Most striking about the traditional societies of the Congo was their remarkable artwork: baskets, mats, pottery, copper and ironwork, and, above all, woodcarving. It would be two decades before Europeans really noticed this art. Its discovery then had a strong influence on Braque, Matisse, and Picasso -- who subsequently kept African art objects in his studio until his death. Cubism was new only for Europeans, for it was partly inspired by specific pieces of African art, some of them from the Pende and Songye peoples, who live in the basin of the Kasai River, one of the Congo's major tributaries.It was easy to see the distinctive brilliance that so entranced Picasso and his colleagues at their first encounter with this art at an exhibit in Paris in 1907. In these central African sculptures some body parts are exaggerated, some shrunken; eyes project, cheeks sink, mouths disappear, torsos become elongated; eye sockets expand to cover almost the entire face; the human face and figure are broken apart and formed again in new ways and proportions that had previously lain beyond sight of traditional European realism.The art sprang from cultures that had, among other things, a looser sense than Islam or Christianity of the boundaries between our world and the next, as well as those between the world of humans and the world of beasts. Among the Bolia people of the Congo, for example, a king was chosen by a council of elders; by ancestors, who appeared to him in a dream; and finally by wild animals, who signaled their assent by roaring during a night when the royal candidate was left at a particular spot in the rain forest. Perhaps it was the fluidity of these boundaries that granted central Africa's artists a freedom those in Europe had not yet discovered.
Nobody can understand the greatness of the thirteenth century, who does not realize that it was a great growth of new things produced by a living thing. In that sense it was really bolder and freer than what we call the renaissance, which was a resurrection of old things discovered in a dead thing... and the Gospel according to St. Thomas... was a new thrust like the titanic thrust of Gothic engineering; and its strength was in a God that makes all things new.
My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them.My dream holiday would be a) a ticket to Amsterdam b) immunity from prosecution and c) a baseball bat.
Sexual frenzy is our compensation for the tedious moments we must suffer in the passage of life. 'Nothing in excess,' professed the ancient Greeks. Why if I spend half the month in healthy scholarship and pleasant sleep, shouldn't I be allowed the other half to howl at the moon and pillage the groins of Europe's great beauties?
It was as easy as breathing to go and have tea near the place where Jane Austen had so wittily scribbled and so painfully died. One of the things that causes some critics to marvel at Miss Austen is the laconic way in which, as a daughter of the epoch that saw the Napoleonic Wars, she contrives like a Greek dramatist to keep it off the stage while she concentrates on the human factor. I think this comes close to affectation on the part of some of her admirers. Captain Frederick Wentworth in , for example, is partly of interest to the female sex because of the 'prize' loot he has extracted from his encounters with Bonaparte's navy. Still, as one born after Hiroshima I can testify that a small Hampshire township, however large the number of names of the fallen on its village-green war memorial, is more than a world away from any unpleasantness on the European mainland or the high or narrow seas that lie between. (I used to love the detail that Hampshire's 'New Forest' is so called because it was only planted for the hunt in the late eleventh century.) I remember watching with my father and brother through the fence of Stanstead House, the Sussex mansion of the Earl of Bessborough, one evening in the early 1960s, and seeing an immense golden meadow carpeted entirely by grazing rabbits. I'll never keep that quiet, or be that still, again.This was around the time of countrywide protest against the introduction of a horrible laboratory-confected disease, named 'myxomatosis,' into the warrens of old England to keep down the number of nibbling rodents. Richard Adams's lapine masterpiece is the remarkable work that it is, not merely because it evokes the world of hedgerows and chalk-downs and streams and spinneys better than anything since , but because it is only really possible to imagine gassing and massacre and organized cruelty on this ancient and green and gently rounded landscape if it is organized and carried out against herbivores.
Fallujah was a Guernica with no Picasso. A city of 300,000 was deprived of water, electricity, and food, emptied of most of its inhabitants who ended up parked in camps. Then came the methodical bombing and recapture of the city block by block. When soldiers occupied the hospital, The New York Times managed to justify this act on grounds that the hospital served as an enemy propaganda center by exaggerating the number of casualties. And by the way, just how many casualties were there? Nobody knows, there is no body count for Iraqis. When estimates are published, even by reputable scientific reviews, they are denounced as exaggerated. Finally, the inhabitants were allowed to return to their devastated city, by way of military checkpoints, and start to sift through the rubble, under the watchful eye of soldiers and biometric controls.
High Europe always played at ethnic contempt because it was High Europe, and so had the strength, the authority, to make the racial rules. We great unwashed of the outer world, on the coasts of new continents, though we might ourselves have behaved atrociously to indigenes, were baffled by the determination with which Europe returned to the frenzies of racial myth. Nice boys and not-so-nice boys took up the theme, put on the uniform, did the dirty work.
Europe is equal to its historical task. Against the anti-spiritual, anti-heroic 'ideals' of America-Jewry, Europe pits its metaphysical ideas, its faith in its Destiny, its ethical principles, its heroism. Fearlessly, Europe falls in for battle, knowing it is armed with the mightiest weapon ever forged by History: the superpersonal Destiny of the European organism. Our European Mission is to create the Culture-State-Nation-Imperium of the West, and thereby we shall perform such deeds, accomplish such works, and so transform our world that our distant posterity, when they behold the remains of our buildings and ramparts, will tell their grandchildren that on the soil of Europe once dwelt a tribe of gods.
When I was a schoolboy in England, the old bound volumes of Kipling in the library had gilt swastikas embossed on their covers. The symbol's 'hooks' were left-handed, as opposed to the right-handed ones of the Nazi , but for a boy growing up after 1945 the shock of encountering the emblem at all was a memorable one. I later learned that in the mid-1930s Kipling had caused this 'signature' to be removed from all his future editions. Having initially sympathized with some of the early European fascist movements, he wanted to express his repudiation of Hitlerism (or 'the Hun,' as he would perhaps have preferred to say), and wanted no part in tainting the ancient Indian rune by association. In its origin it is a Hindu and Jainas symbol for light, and well worth rescuing.
I wore only black socks, because I had heard that white ones were the classic sign of the American tourist. Black ones though,- those'll fool 'em. I supposed I hoped the European locals' conversation would go something like this:PIERRE: Ha! Look at that tourist with his camera and guidebook!JACQUES: Wait, but observe his socks! They are...black!PIERRE: Zut alors! You are correct! He is one of us! What a fool I am! Let us go speak to him in English and invite him to lunch!
Question: Which Mediterranean government shares all of Ronald Reagan's views on international terrorism, the present danger of Soviet advance, the hypocrisy of the United Nations, the unreliability of Europe, the perfidy of the Third World and the need for nuclear defense policy? Question: Which Mediterranean government is Ronald Reagan trying, with the help of George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, to replace with a government led by a party which professes socialism and which contains extreme leftists?If you answered 'the government of Israel' to both of the above, you know more about political and international irony than the President does.
Suppose that a man leaps out of a burning building as my dear friend and colleague Jeff Goldberg sat and said to my face over a table at La Tomate in Washington not two years ago and lands on a bystander in the street below. Now, make the burning building be Europe, and the luckless man underneath be the Palestinian Arabs. Is this a historical injustice? Has the man below been made a victim, with infinite cause of complaint and indefinite justification for violent retaliation? My own reply would be a provisional 'no,' but only on these conditions. The man leaping from the burning building must still make such restitution as he can to the man who broke his fall, and must not pretend that he never even landed on him. And he must base his case on the singularity and uniqueness of the original leap. It can't, in other words, be 'leap, leap, leap' for four generations and more. The people underneath cannot be expected to tolerate leaping on this scale and of this duration, if you catch my drift. In Palestine, tread softly, for you tread on their dreams. And do tell the Palestinians that they were never fallen upon and bruised in the first place. Do not shame yourself with the cheap lie that they were told by their leaders to run away. Also, stop saying that nobody knew how to cultivate oranges in Jaffa until the Jews showed them how. 'Making the desert bloom' one of Yvonne's stock phrases makes desert dwellers out of people who were the agricultural superiors of the Crusaders.