En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.

vendredi, 03 août 2018

Pagan Pound


Pagan Pound

The following is the text of a talk given in London on May 27, 2018 at The Poet at War, an event convened by Vortex Londinium.

“We want an European religion. Christianity is verminous with semitic infections. What we really believe is the pre-Christian element which Christianity has not stamped out . . .”[1] [2]

“If a race NEGLECTS to create its own gods, it gets the bump.”[2] [3]

“The glory of the polytheistic anschauung is that it never asserted a single and obligatory path for everyone. It never caused the assertion that everyone was fit for initiation and it never caused an attempt to force people into a path alien to their sensibilities.

 Paganism never feared knowledge. It feared ignorance, and under a flood of ignorance it was driven out of its temples.”[3] [4]

Pound is a forest and one is in need of principles by which to navigate him, otherwise one is apt to lose sight of the wood for the trees, as we say in English. What I shall call Pound’s paganism can, I submit, offer one of the more direct routes into the man and his work, and in particular, into the heart of his most difficult: The Cantos.

At the same time, in the opposite direction, his poetry and prose can bring one to a better understanding of this part of our heritage and its potentialities, and here I intend no narrowly partisan point. By paganism I mean a central stream in European civilization, something that has participated in the formation of Christianity just as much as offering alternative visions of life. To give one example, the theologically fundamental doctrine of the Trinity is arguably a modified form of the Neo-Platonic triad of the One, Intellect, and Soul, in which the latter two emanate from the One and yet both are equivalent to it and yet not equivalent to it. St. Augustine in his Confessions confirms [5] that he and other Christian intellectuals believed thus that the Neo-Platonists had already had an awareness of the persons of the Trinity.

Pound was pagan in three respects. First, he accepted as true ideas from the pre- and non-Christian philosophers. One finds a Neo-Platonic orientation of mind, in the foreground or background, from the very first poem in his first published anthology, “Grace Before Song,” to the very last words of the final Canto, “Canto CXVI”:

To confess wrong without losing rightness:
Charity I have had sometimes,
I cannot make it flow thru.
A little light, like a rushlight
to lead back to splendour.[4] [6]

It is the idea of light as the symbol for a higher form of reality, of a more real reality, which all things may draw closer towards and so perfect themselves – it is this idea that unites how he speaks of the ethical precepts of Confucius, the financial theories of Major Douglas, the politics of John Adams, and the poetry of Cavalcanti, all aids towards the perfected man and the perfected society.

This is that first poem, from A Lume Spento, in 1908:

Lord God of heaven that with mercy dight
Th’alternate prayer wheel of the night and light
Eternal hath to thee, and in whose sight
Our days as rain drops in the sea surge fall,

As bright white drops upon a leaden sea
Grant so my songs to this grey folk may be:

As drops that dream and gleam and falling catch the sun
Evan’scent mirrors every opal one
Of such his splendor as their compass is,
So, bold My Songs, seek ye such death as this.[5] [7]

EP-port2.jpgThe second and obvious respect in which Pound was pagan was that he accepted as valid indigenous images, names, and myths, by which Deity has revealed Itself to the Europeans. He claimed that the only safe guides in religion were Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the writings of Confucius.[6] [8]

Which brings one to the third respect. He was pagan in his ethics, in the sense that he sought precepts that had arisen through tradition, were enshrined in custom, and were implicit in the natural order and man’s place within it. When he was captured by the partisans after the war and assumed he was about to face execution, it was the Analects of Confucius that he took with him, which he considered a better guide to moral behavior than the Bible: “The unshakable wisdom of Confucius . . . in comparison with which Christianity is a fad.”[7] [9]

In Pagan Ethics: Paganism as a World Religion,[8] [10] Professor Michael York unambiguously speaks of Confucianism as a religion, with its principles of solicitous care, decency, and benevolence, and the obverse of the Golden Rule: Do not do to others as you would not have done to yourself. Another example: Act in such a way that your descendants will be glad. In its emphasis on correct relationships between oneself and one’s family, between oneself and those above one and below one in society, between oneself and those who came before one in time, and between oneself and those who will come after one, Pound perceived the same multi-directional communitarian values that he found in Fascism.

Cut to London in the years following 1908, when Pound settled here. With the rise of science and biblical scholarship precipitating a crisis of faith in the mid-nineteenth century, some of the space hitherto occupied by the established denominations began to be filled by mysticism, occultism, and philosophies drawn from earlier times or from other parts of the world; and this was nowhere more evident than within the artistic circles in which Pound would move. The Theosophical Society was founded by Madame Blavatsky in 1875, and one of the emblematic texts of the aesthetic movement, Walter Pater’s work of fiction, Marius the Epicurean, appeared ten years later, providing a fully fleshed-out account of how non-Christian, Classical concepts of spirituality and the Good might be just as valid a way to live well as the prevailing religious norms.

The major source which fed Pound’s development as a religious thinker was, as has been indicated, Neo-Platonism, which is simply the continuation of Plato’s ideas, namely their elaboration and exegesis, principally through Plotinus but also through a host of others, including Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola in Italy, and later through the translations of the eighteenth-century English Neo-Platonist Thomas Taylor, whose books were read by and influenced poets such as Blake, Shelley, and Yeats.

What Pound found within Neo-Platonism was:

  1. The idea of henosis, that is to say union or reunion with the absolute One, which could manifest as a mystical experience. On his deathbed, Plotinus is reported to have summarized his teaching thus: “Try to bring back the god in oneself to the divine in the All.”[9] [11]
  2. The idea that an individual soul has a better, higher, and true self, and that this superior self seeks its return to the One that gave birth to all creation.
  3. The idea that experience results from the tension between the poles of the temporal and the eternal.
  4. The idea that the beauty of the absolute One descends into the beauty of the Platonic world of forms, and is then instantiated in the material world.

It seems Pound was congenitally disposed to such ideas. When interviewed during his stay in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital after his return to America in 1946, he said he had been under the influence of mysticism between the ages of 16 to 24.[10] [12] Later in his life, he wrote two refreshingly precise and disciplined statements of his own philosophy:Religio, or the Child’s Guide to Knowledge (1918) and “Axiomata” (1923). The first is a catechism, a series of simple questions and answers which enunciates a pagan theology as well as any other text of such brevity of which I am aware.


He was drawn to Plotinus because Plotinus defended the value of worldly sensations and attacked their rejection by the Gnostics, who thought physicality evil in some sense. He was drawn to the idea in Plotinus that the beauty of this world is the manifestation of a celestial beauty, which we may not be able to grasp but which is yet a glimpse of a paradise that imparts to us, within a limited time, an unlimited joy.

But unlike Plotinus, who thought that this glimpse into the world of ideal forms was but the penultimate stage in the union with the One, a union with the absolute, an entity without parts or qualities, Pound seemed to believe that this was an unwarranted assumption, which one’s highest experiences neither legitimated nor needed. His type of paganism was without dogmatism or unnecessary abstraction: “To replace the marble Goddess on Her pedestal at Terracina is worth more than any metaphysical argument.”[11] [13]

The vast, sprawling, expansive sequence of poems called The Cantos is Pound’s attempt to fashion a work that embraced all things that seemed relevant, all things that needed to be said. It makes use of twenty-five languages – twenty-six if one includes musical notation. It draws on Dante’s Divine Comedy in the progression from the dark depths to the upper regions; Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the treatment of impermanence and change, and of the human and the mythic; and Homer’s Odyssey, in the hero’s endeavor to succeed over obstacles and achieve victory, and victory not merely in worldly terms.

Plotinus regarded Homer’s Odyssey as a metaphor for the journey of the individual soul to return home into the Great Soul of the absolute, and this became for Pound almost a foundational myth for civilization. The Cantos begins therefore with an account of Odysseus making landfall and offering sacrifice to the gods. Paganism, in its Hellenic manifestation, he saw as the golden thread that ran overtly through the Classical era, covertly through the Middle Ages, and surfaced again in the Renaissance, indeed being implicit alongside the explicit Christianity of his favorite author, Dante Alighieri.

In the essay “Psychology and Troubadours” (1912), he posited a continuity of Classical paganism in the south of France:

Provence was less disturbed than the rest of Europe by invasion . . . if paganism survived anywhere, it would have been, unofficially, in the Langue d’Oc. That the spirit was, in Provence, Hellenic, is seen readily enough by anyone who will compare the Greek Anthology with the work of the Troubadours. They have, in some way, lost the names of the Gods, and remembered the names of lovers.[12] [14]

ep-context.jpgOne recognizes a person that one actually knows by sight, by who the person is, not because of the name. A person may be called by different names yet be the same person still. “Tradition inheres in the images of the Gods, and gets lost in dogmatic definitions . . . But the images of the Gods . . . move the soul to contemplation and preserve the tradition of the undivided light.”[13] [15]

Before I close with a poem, I should like to put forward two conclusions.

First, with the insights into the Cantos offered by Neoplatonic paganism, one can put to one side some of the less inspiring critical readings – that it is a record of a lifetime’s reading, or an old man’s descent into confusion – and it becomes again the epic he intended it to be, the struggle of light against darkness, of heroes with themselves and with the world to reach a blessed place.

And second, with Pound’s veneration for the past and his appetite for the future, for making it new, as he put it, with his courage and capacity for friendship, with the range of his enthusiasms, and the range of what he was not satisfied with, he is an ideal figure to head any movement of European rebirth. And this poem, “Surgit Fama”[14] [16] (“it rises to fame”), seems to be about that more than anything else. The first stanza depicts a stirring in the world, the coming of Korè who is Persephone, the returning and reborn Spring; in consort with Leuconoë, the girl to whom Horace addresses the famous injunction to seize the day, carpe diem.[15] [17] In the second stanza, when the poet tries to render this into verse, he has to resist any superfluity, any unnecessary words that may be circulated as rumor or bent in their meaning, which he feels Hermes may tempt him to, and he addresses himself, exhorting himself to speak true. And in the final stanza that is what he does, when he says how in Delos, the island where it was said Apollo and Artemis were born, once again shall rites be enacted and the story continued.

There is a truce among the Gods,
Korè is seen in the North
Skirting the blue-gray sea
In gilded and russet mantle.
The corn has again its mother and she, Leuconoë,
That failed never women,
Fails not the earth now.

The tricksome Hermes is here;
He moves behind me
Eager to catch my words,
Eager to spread them with rumour;
To set upon them his change
Crafty and subtle;
To alter them to his purpose;
But do thou speak true, even to the letter:

“Once more in Delos, once more is the altar a quiver.
Once more is the chant heard.
Once more are the never abandoned gardens
Full of gossip and old tales.”


[1] [18] Ezra Pound, “Statues of Gods,” The Townsman, August 1939; in William Cookson (ed.), Ezra Pound, Selected Prose 1909-1965 (London: Faber and Faber, 1973), p. 71.

[2] [19] Ezra Pound, “Deus et Amor,” The Townsman, June 1940; Selected Prose, p. 72.

[3] [20] Ezra Pound, “Terra Italica,” The New Review, Winter, 1931-2; Selected Prose, p. 56.

[4] [21] Ezra Pound, The Cantos (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), p. 743.

[5] [22] Michael John King (ed.), The Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound, ed. Michael John King (London: Faber and Faber, 1977), p. 7.

[6] [23] In a letter from 1922 to Dr. Felix E. Schelling, in D. D. Paige (ed.), The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907-1941 (London: Faber and Faber, 1950), p. 182.

[7] [24] “Statues of Gods,” Selected Prose, p. 71.

[8] [25] Michael York, Pagan Ethics: Paganism as a World Religion (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2016), p. 356.

[9] [26] Porphyry, The Life of Plotinus, in Plotinus, vol. I, trans. Arthur Hilary Armstrong (Cambridge, Mass.: Loeb Classics, Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 7.

[10] [27] Peter Liebregts, Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism (Madison: Rosemont Publishing, 2004), p. 34.

[11] [28] Ezra Pound, “A Visiting Card,” written in Italian and first published in Rome in 1942; the translation by John Drummond was first published by Peter Russell in 1952; Selected Prose, p. 290.

[12] [29] Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance (London: Peter Owen, 1952), p. 90.

[13] [30] “A Visiting Card”; Selected Prose, p. 277.

[14] [31] Ezra Pound, Collected Shorter Poems (London: Faber and Faber, 1952), p. 99.

[15] [32] Horace, Odes, I, XI.

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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/07/pagan-pound/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/7-31-18-2.jpg

[2] [1]: #_ftn1

[3] [2]: #_ftn2

[4] [3]: #_ftn3

[5] St. Augustine in his Confessions confirms: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/trinity-history.html

[6] [4]: #_ftn4

[7] [5]: #_ftn5

[8] [6]: #_ftn6

[9] [7]: #_ftn7

[10] [8]: #_ftn8

[11] [9]: #_ftn9

[12] [10]: #_ftn10

[13] [11]: #_ftn11

[14] [12]: #_ftn12

[15] [13]: #_ftn13

[16] [14]: #_ftn14

[17] [15]: #_ftn15

[18] [1]: #_ftnref1

[19] [2]: #_ftnref2

[20] [3]: #_ftnref3

[21] [4]: #_ftnref4

[22] [5]: #_ftnref5

[23] [6]: #_ftnref6

[24] [7]: #_ftnref7

[25] [8]: #_ftnref8

[26] [9]: #_ftnref9

[27] [10]: #_ftnref10

[28] [11]: #_ftnref11

[29] [12]: #_ftnref12

[30] [13]: #_ftnref13

[31] [14]: #_ftnref14

[32] [15]: #_ftnref15

mardi, 17 avril 2018

La beat generation


La beat generation

Orages d'acier - 09/10/2016

Fréquence Orages d'acier #36 :
La Beat generation Emission avec Hector Burnouf, Clovis de forme et le Dr. Gluck présentée par Monsieur K..
La Beat Generation, un manifeste en rupture avec l'Amérique
Jack Kerouac Sur la route,
Alan Ginsberg,
William Burroughs
Route rythme et macadam contre Moloch, experience hallucinogène, esthétique et éthilique
En péripherie de la Beat:
Charles Bukosky
Alchool et conscience altérée,
Julius Evola et la Beat génération : antimaterialisme, anti impérialisme, antibourgeoisisme
Evola, LSD, transgression et et aristocratie narcotique
Zero drogue
Une emission en compagnie de Dyonisos
Fétichisation de la Beat : l'exposition du Centre Pompidou,
Kerouac à Paris, narquois sur la mode américaine,
Amour des choses vraies et les petites gens,
Kerouac, un Orwell américain ?
Common decency,
Kerouac, mystique, bigot et puritain,
Recupération par les élites décomposées,
Kerouac Catholique, Breton et Français du Canada !
Kerouac disciple de Saint François d'Assise,
Kerouac "marie" une amérindienne...
24'45'' Pause musicale
La Beat et les femmes,
Mysoginie et amour des femmes,
Beat et homosexualité transgressive,
Modernité radicale, modernes anti modernes,
Baroque et picaresque,
Guerriers et colons et mystiques,
Satori du samourai,
Spiritualités: du Judaisme au Boudhisme et à l'Hindouisme,
Yukio Mishima,
Pantheisme cosmique,
Beat ou béats ?
Aspects litteraires, une expérience autobiographique - retour de Sainte-Beuve,
Postérité de la Beat,
Beat et Hussards,
Actualité de la Camisole, la revue de la Droite universitaire.
® Musiques : Apache" de The Shadows (Google Play • iTunes) Mr. Wullie Blake The Beat Generation featuring Jack Kerouac
Générique : Kreuzweg Ost - Für Kaiser, Gott und Vaterland https://soundcloud.com/orages-dacier/...

jeudi, 22 mars 2018

The “Great War” and Tyranny: E. E. Cummings and John Dos Passos on the Destruction of Order 1914-18


The “Great War” and Tyranny: E. E. Cummings and John Dos Passos on the Destruction of Order 1914-18

The conservative historical view tends to correlate the ascendancy of the ideological dictatorships with the degrading tumult of World War II, making of the Nazi-Communist rivalry in the 1930s the tense build-up to that war while interpreting the conflict itself as a paroxysmatic re-ordering of world politics. The regulation of the re-ordered world would be technocratic and autocratic – it would ideological – whether the victorious global hegemon was the United States of America or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A type of elective étatisme was in the air. The British majority, for example, voted socialist immediately the conflict ended, contemptuously booting the architect of the victory, Winston Churchill, from office. France and Italy contended with large, well-organized Communist Parties and likewise embarked on the nationalization of their economies and the provision of generous welfare guarantees to the citizenry. The liberal colonization of institutions begins in this period, to become implacable and irreversible about the time that the Soviet Union dissolves in 1990. Quite apart from historical discussion, many non-scholars who think of themselves as conservatives nourish the notion that the “soft” totalitarianism of the contemporary politically correct regime in the West has only a short pedigree and that but a few decades ago, as in the 1950s, perhaps, tradition still reigned and things were in their proper proportion and arrangement. Of course such a view ignores the “enlightened” managerialism of Woodrow Wilson and the socialist quasi-dictatorial style of Franklin D. Roosevelt, just as it ignores the mobilized character of such phenomena as Suffragism and Prohibitionism, early phases of the liberal project that confusingly coincided with the anti-immigration and anti-Communist movements.


E. E. Cummings

The most famous literary dystopia, George Orwell’s 1984, sees publication in 1948, but the most plausible literary dystopia, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, sees publication in 1932. The 1920s and 30s see a flood in spate of critical anti-modern discourse, not least in the single most definitive, formally modernist, text of all, T. S. Eliot’s Waste Land (1922); but also in philosophical works by Oswald Spengler, Nicolas Berdyaev, Herman Keyserling, René Guénon, Paul Valéry, Christopher Dawson, and Jacques Maritain, and in novels and short stories by, among others, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pär Lagerkvist, Thomas Mann, Huxley himself, and two American contemporaries of Fitzgerald, E. E. Cummings (1894 – 1962) and John Dos Passos (1896 – 1970). Cummings and Dos Passos attended Harvard as undergraduates at the same time, studied with George Santayana, and absorbed his skepticism about modernity. They decided, before Wilson took America to war, to see the front first-hand by joining the ambulance service. Cummings and Dos Passos served in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps as volunteers. Both fathomed the war keenly and both wrote about their experiences within a few years of the Armistice. In The Enormous Room (1922), an experimental non-fiction novel, and in Three Soldiers (1923), a novelistic panorama of America at war, Cummings and Dos Passos respectively and decisively break ranks with what they have come convergently to regard as the claptrap of war talk and the enlistment of whole societies in a project of total conflict.

I. The correctly – that is to say, passively – educated know Edward Estlin Cummings best as “e. e. cummings,” author of brilliant lyric poems, owing something to French Symbolist poetry, and written in an idiosyncratic English that omits capitalization and scrambles grammar and syntax. (Carefully scrambles, but never flouts.) Most of Cummings’ verse belongs to the genre of erotic poetry, but more than a few items of his bardic creativity are scathingly, bitterly satiric, suggesting when taken in isolation a strain of unmitigated sarcasm.

“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ‘tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

cummings cubist portrait.jpgThe “hip” high-school English teachers of one’s youth in the 1960s and the eager, clueless assistant professors of one’s contemporary acquaintance naturally suppose, on the basis of this quasi-sonnet (in the pattern of fourteen lines established by Petrarch), that Cummings must have conducted himself as a self-congratulating liberal, meticulously thinking only approved thoughts, quite as each of them does. Devotees of Goodthink thus interpret the poem for their students catechistically, as their instructors have previously interpreted it for them, seeing in it an attack on patriotism as such, on America as such, on seriousness and high sentiment as such, and, naturally, as the indiscriminate rejection of anything established or traditional. They mistake the syntactic displacements for the “deconstruction” of something, perceiving illusorily a model of the sacrcastico-piety that passes today as humor. When one of the professoriate kens that later in life after a visit to the Soviet Union in 1932, Cummings became an ardent anti-Communist who would defend the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy – then, as in the case of recent Cummings biographer Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, the discourse devolves into condescension. Cummings acquires the epithet of a “hard-line quarrelsome conservative.” Sawyer-Lauçanno also dislikes Cummings for his disdain of homosexuals. Another critic accuses Cummings of “racism” although the use of the forbidden-for-some n-word in Cummings’ published work is obviously denunciatory.

The book that glosses “next to of course god america i,” The Enormous Room, also testifies to its author’s youthful courage and passion for truth, recounting as it does quasi una documentaria his brutal collision with the French Republic, whose violated sovereignty, as he saw it on volunteering, he had crossed an ocean to save from “Prussian Tyranny.” (In the phrase Cummings quotes President Wilson ironically.) In uncanny anticipation of the imbroglio that first inducted Alexander Solzhenitsyn into Archipelago Gulag, an epistolary association brought the suspicious eye of the French wartime government on Cummings, whose buddy in the Norton-Harjes “Section Sanitaire Vingt-et-Un,” William Slater Brown, had written letters in which, casually, he criticized the policies of La belle nation. Betrayal would steal on Cummings, however, from more than one direction. His supervisor in the ambulance outfit, in Kafkaesque nomenclature “Mr. A,” despised Cummings and Brown because he also despised “dirty Frenchmen,” whom the two volunteers admired and with whom they persisted in fraternizing. One day, shortly after the arrival of “a gentleman in a suspiciously quiet French uniform” along with two soldiers, Cummings found himself under arrest and being transported, none too politely, to what turned out to be the Porte de Triage, essentially a political prison, at La Ferté-Macé in Lower Normandy. “Mr. A” did nothing to help either Cummings or Brown; nor did Norton-Harjes, nor did the American government.

752951.jpgThe Enormous Room provides one of the earliest accounts, outside of the French Revolution and the final half-century of Czarist Russia, of political arrest and incarceration. Like the recorders of étatist persecution in those other milieux, Cummings knows with instantaneous conviction that spying on private opinion signifies the advent of a totalitarian order the ideological rigidity and intolerance of which motivate a program of investigation and punishment. This regime directs its supervision at even the most trivial and private utterances of doubt concerning the legitimacy of the state. Such a regime must, according to the insidious logic of its principles, declare war against conscience. In so doing that regime will swiftly make hellish the nation-state it controls. From this premise about ideological-totalitarian politics comes the appropriateness of Cummings’ outstanding narrative gestures, which draw on the descent-imagery of Dante’s Inferno and the tribulation-plot of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Dante’s native Florence banished him in 1301 when the Ghibelline faction gained power in the city. Bunyan wrote A Pilgrim’s Progress during his twelve years in jail (1660 – 1672) for the offending the Church of England by the lese-majesté of unlicensed preaching.

The scene in which Cummings, after a long sleepless journey by railroad and automobile, at last reaches the Porte de Triage takes inspiration from various Alighierian motifs and from the depictions of Satan by the painters of the Flemish school, especially Jerome Bosch. In the famous triptych, Bosch represents Satan as devouring and excreting the capital sinners. The policeman-clerk who processes Cummings at La Ferté-Macé cannot get his Gallic jaw around the American’s surname: Vous êtes uh-ah KEW-MANGZ… Vous vous appelez KEW MANGZ, n’est-ce pas?” To the inquisition, “why are you here,” Cummings furnishes a non-cooperative sais pas,” after which his inquisitor says, Il a écrit, votre ami, des bêtises, n’est-ce pas?” The moral kernel of such black humor is the metaphysics of the proper name, which Cummings takes seriously. Mangling the name is the objective correlative, as T. S. Eliot might say, of the state’s assault on the person, the inner-person, the conscience. The same petty official says, “Your friend got you into a lot of trouble,” a clumsy attempt to misidentify the agents of injustice. N’importe,” Cummings replies, “we are camarades.”

The system has nevertheless ingested Cummings, who finds himself in the belly of the beast, with its “monstrous atmospheric slime” and “sweet unpleasant odor.” The gendarme has ushered him into the titular Room, where some sixty inmates bide their time for having committed this or that infraction against the absolute privilege of the state. When Cummings awakes on his first morning, Slater-Brown proves himself already present, maintaining paradoxically that, “this is the finest place on earth!” Slater-Brown means what he says morally, of course. Physically, the Enormous Room is overcrowded; its denizens, through no fault of their own, bathe but rarely, and the place stinks from body-odor, piss-pots, and the cabinet d’aisance. And yet distinctions have become adamant and unavoidable. Monsieur le Directeur, for example, specializes in the bullying and abuse of those under detention. “As soon as he saw me,” Slater-Brown tells Cummings, “he bellowed: Imbecile et inchrétien!’; and then he called me a great lot of other things, including Shame of my Country, Traitor to the sacred cause of Liberty, Contemptible coward and Vile Sneaking Spy.”

eec-sm.jpgThe bureaucratic vulgarity that typifies the corporate patois of La Ferté-Macé, especially the use of political clichés of the lowest order during humiliating dressings-down and interrogations, would find concentrated expression in the quasi-sonnet ‘next to of course god america i.” The punitive regimen of La Ferté-Macé extends, however, beyond ritualized verbal abuse; it extends to les cabinots – the wet tubercular chastisement cells to which, at any time, Monsieur le Directeur might consign an inmate. Cummings calls the Director “Apollyon,” the name of the devil in A Pilgrim’s Progress. In his tiny domain, reflecting the perversions in the larger domain without, the Director is “a very complete Apollyon, a Satan whose word is dreadful not because it is painstakingly unjust, but because it is incomprehensibly omnipotent.”

II. The Director figures forth, in Cummings’ words, the “perfect representative of the Almighty French Government.” The adjective, borrowed from theology, indicates compactly an analysis of pure secularity that affiliates The Enormous Room to the work of Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre, and such Twentieth Century writers as Nicolas Berdyaev and Eliot. When the state decides to promote itself to godhead the result is not divinity but devilishness, the negation of decency, and a degrading mockery of all things good. The prison building itself, a medieval structure, strikes Cummings as having once served a religious purpose, as a monastery maybe or a cloister. The Director permits Catholic Mass on Sunday, but the Mass takes on the perverse, unholy character of its surroundings. The priest, who changes every week, works with an assistant, a jailer, who never changes, and who polices the Mass, “to gaze about from time to time upon the worshippers for purposes of intimidation.” One priest solemnly tells the celebrants what they already know to be true based on their incarcerated lives, that, L’Eternité est une existence sans durée.” Elsewhere and often Cummings refers to La Ferté as La misère.

The totalitarian regime cannot permit un-vetted thought or its expression; worse than that, the regime insists, not that the dissenter keep his peace, but that the dissenter volubly assent to the correct – to government-approved – locutions. Le gouvernement français had jailed Cummings and Slater-Brown because the latter committed to writing, in letters destined to his family back home, his private reservations about Allied war aims. Cummings shared Slater-Brown’s skepticism. Even before arriving at La Ferté, when he had only just been arrested, Cummings faced questions about his attitude to Les boches. “Monsieur asked,” Cummings records, “if I would have any hesitation in dropping bombs on Germans.” Cummings assented that he would be ready to bomb German soldiers – on the battlefield. That answer pleased the official too little. Est-ce-que vous detestez les boches?” Cummings comes back with: Non. J’aime beaucoup les français.” To which the official insists, “It is impossible to love Frenchmen and not to hate Germans.” Cummings thus finds himself under coercive pressure to join in ritualized collective hatred that is based on logical non-sequiturs and that grossly violates Christian precepts.

Cummings resolves never to relent in resisting the program of conscience-betrayal. He always responds to and records knowledge that bolsters his standing judgment. A fellow inmate called One-Eyed David (“Da-veed”) “had been in prison at Noyon during the German occupation, which he described fully and without hyperbole.” David, Cummings writes, “had seen with his own eyes a French girl extend an apple to one of the common soldiers as the German army entered the outskirts of the city.” The soldier, as David narrated, refused. The soldier said, “Pardon, Madame… but you must know that a German soldier is forbidden to take anything without paying for it.” The plausible anecdote about Teutonic decorousness makes hay of Allied propaganda about Les boches. David tells another story, this one at second or third hand, but having equally the ring of truth. David’s barber’s brother, an airman, “was flying over the lines, and he was amazed, one day, to see that French guns were not firing on the boches but on the French themselves.” When the aviator reports what he has seen to a staff officer at headquarters, the reply comes that, “They have begun; they must finish.”

Another prisoner, whom Cummings calls Guard Champêtre, relates two even more outrageous stories about French military doctrine than One-Eyed David does. Guard Champêtre had served as a motorcycle dispatch rider on the Yser salient. The first of the tales recounts how he had, as Cummings writes, “seen a bridge hastily constructed by les alliés over the Yser River, the cadavers of the faithful and the enemy being thrown in helter-skelter to make a much-needed foundation for the timbers… The Yser, he said, flowed perfectly red for a long time.” The second of Guard Champêtre’s two tales also concerns the fighting on the Yser. Demoralized by the brutality of combat, the French, Belgian, and English soldiers, according to Guard Champêtre: “Did not see any good reason for continuing the battle. But we continued. O indeed we continued.” On the question, why, Guard Champêtre explains: “Because in front of us we had the German shells, behind, the French machine guns, always the French machine guns, mon vieux.” Whenever the soldiery showed signs of flagging, “Pupupupupupupupup” and “we went forward.” Guard Champêtre closes with, Vive le patriotisme.” That the Red Army under Stalinist leadership conducted itself in a similar way at Stalingrad is well known and unsurprising; that the same was French policy in 1917 comes as a shock. Cummings is taken aback and he would convey his deep disillusionment to his readers.


The French government holds the inmates at La Ferté largely incommunicado, in the political and legal equivalent of Dante’s Limbo. Every three months comes to the Porte a traveling Commission, to hear individual cases recommended to it by Monsieur le Directeur. The hearing entails for Cummings yet another denunciation of Slater-Brown. The investigators, exhausting their questions, tell him nothing. Late in January 1918, a planton or warden suddenly calls Cummings from the barracks to the Director’s office. The Director informs Cummings that he will be discharged from La Ferté but that he will have to remain in France under technical arrest until the end of the war. Meanwhile Cummings’ father has been conducting a panicked search, repeatedly querying the State Department to inquire of the French Government as to his son’s whereabouts and status.

Edward Cummings’ letters to various high officials, including one desperate and irate letter to President Wilson, constitute the prefatory section of Cummings’ narrative in The Enormous Room. At one point, the French War Office declared Cummings dead, listing him falsely as having taken passage on a ship torpedoed mid-Atlantic on the voyage from Le Havre to New York. The elder Cummings wrote to Wilson, “More than two months ago [Cummings and Slater-Brown] were arrested, subjected to many indignities, dragged across France like criminals, and confined in a Concentration Camp at La Ferté Macé; where, according to latest advices they… remain.” Cummings père suggests to Wilson that the American President should “do something to make American citizenship as sacred in the eyes of Frenchmen as Roman citizenship was in the eyes of the ancient world.” Whether Wilson heeded the letter or ignored it, Edward Cummings could not guess.

In The Enormous Room, Cummings describes his own attitude to his experience under incarceration in terms Stoic, sometimes ironic, even declaring his sense of guilt on his liberation: “To leave La Misère with the knowledge, and worse than that the feeling, that some of the finest people in the world are doomed to remain prisoners thereof for no one knows how long – are doomed to continue, possibly for years and tens of years and all the years which are terribly between them and their deaths, the grey and indivisible Non-existence which without apology you are quitting for Reality – cannot by any stretch of the imagination be conceived as a constituting a Happy Ending to a great and personal adventure.” It was thanks to his experience of what the father calls a Concentration Camp that Cummings would recognize the Soviet Union for one vast prison on a continental scale when he visited there in 1932. Cummings could see what the useful idiots – Walter Duranty was one – could not see and he could see it with Dantesque visionary clarity, thanks to his ordeal.


John Dos Passos

III. Dos Passos likewise volunteered to drive an ambulance but ended up in Italy after only a brief stay in France. Dos Passos never stumbled into anything as nasty as Cummings’ embroilment with Le government français, but what he saw of war and the effects of war influenced him to reassess many of his youthful political convictions and provoked him to judge American participation in the Allied cause with dissident skepticism. His short novel One Man’s Initiation (1920) gave voice to his change of heart and non-conformist attitude, but Dos Passos made no lasting literary impression until the appearance of Three Soldiers, a much more ambitious novel than One Man’s Initiation, in 1923. Where Cummings rarely explained himself directly, Dos Passos offered personal retrospection and autobiographical analysis in abundance all his authorial life. Investigation may therefore trace Dos Passos’ transition from the political left to the political right phase by phase in the author’s own explication. In The Theme is Freedom (1956), for example, Dos Passos republished key items from his journalistic portfolio with added backwards-glancing commentary on his own changing attitude through the decades. Returned from the war service, Dos Passos took interest in labor politics, leftwing political movements like the New England anarchist movement, and the Sacco and Vanzetti case.

jdp-freedom.jpgIn 1928 he went to Russia full of optimism only to leave the Workers’ Paradise in dour mood. In 1936 Dos Passos went to Spain ostensibly to assist in making a documentary film favorable to the Republic; when Dos Passos’ Spanish friend Juan Robles suffered arrest and execution by the Soviet “allies” of the Republic, Dos Passos abruptly lost enthusiasm for the side.

Already in the early and middle 1920s, based on his experience of ideological crudity and gross indoctrination-regimes during the war, Dos Passos had begun to doubt supposed causes that draped themselves in emotive formulas and images of a radiant future. Of Communist infiltration of and influence over the labor movement, Dos Passos grew resentful. Having worked tirelessly on behalf of striking coal miners in Kentucky, it shocked Dos Passos when, “back in New York the chairman of the Central Committee [of the CPUSA] sent for me and asked me to go back [to Kentucky] and stand trial.” That would have been in Harlan County, where the district attorney indicted Dos Passos under an arcane anti-syndicalism law. Dos Passos suddenly saw his putative comrades as “human engineers,” hence also as effective dehumanizers, of the people whose cause they claimed to represent. A man was expendable, on the battlefield or in politics. Dos Passos recognized a “professional’s sneer,” a “scornful attitude toward perfectly sincere I.W.W. and A.F. of L. men,” in the radicals’ gambit of “denying help to men who wouldn’t play their game.” The revolutionaries, as it occurred to Dos Passos, “were out, not to even up the scales, but to smash them.”

50537.jpgSocial engineering, obliterating the individual’s personality so as to refashion it to sub-serve a dehumanizing scheme, mobilization, militarization, and smashing things, whether tangible or intangible: The novel takes these predilections as its themes. The titles of the larger sections into which Dos Passos subdivides Three Soldiers tell already of the author’s point of view: “Making the Mould,” “The Metal Cools,” “Machines,” “Rust,” “The World Outside,” and “Under the Wheels.” The eponymous soldierly trio furnishes a set of American specimens representing classes and occupations. Dan Fuselli hails from San Francisco where he has worked as stock clerk in an optical goods store. Fuselli has little formal education and a restricted intellectual horizon, his idea of success being to rise from private soldier to corporal by fitting in. “Chris” Chrisfield, a kid from Indiana, also lacks formal education. More high-strung than Fuselli, Chrisfield grows swiftly to loathe officers and orders; his disintegration under military discipline reaches its climax in a battlefield homicide. Dos Passos locates the story’s controlling perspective in John Andrews, an Easterner with an education who dreams of becoming a serious composer. No saint and prone to self-pity, Andrews nevertheless grasps what is happening, not only personally to him but also culturally and historically. His plight stands for the plight of all civilized people in a world where civilization has undertaken to see to its own disintegration in ways gross and subtle.

“Making the Mould” takes place in the stateside training and transportation camps where the three characters become acquainted with one another. Whether Dos Passos was responding to Eliot’s poem The Waste Land or not, he was at least participating in the minority spirit that Eliot articulated – and Three Soldiers is replete with “Waste Land” imagery. The numerous “cinder piles” that mark the drill-field are like so many newly dug graves; the “long shadows” of the late afternoon combine with the ticking of many pocket watches to reinforce the unstated theme of death-in-life. Fuselli recalls the “man behind the desk at the draft board,” who, with his “white bony hand,” gave him his induction papers.” Andrews, assigned to wash windows in a filthy barracks, finds the phrase “Arbeit und Rhythmus” seizing his mind until he recalls that it is German and the recognition jolts him back into conscious awareness of his situation. A crude, relentless propaganda regime intrudes everywhere into basic training. Cummings’ jail keepers wanted to know,Est-ce-que vous detestez les boches?” In Three Soldiers, no one heeds subtlety enough to put the compulsion in the form of a question. In the recreation hall before the Friday night movie, the “Y man” (a representative of the Young Men’s Christian Association) leads the soldiers in song: “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here – We’re going to kill the Kaiser, we’re going to kill the Kaiser!” Criticizing the dearth of enthusiasm, the “Y man” presses for “lots of guts in the get and lots of kill in the Kaiser.”

The film depicts “soldiers in spiked helmets… bayoneting civilians in wide Dutch pants.” Chrisfield tells Andrews, “Gee, it makes ye hate the Huns.” Andrews overhears another man: “I never raped a woman in my life, but by God I’m going to” and “I’d give a lot to rape some of those goddam German women.” The coarsening effect on undeveloped minds has consequences unforeseen by the propagandists. Having warmed to the idea of killing, Chrisfield confides to Andrews that if he got the chance on the ocean passage, he would throw a certain sergeant into the sea. Despite nourishing murderous hatred for officers, however, Chrisfield never rebels against his conscript status. Andrews thinks to himself that his companions “did not seem appalled by their loss of liberty.” Fuselli has nightmares of embarrassing himself in front of an officer. When a soldier with the archly appropriate name of Eisenstein comments that “you’ve got to turn men into beasts before ye can get ‘em to act that way,” Fuselli warns: “Be careful how you go talkin’ around the way you do.”

Dos Passos’ novel depicts an Army transforming itself into a police state. Beginning in “The Metal Cools” the MPs become ubiquitous and menacing, a gesture that Ernest Hemingway would appropriate for A Farewell to Arms (1929). Eisenstein interprets the war mentality and the rush to obedience as indicating a slavish proneness to “do what we’re ordered to do.”

Not all MPs are military police; some are morality police. Marching to the trenches, Andrews and Chrisfield take advantage during a break to bathe in a pond. “Say, if you don’t mind my suggestion,” a “Y-man” says, “why don’t you fellers get under water… You see there’s two French girls looking at you from the road.” When Andrews finishes his bath and pulls his uniform back on he says out loud that it feels like “taking up filth and slavery again.” The “Y man” says, “You’ll get in trouble, my boy, if you talk that way.” He adds: “Oh, boys, never forget that you are in a great Christian undertaking.”

IV. In denouncing propaganda (“make the world safe for democracy”) was Dos Passos not simply engaging in his own vulgar “anti-war” propaganda? Could doughboys really face the firing squad, as someone tells Fuselli, for sounding off the way Eisenstein does? But MPs arrested Cummings merely because his friend – in private letters – mildly criticized French belligerent policy. In Three Soldiers, Dos Passos represents the “democratization” of military service as the vanguard phase of the militarization of the democracies and the broad destruction of freedom. He furthermore makes little case for democracy, as such, the language of which strikes him as false (“a great Christian undertaking”). He prefers to give his vote for the traditional civilization that the war, in his view, has ambushed. The “Y-man,” for example, prudishly disdains “French girls,” but it is the war for which the “Y-man” cheers that has driven those girls into prostitution, coarsening the relation of the sexes. Virtually all the females with whom Dos Passos’ soldiers have contact freely sell themselves for a price. Andrews knows what to value; Andrews’ misfortune – or rather civilization’s misfortune in Andrews – is that he knows and experiences his civilized commitment weakly, self-pityingly. The “Rust” segment of the story sees Andrews wounded by shell splinters and sent to hospital for recovery. He acquires a copy of Flaubert’s Tentation de Saint-Antoine, which he studies while recuperating, with the thought of setting it as an opera.

3sol.jpgLike The Enormous Room, Three Soldiers develops a complicated web of literary and artistic allusions. Even so, Flaubert’s recherché theater-of-the-mind of 1874 about the Late-Antique founder of Christian monasticism (251 – 356) seems a peculiar reference. What might justify or explain it? Anthony’s “Thebaïd,” his withdrawal into the Egyptian desert, represented in the first place a spiritual response to the political and moral corruption of existing imperial institutions – and from the clash of religious ideologies that characterized Alexandrian life in the saint’s era. Famously, after many years of isolation and contemplation, Anthony experienced the visionary tentation that chiefly concerns Flaubert in the seven acts of his drama. Andrews fixates on Anthony’s vision of the Queen of Sheba, whose person combines the allure of whoredom with the allure of power. All the tempters in La tentation, however, embody the perverse spirit of libido dominandi. The most apposite of Flaubert’s images for Three Soldiers would therefore be the anchorite’s nightmare-vision of mutual sectarian slaughter in the agora of Alexandria. “We saints,” the butchers say, “to hurry the end of the world, we go poisoning, burning, massacring.” Anthony sees the cutting of throats, incinerations, and he hears a “Terrible Invocation,” until the colonnades and palaces collapse in rubble. The followers of doctrine hate and kill one another.

“Why do you hate the Huns,” Andrews asks another “Y-man.” The answer comes: “Because they are barbarians, enemies of civilization.” Andrews thinks to himself: “How these people enjoyed hating”; and he asks himself: “Was civilization nothing but a vast edifice of sham, and the war… its fullest and most ultimate expression?” He thinks also of those “who had taught unworldliness… Democritus, Socrates, Epicurus, Christ.” It dawns on him that as soon as he recovers, he should “desert.” Andrews spends much of the second half of the novel (“The Outside World” and “Under the Wheels”), which takes place after the Armistice, more or less AWOL, until the increasingly ubiquitous peacetime MPs catch up with him brutally near Chartres. Cathedral spires – glimpsed often in the distance – and Gothic architecture answer implicitly the important question, whether civilization is a “sham.” They signify the spiritually intact order, the civilization proper, that the war has betrayed, only to replace it with the ideological state. It is the ideological state that is the sham. In a YMCA lecture on the meaning of the Occupation, one “Reverend Skinner” admonishes: “I am sorry to say, boys, that the Germans have not undergone the change of heart for which we had hoped. They have, indeed, changed the name[s] of their institutions, but their spirit they have not changed.” In the Reverend’s view, “Germany should have been utterly crushed.”

Bell towers of defunct Christendom and carved ceilings with chivalric panoply now resemble the City of God – they represent a domain of lawfulness not to be realized on this flat earth.

Awash in slogans and second-hand emotions, even those who have spent the war in civilian life find it hard to form independent judgments. When Andrews asks the girl who will later snub him, Geneviève Rod, whether she has read La tentation, she calls it “not [Flaubert’s] best work,” but “a very interesting failure,” a phrase that she subsequently admits having gleaned from writer-critic Emil Faguet. Thought itself has become artificial, restricted, and automatic. In comparison with people of the Gothic Age or the Renaissance, “men seemed [to Andrews] to have shrunk in stature before the vastness of the mechanical contrivances they had invented.” Bureaucracies and police forces merely betoken the rampant “slave psychology.” Andrews, watching the Parisian crowds, thinks: “Today, everything was congestion… men had become antlike.” Crowding invites stringent regulation and then “slavery”; it promotes conformism – precisely José Ortega’s thesis in The Revolt of the Masses (1930). No matter what tendency prevailed – whether “tyranny from above” or “spontaneous organization from below” – it would fall out that “there could be no individuals.” In the final image of Dos Passos’ novel the MPs take Andrews in custody, at gunpoint: “All right, walk downstairs slowly in front of me,” whereupon the sheets of the unfinished Saint-Anthony opera blow through the window on the breeze.

In The Theme is Freedom, commenting on what he latterly saw as his misguided vote for Roosevelt’s third term, Dos Passos wrote: “The federal government [under FDR] became a storehouse of power that dwarfed the fabled House of Morgan that had been the bogy of our youth. When you add to the coercive power of the government the power of the purse and a standing army you have a situation that would have alarmed even the most authoritarian statesmen of our early history.” As Lord Acton said, power corrupts; and as Dos Passos sees it, fear of losing power corrupts absolutely. “Consciously or unconsciously, Roosevelt could find no other way of consolidating the vast power… than by leading the country to war.” Dos Passos omits to mention that in undertaking the war-program Roosevelt followed in the footsteps of Wilson, who sent a million doughboys “over there.” Dos Passos viewed World War II as the phase of consolidation of the already-aggrandized and increasingly dictatorial-technocratic federal government.


Contemplating this emergent global corporatism, Dos Passos would write that, “The antithesis between capitalism and socialism is beside the point.” What is striking in the convergent mentality of the elites and in the political regimes, which that mentality takes advantage to create, is “the centralization of power and the isolation of the individual in his routine at an office desk, or in his job on the assembly line, or even at the more varied work of turret or lathe.” Everyone is thus held incommunicado in the Enormous Room, or rather shackled to his desk in the corporate office-tower, under threat of his livelihood should he actively dissent. “Y-men” and MPs go disguised as co-workers. Everywhere meanwhile the average, institutionally isolated person must try to make sense of the “selfserving propaganda which is daily pumped in his ears by the political climbers who use corporations, labor unions, stratified organizations of any kind, as ladders to positions from which they may ride to glory on the backs of their fellows.” The choice facing Americans, as Dos Passos wrote (the words come to us from 1955), lay between “a stratified autocratic society more or less on the Russian model and the selfgoverning republic, which is our heritage.”

mardi, 06 février 2018

Tom Wolfe: “Lo ‘políticamente correcto’ es un instrumento de poder de las clases dominantes”


Ex: www.latribunadelpaisvasco.com
Entrevista en Le Figaro

Tom Wolfe: “Lo ‘políticamente correcto’ es un instrumento de poder de las clases dominantes”

A sus 86 años de edad, Tom Wolfe, uno de los mejores escritores norteamericanos contemporáneos y, sin duda, uno de los periodistas más importantes de las últimas décadas, acaba de conceder una entrevista a Le Figaro Magazine en la que el autor de obras excelsas como “La hoguera de las vanidades” o “Lo que hay que tener” habla claramente sobre algunos de los temas más candentes de la actualidad política y cultural, sin dejar de practicar la que es una de sus aficiones más queridas: fustigar sin compasión a lo que, ya en 1970, definió como el “Radical chic” o “la izquierda caviar”.

Alexandre Devecchio, que firma el texto en Le Figaro, recuerda a Wolfe que desde uno de sus primeros textos, titulado precisamente “Radical chic”, ha criticado duramente lo políticamente correcto, el izquierdismo cultural, la tiranía de las minorías…

... “‘Radical chic’ fue un reportaje que publiqué en 1970 en ‘The New York Magazine’, en el que contaba una fiesta organizada por el compositor Leonard Bernstein en su duplex neoyorquino de tres estancias con terreza. La fiesta tenía como objeto recaudar fondos para ‘Los Panteras Negras’ (organización nacionalista negra, socialista, filoterrorista y revolucionaria), activa en Estados Unidos entre 1966 y 1982" (...)

(...) "Los anfitriones tuvieron que contratar camareros blancos para no herir la susceptibilidad de los ‘panteras’. Lo políticamente correcto, que yo también suelo definir como PC (Policía Ciudadana), nace de la idea marxista que afirma que todo aquello que separe socialmente a los seres humanos debe ser prohibido para evitar la dominación de un grupo social sobre otro. Pero, curiosamente, con el paso del tiempo lo políticamente correcto se ha convertido en el instrumento preferido de las ‘clases dominantes’; se trata de explotar la idea de que hay que tener una ‘conducta apropiada’ para mejor asumir su ‘dominación social’ y bañarse en bueba conciencia. Poco a poco, lo políticamente correcto se ha convertido en un marcador de ‘dominación’ y en un instrumento de control social, una manera de distinguirse de las ‘clases bajas’ y de censurarlas deslegitimando su visión del mundo en nombre de la moral. De este modo, la gente, cada vez en mayor medida, debe prestar atención a lo que dice, especialmente en las universidades. El éxito de Donald Trump ha consistido, precisamente, en romper con esto”.

9780312429133-us.jpgEn otro momento de la entrevista, Tom Wolfe explica cómo, en su opinión, parte del voto a Donald Trump se comprende por la desolación de quienes se sienten en una status social inferior o de quienes creen que han descendido de status. “En ‘Radical chic’ describí el nacimiento de lo que hoy yo denominaría como ‘izquierda caviar’ o ‘progresismo de limusina’. Se trata de una izquierda que se ha liberado de cualquier responsabilidad con respecto a la clase obrera norteamericana. Es una izquierda que adora el arte contemporáneo, que se identifica con las causas exóticas y el sufrimiento de las minorías… pero que no quiere saber nada de las clases menos sofisticadas y adineradas de Ohio" (...)

“Los norteamericanos han tenido el sentimiento”, continúa explicando el autor de 'El nuevo periodismo', que el Partido Demócrata solamente tenía interés en seducir a las más diversas minorías, pero que se negaba a prestar atención a una parte muy importante de la nación. Concretamente, al sector obrero de los ciudadanos, que históricamente ha constituido la espina dorsal del Partido Demócrata. Durante las últimas elecciones, la aristocracia del Partido Demócrata ha preferido apoyar a una coalición de minorías y ha excluído de sus preocupaciones a la clase obrera blanca. Donald Trump solamente ha tenido que acercarse ellos para hacerse con todos sus apoyos”.


samedi, 07 octobre 2017

Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as Anti-Semitic/Christian-Gnostic Allegory


Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as Anti-Semitic/Christian-Gnostic Allegory

Philip K. Dick’s 1968 science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is far less famous than Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie Blade Runner [2], which is loosely based on the novel. A few of the novel’s characters and dramatic situations, as well as bits of dialogue, found their way into Blade Runner, often shorn of the context in which they made sense. But the movie and novel dramatically diverge on the fundamental question of what makes human beings different from androids, and in terms of the “myths” that provide the deep structure of their stories. 

do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep.jpgIn Blade Runner, what separates androids from humans is their lack of memories, whereas in the novel it is their lack of empathy. In the novel, the underlying myth is the passion of the Christ, specifically his persecution at the hands of the Jews (both the Jews who called for his death and their present-day descendants, who continue to mock him and his followers). In Blade Runner, however, it is the rebellion of Satan against God—and this time, Satan wins by murdering God. (I will deal with Blade Runner at greater length in another essay [3].)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is set in 1992 in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a side trip to Seattle. After World War Terminus, the earth’s atmosphere is polluted by vast radioactive dust clouds. Many animal species are extinct, and the rest are extremely rare, so animals are highly valued, both for religious reasons and as status symbols, and there is brisk market in electric animals. (Hence the title.)

To escape the dust, most human beings have emigrated to off-world colonies. (Mars is mentioned specifically.) As an incentive, emigrants are given androids as servants and slave laborers. (They are called “replicants” in the movie, but not in the book.) These androids are not machines, like electric sheep. They are artificially created living human beings. They are created as full-grown humans and live only four years. Aside from their short lifespans, androids differ from human beings by lacking empathy. In essence, they are sociopaths. Androids are banned from earth, and violators are hunted down and “retired” by bounty hunters. (The phrase “blade runner” does not appear in the book.)

The novel never makes clear why androids return to earth, which is inhabited only by genetically malformed “specials” and mentally-retarded “chickenheads,” who are not allowed to emigrate, and a remnant of normal humans who refuse to emigrate and are willing to risk the dust and endure lifelessness and decay because of their attachment to the earth. Earth does make sense as a destination, however, given the androids’ status as slaves in the off-world colonies and their short lifespans, which obviates concerns about long-term damage from the dust.

I wish to argue that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? can be read as a systematic Christian and anti-Semitic allegory. Naturally, I do not argue that this brief but rich and suggestive novel can be reduced entirely to this dimension. But I argue that this is the mythic backbone of the narrative and indicates that Philip K. Dick had a good deal of wisdom about Jews and the Jewish question.

Historical Christianity plays no role in the novel. The only religion mentioned is called Mercerism, which of course brings to mind “mercy.” Mercerism apparently arose after WWT, as a reaction to the mass death of human beings and animals, which led the survivors to place a high value on empathy. Given its emphasis on empathy, Mercerism is an experiential religion, facilitated by a device called the Empathy Box, which has a cathode ray tube with handles on each side. When one switches on the Empathy Box and grasps the handles, one’s consciousness is merged with other Mercerists as they experience the passion of Wilbur Mercer, an old man who trudges to the top of a hill as unseen tormentors throw stones at him. At the Golgotha-like summit, the torments intensify. Mercer then dies and descends into the underworld, from which he rises like Jesus, Osiris, Dionysus, and Adonis—and, like the latter three, brings devastated nature back to life along with him.

According to Mercer’s back story, he was found by his adoptive parents as an infant floating in a life raft (like Moses). As a young man, he had an unusual empathic connection with animals. He had the power to bring dead animals back to life (like Jesus, although Jesus did not deign to resurrect mere animals). The authorities, called the “adversaries” and “The Killers,” arrested Mercer and bombarded his brain with radioactive cobalt to destroy his ability to resurrect the dead. This plunged Mercer into the world of the dead, but at a certain point, Mercer conquered death and brought nature back to life. His passion and resurrection is somehow recapitulated in the experience of the old man struggling to the top of the hill, dying, descending into the world of the dead, and ascending again. (The incoherence of the story may partly be a commentary on religion and partly a reflection of the fact that our account of Mercerism is recollected by a mentally subnormal “chickenhead.”)

If Mercerism is about empathy towards other humans and creation as a whole, his adversaries, The Killers, are those that lack empathy and instead exploit animals and other human beings. If Mercerism is analogous to Christianity, The Killers are analogous to Jews. And, indeed, in the Old Testament, the Jews are commanded by God to exploit nature and other men.

The androids, because they lack empathy, are natural Killers. Thus bounty hunter Rick Deckard explicitly likens androids to The Killers: “For Rick Deckard, an escaped humanoid robot, which had killed its master, which had been equipped with an intelligence greater than that of many human beings, which had no regard for animals, which possessed no ability to feel empathic joy for another life form’s success or grief at its defeat—that, for him, epitomized The Killers” (Philip K. Dick, Four Novels of the 1960s, ed. Jonathan Lethem [New York: Library of America, 2007], p. 456).

Of course, although the androids epitomize The Killers, they are not the only ones who lack empathy. Earth has been devastated because human politicians and industrialists had less feeling for life than for political prestige and adding zeroes to their bank accounts. This is precisely why Mercerism puts a premium on empathy. A scene in which the androids cut off the legs of a spider just for the fun of it makes clear why they must be hunted down and killed. Mercer commands his followers “You shall kill only the killers” (ibid.). If only human Killers could be “retired” as well.

The android lack of empathy is the basis of the Voight-Kampff test, which can detect androids by measuring their weak responses to the sufferings of animals and other human beings. (The rationale for the Voight-Kampff test is completely absent from Blade Runner, in which humans and androids are differentiated in terms of memories, not empathy.)

The Killers and the androids are not, however, characterized merely by lack of empathy but also by excess of intelligence, which for the androids expresses itself in intellectual arrogance and condescension toward the chickenhead J. R. Isidore. Intellectuality combined with arrogance are, again, stereotypically Jewish traits. By contrast, Mercerism, because it is based on empathy rather than intellect, can embrace all feeling beings, even chickenheads.

The androids Deckard is hunting are manufactured by the Rosen Association in Seattle, Rosen being a stereotypically Jewish name (at least in America). (In Blade Runner, it is the Tyrell Corporation, Tyrell being an Anglo-Saxon name.) The aim of the Rosen Association is perfect crypsis: androids that cannot be distinguished from humans by any test, even though this agenda conflicts with the aims of the civil authorities to root out all android infiltrators. Deckard notes that “Androids . . . had . . . an innate desire to remain inconspicuous” (p. 529). Crypsis is, of course, an ancient Jewish art, necessary for the diaspora to blend in among their host communities. The Rosen Association obviously has higher loyalties than to the civil authorities, and Jews are notorious for protecting their own people, even criminals, from the civil authorities of their host societies.

The Rosen Association tasks an android named Rachel Rosen (a very Jewish name) to protect rogue androids by seducing bounty hunters. Apparently sex with an android creates something of an empathic bond, at least from the human point of view, which inhibits them from killing androids. Rachel thus plays the role of Queen Esther, the Jewish woman who wedded Ahasuerus, a mythical king of Persia, and used their relationship to protect her people and destroy their persecutor Haman.

androides-revent-ils-de-moutons-electriques-.jpgOne of the most surreal episodes in the novel ensues when Rick Deckard interviews android soprano Luba Luft in her dressing room at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House. (In the down-market Blade Runner, she is Zhora, the stripper with the snake.) Before Deckard can complete his interview and “retire” her, Luft turns the tables by calling the police.

Deckard is promptly arrested and discovers that San Francisco has another, parallel police department staffed primarily by humans but headed by an android who, of course, watches out for the interests of his fellow androids. Granted, an entire parallel police department is a rather implausible notion. A more plausible scenario would be the infiltration of the existing police department. But the episode strictly parallels techniques of Jewish subversion in the real world. For instance, the fact that US foreign policy is more responsive to Israeli interests than American interests is clearly the result of the over-representation of ethnically-conscious Jews and their allies among American policy- and opinion-makers. Jews seek positions of power and influence in the leading institutions of their host societies, subverting them into serving Jewish interests at the expense of the host population.

When Deckard frees himself from the fake police department and tracks down Luba Luft, he notices that, although she does not come with him willingly, “she did not actively resist; seemingly she had become resigned. Rick had seen that before in androids, in crucial situations. The artificial life force that animated them seemed to fail if pressed too far . . . at least in some of them. But not all” (p. 529). This brings to mind holocaust stories of Jews allowing themselves to be passively herded en masse to their deaths. (This seems unlikely, for based on my experience, Jews do not lack self-assertion.)

The final anti-Semitic dimension of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is its treatment of the media. Only two media outlets are mentioned, one private and the other owned by the government. (Hollywood is also defunct. Dick’s ability to envision the future obviously failed him here.) The privately owned media broadcasts the same talk show, Buster Friendly and His Friendly Friends, on both radio and television 23 hours a day. How is this possible? Buster and his friends are androids, of course. But who owns Buster and his friends? The Killers, i.e., the Jews and their spiritual equivalents.

This can be inferred from the fact that Buster and his friends make a point of mocking Mercerism, just as the Jewish media mock Christianity (pp. 487–88). Killers and androids are hostile to Mercerism because their lack of empathy excludes them from the communal fusion that is the religion’s central practice. Thus Isidore concluded that “[Buster] and Wilbur Mercer are in competition. . . . Buster Friendly and Mercerism are fighting for control of our psychic souls” (pp. 488, 489). It is a struggle between empathy and cold, sociopathic intellect.

Near the end of the novel, Buster Friendly goes beyond mockery by broadcasting an exposé showing that Mercerism is a fraud. The rock-strewn slope is a sound stage, the moonlit sky a painted backdrop, and Mercer himself is just an old drunk named Al Jarry hired to act the part of the suffering savior. Mercerism, we are told, is merely a mind control device manipulated by politicians to make the public more tractable — just the opiate of the masses.

The androids are delighted, of course, because if Mercerism is a fraud, then maybe so too is empathy, the one thing that allegedly separates androids from human beings. And empathy can be fake, because in the very first chapter of the novel, we learn of the existence of a device called the Penfield Mood Organ, which can induce any mood imaginable if you just input the correct code.

The exposé is true. But none of it matters. Because the magic of Mercerism still works. J. R. Isidore has a vision of Mercer without the empathy box, and Mercer gives him the spider mutilated by the androids, miraculously restored to life. Mercer himself admits the truth of the exposé to Isidore, but still it does not matter. Then Mercer appears to Deckard and helps him kill the remaining androids. Near the end of the novel, Mercer appears to Deckard again and leads him to a toad, a species previously thought to be extinct, which deeply consoles Deckard. His wife Iran, however, discovers the toad is mechanical. The spider probably is as well. But even these fake animals do not undermine the healing magic of Mercerism.

I wish to suggest that Dick’s point is that the historical dimension of Mercerism—and, by implication, of Christianity—does not matter. It can all be fake: the incarnation, the sacrifices, even the miracles can be fake. But the magic still works. This is, in short, a version of the Gnostic doctrine of “Docetism”: the idea that the Christ is an entirely spiritual being and his outward manifestations, including the incarnation, are not metaphysically real.

This may be the sense of J. R. Isidore’s perhaps crack-brained account of a widespread view of Mercer’s nature: “. . . Mercer, he reflected, isn’t a human being; he evidently is an entity from the stars, superimposed on our culture by a cosmic template. At least that’s what I’ve heard people say . . .” (p. 484). A more likely account is that Mercer is a spiritual entity who takes on material forms imposed by our cultural template. Mercer can also employ technological fakery, such as Penfield Mood Organs, mechanical animals, and cheap cinematic tricks, to effect genuine spiritual transformations.

If this is the case, then Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? can be read as offering the template of a revived Gnostic Christianity that is immune to the Jewish culture of critique [4].

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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/10/philip-k-dicks-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-as-anti-semiticchristian-gnostic-allegory-2/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/DoAndroidsDream.png

[2] Blade Runner: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008M4MB8K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008M4MB8K&linkCode=as2&tag=thesavdevarc-20

[3] another essay: https://www.counter-currents.com/2014/04/blade-runner-2/

[4] culture of critique: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0759672229/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0759672229&linkCode=as2&tag=thesavdevarc-20&linkId=Y4UHRLOTXSJAKCVO

dimanche, 01 octobre 2017

Chuchotements dans la nuit de Howard Phillips Lovecraft


Chuchotements dans la nuit de Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Écrit en 1930, dans l’élan de la découverte de Pluton, et le souvenir d’un réel voyage dans les zones les plus reculées du sauvage Vermont, un des récits les plus implacables et savamment construits de Lovecraft. Malgré un très vaste héritage, et alors même que le « faux documentaire » (depuis La guerre des mondes de H.G. Wells par Orson Welles diffusée en 1938), fait partie de l’histoire de la radio, Lovecraft reste un défi à l’adaptation cinématographique ou radiophonique. Garder l’omniprésence du narrateur, être fidèle à ces nappes de langue très savamment orchestrées, rester toujours dans la seule suggestion de l’horreur ou de la peur ? En proposant des fictions d’une heure, France Culture en permet l’aventure, et ce qu’elle révèle de l’actualité de Lovecraft pour notre imaginaire au présent Chuchotements dans la nuit : Une inondation vient de ravager les zones les plus reculées du sauvage Vermont. On a aperçu d'étranges choses roses dériver au fil des eaux. Tenant du pur rationalisme, Wilmarth, un jeune professeur de littérature, commence une correspondance avec Akeley, propriétaire d'une ferme isolée, lequel lui fait parvenir d'étranges mais irrécusables photographies, et un enregistrement sur cylindre. Tous les moyens narratifs, lettres, télégramme, téléphone, voyages en train, en voiture, sont convoqués pour une tension qui ne cessera de s'accroître. Jusqu'à cette étrange découverte d'un appareil audio-électrique susceptible de conserver les cerveaux, autorisant d'infinis voyages spatio-temporels. Écrit en 1930, dans l'élan de la découverte de Pluton, et le souvenir d'un réel voyage dans ces vallées reculées, un des récits les plus implacables et savamment construits de Lovecraft.
- Julian Eggerickx (Albert Wilmarth)
- Fred Ulysse (Henry Akeley)
- Jean-Noël Lefévre ( Noyes)
- Grégoire Monsaingeon ( La Voix synthétique)
- Marc Barbé ( l’employé des chemins de fer)
- Modeste N’zapassara ( Le contrôleur du train)
- Aurélien Osinski (Brown)
Et les voix de Jules Churin, Manon Leroy, Slimane Yefsah, Jean-Marc Layer, Pascal Loison et Othello Vilgard
- Musique originale : François Bonnet
- Prise de son, montage et mixage : Bruno Mourlan et Lidwine Caron
- Assistante à la réalisation : Louise Loubrieu
- Traduction et adaptation : François Bon
- Réalisation : Christophe Hocké
- Conseillère littéraire Caroline Ouazana

lundi, 21 août 2017

At the Heart of Darkness


At the Heart of Darkness

Editor’s Note:

It is a little-known — but entirely unsurprising — fact that Samuel Francis had a deep love and encyclopedic knowledge of H. P. Lovecraft. In honor of Lovecraft’s birthday, here is Francis’ review of S. T. Joshi’s H. P. Lovecraft: A Life and Lovecraft’s Miscellaneous Writings. — Greg Johnson

“The New Englanders are a people of God, settled in those which were once the Devil’s territories.”—Cotton Mather

lovecraftlifebook.jpgS. T. Joshi
H. P. Lovecraft: A Life
West Warwick, Rhode Island: Necronomicon Press

S. T. Joshi
H. P. Lovecraft: Miscellaneous Writings
Sank City, Wisconsin: Arkham House

S. T. Joshi begins his mammoth biographical study of Howard Phillips Lovecraft by quoting his subject’s reaction to a suggestion from a fan that he write his autobiography. With the almost pathological modesty that characterized Lovecraft throughout his life, he snorted in response, “One might as well write the pompously documented biography of a sandwich man or elevator boy in 8 volumes.” If there is one theme that runs throughout Lovecraft’s voluminous correspondence, it is that he never had any illusions that the obscure life he led was worth writing about or that the supernatural horror fiction he wrote, and on which his fame today rests, was worth reading. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that those who have succeeded in turning H. P. Lovecraft into a cult (in some quarters, almost a religion) as well as an industry have paid no attention.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1890 to a declining high-bourgeois family of New England old stock, Lovecraft lived, or rather endured, a life and writing career that can only be judged failures. His father, a traveling salesman, died in a local insane asylum from what must have been syphilis when Lovecraft was eight. His mother smothered him with possessive and crippling affection and incessantly sought to bind him to her by insisting he was “hideous.” She died in the same asylum in 1921, after two years’ confinement. Dependent on his grandfather’s business for their income, Lovecraft and his family were obliged to leave their home during his childhood and take up far more modest quarters when the business failed. Afflicted from early youth by nightmares, macabre dreams, and a “nervous temperament,” Lovecraft was unable to complete high school and entered adulthood a reclusive and even neurotic young man, utterly unprepared to earn his own living and utterly disinclined to try.

Something of a child prodigy who translated Ovid into heroic couplets at the age of 10 or 12, Lovecraft succeeded in inventing his own world as a substitute for the one in which he was unable or unwilling to participate. As a child and adolescent, he not only immersed himself in 18th-century English and ancient Roman literature and history but acquired a genuine expertise in his hobbies of astronomy and chemistry. He was writing newspaper columns on astronomy at an early age and planned a career as a professional astronomer, but his lack of mathematical aptitude and his inability to complete high school made that career impossible. Instead he turned to amateur journalism, to crafting dreadful poetry that was usually little more than clever imitations of the Augustan masters he adored, and eventually to writing short stories based on his nightmares and heavily influenced by the major literary hero of his youth, Edgar Allan Poe. In the 1920’s, there emerged a small national market for the genre of popular literature known as “supernatural horror” or “weird fiction,” mainly through a now-famous pulp magazine called Weird Tales.

Lovecraft published frequently in Weird Tales and similar pulps in that period, and indeed the principal reason they are remembered today at all is because of him. But even there he did not fit. His stories were often rejected by Weird Tales’s eccentric, mercenary, and largely incompetent editor, Farnsworth Wright, and in truth Lovecraft’s own highly original and distinctive tales of horror simply did not conform to the formulas on which Wright and similar editors insisted.

In 1924, Lovecraft married a woman named Sonia Greene, but in marriage too he was a failure. Unable to find a job in New York that could support both of them, he lived on her earnings as a fashion designer. He was never comfortable doing so, nor indeed in being married at all, and he insisted on divorcing her in 1929. Reduced to poverty—at times nearly to starvation—Lovecraft returned to his beloved Providence to live with an aunt, his only remaining relative, scratching out less than a livelihood by ghostwriting stories, articles, and an occasional book for other “writers.” Wracked by bad health from the days of his boyhood, unable to endure cold temperatures without becoming comatose, and consuming a diet that by his own calculations cost him 30 cents a day, Lovecraft contracted both a kidney infection and intestinal cancer at the age of 46. He died in Providence in 1937. Only seven people attended his funeral, and at the time of his death probably not more than a thousand readers would have recognized his name. And yet, had he lived for only a few more years, he would probably have become world famous and, eventually, wealthy. His work has been in print almost since his death, and in the late 1960’s he began to become something of a cult figure. Not only all his stories and novelettes but five volumes of his letters as well as the substantial collection of his Miscellaneous Writings are in print, and the stories at least continue to sell well. A number of biographical accounts and reminiscences of Lovecraft have been published by his fans and friends; there are at least two magazines devoted to his life and work (one of them seemingly a serious literary journal), and two full-scale biographies (including Mr. Joshi’s new one) have appeared.

Several films have been based on his stories, which have influenced some of the major writers of the late 20th century, including Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Eco, and an entire school of “supernatural horror fiction” has based itself on the “Cthulhu Mythos” that he invented for his own stories. An academic conference on Lovecraft was held at Brown University on the centenary of his birth, and several monographs on him and his work have been published. Lovecraft himself has popped up as a character in several science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as in comic books; a roleplaying game, based on one of his stories, has been created, and in the 1970’s there was a rock  band called “H. P. Lovecraft.” Indeed, in 1996 some Lovecraft fans even mounted a presidential campaign for one of the principal archdemons of his fictitious mythology, using the slogan, “Cthulhu For President: Why Vote For The Lesser Evil?”

Lovecraft has thus evolved into a myth, and much of what has been written about him is no less mythical than the monsters and macabre characters he created. The eccentricity of his personality and the even more bizarre contours of his personal philosophical and political beliefs—he was at once a militant atheist and a “mechanistic materialist” as well as an extreme reactionary and racialist, if not an outright Nazi, who ardently admired Franklin Roosevelt as well as Hitler and Mussolini—simply add to the myth; while the thousands of letters he produced during his lifetime (the published five volumes of letters are heavily edited and abridged and represent only a fraction of the total) render his life and mind difficult to assimilate, especially for an intelligentsia that sneers at both the sort of fiction he wrote and the ideas around which his mind revolved. Some critics have placed his literary work on the same level as that of Poe, while others dismiss his writing as trash. Some regard him as a serious thinker and aesthetic theorist; others, simply as a crackpot and a neurotic malcontent. He has been accepted almost literally as a god—and as the very sandwich man or elevator boy he was convinced he was.


By far the greatest merit of Mr. Joshi’s biography is that it takes Lovecraft seriously—perhaps too seriously —but not as a god. While Joshi spends a good deal of time elaborating and explaining Lovecraft’s philosophical views and showing their importance to his literary work, he is often quite savage in his assessment of Lovecraft’s writing at its worst. At the same time, he readily hails Lovecraft’s several major stories as the masterpieces of literary horror that they are and carefully avoids the temptations either to indulge in speculations about the more obscure corners of Lovecraft’s life or to envelop his peculiar mind and personality in the psychobabble which detracts from the other major biography of Lovecraft by the science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp.
Lovecraft’s early stories are flawed mainly by verbosity and what critics have called “adjectivitis”—an overreliance on adjectives to describe the horrible, dreadful, frightening, gruesome, mind-chilling, etc.

Moreover, throughout his tales character development is weak: indeed, there are precious few characters at all. The protagonists of his stories are usually thinly disguised doppelgangers of Lovecraft himself, scholarly bachelors of good family but dim prospects who encounter events and beings that defy natural explanation and which usually end in the horrible, dreadful, frightening, gruesome, mind-chilling death or dismemberment of the protagonist or other characters, or at least in their insanity. There are virtually no female characters, little story development (Lovecraft’s plot devices often consist of diaries, letters, and various documents from which a narrative is reconstructed), less dialogue, and a good deal of heavy message between the lines as to how the cosmos is not really as nice or neat as mere mortals like to imagine.

The centerpiece of his stories, developed at various times throughout his career but intensively in the 1920’s, is the aforementioned “Cthulhu Mythos,” a term that refers to various fictitiously named locations in New England (Arkham, Miskatonic University), as well as to a series of supernatural or (more accurately) extraterrestrial beings known as the “Old Ones.” In Lovecraft’s literary cosmology, the Old Ones—with names like Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, et cetera, loosely derived from real mythology and philology—dominated the Earth millions of years ago. Hideous in appearance (they often resemble gigantic polymorphous insects compounded with reptiles and crustaceans) but possessed of vastly superhuman intelligence and powers, they are hostile to human beings and can be revived, resuscitated, or invoked through a kind of black magic known to a few and practiced by none but the degenerate (usually nonwhites). The techniques for invoking them are to be found in various ancient tomes also invented by Lovecraft, chiefly the Necronomicon, written in the eighth century A.D. by “the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred” and existing today in only five known copies (one of which is conveniently located in the Miskatonic University Library). But invokers of the Old Ones are generally destroyed by them, and even those who become aware of their continuing existence and the implications of their existence are usually driven mad.

The stories in which Lovecraft developed the Mythos most seriously are among his best and most mature tales, and while they continued to exhibit the peculiarities of his style in their lack of character development and plot, they are gems of setting and atmosphere, enlivened by Lovecraft’s own profound knowledge of New England history, topography, architecture, and antiquities, sparingly written and genuinely effective in communicating what Lovecraft wanted to communicate. Mr. Joshi is right to insist that Lovecraft should not be faulted for avoiding character and plot since both of these would have detracted from the larger effect Lovecraft intended to create. For, as Mr. Joshi shows, in Lovecraft’s stories it is neither the human characters nor their actions that are the main interest but the Lovecraftian Cosmos itself and the beings or forces that animate it.

Lovecraft’s juvenile fascination with science alienated him from Christianity and drew him into a lifelong worldview that Mr. Joshi, as far as I know, is the first to recognize as a modern version of Epicureanism—a cosmology that denies the existence of anything but matter and motion and rejects the view that the universe has any purpose or goal. Lovecraft probably derived his Epicureanism from the Roman poet Lucretius, whom he may have read in Latin, but he also adapted that worldview throughout his life, trying to take account of Einsteinian physics and quantum theory as they became known in the 1920’s. It was the very purposelessness of the universe that lay at the heart of Lovecraft’s almost obsessive conservatism. As he wrote in an essay of 1926, reprinted in Miscellaneous Writings:

The world, life, and universe we know, are only a passing cloud—yesterday in eternity it did not exist, and tomorrow its existence will be forgotten. Nothing matters—all that happens happens through the automatic and inflexible interacting of electrons, atoms, and molecules of infinity according to patterns which are coexistent with basic entity itself . . . . All is illusion, hollowness, and nothingness—but what does that matter? Illusions are all we have, so let us pretend to cling to them; they lend dramatic values and comforting sensations of purpose to things which are really valueless and purposeless. All one can logically do is to jog placidly and cynically on, according to the artificial standards and traditions with which heredity and environment have endowed him. He will get most satisfaction in the end by keeping faithful to these things.

This rather dismal creed, repeatedly developed in his essays and even more in his letters, was indeed something of a crutch for an emotional cripple, but it was also a persuasion to which Lovecraft was seriously and intellectually attached; otherwise, he would not have argued it as carefully as he did or tried to adapt it to recent scientific developments that seemed to contradict it. Given the inherent meaninglessness of life and cosmos, the only way for human beings to extract and preserve meaning is to insist on given social and cultural traditions and the political order that enforces them, and both the given culture as well as the political order are themselves dependent on the race and the ruling class that created them.


Lovecraft’s racialism is a persistent problem for his admirers, and most of them spend a good deal of energy trying to hammer it into the proper psychopathological pigeonholes. The bigotries Lovecraft habitually expresses in his letters and often in his stories are supposedly merely reflections of his own wounded psyche and his personal failure to get along like a normal man. For some reason, however, no one seems compelled to attribute his atheism and materialism to any psychological flaw, and Mr. Joshi is refreshingly free of this sort of cant, though he is careful to make it clear that he finds Lovecraft’s racial views “the one true black mark on his character.”
Lovecraft’s racial opinions were indeed strong even for the decade that saw publication of Madison Grant’s and Lothrop Stoddard’s work. During his life in New York, he wrote to a friend about a walk he and his wife took in the Bronx: “Upon my most solemn oath, I’ll be shot if three out of every four persons—nay, full nine out of every ten—wern’t [sic] flabby, pungent, grinning, chattering n–gers.” Similarly, six years later he remarked, “The population [of New York City] is a mongrel herd with repulsive Mongoloid Jews in the visible majority, and the coarse faces and bad manners eventually come to wear on one so unbearably that one feels like punching every g– d— bastard in sight.” These are only two more printable expressions of his views that are commonplace in his letters. It must be said, however, that there is no known occasion on which Lovecraft offered insult or injury to those whom he despised; indeed, both his wife Sonia Greene and several of his closer friends were Jewish. Decades after his death, Sonia tried to claim that his anti-Semitism was a major reason for her leaving him, but the fact is that Lovecraft insisted on the divorce, against her wishes. All accounts agree that Lovecraft was a charming, highly courteous, and kindly man, a brilliant conversationalist and companion, with an agile and erudite intelligence. His admiration for Hitler seems to have ceased after he learned of Nazi physical attacks on Jews.

Although Mr. Joshi tries to argue that Lovecraft’s racialism was largely irrelevant to his writing, that is not quite true. He is entirely correct in seeing that what he calls Lovecraft’s “cosmicism—the depicting of the boundless gulfs of space and time and the risible insignificance of humanity within them” is the core of his philosophical thought as well as his literary work, and he claims that “This is something Lovecraft expressed more powerfully than any writer before or since” (that may not be true either; there seems to be a strong parallel between Lovecraft’s cosmology and that of Joseph Conrad). Indeed, Lovecraft’s “cosmicism” is the real horror of his stories—not the grotesque appearance of the Old Ones and not the gruesome fate of those who have truck with them, but rather the discovery by the scholarly bachelors who recount the tales that the universe has no meaning at all, that all the conventions and ideas and values on which their lives and those of mankind rest are but shadows in the ceaseless play of impersonal if not actually hostile cosmic forces. As Mr. Joshi summarizes “Lovecraft’s vision”: “Humanity is not at centre stage in the cosmos, and there is no one to help us against the entities who have from time to time descended upon the earth and wreaked havoc; indeed, the ‘gods’ of the Mythos are not really gods at all, but merely extraterrestrials who occasionally manipulate their human followers for their own advantage.”

Mr. Joshi is correct about the cosmic level of meaning in Lovecraft’s stories, but he largely neglects another, social level of meaning. On that level, Lovecraft’s stories are dramas of modernity in which the forces of tradition and order in society and in the universe are confronted by modernity itself—in the form of the shapeless beings known (ironically) as the “Old Ones.” In fact, they are the “New Ones.” Their appearance to earthly beings is often attended by allusions to “Einsteinian physics,” “Freudian psychology,” “non-Euclidean algebra” (a meaningless but suggestive term), modern art, and the writing of T. S. Eliot and James Joyce. The conflicts in the stories are typically between some representative of traditional order (the New England old stock protagonist) on the one hand, and the “hordes” of Mongoloids, Levantines, Negroes, Caribbeans, and Asians that gibber and prance in worship of the Old Ones and invoke their dark, destructive, and invincible powers.

What Lovecraft does in his stories, then, is not only to develop the logic of his “cosmicism” by exposing the futility of human conventions, but to document the triumph of a formless and monstrous modernity against the civilization to which Lovecraft himself—if almost no one else in his time—was faithful. In the course of his brief existence, he saw the traditions of his class and his people vanishing before his eyes, and with them the civilization they had created, and no one seemed to care or even grasp the nature of the forces that were destroying it. The measures conventionally invoked to preserve it—traditional Christianity, traditional art forms, conventional ethics and political theory—were useless against the ineluctable cosmic sweep of the Old Ones and the new anarchic powers they symbolized.

Lovecraft believed that his order could not be saved, and that in the long run it didn’t matter anyway, so be jogged placidly and cynically on, one of America’s last free men, living his life as he wanted to live it and as he believed a New England gentleman should live it: thinking what he wanted to think, and writing what he wanted to write, without concern for conventional opinions, worldly success, or immortality. And yet, despite the indifference he affected, Howard Phillips Lovecraft has in the end attained a kind of immortality, for the classic tales of horror he created will be read as long as that genre of literature is read at all. And since man’s horror of the alien cosmos into which he has been thrown is perhaps the oldest theme of art, that may be for a very long time to come.

Source: Chronicles, May 1997, http://www.unz.org/Pub/Chronicles-1997may-00024 [2]

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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/08/at-the-heart-of-darkness/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Joshi1997.jpg

[2] http://www.unz.org/Pub/Chronicles-1997may-00024: http://www.unz.org/Pub/Chronicles-1997may-00024

samedi, 12 août 2017

Le Peuple blanc d'Arthur Machen


Le Peuple blanc d'Arthur Machen

Ex: http://www.juanasensio.com

On peut parfaitement adresser les reproches les plus durs au Matin des magiciens de Pauwels et Bergier. Tous resteront sans effet toutefois devant cette évidence : cet ouvrage bizarre et boursouflé, qualifié de «gros livre hirsute» par ses auteurs eux-mêmes (1), nous a permis de découvrir des écrivains qui, en 1960, année où il fut publié, n'intéressaient qu'une poignée de spécialistes de la littérature fantastique et amateurs de fous littéraires.

Même si cinquante années ont passé depuis la publication du livre de Pauwels et Bergier, Arthur Machen demeure l'un de ces écrivains restant encore assez méconnu des lecteurs de langue française. Le Matin des magiciens cite de larges extraits d'une des plus étranges nouvelles écrites par Machen, intitulée Le Peuple blanc dont le prologue, qui met en scène un certain Ambrose discutant avec plusieurs de ses amis, est absolument remarquable quant à la vision du Mal qu'il donne. C'est peut-être la seule chose que je retiendrai de ce livre fameux, naïf et généreux dans sa volonté de concilier une démarche scientifique (fantaisiste) avec l'exploration de territoires soi-disant peu connus : la découverte d'Arthur Machen même si c'est la sublime Cristina Campo qui je crois, dans ses Impardonnables, avait attiré ma curiosité en citant le nom de l'écrivain.

Acheter Le Peuple blanc sur Amazon.

Le Peuple blanc
(The White People), vraisemblablement écrit à la fin du 19e siècle, fut publié en 1904 dans le Horlick's Magazine puis inclus dans The House of Souls paru en 1906. Ce texte est composé de trois parties : un prologue entièrement reproduit par Pauwels et Bergier, prologue qui est une discussion sur la définition du Mal, le cœur proprement dit de la nouvelle qui s'intitule Le livre vert décrivant la découverte progressive d'une jeune femme initiée à de très anciens cultes, enfin un épilogue, où nous retrouvons Ambrose et son ami, le premier affirmant à son invité qu'il a connu la jeune femme, qui par chance s'est empoisonnée juste avant que ne lui soit révélée une vérité abominable, dont nous ne saurons bien évidemment rien.


Il est clair que Lovecraft, qui admirait Machen après l'avoir découvert en 1923, le surnommant, immédiatement, Titan (2), s'est inspiré de ce beau récit pour plusieurs de ses propres textes, puisque Le Peuple blanc peut être considéré comme un modèle du genre en matière de suggestion de l'horreur. Qui est Arthur Machen ? Si nous ne craignions point d'utiliser une de ces facilités si communes sous la plume des journalistes, nous pourrions prétendre qu'il s'agit d'une espèce d'Henry James ayant décidé de plonger résolument dans les ténèbres, bien plus avant qu'il ne le fera dans son célèbre Tour d'écrou. Peut-être l'une des plus évidentes adaptations cinématographiques de la nouvelle de Machen, très connue dans les pays anglo-saxons, est-elle Le Projet Blair Witch de Daniel Myrick et Eduardo Sánchez plutôt que Le Labyrinthe de Pan de Guillermo del Toro, tandis qu'un auteur comme T. E. D. Klein transposera Le Peuple blanc dans ses Ceremonies. La liste des influences plus ou moins directes est sans doute beaucoup plus longue.

Voyons à présent les passages que Machen consacre, dans le Prologue de notre nouvelle, à définir le Mal, passages à mon sens saisissants tant ils paraissent annoncer les textes d'un Bernanos, qui ne savait probablement rien de cet auteur.

Machen, par l'intermédiaire de l'étrange personnage dénommé Ambrose, commence par tenter d'exposer un paradoxe, seule façon, sans doute, de contourner la difficulté consistant à donner une définition strictement rationnelle (à laquelle, bien sûr, il ne prétend même pas) du Mal : «Ceux qui sont grands écrit Arthur Machen, quelle que soit leur catégorie, sont ceux qui se détournent des mauvaises copies pour aller vers les originaux parfaits. Pour moi, cela ne fait aucun doute : bien des saints les plus honorés n’ont jamais accompli ce qu’on appelle communément «une bonne action». D’autre part, il y a ceux qui ont sondé les abîmes du péché sans commettre dans toute leur vie une seule mauvaise action» (3).

Je ne sais si Machen avait lu Kierkegaard mais nous pourrions rapprocher cette idée d'une occultation du Mal véritable des termes employés par le grand Danois lorsqu'il définit le Mal réel, accompli, comme étant l'hermétisme, et le plus grand mal comme étant l'hermétisme le plus accompli : il n'y a, stricto sensu, aucune possibilité de communiquer avec Satan, l'idiot absolu, au sens étymologique premier de ce mot. Je renvoie mon lecteur, sur ce point, à ma longue étude de Monsieur Ouine auquel j'ai appliqué la catégorie kierkegaardienne du démoniaque. Paradoxe encore plutôt que contradiction, le fait que Machen prétende que la carrière la plus haute dans le Mal ne puisse être le fait de médiocres, qui se conteront de donner quelque extériorité (mensonges, larcins, viols, meurtres) au Mal dont ils ne comprennent et ne peuvent comprendre la sublime et muette grandeur. Qui ne songe, encore, aux meilleurs romans de Barbey d'Aurevilly?

Machen affirme ainsi que le geste, quel que soit son pouvoir de saisissement et d'horreur, par lequel le Mal va se répandre dans la société civile signe, à coup sûr, sa faible nocivité, sa lamentable publicité. Le Mal absolu est secret, ésotérique au sens premier du terme (4) et n'a rien de commun avec le monde quotidien, qu'il plonge dans le mutisme (songeons à l'étonnant silence de Karl Kraus aux prises, dans son immense Troisième nuit de Walpurgis, avec la résistance du langage face au nazisme) : «Nous estimons qu’un homme qui nous fait du mal et qui en fait à ses voisins est méchant, ce qui, socialement, est exact; mais ne pouvez-vous comprendre que le Mal qui a, par essence, un caractère solitaire, est une passion de l’âme prise isolément et détachée de tout ? Le meurtrier ordinaire, en sa qualité de meurtrier, n’est en aucune façon un pécheur au vrai sens du terme. C’est simplement une bête sauvage dont nous devons nous débarrasser pour mettre nos cous à l’abri de son couteau» (5).


Le meurtrier ordinaire est peut-être donc celui qui, en fin de compte, du Mal nous donne la vision la plus fausse, la plus commune en tout cas. Machen poursuit avec un nouveau paradoxe, dont les termes sont étonnamment bernanosiens : «Le mal, naturellement, est entièrement positif – mais dans le mauvais sens, c’est tout. Vous pouvez me croire : le péché au sens propre du mot est très rare; il y a eu probablement beaucoup moins de pécheurs que de saints» (6). La raison de cette rareté est toute simple : le Mal et le Bien absolus sont, par définition, des miracles de ténèbres ou de lumière qui ne sauraient trop souvent déchirer la toile grise de nos journées absolument banales car, comme Machen le précise :
« – Alors, l’essence du péché est réellement…
– Dans le fait de prendre le ciel d’assaut, il me semble, dit Ambrose. C’est tout simplement une tentative pour pénétrer d’une manière interdite dans une autre sphère plus élevée. Maintenant, vous pouvez comprendre pourquoi il est exceptionnel. Peu de gens, en vérité, éprouvent le désir de pénétrer dans d’autres sphères […]» (7). Bien peu en effet et, lorsqu'on s'intéresse aux carrières de quelques-uns des plus grands criminels de l'histoire, force est de constater que leurs plus abominables forfaits sont commis comme s'ils n'y pensaient point. La conscience dans le Mal si remarquablement illustrée par Les Fleurs du Mal de Baudelaire est un rêve d'écrivain plus qu'une réalité tangible. À moins qu'il ne nous faille postuler la conséquence logique, du moins probable, de nos précédentes affirmations : le meurtrier le plus accompli est celui que nous ne pouvons soupçonner puisque, par définition, ses crimes restent absolument secrets.

Cette autre sphère, parce qu'elle est invisible, est plus réelle que celle dans laquelle nous vivons et nous débattons, selon la vieille vérité mille fois illustrée par les histoires d'épouvante. Qui voudrait tenter d'y pénétrer ou bien fixer ce qui en vient, monstre sur le point de franchir le seuil ou bien Horla invisible vidant les bouteilles de lait gardées au frais ?

Arthur Machen continue à exposer ses étonnantes vues sur le Mal radical, rattachant le comportement du pécheur au Péché, l'acte mauvais étant par essence une incessante réactualisation, une permanente réinvention du premier Péché. Évoquons de nouveau Kierkegaard, qui, s'attardant sur l'exemple de Macbeth, écrit : «[...] être à demeure dans le péché est ce qui, tout au fond de sa chute, le soutient encore, par le diabolique renfort de la conséquence; ce n'est pas le péché nouveau, distinct qui (oui, démence horrible !) l'aide; le péché nouveau, distinct, n'exprime que la continuité dans le péché et c'est là, proprement, le péché» (8).

Machen poursuit sa belle démonstration, avec une idée (bien plus vieille que la traduction qu'en donnera Shakespeare dans ce même Macbeth) qui sera illustrée de façon admirable dans une nouvelle saisissante, La terreur, où la nature se rebelle contre les hommes qui ont déchu de leur grandeur :
« – Voulez-vous dire, poursuit l'ami de notre étrange Ambrose, qu’il y a quelque chose de foncièrement contraire à la nature dans le péché ?
– Exactement. La sainteté exige un effort aussi important – ou presque. Mais elle s’exerce dans des directions qui furent autrefois celles de la nature. Elle tend à retrouver l’extase qui existait avant la Chute. Le péché, lui, tend à parvenir à l’extase et à la connaissance qui n’appartiennent qu’aux anges; et en accomplissant cet effort, l’homme devient démon. […] Le saint s’efforce de recouvrer un don qu’il a perdu; le pécheur tente d’obtenir une chose qu’il n’a jamais eue. Bref, il répète la Chute» (9).


Nous ne nous poserons point la question de savoir si la suite de l'histoire, servant, selon Ambrose, de meilleur exemple à ses étonnantes vues, histoire intitulée je l'ai dit Le livre vert, n'est point quelque peu en dessous de la remarquable exposition que l'auteur, dans son Prologue, nous livre sur le monde du Mal.
Puis-je, à mon tour, exposer une illustration de cette très poétique et fascinante plongée dans le Mal ? Mon propre exemple est celui de Judas, dont l'insigne trahison, que l'on pourrait raisonnablement caractériser comme une vulgaire et coupable publicité d'un mal que la société aura vite fait de juguler ou tenter d'expliquer comme le fait Pierre-Emmanuel Dauzat dans son larmoyant ouvrage, n'est sans doute absolument rien si on s'avisait de la comparer au Mal réel, proprement intérieur, qui ronge et dévore l'apôtre. La Chanson d'amour de Judas Iscariote est, avec un peu de chance, beaucoup de choses, bonnes ou mauvaises qu'importe, mais il est, en premier lieu, une méditation sur l'état de damnation, l'hermétisme démoniaque.

(1) Louis Pauwels et Jacques Bergier, Le matin des magiciens (Gallimard, coll. Folio, 1972), p. 594.
(2) Lovecraft plaçait Le Peuple blanc en deuxième position des plus grands textes fantastiques, derrière Les Saules d'Algernon Blackwood (texte publié en 1916 et recueilli dans Élève de quatrième... dimension édité dans la célèbre collection Présence du futur de Denoël). D'Arthur Machen, il faut absolument lire (puis relire, afin d'en saisir les subtilités narratives) le somptueux et ténébreux roman, composé de nouvelles qui s'imbriquent entre elles à la façon du Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse et des Nouvelles Mille et une nuits de Stevenson, intitulé Les Trois imposteurs aux éditions Terre de Brume, que j'évoquerai dans une note ultérieure. Comme toujours avec cette maison qui semble ne jamais relire les textes qu'elle publie, le livre est truffé de fautes et de bizarreries typographiques mais enfin, le noir génie de Machen, le livre qui en est sorti, n'en sont même pas gâtés.
(3) Arthur Machen, Le peuple blanc et autres récits de terreur (préface et traduction de Jacques Parsons, Bibliothèque Marabout, coll. Fantastique, 1974), p. 16.
(4) «– Donc, pour en revenir à votre sujet favori, vous estimez que le péché a quelque chose d’ésotérique, d’occulte ?
– Oui. Il est le miracle infernal comme la sainteté est le miracle céleste. Parfois, il est élevé à une telle hauteur que nous ne pouvons absolument pas soupçonner son existence; ainsi, la note des grands tuyaux de l’orgue est si grave que nous ne saurions l’entendre», ibid., p. 23.
(5) Ibid., p. 17.
(6) Ibid., id.
(7) Ibid., p. 19.
(8) Dans son Traité du désespoir datant de 1848 (Gallimard, coll. Folio, 1999), p. 213.
(9) Ibid., p. 20.

samedi, 27 mai 2017

America in the Time of Kerouac’s Travels


America in the Time of Kerouac’s Travels

How the author of On the Road midwifed an anti-establishment movement at the same time that he denounced it.


In Jack Kerouac’s last piece of writing, “After Me, the Deluge,” the writer rued his influence on the hippie movement. In so doing, both in the Chicago Tribune magazine, where “Deluge” appeared in 1969, and during a pie-eyed appearance on Bill Buckley’s Firing Line the year before, Kerouac validated the pop-cultural notion that by going against the grain of Eisenhower’s suburban, conservative America, he unwittingly helped inspire the ’60s counterculture and its many excesses.

With its hobo squalor, its sexual candor, and most of all its aimless and irrepressible urge to roam, Kerouac’s famous On the Road, published in September of 1957, certainly appeared to signal a departure from the domestic conventions of the late 1950s. Relationships in the book are volatile and tenuous, while people and property are often exploited just for kicks. As a chronicle of freewheeling social disintegration, On the Road went down as a book very much at odds with its time, a foretaste of the cultural revolutions that rocked the late 1960s.

Often unnoticed or forgotten is that the road trips in Kerouac’s book were undertaken between 1947 and 1950, the postwar Truman years, in whose grain On the Road actually resides, even if Kerouac downplayed this fact. Betwixt the numerous travels that made up On the Road, Kerouac wrote his first book, The Town and the City (1950), a family history/coming-of-age novel in which World War II assumes its proper dimensions as an influence on the lives of his Martin family. Tellingly, however, Kerouac’s chief surrogate, young Peter Martin, was almost determinedly unmoved by it all: “Mighty world events meant virtually nothing to him, they were not real enough, and he was certain that his wonderful joyous visions of super-spiritual existence and great poetry were ‘realer than all.’”

Hence On the Road, a series of larks whose settings and patterns, preoccupations and mores, are marked by a recent conflict that goes almost entirely unmentioned. But the war’s influence was profound, starting with the wanderlust itself, which followed years of gasoline and tire rationing and Detroit’s suspension of automaking during the conflict. Further, space on Pullman cars and interstate buses was largely reserved for troops, furloughed GIs and their families, or those setting out to work in vital war industries. Everyone else had to stay put, scramble for the few remaining tickets, or venture into the black market.


With war’s end, people rushed to get behind the wheel and go, and automakers, tire manufacturers, oil companies, and others offered plenty of encouragement. Magazine ads of the time occasionally achieved near Kerouacian poetry in invoking the joyous splendors awaiting motorists. A Lincoln ad from 1945: “These grey years will end with brighter days … Then, free as a birdsong, you’ll share in the secrets of a thousand roads … Travel the taut highway that thins to a dot in the distance.” A Nash Motors ad from the same year was borderline orgasmic: “Waiting for you … wide highways that beg your car to spread her wings and fly … Her low, sweet motor-music as the miles race by … the way she quickens to a throttle-touch and leaps ahead to flatten out the hills and make the pavement sing beneath her wheels.”

Years later, Kerouac remarked that On the Road had been an investigation into “post-Whitman America,” an idea that tallied with a bit of doggerel (“Song of the Open Road … Again!”) produced in 1946 by Quaker State copywriters: “Oh, some roads stretch to Mexico, / And some roads stretch towards Nome, / And roads reach out from east and west, / And beckon us from home …”

Of course, as Kerouac sensitively attested in The Town and the City, the war had been beckoning Americans from home for years. He chronicled “the whole legend of wartime America … the great story of wandering, sadness, parting, farewell.” He marveled at “the young soldier-wives who were beginning to wander the nation … in search of some pitiable little home or situation that would bring them close to their young husbands, if only for a few months.” All this movement provoked “night-dreams woven out of three thousand miles of continental traveling … enacted upon some deranged little map of the mind that was supposed to represent the continent of America.” He added, “No one could see it, yet everyone was in it, and it was like the incomprehensible mystery of life … grown fantastic and homeless.” The members of his Martin family, being no exception, were also “uprooted by war,” part of the “great wartime wanderings” of that period.

Before On the Road’s protagonists, Sal and Dean, ever balled the jack across miles of open blacktop, moving from one brief habitation to the next, America was in the throes of temporary relocations, out-and-out migrations, and demographic shifts of an unprecedented scale. Some 15 million Americans were in uniform and away from home during the war, and Life reported that an estimated 75 percent of them did not intend to return to their hometowns. Nearly as many relocated owing to war-related industry, largely to be near shipyards and aircraft plants along the coasts and the Gulf Shore or near the veritable arsenal that emerged in and around Detroit. The sociologist Francis E. Merrill noted in 1948 that more than 27.5 million Americans “experienced at least one wartime change of residence that removed them from one set of social influences and often failed to substitute similar influences.” Roughly 20 percent of the population, in other words, was socially unmoored by the war.


And the migrations didn’t end with the war’s conclusion. Throughout the 1940s, an estimated 12 million Americans relocated to a new state. As a record of human movement within the country, this dwarfs the Great Migration (of Southern blacks to the North and Midwest), the second wave of which—beginning in 1940—is partly subsumed into this far larger, racially neutral tally.

Hidden within the numbers for that decade are various pathologies associated with social dislocation. This is what Merrill was hinting at when he noted that many Americans, in relocating, found themselves bereft of familiar social influences. Such influences serve as inhibitors, informally keeping most people from significant misbehavior. When you’re known to those around you, your actions naturally have greater social consequence than if you’re a stranger. Many of those 27.5 million during the war, and those 12 million over the course of the decade, were living—at least for a time—as virtual strangers in their new communities, which included occupied foreign capitals, stateside garrison towns, and American cities swelling with newly arrived defense workers. Furthermore, couples were often living apart (with, say, the man in uniform and the woman engaged in defense work), while children were subject to diminished supervision. Consequently, America in the ’40s experienced significant increases in promiscuity, infidelity, rape, out-of-wedlock births, divorce, venereal disease, auto theft, truancy, and juvenile delinquency.

Further, as Merrill noted, planning for the future is difficult in times of flux, and an uncertain future generates an equally uncertain present, which in turn produces indecision that can erode adherence to conventional mores. Thus, in The Town and the City we see one of the Martin daughters, Liz, elope at 18 with her piano-player boyfriend, leaving the town of Galloway (a fictionalized Lowell, Mass.) for Hartford, Conn. From there the two move to Detroit to find better-paying defense work. At 19, Liz delivers a stillborn baby in this strange and distant city, plunges into depression, and disappears from her family for a time. In the fall of 1945 she turns up in New York City (by way of San Francisco), separated from her husband and working as a nightclub singer when not occasionally flashing leg in “second-rate floorshows.”

“She had become one of the many girls in America,” Kerouac writes, capturing exactly the indecision Merrill noted, “who flit from city to city in search of something they hope to find and never even name, girls who ‘know all the ropes,’ know a thousand people in a hundred cities and places, girls who work at all kinds of jobs, impulsive, desperately gay, lonely, hardened girls.” All of which makes the roving escapades of Sal and Dean appear tamer in context. What seemed outré in the reading in 1957 was less so in the doing in 1947; less so, for that matter, in the reading in 1967, after the deluge Kerouac regretted had somewhat normalized many of the behaviors of 20 years prior, which—however prevalent they were at the time—were still considered misbehaviors. The excesses of the 1960s were in some ways a pale recurrence of those of the 1940s, the difference resting more in the attitude toward those excesses than in the excesses themselves.


But it wasn’t just behaviors in the ’40s that had been changed by the war—behaviors, again, that put the Beats nearer the American mainstream than they seemed ten years later, when On the Road was finally published. Whole environments through which Kerouac moved in his travels had been changed—if not created—by the war. For instance, the Bay Area ghetto in which Kerouac (“Sal”) lives with a buddy for a time, while employed as a rent-a-cop, didn’t exist before the war. Kerouac called this black enclave “Mill City,” but it was actually Marin City (across the Golden Gate from San Francisco and just north of Sausalito), then a collection of hastily constructed dwellings put up at the beginning of the war to house thousands of newly arrived workers at a nearby shipyard. Among them were many African-Americans, whose population in the San Francisco-Oakland area grew sixfold during the war. Los Angeles saw a similar influx of African-American defense workers—as reflected in Chester Himes’s 1945 novel If He Hollers Let Him Go, in which a black machinist, as a wartime expediency, is put in an unaccustomed position of authority in the racially, politically, and (with a certain white Rosie the Riveter) sexually fraught atmosphere of a San Pedro shipyard.


When the war boom ended and the (mostly white) GIs came home to preferential hiring, these blacks were relegated once more to a poorer, often marginalized existence. But the scale and impact of such migrations went largely overlooked by Kerouac. Like Peter Martin in The Town and the City, he gave little thought to the shifting fortunes of whole human populations, preoccupied as he was with his joyous visions of super-spiritual existence. He described Mill City thus: “It was, so they say, the only community in America where whites and Negroes lived together voluntarily … and so wild and joyous a place I’ve never seen since.” This is classic slumming, oblivious of the fact that blacks at the time didn’t live anywhere “voluntarily” in the sense Kerouac implies. They lived where they were allowed to live, such as in cheap wartime shacks mostly ceded by whites following the peace and the drop-off in local industry, whereas Kerouac and others could pop in voluntarily for a time and admire the beat Negroes with their irrepressible laughter and happiness. As Kerouac writes at one point, “next door … lived a Negro called Mr. Snow whose laugh, I swear on the Bible, was positively and finally the one greatest laugh in all this world.”

To be fair, in “October in the Railroad Earth,” written in San Francisco several years after the travels that made up On the Road, Kerouac did reveal a fleeting, Joycean awareness of the grubbiness and disappointment that attended the large-scale migration of blacks to the West Coast during and after the war. He described a “poor grime-bemarked” street near the city’s Southern Pacific station as a scene of “lost bums,” including black migrants who—having long ago left the East only to find themselves now chronically unemployed—were in the grip of such hopelessness, irresponsibility, and lack of initiative that all they did was “stand there spitting in the broken glass, sometimes fifty in one afternoon against one wall at Third and Howard.”

The entire West Coast, of course, was changed by the war. Washington, Oregon, and California saw population increases ranging from 37 percent to more than 53 percent during the 1940s, and California experienced the greatest population increase of any state that decade, moving it for the first time into the top three in total population. More specifically, the war precipitated a westward migration that eventually (from 1940 to 1970) saw the black population of Los Angles grow tenfold and that of San Francisco-Oakland more than fifteenfold. It’s not too squiggly a line that connects the fleeting defense boom of the ’40s with such defining moments of the ’60s as the Watts Riots and the rise of the Black Panthers in Oakland; not too dim an influence that the boom had on such distinctive postwar artifacts as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (the original blaxploitation film, from 1971, set in and around poverty-stricken black Los Angeles) and “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” (Tom Wolfe’s tragicomic 1970 essay on Bay Area race relations). Kerouac, of course, is not responsible for lack of awareness of future trends and events, even trends that were already somewhat discernible. Perhaps, to borrow from his description of wartime upheavals in The Town and the City, it was all so big that everyone was in it but no one could see it. However, it is a failure of imagination on his part to think that ghetto life was truly as joyous for those who lacked the options available to the free-ranging author. There had, after all, been a significant race riot in Harlem in 1943, touched off by the NYPD’s rumored mistreatment of a black vet. Kerouac, as an on-again, off-again student at Columbia and resident of New York City in the early ’40s, could be expected to have known about that riot.


An influx of out-of-state Americans (white or black), however, wasn’t the only war-induced demographic change experienced by California and the West in the 1940s. Upon leaving Mill City, Kerouac/Sal headed for L.A. and, en route, hooked up with a Latina named Teresa, with whom he eventually lived for a spell in a San Joaquin Valley encampment near Fresno. There he picked cotton to raise money for a journey east, and for kicks frequented nearby “Mextowns” with Teresa and her brother, Rickey, “a wild-buck Mexican hotcat with a hunger for booze.” There were remnants of the old Dust Bowl migrants thereabouts, the Okies and Arkies famously portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath and After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. But the scene Kerouac describes is populated largely by Mexicans, with a touch of formerly Southern blacks—the predominance of the one and the presence of the other being artifacts of the recent war.


Mexicans, of course, were not exactly new in Central Valley agriculture, the history of which is a litany of one racial/ethnic/class group after another being recruited en masse and just as summarily dismissed based on harvests, populist resentments, and economic variables. First it was Native Americans and tramps; then Chinese laborers found in surplus after the railroad completion and the Gold Rush exhaustion; then Japanese immigrants; then, in the 1920s, large numbers of Mexicans, roughly 75,000 of them. The arrival of each itinerant, socially disenfranchised group helped depress the local wage base and, when combined with the unseemly poverty that thereby attended the farm-labor community, brought repeated calls from the local working classes for racial and ethnic restrictions, which—if passed—resulted only in the Central Valley growers’ finding another marginalized group to exploit. By the end of the 1920s, the process again repeated itself with importation of Mexicans in such numbers that an agitation emerged to place quotas on Mexican immigration. That prompted the growers to import Filipino workers, some 30,000 by 1930, according to Carey McWilliams in his book California: The Great Exception.

It was the Depression and the Dust Bowl that brought the likes of Tom Joad to the Central Valley, when white laborers suddenly found themselves in surplus. Roughly 350,000 Okies and Arkies, McWilliams noted, entered the agricultural labor pool in California between 1935 and 1938, in the process displacing Latinos and becoming the main focus of local resentment for their grotty, wage-depressing influence.

But this period in California culture, however immortalized in populist lore, was short-lived. The tide soon began to change once more, owing to a series of events related to America’s looming and then actual involvement in World War II. By 1940, Franklin Roosevelt had commenced an arms buildup in anticipation of U.S. war involvement, and the economy began to boom. That same year, Congress passed the first peacetime draft. Both events stirred those Okies and Arkies to rush into the military or to better-paying defense work. In the months following Japan’s December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the war, large-scale growers throughout the West faced an abrupt labor shortage. Filipino agricultural workers had also availed themselves of higher-paying industrial opportunities. And the entire West Coast population of Japanese-Americans (many of them, too, agricultural workers) had been forcibly relocated to the interior.

Produce was rotting on the vine, and ripened crops were being plowed under for lack of harvesting help. The result was the 1942 Mexican Farm Labor Agreement, the first of a series of treaties with Mexico more commonly known as the Bracero Program, by which the federal government sought the return, as provisional guest workers, of those “wetbacks” who had left or been repatriated at the onset of the Depression.

Under the Bracero Program—which, though conceived to address the exigency of food production in wartime, lasted until 1964—an average of 200,000 farm laborers a year were brought into the United States, almost certainly some of them known to Teresa, Rickey, and Sal from the Mextowns in and around Fresno in the late 1940s. Countless more arrived and operated outside the program, sometimes with the help of American agencies willing to make a burlesque of border enforcement for the sake of American business. Untold numbers of these melted away into various other corners of the American economy, thus making room for yet more cheap, politically impotent migrants from south of the border. The rush was contributing to ethnic tensions during Kerouac’s time in the San Joaquin Valley. He describes how Okies at a roadhouse near his and Teresa’s encampment “went mad” one night, tying a man to a tree and lashing him brutally with sticks. “From then on,” Kerouac writes, “I carried a big stick with me in the tent in case they got the idea we Mexicans were fouling up their trailer camp.”


So great was the demand for north-of-the-border toil at south-of-the-border wage rates that of course Bracero Program quotas couldn’t keep up. Consequently, human trafficking in brown-skinned labor was under way even before the 1940s ended. Such trafficking is the kernel of the crime in Ross Macdonald’s first novel, 1949’s The Moving Target, in which a dubious sun-cult temple atop a southern-California hillside serves as a receiving station for undocumented workers headed into the Bakersfield area.


The bargain-based attraction of Mexico ran both ways, however, and in the spring of 1950 Kerouac and pals crossed the border themselves, driving south. Beat father figure William S. Burroughs had taken up residence in Mexico City and sent Kerouac a letter touting how far a man could make his dollar go yonder, “including all the liquor he can drink.” The road trip is the centerpiece of Part Four of On the Road, arguably the most Beat section in the book, with the dusty Mexican whores, the boyish excitement over Third World slumming, and the enormous joint the guys all share one afternoon (“the biggest bomber anybody ever saw”). But even here, off in the wilds, Kerouac was within the American zeitgeist. In January of 1948, Life revealed how a certain Mexican university, “accredited under the GI Bill of Rights,” had become a “paradise” to which veterans went to “study art, live cheaply and have a good time.” One of Kerouac’s travel companions, as it happens, had begged his way into the Mexican venture by promising that he could raise a hundred dollars and, once there, “sign up for GI Bill in Mexico City College.”

In fact, Kerouac’s life during On the Road was funded, at least in part, by checks he was receiving in his status as a World War II veteran, though his military service was nearly a farce. He served briefly in the Navy, spending a portion of his enlistment under psychiatric observation, before being discharged (honorably) as ill-fit for military life. (He did, however, undertake two sailings with the merchant marine, and this is hardly to be discounted. The merchant marine’s wartime casualty rate was comparable to that of the Marine Corps, and one of the ships on which Kerouac had sailed was torpedoed on its next outing, with significant loss of life.)

The checks Kerouac received after the war were earmarked for education: “It was over a year before I saw Dean again,” he writes of 1948, at the beginning of Part Two of On the Road. “I stayed home all that time, finished my book and began going to school on the GI Bill of Rights.” But those education checks mostly went to other purposes: “We got ready to cross the groaning continent again,” Kerouac writes elsewhere in Part Two. “I drew my GI check and gave Dean eighteen dollars to mail to his wife; she was waiting for him to come home and she was broke.” Later, when he and the guys were at Burroughs’s place in Louisiana, Kerouac was “waiting for my next GI check to come through.” Then, on the West Coast: “Dean and I goofed around San Francisco in this manner until I got my next GI check and got ready to go back home.” Later, in early 1949, “I had a few dollars saved from my GI education checks and I went to Denver, thinking of settling down there.”

Were it not for government largesse extended to the country’s veterans, On the Road might never have been written, a point Kerouac made—semi-lucidly—in 1969, in “After Me, the Deluge,” when railing against the relativism and anti-
establishmentarianism of kids those days:

So who cares anyhow that if it hadn’t been for western-style capitalism so-called (nothing to do with the black market capitalism in Jeeps and rice in Asia), or laissez-faire, free economic byplay, movement north, south, east, and west, haggling, pricing, and the political balance of power carved into the United States Constitution and active thus far in the history of our government, and my perfectly recorded and legitimatized United States coast guard papers, just as one instance of arch (nonanarchic) credibility in our provable system, I wouldn’t have been able or allowed to hitchhike half broke thru 47 states of this Union and see the scene with my own eyes, unmolested?

Of course, 25 years before, Kerouac was present at what was arguably the birth of that very anti-establishment, and his feelings then were a little more mixed. The later stretches of The Town and the City find Peter Martin in New York City in 1944, where he reunites socially with a charismatic acquaintance from his college days, the poet Leon Levinsky (Allen Ginsberg). Levinsky is full of loquacious enthusiasm for the coming day when everybody “is going to fall apart, disintegrate” and “all character-structures based on tradition and uprightness and so-called morality will slowly rot away.” He calls this eagerly anticipated event “the great molecular comedown.”

More to Levinsky’s taste is the milieu occupied by their mutual acquaintance Will Dennison (Burroughs), a heroin addict whose apartment is “overrun with people who dash about getting morphine prescriptions from dishonest doctors.” Dennison shares the apartment with his sister, who takes benzedrine to stay alert and help run the “madhouse,” including caring for Dennison’s child. “You’ve got to see it,” Levinsky remarks, “especially Dennison with his baby son in one hand and a hypo needle in the other, a marvelous sight.” Although Peter disagrees that it sounds marvelous, he otherwise skips right past that disturbing image to inquire after Dennison’s wife.


Peter also makes the mistake of likening Levinsky to a childhood friend from Galloway named Alexander Panos (Kerouac’s real-life Lowell friend Sebastian Sampas, a budding poet who enlisted in the Army and was eventually killed in the Italian campaign). To this well-intended comparison Levinsky responds with a hauteur that the world would eventually come to recognize in Ginsberg but that Peter, in Kerouac’s words, met only with “smiling indulgence.” Dismissing Panos’s “social conscience bleatings about the brotherhood of man,” Levinsky, with no protest from Peter, goes on to denounce Panos as a “smalltown Rupert Brooke,” a “joy-and-beauty poet of the hinterlands.”

It’s all the more interesting to note, then, that Kerouac’s voluminous correspondence—compiled, edited, and (in 1995) published by biographer and scholar Ann Charters—reveals the young Kerouac to have been much less forbearing toward Ginsberg than Peter Martin was toward Leon Levinsky. When Ginsberg dared reproach Kerouac for his own “peckerhead romanticism,” Kerouac, in a letter to Ginsberg dated August 23, 1945, replied by calling Ginsberg “unutterably vain and stupid,” after also having run down Burroughs and several other personalities from that scene, following a social event that Kerouac had found particularly distasteful.

Roughly two weeks later, in a follow-up letter to Ginsberg, Kerouac clarified his reaction to the Burroughs event, which he called “la soirée d’idiocie.” Referring obliquely to his own Catholic, conservative youth, he remarked, “You understand, I’m sure. Remember that the earlier part of my life has always been spent in an atmosphere vigorously and directly opposed to this sort of atmosphere … It automatically repels me, thereby causing a great deal of remorse, and disgust.” Having admitted his own ingrained prejudice, he then issued a far more elegant indictment of the anti-establishment than he was ever able to muster in his wretched, reactionary final years under the influence:

There is a kind of dreary monotony about these characters, an American sameness about them that never varies and is always dull … Like a professional group, almost. The way they foregather at bars and try to achieve some sort of vague synthesis between respectability and illicitness … That is annoying, but not half so much as their silly gossiping and snickering.

Warming to his irritation, and addressing the hauteur to which Ginsberg was prone to subject him, Kerouac offered this valediction:

There’s nothing that I hate more than the condescension you begin to show whenever I allow my affectionate instincts full play with regard to you; that’s why I always react angrily against you. It gives me the feeling that I’m wasting a perfectly good store of friendship on a little self-aggrandizing weasel. I honestly wish that you had more essential character, of the kind I respect. But then, perhaps you have that and are afraid to show it. At least, try to make me feel that my zeal is not being mismanaged … as to your zeal, to hell with that … you’ve got more of it to spare than I. And now, if you will excuse me for the outburst, allow me to bid you goodnight.

Yet this is the company he kept for what were his most productive and successful years—years when, under the guise of his various alter egos (Peter Martin, Sal Paradise, etc.), Kerouac feigned impressionability, his fictionalized selves shambling with childlike curiosity after one countercultural dynamo or another, thereupon to record their antics as something vitally American. To quote Sal Paradise, “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” Yet here again is Kerouac in that follow-up letter to Ginsberg in 1945 in which he recounted how repellent but also commonplace he found Burroughs’s social scene: “Strangely, the thing that annoys me the most is the illusion everyone has that I’m torn in two by all this … when actually, all I want is clear air in which to breathe, and there is none because everybody’s full of hot air.”

So much for mad talk and roman candles.

Thus, although he was right about the deluge, Kerouac was wrong (and evasive) about the sequence. The anti-establishment he bemoaned didn’t come after him, in the late 1960s or even the late 1950s. He helped conjure it into being as early as the mid-1940s, with the friends he kept and the stories he told, which began appearing in print in 1950. He denounced the hippies as so many bastard children of his misapprehended innocence. But his innocence was always a literary stratagem. The problem wasn’t that everyone misapprehended it but that we all fell for it in the first place.

Jon Zobenica’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Book Review.

mardi, 23 mai 2017

D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature


D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature

Ex: https://dissidentright.com 

Out of a pattern of lies, art weaves the truth”

David Herbert Lawrence was born into an English working-class family on September 11, 1885.  After the First World War, he went into a voluntary exile from his native England, and travelled the world with his wife.  From 1922 until 1926, the Lawrences lived in the United States, wherein they resided mainly on a ranch in northern New Mexico.  While in the United States, Lawrence composed most of his short, but stunning book Studies in Classic American Literature.  In this all but forgotten work, Lawrence methodically marches down a line of classic American authors, and in turn, pierces the heart, bashes-in the head, rends out the soul, and furiously shakes the corpse of the unsuspecting greats.

Why is Lawrence so vicious with his literary prisoners?  Because, he claims, they are liars.  Benjamin Franklin lies about his ideal American citizen.  Hector St. John de Crevecoeur lies about the bliss and innocence of Nature.  James Fenimore Cooper lies about the Northeastern Brahmin’s veneration of Democracy and Equality.  Edgar Allan Poe lies about the limitless emancipatory effects of sensuousness, ecstasy, and love.  Nathaniel Hawthorne lies about the truth of spiritualism, saviourism, “Selfless Love,” and “Pure Consciousness.”[1]  Richard Henry Dana lies about man’s ability to know the sea and transcend the soil.  Herman Melville lies in his pursuit of harmony and the perfect relationship.  Walt Whitman lies about his belief in sympathy.

Lies!  Lies!  Lies!

For Lawrence, they are all lying, but they aren’t lying to their audiences. They are lying to themselves.  They each tell their own particular lies, but they all share in the big lies.  The lies that are today taken as fundamental American ideals:  Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Education, Equal Opportunity, and so on.  According to Lawrence, the white American puts undo importance on Knowing, self-consciousness, and the mind.  The white American intellectualizes with ideals, and tries to imprison feeling and “blood-consciousness.”  A primary example of this characteristic is the American ideal of Freedom.


Freedom is the ultimate American ideal, and it is the ultimate self-deception.  In the American conception, freedom is pure negation.  It is fleeing Europe, the homeland.  It is, at bottom, escape.  From what are Americans escaping, though?  Lawrence contends that the flight to America was due to the Pilgrim Fathers’ revulsion at post-Renaissance humanism.  The early American settlers fled Europe at the very moment their old masters were weakest:  when “kingship and fatherhood fell.”[2]

America is, as he puts it:

“A vast republic of escaped slaves.  Look out, America!  And a minority of earnest, self-tortured people.  The masterless.”[3]

All of the masterless are equal in their freedom.  Like Freedom, Lawrence rejects the notion of Equality, too.  Lawrence believes in a natural aristocracy, and argues that America has tried to level natural superiority and natural inferiority with the artifice of Equality.

From Lawrence, again:

“When America set out to destroy Kings and Lords and Masters and the whole paraphernalia of European superiority, it pushed a pin right through its own body, and on that pin it still flaps and buzzes and twists in misery.  The pin of democratic equality.  Freedom.”[4]

The American is on a never-ending quest after ideals, and he destroys, and kills, everything that’s in his path.  The American is led around by his mind-consciousness as opposed to his blood-consciousness.  These two forms of consciousness are the upper and the lower forces of Lawrence’s dualism.  The American has an unyielding belief in the former, and he is perpetually trying to know, understand, and reconcile his situation on the North American continent.  According to Lawrence, at the center of the white American’s urge to reconcile is the question of the races:  the red and white races, specifically.

To quote Lawrence at length:

“There has been all the time, in the white American soul, a dual feeling about the Indian.  First was Franklin’s feeling, that a wise Providence no doubt intended the extirpation of these savages.  Then came Crevecoeur’s contradictory feeling about the Red Man and the innocent life of the wigwam.  Now we hate to subscribe to Benjamin’s belief in a Providence that wisely extirpates the Indian to make room for ‘cultivators of the soil’.  In Crevecoeur we meet a sentimental desire for the glorification of the savages.  Absolutely sentimental.  Hector pops over to Paris to enthuse about the wigwam.  The desire to extirpate the Indian.  And the contradictory desire to glorify him.  Both are rampant still, to-day… I doubt if there is possible any real reconciliation, in the flesh, between the white and the red.”[5]

Fenimore Cooper tries to create a reconciliation between white and red in his Leatherstocking Tales, but Lawrence regards this attempt as only a wish-fulfillment.  Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook are bound together in manly, brotherly love, but neither brings forth issue, or marries.  Their reconciliation in the flesh means that they are isolated together, and thus the end of their respective bloodlines.  Their reconciliation is a false myth, but in the character of Natty Bumppo’s earliest incarnation, Deerslayer, Lawrence finds the “true myth” of the “essential white America.”[6]  This “intrinsic-most American” is the “man who turns his back on white society.  A man who keeps his moral integrity hard and intact.  An isolate, almost selfless, stoic, enduring man, who lives by death, by killing, but who is pure white.”[7]

This is surely a chilling, but heroic, image; nevertheless, the essential American who turns his back on white society certainly seems wanting in important qualities.  No less chilling and foreboding is Lawrence’s interpretation of the racial symbolism of Melville’s Moby Dick:

“What then is Moby Dick?  He is the deepest blood-being of the white race; he is our deepest blood-nature.  And he is hunted, hunted, hunted by the maniacal fanaticism of our white mental consciousness.  We want to hunt him down.  To subject him to our will…The Pequod went down.  And the Pequod was the ship of the white American soul.  She sank, taking with her negro and Indian and Polynesian Asiatic and Quaker and good, businesslike Yankees and Ishmael:  she sank all the lot of them.”[8]

This is no doubt a bleak, but understandable, prophecy for the white man.  If Melville foretold the demise of the white race in 1851, what can it possibly do to prevent its own destruction?  According to Lawrence, the white American, with his sententious mind-consciousness, is fundamentally at odds with the spirit of North America.  He is mocked and tormented by the ghosts of the conquered Red Indian.  As already noted, Lawrence holds out little hope for reconciliation in the flesh, but he does allude vaguely towards a possible “reconciliation in the soul.  Some strange atonement:  expiation and oneing.”[9]  Beyond this cryptic offering, Lawrence provides little elaboration.  Perhaps, Lawrence envisions something similar to the character of Tom Outland, in Willa Cather’s novel The Professor’s House, who feels a “filial piety” towards the New Mexican Blue Mesa and the ruins of the ancient pueblo people.  Then again, Outland’s lonely, monastic-like experience reading Virgil’s Æneid atop the Blue Mesa reminds one again of the essential white American turning his back on white society.


Alas, aside from strange spiritual atonements, switching over to a “blood-consciousness”, or some bizarre remarks about following Walt Whitman’s example “along the open road,” Lawrence presents few actionable answers for the plight of the white American.  However, one paragraph in the introduction of the book regarding the nature of freedom struck this reader as particularly powerful:

“Men are free when they are in a living homeland, not when they are straying and breaking away.  Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief.  Obeying from within.  Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose.  Not when they are escaping to some wild west.  The most unfree souls go west, and shout of freedom.  Men are freest when they are most unconscious of freedom.  The shout is a rattling of chains, always was.”[10]

Whether or not the white American will experience his freedom unconsciously in the near future is unknown.  The forces pushing anarcho-tyranny seem to make the white American consciously, and vigorously cling to any freedom he once thought sacred and his birthright.  But Lawrence is certainly right about one thing.  The perennial flight west is not a long-term strategy for him.  He will eventually have to settle, claim a space, a landscape, a community, and a mode of being that is his to defend, and not to cast away at the first sign of danger.  He will have to treat the North American continent not as a giant nature space to buzz around as he’s chased by those who are not his own, but as a place that contains a home, a Heimat even, where he can put down roots for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

[1] D. H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (London:  Heinemann, 1924; republished in Phoenix edition, 1964), 86.

[2] Ibid., 6.

[3] Ibid., 5.

[4] Ibid., 41.

[5] Ibid., 34.

[6] Ibid., 59.

[7] Ibid., 60.

[8] Ibid., 152-153.

[9] Ibid., 35.

[10] Ibid., 6.

mercredi, 10 mai 2017

Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound’s friendship spanned continents—and ideologies.


The Circuitous Path of Papa and Ezra

Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound’s friendship spanned continents—and ideologies.

Ernest Hemingway, fresh off his marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first wife, arrived in Paris in 1921. Paris was a playground for writers and artists, offering respite from the radical politics spreading across Europe. Sherwood Anderson supplied Hemingway with a letter of introduction to Ezra Pound. The two litterateurs met at Sylvia Beach’s bookshop and struck up a friendship that would shape the world of letters.

They frolicked the streets of Paris as bohemians, joined by rambunctious and disillusioned painters, aesthetes, druggies, and drinkers. They smoked opium, inhabited salons, and delighted in casual soirées, fine champagnes, expensive caviars, and robust conversations about art, literature, and the avant-garde. Pound was, through 1923, exuberant, having fallen for Olga Rudge, his soon-to-be mistress, a young concert violinist with firm breasts, shapely curves, midnight hair, and long eyebrows and eyelashes. She exuded a kind of mystical sensuality unique among eccentric highbrow musicians; Pound found her irresistible.

Pound was known for his loyalty to friends. Although he had many companions besides Hemingway—among them William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, e.e. cummings, Pablo Picasso, Wyndham Lewis, T.E. Hulme, William Carlos Williams, Walter Morse Rummel, Ford Madox Ford, Jean Cocteau, and Malcolm Cowley—Hemingway arguably did more than the others to reciprocate Pound’s favors, at least during the Paris years when he promoted Pound as Pound promoted others.

Pound was aware of Hemingway’s talent for publicity: he and Hemingway had combined their genius to promote Eliot’s The Waste Land. Hemingway introduced Pound to William Bird, an American reporter who arranged to publish an autobiographical piece about Pound’s childhood. Bird was instrumental to the eventual publication of Pound’s A Draft of XVI Cantos. Pound, for his part, secured for Hemingway a position as assistant editor of The Transatlantic Review. Their relationship matured into something symbiotic and mutually beneficial.


Pound edited Hemingway’s work, stripping his prose of excessive adjectives. Hemingway remarked that Pound had taught him “to distrust adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain people in certain situations.” Unlike, say, Conrad Aiken or Robert Frost, who resisted Pound’s editing, Hemingway acquiesced to Pound’s revisions. In exchange, Hemingway taught Pound how to box. He acknowledged that the scraggly Pound had “developed a terrific wallop” and had “come along to beat the hell wit the gloves.” Hemingway worried that “I will get careless and [Pound] will knock me for a row of latrines.” He even treated Pound to a night at the prizefights to brighten Pound’s spirits as Pound battled various illnesses.

Pound, however, grew disillusioned with Paris, where his friends were gravitating toward socialism and communism. Paris, he decided, was not good for his waning health. Hemingway himself had been in and out of Paris, settling for a short time in Toronto. In 1923, accompanied by their wives, Pound and Hemingway undertook a walking tour of Italy. The fond memories of this rejuvenating getaway inspired Pound to return to Italy with his wife Dorothy Shakespear in 1924. They relocated, in 1925, to a picturesque hotel in Rapallo, a beautiful sea town in the province of Genoa, on the bright blue Tigullio Gulf.

Pound found the weather in Rapallo to be soothing and agreeable. It was Hemingway who had first recommended this scenic spot, having visited Sir Max Beerbohm there years before. Hemingway’s tales of the sunshine, swimming, tennis, and other outdoor activity in Rapallo appealed to Pound, who fancied himself an athlete. The fact that his mistress Olga frequented Italy—where her father owned a house—made Rapallo all the more desirable, as did Dorothy’s seeming willingness to share her husband with his lover.


Olga Rudge

The friendship remained intact as Pound settled into Rapallo. About to vacate Europe for Key West, Hemingway dashed off a missive to Pound that began “Dear Duce” and then boasted about how Papa, as people had begun to call Hemingway, was “going to know everything about fucking and fighting and eating and drinking and begging and stealing and living and dying.” Gradually, though, the Pound-Papa gulf widened.

The move to Italy also effectively terminated Pound’s glory years in Paris, about which Hemingway wrote affectionately:

So far we have Pound the major poet devoting, say, one fifth of his time to poetry. With the rest of his time he tries to advance the fortunes, both material and artistic, of his friends. He defends them when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. He loans them money. He sells their pictures. He arranges concerts for them. He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets publishers to take their books. He sits up all night with them when they claim to be dying and he witnesses their wills. He advances them hospital expenses and persuades them from suicide. And in the end a few of them refrain from knifing him at the first opportunity.

This last line is both teasing and fitting because there was, in fact, at least one assailant in Paris who didn’t refrain: a man who attempted to stab Pound at a dinner party hosted by the surrealists.

Hemingway guessed that Pound might stay in Italy “sometime” even if he took “no interest in Italian politics.” Hemingway was right about Pound’s love for Rapallo but wrong about his political affinities. More than anything else, Italian politics—and the rise of fascism—damaged Hemingway’s regard for Pound, who became a zealous supporter of Mussolini and a reckless trafficker in conspiracy theories.

Hemingway grumbled that if Pound “actually and honest to God … admire[d] and respect[ed] … [Mussolini] and his works [then] all I can say is SHIT.” Hemingway, true to character, remained manfully playful, stating, “I will take practical steps by denouncing you here in Paris as a dangerous anti-fascist and we can amuse one another by counting the hours before you get beaten up in spite of your probity—which in such a fine country as it must be would undoubtedly save you.” Such slight criticisms may have been colored with a lighthearted tone, but the disapproval was plain.

When Hemingway and Guy Hickock visited Pound in northern Italy in 1927, Pound was living in self-imposed exile. Hemingway had recently converted to Catholicism and was enjoying renewed fame after the publication of The Sun Also Rises. He divorced and remarried that year, offering Hadley a portion of the profit from The Sun Also Rises as part of their divorce. Pound, meanwhile, was immersing himself in political theories that likely baffled Hemingway as much as they angered him.


Shortly after the stock-market crash in 1929 and the onset of a worldwide economic crisis, Pound took to writing in Italian. Mussolini’s March on Rome had occurred seven years earlier, and since then he had assumed dictatorial control of Italy, suppressed opposition parties, and built a police state. Pound was enthralled. He met Mussolini in 1933, peddling strange monetary schemes to the fascist leader.

In 1933 Pound and Hemingway exchanged letters that highlighted their diverging attitudes toward Mussolini, fascism, and government. Pound, who’d embraced wild and polemical speculations about the economic theories of the American Founders—Jefferson in particular—began to decry capitalism and taxation while celebrating fiat currency and a convoluted system of state central planning. “Since when are you an economist, pal?” Hemingway mocked. “The last I knew you you were a fuckin’ bassoon player.” Hemingway offered Pound some money, sensing that money was needed, but Pound declined it.

Pound was now enamored with Il Duce; Hemingway was furious. Hemingway hated government, he told Pound, and preferred organized anarchism and masculine sport to statist ideology. Hemingway saw through Pound’s charlatanic flourishes and economic fallacies and accused Pound, quite rightly, of lacking clarity. Yet Pound’s admiration for Hemingway’s work did not diminish, and Pound, ever devoted, included Hemingway in an anthology that he was then editing.

Possibly the last time Pound and Hemingway saw each other, they were having dinner with Joyce on a warm summer night in Paris. Pound allegedly bloviated about economics and the decline of art and European civilization, and Hemingway and Joyce feared that Pound had gone mad. The date and details of the dinner are a matter of debate, as is the veracity of any account of that evening. But one thing is certain: Hemingway was frustrated with Pound’s embrace of Italian fascism. By the time Pound voiced support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War, putting him once again at odds with Hemingway, their once thriving friendship had deteriorated beyond repair.

The falling out was no secret, and other writers took sides. William Carlos Williams wrote to Pound in 1938, saying, “It is you, not Hemingway, in this case who is playing directly into the hands of the International Bankers.” Hemingway conveyed his concerns about Pound to their friend Archibald MacLeish:

Thanks for sending the stats of Ezra’s rantings. He is obviously crazy. I think you might prove he was crazy as far back as the latter Cantos. He deserves punishment and disgrace but what he really deserves most is ridicule. He should not be hanged and he should not be made a martyr of. He has a long history of generosity and unselfish aid to other artists and he is one of the greatest living poets. It is impossible to believe that anyone in his right mind could utter the vile, absolutely idiotic drivel he has broadcast. His friends who knew him and who watched the warpeing [sic] and twisting and decay of his mind and his judgement [sic] should defend him and explain him on that basis. It will be a completely unpopular but an absolutely necessary thing to do. I have had no correspondence with him for ten years and the last time I saw him was in 1933 when Joyce asked me to come to make it easier haveing [sic] Ezra at his house. Ezra was moderately whacky then. The broadcasts are absolutely balmy. I wish we could talk the whole damned thing over. But you can count on me for anything an honest man should do.

Hemingway was referring to Pound’s notoriety as a propagandist for radio and newspaper during the Second World War.  When he received transcripts of Pound’s radio broadcasts, he surmised that Pound was “obviously crazy” for espousing such “vile, absolutely idiotic drivel.” Pound was a “crazy … and harmless traitor,” Hemingway concluded, and an “idiot” with a “distracted mind” who “ought to go to the loony bin.” And that’s precisely where Pound ended up: He was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, in 1945.


Pound’s friends put their reputations at stake to help him. MacLeish, expressing both love and admonition, dashed off these words in a missive to Pound:

… your information is all second-hand and distorted. You saw nothing with your own eyes. And what you did see—Fascism and Nazism—you didn’t understand: you thought Musso belonged in Jefferson’s tradition and God knows where you thought Hitler belonged. I think your views of the history of our time are just about as wrong as views can be. But I won’t sit by and see you held in confinement because of your views. Which is what is really happening now. I am doing what I am doing partly because I revere you as a poet and partly because I love this Republic and can’t be quiet when it violates its own convictions.

MacLeish helped to orchestrate Pound’s release from St. Elizabeth’s, drafting a letter to the government on Pound’s behalf that included Hemingway’s signature, along with those of Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot. A year later Hemingway provided a statement of support for Pound to be used in a court hearing regarding the dismissal of an indictment against Pound.

Hemingway, who was now living in Cuba, did little else to help Pound. More for practical reasons than personal conviction, Hemingway, who was himself targeted by the American government, refused to sign a petition of amnesty for Pound. The petition had been Olga’s idea, and Hemingway didn’t believe the American people would rally behind the desperate pleas of an adulterous lover. Hemingway never visited Pound at St. Elizabeth’s, but he did tell Pound, via Dorothy, that he had read and enjoyed The Pisan Cantos. And when he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Hemingway announced that the year was good for releasing poets, a not-so-slight reference to his old friend.

Hemingway awoke on the morning of July 2, 1961, put a 12-gauge, double-barreled shotgun to his head, and, alone in the foyer of his home, blew his brains out. He was 61. Pound’s friends and family didn’t tell him about Hemingway’s death, but a careless nurse did, and Pound reacted hysterically. The older of the two, Pound, at 72, was free from St. Elizabeth’s, where he’d spent 12 solemn years. He had returned to his beloved Italy to finish out his long and full life. In the autumn of 1972, he died peacefully in his sleep in Venice, the day after his birthday, which he’d spent in the company of friends.

Allen Mendenhall is an associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty.

ezra pound grave-turismo lett.jpg

jeudi, 27 avril 2017

Pensées sauvages de Henri-David Thoreau



Pensées sauvages de Henri-David Thoreau

par Aristide Leucate

Ex: http://bvoltaire.fr 

Rafraîchissantes pensées sauvages, au seuil de nous-mêmes, à la racine de notre authenticité primordiale…


Et si la source de tous nos maux se trouvait précisément dans notre bannissement volontaire de la forêt ? À cette aune, nos lointains ancêtres peuvent être justement qualifiés de « sauvages », dont l’étymologie – du latin médiéval silvatica issu de silva, signifiant la forêt – nous rappelle l’origine de leur refuge primordial, après que leurs plus lointains aïeux eurent déserté grottes, cavernes et autres abris troglodytes.

Question incongrue à la tonalité sympathiquement utopiste pour certains – les plus bienveillants –, élucubration farouchement écolo et typiquement gaucharde pour les moins compréhensifs. Nous pourrions, alors, amicalement objecter, aux uns comme aux autres, la lecture vivifiante et néanmoins profonde des Pensées sauvages d’Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Le 4 juillet 1845, ce dernier fera sécession de ses contemporains en se retranchant dans les bois, au bord de l’étang de Walden, à quelques encablures de sa ville natale de Concord, Massachusetts. Son repli érémitique ne sera pas exclusif, néanmoins, de quelques retours professionnels et familiaux à la vie civile. Thoreau s’inscrit en contrepoint d’une Amérique entièrement tournée vers la conquête de nouveaux territoires, souvent au prix d’une désindigénisation aux allures violemment ethnocidaires.

Au sein du monde des lettres et de l’histoire des idées, Thoreau restera pour la postérité comme l’inventeur de la « désobéissance civile » à laquelle il consacrera un essai en 1849, après avoir purgé une courte peine de prison par suite de son refus de payer l’impôt en signe d’opposition à l’esclavage et à la guerre contre le Mexique. Il inspirera, en outre, l’écologisme radical et le courant décroissant, qui lui doivent le concept de « pauvreté volontaire ».

thoXL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSélectionnées et ordonnées par Michel Granger, professeur de littérature américaine à l’université Lyon 2 et spécialiste de Thoreau, les Pensées sauvages sont extraites de divers ouvrages du naturaliste, dont le fameux Walden ou la vie dans les bois. Au final, nous tenons entre les mains une remarquable anthologie dans laquelle chacun peut puiser, au gré de ses humeurs, de ses inspirations ou de ses centres d’intérêt, une réflexion aussi dense que stimulante sur notre rapport à la modernité. « Puissent ces idées “excitantes” qui vont à l’encontre de la doxa néolibérale et de l’optimisme de la techno-science être prises en compte pour nourrir la réflexion contemporaine », exhorte le professeur Granger en des termes qui font directement écho à la pensée de Jacques Ellul, de Bernard Charbonneau ou d’Ivan Illich.

Précurseur de l’abondance frugale, Thoreau plaide pour une vie simple (« La vie qui m’est proposée par la société est si artificielle et compliquée – étayée de tant de dispositifs précaires, sûrement vouée à s’écrouler – qu’aucun homme ne saurait jamais être tenté de la choisir ») et apparaît comme le chantre de l’enracinement intégral par son éloge « d’ici » jointe à sa saine volonté de « commencer ses voyages chez soi ». Son ode à la Nature se veut une supplique à la libération de l’homme : « J’aime en partie la Nature parce qu’elle n’est pas l’homme, mais un refuge loin de lui. […] Pour moi, l’homme est contrainte, et elle liberté. » On appréciera ses vitupérations – qui n’ont rien perdu de leur écœurante actualité – contre ce qu’il dénomme les « institutions charitables […] une insulte à l’humanité. Une charité qui dispense les miettes tombées de ses tables surchargées des restes de ses festins ! » Et comment ne pas adopter cet aphorisme littéralement anarchiste qu’un Bernanos lui-même n’aurait pas renié : « Le gouvernement est un expédient au moyen duquel les hommes voudraient bien réussir à ce qu’on les laisse tranquilles » ? Et cent autres encore…

Rafraîchissantes pensées sauvages, au seuil de nous-mêmes, à la racine de notre authenticité primordiale…

lundi, 27 mars 2017

Documentaire - Philip K. Dick l'écrivain visionnaire


Documentaire - Philip K. Dick l'écrivain visionnaire

PHILIP K. DICK:Aujourd'hui,nous allons rencontrer un auteur de science-fiction qui a su explorer les frontières de la réalité. En effet, Philip K.Dick réussit à travers ses œuvres à prédire un avenir sombre où la science permettra de redéfinir la notion de réalité.Cette étonnante capacité à entrevoir le potentiel négatif du futur qui attend l'humanité a d'ailleurs été aidée par ses troubles mentaux qui lui permirent de s'émanciper de la « réalité ».Mais, ses œuvres rédigées pour la plupart dans les années 60/70 semblent aujourd'hui devenir de plus en plus réelles comme nous allons le voir...

Rejoignez-nous sur:
Blog | http://bit.ly/MystereTV
Google+ | http://bit.ly/1fzFxME,
Facebook | http://on.fb.me/16KUSzQ
Twitter | https://twitter.com/mystere_TV

CLIQUER POUR S'ABONNER : http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c...

jeudi, 29 septembre 2016

Poe et Baudelaire face à «l'erreur américaine»


Poe et Baudelaire face à «l'erreur américaine»

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

Les deux fondateurs de l'anti-américanisme philosophique sont Edgar Poe et Charles Baudelaire ; le premier dans ses contes, le deuxième dans ses préfaces. La France et sa petite sœur Amérique sont les deux pays à avoir fourni les plus belles cohortes d'antimodernes depuis les révolutions. Souvent du reste on retrouve le thème commun de la nostalgie dans les grands films américains (voyez Naissance d'une nation, la Splendeur des Amberson, l'Impasse de De Palma). Et la rage de Baudelaire contre « la barbarie éclairée au gaz » vaut celle d'Henry Miller avec son « cauchemar climatisé ».

On laisse parler Baudelaire, traducteur et préfacier de Poe. Dans un élan rebelle et réactionnaire, il écrit :

« De tous les documents que j’ai lus en est résultée pour moi la conviction que les États-Unis ne furent pour Poe qu’une vaste prison qu’il parcourait avec l’agitation fiévreuse d’un être fait pour respirer dans un monde plus aromal, – qu’une grande barbarie éclairée au gaz, – et que sa vie intérieure, spirituelle, de poète ou même d’ivrogne, n’était qu’un effort perpétuel pour échapper à l’influence de cette atmosphère antipathique. »

D'ou ces myriades de littérateurs qui de Cooper à James en passant par la génération perdue ou Diane Johnson (romancière et scénariste de Shining, une amie) trouvent refuge en France - avant que celle-ci ne fût crucifiée par Hollande et Sarkozy.

Puis Baudelaire ajoute sur la tyrannie de la majorité :

« Impitoyable dictature que celle de l’opinion dans les sociétés démocratiques ; n’implorez d’elle ni charité, ni indulgence, ni élasticité quelconque dans l’application de ses lois aux cas multiples et complexes de la vie morale. On dirait que de l’amour impie de la liberté est née une tyrannie nouvelle, la tyrannie des bêtes, ou zoocratie... »

Baudelaire s'irrite dans une autre préface : racisme, brutalité, sexualité, avortement, tout y passe, avec au passage le nécessaire clin d’œil de sympathie pour les noirs et les indiens :

« Brûler des nègres enchaînés, coupables d’avoir senti leur joue noire fourmiller du rouge de l’honneur, jouer du revolver dans un parterre de théâtre, établir la polygamie dans les paradis de l’Ouest, que les Sauvages (ce terme a l’air d’une injustice) n’avaient pas encore souillés de ces honteuses utopies, afficher sur les murs, sans doute pour consacrer le principe de la liberté illimitée, la guérison des maladies de neuf mois, tels sont quelques-uns des traits saillants, quelques-unes des illustrations morales du noble pays de Franklin, l’inventeur de la morale de comptoir, le héros d’un siècle voué à la matière. »


Et notre grand génie de la « modernité » poétique de rajouter que l'américanomanie gagne du terrain, et ce grâce au clergé catholique (toujours lui...) :

« Il est bon d’appeler sans cesse le regard sur ces merveilles de brutalité, en un temps où l’américanomanie est devenue presque une passion de bon ton, à ce point qu’un archevêque a pu nous promettre sans rire que la Providence nous appellerait bientôt à jouir de cet idéal transatlantique! »

Venons-en à Edgar Poe. C'est dans son Colloque entre Monos et Una que notre aristocrate virginien élevé en Angleterre se déchaîne :

« Hélas ! nous étions descendus dans les pires jours de tous nos mauvais jours. Le grand mouvement, – tel était l’argot du temps, – marchait ; perturbation morbide, morale et physique. »

Il relie très justement et scientifiquement le déclin du monde à la science:

« Prématurément amenée par des orgies de science, la décrépitude du monde approchait. C’est ce que ne voyait pas la masse de l’humanité, ou ce que, vivant goulûment, quoique sans bonheur, elle affectait de ne pas voir.

Mais, pour moi, les annales de la Terre m’avaient appris à attendre la ruine la plus complète comme prix de la plus haute civilisation. »

Poe voit l'horreur monter sur la terre (Lovecraft reprendra cette vision). L'industrie rime avec maladie physique :

« Cependant d’innombrables cités s’élevèrent, énormes et fumeuses. Les vertes feuilles se recroquevillèrent devant la chaude haleine des fourneaux. Le beau visage de la Nature fut déformé comme par les ravages de quelque dégoûtante maladie. »

On peut rappeler qu'un grand peintre de l'école de Hudson nommé Thomas Cole a réalisé une suite admirable de tabeaux symboliques nommé the Course of Empire. Intéressez-vous à cette passionnante école de peinture, et à l'artiste allemand Bierstadt qui réalisa les plus géniales toiles de paysages américains. Après la dégoûtante maladie recouvrit tout (Parcs nationaux ! Parcs nationaux !).

Dans Petite conversation avec une momie, Poe règle d'autres comptes. Il relativise nos progrès médicaux (simple allongement de la durée de vieillesse) et mécaniques :

« Je lui parlai de nos gigantesques forces mécaniques. Il convint que nous savions faire quelque chose dans ce genre, mais il me demanda comment nous nous y serions pris pour dresser les impostes sur les linteaux du plus petit palais de Carnac. »

poevoegel.jpgLe comte nommé Allamistakéo, la momie donc, donne sa vision du progrès :

« Le comte dit simplement que, de son temps, les grands mouvements étaient choses terriblement communes, et que, quant au progrès, il fut à une certaine époque une vraie calamité, mais ne progressa jamais. »

L'idée que le progrès ne progressera plus, entre embouteillages et obésité, entre baisse du QI et effondrement de la culture, me paraît très bonne. On ne fait pas mieux qu'au temps de Jules Verne (la lune...), et on ne rêve même plus.

Sur la démocratie US, on se doute que Poe nous réserverait une « cerise » :

« Nous parlâmes alors de la grande beauté et de l’importance de la Démocratie, et nous eûmes beaucoup de peine à bien faire comprendre au comte la nature positive des avantages dont nous jouissions en vivant dans un pays où le suffrage était ad libitum, et où il n’y avait pas de roi. »

Il évoque en riant les treize colonies qui vont se libérer du joug de l'Angleterre.

« La chose néanmoins finit ainsi : les treize États, avec quelque chose comme quinze ou vingt autres, se consolidèrent dans le plus odieux et le plus insupportable despotisme dont on ait jamais ouï parler sur la face du globe.

Je demandai quel était le nom du tyran usurpateur. Autant que le comte pouvait se le rappeler, ce tyran se nommait : La Canaille. »

Cela nous rappelle la juste phrase de Mel Gibson dans le Patriote, qui préférait avoir un tyran (le roi d'Angleterre, le brave George en plus à demi-fou) de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique que 400 (sénat, congrès, bureaucratie, en attendant FBI, NSA, CIA et tout ça) ici tout près. On se doute que la critique de la démocratie ici a quelque chose de tocquevillien. Et à une époque où on vous interdit tel maillot de bain et où on vous met en prison (comme récemment en Espagne) pour une simple gifle (la mère emprisonnée, la gamine se retrouva à la rue !), on ne peut que s'émerveiller des performances du pouvoir de la canaille.

Citons cette phrase méconnue de Tocqueville :

« Le naturel du pouvoir absolu, dans les siècles démocratiques, n’est ni cruel ni sauvage, mais il est minutieux et tracassier. Un despotisme de cette espèce, bien qu’il ne foule point aux pieds l’humanité, est directement opposé au génie du commerce et aux instincts de l’industrie. »

Et en effet il devenu impossible de créer des emplois en Europe comme en Amérique. On peut juste rayer bureaucratiquement les chômeurs pour plastronner devant la presse...

La peur de l'américanisme est donc aussi partagée en France qu'en Amérique au siècle de Comte. On citera aussi Renan qui parle quelques décennies plus tard:

« Le monde marche vers une sorte d'américanisme, qui blesse nos idées raffinées…

Une société où la distinction personnelle a peu de prix, où le talent et l'esprit n'ont aucune valeur officielle, où la haute fonction n'ennoblit pas, où la politique devient l'emploi des déclassés et des gens de troisième ordre, où les récompenses de la vie vont de préférence à l'intrigue, à la vulgarité, au charlatanisme qui cultive l'art de la réclame, à la rouerie qui serre habilement les contours du Code pénal, une telle société, dis-je, ne saurait nous plaire. »

Et on conclura avec Baudelaire qui voit en poète, en visionnaire, le risque que fera peser l'américanisme sur le monde et l'Europe :

« Les États-Unis sont un pays gigantesque et enfant, naturellement jaloux du vieux continent. Fier de son développement matériel, anormal et presque monstrueux, ce nouveau venu dans l’histoire a une foi naïve dans la toute-puissance de l’industrie ; il est convaincu, comme quelques malheureux parmi nous, qu’elle finira par manger le Diable. »

Nicolas Bonnal


• Edgar Poe – Histoires extraordinaires.

• Edgar Poe- Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires.

• Baudelaire – Préface de ces deux recueils (ebooksgratuits.com).

• Ernest Renan- Souvenirs.

• Tocqueville – De la Démocratie, II, Deuxième partie, chapitre XIV.

• Nicolas Bonnal – Lettre ouverte à la vieille race blanche, ch.IV.

vendredi, 02 septembre 2016

Ezra Pound: décadence des lettres, décadence de la Nation


Ezra Pound: décadence des lettres, décadence de la Nation

Ezra Pound est la figure majeure de la poésie du XXe siècle. Qu’il s’agisse de ses fameux Cantos, comme de ses abécédaires (et de son  Comment Lire), l’œuvre poundienne constitue une incontournable source d’appréhension et de compréhension de la littérature, comme de la poésie. Cela étant, au travers de ses essais et de ses poèmes, Ezra Pound établit à plusieurs reprises une corrélation entre la décadence littéraire d’une nation et la décadence de cette nation elle-même. Si le langage et la littérature entretiennent des liens évidents, Pound remarquait que la régression littéraire engendrait forcément une régression du langage, et fatalement celle de la culture nationale : « si la littérature d’une nation décline, cette nation s’atrophie et périclite ». S’il évoquait déjà subrepticement la question dans Comment lire, c’est dans son ABC de la lecture qu’il aborda au fil des chapitres le drame du déclin littéraire comme déclin national, dans l’indifférence la plus totale, sinon dans la joie de la masse de consommateurs acculturés.

Si Comment Lire était un pamphlet auquel on reprocha cependant de ne pas aller suffisamment au fond des choses, Ezra Pound se rattrapa dans ABC de la lecture qui doit être lu comme un complément au premier livre où il  y développa sa propre doctrine  littéraire, mais surtout sa propre doctrine du langage. Or, comme la littérature est « du langage chargé de sens », la « grande littérature est tout simplement du langage chargé de sens au plus haut degré possible ». Ainsi, pour Ezra Pound, « le Langage a été manifestement créé pour – et sert manifestement à – la communication » (communication ne s’entendant pas dans son acception moderne qu’est celle du marketing, bien évidemment). De la sorte, lorsque la littérature connaît une phase de déliquescence, cela influe fatalement sur le langage, et donc sur la communication entre les hommes. Pire même, c’est la culture de la nation qui subit cet avilissement ; en s’accoutumant au médiocre, l’homme finit par le considérer comme une normalité des plus banales, avant de le confondre avec l’excellence, puisqu’« un peuple qui croît dans l’habitude d’une mauvaise littérature est un peuple sur le point de lâcher prise sur son empire et sur lui-même ».

« L’Homme sensé ne peut rester assis tranquillement à ne rien faire quand son pays laisse mourir sa littérature, quand la bonne littérature ne rencontre que le mépris, de même qu’un bon docteur ne peut avoir la conscience tranquille quand un enfant ignorant est en train de s’inoculer la tuberculose comme s’il s’agissait simplement de manger des tartes à la confiture. »

-Ezra Pound-

ABC-de-la-lecture_8103.jpgLes causes de l’avilissement du langage selon Ezra Pound convergent avec les observations que fit Pasolini quelques années plus tard dans Empirisme Hérétique ; il pointe les dégâts que cause l’Usure, mais aussi le catholicisme qu’il percevait comme une religion castratrice, en prenant comme point d’appui la décadence de Rome qui transforma « de bons citoyens romains en esclaves ». De fait, si Dieu est aussi mort aux yeux de Pound, l’hégémonie culturelle des sociétés modernes est aux mains de la Technique. Si le degré hégémonique de cette dernière indique le niveau de décadence d’une civilisation, Ezra Pound estime que c’est d’abord la littérature, et donc le langage, qui en pâtit la première, car si « Rome s’éleva avec la langue de César, d’Ovide et de Tacite. Elle déclina dans un ramassis de rhétorique, ce langage des diplomates « faits pour cacher la pensée », et ainsi de suite », dit-il dans ABC de la Lecture. La critique d’Ezra Pound ne diffère guère de celle de Bernanos ou de Pasolini sur ce point, outre le fait qu’il aille plus loin dans la critique, n’hésitant pas à fustiger les universités, au moins étasuniennes, comme agents culturels de la Technique, mais aussi l’indifférence navrante de ses contemporains. Le triomphe des Musso, Levy et autre Meyer ne trouve aucune explication logique, tout du moins sous le prisme littéraire. Seules les volontés capitalistes des éditeurs – se cachant sous les jupes du « marché » qu’ils ont pourtant façonné – expliquent leur invasion dans les librairies. Comme il l’affirme dans Comment Lire, « Quand leur travail [des littérateurs, ndlr] se corrompt, et je ne veux pas dire quand ils expriment des pensées malséantes, mais quand leur matière même, l’essence même de leur travail, l’application du mot à la chose, se corrompt, à savoir devient fadasse et inexacte, ou excessive, ou boursouflée, toute la mécanique de la pensée et de l’ordre, socialement et individuellement, s’en va à vau-l’eau. C’est là une leçon de l’Histoire que l’on n’a même pas encore à demi apprise ».

En lançant pareille provocation, Ezra Pound se refusait cependant à tout élitisme. Au contraire, puisqu’il jugeait l’état littéraire d’une nation comme représentative de sa santé culturelle et politique. Il anticipa néanmoins les critiques de ses détracteurs en déplorant qu’« il [soit] très difficile de faire comprendre aux gens cette indignation impersonnelle qui vous prend à l’idée du déclin de la littérature, de ce que cela implique et de ce que cela produit en fin de compte. Il est à peu près impossible d’exprimer, à quelque degré que ce soir, cette indignation, sans qu’aussitôt l’on vous traite « d’aigri » ou de quelque autre chose, du même genre. »

C’est justement cette incapacité à réagir, et même cette propension incompréhensible à applaudir l’avilissement que provoque la culture de masse, qui hérissait Ezra Pound. Le poète s’accorde plusieurs apartés dans Comment Lire où il raille cette hégémonie de la Technique sur la création. Alors que la poésie, et la littérature, sont chargés de sens, il voyait dans l’avènement des pseudo-manuels du bon écrivain non pas une réelle méthodologie comme celles qu’il aborda dans ABC de la Lecture, mais une recette qui fonctionnerait à tous les coups pour fainéants qui souhaiteraient avoir du succès en matière littéraire, au détriment de la connaissance et du savoir. « Le mépris général voué au « savoir », le mouvement de recul du grand public devant tout livre réputé « bon » et, d’autre part, les publicités flamboyantes sur le mode « Comment avoir l’air de savoir quand on ne sait rien », auraient pu indiquer depuis beau temps aux âmes sensibles que quelque chose cloche dans les méthodes contemporaines de diffusion des belles-lettres »

« Un premier larron invente quelque chose, un deuxième met en valeur, ou plusieurs douzaines généralisent un enthousiasme ou une surabondance mousseuse ou onctueuse, après quoi un dernier tente de remettre de l’ordre. Par exemple, l’estimable Pléiade émascule la langue française, et les classiques anglais, etc., toutes choses bonnes à reléguer en zone subsidiaire : intérêt pour une époque, intérêt historique, bric-à-brac pour musées. »

-Ezra Pound-

Littessays.jpgCette glorification de la médiocrité, Ezra Pound la voyait d’autant plus dans la reproduction hédoniste à laquelle s’adonnent certains scribouillards dans le but de connaître un succès commercial. Aujourd’hui, plus que jamais, la réussite d’un genre littéraire entraîne une surproduction incestueuse de ce même genre, comme c’est notamment le cas en littérature de fantaisie, où l’on vampirise encore Tolkien avec autant de vergogne qu’un charognard. Si la « technicisation » de la littérature comme moyen créatif, ou plutôt en lieu et place de toute création, devient la norme, alors, comme le remarquait plus tard Pasolini, cela débouche sur une extrême uniformisation du langage, dans une forme déracinée, qui efface petit à petit les formes sophistiquées ou argotiques d’une langue au profit d’un galimatias bon pour les robots qui présentent le journal télé comme on lirait un manuel technique. Les vestiges d’une ancienne époque littéraire ne sont plus que le fait de compilations hors de prix et d’hommages ataviques afin de les présenter au public comme d’antiques œuvres dignes d’un musée : belles à regarder, mais réactionnaires si elles venaient à redevenir un modèle. Ezra Pound disait que « le classique est le nouveau qui reste nouveau », non pas la recherche stérile d’originalité qui agite la modernité comme une sorte de tautologie maladive.

mercredi, 31 août 2016

Jack London et notre oligarchie mondiale


Jack London et notre oligarchie mondiale

La force motrice des oligarques est leur conviction de bien faire

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

L'occident est dirigé par des oligarques humanitaires et dangereux. Voyons voir.

La Fed a été créée il y a un peu plus de cent ans ; les élites hostiles déclenchent un an après la première guerre mondiale ; elles ont voulu un créer un nouvel ordre mondial dès la fin de cette guerre, via les propositions de Wilson et Mandel House. A cette époque aussi Rathenau parlait des 300 qui dirigent le monde ; et de cette oligarchie anonyme et vagabonde des esprits aussi brillants et différents que Chesterton (Un nommé jeudi) ou Jack London furent les dénonciateurs. On va parler de Jack London ; nous le redécouvrons avec joie.

C'est dans le Talon de fer que London décrit cette terrible oligarchie qui malmène le peuple prolétaire américain, régulièrement remplacé alors, au moment des grèves, par des arrivages d'immigrants est et sud-européens. Marx avait déjà dénoncé l'immigration comme piège social, entre la Belgique et la France. A l'époque de Jack London, Madison Grant pronostique dans son passing of a great race la fin du peuple américain (il rappelle que l'immigration fait baisser la natalité du natif). Edward Allsworth Ross, plus grand sociologue de l'époque, fait de même dans son Changing world jamais traduit ici. Peu à peu il sera interdit - jusqu'à Trump ou presque (Lisez Peter Brimelow, lisez aussi le... cousin de Paul Auster) d'évoquer le sujet de l'immigration, sous peine d'imputation fasciste, nazie, xénophobe, etc.

Et voyons l'oligarchie de Jack London, si proche de la nôtre. Dans le Talon de fer donc, il parle comme un libertarien du corporate state confisqué et noyauté par les grosses boîtes et les élites :

« Les Oligarques avaient réussi à inventer une machine gouvernementale aussi compliquée que vaste, mais qui fonctionnait, en dépit de tous nos efforts pour l’entraver et la saboter. »

Puis London ajoute que nous sommes achetés ou abrutis par ces mêmes élites. Il y a celui qu'on achète pour trois lentilles (le bobo) et celui qu'on laisse crever (le prolo).

« Ils avaient une meilleure nourriture, moins d’heures de travail quotidien, plus de vacances, un choix plus varié de plaisirs et de distractions intellectuelles. Quant à leurs frères et sœurs moins fortunés, les travailleurs non favorisés, le peuple surmené de l’Abîme, ils ne s’en souciaient pas le moins du monde. Une ère d’égoïsme s’annonçait dans l’humanité. »

L'égoïsme est important et c'est une notion selon moi plus forte que l'individualisme dont se repaissent les théoriciens actuels de l'anti-mondialisation. A notre époque damnée je me considère par exemple comme un individualiste, pas comme un égoïste.

London souligne ensuite les progrès de l'oligarchie (comme disait Baudrillard le capitalisme bouge plus vite que ses opposants !).

« L’Oligarchie elle-même se développa d’une façon remarquable et, il faut l’avouer, inattendue. En tant que classe, elle se disciplina. Chacun de ses membres eut sa tâche assignée dans le monde et fut obligé de l’accomplir. Il n’y eut plus de jeunes gens riches et oisifs. Leur force était employée pour consolider celle de l’Oligarchie. »

Et que je t'envoie faire tes études à Sydney, ton MBA à Berkeley... tes devoirs humanitaires à Haïti ou au Rwanda...

Et là, le coup de génie de Jack London. Il comprend que nos élites sont dangereuses car gentilles et humanitaires, missionnées et messianiques. Elles sont dans le même état moral que le Führer qui voulait interdire le tabac aux femmes, limiter les vitesses de voiture, libérer les sudètes ou créer l'homme nouveau. Dans son Ozymandia, le libertarien Shaffer Butler indique que ses étudiants sont des gentils nazis sans le savoir (végétariens, écolos, zoophiles, anti-tabac, contrôleurs de tout, etc.)

Et Jack London d'écrire :

« Ils se croyaient les sauveurs du genre humain, et se considéraient comme des travailleurs héroïques se sacrifiant pour son plus grand bien. »

Irremplaçables, ces élites en viennent à ne plus imaginer leur propre grand remplacement. La montée fabriquée des bourses et des bureaucraties mondiales les favorise.

« Ils étaient convaincus que leur classe était l’unique soutien de la civilisation, et persuadés que s’ils faiblissaient une minute, le monstre les engloutirait dans sa panse caverneuse et gluante avec tout ce qu’il y a de beauté et de bonté, de joies et de merveilles au monde. Sans eux, l’anarchie régnerait et l’humanité retomberait dans la nuit primordiale d’où elle eut tant de peine à émerger. »

jack london, littérature, littérature américaine, oligarchie, oligarchisme, lettres, lettres américaines, Le peuple est donc détesté car il ne comprend rien. Merkel, Juncker ou Sutherland n'arrêtent pas de nous insulter au sujet de l'immigration. On nous accuse d'inventer ce que nous redoutons. Vite, la camisole.

Et cela donne sous la plume géniale de Jack London (dont le livre inspira le Metropolis de Fritz Lang) :

« Telle était la bête qu’il fallait fouler aux pieds, et son écrasement constituait le suprême devoir de l’aristocrate. En résumé, eux seuls, par leurs efforts et sacrifices incessants, se tenaient entre la faible humanité et le monstre dévorant ; ils le croyaient fermement, ils en étaient sûrs. »

Ces lignes font penser à celles de Nietzsche dans le Crépuscule des idoles : notre penseur rebelle y décrit l'Eglise comme une ménagerie destinée à dresser le barbare. Nous sommes revenus à ces excès. Les fondations et les programmes financés par les fondations des Clinton-Soros-Bill Gates doivent nous rééduquer et nous mettre au pas de leur loi.

London revient sur la philosophie périlleuse de ces élites auto-proclamées :

« L’amour du bien, le désir du bien, le mécontentement de ce qui n’est pas tout à fait bien, en un mot, la bonne conduite, voilà le facteur primordial de la religion. Et l’on peut en dire autant de l’Oligarchie.»

Et il ponctue par cette phrase superbe :

« La grande force motrice des oligarques est leur conviction de bien faire. »

C'est comme cela que l'on a les sanctions antirusses, les millions de réfugiés, les terroristes, les guerres, les retraites à 70 ans, le salafisme partout, la dette immonde, sans oublier la négation des élections ou de la liberté quotidienne.

London se fait a priori peu d'illusions sur le populo :

« D’autre part, la grande masse désespérée du peuple de l’Abîme s’enfonçait dans un abrutissement apathique et satisfait de sa misère. »

Et il annonce que les révoltes peuvent être provoquées, noyées dans le sang ou récupérées. Avis à Zerohedge.

Dans un autre très bon livre, Le peuple de l'abîme, Jack London décrit – on est en 1902 - la catastrophique situation des classes pauvres ou « indigentes » en Angleterre, donnée toujours en exemple par nos grands libéraux (même Tocqueville était horrifié par le modèle british et le « labyrinthe infect » de Manchester, je citerai en bas les pages). Il se livre ensuite à un éloge original de la féodalité :

« Dans les anciens temps, les grands cavaliers blonds, qui fonçaient à l’avant-garde des batailles, montraient au moins leur mesure en pourfendant les hommes de la tête à l’échine. Tous comptes faits, il avait bien plus de noblesse à tuer un ennemi solide d’un coup d’épée proprement assené, que de le réduire à l’état de bête, lui et ses descendants, par une manipulation adroite et implacable des rouages de l’industrie et de la politique. »

jack london, littérature, littérature américaine, oligarchie, oligarchisme, lettres, lettres américaines, London cite d'ailleurs la machine politique, comme le grand Ostrogorski à l'époque (un savant russe qui fut envoyé par le tzar pour étudier la corruption du système politique US, la « machine », les « boss » et tout le reste). Ensuite il appelle le nécessaire alcoolisme, qui effarera aussi Louis-Ferdinand Céline dans ses Bagatelles (il y consacre bien trente pages à l'alcool notre phénomène) :

« La classe ouvrière anglaise est littéralement noyée dans les demis de bière. Celle-ci la rend stupide, l’abrutit, et diminue considérablement son efficacité – l’ouvrier anglais n’a plus cet esprit de répartie, cette imagination et ces réflexes rapides qui faisaient l’apanage de sa race. »

Enfin London rappelle que l'oligarchie doit gouverner par la peur ; la nôtre utilise le terrorisme, la dette, le chômage, le réchauffement, le « ouacisme », car tout est bon à prendre. Il écrit :

« Et puis il y a aussi cette insécurité de bonheur, cette précarité de l’existence et cette peur devant l’avenir – les voilà, les facteurs bien puissants qui entraînent les gens à boire. »

Je conclurai encore et toujours avec Tocqueville parce que c'est un des grands génies de l'humanité et qu'il a tout vu. Il écrit au tome II de sa Démocratie à propos des oligarques :

« Je pense qu’à tout prendre, l’aristocratie manufacturière que nous voyons s’élever sous nos yeux est une des plus dures qui aient paru sur la terre ; mais elle est en même temps une des plus restreintes et des moins dangereuses. Toutefois, c’est de ce côté que les amis de la démocratie doivent sans cesse tourner avec inquiétude leurs regards ; car, si jamais l’inégalité permanente des conditions et l’aristocratie pénètre de nouveau dans le monde, on peut prédire qu’elles y entreront par cette porte. »

Enfin Tocqueville explique pourquoi cette classe « industrielle » (le chat botté de Perrault en est une préfiguration) n'hésitera pas à nous remplacer ou à nous éliminer, à nous liquéfier :

« L’aristocratie que fonde le négoce ne se fixe presque jamais au milieu de la population industrielle qu’elle dirige ; son but n’est point de gouverner celle-ci, mais de s’en servir. »

On se doute que l'on apprend à jeter les peuples après usage. Ne vous étonnez pas de la fracture entre le peuple et les élites, inquiétez-vous de votre sort. Mais il semble que jamais depuis longtemps opinion publique n'a été plus motivée que la nôtre contre ses guides.

Nicolas Bonnal


Jack London – Le talon de fer ; le peuple de l'abîme (ebooksgratuits.com).

Tocqueville – Œuvres complètes, Paris, 1866, tome VII, pp.366-370 (archive.org) ; De la démocratie, II, Deuxième partie, chapitre vingt.

Chesterton – Un nommé jeudi (sur wikisource).

Ross – A changing America.

mercredi, 21 octobre 2015

"Canto XIII - Canto 13" by Ezra Pound (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

"Canto XIII - Canto 13" by Ezra Pound (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

Kung is Confucius who presents an ideal social order based on ethical principles "good is right" rather than on political realism "might is right". You notice that present day society - particularly in dealings between nations - works on the basis of political realism with only the pretence of ethical principles. The rich and the powerful have the best weapons. the best lawyers and can withstand deprivation the longest, so they manage to win. There's a good exposition of the kung-fu philiosophy of government here:

One of the sayings I like best - although it's really Taoism, but Kung could easily have said it too - "The wise man does everything while appearing to do nothing" We all take too much action. Often the best thing to do is nothing.

You can read more about Ezra Pound's cantos and radical ideas here:

jeudi, 20 août 2015

Vladimir Nabokov, les femmes et la Russie


Vladimir Nabokov, les femmes et la Russie

Amoureux fou de la même femme jusqu’à sa mort, Vladimir Nabokov peupla pourtant ses romans de nombreuses figures féminines obsédantes, inquiétantes et parfois sulfureuses. Les créatures qui hantent les lignes de ses œuvres les plus remarquables revêtent tour à tour l’apparence de la tentatrice venimeuse, de l’âme-soeur éternelle ou de l’idéal inaccessible. En réalité, bien davantage que la simple dimension amoureuse, ce sont les racines et le terreau culturel de l’âme qu’elles révèlent, renvoyant le narrateur masculin à l’arrière-plan, désemparé et dépossédé de son histoire, comme Nabokov le fut de la sienne lorsqu’il dut fuir sa Russie natale.

Sans être laid, le jeune Vladimir Nabokov ne plaît pas vraiment aux femmes, et témoigne d’ailleurs à leur égard d’une indifférence d’autant plus remarquable que ses camarades de diaspora, qui fréquentent les mêmes cercles et cafés berlinois au début des années 1920, se consacrent tout autant au rayonnement de la littérature russe dans la capitale qu’à l’initiation des jeunes allemandes aux charmes slaves. Déjà absorbé par ses travaux au sein de la revue Roul, il constate avec un soupçon de malhonnêteté dans sa biographie Autres Rivages « n’avoir jamais ressenti ce souffle brûlant qu’on nomme l’âme slave et qui vous pousse, entre autres choses, vers les femmes avec une certaine ardeur emplie de noblesse ».


Une enfance dans l’immense demeure familiale, à grandir entouré de nurses fraîches et rayonnantes venues d’Angleterre, lui a certes procuré des émois précoces – elle a surtout assoupi son intérêt pour la culture russe et l’a très tôt conduit à préférer la langue de James Joyce à celle de Dostoïevski, indépassable fierté de la littérature nationale au sujet duquel il écrit ces quelques mots lapidaires : « a cheap sensationalist ».

En dépit d’une aversion affichée de manière quelque peu provocatrice pour la culture russe, c’est bel et bien dans sa langue maternelle que Nabokov rédige son premier roman Machenka. Un jeune locataire d’une pension d’immigrés russes, follement amoureux de la femme du couple qui loge dans la chambre voisine, passe de longues semaines à attendre le retour de celle-ci, qu’un voyage retient au loin. Tantôt transporté par la passion qui l’habite, tantôt dévoré par elle, l’image de cette fille « lugubre et pure comme un frisson dans la nuit » le pousse jusqu’à la folie. Toujours absente, la jeune femme inonde le roman de sa douloureuse présence, comme la jeune et mystérieuse Sonia de L’Exploit, cinquième roman publié six ans plus tard, toujours en russe, et se déroulant aussi dans ces communautés d’émigrés russes, trop instruits pour être révolutionnaires et trop slaves pour s’accommoder de la mentalité occidentale. Les deux filles sont ardemment désirées, mais avec une maladresse juvénile et d’un mouvement de l’âme contenant en soi son propre échec, trop instinctif pour devoir jamais aboutir. Ce désir se superpose dans les deux cas à celui qu’éprouve le jeune narrateur de définitivement et parfaitement se fondre dans la culture nouvelle qui l’entoure. Mais là encore, comme l’emportement sentimental, l’élan ne contient pas l’intensité suffisante. « En fait, tout ce fatras anglais, assez disparate finalement, avait été filtré par la singularité de sa mère patrie et imprégné de teintes typiquement russes ». L’amour adolescent s’avère bien trop pur et exigeant pour se réaliser sans se compromettre, comme celui du jeune étudiant slave pour une langue apprise dans les livres est trop naïf pour se satisfaire de la médiocre réalité des public schools londoniennes.

De l’écrivain russe au romancier américain

Vladimir Nabokov et sa femme Vera

Vladimir Nabokov et sa femme Vera

Après la seconde guerre mondiale, Nabokov n’écrit plus qu’en anglais, et entreprend de diriger la traduction de ses premières œuvres. Avant sa conversion définitive, il publie néanmoins un dernier roman en russe, Le Don, dans lequel il rend hommage à la langue qu’il est sur le point d’abandonner, en rédigeant chaque chapitre à la manière d’un grand auteur de son pays natal. Dès lors, Nabokov écrit en anglais, dirige les traductions de ses œuvres en allemand et en français, et se met à apprendre le suédois avec un espoir quelque peu vaniteux qu’une traduction de qualité de ses romans dans cette langue retienne l’attention du comité Nobel. La femme n’est plus au centre de ses écrits. « Je me rends compte à présent que la langue russe, par sa syntaxe, par ses sonorités, était éminemment féminine », écrit-il dans un commentaire de son premier roman. L’âme slave, c’est la féminité à l’état brut qui coulait sur le papier, et dont la chaleur mélancolique a déserté ses deux premiers romans publiés en anglais, pour le meilleur comme pour le pire.

Dans La Vraie Vie de Sebastian Knight, œuvre estimée par la critique mais qui ne constitue finalement qu’un manifeste littéraire romancé, la femme ne sert que de prétexte au déroulement d’une histoire sur laquelle pèse très lourdement l’ego d’un auteur peu sûr de maîtriser son anglais et s’en justifiant par avance au lecteur. En revanche, Brisure à Senestre, dystopie glaciale décrivant la dérive autodestructrice d’une régime totalitaire ayant déclaré la guerre à la philosophie, brille par la noirceur de son univers où l’unique présence féminine est celle d’une fonctionnaire du régime, dénaturée et virilisée à l’extrême par l’exercice de la violence. Plus de Russie, plus d’expatriés : désormais, les personnages sont fictifs jusque dans leur nationalité et leur langue, et l’artificialité parfois volontairement humoristique à laquelle travaille Nabokov le pousse à explorer des thèmes nouveau où l’identité n’a plus sa place – et la femme non plus.

lol1981-fr-gallimard-folio-paris.jpgDans Lolita, ni femme ni culture. Seule une gamine de douze ans et l’Amérique des motels qui défile le long des routes. L’histoire en elle-même et le scandale qu’elle suscita n’apparaissent finalement que comme secondaires si l’on songe que le roman existait déjà en substance quinze ans plus tôt, sous le titre de L’Enchanteur, que Nabokov n’avait pas publié mais dont il reprend de très près la trame. Dans les deux œuvres, l’auteur insiste sur le caractère déterminant de la mère de la fillette, tantôt gravement malade et inspirant la pitié, tantôt vulgaire et ignare, suscitant le dégoût du narrateur autant que celui du lecteur. Lorsqu’il paraît, le roman reçoit de manière immédiate et étonnamment évidente le qualificatif de « littérature américaine ». En réalité, il s’agit là de bien davantage qu’un simple symbole, puisque c’est l’achèvement du détachement absolu des personnages de leurs origines culturelles, la rupture définitive avec la Russie amoureusement méprisée ou douloureusement regrettée et paradoxalement, dans l’évolution du style de Nabokov, du point culminant où les personnages, pourtant sans réelles profondeur et texture historiques, se donnent à voir dans leur plus complexe richesse. « Je suis le chien fidèle de la nature. Pourquoi alors ce sentiment d’horreur dont je ne puis me défaire ? », s’interroge Humbert Humbert, incapable d’aimer les femmes, mais torturé par l’amour d’une fillette.

Nabokov avait parfaitement senti qu’il lui fallait se séparer de ce qui demeurait de russe dans son écriture afin d’atteindre un langage universel qui ne se contente pas d’exalter le souvenir d’une expérience intime, mais qui se déleste de ses caractéristiques pour devenir absolu. Il avait commencé par évoquer des amourettes du passé : il finira par rechercher l’Amour atemporel. Il voulait être un grand écrivain russe : il sera devenu un génie européen. D’amours incarnées où la féminité slave s’exaltait dans des songes adolescents, le voilà passé aux passions monstrueuses et sublimes qui croissent tant bien que mal dans des univers indignes de les contenir. Tel est le cas de l’amour de Van pour sa cousine Ada dans son chef-d’oeuvre absolu, Ada ou l’Ardeur. Comme pour signifier l’aboutissement du long mûrissement de sa pensée, de son style et de son génie, Nabokov situe l’histoire dans un univers parallèle, dans une Amérique du Nord découverte par les Vikings et colonisée par les Russes. Et pour la première fois dans un de ses romans, la femme tant aimée est finalement conquise, le dénouement heureux et l’amour triomphal.

lundi, 25 mai 2015

Ezra Pound and the Corporate State


Ezra Pound and the Corporate State

In a modern world subject to the numerical vagaries of bad credit and unbalanced algorithms, the Fibonacci number offers a pattern of sanity and intrigue. Know also as the Golden Spiral, this pattern appears as a perfect and dynamic model of order visible in creation, yet also demonstrates the intriguing attribute of having no beginning and no end. The spiral implies that from the micro to the macrocosm exist a fundamental and unbroken connection, implying a correlation between the health of one’s cellular structure and the socio-political forms of global order. Whereas Aristotle spoke of the Golden Mean, the Golden Spiral describes arrangements of natural phenomena ranging from the seed pod arrangement of a pinecone to spiral galaxies such as the milky way.

Somewhere along this ‘divine proportion’ has emerged what the great American poet Ezra Pound called a “canker corrupting all things”, leaving both cell and state compromised. CONTRA NATURAM! Lincoln called it “a black spot on the soul of a nation”. What Pound refers to is a subject and condition that has been poisoning the worlds cellular structure since homo sapien emerged, but has been successfully resisted until the past millennium brought forth an overpowering method of human economic interaction that is guaranteeing the eventual ecological collapse of the earth, with social collapse already a global visible phenomenon. It is an age which Pound says is characterized by the need “to sell, and sell quickly”. The acceleration of industry by usury which the modern world is built upon has led to the securitization of vast swathes of the earth’s surface, bringing forth untold trillions of apparent wealth, while leaving behind poisonous rivers and species extinction; an age in which even the air is tainted with industrial excess. Debt, the delayed contact with reality, allows men to profit off the future, Pound says to “rake in the profits resulting from changes in the values in the monetary units”. A 2006 US senate report noted that as much as 60% of the oil price rise since the early 2000’s were due to the activities of investment banks speculating on the oil futures market.

The poet offers us a Malapartian blend of fact and fiction, a tapestry weaving together historic truths with intelligent composition, creating the epic of the Cantos written over 50 years. His writings offer insights into economics, history, culture and the meaning of language. His enemy is usury, the enemy of freedom, his allies – none save his mind, which was declared lost in 1945, “when the raft broke and the waters went over me”, a charge which inspired the poet towards greater heights. Pound begins Cantos XLV “With usura hath no man a house of good stone each block cut smooth and well fitting that design* might cover their face”. If the absence of design is the mark of finance-capitalism then one understands that there is no end goal in sight, no purpose to be fulfilled, just rampant profiteering.”With usura is no clear demarcation” declares the poet; the lines between low and high, between ugly and beauty, between extinction and survival have been severed.

Discrimination, as Ian Dallas writes, forms the basis of sanity. R.D. Laing defined madness as the sane response to an insane situation. The madness of contemporary leadership is evident in their fundamentalist belief held in the magical brilliance of paper-money and democracy, while increasingly vast slums of the urban poor lead to new warfighting doctrines being developed by the state. Civil unrest, poverty and the imposition of draconian laws by a self serving state mean that the masses find themselves in a situation where citizen and terrorist are both addressed via uniform methods owing to budget-deficit enforced standardization protocols. In America, SWAT teams were once present only in the largest cities, now every mid sized city has one, routinely employing them in day to day activities such as the serving of warrants, with deadly consequences. Matt Apuzzo writes that “police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” with the result that the hardened American soldier returning home finds airport security using the same M4 assault rifles as he used in Afghanistan.

Pound writes that “with usura hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall”. With empty churches being converted to banks across Europe, and banks built like cathedrals, a paradise aspired to has become a laughed at chapter in history. Marx wrote that money has itself been endowed “with the properties of a quasi-religious nature”. Sheldon Wolin writes that under the corporate state “a giant corporation includes prayer sessions for its executives while evangelicals meet in franchised congregations while millionaire preachers extol the virtues of capitalism”

Paraphrasing Karl Polanyi, the American activist Chris Hedges writes that capitalism “turns human beings and the natural environment into commodities. This ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. The ecosystem and human beings become objects whose worth is determined solely by the market. They are exploited until exhaustion or collapse occurs. A society that no longer recognizes that the natural world and life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves.” The internal cannibalism of the united states, as evident in such dreadful carcass of Detroit testify to the reality of great lands under siege by usura.

If we may take a democratic approach to world history we may find interest in the fact that the majority have for the majority of the time found value in the belief that behind the perceived order or disorder of existence lay something beyond themselves, a sacred ‘design’ around which were built temples and civilizations. The loss of the divine has not been without consequence. James Mossman’s suicide note famously read “I can’t bear it any more, though I don’t know what ‘it’ is.”

The towering figure of Sheldon Wolin, a retired political science professor from Yale, has called the phenomena of our free society an “inverted totalitarianism” which stands in direct comparison with the classic totalitarianism of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. His extraordinary book of the same name explores layer by layer the social outcomes of advanced finance-capitalism as reflected in the world greatest inverted totalitarian regime, the land of his birth. What he documents is a phase in social organization that every capitalist state will eventually pass through, en route to harsher forms of control and financial insecurity. The correlation of debt to totalitarianism seems to be in the 21st century a valid theorem when evaluating the social costs of capitalism.



The defend the present with reference to socialisms failure is to divert attention from the de facto extension of state control over life towards the utopian belief in social and political freedom enshrined in a humanist doctrine espousing liberty, de jure. Inverted totalitarianism is the outcome of “investing de facto power with authority”. When money is power, government becomes the formal face of governance, but is itself beholden to real power originating elsewhere. In the inverted totalitarianism created by finance-capitalism, “economics trumps politics” as opposed to classical totalitarianisms where the economy is an instrument in the service of the political leader. Wolin writes that in this system “the leader is not the architect of the system but its product”.

The question of debt is not some sentimental affair dramatised by the stage antics of Bono and Blair, nor private in the case of ones personal debt or the national debt as a technical problem concerning the citizen of “his” nation. Patriotism quickly vanishes when the reality of the corporate state is understood. The question of debt reaches into the very DNA of the modern state and can be seen as the cause and effect of much social ill as well as the inevitable driver of every capitalist state towards harsher forms of control. Debt has been likened to a delayed contact with reality. This places today’s much vaunted ‘personal freedoms’ into a saner context: one day it will catch up with us because the imbalance that promotes unconstrained sexual freedom is the same that allows the unconstrained rape of the ecosystem.

As the corporate state oversees the wholesale sale of the nation and its prosperity, the resulting disintegration will necessitate the fusion of corporate monopoly with the security apparatus of the state, leading to the inverted totalitarianism of capitalist society. The media will explain that certain restrictions and draconian laws will be implemented in order to save our free societies. To prepare us for our the protection of our freedoms the state will offer us democratic accountability: the narrative states that our debt is the reason that we are collapsing as a society, a truth experienced personally by billions of the worlds poor. Cutbacks to pay off debt means that social welfare becomes a distant memory and decent jobs a privilege reserved for the faithful few. We will all pay the price as a collective, and we will maintain the respect for the law as is befitting a nation, and that those who do not endure patiently the remedy, will be processed by an efficient legal system which makes outlaws of those flaws in the system.

The privatized prison industry is one of the most worrying indicators of social malfunction. The constraint effects of debt and the jail cell were both issues experienced by the poet. “No man who has passed a month in the death cells believes in cages for beasts”, Pound said of his time in the open air holding cells of the American military. The death-cell was the experience given to Pound by the incipient American corporate state. His freedom denied, Pound found in his shackles the reality of the corporate state; those who trespass beyond the narrow confines of the economic motif fall outside the definitional framework of a money-civilization and are incarcerated; the dangerous masses through debt and exceptional individuals within concrete walls.


Whereas Carl Schmitt spoke of the ‘total state’ penetrating every aspect of society, Wolin speaks to us of a corporate state where every aspect of human life, from religion to culture, to people, become commodified, becomes exploitable, to turn a profit. When every aspect of life becomes subject to an economic determinism, when our impulses and physical movements are all in tune with market forces, then the corporate state has imposed a brilliant coup de etat, in effect rewriting society according to the dictates of one aspect of the human existence; making money, and exalted it above all else, creating the one dimensional man who’s dependence upon credit fosters the necessity of the credit industry. Matt Tabibi writes of America showing a “culture that is slowly giving in to a futuristic nightmare ideology of computerized greed and unchecked financial violence.”

If the illogical drive towards ecological collapse is not the intention of the financial elite, then we may find uncomfortable comfort in Wolin’s explanation that this system is perpetuated by “power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inaction”. This economic determinism underpinning the subconscious of modern man is visible at the political level where any social challenge is addressed via recourse to a ‘budget’ allocation. Where the destruction of Amazonian rainforests are measured in the billions of dollars and where climate change proposals are ignored as too expensive.

Survival is an instinct which has been lost by economic man. This was not lost on Carl Schmitt who witnessed the political extinction of a German republic which could not protect itself against an adversary using constitutional means to destroy the constitution. His nation’s fascist destiny was not beyond the powerful undercurrents of a European civilization succumbing to ‘market forces’. Karl Polanyi wrote that “fascism, like socialism, was rooted in a market society that refused to function.”

Whereas Carl Schmitt sought to protect the “political” from the corroding affects of a financial philosophy of history, Wolin writes that in the corporate state “It is politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political”, low voter turnout but a simple indicator that the uneducated masses even know that what they are given as politics” is a media spectacle necessary for the holographic flame of democracy to stay lit. With the death of politics traditionally understood, anacyclosis as defined by Polybius has been supplanted by market forces, with its own cyclical logic visible on the stock market.

The corporate state may be defined as a mixed constitution of plutocracy, oligarchy and democracy with a state security apparatus which serves the front of the most powerful interests within that state. While a mixed constitution might appear as the recommended means of fostering stability by delaying the painful stages of political cycles, the peculiar nature of financial capitalism fosters a regime which Polybius would have rejected outright as tyrannical in the extreme; one of his negative regimes favoring the few over the many; the corporate state is by design anti-democratic.


Pound wrote that “The Scientists are in terror and the European mind stops”. It is significant that the monied narrative struck at the popular heart of western civilization by examining in minute details the debt problems in modern Greece. Our prized rationality itself seems to be undergoing restructuring as the home of the Acropolis sees right wing thugs carrying clubs and knives to “cleanse” the streets of this once great city. That citizens might employ vigilante violence against non-Greeks to cure a problem caused by the diseased logic of fiat money means that modern education has successfully forced us to equate squares with triangles, allowing easy reception to that other equation of freedom equals democracy and free markets. According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism is the inevitable political form of capitalism.

In the maelstrom of these unfolding events, society should remember that even the Ancients Greeks had divine recourse; inscribed above the entrance of the Temple of Apollo was the exhortation “know thyself”, and as millions of activists worldwide strive to correct these wrongs, we would do well to remember the exhortation of Odysseus; “hold fast, my heart, you have endured worst suffering”.

*design/delight according to different versions of the text

Spanish version below

See also this old interview with Sheldon Wolin, and then buy his book

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wlHB6jSe7s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6HMQM7Lo58

Featured image from https://shapersofthe80s.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/roberts-vorticistseiffel1915.jpg

mardi, 12 mai 2015

H. P. Lovecraft’s The Conservative


The First Steampunk:
H. P. Lovecraft’s The Conservative

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

H. P. Lovecraft
The Conservative: The Complete Issues 1915–1923 [2]
Foreword by Alex Kurtagić
London: Arktos, 2013

Prior to the internet, or even the telephone, how fast could a written message travel from one end of Manhattan to another? You might think a day or two, or even hours, but you’d be wrong. In the early part of the last century, a system of pneumatic tubes enabled a piece of paper, sealed in a capsule, to travel from Wall Street to Harlem in a matter of seconds.[1]

James Howard Kunstler, proponent of livable cities and enemy of our fossil-fueled “happy motoring” lifestyle, has observed that if the power grid went out (as he devotedly wishes), and our everyday technology was rolled back to before even the automobile, we’d be effectively in the 1900s, a period surviving records show was not experienced as a Dark Age whose inhabitants wandered around lifelessly, wishing they could fly to Bangkok in a couple hours.[2]

The point is — and so-called “conservatives” used to know this, before they became obsessed with “creative destruction” and “the rapture” — our ancestors knew a thing or two,[3] and lived quite well without all our “mod cons.”[4]

American popular culture has always been infused with a DIY ethic: “Yankee ingenuity,” Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and his “American Scholar” creating his own tradition, seeking an “original relation to the universe,” all the way to Robert Johnson’s Coke bottleneck guitar which Muddy Waters made loud nightclub-friendly with electricity. It lies behind America’s plethora of home-made religions, from uptight Mormonism and Fundamentalism to acid experimentation and cults of the space brothers;[5] the Old Weird America where the Amish farmer and the laid-back hippie become indistinguishable;[6] where people made their own damn culture and didn’t buy it from a global — or even a New York[7] — corporation.

The whole “steampunk” genre, and lifestyle, appears to address this loss, although it also seems to do so more as hipster nostalgia and “irony” rather than a genuine rebirth,[8] although the related interests in home brewing and beekeeping (both recently legalized in . . . New York City!) shows promise, especially for those prepping for the collapse.[9]

Anyhow, so back in the 1860s, folks became wild about printing and mailing around their own homemade newspapers or journals, and H. P. Lovecraft, who had entered a period of seclusion following his failure to matriculate and a nervous breakdown, jumped in as enthusiastically as any basement-dwelling World of Warcraft addict.[10]

In fact, you could say he pursued the gamer’s dream of becoming a game designer himself, moving from contributing to others’ periodicals to producing his own, The Conservative, whose issues are collected here.[11]

Lovecraft seems to have come out swinging, maintaining a quarterly schedule for two years, then backing off to a yearly issue, finally skipping several years and putting out two more issues, numbered as if the missing volumes had somehow appeared (virtually?). Although he didn’t write all of it, he wrote most of it; and it wasn’t just pseudo-Augustan poetry and essays about cats. Lovecraft had a mission: world dominance, at least of the amateur press universe:

Promoting his own vision of amatuerdom as a haven for literary excellence and a tool for humanistic education.[12]

In this capacity, he contrived to become the head of the Department of Public Criticism (lovely title!) for the whole ’zine — I mean, amateur journalism scene.

Otherwise, the Conservative promoted Lovecraft’s favorite crochets, being described by him as:

[. . . ] an enthusiastic champion of total abstinence and prohibition; of moderation, healthy militarianism as contrasted with dangerous an unpatriotic peace-preaching; [. . .] of constitutional or representative government, as opposed to the pernicious and contemptible false schemes of anarchy and socialism.

Indeed, the choice of name is significant, and it’s hard to tell at many points whether Lovecraft, addressing the reader in the name of The Conservative, is speaking as Editor of the journal of that name, as the archetypal “conservative,” or as himself.

Joshi is right to notify us that these are Lovecraft’s notoriously “conservative” opinions in their original form, before later modifications and nuance.[13]

We [sic] will find that some of Lovecraft’s early opinions are quite repugnant, and many of them are uttered in a cocksure, dogmatic manner greatly in contrast to his later views.[14] Nevertheless, it was evident to all amateurs that the editor of the Conservative was an intellectual force to be dealt with.[15]

lovecraft__dedo9__by_artlessilliterate-d5he7mq.jpgBut therein lies their charm. Consider this collection, to continue the pop culture metaphor, a kind of Lovecraft Unplugged.

Some quotes, which most of our reader may find bracing rather than “repugnant”:

It appears that the CONSERVATIVE’S review of Charles D. Isaacson’s recent paper was not accepted in the honestly critical spirit intended, and that Mr. Isaacson is preparing to wreak summary verbal vengeance upon the crude barbarian who cannot appreciate the loathsome Walt Whitman, cannot lose his self-respect as a white man, and cannot endorse a treasonable propaganda designed to deliver these United States as easy victims to the first hostile power who cares to conquer them.[16]

The strongest tie in the domain of mankind, and the only potential source of social unity, is that mystic essence compounded of race, language, and culture; a heritage descended from the remote past.

Why any sane human being can believe in the possibility of universal peace is more than the CONSERVATIVE can fathom. The essential pugnacity and treachery of mankind is only too evident; and that very nation, even though pledged, would actually abolish means of warfare is absolutely unthinkable.

On those damn’d immigrants:

Leaving their own countries in dissatisfaction, they assume the cloak of American citizenship; organise any finance conspiracies with American money; and finally, with an audacity almost ironical, call upon the United States for help when overtaken by justice! Half the detestable violence of the Irish “Fenians” and “Sinn Fein” ruffians was hatched in America by those who dare drivel about such a thing as “neutrality”!

Traditional hierarchy, but a nobility of achievement, not birth:

In Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy, every son of a noble is a noble. The titled class is very large, as a rule very worthless, and possess numerous privileges subversive to the rights of so-called inferior men.

Indeed, the honest yeoman is the true friend — and beneficiary — of a traditional society:

It has been more than once remarked, that there is an intangible bond of kinship betwixt the highest and the humblest elements of the community. Whilst the bourgeois complacently busy themselves with their commonplace, respectable, and unimaginative careers of money-grabbing, the artist and the aristocrat join forces with the ploughman and the peasant in an involuntary mental wave of reaction against the monotony of materialism.

Although many on the alt-Right may find issue with some of Lovecraft’s ideas, such as the value of teetotalism:

He who strives against the Hydra-monster Rum, strives most to conserve his fellow-men.

Or his sadly jingoistic enthusiasm for WWI, despite taking a broader view in evolutionary terms:

Englishmen and Germans are blood brothers, descended from the same stern Woden-worshipping ancestors, blessed with the same rugged virtues, and fired with the same noble ambitions.

Amateur journalism got Lovecraft back in contact with human kind, or at least the more acceptable specimens in this sadly non-18th century world, and for this we later readers can be thankful. Although he eventually shifted his attention to the pulp magazine world, the bulk of his time and writing would continue to be devoted to maintaining a sort of virtual existence via mail, this time with a far-flung network of correspondents, editors, and “revision” clients;[17] although Lovecraft traveled far more than many might think (Florida, Montreal), there were a number of lifelong friends that Lovecraft never met. [18]

Editor Kurtagić proudly notes that this is the first “professional” reprinting of The Conservative in 25 years (since the stapled pamphlet with only Lovecraft’s contributions, edited by Joshi) and the first complete edition in 35. Perhaps more importantly, we can add that the introduction is more than merely scholarly; unlike Joshi, Kurtagić is sympathetic to Lovecraft’s “conservative” agenda, striving to show how Lovecraft’s various opinions are, though not “systematic,” nevertheless consistent and well-founded; in this he succeeds, since, after all, they are.

For example, Lovecraft, though so thoroughly steeped in the Augustan poets that he could almost be said to write only pastiches himself, and opposed both to Whitman’s free verse and the contemporary Imagists like Pound or Eliot, also thoroughly approved of the Victorian-bashing favored by same.

It is time . . . definitely to challenge the sterile and exhausted Victorian ideal which blighted Anglo-Saxon culture for three quarters of a century and produced a milky “poetry” of shopworn sentimentalities and puffy platitudes . . .

But these two attitudes are no more “inconsistent” or paradoxical than the demand voiced by the proponents of “historically informed performance practice” such as Nikolas Harnoncourt, that we need to strip away a century or two of calcified notions of how to perform, say, Bach or Monteverdi, not so that we can achieve some mythical “authentic” sound but so that we can craft our own response to the music; again, “an original relation to the universe.”[19]

On one other matter, though, Kurtagić would draw Lovecraft’s ire. Speaking of The Conservative being “a haven for literary excellence,” Lovecraft begins the very first issue, right under the masthead, thusly:

The Conservative desires to apologize for any errors in proofreading which may be found in this issue. Circumstances . . . rendered haste a prime essential.

Constant Readers will recall that I’ve found a lot to criticize in the publications Kurtagić has put out under the Wermod or Palingenesis Project labels. Here, Arktos seems to have done a much better job of copyediting, for which they are to be lauded. Except . . .

In my experience, introductions, prefaces, forewords and the like are not infrequently presented without footnotes, [20] at least to material quoted from the main text to follow. I like my prefaces to give me some hint of what’s to come, a kind of “coming attractions,” and it’s nice to be able to turn to the quotations in context. So I was happy to see footnotes here, but then disappointed to find that they are wildly inaccurate, presumably due to changes in pagination during the editorial process. Now really, if you are going to provide footnotes at all, how hard is it to make sure a dozen or so in the prefatory matter are accurate? [21]

That said, this is really a must have for the Lovecraftian, as well as any Counter-Currents reader who would like to sample the pleasures of real olde skool alt-Right blogging.


[1] Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska was not far off in his reference to Al Gore’s invention as “the intertubes [3].” According to Wikipedia [4], “Eventually the network stretched up both sides of Manhattan Island all the way to Manhattanville on the West side and “Triborough” in East Harlem, forming a loop running a few feet below street level. Travel time from the General Post Office to Harlem was 20 minutes. A crosstown line connected the two parallel lines between the new General Post office on the West Side and Grand Central Terminal on the east, and took four minutes for mail to traverse. Using the Brooklyn Bridge, a spur line also ran from Church Street, in lower Manhattan, to the general post office in Brooklyn (now Cadman Plaza), taking four minutes. Operators of the system were called “Rocketeers””

[2] As late as the ’60s and on TV no less, such a time could symbolize not the zombie apocalypse but the Good Olde Days, worth jumping off a train for; see “Next Stop Willoughby” — only the most iconic example of Twilight Zone’s somewhat disingenuous (where’s the ham-fisted “liberalism”?) nostalgia for the time when life was slower – or, equally disingenuous, com-symp Orson Welles’ lugubrious opening and closing eulogies of 19th century Midwest life in The Magnificent Ambersons. All this is related to the phenomenon I’ve called “liberal psychogeography;” see “The Gilmore Girls Occupy Wall St.” in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012); the liberal attempts to eat his cake and have it too, by gentrifying small towns or neighborhoods (Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, Ann Arbor, Greenwich Village) after the awful rednecks and other White ethnics who built them are purged.

[3] Pompous private scholar and anti-modern curmudgeon Harry Haller, the titular Steppenwolf of Hesse’s novel, strikes a rather Evola-esque note as he mocks his landlady’s son’s interest in radios among other modern contraptions, noting that communication through the air over long distances was a phenomenon well-known to the ancient Hindus. By the end of the book the humbled and drug-addled Haller will be forced by Mozart himself to listen to a broadcast of a Handel Concerto Grosso.

[4] Fr. Rolfe (“Baron Corvo”) observed that the magnificence of life in the Italian Renaissance lay not in a vulgar obsession with ever more “new” knowledge, but rather in the belief that everything was already discovered and known; a man could acquire a complete set of knowledge and then concentrate his energies in ever more elaborate and beautiful presentation thereof. See A History of the Borgias, Preface.

[5] See Donna Kossy’s Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief [5] (Portland: Feral House, 1994); also see my reviews of The Magical Universe of William Burroughs (here [6]) and Erik Davis’s Nomad Codes (here [7]).

[6] Greil Marcus, The Old Weird America (Picador, 2011; published in 1997 as Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes).

[7] “New York City!” exclaim the cowboys on learning of the origins of their store-bought alsa.

[8] The season of Portlandia announced that “The Dream of the 1890s Is Alive in Portland.” The origins of the genre arguably lie on TV as well: The Wild Wild West (CBS, 1965-69), specifically the iconic character of Dr. Miguelito Loveless (played, I’m glad to point out, by my fellow Detroiter Michael Dunn), introduced in an episode with the rather Lovecraftian title “The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth.” The character, played by Kenneth Branagh, was still the only point of interest in the insultingly stupid 1999 movie, which attempted to cash-in on the fad, while simultaneously bowing to the contrary mania for making older works “relevant” by replacing White characters with negroes; a typically Judaic attempt to play all the angles by director Barry Sonnenfeld.

[9] See Claus Brinker’s review of Survive the Economic Collapse, here [8].

[10] The current job market for Brown University grads offers little hope of anything but the same poverty Lovecraft endured, although apparently what he really missed was access to Brown’s telescope.

[11] The move from consumer to producer prompts Kurtagić’s comparison to the ’zine and cassette scenes of the ’90s.

[12] I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft by S. T. Joshi (New York: Hippocampus, 2010); Chapter 6: “A Renewed Will to Live.”

[13] This was not, however, the liberal’s usual disingenuous “evolution” of opinion. For example, his Social Darwinist defense of capitalism would eventually, under the pressure of personal penury and the Great Depression generally, mutate into a qualified, then enthusiastic, support of the New Deal; but with typical Lovecraftian perversity, this was not in spite of, but because, it seemed like the closest thing to Fascism. Ralph Adams Cram came to the same conclusion; see my “Ralph Adams Cram: Wild Boy of American Architecture” in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

[14] Not unlike the Simpsons’ “Comic Book Guy.”

[15] Ibid.

[16] Isaacson, a fellow amateur journalist, was a “good” Jew of the Germanic, assimilating sort, but Lovecraft, although willing to praise his talents, always had a sharp eye — and pen — for the traces of the “Jewish mentality” that prevented him from appreciating Aryan literature and society.

[17] The astounding bulk of his letters dwarfs his fiction, and Joshi may be correct in suggesting that eventually, like weird pioneer Horace Walpole, his literary reputation may rest on these rather than the famous Cthulhu mythos. See I Am Providence, op. cit., Chapter 26: “Thou Art Not Gone.”

[18] Lovecraft’s remarks on friendship are often as odd as his comments about love and marriage. Robert E. Howard (Conan) died a few months before Lovecraft himself; hearing the news, Lovecraft remarked about how odd it would be to know that there was no longer anyone to collect mail at Howard’s PO Box. (Which is not to say that HPL did not otherwise express a normal sort of grief over the loss of his close friend (“Mitra, what a man!”); see Joshi, op. cit., Chapter 23: “The End of One’s Life.”

[19] Of course, Emerson was a big, early fan of Whitman, who, in turn, was another proponent of self-publication in both senses. Harnoncourt’s remarks occur in the liner notes to a one-disc sampler of the Teldec 153 disc box set, Bach 2000 (1999). It’s of note that the Traditionalist author and violist Marco Pallis was an associate of Arnold Dolmetsch, the distinguished reviver of early English music and one of the pioneers of the so-called “authenticity” movement, whom in turn directed Pallis to the writings of René Guénon; see “Biography of Marco Palllis,” here [9].

[20] Like book reviews, hah!

[21] Answer: not hard at all.

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/05/the-first-steampunk/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://secure.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/theconservative-frontcover.jpg

[2] The Conservative: The Complete Issues 1915–1923: https://secure.counter-currents.com/the-conservative/

[3] the intertubes: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=intertubes

[4] Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneumatic_tube_mail_in_New_York_City

[5] Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Kossy#Kooks_.281994.29

[6] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/tag/the-magical-universe-of-william-s-burroughs/

[7] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/11/ever-sacred-ever-vexed/

[8] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/04/survive-the-economic-collapse/

[9] here: http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Marco-Pallis.aspx#_ednref1

samedi, 09 mai 2015

Fight club : de la destruction de l’anonymat à l’âge des héros


Fight club : de la destruction de l’anonymat à l’âge des héros

Avant-propos :

Que cela soit volontaire ou non, l’histoire de Palahniuk, habilement adaptée sur écran par David Fincher, affiche clairement les ambitions d’une révolte radicale, de cette génération broyée entre les mâchoires de la modernité et de l’individualisme triomphant. Décrié à sa sortie comme un film d’inspiration fasciste, « Fight club » est devenu l’icône d’une certaine jeunesse, dévoyée, malheureuse, mais alerte, laquelle, peu à peu, a posé des mots sur ses maux.

S’il entre dans le registre de ces ouvrages d’« anticipation sociale », il est pourtant plus dans la description d’une réalité omniprésente que dans l’appréhension d’un futur incertain et c’est à ce titre qu’il inspira quelques travaux psychosociologiques, qui bien qu’insuffisants, n’en demeurèrent pas moins un appui potentiel à une étude sérieuse du sujet. De sorte que pour la réalisation de cet article, nous avons cru bon d’en étayer l’idée générale, bien que ces vulgaires précédents, tâcherons parodiques d’une véritable analyse, ne présentent au fond que les résidus d’un monde universitaire loin, très loin des préoccupations soulevées par Fincher et Palahniuk.

Partant de cette disjonction, deux professeurs, Jocelyn Lachance et Sébastien Dupont présentèrent dans « La temporalité dans les conduites à risque : l’exemple du film “Fight club” » une vision typiquement conventionnelle de l’œuvre – tout en se faisant gloire d’en faire une relecture originale. En effet, au-delà de la prétention à l’objectivité qui voile d’ordinaire les rendus universitaires, nous percevons sans mal l’avis des auteurs et la critique qu’ils opposent aux personnages, vus comme des adolescents en période de trouble intérieur.

Fight club serait ainsi, pour nos auteurs, la définition évidente du cheminement de l’adolescent en perte de repère, livré à lui même, à la recherche de sens et en marge de la temporalité. Tout se résumerait à un déséquilibre intérieur induisant une remise en question de la société de consommation.

Or pourquoi un déséquilibre est-il source d’une remise en question du mode de vie moderne ? Simplement, car ce mode de vie est par essence déséquilibré, aussi est-il naturel qu’il entretienne une action déstabilisante sur tout ce qu’il touche. Nous pourrions également nous questionner sur cette tendance à estimer que la négation de la civilisation occidentale moderne doive forcément tenir d’une triviale « révolte » adolescente et puérile, et non pas d’un simple constat d’échec qui aurait pu être conduit par n’importe quel intellectuel véritable. La réponse nous apparaîtrait clairement que le constat est trop amer, de sorte qu’il en devient gênant, et comme il est fort difficile à atténuer, le système s’attaque directement aux troubles fête, réduits à n’être que des « ados » déséquilibrés.

Que le personnage principal ait perdu son rapport à la temporalité ne nous paraît pas contestable,. Schizophrène, il ne sait plus s’il dort ou rêve. Cependant, pour notre part, loin de critiquer cette allégorie d’une totale libération du temps profane, nous la mettrons en avant comme relevant – en filigrane – d’une sorte de révélation.

Les deux universitaires nous disent ainsi que « Fight Club est également allégorique d’une autre dimension des comportements humains, celle des conduites à risque. […] Le personnage principal, qui est présenté au début du film comme un homme déprimé, en quête de sens, et que nous interprétons comme un adolescent tourmenté par la perte des repères de l’enfance, va ainsi bouleverser son existence en se livrant à plusieurs types de conduites à risque : les combats du Fight Club, la vitesse en voiture, les activités délictueuses (vols, menaces à main armée, vandalisme), une tentative de suicide, etc. »

Alors, si toute la critique présente dans l’ouvrage n’est réduite qu’à une simple « conduite à risque », interrogeons-nous sur ce risque ; celui de s’opposer par la violence, à la violence d’un mode de vie absurde et totalitaire, à une société s’étant saisie de la plus grande violence possible en tant qu’elle pourfend la civilisation. Ce que ces auteurs interprètent comme une somme de « conduite à risque » nous apparaît plutôt comme autant d’étapes rituelles d’une initiation balbutiante.

Or, si ce point de vue pourrait paraître badin chez certains, notre partialité ne nous fait souffrir d’aucun complexe face aux castrés de la demi-mesure et autre échanson, servant benoîtement le vin empoisonné de la modernité à toute une jeunesse ivre de diplômes. Si Fight Club, de même qu’American Psycho, ont su se présenter comme des anomalies inhérentes à la propagande hollywoodienne, peinant le vrai visage de la civilisation occidentale, celui du matérialisme aigu, nous doutons fort que quelques travaux universitaires puissent annihiler le dérangeant souvenir que laisse ce genre d’œuvre cinématographique. Car il perdure telle une fine graine déposée dans les esprits fertiles de toute une génération, qu’il s’agira ici de faire germer.

1) Évincement de la variable temporelle et rédemption

Le temps de l’homme moderne est, qu’il le veuille ou non, réglé comme une montre. Jamais celle-ci n’arrête sa course, attachant irrémédiablement l’espèce au temps profane ; dénué de toute transcendance et de toute reproduction d’actes primordiaux.

« Avec l’insomnie, plus rien n’est réel ! Tout devient lointain. Tout est une copie, d’une copie, d’une copie… » Tyler Durden

chuck1.jpgLa première étape traversée par le personnage principal revient donc à s’en affranchir. On apprend doucement à prendre du recul, à concevoir l’apparente réalité comme une extrême relativité, une illusion dont Sigismond en traduirait ainsi les contours en tant que « […] nous sommes dans un monde si étrange que vivre ce n’est que rêver, et que l’expérience m’enseigne que l’homme qui vit rêve ce qu’il est, jusqu’au moment où il s’éveille. […] Dans ce monde, en conclusion, chacun rêve ce qu’il est, sans que personne s’en rende compte ». Pedro Caldéron, « La vie est un songe ».

« Et alors il s’est passé quelques choses, je me suis laissé aller, dans un total oubli de moi même envahi par la nuit, le silence et la plénitude. J’avais trouvé la liberté. Perdre tout espoir, c’était cela la liberté », (Tyler Durden). Comment ne pas y voir une référence à l’inscription qui orne les portes des enfers que Dante expose dans la divine comédie ; perdre l’espoir est la première étape d’une élévation, ainsi que Dante plonge dans les enfers tout comme le prophète de l’Islam.

« Dans une adaptation de la légende musulmane, un loup et un lion barrent la route au pèlerin comme la panthère, le lion et la louve font reculer Dante… Virgile est envoyé à Dante et Gabriel à Mohammed par le Ciel ; tous deux, durant le voyage, satisfont à la curiosité du pèlerin. L’Enfer est annoncé dans les deux légendes par des signes identiques : tumulte violent et confus, rafale de feu… L’architecture de l’Enfer dantesque est calquée sur celle de l’Enfer musulman : tous deux sont un gigantesque entonnoir formé par une série d’étages, de degrés ou de marches circulaires qui descendent graduellement jusqu’au fond de la terre ; chacun d’eux recèle une catégorie de pécheurs, dont la culpabilité et la peine s’aggravent à mesure qu’ils habitent un cercle plus enfoncé. Chaque étage se subdivise en différents autres, affectés à des catégories variées de pécheurs enfin, ces deux Enfers sont situés tous les deux sous la ville de Jérusalem… Afin de se purifier au sortir de l’Enfer et de pouvoir s’élever vers le Paradis, Dante se soumet à une triple ablution. Une même triple ablution purifie les âmes dans la légende musulmane : avant de pénétrer dans le Ciel, elles sont plongées successivement dans les eaux des trois rivières qui fertilisent le jardin d’Abraham… »

Miguel Asîn Palacios, « La Escatologia musulmana en la Divina Comedia », Madrid, 1919.

La perte de l’espoir n’est d’ailleurs pas le seul signe de la descente aux enfers qu’entreprennent les membres du Fight Club, qui chaque soir glissent dans la noirceur des caves d’un infréquentable troquet. Il peut néanmoins apparaître troublant que pour s’élever, il faille ainsi tomber dans les arcanes des enfers, toutefois, si c’est là un moyen de s’épargner le vestibule des lâches dont nous rappelions dans un précédent billet qu’il est « cet état misérable […]celui des méchantes âmes des humains qui vivent sans infamie et sans louange et qui ne furent que pour eux mêmes […] Les cieux les chassent, pour n’être moins beaux et le profond enfer ne veut pas d’eux, car les damnés en auraient plus de gloire » (Dante, la descente aux enfers).

Ce « pèlerinage » se présente ainsi comme indispensable à la libération de son orgueil, de même qu’à l’observation de son enfer intérieur, il est telle une croisade contre les plus bas instincts de l’homme, caractérisés dans Fight club par la lutte interne qu’oppose le narrateur contre Tyler Durden, n’étant rien d’autre qu’une lutte pour l’existence. Le Fight club apparaît alors comme la mise en abîme de cette lutte interne du « soi » contre le « moi ».

« Qu’est-ce qui est pire, l’enfer ou rien du tout ? Ce n’est qu’après avoir été capturés et punis que nous pouvons être sauvés. » Tyler Durden.

Ainsi la première étape de l’élévation est donc la descente, dont le but est de gagner le grand Djihad ou la croisade intérieure ; de même que la rédemption nous apparaît comme la pierre angulaire de l’œuvre. De même, ne dirait-on pas que l’auteur ait voulu opter pour la souffrance virile, celle des hommes qui finissent par se haïr à mesure qu’ils aiment et acceptent leur mal ?

« S’améliorer soi-même c’est de la masturbation. C’est se détruire soi-même. » Avec cette phrase, Tyler Durden lance alors une vérité apparaissant telle une critique acerbe du culte individuel, physique, prôné par les médias. On entrevoit ainsi cette volonté d’autoflagellation détruisant le masque de l’indifférenciation.



Sur cette question, nous retrouvons également dans American Psycho de Bret Easton Ellis, un passage révélateur de la tendance actuelle au culte du moi et au résultat qu’il induit :

« J’habite au 11ème étage de la tour American Gardens, sur la 81ème rue ouest. Je m’appelle Patrick Bateman et j’ai 27 ans. Je prends grand soin de moi, en mangeant léger, et en faisant de l’exercice chaque jour. Au réveil si je suis légèrement bouffi, je m’applique des sachets de glace sur mon visage pendant mes abdos du matin. Je peux en faire 1000. Après avoir ôté le sachet de glace, j’applique une lotion désincrustante. Puis, sous la douche, j’utilise tout d’abord un gel moussant, puis un gommage corps au miel et aux amandes et un gommage pour le visage. Ensuite j’applique un masque à la menthe sauvage que je laisse pénétrer 10mn. Pendant ce temps là, je prépare la suite des hostilités. J’utilise toujours un after-shave sans alcool ou avec très peu d’alcool parce que ça irrite et dessèche la peau, alors vous vieillissez plus vite. Une crème reconstituante, suivie d’une crème contour des yeux, et pour finir, une crème protectrice hydratante. Il existe une image de Patrick Bateman, une sorte d’abstraction, mais je n’existe pas vraiment, ce n’est qu’une entité, quelque chose d’illusoire. Et bien que je puisse cacher mon regard froid, que vous puissiez me serrer la main et sentir ma chaire s’agripper à la votre, vous pourriez vous dire que nos vies sont comparables, mais je ne suis tout simplement… pas là ! »

2) De la destruction de l’anonymat dans l’« infra humain » vers l’anonymat du « supra humain »

L’anonyme dans nos sociétés contemporaines est en voie de dissolution, il n’est rien de plus qu’une statistique évoluant dans un rapport d’activité, noyé par un travail pétri de procédures.

« Nous voyons que l’ouvrier y est bien aussi anonyme, mais parce que ce qu’il produit n’exprime rien de lui-même et n’est pas même véritablement son œuvre, le rôle qu’il joue dans cette production étant purement “mécanique”. En somme, l’ouvrier comme tel n’a réellement pas de “nom” parce qu’il n’est, dans son travail, qu’une simple “unité” numérique sans qualités propres, qui pourrait être remplacée par toute autre “unité” équivalente, c’est-à-dire par un autre ouvrier quelconque, sans qu’il y ait rien de changé dans le produit de ce travail ; et ainsi ,[…] son activité n’a plus rien de proprement humain mais, bien loin de traduire ou tout au moins de refléter quelque chose de “supra-humain”, elle est au contraire réduite à l’“infra-humain” et elle tend même vers le plus bas degré de celui-ci, c’est-à-dire vers une modalité aussi complètement quantitative qu’il est possible de la réaliser dans le monde manifesté. Cette activité “mécanique” de l’ouvrier ne représente d’ailleurs qu’un cas particulier (le plus typique qu’on puisse constater en fait dans l’état actuel parce que l’industrie est le domaine où les conceptions modernes ont réussi à s’exprimer le plus complètement) de ce que le singulier “idéal” que nos contemporains voudraient arriver à faire de tous les individus humains et dans toutes les circonstances de leur existence ; c’est là une conséquence immédiate de la tendance dite “égalitaire”, ou en d’autres termes, de la tendance à l’uniformité, qui exige que ces individus ne soient traités que comme de simples “unités” numériques, réalisant ainsi l’“égalité” par en bas puisque c’est là le seul sens où elle puisse être réalisée “à la limite”, c’est-à-dire où il soit possible, sinon de l’atteindre tout à fait (car elle est contraire, comme nous l’avons vu, aux conditions mêmes de toute existence manifestée), du moins de s’en approcher de plus en plus et indéfiniment jusqu’à ce qu’on soit parvenu au « point d’arrêt » qui marquera la fin du monde actuel. »

René Guénon, «Le règne de la quantité », le double sens de l’anonymat

Le travail, passé du métier à la profession, nous transforme en ce qu’il y a de plus inférieur et l’avènement du néotaylorisme qui perdure dans le secteur tertiaire prouve, s’il en était besoin, qu’aucune évolution n’est apparue dans ce domaine. Or « vous n’êtes pas votre travail, vous n’êtes pas votre compte en banque, vous n’êtes pas votre voiture, vous n’êtes pas votre portefeuille, ni votre putain de treillis, vous êtes la merde de ce monde prête à servir à tout. »

Constat que nos universitaires appréhendent comme un comportement à risque, parcequ’il dérange leur propre confort intellectuel, en tant qu’il est le bilan de leurs illusions, ou de ce Paradis qui est en réalité notre enfer ; mais également parce qu’il fait trembler leur petit monde bourgeois et borné, renversant à lui seul leurs structures cognitives dévoyées par des siècles de limitation « infra-humaine ». En réalité ces individus ne présentent de risque que pour une certaine catégorie de notables, profitant alors d’une médiocrité qu’ils imposent arbitrairement à l’ensemble de leurs contemporains.

Nous voyons là un rejet du matérialisme et de cette équation qui transforme les hommes en les objets qui les environnent, car « les choses qu’on possède finissent par nous posséder ». Ainsi, disons-le avec Tyler Durden : « Je rejette tous les présupposés de la civilisation (modernes, NDA) et spécialement l’importance des possessions matérielles » et Chateaubriand lui répondra glorieusement qu’« un homme bien persuadé qu’il n’y a rien de nouveau en histoire perd le goût des innovations, goût que je regarde comme un des plus grands fléaux qui affligent l’Europe dans ce moment. L’enthousiasme vient de l’ignorance ; guérissez celle-ci, l’autre s’éteindra ; la connaissance des choses est un opium qui ne calme que trop l’exaltation. »

C’est un fait, que la négation de l’idéologie matérialiste, qui se retrouve aussi bien dans la propension à user du sentimentalisme que dans le scientisme ou le rationalisme, est un préalable à toute modification structurelle de nos êtres.

« L’individu se perd dans la “masse”, ou du moins il tend de plus en plus à s’y perdre ; […] dans la quantité pure, […], la séparation est à son maximum, puisque c’est là que réside le principe même de la “séparativité”, et l’être est d’ailleurs évidemment d’autant plus “séparé” et plus enfermé en lui-même que ses possibilités sont plus étroitement limitées, c’est-à-dire que son aspect essentiel comporte moins de qualités ; mais, en même temps, puisqu’il est d’autant moins distingué qualitativement au sein de la “masse”, il tend bien véritablement à s’y confondre. Ce mot de “confusion” est ici d’autant mieux approprié qu’il évoque l’indistinction toute potentielle du “chaos”, et c’est bien de cela qu’il s’agit en effet puisque l’individu tend à se réduire à son seul aspect substantiel, c’est-à-dire à ce que les scolastiques appelleraient une “matière sans forme” où tout est en puissance et où rien n’est en acte, si bien que le terme ultime, s’il pouvait être atteint, serait une véritable “dissolution” de tout ce qu’il y a de réalité positive dans l’individualité ; et en raison même de l’extrême opposition qui existe entre l’une et l’autre, cette confusion des êtres dans l’uniformité apparaît comme une sinistre et “satanique” parodie de leur fusion dans l’unité. »


Si nous nous demandons ce que devient l’individu dans de telles conditions, nous voyons que, en raison de la prédominance toujours plus accentuée en lui de la quantité sur la qualité, il est pour ainsi dire réduit à son seul aspect substantiel, à celui que la doctrine hindoue appelle rûpa (et en fait, il ne peut jamais perdre la forme, qui est ce qui définit l’individualité comme telle, sans perdre par là même toute existence), ce qui revient à dire qu’il n’est plus guère que ce que le langage courant appellerait un «corps sans âme», et cela au sens le plus littéral de cette expression. Dans un tel individu, en effet, l’aspect qualitatif ou essentiel a presque entièrement disparu (nous disons presque, parce que la limite ne peut jamais être atteinte en réalité) ; et comme cet aspect est précisément celui qui est désigné comme nâma, cet individu n’a véritablement plus de «nom» qui lui soit propre, parce qu’il est comme vidé des qualités que ce nom doit exprimer ; il est donc réellement «anonyme», mais au sens inférieur de ce mot. C’est là l’anonymat de la «masse» dont l’individu fait partie et dans laquelle il se perd, «masse» qui n’est qu’une collection de semblables individus, tous considérés comme autant d’«unités» arithmétiques pures et simples ; on peut bien compter de telles «unités», évaluant ainsi numériquement la collectivité qu’elles composent et qui, par définition, n’est elle-même qu’une quantité ; mais on ne peut aucunement donner à chacune d’elles une dénomination impliquant qu’elle se distingue des autres par quelque différence qualitative. »

René Guénon, «Le règne de la quantité », le double sens de l’anonymat

Aussi, le retour à l’acte dans les premiers pas de l’initiation présente dans l’œuvre, était donc de détruire l’anonymat « infra-humaine » , ceci par le refus d’une désintégration dans la masse. L’individu sans lien et déraciné se devait de renouer avec ses frères, et ce fut dans le fracas des os contre la chair, comme dans la douleur teintée des cris diffus d’une catharsis soulevant des lambeaux de poussière entremêlés du sang des siens.
Le Fight club s’est présenté comme le retour au « soi », que Socrate appréhende dans la formule du « connaît toi toi-même », or « comment tu peux te connaître si tu t’es jamais battu ? » répond Tyler Durden.



L’objectif est donc de déconnecter l’homme des limites qu’impose la société moderne, d’où la volonté du « lâché prise » qu’on perçoit durant l’épisode de la voiture ; s’il est vrai, comme disait Cicéron que « philosopher, c’est apprendre à mourir », l’on ne peut s’élever qu’en abandonnant toute peur de la mort. De même qu’il faut cesser d’être un enfant s’imaginant que tout n’arrive qu’aux autres, chantre d’un optimisme béat, de même dans un raisonnement absolu on pourrait dire que rien n’a d’importance, comme « l’être qui a atteint un état supra-individuel est, par là même, dégagé de toutes les conditions limitatives de l’individualité, c’est-à-dire qu’il est au-delà des déterminations de “nom et forme” (nâma-rûpa) qui constituent l’essence et la substance de cette individualité comme telle ; il est donc véritablement “anonyme” parce que en lui le “moi” s’est effacé et a complètement disparu devant le “Soi”. » (René Guénon, « Le règne de la quantité », le double sens de l’anonymat)

Néanmoins, loin de soutenir que les protagonistes réalisent une quelconque élévation spirituelle, il n’empêche que la chute dont ils étaient alors victime s’est stoppée net, de sorte qu’une récupération de la voie droite peut alors être possible. Car en s’extirpant de tous les préjugés modernes, par un solipsisme frisant parfois avec le nihilisme, l’homme du Fight club vint à chevaucher le tigre en se gardant de l’emprise d’un système mortifère. L’avènement de la marginalité, le contre-pied de la normalité et les concepts de bien et de mal, ont définitivement fait place à celui de justice.

3) Un retour à l’âge des héros ?

Nous disions que l’œuvre fraye avec le nihilisme, mais il ne va pas forcément jusqu’à la remise en question de toute signification et de tout but de l’existence humaine, il ne rend pas le monde comme fruit d’un hasard, tel que peuvent l’expliquer les dégénérés comme Stephen Hawking, mais s’arrête à l’expression rageuse d’un abandon de Dieu.

Pourtant, jamais son existence n’est niée, mais c’est finalement la volonté d’une vie simple qui l’emporte sur les spéculations métaphysiques :

« Dans le monde tel que je le vois, on chassera des élans dans des forets humides et rocailleuses du Rockfeller center. On portera des vêtements en cuir qui dureront la vie entière. On escaladera d’immenses lianes qui entoureront la tour sear. Et quand on baissera les yeux, on verra de minuscules silhouettes en train de piller du maïs ou de faire sécher de fines tranches de gibier sur l’aire de repos déserte d’une super-autoroute abandonnée. »

La mise en place d’un temps sacré apparaît comme une nécessité et renvoie à la réalisation des actes primordiaux ; les héros, ce sont les Grecs qui fabriquèrent les premiers savons avec les cendres des leurs soldats. Ce même savon, cette foi sortant des bourrelets d’une myriade de femmes obèses, gavées aux fast foods et découpées jusqu’à en faire sortir les précieuses graisses, va finalement faire exploser la société de consommation et avec elle le mode de vie moderne. Société dissoute dans le souffle d’une monnaie scripturale avalée par des lignes de codes n’ayant de réalité que parce qu’ils nichent dans des serveurs aux sous-sols de ces grandes machines à travailler.

Le résidu de la folie humaine va ironiquement faire s’envoler les piliers du système de domination et nous ramener à l’inconfort d’une société normale. Mais les idées modernes s’en iront-elles pour autant ? La mentalité cadavérique de l’anti-sacré fuira-t-elle le cœur des hommes ? Pour le savoir, il n’y a bien qu’une chose à faire… du savon.

Jérôme Carbriand

Étudiant en économie, j'ai outrepassé les limites de l'enseignement universitaire en m'intéressant aux post-keynesiens, j'ai en cela une solide maîtrise des réalités économiques. D'autre part, j'ai parallèlement voué un intérêt particulier à la lecture d'une grande partie de la philosophie occidentale dont l'incohérence générale m'a incité à étudier la "métaphysique". Dans cette voie, certains auteurs m'ont véritablement touché, c'est le cas de René Guénon, Julius Evola et Mircea Eliade. Que suis-je donc, sinon une Cassandre sans génie, dont le seul mérite aura été de tomber avant les autres, écrasé par une foule arrogante et aliénée. Je suis le mouton noir d'un troupeau aveugle, dont les yeux s'entrouvrent pour percevoir l'abîme dans lequel nous nous jetons. Je suis le cauchemar de la modernité et la honte de la Tradition pour avoir enduré la boue d'une époque aussi souillée.

jeudi, 26 mars 2015

Bill Hopkins: Ways Without a Precedent

Bill Hopkins 2.jpg

Bill Hopkins (1957)

Ways Without a Precedent

By Bill Hopkins 

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

Editor’s Note:

One of the aims of the North American New Right is to promote a revival of the Right-wing artistic and literary subculture that gave us such 20th-century giants as D. H. Lawrence, Gabriele D’Annunzio, F. T. Marinetti, Knut Hamsun, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Williamson, Roy Campbell, and H. P. Lovecraft (all profiled in Kerry Bolton’s Artists of the Right [2]). 

A group that showed some promise in this direction was the Angry Young Men of the 1950s, although the movement fizzled. Or perhaps it just came too soon. With that possibility in mind, I am reprinting Bill Hopkins’ 1957 Angry Young Men manifesto “Ways Without a Precedent” as an aid to reflection on the role of the artist in the current interregnum. For more on Hopkins and the Angry Young Men, see our articles by Jonathan Bowden [3] and Margot Metroland (part 1 [4], part 2 [5]) and our tags for Bill Hopkins [6] and Colin Wilson [7]

The literature of the past ten years has been conspicuous for its total lack of direction, purpose and power. It has opened no new roads of imagination, created no monumental characters, and contributed nothing whatever to the vitality of the written word. The fact that the decade in question has shown the highest ratio of adult literacy in British history makes this inertia an astounding feat. So astounding, indeed, that the great majority of readers have turned their attention to the cinema, television and radio instead. Their reading talent has been commandeered by the more robust newspapers.

The truants can hardly be blamed for seeking livelier entertainment, since most writers have reduced themselves to the rank of ordinary entertainers, and for the most part, have failed to be even this. Writers see the shadow of the mass mortuary too clearly to provide good, knock-about entertainment. The same shadow prevents them from producing more enduring work by making nonsense of posterity.

All writers must accept this shadow across their consciousness as an occupational hazard, and its surmounting divides them cleanly into the camps of optimism or pessimism, allowing no shades of neutrality between. The negative acceptance has the strongest following just now, and for this reason the bulk of serious novels today almost inevitably offer victims as their cast and senseless brutality as their business. These works do not educate us a scrap, nor do they offer any great insights into the tumult of our time. The writers dwell instead on the horror of anything changing—man, mood or scene—and reveal that the precise value of all and everything is that it is here at present. The understanding is that Man is too frail and imperfect for violent change. It is a poor argument for literature, progress and health.

Unless there is a radical change in this outlook literature will continue its drift into negativism.

Many people have their own ideas of what a creative writer’s job should be. The popular conception is that he should provide stories that are an escape from life. The slightest whiff of reality is regarded as an intrusion of the diabolical and an act of treachery. The ideal path amounts to improbable love yarns closing upon chaste kisses. If there is invariably an impoverished odour about these fabrications, the accolades of best-seller returns do not hint at it.

This view is not taken by the more intelligent, who demand a measure of truth with their entertainment. This again is asking for too little. The measure of truth dealt out is generally confined to obscene language in kitchen squalor and the dreary divesting of the heroine’s virginity. Now unalloyed sex is a tedious business when it is repeated too often. But this is not borne out by the positive glut of literary prurience that has come our way over the past few years. As it shows no sign of stopping we must conclude either that the percentage of perverts is much higher than is imagined, or that there is nothing more pornographic than a half-truth. But, whichever it is, the fact remains that when it is only a small measure of truth that is requested, the result merely mirrors appearance. It never delves to the cause behind appearance. It is better to offer no truth at all than make this kind of compromise.

There are only a few who demand all the truth a writer possesses. Over the past twenty years, this demand was sufficient to encourage the development of Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann, but few others of major creative stature. If the demand were extended to a larger and more perceptive audience it would doubtless encourage the emergence of even greater writers. Certainly it would produce a literature capable of vigorously advancing our present half-hearted ideas of living to an unprecedented level.

There is no likelihood of such an ideal audience coming into existence for the philanthropic purpose of encouraging a vigorous literature. This would be asking for a healthiness that does not exist among most intelligent people today. The same malady that prevents a vital literature from developing and becoming a regenerative force to our society, disposes of the idea of a sick audience transcending its condition and calling for chest expanders. Contemporary literature, whether on the printed page or declaimed from the boards of the theatre, shows its bankruptcy by confining itself to merely reporting on social conditions. It makes no attempt at judging them. Literature that faithfully reflects a mindless society is a mindless literature. If it is to be anything larger, it must systematically contradict the great bulk of prevalent ideas, offer saner alternatives, and take on a more speculative character than it has today. I am optimistic enough to think that immediately the results prove positive and exciting, the more conformist brands of literature will lose most of their following.


But the failure of literature is only a small part of a much wider catastrophe. When I refer to a lack of health among the intelligent, I touch upon what threatens the whole of our civilization with imminent collapse. The truth is that Man, for all his scientific virtuosity, cannot defeat his own exhaustion. To do so means drawing upon unused strengths that once would have been described as religious. Unfortunately, Man has become a rational animal; he rejects any suggestion of religiosity as scrupulously as an honest beggar denounces respectability. I say unfortunately, because it is mental and physical exhaustion that is the principal malady of our civilization. The very people who should be the leaders of our society are the most affected, so the disillusionment, despair and social revolt of our age has been allowed to grow unchecked.

All the problems and struggles that confront the growth of our civilization depend entirely on whether we can get an exhausted man back upon his feet and keep him there. If the answer is a negative one, our past counts for nothing: it has proved insufficient to preserve our future.

The reasons for this exhaustion are all documented and detailed in the archives of the past fifty years. Rationalism, Communism, Socialism, Labourism, Fascism, Nazism, Anarchism; the honest penny-ha’penny thinking that human happiness was an adequate goal, the quest for social equality; two world wars and a couple of dozen local blood-lettings; poison gas, tanks, aircraft, flame-throwers, atomic, hydrogen and cobalt bombs, bacteriological warfare; depressions, inflations, strikes . . . the documents are quite explicit and well known.

Altogether they amount to the exhaustion of a man with asthma having run a marathon race and found there were no trophies or glory at the end of it. That is exactly our own position. With every decade since the turn of the century we have intensified our endeavours while our condition has deteriorated. Now it seems that despite all our efforts, knowledge and hopes, besides the lives jettisoned in their millions, we have achieved nothing. The dry taste of futility lingers in the mouth of all. The energy of any flying spark is in itself enough to arouse popular amazement. The supineness of the intelligent is the tragic paradox of the Atomic Age. Only the insulated specialists, bafflingly capable of drawing the blinds against all other realities, remain enthusiastic about tomorrow.

Dean, James_02.jpg

James Dean

The evidence of exhaustion stares out from the columns of the daily newspapers. The references to ‘Angry Young Men’ for ex-ample, record a general astonishment at the vigour of simply being angry. Another instance is the hero-worship of the late James Dean, who posthumously remains as the embodiment of Youth’s violent rebuttal of a society grown pointless. That the rejection is equally pointless does not appear to matter; the sincerity redeems it. There is the idolization of such simple men as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, the respective champions of wistful sentimentality and the stark voluptuousness of knowing one thing that’s good, anyway. Which, after all, is one advantage of being a farmer’s boy.

Significantly, the more thoughtful go only a few steps further to admire such writers as Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. All of these playwrights have distinguished them-selves for creating small men and women whose unlikely poetry is in their bewilderment in an inexplicable and often tyrannical world. The heroism of the Twentieth Century Man, as currently postulated, is: (a) in winning a compassionate pair of lips that will lull him to peace after an endless gauntlet of victimizations (thus mysteriously negating the lot), (b) kicking a bullying foreman (an enemy of the people) in a conclusive place, or (c) just inhabiting a dustbin with all the pretences down and stoically waiting for the end.

This is the landscape a new writer looks upon this year. Every-thing has deteriorated from the point in the mid-1940s we optimistically imagined to be already rock-bottom. What is left is a mockery of attempt, accomplishment and greatness.

It would be too easy to be angry and join the lynching parties. But this is not a writer’s job. Nor is it for a writer to subscribe to the general bankruptcy, despair and apathy around him, whatever popularity might be obtained from it. If there is a task for the writer, it is to stand up higher than anyone else and discover the escape route to progress. His function is to find a way towards greater spiritual and mental health for his civilization in particular and his species in general. This is my own intention, and unless other writers adopt the same attitude our civilization will remain leaderless, lost and exhausted, and the chaos will continue until its eclipse under radio-active clouds.

Literature has been an accelerating factor to this state of affairs over the last decade. Instead of acting as a brake it has been intent upon glorifying the lostness, the smallness and the absolute impotence of Man under adverse conditions. This is the reverse of what its role must be in the future. It must begin to emphasize in every way possible that Man need not be the victim of circumstances unless he is too old, shattered or sick to be anything else. It is the conquest of external conditions that determines the extent of Mankind’s difference from all other forms of life; and, in turn, decides the superiority of its leaders. If this is denied, then we are indeed due for elimination. Perhaps overdue. But contemporary writing will not bring itself to this assertion until it has been wrenched clear of its embrace with a falling society. The dismaying fact is, most writers seem quite satisfied to act out their present hysterical offices to the length of disaster itself. Their conversion is enough to set any salvationist with work to last several lifetimes.

It is customary for young writers to condemn those who have authority and influence. For my own part, I am unable to do this because I find their exhaustion only too understandable. The leaders of our civilization have strained at hopelessly impossible tasks for too long, and instead of creating a new structure for living, they have succeeded only in producing a succession of failures. Today they have reached a standstill, and the prospect of marshalling together one more attempt has become an outrage against all reason and experience.

They are reasonable men and their conclusion is, in the light of what they have done, entirely rational. If reason or rationalism can accept exhaustion, by the same terms ruin and death are equally acceptable. But survival is our inflexible rule of health; and since survival has become a completely irrational instinct, the time has arrived when we should look to the irrational for the means to reject this reasonable but (humanly speaking) unacceptable end of our civilization.

Firm upon this premise, I predict that within the next two or three decades we will see the end of pure rationalism as the foundation of our thinking. If we are to break out of our present encirclement, we must envisage Man from now on as super-rational; that is, possessing an inner compass of certainty beyond all logic and reason, and ultimately far more valid.

The times we are entering require a far more flexible and powerful way of thinking than rationalism ever provided. Three sovereign states have been loosing hydrogen tests in the world’s atmosphere in preparation for deterrent wars. Each new explosion shadow-boxes with genetical mutations in the coming generations. Populations everywhere are multiplying daily to that frightening point in the future when the earth’s food resources will not be sufficient to supply all with one decent meal a day. The fish harvests from the oceans are diminishing. The problems of soil erosion and the reclamation of land swallowed up by water remain unattended. These are only a few of the more obvious questions that call for solutions on a new level. A level of universal planning that can only be encompassed by a supranational body like world government. Meanwhile, science advances every year a trifle further beyond the comprehension of most of the human race.

The path of a civilization in our disorders leads directly to its extermination. And, while we take it, Proustians talk about their sensitivity in dark rooms and stylists continue to manufacture their glittering sentences. This is the marrying of an illness to a deformity; a grotesque mésalliance to make even a lunatic marvel. But it will go on, as I say, until writers turn away and look objectively to another part of the horizon.

I have stated that Man is more than rational, and that if he is not, he is finished. Now I take the argument forward another step and assert that his current exhaustion is the vacuum created by an absence of belief. At the beginning of this credo I declared that only a religious strength could conquer exhaustion, and by religious strength I meant, specifically, belief: exhaustion exists only to a degree commensurate to its wane. A complete dearth of belief mathematically equates to utter exhaustion. It is no coincidence that it has struck the most responsible members of our society; they are the ones who have had the responsibility of scraping the barrel of reason and materialism. The same exhaustion will strike at the leaders of the East just as surely within a span of time roughly corresponding, no doubt, to our own venture into pure rationalism.

Through history, the men and women who have towered over their contemporaries through their achievements and struggles have had extraordinary levels of belief. They have ranged from visionaries, saints and mystics to fanatics and plain, self-professed, men-of-destiny. Whether their beliefs were in an external thing—let us say the Church—or simply in themselves, was a matter of little importance. The result in every case was sufficiently positive to make them memorable. Each of them was primarily separated from those around him by a greater capacity for belief. It took all of them high above the eternally small, grumbling, self-pitying parts that constitute personality. Belief is, and I speak historically, the instrument for projecting oneself beyond one’s innate limitations. Reason, on the other hand, will have us acknowledge them, even when the recognition is disastrous, as now.

The admission of a permanent state of incompleteness has been made by a great many people and much of the damage I have referred to is the direct result of it. But their places have to be filled. It has become imperative that, just as a new way of thinking and a new literature are needed, a new leadership must also be evolved with the aim of combating this exhaustion by the restoration of belief.

When I speak of belief in the present context, I do not mean any belief in particular, of course, but rather belief divorced from all form whatsoever. The form is an arbitrary matter, and its choice in the sense of literature is essentially a matter for the writer’s temperament. Whatever the choice, the reservoir of power within belief offers any writer the certainty of major work.

woman hillside.jpg

It is obvious that this concern with belief leads inevitably to the heroic. The two are joined as essentially as flight to birds. The hero is the primary condition of all moral education, and his reality is synonymous with any great idea. He is literally the personification of the dramatic concept. But the heroic poses the possibility of people who can think and act with a magnitude close to the superhuman. The introduction of such characters and events will require a great deal of care and skill, for the ridiculous is only one step away.

The greatest difficulty overhanging this work, however, will be in the motive force itself. There has been a nonsensical confusion between belief and religion that has lasted for centuries. Instead of belief finding its separate identity, it has always been inextricably tied to religion. Churches of every denomination deliberately fostered this misconception from their beginnings, for the belief latent in men responded to hot appeal and willingly testified to the truth of any proffered set of doctrines. The nature of belief appears to be conducive to appeals. Its generosity is evident in this respect when we examine many of the childish and absurd inventions the various religions have offered worshippers at one time or another.

It is quite true that the Church has been the only vehicle for belief on any sizeable scale up to the present, and deserves credit for it, although self-interest provided its own reward. But it is absurd to regard belief on the basis of tradition as the monopoly of any organization. The Church was the first to understand the potentialities of its power and was also the first to direct it to an end; but sole proprietary rights were assumed too rigidly for the Church to pass us now as a public benefactor. Those who tried to break the monopoly were decried as heretics. Where it could, the Church had them burnt. This confiscation of belief and its isolation under the steeple brought about the Reformation and eventually the George Foxes and other champions of the right to independent belief.

Over the past fifty years there has been a general rejection of all churches with the sole exception of the strongest, Catholicism. The rejection parcelled belief with the Church and disposed of both. It was the result of a considerable amount of ignorance and a distinct lack of subtlety. Today, the same excuses do not hold, and if the mistake is repeated, it can never be done with the same blind vehemence of the first rejection.

If this social exhaustion of ours is due to the rejection of belief, how can writers reclaim it? There are three choices open, at least. The first is the establishment of a new religion. The second, to revitalize and reconstruct Christianity. The third, to trace belief to its source and turn it to a new account.

The argument against the first is that a new religion, whatever advantages it would have (supposing for a moment that it should find an ample crop of visionaries, priests, theologians and militant doctrines), would suffer from its lack of tradition more than it would profit by its modernity. Although many people talk somewhat loosely about the need for a new religion, the very impossibility of it as an overnight phenomenon rules it out for today.

However, should this particular miracle come to pass, its contribution to our civilization would be a substantial one while it was sustained by its visionaries. But as soon as the visionaries died, its hierarchy would become rigid as precedents in the history of every church show us without exception. There would be no more room for succeeding visionaries with their tradition-breaking habits in this church than in any other.


A priest is a poor substitute for a visionary. So poor, in fact, that the plenitude of them against the paucity of visionaries has largely dissuaded many who with the right inspiration would be religious. A visionary has the prerogative of freely contradicting himself while still retaining his influence. Less flexible, because he happens to lack a visionary’s imagination and vitality, the priest conscientiously commits to paper everything enunciated by the other in case he should forget the passport of his office. Subsequent generations of priests accept the dogmas laid out for them without demur or question on the same grounds. This is orthodoxy; its strength is in its ossification. The more rigid the observance, the more virtuous the believer . . .

There can be no prospect more terrible for any prophet coming after, and this is when a church really dies. When it is attacked from without, what is sent crashing is cardboard: the Church died after the passing of its first visionaries and the hardening of its arteries to fresh truths.

As this argues against the possibility of a new religion arising, it argues equally against the impossibility of a revitalized Christianity. Any great idea, if it is perpetuated without continual reappraisals, is eventually rendered into ritualistic twaddle and shibboleths that justify the cheapest sneers (although not the spirit) of its detractors. And finally, the sad truth is that the only men courageous enough to approach great ideas and test their truth are men of equal stature to their formulators. No church that I am aware of has produced an apostolic succession of this order, so we must put aside both possibilities as impractical for anyone who hopes to work within his own times.

The last alternative is the one that, under the circumstances, is the most realistic. If we can trace belief to its origins and examine it in terms of plain, unadorned power, we have a potential weapon that will play an immeasurable part in our salvaging. I am convinced that it is an internal power comparable, when fully released, to the external explosions of atomic energy. With a complete understanding of its nature, its functions and its strength at zenith, I believe that we can not only cure Man’s many illnesses, but determine by its use a level of health never before attained. If we can learn the answers to these questions, Man may be transformed within a few years from the hardening corpse he has become into a completely alive being. The change can only be for the better.

One of the most tiring assumptions that has gained universality is that Man is completely plotted, explored and known. Dancing to the cafe orchestra of Darwin and Freud, there has been a tendency over the last fifty years to regard humanity as a fully arrived and established quantity that has little variation and no mystery to the scientist. Nothing could be more untrue. Man is so embryonic that attempting to define him today is preparing a fallacy for tomorrow. He is inchoate, only just beginning. Given unlimited belief and vitality, he is capable of all the impossibilities one cares to catalogue, including the most preposterous. Equally, without belief and vitality, he is simply decaying meat like any other fatally wounded animal. The difference will be largely decided by writers.

This is not a disproportionate claim. Writers have always influenced and led the thinking of their own times, immediately after the heads of State and Church. Sometimes, as with the Voltaires, a long way in front of either of them. The present heads of State are clearly unable to see a way through the difficulties of today, and there is no reason for us to suppose they can do any better with tomorrow. The non-existence of any influential Church leaders in Britain prohibits any criticism of their recalcitrance. The only remaining candidates qualified as leaders are writers.

eschyle-01.jpgThe Greeks, unlike ourselves, expected their literary men to be thinkers and teachers as a matter of course. This expectation was justified by figures of the stature of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Dramatists like these preached, taught, entertained and prophesied with such vitality and authority that their judgements were taken away by their audiences and applied to all levels of civic life. That both playwrights and audiences prospered upon this didactic relationship is best shown by the intellectual versatility of the Hellenic world, which has yet to be repeated.

When Bernard Shaw demanded that the theatre should be a church, he also meant that the ideal church should be a serious theatre. So it was in the Greek world. Nobody could afford to miss a sermon of this sort, because there was nothing more intellectually and spiritually exciting to be found from Kephallenia to far Samoso. Each new drama-sermon made the Kingdom of Man a titanic affair that could not be taken casually, and if this is not a religious understanding, there is no such thing!

In addition to this laudable state of sanity, they had none of the blank one-sidedness about them that stamps the orthodox priest, because their real religion was Man, and no other. Because Man is only human when he is in movement, they were able to throw him into catastrophic dilemmas that modern religion would regard as blasphemous. But they threw him only to retrieve him, and by this method they were able to add new understandings of his darker territories and enlarge his consciousness. With the aid of such dramatists the citizens of the Greek city-states developed into creditable human beings. But the high level of the theatre was to fall, and the whole of the Greek world was not long in following it.

Seneque.jpgWhen the Roman Empire rose to take its place, Terence and Seneca, the bright lights of Latin, reflected a frightening deterioration in what was expected of a writer. Julius Caesar found it an easy matter to be both a swashbuckler and a scribe in a world that, culturally, could not even conquer sculpture. But Rome’s poverty was magnificence compared to the bankruptcy prevailing in Britain and everywhere else in the civilized world today.

However, when I call in history to augment my contentions I am beating upon a broken drum. The role I predict for writers is one entirely without precedent, and it is the better because of it. Aeschylus and his colleagues refined the Greeks, and that was quite enough for their day. But today writers must become the pathfinders to a new kind of civilization. That new civilization remains an impossibility until we extricate our own civilization from the destruction that threatens it.

The problem is that of the individual. What kind of man or woman survives cataclysmic events better than any others? What kind of people are the first to fall? What are the first disciplines necessary for a new, positive way of thinking? These questions, together with ten thousand others, fall into the kind of prophetic writing that will be needed to solve the problems that lie immediately ahead. The duty then of all writers who are concerned with tomorrow is to concentrate on defining human characters at differing stages of ideal health. From this gallery it will be possible for us to aim at men and women dynamically capable of laying the foundations of our new world. We may not be able to describe precisely the men and women we want, but at least we can provide a reasonable indication. We can narrow the perimeter of choice.

I realize that there is as great a difference between facts and speculations in the minds of writers as in the minds of ordinary people. The great difference is that writers are particularly suited to the correlation of apparently hostile facts, often blatant contradictions, and their craft teaches them to deepen and extend thoughts to final understandings that seem almost mystical to the average person. This talent to reach down into the depths of men and find appalling corruption, and far from being ruined by the revelation proceed to conceive supreme peaks of human perfection, is common to both writer and visionary. There is no reason why they should be different in other ways, if the dedication is strong enough.

Until now most writers have concerned themselves with recording the anomalies and cruelties perpetrated by a skinflint world upon a good small man. Modern literature, for lack of a great aim, has become a Valhalla for those who shriek, beat their brows and weep more energetically than anyone else. As a device, hysteria is very useful for a writer, but as an end it becomes patently ludicrous. Any writer who resorts to such tricks without offering a ticket of destination is wasting his own time and the time of his readers, flouting the Zeitgeist in the most imbecilic fashion, and finally (I hope) cutting his own throat.

The truth of today is too plain for clear-thinking people to ignore, however uncomfortable it may be to the inherently lazy. We must grow larger . . . see further and deeper . . . think with more skill, concentration and originality—or become extinct. If we are not capable of meeting these seemingly unattainable requirements, writers such as myself will persist obstinately in trying to have things as we want them even if the words are finally addressed to the abyss rather than human faces. If the crusade is a hopeless one, it will be so only because there is nothing more impregnable than human weakness. This is an important conclusion, and its recognition offers three salient truths.

First, that a writer’s duty is to urge forward his society towards fuller responsibility, however incapable it may appear.

Second, a writer must take upon himself the duties of the visionary, the evangelist, the social leader and the teacher in the absence of other candidates.

Third, that he understands the impossible up-hill nature of a crusade and counters it by infusing in everything he creates a spirit of desperation.

This spirit of desperation is the closest approximation we can get to the religious fervour that brought about a large number of miraculous feats of previous, less reasonable, epochs. In desperation, as with religious exaltation, miracles, revelations and extraordinary personalities can be brought to everyday acceptance. The great advantage of it is that one can develop it to the point of being able to evoke it whenever there is cause for it.

I used the atmosphere of desperation in my first novel, The Divine and the Decay, very much in the way that a wind comes through an open door, throws a room into a sudden disarray, then leaves as abruptly. The wind in this case is a fanatic, and the room with an open door a small island community. As always in such cases, one is left perplexed and filled with a sense of indefinable outrage that has little to do with the disarray that must be restored to order. There is something maniacal about a really desperate man that welds him into a total unity and he becomes an embodiment of a single idea. Almost, dramatically speaking, flesh wrapped around an idea. Working for so long with desperation as my tool, I also learned about the merits of the lull, when the air vibrated with the foreboding of the next entrance. I relearned also a Greek lesson: how to turn presence into absence and absence into presence. But these details are worth mentioning only in relation to the use of desperation in contradistinction to the monotonous normality that most writers regard as the acme of reality.

Desperation is the only attitude that can galvanize us from this lethargic non-living of ours. But without a calculated direction desperation is useless. Misadventures in its application can leave us dangerously drained of further effort. This is where the dramatization of aims is expressly the writer’s function. Consider the case of Sisyphus, whom the Gods had forever rolling that gigantic boulder of his up a hill and forever having it roll down again when he neared the top. The punishment was inflicted upon only too human strength. But with enough desperation the penalized king would not have attempted to roll it up after the first couple of attempts. He would have picked it up and flung it over the impossible crest, straight into the faces of his Olympian tormentors. I can think of many contemporary equivalents of the Sisyphean plight that are incessant defeats only because each of the sufferers refuses to rear up and wreck his opposition with the fury of desperation. To me, desperation is our immediate instrument, in the absence of belief, for collapsing this damnable, subhuman recognition of one’s surface limitations. Refuse to acknowledge them and the horizon spreads wide.


This cannot be done without examples, as I have said. The examples themselves can only be set by fanatics advancing be-yond the arena of human experience and knowledge. In a religious sense, the fanatic or writer goes into the wilderness, the first act of any visionary’s apprenticeship. Simultaneously, he becomes a social leader also, for humanity having to travel beyond the point where it now rests will only use paths already trodden.

New paths can only be created by writers with a desperate sense of responsibility. The only others capable of such a task are religious and philosophic minds, but unfortunately orthodoxy has ruined the first, and a desiccation debars the second. In resting the responsibility of human deliverance upon writers I am not calling for miraculous transitions antipathetic to their nature. Fundamentally, the writer has always been a prophet and a diviner in embryo. Centuries of ‘telling a jolly tale’ have simply caused him to let these other parts fall into disuse. I want their return, and I want them cultivated to full growth.

At the moment, the position of the writer in society is a difficult one. The good ones feel, quite rightly, that they should be antagonistic to authority; but the feeling is only a feeling and remains nothing more because few have got around to the point where they must begin wrestling with it. Because of this apprehension which is not turned into positive action, these writers find themselves nullified and abortive. They try to offset this predicament by an over-haughty pride in their isolation. More specifically they emphasize their artistic position to offset shortened powers, and offer a defensive facade of being icy intellectual pinnacles which, in actuality, spells death to their work if this attitude is carried to their desks.

To be exact, a writer is rather a ludicrous figure at work. He must be, to put himself in an arena with berserk bulls to gauge how much damage the horns can do. The gorings constitute literally the blood and tissue of his work; they are part of his empirical research into life. Perhaps research is too dignified a term for the tattered and bloody creature he becomes if he persists until he reaches the level of a good writer.

By such voluntary acts, he becomes an authority on the most fundamental subjects. Pain, for instance. It is not the politician, theologian or doctor who catalogues the depth, the range and the gamut of it, but the writer. He can state from personal knowledge that it has a hundred different pages, all written in different inks. Similarly, he is an expert in regions like agony, happiness, terror, exultation and whirling hope. These are his working neighbour-hoods.

He also knows from personal experiment the fine shades of violence; its velocity, trajectory and impact; its sources, and its quivering conclusions. When an accident is about to happen, let us say an aeroplane is plunging in a death dive, or a child is about to go under the wheels of a motor car, most eyes will be averted until it is over. But this is a luxury a writer simply cannot afford, and he will watch even if the object of study is someone he loves intensely. He has conditioned himself to observe everything that happens within his orbit with a steady and remembering eye. As his craft is produced at first-hand, constantly in positions of physical and mental hardship, for him the step towards vision and leadership is not a large one.

On the face of it, it seems ironical that a writer who goes to such lengths to learn this abnormal craft should use it only for the purpose of entertaining. But most are given little choice to be anything else with the shadow of destruction hanging over them. The few writers who would like to create heroic work are discouraged in advance, for they cannot be sure of even polite credulity on the part of readers. All ambitious contemporary writers are haunted by the thin, peaky face of the rational reader who peruses his literature with the pursed lips of a confirmed sceptic. Anything larger than his own life is anathema to this gentleman. Authors know it well and go in dread of him. This is why only a foolhardy few dare create anything but the slightest, most prosaic structures. The heroic, the bizarre, the moral and religious fabrics, have been torn down in the interests of reality. If the realities were large there would be little ground for complaint, but what is considered to be real by the normal canons of judgement is, of course, as confined as candlelight. It is not surprising that creative thinking today operates upon candle-power.

The situation is so bad that many leading writers have fallen to mocking their own ability to serve ‘fodder to pygmies’. They are proud of the ingeniousness they have developed over the course of time in feeding sly pieces of originality with every hundredth spoonful, done so skilfully it passes almost unnoticed. It is the bare remnants of creative pride. In another age a man could be a master; today he must be a midget, breathing a sigh of relief every time he gets away with his creative crime unpunished. This attitude of contemptuous hostility between writers and readers is another symptom of the need for a rupture between life and literature. The writer cannot create as largely as he wants; the reader is incapable of belief. Unless this stalemate is broken and another game started, the chess pieces will be swept to the floor . . .

Let me take you into the theatre and make an illustration of tragedy. An infinite number of creators have visited this terrain for the purpose of laying their masterpieces. It is as studded with great monuments as a war cemetery. On one you will read Prometheus Bound, next to it, Agamemnon. Close by perhaps Oedipus Rex, and, among the newer additions, Hamlet, Macbeth and Faust. Death . . . broken dreams . . . disillusion . . . There are a thousand threads in the pattern of it, and no doubt there are persons who walk the streets of London, Berlin and New York with threads still unwound and unwritten in their minds. But tragedy, with all the multiplicity of permutations before its in-evitable curtain, has one basic demand. The downfall.

My difficulty is in imagining how an object can fall in any direction other than down. However, most thinking people today appear to find more difficulty in imagining any height superior to themselves. That brings us to the dilemma. If a tragic figure is to fall he obviously cannot fall a few inches and hope to capture our awe or our pity; his fall must be a considerable one. It never is, under the present conditions. As soon as the figure of prospective tragedy begins to climb over the heads of his audience, they insist he climb down again to a height where they can believe in him. The only exception to this is Jack and the Beanstalk. And Jack only gets away with it, I surmise, because his pantomime appears in the Christian season of drunkenness and makes a swift departure before sober judgements are restored.

If a hero cannot rise, he cannot fall; on this point of order such good rationalists as Galileo, Newton and Einstein will bear me out. Such a fall would be unnatural, ungravitational and illogical; in fact, there is no fall. And yet Tragedy must have it.

Very well, what is it that sets the proper height for a tragic descent? Put in this way, it is like discussing a ballerina’s artistry in terms of ballistics! Let us assert, however, that tragedy has always demanded the greatest height conceivable as an essential condition of the downfall. A lot of levels contribute to make up this total height. The height is created by an outraged spiritual understanding, a shattered moral code and the complete social abasement of the protagonist. The downfall is darker than death; and often death is willingly chosen in preference to it, indeed as the very palliative of it when the intensity of anguish produced becomes fully manifest.


But these platforms of consciousness are ridiculously archaic to the modern world. The religious, moral and social heights have become melodramatic and unintelligent, beside the more modern concentration on the significance of a man’s facial twitches under psychoanalysis. For that, we have banged our windows shut on Heaven and locked the cellar door on Hell. We have foreshortened our intelligence accordingly. The result is that Oedipus Rex, Prometheus Bound, Hamlet, Macbeth and Faust would not only be laughed out of our London theatres if they were written today but, in truth, would be impossible to write today unless my thesis for creating fresh belief finds more general acceptance. Until it has, our own contribution to tragedy’s magnificent cemetery is a headstone inscribed: No More Tragedies. By it, we have created a tragedy infinitely more tragic than anything by Aeschylus, Shakespeare or Goethe.

The only indulgence to tragedy on the London stage is accorded to Shakespeare, whose vintage has removed him beyond the critical appraisals of the cognoscenti. The Shakespearian seasons that continue ad nauseam in the Waterloo Road serve as final evidence that the only good writer is a dead one. While the Old Vic flourishes as a salve to the national conscience, the absence of new tragedy is concealed from all but those who love and care for the theatre. The phenomenon of the Old Vic is the story of the Orthodox Church hardening its arteries against fresh truths all over again. Just as the Church is content with past visionaries and anachronistic dogmas, the theatre brandishes dead playwrights as its testament of greatness. In either case the result is bad. The sad and obvious truth about the titans of the past is that Aeschylus did not know the meaning of world over-population; Goethe was in the dark about guided missiles; Shakespeare was a complete idiot on the question of nuclear fission. The only writers competent to deal with these present-day problems are writers who are alive!

I believe that this civilization of ours requires cement to stop its crash until a new civilization is developed. Its great need, ultimately, is for a new religion to give it strength. In the meantime we urgently need a philosophy to span the gaps in our society that grow wider every day. But a philosophy and a religion can be evolved only by a new leadership. The possibility of such leaders depends solely on whether we can produce men capable of thinking without rule or precedent. Apart from writers with phenomenal powers of dedication, I cannot see the likelihood of such men emerging in time to meet the oncoming crises.

For these reasons, I believe that literature must be the cradle of our future religion, philosophy and leadership. In this belief I see the writer filling the paramount role if our civilization is to survive.

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/03/ways-without-a-precedent/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/SculptureParts.jpg

[2] Artists of the Right: https://secure.counter-currents.com/artists-of-the-right/

[3] Jonathan Bowden: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/07/bill-hopkins-and-he-angry-young-men/

[4] part 1: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/03/the-prophet-of-exhaustion-part-1/

[5] part 2: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/03/the-prophet-of-exhaustion-part-2/

[6] Bill Hopkins: http://www.counter-currents.com/tag/bill-hopkins/

[7] Colin Wilson: http://www.counter-currents.com/tag/colin-wilson/

[8] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/billhopkins-ida-kar1.jpg

[9] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/hopkins2.jpg

[10] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Bill-Hopkins-4-1.jpg

[11] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/declaration.jpg


lundi, 16 février 2015

Horreur et endettement chez Lovecraft


Horreur et endettement chez Lovecraft

Ex: http://www.philitt.fr

La littérature d’horreur dit-elle quelque chose du monde ? Un auteur qui ne s’intéresse ni à l’argent ni au sexe peut-il avoir un message radical sur ce qui lie l’économie à la reproduction ? En somme, Le Cauchemar d’Innsmouth de Howard Phillips Lovecraft a-t-il pour sujet la crise de 29 ?

Le Cauchemar d’Innsmouth est l’une des nouvelles les plus connues de Lovecraft. Elle figure parmi les titres réputés « canoniques » du « Mythe de Cthulhu » pour user d’un vocable qui appartient sans doute, désormais, à un état passé de la critique. En tout cas, nul, parmi les amateurs de Lovecraft, ne nie que ce texte soit l’un des plus importants d’une œuvre qui a marqué l’histoire de la littérature d’horreur. De même, la fécondité des images évoquées par ce récit est évidente aujourd’hui, que ce soit dans les romans, les bandes dessinées, les films.

Le schéma narratif est tout simple : un jeune homme est obligé de passer la nuit dans un village côtier de Nouvelle-Angleterre. L’activité halieutique, si prospère auparavant, semble désormais marginale. Les quais sont abandonnés, les maisons dans un état de décrépitude avancée, la population semble dégénérée. Après avoir rencontré un vieil homme qui lui dévoile les secrets d’Innsmouth, le narrateur réussit, non sans mal, à s’enfuir d’une ville dont la population lui est désormais hostile.

Ce récit a inspiré bien des réflexions et des analyses. La moins incontestable repose sur la plus choquante des révélations faites par Zadok Allen : Innsmouth a été le lieu de l’accouplement infâme de ses habitants avec des créatures venues des profondeurs des océans. Depuis, ces hybrides, déterminés par leur hérédité et leurs intérêts, conspirent à l’éradication de l’humanité. La logique de l’horreur dans ce récit tient donc au métissage. Or, comme la critique l’a justement fait remarquer, l’auteur lui-même, dans sa vision du monde et ses opinions politiques, était tout sauf indifférent à cette question. C’est parce que Lovecraft rejetait le métissage dans la vie réelle qu’il en a fait un objet d’horreur dans la fiction, voilà toute la thèse.

Lovecraft et l’argent

Il n’est nullement dans notre intention, ici, de nous écarter de cette interprétation dominante que nous croyons avoir par ailleurs renforcée, en faisant le parallèle avec les événements de Malaga Island que Lovecraft ne pouvait ignorer. Le métissage était pour Lovecraft un objet d’horreur sociale et littéraire. Il reste cependant à interroger les mécanismes qui rendent le métissage inéluctable et malheureux ; à révéler les ruses de l’abâtardissement et à démontrer en quoi le métissage est non seulement un ressort de l’horreur lovecraftienne mais ce qui en fait la spécificité et qui lui donne sa dimension cosmique.

En effet, s’arrêter à l’argument classique qui résume et explique tout par le racisme nous semble très insatisfaisant. Le racisme est une idée et les idées ne sont jamais premières dans l’ordre de la causalité. Le racisme est la conceptualisation, parfois pathologique, de la prise de conscience de la fragilité des liens biologiques et culturels qui lient l’homme à ses ancêtres, rien de plus. Rien de plus, mais rien de moins et la question de l’hérédité et de l’héritage, en somme, celle de Lovecraft comme héritier doit être posée.


Il est commun de noter que Lovecraft n’avait d’intérêt ni pour l’argent, ni pour le sexe. Or, son œuvre, de par la question de la filiation, partout présente, met le sexe en avant. Non pas le sexe comme idée théorisant le plaisir — sous les formes jumelles de l’amour ou de la perversion — mais le sexe comme réalité biologique dont le plaisir n’est qu’une ruse, c’est-à-dire le mécanisme de transmission des caractères héréditaires. Qu’en est-il, alors, de l’argent ? N’est-il pas, lui aussi, chose qui s’hérite ?

Le mépris notoire de Lovecraft pour tout ce qui est vénal ne fait pas de lui un homme qui méprise l’argent. C’est un luxe que la gêne lui refuse. Cet homme incapable (délibérément incapable) d’exiger ce qui lui est dû, n’est en rien un inconscient. L’éthique n’est pas chez lui l’alibi de la faiblesse. Ce gentleman généreux et magnanime sait vivre chichement, voilà tout. Il sait épargner aux autres ses propres fragilités, fussent-elles innocentes. Tout au long de sa vie, il s’est montré économe. Il mangeait peu et mal ; il n’achetait pas tous les livres qu’il désirait ; il ne voyageait que quand il le pouvait et toujours par les moyens les plus modestes.

Robert Olmstead, le héros du Cauchemar d’Innsmouth, parcourt la Nouvelle-Angleterre en « amateur d’antiquité et de généalogie » en « choisissant toujours le trajet le plus économique ». Le personnage et son auteur ont en commun de voyager pour les mêmes raisons et avec les mêmes contraintes. C’est l’obligation de ne pas trop dépenser qui amène le protagoniste de ce théâtre de l’horreur à prendre le misérable bus d’Innsmouth et c’est sa curiosité pour les antiquités et la généalogie qui le pousse à quitter son « île de placide ignorance. » En effet, les personnages de Lovecraft, comme Lovecraft lui-même, ne sont animés ni par la libido sentiendi (le sexe), ni par la libido dominandi (le pouvoir que seul donne l’argent dans les sociétés modernes), mais par la libido sciendi, (la volonté de savoir). Robert Olmstead ne déroge pas à la règle : il veut tout savoir sur le monde et il finira par tout savoir de lui-même, y compris le pire.

Le cauchemar de 1929

Cependant, l’argent et, plus largement, la question économique ne sont pas un simple ressort de l’intrigue. Ils en sont le cœur. Le tableau qui est fait d’Innsmouth est tout de contraste. Aux couleurs chatoyantes de l’opulence passée s’opposent celles, délavées, de la décrépitude présente. « Il reste plus de maisons vides que de gens », mais ce sont les belles et dignes maisons de l’aristocratie commerçante qui sont, aujourd’hui, délabrées. De même, les vastes entrepôts de briques rouges le long des quais sont à l’abandon. Quant à l’église et à la salle de réunion maçonnique, on y rend un autre culte désormais. Lovecraft, lecteur de Spengler, décrit là une parfaite pseudomorphose : les structures minérales sont toujours là, mais ceux qui les peuplent et, de ce fait, leur nature elle-même, sont radicalement altérés.

Jadis le commerce, la pêche et les conserveries de poisson avaient enrichi Innsmouth. Aujourd’hui, sans que rien ne le justifie, la ville n’est plus que l’ombre d’elle-même. L’angoisse première naît de cette ruine inexplicable. Cependant, l’affinerie Marsh, elle, semble encore en activité. N’est-ce point paradoxal alors qu’il n’y a plus ni commerce ni navires au long cours pour ramener des métaux précieux ? En tout cas, ce noyau d’activité au sein d’une ville rongée et ruinée ne paraît en rien freiner le déclin général. À croire que les bénéfices, s’il y en a, ne profitent à personne…

Quand Lovecraft écrit Le Cauchemar d’Innsmouth, l’Amérique est au début de la Grande Dépression. Pour beaucoup d’Américains, le Krach de 1929 a été une surprise totale et les événements qui ont suivi sont apparus comme dépourvus de toute logique. Les rares esprits assez lucides pour en comprendre la rationalité y ont vu la conséquence nécessaire de l’excès de crédit. Il y a eu un pacte trompeur entre l’espoir et le prêt. L’espoir a déçu, le prêt s’est réduit à la dette et les hommes ne furent plus rien qu’esclaves de la dette. Voilà ce que disaient certains contemporains. Mais, n’est-ce point de cela qu’il s’agit dans la nouvelle de Lovecraft ?

Que dit le vieux Zadok Allen à Robert Olmstead ? Que les plus riches et les plus aventureux des voyageurs et des commerçants d’Innsmouth ont conclu, dans les îles des mers du Sud, un marché avec une race amphibie très ancienne. La situation économique n’était pas bonne au lendemain de la guerre de 1812. Que demandaient-ils, au fond, ces hommes aux visages de poisson, en échange de leur or ? Qu’on expédie quelques Canaques à la mer pour qu’ils les offrent à leurs dieux ? La belle affaire ! Ce n’est pas cher payé ! Et pour le reliquat, il serait toujours temps de voir.


Per usura n’ont les hommes de lignées pures

Mais les créatures venues de la mer avaient bien plus à vendre que leur or. Elles voulaient autre chose et étaient prêtes à donner bien plus en contrepartie. Que vos fils et nos filles s’accouplent et leur progéniture sera immortelle, dirent-elles ! Passant leurs réticences premières, non sans déchirement, non sans violence, les habitants d’Innsmouth l’acceptèrent. C’est une façon trop tentante de régler ses dettes que de les reporter sur la génération suivante et puis doit-elle se plaindre ? Elle ne sera plus humaine, certes, elle sera, par ses épousailles, éternellement liée à Dagon et à jamais tributaire de forces par nature hostiles à l’Homme puisqu’en concurrence avec lui dans le struggle for life cosmique, mais elle sera, aussi, à tout jamais libérée de la finitude humaine.

Alors, « les gens ont commencé a pus rien faire », à quoi bon ? L’or venait de la mer et achetait les complaisances ; le poisson abondait et permettait de nourrir des hommes désormais à demi-poisson ; le temps n’était plus à craindre ; l’attente n’aboutissait plus à la mort ; la vie n’était qu’un lent glissement vers le fond des océans et vers une autre façon de vivre, de rire, de tuer. Tout au plus fallait-il prêter l’oreille à la musique des abysses dans l’impatience du retour de Celui qui n’est pas mort. Car, le païen Lovecraft fait d’Innsmouth le lieu d’une attente messianique, celle d’un grand nettoyage, suivi du remplacement de la race humaine par une autre à la fois plus ancienne et plus radicalement tournée vers ce futur qui verra le retour des Grands Anciens.

Cependant, le lecteur sait depuis le début que cette échéance eschatologique sera reculée. Le narrateur échappe à la ville et dénonce ce qui s’y passe à un gouvernement qui n’hésite pas à renoncer un instant à être un État de droit en recourant à l’état d’exception.

Ce que Lovecraft décrit dans sa nouvelle, il le voit sous ses yeux. L’Italie et l’Allemagne en Europe, les États-Unis du New Deal sous ses yeux lui montrent que la crise de 1929 et, au-delà du symptôme, que la modernité ne sont pas inéluctables. Comme chez beaucoup de conservateurs, l’espérance dans l’État (dans sa violence) se substitue au pessimisme politique. Le socialisme comme organisation de l’économie apparaît, aux yeux de ces hommes, comme un moyen de préservation de l’ordre ancien — non dans sa lettre, mais dans son esprit.

Le cauchemar d’Innsmouth est celui de la dette et de son corollaire, l’abâtardissement. Seul le réveil de l’État peut nous en sauver (provisoirement), y est-il suggéré. Comment ? Par l’état d’exception, par la déportation, par l’extermination. Le massacre final n’est rien d’autre que la vision fantasmagorique d’un New Deal musclé, d’un fascisme à l’américaine. L’horreur romanesque ou politique n’a d’autre issue, pour Lovecraft, que dans cette ultime violence retardatrice et seulement retardatrice. Car le gentleman de Providence sait aussi cette profonde vérité : tout passe.


samedi, 22 novembre 2014

Un poète rebelle, immortel et toujours debout

Un poète rebelle, immortel et toujours debout

Auran Derien
Ex: http://metamag.fr

pound35.jpgAu mois de novembre 1972, disparaissait le génial Ezra Pound dont la lutte contre l’usure fut une direction fondamentale de la vie et de l’œuvre. Les Cantos prohibidos (Chants interdits) sont une création poétique admirable qu’aucun usurier ne pourra faire oublier malgré les efforts pour salir tout ce qui est beau, noble et généreux. La haine des banksters s’est traduite par la proclamation que Pound était un “malade mental” qui fut enfermé dans un établissement pour psychopathes. 

Le poète fuit le grand asile d’aliénés

Ezra Loomis Pound naquit aux Etats-Unis dans l’Etat d’Idaho en 1885 et mourut à Venise en novembre 1972. S’il a été la plus grande gloire littéraire jamais née dans ce pays, il fut le plus européen de tous ses écrivains. Peu après la fin de ses études (Université de Pennsyvania), il édita la revue “Poetry” dans laquelle il fit connaître entre autres William Butler Yeats et Thomas Stearns Eliot. Il quitta les Etats-Unis en 1911, quasi définitivement. Il y retourna contraint et forcé après la seconde guerre mondiale.

Il s’installa en Angleterre où il fonda le mouvement “imagisme” et en rédigea, en 1914, la première anthologie Hommage à Properce où il parle de la décadence de l’Empire Romain. Il prophétisa ensuite la chute de l’Empire britannique dans “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley”. Il évolua lentement vers une perception “vorticiste”, mouvement qu’il opposa aux esthétiques antérieures ainsi qu’au conservatisme anglais. Tout naturellement, le vorticisme voulait être une esthétique appropriée au monde de son temps. L’œuvre principale, la plus connue, les Cantos, contient 117 poèmes dont la rédaction s’étale de 1917 à 1968. On y découvre l’envergure prodigieuse de son talent et l’immensité de sa culture. Il y utilise les principales langues européennes ainsi que le mandarin, qu’il maîtrisait au même titre que l’arabe. Quoique l’anglais prédomine, il se sert abondamment d’expressions provençales, grecques, latines, françaises, espagnoles et surtout italiennes, affirmant que certaines idées doivent être exprimées dans leur langue initiale pour ne pas les altérer. On est loin ici des camarillas contemporaines pour lesquelles la traduction mensongère est la base du commerce de niaiseries pieuses. Les mafias s’abattront sur lui, authentique génie - hors du commun - de la littérature du XXème siècle. Le motif de la haine fut que, depuis l’Italie qu’il aimait tant, il parla à Radio Rome durant la seconde guerre mondiale, incitant les USA à ne pas entrer dans le conflit puis se faisant l’avocat d’une paix honorable. Lorsque l’Italie fut envahie par l’armée US avec l’aide de la mafia italienne, Pound fut arrêté, enfermé dans une cage exposée aux intempéries. On n’oubliera pas qu’aux Etats-Unis il fut condamné à la prison pour trahison. Parce que le monde de la culture devait beaucoup au poète, quelques personnalités dont Hemingway, qu’on saluera donc au passage, obtinrent son transfert dans un hôpital psychiatrique. Lorsqu’il put enfin sortir, il abandonna les USA au profit de l’Italie qui avait été une Patrie adoptive. En arrivant il promit de ne plus faire de déclarations, après avoir affirmé que finalement il avait pu sortir d’un asile d’aliénés peuplé de 180 millions d’habitants. On se souviendra aussi qu’en descendant du bateau Christophe Colomb qui le déposa à Naples le 9 juillet 1958, il salua à la Romaine sa patrie d’adoption. 

Un écrivain maudit

Cantos_Ezra_Pound.jpgSi Pound n’est pas apprécié dans les médias, la raison en est son immense lucidité. Il a accepté la responsabilité historique d’écrire à contre courant, d’être un rebelle à temps complet. Son talent secouait la médiocrité et le mensonge. Son œuvre fonctionne comme un miroir dans lequel les trafiquants voient leur infâmie. Tout cela a été délégitimé par l’industrie du spectacle et les prédicateurs médiatiques. L’écrivain contemporain, celui pour qui les lobbys obtiendront un prix “ en souvenir de Nobel”, n’est plus qu’un propagandiste du meilleur des mondes. Pound reste l’ultime manifestation de l’esprit, incarne l’aède antique même si en ce moment les shopping center ont remplacé le forum.

Mais l’œuvre est là, les “Cantos prohibidos” contre l’usure ont été formulés, le poète est toujours debout, immortel. Il en sera ainsi jusqu’à ce que ces chants fassent tomber les murs des marchés spéculatifs, envoient les usuriers dans des marmites remplies d’eau où ils finiront en bouillie comme l’ont mérité, au cours du temps nombre, de faux-monnayeurs.

jeudi, 20 novembre 2014

The Lovecraftian Fiction of Don Webb


Knowing All the Angles:
The Lovecraftian Fiction of Don Webb

By James J. O'Meara 

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

Don Webb
Through Dark Angles: Works Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft [2]
New York: Hippocampus Press, 2014

“A firm rule must be imposed upon our nation before it destroys itself. The United States needs some theology and geometry, some taste and decency. I suspect that we are teetering on the edge of the abyss.” — John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

I don’t know if I am delivering cows to the slaughterhouse door or helping beautiful butterflies out of their cocoon. . . . I made simple diagrams showing all the angles. Humans picked up where they had stopped four thousand years ago.” — Don Webb, “The Megalith Plague”

4b584464f21f6a74d8dac928cde3a6ea.image.390x600.jpgDon Webb has been writing short stories, and the occasional novel, since, as a rather indifferent undergraduate at Texas Tech, he took a supposedly easy-A class in “The Science Fiction Short Story” and discovered that unlike his fellow slackers, he’d rather take the write a story option than the term paper. The story itself was equally indifferent, but by then the hook was in, a writer born.

Earlier still, as a mere sprout growing up in Texas, Webb had discovered the chilly pleasures of weird fiction, and H. P. Lovecraft in particular. So, like so many others, it was natural that he should turn his hand to tales inspired by Lovecraft and his mythos. He’s now a professor of writing at the University of Texas, and this collection brings together about thirty years’ worth of his homages to the eldritch Master, each one also dedicated to another weird writer.

Now, before you saddle up and hit the trail, heading out the other direction, expecting the literary equivalent of a Star Trek convention,[1] well, just hold your horses, pardner[2] — you should know right away that these are no ordinary, all too ordinary, works of Lovecraft pastiche.

Apart from literary polish, what sets these tales apart from others and links them all together — or manifests itself within them — is Webb’s particular take on Lovecraft and the occult in general.

Reflecting perhaps his day job as an English professor, Webb distinguishes the tragic approach to Lovecraft — epitomized by such “miserablists” as Thomas Ligotti — and the comedic (as in the Divine Comedy) — well represented by August Derleth. For the one, knowledge brings disaster and, well, misery; for the other, the officially sanctioned dogmas of revealed religion assure us that all will be set right eventually.

Webb then announces a third approach, his own — the Epic. Lovecraft characters such as Randolph Carter or Joseph Curwen “rebel[s] against cosmic injustice,” and

Brave souls [who] seek to gain entrance into a heightened realm of perception and will do so by embracing the darkness — not the darkness of Sunday school “evil” but the darkness of the unknown.

For every hundred readers thinking how dreadful it would be to have one’s brains removed by the Fungi or one’s psyche trans-temporally transposed by the Great Race, there is one who secretly wishes for it to happen.

With these bold words Webb aligns himself with those Lovecraftians who affirm that whatever the old boy thought, Wisdom is Good.[3]

For example, in “Calling Cthulhu [3],”[4] esoteric journalist Erik Davis described the then-nascent cult of pop-Cthulhu, and noted that Lovecraft’s “dread” and “horror” seemed to belong to a 19th-century materialist confronting vast new vistas opened up by science, not unlike those opened by the ’60s drug culture, as he describes it in a later article on Cthulhu porn:

In this tangy bon-bon of nihilistic materialism, Lovecraft anticipates a peculiarly modern experience of dread, one conjured not by irrational fears of the dark but rather by the speculative realism of reason itself, staring into the cosmic void. . . . This terror before the empty and ultimately unknowable universe of scientific materialism is what gives the cosmic edge to the cosmic horror that Lovecraft, more than any other writer, injected into the modern imagination (though props must be given up as well to Arthur Machen, William Hope Hodgson, and, in the closing chapters of The Time Machine at least, H. G. Wells). While many secular people proclaim an almost childlike wonder at the mind-melting prospect of the incomprehensibly vast universe sketched out by astrophysics and bodied forth by doctored Hubble shots, Lovecraft would say that we have not really swallowed the implication of this inhuman immensity—that we have not, in other words, correlated our contents.[5]

As Webb says,

I write to create wonder, which can be ecstasy and fear or simple alienation. I write thus to heal my Gnostic soul, the alien man trapped in this world. Fortunately some others share my needs and have bought this little book. I hope I can abduct them from the workaday world into a place of weird realism.[6] I hope you won’t be quite the same when you return to your “real” life. Hail to the Ancient Dreams!

As words like ‘Gnostic’ and ‘epic’ clue us in, this is the Heroic or Dry Path of the Hermetic, or Magical, Tradition, as discussed by Baron Evola.[7] In these traditions, the pursuit of Knowledge is not a sinful urge subject to dreadful punishment, as in the Abrahamic religions Lovecraft, atheist that he is, is still influenced by,[8] but rather the essence of the Path itself.[9]

And so Webb himself is not only a teacher of writing but also a high priest of the Temple of Set, and a student of the great theorist of the Left Hand Path, Dr. Stephen A. Flowers (another Texan!).[10] His weird tales are kinda like “The Dunwich Horror” written from Wilbur’s point of view.[11]

The nature of that wisdom is also of interest. An adolescent reading of Derleth’s anthology Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (my own first exposure to Lovecraftiana) acquainted him with

[T]he Bloch-Lovecraft sequence [of tales; i.e., Bloch‘s “The Shambler from the Stars” and Lovecraft’s response] that forever caught my mind with the Shining Trapezohedron. A gateway to “other spaces” — possibly one of the most effective symbols of cosmicism for itself. This image haunts both my fiction and my esoteric pursuits [my emphasis].

And so Webb eventually became a Knight of the Order of the Trapezoid, initiated by Dr. Stephen Flowers.

Now, the notion of the Secret being mathematics is certainly a notion Lovecraft uses as a prop in stories like “The Shambler from the Stars” and eminently in “The Dreams in the Witch House” (which features the bizarre notion of “non-Euclidean calculus”[12]. However, serious use of mathematics as a symbol, and even a method of enlightenment, goes back at least to Plato, up through Leibniz,[13] and most recently has been promoted by the endless stream of pseudepigraphical kindles from the so-called “Illuminati Conspiracy.”[14]

And it maps easily, I think, onto the Traditional metaphysics, the path of jnana, as outlined by René Guénon.[15]

So the picture that emerges is that both Webb’s take on Lovecraft, and his view of reality, are one, neither cosmic despair (Lovecraft, Ligotti, or Dawkins[16] nor blind Abrahamic “faith” (Derleth and millions of others) but optimistic enlightenment through mathematics (Guénon, The Illuminati Conspiracy, Webb).[17]

But make no mistake; these are well-written tales, not agitprop for the Illuminati; and they are delicious horror tales, with the protagonists usually meeting unfortunate ends:

Detective Sergeant Blick materialized almost a thousand feet above L.A. — “Looking Glass”

Or at the very least, they emerge with a new and uncomfortable awareness of once pleasant, ordinary things:

But I can’t quite believe in home any more. I wonder what Their thoughts are like, and some nights I wonder so long and hard that I think I might start to know.” — “Doc Corman’s Haunted Palace One Fourth of July”

I won‘t go through all 25 or so tales here, but rather suggest that you go out and buy the book and enjoy yourself; besides, there’s always the tricky thing about not revealing too much about stories that often depend on a gruesome surprise if not an outright “trick“ ending. But I will note some of my favorite tales here.

“Lovecraft’s Pillow” is perhaps intended as a bit of self-mockery, lest the author become too big for his britches. A hack horror writer (“What do you do when you have ideas for four novels and are writing your ninth?”) buys what purports to be Lovecraft’s pillow, half expecting to tap into the old boy’s dreams, but the actual transformation is very different and more substantial.

“From Mars to Providence” starts off as a Wells/Lovecraft mashup, but slowly become perhaps the best Lovecraft pastiche I’ve read — almost every line is a Lovecraft phrase, title or allusion, yet the narrative proceeds quite naturally to a twist ending that, in retrospect, is only what the title plainly promised.[18]

“The Codices” is a story I should have written at some point, taking off from the interesting fact that R. H. Barlow, one of Lovecraft’s youthful correspondents, is likely to have met William S. Burroughs when Barlow was teaching anthropology at Mexico City College while Burroughs was there studying the Mayan Codices.
Barlow couldn’t help but think about Burroughs’s ideas [“you orient yourself toward the future . . . by looking backward to . . . a time before death“] as reflecting the sort of thing that Lovecraft had written about.[19]

Alas, a private seminar with Burroughs and two of his “young, beautiful wild boys” does not end as pleasantly as they had anticipated.

Inevitably, not everything quite works. “Powers of Air and Darkness” is a sort of steam punk version of Lovecraft (itself a popular genre of Lovecraftianism these days) that despite some interesting ideas — using elements of Charles Fort (“It‘s all stockyards”), ancient astronauts and Operation Paperclip to re-vision Lovecraft’s horror of “progress” as the great parade of fin de siècle technology (“the difference engine, the X-ray, pneumatic limbs, dirigibles” etc.) being a plot by the “fungal fliers” of Pluto (see “The Whisperer in Darkness”) to exterminate mankind for their masters, the Elder Gods — is just too long and rather dull, somewhat like the Edwardian spooky tales it emulates.

But the repeated line about stockyards does tie up nicely with the next and final tale, “Casting Call” (“waiting with the other cattle,” itself an allusion to Hitchcock’s “treat them like cattle”), as well as the second tale, “The Megalith Plague,” as already quoted at the top.

In fact, there’s a nice bit linking up all the tales, as well as linking up Webb’s fiction and philosophy: just about every tale mentions angles; for while there are

. . . right angles that turn thinking into sleeping.

there are also:

Certain shapes — trapezoids in particular — obtuse angles that have a deleterious effect on mankind.

Indeed, like the narrator of zombie apocalypse “Sanctuary,”

“I guess I should have paid more attention in Mrs. Gamble’s geometry class.”

Back in “The Eldritch Evola,” I suggested that if Evola’s metaphysics sometimes sounds like Lovecraft, then rather than disparage Evola’s metaphysics we should take Lovecraft’s “fictions” more seriously. Don Webb is that rare bird, equally adept in hermetics and weird fiction, and this collection is recommended to anyone who isn’t afraid of either one.


1. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; see “Klingon Like Me” in Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica by Erik Davis (Verse Chorus Press, 2011).

2. You see, many stories take place in Texas, and, well . . . actually, no one talks that way, thank Yog Sothog. Webb’s Texas Arkham, Doublesign (as in “a town so small the “Welcome” and “Leaving” signs are on the same pole“) is full of colorful detail but none of the painful dialect attempts writers of Lovecraft’s generation indulged in. Texas is actually a pretty appropriate place for weird fiction, being, after all, the home of Lovecraft’s friend and fellow Weird Tales titan. Conan creator Robert E. Howard. Webb points out elsewhere that Texans love eccentrics and storytellers; I suspect that if Lovecraft had ever visited Howard, they would have taken to the oddball New Englander like the Colorado silver miners took to Oscar Wilde (see my “Wild Boys and Hard Men” in The Homo and the Negro [San Francisco: Counter Currents, 2012]). “Remember, Texas invented Buckminsterfullerene, which is the Texas state molecule, and Deep Fried Butter. It is hard NOT to write Weird fiction here.” — “Interview with author Don Webb” in Cthulhu Mythos Writers Sampler 2013 (s. l.).

3. To be distinguished from “Knowledge is Good,” the motto of Animal House’s Faber College.

4. “Calling Cthulhu: H. P. Lovecraft’s Magical Realism” in op. cit.

5. Erik Davis, “Cthulhu is not cute [4]!” Davis references the Cthulhu plushies, which turn up again in Webb’s tale “Plush Cthulhu.”

6. Referring, I assume to Graham Harman’s Weird Realism; see my review, “Lovecraft as a Heideggerian Event” here [5] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter Currents, 2014).

7. In many places, but especially in The Hermetic Tradition (Inner Traditions, 1994) and Introduction to Magic (Inner Traditions, 2001).

8. For example, the original Faust tale, as opposed to Goethe’s Gnostic reworking. Webb’s tales allude to Faust a couple of times: the heroine of “Emily‘s Rose Window” muses “Dark knowledge and gold and women — who would have thought that Faust lived in the late twentieth century in Kingsport?” while a Mexican immigrant hopes to jump start his career by stealing a magical book from Forest Ackerman, thinking “All good Americans want Faust’s deal.”

9. Many have pointed out that the Dunwich tale is Lovecraft having some blasphemous fun parodying the Christ myth, but as always with blasphemy, the kick comes from the residual belief, as in the Black Mass. As I suggested in my essay “The Eldritch Evola” — here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others — Lovecraft’s idea that our minds would be “blasted” if we ever dared to “correlate their contents” is “spooky” only on the assumption that our egoic mind is all we are; but what if the death of the ego is the birth of a new, higher consciousness, as the Hermetic or Heroic Tradition would have it?

10. His non-fiction books include Uncle Setnakt’s Guide to the Left Hand Path and The Seven Faces of Darkness.

11. In fact, Webb intersperses some of the first tales reprinted here with some blank verse poetry written by Wilbur, Lavinia, and other Dunwich characters, giving them the chance to tell their side of thing.

12. See Leslie Klinger’s discussion of what one scholar calls “Lovecraft’s pseudomathematics” in note 3 to the tale as printed in his New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft (New York: Liveright, 2014).

13. In the steam punk tale “Powers of Air and Darkness” the “difference engine” is an alien-inspired tool to fool mankind into thinking in 1/0, yes/no dualities, but this is itself a Gnostic idea that relies on the notion of a higher, salvific mathematics.

14. See it all laid out most conveniently — and free! — on their website, Armageddon conspiracy.co.uk; among their kindles, the best place to start seem The God Game (The God Series, Book 1) by one Mike Hockney. [6]

15. In such works as Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta, Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrine, and above all, The Symbolism of the Cross. Guénon himself, of course, was trained as a mathematician, wrote books on calculus, and was disparaged by the more Abrahamic Traditionalists as being “an eye without a heart.”

16. Just as Evola make a three-part distinction between ordinary conscious experience, the picture unfolded by empirical science, and the higher-states of mind evoked by the Hermetic or Magical Path (see “The Nature of Initiatic Knowledge” in Introduction to Magic), so the illuminati distinguish their higher path of mathematics from both Abrahamic faith and Dawkins’ bumptious, veddy British empiricist dogma; see Richard Dawkins: The Pope of Unreason (The God Series, Book 16) by Mike Hockney.

17. “When we let the world become predictable we die a little, we become more of a machine. Conventional religion with easy explanations has the same effect as science — it removes that uncertainty that is the basis (the space if you will) that consciousness needs.” — “Author of the Week: Don Webb,” Lovecraft e-Zine, Sept. 28, 2014, here [7].

18. Those who responded with fear and loathing to my suggestion that the music of Wagner, however “beautiful” or “racially uplifting” is — judged by what might be called higher mathematical standards (metaphysics, music and mathematics being interchangeable) — spiritually enervating, might consider the Martian decadence described in this story as “the objective art of the past [such as the “mathematically perfect music of the Martians”] was increasingly replaced by an outrageous subjectivity.” Or, when reading “Emily’s Rose Window,” reflect on the trans-dimensional aliens who use the transmitted and magnified images of “beautiful” human women to torture captured enemies with their worst nightmares. The latter is also a bit of homage to Rod Serling, which also crops up when a character in “The Megalith Plague” imagines waking up in a hospital bed à la Twilight Zone‘s “Eye of the Beholder,” and become explicit in the last tale, “Casting Call,” a homage to Night Gallery.

19. Just as I have suggested that if Evola sounds like Lovecraft, we should therefore pay more attention to Lovecraft than less attention to Evola; see “The Eldritch Evola” here [8] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (Counter-Currents, 2014).


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/11/knowing-all-the-angles-the-lovecraftian-fiction-of-don-webb/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/donwebb.jpg

[2] Through Dark Angles: Works Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1614980845/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1614980845&linkCode=as2&tag=countecurrenp-20&linkId=ZNRUM2ICD7ZENGFP

[3] Calling Cthulhu: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.techgnosis.com%2Fchunkshow-single.php%3Fchunk%3Dchunkfrom-2005-12-13-1057-0.txt&rct=j&q=erik%20davis%20cthulhu&ei=tvM5TdH7CsWblgeT643rBQ&usg=AFQjCNEN0cnIB67UuXUWCVPt9ODqzLI6Jg&cad=rja

[4] Cthulhu is not cute: http://techgnosis.com/chunkshow-single.php?chunk=chunkfrom-2010-05-03-1521-0.txt

[5] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/lovecraft-as-heideggerian-event/

[6] Mike Hockney.: http://www.amazon.com/Mike-Hockney/e/B004KHR7DC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

[7] here: http://lovecraftzine.com/2014/09/28/lovecraftian-weird-fiction-author-of-the-week-don-webb/

[8] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/01/the-eldritch-evola/