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lundi, 27 mars 2017

Documentaire - Philip K. Dick l'écrivain visionnaire

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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...

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vendredi, 25 novembre 2016

Lennart Svensson’s Science Fiction Seen from the Right

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Lennart Svensson’s Science Fiction Seen from the Right

Lennart Svensson

Science Fiction Seen from the Right [2]
Manticore Books, 2016

“Ursula Le Guin wrote about socialist utopias. Heinlein fought against them. There you have Science Fiction Seen from the Right in a nutshell.”

LS-SF-.jpgReaders of Counter-Currents will be familiar — and likely agreeable to — the notion that despite what you heard in school, most all the truly great writers of the XXth century were “men of the Right.” This has been the theme of books like Kerry Bolton’s Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence,[1] or Jonathan Bowden’s Western Civilization Bites Back.[2]

Bowden also gave us Pulp Fascism,[3] with its subtitle “Right-Wing Themes in Comics, Graphic Novels, and Popular Literature” and including coverage of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Sarban’s The Sound of His Horn, and Brian Aldiss’ Moreau’s Other Island; why not then SF as a genre, tout court?

As if in response, comes now this book; with a title like Science Fiction from the Right, one can consider this an automatic purchase for anyone on the “Alt Right.” If you’re looking for a well-informed study of the SF genre that’s decidedly not from the hard or soft Left perspective that seems de rigueur for both academics and SF writers themselves, this book is for you. Svensson, however, has grander ambitions, and that’s where the book begins to be a bit of a disappointment.

Despite its title, Svensson is not really interested in “the Right” as such; he is interested in tradition, or, as he sometimes spells it, Tradition. And therein lies a perhaps unconscious indication of the problem: is it tradition, or Tradition?

LS-Portr.JPGSvensson is certainly straightforward from the start:

My definition of “right,” “a man of the right,” is “a man adhering to traditional, eternal values.”

These eternal values can be exemplified as: duty, honor, honesty, accountability, selflessness, modesty, fidelity, faith, courage, justice, mercy, clemency, compassion, magnanimity, equanimity — values that are in harmony with the eternal natural law, with Dharma and Tao, with Physis and Lex Nauralis.[4]

And to clarify: to merely advocate limited government, personal responsibility, moral values and productivity . . . is not to be a traditionalist. It’s a start, but it’s not enough. There has to be an esoteric element present, a connection with the causal realm in which all of existence can be anchored in the Platonic World of Ideas. Here, ultimately, the eternal values have their footing.

To vindicate these ideals is what I do as a man of the right. I honor Tradition. To systematically embrace eternal values within a spiritual framework of Christianity, Hinduism and the Ancient way of the West, of esoteric strains in Greek, Roman and Norse thought, is called traditionalism. . . . There you have my outline of traditional values and their sources.

And if that’s not clear enough, he adds that

For a textbook rendering of the Perennial Thought intimated above, see René Guénon, . . . the Crisis of the Modern World, Julius Evola, . . . Revolt Against the Modern World, or Shri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, . . . The Dharma Manifesto. Another lion of traditionalism currently alive, is Seyyed Hossein Nasr.[5]

He is equally forthright about his intentions in what follows:

My focus in this book is on conservative, right-wing SF and fantasy, of fantastic stories having the character of being based in eternal values as the ones sketched above, fantastic literature having some discernable relationship to Tradition.

Putting all this together, we get, as an example:

Frank Herbert’s Dune, dealing with meditation, courage and honoring your fathers, in the framework of this study, is an SF story of “the right-wing” kind, a story rooted in Tradition.

Now, it’s interesting that Svensson chooses Dune as his exemplar. It’s not the first book/author he looks at; that’s Heinlein, who is, as he says, the “most iconic right-wing SF author ever.” But it is the first — and pretty much the only — book/author that fits the notion of “having some discernable relationship” to capital-T Traditionalism.[6]

See, Svensson is operating with two rather different notions of tradition, which we might call majuscule and miniscule. Miniscule tradition — what he derisively calls “the Conservapedia definition” — could indeed be “exemplified” by that list of virtues but it, and them, have nothing in particular to do with majuscule Tradition.

Now, I’m not saying Guénon, for example, would reject those virtues, not at all; but they would be merely “finite,” pertaining only to social organization in the Kali Yuga. They may be necessary for a society in which Tradition is preserved and handed down; they may also be a necessary first step in moral training for the path of Realization; but no more than that. The “Perennial Thought” is a matter of metaphysics, not morals.[7]

To illustrate my point, consider that both Mike Hammer and his creator, Mickey Spillane, are certainly “men of the Right” in Svensson’s small-t traditional sense; Hammer, as even Ayn Rand perceived,[8] is, however violent and brutal, a man with a solid ethical code that he deviates from not one whit, and uses any means, however violent or illegal, to make sure no one else does either. And his creator was, to a remarkable degree, essentially the same man.[9]

But — to make the contrast clear – the film version of Kiss Me Deadly is, however accidentally, and despite being conceived as an attack on everything Hammer and Spillane represented, a work embodying and bodying forth Traditional themes, while The Girl Hunters, though written and even starring Mickey Spillane himself, is just another thriller, though an excellent exemplar of Hammer’s sadistically chivalrous values.[10] By contrast, Svensson would have a hard time defending Kiss Me Deadly as even small-t traditionalist, since the filmmakers portray Hammer not as a White Knight[11] but as a moronic sadist.

Svensson needs his two kinds of tradition, because unless he can shift from one to the other, he doesn’t have much of a book left.[12] It would be extremely interesting to find Traditional themes in SF;[13] but that’s because it seems, on the face of it, unlikely.

starship_troopers_03.jpgSo mostly, Svensson falls back on miniscule tradition; Heinlein, for example, is hardly a Traditional thinker, even before his ’60s-hippie phase, but he certainly meets the “right-wing” criterion.

Svensson has also given himself another arrow for his quiver. Those who fail or refuse to acknowledge eternal values are defined here as “nihilists.” Those who stand against them, however, fall into two classes: those who passively observe their effect on society, and those who take up arms and by opposing (sometimes) end them.[14] The latter are praised, the former chided or condemned. Thus, authors as different as Heinlein and Lewis can be bracketed together for praise of their stand against nihilism.

The reader might think I’m condemning the book outright, but that’s not really the case. It has the virtue of its vice; with so broad a canvas, the value here rests in whatever Svensson can find to say about some book or author, and if the reader persists, he will find much value here.

Take this bracing insight on Ray Bradbury, which applies to many other areas of the Right:

We all know that Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was a man longing for years gone by, for the American 1920s with T-Fords, striped cotton suits and icecream sundaes. But this kind of sentimentality can’t be tolerated in a study like this. Tradition isn’t about being sentimental, it’s about acknowledging Eternal Values, values that still can lift us, inspire us and guide us, offering an alternative to the current materialism and nihilism. For in essence, sentimentality is a form of nihilism.

Again, while J. G. Ballard is clearly an “active nihilist,” who, by “not putting up a credible counter-image to the forces of evil” has “superficially, nothing … to say to a radical conservative,” he is praised for at least being an honest skeptic, seeing through and rejecting the clichés of the liberal order. Svensson “gets” Ballard where so many don’t, seeing how Ballard goes on to find the creepy beauty of the new; Cambridge is just “a bicycle rack in front of Gothic backdrop”; the real action is at the US air base nearby, “with its concrete runways and landing lights.”

There’s beauty in the Ballardian urban landscapes and the Jüngerian Marble Cliffs.[15] This we sorely need, anything except the left-liberal chewing of General Buzzword No. 1: pity the weak.

Symbols abound, arresting hieroglyphs. Like the burnt-out shell of a B-29, its tailfin like a billboard advertising its own squadron. And the incomparable haze over the pale fields, antitank ditches and mounds, the same light seen after the dropping of the bomb, heralding the end of the war and the beginning of the next.[16]

So, another WWII story? No, not by far. This is the new kind of SF the 1960s sometimes gave us: “speculative fiction,” a free rendering of the modern world with all its symbols and attitudes, condensed into a more urgent narrative. . . . By 1964 his literary attitude had gained a sense of necessity and tragedy not reached by any other contemporary author, inside or outside the field.

One positive feature of this omnium-gatherum approach is that the reader finds himself introduced to new names and new books. For example, Karin Boye, and her novel Kallokain, apparently considered a Swedish modern classic for all to read, like our To Kill a Mockingbird, perhaps.[17] Svensson, in his brief chapter, makes me want to read this work of a Swedish poet/Valkyrie.

Another book/author unknown to me is Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood (1985), where the protagonist finds a primeval forest which is “a dimensional crossroads” where mental intentions interact with mythic energy, “co-creating” the intended results.

By contrast, the following chapter on the expected Orwell, Huxley, Zamyatin, and (perhaps less expectedly, the Metropolis of) von Harbou, really has nothing to say, although students will appreciate the suggestion that they need only read Chapter Three of Brave New World to get the gist of it. But by and large, the hits outnumber the misses.

One major misstep here is that Svensson seems to swerve from his basic theme and give in to the desire to present a kind of encyclopedia of SF matters. A chapter on SF illustration seems pointless without illustrations, and one on the origins and history of SF publishing delves into such thrilling matters as the evolution of pulp magazine binding techniques. The author would have been well advised to leave such matters aside and follow his own taste in the novella format,[18] concentrating on a few major figures and making his arguments tighter.

One has the impression that Svensson started with a list of authors — some essential, like Heinlein, some not that well known, like Boye, some ringers, like Marinetti or Castaneda — along with some topics, like war and nihilism; then he set to work writing something about each one, sometimes finding something to say on their literary or esoteric value, sometimes not.

In the end, one wonders why Svensson burdens his book, and himself, by bringing up the whole Traditionalist business. SF, as already intimated, doesn’t on the surface seem very “Traditionalist” at all.[19] I think the answer is hinted at here:

The ideal of SF, according to Holmberg, is this: man exploring nature with science and technology, thus conquering and understanding his universe, and in the process gaining insights leading to some kind of transcendence. As an esotericist I fully embrace this definition of SF. It’s about venturing out Beyond the Beyond and Within the Within.

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Nor are the Beyond and the Within merely two, distinct aspects; Svensson notes several times his agreement with SF master Norman Spinrad, that the key motif of SF in space travel, but adds that to really travel in space requires inner transformation; otherwise, one may travel to the moon but only bring back some rocks.[20]

The Apollo project went to the moon, a much sought-after event, only to bring home a sample of rocks. In his diary Jünger wrote about this: “the only found a desert because they had the desert inside.”

But while SF may think of space exploration as requiring inner transformation, the Traditionalists themselves refuse to see any such link. Indeed, they are infamous for their contempt for mere technology or even science itself; Traditional societies, says Guénon in the book Svensson directs us to, had better things to do than waste their time with such toys. “Exploring nature with science and technology” and “thus conquering and understanding his universe” is nothing but “dispersion into the horizontal realm” rather than vertical ascent to the Beyond.[21]

So the connection Svensson sees between SF and Traditionalism is at best one-way. If SF leans toward something like Traditionalism, what’s really going on?

We find a clue here in a kind of reflex that Svensson retains from the Traditionalists: the use of the term “titanic” or “titanism” as a derogative, as in fact a synonym for nihilism. Lewis is praised for battling it, while Heinlein is rebuked for yielding to it. That should tell you something’s off here; isn’t Heinlein the “iconic” SF writer? Isn’t SF essentially Promethean, from Frankenstein (“The Modern Prometheus”) on, and even further back, to the various utopias that take inspiration from Plato’s Myth of Atlantis (the realm of Atlas)?

I suppose the Titans are “nihilists” not because they deny any “connection with the causal realm” but because they boldly reach out and grasp it for themselves, “storming Heaven” and “winning the Grail by violence.” The process of self-transformation that Svensson refers to is not so much a matter of Traditionalism as it is of Hermeticism, as even Evola admits.[22]

This “Ancient way of the West, of esoteric strains in Greek, Roman and Norse thought,” finds its “framework” not with Traditionalism but with something along the lines of Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas, where both science and SF are confronted and assimilated in the Titanic mode of the West.[23]

Periodically, Svensson drops the ill-fitting Traditionalist garb and promotes a doctrine of Will-Power as something against which SF authors are evaluated (the shift from the one to the other is eased because remember, one must not only diagnose nihilism but fight it!). This emphasis on the training of the Will so as to develop the ability to bring about changes in accordance with will (as Crowley would say) justifies the publisher’s reference to Colin Wilson.[24]

NG-.jpgIndeed, interviewed elsewhere, Svensson sounds an awful lot like that modern exponent of the Hermetic Tradition Neville Goddard himself:

[Q] Man’s life is short. The border is always near. How can be a man educated in such a short period of time to understand the main things of life?

[A] Indeed, life is short. But any man can learn the two words, “I AM”. Christ said them seven times in the Gospel of Joh (“I am the light of the world, I am the door into the sheep, I am the good shepherd” etc.), as such a mirror of the” I Am That I Am”– saying of God in the burning bush of Exodus fame. And if the individual does the same, says “I am”, he acknowledges his eternal, divine nature, of being a spark of the eternal light. This I touch upon in Borderline[25] and this is the succinct summation of my creed: I AM. Modern man, if he so chooses, can reach spirituality this way. The I AM-saying is my formula for a more spiritual life, taught to “the man in the street.”[26]

To stay on the “man in the street” level of physical detail: the book has the quality we’ve come to expect from a Manticore publication; nicely proofread and typeset, with a sturdy binding and an atmospheric wrap-around cover illustration. The translation is serviceable, but another pass or two might have smoothed things out more and made it read a bit less like, well, a translation. Also, in a work of this sort, covering many names and topics, an index would have been appreciated.

In the end, one wishes Svensson would trust his Titanic instincts more, and liberate himself from his Olympian chains. Nevertheless, the reader will find much here that is provocative and truly thought-provoking; a book which not just looks at literature “from the Right” but raises questions about what, ultimately, is the Right itself.

Notes

1. Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012.

2. Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014.

3. Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015.

4. To anticipate a bit, I must point out that “natural law” has little or nothing to do with Tradition; it originates in Stoicism, which Evola, in the book Svensson later cites, dismisses as an “oriental” current alien to Aryan culture, and in its Christian form results from a further misunderstanding of the Greek concept of law as equivalent to “YHVH’s command.” The Stoic advising “live according to nature’s law” is more like our life coaches counselling “You should eat more organic” than a Bible-thumper screaming about da fegz. For more on this, see my essay “A Review of James Neill’s The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies” (Amazon.com Kindle Single, 2013).

5. For more on Nasr as a “lion of traditionalism,” see my review of Al-Rawandi’s Islamic Mysticism, “The Bad Samaritan: A Glance at the Mohammed Mythos,” here [3].

6. Guénon would no doubt approve of its Sufi elements, but ultimately dismiss it as mere “syncretism;” Evola might have approved the emphasis on jihad. One must also point out that C. S. Lewis, whose works Svensson also considers exemplars of tradition, would surely have condemned Traditionalism as a blasted heresy and one of the worst tricks of the Devil.

7. Traditionalist would point to a similar mistake made by Jung and others who try to assimilate Tradition to psychoanalysis: the Path is not a method mental healing, but rather assumes an undivided and controlled mind as a starting point.

8. “Despite their apparent differences, Rand admired Spillane’s literary style, and Spillane became, as he described it, a “fan” of Rand’s work.” See McConnell, Scott, ed., “Mickey Spillane,” 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand (New York: New American Library, 2010), pp. 232-39.

9. See my “A Hero Despite Himself: Bringing Mike Hammer to the Screen,” here [4].

10. See, of course, my essay “ ”Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale,” here [5] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014); for comparison of the films, see my “Essential Films . . . & Others,” here [6].

11. Svensson approves the use of plate armor in the Lord of the Rings films, since it recalls the image of “knights in shining armor.”

12. “But I also admit that there are SF authors in this study hard to categorize. For instance, J. G. Ballard isn’t an author you would think of as a traditionalist. Rather, he’s some kind of modernist. But he isn’t explicitly Marxist.” Later, Ballard’s “The Atrocity Exhibition hasn’t got much to say about Tradition, the theme of this study. But taken for itself this is a great read.” Again, “It’s true that the praising of Tradition and the virtues of old don’t occupy center stage in Michael Moorcock’s novels.” Again, “Karin Boye was a left-leaning intellectual. But she still fits into this survey. Why? Because she wasn’t expressly anti-tradition.”

13. As the reader will know, or have inferred by now, I myself have done a bit of such exploring, mostly in the realm of fantasy — see the essays collected in The Eldritch Evola. . . & Others: Traditionalist Meditations on Literature, Art, & Culture (Ed. Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014) — but also in SF, such as the works of Olaf Stapledon — see “A Light Unto the Nations: Reflections on Olaf Stapledon’s The Flames” in The Eldritch Evola, and “‘The Wild Boys Smile’: Reflections on Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John” in Green Nazis in Space! New Essays on Literature, Art, & Culture (Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015). Oddly enough, Stapledon does not appear in Svensson’s book. Stapledon was of course a parlor pink, but — and admittedly it’s an ironic point — his novels are filled with traditional and even Traditionalist themes, illustrating my point about the return of the Traditional in popular culture.

14. “Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” Walther Sobchak, The Big Lebowski (Coen Bros, 1998).

15. Svensson has written a biography of Jünger: Ernst Jünger — A Portrait (Manticore, 2014). The chapter on Jünger here seems like a condensed version, but it does make me want to see the full text.

16. To anticipate a bit, cf. Jason Reza Jorjani, “Promethium Sky over Hiroshima,” Right On, Nov. 3, 2016, here [7].

17. Amazon tells me that the University of Wisconsin put out an edition in 1966, in its dourly titled “Nordic Translation Series,” and a paperback in 2002 in its flashier “Library of World Fiction.”

18. Constant Readers will recall many occasions when I have joined with Henry James in praising “the dear, the blessed nouvelle” format. Writing of Moorcock’s Elric novels, that originally appeared as slim volumes but now comprise 400 page collections, “Having the Eternal Champion books as separate, slim volumes make the saga into a random access myth, an epic where you can begin where you want, merely reading one book or two and then leave it with the sense of having seen an aspect of Multiverse, the whole mirrored in a facet, as it were…. Otherwise, the ideal of the fantasy novel is always ‘thick as a brick’ and this will not engender classics in itself.” He also praises Ballard’s “The Terminal Beach” as “an embryoic condensed novel” with a “condensed, urgent narrative.”

19. Svensson gives himself another free pass by including the clearly more traditional if not Traditionalist genre of fantasy in his definition of SF; like the SF authors, his coverage varies from interesting – Tolkien, Lewis – to just going through the motions in the urge to completeness – Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany. I tend to agree with Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell; the two are best studied apart. Amis’s classic study – arguably the first truly serious critical work on SF – is not in Svensson’s bibliography, though he tells us that he intends his book to be “mapping out new lands,” and the publisher explicitly compares his book to Amis’s, as well as Colin Wilson’s The Outsider; possibly the first time both have ever been invoked at the same time.

20. The key work here is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Svensson calls “absolutely unique in the history of cinema” and scores as 60% Kubrick, but a necessary 40% Clarke. This point about “inner space” was often made by William Burroughs, who’ mentioned but whose works — Nova Express, for example — are curiously absent.

21. “[But to Traditionalists like Nasr] the events that produced the modern world are not signs of life in contrast to the cadaverous rigidity of Islam but signs of a Promethean betrayal that refuses the demands of heaven.” Al-Rawandi, op. cit.

22. See, of course, his The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1995), especially Chapter One on the myth of Eden.

23. Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016). See also the same author’s “Against Perennial Philosophy,” Right On, Oct. 21, 2016, here [8]. On the other hand, Prof. Jorjani might appreciate Svensson’s discussion of Heinlein’s use of parapsychological themes to challenge both science and SF.

24. It also may explain the bizarre inclusion of Carlos Castaneda among the authors discussed; Carlos’ first wife was a disciple of Neville.

25. Borderline: A Traditionalist Outlook for Modern Man (Numen Books, 2015).

26. “Lennart Svensson: ‘The I AM-saying is my formula for a more spiritual life, taught to “the man in the street”’,” here [9]. Compare Neville, basically in any of his books or lectures; here [10], for example. On Neville and both Hermeticism and Traditionalism see “Magick for Housewives: The Not-so New (and Really Rather Traditional) Thought of Neville Goddard” in Aristokratia IV (Manticore Press, 2017) and my afterword to Neville’s Feeling is the Secret (Amazon Kindle, 2016).

 

 

 

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/11/science-fiction-seen-from-the-right/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Svensson.jpg

[2] Science Fiction Seen from the Right: http://amzn.to/2gjzNuy

[3] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/11/the-bad-samaritan/

[4] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/06/bringing-mike-hammer-to-the-screen/

[5] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/02/mike-hammer-occult-dick-kiss-me-deadly-as-lovecraftian-tale/

[6] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/02/essential-films-and-others/

[7] here: https://www.righton.net/2016/11/03/the-promethium-sky-over-hiroshima/

[8] here: https://www.righton.net/2016/10/21/against-perennial-philosophy/

[9] here: http://www.radikaliai.lt/radikaliai/3263-lennart-svensson-the-i-am-saying-is-my-formula-for-a-more-spiritual-life-taught-to-the-man-in-the-street

[10] here: http://realneville.com/txt/you_can_never_outgrow_i_am.htm

lundi, 01 avril 2013

Musulmano o costruito dai robot: il Papa di fantascienza finisce così

Musulmano o costruito dai robot: il Papa di fantascienza finisce così

di Gianfranco de Turris

Fonte: il giornale [scheda fonte]

Le religioni (e la teologia) sono argomenti che hanno sempre attirato gli scrittori fantastici e fantascientifici. In particolare la Chiesa cattolica, sotto il profilo temporale e spirituale, ha ottenuto attenzione speciale sia in positivo che negativo. Molti autori ne hanno preso spunto per le loro ipotesi proiettate nel futuro. È soprattutto la fine della Chiesa che ha sollecitato la loro immaginazione. Il concetto di «fine» può infatti intendersi in molti modi: una religione che ha anche un potere temporale può concludere la propria missione in forme diverse. Ovviamente le cosiddette Profezie di Malachia sono spesso lo spunto di base, specie negli ultimi anni dato che ci si avvia alla conclusione dell’elenco dei papi contenuto in quello scritto, pubblicato per la prima volta nel 1595 in appendice a «Legnum Vitae» di Arnold de Wyon. Molti sostengono invece che sia un testo realizzato intorno al 1590 da un famoso falsario, Alfonso Ceccarelli, una specie di Simonides umbro.

 

roma-senza-papaSia come sia, in base a quella elencazione, che parte da Celestino II nel 1143, l’attuale Benedetto XVI sarebbe il 111esimo e penultimo della serie con il moto «De Gloria olivae». Subito dopo c’è una citazione che alcuni interpreti riferiscono a questi, mentre la maggioranza intende come riferita al 112° e conclusivo pontefice: «Durante l’ultima persecuzione di Santa Romana Chiesa siederà (sul trono) Pietro Romano che pascerà il gregge in mezzo a molte tribolazioni; terminate queste la città dei sette colli sarà distrutta, e il terribile Giudice giudicherà la gente».

 

Questa conclusione apocalittica, in linea con molte altre profezie cristiane, non poteva non colpire certi scrittori che l’hanno intesa in modi diversi. Una Chiesa e un Papato possono estinguersi e crollare non solo e non tanto materialmente, quanto spiritualmente, concludendo, fallendo o distorcendo la loro missione. E così per primo si deve ricordare il grande rimosso della letteratura italiana, Guido Morselli l’antimoderno, che come suo primo romanzo dopo il periodo realista scrisse nel 1966-7 Roma senza papa, anche il primo pubblicato da Adelphi nel 1974 dopo il suo suicidio l’anno precedente. Morselli rifiutava l’oggi e quindi la religione del suo oggi, che già manifestava sintomi di decadenza negli anni Sessanta del Novecento (il Concilio Vaticano II si era concluso nel 1965 con tutte le sue novità), e quindi la fine della Chiesa di Roma e del Papato viene descritta nel suo romanzo come una decadenza abissale dei valori tradizionali del Cristianesimo. La sua è una critica della Chiesa «al passo coi tempi» con papi fidanzati, favorevoli alla liberalizzazione di droga, contraccettivi, eutanasia, che utilizza più la psicanalisi freudiana che la teologia, dove il turismo di massa è una benedizione sicché ogni cosa nello Stato del Vaticano viene finalizzata a fare denaro. La Chiesa è finita perché non è più la vera Chiesa.

 

la-moschea-di-san-marcoE di una mercificazione totale, ad uso appunto dei turisti, parla anche, ma in una prospettiva più laica, Roberto Vacca, nel racconto L’ultimo papa (1965), dove il pontefice si esibisce nelle sue funzioni ad uso dei curiosi di tutto il mondo che pagano per vederlo all’insegna dello slogan «Peep-a-Pope-Show» (i «peepshow» sono spettacoli erotici). E, se ci si consente un’autocitazione, mi permetterò di ricordare che in un racconto che scrissi insieme a Piero Prosperi quando eravamo ventenni (Petrus Romanus, 1965) si immaginava una fine “politica” del Papato sotto un regime comunista instauratosi in Italia. Ma il tempo passa e i pericoli per la Chiesa cattolica cambiano: ad esempio, il relativismo dei valori, la crisi delle vocazioni, l’aggressività dell’Islam hanno indotto due autori a descriverne una fine traumatica, una resa senza condizioni: cinquant’anni dopo Prosperi, nel suo romanzo La moschea di San Marco (Bietti, 2007) prevede che nel 2015 Benedetto XVII, successore di Ratzinger, dopo aver creato una commissione di consulenti musulmani per allargare il dialogo, in un discorso Urbi et Orbi dichiari conclusa l’«eresia cristiana» e chieda ad Allah di riammettere i cattolici nella Umma dei credenti.

 

apocalissi-2012Di recente Antonio Bellomi torna sul tema e nel suo Finis mundi (antologia Apocalissi 2012, Bietti) prende spunto dalla profezia Maya sulla fine del mondo per immaginarsi la morte di Bendetto XVI e il suo successore uscito dal Conclave, il cardinale indonesiano Giovanni Ali Sudarto, che sceglie per sé il nome di Hussein I e che, senza portare alcun simbolo della croce, inizia la sua prima allocuzione alla folla dicendo: «In nome di Allah, misericordioso e compassionevole…». E uno dei personaggi del racconto dice: «Non è la fine del mondo. È la fine dell’era della Chiesa di Roma come l’abbiano conosciuta…».

 

Anche gli autori anglosassoni si sono avvicinati all’argomento con atteggiamento fantascientifico e futuribile. La storia più interessante non è il racconto Il dilemma di Benedetto XVI di J.H.Brennan (uscito nel 1977 con un titolo diverso e tradotto da Urania nel 1978), citato in questi giorni solo per la coincidenza del nome: vi si racconta delle visioni del Pontefice per dichiarar guerra ad un dittatore e di uno psicanalista chiamato per capire se esse siano vere o false. L’opera più curiosa è Il papa definitivo di un grande nome come Clifford D. Simak. Scritto nel 1981, racconta del pianeta Vaticano 17, dove si è rifugiata una stirpe di robot che, non potendo accedere sulla Terra alla religione cattolica in quanto privi d’anima, hanno creato una civiltà ed una religione simil-cattoliche con identiche strutture e riti, costruendo il «papa definitivo», cioè un immenso computer in cui immettere tutta la conoscenza dell’universo. Due temi, religione e robot, tipici di Simak che li usa per decretare la fine della Chiesa come l’abbiamo conosciuta sinora. In tema di automi Robert Silverberg con Buone notizie dal Vaticano del 1971 immagina che da un futuribile Conclave esca un pontefice robot che invece di rivolgersi alla gente in Piazza San Pietro accenda i propri razzi e sparisca in alto, nel cielo. Ma non occorre essere di metallo per fare e decidere cose inaspettate: il papa Roberto I descritto da Norman Spinrad nel suo Deus X emana una enciclica in cui proclama la possibilità di trapiantare l’anima tra esseri umani, come fosse il cuore, il fegato o i polmoni.


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lundi, 18 mars 2013

Notizen über ein krankes Land

Notizen über ein krankes Land

von Tobias Witt

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

 

abgesang_cover.jpgAbgesang — Notizen über ein krankes Land“ ist eine Sammlung von Texten, in der der bekannte Science Fiction-​Autor Frank W. Haubold ein politisches Bekenntnis ablegt.

Frank W. Haubold zeichnet in dem kleinen Buch ein erschreckendes Bild Deutschlands. Immer wieder wird deutlich, dass wir uns mit großen Schritten auf eine scheinbar nicht abwendbare nationale Katastrophe zu bewegen. Haubolds angenehmer Schreibstil macht das Buch trotz seiner Themenschwere lesbar. Die Gliederung des Buches, die statt Kapiteln Tagebucheintragungen für die einzelnen Kommentare nutzt, hilft, das aufgelistete Sammelsurium politisch korrekter Absurditäten zeitlich einzuordnen.

Seite für Seite den Irrsinn entlarven

Haubold selbst schreibt im Nachwort des Buches: „Dem aufmerksamen Leser wird möglicherweise nicht entgangen sein, dass diese Sammlung kaum noch Beiträge aus dem Jahr 2012 enthält. Das bedeutet jedoch nicht, dass sich die Dinge zum Besseren gewendet hätten, sondern das genaue Gegenteil.“

In einem Eintrag vom Dezember 2009 berichtet Haubold über den Fall einer Abiturientin, die in Dresden von einem Pakistani ermordet wird. Die deutschen Mainstreammedien verschweigen die Herkunft des Täters. Erschreckende Parallelen zum jüngst in Holland ermordeten Schiedsrichter oder dem von Türken totgeprügelten Daniel S. lassen sich nicht vermeiden. So geht es Seite für Seite quer durch den bundesrepublikanischen Irrsinn.

Das Bild, das Haubold von Deutschland zeichnet, erinnert stark an die Lebensrealität der Menschen in der DDR, wo unbequeme Fakten solange geleugnet oder überarbeitet wurden, bis sie zur aktuellen Lage passten. Der Autor legt dabei einen scharfen Ton an den Tag, der aber nie ins Überzogene abgleitet. Das Buch eignet sich auch um Freunden und Bekannten, die sich noch nicht mit einer medialen Gegenöffentlichkeit auseinandergesetzt haben, einen Einstieg zu bieten.

Und immer wieder der Waldgang

Man kann die einzelnen, zum Teil sehr subjektiven Kommentare als Denkanstoß auffassen und sich dann mit dem entsprechenden Thema weiter auseinandersetzen. Wer also einen gut zu lesenden und durch den sehr gelungenen Schreibstil auch kurzweiligen Einstieg in die konservativen Themen der letzten Jahre sucht, der wird hier fündig.

Haubold, der sonst auf einem ganz anderen Gebiet zu Hause ist, offenbart sich dem Leser nun als Waldgänger und reiht sich ein in die wachsende Schar derer, die nicht mehr mitspielen: „Das bedeutet keineswegs die Aufgabe der eigenen Positionen, sondern im Gegenteil deren Bewahrung. Der Waldgänger gibt nichts auf, er gewinnt etwas: Die Freiheit, nicht mehr dazu gehören zu müssen.“

Frank W. Haubold: Abgesang – Notizen über ein krankes Land. 138 Seiten, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2012. 6,55 Euro.

Anmerkung der Redaktion: Neben dieser Rezension hat Tobias Witt ein Interview mit Frank W. Haubold geführt.

Gespräch: Frank W. Haubold
 
von Tobias Witt

haubold6773803-M.jpgParallel zu seiner Rezension hat sich unser Autor Tobias Witt mit Frank W. Haubold über sein Buch Abgesang – Notizen über ein krankes Land unterhalten.

Blaue​Narzisse​.de: In Ihrem Blog haben Sie in einem Eintrag vom 16. Dezember 2011 bereits ein ähnlich pessimistisches Fazit beschrieben, wie am Ende Ihres Buches. Auch haben Sie in den Kommentaren dazu festgehalten, daß dies der letzte Eintrag in Ihrem Blog sein wird, was dann bis zum Erscheinen von Abgesang – Notizen über ein krankes Land auch eingehalten wurde. Was hat sie dazu bewogen, dieses Buch zu veröffentlichen?

Frank W. Haubold: Das hat in erster Linie damit zu tun, daß im Lauf der Jahre einige Texte entstanden sind, die möglicherweise auch über den Tag hinaus ihre Wirkung entfalten könnten. Im Internet sind die Lesegewohnheiten anders als bei „normaler“ Lektüre, die doch etwas mehr in die Tiefe geht. Außerdem bot die Zusammenstellung der Texte in der Reihenfolge ihres Entstehens die Möglichkeit, eine Art „Gesellschafts-​Porträt“ zu zeichnen, das ganz anders wirkt als ein einzelner Blogbeitrag.

Im Nachwort „Der Waldgang“ schreiben Sie sehr treffend, daß sich in den letzten Jahren an den von Ihnen angeprangerten Mißständen in Deutschland leider überhaupt nichts geändert hat. Wo sehen sie dennoch Chancen und Möglichkeiten für freiheitliche Positionen?

Die Chance zu positiver Veränderung besteht immer, selbst in einer Gesellschaft, die nach meinem Eindruck immer mehr totalitäre Züge annimmt. Wie in der „Endphase“ der DDR liegt es jedoch an jedem einzelnen selbst, ob er sich dem Anpassungsdruck beugt und mit den Wölfen (die doch wohl eher Schafe sind) heult oder ob er seine Selbstachtung bewahrt und opponiert. Auf das Verständnis einer Mehrheit kann er dabei nicht unbedingt hoffen, dafür funktionieren die Ausgrenzungsinstrumente der politisch-​medialen Kaste (noch) zu gut.

Es scheint, als ob Sie das Vertrauen in die deutsche Politik völlig verloren hätten. Gibt es Ihrer Meinung nach Strömungen, die vielleicht eine Chance hätten, den Mißständen entgegenzutreten?

Das hängt in erster Linie davon ab, ob es gelingt, die zahlreichen Strömungen des konservativen und freiheitlichen Lagers zusammenzuführen, die heute fast im Dutzend völlig unkoordiniert agieren und deshalb politisch bedeutungslos sind. Ansätze wie die „Wahlalternative 2013“ gibt es durchaus, aber die Hürden bis zum Entstehen einer funktionsfähigen Partei sind hoch, zumal der mediale Gegenwind erheblich ist, der vom Totschweigen bis zur persönlichen Diffamierung reicht.

In Ihrem Blog und auch im erwähnten Buch beschreiben Sie eine nicht abwendbare Katastrophe, auf die wir zusteuern. Wo sehen sie Deutschland in 10 Jahren?

Zehn Jahre sind möglicherweise ein zu enger Zeitrahmen, um grundlegende gesellschaftliche Veränderungen zu prognostizieren. Die demographische Katastrophe, die Herr Sarrazin fundiert beschrieben hat, dürfte zu diesem Zeitpunkt allerdings schon so weit fortgeschritten sein, daß die Folgen offenbar werden. SPD und „Grüne“ setzen ja bereits heute auf Mehrheiten jenseits der autochthonen Bevölkerung. Wollte man hier ernsthaft gegensteuern, müßte das heute geschehen, wofür gegenwärtig so gut wie nichts spricht. Wann es konkret zum vorprogrammierten Zusammenbruch des Sozialstaates und den damit verbundenen Verwerfungen kommt, hängt auch von den ökonomischen Rahmenbedingungen ab; das war in der „Endzeit“ der DDR nicht anders.

 

 

jeudi, 07 juin 2012

Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.

Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.

By John Morgan

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

Ray Bradbury, the writer best known for his novels The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, as well as a hundreds of short stories, passed away on Tuesday, June 5 at the age of 91. With him we have lost not only one of America’s greatest writers, but also one of our last genuine writers.

However, I don’t use either of these words – genuine or writer – lightly. I say writer, because I most emphatically do believe that Bradbury, while certainly not one of the most “deep” or sophisticated writers of the past century, certainly came closer to capturing the Angst of our age better than just about anyone else.

I very deliberately did not call him a “science fiction writer,” either, since, as he himself once pointed out, the only one of his major works that could be accurately defined as science fiction is Fahrenheit 451, while the bulk of his work could be more accurately be described as fantasy or horror fiction, with some mainstream works, such as Dandelion Wine, included as well.

As for “genuine,” I used that word for several reasons. One is that Bradbury was part of a vanishing set of writers who learned how to write before America became a post-literate, “information” society that looked to television and, later, the Internet rather than books for entertainment and social commentary. Another is that Bradbury, by his own account, became a writer because of an innate need to write – both because he felt he had a calling for it, and because he quite literally depended on his writing for his livelihood.

I remember reading him recount how, back in 1949 when he was staying at the YMCA in New York and desperately attempting to find a publisher for his short stories about Mars, an editor at Doubleday advised him to turn the book into a novel instead, as novels tend to be more marketable than collections of stories. Bradbury then stayed up all night at the Y, adding a superstructure to his Mars stories modeled on Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and thus The Martian Chronicles was born.

That used to be the crucible in which great writers were born. Writers were made of equal parts inspiration and determination, prepared to risk everything in the hope, often bordering on insanity, that someone else would actually like what they were doing. These days in America, if someone decides he wants to be a writer, he usually ends up taking creative writing courses at a college or university, and then, if he’s really driven, he’ll continue on to graduate school and get a Master of Fine Arts degree, attending endless “workshops” where teachers of less-than-dazzling talent of their own try to teach him how to write in a style that will appeal to the editors of the prestigious literary magazines – magazines that only a few thousand people nationwide actually read, but which count for everything in the world of academic literary writing.

If he perseveres and actually manages to publish a few things, and is a bit lucky, he can then find a cozy tenure-track position at some school, teaching writing to other writing students, and giving him the leisure time to write books that will only ever be of interest to other MFA students and professors of writing, since the incestuous world of academic writing is the only world he’s ever lived in. With a few exceptions, that is the state of the field of literary writing in America today. The only living American writers I can think of off the top of my head who I would term “genuine” writers of the same caliber as Bradbury would be Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, and Tito Perdue. They are a vanishing breed.

One might ask why Bradbury should matter to readers of Counter-Currents. One reason is that Bradbury was one of the few people still engaged in a process that is fast becoming a rarity – namely, the actual production of “Western culture,” rather than mere lamentation at its absence. He was very much a writer in the Western, and more specifically American, literary tradition. There is very little overt political content to his work, however, and apart from his public objections to Michael Moore stealing the name of his 2004 film, Fahrenheit 9/11, from his book without permission (a complaint which Bradbury insisted was not politically motivated), as far as I knew, he had never done anything political at all.

In looking over the coverage of Bradbury’s death in the online media, however, I came across a tribute in the National Review entitled “Ray Bradbury, a Great Conservative,” which describes how he was initially a staunch Democrat but started to become disillusioned with liberalism during Lyndon Johnson’s administration, and became more and more of a conservative after that. The article quoted Bradbury as saying in 2010, “I think our country is in need of a revolution. There is too much government today. We’ve got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people, and for the people.” That’s good to know, but I still view Bradbury as essentially an apolitical man.

For me personally, the most relevant thing in Bradbury’s work is his anti-modern spirit. This is why it’s ridiculous to try to classify him as a science fiction writer. Bradbury made his bones as a writer in the 1940s and ’50s, at a time when the vast majority of science fiction was about one-dimensional characters serving as chess pieces in a game of depicting futuristic technology or some fantastic alien world. This is the tradition into which today’s “hard” science fiction falls – stories which are more about being scientifically and technologically plausible than interesting as literature.

Bradbury was never a part of this school. If a rocket appears in a Bradbury story, it’s just a rocket – he assumes you know what one is, and leaves all the technical details to your imagination. This isn’t just laziness on his part – in truth, Bradbury saw advancing technology as a threatening thing, and in his own life he was actually a technophobe who never learned to drive and who apparently refused to fly for much of his life. In the final years of his life, to his credit, he also resisted allowing his works to be turned into e-books, claiming that American life had become too mechanized – although apparently, he changed his mind about this, since Fahrenheit 451 was released as a Kindle in 2010 (ironically enough).

The most important aspect of a Bradbury tale is the depth of feeling and passion felt by the characters, and the uncompromising demand they make to remain human in the face of technology and other popular trends of modernization. Bradbury’s best stories are about solitary men who sense that their souls are being threatened by forces driven by the massive engines of progress, and who then embark on an insane battle which they know they cannot win, but which they also know is preferable to continuing to live as one of the mindless herd.

The quintessential character of this type in Bradbury’s corpus is Guy Montag in 1953’s Fahrenheit 451. In this future America (as I recall he never states exactly when it takes place), all books have been banned for decades, television has taken on the character of what is now termed “virtual reality” and dominates most citizens’ lives, presidents are elected on the basis of their looks rather than their policies, actual communication between individuals never rises above the banal, suicide and drug addiction are rife, and personalities never develop beyond childish immaturity.

Montag is a firefighter, but now that all buildings are fireproof, their only job is to show up whenever books are discovered so that they can be promptly burned. Montag grows curious, however, and eventually starts to read some of the books, and discovers the world that has been denied to him. Once exposed to it, he can’t go back to the mindless world he knew before. He ends up conspiring to destroy the firemen, leaves his television-addicted wife, kills the Fire Chief, goes on the run, and ends up joining a small, underground sect of derelict literati in the countryside who have each committed a book to memory, so that they can preserve some of them without fear of arrest. The book ends as America is destroyed in a long-anticipated nuclear war, and Montag and his fellows begin to walk back toward the ruins of the cities, determined to use their knowledge to rebuild a genuine civilization once again.

This is incredibly radical stuff. These are Evola’s “men among the ruins,” doing their part to save something of a genuine tradition even when all seems lost, in the hope that, eventually, a new world will arise. It’s amazing that Fahrenheit 451 is often required reading in public school courses, when you think about it, even though the popular wisdom is that the book is about the “dangers of censorship” – which is rather like saying that Moby Dick is a story about a man who is chasing a whale. The world Bradbury depicts says much more about the dark side of modern life, and is much more horrifying than mere “censorship.” He is a poet for the man who stands by tradition while being at war with the modern world all around. One of my favorite passages of the book has Montag attempting to read the Book of Matthew on a commuter train, while an obnoxious commercial for toothpaste blares in the background, making it impossible to think. Such moments remain strikingly relevant and symbolic.

I’ve always been struck that George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four is held up as the classic dystopian novel. While Nineteen-Eighty-Four has considerable merit in its own right, it is also quite obvious by comparing the two that Bradbury had a much greater understanding of the real dangers lurking in Western civilization in the mid-20th century, and of how they would end up playing out in our time. Orwell’s dystopia is about a crushing, all-powerful government that rules with an iron fist, something that seems quite dated today.

Bradbury’s dystopia really isn’t all that different from the America we now inhabit, where the soft touch of commercialization and materialism is used to enforce state power instead. It’s true that books haven’t actually been banned, although they have been rendered irrelevant.

Another classic Bradbury tale of a man rebelling against the spirit of his times is “Usher II,” which was included in The Martian Chronicles and is in part an homage to Edgar Allan Poe, Bradbury’s literary mentor. In this story, we learn that America has imposed moral laws on its citizens, and as a result, nothing deemed disturbing is permitted. A man named William Stendahl, frustrated with the lack of freedom on Earth, goes to the fledgling colony on Mars, where he builds a massive, automated haunted house based on Poe’s stories. Hearing of it, government officials named “Moral Climate Monitors” are dispatched to investigate its decency.

When they arrive, they immediately decide to have the house torn down, but Stendahl convinces them to go through the house once before passing judgment on it. He also reveals that he has had android doubles of all the officials made. As they walk through the house, the officials see the android versions of themselves being killed, one by one, in particularly gruesome fashion, as Stendahl condemns them for their efforts to sanitize the human experience. Finally, when he gets the Chief Inspector alone, Stendahl reveals that it is the real officials who have been getting killed, while the android doubles were looking on. Stendahl traps the Chief Inspector behind a wall in imitation of “The Cask of Amontillado,” and then whisks away by helicopter as the house collapses into the surrounding swamp.

Although perhaps the simplest version of his “man among the ruins” character is the one in his story “The Pedestrian” (1953), which is about life in 2053, when television has become so predominant that no one leaves their homes at night. Leonard Mead takes a walk through his city, enjoying the solitude he finds and wishing to differentiate himself from those who are forever huddled in front of their screens. Crime, we are told, has disappeared, since television keeps everyone constantly amused. He is finally stopped by a police car on his walk, and when he can’t offer any explanation for why he is walking, he is arrested and told that he will be taken to a psychiatric ward. The crowning dénouement comes when Mead is forced into the car and realizes that there are no police officers, and that it is completely automated.

From these examples, it should be clear that Bradbury nursed a hatred for the modern world that bordered on the violent, as evinced by the extreme reactions many of his characters have to it. The modern world for Bradbury, as it is for the traditionalists, is a place of soulless materialism, sterility, and stupidity divorced from anything authentic, as well as from the past.

My personal favorite since childhood among Bradbury’s rebellious characters, however, is Spender, in “And the Moon Be Still as Bright,” from The Martian Chronicles. In this story, following the disappearance of several earlier expeditions to Mars from Earth, a large and heavily-armed group of astronauts lands on Mars, only to discover that all of the Martians have recently died as a result of being exposed to chickenpox by the previous expeditions from Earth, and against which their immune systems had no defense.

Spender is enchanted by the remnants of the Martian civilization, but his colleagues are mostly contemptuous of it, breaking things and spending their time getting drunk. Spender disappears for several weeks, exploring the Martian ruins on his own, and then returns, lulling his colleagues into a false sense of security and then gunning down six of them. He flees into the hills, where he is pursued by the commander of the expedition, Captain Wilder, and a large force of armed men.

Wilder approaches Spender one last time before he attacks him, to try to talk him into surrendering. The conversation they have has always been among my favorite passages, and I think it’s worth quoting in full:

The captain considered his cigarette. “Why did you do it?”

Spender quietly laid his pistol at his feet. “Because I’ve seen that what these Martians had was just as good as anything we’ll ever hope to have. They stopped where we should have stopped a hundred years ago. I’ve walked in their cities and I know these people and I’d be glad to call them my ancestors.”

“They have a beautiful city there.” The captain nodded at one of several places.

“It’s not that alone. Yes, their cities are good. They knew how to blend art into their living. It’s always been a thing apart for Americans. Art was something you kept in the crazy son’s room upstairs. Art was something you took in Sunday doses, mixed with religion, perhaps. Well, these Martians have art and religion and everything.”

“You think they knew what it was all about, do you?”

“For my money.”

“And for that reason you started shooting people.”

“When I was a kid my folks took me to visit Mexico City. I’ll always remember the way my father acted – loud and big. And my mother didn’t like the people because they were dark and didn’t wash enough. And my sister wouldn’t talk to most of them. I was the only one really liked it. And I can see my mother and father coming to Mars and acting the same way here.

“Anything that’s strange is no good to the average American. If it doesn’t have Chicago plumbing, it’s nonsense. The thought of that! Oh God, the thought of that! And then – the war. You heard the congressional speeches before we left. If things work out they hope to establish three atomic research and atom bomb depots on Mars. That means Mars is finished; all this wonderful stuff gone. How would you feel if a Martian vomited stale liquor on the White House floor?”

The captain said nothing but listened.

Spender continued: “And then the other power interests coming up. The mineral men and the travel men. Do you remember what happened to Mexico when Cortez and his very fine good friends arrived from Spain? A whole civilization destroyed by greedy, righteous bigots. History will never forgive Cortez.”

“You haven’t acted ethically yourself today,” observed the captain.

“What could I do? Argue with you? It’s simply me against the whole crooked grinding greedy setup on Earth. They’ll be flopping their filthy atoms bombs up here, fighting for bases to have wars. Isn’t it enough they’ve ruined one planet, without ruining another; do they have to foul someone else’s manger? The simple-minded windbags. When I got up here I felt I was not only free of their so-called culture, I felt I was free of their ethics and their customs. I’m out of their frame of reference, I thought. All I have to do is kill you all off and live my own life.”

The captain nodded. “Tell me about your civilization here,” he said, waving his hand at the mountain towns.

“They knew how to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn’t try too hard to be all men and no animal. That’s the mistake we made when Darwin showed up. We embraced him and Huxley and Freud, all smiles. And then we discovered that Darwin and our religions didn’t mix. Or at least we didn’t think they did, We were fools. We tried to budge Darwin and Huxley and Freud. They wouldn’t move very well. So, like idiots, we tried knocking down religion.

“We succeeded pretty well. We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith had always given us answers to all things. But it all went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are a lost people.”

“And these Martians are a found people?” inquired the captain.

“Yes. They knew how to combine science and religion so the two worked side by side, neither denying the other, each enriching the other.”

“That sounds ideal.”

 …

Spender led him over into a little Martian village built all of cool perfect marble. There were great friezes of beautiful animals, white-limbed cat things and yellow-limbed sun symbols, and statues of bull-like creatures and statues of men and women and huge fine-featured dogs.

“There’s your answer, Captain.”

“I don’t see.”

“The Martians discovered the secret of life among animals. The animal does not question life. It lives. Its very reason for living is life; it enjoys and relishes life. You see – the statuary, the animal symbols, again and again.”

“It looks pagan.”

“On the contrary, those are God symbols, symbols of life. Man had become too much man and not enough animal on Mars too. And the men of Mars realized that in order to survive they would have to forgo asking that one question any longer: Why live? Life was its own answer. Life was the propagation of more life and the living of as good a life is possible. The Martians realized that they asked the question ‘Why live at all?’ at the height of some period of war and despair, when there was no answer. But once the civilization calmed, quieted, and wars ceased, the question became senseless in a new way. Life was now good and needed no arguments.”

“It sounds as if the Martians were quite naïve.”

“Only when it paid to be naïve. They quit trying too hard to destroy everything, to humble everything. They blended religion and art and science because, at base, science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle. They never let science crush the aesthetic and the beautiful. It’s all simply a matter of degree. An Earth Man thinks: ‘In that picture, color does not exist, really. A scientist can prove that color is only the way the cells are placed in a certain material to reflect light. Therefore, color is not really an actual part of things I happen to see.’ A Martian, far cleverer, would say: “This is a fine picture. It came from the hand and the mind of a man inspired. Its idea and its color are from life. This thing is good.’”

There was a pause. Sitting in the afternoon sun, the captain looked curiously around at the little silent cool town.

“I’d like to live here,” he said.

“You may if you want.”

“You ask me that?”

“Will any of those men under you ever really understand all this? They’re professional cynics, and it’s too late for them. Why do you want to go back with them? So you can keep up with the Joneses? To buy a gyro just like Smith has? To listen to music with your pocketbook instead of your glands? There’s a little patio down here with a reel of Martian music in it at least fifty thousand years old. It still plays. Music you’ll never hear in your life. You could hear it. There are books. I’ve gotten on well in reading them already. You could sit and read.”

“It all sounds quite wonderful, Spender.”

“But you won’t stay?”

“No. Thanks, anyway.”

“And you certainly won’t let me stay without trouble. I’ll have to kill you all.”

“You’re optimistic.”

“I have something to fight for and live for; that makes me a better killer. I’ve got what amounts to a religion, now. It’s learning how to breathe all over again. And how to lie in the sun getting a tan, letting the sun work into you. And how to hear music and how to read a book. What does your civilization offer?”

This is the crux of the traditionalist argument in a nutshell. I would add, however, that while it can be beneficial for a Western traditionalist to look to the other traditional civilizations of old for instruction and inspiration, the past of our own civilization is just as alien to modern man as a Martian civilization would be. The real battle is not that of the “West” versus the intrusion of outside elements, because even the “West” of today is not really Western anymore. The battle of our time is, at essence, really about the traditional versus the modern. Everything else is just a manifestation of this basic struggle. And this is a war that is happening everywhere. And it begs the question: what, exactly, are we fighting for? For the traditionalist, at least, the fight must, and can only be for our souls.

Spender adopted the Breivik approach in his war for the traditional, sparking violence that had no chance of success (in the story, he is killed). We can understand the motives and frustrations that lead to such actions, but ultimately, they don’t get us anywhere. The more correct approach, however, is Montag’s – of going underground, and trying to preserve our traditions, until the moment arises when more is possible. As Evola put it, one must become one of “those who have kept watch during the long night [so that they] might greet those who will arrive with the new dawn.” I doubt whether Bradbury had ever heard of the traditionalists, but he was certainly one of them in spirit, if not in doctrine.

I’ll end a bit indulgently and mention the one time I met Bradbury face-to-face. It was in 1996, and he was on a book tour promoting his latest book (Quicker Than the Eye), and he made a stop at the Borders in Ann Arbor, which is where I was living at the time. He had been scheduled to give a reading followed by a book signing, but so many thousands of people came that the reading was abandoned and the poor man simply sat and signed books for seven hours. I got there early and only had to wait for three. When I finally got in front of him and plunked my stack of books down for him to sign, I could feel the air as if it were charged with electricity. I was standing in front of a man who had been as much a part of my childhood as my friends and relatives. Even though I must have been indistinguishable from the legions of other drooling fans to him, he was a perfect gentleman, and I was even able to engage him in conversation for a few moments. I admitted to him that, when I made my first attempts at writing as a teenager, many of my early stories were blatant imitations of his own themes and style. He just waved his hand and said, “That’s OK. All these years, I’ve just been ripping off H. G. Wells!” And he even wished me luck in my own writing career. That will always be how I’ll remember him – every bit as legendary as I had imagined he would be.

The thoughts and feelings which Bradbury’s work inspired in me as a youth have become part of the fabric that underlies my mental and emotional makeup to the point that I can’t even recognize it anymore. He helped to show me what is truly important in life, what is going wrong with the world and what needs to be done about it. Everything else I’ve done since then has just been a continuation of this crusade. There is a direct line between my reading of Bradbury’s works as a child and the urge that has led me to my present-day engagement with Arktos and Counter-Currents. I know that, whatever else happens, he will always be a part of my own being.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/06/ray-bradbury-r-i-p/

dimanche, 05 juillet 2009

James Graham Ballard nous a quittés...

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Claudio ASCIUTI:

 

James Graham Ballard nous a quittés...

 

James Graham Ballard, l’écrivain pessimiste et cyberpunk a disparu

 

Les “crocodiles” du journalisme italien sont des animaux étranges. Pendant longtemps, ces “crocodiles”  —expression italienne pour désigner les fiches biographiques d’hommes et de femmes célèbres que l’on conserve dans les rédactions des journaux—  demeurent dans les tiroirs secrets des experts auto-proclamés des médias. On ne les libère de leur prison poussiéreuse qu’à la mort de l’être d’exception qui a justifié leur existence. Aujourd’hui, ces “crocodiles” n’ont presque plus raison d’être: il suffit de faire une petite promenade sur la grande toile, de consulter par paresse Wikipedia et le tour est joué! Tout défunt qui vient fraîchement de décéder, et dont on ignore tout ou quasi tout, trouve subitement, face à son cadavre, une foultitude d’experts qui, par une sorte de parthénogénèse, lui taillent de belles biographies posthumes, véritables “crocodiles” de brics et de brocs, de vérités toute faites et d’approximations. Le 25 février 2009, le grand Philip José Farmer nous quittait et aucun de nos quotidiens nationaux ne lui a consacré une ligne. Le 19 avril 2009, c’était au tour d’un autre grand écrivain anglo-saxon de passer de vie à trépas: James Graham Ballard. Les journalistes italiens de service lui ont consacré des articles, tous égaux, tous similaires, ce qui nous donne l’impression que tous ces zélotes de nécrologues avaient l’habitude de dormir avec ses oeuvres sous l’oreiller.

 

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C’est faux. Evidemment. Seul le quotidien “L’Unità” a choisi un homme digne d’écrire une rubrique nécrologique substantielle à l’occasion de la disparition de James Graham Ballard. Cet homme est Antonio Caronia, spécialiste universitaire de l’imaginaire moderne et traducteur de notre écrivain anglais. Les autres nécrologues zélés ne savaient manifestement pas qui était Ballard: dans leurs “crocodiles”, ils nous ont décrit un homme et sa littérature mais c’était un homme et une littérature qui n’existaient pas. Ou bien ils ont glosé, de manière conventionnelle,  sur d’autres problématiques, déconnectées de la biographie réelle de l’écrivain. Ils évoquaient certes le titre de ses livres mais ceux-ci, sous leur plume, semblaient changer de contenu. On peut même se demander s’il s’agissait bien des mêmes livres. Ou du même auteur...

 

Ballard fut essentiellement un écrivain de science-fiction, qui n’a pas “renié”, comme quelqu’un l’a écrit, ses oeuvres antérieures à 1962, année où il a inventé l’ “inner space”, l’espace intérieur, évoqué dans les “crocodiles” les moins banals mais sans que leurs auteurs ne comprennent réellement de quoi il s’agit. Alors que c’est fondamental. Avec cet “espace intérieur”, Ballard a provoqué une grande révolution dans ce genre littéraire, tout en déclarant, comme bien d’autres dans les années 60, que c’était fini d’écrire encore et toujours comme on l’avait fait auparavant. Les temps avaient changé: la littérature devait changer elle aussi. Ballard s’est donc mis au travail, à fond, jusqu’à pouvoir dépasser les conventions du genre; il s’est mis à écrire des thrillers dans une sphère postmoderne. Le succès mondial est alors arrivé, avec le roman autobiographique “L’Empire du Soleil” (1984); c’est par cet ouvrage que les intellectuels et le grand public l’ont découvert. Lorsque, trois ans plus tard, Steven Spielberg en a tiré un film homonyme et lorsque la vogue du “cyberpunk” l’élit comme son “père putatif”,  alors le monde a su que Ballard était prêt à être “embaumé” dans le mastaba de la littérature.

 

D’où cette volonté des fauteurs de “crocodiles” de donner à leurs lecteurs un cadre préétabli  pour l’oeuvre et une définition homologuée de l’auteur, cadre et définition qui font de lui un écrivan présentable, digne de figurer dans les hautes sphères de la culture officielle, après avoir expurger la science-fiction du discours. Ballard est ainsi devenu un précurseur de la vogue “cyberpunk”, un écrivain décrété “subversif” à la façon des médiacrates, un révolutionnaire, un prophète du futur, un visionnaire, celui qui utilise la science-fiction pour dénoncer le monde moderne, alors qu’en réalité Ballard n’écrivait pas de science-fiction. Et dans la foulée, Ballard est également devenu un anti-fasciste bon teint, un philo-américain. Mais le Ballard, que mes amis et moi avons connu, celui que nous avons aimé, est bien différent de l’image que lui ont taillée les fauteurs de “crocodiles”. Et c’est bien sûr notre vision que nous aimerions évoquer dans cet hommage. Les éléments biographiques coïncident, entre nous et les “crocodiles”, mais non les résultats, non le jugement final à porter sur l’homme et sur l’oeuvre. C’est comme ses livres: mêmes titres mais autres contenus.

 

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Le Ballard, dont nous aimons nous souvenir aujourd’hui, est né à Changhai, en Chine, en 1930, dans une famille anglaise. Elle a été internée dans le camp de détention japonais de Lunghua de mars 1943 à août 1945. Ballard n’utilisera jamais cette détention pour en tirer de quelconques avantages ou pour se faire valoir. Au contraire, en dépit des privations et de la violence des gardiens, il ne cessera de considérer ces deux années comme les meilleures de sa vie. Il témoignera amitié et respect pour les Japonais et l’image que son art nous a léguée, celle du gamin anglais auquel les soldats nippons enseignent le kendo, est très belle. Son père, après la guerre, témoignera d’ailleurs en faveur du premier commandant du camp, Hyashi. Ballard décrira également les avions japonais et anglais, et surtout américains, qu’il verra en action; dès son retour en Grande-Bretagne et après avoir terminé sa scolarité, il s’engagera comme volontaire dans la RAF et partira pour le Canada, où il acquerra toutes les techniques du pilote. C’est quand il servait dans les rangs de la RAF que Ballard a découvert la science-fiction et décidé de devenir écrivain. Il donne sa démission, retourne en Angleterre et commence à écrire des nouvelles.

 

Avec “Prima Belladonna” (1956), il sort de l’anonymat. Avec cet ouvrage, il crée le noyau central de ce que l’on appellera “le cycle de Vermillon Sands”, d’après le nom du lieu où se déroulent les récits. Un lieu qu’il définit comme “les périphéries exotiques de son esprit”, avec un scénario inspiré de Dali et de Tanguy autant que d’Ernst, avec voiliers de sable et scorpions gemmés, et surtout les destins obscurs qui accablent les protagonistes de ses nouvelles et romans. Il suffit de penser à “Mers de sable”, qui reprend et rappelle Coleridge et sa “Balade du vieux marin”, pour se rendre compte de l’ampleur du discours narratif ancré dans “Vermillon Sands”.

 

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Mis à part ce cycle, les nouvelles de Ballard forment, à elles seules, une sorte de second texte: “La parade des atrocités”, qui n’est pas un roman comme l’ont écrit les fauteurs de “crocodiles” mais un recueil de quinze nouvelles qui ont eu un impact très puissant sur l’imaginaire contemporain; il s’agit d’écrits de style expérimental, sorte de croisement entre Dos Passos, William Burroughs et James Joyce. La censure américaine a frappé ces récits de l’anathème d’une interdiction et c’est là, d’après les fauteurs de “crocodiles”, que réside la marque essentielle de cette oeuvre. En réalité, la première édition américaine de 1970 a été envoyée au pilon parce qu’elle contenait un récit (et non un article comme on l’a écrit) intitulé “Pourquoi vouloir enc.. Ronald Reagan”. Ce récit a fait, comme on s’en doute, la réputation de Ballard, tout comme, d’ailleurs, un autre, intitulé, lui, “Plan pour l’assassinat de Jacqueline Kennedy”. Et si le titre n’est pas dû à l’auteur lui-même, “Amour et napalm: les Etats-Unis organisent leurs exportations” en dit long sur son contenu. Le récit le plus célèbre de Ballard, dans cette veine, demeure toutefois “La mort de John Fritz Kennedy considérée comme une course automobile en vrille”. L’idée de Ballard était la suivante: si on commence un récit par la mort de Kennedy, on peut amorcer une construction de la réalité par le truchement des médias; surtout aux Etats-Unis, nous assistons, par le jeu permanent des médias, à la création constante d’une nouvelle mythologie avec des individus et futurs héros de l’imaginaire contemporain, tels Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean et Reagan, dont Ballard avait prédit avec beaucoup de lucidité l’élection au poste de Président. Précisons que notre écrivain anglais si raffiné n’est pas anti-américain.

 

Après “La parade des atrocités”, on aurait pu penser que tous les écrits de science-fiction que l’auteur écrirait ultérieurement déboucherait sur la farce. Mais Ballard a continué. Depuis la fin des années 50 jusqu’à la fin de son itinéraire littéraire, il a bousculé le concept même de science-fiction et, dans son oeuvre, publiée en quatre volumes en Italie chez Fanucci après que Mondadori en ait cédé les droits, il me paraît impossible d’établir une hiérarchie, de dire que ceci est meilleur que cela. De l’oeuvre de Ballard, on peut dire qu’elle a exploré le présent ou, mieux, les plis et replis d’événements occultés de notre présent: des “aliens” invisibles qui nous espionnent, des explosions nucléaires, des simulations d’événements, les régressions psychologiques des individus. Les fauteurs de “crocodiles” n’ont pas perçu la similitude qui existe, indubitablement, entre Ballard et le grand poète anglais Thomas Stearns Eliot et sa théorie de l’ “objectif corrélatif”  —mais on pourrait dire aussi qu’ils n’ont pas vu, non plus, le lien entre Ballard et un autre grand poète, Italien celui-là: Eugenio Montale. Selon l’idée de l’ “objectif corrélatif”, l’espace physique extérieur devient la manifestation de l’espace intérieur. Les terrains d’aviation abandonnés, les carcasses amoncelées de vieilles voitures ou alignées de bombardiers déclassés, de hangars délaissés, d’espaces évacués par leurs habitants, de dunes, de marais, d’habitations vides, de plages désertes, de cieux si vifs qu’ils aveuglent, de soleils implacables, voilà tous les paysages, termes des équations narratives de l’écrivain. Ce sont des espaces géographiques d’une valeur unique, qui deviennent les expressions et les symboles d’un mal-être intérieur.

 

L’autre Ballard que nous entendons commémorer est le romancier, celui de “Vent de nulle part” (1961), “Le monde submergé” (1962), “Terre brûlée” (1964), “Forêt de cristal” (1966). Avec ces quatres livres, Ballard a réussi à décrire quatre types différents d’apocalypses de science-fiction. Ces romans témoignent d’une sensibilité écologique, qui, à l’époque, en était à ses premiers balbutiements. Ils mettaient en scène des modes divers par lesquels la Terre allait finir par frapper ses propres habitants, chaque fois à l’aide des quatre éléments alchimiques. Mais “Le monde submergé” et “Forêt de cristal” parient sur un registre plus vaste, en faisant implicitement référence aux symboles mythiques de l’eau et du cristal; l’individu s’y perd en régressant sur l’échelle de l’évolution, dans un monde submergé sous les eaux et devenu ansi un gigantesque marais ou dans une forêt qui, lentement, minéralise ses arbres et les êtres qui y  habitent. L’étape suivante de l’oeuvre ballardienne est marquée par “Crash” (1973), élaboration nouvelle du récit homonyme paru dans “La parade des atrocités”. “Crash” met l’accent sur un problème devenu, au fil du temps, une triste réalité contemporaine: la manie automobiliste qui contamine tous les hommes et provoque une avanlanche ininterrompue d’accidents de la route. Dans le roman de Ballard, l’automobile est devenu un ersatz de la sexualité; un groupe de personnes met en scène les grands accidents de l’histoire de l’imaginaire moderne: la séduction, la mort au volant, le fétichisme des images, tout cela devient autant de points de référence. Quand David Cronemberg fait de ce roman un film du même nom, en 1997, les bien-pensants furent atterrés.

 

 

 

Par la suite, Ballard a travaillé sur des romans largement autobiographiques sinon carrément biographiques: “L’Empire du Soleil”, que nous venons d’évoquer, et aussi “La gentillesse des femmes” (1991). Quant aux ouvrages ultérieurs des années 90, ceux qui permettent aux fauteurs de “crocodiles” de crier au miracle, ils recèlent tantôt une dimension écologiste, comme “Le paradis du diable” (1994), tantôt mettent au goût du jour sa poétique du désastre en situant l’intrigue des thrillers à la Costa del Sol ou en France; enfin, “Le Règne à venir” (2006) appartient aussi à la catégorie des bons romans, mais tous ces livres des années 90 et de la première décennie du 21ème siècle n’ont plus ni l’intensité destructrice ni la magie charmante du premier Ballard. Le passage du monde décapant de la science fiction à celui de la “haute” littérature, a certes apporté la consécration à notre auteur, l’a hissé dans l’empyrée des écrivains aimés du grand public et des intellectuels; ce n’est donc pas un hasard si tous ses romans sont aujourd’hui publiés par Feltrinelli en Italie, alors qu’auparavant ses oeuvres étaient éditées dans la collection de science fiction de Mondadori. Ce passage a fatalement transformé sa force  créatrice et l’a infléchie dans une direction nouvelle. Les fauteurs de “crocodiles” n’ont évidemment jamais lu les pages qu’il écrivait dans la légendaire revue anglaise “New Worlds”, et encore moins les récits qui l’ont fait découvrir et l’ont intronisé “grand écrivain”. Par conséquent, à la lecture de ces textes-là, nous pouvons dire qu’il est vraiment “réducteur” de confiner Ballard dans le seul rayon de science fiction.

 

Le Ballard que nous aimons n’est pas le Ballard des grands médias, des intellectuels médiatisés et médiacrates. C’est bien davantage l’homme qui a rédigé sa propre biographie (“Les miracles de la vie”), éditée depuis peu de temps seulement en Italie, chez Feltrinelli. Dans ce récit autobiographique, Ballard affirme qu’après le camp de prisonniers les meilleurs moments de sa vie sont tous ceux liés à son épouse (qui mourra jeune) et à ses trois fils qui se sont débrouillés seuls et qui, par là même, constituent des miracles, bien plus que ses livres. Il est resté quarante ans avec la même compagne et il en parle avec le même enthousiasme qu’il y a quatre décennies.

 

L’auteur que nous lisions quand nous étions adolescents dans les années 60 et 70 dans les pages de la revue “Urania”, qui nous faisait découvrir les pistes nouvelles de la science fiction où il n’y avait plus de vaisseaux spatiaux, de voyages intersidéraux, d’envahisseurs extra-terrestres mais seulement une volonté bien précise de parler du présent et de ses maux, à travers, par exemple, le corps d’un géant abandonné sur une plage, l’ampleur d’un baiser, un delta grouillant de serpents, de mystérieuses tours d’observation qui descendent du ciel, la carcasse d’un B52. C’est donc ce même homme qui, après une vie qui ne fut guère facile, n’a pas sombré dans les pleurnicheries ou dans les invectives,  comme beaucoup d’autres, mais, au contraire, s’est retroussé les manches pour affronter le réel sans faiblir. Et il termine son autobiographie en annonçant à ses lecteurs qu’il est miné par un cancer et que, par conséquent, ils viennent de lire ses dernières lignes.

 

Je me rappellerai toujours le “gentleman” du Festival du Dragon de Viareggio en 1992 quand, avec ma copine et un ami, je m’étais faufilé parmi les “VIP” pour me retrouver  finalement à sa table, sans y avoir été invité; nous étions là, tous les trois inconnus, en shorts, en maillots de rugby, les cheveux longs. Ballard ne parlait pas italien et, nous, nous ne parlions pas anglais: cela ne l’a nullement empêché de dîner avec nous, ce soir-là, en irradiant une gentillesse toute britannique (soit dit en passant: à peu près toutes les grandes huiles de la littérature italienne auraient fait appel aux services de sécurité pour nous faire virer illico...). Ballard souriait et parlait, interrompu par une interprète. Il y avait là un grand écrivain mondialement connu et trois de ces lecteurs italiens les plus férus incapables de balbutier la moindre parole. Je n’en dirai pas  davantage. Merci, James, bon vol. Et bon atterrissage.

 

Claudio ASCIUTI.

(article paru dans le quotidien romain “Rinascita”, 25-26 avril 2009; traduction et adaptation française:  Robert Steuckers).

jeudi, 19 mars 2009

Patriotic Anarch? 100 Years of Robert A. Heinlein

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Patriotic Anarch? 100 Years of Robert A. Heinlein

by Flavio Goncalves

Ex: http://www.rosenoire.org/

THE first book I read that was authored by Robert A. Heinlein was “Stranger in a Strange Land”. I borrowed it from my younger brother and it was a cheap paperback edition with a very beautiful cover. I still keep it in my library at my family home in the Azores. “Stranger in a Strange Land” was considered very progressive in Heinlein’s day, dealing with the sexual revolution when that sort of thing was still considered as counter-culture and giving Heinlein himself some sort of guru status. Even though the book was first published in 1961, that edition was censored and the readers only got a chance to read the book in its entirety in 1991. Some claims have been made that this was the book that inspired the Manson Cult, even though Charles Manson himself publicly stated that he didn’t ever even read the book and had no responsibility regarding what his followers read.

Born July 7, 1907, Heinlein began his political trail as a regular left-winger but somehow along the trail that changed and when he died he was viewed as some sort of right-wing anarchist. I can’t really tell you what happened, but his “Starship Troopers” novel did sound a bit anti-communist to me and it was published earlier than “Stranger in a Strange Land”. But since anti-communism cannot be considered as something which is reviled by right-wingers alone, after all, regular anarchists are also anti-communist as part of their anti-authoritarian agenda (say what you like, proletariat dictatorship is still a dictatorship) and that goes as far back as the First International, when Mikhail Bakunin clashed with Karl Marx. So, many left-wingers (I would dare say most) are anti-communist and that’s nothing new.

I’ll avoid all the fuss about whether “Starship Troopers” was an ode to militarism or some sort of patriotic fascist order and place it, instead, side by side with “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, “The Iron Heel” and “Brave New World”. It depicts a future under an authoritarian form of government and that is that! Let me borrow a quote from Wikipedia: “The overall theme of the book is that social responsibility requires individual sacrifice. Heinlein's Terran Federation is a limited democracy with aspects of a meritocracy based on willingness to sacrifice in the common interest. Suffrage belongs only to those willing to serve their society by two years of volunteer Federal Service (there is no draft)” Well, that sounds good to me and remains one of my own views on Socialism. The common interest of the people should be more important than the interest of individuals and this would improve our modern society, even though I also believe that we need a more significant change.

Returning to Heinlein, as was common practice among militaristic science fiction writers, once upon a time he had been a soldier and served in the United States Navy during World War Two, but due to health reasons he never had a chance to fight. He remained in the States, in the background, during the war. He and his wife, during the Cold War, founded the Patrick Henry League when the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, in 1958, tried to unilaterally stop all nuclear weapons testing in the USA despite the fact that the Soviet Union could keep on testing theirs… which sounds like the act of a patriot. To this day “Starship Troopers” remains a part of the reading list in four of the five existing American military academies (covering the Army, the Marines and the Navy).

So, what was he? He has been labeled a fascist, a nazi, a racist and at the same time promoted homophobia and sexual liberation. And if in “Starship Troopers” we see him picturing good government as big government, on the other hand we find him fighting central government in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” while promoting small communities as models of individual freedom (as any good anarchist should). and what can one say about his “Take Back Your Government!: A Practical Handbook for the Private Citizen Who Wants Democracy to Work”?

All of his earlier writings and even his Socialist political activism will show him as an anarchist, but due to the peculiarities of the Cold War he also embraced patriotism. His country was at war with a federation of foreign countries and it seemed natural to him to stand up for his fellow countrymen, but let us not forget that his position regarding homosexuality, sexual liberation, his criticism of organised religion and his more private issues (he remained a naturist all of his life) can hardly be interpreted as right-wing. His writing was revolutionary, his positions were those of a traditional anarchist, but when need be he also was a patriot and criticised Soviet Communism, which should not be mistaken with Socialism.

His books remain as exciting today as they were almost half a century ago and important lessons can be derived from all of them, as well as great entertainment. He did won four Hugo awards, after all, so let us hope that this revolutionary writer and thinker will not be forgotten so soon.

Ho Articl Essay Interview Poetr Miscellan Review Book Archive Link