pensée appuyée sur des expériences) n’est pas discours rationnel : « La plus part des instructions de la science à nous encourager ont plus de montre que de force, et plus d’ornement que de fruict (La Pléiade, p. 1026) ».

 

12) Dans les Essais, on ne trouve pas tout de la doctrine chrétienne, mais tout ce qu’on y trouve, on eût pu l’y chercher.

 

13) L’indifférence est un idéal asymptotique.

 

14) Il se peut que Montaigne ne se soit pas définitivement « corrigé », mais au moins s’est-il progressivement découvert, non abstraitement, mais dans sa chair, ce qui n’a pas été sans efforts et sans sacrifices. Il est tragique sans pathos.

 

15) Sacrifice du « vieil homme ». Se connaître, c’est connaître ce que Dieu a daigné que l’on soit. Loin d’être « impersonnel », le Montaigne « stoïcien » était résolument individualiste. Élaguer le moi de cette protubérance vaniteuse et ostentatoire, c’est redevenir véritablement « impersonnel », enfant de Dieu et de Fortune. Et là est atteinte la véritable personne.

 

16) La sagesse de Montaigne n’existe pas a priori, elle est Expérience, elle est Leçon, que l’on reçoit et donne. La sagesse est apprentissage.

 

17) Le siècle devient « comme un autre passé (La Pléiade, p. 1081) ». Il n’est plus ce présent indigne du passé : il devient une deuxième Antiquité. Passé, présent, futur sont identiques.

 

18) Montaigne n’est ni stoïcien, ni épicurien, ni pyrrhonien, ni quoi que ce soit de ce que la Grèce et Rome ont légué, mais un peu de tout cela. Il est avant tout Montaigne. Et, au demeurant, devrions-nous le classer à tout prix, il nous faudrait l’intégrer à cette longue lignée de philosophes chrétiens qui, jusqu’à l’humanisme dévot en train de naître, s’est évertué de replacer l’homme à sa juste place sans l’écraser.

 

19) Nous sommes si éloignés de la vie et de nous-mêmes que la redécouverte qu’en fait Montaigne nous semble une nouveauté miraculeuse.

 

20) Le Livre III des Essais, et surtout les derniers chapitres, sont parmi les expressions les plus pures du mysticisme baroque.

 

21) Il faut se garder de croire naïvement, malgré certains passages des Essais, que Montaigne préconise une vie médiocre, sans s’apercevoir en quoi cet idéal est utopique pour un homme tel que lui. Ces « ruraus », ce sont les cannibales de son terroir. Bien sûr, ils « vivent », et la bête elle-même manifeste pleinement la puissance d’être. Mais vivre, est-ce « exister » ? Avoir conscience de vivre, n’est-ce point doublement vivre ?

 

22) Les Essais sont une conquête personnelle du présent, du siècle et de l’instant. De la présence.

 

23) On ne peut parfois s’empêche de penser qu’il y a du « fumeur de haschisch, chez Montaigne. Moins l’orgueil.

 

24) En grand danger de nihilisme ? Dans un passage de l’Apologie de Raymond Sebond, il est dit en substance qu’il est dangereux de s’aventurer plus avant. Tzara : « Les réactions des individus contaminés par la destruction, sont assez violentes, mais ces réactions, épuisées, annihilées par l’insistance satanique d’un à quoi bon continuel et progressif, ce qui reste et domine est l’indifférence. »

 

25) L’indifférence active est la suprême conscience.

 

26) Ce même mouvement qui porte l’intérêt de Montaigne pour le passé et le présent a pour aboutissement la réconciliation et comme moyen la rupture. Il procède de la redécouverte émerveillée d’un monde que l’on croyait connaître.

 

27) Montaigne cherche à reconstituer un Nomos afin que, quelque combat qu’il mène, il se trouve toujours en situation de préserver les remparts de son être. Mais ces murailles, c’est le monde. Nomos équivaut à Kosmos.

 

28) Montaigne a eu besoin de son livre pour se réconcilier. La béance se sera élargie chez Cervantès, et la sagesse devra s’accorder avec la folie.

 

29) Il ne faut pas tomber dans le piège des justifications prétendument « sincères » de Montaigne, à propos des raisons qui l’ont poussé à écrire. Il n’est rien de plus renard que la sincérité. La littérature est mauvaise foi. Il faut douter de toute affirmation péremptoire de l’auteur. Écrit-il pour ses proches ? Par originalité ? Sait-on vraiment pourquoi il écrit ? Sait-on pourquoi l’on écrit ? Les Essais sont entre autre la cristallisation d’impératifs qu’il se donne, moraux ou non, et qu’il ne suit pas toujours. Ils sont comme un miroir, mais un miroir déformé et déformant, renvoyant une image redressée du monde et de lui-même, du moins ce que Montaigne se veut être en se surprenant. S’il y a sincérité, elle est dans la relation courageuse qu’il établit avec son livre, c’est-à-dire avec sa conscience.

 

30) Tout ce qu’il dit à propos des Essais n’est pas faux, mais dans le sens qu’il donne aux termes « mensonge » et « vérité », qui sont des modalités justifiées de l’être et de sa puissance.

 

31) Car si l’on s’en tient uniquement, et docilement, à ce qu’il dit de lui-même et de son œuvre, on risque d’être désabusé : il n’existe pas de livre, ni d’individu, de son aveu même, qui ne soient aussi farcis de contradictions, constat qui authentifie sa vérité, plus sûrement que toute démonstration.

 

32) On s’est souvent arrêté à la nonchalance de Montaigne, et on a trop négligé ce qu’elle supposait de luttes dramatiques, pas toujours victorieuses.

 

33) La « diversion » est-elle encore fiable dès lors que l’on s’attache volontairement à la mettre en pratique ? Il subsiste toujours un Montaigne rebelle aux effets de l’indifférence totale, un Montaigne, non certes angoissé, mais inquiet et roide, non point à cause d’une trop grande soif de lucidité, mais de cette lucidité même, d’une tension trop aiguë vers la réalisation de l’être.

 

34) La « lucidité » de Montaigne provient non d’un détachement radical du monde, mais d’une adhésion à sa nature profonde, à sa nécessité, fût-elle à fleur de peau.

 

35) L’ignorance consiste à concéder de la substance à la perception phénoménale du monde. La docte ignorance est de s’accommoder de cette substance, et d’avoir la sagesse d’en jouir.

 

Claude Bourrinet

 


 

Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

 

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=3164

 

dimanche, 21 juillet 2013

Hommage à Jean Guenot

Jean Guénot.jpg

Hommage à Jean Guenot

Marc Laudelout

 

Il est notre vétéran du célinisme. Né en 1928 (quelques années avant Alméras, Gibault, Hanrez et Godard), Jean Guenot est l’un des derniers célinistes à avoir rencontré le grand fauve. Il n’avait alors qu’une trentaine d’années et, comme le releva Jean-Pierre Dauphin, il fut l’un de ceux qui, au cours de ces entretiens, renouvelèrent le ton de Céline. Lequel n’avait été approché jusqu’alors que par des journalistes aux questions convenues.


Une quinzaine d’années plus tard, il édita lui-même son Louis-Ferdinand Céline damné par l’écriture  qui lui vaudra d’être invité par Chancel, Mourousi et Polac.  L’année du centenaire de la naissance de l’écrivain, il récidiva avec Céline, écrivain arrivé, ouvrage allègre et iconoclaste. Professeur en Sorbonne,  Jean Guenot a oublié d’être ennuyeux. Ses cours sur la création de textes en témoignent ¹.


Au cours de sa longue traversée, Guenot s’est révélé journaliste, essayiste, romancier, auteur de fictions radiophoniques, animateur et unique rédacteur d’une revue d’information technique pour écrivains pratiquants qui en est à sa 27ème année de parution. Infatigable promeneur dans les contre-allées de la littérature, tel que l’a récemment défini un hebdomadaire à fort tirage ².


Linguiste reconnu ³, c’est son attention au langage et à l’oralité qui fit de son premier livre sur Céline une approche originale à une époque où l’écrivain ne suscitait guère d’étude approfondie. Lorsqu’à l’aube des années soixante, Jean Guenot s’y intéresse, Céline est loin d’être considéré comme un classique. Trente ans plus tard, les choses ont bien changé. L’année du centenaire, Guenot établit ce constat : « Louis-Ferdinand Céline est un écrivain aussi incontesté parmi ceux qui ne lisent pas que parmi ceux qui lisent ; parmi les snobs que parmi les collectionneurs ; parmi les chercheurs de plus-values les plus ardents que parmi les demandeurs les plus aigus de leçons en écriture». Nul doute que lui, Guenot, se situe parmi ceux-ci. C’est qu’il est lui-même écrivain. Et c’est en écrivain qu’il campe cette figure révérée.


Un souvenir personnel. Si je ne l’ai rencontré qu’à deux ou trois reprises, comment ne pas évoquer cet après-midi du printemps 1999. Il était l’un des participants de la « Journée Céline » 4. Comme pour mes autres invités, je commençai par lui poser une question. Ce fut la seule car il se livra à une époustouflante improvisation pertinente et spirituelle à la fois. Des applaudissements nourris et prolongés saluèrent son intervention. C’est dire s’il compte parmi les bons souvenirs des réunions céliniennes que j’organisai alors à l’Institut de Gestion, quai de Grenelle.


On l’a longtemps confondu avec Jean Guéhenno. Sans doute la raison pour laquelle il abandonna l’accent aigu de son patronyme. Aujourd’hui  l’académicien  – qui d’ailleurs ne se prénommait pas Jean mais Marcel ! –  n’est plus guère lu.  Jean  Guenot, lui, l’est toujours par les céliniens. Et s’ils sont amateurs d’écrits intimes, ils n’ignorent pas davantage l’écrivain de talent qu’il est 5.


Marc LAUDELOUT

 

1. Ce cours en vingt leçons, diffusé sur Radio Sorbonne, est disponible sous la forme de dix cassettes-audio diffusées par l’auteur. Prix : 80 €. Voir le site http://monsite.wanadoo.fr/editions.guenot.

2. Le Canard enchaîné, 5 juin 2013.

3. Clefs pour les langues vivantes, Éditions Seghers, coll. « Clefs », 1964.

4. Difficile de ne pas avoir la nostalgie de cette époque : outre Jean Guenot, mes invités étaient, ce 3 avril 1999, Éliane Bonabel, André Parinaud, Pierre Monnier, Paul Chambrillon, Anne Henry et Henri Thyssens, excusez du peu !

5. Le troisième tome de son autobiographie vient de paraître : Mornes saisons évoque ses souvenirs de l’occupation et fait suite à Sans intention et Ruine de Rome. Il y aura cinq tomes au total. Prix : 40 € chaque volume.

vendredi, 12 juillet 2013

« CÉLINE, un exemple de radicale insoumission »

« CÉLINE, un exemple de radicale insoumission »

par Dominique VENNER (2013)

Ex: http://www.lepetitcelinien.com

 
Les éditions P.-G. de Roux viennent de publier Un samouraï d'Occident, Le Bréviaire des insoumis, « livre-testament » de Dominique Venner, mort de manière spectaculaire le 21 mai dernier. Cet « historien méditatif » se penche dans cet ouvrage sur la longue tradition des Européens, son histoire, son avenir. Quelques lignes sont consacrées à Céline...
 
Certains exemples inattendus de retour à des représentation antiques affranchies du christianisme ont des précédents célèbres et bien répertoriés. En Allemagne, Goethe, Nietzsche ou Heidegger ; en Espagne, Ortega y Gasset ; en Italie, Croce, Pareto, Marinetti et Julius Evola. En France, dans la période contemporaine, on songe aux positions explicites d'Hyppolyte Taine, Anatole France, Ernest Renan, Fustel de Coulanges, Maurice Barrès, Thierry Maulnier, Jacques Laurent, Lucien Rebatet, Emile Cioran. Mais on peut s'attarder un instant sur les exemples de Montherlant, Maurras, Céline et, dans une moindre mesure, du maréchal Lyautey qui tous ont laissé des témoignages écrits auxquels on peut se référer.
 
[...]
 
La virulente polémique de Céline

Considéré comme le plus grand écrivain français du XXè siècle, rénovateur de la langue et du style, habité par une sorte de délire prophétique, Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, Céline en littérature, constitue un autre exemple de radicale insoumission. Gravement blessé au cours des premiers combats de 1914, il fut décoré et réformé. Ayant entrepris des études de médecine, il soutint sa thèse en 1924 sur la vie et l'oeuvre du Dr Semmelweis. Entré au service d'hygiène de la S.D.N., il fut envoyé en mission aux U.S.A., en Europe et en Afrique jusqu'en 1927. Cinq ans plus tard, il publiait Voyage au bout de la nuit, salué aussitôt comme une oeuvre littéraire capitale. Tout comme Léon Daudet dans L'Action française, l'intelligentsia de gauche réserva un accueil chaleureux à un auteur qui semblait lui appartenir, mais l'écrivain-médecin était rétif à tout embrigadement. La publication de Mea culpa (1936), après un voyage en U.R.S.S., montra qu'il n'avait pas été dupe du paradis soviétique. Ce livre consomma son divorce avec une gauche que dominaient les communistes.

Sentant venir une nouvelle guerre, Céline en attribua la responsabilité à une conspiration juive. Coup sur coup, il publia deux pamphlets qui le firent soudain apparaître comme un antisémite enragé : Bagatelles pour un massacre (1937) et L'École des cadavres (1938). Vitupérant la guerre et les charniers à venir, il dénonçait à sa façon « la coalition du capitalisme anglo-saxon, du stanilisme et du lobby juif » dont l'objectif (selon lui) était d'envoyer au massacre la jeunesse française en une guerre franco-allemande où elle-même n'interviendrait pas avant l'épuisement des combattants sacrifiés.

Dans un genre assez différent, Céline publia en 1941 un nouveau pamphlet, Les Beaux draps, sans doute la seule de ses oeuvres qu'illumine un léger halo d'espérance. A côté d'une célèbre tirade sur le « communisme Labiche », il livrait une méditation poétique sur l'esprit de la France, écrite dans le style des ballades et des virelais du XVè siècle, non sans quelques coups de patte fort injustes donnés à Montaigne.

Ce curieux livre, où l'antisémitisme, quoique présent, est assez estompé, délivrait cette fois un message furibard à l'encontre de la prédication chrétienne, ultime recours du régime de Vichy qu'il méprisait : « Propagée aux races viriles, aux races aryennes détestées, la religion de "Pierre et Paul" fit admirablement son oeuvre, elle décatit en mandigots, en sous-hommes dès le berceau, les peuples soumis, les hordes enivrées de littérature christique, lancées éperdues imbéciles, à la conquête du Saint Suaire, des hosties magiques, délaissant à jamais leurs Dieux de sang, leurs Dieux de race... Ainsi la triste vérité, l'aryen n'a jamais su aimer, aduler que le dieu des autres, jamais eu de religion propre, de religion blanche... Ce qu'il adore, son coeur, sa foi, lui furent fournis de toutes pièces par ses pires ennemis... » Dans un langage différent, Nietzsche n'avait pas dit autre chose.

L'ouvrage fut interdit par les services de Vichy en zone Sud et suscita les plus vives réserves de la Propaganda Abteilung...

 

Dominique VENNER, Un samouraï d'Occident, Le Bréviaire des insoumis, P.-G. de Roux, 2013.
Commande possible sur Amazon.fr.

jeudi, 11 juillet 2013

Ernst Jünger et la révolution conservatrice

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Dominique Venner:
 
Ernst Jünger et la révolution conservatrice
 
 
Pauline Lecomte : Vous avez publié naguère une biographie intellectuelle consacrée à Ernst Jünger, figure énigmatique et capitale du XXe siècle en Europe. Avant de se faire connaître par ses livres, dont on sait le rayonnement, cet écrivain majeur fut un très jeune et très héroïque combattant de la Grande Guerre, puis une figure importante de la "révolution conservatrice". Comment avez-vous découvert l’œuvre d'Ernst Jünger ?

Dominique Venner : C'est une longue histoire. Voici longtemps, quand j'écrivais la première version de mon livre Baltikum, consacré à l'aventure des corps-francs allemands, pour moi les braises de l'époque précédente étaient encore chaudes. Les passions nées de la guerre d'Algérie, les années dangereuses et les rêves fous, tout cela bougeait encore. En ce temps-là, un autre écrivain allemand parlait à mon imagination mieux que Jünger. C'était Ernst von Salomon. Il me semblait une sorte de frère aîné. Traqué par la police, j'avais lu ses Réprouvés tout en imaginant des projets téméraires. Ce fut une révélation. Ce qu'exprimait ce livre de révolte et de fureur, je le vivais : les armes, les espérances, les complots ratés, la prison... Ersnt Jünger n'avait pas connu de telles aventures. Jeune officier héroïque de la Grande Guerre, quatorze fois blessé, grande figure intellectuelle de la "révolution conservatrice", assez vite opposé à Hitler, il avait adopté ensuite une posture contemplative. Il ne fut jamais un rebelle à la façon d'Ernst von Salomon. Il a lui-même reconnu dans son Journal, qu'il n'avait aucune disposition pour un tel rôle, ajoutant très lucidement que le soldat le plus courageux - il parlait de lui - tremble dans sa culotte quand il sort des règles établies, faisant le plus souvent un piètre révolutionnaire. Le courage militaire, légitimé et honoré par la société, n'a rien de commun avec le courage politique d'un opposant radical. Celui-ci doit s'armer moralement contre la réprobation générale, trouver en lui seul ses propres justifications, supporter d'un cœur ferme les pires avanies, la répression, l'isolement. Tout cela je l'avais connu à mon heure. Cette expérience, assortie du spectacle de grandes infamies, a contribué à ma formation d'historien. A l'époque, j'avais pourtant commencé de lire certains livres de Jünger, attiré par la beauté de leur style métallique et phosphorescent. Par la suite, à mesure que je m'écartais des aventures politiques, je me suis éloigné d'Ernst von Salomon, me rapprochant de Jünger. Il répondait mieux à mes nouvelles attentes. J'ai donc entrepris de le lire attentivement, et j'ai commencé de correspondre avec lui. Cette correspondance n'a plus cessé jusqu'à sa mort.

P. L. : Vous avez montré qu'Ernst Jünger fut l'une des figures principales du courant d'idées de la "révolution conservatrice". Existe-t-il des affinités entre celle-ci et les "non conformistes français des années trente" ?

D. V. : En France, on connaît mal les idées pourtant extraordinairement riches de la Konservative Revolution (KR), mouvement politique et intellectuel qui connut sa plus grande intensité entre les années vingt et trente, avant d'être éliminé par l'arrivée Hitler au pouvoir en 1933. Ernst Jünger en fut la figure majeure dans la période la plus problématique, face au nazisme. Autour du couple nationalisme et socialisme, une formule qui n'est pas de Jünger résume assez bien l'esprit de la KR allemande : "Le nationalisme sera vécu comme un devoir altruiste envers le Reich, et le socialisme comme un devoir altruiste envers le peuple tout entier".
 
     Pour répondre à votre question des différences avec la pensée française des "non conformistes", il faut d'abord se souvenir que les deux nations ont hérité d'histoires politiques et culturelles très différentes. L'une était sortie victorieuse de la Grande Guerre, au moins en apparence, alors que l'autre avait été vaincue. Pourtant, quand on compare les écrits du jeune Jünger et ceux de Drieu la Rochelle à la même époque, on a le sentiment que le premier est le vainqueur, tandis que le second est le vaincu.
 
     On ne peut pas résumer des courants d'idées en trois mots. Pourtant, il est assez frappant qu'en France, dans les différentes formes de personnalisme, domine généralement le "je", alors qu'en Allemagne on pense toujours par rapport au "nous". La France est d'abord politique, alors que l'Allemagne est plus souvent philosophique, avec une prescience forte du destin, notion métaphysique, qui échappe aux causalités rationnelles. Dans son essais sur Rivarol, Jünger a comparé la clarté de l'esprit français et la profondeur de l'esprit allemand. Un mot du philosophe Hamman, dit-il, "Les vérités sont des métaux qui croissent sous terre", Rivarol n'aurait pas pu le dire. "Il lui manquait pour cela la force aveugle, séminale."

P. L. : Pouvez-vous préciser ce qu'était la Weltanschauung du jeune Jünger ?

D. V. : Il suffit de se reporter à son essai Le Travailleur, dont le titre était d'ailleurs mal choisi. Les premières pages dressent l'un des plus violents réquisitoires jamais dirigés contre la démocratie bourgeoise, dont l'Allemagne, selon Jünger, avait été préservée : "La domination du tiers-état n'a jamais pu toucher en Allemagne à ce noyau le plus intime qui détermine la richesse, la puissance et la plénitude d'une vie. Jetant un regard rétrospectif sur plus d'un siècle d'histoire allemande, nous pouvons avouer avec fierté que nous avons été de mauvais bourgeois". Ce n'était déjà pas mal, mais attendez la suite, et admirez l'art de l'écrivain : "Non, l'Allemand n'était pas un bon bourgeois, et c'est quand il était le plus fort qu'il l'était le moins. Dans tous les endroits où l'on a pensé avec le plus de profondeur et d'audace, senti avec le plus de vivacité, combattu avec le plus d'acharnement, il est impossible de méconnaître la révolte contre les valeurs que la grande déclaration d'indépendance de la raison a hissées sur le pavois." Difficile de lui donner tort. Nulle part sinon en Allemagne, déjà avec Herder, ou en Angleterre avec Burke, la critique du rationalisme français n'a été aussi forte. Avec un langage bien à lui, Jünger insiste sur ce qui a préservé sa patrie : "Ce pays n'a pas l'usage d'un concept de la liberté qui, telle une mesure fixée une fois pour toutes est privée de contenu". Autrement dit, il refuse de voir dans la liberté une idée métaphysique. Jünger ne croit pas à la liberté en soi, mais à la liberté comme fonction, par exemple la liberté d'une force : "Notre liberté se manifeste avec le maximum de puissance partout où elle est portée par la conscience d'avoir été attribuée en fief." Cette idée de la liberté active "attribuée en fief", les Français, dans un passé révolu, la partagèrent avec leurs cousins d'outre-Rhin. Mais leur histoire nationale évolué d'une telle façon que furent déracinées les anciennes libertés féodales, les anciennes libertés de la noblesse, ainsi que Tocqueville, Taine, Renan et nombre d'historiens après eux l'ont montré. A lire Jünger on comprend qu'à ses yeux, à l'époque où il écrit, c'est en Allemagne et en Allemagne seulement que les conditions idéales étaient réunies pour couper le "vieux cordon ombilical" du monde bourgeois. Il radicalise les thèmes dominants de la KR, opposant la paix pétrifiée du monde bourgeois à la lutte éternelle, comprise comme "expérience intérieure". C'est sa vision de l'année 1932. Avec sa sensibilité aux changements d'époque, Jünger s'en détournera ensuite pour un temps, un temps seulement. Durant la période où un fossé d'hostilité mutuelle avec Hitler et son parti ne cessait de se creuser.

Dominique Venner, Le choc de l'histoire

mercredi, 10 juillet 2013

E. A. Poe scopritore di una nuova malattia dello spirito: la modernità

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E. A. Poe scopritore di una nuova malattia dello spirito: la modernità

 

Autore:

Ex: http://www.centrostudilaruna.it

 

eapoeIl pubblico, specialmente il pubblico europeo, possiede una percezione parziale dell’opera di Edgar Allan Poe: la sua notorietà come scrittore di racconti del mistero e del terrore è così grande, ampliata anche dal cinema che si è impossessato di quei soggetti, da aver messo decisamente in ombra un altro aspetto della sua produzione: quella lirica.

 

Leggere le poesie di Poe, immaginando di ignorare l’identità del loro autore, rappresenta una delicata e suggestiva escursione in una provincia artistica leggiadra e nostalgica, pervasa dal rimpianto della Bellezza ideale che il mondo materiale, e specialmente il mondo moderno, con le sue brutture e il suo affarismo, sembra avere irrimediabilmente compromesso; si resta un po’ sorpresi nel confrontare questo poeta delicato e un po’ platonizzante, che vibra al più lieve tocco della Bellezza, sensibile come un rametto di mimosa, al cupo autore di racconti orrorifici come La maschera della morte rossa, Il cuore rivelatore o La caduta della Casa Usher.

 

D’altra parte, c’è un tratto caratteristico e inconfondibile nelle liriche di Poe, dal notissimo – e forse troppo celebrato – poemetto Il Corvo (The Raven) alla raffinata, nitida poesia A Elena (To Helen), lieve come un impalpabile sogno ad occhi aperti – o magari chiusi, chi può dirlo?, l’atmosfera onirica si presta a tali giochi di specchi fra realtà e fantasia -: vogliamo dire l’attenzione alla pulizia stilistica, la sapienza della struttura lessicale e compositiva, la ricercatezza formale, simile ad un prezioso lavoro d’intarsio e di compasso; tanto da suggerire l’idea che non di poesia sentimentale si tratti, romanticamente intesa, ma di una poesia intellettualistica, razionalmente pensata ed impostata, secondo i canoni rigorosi del “secolo dei lumi”.

 

È un’impressione che va ridimensionata, tenendo conto che nel Poe lirico esiste un sapiente gioco di contrappunti e di armonie fra la dimensione istintiva, passionale, sentimentale – o, come lui dice, immaginativa -, e quella logica, razionale, “scientifica”; e che il pregio maggiore delle sue poesie consiste proprio nel sapiente dosaggio e nel raro equilibrio che egli riesce ad ottenere fra le ragioni del cuore e quelle della mente; nella linea, del resto, di altri grandi pre-romantici, a cominciare dal nostro Ugo Foscolo, e specialmente il Foscolo dei sonetti.

 

la-tempestaAbbiamo accennato alla “scientificità” dei procedimenti poetici di Poe, pur subordinati ad una concezione generale del fatto estetico che è d’impostazione idealistica, per la quale le cose sono le ombre o i riflessi di una realtà ulteriore, sovrannaturale o, comunque, non umana, secondo la lezione del mito platonico della caverna, ma anche dello Shakespeare dei sonetti, dei “romances” come La tempesta e di alcune struggenti e delicate commedie, a cominciare da Sogno di una notte di mezza estate (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), della quale ci siamo già occupati a suo tempo (cfr. il nostro precedente saggio Malinconia e platonismo nel Sogno d’una notte di mezza estate di Shakespeare).

 

Ebbene, il rapporto con la scienza è un’altra preziosa chiave di lettura per accostarsi alla produzione lirica di Poe. Egli non è nemico della scienza, anche se, sulla scia di altri grandi lirici anglosassoni, in particolare del “visionario” William Blake, le rimprovera aspramente di aver gettato un’ombra desolata sul mondo, strappando il velo della poesia e imbruttendo la realtà, ingrigendo gli orizzonti della vita; ma tale rimprovero non è rivolto alla scienza in quanto tale, per la quale, anzi, egli nutre un vivo e sincero interesse e al cui metodo logico ritiene che anche il poeta debba attingere, per non parlare del prosatore (e si pensi ai suoi racconti di genere investigativo, come I delitti della Rue Morgue, caratterizzati da un rigoroso impianto razionale e deduttivo); bensì alla scienza presuntuosa e arrogante, in definitiva allo scientismo, che pretende di assolutizzare il proprio sapere e di ridurre al rango di saperi di seconda scelta quelli propri alle altre forme di conoscenza del reale, a cominciare dall’arte medesima.

 

Poe, dunque, non rifiuta la scienza in se stessa, così come, si potrebbe aggiungere, non rifiuta la modernità in quanto tale; ne rifiuta semmai la bruttezza, il cinismo, l’utilitarismo esasperato, il produttivismo cieco, il materialismo grossolano, la pretesa totalizzante a livello estetico, etico e filosofico; rifiuto deciso, intransigente, donchisciottesco, se si vuole, e quindi ingenuo e velleitario, ma non per questo meno sincero, non per questo meno sofferto e umanamente significativo, perché testimonia la crisi e il dramma di una civiltà faustiana che si vede presa nella propria vertigine ed esita, brancolando, sull’orlo dell’abuso, a imboccare sino in fondo la strada di un “progresso” senz’anima, foriero di sempre nuove, sconvolgenti sottomissioni dell’anima alle ferree leggi del Logos calcolante e strumentale.

 

E che altro è, del resto, la “caduta” della Casa Usher, se non la nemesi di un progresso disumano e accecato dall’umano orgoglio, che non riconosce limiti né misura alla propria “hybris” e che pretende di farsi legge e norma infallibile e inderogabile di ogni agire umano, di ogni pensare, di ogni sentire, come se nulla vi fosse oltre a ciò che la mente razionale può accumulare, manipolando gli enti senza sosta, sovvertendo le leggi naturali, capovolgendo il giusto rapporto fra la vita e il suo insopprimibile bisogno di bellezza?

 

Tutto questo appare evidente nella “protesta” di Poe, ché di una autentica protesta si tratta, ora esplicita, come nei racconti, ora implicita, come nelle poesie; ma sempre si tratta di una pretesta ferma e intransigente, non tanto in nome della nostalgia del passato pre-moderno (tentazione che, peraltro, fa sovente capolino, specie nelle liriche, in particolare sotto le forme di un richiamo alla grazia impareggiabile del mondo classico), quanto piuttosto in nome di una umanità che, pur confusa e smarrita, non è disposta ad abdicare a se stessa, al proprio sentimento di ciò che è umano, ai diritti sacrosanti della “imagination”, della fantasia creatrice di bellezza.

 

Così sintetizza la questione Tommaso Pisanti nel suo saggio introduttivo all’opera poetica del grande scrittore americano, E. A. Poe poeta (E. A. Poe, Tutte le poesie, a cura di T. Pisanti, Roma, Newton Compton Editori, 1982, 1990, pp. 15-21):

 

«Già da fanciullo “mentre era azzurro tutto l’altro cielo”, Poe vide una nuvola prender forma di demone (“of a demon in my view” (“Alone”). E lungo una tale direzione si svilupperà, più tardi, la “selvaggia visionarietà di “The Haunted Palace” (Il Palazzo stregato) e – meno compatta – quella di “Dream-Land” (Terra di sogno), col terribile, soffocante senso di una duplicità e anzi ambigua e stregata “doppiezza” angelico-demonica. Perché se il “demonico” s’accumula in Poe inizialmente come per un’intensificazione della disperazione stessa, interviene e subentra poi anche una specie di contorto sadismo “dello spirito” e dell’immaginazione, che conosce le sue orge non meno di quello fisico-corporeo. Poe vede insomma la vita come divorata e spazzata via dal gigantesco “Verme trionfante” di “The Conqueror Worm”: e ne piangono gli angeli stessi, “pallid and wan”, “pallidi ed esangui”.Nell’intollerabile tensione, Poe si volgerà anche alla Vergine, invocherà Maria: in “Catholic Hymn” (corretto poi in “Hymn”), con suggestione forse dantesca o byroniana (“Don Juan”, III st. 101 ss). Naturalmente, è sempre da tener presente quanto d’impulsivo, d’immediato, quanto dell’istinto e della multilateralità dell’attore-istrione e, al limite, di mistificatorio è in Poe. Il poeta vive, “trasognato, giorni estatici” (“And all my days are trances”), dirà in “A una in Paradiso”. Certo, Poe fu “evasivo”, “disimpegnato”: ma nel senso della “immaginazione angelica”, disincarnata, indicata da Allan Tate. Il suo esplorare la surrealtà non si risolve poi infine, tuttavia, in una più sottile conoscenza d’una più globale, estesa realtà? […]

Le poesie riservano tutto un più largo spazio, rispetto ai racconti, a quella componente dell’ardore per la Beltà, a un mito d’armonie remote e perdute […]: ardore e mitopoiesi classico-platonica soffusi d’ombre orfico-pitagoriche, e con qualche finale riverbero, magari, pur sempre goticheggiante.Una componente, questa, fondamentale, che stacca comunque Poe dalla dimensione, diciamo, soltanto “gotica” e romantico-hoffmaniana per accostarlo anche al nitore d’una linea e d’una mitizzazione classico-neoclassica, alla linea di Hölderlin, di Keats, di Foscolo: come nella splendida, esemplare “To Helen” […], pubblicata già nel 1831 e poi continuamente ricesellata. […]

E a difesa dei vecchi miti e, leopardianamente, degli “ameni inganni”, anche Poe lamenta, nel sonetto “Alla scienza”, che il “progresso” abbia tutto ingrigito e livello, che la Scienza con le sue ali “grevi” (“dull”) abbia “sbalzato Diana dal suo carro” e “scacciato l’Amadriade dal bosco” e “strappato la Naiade al flutto / l’Elfo al verde prato e me stesso infine / al sogno estivo all’ombra del tamarindo”. Ma è solo un’accentuazione particolare : giacché Poe è in realtà vivamente sensibile allo sviluppo scientifico, nella misura in cui esso è, innanzi tutto, collegato con una “mind” lucido-geometrica e anche per quanto può offrire, di nuove aperture e di nuovi strumenti, all’esplorazione e all’osservazione sottilmente operate dall’occhio e dalla mente umani (e nella mente umana). Insieme al rimpianto quindi Poe ingloba in sé un attento, tenace interesse nei riguardi della lucidità dei metodi e dei procedimenti, una ferma attenzione alla rigorosità del linguaggio matematico-scientifico, al linguaggio del pensiero e delle definizioni, che possono offrirgli materiali e stimoli proprio per il lato di rigorosità e di definizione laicizzante che egli intende dare alla sua macchina stilistica. […] Si tratta, naturalmente, di un uso “strumentale” della scienza, proprio al fine di ristabilire quella riunificazione tra il sensibile e il soprasensibile che è il supremo proposito di Poe e il supremo proposito della poesia, secondo Poe: nel quale resta nettissima, s’intende, l’avversione alla scienza come pretesa sistematica di spiegazione e interpretazione puramente ed esclusivamente logico-razionale. […]

Anche se, alla base, è la “prescienza estatica” che dà il primo scatto, è all’intelletto e alla “tecnica” che tocca poi partecipare per il fattuale concretarsi della poesia. “Non vi è peggior errore che il presupporre che la vera originalità sia semplicemente questione d’impulso e d’ispirazione. Originalità è combinare in modo attento, paziente e comprensivo”. Poe è insomma tutt’altro che immerso nella totalità romantica, resta anzi legato ad eredità settecentesche, “è un razionalista del Settecento con inclinazioni occultistiche”, ha perfino scritto il Wellek. […]

Il senso della “combinazione” non deve tuttavia indurre ad eccessive, facili accuse di “cerebralismo” e “meccanicità”. Lawrence scrisse perfino che Poe “è quasi più scienziato che artista”. Ma i meccanismo che Poe mette in movimento puntano a un “effetto”, cioè a risultati: d’eccitazione e d’intensa emotività.

Poe fu insomma scopritore- può dirsi ancora, e concludendo, con Emilio Cecchi – “di una provincia che non è quella del’orrido, dell’ossessivo, ma è semplicemente la nuova provincia dell’arte d’oggi. Solo una delle nuove province, a voler precisare. E fra tentativi e approssimazioni, se si vuole. Ma è innanzi tutto in se stessa, nella sua intrinseca composizione che la poesia di Poe va riletta e ripensata: una lampeggiante associazione di “gotico”, di tradizione classicista e di inquietanti fosforescenze anticipatrici, sì, ma già “poesia” per se stesse.»

 

In questo senso, e sia pure forzando, ossia andando oltre, la stessa interpretazione del Cecchi, ci sembra di poter concludere che Poe, e specialmente il Poe lirico, tanto meno conosciuto, ma non meno interessante del Poe narratore, si possa considerare come lo scopritore non solo di una nuova provincia dell’arte, ma di una nuova malattia dello spirito: la modernità.

 

Negli stessi anni di Kierkegaard, anch’egli leva la sua voce per protestare contro il cancro della società massificata, petulante, presuntuosa, che, forte dei propri successi tecnici ed economici, pretende di imporre il suo dominio tirannico sui regni dello spirito e sui diritti inalienabili dell’io individuale. Poe, dunque, fratello in spirito di Kierkegaard: chi l’avrebbe detto? Eppure è così.

 

Certo, la protesta di Poe è quella di un poeta: non possiede né la forza, né il rigore del grande filosofo danese. Davanti alla bruttezza che minaccia la vita fin nelle sue intime radici, Poe non sa cercare rifugio se non nelle braccia della donna idealizzata; ed ecco le numerose donne angelicate: Elena, Elizabeth e le altre. Fragile rifugio, quale potrebbe cercare un bambino spaventato da un brutto sogno: «Io vivevo tutto solo / in un mondo di dolore, / e la mia anima ristagnava immobile, / finché la bella e gentile Eulalia non diventò mia timida sposa» («Eulalia»). Ma la vita, è altra cosa…

 

* * *

 

Tratto, col gentile consenso dell’Autore, dal sito Arianna Editrice.

dimanche, 07 juillet 2013

D.H. Lawrence’s uncensored poems

D.H. Lawrence’s uncensored poems published for the first time

 

DH Lawrence painting.JPGWhen the ban on D.H. Lawrence’s controversial novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, was finally lifted in 1960 it was a watershed moment for censorship in Britain. But many assume it was only Lawrence’s novels that suffered at the hands of the censors.

Now, nearly 100 years after Lawrence wrote them, a collection of his poems have been published for the first time in their original uncensored form by the Press.

The two volume edition – the first ever critical edition of Lawrence’s poetry and the final part of the Press’s 40-volume series of Lawrence’s Letters and Works – restores deleted passages and lines removed by publishers fearing government intervention because of Lawrence’s anti-war stance and his attacks on British imperialism.

Some 860 poems are published in the new edition. They include, All of Us, a sequence of 31 war poems never before published in full and many others unpublished in Lawrence’s lifetime. One poem, Rose Look Out Upon Me, is previously unpublished in any form and was discovered by the volume’s editor Christopher Pollnitz in a typescript formerly held in the private collection of George Lazarus, now located at the University of Nottingham.

Pollnitz said “Few of Lawrence’s poetry collections escaped censorship.  Faber & Faber omitted three poems because two referred to the Victorian statesman, W. E. Gladstone, one to the former Home Secretary of the Tory government, Sir William Joynson-Hicks. And Lawrence’s most important collection of poems, Birds, Beasts and Flowers, suffered extensive censorship at the hands of his American publisher. The new Cambridge volume returns to the original manuscripts and typescripts and what emerges radically shifts our understanding of Lawrence as a poet.”

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D.H. Lawrence: The Poems, edited by Christopher Pollnitz is published by Cambridge University Press, price £130.00

dimanche, 30 juin 2013

„Jetzt ist Ewigkeit“

Jetzt ist Ewigkeit“

von Christoph George
Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de/

 

 

Mit „Letzte Worte“ veröffentlicht Jörg Magenau eine umfangreiche Auswahl letzter Worte namhafter Persönlichkeiten aus dem Nachlaß Ernst Jüngers.

Bereits in einem der Pariser Tagebücher äußerte Ernst Jünger die Idee, eine Sammlung letzter Worte anzulegen. Auf ihre Veröffentlichung wartete seine Leserschaft jedoch zu Lebzeiten des Meisters vergeblich. Was er selbst nicht mehr tat, bringt nun der Autor und Literaturkritiker Jörg Magenau in einem edlen Sammelband heraus.

Magenau wählte für das Buch vor allem bekannte Persönlichkeiten der Geschichte aus, von Abraham bis Ulrich Zwingli. Schöpfen konnte er dabei aus einer breiten Jüngerschen Sammlung, welche mehrere Tausend Karteikarten umfasst und vollständig im Deutschen Literaturarchiv in Marburg liegt. Jene stellte Ernst Jünger vor allem in der Zeit nach dem 2. Weltkrieg aus anderen Nachschlagewerken zu diesem Thema zusammen. Aber auch vorgedruckte Karteikarten, welche er zum Ausfüllen an Freunde und Bekannte verteilte, finden sich darin wieder.

Sokrates: „Kriton, wir schulden dem Äskulap noch einen Hahn. Vergeßt nicht, die Schuld zu bezahlen!“

Als Vorwort dient eine unvollendete Abhandlung Jüngers aus den frühen 1960ern, in welcher er auf die Besonderheiten letzter Worte eingeht. Demnach sind nicht alle letzten Worte für eine Aufnahme in einen solchen auserwählten Kreis geeignet. Es fallen jene finalen Äußerungen heraus, welche ein noch zu starkes Klammern am Diesseits erkennen lassen. Erst ein gewisses Maß an Loslassen verleiht ihnen überhaupt den Charakter letzter Worte, wenngleich sie auch noch auf das Leben gerichtet sein mögen. Von Sokrates ist überliefert, er hätte an die Begleichung einer Schuld erinnert, bevor er zum Schluck aus dem Schierlingsbecher ansetzte.

Weiterhin besitzt zuletzt Gesprochenes für die Nachwelt etwas Prophetisches. Ihm geht zumeist aufgrund ungenauer Überlieferung und mehrfachen Interpretationsmöglichkeiten ein gesicherter historischer Gehalt ab. Sie sind so eher dem Bereich des Mythischen zuzuschreiben, haben anekdotischen Charakter. Die gute Anekdote will hier mit Begleitumständen erscheinen, um so der Dichtung näher zu kommen. Sie enthüllt dabei das Wesen der Dinge und erfaßt so ihren eigentlichen Kern. Deswegen würde es dem Gehalt der überlieferten letzten Worte auch keinen Abbruch tun, erwiesen sich einige im Nachhinein als falsch: „Trotzdem summieren sie sich zur Wahrheit, die ihnen innewohnt“, schlußfolgert Jünger.

Im Angesicht des Todes die Haltung wahren

Unterteilt ist die von Ernst Jünger selbst teilweise kommentierte Sammlung nach verschiedenen Themenbereichen wie etwa: Lebensbilanzen, letzte Einsichten und Anrufungen, Gebete. Hier stechen vor allem tiefsinnige Sprüche hervor, wie z.B. der des schwedischen Erzbischofs Nathan Söderblom: „Jetzt ist Ewigkeit“. Aber auch höchst unfreiwillig komische Varianten sind darin versammelt. Die letzten Worte Egon Friedells, welcher sich 1938 in Wien aus dem Fenster stürzte, sollen zum unten stehenden Hauswirt gewesen sein: „Bitt‘ schön, gehn’s zur Seite!“

Für Jünger sind jedoch nicht alle gültigen letzten Worte gleich zu werten. So kommentierte er den Abschied Elisabeths I. von England: „Alle meine Schätze für eine einzige Minute“, kurz und knapp mit: „Recht unköniglich“. Im Gegensatz dazu wird ein unbekannter Soldat aus dem Deutsch-​Französischen Krieg von 1870 aufgeführt. Der Eintrag hierzu lautet „,Herr Hauptmann, melde gehorsamst, daß ich tödlich getroffen bin!‘ salutierte stramm der Obergefreite Müller am nämlichen Geschütz, indem er noch weiterbediente.“ Im Angesicht des Unausweichlichen will die Haltung gewahrt bleiben – eine Forderung, die man vom frühen Jünger nur zu gut kennt.

Augustinus: „Laß mich sterben, mein Gott, daß ich lebe!“

Die Beschäftigung mit letzten Worten führt den Leser dabei nicht nur an das individuelle Lebensende des jeweiligen Protagonisten. Es zwingt ihn darüber hinaus zu einer Beschäftigung mit jener Grenze, die auch er einmal überschreiten muß. Das letzte Wort ist somit, trotz seiner Vagheit, in ein transzendentes Verhältnis zu setzen. „Dies also war sein zuletzt gesprochenes auf Erden – und dann?“ Die Lektüre ist deswegen weniger im Sinne eines reinen Nachschlagewerkes konkreter letzter Sätze interessant. Sie lohnt sich vielmehr, da sie zu einer persönlichen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Tode zwingt. Was das Buch zu einem guten Geschenktip werden läßt für diejenigen, welche einem nahe stehen, aber in ihrer Lebensart entschieden zu sehr an der Oberfläche der Welt verbleiben.

Den Schluß des Buches bildet ein Nachwort Magenaus, in welchem er einen engeren Bezug zwischen Ernst Jünger und unserer Gegenwart herstellt. So zitiert er hier Jünger damit, was dieser über eine USA-​Reise im Januar 1958 schrieb: „Die Uhren gehen dort vor – und wie seinerzeit Tocqueville, so können auch wir heute ablesen, was uns blühen wird – eine Welt, die den Tod und die Liebe nicht kennt. Das hat mich unendlich bestürzt, obwohl es ja nur eine Bestätigung war.“ Magenau kommentiert dies anschließend ganz richtig mit: „In der Begegnung mit dem Tod kommt der Mensch zu sich selbst; will er vom Tod nichts mehr wissen, dann verleugnet er auch das Leben.“

Nach einem letzten Wort Ernst Jüngers sucht der Leser indes leider vergeblich. Was aber auch nicht weiter verwunderlich ist; die eigenen letzten Worte schreibt man selbst eben nicht mehr nieder.

Jörg Magenau (Hrsg.): Ernst Jünger – Letzte Worte. 245 Seiten, Klett-​Cotta Verlag 2013. 22,95 Euro.

mercredi, 19 juin 2013

Dichter der Tradition

eliot-howse_2443469b.jpg

Dichter der Tradition

von Prof. Paul Gottfried (Gastautor)

Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de/

T S. Eliot verkörpert in Europa die US-​amerikanische Spielart literarischer Moderne. Der Schriftsteller selbst sah sich im Dreiklang von „Monarchie, Klassizismus und einer anglokatholischen Einstellung”.

Der „Stockneuengländer” mit anglikanischen Vorfahren aus Boston kam 1888 in St. Louis/​Missouri zur Welt und steuerte früh auf einen europäischen Bezugspunkt zu. 1914 reiste er nach Marburg und siedelte sich schließlich in Oxford an. Als Harvard-​Absolvent mit einer schon bewährten literarischen Begabung brauchte der junge Autor des modernistischen Klassikers und Versepos The Waste Land von 1922 eine Lebens– und Mitwelt, in der er sich seelisch zuhause fühlen konnte. Der von ihm in seinem theoretischen Schrifttum hervorgehobene Dreiklang „Monarchie, Klassizismus und eine anglokatholischen Einstellung im theologischen Bereich“, bezeugt Eliots Suche nach einer allumfassenden, sinnstiftenden Identität.

Die englische Tradition

Was Thomas Stearns Eliot begrifflich und dichterisch herstellte, entsprang seiner Schöpferkraft, die unter anderem eine traumhafte, archaisierte politische und kulturelle Landschaft der Gegenwart als Folie heraufbeschwor. In seinem Gesamtwerk zeichnen sich seine immer wiederkehrenden Vergangenheitsbeschäftigung ab und – nicht weniger hervorstechend – sein Bedauern über den Verlust einer aristokratisch-​priesterlichen Pracht.

Ein scharfsinniger Deuter des angloamerikanischen Dichters, Adrian Cunningham, betont Eliott Schwepunktsetzung auf die „englische Tradition“. Formelhaft und anhand des französischen Monarchisten Charles Maurras gelangte Eliot zu einem Verständnis der Tradition als geteiltem Erbgut, das er mit seiner kunstvoll konturierten englischen Vergangenheit in Verbindung brachte. Eliot ging diese intellektuelle Übung in seiner 1992 gegründeten Literaturzeitschrift Criterion an, ohne Rücksicht auf die Besonderheiten seiner eigenen Familienvergangenheit zu nehmen. Bei Eliots Zerlegung „des gewöhnlichen Handelns“ tritt wenig Erlebtes und Prägendes aus dem eigenen Elternhaus im mittleren Westen der USA heraus. Dabei wanderten seine angesehenen Vorfahren aus England aus und siedelten sich im 17. Jahrhundert in den amerikanischen Kolonien an.

Mehr Soziologie als Theologie

elio1101500306_400.jpgWenn Eliot seine Glaubenslehre verteidigt, läuft seine Darlegung Cunningham zufolge eher „auf einen soziologischen als einen theologischen Standpunkt“ hinaus. Der Dichter verstand sie als Bestandteil der Idee einer „universalen Kirche“ im Kontext der römischen und orthodoxen Konfessionen. Nach dem strengen Katholiken Cuningham scheiterte das Verfahren in dem Maße, dass Eliot von einer selbstbezogenen Vorstellung ausging, ohne in einer wahren religiösen Tradition verankert zu sein.

Seine Schaffensfreudigkeit wurde dauernd mit einer Kritik der Moderne verknüpft und zugleich mit dem Auftrag, eine für seine Lebensmission geeignete Tradition vorzufinden oder sich auszudenken. Cunningham betont Eliots Besorgnis über den ausufernden Relativismus, der ihn in seinem aus den Fugen geratenen Zeitalter erschütterte. Umso größer blieb Eliots Bedürfnis nach einem sittlichen Rettungsanker. Er trauerte um den Verlust ästhetischer Maßstäbe, die in einer noch erkennbar aristokratischen Kultur gediehen waren. Durch sein Werk wollte der Dichter diese glühend verehrte Vergangenheit versinnlichen.

Doch Eliots angenommene Identität und sein Festhalten an einer monarchistischen, hochkirchlichen Tradition hätte dessen Vorfahren kaum angesprochen. Im Gegensatz zu seinen calvinistischen, republikanisch gesinnten Ahnherren, die in die Neue Welt einwanderten, entschied sich Eliot für den Monarchismus und für die seine Wahltradition begleitende Dogmenlehre.

Verschlossenheit und Wandel

Daraus erwuchs ihm und der englischsprachigen Literatur im Zwanzigsten Jahrhundert ein großer Gewinn. In Dramen wie Murder in the Cathedral (1935) und der umfangreichen Lyrik verbirgt sich eine schöpferische Genialität, die Eliots steife und verkrampfte Außenwirkung Lügen straft. Wie seine angenommenen, englischen Mituntertanen des Königs hat Eliot oft eine sprichwörtliche Verschlossenheit bekundet. Das kam ihm zugute, als er mit einer Menge von Schwierigkeiten zu ringen hatte. Als seine erste Gattin, Vivienne, geisteskrank wurde, litt der Dichter und fühlte sich gedrängt, sie in ein Sanatorium einzuliefern.

Modernismus und vergangene Pracht

Bis heute tobt eine stürmische Kontroverse um die Frage, ob Eliot für seine junge temperamentvolle Frau hinlänglich sorgte und ihre Einweisung berechtigt war. Außer Zweifel steht, dass Eliot bis tief in seine mittleren Jahre hinein bedürftigen Umständen gegenüberstand. In einer Bank rackerte er sich tagsüber als Kassierer ab. Seine literarische Leidenschaft konnte er sich nur nachts und daher häufig übermüdet widmen. Trotz des unerwarteten Erlöses, der ihm dank The Waste Land zufiel, versiegte sein Wohlstand rasch. Eliot fehlte das Geld, sich ganz der Dichtkunst zuzuwenden. Erst als er 1948 mit dem Literaturnobelpreis geehrt wurde, zeichnete sich langsam ein Wandel ab.

Bemerkenswert bleibt, dass Eliot gerade in seine theologisch-​politischen Schriften viel Mühe investierte. Wenn heute seine umständlichen Essays, etwa The Idea of a Christian Society (1939), nicht derart bekannt wie die Gedichte sind, dann muss beachtet werden, dass Eliot in seinen geschmacklichen und politisch-​theologischen Aufsätzen seine mit Wehmut angehauchte Weltansicht am stärksten enthüllt. In seinen Gedichten tritt dagegen eine mit dem Modernismus verwachsene Schöpferkraft zutage, die ebenso auf neue literarische Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten vorausweist, wie sie in eine vergangene Pracht zurückführt.

Schon in seinen ersten bedeutenden, satirischen Gedichten, The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock, die bereits 1917 herauskamen, erschlossen sich einige Zeichen des Experimentierens mit Versformen, die die schon damals hervortretenden Modernisten kennzeichnete. Sie arbeiteten vor allem mit freien Versen und eingestreuten Glossen über die Verkommenheit der Massenkultur. Als Wegbereiter galten Leitfiguren wie Ezra Pound, Gottfried Benn, und Louis-​Ferdinand Céline, die den Aufruf zur ästhetischen Mobilisierung mit konservativen oder rechten Zuneigungen verquickten.

Pietät und Märtyrerleiden

Im Gegensatz zum genialen Ezra Pound, der mit ihm die Erstfassung von The Waste Land umgearbeitet hatte, blieb Eliot aber von neuheidnischen Gedanken unberührt. Diese Zeitströmung, die im letzten Viertel des 19. Jahrhunderts einsetzte und mit Namen wie Nietzsche, D’Annunzio, und Pound in die kulturelle Tradition einzog, prallte von Eliot gänzlich ab. Aus seinen Dichtungen und Schauspielen entströmt, wie bei dem katholischen, französischen Schriftsteller Paul Claudel (18681955), ein betont christlicher Geist. In etlichen Schöpfungen wie Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch, 1930) und Murder in the Cathedral bleiben die Thematiken unverkennbar anglokatholisch.

Auch bei Eliots Bewunderern erschöpft sich manchmal die menschliche Geduld, wenn Eliot seine Pietät wiederholt unterstreicht. In den Schauspielen Murder in the Cathedral, das die Tötung des Erzbischofs Thomas Beckett auf Befehl des ihm entfremdeten Königs Heinrich II. schildert sowie The Cocktail Party (1948), das das Befestigen einer Missionarin an einem Ameisenhügel irgendwo in Afrika nacherzählt, zeigt sich die finstere Seite des Gläubigen. Märtyrerleiden übten auf Eliot zeitlebens eine große Faszination aus. Zweifelsohne, Eliot ging konsequent einen ganz eigenen Weg. Von anderen ließ er sich unterrichten, ohne ihnen zu verfallen.

samedi, 15 juin 2013

Le Bulletin célinien n°353

Le Bulletin célinien n°353 - Juin 2013

 
 
Vient de paraître : Le Bulletin célinien n°353. Au sommaire : 

Marc Laudelout : Bloc-notes.
Pierre Assouline : Un roman peut-il servir de sources aux historiens ? Le cas Céline.
Jean-Pierre Dauphin : L’œuvre exige des soins scrupuleux [1967]
M. L. : Le Livre de Poche a 60 ans.
Éric Mazet : Gen Paul et Céline. La Bataille du Styx.
Frédéric Saenen : Céline « mi-Diogène mi-Roi Lear ».
Pierre Lalanne : Un colloque sur les pamphlets.
M. L. : Les lectures de Christopher Gérard et de Philippe d’Hugues. 


Le Bulletin célinien, Bureau Saint-Lambert, B. P. 77, 1200 Bruxelles.
Courriel : celinebc@skynet.be.

Abonnement 1 an, 11 numéros : 55 €

Consulter le sommaire des anciens numéros ici.


Bloc-notes

Il est temps de passer aux aveux : cela fait une quarantaine d’années que Céline me fascine. Au point de lui consacrer depuis quasi autant de temps le bulletin que vous avez entre les mains ¹.
 
J’apprends que la revue Études céliniennes a été créée parce que ses animateurs refusent précisément de « céder à la fascination que peuvent susciter Céline et son œuvre ». Et de revendiquer « une approche ouvertement critique, au sens étymologique et philosophique du terme ² ». Oserais-je l’écrire ? Le rôle que s’était assigné la Société des études céliniennes en 1976 me paraît davantage empreint de sérénité : « Réunir, en dehors de toutes passions politiques ou partisanes, tous ceux, lecteurs, chercheurs ou collectionneurs, qui s’intéressent à l’œuvre de Louis-Ferdinand Céline, et favoriser par tous moyens la connaissance de celle-ci. ».
 
Les temps ont changé. Nous sommes à l’heure de la moraline. Il s’agit de faire preuve de la plus grande vigilance à l’égard de cet écrivain mort il y a plus d’un demi-siècle. Dans le précédent BC, j’évoquais cette célinienne se demandant, anxieuse, si le plaisir éprouvé à lire Céline n’est pas compromettant. Lors d’un récent colloque, des universitaires se sont gravement interrogé sur l’opportunité qu’il y avait de rééditer les pamphlets ³. Le fait qu’il s’agisse d’une édition critique due à un céliniste irréprochable n’a manifestement pas suffi à dissiper l’inquiétude de certains. Et tout indique que beaucoup ne partagent pas le point de vue de son meilleur biographe : « Céline, mieux que tout autre, savait qu’il n’avait pas voulu l’holocauste et qu’il n’en avait pas même été l’involontaire instrument 4. »
 
Quant à la revue Études céliniennes, il n’y aurait rien à en dire si elle n’était l’organe de la Société des études céliniennes. Quand son directeur émet des propos déplaisants à l’égard d’autres spécialistes de l’écrivain, parle-t-il en son nom propre ou engage-t-il la SEC ? Lorsqu’il daube sur un éditeur célinien « friand de notes de linge », on sait qui est visé 5. Ce persiflage n’a pas été avalisé par le comité de rédaction de la revue. Vétille. Mais quand l’édition critique de la correspondance à Albert Paraz y fait l’objet d’une recension délibérément suspicieuse 6, il en va différemment. L’organe de la S.E.C. est-il dans son rôle lorsqu’il laisse libre cours à ces petits jeux personnels ? C’est la question que peuvent se poser à bon droit les (autres) adhérents de cette société d’études 7.
 
 
Marc LAUDELOUT

 
1. Faut-il pour autant me qualifier d’« inconditionnel de Céline » ? Formule assurément périlleuse utilisée par Christine Sautermeister dans sa communication sur la réception critique de LFC au colloque « Céline à l’épreuve » (j’y étais) organisé en mai 2011 par l’Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle.
 
2. Isabelle Blondiaux, « Pourquoi lire Céline ? » in Céline et l’Allemagne (Actes du Dix-neuvième colloque internationalLouis-Ferdinand Céline), Société d’études céliniennes, 2013, p. 60.
 
3. « Les pamphlets de Céline : enjeux d’une réédition etbilan de la recherche », Congrès de l’Association francophone pour le savoir, Université Laval (Québec), 7-8 mai 2013. Voir l’article de Pierre Lalanne pp. 19-22.
 
4. François Gibault, préface à Lettres de prison à Lucette Destouches et à Maître Mikkelsen, Gallimard, 1998. À comparer avec l’affirmation selon laquelle les pamphlets « préparèrent les esprits au processus d’extermination [sic] » (André Derval, L’Accueil critique de “Bagatelles pour un massacre, Éd. Écriture, 2010, p. 28).
 
5. Études céliniennes, n° 7, printemps 2012, p. 106. L’année précédente, la critique avait déjà été émise dans les mêmes termes : André Derval, « Bibliographie [L’Année Céline] », Le Magazine littéraire, n°505, février 2011, p. 83d.
 
6. Études céliniennes, n° 6, hiver 2010-2011, pp. 112-114.
 
7. Voir aussi David Alliot, « Foudres et flèches... » & Éric Mazet, « Haro sur Céline » in Spécial Céline,n° 9 (« La chasse à l’homme ! »), mai-juin-juillet 2013, pp. 9-42.

mardi, 11 juin 2013

Solschenizyn und die Sezession von der Lüge

solj.jpg

Solschenizyn und die Sezession von der Lüge

Martin Lichtmesz

Ex: http://www.sezession.de/

Vergeßt die gängigen Begriffsstempel. Es ist überaus einfach, heute als sogenannter „Rechter“ einsortiert zu werden. Es genügt, ein Realist zu sein. Es genügt, nicht sentimental zu sein.  Es genügt, seinen Augen zu trauen. Es genügt, die Wahrheit zu sagen.

Es genügt, nicht zu glauben – ein Ketzer, Atheist oder sogar bloß Agnostiker der herrschenden liberalistischen Religion zu sein (denn um nichts anderes handelt es sich). Es genügt, bestimmte Dinge zu fühlen und mehr als eine Dimension [2] im seelischen Haushalt zu besitzen. Es genügt, Geschichtskenntnisse zu haben, oder keinen Fernseher zu besitzen. Und so weiter.

Dabei sind wir verstreuten „Ego non“-Bannerträger des Westens, der heute eher Huxleys als Orwells dystopischem Modell folgt, immer noch um vieles besser dran, als etwa ein Alexander Solschenizyn, dessen Appell „Lebt nicht mit der Lüge“ (1974) ich dieser Tage wieder gelesen habe. Der enorme existenzielle Druck und die auch physische Gefährdung, der sich die sowjetischen Dissidenten ausgesetzt haben, verbieten jeden direkten Vergleich mit unserer Lage. Dennoch gibt es auch im Zeitalter des „soften“ Totalitarismus einige ins Auge stechende Parallelen.

Es ist ebenso leicht, sich für einen Solschenizyn zu begeistern, wie es schwer ist, seinem Beispiel und seinen Maßstäben zu folgen. Es ist ratsam, sich immer dieses Abstands bewußt zu bleiben, allein schon, um sich in Gegensatz zu den schambefreiten Schafherden zu setzen, die sich alljährlich in Dresden en masse weiße Rosen [3] ans Revers heften.

Solschenizyn schrieb 1974:

Es gab eine Zeit, da wagten wir es nicht, auch nur leise zu flüstern. Jetzt aber schreiben wir im Samisdat und lesen ihn, wenn wir uns im Raucherzimmer des Instituts begegnen, dann reden wir uns von der Seele: was sie nur für einen Blödsinn treiben, wohin sie uns noch zerren!

Kommen manchem derlei Szenen auch heute bekannt vor?

„Was sollten wir denn dagegen tun? Wir haben nicht die Kraft.“ Wir sind vom Menschlichen so hoffnungslos entfernt, daß wir für das tägliche kümmerliche Stückchen Brot alle Grundsätze aufgeben, unsere Seele, alles, worum sich unsere Vorfahren mühten, alle Möglichkeiten für die Nachkommen – um ja nicht unserere jämmerliche Existenz zu zerrütten.

Keine Härte, kein Stolz, kein leidenschaftlicher Wunsch ist uns geblieben. Wir fürchten nicht einmal den allgemeinen Atomtod, fürchten nicht den Dritten Weltkrieg (vielleicht verkriechen wir uns in ein Mauseloch), wir fürchten nur die Akte der Zivilcourage! Sich bloß nicht von der Herde lösen, keinen Schritt alleine tun – und plötzlich ohne Weißbrot, Warmwasserbereiter, ohne Aufenthaltsgenehmigung für Moskau dastehen.

Solschenizyn war bekanntlich einer der wenigen, die den Mut zu dieser „Zivilcourage“ (ein heute in Deutschland traurig entehrtes Wort) aufbrachten. Dabei trieb ihn vor allem der Haß auf die Lüge an, derselbe, den man auch zwischen den Zeilen des Klassikers „Moral und Hypermoral“ (1969) des so kühlen und nüchternen Arnold Gehlen spüren kann. Ein Buch, das nicht von der Sowjetunion, sondern von der Bundesrepublik Deutschland handelt, und das mit diesen vielzitierten Sätzen endet (in einem Tonfall, den sich ihr Autor selten geleistet hat):

Teuflisch ist, wer das Reich der Lüge aufrichtet und andere Menschen zwingt, in ihm zu leben. Das geht über die Demütigung der geistigen Abtrennung noch hinaus, dann wird das Reich der verkehrten Welt aufgerichtet, und der Antichrist trägt die Maske des Erlösers, wie auf Signorellis Fresco [4] in Orvieto. Der Teufel ist nicht der Töter, er ist Diabolos, der Verleumder, ist der Gott, in dem die Lüge nicht Feigheit ist, wie im Menschen, sondern Herrschaft. Er verschüttet den letzten Ausweg der Verzweiflung, die Erkenntnis, er stiftet das Reich der Verrücktheit, denn es ist Wahnsinn, sich in der Lüge einzurichten.

Im folgenden nun ein paar Auszüge aus Solschenizyns Appell an jene Sowjetbürger, die es nicht wagen, offen zu opponieren, die er also zur einer Art „inneren“ Sezession und zu einem Mindestmaß an passivem Widerstand aufruft -jedoch kaum mit einem gemindert rigorosen Anspruch.

Lebt nicht mit der Lüge!
Alexander Solschenizyn, 12. Februar 1974

(…)
Doch niemals wird sich etwas von selbst von uns lösen, wenn wir es alle Tag für Tag anerkennen, preisen und ihm Halt geben, wenn wir uns nicht wenigstens von seiner spürbarsten Erscheinung losreißen. Von der LÜGE. (…)

Und hier liegt nämlich der von uns vernachlässigte, einfachste und zugängigste Schlüssel zu unserer Befreiung: SELBST NICHT MITLÜGEN! Die Lüge mag alles überzogen haben, die Lüge mag alles beherrschen, doch im kleinsten Bereich werden wir uns dagegen stemmen: OHNE MEIN MITTUN!

Und das ist der Durchschlupf im angeblichen Kreis unserer Untätigkeit! – Der leichteste für uns und der zerstörerischte für die Lüge. Denn wenn die Menschen von der Lüge Abstand nehmen – dann hört sie einfach auf zu existieren. Wie eine ansteckende Krankheit kann sie nur in den Menschen existieren.

Wir wollen nicht ausschwärmen, wollen nicht auf die Straße gehen und die Wahrheit laut verkünden, laut sagen, was wir denken – das ist nicht nötig, das ist schrecklich. Doch verzichten wir darauf, das zu sagen, was wir nicht glauben.
(…)

Unser Weg: IN NICHTS DIE LÜGE BEWUSST UNTERSTÜTZEN! Erkennen, wo die Grenze der Lüge ist (für jeden sieht sie anders aus) – und dann von dieser lebensgefährlichen Grenze zurücktreten! Nicht die toten Knöchelchen und Schuppen der Ideologie zusammenkleben, nicht den vermoderten Lappen flicken – und wir werden erstaunt sein, wie schnell und hilflos die Lüge abfällt, und was nackt und bloß dastehen soll, wird dann nackt und bloß vor der Welt dastehen.

Somit, laßt uns unsere Schüchternheit überwinden, und möge jeder wählen: ob er bewußter Diener der Lüge bleibt (natürlich nicht aus Neigung, sondern um die Familie zu ernähren, um die Kinder im Geist der Lüge zu erziehen!), oder ob die Zeit für ihn gekommen ist, sich als ehrlicher Mensch zu mausern, der die Achtung seiner Kinder und Zeitgenossen verdient. Und von diesem Tage an wird er:

- in Zukunft keinen einzigen Satz, der seiner Ansicht nach die Wahrheit entstellt, schreiben, unterschreiben oder drucken;

- einen solchen Satz weder im privaten Gespräch, noch vor einem Auditorium, weder im eigenen Namen noch nach einem vorbereiteten Text, noch in der Rolle des politischen Redners, des Lehrers und Erziehers, noch nach einem Bühnenmanuskript aussprechen;

- in Malerei, Skulptur und Fotografie mit technischen oder musikalischen Mitteln keinen einzigen falschen Gedanken, keine einzige Entstellung der Wahrheit, die er erkennt, darstellen noch begleiten, noch im Rundfunk senden.

- weder mündlich noch schriftlich ein einziges „leitendes“ Zitat anführen, um es jemandem recht zu tun, um sich zurückzuversichern, um in der Arbeit Erfolg zu haben, wenn er den zitierten Gedanken nicht vollständig teilt oder er keine klare Relevanz hat;

- sich nicht zwingen lassen, zu einer Demonstration oder einer Versammlung zu gehen, wenn sie seinem Wunsch und Willen nicht entspricht. Kein Transparent, kein Plakat in die Hand nehmen oder hochhalten, dessen Text er nicht vollständig bestimmt;

- die Hand nicht zur Abstimmung für einen Vorschlag heben, den er nicht aufrichtig unterstützt; nicht offen, nicht geheim für eine Person stimmen, die er für unwürdig oder zweifelhaft hält;

- sich zu keiner Versammlung drängen lassen, wo eine zwangsweise entstellte Diskussion zu erwarten ist;

- eine Sitzung, Versammlung, einen Vortrag, ein Schauspiel oder eine Filmvorführung sofort verlassen, wenn Lüge, ideologischer Unfug oder schamlose Propaganda zu hören sind;

- keine Zeitung oder Zeitschrift abonnieren oder im Einzelhandel kaufen, in der die Information verfälscht wird und die ursprünglichen Tatsachen vertuscht werden…

Wir haben selbstverständlich nicht alle möglichen und notwendigen Abweichungen von der Lüge aufgezählt. Doch wer sich um Reinigung bemüht,wird mit gereinigtem Blick leicht auch andere Fälle unterscheiden.

Ja, zunächst wird das nicht glattgehen. Der eine oder andere wird zeitweilig den Arbeitsplatz verlieren. Jungen Menschen, die nach der Wahrheit leben wollen, wird das anfangs ihr junges Leben sehr erschweren: denn auch der abgedroschene Unterricht ist voller Lüge. Man muß auswählen. Für niemanden aber, der ehrlich sein will, bleibt ein Versteck: für keinen von uns vergeht auch nur ein Tag, selbst nicht in den ungefährlichsten technischen Wissenschaften, ohne zumindest einen der genannten Schritte – entweder erfolgt er in Richtung auf die Wahrheit oder in Richtung auf die Lüge; in Richtung auf geistige Unabhängigkeit oder geistiges Kriechertum.

Wer aber nicht einmal zum Schutz seiner Seele genügend Mut aufbringt, der soll sich auch nicht seiner fortschrittlichen Ansichten rühmen, soll nicht tönen, er sei Akademiemitglied oder Volkskünstler, verdienter Funktionär oder General – der soll sich sagen: ich ein Herdentier und ein Feigling, ich will es nur satt und warm haben.

Sogar dieser Weg – der gemäßigste aller Wege des Widerstandes- wird für uns Eingerostete nicht leicht sein. Doch wieviel leichter ist er als Selbstverbrennung oder Hungerstreik: die Flamme ergreift deinen Körper nicht, die Augen platzen nicht vor Hitze, und Schwarzbrot mit Wasser findet sich immer für deine Familie.  (…)

Das würde kein leichter Weg? – doch der leichteste der möglichen. Keine leichte Wahl für den Körper – doch die einzige für die Seele. Kein leichter Weg – doch gibt es bei uns bereits Menschen, sogar Dutzende, die seit Jahren alle diese Punkte durchhalten, die nach der Wahrheit leben.

Somit: nicht als erste diesen Weg beschreiten, sondern SICH ANSCHLIESSEN! Je leichter und je kürzer uns dieser Weg scheint, desto enger verbunden, in desto größerer Zahl werden wir ihn einschlagen! Werden wir Tausende sein, dann wird man keinem mehr etwas tun können. Werden wir aber Zehntausende sein – dann werden wir unser Land nicht wiedererkennen!

Wenn wir aber in Feigheit zurückschrecken, dann sollten wir die Klage lassen, jemand ließe uns nicht atmen – das sind wir selbst! Werden wir uns weiter beugen und abwarten, dann werden unsere Brüder von der Biologie dafür sorgen, daß der Augenblick naht, zu dem man unsere Gedanken liest und unsere Gene umwandelt.

vlcsnap 2013 06 05 12h14m38s227 480x360 Solschenizyn und die Sezession von der Lüge (Fundstücke 17) [5]                                         „Stalker“, Andrej Tarkowskij, UdSSR 1979

In: Alexander Solschenizyn, „Offener Brief an die sowjetische Führung“, Darmstadt und Neuwied 1974.

mardi, 04 juin 2013

Septième soirée de "Livr'arbitres"

18:30 Publié dans Actualité, Evénement, Littérature | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : paris, événement, littérature, lettres | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

Dostoïevski et les violences illuminées du Parti socialiste

Dostoïevski et les violences illuminées du Parti socialiste

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://linformationnationaliste.hautetfort.com/

— Nous savons qu’un doigt mystérieux a désigné notre belle patrie comme le pays le plus propice à l’accomplissement de la grande œuvre.

Fedor--Mikhailovitch-Dostoievski.jpgParti des banques et des médias, le PS se veut aussi un parti d’avant-garde, un parti refondateur de notre France et de l’espèce humaine.

On se doutait que la destruction de la famille et l’achat de nouveau-nés, encouragés par les temps globalisés qui courent, ne rencontreraient pas un grand écho public ; surtout si une loi destinée à favoriser les théories d’avant-garde illuministe et les intérêts d’un lobby surreprésenté dans la mode et les médias, les affaires et la politique (et ce de la gauche à l’extrême droite maintenant) heurtait de front une énorme majorité de la population. Mais on n’osait présager ce qui allait se passer : le passage à tabac du petit peuple contestataire et familial.

Je ne réside pas en France, je n’en ai pas le cœur. Je peux témoigner qu’à l’étranger les médias n’ont rien dit, et qu’ils ont à peine insisté sur les… milliers de manifestants (les milliers de manifestants ??? On est bien gardés partout.)

J’ai eu plusieurs amis et amies arrêtés et tabassés par la police ; des gardes à vue, des nuits au poste, des charges, des gazages fondés sur des théories de la conspiration (nous on s’affronte à la réalité de la conspiration, ce n’est pas la même chose) ; c’est d’autant plus étonnant qu’il s’agissait non pas de militants musclés mais de gentils pères et mères de famille, des cathos comme il faut, comme disent les médias officiels avec leur mépris raciste et ricaneur. Il devait même y avoir des bobos au sens strict, des petits laïcs avec leur bonne famille. J’ai même su que de bons petits étudiants pourtant gentiment conditionnés par la lecture de Luther King ou Mandela avaient aussi été tabassés. On a balancé le gaz (changer le mot, comme chez Orwell) sur les mères et leurs enfants, et comme on avait tort, on s’est acharné sur les victimes, ce qui est dans la logique de ces temps post-libéraux (fonctionnaires, retraités, assistés, c’est vous qui nous ruinez et pas l’euro !) et post-démocratiques : on vous prendra vos sous, vos vies, vos idéaux. Paris est en état de siège et l’on se doute que les Invalides, le Champ de Mars et les quartiers traditionnels ne seront plus les mêmes. Les forces spéciales seront prêtes. Un ground zero se prépare, c’est bon pour les sondages, car les socialistes qui ont mis tout le monde à bout en quelques mois, ont encore quatre années à tirer, et ils ne se sont pas près de se tirer, même s’ils ne s’en tireront pas comme ça. Entre deux tenues et deux partouzes, ils nous préparent un sale coup à la manière des méchants des péplums hollywoodiens. Un grand incendie de Rome, arrosé à l’hélium ?

L’important est de haïr le peuple dont l’ordre mondial vous adonné la charge ; et le traiter en conséquence. Le gouvernement sera francophobe ou ne sera pas. C’est comme ça qu’après un ministre deviendra commissaire européen ou bossera pour les pétroles ou Goldman Sachs.

L’arrogance, la muflerie, la vulgarité et la mauvaise foi du sous-ministre en charge ne connaît pas de limite. Je le soupçonne, ce membre actif du club milliardaire et conspirateur des Bilderbergs, de guetter la salive à la bouche le moment où il y aura des morts pour interdire entre autres toute manifestation, cette dernière tradition française et populaire. Il criera alors à la conspiration intégriste, en appellera à Dan Brown et incriminera la filière tchéchène pour faire plaisir à son copain Obama (un libéral est toujours un lèche-bottes, remarque aussi Dostoïevski). On ouvrira des camps, sans doute, pour enfermer les ennemis de la liberté. Ils sont 99%. On n’est plus à ça près dans la démocratie-marché, cette société qui considère que la civilisation est un marché ou plutôt un centre commercial ; que les populations sont remplaçables ; et que les élections ne sont plus même nécessaires là où elles se font gênantes.

Le ministre à matricule avait morigéné il y a un an les journalistes les plus soumis du monde, comme FOG, au motif que ces derniers avaient bêlé avec les moutons du paysage médiatique américain lors d’une arrestation-spectacle. On a vu que ce pauvre DSK n’était pas si innocent que cela, et que les socialistes sont des innocents aux mains sales, pour reprendre un titre célèbre. Pour les taxes et le sexe, les socialos sont des champions ; pour trafiquer les feuilles de vigne des impôts aussi.

Les socialistes sont des bourgeois illuminés, comme les avocats guillotineurs de la Révolution, avec un certain nombre de tares sociales et sexuelles, et ce sont aussi des possédés. Adorateurs des contes de fées et comptes en banque, personne ne les a mieux expliqués que Dostoïevski dans son meilleur opus : « J’ai remarqué, me faisait-il observer un jour, que tous ces socialistes fanatiques, tous ces communistes enragés sont en même temps les individus les plus avares, les propriétaires les plus durs à la détente ; on peut même affirmer que plus un homme est socialiste, plus il tient à ce qu’il a. »

La folie de la théorie du genre qui ne repose sur rien de moral ni même de scientifique (je mets la science après la morale ; j’ai encore le droit ?) mais seulement sur des fantaisies de psychanalystes est aussi présente dans l’œuvre du grand maître russe : le despotisme marche de concert avec l’aberration idéologique. Rappelez-vous 93, les nouveaux prénoms de la révolution, le nouveau calendrier, les nouveaux cultes. Avec ces illuminés, on n’a jamais fini.

Mais rappelez-vous que dans Fourier, dans Cabet surtout, et jusque dans Proudhon lui-même, on trouve quantité de propositions tyranniques et fantaisistes (ou fantastiques) au plus haut degré.

Dostoïevski annonce aussi les bric-à-brac déments de notre enseignement avancé, de nos magistrats investis par le trotskysme et de l’avant-garde idéocratique qui rêve de parader dans les soirées milliardaires et phil-entropiques : « Le précepteur qui se moque avec les enfants de leur dieu et de leur berceau, est des nôtres. L’avocat qui défend un assassin bien élevé en prouvant qu’il était plus instruit que ses victimes et que, pour se procurer de l’argent, il ne pouvait pas ne pas tuer, est des nôtres. Les écoliers qui, pour éprouver une sensation, tuent un paysan, sont des nôtres. Les jurés qui acquittent systématiquement tous les criminels sont des nôtres. Le procureur qui, au tribunal, tremble de ne pas se montrer assez libéral, est des nôtres. »

Frapper la mère de famille et gazer son bébé devient la blague du salon rose et le devoir du CRS briefé et conditionné ; tout comme détaler devant les racailles de banlieue et encenser le criminel moyen qui en somme ne fait que son devoir rousseauiste de redresseur des torts sociaux. Dali disait déjà aux surréalistes qu’il serait « plus amusant » de faire sauter les pauvres. Et Dostoïevski : « Savez-vous combien nous devrons aux théories en vogue ? Quand j’ai quitté la Russie, la thèse de Littré qui assimile le crime à une folie faisait fureur ; je reviens, et déjà le crime n’est plus une folie, c’est le bon sens même, presque un devoir, à tout le moins une noble protestation. »

Le plus inquiétant est que des canards bourgeois ont encensé le ministre en question ; que le monde sagouin et subventionné de la presse écrite s’acharne contre les deux millions de français descendus dans la rue ; et que la folie absolue de la bourse et de la spéculation accompagne cette descente aux enfers de la politique, de la justice et de la morale. La destruction par la dette et l’euro – créé à cet effet – de l’emploi et du patrimoine français attend la destruction de ce qui reste de la famille et la nature.

Le plus inquiétant aussi est que la dégénérescence des partis politiques de droite et d’extrême-droite censés jadis représenter une France réelle et non plurielle, conservatrice et non moderne, interdit de songer à une alternance crédible dans quatre ans ou moins maintenant… Jamais la démocratie parlementaire si souvent en crise dans notre histoire n’a semblé aussi courte, aussi inadaptée, aussi dérisoire. Il va falloir que le peuple des parents et des enfants prenne son destin en main laissant la matraque aux ministres et les prébendes aux autres malotrus.

On n’en a pas fini avec la nuit ; pas celle du moyen âge bien sûr, mais celle des temps modernes et illuminés.

Les mesures proposées par l’auteur pour supprimer le libre arbitre chez les neuf dixièmes de l’humanité et transformer cette dernière en troupeau par de nouvelles méthodes d’éducation, – ces mesures sont très remarquables, fondées sur les données des sciences naturelles, et parfaitement logiques.

http://francephi.com

vendredi, 17 mai 2013

Robert E. Howard & the Heroic

 

RobertEHoward.jpg

Robert E. Howard & the Heroic

By Jonathan Bowden

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Editor’s Note:

The following text is a transcript by John Morgan of a lecture by Jonathan Bowden, “Robert Erwin Howard: Pulpster Extraordinaire,” given at the 26th New Right meeting in London on Saturday, April 17, 2010. The audio is available on YouTube [2].

Unfortunately, significant portions of the audio were cut off at the beginning of the second and third segments on YouTube. For the purposes of publishing this essay in the Pulp Fascism [3] collection, I also removed some 2,300 words of digressive material. If anyone has access to a complete copy of the lecture, please contact me. Also, if you have any corrections or if you can gloss the passages marked as unintelligible, please contact me at editor@counter-currents.com [4] or simply post them as comments below. If and when a complete transcript can be assembled, we will publish it here as well. 

I’ll be talking about Robert Ervin Howard. A while back, I had a talk about H. P. Lovecraft, Aryan mystic, and he was one of a triumvirate of writers who wrote for a fantasy magazine called Weird Tales, a pulp magazine; they were incredibly cheaply produced magazines in the 1930s, with quite good art, graphic sort of art, printed on cheap bulk newsprint paper which was very acidic and fell apart very quickly. And yet three writers, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Ervin Howard, and Howard Phillips Lovecraft have survived and been inducted into literature. I saw in my local library that Penguin Classics, or Modern Classics, the ones with the grey covers, now include Robert Erwin Howard’s Heroes in the Wind, from Kull to Conan: The Best of Robert E. Howard as a book. Penguin Classics, you see? So it begins as a pulp, and a hundred years later it’s redesignated as literature.

Howard is a very interesting figure. He only lived 30 years. He was born in 1906 and shot himself with a revolver in the head in his car, outside his home, when he was 30 years of age. We’ll get on to that afterwards. He wrote 160 stories, and the interesting thing about these stories is that they are pre-civilized in their settings, they’re barbaric, they’re ultra-masculine stories, and they deal with many themes which have been so disprivileged from much of mainstream liberal humanist culture that they no longer exist.

Howard had a range of heroes and wrote in most popular genres. He wrote to make money, but he began as a poet, and a poetic and sort of Saturnalian disposition influenced his work and his friendship, by correspondence, with Lovecraft, and to a lesser extent, Clark Ashton Smith, throughout his life. He was of Irish descent, and he was born in a town which became a boom town in the oil booms of the early 20th century in Texas. For those of you who don’t know, Texas is enormous. England fits into Texas twelve times, and Britain, eight times. He was born in Peaster, Texas, and spent some of his early life in a town called Brownwood, a quintessentially small-town American, which is the experience of most white Americans through the settlement of Western civilization in North America. The state capital, of course, is Austin, and you have the big cities like Houston, Dallas, and Galveston.

Now, Howard hated the oil booms, and what happened. When the oil boom happened to Cross Plains, a town of about 1,200 with a mayor and so on, morphed into a large, sprawling, lawless place of about 10,000. An enormous number of prospectors and drillers and criminals and people seeking easy money, all heavily armed of course, came in to Cross Plains. The town burst out beyond its limits in all directions. Oil was discovered everywhere. Fortunes were made, and fortunes were lost.

At the time he was born, lynchings were still in vogue right across the South and the ex-Confederate states. Everyone displayed and carried weapons openly. Sometimes the Rangers, as they were called, a man alone in the sun with a rifle, was basically all you had of semi-ordered civilization. People don’t realize how, if you like, wild and open certain parts of the United States were, certainly until the 1860s, 1870s.

The psychological experience of an intuitive and sympathetic and radically imaginative young man like Howard invests the tall Texan story, and stories of prospectors and ranchers and drillers in the oil industry, and Texas Rangers and Marshals and so on, with an added piquancy. His family supported the Confederacy in a previous generation, and he was mildly descended from certain Confederate commanders.

His attitude towards life is expressed in the stories, which is why they survived. The stories are like lucid dreams. You walk straight into them, and the action begins. Most of them were dreams, and in a way, most critics believe Howard’s an oral creator. He’s in the oral, folklorist, and narrative-oriented tradition. He’s a storyteller par excellence. It’s said he wrote at night, and he used to chant the stories to himself, which of course is a very old Northern European and Nordic tradition. It’s the idea of the skald. It’s the idea that things are illuminated to you, and you speak because you hear the voice.

He had a series of masculine heroes beginning with certain Celtic and Pictish/Scotch-Irish heroes such as Bran Mak Morn and so on; Conan, the hero that he’s most associated with, whose name, of course, is abstracted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s middle name. Howard would take from all sorts of roots, many of which related to heroic, Celtic, Indo-European elements which he imagined to exist in his own past.

robEHow.jpgHe was very influenced by G. K. Chesterton’s dictum at the beginning of the 20th century that myth is the commingling of emotional reality with what is understood to be fact. If you mix together eras and peoples, but you keep the emotional truth of the substance of what we perceive their lives to have been, then you can influence the present and the future. It’s noumenal truth, as Aristotle said 2,000 years ago, the idea that certain things are artistically and emotionally true irrespective of what you think about them factually.

His most famous series of stories, the Conan stories that he wrote pretty much towards the end of his life, were based upon a false yet true/factual world history, the so-called Hyborian Age that he created for himself. Maps of the Hyborian Age have been produced, and they are based upon a realistic sociology, ethnography, geological history, and a coherent view of economics. The country of Aquilonia that Conan ends up conquering at the end of the mythos is partly Britain. The Picts are partly the Scots, of course, covered in woad, barbaric, kept out by a wall, that sort of thing.

War is the dynamic of all of Howard’s fiction, and his attitude towards life was conflict-oriented. His stories are described as ultra-masculine and non-feminist stories. Unkind critics say that they’re Barbara Cartland for men, where all women are beautiful, all men are heroic, where magic works instead of science, and where force decides all social problems, and there is a degree to which the genre which he has founded, called sword and sorcery—of which one supposes J. R. R. Tolkien, an Oxford professor, is the senior representative in the 20th century—is an example of the literary and the heroic in contemporary letters. It’s interesting to notice that the early great texts of the Western civilization, Homer, Beowulf, are deeply heroic, and yet over time, the heroic imprimatur within our language and within our sensibility dips.

It’s said that boys aren’t interested in reading at school, and that 80 to 90% of those who do English literature courses in further educational colleges and universities, the tertiary sector, are women. It’s said that men don’t disprivilege literature, and it’s also said in the West that boys get bullied if they’re regarded, as Howard was when he was younger, as sissies because they read too much, and this sort of thing.

I think one of the problems is that literature that appeals to men is often not the concern of the people who run these sorts of educational establishments. If the sort of people that influenced Howard, people like Noyes, people like Robert W. Service, people like Byron, people like Kipling, people like the heroic imperialist literature of William Henley, who was the basis for Long John Silver in Treasure Island, and was a close friend of Robert Louis Stevenson, a man who could go from bonhomie to murderous rage with a click of your fingers, as Silver does in Treasure Island, of course, because he moves from extreme malevolence to a sort of Cockney paternalism in the same breath. Now, if this literature was normative much further down the social and the educational scale, one would imagine that boys and youngish men would be much more interested in literature as a whole.

Howard essentially sold stories from about the age of 20, certainly 19. He started writing when he was 9, and the interesting thing about him is that his stories are not really derivative. There are connections to enormous writers that were prominent at the time, principally Jack London, but Howard emerged fully-formed and had his own voice from the very beginning.

London’s a very interesting figure, because London’s often been associated, truthfully and yet forcefully, with the extreme Left. Trotsky, of course, wrote an introduction to his famous dystopia of American life called The Iron Heel, and yet London, as George Orwell intimated in one of his essays, was proto-fascistic, and was in many ways a Left nationalist, or even a National Bolshevik, or somebody who would be now described as a Third Positionist. London’s positions were those of socialism from the outside, but also a form of socialism, with and without quotation marks, that was Right-wing rather than Left-wing, and was both national and racial. The interesting thing about London’s discourse is the radicalism of the racialism. [. . .]

We had at the last meeting, or the meeting before last, a speaker from Croatia called Tomislav Sunić who wrote a book which I edited a long time ago, actually, called Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age. Among the very important points about that book is his recognition, as a European ex-Catholic in his case, of the Protestant fundamentalist nature of the United States. I think this is a crucial point to understand the United States. The influence of contemporary Jewry in the United States is due to the fact that it’s a Protestant fundamentalist country and many, many Americans really believe in their deep and even subconscious mind that the viewpoint that they are a self-chosen elect to rule by right, by divine imprecation, is so deep in their consciousness, the idea as Pentecostalists sing, that “we are Zion,” goes so far down that the difference between their identity and their group specificity and their militant patriotism and that of a small country in the Middle East, and people who didn’t begin to emigrate en masse into the United States until the latter stages of the 19th century, and only really began to have major socioeconomic impact, particularly culturally, in the first quarter to a third of the 20th century makes these things, to my mind, easier to understand.

Now, Protestant fundamentalism doesn’t seem to have scratched Howard very much, and yet one of his heroes is a Puritan called Solomon Kane, and Solomon Kane, who comes between Bran Mak Morn, Kull, and Conan, is in some ways his first major hero. Solomon Kane is very, very interesting because he’s one of these Protestant extremists of the 1620s—well, they’re set before—but that’s when the movement comes to power in the Cromwellian Interregnum in England, and yet stretches way back into the previous century, and yet in a strange way he’s an outsider, even in that movement.

Kane dresses all in black with a little white sort of a bib round his neck. He’s extraordinarily heavily armed, as most of the Puritans were, had a sword on either side, had pistols in the belts, had a knife in the boot, because you were fighting for the Lord, you see! “I am the flail of the Lord.” They had these endless quotes, largely from the Old Testament, but to a degree from elements of the New, which they would roll out on occasions when they had to justify what they were about to do, and that their instincts wanted to do, in a way that nothing could restrain them.

There’s a famous moment in Northern Ireland, when James Callaghan was Northern Irish Secretary under Wilson in the late 1960s, slightly sympathetic to Social Democratic, Catholic nationalism in Northern Ireland, as part of the local movement was then, but in a very moderate way, and then said in a concerned and perplexed way to the Reverend Ian Paisley, who softened a bit as he’s got older, and in turn wanted to be Prime Minister of Northern Ireland before he died, he said to Paisley that, “But we’re all the children of God, Reverend,” and Paisley said, “No! Nooooo!” He said, “We are the children of wrath!

And that is the attitude of those Puritan extremists, loyal to the Old Testament in many ways. Men of a sort of always implacable fury, and elements of their dictatorship, under Cromwell of course, were increasingly maniacal. The banning of Shakespeare, our greatest writer. When an English national revolutionary movement bans the country’s greatest-ever writer, you do begin to think there’s something slightly wrong, don’t you, no? Similarly, the flogging of actors under the New Model Army in Newcastle for performing Shakespeare, these were the latter stages, these were the Buddhas of Bamiyan moments, weren’t they really, of these English revolutionaries of the 1640s, or what was really going on.

Now, the sort of Puritanism that Howard puts into this character is different, because Howard’s character, Solomon Kane’s a loner, a man who always fights for his own cause, but when he hears those almost voluptuous pagan stirrings in the background, it’s always Christianized, and it’s always put in a Protestant context.

Cromwell once had a phrase: “I disembowel you for Christ’s love.” And that’s what he said in the Putney Debates. When the parliamentary side won the Civil War, the whole New Model Army, which of course was a revolutionary army of that time—no brothels, no drinking; in the Royal army, you went to the back, and there was endless entertainment at the back of the battlefront. With the Puritan armies, there was none of that. You went to the back, and there was no drinking, and there was a chap ranting at you about whether you’d sinned that day.

It was less fun, but at the same time, when they raised their pikes together, not in a higgledy-piggledy way, or one bloke at the back didn’t want to, but they raised them together, as one unit. They would all chant, “God is our strength.” Cromwell understood as Shaw said early in the 20th century that a man who has a concept of reality that is metaphysically objectivist, a man who believes in something as absolute truth is worth fifty men. And that’s the type of revolutionary ideology that these people then had.

But at the Putney Debates, there was a debate about how the country should go, and Ireton and the other supreme commanders were there. Under Cromwell they committed regicide of course, they killed the King, so the future of the country was theirs. There was another tendency known as the Levellers, who in some ways of course were retrospectively the first socialists, so-called because they wanted to level down distinctions. There was an even more radical movement called the Diggers that came along later. But Cromwell told Ireton, “Either we hang them or they will hang us.” And that’s the Levellers. And at the end of the Putney Debates, the army moves aside, the Cromwellian regime has been established, and the Levellers are hanging on the trees. So Cromwell had got his way.

The importance of Protestantism to the United States, in a complicated way, is the reason why there has never been an extreme Right-wing movement of any great success in the United States, except in a localized way like the Klan to deal with particular circumstances at a particular time. America, you could imagine, is ripe for such a movement, as Australia always has been, and yet there has not been one, not really. Not a national movement. There were figures in the 1930s: there was the Silver Shirt movement; there were Father Coughlin’s radio broadcasts, which had all sorts of interesting ramifications in American life, as Catholic priest giving the radical Right to essentially a Protestant nation, which of course set up a cultural tension and contradiction in and of itself.

There are also interesting liberal counterparts to this. Most people remember Orson Welles’ treatment of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, when the Martians invade New York, and then he admitted it was a fiction retrospectively, and tens of thousands of ninnies leave New York because they think the Martians are landing. “Gee, they’re up the road!” And they get the pickup truck, and they go. And then they broadcast later that it was all a stunt and it was an artistic show, and people shouldn’t take it literally.

Welles deliberately did that to discredit Coughlin. He said afterwards, “We did it because too many people believed everything that fascist priest was telling them on the radio, so we proved them, don’t believe what you hear that comes out of the radio.” And that’s a purely sort of aesthetic response to the impact that sort of thing had.

robEHow2.jpgYet still movements lie there, Aryan Nations, National Alliance, these sorts of movements, very small, very isolated, geographically and in other ways. National Alliance was quite interesting because it morphed from Youth for George Wallace. That’s how it started, and then it took various transformatory steps until it emerged as a very hard-line group under the late Dr. William Pierce at a later date.

And this culture of extreme Protestantism—which contained elements which are to the Right of almost anything you’ve ever seen, mentally, psychologically, conceptually—seems partly, because, of its extreme individualism, to be incapable of generating radical Right mass movements. Most Americans still adopt a deliberately materialist, liberal humanist and individualist way of looking at life. They divide into two basic political parties that have switched over during the course of the last two centuries. Don’t forget in the 19th century the Republican Party was the party of the nominal Left, and the Democrats were red. The Democrats were conservatives who supported states’ rights—not the right to secede, but certainly the right to own slaves. The party led by a man who’s proud to have ex-slaves in his own family, the present President, would have actually, in a strange sort of way, not been able to join the Democrat Party in the 19th century, and yet the switch around, that you can vote in each other’s primaries, and that “Isn’t everyone a Democrat? Isn’t everyone a Republican?,” hence the meaninglessness of the names, adds to this sort of feeling that you get in the contemporary United States that all that matters is money and social success. America’s very important, because America, of course, dominates this country now culturally and geopolitically. We can’t almost do anything without them, and all the wars that we’re now dragged into are due to American hegemony.

But the repudiation of parts of American power should never blind ourselves to the cultural excellence of what many white Americans have achieved, both for their group and individually. If you actually look at all the radical Right literature, the alternative side of an isolationist and American nationalist posture, there is some great work there by people like William Gayley Simpson, who wrote an enormous book of over a thousand pages called Which Way Western Man? Again, without going on a tangent too much, he’s a very interesting man because he’s an ex-Trappist monk. He began as a liberal and an aching humanist whose heart bled for the Third World and who had all the correct sort of UN-specific attitudes, and gradually he changed step by step by step, and he ended up, if not a member then a fellow traveler, of the National Alliance. That is quite a change. That is quite a leap. But it is also true that tens and tens of thousands of educated Western people who are liberal-minded now will have to change their views, will have to begin to change their mindset in this and the coming generation if Western civilization is virtually not to slide off the cliff. [. . .]

Now, to return to Howard, Howard’s writing, by the end of his sort of period, and don’t forget that he was sort of mature at 22 and dead at 30, he produced 160 stories, 15, 16 volumes basically, and other fragments. There was an unfinished fantasy novel called Almuric, the early Celtic stories, Bran Mak Morn and the others morphed into Solomon Kane. There were associated Westerns and humorous stories. There were some detective stories, but he never particularly liked that genre, although his attitude towards life was hard-boiled. There were also some Crusader stories as well, and some slightly mythological stories about a sort of white man in the East called Gordon, presumably named after the Gordon of Khartoum, but actually an American, and these were the old Borak stories set in Afghanistan, where he goes native and fights along sort of inter-tribal and group-based and clan lines in that context.

Howard’s attitude toward politics is quite complicated and not entirely logical, and primarily emotional. He supported the New Deal because he believed the American economy had collapsed and something needed to be done. He argued strongly with H. P. Lovecraft, he was more of a “reactionary” in these respects, a classical liberal, didn’t like the Roosevelt and the people around him, didn’t like intervention in the market in that sort of Protestant, American way. He felt that you fail commercially, you suffer punishment, because God has chosen that punishment for you. Destiny involves sacrifice.

The irony is that the banks have been saved in the United States by Bush, costing trillions of dollars, but the metaphysic which founded the country would have allowed all of those banks to fail, all of those banks to fail and all those bankers to hang themselves and throw themselves off buildings. That happened in 1929, and then you rebuild quickly, because the pure, American, sort of Randian view is that capitalism is an insatiable animal and vortex of energy, and if people go to pot, if people lose everything they have, if as a trader, an insurance agent I vaguely knew years ago at Lloyd’s, lost all his money in the Names scandal, and goes there on a Sunday and unlocks the door and goes down to the toilets and sits there and drinks Domestos and kills himself and is found by the cleaners, Africans probably, on Monday morning, and his senior partner in Lloyd’s said, “Well, that’s capitalism for you.” And that’s it! What goes up goes down! This was the view that founded the United States

And yet the irony is, why have these Western politicians intervened, why have they saved these structures: few collateral damage moments, Lehman Brothers; they’ve charged Goldman Sachs with fraud. Well, that’s a bit late, isn’t it, really? And yet why have they intervened? They’ve intervened because of the voting danger. The fact that there are radical parties on the fringe of all Western societies, everyone knows who they are, that people could vote for in a major moment of fiscal/physical/moral/emotional distress, and the whole Western clerisy that’s bought into the contemporary liberal package knows that. Many of these parties are actually quite moderate in relation to the traditions they come out of, but they terrify the present establishment that often sees the more populist ones as just the start of something worse that’s coming behind, see?

And there’s also a certain guilt there as well, because these people are well aware of what’s happened to Western societies because they’ve been running them for 70 years. This idea it’s all an accident, “I didn’t really mean it,” and the turning of Western societies into a sort of version of Brasília, en masse with a tiny, little elite at the top that’s creaming most of the goodies off for themselves.

I’m not an egalitarian in any sense, but it’s interesting to note that this country’s slightly more unequal now than it was in 1910 in terms of 90% of all equity and all capital and all wealth is owned by the top 10%, and the top 2% of that 10%, and yet the society has changed out of all recognition, 1910 to 2010. Most Western people born in the first [unintelligible] part of the 20th century would not believe the transformation of the West just in a lifetime, basically, after they died. And it occurred because of the extraordinary wars, largely amongst ourselves, that we fought in the 20th century that also gave outsider ideologies like Communism their chance to vulture-like pick over the defeat and the carrion corpses of what was left.

The heroic attitude towards man and society that Howard’s work depicts exists virtually nowhere except as play and pleasure in computer games for boys and adolescents, in comic books and so on. The areas of life where that sort of ethos remains, the armed forces, the army, navy, and air force of most contemporary Western societies, particularly their specialist or elite forces, in Britain the Special Air service, the naval equivalent the Special Boat Service, and all of those novels, these Andy McNab sort of novels about the heroic and this sort of thing, which are lapped up by a largely male audience, largely male audience. Other than that, there is not really the imprimatur of the heroic in Western life, the extraordinary demilitarization of Western life, hardly ever see a policeman, hardly ever see soldiers. When do you ever see British forces? And that’s because they’re always outside the country as globalist mercenaries fighting American and Zionist wars all over the world. They’re never seen here, and many of their commanders don’t want them here, either, because they regard parts of British life as so irretrievably decadent that they actually want to keep their troops away from much of what’s happened in relation to the society. There are towns in Berkshire where a lot of the military stay, like Arborfield and these sorts of towns, where it’s quite clear there’s a sort of military zone and there’s a civilian zone. You all know what British towns are like on Friday, Saturday night: no police; they’re all in their vans; they’re all in the station; they’re at home; they’re filling in forms. They wear yellow bibs when they’re out, but when you want one, you can never see them, can you?

And a lot of our older people are, let’s face it, frightened to go into town and city centers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, certainly after 6. And why is this happening? It’s partly happening because the concept that Howard’s fiction deals with, masculinity, has been completely disprivileged, completely demonized and rerouted in contemporary liberal life. Hostility to masculinity, certainly as defined, say, before 1950 is very considerable, and it’s had a very corrosive effect ideologically, aesthetically. Men can have their own pleasures in various zones, which are sort of sneered at and disprivileged, but the centrality of the heroic as a myth for life has largely gone.

The way to explicate something like Howard, as I did with Lovecraft before, is to maybe to concentrate on one of their stories. With H. P. Lovecraft I chose “The Dunwich Horror,” and with Howard I would choose “Rogues in the House,” which was published in Weird Tales in the early ’30s. One fantasy critic has called it the greatest fantasy story of the 20th century, but that’s just one individual’s opinion. It’s relatively early in the Conan series.

Conan is a northern barbarian, and because everything’s fused together in Howard, he’s got slightly Nordic, Germanic, and slightly Celtic traits. He’s an outsider, but he has a clean code of masculine barbarism. Civilization is always seen as slightly weak-kneed and sybaritic to Howard. And yet at the same time, barbarism has its own inner order.

Now, there are counter-factual and countercultural elements there that will be used by social anthropologists in a totally different context, like Lévi-Strauss and others, in the middle of the 20th century, but Howard means it in a different way.

There’s a Left-wing streak to Howard, as there was to London, a siding with the outsider, with those ruined by capitalism, by tramps. London’s book about the East End is one of the most extraordinary books about mass poverty before George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and “How the Poor Die,” were quite extraordinary works. A poor little hospital in Paris before any sort of socialized medicine, where those who were in the bottom 10%, their corpses were just thrown on the ground! And they died in agony, and they kick you away and put another one on top. This is how the poor die! And Orwell said to this chap in this hospital, “But look at the state they’re in!” And he said, “Well, they gave up slavery. Here’s another batch.” This was the attitude then. This is why things like the labor movement, even in the United States in an attenuated way, were created, to correct that imbalance as it’s seen from the bottom.

The far Right, of course, always wanted not the class war of the contemporary Left, but to socialize mass life in a way that preserved the traditions of the civilization of which we’re a part, that brought on what was excellent about the past and yet realized that the 50% of people who own no capital, the 50% of people who are largely excluded from all center-Right parties’ definition of patriotism, are part of the country, are part of the nation, fight the country’s wars for the most part when they’re asked to do so, and therefore have to be within the remit of social consideration in relation to education, health, and other matters.

My explanation for Howard’s support of the New Deal and that type of politics largely is along those sorts of lines. It’s the sort of apolitical chap who likes country and western in a Midwestern state and supports socialized medicine up to a point, as long as it’s not too costly, doesn’t like Obama, and supports our troops, you see. But it’s in a sort of apolitical zone which has got no real knowledge above that. Some of the instincts are right, but the ideological formulation in which that takes place is likely wrong, because even these wars—do you think Iraq was fought for ordinary white Americans? Do you think Afghanistan has anything to do with ordinary families living in Nebraska or Nevada or Kansas? None of these wars have anything to do with them at all. Even the Black Muslims have worked out that white gentiles largely are second-class citizens now in the society that they created. But that’s another story, and I’d just like to concentrate on Howard.

This particular story concerns Conan from the outside, Conan as perceived by an aristocrat and fop called Murilo. Howard’s a little bit of a Nordicist. He thinks southern Europeans are a bit foppish in comparison to northern Europeans. There’s a streak of this, and some of the society is seen to be Italy, Corinth, Zamora, but they’re not. But they seem to be Italy.

Well, there’s this Italian city-state that’s run by a corrupt priest called Nabonidus, who’s known as the Red Priest. These myths are set, these stories, mythologically encoded, are set before the beginning of recorded history and after the sinking of Atlantis, possibly a fantasy itself. So he sets them far back enough that he can do whatever he wants with them, but at the same time he can import a large amount of retrospective historical insight.

The interesting thing is the Machiavellianism of the politics of these stories. All of these societies are run extremely ruthlessly and are run completely for the power interests of the people in charge. The nationalities don’t really matter, but they are, if the gloves are off, as marauding and vengeful as their own leaders who they represent at a lower level. Truly Howard believes, with the Roman dictator Sulla, that when the weapons are out, the laws fall silent.

Now, Murilo is a courtier, a relatively corrupt courtier, in this city-state, and Nabonidus comes to him one day at a royal council meeting and gives him a small casket that contains a severed ear. And this is a warning, as it would be if a Renaissance prince in post-Medieval Italy, gave it to a rival, and it’s, “Clear off. Get out of the city-state as quickly as possible. I’m giving you one day.” And Murilo wonders what he’s going to do. He can flee, but he’s not a coward, why should he leave his own city? And in any case he’s got lots of rackets on the go, you know, so he wants an out, and he thinks, “I need to assassinate Nabonidus,” who runs the drunken King as a sort of priest/philosopher-king/leader of a native death cult within the city like a puppet master controls his dog.

So he needs a vassal, and he finds it in the prisons of the city where a young, heathen, northern barbarian has been captured and lays there in chains after various escapades and thefts, and this is a young man of 19 called Conan, who’s twice the size of a normal man. All Howard’s heroes are physically enormous, and all incredibly violent, although they all have an honor code of their own which is interesting, particularly towards the end of the story, what you might call an innate code of masculine morality and honor which is part and parcel of natural law.

The Social Darwinian view that was spread throughout mass culture, particularly these types of fictions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is not entirely true as all prisons and all armies testify, there’s a code of honor and morality even in very extreme male behavior. Rapists are always amongst the most disprivileged in any prison. Men who attack and feed on women, for example, in very all-male and male-concentric cultural spaces are always disprivileged, always disliked, and that’s because of innate feelings about how, in a very traditionalist way, what we call partly a sexist way now, men should treat women, and these things pre-date all modern ideas and are partly innate, and in some ways, because Howard is such an instinctualist, he brings these sorts of forces to the fore.

Now, Nabonidus wants Murilo to leave the city. Murilo hires Conan to murder Nabonidus. Nabonidus is [unintelligible]. Conan is in his cell sucking some beef off a bone, and besides, Nabonidus is an upper-class priest—so why not murder him for money, he’s an adventurer?—so he decides to go with Murilo on this plot. As always with Howard, a synopsis never does justice to the sort of the lucid dreaming of the story itself. Howard always said that he was there and that Conan was next to him like an old soldier dictating his stories, some of which will be tall stories as well.

Now, Murilo then hears that Conan has been captured because the guard that he bribed to get him out of the prison has been arrested on another offense. Conan’s actually escaped in another way and joins Murilo later. Murilo, desperate, a Borgia without any sort of a family fortune decides to murder Nabonidus himself, so he creeps up to his fortified estate, which is on the edge of town, described in this Gothic way—it’s dark, it’s sepulchral, it’s moonlit, there’s an enormous dog that roams the grounds.

Remember Conan Doyle’s stories? There’s always this enormous mastiff that the villain has that roams the grounds to bring people down, but Watson shoots on Holmes’ behalf usually at the end. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, which is extraordinarily amusing because the hound is covered with phosphorous to make it glow in the dark when it races after some poor chap who’s looking back, terrified, on a sort of West Country moor, and yet phosphorous is so poisonous that, the dog licks itself all the time, one lick and its dead. But these stories are metaphorical. They’re extreme exercises in the imagination. They’re not concerned with these pettifogging details of which critics make too much.

Now, Murilo creeps into the garden and, horror of horrors, what does he find? He finds the dead body of the dog, and it looks as though it’s been savagely mauled in a way by something he doesn’t understand, by some weird thing or ape or monster. He then proceeds into the house and finds much of it wrecked. Nabonidus is nowhere to be seen, and one of his servants, Joka, has been murdered.

Suddenly he gets into the inner chamber of Nabonidus’ villa, which is modeled on a Renaissance palace essentially, and he sees the Red Priest, so named because he wears this red cowl, sitting on a throne, made of alabaster, and everything’s heavy and ornamental, a bit like those Cecil B. DeMille films from the ’30s, everything extraordinarily overdone and luxuriant. And he creeps up to Nabonidus to stab him, and the figure turns, and it’s a were-thing, or a monster, something of the imagination. It’s not human at all, simian rather than human. And Murilo faints, and then the story closes.

This story’s in three acts. Traditionally, like a lot of Western drama, like Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise, you’ve got this three-pronged triadic element, the thesis, the antitheses, the synthesis at the end. So that’s the first part.

The second part is Murilo awakens in dungeons or interconnected corridors underneath Nabonidus’ house, manse, mansion. He crawls along a corridor and somebody hisses, and it’s Conan. He’s come into the house to murder Nabonidus because Murilo’s going to pay him, and because he’s a member of a cult that he dislikes and so on. Murilo scents his hair, like the young aristocrats of his era, and Conan’s senses are so acute that he detects that with his nostrils, and that’s the reason he doesn’t attack him in the darkness.

They both decide to, they swear loyalty to each other—don’t forget this is an oral culture where bonds and legal sanctions are expressed orally. Howard despised the element of modern life where people say anything they want just to get their own way at any particular time. In pre-modern, say Nordic societies, the oath or something which is given verbally with strength is as binding as any legal document ever could be, even more so.

Conan and Murilo proceed looking for Nabonidus. They come out into the body of the house, which as I said resembles just sort of Renaissance, Florentine palace, and they see Nabonidus stripped, semi-naked and wounded, in a neighboring corridor, and they wonder what has replaced him up inside the house.

And what has happened, as he in a dazed way explains once he returns to full consciousness, is that his servant, who’s this ape that he’s taken from one of the outlying countries in Howard’s imaginary kingdoms, has supplanted him as the master in the house. Howard, to a moderate degree, believed in science, believed in evolution, it was very much almost  a cult then, as was eugenics, and Thak as he’s called, this ape-man who wears the red because he’s supplanted the human he wanted to supplant, has thrown his master, Nabonidus, into the pit and has seized control of the house. Thak sits, waiting for them to come out of the pit because there’s a bell underneath there in the pits that they’ve crossed, a trap basically, and he knows humans are down there, and he’s waiting for them.

Nationalists emerge. There’s an interesting political element here, because Nabonidus is a very corrupt ruler and has the King in his thrall, so nationalists of the city-state—you could be a nationalist and of a city-state because it was the unit of civilization essentially, and a country would be city-states federated together. Attempts to assassinate Nabonidus in a way that Murilo wanted to, Thak deals with them. The story fast-forwards in a very filmic way, because Howard is a visualizer. The male brain is visual and always thinks in images. And these sorts of stories are extraordinarily cinematographical in their nature and their forward, pumping lucidity.

Thak senses that they’ve come up from under the ground, and there are interesting pseudo-scientific elements. The Red Priest, Nabonidus is a scientist and a mage and a magician combined. It’s Religion and the Decline of Magic in some ways if you view it academically. He has this construction of mirrors whereby from one room you can reflect light through tubes that contain small mirrors, and it ends up being able to look into another room, so you can actually look round corners, and they can see Thak, and he can see them.

Because he needs to dispose of the bodies of the nationalists who’ve come into the house, Thak disappears for a time, and Conan and the others seize their chance, and they go up. Nabonidus becomes terrified when all the doors are locked and he can’t find the weapons they need to fight against his servant who’s turned against him.

In the end, Conan has to face off against Thak in this quite extraordinarily violent scene. Howard was one of the most brilliant writers of physical force and conflict between men in the 20th century. There’s little doubt about that. It’s so immediate you’re almost there and it is essentially visual. Conan and Thak have this clash-of-the-gods-type of titanic duel with each other, much like a scene from Homer basically, Hector before the walls of Troy. Thak is done down in the end, and Conan, half-dead, is saluted by Murilo.

Nabonidus then tries to betray both of them, and Conan does for him, really, with a stool. He whips up a stool and throws it into his head, and he falls, and all Conan can say is, “His blood is red, not black,” because in the slums of the city they said the Red Priest’s blood was black because his heart was black, and Conan’s a barbarian and a literalist, you see. “His blood isn’t black.”

There’s an interesting moment when Conan is helped by Murilo because he’s so hurt and wounded in the fight with Thak, and he pushes Murilo aside and says, “A man walks alone. When you can’t stand up it’s time to perish.” That’s not an attitude you heard from the Blair government too often, is it? These are pre-modern attitudes, you see. As somebody on Radio 4 would say now, “But that’s a dangerously exclusionist notion. What about the ill, what about the weak?” And of course in that type of barbaric morality, the strong look after the weak, but only in an assent of being and natural law which is codified on the basis of the morality of strength. That’s what those sorts of civilizations thought and felt.

And the other interesting thing is that he looks down on Thak, this sort of beast, sort of man that he’s killed, and he says, “I didn’t kill a beast tonight, but a man! And my women will sing of him.” And there’s two cultural views of these sorts of things. One is to regard them as remarkable pieces of creative imagination. There is other is to sort of laugh and sneer at them, and think that they represent old-fashioned values that we’ve thankfully gotten rid of, or moved away from.

The stories, with the exception of the Kane stories, are all pre-Christian in the most radical of terms, and yet pre-liberal and liberal secular, which of course in the modern West is what’s replaced Christianity. I would say that contemporary Catholicism is rather like the Protestantism of yesteryear, and Protestantism has become liberalism, and liberalism has morphed, strangely, without the Protestantism that gave it a moral compass, into a form of cultural Marxism, and that’s what we have now.

And yet Howard’s stories are very, very interesting and very dynamic and very much appeal to an imaginative element in certainly a lot of men. The belief in self-definition, the belief in the heroic as a model for life, the belief in strength but with an honor code that saves it from wanton exercise in strength without purpose, and the beliefs that one is part of even a tribe or a community.

In the stories, Conan’s a Cimmerian. He’s from a northern group. He’s always introduced, he’s only got one name, he’s so primal, he doesn’t have any other names. Conan. Like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, he only had one name. Heathcliff, he doesn’t need any other names. He’s just a force, you see? A force of the female imagination, which is what he is. And in a strange way, the way in which he’s described in that novel by Emily Brontë is very similar to the way Conan’s described, but Conan’s a bit more beefed out, a bit more muscular.

Many films have been made, many TV series have been made, there’s a Conan industry in the 20th century. What Howard would have thought of all that no one knows. He’s there, possibly on a slightly lower tier, but with Tarzan and Doctor Who and James Bond and these other iconic sort of mass popular fantasy figures. Yet in all of them, certainly in this sort of material, there’s a truth to experience, there’s a vividness, there’s a cinematographical and representational reality, and there’s a concern with courage, masculinity, and the heroic which is lacking from most areas of society, and there’s also an honor code, a primitive morality if you like, which goes with it and gives it efficacy and purpose.

The other thing which he differentiates in this type of literature is respect for the enemy. When Terre’Blanche was murdered, I noticed liberals on the BBC giggling and sort of laughing and thinking it was all a jolly joke. These are people who are against the death penalty and believe that murder’s a terrible infraction against human rights, jurisprudence, and all the rest of it. But the sort of cultural space that this work comes out of respects the enemy. Kills the enemy, respects the enemy, which of course is a soldier’s emotion. Many who’ve fought in wars don’t disrespect the enemy. They know what they’re like. British soldiers who’ve fought in the Falklands, American soldiers who’ve fought against Islamist militants, and even some of the militants themselves when they’ve fought against Western warriors, understand the code of the soldier and the code of the warrior on the other side. But many of these men are spiritually, fundamentally similar men in a way, born in other groups.

Men will always fight with each other, and they’re biologically prone to do so. How, in an era of mass weapons of destructive warfare, some existing and others not, that is to be worked through. It is a part of the destiny of the relationship between groups and states. But the hard-wiring that makes men competitive and egotistical and conflict-oriented is ineradicable and irreducible, and modern liberal societies which are based upon the idea of inclusionist love without thought of conflict are sentimental to the point that they will fall apart, bedeviled by their endless contradictions.

And I personally think that if you inculcate yourself, with a bit of irony and estrangement, from some of the elements of the culture of the heroic that certainly subsisted as mainstream cultural fare in our society before 1950, you have a different attitude towards what spews out of the telly every evening, and you have a different attitude towards the sort of culture that you’re living in, and you have a different attitude towards great figures in your own group and even in others, and you have a different attitude towards yourself and the future.

I give you Robert Ervin Howard, 1906 to 1936, a man who walked alone but spoke for an element, not just of America, but what it is to be white, male, Western, and free.

Thank you very much.

 


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lundi, 06 mai 2013

Bismarck im Bett

Bismarck im Bett

Andrej Iwanowski, RIA Novosti

Ex: http://de.rian.ru/

bismark1295041568.jpgAm 6. August 1862 begegnet Otto von Bismarck in Biarritz dem russischen Fürsten Nikolai Orloff und dessen Gattin Katharina, geborene Trubezkaja. Der künftige „Eiserne Kanzler“ verknallt sich auf der Stelle in die 22-jährige Blondine. Er selbst ist bereits 47.

Völlig erfunden ist die Liebesgeschichte wohl nicht. Jedenfalls kann der russische Autor Eduard Topol, dessen Kurzroman „Bismarck. Die russische Liebe des Eisernen Kanzlers“ soeben in Moskau erschien, unter anderem auf den 1930 von Orloffs Enkel in Berlin herausgebrachten Briefwechsel zwischen Bismarck und „Kathi“ hinweisen – in dem allerdings die beiden einander siezen und in dem die junge Fürstin ihren wesentlich älteren Briefpartner mit „Onkel“ anredet.  „Natürlich war er kein Idiot, und sie war auch keine Idiotin, um den Charakter ihrer Beziehung in den Briefen erkennen zu lassen“, so Topol in einem Gespräch mit RIA Novosti. „Wenn man aber die Vorgeschichte kennt und sich das ganze Drumherum vorstellt, lese ich in diesen Briefen zwischen den Zeilen klar und deutlich: Die beiden waren ineinander verliebt. Und sogar mehr als das.“ 

Vor einigen Jahren war Topol nach eigenen Worten auf einen Zeitungsartikel gestoßen, wo es hieß, dass Otto von Bismarck „ein platonisches Verhältnis“ mit der russischen Fürstin hatte, als er 47 und sie 22 war. „Das gibt es nicht, dachte ich sofort“, so der Autor. „Das kann einfach nicht sein.“ 


„Ich besorgte mir Literatur über Bismarck. In ziemlich allen Büchern wurde die Geschichte mit Trubezkaja erwähnt, überall hieß es aber, dies sei eine zwar längere, aber eine platonische Beziehung gewesen. Je mehr ich aber über Bismarck las und je mehr ich mir diesen großen, starken, intelligenten und einflussreichen Mann vorstellte, desto weniger glaubhaft erschien mit dieses ‚Platonische‘.“ 

In Topols Roman geht der Autor gleich zur Sache: Das Ehepaar Orloff wohnt im Biarritzer „Hotel d’Europe“ genau über Bismarck. Nachts sind die Fenster in allen Zimmern dem Meereswind entgegen geöffnet, und der künftige „eiserne Kanzler“ muss dem Stöhnen des über seinem Kopf „auf dem Fußboden“ kopulierenden russischen Fürstenpaares zuhören.  Der arme Graf Bismarck weiß nicht wohin mit seiner Eifersucht und seiner Erregung. 
Fürst Orloff, Russlands Gesandter in Brüssel, ist zwar mit 35 wesentlich jünger als Bismarck, war aber kurz zuvor im Krim-Krieg neunmal verwundet worden. Dort hat er ein Auge verloren, ein Arm ist weitgehend gelähmt. So überlässt er seine temperamentvolle Gattin dem robusten Preußen: Beide wandern zu zweit über Felsen und schwimmen bis zur Erschöpfung im Meer. So etwas kann ja nicht gut ausgehen.

 Der heute in Paris lebende Fürst Alexander Trubezkoi, ein Ur-Nachspross in der rassigen Sippe der attraktiven Blondine, will es genau wissen: „Katharina Trubezkaja hat in der Tat ihren Gatten mit Bismarck betrogen, der aber dieses Verhältnis unterhielt, um vertrauliche Informationen über die russische Diplomatie zu ergattern. Die Franzosen nennen das ‚Bett-Diplomatie‘.“ Das erzählte er auch Topol, der Literat will ihm aber nicht glauben. Sein literarisches Metier ist die erotische Passion, und seiner Version bleibt er auch im jüngsten Werk treu. 

topoled.jpgDer heute 74-jährige Topol (Bild), der in den 70er-Jahren nach Europa und anschließend in die USA ausgewandert war, sich später aber auch in seiner postsowjetischen Heimat einen Namen machte, hat nämlich für Erotik einiges übrig. Mit seinen Büchern „Russland im Bett“, „Neues Russland im Bett“,  „Die unschuldige Nastja, oder: Die ersten 100 Männer“, „Ich will dein Mädchen“ etc. sorgte er dafür, dass seine Leserschaft in jedem neuen Werk von ihm auf Prickelndes wartet. In „Bismarck“ kommt sie – wenn auch nicht mehr so ausgiebig wie früher – auf ihre Kosten. „Ich kann mich noch erinnern, wie das funktioniert“, gesteht der Autor schmunzelnd. 

Ein Telegramm „von Fürstin Katharina Orloff an Minister-Präsident Otto von Bismarck“ vom 10.09.1864 soll angeblich in Archiven noch auffindbar sein: „Nikolai und ich haben heute in Darmstadt Kaiser Alexander und König Wilhelm besucht. Am 11.09. bleibt Nikolai bei Kaiser Alexander, ich fahre mit dem Zug zu meiner Freundin nach Heidelberg.“

Egal, was danach in Wirklichkeit passiert ist: In Topols Roman lässt Bismarck alles stehen und liegen, düst zum Bahnhof (sorgt natürlich dafür, dabei unbemerkt und unerkannt zu bleiben), steigt an einer Zwischenstation in den Zug und verbringt einen halben Tag zu zweit in Katharinas Abteil. Topol:„Es steht Ihnen frei, es sich so vorzustellen, dass sie diese Zeit beim Zigarrenrauchen und politischen Diskussionen verbracht haben.“ In seinem Roman wird es etwas anders beschrieben: „Sie steht auf, und ihre Pelzstola fällt ab von ihrem nackten Körper. Bismarck, vom Regen noch ganz nass, fällt vor ihr auf die Knie. (…) Einige Stunden später, am Bahnhof Weinheim, steigt Bismarck aus und kehrt mit dem Zug nach Frankfurt zurück.“ 


„Ein Fakt, der Bände spricht: In seinen Sarg ließ Bismarck laut Testament ein Uhrkettenanhängsel aus Achat legen, auf dem Katharina ihren Namen hatte eingravieren lassen, und einen Olivenzweig, den sie ihm einmal schenkte“, behauptet Topol. 

topolbis.JPGKatharina stirbt aber noch viel früher als er mit 35. Als Bismarck das erfährt, verfällt er für sieben Jahre in Depression. Inzwischen hat er als Politiker ziemlich alles erreicht, die Liebe seines Lebens ist aber nicht mehr auf dieser Welt. Wozu dann das Ganze? 

Von seiner Ausbildung her ist Topol Drehbuchautor und als solcher hat er seinerzeit auch die Moskauer Filmhochschule absolviert. „Der Roman ist aus einem Drehbuch entstanden“, gesteht er. „Ich stellte mir diese Geschichte gleich als einen Film vor: In schönen Kostümen, vor der historischen Kulisse, mit Kriegs- und Liebesszenen, mit namhaften europäischen Stars.“ Dass sich Bismarcks Geburtstag am 1. April 2015 zum 200. Mal jährt, ist Topol ebenfalls durchaus bewusst. „Wahrscheinlich werden die Deutschen aus diesem Anlass einen Film drehen wollen. Da stehe ich schon mit meinem Drehbuch startbereit. Was ich brauche, wären nur fünf Millionen Dollar.“