Monday, 29 February 2016

The Boa Deconstructor

"Always be on the alert wherever you hear 'Discourse', because that's Them..."

- Tarpley on the Post-Modernist Deconstructionist Agenda

"It is always possible to excuse any guilt, because the experience exists simultaneously as fictional discourse and as empirical event and it is never possible to decide which one of the two possibilities is the right one. The indecision makes it possible to excuse the bleakest of crimes."

- Prof. Paul De Man,
(The "Boa De-Constructor")
Yale University English Dept.
Allegories of Reading

"The Memory Cheats."
- John Nathan-Turner

Paul de Man: The Plot Thickens
By David Lehman;
Published: May 24, 1992
ONE day last fall, a little more than six months after my book "Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man" was published, I received a letter announcing the existence of a cache of documents that flesh out the story of Paul de Man's sojourn at Bard College. De Man -- the deconstructionist guru and Yale University eminence who was revealed in 1987, four years after his death at the age of 64, to have written nearly 200 articles for Nazi-controlled newspapers in his native Belgium during World War II -- taught at Bard from 1949 to 1951. It was at this small progressive college in the Hudson Valley, where de Man held (and lost) his first teaching job in the United States, that he accomplished the crucial final stage in the transformation of his personal history: he abandoned his European past and started a new family -- and a new American identity -- by marrying one of his students without first obtaining a divorce from his wife. "A pity I did not know of your project on de Man and his circle before it was published," wrote Artine Artinian. "I would have provided you with powerful ammunition on his two years at Bard."

Now 84 years old, a longtime resident of Palm Beach, Fla., Mr. Artinian had cut a flamboyant figure on the Bard College campus from the time he joined its faculty in 1935 until his retirement 29 years later. A pipe-smoking, cape-wearing, Bulgarian-born Armenian professor of French with a particular interest in Guy de Maupassant, he had been instrumental in hiring de Man at Bard for the academic year beginning September 1949. Mr. Artinian had acted largely on the strength of a recommendation that he received from the novelist Mary McCarthy, who had met de Man at Dwight Macdonald's apartment on East 10th Street in New York City the previous fall.

But relations between Mr. Artinian and de Man soon soured. Mr. Artinian accused de Man of petty thievery and chicanery -- and saw to it that he lost his Bard appointment. "As chairman of the division [ of languages and literature ] , I was primarily responsible for his dismissal on grounds of unscrupulous behavior," Mr. Artinian wrote. Later, I asked him to elaborate. De Man was "an unspeakable cad," Mr. Artinian declared. It should be known that he "got kicked out of his first teaching job." He was "a recidivist of the worst kind," who left behind a trail of bad debts, bouncing checks and landlords left in the lurch. When the heat was on, he "lied about everything."

Mr. Artinian, an inveterate collector, told me he still kept "documents that would make your hair rise on your head." There was an anguished letter from de Man's first wife, Anaide (or Anne) de Man, in Argentina in 1951. There was also a handwritten six-page letter from Mary McCarthy analyzing de Man's character. From these and other pages it would be possible to piece together the whole chronology of de Man's bigamous double life. The story of Paul de Man at Bard College was one of cynical opportunism and old-fashioned villainy. Mr. Artinian had no trouble seeing the connection, the continuity in character, between the erstwhile Belgian collaborator and the grand hierophant of deconstruction.

Mr. Artinian himself seemed to spring from "The Groves of Academe" (1952), Mary McCarthy's sharply satirical novel set in an artsy, hip, experimental college in the early years of the cold war -- a time when such campuses were jittery with McCarthyism (that is, the kind practiced by Senator Joseph McCarthy). Mary McCarthy had taught at Bard a few years before she referred de Man to her former colleagues. She retained, as she put it when speaking to Mr. Artinian, a " tendresse " for the place. Bard College became Jocelyn College in "The Groves of Academe," and Mr. Artinian turned into an entertaining minor character named Aristide (the Just) Poncy, "head of the Languages department of the Literature and Languages Division."

McCarthy describes Aristide as a "good and innocent man." During the course of the novel, Poncy wins a Fulbright fellowship, which requires him to hire a replacement and to let out his house, optimally to the same person. McCarthy also tells us that Aristide was a genial pipe smoker to whom "catastrophic" events occurred with quiet regularity whenever he conducted student groups on summer trips abroad. "As he sat sipping his vermouth and introducing himself to tourists at the Flore or the Deux Magots," writes McCarthy, "the boys and girls under his guidance were being robbed, eloping to Italy, losing their passports, slipping off to Monte Carlo, seeking out an abortionist . . . while he took out his watch and wondered why they were late in meeting him for the expedition to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Returning home, usually minus one student at the very least, he always deprecated what had happened, remarking that there had been 'a little mix-up' or that the Metro was confusing to foreigners."

Mr. Artinian cheerfully verified Mary McCarthy's take on him in "The Groves of Academe." "Aristide is based about 75 percent on my experiences," he told me. I brought up the paragraph about what would happen when Aristide took students to Paris. He shrugged. "Some of the details are true. One student did get lost on the way home."

In June 1949, Mr. Artinian was planning to spend the coming academic year in France on a Fulbright fellowship. The college needed to find someone to take his place, and Mr. Artinian would have a large say on who that someone would be. At this opportune moment came Mary McCarthy's letter recommending a young Belgian intellectual in need of a teaching position. The young man was "very much au courant in literature and also in politics," she wrote to Mr. Artinian on June 9, 1949. He was "sensitive, intelligent, cultivated, modest, straightforward." What was more, he had "a genuine superiority of mind and spirit that should mean a great deal in the Bard teaching system." De Man got the job. He also simultaneously earned a cameo appearance in "The Groves of Academe." In the chapter entitled "Ancient History," McCarthy mentions that Aristide Poncy had a "prejudice (unconscious) against the French of Paris or even that of Marseilles," and she offers a list of non-Frenchmen he has hired as colleagues or assistants. At the top of the list is "a Belgian."

IN the summer of 1949, de Man spent his two-week summer vacation as a guest of McCarthy and her third husband, Bowden Broadwater, in their country house in Portsmouth, R.I. De Man did not conceal his marital status from his hosts. On the contrary, he spoke openly about wanting to bring his wife and children from Buenos Aires, where they had joined relatives after the end of the war, and to settle them somewhere not too far from New York. He made a point of mentioning his young family to Mr. Artinian as well. "We had a six-room house," Mr. Artinian recalled, "and the reason we rented it to de Man when we went to Europe on my Fulbright is that he said he needed a big house, since he expected to be joined by his wife and three sons."

Mr. Artinian said the speed with which de Man discarded that family took his breath away. The academic year began in September. De Man was to teach Mr. Artinian's courses, advise Mr. Artinian's advisees, and move into Mr. Artinian's house. By December, de Man had married one of the advisees, a French major named Patricia Kelley, and when the first Mrs. de Man turned up with her three young boys, Hendrik, Robert and Marc, in the spring of 1950, Patricia de Man was pregnant.

Anne de Man wrote to Mr. Artinian a year later, pleading for his help. She was sorry to disturb him, a stranger, but she was a desperate woman, anxious for information about the fate and whereabouts of her husband. Hers was a "truly tragic" predicament: she was enduring "the destruction of my home and of the happiness of my children."

She told of arriving with her three sons in New York and facing "an unforeseen fait accompli : my husband compelled me to agree to a separation, and forced me to consent to a divorce." She agreed to the terms he proposed, feeling she had no choice in the matter and trusting him to make good on his "financial commitments" for the support of the children; he signed a document to that effect in the presence of a notary.

But the check never came. "For the past 11 months," wrote Anne de Man in May 1951, "I have lived in the most utter despair. I have had no news concerning my divorce. I have received no financial assistance for myself or my children, and no news of my husband. I have no knowledge of the status of my eldest son, who remained with him." Anne de Man was broke in a foreign country, suffering from a respiratory ailment, with her own elderly parents to support in addition to her two youngest sons "abandoned three years ago by their father, who in all this time has sent not a single dollar."

Anne de Man's tale of woe took Mr. Artinian by surprise. "Since your husband remarried one assumed that he had first been divorced," he wrote back. He wished that he could help her, and promised to find out what he could, but at that moment he could not provide the information she wanted. De Man, as guarded and secretive as ever, had volunteered little about his personal life, and there was no compelling reason to credit anything he might now say. "The life of Paul de Man is an impenetrable enigma, his actions incomprehensible and for me personally extremely painful," Mr. Artinian wrote to Anne de Man.

AT this point, Mr. Artinian was prepared to believe the worst. De Man had paid him rent for only two months while owing for 10 -- a considerable annoyance to Mr. Artinian, for "we were poor and needed the money." When the rent checks stopped coming, Mr. Artinian -- in France on his Fulbright -- asked a colleague in the German department to have a word with de Man, who hastily assured him that he had just that day taken care of everything. Still no check arrived. "Either he is telling fibs or he is so absent-minded or unsettled that he doesn't know what he is doing," the colleague remarked.

When Mr. Artinian, his wife, and their three children finally returned from Europe in August 1950, the condition of their house stunned them. De Man and his young bride, in their hurried retreat, had left the Persian rug in the living room "so dirty it was almost unrecognizable." The locked bookcases had been forced, and books were missing, as were a number of other household things, which Mr. Artinian and his wife itemized. They discovered a letter from an aggrieved landlady in Paris that de Man had left behind when he cleared out of the place. The letter-writer implores de Man to "have the decency to pay the rent that you owe." His attitude toward leases and legal obligations seems to have been the same on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr. Artinian complained to college authorities, and it was enough to cost de Man his job; in December 1950 he was notified that his contract would not be renewed beyond the current academic year. "That was our polite way of saying he was fired," said Mr. Artinian.

Mary McCarthy had been out of touch with her old friend for almost a year when she wrote to Mr. Artinian in January 1951, asking him to recommend her for a Fulbright fellowship. He agreed but felt she ought to know that de Man -- for whom her recommendation had been decisive -- was being fired. He told her that de Man had told lies and had not paid the rent; he did not say what the lies were, and he said nothing at all about de Man's family life. Mr. Artinian's complaint provoked McCarthy to write, by return post, an extraordinarily shrewd assessment of de Man.

"I CAN'T yet think that he's a really bad person, except as an adolescent is bad, e.g., given to lying, evasion, fantasy, greed, possibly even theft -- in short plastic and formless, with an intelligence that's outdistanced his morals," McCarthy wrote. "I still think he expected to pay the rent." She had liked de Man, and could not help feeling sorry for him, "a person who leaves so many points of no return behind him." As her own house guest he had been "very cheerful, adaptive, helpful with the dishes and the scythe." To be sure, "there were one or two little things that seemed odd, discrepancies in his stories -- I always thought there was something funny about the wife and the children. Nothing enough, though, to cause real uneasiness."

Now the rumors of scandal at Bard had made McCarthy "wonder more concretely about him." Pleading for "at least one lurid detail" -- "I should feel at rest if I knew something definite that did happen" -- McCarthy fires off her queries: "Is he remarried, has the girl money, was that the point, what about his first wife, and what were the lies he told?"

For McCarthy de Man was a character notable for his vagueness, for the disconcerting "fluidity" of his social relations. Like a confidence man he had his modus operandi: "So far as I can reconstruct his story now, everyone has had the same experience with him -- that is, he has come more or less sponsored by a first friend, become an intimate or regular guest of the second household, asked finally for a recommendation of some third sort (employer, lawyer, etc.) and then disappeared, leaving an eddy of slight wonder behind him."

This experience was, McCarthy wrote, not only her own but that of her fellow New York intellectuals, Harold Rosenberg and Dwight Macdonald, as well. "Something, rather funny, that Rosenberg and I both noticed, belatedly, was that he always agreed with us, which made us slightly suspicious -- was this why we had thought him intelligent?" In retrospect, she wondered whether de Man had "pinched" the expensive books he brought her as gifts.

De Man's last public act at Bard College was to deliver a lecture in June 1951 entitled "Morality of Literature." Here, from the Bard student newspaper, is one listener's earnest attempt to state the gist of de Man's argument: "Like the esthetic act moral systems are wasteful in that they acquire to spend. Moral systems are by their very nature destructive. They are unserious in that they are liable to change, and in order to certify themselves are forced to travel to their limit expending energy value on the way. Upon arriving at their limit moral systems decay and become stagnant. Therefore, history is not continuous, but a discrete system in that there must be a rejection of the past in order to invent the validity of the different present."

With this valedictory lecture, de Man proceeded with his own rejection of the past and his invention of the present. Ignoring the pleas of Anne de Man, he sent her neither money nor messages for the children. In August 1951 he appeared at the Manhattan offices of a law firm that a surrogate for Anne de Man had retained on her behalf, and told a junior associate of the firm that he had been in an accident, had been hospitalized and had no money. He had, however, landed a job at Columbia University for the fall -- he said -- and would start making payments to Anne immediately thereafter in accordance with the schedule he and she had previously devised.

All lies and broken promises; de Man promptly disappeared. By November 1951, friends of Anne de Man were frantically searching for her wayward husband. One such friend was an ex-G.I. named David Braybrooke, who had met the de Mans in Belgium, where he had been stationed at the end of the war. Mr. Braybrooke, a professor of English at Hobart College and later at Cornell University, was outraged by de Man's behavior. "Unfortunately," he wrote to Mr. Artinian, "there is no money to hire a detective and track de Man down." Still, perhaps there was something he could do to comfort Anne. Perhaps, if he could find out where her eldest son was living, he could encourage the boy to write to her. "It does seem quite an unnecessary cruelty that the boy should either not be allowed or not be encouraged to write to his mother," Mr. Braybrooke wrote.

Hendrik, the eldest son, was 9 years old when he said goodbye to his mother and brothers, not to see them again for many years. He stayed with his father for a few months, and then was shipped off to be raised by Patricia de Man's mother and her second husband, a man named Woods, who lived in Alexandria, Va. In 1953, at the age of 12, Hendrik was formally adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Woods. The boy was told at this time that Paul de Man was not his real father -- a false declaration made to expedite the adoption process. What made it necessary was the fact that Hendrik's birth in 1941 was illegitimate; his birth certificate listed Gilbert Jaeger, Anne de Man's first husband, as the boy's father.

Despite all the confusion about his paternity -- added to the traumas of dislocation and separation -- Hendrik Woods says that he never doubted who his father was. Mr. Woods is a dead ringer for his late papa, only darker of complexion. When I met with him last year he spoke without resentment of his father. "My mother and brothers like to put me in the position of victim, the one who suffered the most, but it wasn't true," he said. The United States represented hope. To come here was the most wonderful thing that could happen -- even if it meant an estrangement from mother and brothers. The paternal abandonment had been much rougher on the others, left behind in South America.

ALONE among the three Belgian-born sons of Paul de Man, Hendrik attended the memorial service for his father at Yale in 1984. He said he admired his father ("a very kindly and gentle man"), but reacted with de Manian skepticism to those disciples who regarded him as a saint. "My father had a way of generating expectations in others, so when he did something untoward, the disillusionment or anger was that much greater. That was the pattern of his life."

I offered to show him Mary McCarthy's letter, but Mr. Woods did not have his reading glasses and asked me to read it aloud. When I finished, he smiled broadly. "My father reminds me sometimes of Felix Krull," said Paul de Man's eldest son. He was referring to the title character of Thomas Mann's novel "The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man." There was one story in that book that he, Hendrik Woods, had always especially liked. It occurs in the opening chapter. The narrator is talking about his father, the maker of a now discontinued brand of champagne. The bottles were magnificent. "Unfortunately," says the narrator, "it appears that the quality of the wine was not entirely commensurate with the splendor of its coiffure." When one had taken notice of the handsome label, the gleaming silver foil and the round seal suspended from the gold cord, the fact remained that the stuff was "simply poison." This essay is adapted from the afterword to the paperback edition of "Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man," to be published next month by Poseidon Press.

Photos: Paul de Man conducting a seminar at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., in 1951. (David Brooks)(pg. 18);Artine Artinian in 1949. (pg. 19)
David Lehman's recent books include "Operation Memory," a book of poems, and the forthcoming "The Line Forms Here," a collection of essays.

Sunday, 28 February 2016


"Luigi Romersa, now 84 and living in Italy, described what he saw at the Skoda factory: "It was something exceptional, round with a central cockpit made from plexi-glass, and with jets all around it as means of propulsion".

Andreas Epp

One of the men who helped create this first flying saucer was Andreas Epp. He had invented a disc shaped flying gunnery target and sent the prototype to the Luftwaffe high command suggesting it could be adapted for manned flight.

Epp discovered that his plans had been stolen and were being developed in Prague. He travelled to the Skoda factory and witnessed, and photographed, the first test flights of the flying saucer.

The saucer used a combination of technologies, including the Koanda Effect, helicopter principles and jet propulsion. It was fast, versatile and could potentially carry a heavy payload of bombs. But, perhaps most importantly, for a country that had lost most of it's runways to enemy bombing, it could take off vertically. According to Romersa, Hitler planned to use his new weapon in a devastating attack on New York which would be the final battle of The Third Reich. An attack which never came. As the Russians closed in on Prague, the scientists destroyed the evidence of their developments."

How We Fell For Europe

Michael Cockerell describes the low politics of the 1975 European Referendum, complementing his 1970s documentary on the same subject. 

Thirty years on, both sides were more willing to discuss the referendum openly. 

The original political debacle made strange bedfellows: Enoch Powell, Harold Wilson and Tony Benn opposed continued membership, whilst Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and Margaret Thatcher supported staying in the Common Market, as the EU then was.

The BBC's coverage of the 5th June 1975 EEC referendum results, featuring the names and faces of the day. 

This recording consists of the final hour of results.

Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia.

“This radical Right fairy tale, which is now an accepted folk myth in many groups in America, pictured the recent history of the United States… as a well-organized plot by extreme Left-wing elements… to destroy the American way of life...
this myth, like all fables, does in fact have a modicum of truth.

There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network… 

I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret records.

 I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments...

The two ends of this English-speaking axis have sometimes been called, perhaps facetiously, the English and American Establishments. 

There is, however, a considerable degree of truth behind the joke, a truth which reflects a very real power structure.” 

Professor Carroll Quigley,
Tragedy and Hope - A History of the World in Our Time

[Bloody Geldoff...]

"We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. 

Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective—a new world order—can emerge: 

a new era—
freer from the threat of terror, 
stronger in the pursuit of justice, 
more secure in the quest for peace. 

An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony. 

A hundred generations have searched for this elusive path to peace, while a thousand wars raged across the span of human endeavor. 

Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we've known. 

A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. 

A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. 

A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak. 

This is the vision that I shared with President Gorbachev in Helsinki. He and other leaders from Europe, the Gulf, and around the world understand that how we manage this crisis today could shape the future for generations to come.

The test we face is great, and so are the stakes. This is the first assault on the new world that we seek, the first test of our mettle. 

Had we not responded to this first provocation with clarity of purpose, if we do not continue to demonstrate our determination, it would be a signal to actual and potential despots around the world. 

America and the world must defend common vital interests
—and we will. 

America and the world must support the rule of law
—and we will. 

America and the world must stand up to aggression
—and we will. 

And one thing more: In the pursuit of these goals America will not be intimidated."

September 11th 1990

Saturday, 27 February 2016


The Dream Team

"I object to these arrangements, not as a British person but as a European, because they destroy democracy in Germany and France, too. 

For example, the German people will be unable to influence the decision of their bankers. My hon. Friend referred to the limitation on our opportunity, as a nation, to try to influence the European central bank, but it applies also to attempts to influence our own Bank. 

To summarise, we are tonight consenting to an act of unilateral economic, industrial and financial disarmament. 

From now on we are saying to our electors--who are, after all, the people who have sent us here and can remove us, because we are still candidates--

"You can remove us next time, but you will never be able to change the policies that may lead you to want to remove us."

 Rt. Hon. Tony Benn 
MP 21st April 1998

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield): I have not participated in the debate on Europe since the election, because my view on the matter is known: I voted against the Maastricht treaty, and I am opposed to the single currency.

The reason I speak in this debate is that it is held against the background of a clear Government statement of intent to join the single currency, when the conditions are appropriate. The convergence report is a progress report--the Government ask us, not only to note, but to approve the progress they are making toward entry into the single currency when the referendum has occurred. We are told that that will be after the next election, but, if Rupert Murdoch alters his view, it might come earlier.

Two passages in the report are of importance, not just in a debate of this kind in the House, but to many people outside. On page 6, the report refers to

"Denmark, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland and the United Kingdom."

It says:

"These Member States need to exercise firm control over domestic price pressures with regard to, inter alia, wage and unit labour costs. Support is also required from fiscal policies, which need to react flexibly to the domestic price environment."

If I were a nurse whose pay claim had been phased, I would ask why. If a nurse asked me that question, I would reply, "The answer is in this book, because it is a requirement that these controls be exercised in order to equip us for the single currency."

I come from Derbyshire, where we are rate-capped, and if, in Derbyshire, people ask me, "Why is Derbyshire, which suffered so much under the previous Government, being rate-capped?" I would answer, "Because of page 6 of the convergence report."

We must relate these arguments to real life. We cannot speak as though we were amateur economists; we must relate them to the real lives of those we represent. The reality is that the framework, set by the European Monetary Institute and adopted by the Government, is forcing a squeeze on people, who will suffer as a result.

My second point--I do not want to take too long--relates to the independence of national central banks. On page 12, the report says clearly that a list of practices by Governments or Parliaments are

"incompatible with the Treaty and/or the Statute"

if they endanger institutional independence--that is, from Governments or Parliaments. So here, tonight, we are being asked to accept that we have no right in the following areas. We have no right to give instructions to central banks or their decision-making bodies, not just on interest rates but on anything that they do. Eddie George is free--protected by the treaty from any pressures that may be put on him by the Government elected overwhelmingly by the people in May 1997.

Indeed, it would be incompatible with the treaty to

"approve, suspend, annul or defer decisions of national central banks;"

or to

"censor a national central bank's decisions on legal grounds".

Whatever the legislation might be, the courts would not be allowed to take action that would hamper the independence of the central banks. Indeed, we cannot

"participate in the decision-making bodies of a national central bank with a right to vote".

Therefore, if the Chancellor appoints people to the Monetary Policy Committee and they vote on a matter, they are in breach of the Maastricht treaty. Finally, third parties could not be

"consulted (ex ante)"--

in advance--

"on any national central bank decision."

Tonight, not only are we approving a policy--which is causing hardship to many people because of the restriction on public expenditure, and because, as has been said, the currency valuation affects jobs--but we are being asked to approve an abandonment of our right ever to do anything in those areas that might relieve those pressures.

Mr. Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent): I believe that my right hon. Friend is right to say that we would not have the rights, as a Parliament, to instruct the European central bank on issues such as unemployment, but surely it goes further. Not only would we not have the right, but it would be positively illegal if we tried to influence the European central bank on issues such as unemployment, low pay and poverty.

If that is the case--if Parliament no longer controls economic policy making--surely, at elections, the people will then find that the people they can vote for are not the people who take the decisions. The people they want to have an opportunity to vote for--the bankers--will be taking the decisions. Surely that makes a mockery of parliamentary democracy.

Mr. Benn: I object to these arrangements, not as a British person but as a European, because they destroy democracy in Germany and France, too. For example, the German people will be unable to influence the decision of their bankers. 

My hon. Friend referred to the limitation on our opportunity, as a nation, to try to influence the European central bank, but it applies also to attempts to influence our own Bank.

To summarise, we are tonight consenting to an act of unilateral economic, industrial and financial disarmament. From now on we are saying to our electors--who are, after all, the people who have sent us here and can remove us, because we are still candidates--
"You can remove us next time, but you will never be able to change the policies that may lead you to want to remove us."

That is a big question. It is something that we do not often discuss, and if we do, sometimes in the heat of the day and in argument we get strong and personal, because it is a matter which cuts across political allegiances. It is a European, and a democratic, question.

We are all, inevitably, influenced by our own experience. The earliest election that I remember was that in 1931, when the conflicts within the Labour Cabinet on whether the gold standard should apply led to the fall of that Government. My father lost his seat in that election. He had the unhappy experience of fighting Aberdeen, whose electors were cautious when the Post Office scare appeared, Aberdonians being known for their caution.

In the 1930s, I remember vividly Hitler coming to power when there were 5 million or 6 million unemployed in Germany. I bought "Mein Kampf" when I was 11. I have it on my shelf at home. Unemployment leads to despair, and despair destroys democracy, just as political impotence destroys democracy. 

If, when we vote, we cannot change anything, that destroys democracy. 

There are now 15 million unemployed in the European Union. I am not saying that what happened in the 1930s will return, but we are dealing with big questions.

Mr. Cash: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Benn: No. I promised that I would be brief, and I will.

We are dealing with the question whether it is legitimate in countries that boast of democracy for the electors to elect a Government and a Parliament that can influence the form of their own lives. It applies throughout the EU. This is not a British objection--I would feel just as strongly if I were a Frenchman, a Spaniard, a Greek or from any other country.

We shall have more of this when we come to the debates on the single currency, but it is important to put down a marker now, before we go along quietly approving things which are already taking place, beginning with the independence of the Bank of England, and denying those who sent us here the rights that they are entitled to expect when they cast their vote.

 For those reasons, I shall not be able to support the motion tonight. 

It runs counter to my deepest convictions, and that is a view that I hope people will understand, even if they do not agree with it.


"Luigi Romersa, now 84 and living in Italy, described what he saw at the Skoda factory: "It was something exceptional, round with a central cockpit made from plexi-glass, and with jets all around it as means of propulsion".
Andreas Epp
One of the men who helped create this first flying saucer was Andreas Epp. He had invented a disc shaped flying gunnery target and sent the prototype to the Luftwaffe high command suggesting it could be adapted for manned flight.
Epp discovered that his plans had been stolen and were being developed in Prague. He travelled to the Skoda factory and witnessed, and photographed, the first test flights of the flying saucer.
The saucer used a combination of technologies, including the Koanda Effect, helicopter principles and jet propulsion. It was fast, versatile and could potentially carry a heavy payload of bombs. But, perhaps most importantly, for a country that had lost most of it's runways to enemy bombing, it could take off vertically. According to Romersa, Hitler planned to use his new weapon in a devastating attack on New York which would be the final battle of The Third Reich. An attack which never came. As the Russians closed in on Prague, the scientists destroyed the evidence of their developments."

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


A Conflagration of Corrupt Merchandise - Corrupt Literature in the Army

Office Provost-Marshal, War Department,
Washington, June 3 1866

HON. MONTGOMERY P. BLAIR, Post-Master General:-

SIR - I am reliably informed that large numbers of obscene books and prints are constantly passing through the post-office here to the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac. I would respectfully ask if some means could be used to prevent it.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

L.C. Baker
Provost-Marshal, War Department 

Friday, 19 February 2016


Your Majesty,

I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.

With love. 

John Lennon of Bag

Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
But she doesn't have a lot to say
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
But she changes from day to day

I want to tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a bellyful of wine
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
Someday I'm going to make her mine, oh yeah
Someday I'm going to make her mine

Sir Paul McCartney, MBE 

"And so I let him toss me off."
And that was that. End of story.

"So what harm did it do, then, Pete, for fuck's sake?" John asked rhetorically. 
"No harm at all. The poor fucking bastard, he can't help the way he is."

Paul McCartney later suggested that Lennon agreed to the holiday in order to assert his authority within The Beatles :

"Brian Epstein was going on holiday to Spain at the same time and he invited John along. John was a smart cookie. Brian was gay, and John saw his opportunity to impress upon Mr Epstein who was the boss of the group. I think that's why he went on holiday with Brian. And good luck to him, too - he was that kind of guy; he wanted Brian to know whom he should listen to. That was the relationship. John was very much the leader in that way, although it was never actually said."

Paul McCartney Anthology

(Scholars of myth may note that in the title sequence, McCoy winks the eye that Merlin is said to have sacrificed for wisdom.)

Cornell, Day and Topping,

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Ulysses’s Last Voyage

Inferno Canto XXVI:43-84 Ulysses and Diomede

Gustave Doré Illustration - Inferno Canto 26, 245

I stood on the bridge, having so risen to look, that if I had not caught hold of a rock I should have fallen in without being pushed. And the guide, who saw me so intent, said: ‘The spirits are inside those fires: each veils himself in that which burns him.’ I replied: ‘Master, I feel more assured from hearing you, but had already seen that it was so, and already wished to say to you, who is in that fire, that moves, divided at the summit, as if it rose from the pyre where Eteocles was cremated with his brother, Polynices?’

He answered me: ‘In there, Ulysses and Diomede are tormented, and so they go, together in punishment, as formerly in war: and, in their fire, they groan at the ambush of the Trojan horse, that made a doorway, by which Aeneas, the noble seed of the Romans issued out. In there they lament the trick, by which Deidamia, in death, still weeps for Achilles: and there, for the Palladium, they endure punishment.’

I said: ‘Master, I beg you greatly, and beg again so that my prayers may be a thousand, if those inside the fires can speak, do not refuse my waiting until the horned flame comes here: you see how I lean towards it with desire.’ And he to me: ‘Your request is worth much praise, and so I accept it, but restrain your tongue. Let me speak: since I conceive what you wish, and because they were Greeks they might disdain your Trojan words.’

When the flame had come, where the time and place seemed fitting, to my guide, I heard him speak, so: ‘O you, who are two in one fire, if I was worthy of you when I lived, if I was worthy of you, greatly or a little, when on earth I wrote the high verses, do not go, but let one of you tell where he, being lost through his own actions, went to die.’

Inferno Canto XXVI:85-142 Ulysses’s last voyage

The greater horn of the ancient flame started to shake itself, murmuring, like a flame struggling in the wind. Then moving the tip, as if it were a tongue speaking, gave out a voice, and said: ‘When I left Circe, who held me for more than a year, near to Gaeta, before Aeneas named it, not even my fondness for my son, Telemachus, my reverence for my aged father, Laërtes, nor the debt of love that should have made Penelope happy, could restrain in me the desire I had, to gain experience of the world, and of human vice and worth.

I set out on the wide, deep ocean, with only one ship, and that little company, that had not abandoned me. I saw both shores, as far as Spain, as far as Morocco, and the isle of Sardinia, and the other islands that sea washes. I, and my companions, were old, and slow, when we came to that narrow strait, where Hercules set up his pillars, to warn men from going further. I left Seville to starboard: already Ceuta was left behind on the other side.

I said: ‘O my brothers, who have reached the west, through a thousand dangers, do not deny the brief vigil, your senses have left to them, experience of the unpopulated world beyond the Sun. Consider your origin: you were not made to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.’ With this brief speech I made my companions so eager for the voyage, that I could hardly have restrained them, and turning the prow towards morning, we made wings of our oars for that foolish flight, always turning south.

Night already saw the southern pole, with all its stars, and our northern pole was so low, it did not rise from the ocean bed. Five times the light beneath the moon had been quenched and relit, since we had entered on the deep pathways, when a mountain appeared to us, dim with distance, and it seemed to me the highest I had ever seen. We rejoiced, but soon our joy was turned to grief, when a tempest rose from the new land, and struck the prow of our ship. Three times it whirled her round, with all the ocean: at the fourth, it made the stern rise, and the prow sink, as it pleased another, till the sea closed over us.’

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Voice of God


When Branch Davidian sect members hunkered down in their Waco compound last year and threatened to commit suicide, the FBI turned to an unlikely source. Experts from the FBI Counter-Terrorism Center secretly met in Arlington, Va., with a long-haired Russian Dr. Strangelove called Igor Smirnov. His plan: piping subliminal messages from sect members' families through the phone lines during negotiations. For David Koresh, the self-appointed prophet, the FBI had a special voice in mind: God, as played by Charlton Heston.

The FBI backed out of Smirnov's Waco strategy, and the crisis ended in blazing disaster. But psychological-warfare experts on all sides still dream that they will one day control the enemy's mind. And in a tiny, dungeonlike lab in the basement of Moscow's ominously named Institute of Psycho-Correction, Smirnov and other Russian psychiatrists are already working on schizophrenics, drug addicts and cancer patients.

You've heard of subliminal advertising, right? The psychiatric community generally agrees that subliminal perception exists; a smaller fringe group believes it can be used to change the psyche. And that could be bad as well as good. "A knife can be used to cut sausage," Smirnov warns cryptically, "or cut your throat." In the wrong hands, he explains, his techniques could push people into violent acts.

Using electroencephalographs, he measures brain waves, then uses computers to create a map of the subconscious and various human impulses, such as anger or the sex drive. Then, through taped subliminal messages, he claims to physically alter that landscape with the power of suggestion. At the University of Michigan, Howard Shevrin has also studied the relationship between brain responses and the unconscious, but he has doubts about therapeutic applications. "I'm not sure this should be tampered with. The effects could be harmful."

In Smirnov's cluttered lab, Slava, a tattooed heroin addict, has electrodes attached to his chest and shaved head. He has just watched subliminal messages on a screen and listened through earphones to other impulses disguised as noise. Smirnov says he's trying to stimulate the child-rearing cluster of Slava's brain to encourage him to care more for his soon-to-be-born baby and less about his next hit of heroin.

Smirnov says that in Soviet times, the government funded his lab generously. Now that Russia's economy has collapsed, and with it funding for the security forces and military, Smirnov gets only $20,000 a year, he says. He hopes to attract Western investment. Meanwhile, Smirnov says that Russian gangsters regularly come to see him, looking, for example, for help in getting business partners to sign contracts that are against their interest. He won't do it, he says: "That would be unethical." In any case, there is no doubt that somebody is watching him closely. Shortly after Newsweek's reporter visited his lab, two burly toughs in suits and diamond rings showed up at Newsweek's Moscow office asking questions about Smirnov. They claimed to be in business with him, but he says he doesn't know them. KGB? Mafia? Smirnov shrugs them off, but, whoever they are, the doctor of subliminal subversion might be wise to watch his back.

The Ed Wood Investigative Method.

(MULDER's apartment. Late evening. MULDER is lying on his couch watching "Plan Nine From Outer Space" on TV, one of the first cheesy sci-fi films made. He speaks the lines along with the actors. He obviously knows the movie very well.)

MULDER AND TV: Well, as long as they can think we'll have our problems. But those whom we are using cannot think they are the dead brought to assimilated life by our electrode...

(Someone knocks at the door.)

MULDER: It's open.

(SCULLY enters.)

MULDER AND TV: You know, it's an interesting thing when you consider the earth people who can think... ...

(MULDER sits up and makes room for SCULLY to sit on the arm of the couch beside him. The movie continues.)

TV: ... are so frightened by those who cannot be dead.

MULDER: Couldn't sleep either, huh?

SCULLY: Plan 9 From Outer Space?

MULDER: Yeah. It's the Ed Wood investigative method. 

This movie is so profoundly bad in such a childlike way that it hypnotizes my conscious critical mind and frees up my right brain to make associo-poetic leaps and I started flashing on Hoffman and O'Fallon. 

How there's this archetypal relationship like Hoffman's Jesus to O'Fallon's Judas or Hoffman's Jesus to O'Fallon's Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor, or Hoffman's Jesus to O'Fallon's St. Paul.

SCULLY: How about Hoffman's Roadrunner to O'Fallon's Wile E. Coyote?

(She grins and he laughs. On the screen, a body is rising out of the ground.)

SCULLY: Mulder...


SCULLY: Do you think it's at all possible that Hoffman is really Jesus Christ?

MULDER: Are you making fun of me?


MULDER: Well, no, I don't. But crazy people can be very persuasive.

SCULLY: Well, yes, I know that.

(They both smile as MULDER takes the hit.)

SCULLY: Maybe true faith is really a form of insanity.

MULDER: Are you directing that at me?

SCULLY: (emphatically) No. I'm directing it at myself and at Ed Wood.

MULDER: Well, you know, even a broken clock is right 730 times a year.

(They watch the movie. On the screen, a zombie woman walks toward the camera.)

SCULLY: How...?

MULDER: (answering the question before she asks) 42.

SCULLY: You've seen this movie 42 times?


SCULLY: Doesn't that make you sad? It makes me sad.

(They sit quietly for a moment as the movie continues. Two men are looking at a map.)

ACTOR 1: You ever been to Hollywood?

ACTOR 2: Oh, a couple of times a few years ago.

ACTOR 1: You're going to be there in the morning. Just a few minutes from Hollywood in the town of San Fernando reports have come in of saucers flying so low...

MULDER: You know, Scully, we've got four weeks probation vacation and nothing to do and Wayne Federman's invited us out to L.A. to watch his movie being filmed and God knows I could use a little sunshine.

(She looks up at him. He smiles.)

MULDER: Scully...

(On the screen, a flying saucer wobbles by.)

SCULLY: (resigned) California, here we come.