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Showing posts from September 25, 2022

Brief lives: John Aubrey

Lytton Strachey’s essay on John Aubrey ends with a maxim about biographies that gains from coming from the pen of a man who wrote biographies small – Eminent Victorians – and large – Queen Victoria: “A biography should either be as long as Boswell’s or as short as Aubrey\s. The method of enormous and elaborate accetion which produced the Life of Johnson is excellent no doubt; but, failing that, let us have no half-measures; let us have the pure essentials – a vivid image, on a page or two, without explanations, transitions, commentaries or padding.” Aubrey’s Brief Lives are an instance of the death of the author as, really, the-death-of-the-author. They were jotted down and left in a pile at his death; they were meant for Aubrey’s own use, but, as well, as research material for that renowned Oxford asshole, Anthony a Wood. Wood, being the grumpy and supercilious man that he was, even managed to censor some of the book by removing forty pages of material – a disappearance that is still

post-war fascism: it's not mussolini, it is blowing up banks and railroad stations.

  The American story about Meloni is this: once upon a time there was Mussolini. Then, there's Meloni! Now for a commercial break. The laziness of the American press is not only about what they call the "post-fascist" party in Italy, Fratelli d'Italia, in the present, but the past of its progenitor, the MSI, with its ties to the CIA in the sixties and seventies, its ambition for a Greek like junta, its coup attempt, the Golpo Borghese, headed by Prince Junio Valerio Borghese ( a man whose skin was saved by James Angleton at the end of WWII, who saw in Borghese the kind of anti-Bolshevik strongman he liked), and their involvement in the "years of lead" - an involvement that cost the lives of hundreds of people. This far right terrorism got no play in the American press, because it contradicted the story that the real terrorists were those far lefties, and the story below that, which was the Communist Party of Italy was a threat to the whole system. I wrote a

Antisemitism and the French intellectuals - 1920-1945

  In an article in Combat in 1938, the far right critic Thierry Maulnier made a stab at analyzing antisemitism. Unlike, say, Sartre's essay ten years later, Maulnier's does not start out from the premise that it is a deadly bigotry, but instead is a search for "reasonable antisemitism". He finally comes up with a core program founded on resistance to the "disproportionate power" of the Jews and their "irreducible heterogreneity". It would be nice to think that Maulnier represented an aberration, an eccentric violence, like Celine's. This isn't the case. In the first half of the twentieth century, a depressing number of intellectuals in France were raving antisemites. Maulnier was, in particular, in dialogue with Charles Maurras. Maurras is pretty much forgotten now, but in his day he had an influence in France and in the Anglophone world - he was considered a master by T.S. Eliot, and Wyndham Lewis's aesthetics definitely runs in parall