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."
Seventeen years ago the federal government launched a siege and final assault against a group of private citizens who had not offended outside the beliefs they held or outside the group. To validate this process a propaganda campaign of falsehoods was instituted and was continued after.
This was not a punishment: it was a warning.
Punishments there were, in plenty, for the survivors.
Now, governments will do these things, whether in Indonesia, China or the USA --- and in the absence of government private parties will do such things, as in the Bastard Feudalistic phase of Late Mediaeval period during the Wars of the Roses or in the Gilded Age of America ( when Robber Barons like the unspeakable little republicans such as Carnegie or Frick randomly slaughtered their workers, Europeans were outraged not wholly at the murderous defence of Capital --- European polities were scarcely housing or in other ways treating their lower classes well, and were not averse though profoundly reluctant to sending the troops in if the police could not contain a strike --- but at the sheer insufferability of private citizens, including corporations as private citizens in the curious Anglo-American tradition, possessing and using armed private police forces to ensure their will ). This is not so much a question of the awfulness of government power, but the inane and disgusting purpose of an individual government.
The sect remembered was a breakaway group of a breakaway ad infinitum group in the true tradition of faiths. Seventh-Day Adventists are fearfully respectable and cook delicious food in their restaurants: those who seceded, as is the common way with splinter-groups, grew loopier the further they strayed. By the time David Koresh was through his sect was the Davidian Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists, the apple having rolled fairly far from the tree. Which is not to say the tenets of the Adventists are sane compared to Catholic doctrine --- and for Royalists, the Roman Catholics have always been the weak sisters to Monarchy and Western Civilisation: petty, corrupt and wilfully treacherous. For those loyal to higher powers than despicably elected mere Popes, Canossa is the Great Unforgotten as much as Kronstadt is to any decent communist. However, although their theology may not be persuasive it is at least coherent --- From the Wiki entry, all the Adventist groups share such flawed beliefs such as:
# Jesus Christ is to soon personally return to earth to gather together his elect and take them to heaven for 1000 years, after which he will return with them to this earth to dwell with them for eternity in his kingdom.
# The non-immortality of the soul. That is, the dead have no consciousness, nor being.
# There shall be a resurrection of both the just and of the unjust. The resurrection of the just will take place at the second coming of Christ; the resurrection of the unjust will take place 1000 years later, at the close of the millennium.
# There is a sanctuary in heaven in which Christ is ministering on behalf of mankind.
# There is an investigative judgment going on in the heavenly sanctuary that began on October 22, 1844 to determine who will come forth in each of the resurrections, and who will be translated without seeing death at the second coming of Christ. That said judgment began with the records of those who had died, and would eventually pass to the living.
Etc., etc.. This stuff shares the usual delusion of religion that God is subject to human desires and whims. One may be sure that the number '1000' is relied upon as being a definite span, not too large as to be incomprehensible, not too small as to be verifiable: but to imagine God is subject to human time-tabling is not merely impious, but as vain as a mayfly suggesting the God envisaged by mayflies will judge the risen mayflies within a month.
And in the Wiki entry for the Siege itself there is piece we recognise as classic Curious Religious Americana --- we are often belaboured with the fact that America has a deeply religious base as compared with decadent Europe, just as has Dar al-Islam. And what use is that if the religion itself is utterly insane ? This has more to do with Spengler's forecast of the Second Religosity amongst the peasantry during the Imperialistic period than a deep love of the Almighty --- which involves exhumation and guns.
Following the failure of this prophecy, control of Mt. Carmel fell to Benjamin Roden, and on his death to his wife, Lois. Lois Roden considered their son, George, unfit to assume the position of prophet. Instead, she groomed Vernon Howell, later known as David Koresh, as her chosen successor. In 1984, a meeting led to a division of the group with Howell leading one faction, calling themselves the Davidian Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, and George Roden leading the competing faction. After this split, George Roden ran Howell and his followers off Mt. Carmel. Howell and his group relocated to Palestine, Texas.
After the death of Lois and the probate case, Howell attempted to gain control of the Mt Carmel center by force. George Roden had dug up the casket of Anna Hughes from the Davidian cemetery and had challenged Howell to a resurrection contest to prove who was the rightful heir. Howell instead went to the police and claimed Roden was guilty of corpse abuse. By October 31, 1987 the county prosecutors had refused to file charges without proof and so on November 3, 1987 Howell and seven armed companions attempted to access the Mt. Carmel chapel with the goal of photographing the body in the casket. George Roden was advised of the interlopers and grabbed an Uzi in response. The sheriff's department responded about 20 minutes into the gunfight. Sheriff Harwell got Howell on the phone and told him to stop shooting and surrender. Howell and his companions, dubbed the "Rodenville Eight" by the media, were tried on April 12, 1988; seven were acquitted and the jury was hung on Howell's verdict. The county prosecutors did not press the case further.
While waiting for the trial, George Roden was put in jail under contempt of court charges on March 21, 1988 because of his use of foul language in some court pleadings threatening the Texas court with AIDS and herpes if it ruled in favor of Howell. The very next day, Perry Jones and a number of Howell's other followers moved from their headquarters in Palestine, Texas to Mt. Carmel Center.
The bellowed threats of God's biological warfare smiting the court seem counterproductive to getting that court to look favorably upon one's cause...
The Most Intelligent Way Possible
However the prior antics of squabbling religious fanatics was unassociated with the later event, which was orchestrated under the leadership of Miss Janet Reno. Here, I shall defer to a recent report [ Dec 2009 ] from IFS Writers: God Bless You Janet Reno --- Child Killer.
For 51 days, the ATF and the FBI held these people hostage, and then lied to Congress. I just want to let everyone know that I too, remember these Americans, these little children and old people that Janet Reno had gunned down, mutilated and burnt in the name of justice. I remember that one male report, who would come to the microphone and TV camera, and report that - there was no food for the children, or the next time, the kids were being molested, or the very next time, the kids were being held as hostages, etc. I wonder how his career is during these days. America will never forget Janet Reno and her friends that kill children, mothers and old people. I know she will live a long fruitful life. After all one day she will meet each and everyone of those victims again. And at that time, there are no laws, police and anything thing else that will save her from the raft of hell.
Janet Reno, the former attorney general in the Clinton administration, received a lifetime achievement award Friday, April 18, 2009, from the American Judicature Society, a non-partisan justice advocacy network.
Speaking slowly because of the effects of Parkinson Disease, Reno praised violence prevention programs and the current direction of the Justice Department. “Now I can look at America and think this is a nation that is responding in the most intelligent way possible to deal with violence, especially domestic violence,” Reno said.
Poor old incompetent fool, it might be more charitable to assume she, as we assume of Reagan during his presidency, so crippled pre factum that the mental damage was already there rather than it being a punishment..
Oh, Say, Can You See....
On February 28, 1993, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) launched the largest assault in its history against a small religious community in America. Approximately eighty armed agents invaded the compound, purportedly to execute a single search and arrest warrant. The raid went badly; six Branch Davidians and four agents were killed.
Attorney General Janet Reno asked for and received military support. The U.S. Army showed up with tanks.
After a fifty-one-day standoff, the United States Justice Department approved Reno’s plan to use CS gas and break down the walls with tanks to “save the children” of those barricaded inside.
On the 51st day tanks carrying the CS gas broke through the concrete walls and entered the compound. A fire broke out, and all seventy-four men, women and children inside perished. One third of them from gunshot wounds, the rest crushed by debris or burned to death.
After the compound had burned down the ATF flag was hoisted aloft to signify ‘victory’. At Janet Reno’s award ceremony today it was only mentioned that 74 “cult members” were killed.
Still Meant Over 10 Years In Quod For Resisting Arrest
In The Davidian trial judge sentenced five Davidians to the maximum sentence of 30 years each; one to 20 years; one to 15; one to 5 years and one to 3 years. On June 4, 2000 the Supreme Court cut 25 years from 4 Davidians' sentences and 5 years from one. On September 9, 2000 Judge Walter Smith followed the Court's instructions and cut those sentences, as well as the 25 year sentence of Livingstone Fagan who had not appealed.
All were released as of July 2007.
However... Quite ordinary American prisons appear training grounds for Guantánamo: from the Wiki article...
One, Derek Lovelock, was held in McLennan County Jail for seven months, often in solitary confinement. Livingston Fagan, another British citizen, who was among those convicted and imprisoned, recounts multiple beatings at the hands of prison guards, particularly at Leavenworth. He claims to have been doused with cold water from a high-pressure hose, which soaked both him and the contents and bedding of his cell, after which an industrial fan was placed outside the cell, blasting him with cold air. He was repeatedly moved between at least nine different facilities. He was strip-searched every time he took exercise, so refused exercise.
It's very difficult to imagine what pleasure a prison guard gets from beating up inmates...
And with all sieges where the external forces have world enough and time, All You Ever Have To Do Is Wait.
One of the many rare distinctions appertaining to being a jacobite is the fact that --- without overtly disliking, yet not over-valuing, people except insofar as they adhere to creeds of filthy republicanism --- one is able to loathe all parties concerned in Northern Ireland without distinction.
Famously, after the last battle, at Stow-on-the-Wold, Jacob Astley, Major-General of the King's Infantry, contemptuously predicted to his conquerors: "Now Boys, ye may now sit down and play, for you have done all your Worke, if you fall not out among yourselves."
Quite apart from egregious terrorism and racketeering, which form a link with the established political movements which support and sponsor them and their ideals, the multi-splintered groups forming the twin ideals of Irish Republicanism and Unionist Loyalism are further joined by their infamous beliefs in democracy and religion: each partaking of the ancient liberal evil which rejected the Stuarts and Divine Right Royalism. As are also heirs --- of course --- the government forces of the pseudo-monarchical Great Britain --- serving the ultimate beneficiaries of the murder of Charles the First and the expulsion of his progeny: foul old parliament and it's hireling Windsor puppets squatting on a usurped throne --- and dreary little Eire, which puts all these gangs of parricidal and fratricidal sentimental bastards beyond the pale.
Ulster's 'Troubles' is merely one part of the aftermath of the defeat of Royalism whereby the republican scum fell out amongst themselves.
However, like most movements each can play a jolly tune --- outside the province and some parts of Scotland religio-political parades are sufficiently rare --- and here is one group of protties, the Ravenshill Flute Band, on Black Saturday 2006, playing Hello ! Hello ! Who's Your Lady Friend ? --- one of the Edwardian era's most spectacular songs.
It was written by the half-French Fragson, murdered by his own father.
Back to the nearest memories of humankind, 1980, when the fatuous figures of Reagan and Madame Thatcher were stalking the globe as twin pestilences, Hordes of the Things made it's first appearance on Radio Four ( BBC ). The links should be read after listening, since they naturally are spoilers. Radio, apart from it's life-preserving, as in rescue, or life-destroying, as in war, --- though British military radio from the late Balkan Wars to Iraq in the form of the aging Clansman system was wretched enough for the soldiery to opt for using their mobiles instead if possible --- services has little to commend it's survival now; yet for the prior half of the 20th century it was more important for popular cultural enrichment than TV as a later phenomenon: fortunately, both are being obviated by the internet. Still, radio humour --- as variable in quality as any other medium ( viz: mostly crap ) --- supplied a need in those less advanced years; and Hordes of the Things was fairly good. However rarely repeated, the combination of actors well-known in their day, and seasoned comedic writers produced from four short episodes phrases that live in the mind. The occasional mock-shakespearian rhapsody and the underlying menace of beauty from Wagner's finest didn't hurt a Tolkienesque burlesque with Dragons, Eagles and Spiders. Still, 'We are trained to be patient in the Brotherhood of Night.' kind of haunts the mind even of those of us who are severely lacking in patience of any kind.
Quite other than it's being comedy, there is a satire implicit upon the very worst and most despicable Liberal. The utterly sincere, and really morally pure, harmonising, well-meaning, honest idiot who horridly sees good in all and tries so hard to reconcile, that his weakness destroys himself and all that he is obligated to protect. Who genuinely thinks that competing cultures must be greeted with complacent self-destruction. Combining self-satisfied fellow-travelling, dumb moral relativism and a disgustingly feeble-minded belief in the value of all, and their good intentions, together with total disdain for those who prefer reality, makes them so worthless as to be more dangerous than a frank villain such as Bush or Clinton.
Still, as I was saying, though the contemporary in-jokes have reached the inevitable fate of all such trifles, many of the finely delivered lines resonate so as to be almost unforgettable [ Bearing in mind that everything is ultimately forgot here below... ]. Thanks to a friendly torrent this aged comedy is available here.; but also proffered as a downloadable zip which is recommended for home use.
FOOOOOOLLLL ! Now I can seeee yoou !
Name not that name within these walls, Master..
Loathsome Brothers !
Just a, a minute. There's something strange here. Majesteh ? Why are there so many more wenches than hags in the village ? The men had marched a long way, Majesteh. Oh. Ah... yes... I see...
Beware, Agar, son of Yulfric; for no power on earth is granted without a price.
You take the counsel of that cannibal and sentence your own son to grisly death ?
Right, what is this ? Just a mirror. It looks like the All-Seeing Mirror of Ganst, whose power lies by reflecting deep into the souls of the fallen... Reproduction. And all these axes here, magic helms and articles of torture ? Collector's Items. I don't doubt it Yulfric, but what sortof collector ?
The First Chronicle The Second Chronicle The Third Chronicle The Fourth Chronicle
Gorky was devoted to reason, knowledge and science. He wrote bitterly of the impotence of reason in the old church-dominated Russia, of the “dark abyss” and the “elegiac submissiveness to fate”. What initially alienated him from Lenin’s régime was the conviction that it was suppressing the light of reason and perpetuating in a new form the dark abyss. For Rolland, the authentic esprit was above all a rational one. Shaw, like the Webbs and like the Welsh Utopian socialist Robert Owen, whom the Fabians had latterly discovered as an intellectual ancestor, was a fierce rationalist. Like Owen, the Fabians condemned ignorance, waste, dislocation, booms, slumps and unemployment as essentially irrational. Was racism, Needham asked, anything but irrational ? Was not the Soviet Union the most determined opponent of racism ? “The subjective and irrational are anti-democratic, they are the instruments of tyranny.” Georges Friedmann described the Soviet Union as “the most magnificent effort towards the rational transformation of institutions .. . that humanity has ever attempted”. So here “reason” becomes simultaneously a system of logic or cerebration immaculately synthesized with a set of moral values. No one voiced the liberating claims of reason more fervently or consistently than Heinrich Mann with his perennial argument that the greatest weapon of the Geist in its struggle with arbitrary power was reason ( Vernunft ): indeed he published in 1923 a collection of essays collectively titled Diktatur der Vernunft. In 1937 he wrote of the USSR: “At last a state undertakes to make out of men what we have always wanted: a rational existence, the collective working for the benefit of each individual, and out of that individual shall something higher and better develop within a totality that further predicts itself.” But here rationality is interpreted as a common heritage not a class monopoly, as a matter of Geist not of Macht: he spoke of the “deep, fundamental intellectuality of the Revolution” and he pleaded that it was “in the last resort no rebellion of some against others. Basically it asks for and receives the agreement of all.” This was indeed the dream of the Enlightenment. Mann’s friend Feuchtwanger continued to regard reason as the preserve of an enlightened minority, a treasure destined to be distributed to the populace at large but so far withheld from them in all countries except the Soviet Union. “I sympathized inevitably with the experiment of basing the construction of a gigantic State on reason alone… .” He stressed the ethical “Vernunftmassigkeit” of the Plans, and later he wrote of his belief in “a slow, slow yet sure growth of human reason between the last ice-age and the next”. Similarly, “reason-through-knowledge” was the formula recommended by the Webbs and finally identified by them as operational in Russia. They were convinced that under socialism the problem of who gives orders to whom would progressively diminish since the combination of what they called “measurement with publicity” and the “searchlight of public knowledge” would burn out unreason, ignorance and apathy among the public, freeing it from its false dependence on traditional or arbitrary power. This had also been Saint-Simon’s belief.
It is of course easy to criticize the philosophical naivety of the fellow-travellers. Too blandly did they incorporate subjective, ethical premises into the general concept of reason, and in this respect they were little in advance of Thomas Paine, who described history as a periodically interrupted progress from the government of priests and conquerors to the government of pure reason — this reason being defined simply as the antithesis of ignorance. When Owen declared: “Train any population rationally, and they will be rational”, he virtually spoke for a later generation separated from him by a hundred years. Yet what sounded enlightened in 1830 could only be judged as naïve in 1930. When Condorcet and Owen argued that idleness, poverty, crime and punishment were merely, in Owen’s words, “the necessary consequences of ignorance”, they could not reasonably be criticized for lacking a concept of alienation or anomie, whereas the fellow-travellers turned their backs not only on such concepts but blandly ignored a century of psychological inquiry. It was time to recognize that formulas such as Bentham’s “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” had an ethical rather than a rational basis, yet the fellow-travellers continued to elect Unitary Reason to the throne once occupied by God, complete with all the court ritual of the fall, redemption and salvation. One can at least partially sympathize with Marx’s scorn for the endeavours of Saint-Simon and Owen to convert humanity, including the rich and powerful, to socialism by means of rational persuasion; it was this aspect of their thought rather than the building of model settlements like New Harmony which provoked him to brand them as “Utopians”. Admittedly the later fellow-travellers occasionally acknowledged that the knout had become a frequent messenger of reason in Soviet Russia, but they refused to draw conclusions about the motivation of the knout-wielders, preferring to judge them as benevolent schoolmasters occasionally resorting to sterner discipline out of love for their pupils. Though they were anti-capitalist, and though some of them, like Shaw, recognized the necessity of force, the fellow-travellers still inhabited the mental universe of Auguste Comte, with his vision of history as being synonymous with the progress of the human mind towards the final, rational stage of universal positivism. No doubt the immense upheaval which took place in Russia during forced collectivization was in a sense positivistically inspired; but what appears ruthlessly rational is not necessarily reasonable, and the fellow-travellers lacked not only Kant’s insight into the necessity of an inner, moral revolution within men but also the vital gleam of cautionary wisdom offered by Voltaire when he remarked: “Le monde avec lenteur marche vers la sagesse.”
David Caute : The Fellow-Travellers
One of the finest books ever written; and by a leftist, too…
This suggests the fascinating possibility that the key for a group intending to turn Europeans against themselves is to trigger their strong tendency toward altruistic punishment by convincing them of the moral blameworthiness of their own people. Because Europeans are individualists at heart, they readily rise up in moral anger against their own people once they are seen as free riders and therefore morally blameworthy — a manifestation of their stronger tendency toward altruistic punishment deriving from their evolutionary past as hunter gatherers. In making judgments of altruistic punishment, relative genetic distance is irrelevant. Free-riders are seen as strangers in a market situation; i.e., they have no familial or tribal connection with the altruistic punisher.
As a very interesting and influential European group, the Puritans exemplified this tendency toward altruistic punishment. A defining feature of Puritanism was the tendency to pursue utopian causes framed as moral issues — their susceptibility to utopian appeals to a ‘higher law’ and the belief that government’s principal purpose is moral. New England was the most fertile ground for “the perfectibility of man creed,” and the “father of a dozen ‘isms’.” There was a tendency to paint political alternatives as starkly contrasting moral imperatives, with one side portrayed as evil incarnate — inspired by the devil. Puritan moral intensity can also be seen in their “profound personal piety” — their intensity of commitment to live not only a holy life, but also a sober and industrious life.
Puritans waged holy war on behalf of moral righteousness even against their own genetic cousins. The suggestion is that this is a form of altruistic punishment found more often among coöperative hunter-gatherer groups than among groups based on extended kinship. For example, whatever the political and economic complexities that led to the Civil War, it was the Yankee moral condemnation of slavery that inspired the rhetoric and rendered the massive carnage of closely related Anglo-Americans on behalf of slaves from Africa justifiable in the minds of Puritans. Militarily, the war with the Confederacy rendered the heaviest sacrifice in lives and property ever made by Americans. Puritan moral fervor and its tendency to justify draconian punishment of evil doers can also be seen in the comments of “the Congregationalist minister at Henry Ward Beecher’s Old Plymouth Church in New York [who] went so far as to call for ‘exterminating the German people … the sterilization of 10,000,000 German soldiers and the segregation of the woman,.”
Thus the current altruistic punishment so characteristic of contemporary Western civilization: Once Europeans were convinced that their own people were morally bankrupt, any and all means of punishment should be used against their own people. Rather than see other Europeans as part of an encompassing ethnic and tribal community, fellow Europeans were seen as morally blameworthy and the appropriate target of altruistic punishment. For Westerners, morality is individualistic — violations of communal norms by free riders are punished by altruistic aggression.
Guilt is rather necessary, for we ought to know what we are; but it is also necessary to discard it as mere vainglorious self-obsession once past fault is recognised and subsumed. Natürlich, some of us find it easier than others; but that’s just through rigorous self-training ( or something ) — which is far less complacent than the opposite urge to purge another’s guilt. And certainly beats killing or self-killing to satisfy a ridiculous moral ego…
You are quite right –-- I am not moved by any ‘love’ of this sort, and for two reasons: I have never in my life ‘loved’ any people or collective --– neither the German people, nor the French, nor the American, nor the working class or anything of that sort. I indeed love ‘only’ my friends and the only kind of love I know of and believe in is the love of persons. Secondly, this ‘love of the Jews’ would appear to me, since I am myself Jewish, as something rather suspect. I cannot love myself or anything which I know is part and parcel of my own person. To clarify this, let me tell you of a conversation I had in Israel with a prominent political personality who was defending the – in my opinion disastrous –-- non-separation of religion and state in Israel. What [ she ] said --– I am not sure of the exact words any more – ran something like this: ‘You will understand that, as a socialist, I, of course, do not believe in God; I believe in the Jewish people.’ I found this a shocking statement and, being too shocked, I did not reply at the time. But I could have answered: the greatness of this people was once that it believed in God, and believed in Him in such a way that its trust and love towards Him was greater than its fear. And now this people believes only in itself ? What good can come out of that ? Well, in this sense I do not ‘love’ the Jews, nor do I ‘believe’ in them; I merely belong to them as a matter of course, beyond dispute or argument.
Also... from the same publication, an amusing glance at feel-good morality when it contemplates atrocity by persons it disapproves of, Effing the Ineffable.
Of course, the proponents of the antithetical beerier type of incontinent love of folk are the most apt to promote sacrifice for the religious object of love; group, gods, or even person --- carefully ignoring the fact that no sacrifice except one's individual own can have the faintest value howsoever that value is defined... Only an Imbecile God --- perhaps Azathoth --- can prize the stench of some burnt offering.
'We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war'.
"There followed a series of uncovered plots, some true, others fantastic, some Cheka provocations. Dzerzhinsky was constantly sharpening the weapon of Soviet dictatorship. To Dzerzhinsky was brought the mass of undigested rumours from all parts of Petrograd. With the aid of picked squads of Chekists, Dzerzhinsky undertook to purge the city. Little time was wasted sifting evidence and classifying people rounded up in these night raids. Woe to him who did not disarm all suspicion at once. The prisoners were generally hustled to the old police station not far from the Winter Palace. Here, with or without perfunctory interrogation, they were stood up against the courtyard wall and shot. The staccato sounds of death were muffled by the roar of truck motors kept going for the purpose."
"Dzerzhinsky furnished the instrument for tearing a new society out of the womb of the old -- the instrument of organised, systematic, mass terror. For Dzerzhinsky the class struggle meant exterminating 'the enemies of the working class.' The 'enemies of the working class' were all who opposed the Bolshevik dictatorship."
"At meetings of the Sovnarcom, Lenin often exchanged notes with his colleagues. On one occasion, he sent a note to Dzerzhinsky. 'How many vicious counter-revolutionaries are there in our prisons ?' Dzerzhinsky's reply was: 'About fifteen hundred.' Lenin read it, snorted something to himself, made a cross beside the figure, and returned the note to Dzerzhinsky."
"Dzerzhinsky rose and left the room without a word. No-one paid any attention either to Lenin's note or to Dzerzhinsky's departure. The meeting continued. But the next day there was excited whispering. Dzerzhinsky had ordered the execution of all the fifteen hundred 'vicious counter-revolutionaries' the previous night. He had taken Lenin's cross as a collective death sentence."
"There would have been little comment had Lenin's gesture been meant as an order for wholesale liquidation. But, as Fotieva, Lenin's secretary, explained: 'There was a misunderstanding. Vladimir Ilyich never wanted the executions. Dzerzhinsky did not understand him. Vladimir Ilyich usually puts a cross on memoranda to indicate that he has read them and noted their contents.'"
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.
As a child I studied one of the part-works --- a form once popular from the 1920s to 1980s, but which has rather naturally fallen out of vogue: magazines issued weekly --- on WWI; obviously such publications included photographs which should be seen once, in order to understand consequence, but not dwelt upon unless one is in training to become a serial killer. Actually, mere death cannot appall: there is nothing in the least romantic in death --- as opposed to dying well --- and it's displays are solely squalid; however ongoing injury or the truthful immediacy of creatures suffering causes as much instantaneous flinching within as if in their presence. The issue dealing with the murder of Tsar Nicky and his family had on the back page another murder, that of a black man burning with grinning morons surveying this act.
To maintain that these lynchings --- within living memory --- were all of the innocent seems both unlikely and inapposite; since that matters not: such behaviour is utterly unacceptable were you dealing with devils from Hell. Still, it can be pointed out that this is one form of action that can be justified under any variant of democracy, from pure populism to libertarian individualism. And again, those who condemn such atrocities of the past, just under current fashion rather than for the pure lack of decency in such degrading manifestations, are often glad and usually silent when the victims are those of whom they disapprove --- such as say, nazis or Saddam's people..
Once only --- at Chattanooga --- did I meet with disagreement : and then I was asking for it. Two negroes had been lynched a few days before my arrival on the usual charge of having assaulted a white woman: proved afterwards ( as is generally the case ) to have been a trumped-up lie. All through the South, this lynching horror had been following me; and after my reading I asked for permission to speak on a matter about which my conscience was troubling me. I didn't wait to get it, but went straight on. At home, on political platforms, I have often experienced the sensation of stirring up opposition. But this was something different. I do not suggest it was anything more than fancy, but it seemed to me that I could actually visualize the anger of my audience. It looked like a dull, copper-coloured cloud, hovering just above their heads, and growing in size. I sat down amid silence. It was quite a time before anybody moved. And then they all got up at the same moment, and turned towards the door. On my way out, in the lobby, a few people came up to me and thanked me, in a hurried furtive manner. My wife was deadly pale. I had not told her of my intention. But nothing happened, and I cannot help thinking that, if the tens of thousands of decent American men and women to whom this thing must be their country's shame would take their courage in both hands and speak their mind, America might be cleansed from this foul sin.
My curiosity has always prompted me to find out all I could about my fellow human beings wherever I have happened to be. I maintain that the American man, taking him class for class and individual for individual, is no worse than any of the rest of us. I will ask his permission to leave it at that. The last time I visited America was during the first year of the war. America then was all for keeping out of it. I had friends in big business, and was introduced to others. Their opinion was that America could best serve Humanity in the bulk by reserving herself to act as peace-maker. In the end, she would be the only nation capable of considering the future without passion and without fear. The general feeling was, if anything, pro-German, tempered in the East by traditional sentiment for France. I failed to unearth any enthusiasm for England, in spite of my having been commissioned to discover it. I have sometimes wondered if England and America really do love one another as much as our journalists and politicians say they do. I had an interesting talk with President Wilson, chiefly about literature and the drama. But I did get him, before I left, to say a little about the war; and then he dropped the schoolmaster and became animated. "We have in America," he said, "twenty million people of German descent. Almost as many Irish. In New York State alone there are more Italians than in Rome. We have more Scandinavians than there are in Sweden. Here, side by side, dwell Czechs, Roumanians, Slavs, Poles and Dutchmen. We also have some Jews. We have solved the problem of living together without wanting to cut one another's throats. You will have to learn to do the same in Europe. We shall have to teach you." Undoubtedly at that time Wilson was intending to remain neutral. Whether his later change of mind brought about good or evil is an arguable point. But for America the war would have ended in stalemate. All Europe would have been convinced of the futility of war. "Peace without Victory " --- the only peace containing any possibility of permanence --- would have resulted.
To the democrat, America is the Great Disappointment. Material progress I rule out. Beyond a certain point, it tends to enslave mankind. For spiritual progress, America seems to have no use. Mr. Ford has pointed out that every purchaser of a Ford car can have it delivered to him, painted any colour he likes, so long as it's black. Mr. Ford expresses in a nutshell the mental attitude of modern America. Every man in America is free to do as he darn well pleases so long as, for twenty-four hours a day, he does what everybody else is doing. Every man in America is free to speak his mind so long as he shouts with the crowd. He has not even Mr. Pickwick's choice of choosing his crowd. In America there is but one crowd. Every man in America has the right to think for himself so long as he thinks what he is told. If not --- like the heretics of the Middle Ages --- let him see to it that his chamber door is locked, that his tongue does not betray him. The Klu Klux Klan, with its travelling torture chamber, is but the outward and visible sign of the spirit of modern America. Thought in America is standardized. America is not taking new wine, lest the old bottles be broken.
I ask my American friends --- and I have many, I know --- to forgive me. My plea is that I am growing old. And it comes to me that before long I may be called upon to stand before the Judge of all the earth, and to make answer concerning the things that I have done and --- perhaps of even more importance --- the things that I have left undone. The thought I am about to set down keeps ringing in my brain. It will not go away. I am afraid any longer to keep silence. There are many of power and authority who could have spoken it better. I would it had not been left to me. If it make men angry, I am sorry. The treatment of the negro in America calls to Heaven for redress. I have sat with men who, amid vile jokes and laughter, told of "Buck Niggers" being slowly roasted alive; told how they screamed and writhed and prayed; how their eyes rolled inward as the flames crept up till nothing could be seen but two white balls. They burn mere boys alive and sometimes women. These things are organized by the town's "leading citizens" Well-dressed women crowd to the show, children are lifted up upon their fathers' shoulders. The Law, represented by grinning policemen, stands idly by. Preachers from their pulpits glorify these things, and tell their congregations that God approves. The Southern Press roars its encouragement. Hangings, shootings would be terrible enough. These burnings; these slow grillings of living men, chained down to iron bedsteads; these tearings of live, quivering flesh with red-hot pinchers can be done only to glut some hideous lust of cruelty. The excuse generally given is an insult to human intelligence. Even if true, it would be no excuse. In the majority of cases, it is not even pretended. The history of the Spanish Inquisition unrolls no greater shame upon the human race. The auto da fe, at least, was not planned for the purpose of amusing a mob. In the face of this gigantic horror, the lesser sufferings of the negro race in America may look insignificant. But there must be tens of thousands of educated, cultured men and women cursed with the touch of the tar-brush to whom life must be one long tragedy. Shunned, hated, despised, they have not the rights of a dog. From no white man dare they even defend the honour of their women. I have seen them waiting at the ticket offices, the gibe and butt of the crowd, not venturing to approach till the last white man was served. I have known a woman in the pains of childbirth made to travel in the cattle wagon. For no injury at the hands of any white man is there any redress. American justice is not colour blind. Will the wrong never end ?
A sort of doubt has always hung around the character of Tolstoy, as round the character of Gandhi. He was not a vulgar hypocrite, as some people declared him to be, and he would probably have imposed even greater sacrifices on himself than he did, if he had not been interfered with at every step by the people surrounding him, especially his wife. But on the other hand it is dangerous to take such men as Tolstoy at their disciples’ valuation. There is always the possibility — the probability, indeed — that they have done no more than exchange one form of egoism for another. Tolstoy renounced wealth, fame and privilege; he abjured violence in all its forms and was ready to suffer for doing so; but it is not easy to believe that he abjured the principle of coercion, or at least the desire to coerce others. There are families in which the father will say to his child, ‘You’ll get a thick ear if you do that again’, while the mother, her eyes brimming over with tears, will take the child in her arms and murmur lovingly, ‘Now, darling, is it kind to Mummy to do that ?’ And who would maintain that the second method is less tyrannous than the first ? The distinction that really matters is not between violence and non-violence, but between having and not having the appetite for power. There are people who are convinced of the wickedness both of armies and of police forces, but who are nevertheless much more intolerant and inquisitorial in outlook than the normal person who believes that it is necessary to use violence in certain circumstances. They will not say to somebody else, ‘Do this, that and the other or you will go to prison’, but they will, if they can, get inside his brain and dictate his thoughts for him in the minutest particulars. Creeds like pacifism and anarchism, which seem on the surface to imply a complete renunciation of power, rather encourage this habit of mind. For if you have embraced a creed which appears to be free from the ordinary dirtiness of politics — a creed from which you yourself cannot expect to draw any material advantage — surely that proves that you are in the right ? And the more you are in the right, the more natural that everyone else should be bullied into thinking likewise.
I cannot esteem the tragic Walter Ralegh particularly highly, if the jury may still be out on whether he was a traitor or not he had an unfailing ability to give bad advice, and his pompous Polonian — wholly unasked for by King James — precepts suggesting that the Dynasty reconcile itself to parliamentary governance would have resulted in Kings becoming mere feeble puppets of whatever faction is temporarily in power, as it has with the present useless grinning eunuchs of Windsor, down, down into the the noisome abyss of true democracy. Still, like many men of action including the brutal dictators of the past century he had a pithy turn of phrase on occasion expressing obvious sense; in one debate on the Puritan Menace he rightly pointed out:
“That law is hard that taketh life, or sendeth into banishment where men’s intentions shall be judged by a jury and they shall be judges of what another man meant.”
To which, more pointedly still, one biographer adds: ‘Instead of proceeding against intentions, Ralegh said, the law should proceed against deed and fact; where they could be established, let the law be as harsh as necessary and justice would still be done.’ Better words were never said, and the fact that Ralegh himself was convicted on deed rather than opinion is just another pleasant irony.
It can never be too strongly felt that all opinion should be free, and that law should only concern itself with deeds. [ Plus the need for heavy penalty against vile deed, of course — *meditatively* — Terrible Swift Sword should never be a mere phrase… ]
Fast-forward to our own day with ludicrous ‘Hate’ legislation to protect the injured feelings of fools. If a definite crime has been committed then it should receive due punishment: it is not aggravated because the actor did it from hate; justice should ignore good or bad intentions and concentrate solely on the action, and it’s due. For expressing opinion, no matter how vile, or just inciting others, there should be no penalty whatsoever. I am not harmed if some wretched iman urges his dumb flock to massacre non-muslims. I am if they act on it, and only if they act on it. If they do so, then they are the guilty, and he was merely the agitator. They should have had more sense than to carry out his suggestions, and therefore need to carry the penalties also. No-one should be blamed for thought or speech, however distasteful, that does not cause palpable injury, since to select what thoughts people should have leads to robotic tyranny and the paradise of 1984.
Some years back, where I was working one man was forbidden to talk to the clients as an interviewer since he belonged to a proscribed political group, not that he would be offensive, merely that he belonged to this group. A number of fellow-workers were of the opinion that he should not be given employment at all. A penalty that has obviously been applied to members of a number of groups ranged from socialists, nazis, communists, jews, Irish etc. etc., and continues as people are sacked for holding views, racialist, communist, insufficiently islamist or pro-islamist ( depending on location ) all around the world. The point being, that if you debar people from all employment for, say, being racially bigoted; the next step is to suggest they should not have government or state resources — their views being so abhorrant — and maybe that they should be run out of town… The Left has a strong tradition of suggesting morally objectionable persons should be killed, or at the least dealt with by fascist-type violence. In effect by denying the rights of citizens to hold views that do not conform to current morality — usually purely subjective and emotionally held — one is denying their rights to exist at all; and logically they are then expendable after a while.
Sir Walter was legally dead from his sentence, and reprieve, until his later execution; but his life in the Tower was not too bad for a prisoner in any age. The legally dead of the future state won’t be so lucky.
Feeling blue, I decided to go from pyrates to their successors, and watched the comedy Goodfellas. Obviously the usual satire is that it mirrors the establishment since mobsters are merely a bunch of psychotic little men in suits whose exaggerated concept of respect only emanates from the money nexus; yet it is more lightly done than in 70's and 80's films, and if much of the humour comes from an agonising tradition mind-blenchingly done to death in British comic films --- bungling gangsters: at least here it derives from their competence being short on detail, rather than pure slapstick stupidity as in the latter. And as with the prominente in the real Mob, from the instituting of the Five Families on to Gotti, it rarely seems to have dawned that mindless killing, and really most of their murdering, was counter-productive to their ends; to kill unnecessarily is as sentimental a fault as not to kill from exaggerated respect for human life --- and grosser. The film is true to life, too, in the fact that mafioso launch into pointless and demented self-justification at the drop of a hat: I've a copy of Joe Bonanno's autobiography somewhere. Maybe their catholic heritage; maybe the fierce anti-intellectualism of the lower classes...
The lifestyle displayed in those dear dead, thank God, days beyond recall, such pure awe-inspiring tastelessness it resembles, as in a mirror darkly, islamic visions of Paradise.
I have the severest dislike for Cool, but this rendition is extremely powerful.
"Now then, me Bullies: would you rather do the Gallows' Dance --- and hang in chains 'till the crows pick your eyes from your rotting skulls --- or would you feel the roll of a stout ship beneath yer feet again ?" Captain Kidd film
The last ship of Captain Kidd has been found and coincidentally I watched the above film with Charles Laughton: the acting, with of course the exceptions of both him and Mr. Carradine, was rather stilted, but the actress was very pretty.
As for Kidd, it scarcely matters whether he swung unjustly or not. He should have been deaded for serving William of Orange anyway; as should anyone who served that usurper and all his successors; and indeed, so should William himself, 'The Unhung Thief', as Cabell dubbed him.
Life as a legitimist monarchist has the added bonus of making a very large percentage of human existence very cheap indeed; so saving one from getting worked up over mass inevitable mortality --- no matter how randomly purposed.
Sweden, despite still having a remarkably tough military, has never been the same since the affair of the Masked Ball... that hideous snivelling progressiveness so redolent of all the Scandinavian countries has never been so well epitomised as in the castrating of the Royal Lion. Apparently 'female soldiers' from a rapid reaction force made a sudden swift surgical whine regarding the fact that an animal has genitalia and the Army, instead of telling them to take a long walk off a short pier, caved in with an abasing alacrity that would have delighted the soviets had they invaded. The original designer from the Nation Archives is naturally deeply pissed.
'Female Soldiers' are in any case a modern joke of course, and were not present in the Armies of Gustavus Adolphus, Queen Christina or Charles XII when those not wholly admirable monarchs' armies were the Swedish Terror of --- Northern --- Europe: so, really, if any military has declined in spirit enough to have such beings, then one must just expect attendant lunacies to come along with them.
It's a relief to turn to a purer aspect of Scandinavia. I've never owned, nor wanted, a bicycle, but this blog on Copenhagen bicycling is rather fascinating.
It is taken as a rule that whenever, and no matter in which context, a personal pronoun is used, the speaker is — hopefully unconsciously — boasting. Still, I have identified my major flaw and can’t really feel it increases self-esteem. I am incapable of reverence. This might be a coded way of saying rebellious, were it not for the fact that as a reactionary traditionalist I’ve never seen the point in rebellion for it’s own sake save as a narcissistic attitude ( see: Shelley, and indeed, Byron ); rejection of belief seems as pointless as it’s easy acceptance, and considerably more self-dramatizing. Naturalich, I feel honour to my hereditary lord: he is God’s Vice-Gerant; then again, I am scarcely likely to meet him, even less to serve him; and no chance at all to die for him > which last should be man’s natural doom. I think it was Lord Bernard Stuart who died with his back to a tree fighting eight Roundheads; and later, as my namesake lay dying…
The Viscount then asking the said Johnston: “How the day went ?”
“The day went well for the King, but I am sorry for your Lordship.”
Claverhouse : “It is the less matter for me, seeing the day went well for my Master.”
Dying was worthwhile in those days. Now it has the same unimportance as life.
To continue, no singer or band has ever held my heart. No people or group, large or tiny, seem the least bit worthy. I can’t respect breeding, wealth or achievement, no matter what it cost the achiever; work, any work, is as only good as the result; and most present day work produces ugliness adding to the material world. As a legitimist, concurrent politics merely seem the futile gesturings of freed slaves aping the process of governance. Religion is not to be crudely disdained, even — especially —- if one is fundamentally irreligious, so short ceremonies are easy enough to be for mannered respect, but in church I’ve never felt anything except annoyance and a dislike of kneeling — and this lack of interest applies to all manifestations of the religious impulse, whether church-based, atheistic, faith in science, faith in materialism, faith in people ( all, or a selected group ), nationalism, racialism, anti-racialism, and all the creeds that mix any of these to form a cocktail of belief. And too philosophers have very little to do with a functioning spiritual life any more than economists have to do with the random workings of whatever the economy may be: both are merely theologians, only to be read for the funny bits.
Thus both religion and ethical theory fail, if just because both make enormous logical leaps by constructing the desired end — good and evil — first, then creating the theory that accounts for why they think one of these is right or wrong. There are only two pole-stars for correctness: personal honour and loyalty. So in fine, there is nothing in life that can command respect or even much admiration.
I feel horror and disgust at having lived in the decades I did, both from their and my own inadequacy: all platitudinous self-serving of both rulers and ruled nauseates; we are lucky enough to have excellent gear now, but a hideous environment to house it. Technology is excellent, yet can hardly substitute for the lack in modern life. If I go anywhere in Great Britain, I know exactly what I’ll find, no matter if I’ve never seen the area once. All towns. cars, supermarkets, garages, motorway stations, same shops everywhere — maybe a museum or gallery might be interesting for an hour, or it might be as trite as the media society that invests us all. Certainly the countryside in Europe is still pretty good in places: but you have to get further in than you see from the roadside. Culturally, the bittersweet Still Game regarding two pensioners in Glasgow pretty well sums up the dead end-game of life in Britain. I can now go anywhere, but can’t conceive of any place I want to live in.
And North America and Europe — which comprise the continents I should feel comfortable within —- are pretty much the same way. All is dullness. And the people are devoted to weakness and ineptitude. We live, as predicted, in Ressentiment World. Slaves Rule.
A month or so back I attended some bookfair and amongst others, purchased this small item for 50p, which I only just decided to look at: 18th century writing being somewhat precious.
This horrific little tale is slightly patronising to uneuropean cultures in the world-set of the time, nevertheless displays a healthier and more cynical view that the hideous idealism and disgusting relativism inseminated by Rousseau and brought to birth by Boas — both of whom have good claim to be in the top ten of most repellent persons evah — which holds sway for now. In the end, one culture, however massively imperfect, can still be decided to be generally better than another; and the nearer to naked nature a culture, the less satisfactory it remains. Anyway the author was evidently having enormous fun in writing it…
More thoughtfully, it does increase the conclusion that, whatever the difficulties, it is worth being a vegan if only for hygienic reasons.
VII. STORYOFTQUASSOUWANDKNONMQUAIHA, TWOHOTTENTOTLOVERS. CONNOISSEUR, numb. 21.
TQUASSOUW, the fon of Kqvuffomo, was Konquer or Chief Captain over the Sixteen Nations of Caffraria. He was defcended from N’oh and Hingn’oh, who dropt from the moon; and his power extended over all the Kraals of the Hottentots.
This prince was remarkable for his prowefs and activity : his fpeed was like the torrent, that rufhes down the precipice ; and he would overtake the wild afs in her flight : his arrows brought down the eagle from the clouds; the lion fell before him, and his launce drank the blood of the rhinoceros. He fathomed the waters of the deep, and buffeted the billows in the tempeft : he drew the rock-fifh from their lurking-holes, and rifled the beds of coral. Trained from his infancy in the exercife of war, to wield the Haffagaye with dexterity, and break the wild bulls to battle, he was a ftranger to the foft dalliance of love ; and beheld with indifference the thick-lipped damfels of Gongeman, and the flat-nofed beauties of Hauteniqua.
The cold of those white Siberian nights with a pale, sickly gleam by which you could read, pierced us through and through. The prisoners, inadequately nourished by hot water, went below decks to sleep off the hunger which was becoming ever more acute.
A draft of women convicts was separated from us only by a thin wooden wall made of planks. Behind it were a few score of thieves, prostitutes and other assorted criminals: Russian, Ukrainian, Cossack, Tartar and Azerbaijan. Locked up in such close proximity to the men prisoners, they were yet more restless than the latter. Their long sojourn in captivity had affected them quite differently: more than food and sleep, they desired men.
One of the planks dividing us was soon prised free and a woman crawled through the opening, to find herself amid rows of men, lying one beside the other, like brown loaves on a baker's shelf. We heard no affectionate exchanges, but a few heavy sighs, quickened breathing and a hasty struggle followed by a moment of silence while one lover changed places with the next. This scene caused no undue commotion. The barge was wrapped in darkness, many of the men were sound asleep, totally unaware of the amorous delights available, and the woman, moreover, was dressed no differently from the men. This daring escapade might well have passed unnoticed by the authorities had it not been for the malice of man. Someone whose moral susceptibilities were above average or who, perhaps, was himself incapable of such amorous pursuits, ran off to report. We heard the rapid tread of army boots and in rushed the soldiers who, obviously well directed, made straight for the scene of the crime. They caught hold of a man by the neck and flung him on the floor thus revealing the girl. She betrayed no fear. She was a street-walker. That was what had brought her to prison, to trial and now to Siberia. Nothing worse could befall her.
A soldier grabbed hold of her legs and started to pull her, but she was perfectly willing to go of her own accord, which she did with an impudent smile of triumph. What could they do to her ? But the authorities were well able to deal with the case.
With the soldier as escort the girl set off in the direction of the ladder, parading between the rows of men who surveyed her with regretful longing --- sorry to see her leave so soon. She was taken up on deck and there ordered by the soldier to remove her padded jacket, her blouse, a sweater in shreds and her vest. Thus stripped, she was placed in the bow and made to face up-river. She was going to freeze, so that she might cool down a little.
In the grey, misty silence of the Arctic, the half-naked woman with her shameless smile and hair streaming in the wind, the full, white flagons of her breasts thrust proudly forward, seemed to challenge the forest deities lurking in the tundra, slowly gliding towards her.
Behind the girl stood a soldier, silent, sullen and indifferent. He was not a man, not even a male with whom she could go. With bayonet levelled at the girl's bare back he stood there motionless, as though carved out of wood. The punishment lasted one hour, and the frozen girl had hardly gathered up her clothing to go below when another woman was sent up to take her place on that unusual pillory.
For sentimental reasons, the Lancastrian usurper PKing Henry V is somehow excused for ordering prisoners killed at Agincourt --- even in the following civil wars affecting parts of England during the rest of the century, caused by his verminous House's illegal seizure, this would only happen to prisoners of high enough status to merit expungement --- however, although England has actually had more monarchs who were usurping thieves than legitimate rulers, this little fellow may well be in the top three for unpleasantness: a snivelling pious puritan who majored in self-righteousness and slaughtered as freely as any serial killer for pointless aggrandizement.
Usually however it's considered a bêtise to slay the surrendered --- the Aussie furore on behalf of Breaker Morant and his mates being shot for so doing may be charitably ascribed to pitiful anti-Pom nationalism rather than condoning his shooting of captives.
After the invasion of Russia in 1941 the Germans, partially through luck and partially through skill were rewarded with hundreds of thousands of prisoners: partially through immediate inability and partially through ideological imperative a large proportion of the 5-6 million soviet POWs were starved to death in a crime worse than the labour-camps. This had a precedent ( apart from the fact that 85% of German POWs died in the camps that Stalin kept for his own people, and anyone else he could collect... ):
In the evening of the long day, as the imperial column was approaching Gzhatsk, we were surprised to find a number of dead Russians, still warm, on the road in front of us. We noticed that their heads had all been shattered in the same manner, and that their brains were scattered about. We knew that two thousand Russian prisoners had gone before us under the escort of Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish troops. Some of our generals greeted this with indifference, others with indignation, still others with approval.
...but the next day those murders had stopped. After that we simply let our unfortunate prisoners die of hunger in the enclosures where we penned them up for the night, like cattle. This was doubtless an atrocity; but what were we to do ? Exchange them ? The enemy refused to consider it. Set them free ? They would have spread the news of our destitute condition far and wide, and soon would have joined up with others and returned to dog our steps. In this war to the death we should have sacrificed ourselves in letting them live. We were cruel by necessity. The evil lay in the fact that we had got ourselves in a position where we were faced with such a terrible alternative.
Count Philippe-Paul de Ségur : Napoleon's Russian Campaign
These important changes in the social role of women ought to be considered alongside the 1978 amendments to the Code of Personal Status introduced by the Ba˘th. The preamble states that the new code is based on “the principles of the Islamic shari˘a [ Islamic law ], but only those that are suited to the spirit of today.” The break with tradition as it affected women occurred in two important areas: first, authority was given to a state-appointed judge to overrule the wishes of the father in the case of early marriages; second, the new legislation nullified forced marriages and severely curtailed the traditional panoply of rights held over women by the men of the larger kinship group ( uncles, cousins, and so on ). The intent of the legislation as a whole was to diminish the power of the patriarchal family, and separate out the nuclear family from the larger kinship group whose hold over the lives of women was considerably weakened. ... In general, wherever women were clearly being involved in new areas of decision making, these were explicitly formulated as pertaining somehow to their sex ( not their individual personhood ) and simultaneously “politicized” to a remarkably unnecessary extent. The only way in which the “popular committees” could function is as pressuring agencies, forcing couples to conform to whatever outcome the party line deemed suitable. The facts of the case, the letter of the law, and the “rights” of everyone concerned are shunted aside in such arrangements. In addition whenever traditional male rights over women were weakened or abolished, the state adopted this role, acting “on behalf of” the female sex, not upgrading the status of women as individuals who were being discriminated against because of their sex. ... The Ba˘thi measures must not be exaggerated. No social group, least of all Iraqi women, was exerting pressure on them. But by choosing a particular “style” of legislating on this issue, they reveal how they think when not being boxed into a corner by the “contradictory demands of modernization and development and those of ‘cultural authenticity.’” ... Ba˘thist ideals, tied up as they are with the Ba˘thist view of the Islamic experience, provide the ultimate source of authority and the final test for what is justified. Even the power of the Leader is derivative from these ideals, and all sources of authority outside them threaten the Ba˘th. It rankles to have fathers, brothers, uncles, and cousins, all lined up to exert varying degrees of real power and control over half of the Iraqi population. Thus, if a new loyalty to the Leader, the party, and the state is to form, women must be “freed” from the loyalties that traditionally bound them to their husbands and male kin. This was the essential purpose of the 1978 legislation on Personal Status, which diminished the power of the patriarchal family. Therefore, women, ( like children, as we have seen ) gain somewhat in status in relation to these particular groups of men, only what they must lose in freedom to the Ba˘th. Politically, the appropriate imagery is once again that provided by Saddam Husain of the child informer.
Samir Al-Khalil : Republic of Fear — Saddam’s Iraq
Actually, the Invasion, and imperialist imposition of a new regime over there has rather nullified most of the Ba'athist sexual equality measures, leading to the restoration of the traditional opportunities for muslim women. The joy of the above passages relate to the fact that feminism, like other ploys, was merely a means for the revolutionary state to shatter opposition and tighten control. As has happened here also.
Whether either Saddam's pro-feminism or the new lot's older ways were better should be regarded as a deep question, involving the various alleged rights of plenty of differing and utterly disparate groups; the rights of imperialist conquest; the rights of indigenous peoples; questions of religion and questions of culture, that can best be answered by 'Meh, who cares ?'
Nonetheless, the sort of people who go around looking wise, and pontificating: 'Only Time will provide an answer.' are in rare luck.
America is a mistake, a giant mistake. Sigmund Freud
But… there’s no point to America anyway. It has no hereditary King or Emperor to provide a meaning or centre or source of law, merely a flag and whatever significance the individual places upon that object, whether entire people; particular section of the people with whom the individual identifies; continent; laws; congress; temporary chief officer, or any number of interpretations that do not coalesce into anything real. Notably because they are mere abstractions: notions with which each individual invests with his own misty preconceptions and unformed wishes. Therefore, America is not so much a mistake, as a conglomeration of millions of individual mistakes. So it has to be with all republics, including Rome and all the pseudo- [ non absolutist hereditary ] monarchies of today… Homer Simpson’s agonized question in the film from which the above title is purloined, though uniquely American in it’s self-misunderstanding, “Why does everything I whip leave me ?” is why Americans cannot combine moral courage and realism, even if — exceptionally rarely, as in the case of the current president — they possess the former quality. It is not enough to maintain a whip, whether right or wrong to wield it, there has to be a purpose in doing so: comfort, rightly derided by the Prussian exponents of Kultur against the concept of mere civilisation, is — like patriotism — not enough. The dearth of courage is not merely a consequence of the decline of the culture — this is shared in Europe and all westernised nations — nor solely from the idiots’ political system, but also stems from the very bases of the American Idea.
“A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which and outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost it’s civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There remain many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales a to how realistic, reasonable and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weariness and cowardice… Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end ?…”
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 8, 1978
He added: “The human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits, exemplified by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.”
They still don’t like Alexandr…Rigour and unsentimentality repel the satisfied, complacent and weak; yet as Hermann Hesse pronounced: “People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.”, so it will never bother the great witness of our times.
Firstly, whilst caution is a virtue in reporting, the very title of this 'incident' seems misplaced. I am fully seized of the fact that most jurisdictions no longer rely just on confessions, beside corroboration etc. ( actually it was the sole evidence required in some places, like Soviet Russia, even when simply induced... ), but when a couple are in jail on million-dollar bonds and have offered apologies for the 'unfortunate incident', alleged seems out of place...
Anyway, the story is, that chap A is charged with downloading underage porn, released on bail; a couple of virtuously outraged yokels then set fire to his house, killing his wife in the blaze. So far, so disgusting; yet things like this have happened in every age --- though not so much in the last 200 years --- and every clime --- mainly in countries where rugged individualism is revered as much as in the USA, and with a like criminality, such as contemporary South Africa and neighbour nations; where killing witches is almost the norm right now.
[ From that last link: 'I have also omitted the victims of occult belief who fearlessly throw themselves in harm's way believing they are immune to gunfire.' *chokes* Sometimes, the darwinian imperative is so killingly funny... ]
It's too much to hope for that the two will get a quick trial and then be quietly shot. Still, as ever, there is a morbid pleasure in glancing at the comments --- perfunctorily, there being four-fucking-thousand, eight hundred and eighty-two of them --- and regarding the fact that since they generally range from the inane to the psychotic, they form a perfect sample of American opinion-makers; as in We, The People.
In the same deep-mining veins dug by those linking Nietzsche to nazi praxis, is this old review of a book on Heidegger's relationship with naziism... *sighs* There are very few philosophers whose private political beliefs I would be in sympathy with: it's like art, the output doesn't depend on the moral stature of the artist. This argues the opposite.
Something to read though...
What is surprising is that Heidegger should be either surprised or dismayed to learn that the Nazis were less than fully absorbed, were in fact uninterested in his own approach to Being, in the same way that they were also uninterested in the effort of Rosenberg, the well-known Nazi "philosopher," to bring about a profound spiritual renewal. Heidegger's objection reveals, then, an astonishing lack of awareness of the nature of Nazism.
Rather that he knew pretty much what they were --- and to be fair average contemporaries in any country then would have had the same response to most philosophers --- but had hoped they could become something better.
The problem with the Nazis, according to Heidegger, was not that they terrorized and murdered people, and started World War II, but that they had the wrong attitude towards metaphysics. Whether they would have still been murderers if they had the right metaphysics is a good question. One of the most disturbing things about Heidegger's thought is that the murders -- or even the public thuggery that he could have seen in the earliest days of the Third Reich -- don't really seem to have disturbed him all that much. It was not the murders or the public mayhem that discredited "existing" Naziism but simply the wrong attitude towards philosophy, i.e. Heidegger himself. The most damning accusation, however, is just that Naziism was a form of liberalism !
Which last, uh, is factually correct. Plus one of the true reasons naziism is utterly abhorrant. National Socialism was the outcome of republican German nationalism of 1848 ( As is much of American political praxis ). And indeed a youtube of the esteemed neo-nazi band Stahlgewitter explicitly makes this connection, the black-red-gold republikaner flag makes it's appearances along with other nazi crap.
Apart from which, 'public mayhem' in the sense meant here ran through both the soviet and the American system --- even in the Thirties.
Heidegger is not a moralist and does not have anything like a theory or system of moral principles. It is not clear how a prohibition of murder would even be grounded in his system. A "resolute" and "authentic" murderer actually sounds pretty good.
There is nothing wrong with killing someone if one has authentic reasons to so do. ( The nazis didn't very often, being mostly dim thugs --- plus they did it messily whenever possible. )
Heidegger's conservatism is also reflected in his hostility to modernity, not just in the form of liberal democracy, but in the form of science and technology and commercial culture. This is another area where he appeals to modern leftists, who not only want a socialist mandarinism, run by themselves, rather than liberal democracy, but who are also constitutionally hostile to science, which depends on criteria far harder than their own self-persuasive rhetorical sophistries, and to technology and commerce, which are not only similarly hard edged but have done far more to improve the life of most people than the chatter of Marxist dialectics ever has.
Ah, the magical sweet matrix of science, parliamentary democracy and the free market... What soul-satisfying happiness it has brought; and much more importantly, will always promise to bring. 'Only a few generations, comrades-citizens-voters, and our children will live as gods !'
( Much the same mix as nazism and communism would have evolved into, in fact. )
So in the end, quite apart from the frequent hyperbole, the diatribe relies on supposed ethics and appeals to materialism: which being both that which Heidegger rejected, means that it is like similiarly accusing an eagle of not valuing either. The eagle knows that already.
In a Salon article Being Martin Heidegger Ralph Brave gives some answers as to why Heidegger's semi-sympathy with National Socialism is ultimately irrelevant to his philosophy. [ Note: click the page numbers to avoid getting lost. ]
Of course, I barely understand Heidegger, and sometimes reading both him and other fine thinkers can induce the loss of the will to live, but one should ever recognise greatness in thought, in those we admire, and in those with whom we may disagree for extraneous reasons.
At his execution, it was enquired if Alfred Rosenberg had any last words before being topped.
Roger of Wendover was a monk of St Albans who wrote a great chronicle that began with the creation of the world. Some ten years after John’s death he set down an account of the reign. What is immediately striking about this is that he seems to know more about John’s reign than men who were writing shortly after the events they described. He knows what John said to his nephew Arthur before he made away with him. He can give illustrations of the way the king terrorized the clergy: crushing an archdeacon under a cope of lead, threatening to slit the noses of papal servants and to pluck out their eyes. There is a story of a Jew of Bristol who had a tooth knocked out daily until he revealed where he had hidden his treasure. He gives John’s blasphemous oath ( ‘By God’s teeth’ ), and tells how he made free with the wives and daughters of his barons. He explains that John lost Normandy to the king of France because at the critical stage of the campaign he was uxorious and idle: ‘Let be, let be, whatever he now takes I shall one day recover.’ Historians have often used these stories freely: here at last is the meat after a diet of thin gruel. Now we can know what John was really like, for here are anecdotes that clearly characterise him.
What the historians who use these anecdotes about John seldom make clear, however, is that Wendover’s chronicle is full of anecdotes of a highly dubious nature. There is one about a washerwoman who tried to earn an extra penny by plying her trade on the Sabbath, and was sucked dry by a small black pig as punishment. There is one ( it is eighteen pages long ) about a peasant named Thurkhill from the village of Twinstead in Essex who, in 1206, was led through the realms of Purgatory by St Julian. As Wendover tells it the story has many realistic touches, from the man’s name and the place where he lived to precise details about the torture chambers of the underworld: in one, for example, stand cauldrons of inky water so bitter that if a piece of wood is thrown in the bark instantly peels off it. It is a grim and lively story; but is it true ? Wendover certainly seems to think it as authentic as his stories about John; and it is difficult to see on what grounds historians should reject the former while accepting the latter.
Existing without television until just before the end of the last century and which discarded recently completely after little use for years, the only thing to regret in that is that one's education in early cinema is incomplete. Admittedly cultural zeitgeist of the past informs one though a type of osmosis --- I have never seen a Keystone Cops movie, but feel fairly confident it can be imaged enough --- but I guess one should at least attempt to become acquainted with known masterpieces/milestones. Suffering is supposed to be good for the soul, although personally I should prefer to stuff it when given a choice.
In this spirit I today watched D. W. Griffith's great anti-war epic 'The Birth of a Nation', Here. Although only in brief chunks, as it's kind of long at three hours, and suffers from the pace of a snail got at by horse-dopers. The, uh, low expectations of audience comprehension at that period also adds to the tame pace. Heavy symbolism lingered upon too long --- although to be absolutely fair, most people might not find the delineation between the younger characters at the beginning sufficiently drawn, since they appear to be clones; and in any case there's a whole lot of hand-shaking going on for about ten minutes so one's attention is bound to wander rather. I frequently glanced at a crib-sheet* to see whom was who.
*( Following the South's defeat, Stoneman calls for his protege and aide Silas Lynch (George Siegmann), mulatto (half African-American) leader of the blacks. When greeting him, Stoneman orders: "Don't scrape to me. You are the equal of any man here." Senator Charles Sumner is summoned, and forced to acknowledge mulatto Lynch's position. Sumner proposes a less dangerous policy in the extension of power to the freed race. In the next room, Lydia listens to the conversation, wide-eyed and full of sexual excitement. ) I can think of more erotic subjects...
The main lessons this film teaches us are that war is hell --- although war is undoubtedly better than a 12-hour ( or two hour for those of us more easily bored ) shift in the cotton fields every day ---- mid-victorian clothes were insane; Reconstruction was hell ( although indignation over giving the freed slaves the vote, and disenfranchising whites ignores the fact that giving anyone the vote is lethal ); and that 'Africans' are natural brutes. It would be silly to get over-excited at things which were the common currency of mental discourse in another period; besides which blacks in early twentieth century America had far worse things to worry about than filmic propaganda for a racialist view of their recent past.
Generally the men are dorks, but the girls are pretty, although acting at that point often appears to involve imitating lunacy. Worse, the yuckyish sentiment is frequently overwhelming. Perhaps because the war was still in living memory at that time, the battle scenes are surprisingly --- for art --- realistic, insofar as one can see what's happening; but then that is a quality of war itself. Still in the end, for the materials of the time, 1915, one can appreciate the skill of the director. The score is more insistent than it would have been when played by a weary piano-player in the cinemas of the time.
Obviously, online one can't appreciate Griffith's cinematic values as one ought: this is not a sharp rendering: no worse maybe than for a semi-blind person watching half a mile away at a drive-in on a foggy day.