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mercredi, 20 février 2013

Nostalgies dans l'oeuvre


Le prochain colloque international des
« 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies »,
qui aura pour thème
« Trace(s), Fragment(s), reste(s) »,
se tiendra
du mercredi 27 au samedi 30 mars 2013 à Atlanta.
Une session sera consacrée à Céline le samedi 30 mars
sur le thème des
« Nostalgies dans l'oeuvre de L.‐F. Celine ».
Quatre interventions sont au programme :
Nostalgies dans l'oeuvre
de L.‐F. Celine
• Veronique Flambard‐Weisbart (Loyola Marymount University)
Le rendu émotif ou la trace du silence animal
• Sven Thorsten Kilian (Université de Potsdam)
La trace de l’événement dans la poétique de Louis‐Ferdinand Céline
• Anne‐Catherine Dutoit (Arizona State University)
Tracing the Tsarist past : Céline’s nostalgic féerie in Bagatelles pour un massacre
• Francois‐Xavier Lavenne (Université Catholique de Louvain)
Ruines du passé, traces de l’avenir

dimanche, 17 février 2013

Some Sort of Nietzschean

Some Sort of Nietzschean

By Alex Kurtagić

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

Wyndham Lewis in 1917 

Wyndham Lewis in 1917


Paul O’Keefe
Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis [2]
London: Pimlico, 2000

In his acknowledgment pages Paul O’Keefe states that it took him a decade—not including the years of research already donated to him by another writer—to complete his biography of Wyndham Lewis, a project he began in 1990 while he was president of the Wyndham Lewis Society. And this is apparent, for this volume, holding 700 pages of tightly packed print, offers an indefatigably detailed and masochistically researched account of the British modernist artist and author’s life.

Biographies differ in emphasis, depending on the author’s biases, and the tone here is set early in the first chapter, which consists of a detailed description of Lewis’ bisected brain—now preserved in the Pathology Museum of the Imperial College School of Medicine—and the progressive destruction (through compression of the adjacent structures) caused by the growth of its pituitary tumor, medically known as a chromophone adenoma. O’Keefe’s narration is temperate and balanced in the extreme, abstaining from either celebration or condemnation, or indeed evaluation, of his subject. Instead, we are presented with unvarnished facts and restrained descriptions of circumstances, and, where records have not survived or never existed and witness memories were unavailable, with the most disciplined of inference.

Initially, the effect of this cold detective approach is a certain literary anhedonia: the narrative barely raises the pulse, despite Lewis’ turbulent social life, truculence, and extraordinarily difficult personality. One feels that another author would have been able to produce much more dramatic prose with the same information.

All the same, O’Keefe’s biography is impressive, and after a somewhat laborious account of Lewis’ Bohemian early life and career—which, ironically, includes his most significant artistic period, coinciding with Cubism and Futurism, and now referred to as Vorticist—the pace picks up once we get to 1930, the year Apes of God (London: Arthur Press, 1930), Lewis’ savage satire of London’s literary scene and the Bloomsbury Group, was published. We learn, as we race through the decade, that Lewis would routinely ridicule his friends and patrons in his novels, where they would appear thinly disguised under a pseudonym. Few were spared, which led to many a falling out, libel writs, and loss of patronage. This, plus Lewis’ quarrelsome, irascible, ultra-individualistic, cruel, secretive, litigious, and somewhat paranoid personality, kept him always on the verge of bankruptcy, despite his tremendous creative energy and productivity. Indeed, when a group of friends decided to contribute monthly to a fund so that Lewis could work without financial worries—for he was always in arrears and in debt—he very quickly and rudely alienated his benefactors. This was probably because he resented being beholden to anyone. Any well-meaning gesture was an affront.

The book is hard to put down as we pass through the 1940s. From the late 1930s, when Lewis travelled to North America, where he alternated between Canada and the United States and where he remained until after the end of the war. There we are taken to what was probably the most bitter and penurious period in his life. By this time he had difficulties finding a publisher, having become notorious for attracting libel suits, locking horns with his earlier publishers, and not delivering manuscripts for which he had been paid an advance. In the United States his books were deemed by some not the most marketable. Commissions for portraits and other art, which he desperately needed and assiduously sought, were scarce and not proof against upsetting his patrons. They were also not terribly popular—in 1938 his portrait of T. S. Eliot had been rejected by the Royal Academy [3]. And speaking engagements, greatly facilitated by the publicity efforts of friend and future media guru Marshall McLuhan, proved insufficient and disappointing financially—Lewis was no Jonathan Bowden, in any event. Thus, he and his wife survived in cheap hotels and grim rented accommodation only a dollar, sometimes a few cents, away from eviction until 1945.

Lewis’ situation improved marginally thereafter, though by this time his eyesight was in steep decline, owing to his as-yet-undiagnosed pituitary tumor compressing his optic nerve. His 1949 portrait of T. S. Eliot would be his last painting. All the same, Lewis marched on, continuing to author substantial and difficult books—including the last two volumes of his Human Age trilogy, the first of which had been published many years earlier—even after he went blind in 1951. In his final years, Lewis benefited from the radio dramatisation of his trilogy and from his Civil List Pension, which, though exiguous, provided him with a bare minimum of security.

O’Keefe’s narration continues through to a search of Lewis’ condemned flat soon after his death and to his final resting place inside a niche in a wall at Golder’s Green Crematorium.

Despite its comprehensiveness in all that pertains to Lewis, O’Keefe’s biography has two major deficiencies, which stem from the fact that all we learn is tightly circumscribed to the facts and events relating to Lewis and his immediate social periphery. Firstly, aside from a few clinical descriptions, we learn very little about Lewis’ art and writing, or their cultural significance. By the time he finally receives a modicum of institutional honors and recognition, it comes almost unexpectedly; it is as if there had been a sudden sea change and the invisible powers who had previously been critical, suspicious, or unimpressed suddenly decided to relent. Secondly, there is virtually no wider historical, cultural, or sociological context, leaving Lewis’ life and work somewhat abstracted; the points of reference appear shadowy, remote, and somewhat peremptory. One can go too far in the opposite direction, of course, which would detract from a work that aims to be objective, devoid of opinion and coloration, or about an individual as opposed to his times, but it seems O’Keefe was a little too careful to avoid this.

We do obtain some perspective through Lewis’ relations with (and on occasion anecdotes involving some of) the various and now illustrious members of Lewis’ circle—which included Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and W. B. Yeats—but this perspective remains somewhat shallow, and the individuals concerned remain somewhat distant. This may well be because Lewis was a study in detachment; we learn that for him friends were there to be used, and were friends only in so much as they were useful. Bowden described him [4] as “a bit of a rogue” and “a rascal,” and one can see why.

Having said that, in this biography Lewis does not come across as the iron-hard Right-winger that Bowden made him out to be. It is admitted that Lewis wrote a book called Hitler (London: Chatto and Windus, 1931), but he wrote it hastily and it seems he later regretted it, writing The Hitler Cult and How It Will End (London: J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1939) and The Jews: Are They Human? (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1939), the latter of which is an attack against anti-Semitism. (O’Keefe also documents the frustration with Lewis of German National Socialists visiting the United Kingdom in the early 1930s in the face of the British author’s refusal to identify Communists as Jews—although this may have been recalcitrant individualism on the part of Lewis, for an anecdote a few hundred pages later on in the biography suggests he was aware of the “Jewish question,” a state not necessarily incompatible with dismissing anti-Semitism as “a racial red-herring.”)

It is admitted that Lewis met William Joyce and Oswald Mosley (O’Keefe, p. 370), but any relations in this biography appear vague and non-committal, his article in the British Union Quarterly notwithstanding. It is admitted also that, he wrote two other books (Left Wings Over Europe [London: Jonathan Cape, 1936] and Count Your Dead: They Are Alive! [London: Lovat Dickson, 1937]) which have been interpreted as in support for Mussolini and Franco respectively, but they are anti-war tracts. Later, Lewis would write Anglo-Saxony: A League that Works (Toronto: Ryerson, 1941), which is pro-democracy, and America and Cosmic Man (New York: Doubleday Company, 1949), where he pledges allegiance to a cosmic or cosmopolitan utopianism (Cosmic Man, p. 238).

Lewis’ politics were complex. Not Red, certainly, but not pure Black either. Now, Bowden, who knew O’Keefe for a time, described the latter as a liberal, and told in his 2006 talk about Lewis how, while being a member of the Wyndham Lewis Society, he told those present at an AGM that the society was “based on a lie”—proceeding then to accuse its members of revisionism, timidity, and denial. It may be that Bowden saw in Lewis want he wanted to see, or that his interpretation of Lewis as a Nietzschean metapolitical fascist owed to Bowden’s approaching his subject as a Nietzschean and a Stirnerite. Or that he focused only on the parts of Lewis that interested him, obviously the inter-war and then the late period.

In O’Keefe’s biography, certainly, Nietzsche does not figure in relation to Lewis. This is not to say, however, that Lewis was not a Nietzschean force or cannot be seen as such: aside from what can be gleaned from his prose or the conceptual elitism of his 1917 manifesto (“The Code of a Herdsman”), Lewis was certainly always against, always difficult and “rebarbative,” and always—despite his navigating a fairly wide circle of leading modernist artists and literati, alone against all, unabated by poverty and refusing to throw in the towel even after he went blind.

The reason for the above remarks is that I read this book as background research for a biography of Jonathan Bowden. Bowden mentioned Lewis frequently in his early writing, and among his effects after his death several books by Lewis were found, including Childermass (London: Chatto and Windus, 1928), The Revenge of Love (London: Cassell and Co. 1937), Self Condemned (London: Methuen Press, 1954), Apes of God, Snooty Baronet (London: Cassell and Co., 1932), Tarr (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1918; London: Chatto and Windus, 1928), and The Demon of Progress in the Arts (London: Methuen Press, 1954).

From the present biography of Lewis one can easily see the reasons why Bowden could have conceivably either identified with or seen something of himself in Lewis. Both lost a parent in early life. Both were prolific painters and writers, both of an experimental sort, though Bowden more than Lewis. Both identified with the politics of the Right, while also being aggressively individualistic, though, again, Bowden more than Lewis. Both were unafraid of—and indeed enjoyed—including friends and acquaintances in their prose, where these victims of cruel and often libellous psychoanalysis appeared quasi-cartoonified and only thinly disguised under pseudonyms. Both moved frequently during early adulthood and later lived closed off, hidden away at a recondite and obscure address. Both were secretive in their personal lives, which they strictly compartmentalized—in Lewis’ case, many of his friends were unaware of the fact that he had a wife and several children (by previous lovers) until Lewis was in late middle age; initially, he never mentioned her, few ever saw her, and no one was ever given access to the flat hidden behind a door below his studio, where she lived with him, until many years later. Both found wealth elusive, and were mostly interested in recognition. And there are other parallels. On the whole, however, Bowden was more consistent philosophically, harder politically, and a more extreme artist and writer.

Irrespective of your thoughts on modernism in general, Wyndham Lewis is sufficiently interesting on his own for this major biography to be educational and entertaining, though I suspect it will be those familiar with Jonathan Bowden’s oratory who will get the greater profit.


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/some-sort-of-nietzschean/

samedi, 16 février 2013

The Conservative Kerouac

The Conservative Kerouac

Beat novelist, Catholic, Republican—do you know Jack?

Illustration by Michael Hogue
Illustration by Michael Hogue


Someone’s gonna give you wings
You’ll think it’s what you need
You’ll fly, man, you’ll be so high
But your history acts as your gravity


                                 —Joseph Arthur


For someone who documented just about every moment of his life in torrents of breathless, “spontaneous” prose, Jack Kerouac—the late author of On the Road, Big Sur, and other stream-of-consciousness, hyper-autobiographical novels—remains surprisingly up for grabs ideologically. The hippies claim him as an inspiration, as do many western Buddhists; a biography called Subterranean Kerouac attempts to out him as a homosexual; a new film adaptation of On The Road starring Kristen Stewart opens the door for the Twilight generation; and I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t more than a few Occupy Wall Street protestors hunkering down in their tents with battered copies of Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums stuffed in their jacket pockets.

Each of these groups is absolutely sincere in its self-identification with Kerouac. Each sees its concerns and agendas reflected in his roiling ocean of language. Yet this bopping, scatting, mystical jazz poet who almost singlehandedly willed the 1960s counterculture into being was himself a political conservative and a Catholic.

How can this be?

The key to understanding Kerouac lies in a close examination of his roots, for it was in the small French Canadian community of Lowell, Massachusetts that the future author was inculcated with the values that would carry him through his life. He did indeed go on to lead a wild existence filled with alcohol, drugs, and perpetual shiftlessness; he fled from monogamy as from leprosy. Yet one cannot grasp the soul of Kerouac unless one understands his fundamentally traditional core. He never wished to foment a revolution. He did not desire to change America; he intended to document, celebrate, and, in the end, eulogize it.

Jean-Louis (“Jack”) Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922, the son of French Canadian immigrants. His father Leo, like so many immigrants, fiercely loved his adopted country. This belief in the land of opportunity remained with him even after his Catholicism lapsed in the wake of devastating business failures. Jack’s conservatism, like his father’s, was the conservatism of the old ways: of hard work and even harder drink, of big blue-collar families passing down oral traditions. Above all, it was a conservatism of the natural world: of the large, solid, protective trees, of the perpetually roaring Merrimack and Concord Rivers—all combining to cast that crucial illusion of unchangingness that, in the best of circumstances, cradles and fortifies a soul for its journey beyond childhood. Late in life Kerouac would tell William F. Buckley Jr., “My father and my mother and my sister and I have always voted Republican, always.” This had nothing to do with party planks and everything to do with family identity, with holding onto something, no matter how arbitrary, in an otherwise disorienting world. We’re Kerouacs and this is what we do. 

Hand in hand with the politics was the pre-Vatican II Catholicism that saturated Lowell’s tight-knit French Canadian community. Gabrielle Kerouac—Jack’s mother—matched Leo’s civic pride with a fervent religious faith, which if anything intensified after the death of Jack’s older brother Gerard, whom Jack would later eulogize as an unheralded saint in the novel Visions of Gerard. This was that majestic, fearsome Catholicism that now exists purely in the realm of imagination for most modern practitioners: the Catholicism of the Latin mass, of all-powerful priests, of God as the unknowable, awe-inspiring other. To New England’s mostly impoverished French Canadians, the Catholic Church served as de facto government, educator, extended family, and cultural arbitrator. Perhaps as a result of this spiritual immersion, both Gabrielle and Jack saw signs of God and angels everywhere.

“The Catholic Church is a weird church,” Jack later wrote to his friend and muse Neal Cassady. “Much mysticism is sown broadspread from its ritual mysteries till it extends into the very lives of its constituents and parishoners.” It is impossible to overstate the influence of Catholicism on all of Kerouac’s work, save perhaps those books written during his Buddhist period in the mid-to-late 1950s. The influence is so obvious and so pervasive, in fact, that Kerouac became justifiably incensed when Ted Berrigan of the Paris Review asked during a 1968 interview, “How come you never write about Jesus?” Kerouac’s reply: “I’ve never written about Jesus? … You’re an insane phony … All I write about is Jesus.”

Berrigan ought to have known better. But casual readers can be forgiven for failing to grasp the religiosity in Kerouac’s writing. After all, his version of Christianity esteemed visions and personal experience over doctrine and dogma. He felt a special affinity for such offbeat souls as St. Francis of Assissi, St. Therese of Liseux (“The Little Flower”), and Thomas Merton, all of whom to some extent de-emphasized legalism in favor of a direct union with God. Beyond the confines of the Catholic Church, the influence of the painter and ecstatic poet William Blake loomed just as large and perhaps fueled Kerouac’s disregard for what he perceived to be restrictive sexual mores.

Of course, Kerouac is best known not for his lovely Lowell-centered books but for On the Road, a breathless jazz-inflected torrent of words initially typed out onto a “scroll”—actually hundreds of pages of tracing paper taped together and fed continuously through his typewriter—during one epic coffee-fuelled writing session in 1951 and ultimately published in 1957. The book, now considered an American classic, documents the author’s real-life adventures traipsing around the country in his mid-20s with friends Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady who, together with Kerouac, would comprise the core of “The Beat Generation,” the last great American literary movement. Much drinking, drugging, and fornicating ensues over the course of Road’s 320 pages. Not surprisingly, these prurient elements did not endear Kerouac to the mainstream right of his time, which irked the young author, as he felt no affinity for the left.

He never saw the impartial documenting of his own reckless youth as license for others to drop out of society. If anything, the downbeat ending of Road, in which Kerouac predicts the frantic, kicks-obsessed “Dean Moriarty’s” (Neal Cassady’s) eventual slide into oblivion, as well as his unflinching depiction of his own nervous breakdown from alcoholic excess in the follow-up novel Big Sur, make quite clear the inevitable outcome of a “life on the road.” But Kerouac should not have been surprised by the right’s reaction; this was, after all, not conservative writing. The books did not follow the established standards of the novel and, in reality, were not novels at all but something else entirely: “confessional picaresque memoirs” (a phrase coined by Beat scholar Ann Charters), with the names of the participants changed to avoid accusations of libel. The conservative critics, missing the deeper themes of loneliness and the yearning for God, lambasted Kerouac for encouraging delinquency, while critics of all stripes complained about his sloppiness and occasional incoherece.

These commentators had a point: as novels, the books could be frustratingly uneven. Readers often found themselves bewildered by the sheer number of characters drifting in and out of the pages, unable to keep track of all the “mad ones” that Kerouac strained to include in his storylines. Why, the critics wondered, couldn’t Kerouac simply create a few composite characters embodying his friends’ most noteworthy traits? By any standard such an authorial modification would have vastly improved the readability of the books.

But that was not Kerouac’s aim. He wished to capture the truth, his truth, as best and as purely as he could. And he wanted to do this spontaneously, like a jazz musician wailing on his horn during an onstage improvisation. Revision, in Kerouac’s eyes, would only dilute the purity of the original performance. Furthermore, since he viewed his writing vocation as rooted in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: revision was tantamount to lying in the confessional. It might have have resulted in better novels, but they would no longer have been “spontaneous” and “true” novels. And it is the spontaneity and the emotional truth of these books, more than anything else, that continue to speak to readers.

It’s easy to approach On the Road with cynicism: an almost rapturous naïveté, or idiocy, permeates throughout. Yet this wide-eyed quality is actually one of the book’s great strengths; it evokes the exhilaration of being young, of leaving home for the first time and venturing out into the wider world with an open heart and credulous mind. Kerouac had the beguiling ability to find the admirable and holy in every soul he encountered on his travels, just as he had seen angels and the Holy Mother emerging from every corner in Lowell. And who has not experienced the sweet rush of moral transgression or the anguish of having to accept the consequences of such behavior? On the Road captures those emotions expertly.

Kerouac’s self-destructive nature, which led to his premature death from alcohol-induced hemhorraging, is perhaps the most curious aspect of his life story. Why would a man who worked so relentlessly at his craft, who endured 15 years of obscurity and rejection before his triumphant breakthrough, and who seemed to derive blissed-out enjoyment from even the most mundane aspects of life methodically destroy everything he had worked so hard to attain?

The answer may lie in a combination of near-crippling shyness and the very emotional openness that gave his writing such warmth. A fundamentally quiet, sensitive soul, Kerouac was woefully ill-equipped for the spotlight and had very little tolerance for criticism. Alcohol bolstered his confidence to speak in public and partially anaesthetized the sting of the many bad reviews his books received. Yet it was not enough. His friends watched helplessly as he barrelled onward to his demise, spurred ever faster by the hostile media.

As the apolitical Beat Generation metastasized into the heavily politicized hippie movement, Kerouac’s despondency and sense of alienation deepened. “I made myself famous by writing ‘songs’ and lyrics about the beauty of the things I did and ugliness too,” he said in a heated exchange with polical activist Ed Sanders on Buckley’s “Firing Line. “You made yourself famous by saying, ‘Down with this, down with that, throw eggs at this, throw eggs at that!’ Take it with you. I cannot use your refuse; you may have it back.”

He allowed political differences to play a part in the demise of one of his greatest friendships. “I don’t even particularly wanta see [Allen Ginsberg],” he wrote his friend John Clellon Holmes in 1963, “what with his pro-Castro bullshit and his long white robe Messiah shot. … He and all those bohemian beatniks round him have nothing NEW to tell me.” This was a one-sided breakup. Ginsberg, by then a famous poet, remained intensely loyal to Kerouac even after Kerouac started publicly denouncing his old friend and hurling anti-Semitic insults in his direction. Ginsberg was wise enough, and big-hearted enough, to understand that Kerouac’s flailing out at him was a symptom of larger issues.

Kerouac’s sad final years were spent in an increasingly frantic quest to find a true home for himself and his mother. On an almost yearly basis he oscillated between Florida and New England, always following the same cycle: purchase a home, move in, grow restless, sell it; purchase another one, move in, sell it; and so on. Tragically, even when he returned to Lowell for a brief time, he found that the nurturing community he had written about so fondly for so many years now existed only in his books. He yearned, as the fictional Odysseus had during his wanderings, for the familiar, for something real and stable in his life. His mistake lay in looking for these things outside of him. Nevertheless, that desire is a good, true, worthy desire, and it permeates all of Jack Kerouac’s writing. It is the reason why the Beat movement could not last. Allen Ginsberg, the poet visionary, pined for utopia and spiritual revolution. William S. Burroughs, the outlaw libertarian, pined for anarchy and gay liberation. Neal Cassady, the exiled cowboy, pined for girls and cars. Jack Kerouac, the mystic, pined for God and home.

Robert Dean Lurie is the author of No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church.

Limonov par Edouard Limonov


Limonov par Edouard Limonov

Ex: http://ungraindesable.hautetfort.com/

limonjee15012z1_1.jpgPetit tour hebdomadaire, hier, chez Emaüs ou j’ai déniché ceci : Limonov Par Edouard Limonov Conversations avec Axel Gyldén
Etonnant … je ne l’avais pas remarqué à sa sortie, il faut dire que ne fréquente pas le site de l’Express.
 En ce moment le public français découvre Limonov grâce à Carrère  « Il est certain que le succès de Carrère m’a bien servi. Mais j’ai aussi servi Carrère. Notre couple est comparable à celui de Régis Debray et Che Guevara. Sans le Français, qui a présenté le révolutionnaire au public européen, Guevara n’aurait probablement pas eu la même aura. Et voyez Jésus-Christ : sans la trahison de Judas, il serait peut-être tombé aux oubliettes de l’histoire. Je comprends très bien comment fonctionnent les choses : à l’image de Sibylle qui guide Enée vers les flammes, dans l'Énéide de Virgile, il faut être deux pour pénétrer aux Enfers.

Tout cela est très positif : la France s’intéresse de nouveau à mon œuvre qui compte plus de cinquante livres. Or Le poète russe est depuis longtemps épuisé et non réédité. Sur Amazon, sa cote dépasse 300 euros. À vrai dire, j’estime que sa vraie valeur se situe plutôt autour de 3.000, voire de 30 000 euros, mais passons. Il sera bientôt réédité, j’imagine. Certains de mes livres, encore inédits en France, seront peut-être traduits. »

Continuons plus loin avec Limonov.

— Comment s’est déroulée la rencontre avec le leader du Front national ?

— Le Pen nous a offert un dîner mémorable dans sa propriété du parc de Montretout, à Saint-Cloud, d’où l’on voit tout Paris. Avec Le Pen, Jirinovski et moi-même, nous formions une belle brochette de « bad boys ». Sur les murs de la villa de Montretout, une chose m’a frappé : j’y ai reconnu des tableaux de l’artiste russe Ilya Glazounov. [Ilya Glazounov était lui aussi monarchiste.] Le Pen était étonné que je connaisse cet artiste. Il m’a expliqué qu’ils étaient amis depuis les années 1960.

— Cela ne vous dérange pas de fréquenter des gens qui flirtent avec l’antisémitisme ?

— Il n’existe aucune preuve de ce que vous avancez. Je préfère toujours forger mon opinion à partir d’observations personnelles plutôt que sur la base d’avis extérieurs ou d’articles de presse. Si je me fie à ma méthode de compréhension des hommes au premier regard exposée plus haut, il est clair que Jean-Marie Le Pen est beaucoup plus sympathique que, par exemple, Vladimir Poutine ou Dmitri Medvedev. Il est aussi plus honnête. En fait, Le Pen est sans doute l’homme politique français dont l’honnêteté intellectuelle est la plus incontestable.

J’ai apprécié, chez lui, un côté humain, affable. Il a une manière aimable de recevoir ses invités, sans façons, et en leur faisant sentir qu’ils sont des personnages plus importants que lui-même. Certes, il vit comme un bon bourgeois. Mais il est un peu baroudeur, et un peu voyou, ce qui en fait un type intéressant. Par son talent oratoire et son tempérament impétueux, il m’a fait penser à Danton.

— Le Pen, « sympathique » ? Vous allez encore vous faire des amis en France…

— De moi aussi la moitié des gens disent que je suis antipathique et infréquentable. Mais c’est faux. Voilà peu, mon nouvel agent littéraire François Samuelson buvait une vodka chez moi et l’a dit : « Mais pourquoi Emmanuel Carrère a-t-il écrit que tu étais distant ? Tu n’es pas distant. » Je suis certes un peu froid au premier contact. Mais ensuite, je m’ouvre, je me livre. Carrère a projeté sur moi ce qu’il est : il est beaucoup plus froid, distant, réservé que moi. Le vrai problème avec moi, c’est que j’ouvre ma grande gueule. Une attitude insupportable pour la France qui est le royaume du « political correctness ».

— La France est « politiquement correcte » ?

— Exactement. Il y a chez vous des régions entières de la pensée, des territoires intellectuels, des pans de la mémoire collective qu’il est interdit d’explorer. Je ne veux pas entrer dans les détails. Mais le résultat, c’est qu’en France, les idées se tarissent et la pensée est unique. Ce n’est pas un hasard s’il n’y a plus de grands maîtres à penser, ni de grands écrivains depuis trois bonnes décennies, en France.

— Dans certains cas, le « politiquement correct » n’est-il pas souhaitable, notamment pour empêcher l’expression du racisme assumé ? Certaines pensées sont, en effet, indicibles.

— Je ne suis pas d’accord. En France comme en Allemagne, il est interdit d’exprimer l’idée que l’immigration de masse en provenance des pays musulmans pose des problèmes. Le « politiquement correct » l’interdit. Pourtant, c’est la réalité. Comment traiter cette question si elle n’est pas énoncée ?

 Cet entretien se termine par cette question

— À 69 ans, il serait peut-être temps d’envisager de prendre des vacances ?

— Je n’en ai jamais pris. Je n’ai jamais voyagé avec l’idée de me reposer ou de visiter des endroits. Tous mes déplacements avaient un objectif professionnel : participer à un salon littéraire, tenir un meeting, faire la guerre. Voilà mon idée des vacances. Le tourisme est une occupation artificielle, inintéressante. Regarder une carte postale procure autant de plaisir.

Cependant, j’aurais aimé explorer l’Afrique au temps de Livingstone et Stanley. Ce n’était pas du tourisme, c’était une aventure trépidante, une lutte pour la vie. L’industrie du tourisme me dégoûte. J’étais ravi quand j’ai appris que des requins avaient dévoré des touristes allemands en Égypte !

Bien sûr dans ce livre beaucoup de thèmes sont abordés : son enfance, ses parents, sa vie de voyou, son départ d’URSS , ses rencontres avec des artistes, le mouvement punk, L’Idiot international, la prison, le milieu littéraire parisien, la prison, la guerre …

samedi, 09 février 2013

Bulletin célinien 349

Le Bulletin célinien n°349

février 2013

Vient de paraître : Le Bulletin célinien, n° 349.

Au sommaire :

Marc Laudelout : Bloc-notes
François Gibault : Le centenaire de Lucien Combelle
Pierre Assouline : Entretien avec Lucien Combelle (1988)
Philippe Alméras : Lucien Combelle relaps
Correspondance Combelle - Céline : "Révolution et révolutionnaires" (1942)
Lucien Combelle : L'heure est au pamphlet (1939)
Eric Mazet : D'un monument à l'autre
Frédéric Saenen : Albert Cossery, le sphinx

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jeudi, 07 février 2013

Dostoevsky on Modern Conservatism

Dostoevsky on Modern Conservatism

Against the Spirit of the Age

Ex: http://www.alternativeright.com/

On the advice of a friend, I have revised and updated a short 2009 essay on Fyodor Dostoevsky and modern conservatism. Translation is mine.

At first glance the U.S. Presidential Inauguration might seem another empty media spectacle. After all, the Commander-in-Chief is anointed by the infallible People, but he attains power ultimately to carry out the interests of globalist oligarchs. Yet the inauguration ceremony also serves as an affirmation of America’s true religion, liberalism. In his 2013 inaugural address, Barack Obama articulated quite clearly that “We, the People” shall lead humanity’s progress toward ever greater liberty and equality.

“Conservative” opposition to leftist political programs and figures, no matter its seeming intensity, is simply a matter of partisanship and policy choices. Republicans, constitutionalists and libertarians all share the same vision of the United States that Obama outlined:

We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

Not a nation in any traditional sense, America is a social experiment, a self-willed construct proclaimed to embody the destiny of all mankind. The United States is a triumphant herald of modernity, and modernity is the spiritual impoverishment of being. Blood, faith and heritage are to be abolished by liberty, i.e. the vicissitudes of market forces. The fanciful notion of “unalienable rights” simultaneously disintegrates society while strengthening elite control. In his own second inaugural speech of 2005, Republican George W. Bush saw the drive toward global democracy as “a fire in the minds of men” lighting a path toward a New Order of the Ages.


The man who first spoke of this fire burning through civilization was none other than the brilliant 19th-century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky in his work The Possessed. In typical fashion, Bush had warped Dostoevsky’s image, holding the noxious revolutionary flame aloft as a liberating force. Never would the man from St. Petersburg have supported this obvious contagion; the forces of subversion must be utterly routed at every level of national life.

Fyodor Dostoevsky has rightly been called a prophet of the modern age. With a depth of vision unrivalled, he saw that cultural, political, and economic disorder have their main source in a crisis of the spirit. Dostoevsky then foresaw how man’s rebellion against the Transcendent would progressively accelerate into full-blown anarchy. This idea became a central theme of The Possessed, his great counter-revolutionary novel. Within the book particular attention was drawn to the spiritual corruption of the ruling class, the so-called conservative elements of society.

Dostoevsky wrote about Russia, but he was also deeply sensitive to the West’s descent into secularism. By the 19th century “enlightened” European man had hurtled headlong into apostasy, abandoning Christ for the worship of self; his first act of regicide was the murder of God within his heart. Without sacral authority, power was said to derive from the perfect will of “We, The People,” guided by moneyed manipulators and their technocrats. Parties like the GOP and the Tories have done nothing to arrest the decline of our societies because they ultimately share the same radical, anti-traditional principles of the Left. For evidence, look no further than Britain’s rapid transformation into a crime-ridden, multicultural surveillance state, where the ruling Conservatives advance homosexual “marriage” as a matter of moral legitimacy.

The ideals of modernity, manifested in progress, equality, democracy, total individual autonomy, etc. form a counterfeit religion. So long as the self-proclaimed Right holds fast to any of these fantasies, opposition to liberalism is meaningless and purely cosmetic. Rhetorical nods to cultural consolidation, i.e. “family values,” are articulated within the corrosive framework of Enlightenment rights ideology, and only for the purpose of grabbing votes. Does anyone truly contemplate that Republicans will attempt anything meaningful against institutionalized infanticide? Lest we forget, over 50 million unborn children have been slaughtered in the United States since abortion was made legal by the Supreme Court in 1973. It is now a point of pride that American men and women fight for these storied liberties from the Hindu Kush to the Maghreb.

With the traditional West devastated and hierarchy inverted, there is precious little to conserve besides one’s faith and lineage, the necessities for survival and resurgence. But modern conservatives reject the divine-human and heartfelt essence of culture, thereby serving as the liberal order’s most ardent defenders. How easy it is to cheer the next war, demographic dissolution or crass popular amusements, all acts in the founding of a Garden of Earthly Delights, what Dostoevsky imagined as a glorified anthill. The conservative movement knows what’s really important: generous contributions from the financial and defense industries to maintain policies of corporate centralization and overseas empire.

The mainstream Right has led the West to systemic cultural collapse in full collusion with the slightly more radical Left. Dostoevsky's The Possessed reveals the spiritual and intellectual dimensions of this long process and the malevolent spirit behind it. A conversation between the story’s provincial governor, Von Lembke, and the nihilist revolutionary Peter Verkhovensky nicely encapsulates the mentality and path of conservatism in the modern era.

“We have responsibilities, and as a result we also serve the common cause as you do. We are only holding back what you loosen and what without us would scatter in various directions.

We’re not your enemies; hardly so. We’re saying to you: go forward, make progress, even shatter, that is, everything that is subject to alteration; but when needed, we will keep you within the necessary boundaries and save you from yourselves, because without us you would only send Russia into upheaval, depriving her of a proper appearance, and our duty is to look after proper appearances.

Understand that you and I are mutually necessary to each other. In England Tories and Whigs also need each other. Now then, we’re Tories, and you’re Whigs…”

“Well, however you like it,” murmured Peter Stepanovich. “Nevertheless you are paving the way for us and preparing our success.”

Strip away the concern for proper appearances, and it becomes clear that modern conservatism is the handmaiden of revolutionary nihilism.


Mark Hackard

Mark Hackard

Mark Hackard has a a BA in Russian from Georgetown University and an MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Stanford University.

mardi, 05 février 2013

Actualidad de Ramiro de Maeztu

Actualidad de Ramiro de Maeztu


José Luis Ontiveros para TdE - http://www.tribunadeeuropa.com/

Hoy que España vive el revanchismo cobarde por parte de un gobierno sectario y vengativo y que se ha pretendido remover el odio de causas históricas derrotadas y no acatar la Ley de Amnistía que aceptara en 1977, el recientemente legalizado Partido Comunista Español, aun pendientes los crímenes de lesa humanidad de Santiago Carrillo y la Cheka en Paracuellos del Jarama, conviene recordar a Don Ramiro de Maeztu que naciera el 4 de mayo de 1875 y que muriera sacrificado por los milicianos rojos el 29 de octubre de 1936 tras esos viajes a la muerte que cobraron la vida de José Antonio Primo de Rivera, de Ramiro Ledesma y de Onésimo Redondo entre una parte significativa de la inteligencia y el talento del resurgir hispánico y que ahora se tratan de olvidar con la ignominiosa y zapateada Ley de la memoria histórica.

Resulta profética aquella expresión de Maeztu ante el pelotón de fusilamiento: “Vosotros no sabéis por qué me mataís! ¡Yo sí sé por qué muero!”, que son pura unción y recogimiento sacramental de la vida verdadera y de la palabra. La España del Frente Popular tenía la obsesión de cargarse al Ejército, a los intelectuales, a los patriotas y al clero católico, el alzamiento nacional del 18 de julio de 1936 fue en su esencia una revuelta por la preservación de España, degradada a tribus soviéticas de alpargatas que vieron reventar las bubas de la peste de su propia descomposición.

Ramiro de Maeztu es un hombre sumamente complejo. Uno de los mejores prototipos de la generación de 1898 con Unamuno, difirió de lo castizo por su herencia inglesa, su madre, su estancia de 15 años en Inglaterra y su esposa. Hay en él un tipo de liberalismo hispánico conservador muy peculiar que lo hizo presentar en su obra máxima Defensa de la Hispanidad, un tipo de crítica poco común en el conservatismo católico: “Los sistemas educativos, de otra parte, y sobre todo el bachillerato enciclopédico, no forman hombres de trabajo, sino almas apocadas que necesitarán el amparo de alguna oficina para asegurarse el pan de cada día”. Ello no desmerece su reivindicación de la plenitud cultural hispánica cuya postración sería obra de la extranjerización de su ser, que alcanzó en el s.XVIII el afrancesamiento y la decadencia. Eugenio Vegas que lo admiró hace una evocación marcada por la espiga rojinegra que brotaba en España de la pólvora y la sangre de sus mejores hombres, en ella recapitula en las diversas premoniciones que tuvo Maeztu sobre su asesinato. Si bien Ernesto Giménez Caballero lo llama camisa negra: “Todos los escritores que viven en el barrio de Salamanca terminan por teñirse de un gris fascista, gran color de moda, de una tentación aristocrática y antidemocrática…” Y que Maeztu con el pseudónimo de Van Poel Krupp escribió la novela por entregas La guerra de Trasvaal y los misterios de la Banca de Londres en donde revela los financieros con rol y apellido que impulsaron la guerra contra los boers para apoderarse de los diamantes de las minas de Sudáfrica. Hay en su denuncia una precisión semejante a la de Céline en Bagatelas para una masacre sobre los centros financieros responsables de la segunda guerra. Escribió en inglés Authory, liberty and function que tradujera como La crisis del humanismo. Mas lo cierto es que si bien trató con don Aníbal como se ocultaba el revolucionario nacionalsindicalista Ramiro Ledesma en sus tertulias, nunca se hizo de la Falange, permaneció fiel al tradicionalismo hispánico con un pensamiento original que encumbró con la autoridad suprema de su muerte.

Martin Mosebach entdecken


Martin Mosebach entdecken,

Teil I

von Frank Marten

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



Der Sammelband „Stilleben mit wildem Tier“ beinhaltet 13 Erzählungen des Georg-​Büchner-​Preisträgers (2007) Martin Mosebach. Äußerst lesenswert, findet BN-​Autor Frank Marten.

Um vorab Klarheit zu schaffen: Die Genialität des Buches Stilleben mit wildem Tier basiert nicht auf dem Inhalt der Kurzgeschichten. Diese werden aus der Perspektive eines dem Leser unbekannten Protagonisten in der Ich-​Form erzählt. Sie handeln beispielsweise von der Beerdigung einer Baronin („Tote begraben“), vom Besuch auf einem Weingut („Weinprobe“) oder schlicht von einem einzigen Zimmer („Sein Zimmer“).

Mosebach wirft erzählerische Fangnetze nach dem Leser aus

Wenn der Fokus jedoch nicht auf dem Inhalt ruht, wo dann? Wo manifestiert sich der Geist des Autors? Mosebachs Schaffen beruht auf der einfachen wie genialen Beschreibung des Alltäglichen, das heißt, auf den Handlungen und Gegenständen, welche unser Dasein tagtäglich prägen und dessen Sein wir des Öfteren nicht wahrnehmen. Ein Paradebeispiel stellt eben die Erzählung „Sein Zimmer“ dar: In dieser beschreibt der Ich-​Erzähler ein vollkommen normales, durch nichts auffallendes Zimmer, wie es in jeder Wohnung vorzufinden ist. Doch nach kaum zwei Seiten intensiven Lesens ist der Leser in der Lektüre gefangen, die Buchstaben und Sätze bestimmen seine Umwelt, die Wortkonstellationen lassen in ihm ein Gefühl des Beschenkt-​werdens aufsteigen – kurzum, der Leser versinkt in der Erzählung.

Nach dem Ende der Erzählung wird der Leser sein Zimmer und dessen Räumlichkeit einerseits im neuen Licht der Offenbarung wahrnehmen und andererseits wird er es beginnen zu lieben. Nun ist es sein Zimmer, sein persönliches Eigentum und dementsprechend höchster Ausdruck seiner Individualität. Neben den im Text herausstechenden Wortkonstellationen, die das Herz des anspruchsvollen Lesers höher schlagen lassen und Mosebachs tiefsinnigen Beschreibungen der unterschiedlichsten Objekte, besticht das Sammelwerk Stilleben mit wildem Tier ferner durch seinen Humor und seine Ironie. So wird ein 14- ​jähriger Knabe in der Geschichte „Weinprobe“ von den Inhabern des Weingutes zur Weinverköstigung motiviert und in der Erzählung „Tote begraben“ zerstört der Neffe der Toten deren Marmorurne und zerstreut ihre Asche in alle Winde. An dieser Stelle sei jedoch der intellektuelle und tiefgreifende Humor des Schriftstellers betont, welcher sich vom „proletarischen“ Witz der deutschen Massenmedien durch seine Weisheit und Flexibilität abhebt. Große Kunst also.

Ein neuer Thomas Mann

Martin Mosebach wird zu Recht als neuer Thomas Mann gefeiert. Anhänger und begeisterte Leser des aus Lübeck stammenden Schriftstellers werden auch die Erzählungen Mosebachs lieben. Aber auch all denjenigen, die auf der Suche anspruchsvollen Büchern und Erzählungen sind und sich in den geschriebenen Geschichten verlieren möchten, sei dieses Sammelbuch ans Herz gelegt. Durch die Ich-​Perspektive fühlt sich der Leser als integraler Teil der Erzählungen, es kommt ihm so vor, als wäre er selbst der Hauptprotagonist. Durch die herausragenden Fähigkeiten des Autors verfliegt die Zeit beim Lesen der Lektüre wie im Fluge. Gerade dies kennzeichnet einen großen Schriftsteller aus, zu denen der Leser Martin Mosebach nach der Lektüre von Stilleben mit wildem Tier definitiv zu zählen wird.

Martin Mosebach: Stilleben mit wildem Tier. 176 Seiten. Bloomsbury Verlag, 2012. 8,99 Euro.

Martin Mosebach entdecken,

Teil II

von Kaplan Thomas Jäger



Warum Martin Mosebachs Buch so erfolgreich wurde und heute zum traditionell-​katholischen Standardwerk gehört, liegt daran, dass hier kein Priester und Theologe schreibt, sondern ein Laie.

Kurz nach dem Erscheinen des Buches 2002 lud ich den Schriftsteller Mosebach, den ich durch mein Studium in Frankfurt kannte, zu einer Lesung auf unser Verbindunghaus der KDStV Badenia ein. Die Akademiker unserer Verbindung waren mit der Thematik der lateinischen Liturgie nur peripher vertraut, so dass ich froh war, dass selbst ein Pater und Dozent unserer Jesuitenhochschule den Weg aufs Haus fand.

Mosebach tritt für eine traditionelle Liturgie ein

Mosebachs Buch, das in Kennerkreisen nur kurz „Die Häresie“ genannt wird, ist eines der wenigen, nach dessen Lektüre ich ohne schlechtes Gewissen sagen konnte, dass ich mich im Innersten meiner Seele verstanden fühlte. Aber noch wichtiger war mir die Vertrautheit mit der Einstellung der Umwelt zu einem „Tradi“ (also einem Gläubigen, der die Messe im ausserordentlichen lateinischen Ritus bevorzugt), die der Büchner-​Preisträger von 2010 erlebt und beschreibt hat: „Diese Messe sei ein besonderes seelsorgerisches Entgegenkommen für einen eher problematischen Kreis von Gläubigen. Der normale Katholik gehöre da nicht hin.“

Zum Glück hat unser Papst Benedikt XVI. mit seinem Motu Proprio, das die Feier der lateinischen Messe wieder uneingeschränkt zulässt, gezeigt, dass diese Messe zum katholischen „Normalsein“ dazugehört.

Das Buch polarisiert

Der meistgemachte Vorwurf, den Mosebach zu seinem Buch zu hören bekommt, ist der, dass er Ästhetizist sei. Hier hat bereits Michael Karger in der Tagespost vom 2. August 2012 klare Worte gegen die Rezension des Buches durch die Literaturwissenschaftlerin Claudia Stockinger gefunden, die in den Stimmen der Zeit (8÷2012 Herder Verlag Freiburg) erschien.

Mangels theologischer Kompetenz und in einer Reihe mit anderen „Häresie“-Kritikern, unterstellt Stockinger Mosebach, dass er die Liturgie der Kirche unter dem Gesichtspunkt ihrer Schönheit verteidigt und sich zugleich gegen den Vorwurf des Ästhetizismus zur Wehr setzt. Wobei es sich doch nach Ansicht von Stockinger beim Thema Liturgie so verhält, „dass theologisch gesehen, die Liturgie Instrument des Gottesdienstes ist, für sich selbst aber nichts gilt“.

Zur Stützung dieser merkwürdigen These wird nun der heilige Benedikt herangezogen: “Nichts soll dem Gottesdienst vorgezogen werden, heisst es in der Regel des heiligen Benedikts, auch nicht die Liturgie.” Würde diese rein spiritualistische Interpretation der Benediktsregel tatsächlich gelten, müsste man sich fragen, warum überhaupt noch jemand in der Morgenfrühe zum Stundengebet erscheint, wenn man doch den Gottesdienst auch vollziehen kann, ohne am Gottesdienst teilzunehmen. Mit dieser dialektischen Argumentation macht die Verfasserin jede liturgische Handlung zum Ästhetizismus überflüssig.

Mosebach: „Ich bin Animist.“

In ähnlich dilettantischer Weise versucht Frau Stockinger dem Autor der „Häresie“ noch Animismus zu unterstellen, was dieser wohl auch gar nicht leugnen würde, sondern ja selbst bekennt „… höre ich das Lied der Amsel am Abend, das bekanntlich gar kein Lied, sondern eine die Evolution begünstigende Geräuschentfaltung ist, und den fernen Klang der Kirchenglocke, bei der eine Maschine den Klöppel auf ein Stück Bronze haut, als eine mir bestimmte, wenn auch unentschlüsselbare Nachricht.“ Daraus folgert Mosebach: “Ich stehe auf der tiefsten Stufe der Menschheitsgeschichte. Ich bin Animist.“

Wie sich die Mittelaltersehnsucht der Romantiker nicht auf eine reale Geschichtsepoche bezog, sondern auf die Wiedergewinnung all dessen, was mit der anbrechenden Moderne verloren zu gehen drohte, so ist das Anliegen dieses „parakatholischen Eleganzphänomens Mosebach“ (Peter Sloterdijk), die Kirche auf schwerwiegende Verluste aufmerksam zu machen, die seiner Meinung nach ihr Wesen und damit ihre Sendung in der Welt gefährden. Es wäre fatal, würde die Kirche – und hierzu gehört nicht nur die sogenannte „Amtskirche“, sondern die Gemeinschaft aller Getauften – nicht auf diese wichtige aufweckende Stimme Mosebachs hören. Es gilt hier mehr denn je, sich wieder auf die altehrwürdige Messe – mehr noch – auf die Tradition der katholischen Kirche in Wort, Ritus und Selbstbewusstsein zu besinnen.

Martin Mosebach: Häresie der Formlosigkeit. Die römische Liturgie und ihr Feind. 248 Seiten, DTV 2012. 9,90 Euro.

vendredi, 01 février 2013

Of Mencken & Micropolitics


Of Mencken & Micropolitics

By James Kirkpatrick 

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

The rise and fall of nations and cultures is too abstract for most people. But fiction, especially that informed by journalism, can shows how the sweeping patterns of history play out the micro level. Individual stories can be just as informative as any grand history of the clash of civilizations.

H.L. Mencken, who died 57 years ago this week, was the greatest newspaperman of his age, or perhaps of any age. He shaped the thought of a generation with The [2]  [2]American Mercury [2] (now available online [3] thanks to Ron Unz [4]). He changed the way Americans viewed the way they speak [5] with his book The American Language [6]. Most critically, as the author of the first English-language book [7] on Friedrich Nietzsche [8], a champion of free speech and of a kind of idiosyncratic aristocratic radicalism, Mencken has been an important influence [9] on the libertarian American Old Right [10] and the emerging North American New Right [11].

new collection [12] of Mencken’s early fiction, The Passing of a Profit and Other Forgotten Stories [13], provides a vital perspective on his vanished world.

Motifs run through these seventeen tales that were developed further in Mencken’s public writings and private diaries. Among the most important: the confrontation between the civilized Western man and the savage. Like his contemporary H. P. Lovecraft [14], Mencken identified what he called the “civilized minority” with Northern Europeans. But it’s not a perfect association—Mencken’s contempt [15] for the socially conservative and rural “Real Americans” [16] of the Sarah Palin mold iswell known [17].

And this collection can hardly be called racist. For example, “The Cook’s Victory” [18] is a hilarious recounting of a black cook winning a pardon from a poaching ship captain who wants to execute him for “mutiny.” His victory comes from the captain’s need for his help as the police approach, slowly gaining more and more concessions, finally winning his freedom just as the captain makes good his escape. In “The Crime of McSwane,” a white soldier fighting in a colonial war [19]loses his rifle and goes mad at the reduction in status, encouraging his comrades to die so he can reclaim his position. Other stories showNorthern Europeans [20] coming out on top of Southern Europeans [21] or non-white “natives,” [22] but often as a result of swindling or fraud—hardly an edifying picture of the “civilizing” power of Western Man.

Still, even in negative stories, there’s a fierce consciousness of status entirely absent from contemporary Europeans. There’s something bracing about tale after tale of laughing and confident British, Germans, and especially Americans casually striding through the Third World like swaggering colossi, changing entire societies on a whim.

In “The Heathen Rage,” a German swindler makes his way to Jamaica [23]and exploits an old royal land grant to a Major Johann von Braun to convince black Jamaicans named “Brown” (which is to say, lots of Jamaicans) that they are entitled [24] to estates. The result is chaos, as the swindler gets more and more legal fees and donations from his prey while feeding them pseudo-legal claptrap about the Magna Carta. [25]Eventually, the minor insurrection is put down, but the German escapes with the cash.

In “The Defeat of Alfonso,” in contrast, two American dentists who have set up shop in Ecuador easily outwit a “Castilian” competitor who tries to rob them. They send him scurrying off like a child, after a kick from a “shoe that bore the imprint of a manufacturer [26] in Jonesville, Connecticut.”

Two other Americans who have set up a theater in the Antilles are able to defeat an honor-conscious “Señor” through sheer daring, chasing him down in the dark of night. However, even another “Señor” represents a higher order of civilization than the “fifty colored gentlemen” in “A Double Rebellion.” Mencken notes wryly that “the dark skinned Anglo-Jamaican [27], be it known, reckons no further in the future than the morrow [28].” Following a mutiny, the Mexican pilot of the ship is forced into steering the ship, but manages to create such a disruptive voyage that the mutineers leap off the ship in terror, screaming prayers to their pagan gods.

Sometimes, the Other thinks that Western men behave the same way, as in “Hurra Lal, Peacemaker.” A doomed native rebellion ends without bloodshed when an Indian living in Jamaica [29], who has observed Her Majesty’s pith-helmeted legions, [30] appeases them by screaming “God Save the Queen” [31] as if it were a magic formula, not really knowing what it means. The appeal has its intended effect: the grinning white officers show mercy to the defeated.

In each case, we are presented with a mirror image of the micro-racial politics of today, with Western men confronting the Other without fear [32] or guilt [33].

However, what is most remarkable for immigration patriots is the attitude of Americans towards their government as they have their lurid adventures abroad [34]. In every story, citizens of the Republic (even scoundrels) are confident that there is a strong government [35] that has their back and will ensure their rights are not violated by foreigners. [36]

In “The King and Tommy Crips,” which no parent can read without grinning, a patriotic little boy (are there any now?) is abroad with his father in one of the lesser German kingdoms. Heartbroken at missing the Fourth of July while stuck in a snooty European city where no-one speaks “real English” or follows baseball, the boy resolves to have his own celebration. He throws some firecrackers during a parade for the king. This is interpreted as an assassination attempt by anarchists [37].

The king is amused when he finds out the truth, and the boy is ashamed of his disruption. But his innocent warnings to the king after being threatened with jail show that, a century ago, even a child knew what it meant to have a country:

“Did you ever see the battleship Oregon [38]? . . . she goes around helping Americans. If one of them is robbed or gets into jail in a foreign country, she comes along and gets him out. The government keeps her for that.”

In the eponymous “The Passing of a Profit,” two feuding American gamblers detained in Mexico confidently expect freedom and swift punishment for the Mexican government once the American consul arrives. However, in a twist, the consul turns out to be a naturalized Mexican [39]—an early example of a Raul Grijalva, [40]who holds a US passport but is indifferent towards his supposed country. He still secures their release, but only after a bribe. The chastened Americans realize they would have escaped with earnings intact if they had shown a united front. They shake hands and conclude “In unity there is strength.”

Even when the U.S. government is not directly involved, Americans abroad know that they represented a real people. In “Firing & a Watering,” American miners are accosted by a band of would-be Central American revolutionaries who demand their surrender. Instead, the expatriates raise the Stars & Stripes in defiance, inform their “dago friends” that they’ve booby-trapped the river, and eventually use a high-powered hose to defeat los insurrectos in humiliating fashion. Government forces arrive to take credit for the victory and the triumphant Americans laugh good-naturedly. In the “Star Spangled Banner,” a French singer tries to put one over on Americano workers in Latin America by singing insulting Spanish lyrics to the national anthem.  [41]Of course, at least some of the Yankees know Spanis [42]h and chase him through the jungle for ten miles seeking vengeance.

The Passing of a Profit and Other Forgotten Stories is more than a new side of H.L. Mencken: It shows cultural assumptions dramatically different than those of today. What James Burnham [43] called the Suicide Of The West [44] now plays out in conversations and business dealings of ordinary people.

Today, Western men will strip to their underwear [45] at the behest ofnonwhite rioters in London [46]. An American imprisoned abroad [47], even aUnited States Marine [48], knows that his government is essentiallyindifferent [49] to his fate [50]. Rather than defending its citizens, the American government will sue them on behalf of foreign governments [51] or even arrest them to spare the feelings of the Third World. [52] The Stars & Stripes symbolizes a government actively hostile to the people who built the country.

Mencken’s fiction is valuable not just because it’s an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon with one of America’s greatest writers. It’s a way of showing individual people why they should care about the larger issues.

Shifting demographics and metapolitics aren’t just about the political direction of the country—it’s about how we have to live our lives every day.

Source: http://www.vdare.com/articles/of-mencken-and-micropolitics [53]


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/01/of-mencken-micropolitics/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/MenckenCoverSm.jpg

[2] The: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_mercury

[3] available online: http://www.unz.org/Pub/AmMercury

[4] Ron Unz: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Avdare.com+Ron+Unz).+

[5] viewed the way they speak: http://www.bartleby.com/185/

[6] The American Language: http://www.amazon.com/American-Language-H-L-Mencken/dp/0394400755/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=ur2&tag=vd0b-20

[7] first English-language book: http://www.seesharppress.com/nietzscheintro.html

[8] Friedrich Nietzsche: http://www.vdare.com/articles/jews-leftists-immigration-my-journey-to-nietzsche-some-responses-to-readers

[9] an important influence: http://hlmenckenclub.org/

[10] libertarian American Old Right: http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard19.html

[11] North American New Right: http://www.vdare.com/posts/peter-brimelow-video-from-the-mencken-club

[12] new collection: http://www.forgottenstoriespress.com/

[13] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/the-passing-of-a-profit/

[14] H. P. Lovecraft: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft#Race.2C_ethnicity.2C_and_class

[15] contempt: http://reason.com/archives/2003/02/01/scourge-of-the-booboisie

[16] “Real Americans”: http://books.google.com/books?id=fi-SeqbAVAcC&pg=PA8&dq=%E2%80%9CReal+Americans%E2%80%9D&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ADj_UPXBDorNrQHNl4GADA&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9CReal%20Americans%E2%80%9D&f=false

[17] well known: http://writing2.richmond.edu/jessid/eng423/restricted/mencken.pdf

[18] The Cook’s Victory”: http://books.google.ca/books?id=C4DrOAFEVFUC&pg=PA307&lpg=PA307&dq=%22The+Cook%27s+Victory%E2%80%9D&source=bl&ots=kxAhD_uehs&sig=jCEiQkGLIv3NsR6HfGZDi8qY6ZY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=hUT_UMmSIuag2gXi8YHoBA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22The%20Cook

[19] a colonial war: http://www.vdare.com/articles/a-bright-shining-lie-john-paul-vann-and-america-in-vietnam

[20] Northern Europeans: http://www.vdare.com/articles/john-harvey-s-race-and-equality-the-standard-social-science-model-is-w-r-o-n-g

[21] Southern Europeans: http://www.vdare.com/articles/iq-and-the-wealth-of-nations-richard-lynn-replies-to-ron-unz

[22] “natives,”: http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-fulford-file-christophobia-the-prejudice-that-barely-has-a-name

[23] Jamaica: http://books.google.ca/books?id=pXrZAAAAMAAJ&q=%E2%80%9CThe+Heathen+Rage,%E2%80%9D+mencken&dq=%E2%80%9CThe+Heathen+Rage,%E2%80%9D+mencken&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bUb_UMmxOuPS2AWT5ICgDA&redir_esc=y

[24] entitled: http://www.snopes.com/business/taxes/blacktax.asp

[25] Magna Carta.: http://cybercynic.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/magna-carta-no-longer-law/

[26] manufacturer: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-07-29/news/30017716_1_shoes-tariff-factory

[27] Anglo-Jamaican: http://www.vdare.com/letters/a-reader-remembers-the-immigrant-who-killed-43-people-by-deliberately-crashing-psa-flight-17

[28] no further in the future than the morrow: http://www.halfsigma.com/2006/05/is_future_time_.html

[29] Indian living in Jamaica: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0057.htm

[30] pith-helmeted legions,: http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Readings/dannydeever.html

[31] “God Save the Queen”: http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/Symbols/NationalAnthem.aspx

[32] fear: http://www.vdare.com/articles/hey-we-could-use-this-racism-detector

[33] guilt: http://www.vdare.com/articles/white-guilt-obamania-and-the-reality-of-race

[34] abroad: http://www.vdare.com/articles/teddy-bear-jihad-religion-of-peace-showing-the-love?page=11

[35] strong government: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_White_Fleet

[36] rights are not violated by foreigners.: http://www.americanheritage.com/content/%E2%80%9Cperdicaris-alive-or-raisuli-dead%E2%80%9D

[37] anarchists: http://www.vdare.com/articles/why-no-ashcroft-raids

[38] battleship Oregon: http://www.spanamwar.com/oregon.htm

[39] naturalized Mexican: http://www.vdare.com/articles/memo-from-mexico-by-allan-wall-13

[40] Raul Grijalva,: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Avdare.com+Raul+Grivalja%2C#hl=en&safe=off&tbo=d&spell=1&q=site:vdare.com+Raul+Grijalva,&sa=X&psj=1&ei=YEv_ULGTL-Lo2AWYy4CoAw&ved=0CDEQBSgA&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41248874,d.b2I&fp=2133deba519e1b

[41] insulting Spanish lyrics to the national anthem. : http://www.vdare.com/posts/star-spangled-spanglish

[42] some of the Yankees know Spanis: http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-fulford-file-by-james-fulford-15

[43] James Burnham: http://www.vdare.com/articles/james-burnham-the-new-class-and-the-nation-state

[44] Suicide Of The West: http://www.amazon.com/Suicide-West-Meaning-Destiny-Liberalism/dp/145511751X/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=ur2&tag=vd0b-20

[45] strip to their underwear: http://stuffblackpeopledontlike.blogspot.com/2011/08/two-photos-that-show-sickness-of-dwl.html

[46] nonwhite rioters in London: http://www.vdare.com/posts/who-is-rioting-in-england-estimate-60-black-35-white-5-south-asian

[47] American imprisoned abroad: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/21/more-cases-of-american-detainees-jailed-abroad/

[48] United States Marine: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/17/gun-that-landed-marine-jon-hammar-in-mexican-prison-was-legal-says-veteran/

[49] indifferent: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2012/12/14/marine-held-in-mexican-prison-state-department-does-nothing-n1467038

[50] fate: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57560485/mexico-frees-ex-marine-jailed-for-bringing-in-gun/

[51] on behalf of foreign governments: http://www.vdare.com/articles/there-s-no-american-foreign-policy-because-there-s-no-america

[52] the feelings of the Third World.: http://www.vdare.com/posts/mohammed-filmmaker-sentenced-to-silence-in-the-slammer

[53] http://www.vdare.com/articles/of-mencken-and-micropolitics: http://www.vdare.com/articles/of-mencken-and-micropolitics

dimanche, 27 janvier 2013

Bij Paul van Ostaijen in de leer

Bij Paul van Ostaijen in de leer


Zowel de vroege als de late epigonen van Paul van Ostaijen zullen het U wellicht heel anders trachten diets te maken, daar elkeen bij zijn leermeester slechts datgene wenst te leren wat het meest naar zijn zin is en het best met zijn eigen geestesaanleg overeenstemt.

De speelse geesten, die slechts van woordgeknutsel houden of de poëzie “experimenteren” zoals men een nieuwe fiets of een nieuwe flirt aanpakt, zullen U weten te vertellen dat Paul van Ostaijen de aartsmodernist bij uitstek was die hele tot dan toe zo ouderwetse Vlaamse poëzie op stelten heeft gezet, om de ene poëtische waaghalzerij na de andere aan te durven en het over boord te werpen. Ze staven zich blind op toch zo modernistische “Boere-charleston” of op dat even leuk “Alpejagerslied”, met die twee heren die een open hoed dragen en die hem voor elkaar afnemen vlak vóór de winkel van Hinderickx en Winderickx… Leuk zijn ze, inderdaad, die gedichten en misschien zelfs baanbrekend, doch vindt U ze niet eveneens een tikje “prozaïsch” en potsierlijk, met heel die goedkope tingeltengel van “bolle wangen ballen bekkens / bugel en basson”?

We weten gelukkig genoeg, dat het voor Paul van Ostaijen met die en dergelijke andere gedichten slechts om het “Eerste Boek van Schmoll” ging, U weet dat eerste piano-oefenboek, waarin de kinderen de allereerste beginselen van de moeilijke klavierkunst aanleren. Na dit boek komen de andere, meer ingewikkelde oefenboeken en slechts na jaren oefenen komt men er eindelijk toe min of meer voldoende bekwaam te zijn een fuga van Bach of een nocturnen van Chopin te vertolken. Met Paul van Ostaijen was het net eender en na die eerder schrale en al te gemakkelijke probeerselen moesten meer ernstige dichtoefeningen komen. Trouwens, dit “Eerste Boek van Schmoll” behelst het niet reeds enkele zeer gave gedichten, zoals die wondermooie en ietwat romantische “Loreley”? Helaas, Paul van Ostaijen is te jong de dood ingegaan, om ons de volle maat van zijn dichterlijke gaven te hebben kunnen tonen. De gedichten die we van hem bezitten zijn nog te onvolkomen, te onvolmaakt om ons de volle, overdadige potentie van zijn waar dichterlijk vermogen te kunnen onthullen.

In zijn critische proza moeten wij de dichter Paul van Ostaijen leren zoeken en, hoe paradoxaal! het is in een van de weinige Franstalige geschriften van deze Vlaamse dichter dat wij zijn ars poetica vinden. Dit Franstalig geschrift heet “Un Débat Littéraire”. Het behelst de tekst van een lezing door Paul van Ostaijen in 1925, te Brussel, gehouden voor het publiek van het studentengenootschap “La Lanterne Sourde”. Als nog zeer jonge dichter, hadden wij het voorrecht deze lezing te mogen horen, er ja zelfs een beetje een van de mede-inrichters van te zijn. De lezing van Paul van Ostaijen maakte de grootste indruk op zijn Brussels publiek en voor onszelf werd ze een werkelijk richtinggevende poëtische boodschap, die wij achteraf nog dikwijls met Paul van Ostaijen mochten bespreken.

De poëtische boodschap van Paul van Ostaijen viel bij ons in een wellicht reeds goed voorbereide aarde, want toen reeds dweepten wij èn met Hadewijch èn met Novalis. Hoe het ook zij, de heel wat oudere Paul van Ostaijen vond in ons, vertegenwoordiger van een jongere generatie, een gewillige discipel, toen hij verkondigde dat Sint Jan van ‘t Kruis de hoeksteen van de hele Spaanse literatuur was, terwijl Mechtild van Maagdeburg, Meister Ekhardt, Jacob Böhme, Tauler en Angelus Silesius als de hechtste vertegenwoordigers van de Duitse letterkunde dienden beschouwd te worden.

Paul van Ostaijen had, inderdaad, de poëtische boodschap van die wonderbare woordkunstenaars begrepen; hij had van hen geleerd dat het woord heel wat meer is dan een teken, dat de woorden meer dan loutere begrippen dekken, dat ze het leven zelf zijn, of eerder dat ze de transcendentie van al hetgeen in het leven besloten weten te reveleren. Hij had van hen geleerd dat het woord in de woordkunst heel wat meer is dan een klank, een klankassociatie met of zonder geestelijke of intellectuele resonans-bodem. Weliswaar is de poëzie eerst en vooral, zoals alle kunsten trouwens, gensensibiliseerde materie, die materie hier het woord zijnde met al de mogelijkheden van zijn verhouding tot het onbewuste. De metafysische bekommernis van de dichter, leerde ons Paul van Ostayen (want volgens hem diende de dichter metafysische bekommernissen te hebben), zou er de dichter toe leiden in de woorden heel wat meer te zien dan het beeld van de uiterlijke wereld, om er de onbewuste som uit te puren van al hetgeen uit hun aard in hem weerklank, diepte en verte heeft gevonden. En op zijn beurt moet de dichter, niet de geest, maar het onbewust van zijn lezer of luisteraar weten te beroeren.

Ten slotte bestaat de kunst van de dichter er vooral in een bewuste en bestendige beroering van het onbewuste te verwekken. Doch van Ostaijen wist onmiddellijk de onbewust geïnspireerde poëzie van de bewust opgebouwde te onderscheiden, met dit voorbehoud echter dat de ene vaak in de andere verglijdt. Geen enkel dichter, geen enkel bewust woordkunstenaar geraakt echter ten volle in de sfeer van de louter onbewust geïnspireerde poëzie; slechts de zuivere mystici, de profeten en… de geesteszieken kunnen het spreekbord van de onbewuste, van de “goddelijke” of andere niet gewone ingeving worden. Aan de dichters behoort het de bewust opgebouwde poëzie te puren uit de gehele bewerking van de onbewuste grondstof die hun wordt geboden ter beoefening van hun dichtkunst. Van Ostaijen stond hier dan van meetaf afwijzend tegenover het blind vertrouwen van de surrealisten in hetgeen deze het woordautomatisme noemen. Voor hem kwam het er in eerste instantie op aan de Wahlverwantschaften van de woorden op te sporen en hierbij zijn hun klank en de metafysische en gevoelsverhoudingen tussen die klank en de zin van de woorden wellicht de beste gidsen.

Paul van Ostaijen stelde zich daarbij de vraag of men een bewuste mystieke literatuur kon scheppen. Hij antwoordde er onmiddellijk negatief op. Hij meende echter dat men heel wat aan de mystieke literatuur kon ontlenen, om haar uitingsmiddelen bewust in de poëzie om te werken. Kantiaans aangelegd, sprak hij dan van een “mystiek in de verschijningsvormen” die de mystiek in God zou kunnen vervangen. Maar die “mystiek in de verschijningsvormen”, is ze ten slotte niet als een vorm van het eeuwige pantheïsme te beschouwen? In die zin hebben we althans de les van van Ostaijen verstaan en, de extase van de mystici “bewust” ervarend, hebben we de “verwondering”, de “begeestering”, samen met al de “nachtzijden” van het leven, als doel an sich van de poëzie weten te ontginnen. (*)

Paul van Ostaijen zegt nog dat het er op aankomt door het woord heen “rationeel”tot het surreële op te gaan. Wij hebben zijn raad gevolgd en zijn aldus logischerwijze in het surrealisme beland om achteraf tot een loutere metafysische poëzie te komen. Doch hijzelf, heeft hij zijn ars poëtica heel en gans in de praktijk van zijn poëzie weten om te zetten? Wij geloven van niet, want daarvoor was zijn kunst nog te gebonden aan zekere aspecten van het expressionisme, ja zelfs van het dadaïsme. Wel heeft hij de grondslagen gelegd van een loutere thematische poëzie, doch zijn thematiek was nog te verslaafd aan de al te goedkope feeërie van de music-hall, aan “dressuurnummers” en grotesken. In enkele van zijn mooiste gedichten heeft hij de poëzie van het “kind in ons” weten op te roepen, doch de poëzie van “plant in ons”, van het “dier in ons” en het verder van al hetgeen de “subcorticale” wereld van ons diepste wezen toebehoort heeft hij nooit of slechts sporadisch weten te benaderen.

De poëzie van Paul van Ostaijen is voor ons een vertrekpunt geweest, een “overwonnen standpunt”, om een uitdrukking aan zijn eigen terminologie te ontlenen. In de poëzie van de jongste jaren hebben wij, helaas, slechts een terugkeer tot die “overwonnen standpunten” dus een poëtische “Weg zurück” menen te zien. Wij weten het wel, men zal ons antwoorden dat men verder gegaan is dan van Ostaijen zelf. Misschien wel, doch dan voorzeker slechts op de meest gemakkelijke onder de vele wegen die vanaf het “kruispunt” van Ostaijen openstonden. Wij, in tegendeel, hebben de moeilijkste verkozen, die waar de poëzie de ijlste toppen van het sacrale in de mens besloten tracht te benaderen en te omschrijven. Doch leidt deze weg ten slotte niet tot de “eeuwige poëzie”, die boven alle bekommernis van rijm, metrum of andere min of meer gebonden of ongebonden prozodie, de poëzie weet bloot te leggen van al hetgeen ons in het werelds aanzijn weet te beroeren?


(*) Paul Rodenko, in zijn boek “Tussen de Regels”, aarzelt niet Paul van Ostaijen een “mysticus” te noemen. Hij voegt er aan toe dat alleen van daaruit de poëtische ontwikkeling van de dichter te begrijpen is, en hij citeert daarbij, ter staving, een louter metafysisch gedicht van de dichter, waarin het gaat over de bevrijding van de “gevangen éénheid” van doen en denken, lichaam en ziel.

Marc. Eemans, Bij Paul van Ostaijen in de leer, in De Periscoop, 7e jg., nr. 1, november 1956, blz. 1-2.

vendredi, 25 janvier 2013



Méridien Zéro a reçu Philippe Vilgier, auteur d'une passionnante biographie parue aux Editions Via Romana sur Jean Fontenoy, aventurier, journaliste et écrivain.

Cet homme hors du commun, au tracé de vie riche et iconoclaste, a été qualifié de "Malraux fasciste". C'est le portrait de ce personnage complexe et captivant que nous vous proposons.

A la barre : PGL

A la technique : Lord Tesla

Pour écouter:


jean fontenoy, philippe vilgier, fascisme, finlande, berlin, shangaï, moscou, révolution bolchevique, collaboration, msr, socialisme, nationalisme, surréalisme

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, 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


Richard Millet über Terrorismus und Literatur


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



Enlace Revista electrónica

Enlace Revista documento pdf

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