St Mary le Port, Bristol (1940), John Piper (1903-1992)
ENDNOTES, May 2021
In this edition: Phoenix – music for oboe and piano from EM Records; Imogen Holst’s Suite for Solo Viola; Eleanor Alberga takes to The Wild Blue Yonder; Czech Philharmonic – online, reviewed by Stuart Millson
We venture into the fresh air of England’s fields this May, with Four Country Dances, written in 2000 by Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012) – performed with lightness, delicacy and sentimental charm by aspiring young artists, Nicola Hands, oboe, and the pianist, Jonathan Pease. A wide variety of styles was embraced by Richard Rodney Bennett – from the exuberant Anniversaries, performed at the 1982 Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, to cabaret songs, jazz and the magnificent score to Murder on the Orient Express. Here, though, the composer sounds as though he is reinventing the music of George Butterworth – an English idyll from another age, especially in the opening movement, A New Dance. Followed by such evocative titles as Lady Day, The Mulberry Garden and Nobody’s Jig, we must thank Em Marshall-Luck of the English Music Festival’s recording arm, EM Records, for the inclusion of this gorgeous, little-known miniature masterpiece.
But Marshall-Luck’s enterprising programme on disc takes us beyond village revelries, to the more ambitious structures of the 1934 Oboe Sonata by William Alwyn, the English symphonist and film-music composer who lived for many years in the pastoral landscape of Blythburgh, Suffolk. Continue reading
‘Chips’ Channon, credit Wikipedia
Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries 1918-1938 (volume I), edited by Simon Heffer, Hutchinson, 2021, £35, reviewed by Bill Hartley
One of the weightiest publications to appear this year must be Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries 1918-38, edited by Simon Heffer. This is to be the first of three volumes and runs to over 900 pages. The Diaries record events in the life of the socialite and sometime MP. An earlier version appeared in 1967 but since many of those referred to, sometimes unflatteringly, were still alive it was heavily redacted. No such restrictions were placed on the latest edition and so Channon’s often waspish pen is given free reign.
In Channon’s world, there were two significant events during the year 1936 and he had a ringside seat at both. The first quite literally since he was a guest at the Berlin Olympics. Given his pro-German sympathies this is hardly surprising. Of course, Channon wasn’t the only person in Britain who saw Nazi Germany as a bulwark against Communism, rather than as the opposite side of the same coin.
Given what we now know about the Third Reich, Channon’s trip to the Olympics has a blackly comedic air. Arriving in Berlin he and his wife are assigned a uniformed Aide de Camp for their stay. Travelling to their hotel, Channon notices with approval the ‘splendidly decorated Unter Den Linden’. No prizes for guessing what it was decorated with. Later he dined with the Bismarck’s. As the reader discovers, the Nazi’s were finding it useful at this stage to ally themselves with members of the old regime, since the German public still held the monarchy and aristocracy in high regard.
Channon seems to have had little interest in the Games themselves and admitted in his diary that he found them ‘boring’. There is no mention in its pages of his witnessing any athletic triumphs. He does note, however, that every German victory was greeted by the crowd with a Nazi salute and enjoys what he terms the ‘gay lilt’ of the Horst Wessel, played as medals were presented. Continue reading
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, credit Wikipedia
All over ‘Arry, like a Cheap Suit
by Ilana Mercer
Fancy that! A member of a meritless political dynasty, the McCains, has panned the duty-bound British monarchy. There is a revolving door between Big Media, be it the neoliberal CNN or neocon Fox News, and members of the political duopoly. Whether practiced by the Left or the Right; this is indisputably immoral, and a conflict of interest. To spout received opinion, Fox News has hired Ben Domenech, the unremarkable husband of the irredeemably awful Meghan McCain. At the conclusion of a wishy-washy Fox segment about the wanton Meghan Markle, the man who had married into the McCain dynasty declared: “There is nothing more American than hating the British Crown.”
That’s a shallow stance at best. For, if forced to choose between the mob (democracy) and the monarchy, the latter is far preferable because benevolent. This thesis is anatomized in Democracy: The God that Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order, by libertarian political philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe. In his seminal work, Hoppe provides ample support—historical and analytical—for democracy’s inferiority as compared to monarchy:
“… democracy has succeeded where monarchy only made a modest beginning: in the ultimate destruction of the natural elites. The fortunes of great families have dissipated, and their tradition of a culture of economic independence, intellectual farsightedness, and moral and spiritual leadership has been lost and forgotten. Rich men still exist today, but more frequently than not they owe their fortune now directly or indirectly to the state.”
“In light of elementary economic theory, the conduct of government and the effects of government policy on civil society can be expected to be systematically different, depending on whether the government apparatus is owned privately or publicly,” explains Hoppe.
The Hatfield Clan, credit Wikipedia
by Ilana Mercer
The country is fast descending into a Dantean hell. The Circles of Hell to which we’ve been assigned are mass migration, diversity, multiculturalism, and zealous, institutionalized anti-whiteness, with its attendant inversion of long-held societal morals and mores. The guiding ghost of Virgil is nowhere to be found.
To ostensibly shepherd us out of hell, however, assorted serpents have slithered forth. Beware! All the more so when they speak to you from bastions of the establishment—Newsweek is one—as J. D. Vance does in, “True ‘Compassion’ Requires Secure Borders and Stopping Illegal Immigration.” His is the typically conciliatory, “conservative” argument we’ve come to expect from the gilded elite, regarding America’s promiscuous immigration policy, under Republicans and Democrats alike. Vance is the best-selling author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which is a culturally compliant—namely unflattering—account of poor, white America.
Provided your thesis allows for a cozy convergence over agreeable storylines—you are well-positioned to peddle a national bestseller to the left libertarian, neoconservative and pseudo-conservative smart-set. Yes, Vance is a sellout. Not that they were asked for their take, but the archetypical folks depicted in Hillbilly Elegy contend, justifiably, that “Vance [is] not an authentic hillbilly or an example of the working class.” Cassie Chambers Armstrong’s Aunt Ruth, for example. Aunt Ruth didn’t think much of Vance’s endeavor. Her niece is an Appalachian and author of a redeeming tale, Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains. “Hillbilly Elegy’s portrayal of Appalachia,” explains Chambers, “is designed to elevate Vance above the community from which he came … it seeks to tell his story in a way that aligns with a simplistic rags-to-riches narrative. Think critically about how that narrative influences the way we are taught to think about poverty, progress, and identity.” Continue reading
The Battle of Lexington, credit Wikimedia
Gaming the Revolution
Mark Wegierski recalls Minuteman: The Second American Revolution
Minuteman: The Second American Revolution is a conflict simulation or board wargame of relatively moderate complexity published in 1976 (the U.S. Bicentennial Year) by Simulations Publications Incorporated (SPI), then the premiere company in the field. The legendary James F. Dunnigan (Jim Dunnigan), one of the founders of SPI, was the main designer. It is today a collectors’ item, although Decision Games, which has acquired rights to most of the SPI game-line, might bring out a revamped edition at some point. Although certain game-mechanics are discussed here, the focus will be on the conceptual framework animating the game, especially in terms of its possible predictive aspects.
The game is played on a map which represents most of North America, on which terrain is regularized into small hexagons (hexes). The main terrain and hex types are “clear”, “rough brush”, “south winter cover”, “north winter cover”, and Major and Minor Population areas. These are meant to represent the main types of terrain significant to conducting insurgency and counterinsurgency in North America. For example, units in severe terrain types during a Winter turn are sometimes eliminated because of lack of supply. Continue reading
David Koresh, RIP, credit Wikipedia
Could Vaccine Resisters be WACOed?
by Ilana Mercer
Because of the natural mutation the clever little RNA strand undergoes—it is clear to anyone with a critical mind that the Covid vaccines will go the way of the flu vaccines: an annual affair if one chooses to make it so. Choice, alas, is quickly becoming a quaint concept in Covid-compliant America.
The possibility of a vaccine passport, a “certification of vaccination that reduces public-health restrictions for their carriers,” has been floated. Unfinessed, it amounts to, “Your Papers, bitte!” While Fox’s Tucker Carlson did term the idea an Orwellian one—it took civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald, the odd-man-out among the authoritarian Left, to place the concept of a vaccine passport in proper perspective. The popular TV host (and perhaps the only good thing on Fox News) had asked Greenwald if he felt a vaccine passport “would work to convince more Americans to get vaccinated.” Continue reading
Jean-Léon Gerôme, The Slave Market, credit Wikipedia
The Forgotten Slave Trade: The White European Slaves of Islam, Simon Webb, 2021, Pen & Sword, reviewed by Ed Dutton
At time when British people are being increasingly instilled with a sense of guilt about the “slave trade” – which the British, anyway, led the way in abolishing – what an important book Simon Webb’s The Forgotten Slave Trade is. It is also marvellously well-written, incredibly detailed, and brimming with fascinating, and once widely known, facts.
Mr Webb is acutely concerned with “historical erasure,” whereby political ideologues cause us to forget aspects of history that might make us wary of, in this instance, Multiculturalism or the white guilt that is key to sustaining this. He thus begins by explaining that until quite recently the term “The Slave Trade” did not refer exclusively to the Triangular African slave trade between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Almost all historic civilizations have pursued slavery, whether the Israelites, the Greeks and Romans, the Saxons, or the Islamic world. Around 10% of English people, in 1066, were slaves. Apparently, 25% of Ancient Greeks were slaves and the scale of this slave trade dwarfed the mere 10 million blacks that were enslaved in the 350 years of the Triangular Trade. The conditions of these forgotten white slaves were also far worse. And this was also dwarfed by the Black enslavement of their own and of the other races of Africa from 2500 BC onwards as the Bantu (Blacks) expanded out of Nigeria and Cameroon. The other races with whom they came into contact, the Pygmies and the Bushmen, were duly enslaved. Indeed, slavery was so accepted in Africa that the colonial British were compelled to tolerate it to “keep the peace” with African natives. Continue reading
Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii
Treason and Patriotism in Postmodern Society
by Mark Wegierski
Traditional notions of treason and patriotism have long been important in Canada but have been subject to enormous pressure since the beginning of the twentieth century. English-Canadian identity was ever bound up with the profession of loyalty to the Sovereign or Monarch. A person who failed to profess loyalty to the Sovereign or Monarch was deemed disloyal to Canada. On a number of occasions in recent Canadian history, Québécois nationalists in particular have been accused of treason. What follows is an examination of these accusations in the light of current thinking about what constitutes treason, in Canada and elsewhere.
Ideas of treason and patriotism seem to be most pronounced in traditional societies. The manifest showing of disloyalty to a country or nation, or its chief symbols, has often been met with severe censure or punishment. At the same time, making common cause with one’s nation’s enemies, typically in the forms of espionage, sabotage, or extremely vocal agitation, was often considered “high treason,” punishable by death or long and harsh prison terms. But looking at the history of the second half of the twentieth century and the first two decades of the twenty-first, it is clear that, for Western societies at least, “treason is not what it used to be.” Continue reading
Badge of an LAPD Officer
by Bill Hartley
The Shield, which ran for seven series as long ago as 2002-8, is deeper than the standard police drama. It explores the nature of corruption, together with the leadership meant to prevent it happening. It is this combination which makes it a cut above the rest, allowing us to see the structural weaknesses in an organisation. Interestingly, whilst it won several awards at the time, it has since been overshadowed by The Wire which on release attracted far less positive critical attention.
The Shield is based on a real life police scandal. Back in the 1990s, Los Angeles police set out to combat a rise in gang crime. They set up Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, better known as ‘CRASH’, an acronym which was a hostage to fortune. What followed became known as the Rampart Scandal. Seventy officers were investigated for robberies, murder, drug dealing and other crimes. As someone observed, ‘far from dealing with gang crime the LAPD succeeded in creating the most dangerous gang in the city’. It was to cost the city $125 million in damages. Against this background, nothing seems exaggerated about the activities of Vic Mackey and his ‘Strike Team’ in The Shield.
With outstanding characterisation, The Shield poses probing questions about corruption, exploring the term in a range of facets. Vic, the one obvious leader, has succeeded in building a tight knit band of brothers and getting them to accept his warped ethics, where the end justifies the means and often includes a cut of the proceeds. As the series progresses, the viewer realises that whilst Vic’s corruption is clear and unambiguous there are subtler versions to be found. Continue reading
Doré Woodcut, Divine Comedy, credit Wikipedia
The Cambridge Companion to Virgil (2nd Ed.), edited by Fiachra MacGorain and Charles Martindale, Cambridge University Press: 2019. Pp. i-xvi,1-549, reviewed by Darrell Sutton
Arguably the most illustrious writer of Latin literature, Virgil’s classic, the Aeneid, is central to studies of ancient epic. The popular words arma virumque cano (I sing of arms and the man) resonate in every generation. Many people have been to war but few combatants composed melodies depicting their adventures. Other than Homer, had anyone sung of conflict like Virgil? Homer became Virgil’s model centuries later when he composed his Roman tale of quest and conquest, one filled with Gods who proved to be both baneful and benevolent in their dealings with mankind.
The lifeblood of warriors was poured forth in line after line of the Aeneid. It tells of Rome’s history. Although her legends and myths are rendered in an unfinished account, the Aeneid’s rhythms have been scrutinized countless times by expert and layperson alike. Virgil produced other literary creations. Some writers in the past believe he authored Appendix Vergiliana; some do not (see S. Mcgill’s skeptical but erudite paper (chapter 4) on all the pseudepigrapha).
Virgil was grateful to Augustus for restoring to him his lands. And the Bucolica show his gratitude and his interest in pastoral landscapes. Several poems are dedicated to individuals who were of significance to Virgil. The shepherd’s vocation is extoled; the Muse’s love of woodlands is noted at Ecl.I.2. However, some still believe that his Georgics are the best work that he composed, dealing with various departments of farming. Didactic in style, these four poems shine a light on the technics of organic production in bygone days. Daily chores that relate to crop farming, vine plants, herds and bees are described in technical language. Everywhere some type of symbolism finds expression in the poems. Richard F. Thomas averred that “the Georgics is perhaps the most difficult, certainly the most controversial, poem in Roman Literature…” (Virgil: Georgics, Vol.1, Cambridge Press: 1988; p.16). Continue reading