A couple of years before the débâcle --- as implicit within --- Louis-Napoléon meditated, which is what he was best at, some wish-fulfilment . An accomplished author, his only known fiction had been, in hereditary fashion, official pronouncements.
'Plot of a Novel by the Emperor'
"M. Benoît, an honest grocer, residing tn the Rue de la Lune, left, in 1847, for America. After having travelled in the countries extending from Hudson's Bay to the Mississippi, he returned to France in April, 1868, having been nearly nineteen years out of the country. He had been only vaguely informed as to the events which had taken place in France since 1848. Some French refugees had told him that, if he visited France, he would find it crushed under a system of despotism, with poverty abounding everywhere; a France, in fact, very different from that he left flourishing under the reign of Louis Phillippe. Our friend Benoît arrives at Brest in a trans-Atlantic steamer, full of uncertainties, regrets, and apprehensions. 'What are those black-looking vessels, so ugly when compared with the beautiful sailing vessels that I have left behind me ?' he asks of the first sailor he meets. 'Why,' replies the sailor, 'they are iron-clad men-of-war, the Emperor's invention; covered in iron, they are impregnable; and this transformation has destroyed, to a certain extent, the supremacy of the English fleet on the seas.' 'That may be possible; but I am sorry for our old ships, with their poetical masts and sails.' [ On the margin, opposite the latter phrase, are written these words : "Passports suppressed." ] He sees the crowd rushing to the Court-house to record their votes. Astonishment at witnessing the existence of universal suffrage; astonishment at the railways which run throughout the whole of the country, and at the telegraph. Arrived in Paris; embellishments. The Octroi ( city dues ) carried to the fortifications. He wishes to make some purchases, which are cheaper, in consequence of the Treaty of Commerce; some half-price, &c. He fancies that there are a number of writers in prison. Error. No disturbances; no political prisoners; no exiles. No more preventative detentions; acceleration of trial; branding suppressed; civil death suppressed; Society for Assistance to the Aged; asylums at Vincennes; coalitions; Police de Roulage suppressed; military service shortened, pay increased, medal instituted, pension augmented, reserve increasing the regular force; funds for infirm priests; arrest for debt; brokers; a tradesman who sent his assistant to buy and sell goods was arrested; Councils-General."
The Secret Documents of the Second Empire. Pub. by the Commission of the Govt. of National Defence. L. 1871 Translated from the French by T. Curry.
Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville --- Bivouac devant le Bourget
The ongoing separate war the United States is waging to eradicate the Gaddafi clan by targeting it’s smallest members proceeds apace with the successful targeted killing of some more of his youngest descendants, “I Do it for the Gipper.” Wiggum murmured as he gave the order, continuing his sedulous quest to fulfil the mandates of his Republican mentors. Yet, equally impressive the Chicago Hit he ordered on the demonic bin Laden, another death foretold, actually as well as achieving the primary purpose — gaining votes from those screaming hordes who would publicly celebrate a death — was the final act in Interpol’s Warrant to capture the demonic bin Laden, which was first issued in ’98 at the request of… Libya.
One might think that however tragic the deaths on 9/11 — the destruction of the Towers sans deaths would merely be a blessing, as would be virtually every building since 1920 ( but including the deaths of all foul present modernist architects and scum bastard building workers everywhere who destroyed the old and erected the pointless vile concrete new ) — the swap of 30,000 Afghani civilians since would placate the manes of the 3000 murdered then
Anyway, for the demonic bin Laden, the present choices are: that he was either dead long ago in the Caves of Tora Bora; dead from his numerous ailments ( which included Marfan’s, kidney disease, liver disease etc. etc.); killed in Abottabad; or snatched for a life of imprisonment and torture under the auspices of the vengeful state — which has not treated those on Guantánamo, ever unclosed yet, whose guilt in much less culpable crimes than those of bin Laden was unproven, at all well. Or he may have escaped and a double killed, yet his charisma and mystique vanished.
The ‘DNA evidence’ is as valueless as anything else the propaganda machine issues, since we have to rely on, the retrieved bits actually coming from the corpse in Abottabad, the matching being done by the state who killed him, and the control sample actually having been taken from his sister’s corpse — bearing in mind that it was recently discovered that the piece of skull held by the Russians which they alleged was that of Hitler really belonged to some poor woman — and that in all reports the administration controls what information is released, and however generous they are in releasing in succession utterly different stories, this means believing in the good faith of Obama, a man rarely capable of understanding, let alone telling, truth; the Pentagon; and the various state security forces. One thing that is certain is that the corpse, real or not, was actually about his height: since the killers had omitted, understandably enough, to bring along a tape measure, one of them of a similar length lay down besides the body to provide a datum.
And even if the event is broadly true, whilst the raid was a credit to the hit squad, killing a bewildered old man was evidently preferred to capture, as execution of the unrighteous; especially since they said that anything less than utter submission — difficult to manage for the least alarmed when being shot at — didn’t qualify as surrender, and that attempting to retreat, as was the demonic bin Laden before he was rubbed out proved resistance. Since when they killed this sick old fellow crawling on the floor, in front of his 12 yr-old daughter, he seemed incapable of a fight to the death with tooth and nail, being unguarded and unarmed, which seems extraordinary carelessness on the part of a supervillain.
While this affair reminds one of the horrifying 2004 murder of Shiekh Yassin, which temporarily changed my internet signatures to:
‘If you could have heard the old man scream as he fell, and the noise of his bones upon the pavement !’
[ from The Story Of The Young Man With The Cream Tarts by RLS ]
I have to kill a 67-yr-old man Considering he’s paraplegic, should I choose a knife fight ? Or as he’s blind, it might be pistols at dawn: in order to demonstrate my sheer fighting courage perhaps I should use a helicopter gunship when his wheelchair is exiting morning prayers.
the mention of dreary old Adolf may as well include here my very favourite joke, as told in Germany in late ’45, and perhaps almost relevant in this matter:
When they found the Führer’s body, there was a little note attached: ‘I was never a Nazi.’
Down in the Valley
And with all this cavilling, the fact remains the aging prisoner in Abottabad was wistfully planning yet more wacky mayhem: his computer files, as released by the administration showed his meticulous planning for a new atrocity. “…was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge.”; yet worse, this was to be specifically aimed at Amtrak’s 805 km per hour trains — which I’ll assume can cross the continent in three and a half hours — no doubt as the doleful plumes of smoke rose from the valley below the opera-glass gazing conspirators would toss their tophats into the air and fondle their waxed moustaches whilst cackling fiendishly.
For someone who hated America so, I’m guessing he had very little idea of daily life in America; let alone Amtrak.
And at the last the final question remains: What sort of person is terrified by a weird old loony such as bin Laden ?
As President Wiggum details yet another bombing of a muslim country for their own good --- I swear, part of America's current mission policy statement is to rain death from the clouds upon each and every country in the world, in turn and prolly ending up with themselves --- it can't hurt to visit one of my favourite passages, from Herbert Gorman's magnificent 1947 fictionalization of L'Affaire Boulanger, Brave General, painting the general's unfortunate -- in consequence --- visit to Prince Napoleon's Chateau at Prangins, in the canton of Vaud [ Obit ]. When did a Plon-Plon benefit anyone ? Suitable no doubt since Obama shares with Georges his amiable nullity, combined even yet with the fading aura of one also once claimed as messiah who brought death and dictatorial misery as travelling companions.
Yanks of a liberal disposition now try to disassociate themselves and Bush-Lite from any suspicion of Obamamania, claiming that it was their opponents who fastened the unreal expectations of a new dispensation upon the reputation of a remarkably shifty candidate and soon to be dilettante president, yet none who actually lived through November of '08 will forget the revolting genuflections and hosannas which accompanied that victory; like Boulanger, who twisted in turn to solicit support from correct legitimists and the slippery factions who composed the body politic of the corrupt Third Republic, orleanists, bonapartists, socialists, clericals etc. etc., all realising in turn that he lacked spirit to do good for any, and not even for himself, the president courted foolishly his alleged enemies for bi-partisan support without having much of a plan for even the semblance of victory. As to whether being a hollow man is better than being a criminal worshipped war-lord, I can't say; but trying to be both is a respectable recipe for disaster.
As Gorman includes: In Politics one insisted to the last that one's party was winning, and when one's party did not win one spent the the next week inventing extraneous excuses for the defeat. The simple fact that one's party had lost because it had not received as many votes as the other fellow's party was never a conclusive explanation in itself. Politics, it appeared, was a constant self-justification. If I had done that, if I had done this, if the question had been properly presented, if my agent in that particular place... if the funds had been distributed as... if... if... if... Ah, that was politics. It was an absurd game of chess with crazy moves and cheating antagonists who stole your pawns when you were not looking. There was more politics, she thought, in republics than there were in kingdoms or empires for the simple reason that in republics there was no definitive iron hoof to stamp it out. That was good. So everybody said. The People spoke. Sometimes they spoke in a dozen clashing voices and nothing was resolved, or, if was resolved, it took a long time and the resolution lost a part of its strength. Like the American Congress. A wilful minority in that Paradise of democracy could indefinitely obstruct the will of the majority. That was called rule by the people. It sounded more like rule by the sediment that was too clotted to go down the drain. It held back everything.
Twilight was falling
Twilight was falling when the Prince, looking very much like a blown-up caricature of his august uncle, waddled into the large library with the General at his heels. "If you enter politics," he was saying, "you will soon discover it to be a nasty and merciless business. Have you a fortune ?" "Not a sou, "replied the General. "Well," said the Prince, as he thrust his hand into the front of his waistcoat, "if you run aground you will never be a stranger here." Thiébaud, who was standing by one of the glass cases of relics with Berthet-Leleux, turned smilingly towards the two men. "I have been thrilled by some of the objects in this case, Your Imperial Highness," he declared. "Look here, my General. Here are some things that will stir your soldier's heart." Boulanger advanced towards the relics eagerly, and the Prince followed, his broad face wreathed with smiles. "Yes," he said, "I intended to show you some of these sacred souvenirs. Berthet-Leleux, hand me the keys." The four men gathered before the case, while the Prince awkwardly unlocked the glass-panelled door. "There are the spurs that He wore on the return from Italy," he explained. "And there is the cockade that was in His hat the day He made them eat grapeshot at the Church of Saint-Roch. There are two of His pistols and the sash He wrapped around His middle when He drove the recalcitrant Council of the Five Hundred out of the Orangerie. And here... here..." He reached into the case and withdrew an Egyptian sabre in a gold-plated and bejewelled sheath. He extended it towards the General. "This is the sword the First Consul carried at Marengo," he said solemnly. For an instant the magic of the Cult impregnated the still air in the library. Afterwards Thiébaud swore that he heard the distant grumble of grenadier drums as the General stretched forward a respectful hand and lightly touched the hilt of the glittering weapon. "Are you sure that this is the sabre of the First Consul ?" he demanded in a hushed voice. The Prince smiled. "Do you think that this is bric-à-brac I have collected in flea-markets ?" he asked proudly. "It is a beautiful souvenir," declared the General in a reverent tone. His hand again caressed the hilt of the sword as lightly, as tenderly as though it were the upturned face of a beloved woman. Thiébaud saw the grave melancholy visage of a professional soldier to whom warfare was a religion and in whose eyes the saints wore burnished epaulets. Like the Moor in the English play his profession was his life and without it he would have no life at all... nothing, indeed, but existence. What, then ? What, then ? The journalist closed his mind to the answer. The Prince, too, observed the General's emotion and instinctively understood it. After all, he was a Bonaparte. Turning, he carefully placed the sabre back on the velvet in the open case. "General," he said, "when you have returned Alsace and Lorraine back to France I will offer you this sword." Justin entered the shadowy library with a lighted candelabra.
As elsewhere, earlier in the book, eternal truth remains for some of us outside all such montebanks of apparent power...
It was after four o'clock in the morning when the Polish waiter, leaning like an old collapsed scarecrow against the corridor wall, saw the door open and the octet emerge in a compact group. They were no longer laughing. "Remember," said Laguerre. "My dinner is tonight. You are all invited. In the meantime..." "In the meantime we have accomplished nothing," snapped Clemenceau. "We are moving to an understanding," said the General mildly. Ignace observed how Clemenceau turned a brief sour glance at the handsome gentleman with the blond beard. "Whose understanding ?" demanded the Breton abruptly. Nobody answered. As they were going down the stairs Ignace turned to Monsieur Frédéric. "They all detest one another," he remarked in a surprised tone. Monsieur Frédéric, who had been a maître d'hôtel for thirty years, shrugged his shoulders. "After all," he replied, "we live under a Republic. They have the liberty to detest one another. As for me... I am a Royalist."
I am always stupified by an aspect of militant atheism never remarked upon: these curious little chaps so outraged and so angry at a non-existent God they devote time to refuting Him and belief in Him --- for time is the one thing they cannot afford.
Let us suppose that God does not Exist. OK then, if not thrown by eventual nothingness --- which on the contrary they gleefully embrace --- there's very little to be said; and certainly nothing of eternal value: however one may as well live one's life out as pleasantly as possible according to one's own choices. It is tough to spend half of that time labouring at a job one detests, yet this too is not a problem for them, since they enjoy whatever weird stuff they do --- such as being a professor or economist; but time runs out no matter how one uses it. If mentally unstable they may substitute Humanity as their ersatz-religion of choice, chosen solely because they happen to be human, and insist on working for and lecturing to humanity, ( and if so inclined, working for the eradication of social elements opposed to their own social philosophy of choice for the betterment of all mankind [ except those elements eradicated ] ) despite the fact that all of humanity is destined for nothingness just as much as they when time runs out. And that nothing will be left of them, their acts and thoughts, nor those of any other, when time runs out.
So let us suppose one of these: he is say, 40, that gives him roughly 40 more years of existence until he is extinguished to the point that he will never know he was extinguished or was ever alive. Not to mention that the memory of him will be as vanished as most in 10,000 years. Allowing two-thirds of time for eating, sleeping, working, worrying about money or worrying about social stability etc., that leaves 13 years of possible enjoyment. Instead he uses up this time on earth self-righteously persuading others that they will go into nothingness and unimportance with no salvation, and arguing about a deity in whom he does not believe. All the time the clock clicks to his termination and his remaining time runs out, as in a death cell. This has to be a definition of insanity: to spend the sole amount of time you will ever have, not even in anger at not going on to an afterlife, but railing against a God one thinks non-existent, hating the idea that others believe they go on, and mocking those whose faith is sure.
Karl Marx was one such, and despite his seminal work as a social philosopher and economist, all for an aim he believed he could never be conscious to see and which would end in nothingness itself, was largely inspired by early nineteenth century romantic rebellion against the God he didn't believe Existed, and Whom rationally he should not have cared about in the least, as a magnificent essay by Murray N. Rothbard I have referenced elsewhere makes clear.
Here are lyrics to Mother Nothingness ( The Triumph Of Ubbo Sathla ) from The Vision Bleak, and some of Marx's poetry from that essay: try and guess first...
Worlds I would destroy forever, Since I can create no world; Since my call they notice never
I shall build my throne high overhead, Cold, tremendous shall its summit be. For its bulwark –-- superstitious dread. For its marshal –-- blackest agony.
I shall howl gigantic curses on mankind. Ha ! Eternity ! She is an eternal grief. Ourselves being clockwork, blindly mechanical, Made to be foul-calendars of Time and Space, Having no purpose save to happen, to be ruined, So that there shall be something to ruin If there is a Something which devours, I'll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins --– The world which bulks between me and the Abyss I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses. I'll throw my arms around its harsh reality: Embracing me, the world will dumbly pass away, And then sink down to utter nothingness, Perished, with no existence – that would be really living !
In the steaming morass Of a newborn earth Lies the formless mass Which to all gave birth
In a sea of sludge Of immense extend Lies the thoughtless mass Which is source and end
We all must follow Into her void To her fetid womb We all return
Her voiceless howl Resounds through time From primal mud And fenses foul
A limbless thing Mindless and coarse This wretches guise Is end and source
We all must follow Into her void To her fetid womb We all return
Fall through the aeons Onward to the earth in it's prime Fall through the aeons Becoming the spawn Of the great old slime
…the leaden world holds us fast And we are chained, shattered, empty, frightened, Eternally chained to this marble block of Being, … and we – We are the apes of a cold God.
Frederick Schlegel ( and after him Coleridge ) aptly indicated a distinction, when he said that every man was born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. This distinction is often expressed in the terms subjective and objective intellects. Perhaps we shall best define these by calling the objective intellect one that is eminently impersonal, and the subjective intellect one that is eminently personal; the former disengaging itself as much as possible from its own prepossessions, striving to see and represent objects as they exist; the other viewing all objects in the light of its own feelings and preconceptions. It is needless to add that no mind is exclusively objective or exclusively subjective, but every mind has a more or less dominant tendency in one or the other of these directions. We see the contrast in Philosophy, as in Art. The realist argues from Nature upwards, argues inductively, starting from reality, and never long losing sight of it; even in the adventurous flights of hypothesis and speculation, being desirous that his hypothesis shall correspond with realities. The idealist argues from an Idea downwards, starting from some conception, and seeking in realities only visible illustrations of a deeper existence. The achievements of modern Science, and the masterpieces of Art, prove that the grandest generalisations and the most elevated types can only be reached by the former method; and that what is called the "ideal school," so far from having the superiority which it claims, is only more lofty in its pretensions; the realist, with more modest pretensions, achieves loftier results. The Objective and Subjective, or as they are also called, the Real and the Ideal, are thus contrasted as the termini of two opposite lines of thought. In Philosophy, in Morals and in Art, we see a constant antagonism between these two principles. Thus in Morals the Platonists are those who seek the highest morality out of human nature, instead of in the healthy development of all human tendencies, and their due co-ordination; they hope, in the suppression of integral faculties, to attain some superhuman standard. They call that Ideal which no Reality can reach, but for which we should strive. They superpose ab extra, instead of trying to develop ab intra. They draw from their own minds, or from the dogmas handed to them by tradition, an arbitrary mould, into which they attempt to fuse the organic activity of Nature.
If this school had not in its favor the imperious instinct of Progress, and aspiration after a better, it would not hold its ground. But it satisfies that craving, and thus deludes many minds into acquiescence. The poetical and enthusiastic disposition most readily acquiesces : preferring to overlook what man is, in its delight of contemplating what the poet makes him. To such a mind all conceptions of Man must have a halo round them, --- half mist, half sunshine; the hero must be a Demigod, in whom no valet de chambre can find a failing ; the villain must be a Demon, for whom no charity can find an excuse.
Not to extend this to a dissertation, let me at once say that Goethe belonged to the objective class."'Everywhere in Goethe,"said Franz Horn, "you are on firm land or island ; nowhere the infinite sea.' A better characterization was never written in one sentence. In every page of his works may be read a strong feeling for the real, the concrete, the living; and a repugnance as strong for the vague, the abstract, or the supersensuous. His constant striving was to study Nature, so as to see her directly, and not through the mists of fancy, or through the distortions of prejudice, --- to look at men, and into them, --- to apprehend things as they were. In his conception of the universe he could not separate God from it, placing Him above it, beyond it, as the philosophers did who represented God whirling the universe round His finger, "seeing it go." Such a conception revolted him. He animated the universe with God ; he animated fact with divine life ; he saw in Reality the incarnation of the Ideal; he saw in Morality the high and harmonious action of all human tendencies ; he saw in Art the highest representation of Life.
George Henry Lewes : The Life & Works of Goethe
AoBlue --- Marisa Kirisame sleeping on the Air
Title from Third Rock From The Sun.
With His Peculiar Look And Emphasis
As an extra... Lewes in a footnote adds a personal note of the old loon Carlyle:
'I remember once, as we were walking along Piccadilly, talking about the infamous Büchlein von Goethe, Carlyle stopped suddenly, and with his peculiar look and emphasis, said, "Yes, it is the wild cry of amazement on the part of all spooneys that the Titan was not a spooney too ! Here is a god-like intellect, and yet you see he is not an idiot ! Not in the least a spooney !"
Readers not current in early 19th century England may note that 'Spooney' means soppy, soft, wet: sissies, but not necessarily including the present-day connotation of sexual maladaption.
About this time, as a relief from the graver matters which claimed his attention, Luther engaged in the occupation of turning. In a letter to Wenceslas Link, he begs his friend to purchase for him the necessary tools at Nuremburg... Luther returns his acknowledgements in a letter in which his characteristic gaiety of expression is apparent.
"We have received the turning tools, the quadrant, the cylinder, and the wooden clock. We greatly thank you for the trouble you have taken. One thing, however, you forgot: you did not mention how much more you expended, for the money I sent [ One guilder ] could not have been enough. For the present, we have got all we need, except you could send us some new machinery, which will turn by itself when Wolfgang is lazy or sleepy. The clock suits me perfectly, especially for showing the time to my drunken Saxons, who look more to the bottle than the hour, caring but little whether the sun, or the clock, or its hands show wrong."
Wolfgang had been for some years in Luther's service, and remained with him throughout his life. He was a worthy, honest fellow, devotedly attached to his master, and possessed but one failing, a frequent propensity to go to sleep over his work. This unconquerable drowsiness was often the subject of Luther's mock complaint. The master, with his own immense capacity for work without much interval for rest, was amused by the dull, heavy somnolence of his honest famulus. On one occasion, Wolfgang built a floor, and upon it fixed a contrivance for catching birds. Luther, whose nature was loving and feeling as that of a child, did not approve of this plan to entrap the feathered songsters, and drew out a Bird's Indictment against their foe. The birds besought Luther's protection against Wolfgang, whose sleepiness, they said, maliciously, everybody knew, as he never left his bed until eight o'clock in the morning; they required that every evening he should spread grain for their morning meal, as they rose up hours before him; and that his attention throughout the day should be devoted to catching frogs, snails, daws, mice and other pests, whereby he would be enabled to gratify his destructive instincts, without endeavouring to ensnare the poor birds, whose songs fully paid for the little grain they consumed. The Bird's Petition, brimful of soft pleadings on behalf of one of the Creator's sweetest gifts to charm the ears of that lordly creature, Man, concluded with a threat that if Wolfgang, their enemy, did not mend his ways, they ( the birds ) would pray to God to cause fleas and other insects to crawl about him at night, and torment him beyond endurance.
Luther took great delight in the simple happiness to be gained in his garden, cultivating the flowers, listening to the plashing of the waters of the fountain he had himself erected, to the singing of the birds, and to the gambols of the fish in a small pond. These small matters often took from his mind much of the trouble and anxiety inseparable from his position, and broke the hard intensity of intellectual and spiritual care.
...on the 3rd of April [ 1530 ], the Elector, unarmed and accompanied by one hundred and sixty horsemen, set out from Torgau on his way to meet the Emperor at Augsburg. Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas, Agricola, and Spalatin were with him. When they reached Coburg, the Elector directed Luther to remain there. The ban of the Empire prevented his appearance at the Diet. Without hesitation Luther obeyed the command of his prince. He proceeded to the fortress of Coburg, where he remained during the time of the proceedings at Augsburg. The elector with his followers reached Augsburg on the 2nd of May, and there awaited the arrival of the Emperor, which did not take place until the 15th of June. Luther, from the castle, wrote constantly to the Elector, to Spalatin, and to Melanchthon. The solitude and inaction to which he was constrained to submit were irksome and distressing. Writing to Melanchthon on the 22nd April he says: "I have arrived at my Sinai; but of this Sinai I will make a Sion: I will raise thereon three Tabernacles, one to the Psalmist, another to the Prophets, and lastly, one to Æsop..." He was at this time engaged in the translation of these fables.
Caspar Friedrich --- The Tree of Crows
* Colour alternates
"There is nothing here to prevent my solitude from being complete. I live in a vast abode which overlooks the castle; I have the keys of all its apartments. There are scarcely thirty persons within the fortress, of whom twelve are watchers by night, and two other sentinels, constantly posted on the castle heights."
On the 9th of May he wrote to Spalatin an amusing account of the rooks and jackdaws, the denizens of the wood beneath the elevated part of the castle in which he lived.
"I am here in the midst of another diet, in the presence of the magnanimous sovereigns, dukes, grandees, and nobles of a kind different to those at Augsburg. Mine confer together upon State affairs with all the gravity of demeanour; they fill the air with unceasing voice, promulgating their decrees and their preachings. They do not seat themselves shut up in those royal caverns, you call palaces, but they hold their councils in the light of the sun, having the heavens for a canopy, and, for a carpet, the rich and varied verdure of the trees, on which they are congregated in liberty; the only limits to their domains being the boundaries of the earth. The stupid display of silk and gold inspires them with horror. They are all alike, in colour as in countenance --- black. Nor is their note different one from the other; the only dissonance being the agreeable contrast between the voices of the young and the deeper tones of their parents. In no instance have I ever heard them speak of an Emperor; they disdain with sovereign contempt the horse which is so indispensible to our cavaliers; they have a far better means of mocking the fury of cannon. In so far as I have been able to comprehend their decrees, they have determined to wage an incessant war during the present year against barley, corn, and grain of all sorts; in short, against all that is most enticing and agreeable amongst the fruits and products of the earth. It is much to be feared that they may become conquerors wherever they direct their efforts; for they are a race of combatants, wily and adroit; equally successful in their attempts to plunder, by force or by surprise. As for me, I am an idle spectator, assisting willingly, and with much satisfaction at their consultations. But enough of jesting ! Jesting which is, however, sometimes necessary to dispel the gloomy thoughts which overwhelm me."
The clamour of the rooks and crows, by which, as in another letter he wrote, "they charitably intend to bring sleep gently to my eyelids," was not altogether successful in diverting his attention from the grave business of the diet.
John Rae : Martin Luther --- Student, Monk, Reformer
* Note that the More tag no longer works on this particular blog - it destroys the lay-out: for which lack we apologise...
Great was the excitement in Paris when it was announced the King of Prussia and the Tsar would arrive in close succession at the beginning of June . Although the latter was the real guest of honour ( high politics decreed it so ), it was King Wilhelm of Prussia and his massive Chancellor, Count von Bismarck, who attracted all eyes. On the train they passed positions the old King had occupied in 1814, when he had contributed to the downfall of his present host’s uncle. Though some Parisians detected a note of typical Teutonic tactlessness as the King complimented, ecstatically, on ‘what marvellous things you have done since I was last here !’, on the whole they thought his behaviour quite unexceptionable. In fact he stole many hearts by his kindly display of affection for the fragile Prince Impérial, then recovering from an illness. A comfortable figure projecting an image of some benevolent country squire, he set the nervous French at ease, and indeed seemed utterly at ease himself; as someone remarked uncharitably after the event, he explored Paris as if intending to come back there one day.
Even the terrible Bismarck, whose great stature made Wickham Hoffman of the U.S. Legation think of Agamemnon, positively glowed with goodwill. Beauties of Paris society surrounded him. admired his dazzling White Cuirassier unform and the enormous spread eagle upon his shining helmet, and attempted to provoke him; but in vain. In conversation with Louis-Napoleon, he dismissed last year’s Austro-Prussian war as belonging to another epoch, and added amiably ‘Thanks to you no permanent cause of rivalry exists between us and the Court at Vienna’. The festive atmosphere temporarily obscured the full menace of this remark.
On April 12th, the Emperor attended the première of one of the great entertainments to be produced in honour of his Royal guests: Offenbach’s La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein…
…Now here was this new triumph about the amorous Grand Duchess of a joke German principality, embarking on a pointless war because its Chancellor, Baron Puck, needed a diversion. Its forces were led by a joke German general called Boum, as incapable as he was fearless, who invigorated himself with the smell of gunpowder by periodically firing off his pistol into the air. The farce, tallying so closely with Europe’s private view of the ridiculous Teutons, was too obvious to be missed. When the Tsar came to see it, his box was said to have rung with unroyal laughter. Between gusts of mirth, members of the French court peeped over at Bismarck’s expression, half in malice, half in apprehension, wondering if perhaps King Wilhelm’s lack of tact about his previous visit to Paris had not been revenged to excess. But nobody appeared to be showing more obvious and unrestrained pleasure than the Iron Chancellor himself; one might almost have suspected that the pleasure was enhanced by the enjoyment of some secret joke of his own.
Frederick now asked his father-in-law, as a parting gift to him, to grant liberty to one of the unhappy band of political prisoners whose lifelong detention in the Tower was a public scandal. His candidate was the least obnoxious possible. Lord Grey de Wilton, the young Puritan noble who had been condemned to death for participation in the Bye Plot, had been now immured for ten years, and his spirit was reported much broken. Frederick made his request, and caught a terrifying glimpse of a James Stuart hitherto unknown to him, not the Princess Elizabeth’s “dear dad”, learned, lax and loving, but the James Stuart of the Gowrie Conspiracy and Gunpowder Plot.
Carola Oman : Elizabeth of Bohemia.
And just to drive home a point with icy charm…
James’s eventual dismissal of Frederick’s suit was well calculated to crush a nervous youth. “Son, when I come into Germany I will promise you not to importune you for any of your prisoners””.
THY rest was deep at the slumberer's hour If thou didst not hear the blast Of the savage horn, from the mountain-tower, As the Wild Night-Huntsman pass'd, And the roar of the stormy chase went by, Through the dark unquiet sky !
The stag sprung up from his mossy bed When he caught the piercing sounds, And the oak-boughs crash'd to his antler'd head As he flew from the viewless hounds; And the falcon soar'd from her craggy height, Away through the rushing night !
The banner shook on its ancient hold, And the pine in its desert-place, As the cloud and tempest onward roll'd With the din of the trampling race; And the glens were fill'd with the laugh and shout, And the bugle, ringing out !
From the chieftain's hand the wine-cup fell, At the castle's festive board, And a sudden pause came o'er the swell Of the harp's triumphal chord; And the Minnesinger's thrilling lay In the hall died fast away.
The convent's chanted rite was stay'd, And the hermit dropp'd his beads, And a trembling ran through the forest-shade, At the neigh of the phantom steeds, And the church-bells peal'd to the rocking blast As the Wild Night-Huntsman pass'd.
The storm hath swept with the chase away, There is stillness in the sky, But the mother looks on her son to-day, With a troubled heart and eye, And the maiden's brow hath a shade of care Midst the gleam of her golden hair !
The Rhine flows bright, but its waves ere long Must hear a voice of war, And a clash of spears our hills among, And a trumpet from afar; And the brave on a bloody turf must lie, For the Huntsman hath gone by !
Felicia Hemans : The Wild Huntsman
It is a popular belief in the Odenwald, that the passing of the Wild Huntsman announces the approach of war. He is supposed to issue with his train from the ruined castle of Rodenstein, and traverse the air to the opposite castle of Schnellerts. It is confidently asserted that the sound of his phantom horses and hounds was heard by the Duke of Baden before the commencement of the last war in Germany.
I have never attached another value to words than that of the expression of correct concepts, to theories never the value of deeds, and I have always regarded preconceived systems as the product of leisured heads or the outburst of emotional minds. Not in the struggle of society towards progress, but rather in progression towards the true goods: towards freedom as the inevitable yield of order; towards equality in its only applicable degree of that before the law; towards prosperity, inconceivable without the foundation of moral and material peace; towards credit, which can rest only on the basis of trust — in all that I have recognised the duty of government and the true salvation for the governed. I have looked upon despotism of every kind as a symptom of weakness. Where it appears, it is a self-punitive evil, most intolerable when it poses behind the mask of promoting the cause of freedom.
The concept of the balancing of powers ( proposed by Montesquieu ) has always appeared to me only as a conceptual error of the English constitution, impractical in its application, because the concept of such a balancing is rooted in the assumption of an eternal struggle, instead of in that of peace, the first necessity for the life and prosperity of states. The care for the inner life of states has always had for me the worth of the most important task for governments. As the foundations for politics I recognise the concepts of right and equity and not the sole calculations of use, whilst I look upon capricious politics as an ever self-punitive confusion of the spirit.
My conduct is a prosaic and not a poetical one. I am a man of right, and reject in all things appearance where it divides as such from truth, thereupon deprived as the foundation of right, where it must inevitably dissolve into error.
For me the word “freedom” has not the value of a starting-point, but rather that of an actual point of arrival. The word “order” denotes the starting-point. Only on the concept of order can that of freedom rest. Without the foundation of order, the call for freedom is nothing more than the striving of some party after an envisaged end. In its actual use, the call inevitably expresses itself as tyranny. Whilst I have at all times and in all situations ever been a man of order, my striving was addressed to true and not deceptive freedom. In my eyes, tyranny of any kind has only the value of absolute nonsense. As a means to an end, I mark it as the most vapid that time and circumstance is able to place at the disposal of rulers. The concept of order in view of legislation --- the foundation of order --- is, in consequence of the conditions under which states live, capable of the most varied application. Considered as constitution, it will prove itself best for any state that answers to the demands of both the material conditions and those moral conditions peculiar to the national character. There is no universal recipe for constitutions, just as little as there is some universal means for the boosting of health.
I did not govern the empire. Therein the powers at every level were not just strictly administered and directed to their competences, but rather in this regard were even relinquished to trepidation, which brought hesitancy to the course of affairs. The principle of government of the Emperor Francis was set forth in the motto “Justitia regnorum fundamentum”, not only as it lay in his spirit and character, but also as it served him as strict guide in all governmental affairs. He agreed with my observation that the axiom, correct in its point of origin, could be abrogated in the excessive practice of particular cases, but he usually added: “I was born and through my status appointed for the execution of justice; the inevitable hardness in particular cases is better than the slackening of rule through too many exceptions.” My motto is “Strength in Right”. Both sayings run together in meaning, except that the imperial motto has an abstractly judicial significance, whereas mine has a significance more grounded in state law. In this regard, the motto “Recta tueri”, suggested by me to Emperor Ferdinand upon his most supreme accession, bids a further nuance.
Excerpts from The Political Testament of Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, as translated by Deoholwulf, Keeper of The Joy of Curmudgeonry
WHERE is the German's fatherland ? The Prussian land? The Swabian land ? Where Rhine the vine-clad mountain laves ? Where skims the gull the Baltic waves ? Ah, no, no, no ! His fatherland 's not bounded so !
Where is the German's fatherland ? Bavarian land ? or Stygian land ? Where sturdy peasants plough the plain ? Where mountain-sons bright metal gain ? Ah, no, no, no ! His fatherland's not bounded so !
Where is the German's fatherland ? The Saxon hills ? The Zuyder strand ? Where sweep wild winds the sandy shores Where loud the rolling Danube roars ? Ah, no, no, no ! His fatherland 's not bounded so !
Where is the German's fatherland ? Then name, then name the mighty land ! The Austrian land in fight renowned ? The Kaiser's land with honors crowned ? Ah, no, no, no ! His fatherland 's not bounded so !
Where is the German's fatherland ? Then name, then name the mighty land ! The land of Hofer ? land of Tell ? This land I know, and love it well; But, no, no, no ! His fatherland 's not bounded so !
Where is the German's fatherland ? Is his the pieced and parceled land Where pirate-princes rule ? A gem Torn from the empire's diadem? Ah, no, no, no ! Such is no German's fatherland.
Where is the German's fatherland ? Then name, oh, name the mighty land ! Wherever is heard the German tongue, And German hymns to God are sung ! This is the land, thy Hermann's land; This, German, is thy fatherland.
This is the German's fatherland, Where faith is in the plighted hand, Where truth lives in each eye of blue, And every heart is staunch and true. This is the land, the honest land, The honest German's fatherland.
This is the land, the one true land, O God, to aid be thou at hand ! And fire each heart, and nerve each arm, To shield our German homes from harm, To shield the land, the one true land, One Deutschland and one fatherland !
Arndt was not a good man, for he was a liberal; yet he partially atoned by proving that if the Devil must have the all good tunes, he also acquires striking lyricists to complement them well...
To demonstrate that the less mundane, and more subtle, system of absolute monarchism can subvert revolutionary liberal impulses and turn them to light, Franz Liszt --- above politics and kaisertreue, put the above anthem to music, dedicated to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who then bestowed one of the earliest civilian Pour le Merites in return...
Jamie has this gift also, the gift of the compelling eye --- which is not to be confused with the evil eye, nor yet witchcraft --- which suggests to the unwary and lesser-willed the pure unreason of unobedience [ I wish I had it... ]
She believed profoundly in herself and in the suggestions of her own imagination. So fixed and unalterable was that belief that it amounted to positive knowledge, so far as it constituted a motive of action. In her strange youth wild dreams had possessed her, and some of them, often dreamed again, had become realities to her now. Her powers were natural, those gifts which from time to time are seen in men and women, which are alternately scoffed at as impostures, or accepted as facts, but which are never understood either by their possessor or by those who witness the results. She had from childhood the power to charm with eye and hand all living things, the fascination which takes hold of the consciousness through sight and touch and word, and lulls it to sleep. It was witchery, and she was called a witch. In earlier centuries her hideous fate would have been sealed from the first day when, under her childish gaze, a wolf that had been taken alive in the Bohemian forest crawled fawning to her feet, at the full length of its chain, and laid its savage head under her hand, and closed its bloodshot eyes and slept before her.
I was fond of F. Marion Crawford's The Witch of Prague as a child, and though he wasn't prone to incident in his unelaborate plotting, few could deny the beauty of his descriptive, suggestively so, powers.
The man introduced him into a spacious hall and closed the door, leaving him to his own reflections. The place was very wide and high and without windows, but the broad daylight descended abundantly from above through the glazed roof and illuminated every corner. He would have taken the room for a conservatory, for it contained a forest of tropical trees and plants, and whole gardens of rare southern flowers. Tall letonias, date palms, mimosas and rubber trees of many varieties stretched their fantastic spikes and heavy leaves half-way up to the crystal ceiling; giant ferns swept the polished marble floor with their soft embroideries and dark green laces; Indian creepers, full of bright blossoms, made screens and curtains of their intertwining foliage; orchids of every hue and of every exotic species bloomed in thick banks along the walls. Flowers less rare, violets and lilies of the valley, closely set and luxuriant, grew in beds edged with moss around the roots of the larger plants and in many open spaces. The air was very soft and warm, moist and full of heavy odours as the still atmosphere of an island in southern seas, and the silence was broken only by the light plash of softly-falling water.
He who has won woman in the face of daring rivals, of enormous odds, of gigantic obstacles, knows what love means; he who has lost her, having loved her, alone has measured with his own soul the bitterness of earthly sorrow, the depth of total loneliness, the breadth of the wilderness of despair. And he who has sorrowed long, who has long been alone, but who has watched the small, twinkling ray still burning upon the distant border of his desert—the faint glimmer of a single star that was still above the horizon of despair—he only can tell what utter darkness can be upon the face of the earth when that last star has set for ever. With it are gone suddenly the very quarters and cardinal points of life's chart, there is no longer any right hand or any left, any north or south, any rising of the sun or any going down, any forward or backward direction in his path, any heaven above, or any hell below. The world has stood still and there is no life in the thick, black stillness. Death himself is dead, and one living man is forgotten behind, to mourn him as a lost friend, to pray that some new destroyer, more sure of hand than death himself, may come striding through the awful silence to make an end at last of the tormented spirit, to bear it swiftly to the place where that last star ceased to shine, and to let it down into the restful depths of an unremembering eternity. But into that place, which is the soul of man, no destroyer can penetrate; that solitary life neither the sword, nor pestilence, nor age, nor eternity can extinguish; that immortal memory no night can obscure. There was a beginning indeed, but end there can be none.
As to Prague itself, it was no doubt a fine city, from when it was the capital of the Old Reich to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; yet I do have some distance from all things Czech: excessive nationalism from when they first began their interesting practice of throwing people out of high windows and set off the most devastating war in modern history; a wry humour allied to a smug morosity similar to that of my own people which insisted on striving for barren independent democracy; and, of course, the depraved vengefulness which sped possibly the most unspeakable atrocities on Germans of any nation which had been under the nazi control ( after an occupation which was as collaborative as most [ they supplied superb weaponry with all their noted craftsmanship and the occupation was not as grim as in, say, Poland ] ) --- here's one link, but I've read far, far worse... If the Russians were dreadful, they were restrained compared to some of the smaller regimes which were to become their future puppets. Besides, they honoured the Grand Tradition by chucking Jan Masaryk --- ghastly son of a still ghastlier father --- out of a window...
Still Art has nothing to do with politics, and Bohemia even in it's despicable guise of the late scarcely lamented Czechoslovakia had some severely unknown artists: here's a site devoted to Tavik František Šimon
Mucha is naturally well-known, yet Golden Age Comic Stories blog has some nice examples of his work on the 8th June entry --- for some reason I cannot link directly to posts there; this blog has a large resource of illustrative fantasy ranging from the fascinating to the banal [ I have to say I despise classical comic book 'art' and such genre; and find it generally as debased and weak-minded as say it's successors in film such as Star Wars or Star Trek ].
[ Although I have to preface this by pointing out that the painting above the snippet, Vincent Neumann's Witch on a Broom --- reffing to above mention of Bohemian witches... --- is uncannily reminiscent of Auld Scotia right up to the present time. Go into any Edinburgh pub. ]
The White Lady von Rosenberg Perchta von Rosenberg, known as the White Lady, lived in the Český Krumlov castle in the 15th century. Her father, Ulrich II. von Rosenberg married her off against her will and without love to the Moravian lord Johann von Lichtenstein who was cruel to Perchta all her life. When Johann was dying he had Perchta called in and asked her for forgiveness. She refused, and her husband cursed her. Since then, the soul of the White Lady von Rosenberg has had to roam the Rosenberg castles and tends to appear before significant events. White gloves on her hand bear good tidings, whereas black gloves are a sign of impending disaster. Tales of the White Lady is a theme for many authors.
Apart from the fact I find the notion of forgiveness unmanly and fairly inexplicable, the trouble here is that under no rational or irrational standard can forgiveness be demanded, and why this poor girl should have to expiate her lack of pity for the brutish lout who had injured her is totally beyond me.
Last night I idly considered the tragic life and death of Anna Nicole Smith, and wondered why the keepers of Amerika still have not yet transformed the Statue of Liberty into her likeness --- for that life and death perfectly capture the parallel destiny of the land... A century ago George S. Viereck wrote this predictive fantasy. He was quintessentially an odd bird, and despite some sympathy for his Hohenzollern cousins was rather a teutonophile than in any way royalist, yet his Germanic imagination qualified him as a seer.
THE EMPIRE CITY
HUGE steel-ribbed monsters rise into the air Her Babylonian towers, while on high Like gilt-scaled serpents glide the swift trains by, Or, underfoot, creep to their secret lair. A thousand lights are jewels in her hair, The sea her girdle, and her crown the sky, Her life-blood throbs, the fevered pulses fly, Immense, defiant, breathless she stands there
And ever listens in the ceaseless din, Waiting for him, her lover who shall come, Whose singing lips shall boldly claim their own And render sonant what in her was dumb: The splendour and the madness and the sin, Her dreams in iron and her thoughts of stone.
O NINEVEH, thy realm is set Upon a base of rock and steel From where the under-rivers fret High up to where the planets reel.
Clad in a blazing coat of mail, Above the gables of the town Huge dragons with a monstrous trail Have pillared pathways up and down.
And in the bowels of the deep Where no man sees the gladdening sun, All night without the balm of sleep The human tide rolls on and on.
The Hudson's mighty waters lave In stern caress thy granite shore, And to thy port the salt sea wave Brings oil and wine and precious ore.
Yet if the ocean in its might Should rise confounding stream and bay, The stain of one delirious night Not all the tides can wash away.
Thick pours the smoke of thousand fires, Life throbs and beats relentlessly --- But lo, above the stately spires Two lemans: Death and Leprosy.
What fruit shall spring from such embrace ? Ah, even thou wouldst quake to hear ! He bends to kiss her loathsome face, She laughs --- and whispers in his ear.
Sit not too proudly on thy throne, Think on thy sisters, them that fell; Not all the hosts of Babylon Could save her from the jaws of hell.
Through the long alleys of the park On noiseless wheels and delicate springs, Glide painted women fair and dark, Bedecked with silks and jewelled things.
In peacock splendour goes the rout With shrill, loud laughter of the mad --- Red lips to suck thy life-blood out, And eyes too weary to be sad !
Their feet go down to shameful death, They flaunt the livery of their wrong, Their beauty is of Ashtoreth, Her strength it is that makes them strong.
Behold thy virgin daughters, how They know the smile a wanton wears; And oh ! on many a boyish brow The blood-red brand of murder flares.
See, through the crowded streets they fly, Like doves before the gathering storm. They cannot rest, for ceaselessly In every heart there dwells a worm.
They sing in mimic joy, and crown Their temples to the flutes of sin; But no sweet noise shall ever drown The whisper of the worm within.
They revel in the gilded line Of lamplit halls to charm the night, But think you that the crimson wine Can veil the horror from their sight ?
Ah, no --- their staring eyes are led To where it lurks with hideous leer: Therefore the women flush so red, And all the men are white with fear.
As in a mansion vowed to lust, Where wantons with their guests make free, 'Tis thus thou humblest in the dust Thy queenly body, Nineveh !
Thy course is downward; 'tis the road To sins that even where disgrace And shameful pleasure walk abroad Dare not unmask their shrouded face !
Surely at last shall come the day When these that dance so merrily Shall watch with terrible faces gray Thy doom draw near, O Nineveh !
I, too, the fatal harvest gained Of them that sow with seed of fire In passion's garden --- I have drained The goblet of thy sick desire.
I from thy love had bitter bliss, And ever in my memory stir The after-savours of thy kiss --- The taste of aloes and of myrrh.
And yet I love thee, love unblessed The poison of thy wanton's art; Though thou be sister to the Pest In thy great hands I lay my heart !
And when thy body Titan-strong Writhes on its giant couch of sin, Yea, though upon the trembling throng The very vault of Heaven fall in;
And though the palace of thy feasts Sink crumbling in a fiery sea --- l, like, the last of Baal's priests, Will share thy doom, O Nineveh.
The doom of our culture was already well upon it's way by the time of the Second World War --- or War of the Republics as I would prefer it to be known, since this was conducted entirely betwixt differing republican systems, all equally loathsome. Possibly not Japan, I guess, since it was at least nominally a monarchy, although cursory search indicates it was more of a constitutional monarchy. WWII may be summarized as that the nazis were detestable; the western allies despicable; and the communists disgusting.
The Russians had reverted to becoming savages by 1945: the Americans maintained their customary anthropological status as barbarians. Their especially barbaric political system of representative democracy had grave consequence as victors... The very first moralistic theatre was the judicial murder of General Anton Dostler, of which may be read here, written by the son of his American defense counsel. Essentially, 15 American soldiers were captured disguised as Italian civilians, and the --- non-nazi --- General referred the case to Kesselring, who ordered them to be executed. Admittedly Smiling Albert had enough to occupy his mind right then without giving this a great deal of thought, but under the laws of war this was a done deal anyway. It is pointless to object or blame soldiers for disguising; it is equally pointless to object to the consequence --- which procedure is actually there to protect civilians. Thus although guiltless --- neither prosecutor nor defence expected anything except acquittal --- General Dostler was then sentenced to death after new instructions were handed down from Washington in response to the revelation that the prosecution would fail, that is that henceforth in these trials hearsay evidence would be admissible. This was to satisfy the voting constituents. Democracy is awesomely repellent not merely in practice, but still more so in idealist theory...
'Hope to God we never lose a war.' said the prosecutor.
For those of us without any massive sense of humour the German variety does just fine. One would have idly considered that Charles V HRR could only appear capable of pure fun if compared with his son Philip, but appearances are usually deceptive.
In the heat of the chase Charles V once found himself separated from his suite. He rode through the forest till he saw a wood-cutter who showed him the way to a lonely inn. Hungry and tired he dismounted, tied his horse to a tree, and entered. Inside he found four men who seemed to be asleep. Their appearance was not prepossessing, but he sat down and bade the landlord bring him something to eat and drink. Suddenly one of the men stood up and rubbed his eyes. He strode up to the emperor, snatched away from him his sword, and then said with exaggerated politeness: "Pardon me ! but I have just dreamed that I was to take your sword." The others seized his hat and cloak and had just begun to search his pockets, when some of the emperor's servants appeared. They soon succeeded in overcoming the robbers. When Charles had described his adventure in a few words, he shut his eyes and was silent for a few moments. Then he opened them again and said: "I have just dreamed that I saw four thieves hanged." The villains screamed for mercy, but the emperor remained firm. Four ropes were lent by the landlord, and the emperor's dream was fulfilled.
A notable instance of the futility of human judgement would be to blame Lorelei of the golden hair: she is how she is made, and her pitiless effects --- if unfortunate --- indicate no absence of a soul, nor malice; but rather the workings of mechanical fate and her inability to feel deeply. Of course, the forlorn sailors are equally blame-free --- except perhaps for not suppressing feeling enough.
The first two are of the Heine text; the third is not.
When first playing this last be careful not to view the video. In order to appreciate the complex splendour of the song it is imperative that it be not overly associated with the singers; whom excellent as they were in song, had, uh, vibrant and life-affirming tastes in costume and dance. After the song is absorbed and appreciated, then it may be safe to proceed to viewing.
Lingering self-respect has oftimes preserved me --- 'gainst all temptations --- from the more egregious effects of the zeitgeist of sentimentality: a modest pride holds in that I have nevereverseen either It's A Wonderful Life or The Wizard Of Oz, f'rinstance. Now, Upton Sinclair was a notable story-teller, but a Hemingwayesquely poor writer --- 'What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke ?' as Gore Vidal wrote of his native land --- and his themes here are rather trite; bad capitalists... bad religion... exploiters... the family saga genre... so it's rather unlikely I shall bother to watch There Will Be Blood. Having a nearly all-male crew probably clinches it --- single sex movies suck as much as single sex communities... However the title is awfully good --- especially considering the vast importance of titling and it's common neglect --- so I tried to find from whence it came.
It makes good on the film's title, which may be taken from Lord Byron. "The king-times are fast finishing," he said. "There will be blood shed like water, and tears like mist. But the peoples will conquer in the end. I shall not live to see it, but I foresee it."
This is pretty painful stuff even for Byron, who ever veered precariously betwixt plodding doggerel and occasionally splendid fustian, and rarely hit the rocks of glorious lyricism. And as with Marx --- But Hubbard’s superb record for inaccuracy of statement clouded any of his positive remarks with a fog of doubt. to quote Stewart H. Holbrook on a notable capitalist of the latter's era --- it's not easy to ascertain the finished construct of the promised Paradise: presumably it will include peace, love, harmony, compulsory gender and racial equality, an incredible amount of daily uplift though one way communication, and a total absence of thought. Or, let us say, no class whatsoever.
Fortunately though, the probably ever-reliable China Daily gave the definitive origin:
Smite The Waters
The film's resonantly Old Testament title comes from the seventh chapter of Exodus where God, via Moses, orders Aaron to smite the waters so that "they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt". In the context of the film this biblical blood is oil, the contaminating element dealt in by its forceful central character.
The Bible is so beautiful...
[sarc] And God said, "Let there be Blood." [/sarc].
More importantly, a link from the China Daily went on to better news; in Düsseldorf the police are equipping their dogs with shoes.
Small, Medium And Large
"All 20 of our police dogs -- German and Belgian shepherds -- are currently being trained to walk in these shoes," Andre Hartwich said. "I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it."
The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement, Hartwich said, but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. Especially in the city's historical old town -- famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers -- the dogs often step into broken beer bottles.
"Even the street-cleaning doesn't manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets' cobble stones," Hartwich said, adding that the dogs frequently get injured by little pieces sticking deep in their paws.
The dogs will start wearing the shoes this spring but only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms, Hartwich said.
It's rarely one sees police-dogs in Great Britain --- nearly as rarely as police-horses --- but I hope they institute it here: broken glass on the streets, however, is not rare at all. [ If randomly picking up shards, I've found that one hand can hold a dozen of any size, but not more; and of course, one can only fill one hand... ]
I was born in Düsseldorf, and that is why they call me Rolf...
Manstein ordered a signal to be sent back: "Withdrawal must be stopped at once." But the signal no longer got through. Corps headquarters did not reply any more. Count Sponeck had already had his wireless station dismantled. It was the first instance of a commanding general's disobedience since the beginning of the campaign in the East. It was a symptomatic case, involving fundamental principles. Lieutenant-General Hans Count von Sponeck, the scion of a Düsseldorf family of regular officers, born in 1888, formerly an officer in the Imperial Guards, was a man of great personal courage and an excellent commander in the field. While commanding the famous 22nd Airborne Division, which in 1940 captured the "fortress of Holland" with a bold stroke, he had earned for himself the Knights Cross in the Western campaign. Subsequently, as the commander of 22nd Infantry Division, into which the Airborne Division had been converted, he also distinguished himself by outstanding gallantry during the crossing of the Dnieper. The significance of the affair lay in the fact that Count Sponeck was the first commanding general on the Eastern Front who, when the attack of two Soviet Armies against a single German division faced him with the alternatives of hanging on and being wiped out or withdrawing, refused to choose the former alternative. He reacted to the Soviet threat not in accordance with Hitlerite principles of leadership, but according to the principles of his Prussian General Staff upbringing. This demanded of a commanding officer that he should judge each situation accurately and dispassionately, react to it flexibly, and not allow his troops to be slaughtered unless there was some compelling and inescapable reason for it. Sponeck saw no such reason.
Jamie stifled his yawns politely at precisely three minute intervals during the compulsory talk on blood donation, his form-teacher did know that none of his family were favourers of this quaint practice, since they had odd old-fashioned views not unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses on hygiene; to her relief Jamie did not raise these views in opposition to the speaker’s sermonising, but actually it might have been nicer if he had. Instead he obligingly recalled that: “one of my first cousins twice removed had his blood-group tattooed under his armpit. It must have hurt like b… awfully.” The speaker beamed uncertainly, and, before vaguely dragging from some recess of memory in her dim little mind what this signified, remarked that this seemed rather excessively prudential, but no doubt could have saved his life. His teacher goggled palely as he replied sadly that no, he had stepped on a ‘S’ land-mine which had blown both legs off. The speaker then remembered. He, in his playing, generally rather expected his classmates not to pick up all his references, which made some of it more of a game between he and whichever teacher, the main enemy, usually to his private appreciation mostly. But they did this, and added it as ammunition for making his life hell, although as he expected, none knew the difference between a first cousin twice removed and a third cousin: whilst he could have claimed a diminution on the grounds that as far as he knew — and his relatives in Germany may have been only as truthful as most there feel necessary in discretion — it was Waffen rather than Totenkopf, but to him that actually wasn’t an excuse, they were all as potentially unpleasant bastards as any group of murderers. He couldn’t see why it was worse than being related to the other untold millions of traitors though: few people in these islands would not have had a distant connection to some scum who fought for or supported parliament or Cromwell among the 6 million living then: and nothing could be as bad as that.
This largemindedness was occasionally irksome for his family since this cheerful lack of reticence could fail to emphasize their absolute normality; as when during a garden party Jamie chatted amiably on not only two great-uncles who had fond memories of Poland, one of their cousins who died in Crete, and someone who deserted in Greece to start a large family, but started recalling that a more distant relative drowned as a frogman in Italy.
‘Shut up’ screamed his mother, who didn’t want people to think her entire blood relatives formed the bulk of the German Armed Forces during the last unpleasantness.
To be fair though, those who had, were generous in their reminiscence to their kleiner englischer Teufel whenever he was visiting in the Fatherland. He never judged; and was politer than their own younger generation. Who judged a great deal.
Mrs. Beeston listened disfavouringly to the teacher’s embittered commentary in the common-room: “Personally, I always thought that little… that his blood would poison a rattle-snake.” was her comment. Literally true, but this was the nearest she ever came to making a joke, one not so anodyne as to be acceptable at a party conference, and they gazed approving of her levity.
Anyway… I can’t conceive of allowing even a blood transfusion, let alone having the more repulsive internal parts of some random stranger inserted. Chacun a son goût, of course, but it seems to be more fitted for those without a high sense of personal daintiness and those who prefer dishonour over death. A recent post in the splendidly named blog mediocracy — “‘mediocracy’ is a condition in which culture is subordinated to pseudo-egalitarian ideology” — points out one aspect of this vampiracy too little spoken about:
Do think about the fine print when you consider whether to sign up/out/whatever to organ donation.
How dead are organ donors?
Organs for transplant have to be taken from still-living bodies, bodies still perfused by their naturally beating hearts, warm and so reactive that muscle-paralysing drugs may have to be given to facilitate the surgery.
Their owners will have been certified “dead” on the controversial basis of bedside brain-stem testing, a procedure not sufficiently stringent to exclude some persisting brain-stem function and which includes no test for what may be abundant life elsewhere in the brain.
Wolfgang Borchert wrote prose-poems rather than short stories, mostly of a despairing and strongly pacifistic tendency, but then he had a bad war, being imprisoned twice by the military for extending his critical faculty on the subject of the war — something not only that many soldiers through the ages have done and shall do, but which was in any case rather prevalent amongst German soldiers. Especially the less enthusiastic on the OstFront.
Stephen Spender, who added so much to the concept of effeteness for English authors, wrote an introduction to the posthumous translations by David Porter: ‘Borchert’s soldiers are the doomed race of the Russian winter of 1941, and of Stalingrad. Nothing existed for them before they went to Russia. They are filled with the sense that if there are other soldiers, they must all feel the same, and be equally passive victims of their time. The Russians are only a background to their own misery and to the German Doom which is regarded as universal doom.’
Fair enough. Despite passivity not being quite the operative word for a front that was nearly 2000 miles in length, and a 1000 miles in the wild blue yonder.
Anyway, one of his short stories…
They crouch on the stone-cold bridge parapets and on the frost-hard metal railings along the violet-stinking canal. They crouch on the hollowed, gossip-worn area steps. Among the silver paper and autumn leaves at the side of the street, and on the sinful benches in the parks. They crouch, leaning, lolling against the doorless walls of houses, and on the nostalgic walls and moles of the docks. They crouch in a lost world, crowfaced, shrouded grey-black and croaked hoarse. They crouch and all abandonment hangs down from them like limp, loose, crumpled feathers. Abandoned by the heart, abandoned by women, abandoned by the stars. They crouch in the dusk and damp of the shadows of houses, shunning the gateways, black as tar and tired of the pavement. They crouch in the early haze of the world’s afternoon, thin-soled and coated grey with dust, belated, daydreamed into monotony. They crouch over the bottomless pit, held by the abyss, sleep-swaying with hunger and homesickness. Crowfaced ( and how else ? ) they crouch, crouch, crouch and crouch. Who? The crows ? The crows perhaps. But above all human beings, human beings. At six o’clock the sun turns the city mist and smoke red-gold. And the houses are velvet-blue and soft-edged in the tender light of early evening. But the crowfaced men crouch pallid-skinned and white-frozen in their hopelessness, in their inescapable humanity, crept deep into their patchwork jackets. Since the day before one man had been crouching on the dock, smelling himself full of harbour smell and rolling crumbled masonry into the water. His eyebrows hung on his forehead like the fringe of a sofa, despondent but with incomprehensible humour. And then a young man came along, his arms elbow-deep in his trouser-pockets, the collar of his jacket turned up round his bony neck. The older man didn’t look up, he saw beside him the comfortless mouths of a pair of shoes and up from the water there quivered at him the tossing caricature of a melancholy male figure. Then he knew that Timm was back again. Well, Timm, he said, there you are again. Through already ? Timm said nothing. He crouched on the quay wall beside the other man and put his long hands round his neck. He was cold. So her bed wasn’t wide enough, eh ? the other began softly after many minutes. Bed ! Bed ! said Timm angrily, I love the girl. Of course you love her. But tonight she showed you the door again. So the billet was no go. It’s because you’re not clean enough, Timm. A night visitor like that has to be clean. Love alone isn’t always enough. Oh well, anyway, you’re not used to a bed now. Better stay here, then. Or do you still love her, eh ? Timm rubbed his long hands on his neck and slid deep into his coat collar. She wants money, he said much later, or silk stockings. Then I could have stayed. Oh, so you do still love her, said the old man, hell, but if you’ve no money ! Timm didn’t say that he still loved her, but after a while he said rather more quietly: I gave her the scarf, the red one, you know. I hadn’t anything else. But after an hour she suddenly had no more time. The red scarf ? asked the other. Oh, he loves her, he thought to himself, how he loves her ! And once more he repeated: Aha, your beautiful red scarf ! And now you’re back here again and soon it’ll be dark. Yes, said Timm, it’ll be dark again. And my neck’s miserably cold, now that I haven’t got the scarf. Miserably cold, I can tell you. Then they both looked at the water in front of them and their legs hung sadly from the quay wall. A launch shrieked, white-steaming, past them and the waves followed, fat and chattering. Then it was still again, only the city hummed monotonously between heaven and earth, and crowfaced, shrouded blue-black, the two men crouched there in the afternoon. When after an hour a scrap of red paper tossed by on the waves, a gay, red piece of paper on the lead-grey waves, then Timm said to the other: But I had nothing else. Only the scarf. And the other answered: And it was such a wonderful red, d’you remember, eh, Timm ? Boy, was it red ! Yes, yes, Timm mumbled dejectedly, it was that. And now my neck’s damn well freezing, my friend. How’s this, thought the other, he still loves her and was with her for a whole hour. Now he won’t even be cold for her. Then, yawning, he said: And the billet’s a goner, too. Lilo’s her name, said Timm, and she likes wearing silk stockings. But I haven’t got any. Lilo ? exclaimed the other, don’t tell me that, man, she’s never called Lilo. Of course she’s called Lilo, replied Timm indignantly. D’you suppose I can’t know one called Lilo ? I even love her, I tell you. Timm slid angrily away from his friend and drew his knee up to his chin. And he held his long hands round his skinny neck. A web of early darkness laid itself on the day and the last rays of the sun stood lost on the sky like a lattice. Lonely, the men crouched over the uncertainties of the coming night and the city hummed, big and full of seduction. The city wanted money or silk stockings. And the beds wanted clean visitors at night. I say, Timm, began the other and was silent again. What is it ? asked Timm. Is she really called Lilo, eh ? Of course she’s called Lilo, Timm shouted at his friend, she’s called Lilo, and she said when I have anything, I’m to go back. I say, Timm, his friend managed after a while, if she’s really called Lilo, then you certainly had to give her the red scarf. If she’s called Lilo, in my view, then she can have the red scarf. Even if the billet’s no go. No, Timm, forget the scarf, if she’s really called Lilo. The two men looked across the misty water away to the mounting twilight, fearless, but without courage, reconciled. Reconciled to quay walls and gateways, reconciled to homeless-ness, to thin soles and empty pockets, reconciled. Inescapably idled away into indifference. Thrown high, startlingly, on the horizon, blown hither from who knows where, crows came tumbling, their song and their dark feathers filled with the presentiment of night, reeling like inkspots across the chaste tissue paper of the evening sky, tired with living, croaked hoarse, and then, unexpectedly, a little further off, swallowed by the twilight. They gazed after the crows, Timm and the other man, crow-faced, shrouded blueblack. And the water smelt full and mighty. The city, a wild towering of cubes, window-eyed, began to twinkle with a thousand lamps. They gazed after the crows, the crows, long since swallowed, gazed after them with poor, old faces, and Timm, who loved Lilo, Timm, who was twenty, said: The crows, man, they’re all right. The other man looked away from the sky straight into Timm’s wide face, floating pale-frozen in the half-dark. And Timm’s thin lips were sad lines in his wide face, lonely lines, twenty-year-old, hungry and thin from too much bitterness too soon. The crows, said Timm’s wide face softly, this face made up of twenty bright-dark years, the crows, said Timm’s face, they’re all right. They fly home at night. Just home. The two men crouched there, lost in the world, small and dejected in face of the new night, but fearlessly familiar with its frightful blackness. The city, million-eyed and sleepy, glowed through soft, warm curtains at the night streets emptied of noise, their pavements deserted. They crouched there hard by the depths, leaning over like tired rotten poles, and Timm, the twenty-year-old, had said: The crows are all right. The crows fly home at night. And the other babbled stupidly to himself: The crows, Timm, hell, Timm, the crows. There they crouched. Dumped there by life, the alluring, the lousy. Dumped on the quay and the corner. On pier and pontoon. On mole and hollowed cellar-steps. Dumped by life on the dust-grey streets between silver paper and fallen leaf. Crows ? No, human beings ! Do you hear ? Human beings! And one of them was called Timm and he’d loved Lilo for a red scarf. And now, now he can’t forget her again. The crows, the crows croak their way home. And their croaking hung comfortless on the evening. But then a launch stuttered, foam-mouthed, past them, and its scattered red light crumbled quivering in the harbour haze. And the haze was red for seconds. Red as my scarf, thought Timm. Infinitely far off, the launch chugged away. And Timm said softly: Lilo. Again and again: Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo.
The dusk of evening has fallen over Berlin. A great yet silent crowd is rapidly moving through the chief street towards the royal palace, and every now and then a low whisper is heard, in which can be distinguished the words: "The King is very ill." In the palace itself yet greater silence reigns. The King's guardsmen stand motionless, the servants' steps are inaudible on the carpets of the corridors and the rooms. Now the tower clock strikes midnight; all at once a door opens, and through it glides a ghostly woman, tall of stature, queenly of bearing.
She is dressed in a trailing white garment, a white veil covers her head, below which her long flaxen hair hangs, twisted with strings of pearls; her face is deathly pale as that of a corpse. In her right hand she carries a bunch of keys, in her left a nosegay of Mayflowers. She walks solemnly down the long corridor. The tall guardsmen present arms, pages and lackeys give way before her, the guards who have just relieved their comrades open their ranks; the figure passes through them, and goes through a folding door into the royal ante-room.
"It is the White Lady ; the King is about to die," whispers the officer of the watch, brushing a tear from his eye.
"The White Lady has appeared," is whispered through the crowd, and all know what that portends.
At noon the King's death was known to all. "Yes," said Master Schneckenburger, "he has been gathered to his fathers. Mistress Berchta has once more announced what was going to happen, for she can foretell everything, both bad and good. She was seen before the misfortunes of 1806, and again before the battle of Belle-Alliance. She has a key with which to open the door of life and happiness. He to whom she gives a cowslip will succeed in whatever he undertakes."
Schneckenburger was right. It was Bertha, or Berchta, who made known the King's approaching death, but she was also the prophetess of other important events. Berchta ( from percht, shining ) is almost identical with Holda, except that the latter never appears as the White Lady. Many Germanic tribes worshipped the Earth-goddess under the name of Berchta, and there are numbers of legends about her both in North and South Germany.
One evening in the year was dedicated to her, and was called Perchten-evening ( 30th December or 6th January ), when she was supposed, as a diligent spinner, to oversee the labours of the spinning-room, or, magic staff in hand, to ride at the head of the Raging Host, in the midst of a terrific storm. She generally lived in hollow mountains, where she, as in Thuringia, watched over and tended the "Heimchen," or souls of babes as yet unborn, and of those who died an early death. She busied herself there by ploughing up the ground under the earth, whilst the babes watered the fields. Whenever men, careless of the good she did them, disturbed her in her mountain dwelling, she left the country with her train, and after her departure the fields lost all their former fruitfulness.
Once when Berchta and her babes were passing over a meadow across the middle of which ran a fence that divided it in two, the last little child could not climb over it; its water-jar was too heavy. A woman, who a short time before had lost her little baby, was close by, and recognised her dead darling, for whom she had wept night and day. She hastened to the child, clasped it in her arms, and would not let it go.
Then the little one said : "How warm and comfortable I feel in my mother's arms ; but weep no more for me, mother, my jar is full and is growing too heavy for me. Look, mother, dost thou not see how all thy tears run into it, and how I've spilt some on my little shirt ? Mistress Berchta, who loves me and kisses me, has told me that thou shouldst also come to her in time, and then we shall be together again in the beautiful garden under the hill."
Then the mother wept once more a flood of tears, and let the child go.
After that she never shed another tear, but found comfort in the thought that she would one day be with her child again.