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jeudi, 24 janvier 2013

Kinski spricht "Der Erlkönig" (Goethe)

Kinski spricht "Der Erlkönig" (Goethe)

mercredi, 23 janvier 2013

T. S. Eliot reads "Journey of the Magi"

T. S. Eliot reads "Journey of the Magi"

mardi, 22 janvier 2013

"The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot (poetry reading)

 

"The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot (poetry reading)

Stefan George „Du schlank und rein wie eine flamme..."

Stefan George

„Du schlank und rein wie eine flamme..."

vendredi, 18 janvier 2013

Konstantin Nikolajewitsch Leontjew

Konstantin Nikolajewitsch Leontjew,

„Kassandra des Zarentums” I:

Biographie eines russischen Reaktionärs

von David Beetschen

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

Leontjew.jpgDer russische Schriftsteller, Religionsphilosoph und Aristokrat Konstantin Nikolajewitsch Leontjew galt vielen seiner Zeitgenossen als schwärzester Reaktionär. Und anders als sein kolumbianisches Pendant Nicolás Gómez Dávila sah Leontjew die Welt, abwechselnd als Arzt, Diplomat, Philosoph und Mönch. Das Leben dieses Reaktionärs war, im Vergleich zu dem von Dávila also extrem spannend. Und eine Gestalt wie die seine kann auch Leitfaden für das eigene Leben sein.

Die letzte seiner „9 Thesen“ lautet: „Der Zweck des menschlichen Lebens ist nicht Fortschritt, d.h. eine Vergrößerung des Wohlergehens der Masse und des individuellen Glücks der Person, sondern die geistige Vervollkommnung zur Verwirklichung des Reiches Gottes.“
Seine reaktionäre Gestalt ist es wohl auch, die, trotz der strengen Orthodoxie des Russen, das Bindeglied zwischen ihm und dem kolumbianischen Philosophen und Reaktionär Dávila darstellt. Dávila zeigte sich sehr fasziniert von Leontjew. Mit ihm teilt er auch noch einige andere philosophische Eigenheiten, die an späterer Stelle noch erwähnt werden sollen.

Geburt eines Adligen

Leontjew kam am 13. Januar 1831 als siebtes und letztes Kind der Familie Leontjew auf dem Landsitz Kudinowo südlich von Moskau zur Welt. Deren Landeigentum ging jedoch wegen des aufkommenden Kapitalismus und der Abschaffung der Leibeigenschaft langsam ein. Diese beiden historischen Umstände führten dazu, dass die Familie in den Bankrott getrieben wurde.

Sein Vater, ein eher wenig gebildeter Mann, der früh den Dienst quittierte, damit er sich um das Gut kümmern konnte, und seine Mutter, die Tochter eines Generals, die in einem Institut für adlige Mädchen ihre Ausbildung genoss, erzogen den Jungen. Die Mutter wirkte jedoch stärker auf ihn ein, weil sie ihn bis zu seinem zehnten Lebensjahr zu Hause ausbildete. 1841 trat Leontjew ins Gymnasium in Smolensk ein, das er bis zum Herbst des Jahres 1843 besuchte. Im selben Jahr wechselte er ins Kadettenkorps des Adelsregiments. Durch eine Krankheit musste er jedoch die Militärlaufbahn aufgeben und wechselte anschließend wieder auf ein normales Gymnasium in Kaluga. Dieses schloss er 1849 ab und immatrikulierte sich darauffolgend, ohne Aufnahmeprüfung, im Herbst an der Universität in Jaroslaw, wo er ein Medizinstudium aufnahm. Im Winter desselben Jahres zog es Leontjew jedoch an die Universität von Moskau. Dort setzte er sein Studium fort.

Als Arzt im Krimkrieg

Wegen des Russisch-​Türkischen Krieges in der Krim und dem dort herrschenden Ärztemangel bot die Regierung allen Medizinstudenten, die bereits im achten Semester waren, an, sie beim sofortigen Übertritt auf den Kriegsschauplatz zum Arzt zu ernennen. Außerdem wollte der Staat ihnen dort das doppelte Gehalt zahlen. Am 1. August des Jahres 1854 erhielt Leontjew den Posten eines Assistenzarztes im Kriegslazarett in der Festung Jenikale im nordwestlichen Teil des ukrainischen Kertsch.

Als der Krieg 1856 mit der russischen Niederlage endete, verbrachte Leontjew zunächst eine unbeschwerte Zeit auf der Krim, bis der russische Staat ihn im August des Jahres 1857 aus dem Kriegsdienst entließ.

Erste Versuche in der Schriftstellerei, Arbeit als Übersetzer aus dem Deutschen

Im Frühling 1858 wurde er bei der Familie des Barons Dimitrij von Rosen Hausarzt, blieb dort aber nur bis Ende 1860, weil er zu einem seiner Brüder nach St. Petersburg ging. Dort widmete er sich der berufsmäßigen Schriftstellerei, welche ihm jedoch keine sicheren Einnahmen einbrachte. Aus diesem Grund übersetzte er Artikel aus der deutschen Sprache und unterrichtete als Lehrer, damit er sich mit liquiden Mitteln versehen konnte.

Heirat und diplomatisches Leben am Rande zum Orient

1861 heiratete er im Herbst die aus einfachen Verhältnissen stammende Halbgriechin Julia Politof. Nach einem neunmonatigen Dienst als Kanzleibeamter im Asiatischen Departement des Ministeriums des Äußeren, wurde er im Herbst 1863 als Sekretär und Dolmetscher ins russische Konsulat auf der Insel Kreta beordert. Dort lernte er das orientalische Leben und dessen Kultur schätzen. 1867 beförderte der Staat Leontjew sogar zum Vize-​Konsul der Donauprovinzen.

1868 war ein weiteres einschneidendes Jahr für ihn, denn er wurde Konsul in Saloniki und es gab erste Anzeichen dafür, dass seine Frau an einer Geisteskrankheit litt. In diese Zeit fällt auch Leontjews Abwendung vom Liberalismus hin zum religiösen Konservatismus.

Rettung durch die Gottgebärerin

1871 besuchte er den Mönchsberg Athos, weil er dies geschworen hatte, als er an einer sehr schweren Krankheit litt. Damals rief er die Gottgebärerin an und versprach ihr diesen Besuch im Falle seiner Genesung. Er bat dann auf dem Athos um die Mönchsweihe, welche ihm jedoch die Mönche aufgrund vermuteter Unreife verweigerten. Ab 1873 lebte Leontjew in Konstantinopel, kehrte jedoch im Frühling 1874 bereits wieder nach Moskau zurück und ging ins Kloster Optina Pustyn bei Koselsk.

Leontjews erstes Treffen mit dem wesentlich jüngeren Wladimir Solowjew, einem bekannten Philosophen und Befürworter der Vereinigung der wahren Kirchen, der Orthodoxie und der Katholizität, fand im Jahre 1878 statt, aus dem eine fruchtbare Freundschaft entstand, die beide positiv prägte.

Zensorposten, Mönchsweihe und Tod eines Reaktionärs

Aus Warschau erhielt er 1879 eine Einladung von Fürst Golitzin, der ihn darum bat nach Warschau zu kommen, um ihm dort bei der Arbeit an der Zeitschrift Warschawskji Westnik zu helfen. Bald musste sie aber wegen finanzieller Problemen eingestellt werden. Leontjew selbst hatte ebenfalls große finanzielle Probleme, was ihn dazu nötigte einen Regierungsposten als Zensor anzunehmen, welchen er von 1880 bis 1887, dem Jahr seiner Pensionierung, bekleidete. Am 23. August 1891 war es dann trotzdem soweit für ihn und man gewährte ihm die Teilnahme an der geheimen Mönchsweihe in Optina Pustyn.

Er akzeptierte den Rat eines für ihn zum geistigen Führer und manchmal auch Geldgeber gewordenen Starez Amworsijs, der ihm sagte, dass er in das Dreifaltigkeitskloster von Sergijew Possad bei Moskau gehen solle. Hier verbrachte er dann noch seine letzten Tage, denn er starb bereits am 12. November 1891 im Alter von 60 Jahren an einer Lungenentzündung. Seine körperlichen Überreste wurden auf dem Klosterfriedhof in einer Mönchskutte beigesetzt.

Konstantin Nikolajewitsch Leontjew,

„Kassandra des Zarentums” II:

Der „ästhetische Amoralist”

leont418Z1EGE6JL.jpgWenn Konstantin Nikolajewitsch Leontjew schreibt, schlagen Bomben ein, die Schläfer wachrütteln und das Hässliche als Ziel haben: „O verhasste Gleichheit, o gemeine Gleichmacherei! O dreimal verfluchter Fortschritt! O furchtbarer, mit Blut getränkter, doch malerischer Berg der Weltgeschichte! Vom Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts an liegst du in den Wehen einer neuen Entbindung, aber aus deinem gequälten Schosse kriecht eine Maus hervor.“ Er war wohl einer der wenigen, neben Peter Ernst von Lasaulx oder Carl Friedrich Vollgraff, die im 19. Jahrhundert eine eigene pessimistische Geschichtsphilosophie entwarfen.

Der kolumbianische Katholik und Reaktionär Nicolás Gómez Dávila war im Besitz der russischen Originalausgabe Leontjews, konnte sie aber, gegen seine Gewohnheit Schriften im Original zu lesen, nicht verstehen, da er der russischen Sprache nicht mächtig war. Er kannte Leontjews Theorien jedoch aus Übersetzungen. Dávila veröffentlichte über Leontjews Werken folgenden Spruch Petrarcas, der Homer nicht in der Originalsprache lesen konnte: „Ich freue mich an dem blossen Anblick des Buches, drücke es oft an mein Herz und seufze: du grosser Mann, wie begierig hätte ich dir zugehört!“

Vom liberalen Demokraten zum „schwärzesten Reaktionär“

Leontjew war geprägt von der orthodoxen Christlichkeit: „Dem Christentum müssen wir helfen, selbst auf Kosten unserer geliebten Ästhetik, aus transzendentem Egoismus, aus Furcht vor dem jenseitigen Gericht, zur Erlösung unserer eigenen Seelen. Dem Fortschritt aber müssen wir uns, wo nur möglich, widersetzen; denn er ist ebenso für das Christentum wie für die Ästhetik schädlich.“ Dies erkannte er jedoch erst nachdem er einen Wandel gemacht hatte, vom liberalen Demokraten zum „schwärzesten Reaktionär“. Selbst zwei der größten literarischen Geister seiner Zeit, Tolstoj und Dostojewski, kritisierte er und warf ihnen vor, dass sie ein philanthropisches „Rosenwasser-​Christentum“ predigen, das mehr Häresie als wahrer Glaube sei.

Ein orthodoxer Anhänger des Papstes

Leontjew wurde von seinem Freund Solowjew davon überzeugt, dass es überaus wichtig sei, dass sich die katholische und die orthodoxe Kirche wieder verbinden. Im Gegensatz zu Solowjew hatte Leontjew jedoch nie seinen Glauben gewechselt und blieb orthodox, trotz solcher Aussagen: „Ich verheimliche Ihnen meine Schwäche nicht, die päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit gefällt mir persönlich enorm. Der Starez der Starzen!“ In der Ostkirche werden die mönchisch lebenden Lehrer und spirituellen Begleiter der Novizen und Laien Starzen genannt. „Wäre ich in Rom gewesen, hätte ich nicht gezögert, nicht nur die Hand Leos XIII., sondern auch seinen Fuss zu küssen. Der römische Katholizismus gefällt meinem aufrichtigen despotischen Geschmack wie auch meiner Zuneigung zum geistlichen Gehorsam, und wegen vieler anderer Gründe zieht er mein Herz und meine Vernunft an“, jubelte Leontjew.

Die Theorie der sekundären vermischenden Vereinfachung

Leontjew könnte als ein „Spengler vor Spengler“ gelten, denn es bestehen einige Ähnlichkeiten zwischen beiden Geschichtsphilosophien. Zum Beispiel bemisst Spengler die Existenzdauer einer Kultur auf circa 1000 Jahre, Leontjew dagegen die eines Staatsgebildes auf die gleiche Zeit. Die Gedankengänge des russischen Reaktionärs beruhen auf seinen, von der studierten medizinischen Wissenschaft geschulten, Ansichten der Pathologie und Embryologie. Diese Ansichten übertrug er sogar auf nicht-​organische Körper, beispielsweise ganze Planeten. Seine Geschichtsphilosophie gliedert die Entwicklung in drei Stadien, hier direkt mit dem Beispiel eines Planeten:

- die primäre Einfachheit, solange er sich in Gestalt von gasartiger oder feuerflüssiger Masse befindet

- ein mittleres Stadium der Kompliziertheit, wenn er zu einem feuerflüssigen Kern mit fester Kruste geworden ist, auf der sich Wasser und trockenes Land scheiden und Pflanzen und Lebewesen gedeihen

- die sekundäre vermischte Einfachheit, wenn er sich in eine kalte, leere Stoffmasse verwandelt hat, die fortfährt, um die Sonne zu kreisen

Diese Theorie übertrug er auf die Menschheitsgeschichte, wobei er aber zwischen einer Kultur, ihrem Volk und ihrem Staat unterschied:

- Die Kultur an sich lebe länger als das Volk, das sie hervorgebracht habe, insbesondere der unzerstörbare geistige Keim. Er gehe in andere Völker über, die aus dem Untergang einer Kultur entstanden seien.

- Die Völker würden eine geraume Zeit als ethnographische Masse bestehen. Seiner Meinung nach würden Völker existieren, bevor sie in die Arena der Geschichte eintreten und noch sehr lange zwischen anderen Völkern bleiben, nachdem ihre staatliche Form zerstört wurde.

- Am kürzesten existiere die Staatsform eines Volkes, die die äußere Umhüllung und das innere Gewebe dieser ethnographischen Masse bilde. Die Staatsform werde nicht auf einmal geschaffen, sondern enthülle sich erst im Verlauf des mittleren Stadiums der wachsenden Komplexität.

Dies kann nur ein grober Abriss seiner Geschichtsphilosophie sein, deren Analyse wohl einen ganzen Band füllen könnte ? insbesondere mit Querverweisen zu anderen Personen. Es ist jedoch anzunehmen, dass er diese Theorie unbeeinflusst aufgestellt hatte und wohl auch wegen seiner Unbekanntheit niemanden damit beeinflusste.

Nichtgleichberechtigung als Grundlage von Kulturen

Nach Leontjew könne man in allen Staatswesen qualitativ verschieden soziale Elemente erkennen. Außerdem verrate dies, dass die Trennung der Bürger in nichtgleichberechtigte Gruppen der natürliche Zustand des Menschen sei. Aus seiner oben beschriebenen Theorie leitete er ab, dass die Kulturschöpfung erst in der zweiten Phase der Verkomplizierung eintrete. Diese gehe von einem Stand aus, der privilegiert sei und über mehr Kraft verfüge als die anderen. Der Niedergang dieses Standes, bei der sekundären vereinfachenden Vermischung, führe ebenfalls zum Absinken des Wertes einer Kultur. Der Staat sei wie ein Baum, der zu seiner maximalen Größe heranwächst, Blüten und Früchte trage sowie einer inneren Idee unterliege, die in ihm despotisch herrscht.

Leontjew erkannte durch seine Theorie, dass man bis zur mittleren Epoche Fortschrittler sein müsse, ab der mittleren jedoch zum Konservativismus übergehen sollte. Die Progressiven würden in dieser Zeit nur zerstörerisch wirken. In der letzten Epoche jedoch triumphieren die Progressiven. Aber die Reaktionäre seien mit ihrer Meinung im Recht, dass man den sozialen Organismus stärken und heilen sollte. Leontjew warnte vor einem bloßen Festhalten an der Vergangenheit: „Jetzt bloß konservativ sein, wäre nicht der Mühe wert. Man kann die Vergangenheit lieben, aber man darf nicht daran glauben, dass sie auch nur in ähnlicher Form wieder aufleben wird.“ Da sich der Lauf der Geschichte nicht aufhalten lasse, bleibe nur übrig, an den „Fortschritt“ zu glauben. Jedoch solle diesem mit Pessimismus, nicht mit Optimismus begegnet werden, weil er lediglich eine Umformung der Bürden des menschlichen Leidens hervorbringe.

Leontjew prophezeite den Bolschewisten als „den Typ eines unschädlichen, fleißigen, jedoch gottlosen Durchschnittsmenschen“

Leontjew sagte eine „entsetzliche föderative Arbeiterrepublik“, die nach dem Zusammenbruch Russlands aus dessen Trümmern erstehen würde, voraus. Dazu meinte er: „Zur Stunde erscheinen die Kommunisten (und vielleicht die Sozialisten) als extreme, schrankenlose Liberale (die vor Rebellion und Verbrechen nicht zurückschrecken).

Sie verdienen hingerichtet zu werden.“ Das Ziel dieser Revolution sei jedoch nicht die Schreckensherrschaft, sondern die allgemeine Vermischung, die „den Typ eines unschädlichen, fleißigen, jedoch gottlosen Durchschnittsmenschen“ hervorbringen werde. Er wusste, dass eine vollkommene Anarchie, die die Revolution zuerst gebäre, niemals von Dauer sein könne. Eine volle Gleichheit der Rechte, des Besitzes etc. sei von Natur aus unmöglich. Vielmehr führe dieser Irrglauben dazu, dass die Praxis des Sozialismus diesen umwandeln werde und eine neue Ordnung erschaffe, inklusive einer neuen „Ungleichheit“.

Dahingehend würden die Kommunisten unbewusst an der reaktionären Neuordnung der Geschichte arbeiten, worin ihr indirekter Nutzen bestehe. Jedoch bestehe darin eben nur ihr Nutzen, nicht der Verdienst. Denn weil das neue Haus vielleicht schöner werden würde, heiße das noch lange nicht, dass es rechtmäßig sei, wenn der unvorsichtige Bewohner oder der Brandstifter es anzünden würden.

Ästhetischer Amoralismus

Ihr müsst verstehen, es kommt nicht darauf an, dass man durch väterliche Fürsorge das Böse beseitige, sondern dass man ihm die gesammelte Kraft des Guten gegenüberstellte“, schrieb er. Gewisse Menschen schockiert Leontjew trotzdem, wenn er behauptet, dass man das Böse in der Gesellschaft brauche, das Leid der Menschen, die Sklaverei, die Armut und den Hunger. Er differenzierte das Leiden: in das von Rechtsverletzung, Schlaffheit und schmutziger Bestechung erzeugte sowie jenes Leiden einer höheren Art, das auf Grund leidenschaftlicher, menschlicher Triebe geschehe. Er begründete aber diese Ansichten damit, dass es nur Gutes geben könne, also Barmherzigkeit, Opferbereitschaft und Nächstenliebe, wenn das Böse vorhanden sei, gegen das sich die christlichen Tugenden wenden könnten.

Erst das Leid rufe den Heroismus wach. Aber in einem utilitaristisch-​bourgeoisen Zeitalter, wo man das Leid aus der Gesellschaft verschwinden lasse, gehe alles in die sekundäre vereinfachende Vermischung über und werde so zu einem Klumpen aus Menschenfleisch ohne Differenzierung. Leontjew empfand den Triumph des spießbürgerlichen Ideals als Verspottung der menschlichen Geschichte. Wie Dávila verband er die Ästhetik mit der Ethik und beschrieb das Hässliche, der undifferenzierte Planetenklumpen, als das Böse und das Schöne, die Differenzierung und Buntheit des Lebens, mit allen Übeln und Schrecknissen, als das Gute. Damit erfasste der russische Reaktionär die Welt in ihrer ganzen Komplexität ? ohne Scheuklappen und Augenwischerei.

mardi, 15 janvier 2013

Limonov, intellettuale ribelle tra Nuova Destra, David Bowie e Che Guevara

limonov_012-604x446.jpg

Limonov, intellettuale ribelle tra Nuova Destra, David Bowie e Che Guevara
 
Pubblicato il 8 gennaio 2013 da Mario Laferla blog

Un ritratto del 2 giugno 2009

Domenica 31 maggio, a Mosca, in piazza Triumfalnaia, la polizia ha arrestato Eduard Limonov, durante una manifestazione antigovernativa non autorizzata. Con Limonov sono finiti in prigione altri venti dimostranti, tutti fedelissimi del fondatore del partito nazional-bolscevico. Nessuno può sapere quale sarà la sorte di Limonov. Strenuo oppositore di Vladimir Putin e della sua politica, Limonov era stato arrestato altre volte; in particolare nel 2001 era stato condannato a quattro anni (poi ridotti a due) per “terrorismo”.
Eduard Limonov è un personaggio noto in tutto il mondo. Scrittore di successo (ha scritto finora ventotto libri, pubblicati in molti paesi tra cui l’Italia), ha sempre dimostrato tutta la sua avversione per il Cremlino, accentuata con l’avvento al potere di Putin, del quale Limonov non approva nessuno dei suoi provvedimenti in politica interna e in quella estera. A Limonov “L’altro Che” di Mario La Ferla dedica un capitolo intitolato “A Mosca contro Putin”. Perchè Limonov ha sempre dichiarato la sua ammirazione e la sua passione per Ernesto Guevara, suo idolo indiscusso.
Quando si rivolge ai suoi detrattori, Limonov parla così: “Siete tutti figli di puttana! Io sono il Casanova e il Che Guevara della letteratura russa! In questo mondo di belle donne e di uomini malvagi, in questo mondo del sangue, della guerra, degli eroi e dei draghi, io mi sono già conquistato un posto alla tavola rotonda degli eventi”.
Il continuo riferimento al Che nei suoi scritti e nei suoi discorsi é il motivo dominante della sua protesta politica contro il Cremlino. Ernesto Guevara -Limonov lo sa bene- non è mai stato apprezzato dai capi sovietici, nemmeno ai tempi delle sue imprese rivoluzionarie. Anzi, proprio quelle imprese, fastidiose per Fidel Castro e per la sua politica di collaborazione con l’Urss, avevano convinto il Cremlino a contrastare l’attività del Comandante. Per Limonov é un vero piacere sbandierare l’immagine barbuta del Che in ogni manifestazione di protesta nelle vie e nelle piazze di Mosca. Come sbattere in faccia al regime l’ “eroe” che non aveva mai amato.
Eduard Limonov é senza dubbio il personaggio più detestato dall’establishment russo. Non soltanto per la continua attività di oppositore, ma anche per il suo curriculum di scrittore e uomo politico. I suoi libri sono noti ovunque. In particolare hanno ottenuto un successo straordinario il suo primo romanzo “Fuck off America!” (scritto dopo un soggiorno negli Stati Uniti), “Il libro dell’acqua”, “Diario di un fallito” e “Eddy-baby ti amo”. Un suo ammiratore italiano ha scritto: “Dal 2001 al 2003 Eduard Limonov è in carcere e sogna l’acqua. Sogna il mare e i fiumi. Sogna laghi, stagni, paludi, fontane, saune e bagni turchi. Dalle coordinate idrogeografiche evoca i ricordi di epiche scopate, di bagni nell’oceano freddissimo, di amici morti in battaglia. Ogni luogo è un frammento di memoria. Come un mosaico si compone l’autoritratto di un irruente leader politico, un pericoloso bastardo i cui hobby principali sono la fica e la guerra. Dissidente, esule, combattente, Limonov fonda nel 1993 il Partito nazionalbolscevico, vigorosa sintesi di ogni totalitarismo, che seduce hooligans dadapunk e nostalgici, teste rasate e metallari, situazionisti. ‘Il libro dell’acqua’ è la superficie dell’opera d’arte, infedele resoconto di un progetto esistenziale, agiografia di un delirio. Limonov sta lì dove la letteratura finisce, e inizia la vita vera. Anzi, la Storia. Eduard Limonov è Che Guevara e Hitler, Kirillov e Cristo, Henry Miller e David Bowie. Eduard Limonov è una rockstar”.
Questo ritratto, perfetto, spiega l’atteggiamento dei governanti russi nei suoi confronti. Ovunque sia andato, a Parigi o a New York, in Italia o altrove, Limonov ha suscitato interesse e curiosità, ha fatto scrivere cose ripugnanti sulla sua persona e lodi smisurate. Di lui, dei suoi libri e della sua attività politica si sono occupati i giornali di tutto il mondo. Fuggito, o espulso, dalla Russia, alla fine degli anni Sessanta, era andato a vivere negli Stati Uniti, dove aveva simpatizzato con i trozskisti ed era stato avvicinato dal Kgb per fare la spia.Aveva vissuto anche a Parigi e i parigini si erano innamorati di lui. Il suo editore italiano lo ha presentato come un “agitatore politico e artista ribelle, dissoluto libertino e feroce militante armato, Eduard Limonv (nome d’arte che evoca il suono della parola russa ‘granata’) é la più scomoda e inclassificabile figura di dissidente intellettuale nella Russia postcomunista”.
Nel 1993, dopo alcune fallimentari esperienze politiche alternative, Limonov aveva fondato il Fronte, poi diventato Partito, nazional-bolscevico. All’inizio sembrava un gruppo rock: artisti alla moda, ragazzi di buona famiglia annoiati e sempre disposti a partecipare a una divertente provocazione politica, e ragazze che trovavano Limonov attraente. Tra i primi aderenti, chiamati nazbols, c’erano, fra gli altri, il cantante del gruppo comunista siberiano “Difesa civile” Jegor Letov, il gruppo heavy-metal “Metallo arrugginito”, l’ex moglie di Limonov, la cantante di night-club Natalia Medvedjeva, il gruppo di artisti performativi “Nord”, e molti poeti, musicisti e giornalisti. Da un punto di vista ideologico, il partito veniva propagandato come una combinazione tra un programma economico di sinistra (giustizia sociale, proprietà comune, lavoro colletivo) e una politica di destra (priorità dello Stato e della nazione, espansione della Russia fino a Gibilterra). L’obiettivo era quello di riunire sotto un’unica bandiera tutti i gruppi radicali giovanili di destra e di sinistra. La bandiera era un misto tra elementi nazisti e comunisti: il rosso e il bianco di Hitler e la falce e martello di Stalin. Fin dalla fondazione, a fianco di Limonov, c’era anche il filoso Aleksander Dugin, il capofila del neo-eurasismo, il teorico della “rivoluzione conservatrice” che aveva avuto stretti contatti con alcuni esponenti dell’estrema destra europea: Jean-Fracois Thiriart, fondatore della “Jeune Europe”; Claudio Mutti, responsabile italiano di quel movimento; Alain De Benoist e Robert Steuckers. I maestri ai quali il partito di Limonov si ispirava erano Evola e Guénon. Il nazional-bolscevismo di Limonov puntava al superamento di destra e sinistra, secondo l’ispirazione di Thiriart, il quale ammoniva: “Il fascista cattivo e nostalgico non mette paura a nessuno, anzi è utile e funzionale al sistema. Quello che mette veramente paura è il rivoluzionario… Questo non significa certo diventare di sinistra, perchè questa sinistra ci disgusta quanto la destra. Significa oltrepassare i limiti imposti dalla cultura borghese e creare una nuovaq concezione della politica al fine di articolare un fronte nazionale, popolare, socialista”.
Un seguace appassionato delle teorie di Dugin e Limonov é Oleg Gutsulyak, scrittore e filosofo ucraino appena quarantenne. Dopo aver militato nell’eterodossia comunista, al sopraggiungere dell’indipendenìza ucraina aveva aderito all’estremismo nazionalista dell’Una-Unso. Poi era passato nella corrente della “Nouvelle Droite” accettando le tesi del neo-eurasismo russo. Ancora prima di aderire alla “Nouvelle Droite”, il filosofo ucraino aveva letto tutti i libri su Che Guevara che ammirava come “rivoluzionario e come eroe morto per difendere le proprie idee”.
Non molto simpatici alla destra tradizionale, i nazbols sono odiati a sinistra. Nonostante Limonov abbia fatto di tutto per accreditarsi come socialista vicino a Lenin e Trotzsky, i suoi atteggiamenti provocatori, i suoi discorsi offensivi, i suoi libri scandalosi hanno finito per isolarlo in un “splendido ghetto” dove continua a coltivare le sue teorie e a lanciare messaggi minacciosi. I suoi miti sono i personaggi che hanno coltivato l’idea della rivoluzione: in testa ci sono quelli che la rivoluzione l’hanno fatta sul serio, in un modo o nell’altro. Oltre a Lenin, quindi, Mussolini, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Giap, Saddam Hussein, Gheddafi, Tito, Milosevic, Salvador Allende, Eva Peròn, Gandhi, Malcom X, Nelson Mandela, Augusto Sandino. Ma sopra tutti c’è Ernesto Guevara, il suo Che glorificato in ogni occasione e in ogni maniera.
Della sua attività politica ha detto: “La mia carrietra politica di leader di un partito estremista è inconsueta agli occhi dell’Europa del XXI secolo, ma anche la Russia è un paese inconsueto, e se mi accusano di violenza, allora anch’io posso allo stesso modo rimproverare il potere russo della violenza che viene esercitata nei miei confronti. Il mio tempo è occupato dalla politica e dalla lotta contro il Cremlino. E il Cremlino lotta contro di noi. Ci picchia. Ci reprime, ci mette in prigione… Io non sono fascista, i fascisti hanno cessato di esistere nel 1945 e da allora sono sorti nuovi fenomeni nel mondo politico, sia in Italia che in Russia”.
Il quartier generale del partito di Limonov è in una specie di cantina al numero 3 della Frunceskaja Ulica, spessissimo “visitata” dalla polizia segreta nel tentativo di scoprire qualcosa di compromettente. Sui muri della sede, un grande manifesto con una colomba con la falce e martello e il poster del Che. All’inviata di “la Repubblica”, Margherita Belgioioso, il portavoce di Limonov aveva detto: “Siamo contro la guerra in Iraq e contro quella in Cecenia; Putin è un dittatore. Ci è stata negata per cinque volte la registrazione come partito nonostante abbiamo un diffuso appoggio tra la gente”.
Parlando di Limonov, la Belgioioso scriveva: “Limonov è un enigma che divide l’intellighentia russa: ma tra chi lo sosteneva apertamente c’era persino Anna Politkovsaja, la giornalista assassinata nell’ottobre 2006 mentre rientrava a casa”. Poi aveva parlato Limonov: “Siamo gli unici a fare una vera opposizione a Putin: per questo il Cremlino ci teme”.

A cura di Mario Laferla blog
 

vendredi, 21 décembre 2012

Dostoyevsky: Why American dream was never a bargain

Dostoyevsky: Why American dream was never a bargain

By Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://english.pravda.ru/

dostoievski-head_t.jpgThe American dream...We have been told for two centuries that America was the awesome land of dreams and achievement, and that the rest of the world was a mere failure; that in Europe everyone was starving while in America everything was lush and green. What if it was all a lie? If the conquest of the west was a nightmare for those who lived there, and if the life for the poor had been very hard, and not only during the interminable and unsolved crisis of 1929? As a libertarian French economist wrote recently, 90% of the American people would be considered poor in the so despised Europe, if only we included criteria like the cost of private health or education in the calculation of American way of life.

I don't mean to be provocative. Many superior minds were already provocative in respect of this humble reality: American dream never was a bargain.

Let's start from the seventeenth century and the founding fathers. Never forget that the American climate is one of the wildest in the world, that one could hardly survive, and that the American growth is mainly due to the second industrial revolution and the demographic explosion in Europe during the last third of nineteenth century! Otherwise, the living conditions were abominable and many times colons died during wintertime. So, how could one be so "eyes wide shut" to get there? The great sociologist Daniel Boorstyn, in his wonderful rhetoric of democracy, gives us the key:

There was never a more outrageous or unscrupulous or more ill-informed advertising campaign than that by which the promoters for American colonies brought settlers here.

Advertisement is the language of America. Advertisement is an arguing technique producing addiction and consumerism, including in religious matters (Protestantism and Puritanism). The development of printing means the development of lies and British extremist politics during cromwellian times (which are allegedly the model of Orwell's Oceania!). And thus, to populate America, this far, cold and deserted land, you had to lie a little bit:

Hopeful overstatements, half-truths, and downright lies... gold and silver, fountains of youth, plenty of fish, venison without limit, all of course were promised...

Despite this art of lying, and considering the impossible conditions of living in a pre-technical world, we understand why there were only three millions Americans at the beginning of the nineteenth century, this golden age of their civilization and literature. The awkward difficulties of the American reality were thus appreciated by our favourite witness, Alexis de Tocqueville. At the time of Tocqueville, there is no European mass immigration. Yet there is an American immigration to the west, whose harshness shocks French traveller and writer:

Many of these adventurers, who rush so boldly onwards in pursuit of wealth, were already in the enjoyment of a competency in their own part of the country. They take their wives along with them, and make them share the countless perils and privations which always attend the commencement of these expeditions. I have often met, even on the verge of the wilderness, with young women, who after having been brought up amidst all the comforts of the large towns of New England, had passed, almost without any intermediate stage, from the wealthy abode of their parents to a comfortless hovel in a forest.

The conditions are thus equal to those lived by John Ford's heroes and pioneers:

Fever, solitude, and a tedious life had not broken the springs of their courage. Their features were impaired and faded, but their looks were firm: they appeared to be at once sad and resolute.

What motivated these sacrifices? I should say idealism, in a word. America is an idealistic, somewhat fanatical country, run by a wishful thinking and a fascination for the bible, and the people there enjoy blinding they eyes: in Utopia the dream is still to come!

I'm not kidding, I'm just referring to the greatest genius of literature, Dostoyevsky, who describes an amazing episode of his possessed' life. They come to America, then:

"We hired ourselves out as workmen to an exploiter; there were six of us Russians working for him students, even landowners coming from their estates, some officers, too, and all with the same grand object. Well, so we worked, sweated, wore ourselves out; Kirillov and I were exhausted at last; fell ill went away we couldn't stand it. Our employer cheated us when he paid us off; instead of thirty dollars, as he had agreed, he paid me eight and Kirillov fifteen; he beat us, too, more than once. So then we were left without work, Kirillov and I, and we spent four months lying on the floor in that little town. He thought of one thing and I thought of another."

Dostoyevsky just explains that any bad condition of living in America is well received for the country is the land of light and freedom and highly motivated people. Everything is thus deified by the possessed; it is good just because it is American (it's like Vietnamese and Iraqi bombings...) and because the other men are simply children.

On the contrary, Kirillov and I made up our minds from the first that we Russians were like little children beside the Americans, and that one must be born in America, or at least live for many years with Americans to be on a level with them. And do you know: if we were asked a dollar for a thing worth a farthing, we used to pay it with pleasure, in fact with enthusiasm. We approved of everything: spiritualism, lynch-law, revolvers and tramps.

The slaves-adventurers are thus labelled "Men made of paper" by Shatov. With his habitual and implacable shrewdness, Dostoyevsky understands that any American trait will be celebrated by the adorers of Uncle Sam. He seizes that in the future America will fascinate the minds of many, even if this country will attain its status and wealth thanks to European wars and communism, communism that will delay the development of Russia (next world power in 1914) and China. In this meaning yes America was a lucky place.

Let us conclude: we are used to assert that a man fascinated by the presently fraying America is a liberal. And what is a liberal for Dostoyevsky?

"Our Russian liberal is a flunkey before everything, and is only looking for some one whose boots he can clean."

In France and in Europe today, we have a lot of flunkeys, and, would say the great Will, an American dream still strutting and fretting his hour upon a stage...

Nicolas Bonnal

lundi, 03 décembre 2012

A Note on the Art of Political Conversion

A Note on the Art of Political Conversion

 
T.E. Hulme
T.E. Hulme

Some day a wonderful book will be written on the art of persuasion, a new sophistic. One may suppose that psychology will ultimately become as complete a science as geometry and mechanics are now. It will be possible then to predict the effect of an argument on a man’s mind as surely as one can now predict the eclipse of the moon. On the basis of this developed science will be built an infallible set of rules for converting a man to any opinion you like. The mechanism of mind will be as bare as that of a typewriter. You will press the right levers, and the result you want will follow inevitably. The lover will sigh no more, but will consult the manual and succeed—unless the lady be similarly armed. So dangerous will the art be that the knowledge of it must be confined to a special caste, like Plato’s guards, disciplined and trained not to make any malicious use of their power. Or more probably the then prevailing form of government will seize it and make a monopoly of it as they now do of armed force, and used it for their perpetual preservation.

Pending the arrival of this political canvasser’s millennium, one can sketch out the beginnings of the thing. Materials for the art already exist: Schopenhauer’s “Art of Controversy,” Pascal’s “Pensées,” the manuals which the credulous Protestant imagines that the Jesuits are brought up on, and, more recently, James’s “Will to Believe,” and “L’Arte di Persuadere” of the brilliant Italian pragmatist Pezzolini, who would bring all philosophy to the service of such a sophistic.

All these are founded on a recognition of the basic fact of the absolute impotence of a mere idea to produce any change in belief. All conviction, and so necessarily conversion, is based on the motor and emotional aspects of the mind. No intellectual conception has any moving force unless it be hinged on to an emotion or an instinct. In every man’s mind there exist certain fixed instincts and prejudices, certain centers of emotion, tendencies to react to certain words. The expression “center” is not merely metaphorical. In all probability there does exist a corresponding organization of the neurones in the brain. These are the parts of a man’s mind which lead to conviction expressed in action, ballotwise or otherwise. You have got to get hold of these to produce any change. If you can’t do this, then the idea is “dead,” it has no motive power, the most logical presentation will have no effect. There must be in any successful propaganda, then, an element more important than good argument. A good case is the last, not the first part of a successful conversion. In practice men have always known this. Practice remains constant throughout the ages; it is not reserved for any particular century to “discover” anything new about the ways of the human. With theory, however, it is very different. That may be wrong continually, and may, at a definite moment, be put right. In this case it certainly is so. For a long time reason was given a too predominant place in psychology, and to it all other faculties were subordinated. Gradually, during the last 50 years in philosophy, instinct and emotion have asserted their rightful place, until at the present time the reaction has gone so far that the intellect is regarded merely as a subtle and useful servant of the will, and of man’s generally irrational vital instincts. Bergson, Le Roy, Croce, Eucken, Simmel are all anti-intellectualists.

The particular effect of this change of view which concerns me here is that of the difference it makes to the theory of politics. Formerly the prevailing conception was something of this kind—you perfected the mechanism of democracy until each man’s carefully thought-out opinion had its effect. You then, on any particular measure, set out on a campaign of careful argument. Each side stated their reasons to the best of their ability, the elector heard both sides, and recorded his vote accordingly. All this, of course, sounds very fantastical now in the light of what actually does happen at a General Election. But the Bentham-Mill School honestly regarded it as a possible idea. We all recognize this now as fantastical, but what must be substituted for it as a true account of the psychology of the matter? This kind of inquiry would have to go into two parts — an account of the process by which the mass of the electors are converted, and the quite different process in the minds of the intellectuals, The first has been done very completely and amusing by Gustave Le Bon in “Psychology of the Crowd,” and in Graham Wallas’s “Human Nature in Politics.” They recognize quite clearly that the process of conversion here is anything but intellectual.

They show the modern politician frankly and cynically recognizing this, setting out deliberately to hypnotize the elector, as the owners of patent medicines hypnotize the buyers. They don’t argue; they deliberately reiterate a short phrase, such as “Pears’ Soap” or “Pea Food,” until it gets into the mind of the victim, by a process of suggestion definitely not intellectual. But no one has yet given any connected theory of the more interesting part of the subject—the conversion of the “intellectual,” of the leisured middle-class wobbler. Wallas himself somehow leaves you with a suspicion in your mind that he does still think that the “intellectual” is in the position which Mill, in the age of naive belief in reason, imagined him to be—that of weighing arguments, and then calmly deciding a question on its merits. Now, nothing could be grater nonsense. No one can escape from the law of mental nature I have referred to. We are all subject to it. We may be under the delusion that we are deciding a question from purely rational motives, but we never are. Even the detached analyst of the phenomena is himself subject to the law. Conversion is always emotional and non-rational.

Now this does seem to me to be a point of practical importance if it helps us to convert this class. For though the type may not be numerous, it does have, in the end, a big influence in politics. Not very obviously or directly, for in no country do the intellectuals appear to lead less than in ours; but ultimately and by devious ways their views soak down and color the whole mass. The first step is to recognize the fundamental identity of the two processes of conversion — that en masse, and that of the intellectuals; in this respect that mere logical presentment is of very little use. As the modern electioneer sets out on a cynical recognition of the fact to convert the mass, so he should just as directly try to capture the smaller class.

There must be two quite different methods of attack, for what attracts the one repels the other. Great words empty of sense, promises of Elysium a few years ahead, have been, and always must be, the means by which the mass can be stirred, but they leave the few very cold. In this case, sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, for the only resemblance is the fact of appetite. Now, here seems to me to be the weakens of the Unionists. They emphatically do not provide any sauce for the gander. They practice the other art well enough, the art which Graham Wallas analyzes — that of manipulating the popular mind by advertisement and other means. But the smaller one they neglect, for no one can seriously think that Mr. Garvin is fit food for the adult intelligence. I have in mind a particular minor variety of this class: the undergraduate who, arriving in London, joins the Fabian Society. Now there is nothing inevitable in this. He may imagine that an intellectual process landed him there. Nothing of the kind. The Fabian Society provides him with the kind of stuff to fit in with his complex prejudices, and the Conservatives do not. He is merely a Socialist faute de mieux. The emotions involved are fairly simple—an insatiable desire for “theories,” the vague idea to be “advanced,” and the rest of it. There is no reason in the nature of things why the other side should not cater for this. In France, Action Française has made it rather bête démodée to be a Socialist. The really latest and advanced thing is to be a Neo-Royalist. They serve their victim with the right kind of sauce. So successful has this been that Jaurès recently warned his followers against the cleverness of the bourgeoisie.

To get back, however, to the main position. I take the view for the time being that we are not concerned with truth, but with success. I am considering the problem that should present itself to the acute party entrepreneur—did such a mythical person exist—how can this particular type of people be converted? Here is the type; how can it be caught? They must be converted exactly as everyone else is—by hitching on your propaganda to one of their centers of prejudice and emotion. But the difficulty comes in the analysis and discovery of these centers. They must be there, but they are complex and elusive, and sometimes unknown even to the subject himself. Here is where the difference comes in between this and the other sophistic. The problem in the case of the laborer is not so much to find these centers as to get hold of them before the other man does and to stick to them. Some day, I surmise, all this analysis will be done for us in a neat little manual.

But meanwhile, I can give data for the future compiler of such a book by analyzing one of these typical complexes, which I found embedded in my own head and influencing my politics without my knowing it. I probed my mind and got rid of it as I might of a tumor, but the operation was a violent one.

It came about from watching my own change of mind on the subject of Colonial Preference. I was, I suppose the typical wobbler, for while politically inclined to be a Protectionist, yet, as a pupil of Professor Marshall’s, theory pulled me in the opposite direction. Now, amid the whirlwind of that campaign of argument, I noticed that two apparently disconnected and irrelevant things stuck in my head had a direct influence on my judgment, whilst the “drums and tramplings” of a thousand statistics passed over me without leaving a trace. The one was a cartoon in Punch—Mr. Chamberlain landing at Dover and being passed quickly by the Customs officer: “There is no bother here, sir; this is a free country.” The other was an argument most constantly used at the time, I imagine, by Sir Edward Grey, and recently revived by a supposedly Conservative paper which does most of its thinking in its heels. “To attempt,” he said, “to bind the Empire together by tariffs would be [a] dangerously artificial thing; it would violently disturb its ‘natural growth.’ It was in opposition to the constant method which has made us a successful Colonial power. Let other nations fail through trying to do things too directly.” This had a powerful effect on me, and I imagine must have had on a great many other people; for this reason: that whereas we all of us had a great many emotions and nerve-paths grouped round the idea of Empire, these were by this argument bound up with Free Trade. It seemed to bring Preference in conflict with a deeply seated and organized set of prejudices grouped round the word “free” and “natural,” for the moving force of the cartoon and Grey’s argument were the same. This may look like an intellectual decision, but it isn’t. I could not, at the time, have formulated it as definitely as I do now. It was then just a kind of vague sentiment which, in the intervals of argument, pulled one in a certain way. This was so because, as I have maintained, conviction is in the end an emotional process. The arguments on each side were so numerous that each one inhibited the slight effect the other might have had, and in the resulting stalemate it was just odd little groups of emotions and prejudices, like the one indicated, that decided one.

Now this is only a prejudice—why should one have a definite distrust of any constructive scheme, and think that leaving it to nature was so much better and so much more in the English tradition? Looking at it from an a priori standpoint, it seems probable that a definite policy directed towards a certain end will gain that end. Examples are all around us to prove it—that of German unity in particular. There was no leaving it to nature there. Yet, in spite of its absurdity from a reasonable point of view, this idea of what is “natural” and “free” remained a fixed obsession. It was too deep-seated to be moved by any argument, and had all the characteristics of one of those complex prejudices which I said must be analyzed as preliminary to the art of conversion. It has all kinds of ramifications, and affects opinion in many directions, on conscription, for example, and a score of other matters. It can be traced back from its origin in the disputes of rival schools of medieval physicians scholastically inclined. Berthelot has analyzed the influence of these medical doctrines on politics. It can be seen particularly well in Quesnay, at the same time a doctor and an economist, from whom Adam Smith borrowed the theory of free exchange. It can be followed through Adam Smith, Coleridge, and Burke to the formation of the political theory of laissez-faire which dominated the 19th century. This theory of politics — and, of course, it is this which produced the personal prejudice which influenced me — may be considered as a kind of Hippocratic theory of political medicine whose principal precept in the treatment of the social “body” is that on no account must the “natural” remedial force of nature be interfered with.

Now, once I had got the theory out fairly and squarely before me, had seen its origin and history, its influence over me had gone. It was powerful before because I really didn’t know that it existed. The thing that most interested me was how it got so firmly fixed in my mind-center without my knowing it; and here comes really the only practical part of this paper. In my own case, the prejudice, I ma certain, had been formed in this way—the histories I had been brought up on, while never stating this view as a theory, had yet so stated all events in our Colonial history as to convey it by suggestion. Always the English were shown as succeeding as by some vague natural genius for colonization or something of that kind. Never by a consistent constructive effect. The people who did make definite plans, like the French under Colbert, and later the Germans, were always represented as failing. Now, this was the reason that the idea was so embedded in one. If it had been presented definitely as a theory, it would have been destroyed by argument. It became an instinct because it was suggested to one in this much more indirect and subtle way.

It took me years to get rid of the effects of this. For when an idea is put into your head in this indirect way, you are never conscious of its existence. It just silently colors all your views. Born with blue spectacles, you would think the world was blue, and never be conscious of the existence of the distorting glass. Ideas insinuated like this become in the end a kind of mental category; the naïve person never recognizes them as subjective, but thinks they lie in the facts themselves. Here, then, is my practical point. This kind of thing is dangerous. One is handicapped, as far as clear-thinking about politics goes, by being educated in Whig histories. It takes strenuous efforts to get rid of the pernicious notion implanted in one by Macaulay, say. My remedy would be this—prevention. I should adopt for secondary schools what was recently proposed as a solution of the religious difficulty in primary ones. Let there be so many hours set apart for history each week, and let each political party be allowed to send in their own historian. The first step towards this must be the writing o a definitely Tory history. The Whigs have too long had it their own way in this sphere. I can give a definite example of a recent successful accomplishment of this kind of thing in Charles Maurras’s history of the French Monarchy, which is converting scores of young Republicans.

After all, there is nothing ridiculous in the idea itself. It only appears so because it is a logical, definite application in a small scale of a process which is taken as a matter of course in greater ones. All national histories are partisan, and designed to give us a good conceit of ourselves. We recognize that even while we laugh at the American school-books and the Belgian accounts of the Waterloo campaign. But we are not familiar with the same process in small affairs inside the nation. But it is coming rapidly. I can mention Howell Evans’s history of Wales, recommended recently by the Welsh Education Council, which ends up with a panegyric of the late Budget. Or take Mrs. Richard Green’s history of Ireland, now being sold at half-price to all secondary schools of a Nationalist character. It is definitely written to convince the Irishman that his country was not civilized by the English conquest, but had itself, in earlier times, the most cultured civilization in Europe. It is done by a careful selection and manipulation of old manuscripts. It goes flat against the known facts, for the poet Spenser described them as naked barbarians. But what does that matter? It fulfills its intention. Anyone who still has a lingering dislike of this frankly partisan type of history is under the influence of an opposite ideal. He would prefer an impartial record of facts. But this ideal standard by which he condemns the party history does not exist. True, there has been a school of scholars who definitely took it as their ideal — the modern Cambridge historians. But I remember the late Dr. Emil Reich telling me that the greatest triumph of his life took place in a room at Cambridge, when, after an argument on this very subject, he was able to take down from the bookshelves a well-known Jesuit history of the Elizabethan persecutions which contained nothing but facts, no biased comment or theory, but which, at the same time, produces an extreme anti-Protestant effect. According to his own account, this entirely silenced them.

No, the whole thing is impossible. No history can be a faithful mirror. If it were, it would be as long and as dull as life itself. It must be a selection, and, being a selection, must inevitably be biased. Personally, I don’t regard this as a disagreeable necessity; I like the idea. After all, who would care an atom about the past were it not a reservoir of illustrations to back up his own social theories and prejudices? For purposes of political argument, I myself specialize in the history of the 4th century, for no casual opponent knows enough to contradict me. If I rashly illustrated them from the French Revolution, everyone can remember enough facts to back the opposite view.

Originally published in the Commentator, Feb. 22, 1911; March 1, 1911; March 8, 1911.

T.E. Hulme (1883-1917) was an English poet and critic whose books include Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art and Notes on Language and Style.

T. E. Hulme: The First Conservative of the Twentieth Century

T. E. Hulme: The First Conservative of the Twentieth Century

Ex: http://www.imaginativeconservative.org/

[significantly modified and expanded from a previous post at STORMFIELDS]



History should never have forgotten T.E. Hulme, and we would do well to remember him and what he wrote. Indeed, the German shell that took his life in the early autumn of 1917 might have changed a considerable part of the twentieth century by removing Hulme from it. Our whole “Time of Troubles” as Kirk defined it, might have been attenuated by the presence, personality, and witness of this man.

Eliot, certainly one of the greatest of twentieth-century men, understood the importance of Hulme in 1924. Eliot saw him as the new man—the twentieth-century man. In April 1924, he wrote: “When Hulme was killed in Flanders in 1917 . . . he was known to a few people as a brilliant talker, a brilliant amateur of metaphysics, and the author of two or three of the most beautiful short poems in the language. In this volume [the posthumous Speculations, edited by Herbert Read] he appears as the forerunner of a new attitude of mind, which should be the twentieth-century mind, if the twentieth century is to have a mind of its own.”

Hulme is, Eliot continued, “classical, reactionary, and revolutionary; he is the antipodes of the eclectic, tolerant, and democratic mind of the end of the last century . . . . A new classical age will be reached when the dogma. . . of the critic is so modified by contact with creative writing, and when the creative writers are so permeated by the new dogma, that a state of equilibrium is reached. For what is meant by a classical moment in literature is surely a moment of stasis, when the creative impulse finds a form which satisfies the best intellect of the time, a moment when a type is produced.”

Eliot continued to praise Hulme in his private letters. In one, he stated bluntly to Allen Tate, “Hulme has influenced me enormously.” In another, Eliot claimed Hulme to be “the most remarkable theologian of my generation.”

Historian Christopher Dawson believed that Hulme, almost alone in his generation, understood the dangers of progressivism: “The essentially transitory character of the humanist culture has been obscured by the dominance of the belief in Progress and by the shallow and dogmatic optimism which characterized nineteenth-century Liberalism. It was only an exceptionally original mind, like that of the late T.E. Hulme, that could free itself from the influence of Liberal dogma and recognize the sign of the times—the passing of the ideals that had dominated European civilization for four centuries, and the dawn of a new order.”

In hindsight, the praise of such magnitude from both Eliot and Dawson should give any twenty-first century conservative pause. Who was this man who profoundly shaped the thought of two of the most recognized conservatives of the last century. Unfortunately, the name of “Hulme” no longer rolls off the tongue when we think or our lineage. We might think: Godkin, Babbitt, More, Nock, Eliot, Dawson, Kirk . . . . But, rarely does a conservative mention the name of Hulme.

Yet, at one time, few would have questioned his shaping of a movement.

In 1948, the Jesuit periodical, America, proclaimed Hulme as the model—mostly in thought, if not in person—for a literary revival. The English poet offered a “charter,” as the author put it, of Catholic arts and literature.

A writer in the New York Times in 1960 summed up Hulme’s influence nicely: “T.E. Hulme had modified the consciousness of his age in such a way that by 1939 his name had become part of a myth.”

It is a myth that we—those of us writing and reading the Imaginative Conservative, Ignatius Insight Scoop, Front Porch Republic, Pileus, etc.—would do well to revive.

Hulme, from all accounts, possessed a rather powerful personality, able to form communities of thought and art around himself. As just mentioned, he might well serve as a model for our own conservatism as we think about rebuilding what two decades have torn apart in terms of our coherence as an intellectual movement and what centuries have deconstructed in terms of culture and the rise of Leviathan and Demos.

If Hulme is remembered, he’s best remembered as a poet of influence. Most credit Hulme with founding Imagist poetry.

Imagism, as our own John Willson has argued, connected the horizon and the sky, the vertical and horizontal, time and eternity.

F.S. Flint, a companion of Hulme’s, remembered the creation of the Imagist movement in 1908, in the May 1, 1915, issue of THE EGOIST:

“SOMEWHERE in the gloom of the year 1908, Mr. T. E. Hulme, now in the trenches of Ypres, but excited then by the propinquity, at a half-a-crown dance, of the other sex (if, as Remy de Gounnont avers, the passage from the aesthetic to the sexual emotion. . . the reverse is surely also true), proposed to a companion that they should found a Poets' Club. The thing was done, there and then. The Club began to dine; and its members to read their verses. At the end of the year they published a small plaquette of them, called For Christmas MDCCCCVIII.”

Hulme’s poem “Autumn” appeared.

“A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.”

While this poem doesn’t strike me as anything profound in terms of its theme (though, maybe I’ve not spent enough time with it), I can readily see its influence on the work of Eliot. Could Eliot have produced The Wasteland, The Hollow Men, or the Four Quartets without the influence of Hulme and the school of poetry he founded? The Four Quartets is arguably the greatest work of art of the twentieth century. If for no other reason, I’m truly thankful Hulme contributed what he did simply in offering this new form of poetry.

Like Eliot, Hulme adopted and accepted modernist forms of art while rejecting the meaning and essence of modernity. In one of his most powerful essays, defining the nature of humanism, properly understood, Hulme argued that all scholarship and art must begin with the premise (fact) of original sin. “What is important, is what nobody seems to realise--the dogmas like that of Original Sin, which are the closest expression of the categories of the religious attitude. That man is in no sense perfect but a wretched creature who can yet apprehend perfection.”

Rousseauvian/enlightenment thinking had moved society away from understanding this fundamental truth of the human person. As Hulme saw it, Rousseauvianism is a “heresy, a mistaken adoption of false conceptions.” By focusing on feelings and individual desires and blind lusts (and glorifying them) it attempts to allow man to become a God—and, as a result, “creates a bastard conception of Personality.”

The human person only overcomes his depravity though heroic virtue, Hulme argued: “From the pessimistic conception of man comes naturally the heroic task requiring heroic qualities. . . virtues which are not likely to flourish on the soil of a rational and skeptical ethic. This regeneration can, on the contrary, only be brought about and only be maintained by actions springing from an ethic which from the narrow rationalist standpoint is irrational being not relative, but absolute.”

When Hulme received a commission in the British Army during the Great War, he embraced what he had preached, and he gave his life as a patriot of western civilization.
Even in the trenches, before his death, Hulme continued to shape his contemporaries. “In all this [group of poets] Hulme was ringleader. He insisted too on absolutely accurate presentation and no verbiage; and he and F. W. Tancred, a poet too little known, perhaps because his production is precious and small, used to spend hours each day in the search for the right phrase. Tancred does it still; while Hulme reads German philosophy in the trenches, waiting for the general advance.” [EGOIST, May 1, 1915]

Critically, Hulme published a series of war notes from France. In one, he attempted to explain to the liberals that their version of history rested on dubious assumptions.

“Similarly our Liberal friends may be reminded that the lines now making a map of Europe are the result in every instance of local circumstances governable by men; and as they were determined by men they can be changed by men. Europe, in short, is a creation, not a blind evolutionary product; and nothing connected with its mental features is any more fixed than the present relations, as expressed in the trench-lines, between the Allies and the enemy.

Another prevalent Liberal assumption, hostile to a proper appreciation of the significance of the war, is that progress is both inevitable and of necessity in one direction. That change, like the girl in the play, may of itself or by the intention of those who bring it about, take the wrong turning seems never to enter the heads of some of our most popular doctrinaires. All that is not Liberal in Europe or elsewhere is in their opinion not even fundamentally anti-Liberal or other-than-Liberal,—it is merely an arrested development of an evolution which in any case must needs be Liberal in the end, or a reaction against, but still upon the line of Liberalism. This, I need not say after stating it, is not only an error, but a particularly insular error. In the first place, evolution in our sense of the word—that is, evolution towards democracy—is not only not inevitable, but it is the most precarious, difficult and exigent task political man has ever conceived. And, in the second place, far from it being the predestined path of every nation and race, only one or two nations have attempted to pursue it, while the rest deliberately and even, we might say, intelligently, pursue another path altogether as if that were progress, and are thus sincerely hostile to our own.” [Quoted from Karen Csengeri, ed., THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF T.E. HULME (1994), 333]

If only Hulme’s mind—per Eliot’s wishful thinking in 1924—had become the “twentieth-century mind.” We might very well have avoided a “progressive” world immersed in ideological terror on one side and in flabby citizens demanding unearned health care and subsidies for big businesses (so-called stimulus packages) on the other.

 

dimanche, 02 décembre 2012

Wyndham Lewis: Radical for the Permanent Things

Wyndham Lewis: Radical for the Permanent Things
 
by Stephen Masty
 
 
Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), dead for more than half a century, may still take celestial delight in remaining so frustrating: he certainly tried hard enough.
 
Firstly, his enormous breadth of talent overwhelms today’s overly-specialised critics in their imposed pigeon-holes: some still call him England’s greatest Twentieth Century portraitist and draughtsman, his substantial shelf of novels could keep another league of critics busy, and his volumes of social criticism a third. Next, nobody could be so marvellously abrasive without lots of practice, so whomever you adore from the first half of the Twentieth Century, Lewis said something snarky about him at least twice. Lastly, he had an almost magnetic attraction to being politically-incorrect, giving any sniffy modern who has not read Lewis a good excuse to dismiss him out of hand. So he is largely ignored: a big mistake.
 
When Lewis is recalled apart from his paintings it is usually for his invective. In one book, he devoted a whole chapter called “The Dumb Ox” to Ernest Hemingway, who went berserk after reading it in the famous Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris, smashed a vase and ended up paying thousands of francs (but he got even and described Lewis as having the eyes of “an unsuccessful rapist”). Virginia Wolfe was scared to show her face in Oxford or Cambridge, the students were so impressed by the drubbing she got from Lewis. James Joyce’s “Ulysses” he described as “a suffocating moeotic expanse of objects” that would remain among the canons of literature, “eternally cathartic, a monument like a record diarrhoea” (if I go “halves” will anyone help get this carved in stone?).
 
While his best friends, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, called Lewis, respectively, “the only English writer who can be compared to Dostoevsky,” and “the most distinguished living novelist,” he said the former lacked even “a trace of originality,” and accused the latter of “dogmatic insincerity.” However the context is lost to me, they remained friends nevertheless, and this entertaining gossip is still only the “People Magazine” of literary criticism, a nutrition-free distraction.
 
 
 
The man who taught Marshall McLuhan everything he knew about “the global village” (except for the phrase itself), Wyndham Lewis remains desperately timely in his critiques of the youth-cult and its cultural effluvia, the treachery of capitalism, the paucity of well-manipulated bourgeois democracy, and above all the dumbing-down of Western culture and society. If by your friends we shall know ye, think of T. S. Eliot, Roy Campbell and Russell Kirk: in other words he was a conservative defender of The Permanent Things although an ultra-radical, avant-garde modernist, as contradictory as that sounds at first.
 
Born to an English mother and an American Civil War-hero father on a yacht off Nova Scotia, (Percy) Wyndham Lewis was later to write a novel in which, perhaps unique in literature, the heroine kills herself out of sheer hatred for Canada. Educated at Rugby School and The Slade School of Art, he painted and drew for several small groups attempting to forge Modernism out of the artsy-craftsy movements of the late Victorian era, culminating in Vorticism.
 
The Vorticists, England’s first indigenous avant-garde movement, were captivated by Cubism and were among the earliest to embrace abstraction, often with industrial themes. Vorticism rebelled against a populist fin-de-siècle fashion for the feminine, the floral and the facile but its thrusting and very masculine techno-optimism died in the trenches of the Great War along with some its talented members.
 
Its flat, mechanistic images were fine teething-material for Lewis’s draughtsman’s eye and unerring hand, and Vorticism proved a good marketing platform for the ambitious young artist at a time when various Modernist movements seemed to run a dime a dozen: Cubism, Futurism, Tubism, Suprematism, Expressionism, Verismus (may I stop now?) all trying to cram art into an ideological suitcase that was, of course, fully branded, wholly marketable and potentially lucrative. Ultimately, after a stint as an artilleryman, Lewis returned home and moved on, while Vorticism became what veteran art-critic Brian Sewell calls “in the history of western art, no more than a hapless rowing-boat between Cubism and Futurism, the Scylla and Charybdis of the day.”
 
Vorticism’s inspirations had been far from only graphic and Lewis developed them into a more coherent and visceral rejection of perceived decadence, with antecedents including Hegel and Nietzsche: the former in a belief that art is generated by a conflict resembling the dialectic, differing little from Eliot’s more sophisticated assertion that art progresses through clash but may achieve union, through tradition, with the timeless. Influenced by the latter, Lewis rejected the bourgeois effect on art, which today one might call “dumbing down.”

As Lewis began to write more and paint less, he looked beyond graphic art to see larger forces at work including science, united against individualism and excellence, and this separates him from futurist-utopians of the day such as H. G. Wells. He became, in effect, an anti-Modern Modernist, writing:
 
“The puritanical potentialities of science have never been forecast. If it evolves a body of organized rites, and is established as a religion hierarchically organized, things more than anything else will be done in the name of 'decency.' The coarse fumes of tobacco and liquors, the consequent tainting of the breath and staining of white fingers and teeth, which is so offensive to many women, will be the first things attended to.”
 
Russell Kirk described their mutual friend, the poet Roy Campbell, as “a hot hater” and Lewis fit the description to the letter, so his objections are often clearer than his beliefs. But Lewis was, fundamentally, a conservator of social dynamism in the same sense that Eliot believed that modern art could be well-applied to defend The Permanent Things.
 
Even then, the Left’s thus-far relentless Long March to Cultural Revolution identified modernist reforms only with revolution, chiefly through an overly-simplistic notion that new graphics or literary styles somehow had to go hand-in-hand with new, ideologically-driven systems. Hence the startling originality of Lewis on canvas, or Eliot in print, must have confounded Leftist aesthetes who perhaps rarely fathomed how modernism can be part of traditionalism. As both men knew, Western values and vigour are worth conserving, not the delivery-mechanisms.
 
Propelled by his excellent choice in enemies but still a child of his age, Lewis echoed Oscar Wilde in charging Revolution with the high-crime of being a bore:
 
“Revolutionary politics, revolutionary art, and oh, the revolutionary mind, is the dullest thing on earth. When we open a ''revolutionary'' review, or read a ''revolutionary'' speech, we yawn our heads off. It is true, there is nothing else. Everything is correctly, monotonously, dishearteningly ''revolutionary'.' What a stupid word! What a stale fuss!”
 
Yet Lewis, in his diagnostic skills a political sophisticate, saw revolution as a mere con-job by ruling elites, part of the intentional process of dumbing-down that strengthened control. He wrote:
 
“A sort of war of revenge on the intellect is what, for some reason, thrives in the contemporary social atmosphere...The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.”
 
Lewis would have regarded today’s simplified political bifurcation, so essentially American, as hopelessly naive: Capitalism good, Socialism bad. He complained that, “In the democratic western countries so-called capitalism leads a saturnalia of 'freedom,' like a bastard brother of reform.” He deplored:

“a new familiarity and a flesh-creeping homeliness entirely of this unreal, materialistic world, where all sentiment is coarsely manufactured and advertised in colossal sickly captions, disguised for the sweet tooth of a monstrous baby called the Public, the family as it is, broken up on all hands by the agency of feminist and economic propaganda, reconstitutes itself in the image of the state."

The forces of feminisation, homogenisation and dumbing-down were many, while true artists manned the last barricade. Whether by cheap products, cheap art or cheap politics, the herd was stampeded by its clever masters, chiefly under the banner of equality:
 
“The intelligence suffers today automatically in consequence of the attack on all authority, advantage, or privilege. These things are not done away with, it is needless to say, but numerous scapegoats are made of the less politically powerful, to satisfy the egalitarian rage awakened.”
 
Lewis flirted briefly with Italian Fascism as a means of redirecting society away from self-centred decadence, but soon found that Mussolini’s vainglorious strutting and attempting to replicate Roman glory were retrograde, backward-looking. Briefly in the early 1930s, he thought that Hitler might be a force for peace and cultural reinvigoration but he denounced Nazism in one book and Anti-Semitism in another, even though years before he had fictionalised Jewish characters unflatteringly. The twin verdicts may be that, as so many others, he entertained views now wholly and happily anathema, but he never feared to reverse himself honourably; a better record than many of his adversaries who pimped for Stalin until much later or unto the bitter end.
 
Meanwhile, Lewis had a remarkable gift for seeing far down the socio-ideological train-track.
 
In his 1928 “The Doom of Youth,” he described a cult that plagues us yet. A society that destroys faith in the hereafter can live only for earthly life, taking refuge from death in an unnatural fixation with youth and protracted adolescence; hence maintaining the appearance of youth until it becomes ludicrous. Since real youths lack experience, achievements and contacts, “official” public youths will be older and older. Politicians, he predicted, will jump onboard with bogus youth-wings, nevertheless controlled by middle-aged party-apparatchiks; presupposing the Hitler Youth Movement and even the fat, balding and comically-inept, 50-year-old, KGB “youth representatives” sent to international youth conferences to mingle with real Western and Third World teenagers into the 1980s. On to then-trendy monkey-gland treatments, more complicated cosmetics and foundation-garments, real and fake exercise regimens and the rest, until nowadays where in any Florida geriatric home (“God’s waiting-room,” my dad calls it) are toothless, pathetic wrecks hobbling around dressed as toddlers.
 
Lewis was by no means a systematic philosopher, he was an artist; but his draughtsmanship alone can imply an insistence on precision in thought. Taking art seriously, he saw creativity as a moment of intense thought looking ahead and essentially prescriptive, creating something needed and new yet influenced by tradition.
 
In his 1927 “Time and Western Man,” he attacked a decadent and romanticised aesthetic that sapped modern creativity of its forward-looking dynamism. Yale critic Kirsty Dootson explains Lewis and:
 
“...the 'time-cult,' which he perceived to be the dominant philosophy of the early twentieth century promulgated by Henri Bergson...and practised by authors such as James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. Lewis condemned the demonising of 'space' due to the rise of the 'time-mind' as, for him, Bergsonian time stood for all that is degenerate in art: flux, change, romanticism, the crowd and the unconscious, whereas space represents all that is desirable: stability, fixity, classicism, the individual and consciousness...The former separates us and keeps us still, while the latter binds us all together and keeps us constantly moving.”
 
Time can be a muddle and a cul-de-sac: is the child the father of the man?  The focus turns inward to the self, its influences, conflicts and reactions, and can lead to navel-gazing, solipsism, inertia and paralysis. Space describes the road ahead, even though the artist travels with the essential baggage of values, culture and tradition that influence his every act.
 
Lewis’s friend Roy Campbell, says Professor Roger Scruton, “began to see the three aspects of the new elite—sexual inversion, anti-patriotism, and progressive politics—as aspects of a single frame of mind. These three qualities amounted, for Campbell, to a refusal to grow up.” For Lewis, the time-cult enabled the process.
 
A prescient collaboration between Lewis and Campbell resulted in “Satire and Fiction,” a 1930 pamphlet promoting the former’s savage, satirical novel “The Apes of God.” There the authors argue that satire becomes impossible in a rootless age lacking normative behaviour, for satire mocks things against an unstated but presumed cultural norm: Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” would not have succeeded satirically had Georgian Englishmen actually approved of eating Irish babies. Without shared values, satire cannot function: forty-two years later, Terry Southern remarked belatedly that satire became impossible after Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.
 
In the same decade Lewis returned to painting, establishing his reputation as being perhaps England’s greatest portraitist of the last century. Walter Sickert put him in an even bigger league as “the greatest portraitist of this or any other time.”
 
Critics attempt to analyse his ingredients of success, some saying that his draughtsman’s attention to detail, or his hybrid of portraiture and caricature, provided the impact. It may be something different augmented enormously by his technical mastery, namely his rare ability to perceive essences of character in those whom he portrayed. The sense of melancholy in his portrait of Eliot, so callously overlooked by the Royal Academy in 1938, is sometimes said to be modern Britain’s finest portrait. Or his picture of the aristocratic and aquiline Edith Sitwell in a cold room, wearing a vast turban and surrounded by her old books, is another example of many. The sparse sketch of a handsome and oddly lissome, young Roy Campbell, drawn with the disciplined, concise lines of a Japanese master of sumi-e brushwork, is one more.
 
Russell Kirk met Lewis in London circa 1950-1951, living in a condemned flat in Notting Hill that the artist referred to wryly as “Rotting Hill.” He soon gave up his job as art-critic for The Listener (clever it was, uniting his graphic-eye and writing skills for a radio-review magazine) because he began to go blind due to a pituitary tumour. Dr. Kirk memorialised him in a chapter of “Confessions of a Bohemian Tory,” recalling that the old lion feared sightlessness slamming shut a door that would nevermore be opened.
 
Lewis died in 1957, within a few months of his friend Roy Campbell who was 19 years his junior, and almost eight years before T. S. Eliot. Lewis was long interested in Catholicism but never converted, and his ashes are buried in London’s Golders Green Cemetery.
 
Besides his startling graphic talent and his socio-political prescience, Lewis deserves the attention of Imaginative Conservatives by blasting the still-prevalent notion that modern art needs be the private preserve of the Leftist, the revolutionary, the meddler and the moon-calf. He lived what he preached with relentless vigour, and in that sense his portrait-bust sits comfortably beside that of T. S. Eliot: two radical-conservatives, modernist-traditionalists and indefatigable champions of The Permanent Things.
 
Stephen Masty lives in Kabul and London.

Eliot, Pound, and Lewis: A Creative Friendship

Eliot, Pound, and Lewis: A Creative Friendship

 

It may be a source of some pride to those of us fated to live out our lives as Americans that the three men who probably had the greatest influence on English literature in our century were all born on this side of the Atlantic. One of them, Wyndham Lewis, to be sure, was born on a yacht anchored in a harbor in Nova Scotia, but his father was an American, served as an officer in the Union Army in the Civil War, and came from a family that has been established here for many generations. The other two were as American in background and education as it is possible to be. Our pride at having produced men of such high achievement should be considered against the fact that all three spent their creative lives in Europe. For Wyndham Lewis the decision was made for him by his mother, who hustled him off to Europe at the age of ten, but he chose to remain in Europe, and to study in Paris rather than to accept the invitation of his father to go to Cornell, and except for an enforced stay in Canada during World War II, spent his life in Europe. The other two, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, went to Europe as young men out of college, and it was a part of European, not American, cultural life that they made their contribution to literature. Lewis was a European in training, attitude and point of view, but Pound and Eliot were Americans, and Pound, particularly, remained aggressively American; whether living in London or Italy his interest in American affairs never waned.

The lives and achievements of these three men were closely connected. They met as young men, each was influenced and helped by the other two, and they remained friends, in spite of occasional differences, for the rest of their lives. Many will remember the picture in Time of Pound as a very old man attending the memorial service in Westminster Abbey in 1965 for T.S. Eliot. When Lewis, who had gone blind, was unable to read the proofs of his latest book, it was his old friend, T.S. Eliot who did it for him, and when Pound was confined in St. Elizabeth’s in Washington, Eliot and Lewis always kept in close touch with him, and it was at least partly through Eliot’s influence that he was finally released. The lives and association of these three men, whose careers started almost at the same time shortly before World War I are an integral part of the literary and cultural history of this century.

The careers of all three may be said, in a certain way, to have been launched by the publication of Lewis’ magazine Blast. Both Lewis and Pound had been published before and had made something of a name for themselves in artistic and literary circles in London, but it was the publication in June, 1914, of the first issue of Blast that put them, so to speak, in the center of the stage. The first Blast contained 160 pages of text, was well printed on heavy paper, its format large, the typography extravagant, and its cover purple. It contained illustrations, many by Lewis, stories by Rebecca West and Ford Maddox Ford, poetry by Pound and others, but it is chiefly remembered for its “Blasts” and “Blesses” and its manifestos. It was in this first issue of Blast that “vorticism,” the new art form, was announced, the name having been invented by Pound. Vorticism was supposed to express the idea that art should represent the present, at rest, and at the greatest concentration of energy, between past and future. “There is no Present – there is Past and Future, and there is Art,” was a vorticist slogan. English humour and its “first cousin and accomplice, sport” were blasted, as were “sentimental hygienics,” Victorian liberalism, the Royal Academy, the Britannic aesthete; Blesses were reserved for the seafarer, the great ports, for Shakespeare “for his bitter Northern rhetoric of humour” and Swift “for his solemn, bleak wisdom of laughter”; a special bless, as if in anticipation of our hairy age, was granted the hairdresser. Its purpose, Lewis wrote many years later, was to exalt “formality and order, at the expense of the disorderly and the unkempt. It is merely a humorous way,” he went on to say, “of stating the classic standpoint as against the romantic.”

The second, and last, issue of Blast appeared in July, 1915, by which time Lewis was serving in the British army. This issue again contained essays, notes and editorial comments by Lewis and poetry by Pound, but displayed little of the youthful exuberance of the first – the editors and contributors were too much aware of the suicidal bloodletting taking place in the trenches of Flanders and France for that. The second issue, for example, contained, as did the first, a contribution by the gifted young sculptor Gaudier-Brzeska, together with the announcement that he had been killed while serving in the French army.

Between the two issues of Blast, Eliot had arrived in London via Marburg and Oxford, where he had been studying for a degree in philosophy. He met Pound soon after his arrival, and through Pound, Wyndham Lewis. Eliot’s meeting of Pound, who promptly took him under his wing, had two immediate consequences – the publication in Chicago of Prufrock in Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine, and the appearance of two other poems a month or two later in Blast. The two issues of Blast established Lewis as a major figure: as a brilliant polemicist and a critic of the basic assumptions and intellectual position of his time, two roles he was never to surrender. Pound had played an important role in Blast, but Lewis was the moving force. Eliot’s role as a contributor of two poems to the second issue was relatively minor, but the enterprise brought them together, and established an association and identified them with a position in the intellectual life of their time which was undoubtedly an important factor in the development and achievement of all three.

Lewis was born in 1882 on a yacht, as was mentioned before, off the coast of Nova Scotia. Pound was born in 1885 in Hailey, Idaho, and Eliot in 1888 in St. Louis. Lewis was brought up in England by his mother, who had separated from his father, was sent to various schools, the last one Rugby, from which he was dropped, spent several years at an art school in London, the Slade, and then went to the continent, spending most of the time in Paris where he studied art, philosophy under Bergson and others, talked, painted and wrote. He returned to England to stay in 1909. It was in the following year that he first met Ezra Pound, in the Vienna Cafe in London. Pound, he wrote many years later, didn’t greatly appeal to him at first – he seemed overly sure of himself and not a little presumptuous. His first impression, he said, was of “a bombastic galleon, palpably bound to or from, the Spanish Main,” but, he discovered, “beneath its skull and cross-bones, intertwined with fleur de lis and spattered with star-spangled oddities, a heart of gold.” As Lewis became better acquainted with Pound he found, as he wrote many years later, that “this theatrical fellow was one of the best.” And he went on to say, “I still regard him as one of the best, even one of the best poets.”

By the time of this meeting, Lewis was making a name for himself, not only as a writer, but also an artist. He had exhibited in London with some success, and shortly before his meeting with Pound, Ford Maddox Ford had accepted a group of stories for publication in the English Review, stories he had written while still in France in which some of the ideas appeared which he was to develop in the more than forty books that were to follow.

But how did Ezra Pound, this young American poet who was born in Hailey, Idaho, and looked, according to Lewis, like an “acclimatized Buffalo Bill,” happen to be in the Vienna Cafe in London in 1910, and what was he doing there? The influence of Idaho, it must be said at once, was slight, since Pound’s family had taken him at an early age to Philadelphia, where his father was employed as an assayer in the U.S. mint. The family lived first in West Philadelphia, then in Jenkintown, and when Ezra was about six bought a comfortable house in Wyncote, where he grew up. He received good training in private schools, and a considerable proficiency in Latin, which enabled him to enter the University of Pennsylvania shortly before reaching the age of sixteen. It was at this time, he was to write some twenty years later, that he made up his mind to become a poet. He decided at that early age that by the time he was thirty he would know more about poetry than any man living. The poetic “impulse”, he said, came from the gods, but technique was man’s responsibility, and he was determined to master it. After two years at Pennsylvania, he transferred to Hamilton, from which he graduated with a Ph.B. two years later. His college years, in spite of his assertions to the contrary, must have been stimulating and developing – he received excellent training in languages, read widely and well, made some friends, including William Carlos Williams, and wrote poetry. After Hamilton he went back to Pennsylvania to do graduate work, where he studied Spanish literature, Old French, Provencal, and Italian. He was granted an M.A. by Pennsylvania in 1906 and a Fellowship in Romantics, which gave him enough money for a summer in Europe, part of which he spent studying in the British museum and part in Spain. The Prado made an especially strong impression on him – thirty years later he could still describe the pictures in the main gallery and recall the exact order in which they were hung. He left the University of Pennsylvania in 1907, gave up the idea of a doctorate, and after one semester teaching at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, went to Europe, to return to his native land only for longer or shorter visits, except for the thirteen years he was confined in St. Elizabeth’s in Washington.

Pound’s short stay at Wabash College was something of a disaster – he found Crawfordsville, Indiana, confining and dull, and Crawfordsville, in 1907, found it difficult to adjust itself to a Professor of Romance Languages who wore a black velvet jacket, a soft-collared shirt, flowing bow tie, patent leather pumps, carried a malacca cane, and drank rum in his tea. The crisis came when he allowed a stranded chorus girl he had found in a snow storm to sleep in his room. It was all quite innocent, he insisted, but Wabash didn’t care for his “bohemian ways,” as the President put it, and was glad for the excuse to be rid of him. He wrote some good poetry while at Wabash and made some friends, but was not sorry to leave, and was soon on his way to Europe, arriving in Venice, which he had visited before, with just eighty dollars.

While in Venice he arranged to have a group of his poems printed under the title A Lume Spento. This was in his preparation for his assault on London, since he believed, quite correctly, that a poet would make more of an impression with a printed book of his poetry under his arm than some pages of an unpublished manuscript. He stayed long enough in Venice to recover from the disaster of Wabash and to gather strength and inspiration for the next step, London, where he arrived with nothing more than confidence in himself, three pounds, and the copies of his book of poems. He soon arranged to give a series of lectures at the Polytechnic on the Literature of Southern Europe, which gave him a little money, and to have the Evening Standard review his book of poetry, the review ending with the sentence, “The unseizable magic of poetry is in this queer paper volume, and words are no good in describing it.” He managed to induce Elkin Mathews to publish another small collection, the first printing of which was one hundred copies and soon sold out, then a larger collection, Personae, the Polytechnic engaged him for a more ambitious series of lectures, and he began to meet people in literary circles, including T.E. Hulme, John Butler Yeats, and Ford Maddox Ford, who published his “Ballad of the Goodley Fere” in the English Review. His book on medieval Latin poetry, The Spirit of Romance, which is still in print, was published by Dent in 1910. The Introduction to this book contains the characteristic line, “The history of an art is the history of masterworks, not of failures or of mediocrity.” By the time the first meeting with Wyndham Lewis took place in the Vienna Cafe, then, which was only two years after Pound’s rather inauspicious arrival in London, he was, at the age of 26, known to some as a poet and had become a man of some standing.

It was Pound, the discoverer of talent, the literary impresario, as I have said, who brought Eliot and Lewis together. Eliot’s path to London was as circuitous as Pound’s, but, as one might expect, less dramatic. Instead of Crawfordsville, Indiana, Eliot had spent a year at the Sorbonne after a year of graduate work at Harvard, and was studying philosophy at the University of Marburg with the intention of obtaining a Harvard Ph.D. and becoming a professor, as one of his teachers at Harvard, Josiah Royce, had encouraged him to do, but the war intervened, and he went to Oxford. Conrad Aiken, one of his closest friends at Harvard, had tried earlier, unsuccessfully, to place several of Eliot’s poems with an English publisher, had met Pound, and had given Eliot a latter of introduction to him. The result of that first meeting with Pound are well known – Pound wrote instantly to Harriet Monroe in Chicago, for whose new magazine, Poetry, he had more or less been made European editor, as follows: “An American called Eliot called this P.M. I think he has some sense tho’ he has not yet sent me any verse.” A few weeks later Eliot, while still at Oxford, sent him the manuscript of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Pound was ecstatic, and immediately transmitted his enthusiasm to Miss Monroe. It was he said, “the best poem I have yet had or seen from an American. Pray God it be not a single and unique success.” Eliot, Pound went on to say, was “the only American I know of who has made an adequate preparation for writing. He has actually trained himself and modernized himself on his own.” Pound sent Prufrock to Miss Monroe in October, 1914, with the words, “The most interesting contribution I’ve had from an American. P.S. Hope you’ll get it in soon.” Miss Monroe had her own ideas – Prufrock was not the sort of poetry she thought young Americans should be writing; she much preferred Vachel Lindsey, whose The Firemen’s Ball she had published in the June issue. Pound, however, was not to be put off; letter followed importuning letter, until she finally surrendered and in the June, 1915, issue of Poetry, now a collector’s item of considerable value, the poem appeared which begins:

Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table …

It was not, needless to say, to be the “single and unique success” Pound had feared, but the beginning of one of the great literary careers of this century. The following month the two poems appeared in Blast. Eliot had written little or nothing for almost three years. The warm approval and stimulation of Pound plus, no doubt, the prospect of publication, encouraged him to go on. In October Poetry published three more new poems, and later in the year Pound arranged to have Elkin Matthews, who had published his two books of poetry to bring out a collection which he edited and called The Catholic Anthology which contained the poems that had appeared in Poetry and one of the two from Blast. The principal reason for the whole anthology, Pound remarked, “was to get sixteen pages of Eliot printed in England.”

If all had gone according to plan and his family’s wishes, Eliot would have returned to Harvard, obtained his Ph.D., and become a professor. He did finish his thesis – “To please his parents,” according to his second wife, Valerie Eliot, but dreaded the prospect of a return to Harvard. It didn’t require much encouragement from Pound, therefore, to induce him to stay in England – it was Pound, according to his biographer Noel Stock “who saved Eliot for poetry.” Eliot left Oxford at the end of the term in June, 1915, having in the meantime married Vivien Haigh-Wood. That Fall he took a job as a teacher in a boy’s school at a salary of £140 a year, with dinner. He supplemented his salary by book reviewing and occasional lectures, but it was an unproductive, difficult period for him, his financial problems increased by the illness of his wife. After two years of teaching he took a position in a branch of Lloyd’s bank in London, hoping that this would give him sufficient income to live on, some leisure for poetry, and a pension for his wife should she outlive him. Pound at this period fared better than Eliot – he wrote music criticism for a magazine, had some income from other writing and editorial projects, which was supplemented by the small income of his wife, Dorothy Shakespear and occasional checks from his father. He also enjoyed a more robust constitution that Eliot, who eventually broke down under the strain and was forced, in 1921, to take a rest cure in Switzerland. It was during this three-month stay in Switzerland that he finished the first draft of The Waste Land, which he immediately brought to Pound. Two years before, Pound had taken Eliot on a walking tour in France to restore his health, and besides getting Eliot published, was trying to raise a fund to give him a regular source of income, a project he called “Bel Esprit.” In a latter to John Quinn, the New York lawyer who used his money, perceptive critical judgment and influence to help writers and artists, Pound, referring to Eliot, wrote, “It is a crime against literature to let him waste eight hours vitality per diem in that bank.” Quinn agreed to subscribe to the fund, but it became a source of embarrassment to Eliot who put a stop to it.

The Waste Land marked the high point of Eliot’s literary collaboration with Pound. By the time Eliot had brought him the first draft of the poem, Pound was living in Paris, having left London, he said, because “the decay of the British Empire was too depressing a spectacle to witness at close range.” Pound made numerous suggestions for changes, consisting largely of cuts and rearrangements. In a latter to Eliot explaining one deletion he wrote, “That is 19 pages, and let us say the longest poem in the English langwidge. Don’t try to bust all records by prolonging it three pages further.” A recent critic described the processes as one of pulling “a masterpiece out of a grabbag of brilliant material”; Pound himself described his participation as a “Caesarian operation.” However described, Eliot was profoundly grateful, and made no secret of Pound’s help. In his characteristically generous way, Eliot gave the original manuscript to Quinn, both as a token for the encouragement Quinn had given to him, and for the further reason, as he put it in a letter to Quinn, “that this manuscript is worth preserving in its present form solely for the reason that it is the only evidence of the difference which his [Pound’s] criticism has made to the poem.” For years the manuscript was thought to have been lost, but it was recently found among Quinn’s papers which the New York Public Library acquired some years after his death, and now available in a facsimile edition.

The first publication of The Waste Land was in the first issue of Eliot’s magazine Criterion, October, 1922. The following month it appeared in New York in The Dial. Quinn arranged for its publication in book form by Boni and Liveright, who brought it out in November. The first printing of one thousand was soon sold out, and Eliot was given the Dial award of the two thousand dollars. Many were puzzled by The Waste Land, one reviewer even thought that Mr. Eliot might be putting over a hoax, but Pound was not alone in recognizing that in his ability to capture the essence of the human condition in the circumstances of the time, Eliot had shown himself, in The Waste Land, to be a poet. To say that the poem is merely a reflection of Eliot’s unhappy first marriage, his financial worries and nervous breakdown is far too superficial. The poem is a reflection, not of Eliot, but of the aimlessness, disjointedness, sordidness of contemporary life. In itself, it is in no way sick or decadent; it is a wonderfully evocative picture of the situation of man in the world as it is. Another poet, Kathleen Raine, writing many years after the first publication of The Waste Land on the meaning of Eliot’s early poetry to her generation, said it

…enabled us to know our generation imaginatively. All those who have lived in the Waste Land of London can, I suppose, remember the particular occasion on which, reading T.S. Eliot’s poems for the first time, an experience of the contemporary world that had been nameless and formless received its apotheosis.

Eliot sent one of the first copies he received of the Boni and Liveright edition to Ezra Pound with the inscription “for E.P. miglior fabbro from T.S.E. Jan. 1923.” His first volume of collected poetry was dedicated to Pound with the same inscription, which came from Dante and means, “the better marker.” Explaining this dedication Eliot wrote in 1938:

I wished at that moment to honour the technical mastery and critical ability manifest in [Pound’s] . . . work, which had also done so much to turn The Waste Land from a jumble of good and bad passages into a poem.

Pound and Eliot remained in touch with each other – Pound contributed frequently to the Criterion, and Eliot, through his position at Faber and Faber, saw many of Pounds’ books through publication and himself selected and edited a collection of Pound’s poetry, but there was never again that close collaboration which had characterized their association from their first meeting in London in 1914 to the publication of The Waste Land in the form given it by Pound in 1922.

As has already been mentioned, Pound left London in 1920 to go to Paris, where he stayed on until about 1924 – long enough for him to meet many people and for the force of his personality to make itself felt. He and his wife were frequent visitors to the famous bookshop, Shakespeare and Co. run by the young American Sylvia Beach, where Pound, among other things, made shelves, mended chairs, etc.; he also was active gathering subscriptions for James Joyces’ Ulysses when Miss Beach took over its publication. The following description by Wyndham Lewis of an encounter with Pound during the latter’s Paris days is worth repeating. Getting no answer after ringing the bell of Pound’s flat, Lewis walked in and discovered the following scene:

A splendidly built young man, stripped to the waist, and with a torso of dazzling white, was standing not far from me. He was tall, handsome and serene, and was repelling with his boxing gloves – I thought without undue exertion – a hectic assault of Ezra’s. After a final swing at the dazzling solar plexus (parried effortlessly by the trousered statue) Pound fell back upon the settee. The young man was Hemingway.

Pound, as is well known, took Hemingway in hand, went over his manuscripts, cut out superfluous words as was custom, and helped him find a publisher, a service he had performed while still in London for another young American, Robert Frost. In a letter to Pound, written in 1933, Hemingway acknowledged the help Pound had given him by saying that he had learned more about “how to write and how not to write” from him “than from any son of a bitch alive, and he always said so.”

When we last saw Lewis, except for his brief encounter with Pound and Hemingway wearing boxing gloves, he had just brought out the second issues of Blast and gone off to the war to end all war. He served for a time at the front in an artillery unit, and was then transferred to a group of artists who were supposed to devote their time to painting and drawing “the scene of war,” as Lewis put it, a scheme which had been devised by Lord Beaverbrook, through whose intervention Lewis received the assignment. He hurriedly finished a novel, Tarr, which was published during the war, largely as a result of Pound’s intervention, in Harriet Shaw Weaver’s magazine The Egoist, and in book form after the war had ended. It attracted wide attention; Rebecca West, for example, called it “A beautiful and serious work of art that reminds one of Dostoevsky.” By the early twenties, Lewis, as the editor of Blast, the author of Tarr and a recognized artist was an established personality, but he was not then, and never became a part of the literary and artistic establishment, nor did he wish to be.

For the first four years following his return from the war and recovery from a serious illness that followed it little was heard from Lewis. He did bring out two issues of a new magazine, The Tyro, which contained contributions from T.S. Eliot, Herbert Read and himself, and contributed occasionally to the Criterion, but it was a period, for him, of semi-retirement from the scene of battle, which he devoted to perfecting his style as a painter and to study. It was followed by a torrent of creative activity – two important books on politics, The Art of Being Ruled (1926) and The Lion and the Fox (1927), a major philosophical work, Time and Western Man (1927), followed by a collection of stories, The Wild Body (1927) and the first part of a long novel, Childermass (1928). In 1928, he brought out a completely revised edition of his wartime novel Tarr, and if all this were not enough, he contributed occasionally to the Criterion, engaged in numerous controversies, painted and drew. In 1927 he founded another magazine, The Enemy, of which only three issues appeared, the last in 1929. Lewis, of course, was “the Enemy.” He wrote in the first issue:

The names we remember in European literature are those of men who satirised and attacked, rather than petted and fawned upon, their contemporaries. Only this time exacts an uncritical hypnotic sleep of all within it.

One of Lewis’ best and most characteristic books is Time and Western Man; it is in this book that he declared war, so to speak, on what he considered the dominant intellectual position of the twentieth century – the philosophy of time, the school of philosophy, as he described it, for which “time and change are the ultimate realities.” It is the position which regards everything as relative, all reality a function of time. “The Darwinian theory and all the background of nineteenth century thought was already behind it,” Lewis wrote, and further “scientific” confirmation was provided by Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is a position, in Lewis’ opinion, which is essentially romantic, “with all that word conveys in its most florid, unreal, inflated, self-deceiving connotation.”

The ultimate consequence of the time philosophy, Lewis argued, is the degradation of man. With its emphasis on change, man, the man of the present, living man for the philosophy of time ends up as little more than a minute link in the endless process of progressive evolution –lies not in what he is, but in what he as a species, not an individual, may become. As Lewis put it:

You, in imagination, are already cancelled by those who will perfect you in the mechanical time-scale that stretches out, always ascending, before us. What do you do and how you live has no worth in itself. You are an inferior, fatally, to all the future.

Against this rather depressing point of view, which deprives man of all individual worth, Lewis offers the sense of personality, “the most vivid and fundamental sense we possess,” as he describes it. It is this sense that makes man unique; it alone makes creative achievement possible. But the sense of personality, Lewis points out, is essentially one of separation, and to maintain such separation from others requires, he believes, a personal God. As he expressed it: “In our approaches to God, in consequence, we do not need to “magnify” a human body, but only to intensify that consciousness of a separated and transcendent life. So God becomes the supreme symbol of our separation and our limited transcendence….It is, then, because the sense of personality is posited as our greatest “real”, that we require a “God”, a something that is nothing but a person, secure in its absolute egoism, to be the rationale of this sense.”

It is exactly “our separation and our limited transcendence” that the time philosophy denies us; its God is not, in Lewis’ words “a perfection already existing, eternally there, of which we are humble shadows,” but a constantly emerging God, the perfection toward which man is thought to be constantly striving. Appealing as such a conception may on its surface appear to be, this God we supposedly attain by our strenuous efforts turns out to be a mocking God; “brought out into the daylight,” Lewis said, “it would no longer be anything more than a somewhat less idiotic you.”

In Time and Western Man Lewis publicly disassociated himself from Pound, Lewis having gained the erroneous impression, apparently, that Pound had become involved in a literary project of some kind with Gertrude Stein, whom Lewis hated with all the considerable passion of which he was capable. To Lewis, Gertrude Stein, with her “stuttering style” as he called it, was the epitomy of “time philosophy” in action. The following is quoted by Lewis is in another of his books, The Diabolical Principle, and comes from a magazine published in Paris in 1925 by the group around Gertrude Stein; it is quoted here to give the reader some idea of the reasons for Lewis’ strong feelings on the subject of Miss Stein:

If we have a warm feeling for both (the Superrealists) and the Communists, it is because the movements which they represent are aimed at the destruction of a thoroughly rotten structure … We are entertained intellectually, if not physically, with the idea of (the) destruction (of contemporary society). But … our interests are confined to literature and life … It is our purpose purely and simply to amuse ourselves.

The thought that Pound would have associated himself with a group expounding ideas on this level of irresponsibility would be enough to cause Lewis to write him off forever, but it wasn’t true; Pound had met Gertrude Stein once or twice during his stay in Paris, but didn’t get on with her, which isn’t at all surprising. Pound also didn’t particularly like Paris, and in 1924 moved to Rapallo, a small town on the Mediterranean a few miles south of Genoa, where he lived until his arrest by the American authorities at the end of World War II.

In an essay written for Eliot’s sixtieth birthday, Lewis had the following to say about the relationship between Pound and Eliot:

It is not secret that Ezra Pound exercised a very powerful influence upon Mr. Eliot. I do not have to define the nature of this influence, of course. Mr. Eliot was lifted out of his lunar alley-ways and fin de siecle nocturnes, into a massive region of verbal creation in contact with that astonishing didactic intelligence, that is all.

Lewis’ own relationship with Pound was of quite a different sort, but during the period from about 1910 to 1920, when Pound left London, was close, friendly, and doubtless stimulating to both. During Lewis’ service in the army, Pound looked after Lewis’ interests, arranged for the publication of his articles, tried to sell his drawings, they even collaborated in a series of essays, written in the form of letters, but Lewis, who in any case was inordinately suspicious, was quick to resent Pound’s propensity to literary management. After Pound settled in Rapallo they corresponded only occasionally, but in 1938, when Pound was in London, Lewis made a fine portrait of him, which hangs in the Tate Gallery. In spite of their occasional differences and the rather sharp attack on Pound in Time and Western Man, they remained friends, and Lewis’ essay for Eliot’s sixtieth birthday, which was written while Pound was still confined in St. Elizabeth’s, is devoted largely to Pound, to whom Lewis pays the following tribute:

So, for all his queerness at times–ham publicity of self, misreading of part of poet in society–in spite of anything that may be said Ezra is not only himself a great poet, but has been of the most amazing use to other people. Let it not be forgotten for instance that it was he who was responsible for the all-important  contact  for James  Joyce–namely  Miss Weaver. It was his critical understanding, his generosity, involved in the detection and appreciation of the literary genius of James  Joyce. It was through him that a very considerable sum of  money was put at Joyce’s disposal at the critical moment.

Lewis concludes his comments on Pound with the following:

He was a man of letters, in the marrow of his bones and down to the red rooted follicles of his hair. He breathed Letters, ate Letters, dreamt Letters. A very rare kind of man.

Two other encounters during his London period had a lasting influence on Pound’s thought and career–the Oriental scholar Ernest Fenollosa and Major Douglas, the founder of Social Credit. Pound met Douglas in 1918 in the office of The New Age, a magazine edited by Alfred H. Orage, and became an almost instant convert. From that  point on usury became an obsession with him, and the word “usurocracy,” which he used to denote a social system based on money and credit, an indispensable part of his vocabulary. Social Credit was doubtless not the panacea Pound considered it to be, but  that Major Douglas was entirely a fool seems doubtful too, if the following quotation from him is indicative of the quality of his thought:

I would .. make the suggestion … that the first requisite of a  satisfactory governmental system is  that it shall divest itself  of the idea that it has a mission to improve the morals or direct  the  philosophy of  any of  its constituent citizens.

Ernest Fenollosa was a distinguished Oriental scholar of American  origin who had spent  many years in Japan, studying both Japanese and Chinese literature, and had died in  1908. Pound met his widow in London in 1913, with the result that she entrusted her  husband’s papers to him, with her authorization to edit and publish them as he thought  best. Pound threw himself into the study of the Fenollosa material with his usual  energy, becoming, as a result, an authority on the Japanese Noh drama and a lifelong student of Chinese. He came to feel that the Chinese ideogram, because it was never entirely removed from its origin in the concrete, had certain advantages over the  Western alphabet. Two years after receiving the Fenollosa manuscripts, Pound published  a translation of Chinese poetry under the title Cathay. The Times Literary Supplement  spoke of the language of Pound’s translation as “simple, sharp, precise.” Ford Maddox  Ford, in a moment of enthusiasm, called Cathay “the most beautiful book in the  language.”

Pound  made other translations, from Provencal, Italian, Greek, and besides the book of  Chinese poetry, translated Confucius, from which the following is a striking example, and  represents a conception of the relationship between the individual and society to which Pound attached great importance, and frequently referred to in his other writing:

The men of old wanting to clarify and diffuse throughout the empire that light which comes from looking straight into the heart and then acting, first set up good government in their own states; wanting good government in their states, they first established order in their own families; wanting order in the  home, they  first disciplined themselves; desiring self-discipline, they rectified their own hearts; and wanting to rectify their hearts; they sought precise verbal definitions of their inarticulate thoughts; wishing to attain precise verbal definitions, they sought to extend  their knowledge to the utmost. This completion of knowledge is rooted in sorting things into organic categories.

When things had been classified in organic categories, knowledge moved toward fulfillment; given the extreme knowable points, the inarticulate thoughts were defined with  precision. Having attained this precise verbal definition, they then stabilized their hearts, they disciplined themselves;  having attained self-discipline, they set their own houses in order; having order in their own homes, they brought good  government to their own states; and when their states were  well  governed, the empire was brought into equilibrium.

Pound’s major poetic work is, of course, The Cantos, which he worked on over a period of more than thirty years. One section, The Pisan Cantos, comprising 120 pages and eleven cantos, was written while Pound was confined in a U.S. Army detention camp near Pisa, for part of the time in a cage. Pound’s biographer, Noel Stock, himself a poet and a  competent critic, speaks of the Pisan Cantos as follows:

They are confused and often fragmentary; and they bear no relation structurally to the seventy earlier cantos; but shot through by a rare sad light they tell of things gone which somehow seem to live on, and are probably his best poetry. In  those few desperate months he was forced to return to that point within himself where the human person meets the outside world of real things, and to speak of what he found there. If at times the verse is silly, it is because in himself Pound was often  silly; if at times it is firm, dignified and intelligent, it is because  in himself Pound was often firm, dignified and intelligent; if it  is fragmentary and confused, it is because Pound was never  able to think out his position and did not know how the matters with which he dealt were related; and if often lines and  passages have a beauty seldom equaled in the poetry of the twentieth century it is because Pound had a true lyric gift.

As for the Cantos as a whole, I am not competent to make even a comment, much less to  pass judgment. Instead I will quote the distinguished English critic Sir Herbert Read on  the subject:

I am not going to deny that for the most part the Cantos present insuperable difficulties  for the impatient reader, but, as Pound says somewhere, “You can’t get through hell in a hurry.” They are of varying length, but they already amount to more than five hundred pages of verse and constitute the longest, and without hesitation I would say the greatest, poetic achievement of our time.

When The Waste Land was published in 1922 Eliot was still working as a clerk in a  London bank and had just launched his magazine, The Criterion. He left the bank in 1925 to join the newly organized publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer, later to become Faber  and Faber, which gave him the income he needed, leisure for his literary pursuits and  work that was congenial and appropriate. One of his tasks at Fabers, it used to be said,  was writing jacket blurbs. His patience and helpfulness to young authors was well known–from personal experience I can bear witness to his kindness to inexperienced publishers; his friends, in fact, thought that the time he devoted to young authors he felt had promise  might have been better spent on his own work. In spite of the demands on his time and  energy, he continued to edit the Criterion, the publication of which was eventually taken  over by Faber. He attached the greatest importance to the Criterion, as is evidenced by the following from a letter to Lewis dated January 31, 1925 which is devoted entirely to  the Criterion and his wish for Lewis to continue to write regularly for it, “Furthermore I  am not an individual but an instrument, and anything I do is in the interest of art and literature and civilization, and is not a matter for personal compensation.” As it worked  out, Lewis wrote only occasionally for the Criterion, not at all for every issue as Eliot had proposed in the letter referred to above. The closeness of their association, however, in spite of occasional differences, may be judged not only from Eliot’s wish to have something from Lewis in every issue, but from the following from a letter to Eliot from  Lewis:

As I understand with your paper that you are almost in the position I was in with Tyro and Blast I will give you anything I have for nothing, as you did me, and am anxious to be of use to you: for I know that every  failure of an exceptional attempt  like yours with the Criterion means that the chance of  establishing some sort of critical standard here is diminished.

Pound also contributed frequently to the Criterion, but at least pretended not to think much of  it–“… a magnificent piece of editing, i.e. for the purpose of getting in to the  Athenaeum Club, and becoming permanent,” he remarked on one occasion. He, by the  way, accepted some of the blame for what he considered to be Eliot’s unduly cautious approach to criticism. In a letter to the Secretary of the Guggenheim Foundation, written  in 1925 to urge them to extend financial assistance to Eliot and Lewis, he made the  following comment:

I may in some measure be to blame for the extreme caution of his [Eliot’s] criticism. I pointed out to him in the beginning that there was no use of two of us butting a stone wall; that he’d  never be as hefty a battering ram as I was, nor as explosive as Lewis, and that he’d  better try a more oceanic and fluid method of sapping the foundations. He is now respected by the Times  Lit. Sup. But his criticism no longer arouses my interest.

What Pound, of course, wished to “sap” was not the “foundations”of an ordered society,  but of established stupidity and mediocrity. The primary aim of all three, Pound, Eliot  and Lewis, each in his own way, was to defend civilized values. For Eliot, the means to  restore the health of Western civilization was Christianity. In his essay The Idea of A Christian Society he pointed out the dangers of the dominant liberalism of the time, which he thought “must either proceed into a gradual decline of which we can see no end, or reform itself into a positive shape which is likely to be effectively secular.” To attain,  or recover, the Christian society which he thought was the only alternative to a purely secular society, he recommended, among other things, a Christian education. The purpose of  such an education would not be merely to make people pious Christians, but primarily, as he put it, “to train people to be able to think in Christian categories.” The great mass of any population, Eliot thought, necessarily occupied in the everyday cares and demands of life, could not be expected to devote much time or effort to “thinking about the objects of faith,” their Christianity must be almost wholly realized in behavior.  For Christian values, and the faith which supports them to survive there must be, he  thought, a “Community of  Christians,” of people who would lead a “Christian life on its highest social level.”

Eliot thought of “the Community of Christians” not as “an organization, but a body of  indefinite outline, composed of both clergy and laity, of the more conscious, more spiritually and intellectually developed of both.” It will be their “identity of belief and  aspiration, their background of a common culture, which will enable them to influence and be influenced by each other, and collectively to form the conscious mind and the conscience of the nation.” Like William Penn, Eliot didn’t think that the actual form of  government was as important as the moral level of the people, for it is the general ethos of the people they have to govern, not their own piety, that determines the behaviour of  politicians.” For this reason, he thought, “A  nation’s system of education is much more  important than its system of government.”

When we consider the very different personalities of these three men, all enormously  gifted, but quite different in their individual characteristics–Pound, flamboyant, extravagant; Eliot, restrained, cautious; Lewis, suspicious, belligerent–we can’t help but wonder how it was possible for three such men to remain close friends from the time they met as young men until the ends of their lives. Their common American background no doubt played some part in bringing Pound and Eliot together, and they both shared certain characteristics we like to think of as American: generosity, openness to others, a fresher, more unencumbered attitude toward the past than is usual for a European, who,  as Goethe remarked, carries the burden of the quarrels of a long history. But their close association, mutual respect and friendship were based on more than their common origin on this side of the Atlantic. In their basic attitude toward the spirit of their time, all three were outsiders; it was a time dominated by a facile, shallow liberalism, which, as Eliot  once remarked, had “re- placed belief  in Divine Grace” with “the myth of human  goodness.” Above all they were serious men,  they were far more interested in finding and expressing the truth than in success as the world understands it. The English critic  E. W.  F.  Tomlin remarked that a characteristic of  these three “was that they had mastered their subjects, and were  aware of  what lay beyond them. The reading that went into Time and Western Man alone exceeded the life-time capacity of many so-called ‘scholars.’” The royalties Lewis earned from this book, one of the most important of our time, which represented an immense amount of work and thought of the highest order, didn’t amount to a pittance, but Lewis’ concern, as he put it toward the end of his life, was for “the threat of extinction to the cultural tradition of the West.” It was this mutual  concern, on a very  high level, and an utterly serious attitude toward creative work that  brought them and held them together.

Why did Pound and Eliot stay in Europe, and what might have happened to them if they had come back to this country, as both were many times urged to do, or to Lewis if he had  gone to Cornell and stayed over here? In Pound’s case, the answer is rather simple, and was given in essence by his  experience in Crawfordsville, Indiana, as a young man, and the treatment he received following the war. There is no doubt that in making broadcasts on the Italian radio during wartime he was technically guilty of treason; against this, it seems to me, must be weighed the effect of  the broadcasts, which was zero, and his achievement as a poet and critic, which is immense. One can’t expect magnanimity from any government, and especially not in the intoxication of victory in a great war and overwhelming world power, but one might have expected the academic and literary  community to have protested the brutal treatment meted out to Pound. It didn’t, nor was there any protest of his long confinement in a mental institution except on the part of a few individuals; his release was brought about largely as a result of protests from Europe, in which Eliot played a substantial part. When, however, during his confinement in St.  Elizabeth’s, the Bollingen prize for poetry was given him for the Pisan Cantos, the liberal establishment reacted with the sort of  roar one might have expected had the Nobel Peace Prize been awarded to Adolf Hitler.

Lewis spent some five years in Toronto during World War II, which, incidentally, provided him with the background for one of his greatest novels, Self Condemned. He was desperately hard up, and tried to get lecture engagements from a number of  universities, including the University of Chicago. A small Canadian Catholic college was the only representative of the academic institutions of North America to offer this really great, creative intelligence something more substantial than an occasional lecture. Since his death, Cornell and the University of Buffalo have spent large sums accumulating Lewis material-manuscripts, letters, first editions, drawings, etc. When they could have done something for Lewis himself,  to their own glory and profit, they ignored him.

The American intellectual establishment, on the other hand, did not ignore the Communist-apologist Harold Laski, who was afforded all the honors and respect at its  command, the  Harold Laski who, in 1934, at the height of Stalinism–mass arrests, millions in slave labor camps and all the rest–had lectured at the Soviet Institute of Law.

Following his return to England the Labour government gave Lewis, “the Enemy” of socialism, as he called himself, a civil pension, and the BBC invited him to lecture regularly on modern art and to write for its publication, The Listener. He was even  awarded an honorary degree by the University of Leeds. Can anyone imagine CBS, for  example, offering a position of any kind to a man with Lewis’ unorthodox views, uncompromising intelligence, and ability to see the world for what it is, the Ford  Foundation offering him a grant, or Harvard or Yale granting him an honorary degree? Harold Laski indeed yes, but Wyndham Lewis? It is inconceivable.

The following taken from letters from Ezra Pound, the first written in 1926 to Harriet Monroe, and the second in 1934 to his old professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Felix Schelling, puts the problem of the poet in America as he saw it very graphically:

Poverty here is decent and honourable. In America it lays one open to continuous insult on all sides.  . . Re your question is it any better abroad for authors: England gives small pensions; France provides jobs.  . . Italy is full of ancient libraries; the  jobs are quite comfortable, not very highly paid, but are  respectable, and can’t much interfere with the librarians’ time.

As for “expatriated”? You know damn well the country wouldn’t  feed me. The simple economic fact that if I had returned to  America I shd. have starved, and that to maintain anything like the standard of living, or indeed to live, in America from 1918  onwards I shd. have had to quadruple my earnings, i.e. it wd. have been impossible for me to devote any time to my REAL work.

Eliot, of course, fared much better than Pound at the hands of the academy. As early as  1932 he was invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard, many universities honored themselves by awarding him honorary degrees, he was given the  Nobel Prize, etc. One can’t help but wonder, however, if his achievement would have been  possible if he had completed his Ph.D. and become a Harvard professor. He wrote some  of his greatest poetry and founded the Criterion while still a bank clerk in London. One can say with considerable justification that as a clerk in Lloyd’s Bank in London Eliot had more opportunity for creative work and got more done than would have been possible had he been a Harvard  professor. It was done, of course, at the cost of intensely hard  work–in a letter to Quinn in the early twenties he remarks that he was working such long  hours that he didn’t have time either for the barber or the dentist. But he had something  to show for it.

It is impossible, of course, to sum up the achievement of these three men. They were very much a part of the time in which they lived, however much they rejected its basic assumptions and point of view. Both Lewis and Eliot described themselves as classicists, among other reasons, no doubt, because of the importance they attached to order; Lewis  at one time called Pound a “revolutionary simpleton,” which in certain ways was probably justified, but in his emphasis on “precise verbal definitions,” on the proper use  of language, Pound was a classicist too. All three, each in his own way, were concerned  with the health of society; Eliot founded the Criterion to restore values; in such books as  Time and Western Man, Paleface, The Art of Being Ruled, Lewis was fighting for an intelligent understanding of the nature of our civilization and of the forces he thought were undermining it. The political books Lewis wrote in the thirties, for which he was violently and unfairly condemned, were written not to promote fascism, as some simple-minded critics have contended, but to point out that a repetition of World War I would  be even more catastrophic for civilization than the first. In many of his political judgments Pound was undoubtedly completely mistaken and irresponsible, but he would  deserve an honored place in literature only for his unerring critical judgment, for his ability to discern quality, and for his encouragement at a critical point in the career of each of such men as Joyce, Hemingway, Eliot, Frost, and then there are his letters–letters of  encouragement and criticism to aspiring poets, to students, letters opening doors or asking for help for a promising writer, the dozens of letters to Harriet Monroe. “Keep on remindin’ ’em that we ain’t bolsheviks, but only the terrifyin’ voice of civilization, kultchuh, refinement, aesthetic perception,” he wrote in one to Miss Monroe, and when she wanted to retire, he wrote to her, “The intelligence of the nation [is] more important than the comfort of any one individual or the bodily life of a whole generation.” In a letter to H. L. Mencken thanking him for a copy of the latter’s In Defense of Women, Pound remarked, almost as an afterthought, “What is wrong with it,  and with your work in general is that you have drifted into writing for your inferiors.” Could anyone have put it more precisely? Whoever wants to know what went on in the period from about 1910 to 1940, whatever he may think of his politics or economics, or  even his poetry, will have to consult the letters of  Ezra Pound–the proper function of  the artist in society, he thought, was to be “not only its intelligence, but its ‘nostrils and  antennae.’” And this, as his letters clearly show, Pound made a strenuous and, more often than not, successful effort to be.

How much of  Lewis’ qualities were a result of his American heritage it would be hard to say, but there can be no doubt that much in both Pound and Eliot came from their  American background. We may not have been able to give them what they needed to realize their talents and special qualities, they may even have been more resented than  appreciated by many Americans, but that they did have qualities and characteristics which were distinctly American there can be no doubt. To this extent, at least, we can  consider them an American gift to the Old World. In one of Eliot’s most beautiful works,  The Rock, a “Pageant Play written on behalf of the forty-five churches Fund of the Diocese of London,” as it says on the title page, there are the lines, “I have said, take no thought of the harvest, but only of perfect sowing.” In taking upon themselves the difficult, thankless task of being the “terrifying voices of civilization” Eliot and his two friends, I am sure, didn’t give much thought of the possible consequences to themselves,  of what there “might be in it for them,” but what better can one say of anyone’s life than “He sowed better than he reaped?’’

Originally published in Modern Age, June 1972. Reprinted with the permission of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Henry Regnery (1912-1996) was an American publisher.

 

jeudi, 29 novembre 2012

Richard Millet über Terrorismus und Literatur

 millet.jpg

Richard Millet über Terrorismus und Literatur

Martin LICHTMESZ

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

Unmittelbar nach der Tat bezeichnete der deutsche Komponist Karlheinz Stockhausen den Terroranschlag vom 11. September 2001 als „das größte Kunstwerk, was es je gegeben hat“. Den Zusatz „jetzt müssen Sie alle Ihr Gehirn umstellen“ vorausgeschickt, sagte er im Wortlaut:

Daß also Geister in einem Akt etwas vollbringen, was wir in der Musik nie träumen könnten, daß Leute zehn Jahre üben wie verrückt, total fanatisch, für ein Konzert. Und dann sterben. Und das ist das größte Kunstwerk, das es überhaupt gibt für den ganzen Kosmos. Stellen Sie sich das doch vor, was da passiert ist. Das sind also Leute, die sind so konzentriert auf dieses eine, auf die eine Aufführung, und dann werden fünftausend Leute in die Auferstehung gejagt. In einem Moment. Das könnte ich nicht. Dagegen sind wir gar nichts, also als Komponisten. … Ein Verbrechen ist es deshalb, weil die Menschen nicht einverstanden waren. Die sind nicht in das Konzert gekommen. Das ist klar. Und es hat ihnen niemand angekündigt, ihr könntet dabei draufgehen.

Stockhausen kam damit trotz großer Empörung gerade noch davon – als Abgesandter des Sirius schützte ihn die Narrenfreiheit des Avantgardisten. Kurz darauf erregte auch der postmoderne Philosoph Jean Baudrillard erhebliche Irritation, als er in einem Artikel für die Tageszeitung Le Monde den Terroranschlag als eine Art Hyper-Event, als „Mutter aller Events“ beschrieb. Während noch alle Welt unter Schock stand, und in Deutschland betappert „Wir sind alle Amerikaner!“ gestammelt wurde, versuchte Baudrillard, die Tat mit kaltem Auge als Menetekel und Symbol zu lesen, an dem auch der selbstzerstörerische Trieb des Westens sichtbar werde.

Der Spiegel interviewte Baudrillard zu diesen Thesen:

SPIEGEL: Monsieur Baudrillard, Sie haben die Attentate vom 11. September in New York und Washington als das „absolute Ereignis“ beschrieben. Sie haben die USA beschuldigt, durch ihre unerträgliche hegemoniale Übermacht den unwiderstehlichen Wunsch nach ihrer Zerstörung zu wecken. Jetzt, wo die Herrschaft der Taliban kläglich zusammengebrochen ist, Bin Laden nichts mehr als ein gehetzter Flüchtling ist, ­ müssen Sie nicht alles widerrufen?

Baudrillard: Ich habe nichts verherrlicht, niemanden angeklagt und nichts gerechtfertigt. Man darf den Botschafter nicht mit seiner Kunde verwechseln. Ich bemühe mich, einen Prozess zu analysieren: den der Globalisierung, die durch ihre schrankenlose Ausdehnung die Bedingungen für ihre eigene Zerstörung schafft.

SPIEGEL: Lenken Sie damit nicht einfach ab von der Tatsache, dass identifizierbare Verbrecher und Terroristen für die Anschläge verantwortlich sind?

Baudrillard: Natürlich gibt es handelnde Akteure, aber der Geist des Terrorismus und der Panik reicht weit über sie hinaus. Der Krieg der Amerikaner konzentriert sich auf ein sichtbares Objekt, das sie zerschmettern möchten. Doch das Ereignis vom 11. September in all seiner symbolischen Bedeutung lässt sich so nicht auslöschen. Die Bomben auf Afghanistan sind eine völlig unzulängliche Ersatzhandlung.

SPIEGEL: Warum können Sie nicht einfach akzeptieren, dass die Zerstörung des World Trade Center die willkürliche, irrationale Tat einiger verblendeter Fanatiker war?

Baudrillard: Eine gute Frage, aber selbst wenn es sich um eine bloße Katastrophe gehandelt hätte, bliebe die symbolische Bedeutung des Ereignisses erhalten. Nur so erklärt sich auch seine Faszination. Hier ist etwas geschehen, das bei weitem den Willen der Akteure übersteigt. Es gibt eine universelle Allergie gegen eine endgültige Ordnung, gegen eine endgültige Macht, und die Zwillingstürme des World Trade Center verkörperten diese endgültige Ordnung in vollkommener Weise.

SPIEGEL: Demnach erklären Sie den terroristischen Wahn als unausweichliche Reaktion auf ein System, das selbst größenwahnsinnig geworden ist?

Baudrillard: Das System selbst in seinem totalen Anspruch hat die objektiven Bedingungen dieses furchtbaren Gegenschlags geschaffen. Der immanente Irrsinn der Globalisierung bringt Wahnsinnige hervor, so wie eine unausgeglichene Gesellschaft Delinquenten und Psychopathen erzeugt. In Wahrheit sind diese aber nur die Symptome des Übels. Der Terrorismus ist überall, wie ein Virus. Er braucht Afghanistan nicht als Heimstatt.

Irgendwo in der Mitte zwischen Baudrillard und Stockhausen stossen wir auf den österreichischen Künstler und Medientheoretiker Peter Weibel, der vor einem Jahr in einem Interview mit dem Standard das Auftreten von Amokläufern und Attentätern in Europa als Symptome eines zerfallenden Systems deutete:

  Das Problem ist: Je länger es dauert, bis das System implodiert, desto höher sind die Kosten. Die Armut wird steigen, damit steigt in der Gesellschaft das Konfliktpotential. Denken wir doch nur an die Attentate in Norwegen und Lüttich. Man kann es sich einfach machen und sagen: Anders Brevik und Nordine Amrani sind geisteskranke Individuen. Aber diese Attentäter nahmen Tendenzen, Slogans, Gedankengut auf. Brevik hat ein Manifest mit 1500 Seiten geschrieben. Und durch ihre psychische Kondition wurde dieses Gedankengut verzerrt. Amrani und Brevik hätten es aber nicht verzerren können, wenn nicht etwas zum Verzerren da gewesen wäre. Jetzt versucht man, Menschen wie Brevik zu isolieren – und übersieht, dass das Pathologische nicht in ihnen, sondern in der Gesellschaft ist. Sie sind nur das Fieberthermometer. Wenn wir nicht bald eine Lösung finden, werden solche Attentate zunehmen. Und das wäre für mich ein Symptom für die sich abzeichnende Instabilität des Systems.

Weibel ist ein Veteran des „Wiener Aktionismus“ - man begegnet ihm auch als Gesprächspartner Lutz Dammbecks in dessen legendärer Dokumentarstudie „Das Meisterspiel“ (1998), die unter anderem die alte Frage der Avantgarde nach dem Aufbrechen und Sprengen der traditionellen Grenzen der Kunst umkreiste.

Im Zentrum des Films stand ein Akt von ästhetischem „Terrorismus“: Ein unbekannter Täter war im September 1994 in das Atelier des als „Übermaler“ fremder Gemälde bekannt gewordenen Arnulf Rainer eingedrungen, und hatte dessen Bilder seinerseits mit schwarzer Farbe übermalt (wie übrigens auch einmal der „Pornojäger“ Martin Humer ein Bild von Otto Mühl „zugenitscht“ hat), eines davon mit der Persiflage eines Satzes aus der Autobiographie eines bekannten verhinderten Künstlers versehen, der sich später unter anderem in der „Ästhetisierung der Politik“  einen Namen gemacht hat, in großen roten Lettern:

Und da beschloß er, Aktionist zu sein.

Etwa ein Jahr später wurde der Polizei ein „Bekennerschreiben“ zugesandt, in der Tat eine kenntnisreiche, manifestartige Fundamentalkritik bestimmter Tendenzen der modernen Kunst. Ob tatsächlich der Autor des Traktats mit dem Übermaler des Übermalers identisch war, bleibt bis heute ungeklärt (manche vermuten, daß niemand anders als Rainer selbst hinter der Aktion steckte).

Zeitgleich wurde Österreich von einer geheimnisvollen Briefbombenserie mit fremdenfeindlichem Hintergrund heimgesucht, die ebenfalls von Manifesten (und sogar schwarzen Texttafeln) begleitet wurde. Das führte Dammbeck zu der Frage, ob es sich hierbei nicht auch um eine Art von blutiger „Konzeptkunst“ handeln könne.

Der 1953 geborene französische Romancier und Essayist Richard Millet steht also mit seinem im August des Jahres erschienenen Essay mit dem irritierenden Titel „Literarische Lobrede auf Anders Breivik“ durchaus in einer langen intellektuellen Tradition. Im Gegensatz zu Stockhausen und Baudrillard ist er aber nicht bloß mit einem blauen Auge davongekommen.

Alain de Benoist berichtete über die massive mediale Diffamierungs- und Ausgrenzungskampagne, die wider Millet einsetzte, und ihn schließlich seine Position als Lektor von Gallimard kostete (unter anderem hatte er die Herausgabe des Schlagers „Die Wohlgesinnten“ von Jonathan Littell maßgeblich mitverantwortet).

Über den Inhalt des Essays gelogen wurde auch in der deutschen Presse, die Millet übrigens bisher recht wohlgesonnen (no pun intended) war. Seinen Roman „Die drei Schwestern Piale“ (1998) pries die Süddeutsche Zeitung als „Kunstwerk von seltener Geschliffenheit und Eleganz“, und die Zeit lobte „Der Stolz der Familie Pythre“ (2001) für seine „klare und leuchtende Sprache“. Die Sprache und ihr Verfall zur Schablone der „Allgemeinheiten“ ist ein wesentliches Thema Millets: so seines Großessays „Langue Fantôme“ (Phantomsprache), zu dem die „Éloge littéraire“ nur eine kurze Bonusbeigabe ist.

In der Tat wird bei der Lektüre des inkriminierten Textes schnell klar, daß der Titel nicht nur ironisch, sondern geradewegs sarkastisch gemeint ist: in einer Zeit, in der die Sprache, die Kultur und die Literatur massiv verfallen und zerstört werden, kann man auch einen destruktiven Akt wie den Breiviks als „literarisch“ bezeichnen. Den Begriff der „Literatur“ faßt Millet dabei recht weit, gebraucht ihn geradezu synonym mit „Kultur“ selbst. In seinem Essay schreibt er:

Die Herrschaft der Zahl, der Multikulturalismus, die Horizontalität, der Taumel der Erschöpfung und der Verlust des Sinns, sowie das, was Renaud Camus die „Entzivilisierung“ nennt, zusammen mit seinem Korollarium, dem „großen Bevölkerungausstausch“: all dies bedeutet die Niederlage der Literatur.

In der aktuellen Jungen Freiheit (48/12) findet sich ein lesenwertes Interview mit Millet, in dem er den Hintergrund seines Aufsatzes erläutert:

Man muß sich dem Abscheulichen stellen, dem Unentschuldbaren. Dostojewski lieferte in den „Dämonen“ sehr gute Porträts von Monstern, Truman Capote in „Kaltblütig“. Von Breivik zu sprechen bedeutet also eine Methode, um vom Bösen zu sprechen. Ist das nicht die Aufgabe des Schriftstellers? (…)

Breivik ist ein verfehlter Schriftsteller – er selbst definierte sich im Laufe seines Prozesses als Schriftsteller. Meine „Eloge“ ist offensichtlich ironisch. Breivik symbolisiert den Tod der europäischen Kultur. Ich wollte zeigen, daß Literatur und noch viel mehr Kultur im Abendland keinen Wert mehr besitzen und daß es der Tod derselben ist, der das Vordringen des Multikulturalismus ermöglicht. Breivik und der Multikulturalismus verkörpern den Tod der Literatur insoweit, als daß letztere eine der gehobensten Ausdrucksformen dieser Kultur ist.

Breivik und sein algerisch-islamisches Pendant Mohammed Merah, der im März 2012 in Frankreich sieben Menschen erschoß, darunter drei jüdische Kinder, nennt er

…. Kriminelle, die die Schuld verbrecherischen Denkens zu Fragen der Nation und der Zivilisation tragen. Während Merah zum Dunstkreis
des internationalen islamischen Terrorismus gehört und Breivik zur Dekadenz, die er anprangert, so sind doch beide das Symbol eines Bürgerkriegs. Eines Bürgerkrieges, der noch nicht benannt wurde, weil das die Propaganda untersagt.

Dennoch ist er real: Die französischen Vorstädte befinden sich in der Gewalt von Jugoslawen oder Libanesen, da hier das Gesetz der Republik von Immigranten und einheimischen Taugenichtsen, die keinerlei Wunsch zur Integration haben, zum Versagen gebracht wird. Wenn Sie bewaffnete Soldatenpatrouillen in der U-Bahn, auf Bahnhöfen, im Hof des Louvre sehen, glauben Sie das sei Disneyland? Nein, sie sind die Konsequenz des islamistischen Terrors und der passiven Anwesenheit der Moslems, die den Islamismus auf hiesigem Boden mehr oder weniger begünstigen.

Nicht anders also als der oben zitierte Peter Weibel hebt Millet in seinem umstrittenen Essay hervor, daß es sich bei dem Attentäter um einen gescheiterten Autor handelt, als Verfasser eines „naiven“ 1,500-seitigen „Paste & Copy“-Kompendiums, dessen Machart ein durch und durch „wikipedisiertes“ Gehirn erkennen läßt. Seine Tat habe eine gewisse „formale Perfektion“ gezeigt, lange vorbereitet und wohl durchdacht in Bezug auf das, was sie mit Blut und Massenmord „kommunizieren“ wollte – durchaus vergleichbar mit der präzise gewählten Symbolik der Ziele des „9/11″-Attentats.

Und wie Weibel sieht auch Millet Breivik als Ausgeburt und Spiegel einer pathologischen Gesellschaft, als „Symptom für die sich abzeichnende Instabilität des Systems“:

Breivik  ist in erster Linie ein exemplarisches Produkt der abendländischen Dekadenz im Habitus eines amerikanisierten Kleinbürgers… Er ist nicht nur das Kind der Zerrüttung der Familie, sondern auch des ideologisch-ethnischen Bruchs, den die außereuropäische Einwanderung nach Europa über fünfzig Jahre hinweg verursacht hat, und der lange vorbereitet wurde durch die Einwirkung der amerikanischen Massenunkultur, der ultimativen Konsequenz des Marshallplanes: des Planes einer absoluten Herrschaft des globalisierten Marktes, der Europa enthistorisiert, auf der wirtschaftlichen, kulturellen und ohne Zweifel auch ethnischen Ebene.  (…)

Gleich Baudrillard sieht er in dem Terrorakt das grausame Wirken der Nemesis, die sich das System durch seinen eigenen Wahnsinn und seine Maßlosigkeit selbst heraufbeschworen hat:

Breivik ist zweifellos das, was Norwegen verdiente und was unsere Gesellschaften erwartet, die sich unablässig blind stellen, um sich besser selbst verleugnen zu können. (…)

Der Sommer (2011) brachte uns die Nuklearkatastrophe von Fukushima, das Abgleiten der internationalen Politik in die Lächerlichkeit durch die Affäre Strauss-Kahn, dem sozio-priapischen Terroristen und bisher ungewürdigten Gegenstück zu dem christdemokratischen Erotomanen Berlusconi, und, am Morgen nach dem Massaker von Utoya, den Tod von Amy Winehouse, der Breivik beinahe die Schau stahl, vor allem aber den vulkanartigen Ausbruch einer Finanzkrise, die seit dem Jahr 2008 vor sich hinschwelte, und die momentan dabei ist, Europa endgültig in die Knie zu zwingen.

Daß eine Finanzkrise dieses Ausmaßes auch den Bankrott der Zivilisation selbst offenbart, wollen nur die Schwachköpfe nicht sehen.  Breivik ist, soviel steht fest, ein verzweifeltes und entmutigendes Symbol für die europäische Unterschätzung der Verheerungen des Multikulturalismus; auch das Symbol einer Niederlage des Geistes vor dem Profit des Geldes. Die finanzielle Krise ist eine Krise des Sinns, der Werte, also auch der Literatur.

Millet verzeichnet in diesem Zusammenhang die seit etwa zwei Jahrzehnten ansteigende Ausbreitung von Massenmorden „amerikanischen“ Stils (sozusagen „à la Columbine“) gerade in jenen (nord-)europäischen Ländern, die lange Zeit als sozial und politisch stabil galten: England, Schweiz, Frankreich, Deutschland und Finnland.

Dabei sieht Millet in Breivik nun durchaus keinen „Warhol des Anti-Multikulturalismus“, der nur auf seine 15 Minuten Ruhm aus gewesen sei und „l‘art pour l‘art“ betrieben hätte:

Weit entfernt, ein Konzeptkünstler zu sein, glaubte Breivik nicht an das, was Baudrillard die „Duplizität“ der zeitgenössischen Kunst nannte, mit ihrem Bekenntnis zur „Nichtigkeit, zur Bedeutungslosigkeit, zum Non-sens, da man ja bereits nichtig ist“  – die in der Tat jeglichen künstlerischen und existenziellen Ansatz zunichte macht. (…)

Er hat auch nicht bloß jene nach Breton einfachste surreale Geste nachvollzogen, die darin bestehe, „wahllos mit dem Revolver in die Menge zu feuern“; er hat auch nicht Cioran beim Wort genommen, der einmal schrieb, daß jeder Mensch, der noch bei Sinnen ist, schon aufgrund der Tatsache, sich auf einer Straße zu befinden, Ausrottungsgelüste bekommen müsse. Beide Sentenzen, sowohl Ciorans und als auch Bretons, wurden bisher viel zu wenig vor dem Untergrund der Kriege und Genozide des 20. Jahrhunderts gelesen, mit Adornos Diktum vom Ende der Kultur „nach Auschwitz“ im Hinterkopf.

Die Ausrottung als literarisches Motiv: das ist das Unrechtfertigbare schlechthin, und dieses beinhaltet die von Breivik indirekt (und gewiß unbeabsichtigt) aufgerollte Frage nach dem Problem der globalen Überbevölkerung und der ökologischen Katastrophe, die sich verkoppelt mit jener nach der demographischen Entvölkerung Europas und der Zerstörung der Homogenität der europäischen Gesellschaften, wie in Norwegen, Finnland, Schweden, Dänemark, Holland, allesamt Länder, in denen jene, die man schamhaft als Populisten bezeichnet, in die Regierungen gewählt wurden.  (…)

Millet sieht einen engen Zusammenhang zwischen dem biologischen Tod Europas und dem vorangehenden Tod seiner Seele durch den Materialismus und die Verleugnung und Demontage seiner Identität. Auch im JF-Interview findet er hierfür drastische, harte Worte:

Die Europäer beklagen permanent ihr Schicksal. Spricht man zu ihnen von Zivilisation, antworten sie mit Ökonomie, sozial und ethisch, das heißt mit alltäglichstem Materialismus. Sie sind verfehlte Amerikaner so wie Breivik ein verfehlter Autor ist. Von dem Moment an, wo man sich selbst verleugnet, egal ob Franzose, Deutscher oder Europäer, begibt man sich in eine freiwillige Sklaverei, vollzieht die Unterwerfung der Gegenwart unter die Irrealität. Man selbst zu sein wird eine Art Schändlichkeit.

Würde ist das Empfinden für das, was man denen schuldet, die uns vorausgegangen sind, deren Erbe, die europäische Zivilisation, wir übernommen haben und deren Wurzeln christlich sind. Hat nicht Georges Bernanos gesagt, daß die moderne Zivilisation eine Verschwörung gegen jedwede Art von geistigem Leben ist?

Und er betont den bitteren Preis, den in Frankreich jeder zahlen muß, der es wagt, sich diesem Themenkomplex abseits der vorgeschriebenen Sprachregelungen zu nähern:

Die Gegenwartsliteratur kann sich damit nur unter der Maßgabe der politischen Korrektheit beschäftigen. Zu viele Journalisten fürchten die Justiz, falls sie sich solcher Themen annehmen. Die Darstellung des Ausländers, des Migranten, des illegalen Einwanderers muß explizit stark positiv erfolgen. Sagen Sie etwas anderes, laufen Sie Gefahr, als Faschist, ein anderes Wort für Rassist, beschimpft zu werden, was grotesk ist. Die Zensur hat ihre Form geändert: ständige Selbstzensur und Unterwerfung unter die Welt-Ideologie, post-rassistisch, postmenschlich. Die wenigen Intellektuellen, die es wagen, das Gegenteil zu denken – Alain Finkielkraut, Renaud Camus, Robert Redeker, ich selbst – werden vom größten Teil der Medien gehaßt.

 

mercredi, 21 novembre 2012

ELEMENTOS Nº 36. DRIEU LA ROCHELLE

ELEMENTOS Nº 36. DRIEU LA ROCHELLE. ARTISTA DE LA DECADENCIA

 
Enlace Revista electrónica

Enlace Revista documento pdf

Sumario.-
 
 
En torno a Drieu la Rochelle. Cronología y Bibliografía, por José Antonio Hernández
Ingenieros de almas. El caso Drieu la Rochelle, por Luis León Barga
Drieu la Rochelle: “No se es víctima cuando se es héroe”, por Giselle Dexter y Roberto Bardini
La revuelta del burgués contra sí mismo, por Ynalinne
Pierre Drieu la Rochelle y Europa, por Ernesto Milá
Drieu la Rochelle y la cara oculta de Francia, por Enrique López Viejo
Actualidad de Drieu la Rochelle, por Claudio Mutti
Pierre Drieu la Rochelle. El aciago seductor, por José Antonio Vázquez 
Drieu la Rochelle, radiografía de un caballero veleidoso, por Gerardo Fernández Fe
Victoria Ocampo, Pierre Drieu y las cartas de un amor difunto, por Pablo E. Chacón
Drieu la Rochelle. La Cultura de la Otra Europa, Thule
André Malraux habla sobre Drieu la Rochelle, entrevista con Fréderic Grover
El matrimonio blanco de Drieu, por Paulhan Claire
Aproximación temática a la obra novelística de Drieu la Rochelle, por Cristina Solé Castells
Ledesma Ramos, Drieu la Rochelle y Brasillach. Críticas y propuestas, por   Michel Schneider y José Cuadrado Costa
 

dimanche, 18 novembre 2012

Citation de Renaud Camus

Renaud Camus parle:

RC.jpg“Vous avez un peuple et quasiment du jour au lendemain, à l’échelle des peuples, en une génération, vous avez à sa place, sur son territoire, un ou plusieurs autres peuples. Vous avez une culture, une civilisation et en moins de temps qu’il n’en faut à un enfant pour devenir adulte, à un jeune homme pour devenir un homme mûr, se développent sur le même territoire, par substitution, d’autres cultures, d’autres civilisations dont M. Guéant me permettra de dire qu’elles ne valent pas celle qu’elles remplacent, au moins pour prospérer sur ce territoire-là. Poitiers m’en soit témoin, voici que vous avez autour de vous d’autres monuments, d’autres édifices religieux, d’autres visages, d’autre relations entre les hommes et les femmes, d’autres façons de se vêtir, d’autres langues bien souvent et de plus en plus, une autre religion, d’autres nourritures et d’autres rapports à la nourriture, d’autres façons d’habiter la terre et plus encore d’habiter tout court, d’habiter les immeubles, les cages d’escalier, les quartiers, d’autres façons d’administrer l’espace, d’autres rapports à la nature, à l’environnement, à la loi, à la délinquance, à la violence, au contrat social, à la protection sociale, au pacte d’in-nocence, de non-nuisance.

J’estime pour ma part, et je commence à n’être pas le seul, que ce changement de peuple, ce Grand Remplacement, est, quoi qu’on puisse en penser d’autre part, qu’on s’en réjouisse ou qu’on le déplore, le phénomène le plus important de l’histoire de France depuis quinze siècles.”

Renaud Camus

samedi, 17 novembre 2012

The Trial Of Ezra Pound

The Trial Of Ezra Pound

vendredi, 16 novembre 2012

Sur Rogere Nimier

nimier.jpg

Roger Nimier

dir. Philippe Barthelet et Pierre-Guillaume de Roux

Roger Nimier

En librairie le 20 Septembre 2012
ISBN 2-36371-0406
Format 15,5 X 24 CM
Pages 256 p.
Prix 27 €

Roger Nimier n’est pas mort

Une mort brutale et spectaculaire, en septembre 1962, allait valoir à Roger Nimier une longue postérité de quiproquo. Cet accident biographique aura permis à la mythologie littéraire d’usurper les droits de la littérature, et de faire oublier, tout simplement, un écrivain de premier ordre. Bernard Frank voyait juste quand, dans son célèbre article des Temps modernes, « Grognards et Hussards », il faisait de Roger Nimier un chef de file : même si les Hussards (Roger Nimier, Jacques Laurent, Antoine Blondin) n’ont jamais formé une école, pas même un groupe amical, et n’ont vraiment été réunis que dans l’intention polémique de leurs adversaires, un ton était donné par eux à leur époque, et ce ton - ironie et désinvolture, mais aussi ferveur et panache, Dumas autant que Stendhal - Roger Nimier l’a résumé presque à lui seul.

Trop généreux pour vivre sans amis - sans ennemis aussi - , il a provoqué ses contemporains, qui l’ont aimé ou détesté avec une égale fascination. Bien au-delà de la résistance instinctive à des mots d’ordre passés de mode (l’idéologie de « l’engagement » par exemple), ce qu’on peut appeler « l’esprit hussard » ne faisait que retrouver cette liberté française à la fois hautaine et familière, railleuse et charitable qui, au moins depuis l’Astrée, a formé le climat de notre littérature et quasi son air natal.

Une œuvre de défi

Cinquante ans après la mort de Roger Nimier, il est temps de réévaluer une œuvre et une influence dégagées des douteux prestiges du fait divers -  à quoi ce volume voudrait s’employer. Sans oublier l’œuvre parallèle de Jacques Laurent (étudiées comme elle l’aura peu été jusqu’ici par Alain Cresciucci ou Quentin Debray), ni l’amitié d’Antoine Blondin (Jacques Trémolet de Villers fait son portrait en ange déchu), les autres fidèles de Nimier sont présents : Stéphen Hecquet (évoqué par Jean-Denis Bredin) ou Roland Cailleux (Isabelle Cailleux-Desnoyers et Christian Dedet). S’agissant de Nimier lui-même, des études éclairent divers aspects de son œuvre, comme ses rapports avec le cinéma (Philippe d’Hugues) ou démontrent l’évidence de son actualité (Bertrand Lacarelle).

Témoignages et correspondances inédits

Des témoignages d’écrivains, ses aînés (Arland, Céline, Cocteau, Green, Jouhandeau, Léautaud, Morand, Jacques Perret, Jules Roy, Alexandre Vialatte) ses contemporains (Pierre Boutang, Kléber Haedens, Jean-René Huguenin, Éric Ollivier, François Seintein, Willy de Spens) ou ses cadets (José Giovanni, Gabriel Matzneff, Dominique de Roux), mais aussi des éditeurs (Roland Laudenbach, Jean-Claude Fasquelle), un compagnon politique de jeunesse (Robert Poujade) ou un cinéaste qui a œuvré avec lui (Alexandre Astruc), sans compter les souvenirs de lycée de ses condisciples Michel Tournier ou Jean-Jacques Amar. Des correspondances inédites (lettres de l’élève du lycée Pasteur à Jean-Jacques Amar ou du critique de la NRF à Pol Vandromme) ainsi que des articles de jeunesse jamais recueillis  complètent cet ensemble dont l’ambition, loin de toute archéologie littéraire et en dehors de tout prétexte anniversaire, est de démontrer par l’exemple ce que doit être la littérature vivante. 

 

Points forts

Actualité : Anniversaire des 50 ans de la mort de Roger Nimier

L’esprit Hussard aujourd’hui : L’incarnation de la liberté française

Valeur : Une œuvre et une influence enfin sorties du « fait divers »

Inédits : Des témoignages inédits et réactualisés ainsi que des articles de jeunesse rares

Dans la presse 

 
Magazine littéraire

27 Septembre 2012

Roger Nimier, haie d'honneur pour le hussard

 

François Mauriac avait vu juste «Je suis tranquille quant à votre destin d'écrivain», assurait-il a Roger Nimier dans une lettre d'octobre 1950 « En voila un qui survole Kafka, le surréalisme de tous les cons de cette génération conière!», appuyait-il dans une lettre à son secrétaire Eric Ollivier. Un demi-siècle après une mort brutale - à 36 ans, le 28 septembre 1962 - dans un accident de voiture sur l'autoroute avec l'énigmatique romancière aux airs de walkyriee fifties Sunsiaré de Larcône (alias Suzv Durupt), le chef de file des Hussards Roger Nimier reste une icône de « la droite buissonnière »        

Mais pas seulement. Au-delà des invectives du fameux article de Bernard Frank gorgé de pensée sartrienne dans Les Temps modernes de décembre 1952, l'œuvre de Roger Nimier est aujourd'hui fêtée par deux gros volumes riches en études, souvenirs et lettres diverses, des rééditions de ses nouvelles, contes, articles et essais, et deux revues qui saluent son talent de polémiste et de romancier—un numéro hommage de la revue Bordel et une nouvelle- née malicieusement intitulée La         Hussarde, nouvelle revue féminine.         

Quelle avalanche ! Pour s'y retrouver, signalons la nouyelle totalement inédite « Le clavier de l'Underwood» publiée dans Bal chez le gouverneur, ainsi que les récentes approches critiques et les documents réunis dans Roger Nimier Antoine BlondIN Jacques Laurent et l'esprit hussard Nimier a des amis de tous côtÉs. II est donc temps de retirer les étiquettes collées sur l'auteur des Epées, du Hussard bleu,et des Enfants tristes, qui fut aussi conseiller littéraire chez Gallimard, où il s'occupait de faire vivre l'œuvre du bouillant Céline Paul Morand, bien à droite sur l'échiquier politico-littéraire de l’après-guerre, notait dans son Journal inutile à propos de son petit-fils en littérature «Les Hussards Drôle de penser que Nimier et Jacques Laurent, qui passent pour légers, n'aimaient que la philosophie »

Tête bien faite, bien ordonnée et adepte d'une « respectueuse insolence », Nimier traquait la confusion des esprits et s'élevait contre la littérature engagée A ses côtes, Jacques Laurent avec sa revue La Parisienne, offrait«l'occasion nouvelle de dégager notre bon sens », selon le philosophe Pierre Boutang II n'y eut pas vraiment d’école de Hussards, mais plutôt une proximité temporelle bien venue entre des écrivains qui faisaient vivre l'esprit, ôtaient les cadenas d'une pensée prisonnière, avec méthode humour et désinvolture et sans le sérieux compassé du surréalisme vieillissant, presque notable. Alentour, citons Blondin bien sûr, et Michel Déon, Jacques Perret, Félicien Marceau, Michel Mohrt. Les documents réunis par Massin directeur artistique chez Gallimard et voisin de bureau de Nimier dévoilent son rôle d'éditeur plein de drôlerie à travers ses crayonnages, ses couvertures parodiques, ses prières d insérer écrits sur un coin de table. Nimier qui n’avait pas l'appétit de se connaître trouve, au milieu de l'hommage kaléidoscopique qui lui est rendu, une fraternité et une fidelité heureuses pour une œuvre protéiforme qui dépasse avec succès l'horizon de sa génération.

OLIVIER CARIGUEL

Roger Nimier, Antoine Blondin, Jacques Laurent et l'esprit Hussard, collectif sous la direction de Philippe Barthelet et de Pierre-Guillaume de Roux (Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2012)

 

 
L'Express

26 Septembre 2012

Roger Nimier à tombeau ouvert

Cinquante ans après sa mort dans un accident de voiture, de nombreux témoins prennent la plume pour évoquer la figure du "hussard". femmes, romans, alcool, bolides, polémiques avec Sartre ou Camus : derniers secrets de ce prince de l'insolence.

Les fans de Diana ont le 13e pilier du tunnel de l'Alma. Les inconditionnels de Roger Nimier, prince des lettres, ont, eux, une borne sur l'autoroute de l'Ouest, là où le « hussard » de 36 ans perdit la vie dans un terrible accident de voiture, au soir du 28 septembre 1962. C'était il y a très exactement cinquante ans. « Chaque semaine, je passe sur l'autostrade de l'Ouest. On ne réparera jamais, pour moi, certaines bornes, après certain taillis, en arrivant sur le pont de Garches », écrira, mélancolique, son ami Morand. Un demi-siècle après la disparition brutale de notre James Dean de la NRF - cet exact contemporain de Jean d'Ormesson aurait eu 87 ans cette année -, plusieurs ouvrages rassemblant témoignages et textes rares permettent de démêler les légendes qui ont entouré ses mille vies, son oeuvre et sa mort. Flash-back sur ce « jeune premier des lettres à la beauté d'archange buté », comme le croquait François Dufay (i).

Roger Nimier philatéliste. 

On l'ignore souvent, mais avant de devenir écrivain l'auteur du Hussard bleu (sans doute son roman le plus « grand public ») a vécu du commerce de timbres. Ayant perdu très jeune son père, ingénieur inventeur de l'horloge parlante, Nimier, qui a grandi dans le XVIIe arrondissement de Paris, entre, à 17 ans, en 1942, dans la maison Miro, près de l'hôtel Drouot Jusqu'à l'aube des années 1950, il y rédigera des notices détaillées. Intéressé au chiffre d'affaires, il dépense tous ses émoluments en livres. « Quand un client en achète pour moins de 10 ooo francs, je lui jette un sale regard. A partir de 100 ooo, je lui dis au revoir. Au-dessus du million, il a droit au sourire », racontera-t-il, avec son insolence coutumière.

Les « poumons de M. Camus ».

Mais c'est évidemment dans ses articles de presse que cette insolence va trouver à s'employer à merveille. Fort du succès d'estime des Epées, cette histoire trouble d'un adolescent passant de la Résistance à la Milice, parue en 1948, Nimier, qui excelle dans la forme courte, est accueilli à bras ouverts par de nombreux journaux. Aux plus beaux jours du Flore, ses formules assassines ne ménagent pas les gloires de Saint-Germain-des- Prés. « Les disciples de Sartre ? Des danseurs », raille-t-il. Les Mandarins, de Simone de Beauvoir ? « Bouvard et Pécuchet existentialistes. » Sans oublier ce titre - un classique, désormais - à la Une de l'hebdomadaire Opéra : « Surprise à Marigny : Jean-Louis Barrault encore plus mauvais que d'habitude ». Scandale. Mais ce n'est rien à côté de celui que va déclencher la terrible charge parue, en février 1949, dans la revue gaulliste Liberté de l'esprit. Evoquant les tensions de la guerre froide, Nimier écrit cette phrase, qu'ils traîne encore comme un boulet : « Et comme nous ne ferons pas la guerre avec les épaules de M. Sartre, ni avec les poumons de M. Camus... » Tollé. Camus était tuberculeux. Les Cahiers de l'Herne exhument aujourd'hui un texte dans lequel Nimier laisse entendre qu'il l'ignorait : « Des circonstances qui nous étaient inconnues ont rendu particulièrement blessant et emphatique un mot qui n'avait pas ces intentions précises. Ceci devrait être dit », s'excuse à mi- mots un Nimier pourtant peu enclin à l'autocritique. Ironie de la vie littéraire, Camus et Nimier auront plus tard tous deux un bureau chez Gallimard et prendront bien soin de s'éviter dans les couloirs de l'auguste maison...

Nimier fasciste ? En 1952, Bernard Frank publie dans Les Temps modernes, la revue de Sartre, Grognards et Hussards, véritable acte de baptême des « Hussards », étiquette sous laquelle il englobe Nimier, Antoine Blondin et Jacques Laurent. Retentissant article, repris intégralement par les Cahiers de l'Herne. Ce qui rapproche ces jeunes écrivains, selon lui ? « Un style au carré, un style qui se voit style» et qui, sur chaque phrase, plante un petit drapeau sur lequel on lit : « J'ai du style. » Mais ce n'est pas tout : ces stylistes seraient avant tout des « fascistes » ! Le mot est lancé. Est-il juste pour Nimier ? Ou Bernard Frank n'était-il qu'un « sartrien de bar » missionné pour discréditer les ennemis de son chef, comme l'écrit Philippe Barthelet, maître d'œuvre de Roger Nimier, Antoine Blondin, Jacques Laurent et l'esprit Hussard, qui paraît ces jours-ci ? Vu de 2012, il faut bien le dire, les positions politiques de Nimier nous paraissent quelque peu confuses : c'est une sorte de gaulliste tendance Maurras, un dandy célinien (c'est lui qui orchestrera, via une retentissante interview dans L'Express, le grand retour du maudit de Meudon, en 1957). Il admire la grandeur du Général - il se mêlera même à la foule qui l'acclame sur les Champs-Elysées en 1958 -, mais, avec son ami royaliste Pierre Boutang, va rendre visite, le 30 mars 1952, au vieux Charles Maurras dans sa résidence forcée, à Tours. « Roger ne sera jamais du côté des vainqueurs, mais toujours des perdants. Il porte en lui le goût de l'échec et l'échec est sa noblesse », avance en guise d'explication Christian Millau, dont Nimier fut le témoin de mariage (2).

Nimier«poseur».Les deux plus célèbres photographies représentant l'auteur des Epées sont des demi-mensonges. La première le montre, regard d'enfant triste et calot sur la tête, en grand uniforme du 2e hussards de Tarbes - elle sera placardée en guise de publicité pour Les Epées sur les camionnettes Gallimard sillonnant Paris. Engagé volontaire à 19 ans, ce qui dénote un certain courage, il intègre ce

Régiment en février 1945.Il rêve de combats sur le Rhin et en Indochine. Il ne dépassera pourtant pas Vic-en-Bigorre, avant d'être rapidement démobilisé. Ses faits d'armes ? A voir lu Pascal en Pléiade à 600 kilomètres du front. Une blessure indélébile qui fera de lui un homme en « permission perpétuelle », selon son biographe Marc Dambre. L'autre cliché « mensonger » relève d'un folklore plus léger : on y voit un Nimier négligemment appuyé sur l'aile d'une superbe Rolls-Royce (voir page précédente'). Il n'en a pourtant jamais possédé ! Robert Massin, alors directeur artistique de Gallimard, révèle aujourd'hui les dessous de cette photo : un beau jour, cette berline était garée devant la maison d'édition, et Nimier a tout simplement posé « en propriétaire » à ses côtés devant son objectif (Massin publie ces jours-ci un petit livre de souvenirs sur « Roger »). Alors, « poseur », Nimier ? C'est ce que lui reprochait affectueusement Mauriac : « Vous ne devez être vraiment "bien" que dans l'amour, c'est-à-dire dompté, maîtrise, vaincu, par une créature devant laquelle vous avez forcément perdu la pose. » Une « pose » - costume croisé, champagne, Jaguar - indissociable du mythe hussard

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud. Si l'on voulait parodier Pierre Desproges se moquant de Duras, on pourrait dire que Roger Nimier n'a pas seulement écrit que des chefs- d'œuvre, il en a aussi filmé. Et parmi ses collaborations plus ou moins heureuses avec le grand écran - il a même mis la main à la pâte du Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs avec Fernandel ! -, un film est resté fiché sur toutes les rétines : Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, de Louis Malle (1958). Il coécrit le scénario avec le réalisateur et rédige les dialogues. Chardonne, l'un de ces écrivains compromis que Nimier contribua à remettre en selle, y voyait le meilleur de son œuvre. La mélancolie de Maurice Ronet, la Mercedes 300 SL en trombe sur l'autoroute, la tristesse de Jeanne Moreau-Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, c'est du pur Nimier. Au passage, l'écrivain aura une liaison avec la comédienne. Un soir tard, où Gaston Gallimard entre dans le bureau de Nimier, il tombe par hasard sur le « couple » : « Oh ! pardon, monsieur Nimier, j'ai vu de la lumière dans votre bureau et j'ai pensé que vous aviez oublié de l'éteindre », s'excuse Gaston, avant de s'éclipser. « Le concierge ? » demande Moreau.«Le patron», répond Nimier.

L'accident. Gaston et Roger, tous deux amoureux de belles voitures, s'étaient connus un beau jour de 1948 où, venu lui proposer le manuscrit des Epées, le jeune romancier avait déclaré : « Je viens, monsieur, pour changer de l'encre en essence. » Et quand, avec ses émoluments de chez Gallimard, Nimier pourra s'offrir une Aston Martin rouge, il la surnommera facétieusement la « Gaston Martin ». On le verra aussi au volant d'une élégante Jaguar décapotable ou d'une Delahaye. Son goût de la vitesse le perdra. Le 28 septembre 1962, alors que, après un silence romanesque de dix ans, Nimier vient de remettre le manuscrit de son D'Artagnan amoureux, il voit Antoine Blondin et Louis Malle au bar du Pont-Royal pour évoquer une adaptation de Feu follet. Il retrouve ensuite Sunsiaré de Larcône, une ravissante romancière à la longue chevelure blonde. Ils passent à la rédaction d'Elle, boivent quelques verres à un cocktail et prennent finalement l'autoroute de l'Ouest dans la fameuse Aston Martin. Quelques minutes plus tard, c'est l'accident, violent, à pleine vitesse. Les deux occupants sont tués. Que sait-on de nouveau sur ce drame cinquante ans après ? Christian Millau rappelle que son ami Roger « avait 2,8 grammes d'alcool dans le sang, ce qui faisait une mort passablement ordinaire ». Une rumeur assure pourtant que c'était en fait Sunsiaré de Larcône qui était au volant. Massin le confirme : « On le tint secret longtemps à cause de l'assurance. » Certains ajoutent même que la jeune femme avait coutume de conduire pieds nus. Comme si, jusqu'en la mort, la légende devait toujours magnifier la réalité. Trois ans auparavant, avec son sens très sûr des catastrophes, Louis-Ferdinand Céline avait pourtant prévenu son ami Roger au détour d'une lettre : « Ne vous faites pas blesser, accidenter !... L'accident est un sport de riches »...

JEROME DUPUIS

Roger Nimier, Antoine Blondin, Jacques Laurent et l'esprit Hussard, collectif sous la direction de Philippe Barthelet et Pierre-Guillaume de Roux (Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2012)

 

 

 
Figaro Magazine

24 Septembre 2012

Roger Nimier le hussard de nos vingt ans

Il y a cinquante ans, l'auteur Il y a cinquante ans, l'auteur des « Enfants tristes » disparaissait au volant de son Aston Martin. Depuis, sa légende a suscité de nombreux malentendus. Retour sur un parcours mené à 200 km/h.

Vivant, Roger Nimier aurait juste 87 ans. Il  serait plus jeune que Sté- phane Hessel et afficherait le même âge que Jean d'Ormesson. Il semble pourtant d'un autre temps, d'un autre monde. Sa mort sur la route de ses 37 ans l'a momifié. Il n'aimait pas les photos. Nous n'aimons pas le voir, le front ceint d'un linceul, couché comme un gisant, à l'hôpital de Garches, tout comme cette jeune femme, dans le même état, également finie, immaculée. C’était la nuit du 28 septembre 1962 sur l'autoroute de l'Ouest, l'Aston Martin de Nimier emmenait aussi une superbe fille de 27 ans, blonde comme la Beauce en été. Sous le pseudonyme de Sunsiaré de Larcône, elle venait de lancer son premier roman, La Messagère. Le bolide a percuté sept bornes en béton avant de s'aplatir contre le parapet d'un pont près de Paris. La fille conduisait-elle ? En octobre, après neuf ans de silence livresque, sortirait un roman posthume de Roger, ce D'Artagnan amoureux qui s'exclamait : «Il n'y a que les routes pour calmer la vie. » Le mythe naissait dans ce qui avait baigné sa vie et son œuvre : l'énergie, l'ironie, l'inquiétude.

Dès le départ, il a foncé. En1948, après le refus par Gallimard de poèmes, d'un récit et d'un roman (L'Etrangère), il publie Les Epées. En 1950, deux romans, Perfide et Le Hussard bleu, et un essai, Le Grand d'Espagne. En 1951, Les Enfants tristes. Il écrit en Jaguar, il faut le freiner. L'essai Amour & Néant attendra 1953 pour sortir. Qu'est-ce qui faisait tant remuer ce fils de la bourgeoisie bretonne et picarde élevé dans les beaux quartiers parisiens et nourri de lectures énormes ? Un double drame, peut-être. La mort d'un père en 1939 précède de peu la débâcle du pays. Fin 1944, il veut s'engager dans l'aviation, or le ciel est bouché, plus de place. En mal d'Histoire, il rejoint le 2e hussards à Tarbes en mars 1945, mais c'est trop tard pour la légende et le casse-pipe. Voulant se battre, il n'aura fait que lire. Il va attaquer la paix en écrivant «Nous sommes les vivants», prévient-il dans Le Grand d'Espagne. « Les lumières de Juin 1940 et de l'été l944 se confondent à présent,         le désespoir et la chance font une égale balance : nous rejetons cet équilibre honteux. Vichy, le gaullisme, la collaboration sont rendus à l'Histoire. » Il espère une « nouvelle civilisation», un «renversement des valeurs» Deuil et renaissance. « Un pas encore et nous serons les maîtres. «C’est la déclaration de guerre des vingt ans en 1945. Cette génération, il faudra la réduire. En 1952, Bernard Frank, écrivain et critique en herbe, s'y emploie dans la revue Les Temps modernes, avec un sens de la mesure toute sartrienne : «Nimier est de loin le favori d'un groupe de jeunes écrivains que, par commodité, je nommerais fascistes » et dont les «prototypes » sont Antoine Blondin et Jacques Laurent. Frank persévère et ce n'est pas triste : « Comme tous les fascistes, les hussards détestent la discussion. Ils se délectent de la phrase courte, dont ils se croient les inventeurs. Ils la manient comme s'il s'agissait d'un couperet. A chaque phrase. Il y a mort d'homme. Ce n'est pas grave. C'est une mort pour rire.«Fasciste... Pauvre France, pauvre Frank. Il confond l'auteur et son personnage, Nimier et le François Sanders des Epées et du Hussard bleu qui disait : « Quand les habitants de la planète seront un peu plus difficiles, je me ferai naturaliser humain. En attendant je préfère rester fasciste, bien que ce soit baroque et fatigant. » Nimier était trop difficile pour être fasciste. Et trop profond pour la hussardise. Il traîne encore ce pénible label à l'épicerie de la critique littéraire. De plus en plus délavée, collée à droite, l'étiquette hussard a d'abord désigné une postérité émue et fraternelle avant de solder un quarteron de gribouilles éthyliques.

Dans l'ouvrage qu'ils dirigent, Roger Nimier, Antoine Blondin, Jacques Laurent et l'esprit hussard, Philippe Barthelet et Pierre-Guillaume de Roux veulent exfiltrer Nimier du «folklore imbécile» des hussards. Le premier procède bizarrement en minorant ses romans, des « œuvres de jeunesse », au profit de ses articles. Les romans n'ont pas d'âge. Et la jeunesse a sa sagesse, son passé. Le Hussard bleu est dédié au copain d'enfance Stièvenard, mort en Allemagne en 1945, Les Enfants tristes, à l'ami juif Mosseri, fusillé par les « Schleus ». Les romans de Nimier sont les tombeaux d'un surdoué, d'un Rimbaud qui aurait assimilé Retz et Peter Cheyney. Dans le beau Cahier de l'Herne consacré à Nimier et dirigé par Marc Dambre, Philippe Berthier remet les pendules à l'heure en plaçant le jeune romancier dans le sillage de Stendhal, Balzac et Dumas.

Avant-gardiste et mondialiste à ses heures, il lit Joyce et Faulkner Frank n'était pas léger en tout. Il a bien vu la dimension « pour rire » de Nimier. Rire pour dissoudre la lourdeur des temps, rire d'être « écorché».Mais ce n'était qu'une facette d'un écrivain trop profond pour ignorer les accointances de l'humour avec la mort. Après Histoire d'un amour, en1953, il lève le pied, stoppe les romans. C'est la tentation d'un certain silence, finement filée par la biographie de Dambre (Roger Nimier. Hussard du demi-siècle, Flammarion, 1989), qui mériterait d'être rééditée en poche. Nimier prend congé de la psychologie et du moi romanesques. Il s'expose pour se cacher, envoie son double dans les alcôves de Paris, prend le virage des journaux. Après la rédaction en chef de l'hebdomadaire Opéra, il critique à Carrefour, orchestre le Nouveau Femina, chronique dans Arts et au Bulletin de Paris. Des articles qui sont souvent de courts essais étincelants d'esprit et de pénétration. Réac franchouillard, Nimier ? Plutôt d'avant-garde et mondialiste à ses heures, fervent lecteur de Faulkner, Joyce, Ponge, Kafka, Borges...

Des auteurs qu'on retrouvera plus tard à la une de Tel Quel, la bible maoïste de Philippe Sollers. Cela ne l'empêche pas de lancer le livre de Poche Classique. Entré comme conseiller littéraire chez Gallimard fin 1956, il monte au créneau pour «Un château l'autre, de Céline, et remue ciel et terre pour lui, qui a eu comme Saint-Simon « l'invention géniale de ne pas inventer et l'imagination terrible de regarder». Le romancier Céline incarne une forme spéciale de nouveauté, jaillie de l'œuf du classicisme. A sa manière, il fait des enfants dans le dos de la tradition. De quoi plaire à Nimier, qui s'ennuie presque partout «Dans la vie, je ne vois rien du tout, sinon la sottise de mon existence, passant d'un bureau à une nursery, accablé de travail, de cris d'enfants, tout cela sans espoir ni distractions, sinon notre déjeuner l'autre jour », écrit-il à Jacques Chardonne, en juillet 1958. Marié depuis 1954, il a un fils, Martin, et une fille, Marie, qui sera écrivain. Marie Nimier est l'auteur d'un récit sur ce père mort quand elle avait 5 ans. La Reine du silence fourmille de scènes rapportées ou qu'elle a un peu vécues.

Un jour, Nimier a pointé un pistolet sur la tempe du petit Martin clans son berceau. Pour rire, évidemment. Beaucoup plus tard, devenue mère, Marie a retrouvé un mot paternel datant de l'été 1957 : «Au fait, Nadine a eu une fille hier. Jai été immédiatement la noyer dans la Seine pour ne plus en entendre parler. »Pour rire, encore. Nimier n'était pas facile à vivre en famille ou en société. Il buvait sec. Ses blagues rempliraient un volume de l'Almanach Vermot, elles avaient souvent un goût saumâtre, macabre. Il ne s'amusait bien qu'entre hommes aventureux. Pointer au hasard son doigt sur la ville d'une carte de France, et s'y rendre illico en bagnole, sinon ce n'est pas du jeu. Ou aller chercher en livrée de chauffeur et voiture de maître l'ami Blondin retenu en cellule de dégrisement au commissariat. Une scène de comédie pour celui que le cinéma a beaucoup diverti. Dans le rôle du scénariste, Nimier a travaillé pour Antonioni (I         Vinti),         Malle         (Ascenseur pour         l'échafaud), Siodmak (L'Affaire Nina B.), Becker, Astruc. «Devant un film, on est seul. La nuit étouffe les visages. (...) Il y a une âme collective au théâtre, c'est celle qui permet le Mystère. Elle est inutile au cinéma, puisqu'il présente le déroulement du rêve. » Qui atteint cette altitude à 24 ans ? A 31 ans, il affrontait des trous d'air : « Laissez-moi vivreen dehors de ce milieu, élevé dans le cuite de Gallimard, des Lazareff, des Jaguar, de Martine Carol et du marxisme - toutes choses que je connais mieux qu'eux», confiait-il à Chardonne. Nimier n'est jamais sorti de ce milieu. Il filait rendez-vous à Jeanne Moreau dans son bureau chez Gallimard.

Nimier, il faut le lire à 20 ans, comme Olivier Frébourg dans son Roger Nimier. Trafiquant d'insolence (« La Petite Vermillon », La Table Ronde, 2007), et le relire vingt ou trente ans plus tard, pour le réévaluer face aux malentendus, aux diffamations posthumes, aux feux falots, aux cossards bleus. « Trop d'alcool, trop de sang, trop de XXe siècle dans le sang, trop de mépris », avouait Sanders dans Le Hussard bleu. Mais Nimier, c'était autre chose, quelqu'un d'autre. Trop de littérature dans le sang, trop d'amour du Grand Siècle, trop d'espoir dans un siècle si petit. Il faut lui rendre sa liberté.

JEAN-MARC PARISIS

Roger Nimier, Antoine Blondin et Jacques Laurent et l'esprit Hussard, collectif sous la direction de Philippe Barthelet et Pierre-Guillaume de Roux (Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2012)

 

Le Bloc-notes de Marc Laudelout

Le Bulletin célinien, n° 346, novembre 2012 

 

Le Bloc-notes de Marc Laudelout

 

lfcpam.jpgPendant des années, l’iconographie a été le parent pauvre de la bibliographie célinienne. D’autant qu’elle fut souvent réduite à des formats ne mettant guère en valeur ni les portraits, ni les lieux, ni les manuscrits présentés ¹. C’est seulement depuis peu que sont édités des ouvrages d’envergure pour le plaisir des amateurs  de documents photographiques. On  songe  aux deux albums  procurés par David Alliot : Céline à Meudon. Images intimes, 1951-1961 (Ramsay, 2006) et, en collaboration avec François Marchetti, Céline au Danemark, 1945-1951 (Le Rocher, 2008). Pour le cinquantenaire de la mort de l’écrivain, nous eûmes droit à une belle édition des photographies de Pierre Duverger : Céline. Derniers clichés (Imec-Écriture). Et, deux ans auparavant, au coffret Un autre Céline, composé de deux volumes [De la fureur à la féerie & Deux cahiers de prison] dû à Henri Godard (Textuel). Sans oublier les hors-série de magazines édités à l’occasion du cinquantenaire (Le Figaro-Magazine, Télérama, Lire, Le Magazine littéraire).

 

   Vient de paraître Le Paris de Céline par Patrick Buisson,  tiré  de  son  film éponyme ². Composé de quatre parties, cet album donne à voir les lieux en s’efforçant de restituer l’ambiance dans laquelle l’écrivain évolua, de son enfance (le passage Choiseul) à ses dernières années (Meudon) en passant par sa vie de médecin et  d’écrivain dans deux arrondissements populaires de la capitale (Clichy et Montmartre). C’est en historien, et pas seulement en lettré, que Patrick Buisson retrace l’itinéraire parisien du Docteur Destouches. Ainsi, rappelle-t-il qu’en 1925, la liste communiste de Clichy remporta la majorité absolue au conseil municipal. C’est là que le docteur Destouches allait, peu de temps après,  ouvrir son premier cabinet médical. L’ouvrage reproduit des photographies de l’époque mais aussi des extraits choisis de l’œuvre. La manière dont celle-ci s’est intimement nourrie de l’expérience vécue de l’écrivain est ainsi illustrée par l’image et par le texte de Céline lui-même, à l’instar de ce que proposa le film. Les pages évoquant le passage Choiseul, l’école communale, l’Exposition universelle de 1900, – qui ont inspiré des pages mémorables de Mort à crédit – constituent à cet égard une vraie réussite. Le format in-quarto y contribue autant que la reproduction pleine page de nombreuses photographies. Connues pour la plupart, elles ont rarement aussi bien été mises en valeur. Seuls les puristes feront observer que ce n’est pas Elizabeth Craig qui figure sur certains clichés erronément légendés, et que c’est Cillie Pam (et non Albert Harlingue) l’auteur de ce beau profil de Céline immortalisé au début des années trente. Les esprits chagrins, eux, s’étonneront du ton enlevé de certains commentaires. C’est ne pas voir qu’ils se veulent – tâche redoutable, il est vrai – au diapason de la fameuse émotion du langage parlé restituée dans l’œuvre.

 

   De son exil danois, Céline contemplait avec émotion des cartes postales de Clichy qu’un ami lui avait adressées. Nul doute qu’il aurait été captivé par celles figurant dans cet album.

 

Marc LAUDELOUT

 

1. Dans l’ordre chronologique : l’Album Céline de La Pléiade (1977), suivi du Catalogue de l’exposition Céline à Lausanne ; 30 photographies dans la collection « Portraits d’auteurs » des éditions Marval (1997) ; la série de cartes postales (« Lieux, portraits et manuscrits ») procurée par le Lérot (1992-1994) et la monographie de Pascal Fouché dans la collection « Découvertes » de Gallimard (2001). Seule exception quant au format : le livre d’Isabelle Chantermerle, Céline, publié par Henri Veyrier (1987) qui reproduit quelques documents d’intérêt inégal. Et, dans un format intermédiaire, le Paris Céline de Laurent Simon, malheureusement épuisé, qui vaut autant pour les photos que pour le texte ; il demeure l’ouvrage plus complet sur le sujet (Du Lérot, 2007).

 

2. Patrick Buisson, Le Paris de Céline, Albin Michel-Histoire, 192 pages, plus de 275 illustrations.

 

 

 

Ernst von Salomon: Ein Politischer Soldat

Ernst von Salomon: Ein Politischer Soldat

jeudi, 15 novembre 2012

Lire Philippe Muray

Muray-clope.jpg

Lire Philippe Muray

dir. Alain Cresciucci

Lire Philippe Muray

En librairie le 18 Octobre 2012
ISBN 2-36371-0413
Format 125 x 195 mm
Pages 286 p.
Prix 23 €

LES ESSAIS

Philippe Muray (1945-2006), partout cité sur Internet, court, désormais, le grand risque d'être réduit à une caricature de pamphlétaire ou comique Bobo. D’où l’urgence de rétablir la vérité à son sujet : loin de se revendiquer comme critique, Muray s’est, au contraire, essayé au roman. Parce que seul le roman se saisit de la réalité vivante. Problème : le monde avait changé, la « réalité » même n’était plus qu’une fiction. Usant de divers registres, armé de connaissances jusqu'au cou, il avoue multiplier les angles de vue pour tenter de circonscrire la véritable nature de notre monde : un monde bien loin de Balzac, avec ses agents d'ambiance, ses techniciennes de surface, son obsession de la fête et surtout du Bien. C'est l'histoire du "roman" murayien que raconte Lire Muray à l'aune de son expérience picturale (La Gloire de Rubens), de sa saisie de l'Histoire entre Hegel et Braudel (Le dix-neuvième siècle à travers les âges), de son rejet de la "comédie" du monde partagée avec Céline, Baudelaire et Balzac, sans oublier sa fascination pour le phénomène d' « indifférenciation » née de la désacralisation (Entretiens avec René Girard) qui dissimule une violence sans précédent. La place de Muray dans le "débat" ou plutôt le "non débat intellectuel", l'aspect très particulier de son esprit satirique, toujours épris d'authenticité, sans oublier un glossaire de ses "concepts" phares achèveront d'éclairer le lecteur sur le "code" d'interprétation à donner à son langage et à son discours.

LES AUTEURS

 

Alain Cresciucci : Professeur émérite à l’université de Rouen, ses recherches portent sur le roman et les romanciers français contemporains : Antoine Blondin (Gallimard) ou Les désenchantés (Fayard)

François-Emmanuel Boucher : est directeur du Département d'études françaises du Collège militaire royal du Canada et doyen associé de la Division des études supérieures et de la recherche. Cofondateur du groupe Prospéro sur « Le politique du roman contemporain », il est l’auteur d’un ouvrage sur la rhétorique révolutionnaire et réactionnaire au tournant du XVIIIe siècle : Les révélations humaines.

Jérôme Couillerot : Doctorant en philosophie du droit à Paris II-Assas (Institut Michel Villey).

Laurent de Sutter : FWO Senior Researcher en théorie du droit à la Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Enseignant aux Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis. Auteur de (Pornostars – Fragments d’une métaphysique du X De l’indifférence à la politique, PUF ; Deleuze – La pratique du droit, il dirige la collection « Travaux Pratiques » aux P. U. F.

Guillaume Gros : Historien (Framespa-Grhi, Toulouse 2) est l’auteur d’une biographie de Philippe Ariès (Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2008) et d’un essai sur François Mauriac (Geste éditions, 2011).

Hubert Heckmann : Ancien élève de l’ENS Ulm, il est maître de conférences à l’Université de Rouen

Alain-Jean Léonce : travaille dans le commerce équitable. Il prépare un essai sur Muray.

Isabelle Ligier-Degauque : Maître de conférences en arts du spectacle à l’Université de Nantes, elle a publié Les Tragédies de Voltaire au miroir de leurs parodies dramatiques : d’Œdipe à Tancrède, (Champion, 2007).                                                                         

LES POINTS FORTS

-Toute la vérité sur la « fausse » image de Philippe Muray, devenu auteur mondain malgré lui.

-A la recherche des sources d’inspiration cachées du grand « contemporain ».

-La naissance d’un genre romanesque hybride, tourné vers le monstrueux d’une société fictive. 

Conferenza su Louis-Ferdinand Céline di Andrea Lombardi

Conferenza su Louis-Ferdinand Céline

di Andrea Lombardi

Fiera del libro di Milano, 2012

mercredi, 14 novembre 2012

Georges ORWELL, Le Socialisme contre la modernité?

Georges ORWELL,

Le Socialisme contre la modernité?

samedi, 10 novembre 2012

APUNTES SOBRE “INGSOC”: EL LENGUAJE NO SEXISTA

Ingsoc_Propaganda_Poster_by_duraluminwolf.jpg

APUNTES SOBRE “INGSOC”: EL LENGUAJE NO SEXISTA,

por Cristina Martinez 

Teniendo en cuenta la proliferación de guías de lenguaje no sexista, no queda más remedio que realizar la siguiente reflexión:

Quienes defienden el uso inclusivo del lenguaje arguyen que el género masculino es excluyente. Sin embargo, si analizamos esta afirmación detenidamente, podremos comprobar que, como tantas otras emitidas sin conocimiento suficiente, es falsa.

En la oración los niños pequeños son preciosos, se incluye tanto a las mujeres como a los varones; en cambio, la frase las niñas pequeñas son preciosas sólo puede referirse a mujeres y, por tanto, quedan excluidos los varones. Con este sencillo ejemplo, queda demostrado que el masculino es el género inclusivo y el femenino, el exclusivo. De ahí que en gramática se hable de género marcado (femenino) y género no marcado o genérico (masculino).

Dado que en español, como en otras muchas lenguas románicas, el género no marcado representa la concordancia por defecto, si, a fin de evitar la supuesta discriminación sexista implícita en el lenguaje, según esas guías, recurrimos al desdoblamiento pueden ocurrir dos cosas: o bien, pondremos en peligro la concordancia; o bien, caeremos en imposibles circunloquios que atentan contra el principio de economía lingüística.

Veamos un ejemplo. En la oración los humanos son mamíferos, que hace referencia tanto a mujeres como a hombres, si para evitar la discriminación obedecemos los principios no sexistas que tratan de imponer y recurrimos al desdoblamiento, el resultado, respetando la concordancia, debería ser el siguiente: las humanas y los humanos son mamíferas y mamíferos. Es obvio que, esta solución es impracticable, especialmente a nivel oral, además de caer en irrelevantes repeticiones que cansan al lector o al oyente.

Si se opta por concordar únicamente los artículos definidos, se cae en una incorrección gramatical, dado que en castellano los elementos átonos (los artículos) no pueden ir coordinados. Por tanto, una solución como la que sigue, tan recurrente en los medios de comunicación, es agramatical: las y los humanos son mamíferos.

Otra de las soluciones a la que se ha recurrido es el uso de símbolos, ilegibles en el lenguaje escrito e invisibles en el oral, tales como paréntesis, arrobas, etc.

Al no haber una norma sobre el asunto, no parece ni útil, ni justificado, ni mucho menos necesario recurrir a este tipo de desdoblamientos. Es necesario un criterio unificado que homogeneice los usos lingüísticos y eso, precisamente, es lo que trata de hacer la Real Academia, tan criticada a raíz del artículo de Ignacio Bosque sobre este asunto que, paradójicamente, ha recibido el apoyo de la gran mayoría de los lingüistas.

Es tal la estulticia lingüística de los que se han aventurado a escribir esas guías que confunden género con sexo deliberadamente, porque desconocen que con el género, en español, ocurre algo parecido que con el plural y el singular. Este es el genérico y engloba a aquel. Por tanto, no se excluye al resto de madres cuando se afirma, por ejemplo: Una madre nunca abandona a su hijo.

Si los abanderados del lenguaje no sexista fueran coherentes y siguieran sus propios criterios a pies juntillas, caerían en continuas aberraciones porque cualquier afirmación podría resultarles excluyente. Así, por ejemplo, una afirmación como alimente a su hijo con leche materna puede resultar discriminatoria tanto con las niñas como con el resto de bebés del mundo. Siendo consecuentes con las normas (que, curiosamente, no existen) del lenguaje no sexista, deberíamos optar por: *padres y madres alimenten a todos sus hijas e hijos con leche materna y paterna. Huelga el comentario.

El desdoblamiento sólo está justificado cuando exista ambigüedad que no pueda resolverse mediante elementos extralingüísticos o contextuales. Será totalmente aceptable, en este caso, por ejemplo: Tengo hermanos y hermanas, si el interlocutor desconoce que son varones y hembras; o en este otro: los alumnos, varones y hembras, usarán el mismo uniforme, para aclarar que tanto unos como otras vestirán igual. Excepto en estos pocos casos, el desdoblamiento resulta innecesario e injustificado.

Se ha dicho hasta la saciedad que la lengua no entiende de sexos y, por tanto, es el hablante el que discrimina. Esta es una problemática que debería tratarse desde el punto de vista social, no lingüístico, y proponer soluciones  que sean aplicables en la realidad y no falacias que lo único que proporcionan son discusiones fútiles y gastos inútiles del dinero público. Poco podemos hacer, en cuanto a lengua se refiere, si la idea de igualdad entre hombres y mujeres no es una realidad en el imaginario social. Forzar al uso de un lenguaje artificial, en vez de concienciar activamente sobre el asunto, es un disparate que no sólo atenta contra la libertad de los hablantes sino que, además, contraviene las normas gramaticales y sintácticas del español

Cuando el cambio de mentalidad respecto a este asunto se produzca, de una manera real, en la sociedad; cuando se extienda y se consolide la igualdad de sexos, se trasladará de forma natural a la lengua, sin necesidad de forzar el sistema. La realidad hay que cambiarla de raíz y no limitarse a barnizar las palabras que la reflejan, intentando sugestionar a los hablantes para crearles una suerte de sentimiento de culpa por provocar con sus palabras la discriminación femenina. Esto no es otra cosa que un burdo ejercicio de manipulación de la conciencia y un intento evidente de crear una Neolengua que refleje una realidad que no existe.

Las palabras tienen significado pero no ideología. Yo, personalmente, no voy a eludir de toda responsabilidad al hablante porque, si existe machismo en el lenguaje, es la intención del que lo usa la que lo contiene.

Las palabras talismán

APUNTES SOBRE “INGSOC”: Las palabras talismán,

por Cristina Martinez

¡Oh, pueblo lacónico y de una penetración singular! Una sola palabra te significa admiración, enojo, rabia, celos, engaño, placer, novedad, venganza, etc.. (Mariano J. de Larra)

ingsoc-big-brother-political-slogans-poster.jpgParafraseando a Unamuno, el que pretende vencer sin convencer en democracia tiene que usar estrategias que sean tan eficaces como sutiles. Por un lado, porque, en candidaturas de cuatro años, prima la urgencia de manipular el pensamiento colectivo de una manera rápida y, por otro, porque de lo que se trata es de que el pueblo no se percate de que está siendo manejado. Uno de los medios más efectivos para llevar a cabo esta empresa es la manipulación del lenguaje.

El lenguaje es la forma de comunicación más directa entre votantes y políticos, de ahí que sea un arma poderosísima para llegar a la conciencia de las gentes. Los gobernantes lo usan con dos fines muy claros: 1. someter al pueblo dolosamente y 2. hacerle creer que decide en libertad. Para ello, el tirano pone en práctica su astucia recurriendo a los denominados términos talismán, es decir, palabras que a lo largo de la historia se han cargado de un prestigio que nadie pone en duda.

Es el caso de la palabra libertad. Si ponemos atención, nos percataremos de la recurrencia del término en diversos ámbitos: discursos políticos, anuncios de televisión, proclamas reivindicativas, eslóganes, etc…   El poder de los términos talismán radica en que dotan a las palabras vecinas del mismo prestigio que ellos tienen, por contagio positivo, y, al mismo tiempo, desprestigian a las que se les oponen, por contagio negativo. Así, las palabras censura, dominio, orden, norma, deber, etc… están connotadas negativamente, mientras que las palabras cambio, progreso, democracia, autonomía, derecho, etc… estarían connotadas positivamente. Semánticamente, ni las del primer grupo son antónimos ni las del segundo son sinónimos de la palabra en cuestión, pero esto poco importa porque a los oídos de la masa unas se oponen y las otras se acoplan por adherencia.

De este modo, el manipulador sabe que cuando usa una palabra talismán, el poder de discernimiento del oyente queda anulado, o por mejor decir, obnubilado por la eficacia evocadora del término talismán. Así, ante un tema de importancia capital como puede ser el aborto, cierta ministra optó por recurrir a un vago argumento, reforzándolo con una palabra talismán, para defender una ley a la que un amplio sector de la población se oponía por motivos tanto éticos como morales: “la ley pretende dar cobertura al derecho de la mujer a decidir en libertad lo que quiere hacer con su cuerpo”. En rigor, no hizo un razonamiento convincente, pero puso en juego el esquema libertad-imposición, anulando así la capacidad crítica de los oyentes, que por no parecer contrarios al cambio y, por tanto, al progreso, otro de los términos talismán, aceptaron pasivamente el argumento.

Este tipo de esquemas dilemáticos: libertad-censura, democracia-tiranía, cambio-inmovilismo, progreso-regresión, etc… son uno de los métodos más usados por los demagogos, porque reducen la capacidad de discernimiento del hablante poco preparado intelectualmente y le obligan a elegir el término connotado positivamente de un modo automático. Así, para rebatir los argumentos que sean contrarios a su ideología o tendencia política recurren a estos términos talismán y provocan diálogos tan abstractos como este:

- Sr. Presidente ¿cómo es que usted cambia tanto de opinión?

- Disculpe pero soy progresista (término positivo, habitualmente seguido de una pausa locutiva),  y el progreso, en ocasiones, implica cambios imprescindibles.

Un demagogo nunca matiza los conceptos, como hemos podido observar, sino que los usa en función del efecto que quiere conseguir, evitando dar explicaciones precisas que pongan en peligro su imagen y su credibilidad.  Porque si se dan argumentos, es más probable que el interlocutor los pueda rebatir; pero si se habla de una manera vaga y se nubla la capacidad de raciocinio con palabras prestigiosas (como le ocurrió a la periodista ante la palabra progreso), se gana la batalla dialéctica por deslumbramiento del contrincante.

Cuando los políticos hablan de que la libertad es un derecho inalienable en democracia, no se refieren a una libertad creativa, con la que uno decide según su propio criterio ideológico y en consonancia a unos valores individuales, sino a lo que ellos quieren que entendamos por libertad. En democracia, se garantizan una serie de libertades para que la masa se relaje pensando que goza de un estado de bienestar nunca antes logrado; pero la realidad es que la voluntad colectiva es manejada a través de los medios de comunicación, la prensa y la casta política de un modo feroz y la masa acaba dejándose llevar por lo socialmente aceptado o por lo políticamente correcto sin oponer resistencia crítica.

La asociación de esos términos talismán a ciertas imágenes estereotipadas que nos presentan en anuncios publicitarios, nos ha llevado a creer que la libertad es el viento alborotando la melena de un tío que conduce una gran moto por interminables carreteras a ritmo de rock  americano: “Born to be wild”, “born to be free”; o un metrosexual de aspecto aniñado, con un torso perfecto, que camina con chulería bajo la lluvia: “break the rules”, “be free”. Sólo hace falta adquirir el producto que quieren vender para ser libre y socialmente admirado

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vendredi, 09 novembre 2012

La légende d’Ulenspiegel

Les classiques de la culture européenne

La légende d’Ulenspiegel

par Jean-Joël BREGEON

Ex: http://fr.novopress.info/

MEMORABLES 2 – Les classiques de la culture européenne – La légende d’Ulenspiegel
 
Ce qui est mémorable est « digne d’être conservé dans les mémoires des hommes » dit Le Robert. Celle des Français, en ce début de siècle, semble de plus en plus courte. Dans le seul domaine littéraire, des auteurs tenus pour majeurs par des générations de lecteurs sont tout simplement tombés aux oubliettes. Pas seulement des écrivains anciens, de l’Antiquité, du Moyen Age, de la Renaissance ou des Temps modernes mais aussi des auteurs proches de nous, disparus au cours du XXème siècle.

Cette suite de recensions se propose de remettre en lumière des textes dont tout « honnête homme » ne peut se dispenser. Ces choix sont subjectifs et je les justifie par le seul fait d’avoir lu et souvent relu ces livres et d’en être sorti enthousiaste. Ils seront proposés dans le désordre, aussi bien chronologique que spatial, de manière délibérée. A vous de réagir, d’aller voir et d’être conquis ou critique. En tout cas, bonne lecture !

Charles de Coster. La légende d’Ulenspiegel au pays de Flandre et ailleurs.

Coster.jpgL’auteur d’abord : Charles de Coster. Il naît en 1827, d’un père yprois (Ypres) et d’une mère liégeoise. Des parents catholiques et tout fraîchement belges (le royaume vient d’être fondé, en 1830). De Coster va mener une vie contrariée, dans ses amours comme dans sa vie professionnelle. Formé par les jésuites, étudiant en droit et en lettres, contraint de travailler dans la banque puis d’enseigner à l’Ecole militaire de Bruxelles, il passe trop de temps à l’écart de ses passions, l’histoire, les lettres anciennes. Bel homme, altier, il n’est pas pris au sérieux sauf auprès d’une bande de bruxellois non-conformistes et bons vivants,la Société des Joyeux, fondée en 1847. Beaucoup de tintamarre chez ces étudiants prolongés qui ont en commun la détestation du parisianisme et du conformisme sulpicien, ultramontain, de la classe dirigeante belge.

De Coster a des peines de cœur – une muse qu’il ne peut séduire – et il s’épanche dans des poèmes plutôt mièvres. Puis il se met à adapter des légendes flamandes et des contes brabançons, dans une écriture un peu trop chantournée, très « troubadour ». La bonne inspiration lui vient tard lorsqu’il se trouve attelé à un travail d’archiviste qui le met en contact direct avec l’histoire dela Flandre. Il s’empare alors d’une légende un peu oubliée qui circule en plusieurs versions imprimées et traduite en français sous le titre : Histoire joyeuse et récréative de Till Ulespiegel (1559). La légende a déambulé dans toute l’Europe du Nord. Elle part d’un personnage réel, un paysan du Schleswig-Holstein qui vivait au début du XIVème siècle. Il se serait fait connaître par ses plaisanteries, ses farces touchant les bourgeois et les modes de vie citadins. Compilées, adaptées, déformées, rendues plus littéraires, les soties de Thyl Ulenspiegel (en néerlandais) parviennent jusqu’à De Coster qui les transfigure littéralement.

Il les recompose dans un français qui puise dans le terreau de la langue, du côté de Rabelais et de Montaigne. Au-delà de cette recréation langagière, truculente mais aussi savante et raffinée (la même démarche que celle de Louis-Ferdinand Céline), qui porte son récit, De Coster créé une épopée nationale, alliance de l’Iliade et de l’Odyssée, à la gloire d’une Flandre, frondeuse et joyeuse même dans les pires tourments. Son Thyl Ulenspiegel est  comme un lutin, un peu donquichottesque mais aussi homme libre, de fidélité, vrai paladin des libertés flamandes. Son compagnon, Lamme Goedzak est plutôt un Sancho Panca, mais sans la charge du personnage de Cervantès, moins niais, moins couard, porteur  de  la sagesse populaire.

Le nom du héros est « la conjonction de « Uyl », hibou, et de « Spiegel », miroir, qui désigne autant l’œil rond, toujours en éveil, de l’oiseau de nuit qui voit tout, que le miroir interne où se reflètent la turbulence et le fracas du monde extérieur » (P. Roegiers). Il est bien Thyl l’Espiègle et le mot français vient tout droit de lui, bouffon, badin, un peu fripon, toujours malin.

MEMORABLES 2 – Les classiques de la culture européenne

MEMORABLES 2 – Les classiques de la culture européenne – La légende d’Ulenspiegel

La légende d’Ulenspiegel est articulée en cinq livres. Tout part de Damme, l’avant port de Bruges :« A Damme, en Flandre, quand Mai ouvrait leurs fleurs aux aubépines, naquit Ulenspiegel, fils de Claers. » L’atmosphère de kermesse, directement inspirée des peintures bruegéliennes tourne court avec l’irruption des Espagnols décidés à maintenirla Flandre dans le giron de l’Eglise catholique et romaine et donc à extirper l’hérésie. Thyl perd son père, brûlé vif sous l’accusation de propos hérétiques. C’est en sa mémoire qu’il parcourtla Flandre et le Brabant, traqué par les « happe-chair » du terrible duc d’Albe. Il soulève les villes, accomplit des missions secrètes, entre dans des « bandes » pour faire la guerre aux Espagnols :

« Partant de Quesnoy-le-Comte pour aller vers le Cambrésis, il rencontra dix compagnies d’Allemands, huit enseignes d’Espagnols et trois cornettes de chevau-légers, commandées par don Ruffele Henricis, fils du duc, qui était au milieu de la bataille et criait en espagnol :

- Tue ! tue ! Pas de quartier ! Vive le Pape !… Ulenspiegel dit au sergent de bande :
- Je vais couper la langue à ce bourreau.
- Coupe, dit le sergent.
- Et Ulenspiegel, d’une balle bien tirée, mit en morceaux la langue et la mâchoire de don Ruffele  Henricis, fils du duc.
»

Philippe II, roi d’Espagne, est montré enfermé dans son palais-monastère de l’Escorial, ranci de bigoteries, jouissant de ses bas instincts. Le portrait est charge tout comme celui du clergé qui se nourrit de la superstition des humbles et les maintient dans la terreur de l’Enfer. Thyl veut vivre libre et jouir des plaisirs de la vie. Mais il a aussi la fidélité dans le sang. Son astuce lui donne mille idées pour venger veuves et orphelins et démasquer les traitres. Il est Achille mais aussi Ulysse car, à Damme, l’attend la tendre Nele, une autre Pénélope.

Mais la chair est faible et Ulenspiegel succombe lorsqu’il croise des filles bien délurées. A cette « fille rougissante » qui veut bien mais se méfie un peu : « Pourquoi m’aimes-tu si vite ? Quel métier fais-tu ? Es-tu gueux, es-tu riche ? »

Il lui répond sans détour : « Je suis Gueux, je veux voir morts et mangés des vers les oppresseurs des Pays-Bas. Tu me regardes ahurie. Ce feu d’amour qui brûle pour toi, mignonne, est feu de jeunesse. Dieu l’alluma, il flambe comme luit le soleil, jusqu’à ce qu’il s’éteigne. Mais le feu de vengeance qui couve en mon cœur, Dieu l’alluma pareillement. Il sera le glaive, le feu, la corde, l’incendie, la dévastation, la guerre et la ruine des bourreaux. »

Au cabaret, il mène le chœur, c’est la chanson des Gueux :

« Que le duc soit enfermé vivant avec les cadavres des victimes ! Que dans la puanteur, Il meure de la peste des morts !
Battez le tambour de guerre. Vive le Gueux !Et tous de boire et de crier : – Vive le Gueux !
Et Ulenspiegel, buvant dans le hanap doré d’un moine regardait avec fierté les faces vaillantes des Gueux Sauvages.
»

Pour Charles de Coster, la réception de son épopée par le milieu littéraire fut un désastre. A Paris et à Bruxelles on parla de récit sans queue ni tête, d’un « ingénieux rapiéçage d’anecdotes » et on réclama une traduction en « vrai français ». De Coster ne s’en remit pas. Il mourut à 52 ans, couvert de dettes, dans une mansarde, au 114 rue de l’Arbre Bénit à Bruxelles où allait naître 19 ans plus tard un autre iconoclaste des lettres belges : Michel de Ghelderode.

La gloire fut posthume, au début du XXème siècle et universelle. Grâce notamment à Verhaeren, on découvrit que De Coster avait écrit la « Bible flamande », un chef-d’œuvre traduit dans une dizaine de langues. En 1956, Gérard Philippe produisit le film Till l’espiègle qu’il tourna dans les studios de Berlin-Est, dans le plus pur réalisme socialiste. Ce fut un échec. L’œuvre de Charles De Coster avait été mieux servie par Richard Strauss qui en avait tiré un poème symphonique (Opus 28, 1894).

Devenue l’épopée nationale flamande,La Légended’Ulenspiegel prend aujourd’hui une singulière saveur. N’est-elle pas écrite par un Belge francophone, à la gloire de la partie néerlandophone de cette Belgique inventée par les cours d’Europe, il y a 182 ans ? Tout cela laisse augurer d’une partition à l’amiable, en bon voisinage, des deux entités belges. Au grand dam des eurocrates et pour la plus grande joie de Charles De Coster, l’Espiègle.

Jean-Joël Bregeon pour NOVOpress Breizh

* Charles de Coster – La Légende et les aventures héroïques, joyeuses et glorieuses d’Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak au pays de Flandres et ailleurs, Minos/La Différence, Paris, 2003.

mercredi, 07 novembre 2012

Ezra Pound: Protector of the West

Ezra Pound: Protector of the West

By Ursus Major

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

Ezra Pound was arguably the finest American-born poet and a first rate Classical scholar. He happened to be born in Idaho, a state not noted for either its poets or Classicists. It was, however, a center of the American Populist Movement, which pitted the (usually family) farmer against the banks and railroads. The Populists called themselves “National-Socialists,” long before that term was heard in Europe.

Pound was born in 1885, making him less than two-years younger than his later hero, Benito Mussolini. This was at the apex of the Populist movement. The Populist Party’s platform for the 1886 election was almost entirely written by Edward Bellamy. Bellamy was a novelist-journalist, whose utopian work, Looking Backward had sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Looking Backward is set in the year 2000, and recounts the victory of National-Socialism: the nationalization of the banks and railroads, along with a host of reforms to alleviate the lot of the working-man without invoking Marxism. The syndicalism of Georges Sorel was a major influence upon the Populists, as it was upon the one-time Socialist, Benito Mussolini.

(Mussolini had been named “Benito,” which is not an Italian name, by his anarchist father, in honor of Benito Juárez, the Mexican revolutionary responsible for the execution of Maximilian. Actually, Juárez didn’t last that long: he was disposed of by his lieutenant Díaz, who proceeded to set up a dictatorship, which was 100-times more repressive than anything envisioned by the liberal Austrian Arch-Duke, who had been tricked by Napoleon III into accepting a “crown,” which was created by the French, the Catholic Church, and the Mexican latifundiastas: huge landowners. One should remember that the Spanish Habsburgs had ruled Mexico for centuries. The Habsburg arms — the Roman Double Eagle — are to be found on the Governor’s House in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was founded during the Habsburg era. So Maximilian, being offered the crown as Emperor of Mexico wasn’t off-the-wall.)

What happened with the Populists? Basically, William Jennings Bryan stole their rhetoric; and Theodore Roosevelt along with Taft gave support to the trade-union movement. Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech, in support of the free-silver movement, caused the Populists to support Bryan, and they shared in Bryan’s defeat. Imperialism was the impetus of the hour, as the U.S. attacked and defeated Spain, taking what remained of the Spanish Empire (and sending the Marines to the Philippines, to show them that it was merely a “change of title,” by shooting half-a-million of the “liberated”).

Oscar Wilde once commented, “When a good American dies, he goes to Paris.” Pound didn’t wait until he was dead before leaving the Land of the Free and Hopelessly Vulgar. By 1908, he was living in London. In 1920, he moved to Paris (which was less expensive); and in 1924, he moved to Italy, where he was to remain until the U.S. Army brought him back to the Land of the Victorious and Hopelessly Vulgar — in a cage! Pound was an ardent Fascist and remained one until the day of his death, well over 30 years after the Duce and his mistress, Clara Petacchi, were hung like sides of beef from the rafters of a bombed-out gas station in Milan.

Pound found in Fascist Italy both the “National-Socialism” of the Populists plus a reawakening of the “civilizing” mission of Ancient Rome, of which Pound (the Classicist) was so fond. Pound referred to his poems as “Cantos” — lyrics! — which drew upon the greatest Euro-poets, from Homer on, as their inspiration; and, in his Pisan Cantos (written while confined to a cage in Pisa after WWII, and for which he was awarded the 1949 Bollingen Prize in Poetry) incorporating inspiration from that other great High Culture: the Culture of Confusian China. What was Pound doing in a U.S. Army cage? Awaiting some decision by the U.S. government as to what to do with its most famous poet — who had regularly broadcast pro-Axis speeches from 1941 on!

In the Plutocratic-Marxist alliance of WWII, he found all he had despised since his youth: the joint determination of Bankers and Barbarians to destroy Western Civilization (which, in Pound’s view was personified in Fascist Italy, with Germany a distant second). His slim prose work Jefferson and/or Mussolini drew attention to Jefferson loathing of banks and compared the tyranny of International Finance with British Mercantilism, finding the former worse than the latter. His anti-Semitic speeches were directed solely against Jewish financial control. (Unlike most anti-Semites, he was rabid in his loathing of Jewish financial interests, but totally indifferent toward the Jews qua Jews and was quite disturbed when Mussolini sanctioned the deportation of Italian Jews, who were obviously not financiers.) He described Italian Fascism as “paternally authoritarian” and subscribed to the view that freedom was for those who’d earned it. He described the American concept of free speech as merely “license”: “Free speech, without radio free speech is zero!” was a comment he made in one of his own broadcasts.

Although manifestly guilty of treason under U.S. law, the government felt embarrassed at the prospect of trying him, so they had some medical hacks from the military certify he was insane, and committed him to St. Elizabeths, the federal asylum in Washington from 1946 until 1958, when he was allowed to leave, providing he immediately left the country. That he did, returning to Italy; his last act in the U.S. being to accord the Statue of Liberty the Roman/Fascist salute!

The first of the “Cantos” had appeared in 1917. The last (96-109: Thronos) in 1959. The Whole he considered one vast epic poem, on a Homeric scale; however, it is more an epic reflecting the maturity of an artist and Classicist, in an age which marked the decline of both. One can see in influence of Yeats (who was also markedly pro-Fascist, but died before that could produce a crisis [1939]), Ford Maddox Ford and James Joyce were “cross pollinators” with Pound. T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway [. . .] died before him; therefore, Ezra Pound became the last of the expatriate artists, a tradition that began with Henry James. Certainly some brief excerpt of his work is called for. The following is taken from one of the Pisan Cantos, written in the cage:

this breath wholly covers the mountains
it shines and divides
it nourishes by its rectitude
does no injury
overstanding the earth it fills the nine fields
to heaven

Boon companion to equity
it joins with the process
lacking it, there is inanition
When the equities are gathered together
as birds alighting
it springeth up vital

If deeds be not ensheaved and garnered in the heart
there is inanition.

I selected this example, because it draws upon the High Culture of China for inspiration, and incorporates within this a Classical maxim, which even those who know no Latin should be aware of. The final phrase (“if deeds be not ensheaved and garnered in the heart / there is inanition”) is a restatement of ACTA NON VERBA! (For those denied access to a dictionary of sufficient scope, “inanition” means “emptiness, a need – like a need for food or drink.”)

So Pound combines the essence of Mandarian art with the essence of the West, affirming the Spenglerian premise that all High Cultures are “transportable.” How many full-time Western symphony orchestras does Tokyo support? EIGHT! (Pound,by the way, was a excellent bassoonist.)

Leaving aside all other considerations, Ezra Pound — Poet and Traitor — PROVES the essential unity of all Euros. From Hailey, Idaho to London, Paris, Rapallo, Rome, an asylum in Washington,  D.C. back to die in his beloved Rapallo (where the aging Gore Vidal now spends most of his time), Pound showed that no part of Magna Europa is alien to any Euro. Art, like an orchid, requires a special soil, a special climate to blossom in. A poet was born in the prairies of Idaho, but his genius could not thrive in the same soil as potatoes. Even as thousands of years before, the genius of Ovid atrophied in Tomis, where Augustus had banished him (Ovid had a great influence on Pound), so the genius of Ezra (what a horrid name!) Pound, Classicist, Poet-Supreme, would have atrophied in that backwater of Magna Europa. And so the Euro had to return to the primal soil, that his genius might bloom — yes, and be driven into treason, lest greed and barbarism destroy Magna Europa. “If this be treason, let us make the most of it!” Patrick Henry admonished his colleagues. Pound made as much of it as he could.

That what he saw as a deadly threat to his Race-Culture, he put ahead of the color of his passport may be heinous or not. That is not the issue. The issue is that Hailey, Idaho could give Magna Europa one of Her greatest poets, whose greatness ensued in the main from his ability to absorb all that had gone before and say it anew — even deploying adoptive forms!

 


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/10/ezra-pound-protector-of-the-west/