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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR NOVEMBER 2010

November 30,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

After all, how could that monistic 'I' of Hitler's ever without forfeit succumb to the entire act of sex, the whole essence of which is recognition of one 'Other'?  Without damage I mean to his fixed conviction that he was the universe's unique sentient centre, the sole authentic incarnate Will it contained or had ever contained?  Because this of course was the rationale of his supernal inner 'Power': Hitler existed alone.  'I am, none else beside me.'  The universe contained no other persons than him, only things; and thus for him the whole gamut of the 'personal' pronouns lacked wholly its normal emotional content.  This left Hitler's designing and creating motions enormous and without curb: it wasonly natural for this architect to turn also politician for he saw no real distinction in the new things to be handled: these 'men' were merely him-mimicking 'things', in the same category as other tools and stones.  All tools have handles--this sort was fitted with ears.  And it is nonsensical to love or hate or pity (or tell the truth to) stones.

Hitler's then was that rare diseased state of the personality, an ego virtually without penumbra: rare and diseased, that is, when abnormally such an ego survives in an otherwise mature adult intelligence clincially sane (for in the new-born doubtless it is a beginning normal enough and even surviving into the young child).  Hitler's adult 'I' had developed thus--into a larger but still undifferentiated structure, as a malgnant growth does.

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 29,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

For these were in fact all people somehow, some way, riding the Great Inflation.  Thus in their manner they reminded one rather of skaters caught far out too late in a thaw, who know their only but desperate hope lies in speed.  The ice is steaming in the sun and there can be no turning back.  They hear anguished cires behind them but they lower their heads with muffled ears, they flail with their arms and thrust ever more desperately with their legs in their efforts to skate even faster still on the slushy, cracking, sinking ice.

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

[N.B.:  This is describing the crisis in Germany in the1920s but it might as well describe the Great Recession of 2008.]

November 28,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Dear lady," he answered sententiously, "there's one thing even more important for a rising politician than having friends; and that is--plenty of enemies!"

"That doesn't make sense."

"It does.  For a politican rises on the backs of his friends (that's probably all they're good for), but it's through his enemies he'll have to govern afterwards."

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 27,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

"First: a portentous message that he'll be a bit late--detained on most important business.  Then, about midnight--when he's quite sure that his entrance will be the last--he marches in, bows so low to his hostess that his sock-suspenders show and presents hew with a wilting bouqeut of red roses.  Then he refuses the proffered chair, turns his back on her and stations himself at the buffet.  If anybody speaks to him he fills his mouth with cream puffs and grunts.  If they dar eto speak a second time he only fill shis mouth with cream puffs.  It isn't just that in the company of his betters he can't convers himself--he aims to be a kind of social upas, to kill conversation anywhere within reach of his shadow.  Soon the whole room is silent.  That's what he's waiting for: he stuffs the last cream puff half-eaten into his pocket and begins to orage.  Usually it's against the Jews: sometimes it's the bolshevik Meanace: sometimes it's the November Criminals--no matter, it's always the same kind of speech, quiet and winning and reasonable at first but before long in a voice that makes the sppons dance on the plates.  He goes on for half an hour--an hour, maybe: then he breaks off suddenly, smacks his sticky lips on his hostess's hand again, and . . .and out into the night, what's left of it."

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 26,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

I kept telling myself.  'This isn't politics, it's Opera.  Everyone's playing a part--but everyone!'"

Reinhold turned right round in his chair and looked at his interrogator very seriously:  "Ah, that's the question!  And it's early days really to know the answer," he added slowly.  "But I think it's what I hinted earlier: something not quite human.--Wagner you say?  You're thinking of that early, immature thing of his, Rienzi?  Perhaps.  Yes, the score is recognisably at least school of Wagner. . . ah, but those ant-soldiers--all those sinister, animated insects and those rabbits and weasels on their hind legs . . and above all, Hitler . . . Yes, it was Wagner, but Wagner staged by Hieronymus Bosch!"

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 25,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Now in a moment it was so quiet again you could hear Hitler panting--like a dog circling a bitch!  He was profoundly excited.  Indeed whenever he faces a crowd it seems to arouse him to a veritable orgasm--he doesn't woo a crowd, he rapes it.  Suddenly he began to screech: 'On to Berlin!  The national revolution has begun--I announce it!  the Hakenkreuz is marching!  Everybody is marching!'"  Dr. Reinhold's voice rasped harsher and harsher:  "'This hall is occupied!  Munich is occupied!  Germany is occupied!  Everywhere is occupied!'"  In his mimicry Dr. Reinhold glared round the room with quivering nostrils, as if daring anyone to move in his seat.  Then he continued:  "'The Bavarian government is deposed!  The Berlin government is deposed!  God Almighty is deposed--hail to the new Holy Trinity Hitler-Ludendorff-Poehner!  Hoch!'"

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 24,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

Once Mitzi's childhood cataracts had been removed the only vision she ever had when without spectacles to give things some semblance of shpae (those spectacles which might never be worn in public) was a sort of marbled mingling of light and shade.  But this morning she had woken plagued with dark discs floating across things--discs which even the spectacles could not dispel; and now these swimming discs, or globules, had begun to coalesce in a queerly solid black could, curtaining totally one part of the field.  Now too that black cloud had begun to emit minute but brilliant blue flashes along its advancing edge . . . for it was advancing, every now and then the cloud jerked forward a little further and blocked out a little more of the field (moreover, in such an absolute way!).

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 23,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

Augustine navigated now whenever he crossed a room.  I mean, like the yachtsman working along the coast who takes some point on his beam to steer by instead of looking striaght ahead--some bold headland, or rock-girt lighthouse--and fills his mind with that cynosure: keeps taking new bearings on it, and reckoning his changing distance from it.  This was very much the way Augustine now shaped his course across any room that had Mitzi in it.  Even when his back was turned to her the very skin under his clothes seemed aware of the direction Mitzi lay: just as the body through its clothes can feel the direction of the sun's rays falling on it.

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 22,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

Now in 1923 prices were already a billion times the pre-war figure and still rocketing.  These were the days spoken of by Haggai the prophet, when 'he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes': by Monday a workman's whole last-week's wages might not pay his tramfare back to work.  The smallest sum in any foreign currency was hoarded for it would buy almost anything; but nobody held German money for five minutes.  Even beer was an investment for presently you got more for the empty bottle than you pad paid for it in full.

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 21,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

[F]or in 1914 Britain had known no major war for ninety-nine years--a unique condition; and most folk in Britain had come to believe in their bones such wars were something Western man had quite outgrown.  Thus its coming again in 1914 had been over the head of a bottommost belief it couldn't.  So people's reactions tended to be 'as if' they were now at war rather than 'that' they were at war: almost more appropriate to make-believe than to belief.

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 20,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

Soon they were at it again, hammer and tongs.  But on one thing Augustine and Jeremy were agreed: theirs was a generation relieved of the necessity even of active evangelistic atheism because the whole 'God' idea had now subsided below the level of belief or disbelief.  'God' and 'Sin' had ceased to be problems because Freudian analysis had explained how such notions arise historically: i.e., that they are merelly a primitive psychological blemish which, once explained, mankind can outgrow. . .

"Conscience is an operable cancer. . ."

In the age of illimitable human progress and fulfilment now dawning the very words 'God' and 'guilt' must atrophy and ultimately drop off the language.  People would still be born with a propensity for being what used to be called 'good'; but even goodness would become innocence once its name was forgotten.

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

[N.B.  Ideas have consequences.  Not just Augustine and Jeremy believed this claptrap but also a couple of other squabbling intellectual adolescents going by the monikers of Hitler and Stalin.]

November 19,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

To Augustine, even honest statesmen and politicians seemed at best a kind of low-grade communal servant--like sewer-cleaners, doing a beastly job decent men are thankful not to have to do themselves.  And indeed the ordinary citizen does only need to become aware of his system of government if it goes wrong and stinks. . .

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

[N.B.:  A notion proven in the last two U.S. election cycles.  Apparently, it's getting harder and harder nowadays to find a good battalion of sewer-cleaners.]

November 18,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Women who have failed to achieve companionship in their homes, in their marriages: women with loneliness thrust upon them, I suppose they're bound to be outraged by anyone who deliberately chooses loneliness.'

--The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

November 17,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

In all illness, and especially in cases of this sort, the will of the patient plays a great part.  There comes a moment when an effort is required.  In this case that effort wasn't made.  I am afraid that one of the reasons why Willie died was that he did not greatly wish to live.

--Operation Hearbreak by Duff Cooper

November 16,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

A club provides a wonderful home for the lonely and an equally convenient escape from home for those who occasionally feel the need of it.  There are the faithufl old servants, who are always pleased to see members and who, unlike the servants at home, have neither complaints of their conditions nor quarrels between themselves--or, if they have, the ordinary members never hear of them.  There are all the daily newspapers, and the weekly ones, which are hardly worth purchase but merit a glance.  The chairs are comfortable, there is never a crowd, and refreshment is easily and instantly obtainable.  But above all there is the ease of intercourse, the conversation lightly begun and as lightly broken off the moment it becomes a burden, or even threatens to become one, to either party.  Nor are subjects of conversation ever lacking.  The news provides them, and, for such as Willie, the racing news above all.  They are varied by those very funny stories which spring from an inexhaustible anonymous source and which, for some mysterious reason, are very much funnier when told in the club than anywhere else.

--Operation Hearbreak by Duff Cooper

November 15,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

An Italian in Gustavus's army, a soldier of fortune with neither nation nor faith to make him love the Swedish King, was paid to shoot him.  More than once he levelled his pistol for the act, yet though the opportunity were never so favourable he could not fire; for as he looked his heart would turn to lead and his hand refuse the act.   Did fate indeed endow the King with supernatural armour, or did his own gigantic confidence, imparting itself to others, give him his virtue?  'He thinks the ship cannot sink that carries him; that was the King's secret, that his revelation, the inspired egoism of the prophet.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  It is the egoism--or lack thereof--that explains the speedy rise and fall of dictators.  Why was Hitler never deposed?  Because he thought his people had failed him, not vice versa.]

November 14,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

Prague itself presented few difficulties.  The Archbishop made conversion the price of pardon for participation in the revolt, and this, acting upon the natural indifference of  a religiously divided and cosmopolitan city, brought the greater number of citizens into the Catholic fold within little more than a year.  The outlying towns proved more difficult, and towards them sterner measures were used.  Taxes and extraordinary levies were demanded from the Protestants, and the billeting of imperialist troops was found to be a particularly effective form of coercion unless, as sometimes happened, the inhabitants got wind of their coming, burned their houses and fled to the woods with all that they could carry.  Otherwise the exactions and disorders of the troops would wear down the resistance of the people in a few months.  Tabor, the stronghold of Zizka, was entirely reconverted before Easter 1623; Komotau, after bearing heavy contributions for three years, broke down at a threat of occupation; at Kuttenberg the miners, a hardy and obstinate people, bore a contribution three times as large as the normal taxes for the whole of the rest of Bohemia, and suffered for three years under the quartering of troops until the greater number of the population drifted away and the mines fell into disuse through lack of workers.  The Catholic nobility assisted in the conversion of their villagers; the tyrannical Count Kolowrat, it was said, drove his peasants to church with blows; at Gitschin, Wallenstein founded a Jesuit school to which he compelled his serfs to send their children.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  This is basically a how-to guide for converting a native population.  Note that the power to tax is indeed the power to destroy.]

 

November 13,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

A policy of torture and violence had lost the northern Netherlands for ever to the Catholic Church.  The same mistake was not made in Bohemia; but civil and economic persecution fastened upon the Protestants like a vice from which the only  means of escape was the denial of their faith.  The University of Prague was given to the Jesuits in 1623, and education throughout the country placed wholly in the hands of the Church, so that the younger generation imbibed naturally the lessons which their parents were learning in a harder school.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  Historically, Muslims understood that torture merely leads to intransigence--a lesson the Bush administration seemed to have difficulty in absorbing--and instead imposed a second-class status of dhimmitude on its conquered peoples who refused to convert to Islam.  Not surprisingly, this policy typically lead to wholesale conversion of the subject populations after a mere generation or two.]

November 12,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

Politically Ferdinand had achieved one slight advantage: private fortunes had been engulfed and the ruthless confiscation of land had ruined or partly ruined almost all the municipalities; whatever immediate poverty might face his government, he had at least destroyed the restless and critical merchant classes and removed the bulwark between the ruler and the people.  One of the most progressive and commercialized countries in Europe had slipped back two centuries in little more than two years and the field was free for despotism.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  If nothing else, the Thirty Years War proved that advanced capitalism, due to its complexity, can be quickly broken.  One wonders if this insight explains Marx's belief that capitalism could be easily overcome.  The problem, of course, is that what ever follows capitalism is of inferior quality given that it relies on the intelligence of one or a few persons as opposed to the intelligence of the society as a whole (otherwise known as the marketplace).]

November 11,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is a gift in knowing when to move and when to be still, when to interpose a guiding finger and when to let the world drift.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

November 10,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

The soldiers once enlisted were faithful only to their banners.  The oath which they took was not to any personal leader or state but to the flag, and if the flag were captured in battle the soldiers were at liberty to follow it.  Even loyalty to the fflag was not always apparent, and it was usual for prisoners of war to enlist in the army of the victors whether their banner had been taken or not.  Besides this, a soldier served only under contract; should he choose at the expiration of his time to try another army he was free to do so.  Officers and men shifted from service to service without the least compunction and discussed the merits of each round the camp fires in the evening.   The Emperor paid well, but it was considered 'a hard service, to lie out wet and dry'; the King of Poland paid even better but would not undertake to feed the army in winter; the Governess of the Netherlands made the wages sound tempting to those who did not know that she calculated a month at six to eight weeks; 'the best service is accounted the States because constant, and if they lose any joint or be made unserviceable they are during their life to have the same pay that they had when they were disabled'.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  Note the artistry that went into that last sentence.]

November 9,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

He fancied himself both as a diplomat, a political leader and a general.  Unhappily he possessed few of the qualities on which he prided himself: his diplomacy was mere intrigue, his political acumen a blundering guess-work, his soldiering largely bluster.  He was brave and, according to his own perculiar standard, honourable, but he had neither tact, patience, judgment nor insight; moreover he was covetous, overbearing and boastful, so that although he had many supporters he had few friends.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  One could do worse that Wedgwood has done here to model herself on Gibbon as an historian and stylist in terms of extreme concision and judgment.]

November 8,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

He had the ability to choose, but his caution was stronger than his judgment; he lacked the unhesitating yet careful boldness which knows when and for what cause to take a risk.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

November 5,  2010

Patrick: Lagniappe

'The Calvinist dragon', declared a Lutheran writer, 'is pregnant with all the horrors of Mohammedanism'.  The frantic fervour with which certain of the German rulers adopted and propagated the new cult gave some justification for the statement.  The Elector Palantine in particular demonstrated his disbelief in transubstantiation in the cudest manner.  Loudly jeering, he tore the Host in pieces, 'What a fine God you are!  You think you are stronger than I?  We shall see!'  In his austerely whitewashed conventicles a tin basin served for a font and each communicant was provided with his own wooden mug.  The Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel took the additional precaution of having the toughest possible bread provided for the sacrament so that his people should have no doubt whatever of the material nature of what they were eating.

--The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood

[N.B.:  Something's not dead yet if you still take the trouble to revile it.  It's dead once you cease to bother.]